Wreaths and Silver Menorahs for Seniors

There are so many projects and crafts to make during the holiday season that we like to spread the joy around. In the last weeks of school before the break, my students make aluminum foil menorahs with orange construction paper flames as we talk about Hannukah. Next, in honor of Christmas, they make paper wreaths with leaves cut from scraps of holiday paper and felt bows. My students pick their best crafts and donate them to a nursing home. The elderly are often alone and these crafts really bring holiday cheer to their rooms and halls!
Sarah Wilson, Casselberry, FL

16 Ways to Practice Spelling

In my first-grade class, we have a spelling test every Friday. However, we spend little class time on it because I’ve made spelling practice a homework activity that kids actually look forward to! Each day (Monday through Thursday), my students pick a spelling activity from their grid of 16 activities. Students can write their words with sidewalk chalk and send me a picture. They can play hangman with a family member using their spelling words, or visit spellingcity.com and play games such as fill-in-the-sentence and word find. They can write the words backwards and forwards, type them, and send to me in an e-mail, or rewrite the words in alphabetical order. The variety is fun for the kids, and by Friday, they usually know their words!
Amy Flynn, Wyncote, PA

A Bag Full of Joy for Soldiers

In honor of one student’s father, who is serving in Iraq, we decided to do something special this year! We decorated large plain paper bags with drawings and holiday stickers for soldiers serving overseas. The students added their own messages (“You are very brave” “Stay safe” “We are proud of you”). Then, we filled them with carefully wrapped homemade treats, Christmas ornaments, and items like razors and toothbrushes. We packaged them into boxes and sent them off to Iraq. My students were incredibly excited and proud of their efforts.
Amy Kerins, Laurel, DE

Folder Check-In

Keeping track of middle school homework coming and going can be a pain. Here’s a system I’ve found that works: There is a tray for each period’s class with a laminated class list attached. The kids turn in their homework and place a checkmark by their name with a marker. That way, I can see at a glance whose homework is missing.
Jaci Norwood, via Facebook

Graphing Museum

To culminate our unit on graphing, my students create a “Graphing Museum” for families and other classes at our school to enjoy. The children prepare different graphing “exhibits,” dividing up the curator jobs. We even make bar-graph cookies for the “museum cafe” (graham crackers with frosting graphs). It’s a graphing blow-out celebration.
Alycia Zimmerman, Scholastic Teacher Advisor