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Even Though Spring is Right around the Corner...Snow is in the Air! 3 Snowy and Fun Resources for Early Learners

If you live in the Northeastern part of the United States, even though we are nearing spring,you will agree that we have had beautiful spring weather one day and a snowy blizzard the next!

This can really confuse nature...some trees never lost all of their leaves and others show buds ready to burst open and announce that spring is here!

So for that reason this post will focus on some snowy resources that you can use any day whether it is frosty or sunny!

So with Punxsutawney Phil predicting 6 more weeks of winter, here are 3 Fun Snowy Resources and Ideas for your Early Learners:

1.  Bring the Snowman inside with this fun maze worksheet. For more creative preschool activities, go to Education.com!

At first glance you might think...this is just a simple maze, but do you all the benefits of children completing mazes and the skills involved?



Following a maze allows emergent readers to practice tracking skills and adds to eye development.  I had a few children in my previous classes who had difficulty tracking left to right when reading and a developmental ophthalmologist suggested doing mazes!

 Hand Eye Coordination:  
Mazes also provide support of hand and eye coordination which supports the ability to pick up, grasp and manipulate objects. As the hand moves the eyes and brain have to ready to make the turns to coordinate with the eyes.  Throwing a ball against a wall and then catching it is another idea to support this skill.

Brain Development:
Following mazes support developing both sides of the brain.  When brain dominance has not been developed and there is a mixed dominance, mazes help the brain to figure out a dominant side or can also develop both sides.

Fine Motor Skills:
Mazes also develop fine motor skills.  When you complete a maze you need to move precisely between the lines of the maze to completion. This pencil/paper skills helps children write more carefully and use movements with the wrist, hands and fingers to coordinate the fine motor movement and support coordination.

Have I convinced you to grab up this maze for your kiddos?

2.  Ignite your Kinders or Firsties' Imagination with this fabulous book "Snowmen at Night" by Caralyn Buehner and See Where the Creativity Goes!

  A Wonderful Youtube Video of this Story:

A Youtube Video of Snowmen at Night set to music and the words are sung to an original tune. This is a great way to motivate your students and engage them in the story!

⛄ A Differentiated Snowman at Night Craft and Writing Activity:

If you are looking for a fun, engaging way to encourage your Kinders or Firsties to write creatively, this will definitely fit the bill and can be found right here.

Here is what is included:  

⛄3 different sized circles to trace and cut to make a snowman. These can be used as tracers or simply run them off onto card stock, cut and glue. 

Various templates for hats, shirts, a tie, and bow 

⛄2 easy writing frames.

⛄1 longer writing frame for stronger writers with handwriting lines. 

⛄1 longer writing frame for stronger writers with only lines for writing. 

⛄1 planning sheet for jotting down ideas. 

2 Beginning Middle and End frames for easier writing or just simply writing what the snowman may do for a rough draft and then writing a good copy to display. 

⛄I then add lots of beads, scraps, tissue, shape stickers, and all kinds of craft media materials to assist creativity. 

⛄An idea with an outline of directions for a lesson. 

⛄Sample craft. 

3. Have some fun with Snow Dough!

⛄  All kids love snow or at least most of them do...

If they have ever played in snow, they will remember the cold crackling feeling of making a snowman, snow angel or snowball.

You can make snow dough with simply 2 ingredients...YES...I did say 2.  Baking soda and water.  All you need is one cup of Baking soda and 1/4 cup of water and you will bring that cold snow right into your classroom.  

Here are a few ideas to use this in your classroom:

⛄Make it and simply let your kiddos play with it...this "snow" feels cold, which makes it even "cooler" to manipulate.  This is great for sensory needs and you can talk a little about Science!

⛄Create a snowman. Name the snowman and use a frame from the packet above or you own frame to write a story about your snowman.

Create a snow scene by adding small trucks, people, cars, houses etc.

There you have it...a few FUN WAYS TO BRING THE SNOW INTO YOUR CLASSROOM OR HOME! Don't wait too long...it will be spring before you know it!

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100th Day of School...Let's Celebrate!

If you celebrate or want to celebrate the 100th Day of School, you will want to take a look at this post before you start to plan. It mentions some great ideas to use with your primary students. Don't wait too long...it will be here before you know it!

I remember it so clearly...all the classes would line up in the hallway anticipating what was yet to come...jumping with excitement, whispering and bouncing and waiting impatiently for the Kindergarten 100th Day Celebration.

My first graders would fall into a trance and chit chat about when they, too, had marched the halls to celebrate the 100th Day of School...and then...my firsties would hear a faint beat and slight echo of the music filling the halls...there would be more tapping feet, small jumps, giggles and excitement and they knew the parade was about to emerge at the end of OUR hallway! 

They stared intensely at the end of the hall and their whispers were focused on reminiscing about their 100th Day projects and what they did and how excited they felt!

Now, they were big first graders and although we celebrated the 100th Day of School in first grade, somehow it was not the same...definitely not the same as Kindergarten, but tons of fun none the less!

YES...it was always a day to remember in the halls of our school!

I am thinking no mater what grade you teach, children love to celebrate the 100th Day of School.

So, I thought it might be fun to share some tried and true ideas and activities to have a "FUN"tastic 100th Day of School with your kiddos.  Now...most of these ideas and activities were used in first and second grade, but I know how creative teachers are!

I know you can adapt these ideas for other primary or even upper elementary! 

🌟 Dress up for the Occasion:  

On the 100th Dy of school it is a fun idea to dress up and act 100 years old...however you perceive that to be.  You can also have your students dress for the occasion.  I can tell you from experience that your class will LOVE it!      

The last year of my career, we performed our roles so realistically that we appeared at a staff coffee in out costumes and spoke like we were at least 100 years old...asking our colleagues to repeat phrases etc. that we had everyone in an uproar...even our administration came to join in on the fun!  It was one of those great moments!

🌟  Use some Resources Created for the 100th Day of School:

I am sure you are already aware that Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) has a tremendous amount of resources that can be used to celebrate this special day!

If you are looking for something easy and free for your preschoolers, Kinders or Firsties, this
Free 100th Day Crown and Certificate will ensure your kiddos know that they are 100 Days Smarter!

Another quick and easy resource is Let's Celebrate the 100th Day of School
Here is what is included in this resource:

★ 100th Day Fun Mystery message Sheet.       

★ What Can you do in 100 Seconds Worksheet, which includes estimating and predicting.

★ 3 Writing Frames….If I had $100: I would love 100…and When I am 100 years Old I will…Plus another describing what it will be like to be 100 years old and a picture.

★ I can Write 100 Words.

★ I can read 100 Words based on the first 100 Fry Sight Words.

★ A worksheet to circle names for 100 and answer sheet.

★ An Award to give out for the day that states: You are 100 Days Smarter.

Simply search 100th Day of School on Tpt and you will find a plethora of resources available for your grade level.

🌟  Assign fun 100th Day Activities for Homework to Share in School:

🌟  Create Some Fun Edtitable Snacks to Celebrate:

There are so many sweet snacks out there, but I know my school district and others are trying to promote more healthy options...so ...with that in mind, I really like these snack ideas to celebrate!!

🌟  Use a Fun "Old Age" app on your phone to make everyone look 100 Years old!

I would always take a photo of each student, print them out, let them chat about how funny they look and then have them write about what it would be like to be 100 years old using this page from my resource above. Add the photo to the writing and use this as a bulletin board or hang outside the classroom.

Here is a photo taken using the "Old Age" app on my iphone:
UMMMMMM...I am not sure I want to post this...I think I better get a Botox treatment or maybe a few 100!

 I always enjoyed reading these frames.
One child one year filled it in like this:

My name is Grandpa Clark.
I am 100 years old. I have chipped, yellow teeth and white hair.  I feel tired because I take naps all day long.
I remember when I was a child I used to love to run.
Now I just sit.

I hope you have a great time celebrating 100th Day of School and perhaps you might be able to incorporate some of these ideas!!

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7 Fun Groundbreaking Groundhog Day Ideas For K-1

7 Fun Groundbreaking Groundhog Day Ideas For K-1

I am not sure about you, but I always love to watch Punxsutawney Phil slowly emerge from his burrow ready to "predict" the weather.  Kids love to make weather predictions to see if we will have 6 more weeks of winter or if spring is coming early.

Here are a few resources, activities and crafts that will motivate your young learners to write, predict and more!

⛅ Free Groundhog Craft and Writing Frame:  This craft is perfect  for Pre-K through 1 

                                                                                                                                                                    Everything you need is included from tracers and shapes to directions and writing.
It is "easy peasy" and will have your students making all kinds of predictions along with explaining their thinking!

⛅Are you looking for something a little more challenging?                  

You will definitely LOVE Let's get to Know Punxsutawney Phil:  It also has a craft, Facts and Opinions, Writing and so much more!   

Maybe you need a quick morning work sheet to complete on February 2nd.  

This is more for first grade, but you may have some kinders who are "Math Smart" and love challenges and this would work for them as well.  Here you go:      

⛅ Do your kiddos need something to support Counting?

This resource especially designed for Kindergarten is a great way to reinforce counts and also informally assess your little ones in a fun and easy way! 

⛅ Are you a few books to add the icing to these resources? 

Well here are a few of my faves:

Everyone of these books can be a resource for any of the above resources...Try one or try them all. 

⛅ Here are some crafts and activities you might like to try:

This cute graph can be adapted in so many ways. 

You can use a smaller groundhog head to graph whether "Phil" will see his shadow or simply a sticky note on which each child can draw a little groundhog face and "stick" it under their heading of choice! Here is an example:

⛅ Check out this tasty treat to celebrate Punxsutawney Phil: 

You can find all of these items in your local grocery store.  The brownie cups can usually be found in the Bakery Department.

They are soooooo much easier to use than baking them...UGH! not my favorite thing to do when I am in a hurry!                     
Oops! I almost forgot...Before you put the "Teddies" into the brownie, add a dot of the icing for the nose and you have a little groundhog peeking out of his burrow!  Well...you can pretend they are Groundhogs!!!

So what are you waiting for?  Get started and grab up some ideas and resources to make this a "GROUNDBREAKING" Groundhog Extravaganza!

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Polar bear, Reindeer and Penguins...OH MY! 5 Ideas to use to Teach about Animals of the Polar Region

Learning about animals of the Polar Regions always sparks a strong interest in young/er children. This Non-Fiction Report Writing Fun Activity for December or Anytime is fun easy to follow and ignites that motivation to learn!
Young children LOVE learning about Animals of the Polar Region especially Reindeer, Polar Bears and Penguins. Winter would not be complete in my classroom if we did not at least read a book about these animals.

So... I would not feel complete without sharing some ideas that I have used or found to support your kiddos so they can have fun learning about these unique animals!

So here are some tested and tried fun ideas to add to your lessons about Reindeer, Polar Bears and Penguins!!!

1:  Let's not forget this:  Animals of the Polar Region: Reindeer, Polar Bears and Penguins

This Non-Fiction Report Writing Fun Activity for December or Anytime is fun easy to follow and ignites that motivation to learn!

This mini unit includes fact cards, written in kid friendly language, about Polar Bears, Reindeer and Penguins and encourages children to explore in further depth information about the these animals.

2:  I absolutely love this Polar Bear Paper Plate mask. 

It is easy and fun and if you want to add a little creative fun to these report writing activities provided above, why not have those 'Polar Bears" present their reports while holding up or wearing these mask??? doesn't sound like something you might want to do? Then, just make the masks, put black circles for eyes and tack the reports below the paper plate polar bear after it is shared!!!

⛄ 3:  If you are looking for a cute, easy to create, paper plate penguin, this could be it!

Just think how cute this would look hanging with those reports or whatever you decide works best for your students. You can also add some google eyes for a personal touch!! Too cute or what?

4:  The most popular reindeer in the North Pole is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but of course not all reindeer have red noses!!! 

This cute easy to create paper plate craft has an adorable red pom-pom nose, but if you want to change it up and make a regular ole reindeer, then just simply add a black pom- pom nose!!! Easy and cute...that's my style!!

5:  Are you looking for some books to enrich this mini unit? 

Here you go! Check out your school or local library for some of these titles!!

No matter how you present or use these ideas, your kiddos will absolutely LOVE learning about Animals of the Polar Region!

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What is Growth Mindset and How do we Encourage a Growth Mindset in our Classrooms?

What is Growth Mindset?

When Growth Mindset first became a buzz phrase in education, I was already retired, but many of my colleagues and my family have told me, since,  that I have a Growth Mindset.

Before this phrase, I was considered to have a positive, motivated personality where I never seemed to give up until I figured it out... so to speak... and I always took risks in my learning and teaching ...now to me and some others...those characteristics might be considered to be an obsessive compulsive type A personality, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that continuously thinking positively about situations and realizing that all things are possible if you try hard enough to achieve them, I am thinking Growth Mindset is just that!

Within your classroom, you can probably categorize your students into 2 or 3 basic groups: 

1.  Those that may not have the ability or talent, but consistently strive to do better and have the attitude that "I might not know it NOW, but if I keep trying, I will get it and be there."

2.  Those that have a strong ability and keep trying to get better and better, set goals and do their best to achieve those goals accepting the setbacks,but keep on trying.

3.  Those that have a fixed or closed mindset in that they just feel like they will never be where the others are and give up pretty easily and are overwhelmed or their spirit is devastated when they cannot do something or get what they need or want.

I am sure there may be more categories, but basically speaking, and I am not an expert on this topic, there are Growth Mindsets and Fixed Mindsets.

Think about it...I bet you can tell me exactly which of your family members fall into which category.

When students believe they can do something, they recognize that effort or consistently trying will make them better. That being said, they will put in extra time and effort, and that will lead them to higher achievement and success with their goals....simply put that is the foundation of a Growth Mindset!

According to Carol Dweck after studying the behavior of a plethora of students, she and her colleagues noticed that some students will move forward without a thought and others were crushed or overwhelmed by the smallest mistake or set back.

Dr. Dweck created Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset to describe the basic ideas people have about learning and intelligence or the ability to think and learn. (If you search Carol Dweck, you can find much research and articles on the topic of fixed and growth mindset...here is a great video to watch: The Power of Believing you can Improve)

I have always tried to have a Growth Mindset or in my case, a positive outlook and have encouraged and supported my own children and my students to embrace this thinking.  It is easy to say, “You can do it!” but more important to show or demonstrate how they can do this by getting students to think metacognitively or in other words, to think about their thinking and change their thinking from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset...or believing they can do it instead of They CAN'T do it!)

That being said, how do we achieve this type of thinking...or...Encourage a Growth Mindset in our classrooms? 

😊Self Talk:                

Self talk can support your thinking in that what we "tell ourselves" is usually what we believe. So if you think you can do something, you usually will eventually be able to accomplish it.  

Now... that is not to say that it will happen magically, but it is to say that "hard work pays off!" Encourage this type of "talk" with your students and your own children!

πŸ˜€Encouraging Words:  

As teachers, we need to support our students with positive language and encouraging words.  Use statements; such as:

You may feel like you can't do it right now, but if you study those words those words and work hard, you will eventually remember how to spell them!

Also: "I know it is hard sometimes to keep your hands to yourself, but if you remember to STOP and think, you will be able to control your actions."

Maybe you might try something like this:  " You might not be able to do this math problem right now, but my job is to teach you how to do it...so with my help you will learn this!"

Everyone can use a bit of encouragement in everything we encounter in life!

Let's remember to change, "I can't into I can't do this YET!

😊 Encourage Support that enables our students to gain confidence in their abilities to be Independent:   

Now that is a lot to think about...but what I am saying is not to help your students and children so much that we enable them to be helpless and always count on us to do it for them.

In other words give them responsibilities and support them as needed...don't do it for them, but scaffold the learning of a task or break it into manageable parts to build confidence.  I think you get what I mean...at least I hope you "GET IT!"

So...you give your students the tools needed to be successful with the task or concept and you show them how to do it, but allow them the time necessary to master the concept!

That may mean to differentiate your lessons as needed in order to show students they CAN DO IT!

It also means to show your students their growth...set a goal for a concept, set the steps to reach the goal and then show where they are in the beginning of a learning experience, where they are as they are learning a concept and then the end result or when they reach their goal.  This encourages a Growth Mindset and demonstrates with hard work you can achieve your goals.

This can easily be done with sight words, kid writing, math facts and really any learning concept or goal!

Here is a student using a sheet to set a goal, write how she feels and thinks about it,what steps she needs to take to accomplish her goal, which is to ride a two wheel bicycle, or she makes a plan and then she responds how she will feel when she achieves this goal!

😊 Encouraging Students to be Responsible: 

In my former classroom, I always assigned important classroom jobs to encourage responsibility in that if a child did not complete his/her classroom job, our classroom would not run as smoothly as it should.

Everyone had a job and an important responsibility in the morning and afternoon. If they forgot, we talked about how everyone makes mistakes and it is okay, tomorrow is another day and you have another chance to try it again...the next day,when the child remembered his job, imagine how s/he felt...you guessed it proud and confident and guess what s/he learned?  YEP...I can do it and it is ok to make a mistake...we learn from our mistakes!  they also learned that if we all work together we can accomplish a goal...in this case...making our classroom run smoothly!  Something as small as this can encourage a growth mindset.

πŸ˜€Hearing Success Stories: 

Just hop on the internet and you will find many true stories of people who overcame hardships or difficulties in their life. Sharing these stories with your students and children will motivate them to do their best and show them that many times we think we  CAN'T do something but with hard work, determination and a positive attitude...WE CAN DO IT in time!

With the concept of Growth Mindset in mind, I have created a few Growth Mindset resources to support positive thinking and to encourage your students to change their thinking!  You can find these resources right here!                 
These 2 resources are banners to hang in your classroom that present rules in an "I CAN" statement to encourage confidence and responsibility!

If you are looking for posters, writing frames and task cards to support Growth mindset, this is the resource for YOU!
Perhaps you are only interesting in Posters in Kid Friendly Language to hang in your classroom as reminders of how to think when you are faced with a problem and to encourage a Growth Mindset, then here you go!!                                                                 

This is just my opinion on how you can promote a Growth Mindset in your classroom ... I have many other ideas, but the purpose of blogging about a topic is to make it short and to the point!!!

I would LOVE to hear ideas that you have used in your classroom!  Please share your ideas in the comments below!!!

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