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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? 


๐Ÿ˜ŠSelf 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!



๐Ÿ˜€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!


๐Ÿ˜Š 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!

๐Ÿ˜Š 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.



๐Ÿ˜€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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A Few ideas to Make the Holidays Bright the Last Few Weeks Before Winter Break

Oh No...it's that time of year again. Thanksgiving is approaching and then...yes...then the dreaded Black Friday!  You come back into your classroom and the kiddos are all riled up...

SANTA has come to town and everything you had planned to teach goes right down the chimney...crash, bang, splat...

You bring in the Elf on the Shelf to keep an eye on the class and someone touches it and now it has

lost it's magic powers and you are back to square one...You pretend you see Santa at the window or maybe you even get a phone call or e-mail from old Saint Nick...nothing seems to get your excited students back to earth...Well...here is my motto: "Jolly Ole' St. Nicholas is coming down the chimney so make the best of it and have some fun with learning!"

That Elf on the Shelf looks so cute just sitting there, but he causes so much mischief! ⇰⇰⇰⇰

Here are some ideas to "Make the Holidays Bright the Last Few Weeks Before Winter Break"...



One of my favorite Christmas Crafts is this Torn  Paper Christmas Tree. It is great for fine motor skills and can be used with a unit about Holidays around the World to learn how the Christmas tree came to be. As you will see, this craft is easy, fun and creative for everyone...all ages!











Of course this tree craft has to have a reason to be created especially if you are in a school district that encourages teaching all Holidays around the world...not simply Christmas...don't worry, I have you covered...I am thinking that I may be your BFF teaching buddy right about now because I have the perfect resource for you complete with a Power Point to teach about a few Winter Holidays Around the World.  These are geared toward Kindergarten, First and possibly Second grades.

This resource is complete with a craft to represent many of the countries and holidays represented and much much more. 








Here are a few of the crafts represented in this resource and a there is also a powerpoint to teach about all the holidays included in Winter Holidays around the World!



Hanukkah Menorah

Kwanzaa weaving

Headbands for St. Lucia Day 







If you are looking for a fun "Read and Write the Room Resource"...you are in the right place!
This Santa Clues Activity is just right for YOU and your Kiddos!   
If you love wishes and gift giving, this fun differentiated will be a "go to" activity for years to come.  It includes wishes and gifts for the world, new year and family!


Maybe you will want to have some morning work available to support Common Core and calm your kiddos down a bit. You might like these booklets!  Holiday Fun for Grades K and 1

















Did I hear you say it would be an awesome idea if there were a few math resources to support math facts...well...your wish is my command.  Math Fact Roll and Cover Dice Game

So I hope this early holiday gift will bring a little sunshine your way and make your season bright!


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Classroom Management: 7 Actions to Build Positive Behavior in your Classroom

In today's face paced world of running around trying to get meals made or rushing through the drive through before practices plus eating breakfast quickly before the bus comes, we need to provide an environment in which kids feel safe, calm and can feel like they can be their best selves.
Pssst…Many teachers give their students morning work to complete, which is fine.  However what I suggest doing, and have done over the years, is to give students a “soft landing” time. This ensures they’re more motivated to learn and feel more positive throughout the day!
So here are a few tips that you can put into place immediately that will give your kiddos a relaxed, positive haven using techniques that will promote positive behavior management. 
Psst...Be sure to visit Beneylu school to read the full article and you will definitely be interested to see what Beneylu School has to offer your classroom and district!!
If you want to read the full post, click the link below!
Classroom Management 7 Actions to build Positive Behavior in your Classroom


Are you looking for some spectacular Classroom Management Resources?  Click here to check out a few!




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5 Ideas to Create a Culture of Kindness in your Primary Classroom That Will Make you SMILE!

I am thinking that if you are like me, you want to see more kindness in the world...kind actions and words every where. We need to start teaching our students and children how to be kind to one another and to spread kindness like confetti...If this sounds like YOU, then you will love this post: 5 Ideas to Create a Culture of Kindness in your Primary Classroom that will Make YOU Smile...you will especially like #5

So...today as I walked into Wawa, which, for those who do not live in the Delaware Valley, is an awesome convenience store that has everything from great coffee and soup to nuts and breakfast sandwiches to name a few things, I saw an older gentleman running toward me as I was about to open the door. He was wearing an US Navy baseball cap and said, "No, let me get that door for you!"  I looked a bit bewildered because I had nothing but my pocket book on my shoulder and by no means did I need any help what so ever, but I replied,"Sure, Thank you! Now aren't you kind." He limped into the store and wore a smile from ear to ear and I...well...I wallowed for a while in his kindness and began to reminisce to "the old days" when doors were held and opened for others and people...well...people seemed to expect that these actions were simply what you did without even thinking about it!

I grabbed my coffee and juggled my purse as I threw the change into it and walked behind a man who opened the door to exit and well...he just looked straight ahead, unaware of me behind him and simply let the door swing back at me...good thing I had the change in my purse and had a free hand or I would probably have a broken nose...well that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point.

"POOF" in 2 minutes I went from experiencing a simple kind gesture to a who cares if the door slams into a person attitude and then I had a revelation ( soft inspirational music please).

Kindness is a lost social grace.  I am not saying that no one shows kindness anymore, because they do...but what I am saying is we need to demonstrate kind actions everyday not just when our schools and neighborhoods decide to have a "pay it forward" or a "100 Acts of Kindness Week."  It reminds me of Mother's Day...we should be celebrating our moms everyday...not just one day a year...I know, I know...actually it is nice to have a special day where we celebrate kindness or moms or dads and especially teachers...BUT...it is important to demonstrate love, kindness and consideration every single day!

I am sure by  now you are wondering where I am going with this, but just give me a few more seconds...my point is..I think that Kindness is one of the most important behaviors that we can teach  our children and students.


I want it and I am sure you want it too...I mean everyone wants their students and children to be kind and show kindness in school and at home. At times it can be a difficult task, especially in a world where children are exposed to so much more than years ago.

In order to be kind it is necessary to ignite thought patterns that encourage children to think beyond themselves and to think about others. It is almost like stepping into the shoes of others to understand how they might feel. When children read a book, we ask them to imagine how a character might feel in a certain situation or even how they might feel if they were to experience what is happening in the story.  This is a form of empathy and a way to teach children how others might feel in different situations.  So it is important to give children opportunities to use real life situations.  For example, if they see a classmate crying, what would they do? A reminder to treat others the way they would want to be treated! YES..."The Golden Rule!"


So, here are 5 Ideas to Create a Culture of Kindness in your Primary Classroom That Will Make you SMILE!

1. Role Model and Practice Kindness:  You know the saying:  "Children Learn What They Live"...so if "Children Live with Kindness and Consideration, They Learn Respect."
We need to model kindness and consideration so our students will understand kindness and how to be kind.  We need to be aware of the words WE use when dealing with our students and our tone of voice. We need to USE those "Magic Words"or polite words..please, thank you, May I, Can I, etc.

Here is a resource I have created called:  Social Skills Manners Be Polite and Use Those Magic Words.  This resource will encourage your students or children to remember these words with posters and situational task cards to reinforce how to be polite and kind!


Another way to model kindness is as your students come into the classroom, greet them at the door to make them feel special. This small kind gesture will stay with them the entire day!
If children feel good about themselves, they will be calmer, more positive and ready to learn not to mention if you demonstrate this small act of kindness, you will see your students being kind to each other throughout the day!

2. Morning Meetings:  As soon as everyone is ready and all morning jobs are completed, provide a morning meeting where everyone joins in a circle on the rug and classmates greet each other in different ways.  They can pass a smile, shake hands to welcome their neighbor, elbow shake, butterfly greet or any ideas that you might think of for students to greet each other.  

You can also encourage a Compliment Greeting where each student gives a compliment to the person sitting next to them as they greet each other.  If you choose to do this, I always make sure that we compliment kind gestures or actions,
" Jimmy sat with me at lunch or Kelly shared her book with me" and not simply,"I like Johnny!"



A morning meeting provides a positive time for students to interact get to know each other better and when you nod or shake a hand and say, “Good Morning, Jake. I am really glad you are here today,” it sets a positive tone for your class and supports expected behaviors throughout the school day as well as supporting kindness, consideration for others and respect for each other.

A Morning Meeting consists of a Greeting, quick Game, Sharing Time and a Class Message, which all provide a positive way to start the day and encourage positive classroom behavior. (I will share more details about Morning Meeting in a later post).

3. Teach about Kindness and What it is and Means:  There are many resources out there and on Teachers Pay Teachers that have great ideas on how to encourage kindness and a plethora of books.

Here are a few books you may want to consider when teaching about kindness:
๐ŸŒŸ  What Does It Mean to Be Kind? (Rana Diorio)
๐ŸŒŸ  Kindness Counts (Brian Smith)
๐ŸŒŸ  Kindness is Cooler Mrs. Ruler Margery Cuyler)
๐ŸŒŸ Small Acts of Kindness (James R. Vollbracht)
๐ŸŒŸ Hey Little Ant (Phil and Hannah Hoose)

Perhaps you may want to think about using my most recent resource:  Be Kind

This extensive resource, jammed packed with many activities and ideas, will support your students and/or children to understand and be aware of ways to spread kindness. With Thanksgiving and other holidays right around the corner, I cannot think of a better time than NOW to empower your students to demonstrate kindness and be kind to others!








4. "Talking Turtle" a Spot to Talk and Work Out Problems:  I had a turtle, which was an old sandbox I found at a garage sale...don't you just LOVE garage sales?  I mean they are right up there with Dollar Stores and the Target Dollar Spot as well as Wednesday trash days...I have been known to find some great FREE deals walking around the neighborhood...you know the old saying "Someone's Junk is another's Treasure" or something like that!  Any way you can use anything even just 2 pillows in a corner or a table with a few chairs in the back of the room.  The main idea is to provide a spot where your students or children can talk out their problems independently in a nonthreatening considerate way giving each person a chance to talk and then coming up with a common solution on which everyone agrees. I can hear you right now...how long do you let them talk? What if they never come up with a solution and yadda, yadda, yadda! I place a poster with steps to solve problems and how to fix what you have broken in a kind and considerate way so everyone can feel good with the solution...I have to admit that sometimes it can go a bit long, but the upside is...they are learning how to take responsibility for their actions and how to solve problems...I may just have to write another post on this as well.

5. Kindness Jar All Year Long:  Have a Compliment or Kindness Jar during February or any month, for that matter.  I always placed the "jar" on a counter where it was easily accessible so children were able to write compliments about a classmate.  At the end of the day, I would simply pull a few out and read them to the class. This was also done during our morning meeting.  The jar I used was decorated with hearts to symbol kindness and I simply had a pencil/pen and heart-shaped sticky notes or paper next to the jar for students to write their compliments. If you notice that not everyone is getting a compliment, be sure to add some of your own so there is always smile!
       
Here is one I made for Kindergarten that was created from a clear flexible plastic container.
Any container or basket will work!














So...there you have it...5 Ideas to Create a Culture of Kindness in your Classroom...I hope you are smiling...I promised these ideas would make you smile and I never go back on my promises and after all...Kindness is a friendly smile!






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