Teacher Ideas

Teacher Ideas

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Printables & Freebies
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Classroom Ideas

Lil Sprouts Book Club: The Little Scarecrow Boy

This week we've been all about scarecrows around our house.  Due to being married to a former farmer and my son's bedroom being stocked in all things farm, we have a lot of scarecrow examples throughout books, pictures, toys, etc.  I heard some teachers at school talking about scarecrow books and activities the other day, so I decided to jump on the theme.

One of the books that I was introduced to was The Little Scarecrow Boy by renowned children's author Margaret Wise Brown.  It's a great tale just like her Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, but David Diaz's artwork, might move it up a notch on my favorites list.  What a touching story it is of a little scarecrow boy who just wants to be like his daddy.  His daddy is a fierce scarecrow, and his son just doesn't have the knack for keeping the crows away just yet.  His dad reminds him that he can be a fierce scarecrow when he is older.  Reading the story brought a smile to my face because my son hears this a lot from his daddy.  He asks to mow the lawn, hammer, saw, grill, and so much more.  My husband gently reminds him that he can do all these things when he is a little bit older.  He patiently waits and watches his daddy in action.  The little scarecrow boy did just that too, until one day he goes out into the field alone.  With a sweet ending and beautiful illustrations, you will be swept into the fall season after reading.  

We used this mask to act out the story after we read it a couple of times.  I had the cardboard mask forms (found at a craft store) from another project.  I used paper from our scrap basket (I think I've said before that I find a scrap basket in my home and classroom to be invaluable for projects).  We glued pieces here and there, and our scarecrow slowly came to life.  Of course when we were almost done I found a pattern on a great scrapbooking website.

Of course any reason to break out the candy corn is a great activity in my eyes!  We headed to the kitchen and concocted a Scarecrow Snack.  A yummy afternoon snack!  The scarecrow bags are getting decorated for my son's preschool class to enjoy this snack too.  Have fun celebrating this season with your children!

Add scarecrow crafts to your fall bulletin boards by using Simply Sprout's Fall Bulletin Board Kit.


Fingerpaint and Glitter...No Joke!

 I truly never thought that I would ever type or say those two words together, fingerpaint and glitter.  It's been a long running joke that I tell my students at the beginning of each year that I'm allergic to glitter.  I don't mind mess, but when it lingers on your fingertips, eyelids, desks, oh say everywhere for months, I'm not so into it.  In honor of the fall feel to the air today, I embraced my inner glitter snob and conquered my fear.

This simple outside art activity created a seasonal masterpiece for our home.  I cut out some leaves using craft paper and an image from Google.  After the grown up part was done, I let little Picasso take charge.  We mixed Elmer's glue and water to make a solution perfect for glitter.  I held the leaves down, he painted the glue/water on with a paintbrush.  Using a paper plate underneath, we sprinkled with glitter.  I even bought glitter, there's a first for everything, and it's called Velvet Glitter.  Very fancy isn't it?  I really bought because it was a sample pack that came with lots of different colors.  
While the leaves were drying, the fingerpainting got underway.  We chose some fall inspired colors, and Mack mixed them about.  While the paint was wet, we stuck the leaves on the paper, and hung it up to dry.

I remembered that I had an unused shadow box inside (usually around $12-$15 at a TJ Maxx or HomeGoods type store).  I love to keep a couple to pop in seasonal things just like this.  The box allows the dimension of the piece to really shine.  Sounds very artsy doesn't it?

This quick art project with your kids will add some fall feel to your home or classroom.  What a wonderful way to introduce children to the idea that leaves change colors throughout the year.  What a vivid reminder at how beautiful this season is.  

Fall art like this would make a great addition to our Fall Bulletin Board kit in the Simply Sprout store.


Happy Fall Y'all!

Welcome to fall y'all!  Today marks the first day of a wonderful season.  We don't see many signs of autumn around our parts, but we sure do enjoy the little taste that we get.  I am a lover of pumpkins, corduroys, burlap, football, pies, oh the list could keep going and going!  Despite it being in the high 80s in North Florida, we are happy to welcome this time of year with a kid friendly craft. 

You might have seen this paper bag oak tree in the past, but it is worthy of sharing again and again.  I've used it for years in my class to create family trees, but this year my son and I used it to learn about colors and practice his fine motor skills.  All you need is a brown grocery sack, and anything you would like to add to it.

To construct the tree you will open the grocery sack and turn in upside down.  Using scissors cut one inch strips around the bag from the opening to the first fold in the bag.  At this point it will look more like a jelly fish than a tree.  Just below that fold you are going to squeeze the bag by pushing in from the left and right.  Once you have a good handful, start twisting.  I used a wired ribbon to keep mine well twisted, but you don't have to.  Give the bottom of the sack a good whack to flatten it out.  Then you will simply twist each of the strips to create branches.  Younger children will need help with the construction, but by third grade they should be able to handle it on their own.

We used glitter scrapbook paper to create fall foliage.  The pumpkins are from the dollar section of Target (although they were $2.50 each...tricky, tricky), and add some more fall fun to our scene. 

Here are a few ways to keep the learning going with your fall trees:

*  Encourage children to write a story about their "magical" fall tree.
*  As mentioned above, research your family and create a family tree.  Each leaf is dedicated to one family member.
*  Have children write things that they are thankful for on leaves over the next month and leave out as November and Thanksgiving centerpieces.
*  Have students make a tree for a classmate.  The student is responsible for rounding up adjectives from other classmates that describe the person.  Then they are able to present a classmate with a tree full of positive remarks.
*  Create multiple trees to represent trees of all seasons.  Or simply do a drawing of the trees during different seasons. 

Most of all enjoy the first day and the many days to come to the fall season! 


Apple Dunking

What says the beginning of the school year and fall more than APPLES!  We eat them, we love them, but do we know the science behind them?  We did a little experimenting in science this week to find out more about these delicious little fruits.  

Look how adorable this pennant banner turned out in my classroom from our Apples, Apples Everywhere kit in our Simply Sprout store.  My favorite part about it is that the letters come in white and green.  My little helper bee of a student put it together with one white letter and I couldn't bear to change it!  She is a special apple in the bunch!

Since my students are learning all about the scientific method before starting their science fair projects, we did a quick experiment.  This is a super simple one to do at home too!  Before starting your experiment make sure to have children make observations, predictions, pose questions, and create a hypothesis.

All you need is:

Shallow bowls
Knife (with adult help)

Directions: Peel and slice the apple, and cover one slice of apple with water in one bowl.  In a second bowl, squeeze half of a lemon on another apple slice.  In the third bowl, leave a slice of apple exposed to air.  Let the apple slices sit for one hour.

During that hour we made several observations and journaled about what we saw.  Remind students that it's important to jot down the time of each of those observations.

While we waited for our apples to do their thing, we dissected apples as well.  This was a great activity to teach the importance of diagramming and labeling.   We worked with our younger science buddies on this project, so it was important to choose an object that was appropriate for both age groups to dissect and diagram.

The cute diagram sheets came straight out of Simply Sprout's Apple kit as well.  We talked about all the parts of the apple, including what makes up the core.  

After an hour, several observations, and reviewing our data, we were ready to draw some conclusions.  We concluded that the lemon juice helped preserve the apple slice the best.  We had several trials set up around the room to insure that our findings were correct.  My smarty pants students concluded that the acid from the lemon helped in the preservation process.  Of course they were correct!  They clearly saw that the slice left exposed to the air browned the quickest, the one in water was protected some what from oxygen, but that the lemon juice worked the best.  We talked about the chemicals within the apple combining with oxygen to form a brown blanket of sorts over the apple to protect it.  However, the vitamin C in the lemon juice binds with oxygen creating a barrier and limited the browning on the apple flesh.

What a great science experiment and activity to usher in fall!  
We hope that you do some fall science soon too! 

Here is a freebie just for you!


**I apologize for camera phone pics.  This busy teacher was snapping away and teaching!

Stop by our Simply Sprout Store to purchase the entire kit!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Lil Sprouts Book Club: Mr. Peabody's Apples

I have to admit, I never thought I would reach a point in my life where I was using a book written by Madonna to introduce and teach morality issues to my four year old, let alone to a classroom of students. But I have to say this book has quite a powerful message for young readers.

Mr. Peabody's Apples takes place in a tiny American town. The big-hearted and much beloved Mr. Peabody, is an elementary school teacher and Little League coach who dedicates his summer Saturdays to the local team. They just happen to be a losing team The kindhearted teacher seems to savor life the way he savors his weekly apple. He enjoys taking pleasure in the little things. 
One weekend after the game, Tommy Tittlebottom watches Mr. Peabody take his apple without paying for it. He begins spreading the rumor that Mr. Peabody had taken the apple. By the next Saturday, Mr. Peabody's apparent theft has become a wide spreading gossip throughout Happville. As a result no one comes to his Little League practice. A simple explanation puts the rumors to rest, but as Mr. Peabody points out in a powerful demonstration, small talk can often lead to big trouble for everyone.

As adults it is so easy to be sucked in to gossip and rumors. We often find hearsay running rampant through our social circles, workplaces and even the local grocery store. Sometimes it is hard to escape. As moms and teachers we know how hurtful gossip can be (especially in the teen years) and how important it is to teach our little ones to take the moral high ground and do the right thing. However we can talk till we are blue in the face, our children follow our lead. When we are on the phone or at soccer practice gossiping about the latest news our children are picking up our bad habits.  Bad habits don't pop up over night, our children watch and learn from us over time and sometimes are the biggest mirrors to our own behaviors. So take a lesson from Mr. Peabody's Apples and think before you speak, your children both at home and in the classroom will follow your example.

To help my little one with the story we took some time out while we were at the beach to have a little teachable moment. We had just read the story the night before, so I asked my daughter if she could just pick up one piece of sand. She thought for a moment and got her shovel. I told her no I just want one piece.

After trying for a few minutes she finally told me mommy I can't it's just too hard. I related the story to her challenge of only picking up one piece of sand.

By relating the story from the book to her experience it helped to convey the message. While she might not fully grasp gossiping she does understand telling the truth and telling a lie, which at 4 years old is an important skill to teach frequently. I used this story and activity to reinforce our conversations on telling the truth. Quite frequently I catch my sweet little 4 year old blaming things on her sweet baby brother. Helping her to realize the importance of always being honest is a great life skill that she will need, especially as she heads off to school.

So when you have a behavior or situation you need to address with your little one.
Look to a book to help you illustrate your point!


Mommy & Me Mondays: Hands on Math fun

 Math can sometimes be overwhelming to young learners so why not make it fun. Practice basic skills over and over again with a few simple teacher tricks to keep it fun and always interesting. Small tangible items that can be easily picked up by little fingers are perfect for math time, both in and out of the classroom.

Everything from buttons to beads can all be used to keep little ones eager top learn and practice basic math skills like addition and subtraction. My favorite go to objects are glitter pom poms, they are sparkly and soft and come in all sorts of fun colors and sizes.
In celebration of fall we have been practicing addition using apples trees. Bright red pom poms represent the apples and small wooden trees from my local craft store are the perfect way to teach addition skills.
I start off by reciting a word problem to my little one.
" Tommy climbed an apple tree and picked two apples, Suzie climbed another tree and found three apples. How many did they find all together?"
My daughter listens to my words and then uses the pom poms to show the problem. 2 on one tree 3 on the other. This evening she even got out one of her number puzzles to show the numbers of the apples on the trees.

One of the best things about little siblings is they always want to do what the older sibling is doing . So why not use that to your advantage. My daughter helped teach her 18month old brother how to point to the pom pom as she counted the numbers. He can't quite say numbers just yet but he did point and say something. Having her teach her brother helps to reinforce those newly learned math skills.

So as your child is eating breakfast in the morning, or waiting for dinner at night, keep a ziploc bag of pom poms, beads, buttons or whatever else on hand and have them work on their addition problems. Change out the wooden cutouts and objects for the season to keep it fresh and fun for them. You will find that their skills will be stronger just by adding in a few minutes into each day to brush up on their math skills. This will help to reinforce math vocabulary and build upon their natural curiosity for learning. Which will help prepare them for the classroom and all the math fun yet to come. While having a little fun at the same time.

Use the freebie below to encourage those new math skills!

If you are looking for a way to get a little more math in your day check out our Morning Math Minute set in our Simply Sprout Store. Have your students or children learn about numbers 1 - 30 with these quick math minute activities. 

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Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Reading is out of this world!

We are so excited to show you are "Accelerated Reader Reading is out of this World Kit" This kit is designed to motivate and challenge readers to reach their goals. Our featured classroom comes from Mrs. Amy Selfe at Gilchrist Elementary School in Tallahassee, Florida. She teaches First Grade and is loving using the kit to challenge her students to reach their semester goals.

Books are easily kept organized in leveled baskets using the cute labels that come with this kit. Just attach your colored sticker to the label and to your books and place baskets on a shelf for east student access. Using bright colored stickers that match the school library's Accelerated Reader levels helps students to read books in the classroom throughout the day in order to help reach their goals.

This colorful display board ties in beautifully with the theme. It allows students to express their individual creativity by coloring and decorating their rocket ships. You can add pictures or just their name. Attach strips of red, orange and yellow tissue paper as streamers.

The Reading Log provided in the kit is the perfect addition to a daily student notebook allowing parents to keep track of nightly reading.

Blank pages provided allow you to create your own personal letters to update parents about goals, incentives or other important messages about your reading program.

The colorful planets can be printed and used for your bulletin board. Students individual martians can be placed on or around the planet as they make their goals.
One way to do this if you are short on space is to put each individual martian on a clothespin. Attach ribbon to the back of each of the goal planets. As students make their goals their clothespin can attach onto the ribbon of the different planets. This would be a great way for the students to actually move their martian when they make their individual goals.

We hope you like our kit as much as we enjoyed creating it! There are more resources included that aren't mentioned her like student awards and weekly goal punch cards. We hope hat you will swing by our store and check it out. We are offering school wide licensing for use of this product. Just purchase the school wide site license and every teacher at your school can use and copy the product for their classroom. What a great way to incorporate a school wide reading theme!

 Get your free reading log above for your students! Click on the link below to purchase the entire kit!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
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