Design Freebies, part II

At the beginning of August, I posted about Summer Allen-Gibson's design freebies blog. Recently, she's posted bunches of new free stuff including some neat teacher-y things. Among my favorites are the library cards and pockets

Visit the blog to find links to this and other great projects.

Images and library pocket & card project from Creature Comforts.


Government-issued - Health & Social Studies Games Online

Last week, I posted about eco-games that help kids understand how to care for their surroundings. Turns out that another great source for cool educational games is the U.S. government. Maybe you're not surprised; I am surprised. Nevertheless, at kids.gov there are links to bunches of really fun, very educational games courtesy of the EPA, CDC, VA, US Mint, and other offices that are typically very serious.
The Immune Platoon is a superhero take on explaining the nitty-gritty of the immune system. At the end of the comic story, there is a Disease Database where kids can explore the story's immunity villains. This story is one of many features on the CDC's BAM! (body and mind) site for kids. At the Stress-o-Meter Quiz, kids can measure their own stress and get an idea of what appropriate stress is and isn't.
My favorite government game comes from the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps Challenge is a first-person fact-finding mission that integrates public health, international cultures, and education through Q&A and multiple choice. Colorful, believable characters guide players through a virtual facsimile of a Peace Corps experience. This is a great way to let kids explore and learn about complicated social studies topics.


Sticky Situation - Classroom Display Trick

This week I will be decorating my new classroom. Finding the perfect adhesive for every situation is a little-known teacher passion. Depending on surface type, humidity level and student behavior, each classroom requires different adhesive solutions. Today, I discovered one such solution. When hanging unlaminated posters and student work, there is always a concern about how to preserve the back of the item when it's removed from the wall. At the Make and Takes blog, author Marie suggests placing a piece of tape flat on the poster first. Then make a tape loop that won't tear the paper.
Watch her blog for other cool ideas.

Images from Make and Takes


Behavior Incentives

Check out these cool bulletin boards for behavior incentives!
Beth Newingham features this gumball machine in the classroom tour on her site. While you're visiting her page, you should also see her teacher resources section which is jam-packed with resources for reading and writing teachers.

This pizza system is from Classroom Displays blog. Students earn toppings with good behavior. When the pizza is all made, the class wins a pizza lunch.


Environmental Awareness with Online Games

I went to a professional development presented by Keep America Beautiful today. As it turns out, they have an entire curriculum for teaching about waste management, conservation and littering. In addition to hearing about the lessons and ideas in their curriculum, I found out about several cool websites where students can practice their environmental awareness.
At bottlesandcans.com, students deliver recyclable trash from the roadside to the bins across the highway in the easy but fun eco-conscious game.
For a more serious test of eco-awareness, visit EcoKids. At this Canadian site, kids can practice setting up a yard sale or help solve the mystery of the Great Garbage Caper.
And, at Clean Sweep USA, there are virtual comic books for kids to read and learn.

Images from bottlesandcans, EcoKids, and Clean Sweep USA.


Another organizing idea

Classrooms have an astounding ability to amass unusual and sometimes unruly collections.

Martha Stewart Kids has a fun and utilitarian idea for organizing all the odds and ends that come with children. Objects are scanned before being tossed into a can and labeled with their own image. Check out the details of the project at
Container craft image from Martha Stewart


Crayon Redux

Unless you're one of those super-industrious teachers who meticulously cleans their classroom on the last day of school, then the beginning of school means sorting through the old stuff and making the space feel new again. One sign of a worn-in classroom is a big bucket of broken crayons. If you, like me, have one-such bucket staring you down as you begin the year, Craft Magazine's blog has just the solution you need.

Crayons that had been left abandoned become the most coveted, swirly-colored drawing tools of all! And today, the Craftzine blog offers anextra credit crayon craft. Once you've mastered recycled-crayons cookies, you can create crayon masterpieces.

Images from Craftzine.com


Free Design

Free Design Goodies is a side-project-blog by Summer Allen-Gibson of Design is Mine. During her regular design reading, she finds freebies, weeds out the good ones, and collects them on this blog.
Whether you're looking for a cool craft for your students, trying to organize student information, or wishing for some adorable stationery,
Summer has found it and provided links.
Images from Free Design Goodies


Classroom Style

As each school-year begins, I try to find a compromise between slaving over a perfectly-theme-decorated kinder-haven and leaving my classroom looking like an under-funded aesthetically-unpleasant government building. Today, I found these images in Flickr. These are classrooms I could definitely enjoy!
library sign - my collection; scissor tree - JulieFrick; Cans, Emerson tree, Monkeys, Frisbee passes - Classroom Theme-a-palooza; Tree Mural - bliss_24

Teaching Tolerance

Teaching Tolerance is an amazing education project by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They have designed lesson plans, classroom management guides, curricula, and games that promote understanding and tolerance. All of their resources are available for free, either online or by mail.
Last year my elementary students became obsessed with Rosa Parks after seeing Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks. The video comes by mail with discussion idea and lesson suggestions. Also, there are more suggestions on their site for teaching with this documentary.

I Will Be Your Friend is a book of "songs and activities for young peacemakers." A cool example is "1492" which cheerfully re-examines popular beliefs about the discovery of the Americas.



When I was in college, Google was a) the easiest way I knew to research for my papers and articles; b) a verb meaning to stalk via the internet.
Although Google has since continued to sport its spare, tried-and-true, appearance, it seems that they've been busy backstage. Today as I explored my way through this extensive list of services and programs, I stumbled onto SketchUp. Despite the title sounding like the program involves finger-painting with tomato sauce, it is actually a cool, free, 3D drawing tool.

The possibilities for teachers seem endless. Google has a page of actual student work and a page of students' projects for a SketchUp competition. Teachers can download the program and design simple constructions to teach lessons on shadows (the program displays the shadow for your project) and shapes. You can cut cross-sections of your designs to show the inside. When you download the program, Google takes you to set of short video-tutorials that explain all the basic tools in the program. There is also a database of pre-made objects that you can use in your own lessons. And, Bonnie Roskes has designed a kids' curriculum for SketchUp including free activities and free teacher guides for all grade-levels.
The applications for student-use are really far-reaching. Kids can design and present projects for advanced classes like architecture and engineering. Younger students can use the tool to show comprehension of geometry and science objectives. Social studies classes can create scaled maps. Little kids can create their own 3D shapes, products, and projects.

Images from SketchUp.google.com