Paper Foldables

Recipe for storytelling success:
-One part puppets they used to love during centers
-One part paper dolls
-One part paper football your students make when they should be listening
Mix all ingredients together carefully, et voila!

This and other fantastic foldable characters have been touted all around the crafting world. I first read about the free printables at haha.nu.
Go to paperfoldables.com to download and print Open-Mic-Night Guy and Sickly Cat or the whole Soap Box Derby gang. You can either cut and assemble these ahead of time for centers, or you can let your students be the official designers. They get to cut and fold paper; you get students excited about storytelling; everyone's happy.

Harmonica-mouth image from paperfoldables.com


PBS = Teacher's Goldmine

Besides broadcasting Barney, Big Bird, and other kid-favorite characters, PBS Teachers is chock full of cool interactive teaching tools. Thay have everything indexed on their thematic teaching list. While learning about Africa, kids will be guided by Femi through a Swahili folktale, the thumb-piano, and making an African mask.

If you're teaching about reptiles, kids can click their way through the anatomy of a crocodile. In a literature class, kids can use PBS' storytelling-tool to make a "movie trailer cut from stone."

Cartoon, crocodile and stone images from pbs.org.


How does your garden grow?

As school is starting, or almost starting, all around, I've been thinking of little ways to carry the pleasantness of summer into the school year. One very summery activity that is now getting attention from all over as a great and useful learning experience is gardening.

Although commiting to a garden may require a day or two of hard work, that might be just what's in order when the stress of test-preparation and tedium come to a boil. Other than stress relief, school gardening helps reach a ton of objectives in science, health, writing, and math. Kids can see all of those science-y cycles of water and carbon and plant life. They can write and draw about the changes they see; they can read and write recipes; they can calculate the necessary materials and space. And, gardening is a great way to squeeze nutrition-education into a sometimes crowded curriculum.

Your garden can be as simple as lima beans sprouting in plastic cups or much more amibitous. Lots of states and communities have developed programs to assist teachers in developing school gardens. The University of Florida hosts a school garden competition and has lots of tips and resources on their site. Texas A&M offers free resources to teachers along with lots of information on their site.



One of my very favorite and free resources is Shortcuts by Jeff Harris.

He creates fun, colorful and informative activity pages on all sorts of topics like X-rays, Jellyfish and this week's Chess. These pages full of history, puzzles, comics, and jokes are published each week in lots of newspapers. You can read about the chracters and find links to downloadable teacher's guides at shortcutscomic.com. They also sell poster-size versions of these encyclopaedic comics. I like to cut these out and laminate them for students who finish early.

Comic image from comic.com