Sack Lunch - Guide to Lunchboxes

If you work at or send children to a public school, there is hope that the cafeteria will someday serve more nutritious meals. In the mean time, to maintain healthy New Year's resolutions, skip the lunch line and bring a nutritious lunch from home. These 1970s metal boxes are awesome looking, but their features end at open and close. The Built Lunch Tote keeps food cool and opens into a place mat. The Lunchsense Lunchbox comes with perfectly sized containers and also folds out into a clean eating surface. Take a nod from the Japanese and get a Bento Box from Plastica or a Laptop Lunch System, an American-style bento box.
As for what to pack inside the box, get ideas for filling and frugal lunches at Squawkfox. Check out Good Housekeeping's 30 Ideas for School Lunches or explore Laptop Lunches' Lunch Ideas, perfect for their compartmentalized lunch tote. To have a lunch menu generated for you, setup an account at Lunchbox Magic where a month-long lunch menu is based on personal food preferences identified through their survey.
To avoid adding plastic-zipper bags to landfills, get dishwasher-safe snackTAXI reusable bags or follow this we wilsons reusable snack bag tutorial.
If people you work with have sticky fingers when it comes to food in the communal refrigerator, try the anti-theft lunch bags which create the illusion that your sandwich is covered in mold.

Images from Taking America to Lunch, Built, Lunchsense, Plastica, Laptop Lunches, snackTAXI, we wilsons and think of the


Make Your Own Learning Board Games

At this time of year, high-stakes state tests are coming soon for lots of classrooms. When your students (and you) can't take another second of practice-tests and review, break the monotony without breaking your students' stride by whipping up a board game.
This trivial-pursuits style game was modified from a template posted for Jefferson County Schools in Tennessee. Game-cards each feature five questions copied and reduced from an old final or state-mandated exam. Players roll a die, land on a numbered-square, and answer the corresponding question read by an opponent. The reader checks the answer on the back of the game-card.

Create additional sets of cards for new units or different classes. To assess students' learning during the game, have them copy the questions they had to answer on a piece of paper. Laminate cards for durability. Put stickers on pennies for extra-cheap game pieces. If you have dice at home, this game will only cost the price of printing and lamination.

** Leave your ideas for test stress-busters and solutions in the comments!


President's Day

If your district is having school on President's Day, then it will be a great time to showcase a few important presidential accomplishments.
Since this year marks the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, an entire site has been built to commemorate the bicentennial birthday and to share information about the 16th president. Students can see the new pennies designed to commemorate stages in Lincoln's life, read transcripts of Lincoln's speeches, or play the Abraham Lincoln Crossroads game, wherein players get information about decisions Lincoln made and then make their own decisions about what he should do. Teachers can access lesson ideas on the lesson plan page.
President's Day officially coincides with George Washington's birthday, so the powdered wig and cherry tree crafts at the Kaboose site will be a perfect tribute to our first president. To teach your students the background story of President's Day, visit the Alphabet-Soup blog to find the President's Day song and bunches of President's Day activities.


Books to Love

One way to promote the love of reading is by featuring celebrities' favorite books. This display is especially great near Valentine's Day and during Library Lovers' Month.


Seeing hearts

Valentine's decorations are one of the first signs around a school that Winter is officially making way for Spring. At the Martha Stewart site, she has lots of ideas that can brighten your classroom for the holiday using little more than recycled crayons.
The stained-glass hearts or crayon hearts make pretty window-decor out of crayon shavings and wax paper.
The crazy crayons made in heart-shaped cooking tins are a great way to turn discarded, broken crayons into coveted Valentine crafts.

Images from Martha Stewart Kids

Your Feet Really Stink

Earlier this week, I posted a link to my Valentine's book review on the No Time for Flash Cards blog. In response, the book's author, Diane deGroat pointed out that her website has printable activities to go with Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink and lots of her other children's books. Your students can color this picture of main character, Gilbert, or practice vocabulary from the story.

Image from Diane deGroat's Fun Stuff page


Valentine's Stories

Check out my Valentine's book review at the
No Time for Flashcards blog. While you're there, explore the other Valentine's book reviews and activities!


Another behavior incentive

In August, I posted some interactive behavior-incentive displays. Then, this school year, I have had all kinds of new challenges. My students aren't really into music, and my school doesn't allow teachers to give food as prizes; but, most of my students love sports.

With this incentive chart, my students earn a basketball in the basket for each compliment they receive outside of the classroom. After they get ten baskets, I buy a new toy for recess.
The idea could easily be adapted to any other activity your students enjoy, and this is a simple way to remind your class that good decisions earn rewards.