7.30.2011

Bulletin Board Ideas

With another school year right around the corner, it's time to put up bulletin boards.  If you're still searching for a just-right theme for one of your classroom displays, check out these great ideas...

This fun picnic presentation by seesuestitch uses paper plates as backdrops for outstanding essays.  You can save yourself TONS of time by planning out nice looking bulletin boards that will stay up all year.  Just change the student work samples or other contents from time to time in order keep the display relevant to new topics through the school year.  Find tips for getting student work on display and then back into take-home folders without any staple or tape frustration in past articles.

Looking for a classroom management display idea?  Malone.janet has some great bulletin board ideas including this too-cute behavior tracking system.
Her method of numbering the little pockets is perfect for classrooms that see lots of different groups of students.  At the end of the class period, the behavior for each seat number can be quickly assessed and reported to homeroom teachers or parents as necessary.  Then, a helper could change every pocket back to green for the start of the next class.

You can also get more behavior management board ideas here and here.

7.25.2011

Smurftastic Foldable Puppet

If you have caught a case of Smurf fever, scurry over to Toy-A-Day where you can get your very own free print and fold smurf puppet.
I'm looking forward to comparing and contrasting the new movie with the cartoon I loved as a kid.  Finding the similarities and differences in things is a great critical thinking skill.  Then, with the adorable foldable puppets, students can retell and reinvent Smurf stories to their heart's content.

7.15.2011

Harry Potter

If you're heading out to see the final movie in the Harry Potter series, get into the spirit with homemade butterbeer from Hello My Name is Heather.
Also check out her tutorial for the mini broomsticks.

Then, print these cut-and-fold Harry Potter glasses, and you'll be ready for the show.

But It's a Dry Heat

 For the last couple of weeks, my husband and I were on a road trip across the southwestern U.S.  All over the eastern side of central California, we saw these signs.
Instead of rows and rows of agriculture, the land was filled with singed grass and parched earth cracking open in the dry summer heat.  A change in the state's irrigation systems caused hundreds of farms in the area to be cut off from the water supply.

This summer drought is affecting huge stretches of the southern U.S., leading to wildfires and fireworks cancellations.
U.S. Drought Monitor
On our trip, we saw a car fire that ignited the whole thirsty field beside it.

To get your students involved in water conservation, start by helping them understand water supply.  Check out The Watershed Game from University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History to learn about how we are connected to all the water around us.
A quiz for novices is followed by four intermediate quizzes with interactive panoramic pictures.

Then visit King County, Washington's groundwater resource page, which includes an adorable animation featuring two groundhogs who explain the water cycle and the importance of groundwater.
The video is super catchy, explains exactly why it's important to be a good citizen when it comes to water, and is cute enough for adults to endure several viewings if necessary.

If you have a theatrical bunch of learners, try out this water cycle readers' theater script from Enchanted Learning.  My students enjoyed using simple popsicle-stick puppets to distinguish their roles.  Wild Olive's free Fair Weather Friends patterns for rain, sun, snow and wind would be a good start for representing the characters.
Let students decide how to depict the other roles.

Use literature to help students understand the historical significance of drought in the United States by reading the 1998 Newbery Medal winner Out Of The Dust by Karen Hesse.
This free verse poetic novel is a young teenager's journal of her life in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl during 1934 and 1935.  The story's descriptions are very vivid.  Early in the story, Billie Jo explains how her family sets the table:
"I place plates upside down, glasses bottom side up, napkins folded over forks, knives, and spoons.  When dinner is ready we sit down together and Ma says, 'Now.'  We shake out our napkins, spread them over our laps, and flip over our glasses and plates, exposing neat circle, round comments on what life would be like without the dust" (p. 21).
When you read Hesse's story, you can imagine that you're there with grit between your teeth as well.

Also check out The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan, a spooky graphic novel set during the Dust Bowl.
Visit the publisher Candlewick Press' site to see a short video about the book.  This book is recommended on the 2011 Texas Bluebonnet list for 3rd-6th graders.