1.06.2013

Fun Things to do in the Winter - FREE Printable List

From Halloween to New Year's Day, festivities and traditions make the cold, dark weather feel like the appropriate backdrop.  But then, just when the year reaches it's coldest and darkest, we take down all the sparkly lights and quit bundling up for trick-or-treating, caroling, and gift exchanges.  We begin healthy diets in place of the comforting meals eaten during the holidays. We start working on new beginnings and self-improvement.  In this time of growth, it's easy to see a leafless tree and start counting down the days until flowers will bloom.  But, since counting down days doesn't seem like a very positive way to live, I decided to make a list of non-holiday things that are fun to do in the winter. 
This list doesn't include any activities that require snow or ice, because I can't count on seeing any.  You can get your copy of this Fun Things to Do this Winter list HERE.  Lots of these activities could easily catalyze critical thinking and conversations about scientific topics like meteorology, astronomy, and biology.

If you're looking for more fun things to do, check out my summer list.

1.05.2013

A Year of Free Journal Prompts

Paper Coterie is offering a free memory jar printable that includes 52 writing prompts for the new year.
Everything you need to put together the cute kit is included in the printable (except a notebook and a jar). Journal writing is a great activity for kids (and adults) that involves writing practice & endurance, critical thinking, and handwriting practice. To make this kit more classroom friendly, store the unused writing prompts in a little pocket inside the front cover of the notebook in lieu of the jar.

If you need to build motivation about keeping the journal, share some stories like Amelia's Notebook, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or Dork Diaries series, all of which glamorize journal-keeping.  Get more ideas for introducing these books HERE.

If journaling fever takes hold in your class, and 52 prompts just won't be enough, also check out the free journal pages at Grace is Overrated.
Each of the MANY free printable pages is available to print with or without color and with or without borders.  The ultra-brief format of each question should help even the most reluctant writers get started.

1.01.2013

Year in Review - Free Printable

2012 was a challenging year for a lot of people (including myself), and I've heard quite a few folks say that they're glad to see it go.  Looking back on difficulties and setbacks led many of us to experience some blue moments during the final weeks of the year.  Spending the darkest days of the year listening to news about senseless deaths, impending financial collapse, and potential apocalypse is enough to leave anyone with a bleak outlook.  But, ladies and gentlemen, we made it! 

The first day of the new year always gives me a renewed sense of optimism.  It reminds me that during thousands of winters before now, people have worried and wondered if warmth and light and happiness will ever return, and each and every time, spring did come!  The beginning of the new year is the perfect time to celebrate successes from the last 365 days and to make a new plan for things that aren't working.  Since my approach to pretty much everything starts with making a list, I decided to create a form that would help me record accomplishments and happy memories from last year.

I looked over the goals I wrote last January and flipped through photos of the year to remind myself of all the exciting milestones and memories that happened amidst 2012's daily challenges, and I started writing.
Before I knew it, the little blue boxes were overflowing with all the special things that happened this year.  Listing all those good moments helped me feel capable, optimistic, and brave enough to begin setting goals for 2013, so I added a section to the back of the form for this purpose. 

For teachers, this halfway point in the school year is a great opportunity to reflect on what is going well, both professionally and personally, and to look for ways to improve areas that have been sources of negativity during the first semester.   Likewise, kids should be taught how to make reflection a part of their own quests for self-improvement.  To help you and your students begin recording last year's successes and planning the ones you'll work on this year, you can get as many copies as you need of this print-and-fold form HERE.  (In the preview, the colors look a little funny, but everything smooths out once you download the pdf).  You can refer to the goals form throughout the year in order to stay focused on what you want to achieve, and then this time next year you can look back at how far you've come.

For more ideas and printables for new year's goal-setting check out this article from last year.

Happy New Year!