Did you know that the New York Times has an archive of student crosswords listed by subjects on this page? From American History to Technology, you can find puzzles created by Frank Longo as well as the answers and suggested curriculum links. I found this link when I discovered this page that provides a printable crossword puzzle on how people say thank you around the world. A couple of other timely suggestions are, “Thanksgiving,” “Giving,” and “Holidays Around the World.” These seem to be targeted at the teenage age range, though some upper elementary and middle school students can probably work on them in groups, given the proper resources.
A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page.
If you have a child who enjoys drawing, Extraordinaires may be just the gift for him or her. This unique kit encourages Design Thinking by providing Character cards (Extraordinaires), Project Cards, Think Cards, and Idea Pad, and a case. (Included supplies vary, depending on the set.) Children can choose an Extraordinaire and a Project to design for that character. Empathy is encouraged by suggesting the designer should first study the Extraordinaires card closely to learn anything that might be helpful in creating a personalized design for the character. Think Cards can be used to help the designer consider improvements or tweak that can be made to the design. Inventing a “backstory” for the character is also recommended.
We have used the Buildings Set and the Design Studio in my 2nd and 4th grade classes. The students really enjoy choosing from the unusual cartoon-like Extraordinaires, and quickly become close to the fictional characters they’ve selected. These sets definitely spark the imagination – especially for children who love to invent, draw, and/or write.
There are currently three Extraordinaires sets available at different price points. There is also a free app available that allows designers to see and share projects. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can download a sample project for children to try.
If you want your child to spend more time “unplugged” and creating, Extraordinaires is definitely a worthwhile gift option.
Now, if you don’t know by now that I adore Kid President, you need to see this post, and, well, pretty much any of these. That is why I was so excited to find that We Are Teachers is offering a set of free Kid President printable posters here. And I just got my own laminator, so I am going to be making good use of it. (I never knew I wanted to laminate so many things until I got this little gadget!) By the way, We Are Teachers has a lot of other sets of free printables that you can find here, including 5 free kindness posters which I’m ready to laminate and post anonymously in numerous public places or maybe just hire a plane to drop like leaflets all over the country…
As I continue to seek out ways to battle sexism, racism, and all of the other intolerant -isms and phobias, it is nice to find videos that support this quest. Though they may be commercials (isn’t anything that is supposed to persuade you a commercial?), the message in each of these videos is powerful and, most of all, kind. For more inspirational videos, you can check here and here.
Leslie Fisher (@LeslieFisher) tweeted out this link to Weekly Map yesterday. The concept is similar to the “What’s Going on in this Graph?” feature that appears in the New York Times the second Tuesday of every month – except, of course, that this a weekly challenge. Each Monday brings a new map, and a hint is given each weekday including Friday. A link is also provided on Friday to the answer.
So far, the site has archived 65 Weekly Maps, and they are labeled with difficulty ratings. This is a great way for students to practice deductive reasoning and geography skills, as well as vocabulary. (I had no idea what a choropleth map was until I looked at this site.) The “Lessons” part of the site is under construction, so maybe if we give them lots of love that will happen faster!
Last Thursday, Richard Byrne shared an absolute treasure trove of Google Drive templates created and shared by Darren Maltais. You can click the link above to read Richard’s post. One of the templates that you may want to consider using in the near future is “ELA 12 Days of Christmas,” which offers 12 different creative writing ideas, along with examples. Whether you plan to use some or all of these, you should definitely make a copy of this to help you and your students make it through this occasionally overwhelming time of year! (I particularly like the Facebook example with comments from Buddy the Elf and Rudolph!) By the way, if you would like math activities for the 12 Days of Christmas, you can try this.
A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page. Also, you can see last week’s recommendation here.
Rover Control is a part of a series of three coding games released by Thinkfun this year. Like the other two games, Rover Control is “unplugged,” which means that no digital devices are required. My students enjoy all three games, but they seem particularly drawn to Rover Control – possibly because it is the only one that involves using dry-erase markers 😉
The purpose of Rover Control is to color paths on the included Terrain Maps so that the Mars Rovers can find their way. According to the storyline, the original paths were covered by a giant dust storm, and it is the player’s job to re-discover those paths. The 40 challenges are in a booklet, and increase in difficulty as you turn each page.
All three of the coding games in this series have extensive instructions that include explanations of numerous rules and symbols. We learned that it is easier to start playing and look new symbols or rules up as we encounter them than it is to read all of the instructions before beginning to play. We also learned that kids are much better at deciphering instructions than Mrs. Eichholz…
As with many Thinkfun products, Rover Control is designed so that it can be played independently or collaboratively. I have found that it works perfectly in my classroom with groups of three students. They each get a dry-erase marker, and seem to benefit from group discussions as they plan their solutions. It’s important to remind players to stick with the sequence of the challenge booklet. Though beginning challenges may seem too easy, the puzzles are scaffolded in a way that slowly introduces new difficulties; skipping straight to the back of the book will only result in frustration.
With this year’s Hour of Code just around the corner (Dec. 4-10, 2017), you may want to consider adding “Rover Control” to your classroom as a center or to your home as a fun family night activity. For my students in 3rd-5th grades, the game seems to have just right amount of challenge and entertainment. If you are buying this game to be played at home, I recommend that parents play along with the children. It is a good opportunity to model problem-solving and perseverance, since adults can find the puzzles difficult as well.
Disclaimer: Every once in awhile, Thinkfun will send a product or two for me to review. These products are used in my classroom, but it is my decision whether or not to post a review on this blog. All opinions in these reviews are based on my honest observations.