Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, K-5, Math

Valentine’s Day: Some “Heartfelt” Resources for Teachers

If you’re looking for some “heartfelt” Valentine’s Day resources for teachers, this post has got you covered!

In the process of trying to update and collect my downloadable resources from over 11 years of writing this blog, I decided to start a “store” (located under “Downloads for Teachers” in my top menu) hosted on my website. The purpose of this store is not for me to make money, but to make it easier for teachers to search and filter through my resources. It has been a slow process, and I haven’t worked out some of the kinks. But I think it will be worthwhile eventually.

You do need to create a free login in order download items from the store. The majority of the items are free. However, I’ve decided to sell bundles of items for a low fee, donating $1 out of every $5 earned to teacher projects on Donors Choose. I am slowly removing my items from Teachers Pay Teachers and will eventually host everything I create on my store with the multiple goals of giving teachers easy access to free resources that are good for students and hopefully earning money to give back to teachers who have amazing ideas for which they need funding. Currently, all of my S.C.A.M.P.E.R. resources are available in the store and I am now working on getting my Visible Thinking Routine resources added.

Would You Rather Valentine’s Day Math for Elementary

While working on my store, I recently updated my “Would You Rather Math?” for Valentine’s Day using a cute Canva template. You can download the new PDF here. For the old versions (including Google Slides and PowerPoint), as well as a more detailed explanation, here is the post I originally wrote when I made this resource based on the work of John Stevens and his WYRM website. Want the free Canva template link so you can edit it and make your own? I’ll be posting it in this week’s newsletter, so be sure to sign up if you haven’t already!

I haven’t had a chance to update and upload this next Valentine’s Day resource to the store, but if you like to give out something other than candy for Valentine’s Day (or any time of the year), these QR Code Coupons that I made way back in 20212 are a cute option to insert into an old chocolate box or into Valentine’s Day cards for your students.

If you are looking for more Valentine’s Day Resources, you can check out my Valentine’s Day Wakelet here.

Books, Critical Thinking, K-5, Language Arts

Gifts for the Gifted – Guess The Three-Letter Words

Several 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 (except for 2019) every 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, including my 2021 list, you can visit this page. I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students. 

The stats from my blog show me that word games are still pretty popular as people are still regularly visiting my post on different versions of Wordle and my article about the word ladder game, Fourword. With that in mind, I thought I would test out a book called, Guess the Three-Letter Words, Logic Puzzles for Kids, for this week’s gift recommendation.

In recent years, I’ve tried to link to author sites or independent bookstores when I give book recommendations. However, this book seems to be only available on Amazon and does not appear to have an author (listed only as “Learn & Fun.”) When you click on the link for “Learn & Fun,” you’ll be directed to this page, where other puzzle books are listed. I’m guessing “Learn & Fun” books are self-published, but I suppose that doesn’t really matter if they have the content you’re looking for.

In this particular book, there are 100 puzzles, divided into “Easy” and “Hard.” Each puzzle resembles a Wordle, except that these are all 3-letter words and two out of three responses are shown. Using the information you get from those two responses, the solver should be able to figure out the final, correct answer. There is an alphabet grid next to each puzzle, so the solvers can use the process of elimination to help them out. There is also a legend, similar to the one in Wordle, to show which letters are completely wrong, which ones are in the right place, and which ones are correct but in the wrong place.

This book would be good for younger students who are beginning readers/spellers. It’s probably not very challenging for anyone over 8 or 9 years old. However, some of the puzzles do have more than one correct answer. Usually, some of those options are not traditional primary school vocabulary, so as a teacher I would definitely ask students to come up with all of the options to see if some of my high achievers can uncover the more rare possibilities. And, of course, they could then attempt to make some of their own puzzles — possibly with more letters.

This would make a nice stocking stuffer if you know a young wordsmith, or you might want to check out the other books by this company to give a child a bundle they can work on while traveling or when you want them to put away their screens.

K-5

Kindergarten One-Pager For Genius Hour (Free Download)

As promised, my Blog Break is over. As expected, my contract obligations for a couple of projects are continuing — so I don’t actually have “more time” than I did in June. But I like doing this blog, and I vowed a few years ago that I wasn’t going to let work ever get in the way of things I enjoy doing again.

During the last month, I was making notes on things to share with you, popular posts on the blog, and projects I wanted to start or revise. One of them was to create an actual downloadable one-pager for those of you who are considering doing Genius Hour with one of the primary grades. I published a post about this almost a year ago, and it gets a lot of visitors, but so do the free downloads. As with teaching, I like to make adjustments for my audience, so it seemed like an obvious first project as I start back “to work” on the blog for this season to offer a combination of the two.

The downloadable is actually 2 pages long, which kind of makes it not a one-pager, but there’s an introduction, and then the actual one-page. Printing it out will not, of course, preserve the links, so if you can save paper and just use the digital version that will probably be more beneficial. This will be on the Free Genius Hour Downloads page, but you can also get the Genius Hour Kindergarten One-Pager here.

Click here to download this PDF

3-5, Books, K-5, Language Arts

Memoirs of a Tortoise

When I was asked to write curriculum for some picture books, I jumped at the chance. Without a young child at home any longer, I don’t spend as much time in that section of the bookstore very often — and I miss it. I was given a few books to begin the project and pulled one out randomly, settling in happily to immerse myself in the illustrations and simple prose of Memoirs of a Tortoise, by Devin Scillian and illustrated by Tim Bowers.

By the end, there were tears in my eyes.

Memoirs of a Tortoise is a year in the life of Oliver, an 80 year old tortoise, who spends happy days with his human friend, Ike. Though Oliver is comparatively young in tortoise years, Ike is not. One day, Ike does not return to their garden, and Oliver must make a trek to visit his 137 year old mother 10 gardens away to find out why Oliver’s “pet” human couldn’t stay with him.

Though the book gently addresses the theme of loss, it is not sad. There a few humorous lines, and the story’s ending is a reminder of the fact that we may not be able to enjoy someone’s physical presence forever, but we can be grateful for the time we had them and hopeful that we will continue to encounter new friends along our journey.

I love a book that you can repeatedly re-read and discover new delights each time. Memoirs of a Tortoise is one of those books. I need to read the other three “memoirs” by this author/illustrator team, but it’s difficult to imagine they will have the same kind of impact on me as this beautiful story.

To order Memoirs of a Tortoise and learn more about the author, click here. (I did not recall until I looked at the site that Scillian also wrote a book I used frequently with my students, P is for Passport.) I also highly recommend reading Scillian’s bio, which shows him to be quite the Renaissance Man with a variety of interests and talents. Tim Bowers is equally fascinating, and you can learn more about him here.

two teenagers doing jigsaw puzzle
Anti-Racism, Games, K-5

Puzzle Huddle

I really needed a smile today, so I was happy to see the images on the Puzzle Huddle website when I clicked on the bookmark I had saved a few weeks ago. Even more delightful was watching the video in which Matthew Goins, who co-created the Puzzle Huddle company with his wife, Marnel, explains the path that led them to making these adorable puzzles. Although it’s sad that there is a need for more diverse puzzles, I admire that this couple is working to change that. “In my case, I got started because I wanted to make a difference for my three small children, so that now, hopefully, a few years and a lot of puzzles later, we will have made a difference for an entire generation of children.”

If I was still in the elementary classroom, I would absolutely want one or more of these in my room. The illustrations are fabulous, portray young people in inspiring situations, and allow children of color to see themselves in a fun medium that is often limited to white people. You can order from Puzzle Huddle (be sure to check out the Ada Twist series!), but you can also download some free coloring sheets. The company is also looking for Brand Ambassadors if you are interested.

Since I haven’t tried one of their puzzles yet, I can’t include Puzzle Huddle in my Gifts for the Gifted series, but I am going to add it to my Pinterest of recommended Games and Toys. I will also be adding this to my Anti-Racism Wakelet.

jigsaw puzzle
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com
Native Americans in Arizona
Anti-Racism, history, K-5, Language Arts, Social Studies

Native American Heritage Month 2021

Although it is not mentioned in this history of the origins of Native American Heritage Month, I imagine it is not a coincidence that November, the month when we in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving, has this designation. Traditional stories of the first Thanksgiving are often misleading about the roles played by the Native Americans (who some prefer to refer as Indigenous Peoples) and the Europeans, and the holiday is rife with opportunity for cultural appropriation. Last year, I shared some materials to help teachers honor the rich cultural influences and contributions of our American Indigenous Peoples, and I want to summarize that list and add to it this year. I’ll be adding a link to this post in my Anti-Racist Wakelet, as well as in my Thanksgiving/November Wakelet.

Lastly, if you are short on time (as most educators are!), I think this brief summary of “5 Orientations to Support Indigenous Studies Curriculum” is a very helpful reference to aid us in avoiding the harmful language that perpetuates myths and stereotypes surrounding Native Americans.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay