Author Peter Reynolds reads out loud his book, The Smallest Gift of Christmas, in this video that reminds us that the best gift we can ever receive is love.
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.
I can’t believe this crazy week is almost over! I appreciate everyone’s patience as I recycle some posts from last year this week. I’ve added a few updates to keep things “fresh!” (According to Merriam-Webster, “telegenic” means “well-suited to the medium of television; especially : having an appearance and manner that are markedly attractive to television viewers.”)
So, let’s face it. Despite our best efforts to keep our energy up, we need a bit of down time every once in awhile. Here is a collection of short videos to help you catch your breath.
Kid President – If you haven’t seen this young man’s collection of videos, you are in a for a real treat. Be prepared to do a little dance and to stretch your smile muscles. These are some that are great for this time of year:
- 20 Things We Should Say More Often
- Your 20 Things We Should Say More Often
- Kid President’s Holiday Gift Guide
- How to Change the World (a work in Progress)
- Kid President and Craig Robinson go Cat Caroling (new for 2014!)
Winter-themed Animations – I have featured some of these on the blog this season, but they bear repeating (no pun intended – okay, it’s only intended if it makes sense).
- The Bear and the Hare (a 2013 John Lewis Christmas commercial)
- Monty the Penguin (a 2014 John Lewis Christmas commercial)
- Winter Fox
- The Snowman
Videos about Being Kind to Others (You can find more inspirational videos for students on my Pinterest Board.)
- Pre-school Kindness
- Kindness Boomerang
- Painted Pie
- Mark Bezos – A Lesson from a Volunteer Firefighter
We’re in the home stretch now! I hope some of these links help you make the distance 🙂
Just in case you missed my other “survival” posts this week, here they are: Creative Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break, Logical Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break, and Physical Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break.
Full disclosure: this first week of December is going to be my busiest week this year. Therefore, I decided to cheat a bit for a few days and recycle some posts from last year. I’ve done a bit of editing to make sure they remain current but otherwise they are the same. Hopefully you still find them useful!
Yesterday, I posted some “Creative Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break.” But maybe you have a group of students (or even a handful) who have a decided preference for logical thinking challenges, so here are some resources:
- Winter Sudoku – This site has different levels of difficulty. I ended up putting it on the interactive white board for the kids, and they loved it! It was one of the most popular stations.
- Funny Sudoku’s Winter Sudoku – This is another set of online sudoku puzzles with varying levels. However, you may need to adjust your zoom on your browser if you are going to try it on the IWB.
- Printable Winter Sudoku – You can find three printables here – easy, medium, and hard – using winter words.
- Some tried and true favorites from my blog archives – The 12 Days of Christmas (using Pascal’s triangle), Christmas Tree Light-Up, Christmas Ornaments Swap, Factory Balls Christmas Edition (a huge crowd-pleaser with my students!)
One resource I always forget to check (even though I have products listed on there!) is Teachers Pay Teachers. Here are some free logic packets you might want to download:
- Holiday Picture Logic Puzzle (for 5th grade and up)
- Winter Activity Book (K, 1, and 2)
- Holiday Word Challenge (2nd-6th)
- Holiday Puzzles (3rd-6th)
- Holiday Theme Logic Puzzles (4th-6th)
This one is NOT free (currently $8), but it’s 213 pages, and chock full of critical thinking activities for 1st-3rd. Personally, I think it’s well worth the money for this set of “Christmas Critical Thinking Puzzles,” that includes: Primarily Christmas Logic, Christmas Logic with a String of Lights, Christmas Analogies, Christmas Which One Doesn’t Belong?* I do not know Susan Morrow, the author of this set – and I am certainly not getting any money for advertising her product. But, I think it’s a great deal. Quite frankly, I am very jealous of her talent 😉
*You can also purchase a few of the included puzzle packs separately, if you prefer.
Another idea, which I plan to try with my older kids, is to have them design some Winter Kodable mazes (similar to the app), along with the coding solutions. This will let them use a bit of creativity along with their logical thinking skills! (By the way, don’t forget about Hour of Code next week!)
More in this series:
Yes, I’m a sentimental idiot. Apparently I’m not alone. I’m one of the many whose heart has been warmed by the new John Lewis Christmas commercial for 2014, “Monty the Penguin.”
In 2013, John Lewis produced “The Bear and the Hare,” which may have been a commercial, but it was also a work of art. I’m not sure “Monty the Penguin” took as long to create, but it is certainly another top-notch production.
I realize, of course, that this is a commercial. I also am aware that many people do not celebrate Christmas. It could certainly be argued that “Monty the Penguin” is just another excellent example of manipulative advertising.
But there are lessons in this video much like the ones in “The Bear and the Hare” – the power of imagination, and the value of empathy. And it’s truly delightful to watch.
It wouldn’t be an advertisement if it didn’t take advantage of merchandising opportunities. You can buy the Monty book as well as a slew of other penguin paraphernalia. However, there are many free materials offered as well. There’s an interactive app and a website.
Educationally, you might find it redeeming to see that there is a link to a World Wildlife Fund page that gives information about the Adelie penguin and an easy way to “adopt a penguin.” You can also access activities to use with children (ages 3-11) on the special “Bringing Skills to Life” page that ties in to the Monty story.
I will unashamedly admit to crying at the end of the video (I dare any mother not to), but I’m not going to tell you if I bought a stuffed penguin or not after watching the commercial. There are just some secrets a girl has got to keep.
My holiday series of “Gifts for the Gifted” concludes today with a post on apps that you might want to pre-load on that new iDevice you’re about to set under the tree. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. New apps are released weekly, of course, and there are quite a few older apps that I may not have had the pleasure to try, yet. I will give you some resources for finding apps that might fit your specific needs at the end of this post.
These apps are great for elementary age children, and do not require much reading. If I have previously reviewed the app on my blog, I have included a link so that you can learn more about it.
We will start with the free ones:
- Puppet Pals (this version is for iPad only, but Puppet Pals Pocket works on smaller devices) – a link to my review
- Dinner Not Art – a link to my review
- Crayon Physics (currently free for iPad only)
- Bubble Ball – a link to my review
- CargoBot (for iPad only) – a link to my review
- Daisy the Dinosaur (for iPad only) – a link to my review
- Pocket Law Firm – a link to my review
- Blue Block
- Hue Shapes
- Rover (for iPad only) – a link to my review
- Brain Pop
- Pictorial – a link to my review
- Shadow Move – a link to my review
- 123D Sculpt
- Solitaire Chess – a link to my review
- IQ Epilogue
And now for the not so free apps that I highly recommend are worth the current price:
- Puppet Pals Director’s Pass($2.99) – this paid version offers a lot more characters plus the opportunity to use your own pictures as characters or backgrounds
- WordFoto($1.99) – a link to my review
- Type Drawing($2.99) – there is a free version, but I did not like that one
- Windosill($2.99) – a link to my review
- Scribble Press($2.99) – this used to be free, but not any longer; still worth it, in my opinion – a link to my review
If you are looking for ideas for more apps, here are some of my favorite resources:
- Appitic – a link to my review
- iGame Mom
- iPadapps4school – new site hosted by Richard Byrne, author of Free Tech 4 Teachers
- Tech Chef 4u – a link to my review
You can also check out my Pinterest boards.
And, finally, if you bought a new iPad for your child, you might want to read these reviews of child-friendly iPad cases.
My series of holiday (or any time) “Gifts for the Gifted” continues today with a set of adorable dolls and puppets from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. The Little Thinkers dolls include a wide array of influential personalities from different cultures and fields of study. There are scientists, philosophers, artists, musicians, revolutionaries, and even radio hosts (N.P.R.’s Carl Kasell). Inspire your own little thinker with a cuddly Galileo or Frida Kahlo. And if your child has an active imagination, you might want to look at the very reasonably priced puppets – which include some of the same notable personages, but also offer a few different ones, such as Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela. I would bundle one of these with a children’s book; you can find several of the famous names in Chicago Review Press’ “For Kids” series, some of which are listed on this Amazon list.
I know a lot of parents are considering bestowing iPod Touches or iPads to their children for Christmas, so next Friday, I will be giving a list of apps that you might want to load on your child’s iDevice before you put it under the tree.
Here are links to my previous “Gifts for the Gifted” posts:
Also, you might want to take a look at my Pinterest board, which has even more ideas.