The Smallest Gift of Christmas

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.

ELA 12 Days of Christmas

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.

image from Wikimedia


Telegenic Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break

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.”)

screen shot from The Snowman
screen shot from The Snowman

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:

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).

Videos about Being Kind to Others (You can find more inspirational videos for students on my Pinterest Board.)

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.

Logical 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!

Screen Shot from Winter Sudoku
Screen Shot from Winter Sudoku

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:

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:

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:

Creative Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break!
Physical Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break!
Telegenic Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break!

Monty the Penguin

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.

from "Monty the Penguin"
from “Monty the Penguin

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.

Give the Gift of Awesome Apps

Pictorial App (Free)
Pictorial App (Free)

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:

And now for the not so free apps that I highly recommend are worth the current price:

If you are looking for ideas for more apps, here are some of my favorite resources:

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.