Tag Archives: holiday

Poke the Cheese Platter!

I thought it would be nice to reflect on a few smiles I’ve had in the last week for today’s post.  We have one more day of school before the Winter Break so, like many educators this time of year, I’ve been clinging to these moments of joy while trying to maintain some semblance of order amongst the students who are revving up with anticipation for vacation.

Joy Moment #1 – One of my callbacks is , “Hey, Rockstars!” to which the students respond, “Hey, what?” and look at me for directions.  This week, with an administrator doing a weekly walkthrough, I called out, “Hey, Rockstars!”, and received the usual response.  However, many of the students continued whatever they were doing.  “Uh oh, ” I said.  “I think you guys forgot something.  What are supposed to do when I say, ‘Hey, Rockstars?”

“Look at your beautiful face!” one of the students responded immediately.

I’m sure that face turned bright red as I realized that my administrator now thinks I demand gazes of adoration every time I give instructions…

Joy Moment #2 – Tuesday was a gloomy, rainy day so I implemented the Indoor Recess Plan with my 5th graders.  As a group gleefully played and talked smack at my foosball coffee table, another group grabbed the iPads to play SpaceTeam.  In between cheers of, “Goal!!!!” I got to hear students shouting, “Poke the Cheese Platter!  I said, Poke the Cheese Platter!  Oh no, now the translator is defective!”  I felt like a member of the Star Trek crew who had been accidentally transported to a cooking show being broadcast live from a football tournament.

Joy Moment #3 – As a Christmas gift one of our wonderful parents brought jumbo packs of soft toilet paper to stock every faculty bathroom in the school.

Joy Moment #4 – When I ran across this page of really bad analogies written by high school students. My personal favorite is, “like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.”

Joy Moment #5 – Discovering this teacher version of Cards Against Humanity on We are Teachers.

Joy Moment #6 – Watching a confused teacher pull out a Squatty Potty during our White Elephant gift exchange, and then listening to everyone try to explain to her its purpose.  Finally, someone suggested, “Maybe you can just use it in your classroom as a stool?”

Joy Moment #7 – This

 

Joy Moment Infinity – The hugs and good wishes from students, colleagues, and parents.

Merry Christmas to all and don’t forget to Poke the Cheese Platter!

cheese platter.jpeg
image from Pixabay
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The Bear and the Hare are Quite a Pair

One of my suggestions listed in “Telegenic Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break” is a lovely short video called, “The Bear and the Hare.”  It is actually a John Lewis advertisement, but these annual holiday commercials have become traditional favorites due to their outstanding artwork and storytelling.  I have a link in my original post to an activity that Joelle Trayers did with her students, asking them to use empathy to imagine what the bear might give the hare in return for its thoughtful gift.  I thought I would try it with my 2nd graders this year, and here are some of their responses:

bear5

bear4
(a GPS collar)

bear3bear2bear1

Breakout Edu Seasonal Games (Update)

This is actually a repost from last year, but Breakout Edu has changed its format a bit.  In order to access the holiday games, you will need to be logged in (registration is free), and then you can use this link: https://platform.breakoutedu.com/category/christmas-hanukkah-and-winter-holidays There are digital games and physical games included in the collection.

I should probably add Breakout Edu’s Seasonal Games to my “Teachers’ December Survival Kit.”  What better way is there to keep your students engaged, learning, and problem-solving than sending them on a holiday quest?  You can find Breakout Edu games related to December holidays at the above link.

In case you haven’t hear about Breakout Edu yet, here is my first post about the site. Digital Breakout Edu games don’t require the physical equipment (boxes, locks, etc…) that are suggested for the regular games.  Don’t despair if you want to try a Breakout Edu game and don’t have the supplies.  I’ve seen teachers use many creative ways to simulate the boxes and locks with found materials. The students will enjoy working out the puzzles no matter what you use!

snowman.jpeg
image from Pixabay

A Blocky Christmas

I’ll be adding the “Blocky Christmas Puzzle” to my list of “Logical Ways to Survive the Weeks Before Winter Break.”  It’s a fun ABCya page that challenges you to move some blocks around the screen.  I know that doesn’t sound very fun or challenging, but trust me, my description doesn’t really do it justice.  As you move through the levels, new obstacles are added and your own block becomes magnetic – which can be helpful and irritating at the same time.  I love using puzzles like these on the Interactive White Board to talk about Growth Mindset with my students.  They cheer each other on and everyone celebrates when someone solves a particularly difficult level.

I learned about the “Blocky Christmas Puzzle” from Technology Rocks. Seriously.  You can find more holiday interactive by visiting this post by Shannon.  She also has a billion other awesome resources, so you should definitely visit her blog if you haven’t yet.

Blocky Christmas Puzzle
Blocky Christmas Puzzle

The Twelve Days of Christmas Math Activities

Way back in 2012, I posted about some interesting math activities that you can do with the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  This happens to be one of my most despised songs ever because of the redundancy.  However, it’s worth using in class to demonstrate a little mathematical magic and get your students to think about the true cost of ridiculous gifts that no one would actually want to receive (aside from five golden rings).

Four years ago, this is part of what I posted:

My 4th grade gifted students are studying mathematical masterpieces.  We had looked at the Fibonacci series earlier this year, and a couple of days ago, I stumbled across an interesting lesson that ties Pascal’s Triangle in with “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  We spent half our day: creating the triangle, finding patterns in the triangle, finding Fibonacci in the triangle, trying to make sense of a Vi Hart video about the triangle, and using the triangle to figure out how many gifts were actually bought each day.

The other portion of my post mentioned a website interactive that doesn’t appear to work any longer.  However, it was hosted by PNC, who has been kind enough to provide an updated version that gives current estimates of the cost of each gift. There are also some educator resources, designed for middle school and high school students, as well as a free printable coloring book.  I plan to actually have my student calculate the final cost of the gifts.  (If you want to do the same, don’t let them use the website at first because it reveals the answer when you scroll down far enough.)  This recording sheet is one that you could use for gift calculations.

A nice feature of the updated PNC site is the interactive graph near the bottom that allows you to see how costs have changed over the years for the group of gifts as well as for each individual gift.  This can yield some good discussions on what might be driving the costs up or down.

image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:XRF_12days.jpg
image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:XRF_12days.jpg

Breakout Edu Seasonal Games

I should probably add Breakout Edu’s Seasonal Games to my “Teachers’ December Survival Kit.”  What better way is there to keep your students engaged, learning, and problem-solving than sending them on a holiday quest?  You can find 5 Breakout Edu games related to December holidays on this page.

In case you haven’t hear about Breakout Edu yet, here is my first post about the site.  Also, don’t forget that there are digital Breakout Edu games that don’t require the physical equipment (boxes, locks, etc…) that are suggested for the regular games.  Don’t despair if you want to try a Breakout Edu game and don’t have the supplies.  I’ve seen teachers use many creative ways to simulate the boxes and locks with found materials.  The students will enjoy working out the puzzles no matter what you use!

UPDATE 12/18/17 – Breakout Edu has changed its format a bit.  In order to access the holiday games, you will need to be logged in (registration is free), and then you can use this link: https://platform.breakoutedu.com/category/christmas-hanukkah-and-winter-holidays There are digital games and physical games included in the collection.

image from Pixabay
image from Pixabay

Gifts for the Gifted – Rush Hour Shift

Around this time of year I post a gift recommendation each Friday as part of a “Gifts for the Gifted” series.  The title is a bit misleading, as it might imply that the gifts are only for children who have been endowed with the label, and that is certainly not true. Just as with any gift, you should select a product that suits the interests of the receiver.  These lists of potential gifts that I provide are ones that I feel will be engaging for children who enjoy problem solving and/or creativity.

Earlier this year, in March, I posted about a new game from ThinkFun called, “Rush Hour Shift.”  Longevity is always part of the criteria for the toys and games that I recommend, and Rush Hour Shift definitely fulfills that requirement.

Since I started teaching GT 14 years ago, Rush Hour has been one of the games immediately pulled out during indoor recess times.   Designed to be a single-player game the player sets cars up on a grid based on the challenge card he or she is playing.  Then, the player uses logic to slide the cars around so that the red car can exit the grid.

The only drawback to Rush Hour was that many of my students wanted to play with a partner, which sometimes resulted in squabbles as one person would get increasingly frustrated when the other could not see the “obvious” solution and try to take control.

Rush Hour Shift nicely resolves this issue.  In this two-player game, what can seem to be a relatively simple challenge can quickly become difficult when the players use the cards they’ve been dealt to change the traffic grid in the blink of an eye.

Rush Hour Shift by ThinkFun
Rush Hour Shift by ThinkFun

As you may observe in the picture above, the grid is made of three plates that can be “shifted” in order to block your opponent’s car or free your own. When it’s your turn, you must carefully choose a card in your hand to indicate what kind of strategy you intend to use to get your car closer to the end of the board on your opponent’s side. With 10 different game setups, 32 cards, and the unpredictable decisions that can be made at every juncture, the potential for months of game play is obvious.

Rush Hour Shift is recommended for ages 8 and up.  Children are quick to figure out the rules, and enjoy playing over and over again to try to outwit their opponents as they learn new strategies.

Some other ThinkFun games I’ve reviewed in the past are: Gravity Maze, Shell Game, Last Letter, and Robot Turtles.

For other recommended gifts for the holiday season, check out this page or my Pinterest Board.

gifts