Tag Archives: holidays

Gifts for the Gifted 2016 – Stories of Inspirational Females

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.

gifts

For this post I am going to recommend two books.  One is fiction and the other is not.  Both have amazing illustrations.  Both champion scientific discovery.  And both feature strong females who are curious, persistent, and determined to pursue their interests despite costs and sacrifices.

I saw a comment about one of these books where the writer said, “If I had a daughter, I would give her this book.”  That’s fine – but there’s no reason a son shouldn’t receive either of these as a gift.  Yes, we need to increase the number of women in scientific fields.  But that doesn’t mean that we need to exclude males from them.  And, if our belief is that stereotypes should be eradicated, won’t this be helped even more by young men learning about inspiring females and males?

Ada Twist, Scientist
Ada Twist, Scientist

Ada Twist, Scientist is a delightful book by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts about a young girl who exasperates and amazes the adults in her life with her quests to find the right answer.  This picture book is one that I reviewed a few months ago here, and part of a series of brilliant stories about children who refuse to allow life to just happen to them.

Women in Science
Women in Science

Women in Science, written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky, has caught my eye on so many “Best Of…” lists that I finally had to order it.  It says quite a bit about my education (and my memory) that I only recognize the names of 4 of the 50 female scientists described in this book.  To be read independently, this book would be best for ages 8 and up.  As a read-aloud, however, I don’t see any reason that parents or teachers couldn’t start earlier – maybe choosing one scientist a day to study.  The graphics, colors, and font of this book separate it from the stodgy biographies that would immediately elicit yawns, and Ignotofsky has done a wonderful job of succinctly describing each scientists contributions in laymen’s terms.

With the upcoming Hidden Figures film and books like these, women in STEM careers are finally receiving real recognition.  None of this negates the amazing feats of men in these fields.  Instead, we are getting a richer picture of our history and more motivation to play significant roles in the future.

4 More Ways to Survive 4 More Days

Just in case you didn’t properly ration your Teachers’ December Survival Kit,  and you are finding yourself desperate for ways to make it through this final week before the break, here are some more activities that I’ve found from some of my favorite bloggers:

Candy Cane S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

Ugly Sweater Challenge (I love the Ugly Sweater fractions!)

Toys Go Out (scroll to the end of this post for a great book idea and a link to lesson plans!)

Quiver and Holiday Writing – augmented reality fun for the holidays

keep-calm-because-we-have-4-more-days-left

Do You Want to Build a 2-Pocket-Folder-Man?

My 2nd graders have been doing some hard convergent thinking during our last couple of classes, so I thought it was time to practice creative thinking for a little while.  They love doing S.C.A.M.P.E.R. activities, and I like to let them choose from a couple to keep things interesting.  (You can visit this old post for an explanation of S.C.A.M.P.E.R. and some suggested activities.)

Yesterday they could choose between finding a substitution for snow to build a snowman or putting reindeer to another use for the 364 days of the year they aren’t in action.  You can see some of their ideas below. I love that one student actually included a key on hers to explain the different parts!

You can see more holiday S.C.A.M.P.E.R. ideas here.  Also, you can do a search on this blog for ideas for the rest of the year.  Or, you can mosey on over to my TPT store.  I’ve got Autumn S.C.A.M.P.E.R. and S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through the Seasons – or you can download Superhero S.C.A.M.P.E.R. for free.

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DIY Gifts for Kids

DIY Slotted Building Discs from Made by Joel
DIY Slotted Building Discs from Made by Joel

It’s Friday!  And you know what that means, right?

Okay – other than the fact that tomorrow is Saturday, or that many of us in the education world are about to have a two-week break.

Friday + December + Engage Their Minds = Another Installment of the “Gifts for the Gifted” series.

Since it’s a bit close to the Big Day for some of us, I thought I would spotlight some cool ideas for gifts that would not require mail order.  One of my favorites is the “DIY Explorer Activity Kit” detailed by the women at the Merry Thought blog. Inspired by the Child’s Activity Kits carried by Anthropologie, this post describes how you can make your own for your adventuresome child.  The photographs are helpful for those of us who may not be quite as creative.  Of course, you could do any number of variations of this kit, depending on your child’s personal interests.

I found some more ideas for DIY kits on the Kids’ Activities Blog.  There are 101 suggestions, but here are some that I think are particularly suited for gifted kids in elementary school:

Build a Fort Kit

A Marble Run Kit – (You don’t have to be able to understand the language on this page to love the concept!)

Slotted Building Discs Made from Recycled Cardboard

Popsicle Stick Building Kit

For more installments of “Gifts for the Gifted”, check out my Pinterest Board!  Next Monday – a bonus post of recommended apps to load up on new tablets!

Telegenic Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break

screen shot from The Snowman
screen shot from The Snowman

Kudos to my daughter, who helped me come up with the title for this post!

So, let’s face it.  Despite our best efforts to keep our energy up, we need a bit of down time now that this week is nearing its close.  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 of his latest:

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 Week Before Winter Break, Logical Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break, and Physical Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break.

Bonus Post – More Augmented Reality Holiday Cards

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Last year, I posted a couple of augmented reality holiday cards that you could use as thank you’s, holiday greetings, or rewards in your classroom.  I made a few more this year by using a different process.  First, I created the cards using Canva, one of my favorite online graphic design tools.  Then, I “Dropboxed” (yes, I’m inventing a new verb) them to my iPad.  I opened them in ChatterPix Kids (love, love, LOVE this free app that I learned about from 2 Guys and Some iPads!!!!), and recorded the characters saying something.  (As a reminder, I don’t like the sound of my own voice, so the voices you hear were made using the Tellagami app.)  I exported the videos from ChatterPix back to my computer, uploaded them to Aurasma Studio with the original Canva graphics as trigger images, and, well, you don’t really want to know all of that, do you?  You probably just want to know what you need to do to make them work! All you need is the pictures and a device that has the Aurasma app.

Here are the steps for using these creations:

1.)  Download this free PDF, and print it out in color – Holiday Cards 2 (You can find 2 more cards here.)

2.)  Download the free Aurasma app to your Android device, iTouch, iPhone, or iPad.

3.)  Within the Aurasma app, you will need to tap on the icon that looks like a fat “A” at the bottom of the screen.

4.)  Click on the magnifying glass icon to “Search”.  In the search window, type “Hidden Forest”.  (At some point, you will be asked to register.  Go ahead and register; it’s free.)  Subscribe to the channel for “Hidden Forest Elementary”, and then tap “Done”.

5.)  Now, tap on the icon that looks like photo corners.  You should have your camera on.  Hold your device over one of the pictures (make sure the volume is turned up), and position it slowly until you see the “Loading” signal that looks like a purple swirl. Then hold your device still so you can see the video.  (Be sure your sound is turned up!)

6.)  Enjoy the short video!

The gingerbread man will give the student an opportunity to borrow a game from the classroom.  Santa allows the student to sit at the teacher’s desk.  The snowman permits the student to borrow a book from the classroom.

Creative Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 5.45.47 PM
Screen Shot from Kelly Wine’s Rube Goldberg-esque Holiday Machine Video

Let’s face it.  This week is hard.  No one – including you – is feeling very focused on academics right now.  To save everyone’s sanity, and to put smiles on all of the faces in the room, try some of these creative ideas:

Here are a couple I have mentioned before, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat.

More in this series:

Logical Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break!

Physical Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break!