Alternatives to Showing the Movie Frozen for the Next 14 Days

You know how it goes.  Grades are turned in.  Textbooks have been collected.  The computer lab is shut down.  But the activity level of our students has gone up.  What’s a teacher supposed to do?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been trying to get my students to reflect on the year.  Using our class blog as a reference has helped tremendously.

Yesterday, with my GT 1st graders, I also asked them to look through the blog posts for their grade level.  They used a simple printable I found from Laura Candler to write their favorite moments of the year.  Here are some examples:

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Using divergent thinking for activities like the Squiggle Challenge and S.C.A.M.P.E.R. were very popular with this class.  Speaking of S.C.A.M.P.E.R., here is what some of them did with a page from my Summer Pool Party S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packet – Put an inflatable pool cushion to another use. (By the way, all of my grade levels, K-5, love doing S.C.A.M.P.E.R. drawings!)

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One of the blog posts the first graders “re-discovered” as they reflected was this one.  Try showing the Kid President video at the bottom of that post, and see if your own students can add to the list.  We used Padlet, but old-fashioned pencil and paper works, too!

Here are some other ideas from past posts for making the last couple of weeks fun and engaging:

I would also recommend checking out the Not Just Child’s Play blog by Joelle Trayers for ideas.  That woman always has creative suggestions that can be modified for any elementary grade level!

It’s Like a Box of Chocolates – but Not as Caloric

Chocolate Fix Logic Game from ThinkFun (for 8+)
Chocolate Fix Logic Game from ThinkFun (for 8+)

UPDATE 1/26/2021 – Here is my up-to-date Wakelet collection of Valentine’s Day resources.

Since I only see most of my students once a week, I have to think ahead when it comes to holidays.  It suddenly struck me that we are in the middle of January, and I haven’t given thought to Valentine’s Day, yet.  So, I culled together a bunch of resources to offer to you in advance.

And finally, I came across this last one, and almost leapt out of my seat.  If any of you participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge this year, then you know how much the students love making new things with boxes!  In fact, I had a parent e-mail pictures of her son this weekend as he fashioned a large box they had received at home into a mini putt-putt course.  According to her, he said, “After GT, I don’t see cardboard the same way.”

So, if you are looking for another Cardboard Challenge to energize your kids (or didn’t get the chance to participate in October), here is a cool idea for a Valentine’s Day Box Project from Amanda at One Extra Degree.

UPDATE 1/15/15: If you want even more ideas for Valentine’s Day, check out this year’s post!

Creative Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break

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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!

A Cornucopia of Creative and Critical Thinking Activities for Thanksgiving

from the Autumn S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packet, "Put to Another Use"
from the Autumn S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packet, “Put to Another Use”  This student decided a hay wagon could be used as a Space Simulator for animals!

UPDATE 11/2/2020: Here is a link to over 45 Thanksgiving activities you can use in your classroom.

Many of us in the States have only a week and a half left before the Thanksgiving holidays. Here are a few resources that might be fun to sprinkle into the curriculum as everyone starts running for the light at the end of the tunnel.  All of them are free except for my shameless plug at the end 🙂

Pumpkin Adaptations – a cute activity from Miss Trayers at “Not Just Child’s Play”

Thanksgiving Thinking Hats  – I use this with my 2nd graders to see if they can “think about their thinking” (see my Thinking Hats post for more info)

A Thanksgiving Timeline via Google Earth – a wonderful way to integrate Thanksgiving, Technology, and Geography from Laura Moore at “Learn Moore Stuff”

The First Thanksgiving – from, includes videos, historical letters, and resource guides for teachers

Thanksgiving Analogies – from “Minds in Bloom”

What are You Thankful For?  Ask it Better. – I love these great ideas for putting a twist on this age-old question, also from “Minds in Bloom” (You could use a Padlet wall for the responses – H/T to Richard Byrne)

You are the Historian – Investigate the First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Sudoku – online

Thanksgiving Sudoku – printable

Superhero S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

I think my compadre over at “Not Just Child’s Play” and I are having some kind of mind meld because she posted about S.C.A.M.P.E.R. as I was already in the throes of preparing this post!  I love her ideas for Back to School scampering, and actually had a similar idea that I included in my own Back to School Packet.

A quick recap of S.C.A.M.P.E.R.:  S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is an acronym used to help one remember some great tools for creative thinking. “Substitute” is the first tool, followed by “Combine”, “Adapt”, “Modify”, “Put to Another Use”, “Eliminate”, and “Rearrange.”

I have developed a few S.C.A.M.P.E.R. products over the years, and my students love it when I pass out the activity pages.  There are always several students that wow me with their unique responses.  You can see some of my previous S.C.A.M.P.E.R. posts with student examples here.

I recently added a S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through the Seasons packet to my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.  The cost is $8, and includes 7 pages for each of the 4 seasons, plus Back to School – so 35 pages total.  (If you have previously purchased the Summer, Spring, or Winter Holidays packet, then I would recommend buying the Back to School and Autumn packets separately.)

I went a little wild this weekend, and decided it would be fun to create a Superhero packet as well.  The Superhero packet is going to be free until this Thursday, August 15th.  You can download it here.  I have included a sample below.  I used the Superhero Comic Book Maker app ($2.99) by Duck Duck Moose to create the graphics.

These activities are great at a center, as rewards, as challenges for students who have completed other work, and as warm-up activities.  It’s always fun to see the final results!




I intended to spend this week posting about what I have learned at ISTE, but I came across this site last night, and could not wait to share it.  It combines quite a few of the educational topics that are near and dear to my heart: creativity, self-designed learning, gamifying the classroom, and even programming for kids.

What is Gamekit?  According to their site, “Each month, Gamekit will bring you a new game development challenge to stretch and build your creative muscles.”

The site has four warmups, currently, and I can’t wait to see what they add.  My favorite one, so far, is “Mod a Board Game.”  I’ve actually done an activity similar to this in my classroom, asking the kids to take an old board game they no longer play and to make it into a new game.  You can use a lot of the tools from S.C.A.M.P.E.R. to do this.

Each warmup describes the steps, gives suggestions for how to “dive deeper”, and gives tips for educators.  Under each warmup is an area for comments, where the community can give examples of how they completed the challenge.

In the “Design a Play Space” warmup, Gamekit has teamed up with Gamestar Mechanic to create a challenge – perfect for those aspiring video game designers.

I am really looking forward to seeing the evolution of Gamekit.  I love this idea, and will be sharing it with the parents of my students to encourage some creative thinking during the summer months!