Classroom Solutions > 129 posts categorized "Books"

Connecting Children With Nature: Learning About Trees

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Our playground is surrounded by an abundance of beautiful trees, which always seem to captivate my very curious kindergartners. Who would have guessed that a group of five- and six-year-olds would find trees more intriguing than slides and swings? Read on as I share the lessons I created to capitalize on my students' natural enthusiasm for trees.

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October Read-Alouds: Literacy Fun With Pumpkins, Leaves, and Bats

Pumpkin patch Depending on where you live, you may have recently noticed a chill in the air, and the leaves may be turning from green to brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red. While many of your students may be focusing on how much candy they will receive trick-or-treating at the end of month, here are three of my favorite read-aloud books with accompanying activities that won’t require a trip to the dentist.

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Helping Students Develop a Lifelong Love of Reading

 

Love 2 read We all know that reading is one of the most important skills you can teach a child. It lays the foundation for a child’s success in school and in everyday life. For this reason, one of the most precious gifts we can give our students is a book. Books stir the senses, inspire imagination, and spark a love of reading that will last a lifetime. But how can a book compete in this new age of instant entertainment — with such things as television and video games? Read on as I share ideas to help your students develop a lifelong love of reading despite these distractions.

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Art and Poetry Through the Year: Notebooks and Keepsakes for Your Students

How Do You Do

Students in 1st grade need to have many experiences in language arts to become independent readers and writers. Shared reading is a great way for students to “play” with language to become fluent readers. Fluency is further developed when children have ample opportunities to read text that is familiar and easy for them. In my class, we love to use poetry to build our fluency. Read on to find out more about our poetry notebooks and our yearlong poetry keepsake project.

 

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Comments: 1

How to Serve a Nutritious Morning Meeting

DSC_0364Starting the school day off with Morning Meeting will get your students ready to learn from the moment they walk into your classroom. It is a great way to build classroom community and teach a variety of academic and social skills. Read on as I share a recipe to help you serve a nutritious Morning Meeting of your own!

 

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Take-Home Reading

Child readingTake-Home Reading is a special program for 1st grade that helps each and every child become a better reader. Learning to read takes a lot of practice, and I expect my students to read at home. In just twenty minutes per day, parents and family members help their 1st graders by listening to them read.

Read on to learn more about Take-Home Reading programs and to find out how to set one up in your classroom. 

 

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Organizing the Classroom Library

BookshelfDo you love children’s literature? I do, and I share this love of books with my students. I display books throughout the entire classroom. Star author books line the chalkboard ledge, weekly read-aloud books are displayed around the easel, and favorite titles and themes are arranged in baskets on the bookshelves. I strive to create a classroom library that is both organized and enticing for my young readers. This week, I will provide a look at the features of our classroom library.

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Comments: 4

Organizing my Classroom Library: The Never-Ending Story

Library OverviewAs I set up my classroom this year, I was so proud of myself. I had carefully organized when I packed up my room in June, so my room looked “livable” in just a few hours this fall. “Wow, this is smooth sailing,” I thought smugly. Then I approached my classroom library, and I didn’t emerge until 8:30 p.m.! 

The hours disappeared as I labeled book baskets, leveled new books, culled through my collection, and planned new library routines. This was certainly time well spent, but I have to tell you, sometimes my “librarian hat” feels heavier than my “teacher hat.” That said, I feel that much of my success as a reading teacher can be attributed to my classroom library. Join me on a photo tour of my classroom library, as I reflect on my organization systems and what works for me.


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Comments: 4

Simple Ideas for Establishing Classroom Rules and Manners

Rules

What do we want our classroom community to look like? How do we want our classroom community to sound? These two questions begin our group discussion on sharing ideas, making decisions, and solving problems in our classroom. One of the earliest conversations we have focuses on good manners, appropriate voice levels, and classroom rules. This week, I am going to share a few of the books and activities I use to introduce our classroom behavior chart.

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Comments: 6

Celebrating Community Heroes: September 11th in the Elementary Classroom

FDNY Let me be honest with you: Teaching my third graders about September 11th makes me a little uncomfortable. My students weren’t even born in 2001, and this historic tragedy just doesn’t seem all that relevant to their lives. On the other hand, September 11th has become a permanent part of our collective consciousness. As New York City gears up for the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, my students are inevitably curious about it. It wouldn’t be fair to my students if I didn’t help them understand 9/11 in a way that honors their intellectual curiosity, yet is appropriate for their age as well. Thank goodness for the picture book Fireboat by Maira Kalman! Here’s how I use this amazing book to discuss the facts about 9/11 and then shift into a lesson about heroes.

 

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Comments: 6

Tips for Creating Strong Teacher-Parent Relationships

 

 FcEffective communication is essential to create strong teacher-parent relationships and parental involvement. Students need the support of both teachers and parents in order to succeed academically, physically, and emotionally. Read on as I provide you with a few tips to help establish a strong relationship with your most powerful ally: parents.

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Comments: 2

Read-Alouds to Launch Reader’s Workshop

Reading_on_Rug During the first few weeks of reader’s workshop, the focus is necessarily on introducing routines, building stamina, and exploring the classroom library. At the same time, I need to immerse my students in the culture of reading by getting lost in good books together. There isn’t a moment to waste in initiating my students into our reading cult! How do I accomplish both goals at the same time? I use picture books that celebrate reading as a springboard into our discussions about reader’s workshop routines and expectations. Read on for my favorite picture books about reading and how I use them to launch our reader’s workshop.


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Comments: 6

Planning for the First Day of Kindergarten

Welcome to school
 
The first day of kindergarten can be both exciting and frightening for students, parents, and the teacher too. There are mixed emotions everywhere as this day marks a huge milestone in the child's life. As teachers, we need to incorporate ideas to help ease first day jitters and start the school year off on the right track. Here are a few tips to help you plan for the first day of kindergarten.

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Comments: 4

Back-to-School Read Alouds: Favorite Books and First Week Activities

DSC00282Reading aloud to children is one of my favorite activities of the day and it is a critical part of literacy instruction. In my classroom, I integrate children’s literature across the curriculum and read to the children throughout the day. The read-aloud books I choose for the first week of school help set the tone for the year and help begin to build our classroom community. These books feature characters about the same age as my students and allow us to discuss prior knowledge, build thinking skills, and make connections. Here are some of my favorite books and activities that engage my enthusiastic young readers.

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Comments: 2

Creating a Professional Learning Community This Fall

DSC00001 The motto of my school district, Randolph Central, is "Learning with passion, innovation, and leadership." This serves as an excellent foundation for my teaching, as well as a reminder of how crucial it is to inspire students with our instruction. A professional learning community (PLC) is a wonderful way to focus on student learning and assess teaching practices. And in these tough economic times, in-house professional development opportunities, like PLCs, are even more attractive. Read on to learn more about creating your own professional learning community.

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Comments: 38

What’s in a Name? A Back-to-School Literacy Unit

NametagDuring the first few weeks of school, I always find it challenging to come up with a meaningful unit of study so that my students can feel as though they are accomplishing something beyond learning a bunch of routines. There’s the obvious imperative to build our classroom community. On top of that, the empty bulletin boards in the classroom are glaring at us, demanding student work so our classroom can begin to look “lived in.”

Last year, I had wonderful results using a name unit as our first shared literacy experience. Read on to find out what my students did. (This post includes a list of read-alouds and graphic organizers to support the unit.)

 

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Comments: 4

Promoting Summer Reading

MBlow053111_iStock_000015552020GirlReadingBeachAvoid the summer slide and encourage your students to read this summer. Summer reading is a time to read for fun. Students who read self-selected books are more apt to finish reading the books. So this year, instead of providing my incoming students with a summer reading list composed by teachers, I decided to go to the experts on motivating middle schoolers to read, my 6th grade students. Read on to view their list of books that are sure to hook even the most reluctant readers.  

Photo: iStockphoto © kotengens.

 

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Comments: 4

Using Film As a Springboard to Writing in the ELA Classroom

DSC01566As an English teacher, I am always looking for new ways to engage students in the writing process. I am continually trying to find and create interesting writing prompts that engage and challenge my students. Two years ago when I was asked to teach a film elective, I was provided with a wonderful opportunity to develop a course that would encourage students to write in new and exciting ways.

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Comments: 2

Summer Reading Books High School Girls Will Love

IMGA0002Ah, summertime! The beach, the sea, the pool. Long days and hot nights. The perfect time for summer reading. James S. Kim and Thomas G. White (2011) note that one of the reasons that low-income students lose ground to middle-income kids in reading is due, in large part, to different rates of learning during the summer months. Even small differences in summer learning accumulate over the years, resulting in an achievement gap that continues to grow from elementary to high school (p. 64). Kim and White also discovered, however, that it is not enough to just provide books for kids for summer reading. The key is to provide books that are individually matched to the students' interests and reading levels (p. 67).

The books on the list below have already been proven to appeal to teens. Although both genders could certainly enjoy them, these five books are tried and true favorites that will please a decidedly female audience. Books that match a teen's interest can help motivate students to read and help teens continue to improve their reading skills.

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Comments: 62

End-of-the-Year Reflections

DSC00135As the school year draws to a close, I begin reflecting back on everything that's happened. What were the challenges this year? What could I have done differently? Join me as I answer these questions and more. You can also watch a cute video of a few of my students reflecting on their 2nd grade year.

 

 

 

 

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Summer Reading Books High School Boys Will Love

DSC01549Research has shown that summer reading increases literacy and improves academic performance. By reading all summer long, students build their vocabulary and stave off the brain-drain that often occurs during summer months. Although most high schools provide summer reading lists for their students, some kids devour all the books the first week school is out (yes! it happens!) and start looking for more to read. Other kids are just searching for some great reading material. And while most reading is gender inclusive, there are certain books that boys find especially compelling.

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Comments: 2

Differentiate Your Kindergarten Classroom

Differentiating in KindergartenIt's a fact: every child is unique, and as teachers we know that more than anyone else. So why do we often find ourselves trying to teach every child the same way?

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Comments: 4

Planning for the End of the Year

DSC00606Mother's Day and Father's Day are around the corner, and for some teachers, testing is over.  You're working on assessments, report cards, and cleaning up. The students are hyper, happy, and having a hard time focusing on classwork. The yearbooks are ready, and summer is in the air. Now is the time to prepare for the end of the year, to reflect back on the year that's ending, and to plan for next year. Read on to get some great ideas and printables for Mother's Day, Father's Day, and the end of the year.

 


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The Art of Literary Criticism

DSC01459 A goal of the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition test, which helps to make sure that students are truly college ready, is the careful reading and critical analysis of literature. Literary criticism requires students to study, evaluate, and interpret what they read — a valuable tool for all students, not just those in an AP class. But what is the best way to do help students develop this skill? How can you get high school students to think deeply and critically about literature?

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Comments: 2

Adventures With Books: One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies
Join my class as we turn the book One Tiny Turtle into a unit of fun and exciting learning experiences. This lyrical and informative look at the elusive and endangered loggerhead turtle is sure to delight young nature lovers.

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Comments: 3

Celebrating Eric Carle and The Tiny Seed

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One of my favorite children's book authors and illustrators is Eric Carle. He is one of our classroom favorites as well. A while back, I even had the pleasure of hearing him read The Very Hungry Caterpillar LIVE at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Read on to get some fabulous resources for The Tiny Seed, watch a book trailer featuring Eric Carle, and listen to our Tiny Seed podcast!

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Nonfiction: Getting to Know Rachel Carson

Vasicek Carson CoverReading nonfiction is quite different from reading fiction. I find many upper elementary students have a hard time sorting through the facts and information in a nonfiction text. One series of books, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Inventors & Scientists, is becoming a hit with my students. These books are the perfect size for practicing nonfiction reading strategies, and the content is of high interest to the students.

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Comments: 2

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

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Freak the Mighty is a highly readable book that addresses many serious issues, including domestic violence, alienation, and bullying. Through the story of the main characters, Max and Kevin, students can learn a great deal about themselves and others.

 

 

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Comments: 4

Motivating Middle School Students

IMG_5957It takes a special breed to teach middle school students. Teens and preteens thrive on drama, struggle with hormones, and explode with emotions. As if that isn’t enough, this time of year we also have to contend with a spring fever epidemic. Many students shut down as snow banks thaw and the Canada geese return to the North Country. With ten weeks left in the school year and only one month before state tests, we cannot allow students to check out. So, how do we motivate our middle school students and keep them engaged in learning? Celebrate their achievements and give them choice and voice. This post describes some of the ways teachers celebrate student achievement at my school, and a video illustrates what one student chose to do when given voice and choice.

 

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Comments: 3

The Read-A-Thon

DSC01434 A few years ago my former mentee, Kelly Andreoni, an English teacher and advisor to our school's book club, came up with a wonderful plan for an event that would not only only encourage students to read, but also raise money in a unique form of community service: a Read-A-Thon. This year, over 150 students took part, raising over $9,200 for a charitable organization called "Raising a Reader MA," which promotes literacy awareness among families in communities across the state, including our own city of Revere. Read on to see how Kelly organizes this fun and worthwhile event.

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Comments: 2

Explore Childhood Themes With a Kevin Henkes Author Study

Kevin Henkes Author StudyTo strengthen my students as readers and writers, I had them take to the Reader's Chair and the Author's Chair to share their responses to a study on Kevin Henkes, who writes and illustrates books about lovable mouse characters who express common childhood feelings, fears, and fantasies. After evaluating his writing style and comparing the characters, settings, and themes of four of his books, my students showed off their own reading, writing, artistic, and critical-thinking skills.

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Comments: 5

Tyranny and Prometheus Bound

DSC01364Helping students make real world connections to the works they read is an important part of teaching literature. When students comprehend the contemporary and historical links to literature, they have a much greater understanding of what they read. This year my sophomore class and I were fortunate enough to be part of a collaboration between the American Repertory Theater and Amnesty International in the Prometheus Project, a partnership designed to put the theater arts to the service of human rights advocacy.

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National Children's Nutrition Month!

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March is National Children's Nutrition Month! This is a great opportunity for you to help your kids learn to make healthy choices about food and exercise. Read on to learn about creating a Healthy Choices Unit in your classroom or school and to peek into my school as we celebrate Healthy Choices Week.

GIVEAWAY WINNER ANNOUNCED AT THE END OF THIS BLOG POST!

 

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Preparing for High Stakes State Testing

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In California, we do our state testing in May, but we begin reviewing and planning for it now. Second grade is the youngest grade to take state tests in California, and we take it very seriously. I hope that you will find some helpful testing tips for students and teachers in this post.

 

 

Photo Credit: Blueberries/iStockphoto

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Children of the Holocaust

IMG_5864 I recently received my February 28, 2011, issue of Time magazine. On the cover was a picture of youths from around the world with the subtitle, “The Generation Changing the World.” In my classroom, we are transitioning from the protests in the Middle East to the Holocaust. After introducing the literature circle books for the unit, I held up the Time issue and Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy and posed the question, “Why would Hitler fear the youth?” The question set my students on fire. The biggest problem of the day was tracking all the books that started flying out of my room. The resources below will help you create an English language arts and social studies integrated unit on the Holocaust.

 

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Comments: 7

The Good Old Book Report

DSC01391 Book reports seem part of the realm of middle school and elementary school. You don't often hear of students doing book reports in high school, but I feel much can be learned by doing such an assignment in the higher grades. A book report can challenge the student to use higher order thinking skills in order to understand and interpret literature.

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Celebrate Reading With Dr. Seuss

DSC00415Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss's birthday are great reasons to celebrate reading. In the primary grades, we are all learning to read and love Dr. Seuss's colorful, wacky rhymes and imaginative illustrations. I have compiled tons of great articles, resources, and ideas to help you celebrate Dr. Seuss and reading. Go grab a book and join my class as we celebrate reading and Dr. Seuss all week long.

 

 

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Comments: 8

Kid-Recommended Reading Series

DSC01090Spring break will soon be here. If it is anything like the winter break, students are bound to come back a bit rusty. To avoid this, I use the power of positive peer pressure and have the students recommend their favorite series books to each other. I find that once a student connects with a series, they tend to go to the school library each week with a positive attitude, knowing exactly which book they want to borrow next. Below is a list of book series recommended by 4th and 5th graders for some spring break reading enjoyment.   

 

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Comments: 2

Books That Inspire Teens

DSC01294 I recently attended the College Board New England Regional Forum and had the pleasure of introducing the guest speaker, Wes Moore, author of the book, The Other Wes Moore:  One Name, Two Fates. I had not read Wes' book yet, but I was certainly impressed with the author's background and his ability to ignite a room of about four hundred educators (no small task, as we all know). Through preparing my introduction, I learned that Wes Moore is a youth advocate, an Army combat veteran, a businessman, and a non-profit leader, as well as an author.

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Comments: 6

I Love to Read! Surefire Ways to Create Lifelong Book Lovers

I Love to Read Month February is “I Love to Read Month,” the perfect time to assess if your students do, in fact, love to read. Are they captivated by good stories? Does reading fill them with excitement and enthusiasm? Do they play with the sounds of language in a literature-rich environment that promotes active learning through highly engaging activities? If the answer to any of these questions is no (and even if it’s yes!), it may be time to arm yourself with a repertoire of techniques guaranteed to get every child in your class saying “I love to read!”

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Comments: 4

Reading Month

DSC01095March is reading month. Each year our school tries to come up with a theme and activities to help promote the vital skill of reading. It can be tough to keep the ideas fresh, so I thought I would share the latest ideas from Miami Elementary here in good ole Clinton Township, Michigan.

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Comments: 12

Character Education in PreK & Kindergarten

Character Education in PreK and KindergartenWhat children learn about character in the early childhood classroom can shape their character for the rest of their lives. So how do you teach it?

 

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Comments: 10

Valentine's Day Sweets & Heartbeats Across the Curriculum

The Heart on Valentine's DayValentine's Day is my favorite holiday at school. It's easy for kids to understand.  The decorations are pretty hearts and flowers, and the focus is on friendship, love, and kindness. I like to extend the easygoing and cheerful atmosphere all day and all across the curriculum. Read on to find activities in every subject area that center around my favorite thing: the heart.

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Comments: 2

Valentine's Day

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Making and giving out cards to classmates, eating conversation hearts, and decorating in pink and red are all fun Valentine's Day activities. But don't let this holiday go by without sneaking in a little bit of curriculum, too. Join me as I peek into some of the other classrooms at my school to show you some great ways of squeezing some extra learning into all of the Valentine's Day festivities.

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Comments: 2

Heads Up on Substance Abuse

Heads_upThere are two schools of thought on the prevention of alcohol and substance abuse. Some believe that educating our youth will intensify their curiosity and perhaps encourage them to experiment with alcohol or drugs. Others believe that educating young people will deter them from experimenting with alcohol and drugs because they will understand the psychological and physiological effects these substances have on their bodies. Either way, I am sure that if you are a middle school or high school teacher, you are aware of the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse. This article provides resources and classroom activities for educating middle and high school students about substance abuse.

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Comments: 8

Educating Teens About Drugs — The National Institute on Drug Abuse

DSC01340Drug and alcohol abuse continues to plague teenagers, and parents and teachers are often at a loss about how to handle this important issue. I grew up in the '70s, when there was a great deal of glorification of drug use in the media and very little information about the dark, dangerous side of drug use and addiction. With the advent of the information age, however, there are plenty of resources to help educate and inform students about the dangers of drug use.

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Comments: 10

Celebrating the Hundredth Day of School

100th wormHAPPY HUNDREDTH DAY OF SCHOOL!

The hundredth day of school is a HUGE DEAL in the primary grades. But even though the celebrations may take place in primary grades, upper grades can join in the fun, too. Any holiday where you can have fun and encourage learning in creative ways is worth celebrating. So join my class and my school as I share 50 ways to celebrate 100 days of school!

 

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Comments: 3

Children of the River

DSC01310[1]I teach in an urban school system that is considered a "gateway" community. We are, after all, about five minutes away from Logan Airport. There are over forty-six languages spoken at our school, and most students speak a language other than English as their first language. Many of these are Cambodian Americans. A large number of Cambodian refugees settled in Revere in the 1980s and 1990s, and many of my students' families experienced the horrors of the Khmer Rouge firsthand. For this reason and others, Children of the River is perfect for my classes. 

 

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Comments: 7

Happy Chinese New Year!

DSC00398Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year! The new Chinese year, the Year of the Rabbit, begins on February 3, 2011. Chinese New Year is a holiday near and dear to my heart because it was a fun, festive, and grand celebration during my childhood years. Come celebrate this special day with me and my class.

Read on to check out my unit on the Chinese New Year and grab a few free printables to use in your classroom.

 

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Comments: 8

Brrr! A Blizzard of Winter Ideas

Winter Theme Activities for Preschool and KindergartenWhatever climate you live in, you can celebrate the winter season with these fun winter activities, crafts, games, and snacks!

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The opinions expressed in Classroom Solutions are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Scholastic Inc.