Classroom Solutions > 74 posts categorized "Themes"

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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The Challenge Based Classroom: Using Curriculum to Serve the Community

HabitatLast year I came to a crossroads in my teaching. During my annual review, I found myself agonizing over my goals for this upcoming school year. I was completely stuck. I browsed through our district's professional development opportunities with a sense of “been there, done that.” It surprised me that so early in my career I would feel this way. My classroom certainly kept me on my toes, but I was missing that spark that ignited my planning each year. An offer to explore curriculum development made me even more confused. Was I really ready to leave the classroom? I needed a teaching makeover!

As if on cue, two amazing things happened that would transform my teaching: the opportunity to be a teacher advisor here and the discovery of Apple’s Challenge Based Learning. The journey outside of my comfort zone had begun.  

 

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Comments: 2

Hands-On Geography: "Paint a Partner" Topographic Maps

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"Where in the world is Randolph, NY? Is that near New York City?"

I smile every time I hear that question because our little corner of Western New York is nowhere near — and geographically nothing like — the big city. Modern technologies such as Google Earth show students the world through a whole new lens and offer exciting opportunities for them to improve their geography. But unfortunately most of my students still can't identify basic geologic formations on a topographic map: they're far more used to the flat, traditional maps they see online. For teaching topographic maps, modern technology just won't cut it.

Instead, I take an old-fashioned, hands-on approach that gives my students a solid understanding of how topographic maps work. Read on to turn your students into expert cartographers using their classmates as canvases.

 

 

 

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Comments: 6

Creating a Positive Classroom Climate: "Capturing Kids' Hearts"

"If you have a child's heart, you have his head" - Flip Flippen

DSC00338 On the day I was hired at Randolph Jr/Sr High School as a special education teacher, the principal, Bill Caldwell, informed me that part of my professional development for the year would be to attend a three-day training titled "Capturing Kids' Hearts." The name alone had me hooked, and to hear him speak so passionately made me extremely eager to find out more about it. However, he didn't divulge any more information, other than to bring a personal item that held meaning for me and a lot of Kleenex. Little did I know that the magnitude of those three days would continue on in my teaching years later.

 

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Comments: 4

Developing Hopes and Dreams

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The goal of every teacher is to help students reach their fullest potential. Teaching students to develop their hopes and dreams for the new school year is a key skill for achievement. It helps them make the connection between their personal choices and the end results. Read on for ideas on how to encourage this important skill.

 

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Comments: 4

Easing the Middle School Transition: "Getting to Know You" Geocaching

225 "Middle School" - Just the words alone can strike fear into the hearts of students and parents alike. Sixth- through eighth-grade teachers will agree these years can be the some of the toughest, and most tumultous, in a child's life. For some, it will mean a chance to advance to a higher-level floor in a familiar building, but for others it might mean acclimating to an entirely different school. While this is a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends, it may mean leaving lifelong friendships behind - which can be one of many scary steps to endure. In addition, there seems to be a laundry list of changes that middle-schoolers can expect, such as:

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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: 2

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: 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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Comments: 12

St. Patrick's Day — Mischief o' the Leprechaun

St. Patrick's Day in  Kindergarten and PreK Yesterday, there was an incident in my classroom. My students and I walked in and found it torn apart. Furniture was tipped over; supplies were scattered everywhere; the whole place was a mess. And there were funny green footprints all over . . .

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Comments: 8

Middle School Literature Circles

IMG_5890Okay, I confess: I thrive on organization and structure in my classroom. My students like routines, and I like to know what progress each student is making on a daily basis. If you are like me, then your first experience with literature circles may just put you over the edge. Relinquishing control of my classroom was not easy. Read how I learned to let go and guide my students through the organized chaos of literature circles. 

 

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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: 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: 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

100th Day Edition

Ring Around the RosyWell, it's been almost 100 crazy, brainy days of school already! In this special 100th Day edition of my blog, find out how we get excited about learning, enter a contest to win prizes, and find out what guest bloggers Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas have to say about teaching a second language in the classroom.

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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: 20

Literacy in Kindergarten Dramatic Play Centers, Part 2

Kindergarten Literacy CentersOne of my students' favorite dramatic play centers is a bakery. It's not only fun, it's also full of ways to practice literacy. And with a good name and logo, all it costs is a little effort.

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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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Comments: 3

Martin Luther King Jr. and Common: I Have a Dream

DSC01278Today is Martin Luther King Day, and beyond the fact that they get a day off from school, I'm wondering if my students know much about the man who worked so hard to advance freedom in this country.

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Comments: 4

Hooked on Poetry

Circle of life Middle school students love their music. Whenever possible, they plug into an iPod or MP3 player. I like to use this passion for music to introduce poetry, with activities like the one below, which hooks students on poetry as they debate the question: Are songwriters poets?

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Ringing in the New Year With a Kid-Friendly Las Vegas Party

Las Vegas New Year's Party for Kids On the last day of school before Christmas break, our class had a party to celebrate the end of school in 2010. Since I teach in Las Vegas, it was only natural to have a kid-friendly version of the party that many parents and other grown-ups would experience on New Year's Eve. This New Year's party included Las Vegas-style New Year's fun and games, New Year's crafts, and New Year's resolutions for kids.

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Comments: 6

Axis of Hope

Axis of Hope Double Circl I recently attended a New England Association of Schools and Colleges conference. The luncheon keynote speaker was a man named Carl Hobert, who is the founder and director of an organization called Axis of Hope. I was riveted by Mr. Hobert's address, in which he discussed how Axis of Hope works with adolescents to help them develop an understanding of alternative, nonviolent approaches to resolving complex conflicts locally, nationally, and internationally. I knew right away that this was something that would be powerful in my own school. Read on to find out what happened when we held an Axis of Hope workshop at Revere High School.

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Comments: 4

12 Unforgettable Days of Christmas

Christmas in Kindergarten and PreK
How can you celebrate Christmas for twelve days, and what makes it unforgettable? Open the link to find out. Just a peek . . . you know you want to!

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Celebrating and Learning About December Holidays, Part 3 — Kwanzaa

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What is Kwanzaa? It is a celebration of African heritage in America. There are many symbols and traditions associated with Kwanzaa that honor African heritage. Join me as we learn more about this December holiday.

 

 

 

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Comments: 3

Similes, Metaphors, and Seuss

 

 

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Dr. Seuss is a god [metaphor] when it comes to using metaphors to address complicated adults issues in fun, childlike rhymes. He is like an artist with an unending palette of colors [simile].

I often turn to Dr. Seuss to spice up my lessons on similes and metaphors. Below is a holiday lesson that is especially designed for those with an intelligence for music.

 

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Comments: 2

Christmas Sensory Integration — Rudolph's Light, Frosty's Snow, Jingle Bells, & the Gingerbread Man

Christmas Sensory Integration - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snoman, Jingle Bells, and the Gingerbread Man Next week I will share 12 incredibly fun Christmas activities (so don't forget to check back!), but first I wanted to share some super simple ways to celebrate Christmas using all five senses. You probably already do at least one of these things. Do them all to bring the full sensory experience of Christmas into your classroom!

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Comments: 6

Ten Books on Your Teen Girl's Holiday List

DSC01191There are few things harder than shopping for a teen. Let me make it easier for you by suggesting books that I guarantee your teen girl will love. Read on for my top ten holiday gift suggestions.

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Comments: 5

A Feast of Sorrow, Thanks, and Celebration

Kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast - The First Thanksgiving A week or two before Thanksgiving break, my class holds a feast. We see our humble classroom feast as a way of expressing sorrow, giving thanks, and celebrating differences. 

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Thanksgiving Lessons: Plymouth, Pilgrims, and Native Peoples

 

Miss Bindergarten on Thanksgiving Many nations have their own day of Thanksgiving, but only in the United States is it so loved by some and so hated by others. Try these lessons to help your students understand the history and purpose of the holiday, and have fun at the same time!

 

 

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Thanksgiving Crafts: Food, Feathers, and Floats

Miss Bindergarten on ThanksgivingAt this time of year, I love to get crafty with my class. Read on to see some of the fun and creative crafts we made this month in celebration of Thanksgiving!

 

 

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Thanksgiving Books: Turkeys, Traditions, and Togetherness

Thanksgiving Books Here are some books I recommend for Thanksgiving read-alouds. Take note for next year!

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Comments: 6

Time for Thanksgiving!

WebcastGetting your Thanksgiving unit ready? Scholastic has some awesome resources to help you plan a great one. Sign up for the FREE Webcast now! This event will be on November 16, 1 p.m. ET, and you must be signed up to view it. But you can take advantage of the vast variety of other multimedia and more traditional resources available on the site right now. There are videos, tours of the Mayflower, and slide shows that really bring the spirit of Thanksgiving into your classroom. Check it out.

 

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Comments: 4

Everyone Loves a Mystery

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Most teens love mysteries. They like reading them, writing them, watching them on TV and in films, and they like solving them. And since, in many cases, creative writing has been pushed to the side by high stakes testing that requires only one type of writing — usually literary analysis — writing a mystery is a great opportunity for students to explore their creative sides. What better time to write a great, spine-tingling mystery than Halloween?

 

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Comments: 8

Easy Halloween Tricks & Treats Across the Curriculum

Masks As if teaching weren't chaotic and stressful enough, there's holidays to deal with. The first major holiday of the school year is Halloween, and aside from all the projects, parties, and pigging out you'll have to consider, there's also the question of whether you should celebrate at all. First of all, 5-year-olds don't always like spooky things. And second, some parents don't approve of the holiday. What's a stressed-out teacher to do?

 

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Comments: 6

Fire Safety With Smokey, Sparky, and Sesame Street

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Hello, readers! I know this is the last day of fire prevention week and many teachers have had enough of fire prevention activities. If this describes you, then these ideas could come in handy next year. If you haven't started yet, you're probably wondering how you can do anything in one day. One day is better than none at all, but I think it will be okay if you break the rules and teach fire safety next week, too. It's relevant all year round, and you can use any opportunity, like when a fire engine goes by or just after a fire drill, to talk about fire with your students. And Smokey Bear, Sparky the Fire Dog, and the Sesame Street muppets are all iconic, loveable characters who can help you.

 

 

 

 

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Comments: 2

Student Planned Parties

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I was strolling through the hardware store yesterday and saw Christmas items slowly invading the Seasonal Item aisle. Seriously!? As annoying as the sight of premature holiday items can be, it did serve as a reminder that I needed to start the wheels in motion for a Halloween celebration in my classroom. My students do all the planning, and they often require extra time as they are just beginning to develop the skills of organization and budgeting.

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Comments: 9

ALL SOULS & the Theme of Resilience

All Souls 

A few years ago, my good friend and fellow teacher, Bill O'Brien, called in sick to school on a Monday morning. When I talked to him later that day, he told me that he had been up all night reading a book called All Souls: A Family Story from Southie. The book had so profoundly affected Bill that he actually needed a day to process what he had read. Later in the year, Bill fought to have the book added to the senior summer reading list as the social studies requirement.


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Comments: 6

Data Gleaning From Glyphs: Math in Pictures for Kindergartners

IntroGlyph12 You may have heard the words pictograph, pictogram, ideograph, ideogram, logogram, phonogram, grapheme, petroform, petroglyph, hieroglyph, etc. These are all forms of writing that use pictures or symbols to represent things such as sounds, letters, words, phrases, concepts, and data. A more general term is simply glyph. Any picture that represents something can be called a "glyph." And for your class, the construction and interpretation of glyphs that represent information about themselves and other topics is an interesting, useful, and engaging math lesson!

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Comments: 3

Going the Extra Degree With 212

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There is nothing like a good metaphor to inspire people to learn and live to a higher standard. 212: The Extra Degree is a book definitely worth owning. Though the philosophy stated in this book seems simple, it can change the quality of work in the classroom as well as a student's or adult's outlook on life. This book is one I put in the top five "must haves" for teachers. What is 212, and do you have what it takes to be 212?





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Bridging the Gaps With Multigenre Thematic Units

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I am constantly reflecting on my teaching and the success of my students. My first year of teaching, I taught units by genre: poetry, short story, fiction, nonfiction. Students explored the elements and text structures of each genre in depth. Since then, I have transitioned over to multigenre thematic units. After analyzing state assessment data and talking to other teachers, it was evident that my students were still struggling with genre recognition. It made sense. We studied folklore at the beginning of the year, so if my students were fuzzy about folklore at the end of the year, it was understandable. They didn't use it, so they lost it. I also noticed that English language arts skills were not transferring to other content areas. It became apparent that students needed to be making text-to-text connections between different genres and other content areas. Multigenre thematic units helped me to bridge these gaps in my curriculum. 

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Comments: 20

A Diller, A Dollar, A Nursery Rhyme Scholar

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The benefits of using nursery rhymes as a teaching tool are numerous. They are short, catchy, playful, and easy to remember. They have patterns. They can be used to discuss concepts such as ethics, culture, history, symbolism, aphorisms, math, and more. Most of all, they are a great aid in any language skill you are trying to teach. Studies have shown that nursery rhymes are instrumental in teaching children to read.

Image © Dave Arns of Arns Publishing and Design

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Comments: 17

Saddle Up for Second Grade: Create a Class Theme

Western round up

Inspired by my online colleagues' classroom themes, this year I decided to incorporate a theme into my classroom. A classroom theme makes learning fun for the students, unifies the room decor, and gives students a sense of belonging. This post includes a slideshow video tour of my classroom from Animoto.

 

Photo courtesy of Scholastic.com. Western Round-Up Bulletin Board Set available from the Teacher Store.

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Comments: 18

A Chrysanthemum by Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

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A child's name is their first gift, the first thing that gives them an identity. It's placed on hospital cards. It's made official on a birth certificate. It's lovingly handwritten in baby books. It might even be announced in the newspaper. A name says "I am a specific and unique individual."

Photo © Juliana Coutinho

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Comments: 8

Creating a Theme

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Many children love to go to birthday parties, especially when there is a theme. Whether it is pirates, princesses, or ponies, a themed party provides direction for the host and continuity and fun for the participants. Start your year off in a fun way by adding a theme to your classroom.




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Comments: 8

Here's Hoping for You, Kid

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The beginning of a school year is all about hope. 
Classrooms are as neat and tidy as they'll ever be.  Crayons and pencils are as fresh and sharp as they'll ever be.  Everything is new.  For students and teachers alike, a new beginning rings in excitement and expectation, new experiences and expansive possibilities.  And for kindergartners, it's not just a beginning, it's the beginning. 

Photo © D. Sharon Pruitt.

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Comments: 20

Setting the Stage for a New School Year

July 2010 Classroom 005Setting the Stage


It's almost show-time. In a month, students will arrive at Studio 24, otherwise known as my classroom, and there is much to be done beforehand. This month my posts will focus on how to have a great beginning to the school year. For me, it starts with picking a good theme. This year we are actors earning our Academy Awards in our entertainment-themed room.

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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.