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Best Teacher Ideas for Valentine's Day

Valentine_Vennogram Celebrate Valentine’s Day with cross-curricular crafts and lesson plans in math, language arts, and health. Sing a Valentine's Day Song. Find out how our Teacher Advisors are incorporating Valentine's Day into their teaching.

Fourth grade teacher Angela Bunyi combined her love of books and libraries and held a discussion on how our libraries differ compared to 2,000 years ago in Greece. For this month of love, she decided to turn the Venn-Diagram into a Valentine Venn-O-Gram instead.

In Jennifer Atkinson's 1st grade classroom, her students create a “Heart to Heart” display with illustrations of phrases that contain the word "heart." Find "heart" words or phrases you can use on Jennifer's blog.

Sandra Blair, our Middle School READ 180 teacher, uses Valentine's Day vocabulary games to turn her students' distraction with this holiday into a learning opportunity.

Valentine candy writing is an engaging and hands-on writing activity. Marissa Ochoa's ELL students enjoy creating a story using the phrases on the hearts.

Alyssa Zelkowitz, our Special Education blogger, shares her HeartSmart data analysis activity as a way to maximize the Valentine's Day sugar rush. Students act as Quality Control Officials at a candy hearts factory, and they have to complete various data-gathering and analysis activities to help their employer ensure that the factory's candy production stays up to snuff.

Don't forget to send Clifford a Valentine!

Happy 200th Birthday, Abraham Lincoln!

Abraham_Lincoln This February 12 marks the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Try these 16 activities to honor our 16th President, including three reader's theaters, "The Faces of Abraham Lincoln" slideshow, and more.

Print out a free Abraham Lincoln Mini-Book, Abraham Lincoln: A Great President, a Great American, or sing a classroom song about President Lincoln.

Use these great grab-and-go lessons and books in your classroom tomorrow in celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

Nine New Year's Resolutions for 2009

Updated January 5, 2009 with bonus teaching ideas for the New Year.

Resolution Making New Year's Resolutions is a great opportunity for you and your students to reflect on the past year's accomplishments and set goals for the coming year.

Here are nine ways Scholastic can help you reach your goals.

For Your Students

1. Create a New Year's Resolution Time Capsule
In Beth Newingham's 3rd grade classroom, students complete a worksheet to make two PERSONAL IMPROVEMENT resolutions and at least two resolutions that involve FAMILY OR FRIENDS and SCHOOL. Students share their top two resolutions with the class before they put them in a “Resolution Time Capsule.” She then decorates a shoebox with New Year’s Eve decorations and has each student ceremoniously place their resolutions into the box. The box is not opened until the end of the year when students see if they have accomplished their goals.

2. Set Goals for the New Year
In Kechia Williams' 6th grade classroom, she brainstorms with her students about the issues or problems they encountered during the first semester. To help her students get started thinking about solutions, she shares her biggest problem -- not having enough time to complete EVERYTHING -- and asks them for advice. For homework, students write three goals and a plan for each goal. She then posts their goals in the classroom so they will be constantly reminded.

3. Start the New Year With a Healthy Habit
Use the clean slate of a new year to break a bad habit or take on a good one. Have your students share their resolutions on the Scholastic News Online blog. If one of their New Year's resolutions is to take action to help others, students can follow the example of Scholastic News Kid Reporter Ashlyn Stewart who donated her hair to Locks of Love.

For You

4. Top Eight in '08: List the Memorable Moments in Your Classroom
In looking back on the year, Alyssa Zelkowitz, our Special Education blogger, realizes that her most profound emotion is pride in her students: how smart, how capable, and how enthusiastic to learn they are. What are your top eight moments of 2008?

5. Take the Time to Learn Online
Our Tech Tutors Michelle Bourgeois and Gayle Berthiaume show how easy it is to meet your professional development goals by visiting tutorial sites to learn new technology skills or attending online conferences or courses to learn new teaching skills.

6. Tame Your File Cabinet
Chances are your file cabinet is overflowing with a semi-organized jumble of packed folders and teaching materials. Save time with these organizing tips.

7. Refresh Your Classroom Library
2nd grade teacher Elizabeth Mazzurco starts January by rotating the books in her classroom library. She has so many series books that she can't fit them all at once in her library. By January, the students have grown so much as readers that she puts away the easier books and adds more challenging series books.

8. Earn Extra Cash
Sign up for a free sellers membership on TeachersPayTeachers.com. The best selling teacher has already earned more than $18,000 selling her literature guides on TeachersPayTeachers.com.

9. Dust off Your Resume
Search School Jobs Now for teaching opportunities throughout the country. Visit the resource center for help updating your resume and cover letters and brush up on your interview skills.

Happy New Year!

Bonus Teaching Ideas For the New Year

In Jennifer's 2nd grade class, her students will spend the week celebrating the New Year by writing New Year's Resolutions and "Top 10 Lists". This can be done individually, in small group or as a class.

Patty Blome, our High School Teacher Advisor
, reminds us that this January will be a momentous month: a new President with immense historical significance will be sworn in a day after we honor what would have been the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s  80th birthday. Read her blog for amazing teaching ideas for the Presidential inauguration and Dr. King's birthday.

Andrea Spillett, one of our English Language Learners bloggers
, brainstorms ideas on how she plans to implement her new iPod as a teaching tool to increase fluency in listening, speaking, reading and writing in her ELL classroom.

Rob Southworth, one of the Strategies for Arts Integration bloggers, announces a new way for artists to share their work: the Online Evidence of Teacher and Student Learning (ETSL) Database.

Compare & Contrast Christmas, Hanukkah, & Kwanzaa

484x235_holiday Around the world, communities celebrate many different holidays to honor their histories, beliefs, and cultures. Introduce students to holiday customs and traditions that may be unfamiliar to them and help them recognize the similarities among these celebrations.

Explore our new Celebrate Winter Holidays interactive activity to learn more about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

Christmas Teaching Resources

Interactive Christmas Scrapbook

Christmas Crafts & Lessons

Hanukkah Teaching Resources

Interactive Hanukkah Scrapbook

Teaching About Hanukkah

Teaching About Kwanzaa & Other Multicultural Celebrations


Interactive Kwanzaa Scrapbook

Celebrating Winter Holidays in the Classroom

Festive Tales for the Holiday Season

Compareholiday_3 As a culminating activity, students can choose two holidays and use this free printable chart to compare & contrast the holidays.

Print out this flyer for our Celebrate Winter Holidays interactive unit to share with other teachers.

For more holiday ideas, check out:

Best Teacher Ideas for the Holidays

Parent Guide for Happy Holidays

Best Teacher Ideas for the Holidays

Find out how our Teacher Advisors are incorporating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the theme of giving and sharing into their teaching. These fun activities are guaranteed to bring holiday cheer into your classroom.

Window_candle_2 In Naomi and Alexandra's Kindergarten classroom, they make stained "glass" candles for a lesson about the four festivals of light: Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

Carolyn Elwood, one of the advisors for our Strategies for Arts Integration blog, explains how creating a three-dimensional snowflake builds skills that last long after the holiday season.

Goodnight_angel Jennifer's 1st Grade class and her school staged a “Winter Holidays Around the World” program with songs about Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and more. She shares 26 ideas, from art projects and writing prompts to how to make a home connection this season. I am amazed at the art that her students created for "Peace on Earth."

Bracelet_lg Angela Bunyi, our Grades 3-5 Teacher Advisor, shares how she manages to create holiday gifts for her class on a $10 budget and a holiday math site with an activity using the 12 Days of Christmas and Pascal's triangle patterns.

Holiday_store Jill White, one of the advisors for our Strategies for Gifted Learners blog, continues with her Toys for Tots drive but with a different spin. See last year's class creating crafts for the holiday store and shopping for gifts that were donated to Toys for Tots.

Hanukkah_song In Andrea's ELL classroom, students sing holidays songs as a way to increase their English language skills by working on vocabulary, rhythm, and pronunciation. Or, try this project of making holiday centerpieces as a thoughtful gift for parents.

Tech Tutor Michelle Bourgeois has fun and easy computer craft projects for student elves to create holiday gifts for mom and dad.

Check out Kid Lit Kit blogger Hannah Trierweiler's recommendations for new holiday books for your classroom.

Alyssa Zelkowitz, our Special Education Strategies blogger, shares her interdisciplinary math, music, and literacy mini-unit on Hanukkah, with assessment and differentiation options for each lesson. Instead of a KWL chart, have your students create a KWL dreidel.

Five Reindeer Teaching Ideas


Turn your students' enthusiasm for reindeers into a teaching opportunity for language arts skills.

1. Practice December vocabulary using the Five Little Reindeer poem.
2. Read this fiction/nonfiction book pair about reindeer for grades K-2.
3. Let reindeers' noses guide your students into writing a complete sentence.
4. Watch this video interview with Jan Brett talking about The Wild Christmas Reindeer.
5. Use The Wild Christmas Reindeer lesson plan to remind students how to treat others.

Top 5 New Teaching Resources for December

Gg_ecards_1030_2 Celebrate Winter Holidays Online Activity
Celebrate the season by learning about winter holidays from around the world. Explore interactive scrapbooks about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Send holiday eCards, listen to holiday songs, and share your holiday stories.

Tf_familyheritage_1124 Exploring Family Heritage
Encourage your students to explore their family heritage and find out how their families are part of America's cultural diversity. Students will have an opportunity to interview relatives and create their own family tree.

39clues_teachertout_484x235 Gordon Korman Is Our December Author of the Month
Watch the December 1 live webcast interview with Gordon Korman at 1 p.m. ET to learn more about One False Note, Book 2 of The 39 Clues series. Start an author study with these teaching resources about Gordon Korman and The 39 Clues series.

Tf_teachadvisors09_080728 Cross-Curricular Math Units From Our Teacher Advisors
Our Teacher Advisors share strategies on how to bring the real world into the classroom and create opportunities for students to interact with each other and integrate math into authentic learning situations.

Tf_talking_science_fossils Talking Science: Fossils Interactive Unit
Join paleontologist Ross MacPhee on the hunt for fossils in Antarctica. Extend tbe learning with a video interview, photo slideshow, and related resources.

Top Thanksgiving Lessons & Books

Illustrating_stories_2 If you are looking for last-minute Thanksgiving lessons and books, check out how our Teacher Advisors are celebrating Thanksgiving in their classrooms.

In Andrea Spillett's ELL classroom, students work in pairs to retell and draw their own version of the Thanksgiving story. [Strategies for English Language Learners]

In Tech Tutor Gayle Berthiaume's classroom, her students use these "Giving Thanks" online resources for writing and creating projects around the topic of being thankful.

In Jennifer's 1st Grade classroom, she adds a language arts twist to the art project of turning a student's handprint into a turkey. Jennifer asks her students to write on conversation bubbles glued around the turkey handprint. Students can reinforce what they have learned about quotation marks by writing what they have learned about turkeys, favorite parts of a book, things that they are thankful for or things they would like to thank their friends or family for. Read her Thanksgiving Activities blog post for even more great ideas.

Check out these Kid Lit Kit blog recommendations for Thanksgiving books:

I am counting down the days to Thanksgiving: great food, family hijinks, and a few days off. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

The First Thanksgiving Reader's Theater Ideas & More Thanksgiving Activities

Tf_thanksgiving_0806 Bring the First Thanksgiving to life by using these interview transcripts as inspiration for Thanksgiving reader’s theater.

Conducted with expert historical interpreters from Plimoth Plantation, these interviews are a creative entry point into life in 1621. Plimoth Plantation is a living museum of 17th-century Plymouth that showcases the Wampanoag People and the Colonial English community in the 1600s.

Get started with these ideas:

  • Break each interview into short sections and assign small groups to perform the interviews.
  • Have students write a letter as a character portrayed in one of the interviews.
  • Use the interviews as research starters and have students write their own original readers theater skits. Then, stage a Thanksgiving play with your students in the roles of the Pilgrims or Native Americans.

Your students can also conduct original research and participate in live chats tomorrow with a present-day Native American and a Pilgrim interpreter representing a young Pilgrim boy from Plimouth Plantation. Join us for one or all of three live chats tomorrow,  Thursday, November 13 at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. ET. Your class can submit your questions in advance, and then come back tomorrow to ask more questions in real time.

Here are additional lessons, activities, and books to help you teach about Thanksgiving:

Teaching Resources for President-Elect Barack Obama

Tf_barackobamabooks_20081105 Introduce your students to the new President-elect by sharing these biographies about Barack Obama for grades K-12. Learn more about Obama's journey to the Oval Office. Then, ask your students to write a biography about America's first African-American president.

Upfront_obamas_challenge_111708 With the economy in crisis, the nation at war, and America's image tarnished, Barack Obama has his work cut out for him. Teach your students about the challenges that President-elect Obama faces. [The New York Times Upfront magazine].

Put Obama's victory in historical context using this "From Slavery to The White House" timeline.

Obama_timeline_ro New! Barack Obama Timeline Poster (PDF)
Grab scissors and tape to make a classroom poster about Obama’s life from this PDF created with Timeliner XE! Or, use the ready-made Timeliner XE file of Obama’s life as a jumping off point for discussion of his path to the presidency (Timeliner XE required).

Prepare for Barack Obama's historic Inauguration with these grade-specific Inauguration Day printables and lessons.

Find more teaching resources for Barack Obama here.

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