Sunday, January 29, 2017

Blast off to family literacy night! Space themed

You know, 55% of being a teacher is coming up with clever themes and gimmicks. That's one of my favorite things to do, actually. 

Our family nights are meant to be simple, accessible activities that parents can do with their kids. Some things are made at the event and taken home for more practice and fun, and some are activities they only do at the event. Parents are not learning about rigor or testing; rather these events are meant to be low-stakes and easy to participate in. We want parents to enjoy coming to school and doing literacy activities with their kids!

Every year, for Family Literacy Night, I choose a different theme. So far, we've had family nights with these themes: camping, superheroes, movies, and pirates. This year, we chose to go with: outer space! Because we're starting our first year as a STEAM school, we thought it would be important to encourage kids to think about a science topic. 

To read about how I plan Literacy Night events, visit this blog post.

I planned seven stations. 

We gave out books at the front of the school. Each student gets one free book to take home! That's always a big seller to get students and parents to participate.

After they get a book, students can visit seven different stations that involve listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 


Big Bang Brainstorming

Students brainstorm as many words as they can for every letter in the alphabet! We tallied up the number of words students came up with and found the top three places. Those students received a little bag with fun stuff! Some space stickers, colored pencils, Starburst, Milky Ways, and other fun prizes. Our #1 winner had 83 words!



Mission Control

Students found a cozy spot and read space books with their parents. We had many copies of Star Stuff, about Carl Sagan, placed in baskets, as well as other space-related books and other topics of interest.

Students also went home with these adorable bookmarks!


Space Race

Students made a fun board game that would help them work on following directions. They built the game and played it with their parents!

Moon Rocks

At this station, students competed in two different word games. For one game, they hunted for rhyming words, and for the other, they hunted for synonyms. Kids really got involved in this one! We made the station by using plastic wading pools and filling them with balled-up butcher paper. Then we scattered the word cards throughout the paper and had kids start digging!




This might have been my favorite station. First, students and parents made fun partner play hats to show which role they were reading in the play: the alien or the astronaut. Then, students and parents read a fun partner play together about an alien meeting an astronaut. 




 Rocket Writing

This station was fun because kids love to get crafty! Kids used a straw and a little spaceship cutout to make a space shuttle. Then they wrote an acrostic poem using the word "Rocket".









3-2-1 Blastoff!

This station integrated a little technology by projecting the book Mousteronaut being read aloud on YouTube. It's an adorable story. Kids got to color and write on a retelling wheel to retell the story! Here's the link on YouTube.

At the end of the event, kids got a free dress pass for participating and were allowed to wear free dress the next day!

I put together a video to share the stations and how I put the event together!

All in all, Family Literacy Night 2017 was a BLAST! Want to do the activities we did? Grab it on TPT!
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Celebrating Kindness #weholdthesetruths

Hey, everybody.

Let's talk.

This country is a big place, full of lots of people. There are many different kinds of people, with lots of different backgrounds, beliefs, and goals. We don't always agree. 

Growing up in a time like this can be a challenge. Little people feed off the energy of big people. 

This is evidenced by conversations my students have on a daily basis. The fears of their parents become their fears. The anxiety of their teachers becomes their anxiety. The concerns of the world rest in their ten-year-old faces. 

It's a hard life. 

So I think it's time (and so do many other amazing Teacher-Authors) to pause and take inventory. All we really have is each other. That includes the little people. And we might be sending some mixed messages. 

But when you come right down to it, what's the most important message? Kindness.

If we can choose one thing for our kids to learn, it's kindness. Kindness towards themselves, kindness towards other Americans, kindness towards the rest of humanity, and kindness towards the Earth.

And that's why I've teamed up with so many amazing TPT Teacher-Authors to create some free resources for you to use in sharing the message of #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths with your students!

What does Cesar Chavez have to do with kindness? He stood up for underprivileged Mexican Americans because he believed they deserved to be treated like people, too. Sometimes kindness takes courage, and Cesar had it. 

This Cesar Chavez partner play is a great way to introduce upper elementary students to Chavez's life and accomplishments, while developing comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency, too! And the best part: It's a FOREVER FREEBIE! That's right! All of the products mentioned in this post will be forever free!
But this freebie is only one of dozens! Visit Teachers Pay Teachers and search for #kindnessnation or #weholdthesetruths to view all of the incredible freebies about these important topics:
-Understanding our Branches of US Government and the US Constitution
-History of civil rights movements, including suffrage
-Environmental issues including climate change
-Critical thinking and examining media bias
-Kindness, empathy, compassion
-Equality and inclusion for all people
-Understanding and respecting of cultural differences
I've selected a few of my favorites for upper elementary to share with you here. 
Empathy Interactive Notebook Kit by Adventures at Home
I am really impressed by this product. It's beautifully designed and thoughtful. Students think about empathy and how they can demonstrate it to others - what a powerful message! 
This 32-slide presentation guides students through the ideas of positive peace and negative peace, and includes some excellent discussion starters to get them thinking. 

These eye-catching posters include important themes and great Americans. The quotes are inspiring and serve as great discussion starters, too!

Keep being kind, America!

Want to find even more awesome freebies? Check out the link-up below!

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