Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays from One Less Headache!

The two of us at One Less Headache want to wish you happy holidays! We hope you have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family. We are taking a break from the blog and will begin posting freebies for the New Year at the end of the month! Have a great holiday and break.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: 100 Holiday Classroom Activities

  1. Make bake-less Christmas cookies with your class.  These are simple, yummy and could be adapted to any season.
  2. Buy some pipe cleaners, googley eyes and red pom-pons.  Rent a movie and make some healthy reindeer snacks to munch on.
  3. Is it snowing yet?  Take the kiddies outside and play snow games.  Here are seven great ideas.
  4. Make a candy turkey.  They are super cute and a big hit with all ages.
  5. Martha Stewart has a high quality photo gallery of 32 easy Christmas crafts.
  6. Have students research how Christmas is celebrated around the world.
  7. Encourage your students to commit random acts of kindness.
  8. Have some fun with holiday puns.
  9. Create your own ornaments.  Here are 8 great ornament ideas for older kids.
  10. Who doesn't love to get their hands full of paint once in a while?  You can choose between 15 great ideas and have your students make hand and footprint Christmas crafts.  
  11. Have your students make a piƱata.  That is one of the coolest group projects that I remember doing as a kid and have done since becoming a teacher with my students.
  12. Download boardgames, word searches and 25 other free Christmas activities to build excitement as we count down day to Christmas.
  13. Do your kids like to color?  There are coloring pages galore online and about 50 Christmas coloring pages on this site.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Word of Affirmation for Students

Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker and author, says, "Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy."  In other words, what we think will happen too often directs our path and becomes a reality, even if it needn't be.  Tied to the development of beliefs is the act of listening.  What we hear, we tend to believe, particularly if it is coming from someone we consider to be a reliable source.  If someone who knows and is supposed to care about us tells us we are going to go to college, we start to believe it.  If that same person says that we are never going to be anything in life, the same is true.  We start to believe that too.

As teachers who spend a significant amount of time with our students throughout the school year, we have the opportunity to speak life into them.  So, I've written an ABC's of compliments.  I'm sure you can think of your own, but this is a good place to start...

Amiable, amazing, adorable, athletic, artistic, ambitious
Beautiful, bubbly, blossoming
Cool, charming, confident, collegiate, compassionate, charismatic, caring
Diligent, dependable, deep
Excellent, enchanting, energetic, empathetic
Fabulous, fun, funny, fashionable, friendly, faithful, focused
Generous, giving, good, great, gentle
Honest, honorable, hard working
Intelligent, independent
Jolly, jazzy
Keen, kind
Lovable, loyal, likable
Magnificent, marvelous, merry
Neat, nice
Perfect, practical, profound, precious, priceless
Resilient, receptive, respectful
Studious, smart, super
Terrific, talented
Xtra special

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fabulous Freebies for Teaching Writing

There are so many quality sites to that offer assistance and free resources for teaching writing to all ages.  Here are some of the ones I find the most helpful and/or frequent the most...


#1: Rubistar has a ton of pre-made rubrics that you can alter to fit your assignment.  It is quick and easy to use.

#2: 6 + 1 Trait exemplars  allow you to norm your expectations as you work on various objectives from voice to organization to fluency.

#3:   is not a free website, but they have several examples that are posted on line for free.


#4: Life Magazine  has an online archive of photos.  They make great writing prompts.  Students can look at a picture and write a story about what happened before the picture, what is happening when the shot is taken and what is going to happen.  Or, students can look at the subject and write an internal monologue.  So many of the pictures are powerful and provocative.  If you want to connect it to what they're studying in social studies you can search by topic. 

Lessons and Programs:

#5Writing Fix has a bunch of high quality materials and lessons to help with teaching writing.

#6:  6 + 1 Traits is one of the most widely used and highly respected writing programs for teaching the various components of composition and norming language and expectations amongst the staff.


#7 Grammar Bytes   is a website with a plethora of printable exercises for teaching grammar to middle and high school students.


#8: Purdue Writing Owl has instructions for how to use MLA formatting in your research papers.

I hope at least one of these is something you can add to your toolkit.  If you have ones of your own that you like, please post them in the comments section and share them with our readers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Season of Giving

I used to love opening up Advent calendars with my brothers.  My holiday flavored narcissism was thrilled to receive a chocolate goodie for 25 days straight leading up to the big Christmas extravaganza at my house.  Christmas is really about giving, though, as so many of my students whose family's budgets can't afford extravagance this year know better than I did at their tender age.  So, why not create a classroom Advent calendar of giving?  Each day have the students open up an envelope with an idea of how to give that day.  Or, since most of you will only see your students for 12 more days before the break, pick out your favorite and use them in a count down to break.

1) Give a smile--say something nice to someone.  Encourage them.
2) Make a Christmas card for someone in a nursing home.
3) Make a Christmas tree and deliver it to someone who doesn't have one.
4) Make coupons for the students' families that give away special chores, hugs, back rubs, etc to loved ones.
5) Go read books to a younger group of students in the school.
6) Leave a plate of cookies for the janitor when he/she comes in to clean up at night.
7) Write letters to soldier and mail them overseas.
8) Collect canned goods for a food pantry.
9) Have students bring in new stuffed animals.  Write a note that goes with each animal and deliver them to the pediatrics ward of a hospital just before Christmas.
10) Assign students to commit a random act of kindness for someone, journal about it and report back with the class.
11) Go caroling through the school.
12) Create Christmas decorations and decorate the school to spread a little cheer.
13) Make bake-less cookies as a class and deliver goodie bags to the staff.
14) Bring in change and put it in a jar.  Donate it to a local shelter.
15) Have your students make an ornament, wrap it up and bring the ornament home as an early Christmas present for their parents.
16) Take your class outside to clean up the school grounds, weather permitting.
17) Have students create flyers for a local animal shelter and put them up around town to promote animal adoption.
18) Have students organize a special after school activity for students who stay late.
19) Have students sign up to tutor younger students.
20) Have students make friendship bracelets and exchange them.
21) Have students bring in supplies to help stock up for 2013 (tissue, snacks, etc.)
22) Have students write a pledge for how they can help make the school a better place.
23) Collect used but clean scarves, jackets, hats and mittens to donate to a local shelter.
24) Throw a party for the staff in the teacher's lounge.  Have students bring/make sweet treats.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Super Cyber Savings!!!

December 1st and 2nd marks the big Teachers Pay Teachers site wide sale! Many sellers have items up to 20% off and by using code TPTCYBER you can save an additional 10%!! These site wide sales don't come up very often so it's a great time now to save big on things you might need the rest of the semester!

Check out my store here or Etc's store here for educational items!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! We're thankful for all of our readers here at One Less Headache. Thanks for joining us throughout the year.

We hope all of you are enjoying this time with your family & friends. Check back this weekend for more information on special holiday deals!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Comprehension Tools

So, it's not Friday anymore, but if you've had a fall like mine I'm sure you're willing to overlook that small detail.  I wanted to share one of the best, most succinct sites for comprehensive teaching strategies across the curriculum.  It is located at: This website has a variety of free resources for you to use and share.

There are graphic organizers and frame paragraphs for teaching reading and writing skills and strategies. They include text structures for fiction and nonfiction passages along with guides to help students write concise summaries.

There are quick reference lists of high frequency vocabulary to teach in a variety of content areas.

There are professional development tools, templates for long term planning, information on Response to Intervention and so much more!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Ways Students Can Show Thankfulness in the Classroom

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, I thought now would be a great time to share some ways students can express and practice gratitude and thankfulness in the classroom. I think all teachers know that we don't only teach subjects but social skills as well and thankfulness is key. Here are ten ideas to get started!

1. Write a letter to someone that they are thankful for.

2. Draw a picture of something they are thankful for.

3. Have a classroom food drive or other community service project.

4. Create a graphic organizer brainstorming things they are thankful for.

5. Create a thankful chain by having students write their thanks of strips of paper before connecting them.

6. Research a quote about thankfulness and explain how they understand it.

7. Create a classroom graph of what students in the class are thankful for.

8. Create a top 10 list of things to be thankful for.

9. Read a book about thankfulness.

10. Keep a classroom gratitude journal.




Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Free Online Scripts for Readers Theater

One great way to encourage your students in the upper primary grades to read fluently and closely for more in depth comprehension is to have them participate in a readers theater.  If you do the Daily 5 in your classroom, you probably have students reading with someone.  A fun way to encourage that and hold them accountable is to have them practice reading scripts together that they can then perform in front of the class.  There are a lot of great resources online to choose from.  Here are a few of my favorites...

TeachingHeart is a website with links to well over 50 scripts for transitional readers.  There are some well known classics such as "Casey at Bat" and Rumplestiltskin.  But, there are also many, many more to explore that relate to a range of topic and themes.  There are scripts for Christmas, Earth day, animals and more.  This site is definitely worth checking out!

Readers Theater All Year has scripts for just about every holiday.  Most of the scripts come with approximate grade levels so you can quickly search based on theme and readability.  

Finally, don't forget about TeachersPayTeachers.  If you do a search for free plays and scripts, you will find a number of quality resources to download.  

The plays the thing to catch the interest of your students!!  Check these sites out today.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Thanksgiving Packet for Fast Finishers

This week's fabulous freebies are perfect for the fast and early finishers in your classroom. On my site is my Thanksgiving Art Activities Pack which includes 10 pages of drawing activities for your fast and early finishers. All they need to complete the work is a pencil and a color medium such as markers or crayons.

My students have always enjoyed these and I hope your students do as well! If you enjoy this freebie, please leave feedback for others.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fun Thanksgiving Math Packet!

If you are looking for a fun Thanksgiving themed math center for your students, check out my Thanksgiving Math Worksheets! Included in this pack are 12 Thanksgiving themed math worksheets that focus on math skills such as multiplication, division, fractions, converting fractions to decimals, pie graphs, and bar graphs. I recommend this pack for grades 5-8. This pack is one of my best sellers!

Although this pack is colorful and has lots of fun images, it can easily be used in black and white or color. All answer keys are included. Here is a list of the twelve fun worksheets included in this pack:

1. Recipe Math Worksheet
2. Nutrition Facts Questions
3. Turkey Facts Multiplication
4. Cornucopia Greater or Lesser Than Coloring Sheet
5. Create a Thankful Pie Chart
6. Draw a Cranberry Bar Graph
7. Turkey Feather Numerical Patterns
8. Dinner Plate Math Match-Up
9. Thanksgiving Word Multiplication
10. Thanksgiving Word Problems
11. Thanksgiving Dinner Pricing
12. Cornucopia Creation Cost
1. Recipe Math Worksheet
2. Nutrition Facts Questions
3. Turkey Facts Multiplication
4. Cornucopia Greater or Lesser Than Coloring Sheet
5. Create a Thankful Pie Chart
6. Draw a Cranberry Bar Graph
7. Turkey Feather Numerical Patterns
8. Dinner Plate Math Match-Up
9. Thanksgiving Word Multiplication
10. Thanksgiving Word Problems

All of these are included for only $3.00!

If you prefer Thanksgiving literacy worksheets, check out my related literacy pack for more Thanksgiving fun.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Now that November is here, Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  There are so many freebies out there.  Here is just a shaving off the tip at the top of the iceberg....

The first one is a template for a simple acrostic poem of thankfulness.  This is useful for putting students of all ages in a mindset of gratitude for everything we have as we enter this season.  Use this as a bell ringer in high school or a homework assignment for the lower grades.  Have students take it home and interview family about what they are thankful for.  

The next one is a mini-unit on word problems for 1-3 grade.  It includes addition and subtraction, but with a seasonally appropriate theme.

Lesson Lady's Thanksgiving themed art activity pages for fast finishers is a favorite.  It is full of fun coloring pages for the kiddos.  Create an anchor chart with activities students can work on when they finish and add this to the list.  It gives them a bit of down time to work on their fine motor skills.

And, why not use the holidays to take a break and have a little fun.  Check out Thanksgiving bingo.  They'll learn vocabulary while they're at it.

Finally, have your students make edible turkeys.  I did this last year with students in high school and elementary school, and they all had a blast.  They're so cute and so tasty!  All you need are oreos, candy corn, white frosting and something for the body. (You can use whoppers and peanut butter cups, as pictured here, or something else.  Last year I used chocolate covered cherries.)

Want to see more?  Check out Teachers Pay Teachers and narrow the search by grade and content.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fabulous Friday Freebies: Halloween Freebies!

This week I'm re-posting our most popular Halloween freebie article with one new freebie added to the end. Enjoy!

As the weather chills down and the children prepare for a sugar rush, the freebies heat up! Here are some fabulous Halloween freebies! If you have a Halloween freebie that you would like to share, please let us know in the comments and we will consider featuring your freebie in one of our future October freebie editions.

This Halloween Dry Ice Secrets packet gives a ton of information about dry ice and ways to use it in your classroom for science experiments! I found lots of useful information and fun ideas to try in the classroom. This would be perfect for a variety of ages.

This Halloween Poetry Bookmarks freebie is a different way to get students to write by following directions written on Halloween themed bookmarks. Also included are blank bookmarks that can be used for poems and themed writing paper as well.

Find a huge list of fun Halloween science experiment ideas on Science Bob's blog! There is a huge list of activities to capture your students' attention including an idea on how to make a screaming cup and a recipe for homemade slime.

Check out  this selection of 10 FREE Halloween bingo games! About Home has a great selection of bingo games you can download like the Crayola color it bingo games pictured above. I loved the selection and bingo is perfect as you can play for a short or long time.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to Prepare Students for the English Section of the ACT in 5 Minutes a Day!

The best advice I've ever received when it comes to grammar instruction is to: teach it for five minutes a day, follow a cumulative pacing chart and use activities that mirror the ACT.  The pacing chart is roughly as follows:

End Punctuation
Subject/Verb Agreement
Commas and colons
Dashes and semicolons
Sentence fragments
Run-on sentences
Verbs and adverbs
Verbs and tenses
Parallel structure
Nouns and pronouns
Sentence structure

Many of the topics above have multiple rules, and are therefore, taught over the course of several weeks.  Every fifth week the rules that weren't mastered are retaught and students are reassessed as needed.  All together, these skills are stretched out over the course of about 35 weeks.

On Mondays students go over the grammar rules for that week and see examples.  On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays they complete short 3-4 question activities like the one pictured below.  These activities have short excerpts from real texts on the left with mechanics mistakes.  On the right are three to four questions with four multiple choice options that correlate to underlined and numbered sections of the passage on the left (just like the English portion of the ACT.  There are  four options and students choose the correct one.  Their work is graded immediately and the rules are reviewed when the class goes over the answers.  On Fridays students are quizzed on the rules for that week.

In addition to review weeks, students are reviewing all the rules they've been taught so far as they appear repeatedly in the weekly ACT-like exercises.  (For example, the first few weeks I have them practice capitalization rules.  The fourth week, I have them practice capitalization and end punctuation.  The fifth week is review.  The sixth week I have them practice capitalization, end punctuation and subject/verb agreement.  And so on and so forth.)  Also, once a rule has been taught, I expect them to apply it when they write.  They must recognize their mistakes and self correct their errors when they edit their papers.

So, why is this the best advice I've ever received?  The first is that you can teach grammar for the first five minutes of class, and it doesn't take over your lessons.  Secondly, students feel successful because it starts with the easy skills and proceeds cumulatively.  Finally, it has been proven to raise students' English ACT scores by several points.

Well, there you have it.  This is one of my best secrets.  I hope that you find it useful too.  If you have any questions, let me know!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fun Art Project for Day of the Dead

One of my favorite art lessons that was always a hit was my Day of the Dead skull design. Students loved it since it incorporated Hispanic heritage of some students and others loved it because drawing skulls was encouraged! I have had a lot of success with this lesson with a wide variety of age groups as well from late elementary to early high school with minor modifications.

This lesson incorporates history since students learn about the Day of the Dead from information packets included in the lesson and math since their skull is symmetrically balanced.

The lesson includes written and illustrated directions and gives alternatives for different materials so it can have a wide degree of difficulty. I've also found that students who have a lot of experience with art spend time making complicated skull designs while students that are just starting still have success with basic skull shapes.

Check it out in my shop if you're interested!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fabulous Freebies to Help You Get Organized

One of my constant goals is to stay organized and beat back the mountain of papers that come along with teaching.  Every time a pick up a stack to sort through it, I seem to find papers that are as old as my teaching career.  I could just throw everything in the trash, but I have this problem where I feel the need to know what I'm pitching.  Then there are the papers I copy for every class and the papers I get back to grade and the papers I get from weekly meetings and the papers with my lists of things to do and so on and so forth.  Sound familiar?

Don't get me wrong, papers have not swallowed my classroom whole....yet, but beating back the prolific paper piles is a constant job.  Keeping organized so that the most important papers don't get tossed out with the excess takes time, attention and planning.  So, what do I do?  Here are a few things that I use--and a few things that I should start using--to help me be better organized.

1) I keep a small calendar with me at all times to record meetings and due dates throughout the year.  Free templates can be found at WinCalendar.

2) There are several places where you can save papers online.  Of course there is Google Drive, but there is also Evernote.  Both places allow you to save documents, notes and images.

3) Three must-have binders: plans and calendars, student information and substitute materials.  Check out this blog for more details.

4) I always have daily and weekly to-do lists.  I start each week by laying out the things that I need to accomplish.  I keep my to-do lists in a notebook, but there are also cute online templates.

5) The Adventures of Room 83 has a great blog entry about organizing papers, with ideas for how to categorize supplies and files.

6) Want dividers to categorize your important files?  Check out these cute binder covers.

7) And, my favorite...Scholastic has 100 organizing tips for arranging your classroom without paying a cents.

If reading over this blog for 30 minutes saves you five minutes a day throughout the coming school year, then it is time well spent.

Happy organizing!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Experiments to try for Halloween in Your Classroom!

I always enjoyed doing experiments in school and I know my students did too! Here are 16 creepy and fun Halloween science experiments!

Halloween Candy Experiments

Dissolving Candy Pumpkins - Lemon Lime Adventures
Exploding Microwaveable Peeps - Housing a Forest
3 Fun Experiments for Leftover Halloween Candy - Play Dr. Hutch
Pop Rocks Expander - Steve Spangler Science
Oil Test for Starburst - Candy Experiments

Ghosts and Other Spirits

Tea Bag Ghosts - Play dough to Plato
Ghost Rockets - Growing a Jeweled Rose
Static Powered Dancing Ghost - Science Bob
Magic Expanding Ghost - Bitz & Giggles
Make Ectoplasm Slime - About Education

Blood & Guts

What is Blood Made Of - I can Teach my Child
Vampire Blood Chlorophyll Experiment - Inspiration Laboratories
Make Fake Blood - Steve Spangler Science
Make Vampire Blood - Primary Education Oasis
Create Blood Clots - Science Buddies

Ghouls and Goblins

Make Zombie Brains - Professor Egghead

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Fall Writing Prompts!

Here are some places to get fun and free fall themed writing prompts!

  • The Holiday Zone - This site has a list of about 18 fall themed writing prompts with many creative suggestions. I loved that the prompts reflect a variety of writing skills and include things such as compare/contrast, persuasive writing and more.

  • The Kid Zone - If you are looking for early elementary writing prompts, look no further than the Kid Zone. There are printable prompt worksheets with a variety of types of writing to use and I love that you don't have to register or anything to print them! Just click and print.

  • Writing Forward - Writing forward has some unique fall themed poetry prompts on their site which would work for older students. Definitely a unique twist to the writing prompt idea!

  • The Humble Pen - This site has a list of 20 fall writing prompts. There were some unique prompts there that I haven't seen elsewhere.

  • In Season - I loved this take on autumn writing prompts with a scientific twist. Instead of regular prompts they are more themed towards a nature journal and have some prompts that are perfect for combining language arts and science. I think you could find something for almost all age groups here!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Teaching Lessons Students Will Remember

One of the best pieces of advice I've read lately is to make lessons memorable.  It's so obvious and yet easy to forget when planning a lesson.  There are so many things teachers are supposed to do these days: backwards map, use TAPS, include all learning styles, differentiate, align with the common core, use SMART goals, check for understanding, make lessons culturally relevant, hit all levels of Bloom's taxonomy and the list goes on and on.  So, making it memorable is not always easy to do, nor is it always at the forefront of our mind when planning.  But, when I read those three simple words I thought, right.  This is definitely worth putting in the forefront of my mind when planning.

How does one do that?  Well, here are a top ten list of lessons my students have discussed later because they were memorable:

1) Take them on a field trip.  I take my students to a restaurant to practice ordering food in Spanish.  They are still talking about it the next year.

2) Have them teach the lesson themselves.  Students who can teach it really know it and will be much slower to forget.

3) Incorporate humor.  Some of our strongest memories are tied to strong emotions.  I'm not suggesting that we make our students scared or sad, but making them happy and relaxed enough to laugh will put them in a good mental state.

4) Catch them by surprise.  Want them to practice writing using imagery?  Drop a fish on their desk and have them write with imagery about that.

5) Make it hands on.  Most lesson plans focus on teaching through seeing and hearing, but forget about our kinesthetic learners.  Incorporate all three and they'll remember it better.

6) Put it to music.  I use a song to teach students to conjugate.  They never forget it.

7) Use memory tricks.  Students who are taught using acronyms and sayings usually remember them years later.  Colors of the rainbow?  ROY G BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).  Order of operations?  Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally (parenthesis, exponent, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction).

8) Go deep instead of wide.  Give it time to sink in.

9) Include all of the senses.  See number 4!  Later this month I'm planning on turning my class room into an tavern/inn when students tell stories Canterbury Tales style, complete with bottles of (root)beer.  My attempt at creating memories.

10) Change up the routine.  The routine is forgettable.  Throwing them a curveball will make a lesson stand out.

Have ideas of your own?  Please share!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Web Tools Worth Bookmarking!

These are all websites I've enjoyed using with my students.  If the description sounds interesting, click on the image to be taken to the website and investigate more!

1) This is a website that generates bingo cards.  You can choose from their list of themed cards or use your own word lists to make your own printable cards.

2) Animoto is a website where you can create short digital movies.  Just upload pictures of your class and let them generate a mini movie of a trip you took, a special project, etc.  Then you can share it with the class and their families in school or via email.

3) Use the website ToonDoo to allow your students to create their own comic strips.  They can create one based on a story they read in class or make up their own.  They really enjoy working with this website.

4) This is the newest one to me.  It is a coloring page generator.  I recently used it to create a one-of-a-kind coloring book of memories.  Use it to make a momento from a fun class trip.

5) This is a site that I've used to have students create fun plot summaries of stories.  They can go online and create their own cartoons with captions, characters, settings, etc.

6) This one is a fabulous online archive of pictures from Life magazine.  This is a great way to introduce famous people and events from history.  Create a gallery walk that allows students to see and develop a context for the content before studying it.

7) The seventh one is a list of really cool virtual tours.  I was able to show my students a spectacular 360 degree view of Machu Picchu.  I found a site with a live feed from a nature preserve in the Sahara.  This page is definitely worth checking out and using with your students.

8) Finally, the Smithsonian website has a rich bank of
lessons that can be used to bring history to life!

To see a list of many more free online resources, check out my pinterest page of Websites Useful to Teachers.  
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