Wednesday, January 29, 2014

28 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Your Classroom

With African American history month coming up, here is a list of ways to celebrate for each day of the month!

  1. Play a game about African American history like my PowerPoint Jeopardy style game.
  2. Post a quote from an African American leader on your board each day of the month.
  3. Role play an event related to African American history in your classroom.
  4. Learn about African roots by making African artwork with your students.
  5. Listen to some African American jazz music while doing quiet studying in your classroom.
  6. Teach students what eggs have to do with Martin Luther King Jr.
  7. Read a novel with African American characters such as "The Color Purple."
  8. Follow Harriet Tubman on this interactive Underground Railroad journey.
  9. Create a timeline of African American history.
  10. Pretend you are African American leaders and give speeches.
  11. Watch a film about African American history such as "Eyes on the Prize."
  12. Act out a court case from the Civil Rights era.
  13. Create a collage titled "I Have a Dream."
  14. Do an African American history word search.
  15. Track African American athletes accomplishments during the Olympic games.
  16. Create trading cards of famous African Americans.
  17. Draw a scene from African American history.
  18. Analyze symbolism in a work of poetry written by an African American.
  19. Interview African Americans on their views of African American history month.
  20. Identify African American accomplishments in each subject area.
  21. Read about the history of hip hop.
  22. Construct a mock up of an African American invention.
  23. Cook soul food with your students.
  24. Create a paper quilt by attaching your students' artwork together that was inspired by the work of Faith Ringgold.
  25. Map out the path of the Freedom Riders on Google maps. Calculate mileage and gas cost using current prices.
  26. Visit a local African American history museum or historical location.
  27. Write a letter to an African American leader.
  28. Put on a play acting out a scene from an African American book.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Teaching Students About Peace

For just $2, you can purchase my lesson about peace. It includes a word map, higher order thinking journal prompt and art activity. The lesson will spur students to think about what it means to live in peace, and have them create a peace tree to decorate the classroom with or take home to discuss with their families. I've done this with my second and third grade students, and they were excited to share what they had learned with their families.

Peace Trees from a brown paper simple yet so popular with the kiddos!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is coming up this week on January 31, 2014. I'm re-posting some freebies for Chinese New Year from last year and adding some new ones to it to help you celebrate the year of the horse! These lessons have always been popular in my classroom.

I have used a lot of origami websites but this one is my favorite. It gives clear step by step photos to help you make your origami and most of the designs on the website are easy to make. Math is a great subject to incorporate into your origami as well.

Find some more year of the horse activities including coloring pages, worksheets, puzzles and more at the Activity Village.

Check out this site for a free printable spiral snake template. It is easy for students to practice pattern making or drawing inside the snake. When it is cut out it makes a nice spiral that is fun for kids to hold! Instead of having students draw inside the snake pattern you could also have them write information about Chinese New Year.

Crayola has a great template and printable so students can make a dragon puppet. The lesson is easy to follow and I have never met a student that does not enjoy dragons!

To help students learn about Chinese New Year, check out these free PowerPoint presentations. There are also interactive PowerPoint presentations and games as well.

If your students are kinesthetic learners, this blog has some fun ideas of learning about Chinese New Years with movement and physical activity. There are a variety of games to choose from.

This free Chinese New Year Activity Pack is great for older students. It contains a variety of activities including a writing prompt, information about the Chinese zodiac, a printable Tangrams template, Chinese New Year Boggle and more. Students could have a lot of fun and learn while using this packet!

Do you have a free Chinese New Year activity? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kickstarter--Supporting the Arts

One of the hottest new fund raising sites is Kickstarter, a website created to fund the arts.  The site boasts a 44% success rate at funding individual projects in: comics, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, publishing, technology and theater.  Anyone can create a login in a few short simple steps.  Once you have an idea, the site takes you through a six phase proposal process.  In 30-60 days (you choose) you will know whether or not your project has been funded.  

There are a number of websites out there to help teachers raise funds.  But to my knowledge, this is the one with the most buzz when it comes to raising money for the arts.  With one of the documentary projects from last year receiving an Oscar nomination, the attention and potential funders visiting the site will continue to grow.  Even if you are not an art teacher, there are so many ways to bring the many site-supported art forms into the classroom.  It is definitely worth looking into.  Check out the website. Get inspired.  Get funded.  Get going!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Three Fun Games to Celebrate Black History Month in Your Classroom!

If you plan on celebrating African American History Month in your classroom, you might want to use one of these games. I have a small group game and two larger group games that work perfect to teach African American history.

For small groups or as a center, check out my Black History Memory Game. This game contains 24 pairs of cards that helps your students learn about important African-American people, events, and terms.

Another fun game that is always a hit in my classroom is Bingo! I also love that my students can all play this game at one time and since they have to listen to the clues you read, your class is easily quieted throughout the game. It's easy to play one round of the game if you just have a few minutes available. I usually keep squares of scrap paper in a bowl and pass it around the room and have everyone take a few pieces to cover their board.

The last game for Black History Month available at my store is this PowerPoint Black History Game in the style of Jeopardy. If you have access to a projector or can huddle students around a computer monitor, this game is a blast! Students click on each category and answer important questions.

All three games have been rated 4/4 stars by TPT users!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Celebrating African American History Month

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day coming up in two days and African American History month following in a couple weeks, it seemed like it was about time to share some of my favorite timely freebies with you.  Comb through the links below and you can come up with material for every day of the month.  


  1. Scholastic has a Math Hunt game that teaches students a bit about African American history and requires them to use math to answer the questions.  The skills tested are not super advanced (reading graphs, estimating, adding, etc), but it is worth checking out.  It covers a range of topics and is interdisciplinary.
  2. Beatrice Lumpkin has created an excellent pdf complete with some of the history of math in Africa.  There are games and drawing activities you can have your students do to practice proportions and logic.   

Language Arts 

  1. Check out 10 African American authors everyone should read
  2. The first is a template for making an "I Have a Dream" speech booklet.  It is designed for the middle elementary grades.  Students are asked to color the pages, glue on tabs, and reflect on their own dreams.  As they work they will read about MLK's life and work.  It teaches children about his desire that all people be treated with respect and equality.
  3. The Harlem Renaissance was a time when African American arts and literature thrived.  PBS has an online lesson plan to teach your students more about it.


  1. Check out these biographies of 10 great African Americans who fought justice.  The lesson packet includes a couple activities.
  2. One of the coolest resources I've found this year is an oral history archive devoted to famous African American leaders.  There is a wealth of primary sources here.  Your students can listen to   Maya Angelou and 100's of others tell their stories.
  3. Have students complete a web quest on the Buffalo Soldiers.  This handout comes with clear instructions, a printable handout and answer key.
  4. Give your students a virtual tour of the national Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.  Student can read the quotes inscribed on the walls at the site and see pictures of the memorial.  Teachers can also find lesson plans at this site.


  1. Check out the online article Black Inventors A-Z.
  2. Want to turn a lesson on African American inventors into a project?  Check it out.
  3. Have students complete a tic-tac-toe project on an African American inventor.

General (other websites with useful collections)


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Five Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Your Classroom

One of my favorite activities in my classroom is to do activities and projects that study another area of the world. Even though those are my favorite kind of lesson, my students have always seemed to love them as well.

Since Chinese New Year is coming up, I thought I would come up with some activities that you can do in your classroom to celebrate Chinese New Year.

1. Try some Chinese calligraphy! 

Print out some basic Chinese characters and let students try their hand at writing Chinese characters. You don't need special supplies - markers or watercolor paint and brushes work fine. Check out some of the Chinese characters at this website to get started.

For a language arts link, you could have students translate spelling words, write poems and write some words in Chinese characters or have them write characters that represent themselves.

2. Create Chinese lanterns.

Create beautiful Chinese lanterns. I have a watercolor lesson plan that can help you create beautiful Chinese lanterns in my TPT store. It includes everything you need such as informational sheets about Chinese New Year, step by step directions, a rubric, template and more!

3. Learn about the Chinese zodiac.

One thing that was always a hit in every classroom I've taught was when my students got to read information about their zodiac sign. It's fun to read things about yourself, even if you don't believe it. There are many writing prompts that would be fun for students that they could write about after reading about the Chinese zodiac. For a math tie in, you could have students calculate when each zodiac sign will come around again in the future. Check out some information on the Chinese zodiac here.

4. Check out some Chinese proverbs.

Proverbs can be used as discussion or journaling starting points. Check out some Chinese proverbs with your students. If you are reading a book in class or discussing a time in history, try to find a proverb that relates. Students could also take their turn at writing bits of wisdom.

5. Play a Chinese game!

I love playing games in class and tangrams is a great game that combines both math and art. You can have students easily make their own tangrams set. (I have done this before in class and it is quite easy - just be sure to use thicker paper for stability.) Then, either print out or post different puzzles to try. I would start with an easy puzzle to encourage students and try more difficult puzzles later.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to celebrate Chinese New Year in your classroom. Remember, the official day is on 1/31/2014 and this year is the year of the horse!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Eyes on the Prize Viewing Guide on Sale!

Eyes on the Prize is a seminal documentary on the Civil Rights Movement. It is broken into 14 parts, each approximately one hour in length. So often today students feel so out of touch with that era, and have a difficult time conceptualizing what went on then, how it must have felt, etc. This documentary does an excellent job of bringing that piece of important history back to life.

I've watched the first six movies of the series and bundled the six guides.  For this month only--in preparation for African American history month in February--I am selling the bundle at an all time low cost of $4.  Normally I sell it for the discounted price of $5 if the buyer purchases all six at once instead of purchasing them individually (they are $1 each, if purchased separately). It includes:

AWAKENING about Emmett Till and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
FIGHTING BACK about integrating the schools
AIN'T SCARED OF YOUR JAILS about the sit-ins & Freedom Riders
NO EASY WALK about organizing & the March on Washington
IS THIS AMERICA? about Mississippi and the Freedom Summer
BRIDGE TO FREEDOM about the march from Selma to Montgomery

Each viewing guide is between 10 and 16 questions and includes an answer key.

Again, each of these is also sold separately for $1. If you interested in certain ones instead of the bundle, visit my store. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top 5 Blog Posts of 2013!

To recap 2013, here are the most popular articles from this year in no particular order.

This post has tons of freebies that you can order and relax as they come to your mailbox! Love freebies in my mail.

This list of free ice breakers is fun for students throughout the year! You can also use them as a team building activity for times when students need to get along better.

Find fun ways to grow plants in your classroom with this fun article! With spring just around the corner it might be a good time to try one of these ideas.

Spending money on rewards for students can be a costly undertaking! Try the free reward and incentive ideas listed on this post.

Last but not least, this article about dressing in costume in your classroom had a lot of hits. This must mean that there are a lot of teachers out there who like to dress up for Halloween!

If you've already checked out all these articles, thank you so much for being a dedicated follower and reader! We appreciate you so much.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fabulous Freebies for the New Year!

Do you celebrate the New Year with your students in your classroom? It is not something I have ever done but after seeing these fun lesson plans, I wish I did! Here are some fun free lessons to help celebrate the New Year at school. If you missed last year's post, check it out for more fun free New Years lessons.

Find fun lesson plans about New Years around the world at this site. It has a variety of lessons and links to printable pages and step by step lesson plans.

Busy Teacher has fun lessons for New Years. It is geared towards ESL classrooms but the ideas and lessons I saw could be used for a variety of age levels and subject areas. My favorite was the idea of having students make a classroom calendar.
Find a variety of printable worksheets and literacy activities at Lantern Fish. It has printable literacy activities both for older and younger students focused on editing, tense and resolution writing.

I loved the printable worksheets and cute New Years stationary at Activity Village. There are blank pages for students to do journaling or New Years prompt writing, literacy activities and math printables. Very cute font and graphics are used!

Best wishes to you in 2014 and I hope everyone has a great start to their year!

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