Halloween Stresses Teachers Out!

Accurate.

I couldn’t find who this picture belongs to, so if it’s yours, please email me so I can credit you! (square head teachers at gmail dot com)

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Santa’s Elf Application (Writing Activity)

Santa's Elf STICKER

Kids crack me up. They say, write and do the silliest things! Here’s another opportunity to capture all that creativity. This writing activity asks kids to apply to be one of Santa’s elves. Be sure to give kids an opportunity to share their application with other students. Maybe have the kids collect “endorsements” from classmates (Have students write their name on the back of a classmate’s paper to indicate that the student shared it with them). Merry Christmas!

Click here for the free printable PDF: Santa’s Elf Application

Fourth of July Graphing

I forgot to tell you about my Fourth of July graphing page for 2nd – 3rd grades! I posted it over at We Are Teachers at the end of June. Just head on over there and download it so you’ll have it for future use! Click here to get to my We Are Teachers Post!

Fourth of July Fireworks preview

10 Tips for Keepin’ up on Math Skills over Winter or Summer Break

Encouraging Math STICKERHere’s a fun list of ideas to encourage math during the Christmas or Summer Break:

  • Challenge others or challenge yourself. Online math strategy games at Calculation Nation provide a safe environment for elementary and middle school students to challenge themselves and challenge others. Games involve fractions, factoring, symmetry and comparing perimeter and area! Give your kids graph paper and tell them to create a dream house up to X square feet. To be extra challenging, limit the square footage of a single room.
  • Play strategy games with friends and family. A great way to spend quality time. Games such as Contig, and other free board games. Play as teams while learning so you can talk about strategy and then move playing individually. Try something like Scrabble, but skip the calculator when totaling each player’s score.
  • Talk to your children’s teachers before the break. Ask questions that show you are concerned about their development and maintenance of mathematics skills and fluency. For example, ask, “What do you see as my child’s strengths and weaknesses in math? What could we do while at home to develop or improve his/her weakest areas?” There are probably fun class activities or games that you could replicate a home.
  • Read books that contain mathematics content with your children. There are books at every grade level that can engage students in thinking about math! Some suggestions include Ten Apples Up On Top! (elementary) or The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places (middle grades). Want classroom activities to support math and literature? Check out Exploring Mathematics through Literature: Articles and Lessons for Prekindergarten through Grade 8. Head to your local public library and challenge your kids to find 3 or 4 books with math concepts (and ask them to defend their choices).
  • Create a number book with your child. Use this template with your preschooler or kindergartner and have them decorate each page with pictures, stickers or stamps (or even glue beads or macaroni) that show the number on the page. For more advanced students, ask them to write expressions that equal the target number. For example, for the number 6, they could write 3X2, 10-4 and 2+2+1+1. Also consider having them write and illustrate a story that deals with math or numbers.
  • Do projects with your child. Bake cookies or work on a home improvement project. Real-world applications of mathematical ideas, especially measurement, are everywhere! If you are stringing up lights, work with them to estimate how many sets you will need and calculate the total number of lights used. If you are baking cookies, have them figure out what is needed to make a double batch. Asking your child what they’d like to cook or build; they’ll have more buy-in on the activity that way.
  • Exercise your body; MATHercise your mind! Take in a sporting event, even if it’s only on TV. Keep track of yards gained and lost from running versus passing plays of their favorite football team or the shooting percentage of their favorite basketball player. Work with them to make comparisons between two of their favorite players and display it graphically. Check out the lesson connecting rate of movement to football on Illuminations, appropriate for middle and high school students. If you’ve got kids playing on a sports team, consider having siblings keep the stats on their sibling or sibling’s team.
  • Have a problem of the day. Work through one new problem before or after dinner each night. Figure This! has an awesome assortment of interesting problems with hints and solutions, so you don’t have to be a math wizard to facilitate! Let older siblings write the problem of the day for younger siblings. Be sure to have them teach their younger siblings how to find the answer.
  • As a family, track your calorie intake or your finances. Are you consuming more food during the holiday season than you would otherwise? Are you spending money on gifts? Becoming aware is important in establishing control. You may also consider how much time each day you spend on each activity such as watching television, eating, sleeping. Ask your kids to predict how much time is spent on each activity. Make a graph. Ask neighbors or cousins to track their time on each activity as well. Then compare both family’s experiences. Finally, brainstorm how you can manage to fit in alternative activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Seek out a volunteer opportunity that appeals to both you and your child. From cooking for a shelter, to collecting food for a food drive, to collecting coats for the needy, there are lots of opportunities to estimate and use math to project how much your efforts mean to others. Ask your child to look for math in the activity. Write about it in a journal or draw a picture.

(Many ideas in this article from are from NCTM) Share your ideas by commenting below!

Paper Poinsettias Christmas Craft

Poinsettia final STICKER

This is quick and easy paper Christmas/holiday craft was submitted by a lower grade teacher!  She loves doing this with all ages. I love how simple it is. It would be perfect to do after you read Tomie dePaola’s book, The Legend of the Poinsettia The book tells a Mexican legend of how the poinsettia came to be, through a little girl’s unselfish gift to the Christ Child. It’s perfect for a Christmas around the world unit! Anyway, here are the directions for the paper poinsettia craft:

Materials:  

  • 1 red square 9″ x 9″
  • 1 yellow square 2″ x 2″
  • 3 green strips 2″ x 9″
  • scissors
  • glue
  • pencil

Directions:

1.  Fold red paper in half.  Then open it open and fold it in half the other way.

Poinsettia 1

Poinsettia 2

2.  Round corners of yellow square.

Poinsettia 4

3.  Glue yellow square in center of red square.

Poinsettia 5

4.  Cut along the fold line until you get to the yellow.  Don’t cut into the yellow.

Poinsettia 6

5.  Curl the poinsettia ends with a pencil.

Poinsettia 7

Poinsettia 8

6.  Cut the ends of the green strips into a point.

Poinsettia 9 Poinsettia 10

7.  Glue the green strips to the back of the poinsettia.

Poinsettia 11 Poinsettia final

What are your favorite Christmas crafts for kids? Let me know in the comments below! Merry Christmas!

Holiday Synonyms and Antonyms Worksheet

Holiday syn-ant

Christmas is almost here!!! Yay! Check out this new page I made, using some of my favorite Squarehead cartoons from my dad. This one deals with one of my favorite language arts topics: synonyms and antonyms. Let me know what you think by commenting below!

Click here for the FREE PDF: Holiday Synonyms-Antonyms

Last Minute Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

Sometimes I don’t get my act together in time to pull off the fabulous crafts that other teachers do. So here’s a collection of easy last-minute Thanksgiving crafts you can do with your class (or any kids):

Paper plate turkey! Click here for directions.


Paper loop turkey! Click here for directions.

But what if you’re tired of doing turkey this and turkey that. I hear you, my friend!
Try these non-turkey crafts:


How about a cute popsicle stick scarecrow? Click here for directions.


I absolutely loved this one! The Mayflower often gets forgotten among Thanksgiving crafts but this hand print Mayflower craft is too cute and too easy NOT to do! Get directions here.


Make a thankful leaf wreath (say that 3 times fast!).
Sorry, no directions available, but here’s where I found the photo.

Have any other ideas that need to be shared? Let me know! Happy Thanksgiving!

Candy Thank You Notes for Teachers & Staff

A fellow teacher recently showed me this thank you note she had received at Christmas time.

Candy Card- original

It made me think of a few things:

  1. How good it feels to be appreciated.
  2. How many people it takes to run a good school.
  3. How I show my appreciation to those I work with.

I’ve created this thank you printable (3 color options: blue, green and pink) to make it easier to show your appreciation to your fellow faculty and staff members. I know I don’t always have the budget or time to get a gift for each person who helps me in my job (librarian, cafeteria staff, maintenance staff, office workers, aides, etc.). So if you’re like me, feel free to print this page and attach some goodies (Snickers, Smarties and peanuts/any peanut candy). Be sure to write the recipient’s name in the blank space at the bottom. (These are also great for PTA/PTO groups doing teacher appreciation day.) Spread the love and your school will be all the better for it!

Green candy thank you notes

Click here for the printable thank you’s:
Blue Candy Thank You Notes for Faculty-Staff
Green Candy Thank You Notes for Faculty-Staff  (St. Patrick’s Day note?)
Pink Candy Thank You Notes for Faculty-Staff  (Valentine’s Day note?)