April Fools Day Prank for Teachers: Shrinking Attendance Clips

My *awesomely clever* friend pulled this prank on her class yesterday: Her class has  attendance clothes pins (that each student moves first thing in the morning to show they’re present). Well yesterday, they shrunk! She went to Walmart and bought the tiny clothes pins and then wrote each student’s name on one. Then she clipped them where the regular sized ones always are. The kids “kind of freaked out!” Love it!!!

Rachel April Fools Prank

(No Prep) April Fool’s Day Pranks for Teachers

April FoolsI’m lame. I’ll just admit it. I usually forget to plan something cool for April Fool’s. I’m the one looking for a last-minute joke to play so I don’t expose myself as a lame-wad. So here are some of my favorite last minute April Fool’s Day pranks for teachers to play on their students:

Last Minute Pranks (No prep required)

  • Assign the kids new seats and then re-assign seats again many times throughout the day.
  • Announce that the awesome field trip that was planned for today is cancelled because nobody brought in their permission slips on time.
  • Tell your kids that because it’s a leap year, they have to stay in class an hour longer every day this month.
  • Tell your students that lunch is cancelled because the cafeteria ran out of food but everyone else at the school got to eat.
  • Ask everyone to turn in their homework that was due TODAY and is worth 90% of their grade for this quarter.
  • A funny prank for little kids is to begin your lesson of the day with your mouth moving but no sound coming out. This REALLY freaks kids out.

Some prep required

  • “Accidentally” show a list of silly files on your computer when you’re getting your projector hooked up. For example, name files “Teachers who might be vampires” or “Celebrity Visits at Our School”
  • Send several kids to the principal’s office for no reason. (Be sure the office and your principal are ok with this.)

More prep required

  • Rearrange all the desks or tables in the room. Maybe change them to all face a different side of the room, making a new front of the room.
  • Switch out all the students’ chairs for smaller ones. When your kids comment, deny that there’s a difference.

Click here for more April Fool’s Day ideas.

Spring Story Starter (with planning page)

Spring story starter STICKERThis picture was too cute not to use. So I turned it into a story starter for spring. Have your students review the parts of a story and then plan each part of their story (using the attached planning page) before they get to work on any of their drafts. Once they’ve had a peer edit it, and they’ve written their final draft, they can color the large version of the picture and display it with their final piece. Super fun, and super cute. What’s not to love!?

Click here for the free printable PDF: Spring Story Starter 1

Don’t forget to check back later this week for my first giveaway!

Animal Crafts for Kids

These animal crafts were too adorable not to share. They would be way fun to make after studying animal environments, using them as a basis to teach adjectives or characteristics, etc.

Lion made with a paper plate and noodles! (source)

Chick and bunny printables. Great for spring and Easter! The website’s in Bulgarian, but if you click on the image, it takes you to the printable. Hooray for Google Translate! (source)

Cardboard tube octopus. Love it! (source)

Chinese New Year Craft: Spring Character

Chinese Spring Character Craft STICKER

The following Chinese new year craft was submitted by a fellow teacher who just did this craft with her second graders:

  1. Copy this page for each student (white paper).
  2. Color the back side of this paper different colors – so no white shows.
  3. Turn it over.
  4. Fold it in half.
  5. Cut on bold lines.
  6. Open it up and turn it over… It’s the Chinese character for “Spring”!
  7. Glue it on another piece of construction paper (optional).

Super easy and totally cute. Enjoy!

Click here to download the template: Chinese New Year- Spring Character Craft

Best Kids’ Art Blogs

You know that there are great art lesson plans and blogs out there. But where to start? Let me tell you about some of the best ones I’ve seen (in no particular order):

Art Projects For Kids

  • projects for all ages, mediums and seasons
  • some projects require downloads you can purchase ($5 each)
  • step by step directions
  • examples of completed projects

Sample cool project:

folk art cat tutorial

A Faithful Attempt

  • projects for all ages, mediums and seasons
  • step by step (photo) instructions
  • examples of completed projects

Sample cool project:

That Artist Woman

  • projects for all ages, mediums and seasons
  • step by step (photo) instructions
  • examples of completed projects

Sample cool project:

Angela Anderson Art

  • upper grade art projects for all seasons (variety of mediums)
  • often general directions (not always photo instructions)
  • examples of completed projects

Sample cool project:

Common Core 101

You might have heard about the “Common Core” or seen the abbreviations “CCSS” being used in conversation and wondered what in the world all the commotion is. Well, here’s what you need to know about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS):

What are educational standards?

Educational standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning.

What is the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit bearing entry courses in two or four year college programs or enter the workforce. The standards are clear and concise to ensure that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and mathematics in school.

Who leads the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

The nation’s governors and education commissioners, through their representative organizations the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) led the development of the Common Core State Standards and continue to lead the initiative. Teachers, parents, school administrators and experts from across the country together with state leaders provided input into the development of the standards.

Why is the Common Core State Standards Initiative important?

High standards that are consistent across states provide teachers, parents, and students with a set of clear expectations that are aligned to the expectations in college and careers. The standards promote equity by ensuring all students, no matter where they live, are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to collaborate and compete with their peers in the United States and abroad.. Unlike previous state standards, which were unique to every state in the country, the Common Core State Standards enable collaboration between states on a range of tools and policies, including:

  • the development of textbooks, digital media, and other teaching materials aligned to the standards;
  • and the development and implementation of common comprehensive assessment systems to measure student performance annually that will replace existing state testing systems; and
  • changes needed to help support educators and schools in teaching to the new standards.

 Who was involved in the Common Core State Standards Initiative?

States across the country collaborated with teachers, researchers, and leading experts to design and develop the Common Core State Standards. Each state independently made the decision to adopt the Common Core State Standards, beginning in 2010. The federal government was NOTinvolved in the development of the standards. Local teachers, principals, and superintendents lead the implementation of the Common Core.

What guidance do the Common Core State Standards provide to teachers?

The Common Core State Standards are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for the knowledge and skills students need in English language arts and mathematics at each grade level to ultimately be prepared to graduate college and career ready. The standards establish what students need to learn, but they do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.

How do the Common Core State Standards compare to previous state standards?

The Common Core State Standards were written by building on the best and highest state standards in existence in the U.S., examining the expectations of other high performing countries around the world, and careful study of the research and literature available on what students need to know and be able to do to be successful in college and careers. No state in the country was asked to lower their expectations for their students in adopting the Common Core. The standards are evidence-based, aligned with college and work expectations, include rigorous content and skills, and are informed by other top performing countries. They were developed in consultation with teachers and parents from across the country so they are also realistic and practical for the classroom.

Will there be tests based on the Common Core State Standards?

Yes. States that adopted the Common Core State Standards are currently collaborating to develop common assessments that will be aligned to the standards and replace existing end of year state assessments. These assessments will be available in the 2014-2015 school year.

What is the appropriate way to cite the Common Core State Standards?

Authors: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers
Title: Common Core State Standards (insert specific content area if you are using only one)
Publisher: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington D.C.
Copyright Date: 2010

Source (more detailed information on the CCSS): Common Core State Standards FAQ page

Muffin Cup Flowers (Craft)

This is one of the easiest and cutest spring crafts I’ve seen in a long time (my friend Carol did this one). Grab some colored paper (preferably heavier than printer paper), paint, glitter, glue and muffin tin cups. It’s as easy as you think it is: cut out a flower shape and glue a muffin tin cup to the center. Decorate the petals with paint, crayons, markers, etc. Glue some glitter to the center of the muffin cup and then attach your own paper stem. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy!

muffin cup flowers copy