Summer Holidays Centers: All About Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day

Hey y'all! If your students are anything like mine, they're all excited about summer holidays (a day off of school for them), but they don't really know what the holidays are all about. In years passed, I've been guilty of passing a Memorial Day coloring page to my students the day before the break and counting down till the bell rings. (#guilty, but I know I'm not alone in this!)

But no more! I wanted to my students to know what these holidays are all about, so I set up some stations.

On Monday, we talk about the different holidays and students have a chance to build schema with a whole class read aloud and activity.

Tuesday through Thursday, students go through a series of six stations learning about Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, what the flag means, identifying US symbols, and creating their own flag and fireworks (on paper of course, not real ones!).

Friday, we compare and contrast Memorial Day and Labor Day--the beginning of the summer and the end of it.

Centers are simple but effective and will keep your students engaged during the end of the school year crazies. Complete lesson plans are included as well as a list of books that pair well with the unit. You can find out more about it or grab your own copy here.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Stay sweet,


Earth's Changes and Prevention

Hey y'all! I hope you had a fabulous spring break. The countdown to summer is on over here (only a few more Mondays!) and the weather is finally starting to warm up.

This month, we'll be learning all about the Earth's changes and ways to prevent them. This is a two week unit full of experiments and demonstrations. 

Before kids can really understand how volcanos and earthquakes do what they do, they have to understand the layers of the Earth. So that's where we start on Monday.

Tuesday through Thursday of the first week, students go through a series of science stations to learn all about the different fast and slow changes that take place on Earth.

On Friday, I demonstrate how earthquakes happen and we discuss the effects of these on people that live nearby. This is simply two of my husband's socks buried in dirt. When you put the socks in different directions, an "earthquake" occurs. The students loved this demonstration and seeing how the "buildings"reacted to the movement.

Week 2, is full of whole class STEAM challenges and demos. Students will attempt build an earthquake resistant building, a levee or damn to keep the beach from washing away, and reflect on why and how we can prevent Earth's changes.

I really love this unit because it asks kids why we would need to prevent some changes, when we shouldn't try to prevent other changes, and how we would determine the difference.

You can learn more about this unit by checking it out at my TpT store here. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful week! Stay tuned for more STEAM units (and pictures) coming soon.

Stay sweet,

Earth Day STEAM Centers

Hey y'all! Are you as excited about April as I am?! We're in the last few weeks of school and the feelings are electrifying. Earth Day is just around the corner (which is also our 1st wedding anniversary!) and I couldn't help but put together a little STEAM unit on it. :) 

On Monday, we set up a pollution experiment to investigate on Friday and build schema by reading stories about Earth Day

Tuesday through Thursday, we learn all about the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) and conservation by visiting a series of 6 science stations.

On Friday, we examine our pollution experiment from Monday and write about how we can help the Earth with this fun little writing prompt.

This sweet and simple STEAM unit is sure to get your littles excited about Earth Day. For more information, you can check it out in my TpT store here.  

I also just recently added this conservation color by code activity to my store as well. Students read the descriptions and decide if it's something they can recycle or reuse, or a way to reduce. My students love activities like these and they have such great conversations as they help each other decide on the answer. You can find this activity here

You can also find a digital version of the STEAM centers for use with Google Classroom. Sometimes we have copy limits, sometimes we have a pandemic that shuts down school, sometimes we feel bad making paper copies for a lesson on recycling. Either way, this Earth Day for Google Classroom unit has all the meat of the above unit without the paper or the experiment. You could still have students set up the pollution experiment and comment in Google Classroom with their thoughts. 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found some great lessons for your classroom. Have a wonderful week and stay tuned for more science units coming soon!

Stay sweet,

Time to Return: A Heartfelt Letter from One Teacher to the Rest of America

Dear fellow Americans,
I've been thinking of this post for awhile now, but didn't quite have the words to say it. In talking to many people I know, in school, with family, and in church, all over the country, the general consensus is the same. No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, we can all agree that America isn't what it used to be.

While our technology has increased the quality of life a hundred-fold over the last few decades. It has started taking the life out of living.

Our world is changing. Schools are changing. I'm not just talking about the flexible seating trend or the unrealistic standards politicians have imposed on children. I'm talking about the children coming into schools.

Children used to have social skills, some empathy, and the ability to hold a pencil when they entered kindergarten. With all the swiping of tablets and smartphones, children's muscle strength is weaker than ever. With all the screen time, children don't have the imagination and creativity they used to, or the skills for coping with others. Especially when they don't get their way. Tolerance and compassion have become a thing of the past in the narcissistic world we are living in.

As educators, we are expected to teach the children these skills that parents used to teach prior to the first day of kindergarten. We are asking educators to be the parent as well as the teacher. While many of us embrace this to a point, there has to be some family values to back it up. Teachers cannot be all things to all children.

Parents have to instill values. Parents have to put down their devices and play with their children. Parents have to allow their children to play with other children, both inside the house and outside. Parents have to limit their child's screen time, regardless of the tantrum the child throws. Parents have to read to their children. And parents have to filter what they let their child watch and hear.

As a society, we giggle at the toddler twerking on Facebook. This is not cute, people. This is disturbing. We dress up our children like mini-adults when they absolutely are not. Our children are growing up in a world where it's okay to dress sexy in grade school, or to sing a rap song full of derogatory words and comments in 1st grade. This. Is. A. Problem.

It's time for a values revival.

As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on farm fresh food. Thanks to farmers markets, we are beginning to return to that but we still have a long way to go. As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on our religious freedom. Many still celebrate Christmas as a pagan holiday and get excited to "get stuff," but those of us focused on the shopping are missing the whole point.

As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on our education. The teacher strikes and walkouts, the disillusioned politicians, the increasing demands on teachers and students without any consideration of what those demands means in real life, and the multiple mass shootings are a far cry from a system we can be proud of. As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on our workforce. With more and more jobs overseas and an increasing number of people on welfare, our work ethic and our ability to find work is dismal.

As Americans, we used to pride ourselves on our support systems: our military, our firefighters, our healthcare workers, and, of course, our police. These were people we were proud of and trusted; the majority of them are still worthy of our trust and they all deserve our support. And as Americans, we used to celebrate our diversity. But with an influx of people arriving illegally, our systems are being put to the test and our country is becoming divided.

I'm not saying we should overhaul everything we've worked on for the last 242 years, but I am saying it's time for change. We can complain and protest all we want, but real change comes from action.

Where to start? Get up and play with your children. Take them to church, whatever type of church that may be. Read bedtime stories. Let them see you write with a pen or pencil. Give them one to practice with, too. Let your children play outside. Let them meet new kids. Let them see you support their teacher and doctor. Let them shake hands with a police officer. Limit their screen time. Talk to them. Give them boundaries--like not standing on the chair in a restaurant, or turning off the phones at dinner. Eat dinner together.

Say no sometimes. Say yes, too. Eat a popsicle on the front porch with them on a summer night. Let them run in the sprinklers. Give them more memories, values, and support. Give them less "things." Teach them to be courteous of others--hold doors, say "please" and "thank you," take turns. Model empathy, gratitude, and humbleness. Let them see you read for pleasure. Take them to a library.

Have tolerance for others. Support others in their endeavors. Have some modesty. Keep some things private. You probably don't have your own reality TV show. Posting all your business on social media doesn't make it so. Celebrate the diversity in your community. Keep close to people who show good character. Let go of the ones who don't. Screaming at others doesn't get you your way. Improving your argument helps. Eat a home-cooked meal. Invite others to join you.

Model respect. Model humility. Model acceptance. Model compassion. Model love. Model faith.

It's time for a return. A return to family (whatever that looks like for you), to values, to respect, to compassion. To faith, to support, to peace, to simplicity. A return to roots, to healing, to hometowns, to connections. It's time to help others mentally, spiritually, and socially. It's time to return to American values. It's time to have values and teach them to our children.

Yes, times have changed. Yes, there will always be advancements. Yes, our kids are living in a different world than we grew up in. But what kind of world are sending them into? And what kinds of kids are we sending into the world? We can't change everything, but we can change our circle of influence. How are you influencing your circle today?

10 Books for the Last Few Days of School

Hey y'all. Easter is over, testing season is probably just beginning for everyone, and most of us ready for that summer break. While I would never start reading end of the year books to my class in April (we don't get out until the first week in June), I do start looking for new books and planning for the festivities.

The end of the year is always bitter-sweet (I may or may not have cried at the idea of leaving this sweet but silly class) and I try to make it special and as stress-free for my students as possible. So here's a few ideas for some great read alouds to end your school year on a sweet note. (Click the picture of the book to check it out on Amazon. This post contains affiliate links.)

1. Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl

Teacher confession: I love Junie B. She reminds me so much of my oldest daughter. Fun and spunky and trying to figure out life. I usually read this book mid-May, and even my 2nd and 3rd graders love it.

2. Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten 

Obviously, this is geared towards finishing up kindergarten, but even my 1st graders loved this story.  It's a special way to remember all the things the class has done together and to get ready to say good-bye for summer.

3. Last Day Blues

This is the sequel to the book, First Day Jitters. It's a charming way to say good-bye to your class on the last day. If you remember to read it. Last year, I completely forgot. #teacherfail

4. Mrs. Dole is Out of Control

This chapter book is a hilarious story of A.J.'s graduation fiasco. 2nd and 3rd graders will find this hysterical! Not just one thing happens to ruin graduation, but a whole series of unfortunate events occurs. Even I had a hard time containing my laughter as I read it aloud. It's a great, light-hearted read for the last week or so of school.

5. I Wish You More

Want a sweet send-off for your students? Kids of all ages will love this book. Just read it once before you read it to the class so you can get your sappy crying out of the way. If you're anything like me, this book will pull at your heartstrings.

6. Oh the Places You'll Go

A classic Dr. Seuss tale of moving on. You've probably read this one or even have a few copies of it yourself. If not, it's a great book about closing one door and opening another, full of both highs and lows.

7. I Knew You Could

Remember the Little Engine that Could? "I think I can, I think I can..." Well he did it. And we knew he could. This cute story is all about finishing the journey and the sense of accomplishment that goes with it.

8. The Berenstain Bears Graduation Day

This one is great for preparing your kindergarteners for graduation ahead of time. It lets them know what to expect and that everything is going to be alright.

9. Yay, You: Moving On, and Moving Up

Cute, sweet, and funny. It's very similar to Oh, the Places You'll Go! so if you're wanting something fresh, try this one.

10. Curious You: On Your Way!

Curious You is a cute and sweet sendoff for any age of student. You'll send them on to the next grade and they'll know they always have you cheering them on. 

I know there are many other great end of the year books, but these are a few of my favorites. I hope you found some great new titles you'll love, too. May your last few weeks be smooth and productive!

Stay sweet,