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Why getting out matters

I remember many years ago sharing a book with photographs by Bruce MacMillan with a group of inner-city preschool children. They were bright and vivacious and eager to share what they knew.

While I no longer remember the title of the book, I'll never forget a little boy's response when I asked what the full-color image of a black and white cow was. He exclaimed with authority, "A dog!"

Word walls in math

Many elementary teachers use word walls in the classroom. A word wall is an organized collection of words displayed in a classroom. Word walls provide easy access to words students need. The specific organization of the word wall will match the teacher's purpose: sight words organized by alphabet letter, unit-specific words, new vocabulary words, etc. The most helpful word walls grow and change throughout the year and are used as a learning reference.

Comprehension posters for your classroom

I recently stumbled on a site that promises to consume far too much of my time! But I love the possibilities of Pinterest, a virtual pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the great things you find on the Web in a very visual way. It's free to join, but there's an invitation process you'll see on the site.

The textures and textiles all around us

It's all around us. We wear it, walk on it, and admire it. It comes in different colors, made with different materials and assorted textures. And it often reflects who we are, where we live, our climate, culture, traditions, even our beliefs.

I'd never really thought about any of this until I visited the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. Textiles are ubiquitous — everything from clothing to curtains to art — with lots in between. And to explore them at the museum is a really cool thing (literally and figuratively) to do on a hot summer day!

How do you encourage summer learning?

Many teachers find creative ways to keep kids learning over the summer. These efforts are fueled by summer learning loss research whose finding is clear: Children who don't read during the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress and that loss has a cumulative, long-term effect. Summer learning is loss is bad for kids, and it's especially bad news for kids who struggle during the school year.

Free Language Stuff

I juggle between posts that address big issues such as curriculum and leadership with posts that provide educators with resources that could be used in the classroom. Today. With the right student or students.

Flat Stanley goes to the gym

A while back, a child mailed a Flat Stanley to me. I took pictures of the intrepid traveler at local landmarks and with college students before mailing the paper thin guy back home.

Even more recently, Flat Stanley made the Sports section of The Washington Post.

Snow days

The east coast (including the Middle Atlantic States) has been blanketed. It is winter after all — everywhere. Even the far south has felt winter's bite.

It's wonderful to curl up with a good book or bake a tasty something but sometimes something more active is called for. This something can help parents and children (or teachers stuck indoors with restless kids) get moving while reading — and even creating a way to remember these days.

Adult book club inspires the young

What can an adult book discussion do for young children? More than I'd imagined.

A friend of mine copied me on an email she'd sent out for her first grade son with, of course, a note to the recipients' parents. This 7-year old wanted to share books with his friends much as his mother did with hers.

Science fun

I've written about this before, but just a reminder that we're developing a series of Growing Readers focused on exciting kids about science and math. This means I've been doing a lot more reading and surfing on the topic. Here are some things I've found that I thought teachers, parents and kids might enjoy! I apologize in advance for the giggling and snickering you'll hear when visiting these sites with kids.

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"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman