Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Preparing for Patriots' Day -- 9/11

September 11th is a day I will never forget.

It is also a day that I feel like the upcoming generation should learn to honor.

If you agree, I hope you find something useful in this "THROW BACK THURSDAY" post.

SPECIAL NOTE:  The primary source for many of the activities below was one created by the wonderful and talented Deanna Jump.  She has since updated  her unit.  The details of this incredible resource can be found below:

{Click on image above to visit link!}

It is a MUST HAVE!  
Not only is it wonderful for Patriots' Day...but you can also use it for President's Day! 
{Originally posted 2014}

Every year as September 11th {also known as Patriot Day} approaches, I find myself pondering how I can appropriately honor the date as a teacher of young children.  The tragedy that occurred on September 11th, 2001, is something that is beyond the comprehension of a 5 year-old brain...yet as a teacher, I feel that it's important to somehow "teach" or honor the date in a special way.  I knew I could not spend the day recounting the graphic details of the tragic events of that day.  {It's obviously MUCH too much for a little person!} However, I felt that I could honor the lives lost, the firefighters, police officers, and countless other brave heroes of that day by teaching my students about the incredible country in which we live. 

I have been collecting my thoughts and ideas and have been working to develop a plan for next week. Initially, I was planning to blog about this AFTER I taught about it...but the more I thought about it, I realized it may be MORE helpful to others, perhaps to YOU, if I shared my ideas BEFORE the date too! That way, if any of YOU are looking for ideas to honor the date... perhaps you can find some ideas/resources here.

To get started, I began by looking at my kindergarten social studies standards.  I teach in Indiana, so I am responsible for teaching the following social studies standard that I knew would be a perfect fit for next week's lessons:

Students learn that they are citizens of their school, community and the United States; identify symbols of the nation.

Foundations of Government 

K.2.2 Identify and explain that the President of the United States is the leader of our country and that the American flag is a symbol of the United States. 

I don’t have my lesson plans finalized yet…but I do have a collection of nice resources that I can share with you!  Here is a glimpse of what I have planned so far!  {Hope you can use some of these ideas and resources!}

"Setting the Stage 2 Engage!"  

My dear friend, Hope King (Elementary Shenanigans), wrote an INCREDIBLE ebook called "Set the Stage 2 Engage" this summer highlighting the importance of setting up your classroom (environment, atmosphere. etc) in order to ensure maximum student engagement.  
{She also taught an EPIC session at the SDE Vegas conference on this, which blew me away!!!} So, I knew my next step was figuring out a way to "flip" our regular classroom environment into something that would be theme related and GRAB the attention of my kiddos the second they walk in the door.  My goal is to have them turn the corner in our hall and say, "WOW!  What are we doing today?!  It's got to be something GREAT!" The theme of "Patriot Day" wasn't quite as easy to brainstorm decorations for as last week's SUPERHERO Day (Click HERE to view our "flipped" SUPERHERO classroom!)...but I knew I could do something cool and attention getting!  So, I did some bargain hunting and found some of these goodies:


Plastic table covers/backdrops are inexpensive and go A LONG WAY in decorating the walls of your classroom and hall!  Be creative!!!

Dollar Store/Craft Store two sided stars can be used on windows, walls and as hanging decorations for just a few bucks!

Bulletin board paper from your supply closet can be used to make just about ANYTHING!   I made some three-foot USA letters out of poster board (similar to the ones above) and plan to put them in my classroom windows too. I'm also picturing a GIANT flag like this...

OH! And if you know me, a theme day is NEVER complete without a fun costume!

 I will be wearing this striking suit:
{YES!  It IS a boy’s youth costume…but it was CHEAPER!  Hey! I’m a bargain hunter!}

And my side-kick, Mrs. Kidd, will be sportin' this beauty:

{Oh yah.   We rock the costumes!   You'll have to wait 'til next weekend to see our actual-factual photos! And yes..."Someone" might have a specific portion of her TPT earnings earmarked to purchase crazy costumes.  #iamnotcrazy #iamENGAGING }

Be sure to stop by my blog NEXT weekend to actually SEE what it all ended up looking like!

Awesome Patriotic Resources!

Well, I KNOW y'all already know how incredibly EPIC the legendary Mrs. Deanna Jump is! {And if you don't...go ahead and climb on out from under that rock!  #JK}  

But seriously, if there happens to be anyone who doesn't know about this sweet, southern inspiration...check her out by clicking HERE...RIGHT NOW!  DO NOT DELAY! {Poof!  Instant inspiration for any K teacher! #thankmelater}  Of course, Deanna had the PERFECT resource for scaffolding my plans... and here it is:

Using this baby, and a few other resources that I will list at the end of this post, my plans are coming together in an EPICALLY AMERICAN way! Here are some highlights of my planned activities:

In an age-appropriate way, I am going to talk to the kiddos about why September 11th is an important day in our country.   I plan to use this PowerPoint presentation as part of my introduction.  It is great for young children…not “too” many details.

Then I am planning to share how we can honor this day by thinking about and being thankful for our great country and the community heroes that serve and protect us. 

I plan to highlight how important it is to recognize and show appreciation for our service men and women and community heroes.  Here are a few resources that I plan to use!

This is a nice little freebie which includes lots of neat coloring pages about American heroes.  LOVE the “Not all superheroes wear capes” page!  Perfect  9/11 connection!

Check out this FREEBIE by the awesome Eric Bohrer!  It includes both writing and picture templates for making thank-you notes for our community heroes!

Then I plan to connect to our social studies learning standards and teach about the American symbols.

 This video is an excellent mini-movie which tells all about the American Symbols.  Check it out!

Here are a few of the EPICALLY AMERICAN activities that I plan to use too…

Statue of Liberty Activities 
1.   “Why is the Statue of Liberty Green” Science Experiment {Deanna Jump’s America Math and Literacy Fun Unit} 
2.   “Is our class as long as the Statue of Liberty’s feet” math and measuring activity.  LOOKS like so much fun…AND will make an awesome visual display outside your classroom!  {Deanna Jump’s America Math and Literacy Fun Unit}
3.   Directed drawing activity of the Statue of Liberty {Deanna Jump’s America Math and Literacy Fun Unit}   These turn out sooo cute!  Check out just one example!  

Bald Eagle Activities 
1. Bald Eagle Craft-ivity and Info Chart Activity {Deanna Jump’s American Math and Literacy Fun Unit}  
2.  Bald Eagle Cams (Watch 5 bald eagle cams hosted by National Geographic!) 

Here are some other great activities that I plan to use to review all the things we learned about American Symbols:

1.   Make an American Symbols Booklet (Elizabeth Hall) 

2.   Make and read an American Symbols emergent reader. {Deanna Jump’s America Math and Literacy Fun Unit}

3.   Play the “American Symbols Interactive Pocket Chart Game” by  GrowingKinders

4.   How about playing a "Four Corners" type of P.E. game…but use American symbol posters in each corner for your “calling spots??”  Sounds fun!

And what thematic study would be complete without a yummy snack??  I’m thinking about trying one of these…

I’m looking forward to making 9/11 {Patriot Day} a special and meaningful day for my kinders.   If you do something special to honor this day, please share it with us in the comments below!
{Follow up post from 2014}

It was a PATRIOTIC week, my friends!

Last weekend I posted some great resources for honoring 9/11 and celebrating this great country in which we live. {Click HERE to see that post and all of the “planning” details.}  I had a few requests to post some pictures of how things turned out…. So here ya’ go!

{A few pics of our decor.}

Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam (me!)
I know you LOVE my pants! LOL

HUGE shout out to my friend, Deanna Jump, for sharing so many of her GREAT patriotic ideas with me!   Check out some of them in the pics below!!

Want more details??  Click HERE to see her AMERICA unit.

 Some pics from our directed drawing activity.  

Check out some of my kinder-kiddos creations!   
Seriously, INCREDIBLE!!!

Next came our science experiment!   Why is the Statue of Liberty green you ask?   It IS made of copper, after all.   Check out the AMERICA unit link at the end of this post for experiment details!

{It MAY have been a little stinky!}

Just how BIG is Lady Liberty??   I made a visual of exactly how LONG her foot is.  We made predictions on it's length before we saw and measured it.   Can you believe that 25 kinder-kiddos and one teacher EXACTLY equal the length of the statue's foot?!   

 {I just LOVED painting those toenails green!}

We also wrote letters to our local police officers and firefighters, thanking them for their service.  
We are so blessed to have brave men and women who are willing to risk their lives to protect us.

Thank you, Erica Bohrer, for these awesome templates!

We had a great week!  
I feel felt especially blessed this week to be teaching in a Christian school where I could specifically teach my students that God seeks to bring good things from even the worst situations.  

9/11 was a terrible tragedy...
But from it we learned what TRUE HEROES really are.
We came together as communities...and as a nation.
We were reminded to appreciate our freedoms and cherish our loved ones.

May God bless America.

Remember to check out Deanna's unit!  It's a MUST HAVE for your patriotic studies!!!

America Math and Literacy Fun

Friday, September 4, 2015

GoNoodle Blogger Blitz!

 Hey friends!   I'm joining together with some of my favorite blogging friends AND the one and only GoNoodle to bring you some epic ideas on how to "UP" your GoNoodle game this year!

I'm guessing that MOST of you already know what GoNoodle is.  

If you DON'T know what GoNoodle is... click HERE to visit one my previous posts the basics of GoNoodle (and thank me later! LOL).

Already a GoNoodler???   
Ready to "step up" your GoNoodle game?

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Create (and share) custom sets of questions that can be placed into GoNoodle activities as a review activity!

GoNoodle Plus users get access to My Questions -- a feature which allows teachers to create and share custom sets of questions on any topic that can be played in select GoNoodle Plus activities. With My Questions, GoNoodle Plus can be used to practice ANY subject.

AHHH!  Folks, "My Questions" is an AWESOME feature!  It brings review lessons to LIFE!  Your kiddos will LOVE it!

Want to know more?  Straight from GoNoodle, here are some FAQs:

What does GoNoodle Plus include?
GoNoodle Plus includes all the features of GoNoodle, with unlimited access to the following GoNoodle Plus activities.

Where do I find the GoNoodle Plus activities?

When you have access to GoNoodle Plus, you'll find a GoNoodle Plus channel button on the Channel view. All the GoNoodle Plus activities are contained in that channel.

How much does GoNoodle Plus cost?

Any user can upgrade to a GoNoodle Plus subscription for $99 per year or $10 per month. Also, your first 15 days are free -- you can cancel GoNoodle Plus at any time during that 15 day trial and never be billed. 

How do I purchase GoNoodle Plus?

To start your 15 day free trial, click the Try GoNoodle Plus button on the Teacher Dashboard page in your GoNoodle account. 

I was given GoNoodle Plus through a sponsorship. What does that mean?

Congratulations! If you received GoNoodle Plus when you registered, it's because an organization in your area sponsored GoNoodle Plus for teachers! There's nothing for you to do -- enjoy your access and share the great news with other teachers!

I paid for GoNoodle Plus. When does it expire?

To see when your GoNoodle Plus subscription expires, visit the Teacher Dashboard and click the gear icon in the top right of the page. You'll see when you will be auto-billed again. If you wish to cancel, you can cancel auto-bill from this screen. When cancelled, your GoNoodle Plus access will continue until you reach the end of your subscription period, at which point your account will return to a free account. 

Can my school or district purchase GoNoodle Plus at a discount?

Yes! Email us at or call us at 1 (877) 262-9269

If I don't like GoNoodle Plus, can I cancel for a refund?

If you cancel within your first 15 days, we'll never bill you. After your 15 day free trial period is up, GoNoodle Plus subscriptions are pre-paid for the year or month in advance, depending on your payment option. 

Do I have to use GoNoodle Plus to continue to use GoNoodle?

Not at all. GoNoodle is free and always will be. GoNoodle Plus is a premium version of GoNoodle that gives paid subscribers access to additional content designed to integrate physical activity and core-subject practice.

If you haven't experienced GoNoodle yet....
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If you are already a GoNoodler....than check out the GoNoodle PLUS features and step up your GoNoodle game today!  

Oh... And GoNoodle now has a "Share" resource page jam-packed with free "Champ" clipart (like the Champs you see in this post!), parent letters, school letters and more!  Check it out HERE!

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Wanna' see how some of my other GoNoodle blogging friends are "up-ing" their GoNoodle game this year??

Click HERE to check out the official GoNoodle Blogger Blitz list of dozens of the best GoNoodle bloggers in the world to find hundreds of other ideas!