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10 Easy and Affordable Student Made Mother's Day Gifts That Moms Will Adore

 Mother's Day is a great opportunity for students to show their appreciation for a loved one, whether it's a mom, grandmother, or aunt. Many times kids don't have money to buy gifts and so they are excited to be able to create something special to give as a gift. 

Here is a list of 10 simple, cute and affordable student gifts that will be a big hit on Mother's Day!

Make a Book

Mother's Day Activities

This adorable book is an easy way to make a special keepsake for moms. Just print out the pages and allow your students to fill them in all about their moms.

Design a Card

Mother's Day Activities

Allow students to use their creativity by designing a card for their moms. The one pictured above uses torn pieces of construction paper. It's so cute and simple to make!

Mother of the Year Persuasive Writing

Mother's Day Activities

This Mother's Day activity is one of our favorites! Students will write a persuasive paragraph about why they think their mom deserves to be on the cover of People Magazine for Mother of the Year. Then, they draw a portrait of their moms that looks like the magazine cover. 

We have our students draw the outline with crayons and use watercolors for the rest. Check out the Polka-dotted Teacher to grab this awesome freebie!

All About My Mom Questionnaire

Mother's Day Activities

We love to see what students come up with when filling out a Mother's Day questionnaire. There are definitely some sweet answers, along with some that are sure to make moms chuckle. The questionnaire above is short and sweet and perfect for elementary students. Check it out here.

Make a Coupon Book

Mother's Day Activities

A coupon book is the gift that keeps on giving! It's such a neat way for children to feel empowered to show that there are special things that they can do for their moms. This coupon book is blank so that students can fill in ideas that they can give away as gifts. Grab this one along with a list of coupon ideas from us here.

Create a Picture Magnet

Mother's Day Activities

This is such a neat idea with a finished product that can actually be used around the house. You will need Modge Podge, small magnets, and clear glass pebbles. We found the glass pebbles at the Dollar Store. 

Start by taking a picture of each of your students. Make sure that the picture is small enough to fit under the pebble. Use Modge Podge to glue the picture face up underneath the pebble. 

After it dries, add a magnet to the bottom and it is done! If you want to purchase the the pebbles and magnets together you can find a pack here on Amazon. 

Handprint Craft

Mother's Day Activities

There is something about seeing those little handprints that moms just treasure. This adorable handprint craft is easy and fun for students to make. Check out the video tutorial at thebestideasforkids.com.

Write a Poem 

Mother's Day Activities
Who doesn't love a heartfelt poem written just for them! For this activity, brainstorm some ideas as a class. Then, let them show their creativity. Grab this free acrostic poem template from the Classroom Creative or have students come up with their own free verse poems.

Make a Fingerprint Flowerpot 

Mother's Day Activities

This flower pot would make such a sweet gift for a grandmother, aunt, or mom on Mother's Day. Students will love turning their thumbprints into bees, butterflies, and flowers. You can get a packet of seeds to go with it or even have students plant a flower. Find out more about this project here.

Shrinky Dink Necklace/Keychain

Mother's Day Activities

If you haven't used Shrinky Dink film before, it is so easy to use! Draw on it with markers, then bake it in the oven and in a few minutes it magically shrinks! It's a great way to create keepsakes, such as these necklaces and keychains. They are sure to be a hit with moms.

We hope we've given you lots of ideas for fun and simple Mother's Day gifts your students can make without the stress! 

Create a Memorable Elementary Biography Wax Museum in 4 Simple Steps

One of our favorite events to do with our students each year is our biography wax museum! We see the tired but proud smiles on the students' faces after they finish, and it always reminds us what a great experience it really is. 

We literally get to see their confidence grow right before our eyes and parents LOVE seeing their child perform. There are always exclamations of gratitude that we have given their child a platform to shine.

 Want to try it in your own classroom? It's easy, just follow these four simple steps! Also, make sure to grab the FREE Wax Museum resources to use with your students.

Biography Wax Museum

Step 1: Research and Write a Biography

Biography Wax Museum

Our wax museum is the culminating project after we have finished our biography unit. During this unit students choose a famous person that they want to research. 

We always stress to the students that at the end of the unit we will do a special presentation where they will need to portray the person that they choose. We involve parents in the decision so that they are well aware of this!
Biography Wax Museum

The students create a final report about their person's childhood, adulthood, accomplishments, and importance. When they have finished it, it is time to introduce the wax museum. 

We start off by talking about what a wax museum is and show pictures of actual museums such as Madame Tussauds. We tell them that they are going to dress up like the person they have studied and freeze in place; but what makes our museum special is that if you press a button they come to life!

Biography Wax Museum

Step 2: Send Home a Parent Letter

The students are given an assignment to work on at home. There are three parts to the assignment:
  1. They create a 1-2 minute speech about their person’s life, speaking as if they really are that person (this is a good time to talk about using pronouns I and me). We recommend that students try to memorize it but we allow them to use index cards. 
  2. They design a poster with pictures of their person at different stages in their life. Tip: Have students get trifold boards if they can. They are easier to stand up on tables. 
  3. They come up with a costume and props that will help them “become” their person. We always stress to students that they can use whatever they can find around the house. If they would like to purchase something, it is fine, but definitely not required. 
We usually give about 3 weeks for students to work on this assignment at home, making sure to check in with them each week. We schedule a day performance where classes from the school can sign up to come and an evening performance for the parents.

Biography Wax Museum

Step 3: Practice Makes Perfect

Finally we have a dress rehearsal the day before the performance where the students bring their speech (without the costume or the poster) to practice. We tell students that they need to share their presentations as if it were the real performance, reminding them to use lots of expression and speak slowly and clearly.

Tip: Grade the students on their speech and presentation during the dress rehearsal. It makes it easier to grade only the poster and costume on the day of the actual performance.

Biography Wax Museum

The dress rehearsal  is a good time to tell students that they will encounter different situations, especially when the audience includes children. They may have someone press their button and walk away in the middle of sharing. We tell them that if that happens they should just stop. 

Or if they have students pressing their button multiple times and being silly they can do the speech once and then freeze back into their positions. It’s important to encourage them to not get discouraged if these types of things happen. It’s a part of the experience.

Biography Wax Museum

Step 4: It's Showtime!

On the day of the performance the students get dressed and we attach their “buttons” using paperclips. They stand in front of their posters and freeze in a position. When the crowd comes in the students should be perfectly still. Someone presses a button and with that our wax museum comes to life!

Biography Wax Museum


Putting on a wax museum may seem overwhelming but it's really not. It is a worthwhile experience that students will be sure to remember! Click on the picture below to grab a 6 page FREE resource including tips, a parent letter, project checklist, grading rubric, and more!


                                  Free Biography Wax Museum

If you would like steps to help you from start to finish, click on the picture below for our Biography Research Unit. 

Biography Wax Museum

We also have a Google Slides version with instructional videos included that you can find below:

Biography Wax Museum













4 High Interest Titanic Ideas That Will Actively Engage Students

 There's just something about the Titanic that captures the hearts and minds of people around the world. We especially noticed that this was true with our students in the classroom. Even though the disaster happened long ago, we've found that kids are still so engaged with the topic and want to learn all about it!

April 15, 2022 was the 110th Anniversary of the Titanic disaster. We collected a list of Titanic activities for the classroom that both you and your students will love! 

Titanic Books for Kids

There are so many books that have been written that are useful in teaching your students about the sinking of the Titanic. Some of these books are helpful for read alouds, while others would be great for independent reading. 


1. Voices of the Titanic: A Titanic Book for KidsTake a new look at the sinking of the RMS Titanic through the eyes of the heroes and the cowards, the wealthy and the poor, the survivors and those who went down with the ship.

2. Tonight on the Titanic- Jack and Annie are in for an exciting, scary, and sad adventure when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to the decks of the Titanic. Is there anything they can do to help the ill-fated ship? Will they be able to save anyone? Will they be able to save themselves?


3. I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic- Ten-year-old George Calder can't believe his luck -- he and his little sister, Phoebe, are on the famous Titanic, crossing the ocean with their Aunt Daisy. The ship is full of exciting places to explore, but when George ventures into the first class storage cabin, a terrible boom shakes the entire boat. Suddenly, water is everywhere, and George's life changes forever.

4. The Story of Titanic for Children- More than a century after it crashed into an iceberg, the Titanic remains as compelling as ever. Now children can explore its beautiful sundecks, marvel at the luxurious design, and relive the tragic sinking of the world’s most famous ship. Rich in visual detail, this insightful look at the unfolding disaster will hold kids spellbound with intriguing facts and real-life stories.

Making Test Prep Fun: 5 Ideas to Ramp Up Engagement

Spring is here! While we love the change of weather and ability to get back outside, it brings along with it some serious classroom obstacles. 

TESTING...


Nobody actually enjoys getting their students ready for the big tests. The moans and groans about boring test practice is enough to make any teacher lose their cool. But what if we told you it doesn't have to be this way? What if there's a way to make test prep enjoyable (and even fun) for both you and your students? 

Read on to find 5 tips and tricks to transform your classroom test prep from mundane to magical and grab a freebie or two on the way! 

1. Highlighters and Black Lights

One of the easiest way to up the engagement factor is to switch out your students' pencils with highlighters and set up a black light in your room. You can still use the regular test practice questions, but your kiddos will be so much more engaged when they see their answers start to glow. You can buy a black light on Amazon for under $20!

2. March Madness Trashketball

March is the perfect time to bring basketball into your classroom. All you need for this engagement booster is a trashcan, a small basketball and masking tape. We like to use task cards with targeted skills your students need, but really any worksheet or set of problems would work. 

How to play: Divide your class into teams (size of teams is up to you but we find smaller teams of 3-4 work best). Take turns handing a task card or problem to each team. If they solve/answer the problem correctly, they earn 1 point. They then have to decide if they want to try for 2 or 3 extra bonus points. The point lines are marked with masking tape on the floor with 2 points being closer to the trashcan and 3 points being slightly further away. One student from that team will shoot the ball. If they make a basket, the bonus points are added to their team's score. If they answer/solve the problem incorrectly, it's the next teams turn for a problem. 

3. Kaboom!

This is another super simple game that can be used with your existing test prep questions to be more exciting. Before you play, write point values on strips of paper.  You will also add several slips of paper that say "Kaboom!" Add all the slips of paper into a container. 

How to play: Students can play in groups or individually to answer a question. If they answer correctly, they pull a slip from the container to see how many points they earn. If they pull a Kaboom slip, they lose ALL their points and start back at zero. 

4. Bean Boozled  

There's just something kids love about the possibility of eating something disgusting. This is a fun and easy game, all you need is a pack of Bean Boozled jelly beans. If you're not familiar with these, each color has two versions of jelly beans: one tastes really good while the other tastes horrible. There's no way to tell which is which. 

How to play: Students will play in groups. Each group will answer a question. You can use existing test prep questions or task cards. If they answer correctly, they will send one student up to taste a bean. Fair warning: You may want to have a trash can nearby so they can spit out the jelly bean if it's a bad tasting one. 

5. Try a Room Transformation

This idea takes more prep time than the others, but it's worth the extra work! Anytime we've used a room transformation in our classroom, we've seen instant student engagement and excitement. There's lots of themes you can use for test prep, but our favorite is a Race Track theme. You can buy race themed birthday decorations to hang around your room and add simple black tablecloths with white strips down the middle to look like a road. Ask your gym teacher if you can borrow some orange cones too. 

We created this test prep unit to go with the racing theme. Your students will race around the track to review important skills that are often included in standardized tests. If you'd like to try these for free, we've included a free sample of both our reading and math units. 


We  believe that students that are engaged learn so much more than students who aren't! We hope these ideas help ramp up the fun AND the learning for your class. Good luck!

6 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in the Classroom

Black History Month is a time set aside to recognize the achievements and contributions of African Americans in the United States. It is an opportunity to celebrate the lives of many who were left out of the history books in the past. There are many different ways that you can celebrate Black History Month with your students. 

Read on to find out 6 Black History Month activities that are great for the elementary classroom and make sure to grab the FREE resource!

1. Read-aloud Picture Books 

Picture books are a great way to help students explore the lives and experiences of others. It is also so important to read books where students can see themselves represented.  Check out the highly recommended books below:

2. Create a Mural

Show students examples of murals that have been painted in different neighborhoods across the nation, such as the ones found on this website. Assign or allow students to choose a person to draw. It is helpful to have pictures that students can model their drawings after. They can then work in small groups to draw a picture. Have students cut out the outline of the person and paste the class drawings on a long piece of butcher paper in a creative way to display in the hallway. Check out this lesson plan for more details. 

3. Use Trivia to Engage

An awesome way to get students excited about Black History Month is by using interesting facts to create a trivia game. Give students clues about an important person's life and see if they can can guess who it is. You can give them until the next day to try and figure it out; or make it a weeklong game and give a new clue each day with the big reveal at the end of the week. This activity can be made easier by giving students a list of names to choose from.

4. Have a Trivia Bowl

If your class has been learning interesting facts throughout the month of February, you can wrap up the month with a fun trivia bowl! Put students into teams and have one student from each team be the representative that answers questions each round. Give facts about a person and see if they can guess who you are referring to or other trivia questions. You can also ask true or false questions. Students will love earning points and working together in teams to show their knowledge.

5. Research a Significant Individual

Another way to celebrate is by having your students do in-depth research of an important individual who has made contributions to our country. They can work in small groups and then present their information to the rest of the class. Take a look at our Black History Posters Activity pictured below. It includes articles and a poster with a portrait, important facts, character traits, famous words and a timeline for students to complete. 

  

                                                                     

Grab this FREE Rosa Parks biography article and poster from the unit to use with your students!

6. Complete a Research Project

If you want to do a more extensive project, you can have your students spend more time researching an individual using several resources. Here's one example of a website with kid-friendly biographies. Give students a theme such as Inventors, Entrepreneurs, or Trailblazers. Also, you might consider having them research a less well-known figure to help expand their knowledge of the contributions of Black Americans that they may be unaware of. After they have recorded their facts they can come up with a way to present them to the class. 

A few presentation ideas are:

  • create a Google Slideshow
  • make a poster with interesting facts
  • write an essay about their person's life 
  • make a timeline using images 
  • create an inspirational poem/song 
Black History Month is such a great opportunity for students to learn more about the country that they live in. It is important that they understand that Black History really is American History. We hope that we have given you some ideas of activities that you can do with your students this February!

5 Steps to Creating Successful Goals with Your Students

As much as some of us despise New Year's resolutions, you have to admit that there is something about a brand new year that does ignite the desire to set goals. This feeling is something that you can tap into in the classroom, especially if you are having difficulty with negative behaviors or unmotivated students. Get your students excited to start the new year right with these 5 steps for creating successful goals. Also, make sure to grab the FREEBIE below!

1. Choose a Goal Important to You

When students are thinking of something that they would like to improve, they need to choose a goal that they will be motivated to work at. They will feel empowered if they make the decision themselves, versus just choosing something you as the teacher tell them they need to work on. 

2. Write Down Your Goal

There is something about actually writing or typing out a statement that is powerful. Instead of just thinking to yourself, "I'm going to try and do better at something", when you write it down, you are putting it out there to be read and remembered. Make sure that goals are written with positive, affirmative language. There might be something that a student wants to stop doing, but instead of stating it in a negative manner, they should think of the positive behavior they want to replace it with. For example, instead of "I will stop talking so much", they might write, "I will work on my independent work quietly, without talking."

3. Make Sure the Goal is Clear and Concise

Just think "short and sweet". It is important that the goal that is chosen is easy to understand and doesn't take on too much. If you find that the goal is getting too wordy, it might be a good idea to see if it can be split into smaller actions. For example, "I will pay attention when the teacher is talking and do my best work," could be split into two smaller goals. You also want to make sure that the statement is not a vague one, such as, "I will work hard." Have students dig deeper and think about what working hard looks like, and choose a specific behavior, such as, "I will complete my classwork on time."

4. Make the Goal Measurable

One reason that you want to make a goal as specific as possible, is so that it can be measured. Looking again at the example of a goal that is too general, "I will work hard," is really difficult to measure. When you have specific behaviors you can actually track how many times you complete the action in a certain amount of time.

5. Create an Action Plan

If your students have chosen and written down a goal that is important, clear and concise, and measurable, they are halfway there. But in order to truly be successful, they need to create an action plan to go along with the goal. You can set a certain amount of time for them to work on their goal, such as a month. Students should think about a reasonable amount of times per week they want to reach their goal, as well as what they can do to set themselves up for success. They should then revisit the goal daily and track their progress. At the end of the time period, students can reflect on how they did with their goal. At this point they can decide to continue to work on the same goal or choose a new one!

If this sounds like something you would like to try with your class, check out our Goal Setting: Data Collection and Self-Reflection. You can  find the digital and printable bundle below. It has everything you need to practice setting goals with your students!

You can also grab this FREE Choose a Goal Checklist from the resource, with examples of goals for your students.

Setting intentional goals is such an important skill for students to learn. We hope that you are able to use this information to help your students be successful in your classroom. 

Happy New Year!

6 Activities to Keep Your Students Engaged Until Winter Break

While the holiday season is one of our favorite times of year, we know that the weeks before winter break can be super hectic and stressful, especially that last week. The closer it gets to break, the CRAZIER kids become and we know from experience that crazy kids = a stressed out teacher. Here are 6 ideas to help you engage and excite students even as they are dreaming of winter vacation! Make sure to grab our gift to you-two FREE resources that you can use with your students.

1. Learn About Holidays Around the World

This is a great time to teach students about how people all over the world celebrate winter holidays. They get an opportunity to find out about similarities and differences that they might have with other cultures. This video shows several different winter holidays around the world. After watching, students can reflect and share their own holiday traditions. 

We created a fun Holidays Around the World Breakout Game where students can collect stamps in their passport as they learn about different holidays and complete challenges. Check out the printable and digital versions below:

 

2. Create a Homemade Gift

Looking for an easy gift that your students can make and parents will actually use throughout the year? This super cute calendar is a great idea. Just take a picture of each student holding out their arms with their hands down. Print and cut out the images. Glue mini clothespins to the back of their hands and insert a calendar. 

Check out @happilyeverafter here on Instagram for a full tutorial.

3. Make a Gingerbread House

One of our students' favorite activities of the year is making gingerbread houses. Kids have a blast designing, creating, and decorating their own house. Get parents to send in materials and use resources that are available to you, such as milk cartons. Tip: Make the gingerbread houses and allow them to dry overnight. Then they will be ready to decorate the following day. The smell of your classroom will be amazing! 

If you are looking for some gingerbread-themed resources, take a look at our Gingerbread Area and Perimeter Unit. This unit includes math activities and directions for creating gingerbread houses, as well as a parent letter requesting supplies. 

4. Have a Grinch Day

If you have never had a Grinch Day with your students, you definitely need to try it! It's so much fun and your class will absolutely love it. Throughout the day, we do grinch themed activities, such as STEM challenges, games, math activities, and more!  We even watch the old school version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. You can find it here on Youtube. Check out some of the pictures from our Grinch Day below, including the "Pin the Heart on the Grinch" game. 

           

5. Earn Class Rewards            

This is a great idea that could be used for the last week of school when behavior is at its craziest! Put 5 gift bags out on the Friday before the last week. After reminding them about the expectations, tell them that each day they will start with the word GIFTS on the board. Any time they as a class don’t meet those expectations, they will lose a letter. But if by the end of the day, if they still have at least one letter left, they will get to open a gift bag and receive a class reward! Our students absolutely loved being able to earn rewards and it SAVED our sanity! Hopefully you can use these reward cards to set up your own gift system and help you survive the last week before break. Click on the picture below to download your FREE set of Holiday Reward Cards.

6. Read Picture Books (not Featuring Santa)

As much as we love Santa, it can be tricky to read books about him at school. We are always on the lookout for great winter books that don't mention Santa. Check out a few great books below. You can also find the links to the books being read aloud on Youtube.

Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie daPaola

How to Catch a Snowman by Adam Wallace

Snow Day! by Lester L. Laminack

Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright


One Winter's Day by M. Christina Butler

The Gingerbread Kid Goes to School by Joan Holub

This last book is featured in our Gingerbread Activities Unit. You will find all kinds of engaging activities for your students to complete, like a paper bag gingerbread house, plus this FREE History of Gingerbread Flipbook Activity!

                                 

                                                           

 You can grab the bundle of both of our Gingerbread activities below.

                                          

Hopefully we have given you lots of ideas to help get you through to winter break. We wish you a very relaxing and joy filled holiday season!