Winter Mural

img_8671

We love making a winter mural! The kids create individual homes and we combine them into towns and villages. The best part is, that we can leave the decoration up until we come back after the winter break.

Materials:

  • Blue and white butcher paper
  • Colorful construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Sequins (optional)
  • White and blue tempera paint

Procedure:

Prepare the landscape with butcher paper and tempera paint. Cut the white butcher paper in a wavy pattern and glue it on the bottom of the blue paper. Paint swirly patterns on the blue paper. The swirly patterns create the impression of icy gales blowing over the landscape.

Introduce the kids to making a collage. We show them how to create small houses with colorful construction paper. They decorate them with glittery sequins and markers.

The whole class helps to arrange the houses into small towns. The kids love creating a neighborhood with their friends!

Looking for more (Almost) No Prep Art? Click right here.

Our Top 5 Rainy Day PE Ideas

rain_rain_go_away_1_-_ww_denslow_-_project_gutenberg_etext_18546

Are you ready for inclement weather recess? Try some of our ideas and you will learn to love indoor recess. Ok, ok, maybe not love, but at least your students will enjoy it.

Yoga

Yoga has become very popular in schools. You don’t have to be a Yoga instructor to get some of that good vibe into your classroom. There are lots of exercise videos available, or simply use some from Youtube.

Indoor Obstacle Course

We use crepe paper strips, hula hoops, and carpet pieces to create the ultimate spy-training obstacle course.

Dance

Who can resist dancing? Learn some new moves on a rainy day with some youtube dance videos.

Workout Video

Workout videos are a straightforward way to get everybody moving. There are lots of great workouts available on youtube.

Tai Chi

We used to have a teacher at our school, who kept us in awe with her awesome Tai Chi moves. Since she retired we have resorted to Youtube videos.

Making Pinch Pots

img_1045

We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.”

Tao Saying

Working with clay is something really special. Our school has a kiln, and we use real clay. The smell alone is a deeply sensory experience. There is nothing like breaking open a new package of clay.


If you don’t have a kiln to fire real clay at your school you can use modeling clay as well. It still will be a great learning experience for your kids.

We also like to discuss where clay comes from. There are lots of youtube videos of people extracting clay right from the ground.


Clay has to be used quickly. Our clay comes in large blocks. We cut the clay with a string and students work right on their desks. Every student has a small cup of water ready in case their clay gets too dry.

Clay has to be used quickly. Our clay comes in large blocks. We cut the clay with a string and students work right on their desks. Every student has a small cup of water ready in case their clay gets too dry.

We demonstrate how to knead clay and form a sphere. The trick is to “pinch” your thumbs into the clay to form a small pot. Students smooth the edges of the pots, by moistening their fingers with a little bit of water. Most students have used playdough before, but clay is a very different material. It is hard to knead and has to be moist at all times.

After the lesson, we stash the pinch pots on top of a closet and forget about them for a long time. It is very important that they dry sufficiently or the clay will explode in the kiln. The thicker the objects, the more time they need to dry. We usually wait four weeks before firing them.

The first round of firing in the kiln, also known as the bisque firing, comes first.  Every kiln is different and it is best to read the manual to determine individual firing times. If you are using modeling clay you get to skip the firing process.

Last but not least, we glaze our pots. We use non-toxic lead-free paint and the colors are barely visible during the painting process. We tell the kids the paint works like magic and turns into glass during the second firing process. Firing the glaze is very time consuming because the objects cannot be stacked or touch each other at all.

Finally, the pots are ready to go home. We usually wrap them in clear cellophane so the kids won’t break them. They look very cute filled with candies and make excellent Holiday gifts!

Are you interested in more art projects? Click right here for more (Almost) No Prep Art.

Swamp Goblin and Fairy House Math Game

img_8347

We love to make our own math games, and nothing brings equations home like a game of Swamp Goblin/Fairy House.

The game is very easy to make, and kids get really creative with it. Last time we had pop-up swamp goblins, and fairy houses with working doors and windows.

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Scissors

Procedure:

We introduce the concept of true and false equations with a directed lesson. This game aligns very well to the two math programs we are using. The sample in the picture was made as a preteach activity for Eureka Module 1 lesson 17, and as an extension with MyMath lesson Grade 1 Lesson 14.

We show the kids how to fold the paper and go over true and false equations. Each kid prepares their own came and equations. They exchange them and feed the equations to either the fairies or swamp goblins. We send the games home at the end of the day, and the kids love showing it to their families.

Domain: Operations and Algebraic Thinking

Major Cluster: Work with addition and subtraction equations.

1.OA.7 Understand the meaning of the equal sign and determine if equations involving addition and subtraction are true or false.

Thanks for stopping by. Check out some of our other math lessons right here.

Torn Paper Collage Monsters

img_8410

“Let the wild rumpus start!”
~ Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Torn paper collages are a perennial favorite in our classrooms. We create them as a literature connection activity, after reading Where The Wild Things Are.

Materials:

  • Colorful construction paper
  • Glue

Procedure:

First, we read Where The Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak. It is really fun to act out parts of the book, by making a “wild rumpus” in the classroom. We pretend there is a large bonfire in our class, and we are all wild monsters. The kids use their imagination and visualize what kind of creature they are. What color is their fur? Do they have claws, warts, and tails? The kids pair-share with a partner and describe how their monsters look like.

Next, we demonstrate how to tear paper. The kids often get frustrated with tearing  paper and want to use scissors. However, it is crucial to tear the paper and embrace the unpredictability of the outcome. Manipulating paper is a great way to practice fine motor skills. Once the kids get the hang of it, they absolutely love tearing the paper.

We also show them that combining seemingly random shapes can create really interesting pictures. The imperfection is part of the appeal. Once introduced, the technique can be used to make all kinds of amazing artwork. We spruce up book covers, holiday cards, and bookmarks.

Let the wild rumpus start!

If you are interested in more art lessons you can click right here.

Haunted Math House

img_8364

Our haunted math houses are a big hit every year. They give students a creative outlet to explore and deepen their mathematical reasoning. The best part is that there is virtually no prep needed for this awesome project.

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Black marker
  • Crayons

Procedure:

We review math stories and then demonstrate how to draw a house with the rooms exposed. The class helps generates ideas for math stories in the haunted math house. Favorites have been ghosts, spiders, and jack-o-lanterns. Sometimes we even act them out.

The materials are then distributed, and the kids get to work. It is amazing to see what they come up with. Some kids make flaps and trapdoors, to make their stories more interesting, others have pop-out ghosts and ghouls.

Once we have introduced this activity we offer it as a choice during math centers.

You can find more hands-on math activities by clicking right here.

 

Leaf Rubbing

img_8327

Autumn

The morns are meeker than they were,

The nuts are getting brown;

The berry’s cheek is plumper,

The rose is out of town.

 

The maple wears a gayer scarf,

The field a scarlet gown.

Lest I should be old-fashioned,

I’ll put a trinket on.

~Emily Dickinson

Leaf Rubbing

Leaf rubbing is a great activity any time of the year. It definitely is a favorite in the fall when leaves change colors. Simply rub a crayon over a leave placed under a piece of copy paper; like magic, The leave appears in front of your eyes.

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Crayons
  • Leaves

Leaf Hunt

We start this activity by going on a leaf hunt in our yard. The best leaves come from our sycamore trees. They have the distinct maple leave shape and are excellent for rubbing.

It is very helpful to have a collection of leaves already prepared. This way every student will have great leaves, even if they don’t find any on the walk. We even press and laminate really nice leaves in order to use them over and over. Pressed leaves also make for great fall decoration.

This activity is a great extension to exploring Fibonacci numbers in nature. You can read more about using the Fibonacci sequence to deepen number sense right here.

Art & Poetry

The rubbings also lend themselves to visualize your favorite fall poems. One of our favorites is  Autumn by Emily Dickinson. We charted the poem and the class reads it chorally during our Morning Meeting. Students later copy the poem for penmanship practice; a great fall keepsake that is greatly appreciated by our families.

 

Sugar Skull Art Project

img_8281-1

This is a super simple art activity that comes out amazing every time. You can either use the sugar skulls and simply color them, or have your students come up with their own version. We usually do both. First, we have the kids color, and then they create their own sugar skull drawings. We loved to use markers, but oil pastels or crayons look great as well.

Materials

  • Sugar skull printouts
  • Colored markers or crayons
  • Colorful construction paper

We introduce our students to the Day of the Dead, and then show them examples of the whimsical and colorful skulls that brighten this Holiday. We give each student a copy of our sugar skull and bright construction paper. They simply color the patterns, cut out the skull, and glue it on colorful construction paper.

We have more great art projects on our (Almost) No Prep Art Projects page.

STEAM Education With Fibonacci Numbers

 

steam

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.

~ Albert Einstein

Leonardo Pisano Bogollo, aka Fibonacci rediscovered the number pattern that is now generally referred to as the Fibonacci sequence. Fibonacci recognized that certain numbers seem to occur in nature more frequently than chance would allow. The number sequence is also used to calculate the golden mean or golden ratio, known in mathematics by the Greek letter phi.

You can easily calculate the sequence in your classroom or at home by adding the last two numbers to make the next.

Here is the sequence:

0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34…

The first two numbers in the sequence are added and the sum creates the next number.

0+1=1. 1+1=2 2+1=3 3+2=5

We usually open our Fibonacci math enrichment unit with posting the number sequence on the board as a challenge. We ask the class to find the pattern. Surprisingly enough even the first graders usually figure it out.

One of our favorite activities is to go on a Fibonacci number hunt walk. We take the kids for a walk and try to find natural items that show numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.

Here are some example from our last walk

Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea

The Bougainvillea shows three bright pink leaves.

Sticky monkey-flower
Sticky monkey-flower

This California native has 5 petals.

Daisy_January_2008-1

We had to count a lot of petals to find a perfect daisy.

We wrote in our journals and drew some of the flowers after the hike. A great way to introduce kids to the Fibonacci sequence.

Here are some great websites with golden ratio and Fibonacci sequence activities

https://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/golden-ratio.html

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/fibonaccis-missing-flowers

Littledigitalschoolhouse.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. You can learn more about our disclosure policy right here.

 

How to Celebrate the International Day of Peace At Your School

img_8123

If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

The International Day of Peace is celebrated around the world on September 21. At noon children in every time zone will have a minute of silence. The wave of peace will be rung in in New York City with the Peace Bell. A bell made out of pennies that were donated from children around the world. The holiday is fairly new but a great way to focus on peace and community in our schools.

There are many wonderful songs about peace and our school is going to perform some at our morning assembly. We have battery operated candles for all the students and our first song is going to be Light A Candle for Peace.

We also picked A Song of Peace. This is one of our favorites and both songs are very easy to learn.

At noon the whole school will observe the minutes of silence that is part of the event. The plan is that a wave of peace will move around the world as each time zone hits noon.
This is our first time celebrating and we have come already across so many great ideas for next year.

Come an join us to celebrate the International Day of Peace around the world!