Paul Klee Castles

Paul Klee castles are a great way to introduce kids to this wonderful artist.


  • Newsprint paper
  • Pastels
  • Marker
  • Watercolor


Introduce the students to Paul Klee. Show the class several examples of his work. Demonstrate how to use shapes to draw a castle. Explain that they will make the outline with black oil pastel and then color in the shapes with watercolor and marker. Have fun!

5 Ways to Implement Finland’s Education Ideas

More breaks, more play, less testing, and no homework!


You have probably heard about Finland’s success in the PISA study.  The  Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA assesses and compares 15-year-old students all over the world.  So what can be learned from one of the most succesful educational system in the world? When looking at Finland’s success it seems almost too good to be true. Why not try some of their educational ideals?  Join in by implementing these simple ideas into your daily routine.

Take Breaks!

Break up your day with several short breaks. Finnish children have more recess time.  Usually they get a break every 45 minutes.  If you teach in the United States you have to teach Physical Education.  Many districts even require you to certify your PE minutes.  These PE minutes can be used to bring a little bit of Finnish glory to your classroom right now.  Every 45 minutes take a 10 minute PE break. This way you get in your PE time and optimize your learning environment.  There are many studies supporting frequent exercise breaks.  If your administrator is worried, let them know about the importance of brain-derived neurotropic factor. You are not taking things easy. You are on top of it with cutting edge teaching techniques!

No More Homework

Put the homework package down and slowly back away!  Imagine how freeing this would be.  No more grading, no more hunting after missed assignments, you can do it!  Seriously, at least cut it to your district guidelines.  You might be surprised how little homework your school district recommends. Most guidelines recommend 10 minutes for each grade level.  This adds up to only 10 minutes for a first grader!

Bring Back Imaginative Play!

Allow room for imaginative play in your classroom.  You could have a doll house or stuffed animals.  Bring back a play kitchen and dress up center. This can be part of your classroom reward system or your Friday activity.  If you are using Writers Workshop in your classroom you can include imaginative play in your prewrite activity.

Take Your Breaks

Take your breaks! You need them.  No more copying during lunch and recess.  You need your breaks just as much as the kids.  Finnish teachers get lots of breaks and planning time.  Use the little time you have wisely. Go for a walk, watch a TED talk, or read a good book.  Teachers in Finland do and they are much more respected than their American counterparts.

Less Testing

You probably are required to use some standardized test.  They are usually very comprehensive.  Do you really need any more than that? There are many alternative assessments available as well.

Can It Be This Easy?

Teach PE every day, forget about homework, include playtime, take your breaks, and test less. Sounds great, right? Even if you might not be able to try all of these ideas immediately, start with one or two and see the difference it will make for you and your students.


Teaching Creativity


Logic can get you from A to Z; Creativity will get you everywhere!

~ Albert Einstein

This is a true story and a wake up call to anybody raising and educating children. Imagine a class of 6 year olds. Their acting assignment is to improvise using a scarf. One by one they take a turn, unable to imagine anything but items that can be made out of a scarf. No magic wands, no snakes, no swords are created. The students seem uncomfortable and unsure.

Why is it so hard for them to do what was second nature to previous generations? An explanation might be found in the way children spend their days. They are in school, or after school care, from 8 am to 6pm. During this time their activities are highly structured. They are told what to do and when to do it. No room for imaginative play. When they get home they have to finish their homework, maybe play on a device, and then it is bedtime.


These days, there seems to be no time to ride their bikes, play in their yards, or to just a kid. Every minute seems structured and supervised. Children seem bored and disinterested in even the most exciting activities offered to them. Every minute is used to squeeze in one more enrichment activity.

Imagination is the beginning of any endeavor. Without imaginations there is no growth in a society. Steve Jobs had to imagine the apple computer before it could become a reality. Thomas Edison imagined the electrical light bulb before he spend ten thousand experiments to actually create one. Our Founding Fathers imagined a free America before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Imagination is a skill that needs to be valued. A child playing by themselves is doing the work of childhood. Your little daydreamer might make all the difference in the world one day.
What do we value more, spelling skills or imagination? Most would probably answer imagination. Yet we spend all our resources and efforts on spelling and other skills like it.
Our children’s need for imaginative play needs to be defended. They need opportunity to play and caregivers need to be patient.

When your children come to you and tell you they are bored. Don’t just create entertainment for them, let them create it themselves. Build areas of unstructured playtime into a child’s day. At school as well as at home. There should be learning breaks where children can relax their bodies and minds. Imagination is the foundation of what it means to be human. It is up to all of us to bring it back to live. Bring back the unicorns, pirates, and joys of imaginative play.