Children with Fears

Anxiety, at some point we all experience it. Anxiety before a test or starting a new job is quite common.  For most people it is a short term problem.  For others, it is much longer and more intense. Sometimes you have anxious students and not even realize it. Anxiety can manifest itself in different ways in the classroom.  You may have a child who asks to go to the restroom more often than is necessary (avoidance).  Maybe you've had a parent tell you that his/her child is having stomach aches and doesn't want to come to school.  Others may be a member of your "nurse's frequent flyer club".  At the extreme end of the spectrum of fears is selective mutism.  Here's an article with more information about children with anxiety.

Fear is often the root of the anxiety.  Your student will often receive support from your school counselor or social worker.  There are ways you can provide support, too.  I recently found an activity that might help your anxious students and would be perfect for this time of the year.  Who doesn't love a monster unit?  I think your entire class would love this song and lesson about monsters.  Debbie @ Rainbows Within Reach wrote a song called Monster Spray.  Debbie is a former art teacher who now writes and performs her music at schools all across America.  When she sings this song she has a bottle of water that she sprays at the end to tell the monsters to go away.  If you have anxious students you could let them make their own monster spray.  Or better yet let this be a class activity.  Ask parents to send in small bottles like this one:

Go read Debbie's post (link is above).  She has a really cute, decorated bottle that you could use as an example.  I personally wouldn't actually fill it with real water.  I think I would use imaginary water because you want your students to use their imagination.

Here is a preview of the printables that are included with Debbie's packet.  You also get a recording of her song.  Click HERE to visit her TPT store.

Debbie's entire store is on sale on Sunday, September 30th.  Save 20%!

Here are some books to enrich your lessons:


Pocket Charts

Does this pin speak to you like it does me?  Can you pass by the Dollar Spot without putting a few things in your cart?  Me neither!  One of my all time favorite finds at the Dollar Spot was the mini-pocket chart.  

These are small and can be used a wide variety of ways.  You can make a simple job chart with these.

I made this job chart for my friend Sandy, a 6th grade teacher.  She teaches 2 sections of 6th grade.  Space was limited so she didn't want 2 job charts.  On the labels are students' names and numbers.  The yellow cards are students in her A.M. class and students in her P.M. class are on the red cards.  Students' cards are kept in numerical order on the ring at the top of the picture.  At the beginning of the year, students #1-6 are put on the chart.  The following week, all the cards are moved down one row and #6 is put on the back of the ring.  #7 is put on the top row.  The following week all of cards are moved down one row.  #5 is put on the back of the ring and #8 is put on the top of the row.  This pattern continues throughout the year.  You don't have to keep track of which student has done which job.  Students don't complain about not doing a preferred job because they know eventually it will be their turn.  If you wanted to add a little seasonal fun to this chart, you could assign each student a number and then use seasonal calendar numbers instead of colored cards with labels.

You can also use this system for your centers or stations.  Here are some signs for your stations and job chart.  Click HERE to download.

You can also click HERE to download number signs.


Small Bites and Movement

A few weeks ago, I shared a lesson from my friend, Sandy called, N.O.W. (News of the Week).  Click HERE to read more about that lesson.
(click on picture)

One of the problems with this lesson is it can be overwhelming for students who either aren't on grade level or students who have trouble with focusing.  So, the lesson was modified.

(click on picture)

One way to help students focus better, is to make this flap book:

Cut a file folder into strips.  The shorter the attention span, the smaller you will cut the strips.  I cut this one into 3 parts.  Students open 1 flap at a time and always begin at the top and work their way down.  Students complete the work that they can see when a flap is open.  Close the flap and then open the next flap until they finish the assignment.  This makes the assignment in "bite size pieces".  Use this strategy with students who have trouble getting started on an assignment.  With those students they are overwhelmed with all of the words and graphics on the page.  They don't feel like they will ever finish the assignment so why even begin.  If they need extra motivation and a chance to move, you can set up a stamp station near your desk.  Each time they complete the work in a flap area, they show you the work, and then go to the stamp station to get a stamp.

Some students need as many of their five senses as possible incorporated into lessons.  One way to do this is assigning the student a few problems at time.  Circle the even number problem.  When the students finishes with those problem, he/she will show them to you.   Then you will circle the odd number problems.  The student is getting up moving more which helps.  You can add seasonal fun and a sensory touch to this if you use scented markers to circle the problems.  In February, circle the numbers with red and pink.  In December, use red and green to add a Christmas touch.  

Do you have any ideas?

Freebie Fridays


Punctuation Day

Did you know that Monday, September 24th, is National Punctuation Mark Day?  I made a game called, Name that Punctuation Mark, that you can play with your class.

You give your students clues and they guess which punctuation mark is needed.

There are also punctuation mark signs you can show your students.

You can download this game for free by clicking HERE.

I am joining Lori @ Teaching with Love and Laughter's linky party.  Click on the picture below to find some new grammar lessons, tips, and ideas.

Click on the picture below to find more great lessons that are free.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Fall is my favorite season so I have been busy making some fall-themed packets.  This freebie packet has a few fun lessons I thought your students might enjoy.


Making Words - Scarecrow and Pumpkin

Students cut the letters out at the bottom of the page.  Arrange the letters to make different words.  Write the words that are made from the letters on the recording sheet.  This can be used for homework, as a center, or even a timed activity.




Words with Fall & Word Bank

1.  Students will brainstorm a list of words that have the word fall in it.  This can be done individually, with a partner, or as a team.
2.  Share fall word bank.
3.  Choose 3 words from the fall word bank to use for the "Fallin' for Words" assignment.

Click HERE to download this file.


Are you looking for more Fall ideas and lessons?  Head over to All Students can Shine. Valerie is having a Fall linky party.


Growing sentences

Looking for ways to improve your students' writing abilities?  How about combining science and writing with a little bit of seasonal fun, too?

Begin by reading a book or two about the life cycle of a pumpkin.  Ask your students if they know what makes a pumpkin grow?  Then tell them that a sentence, like a pumpkin, can also grow.  Ask them if they know what can help a sentence grow?


Tell your students that writers use adjectives and adverbs to give more details of their topic.  These details make a sentence bigger and more interesting to read.  Below are some worksheets you can use to practice this new skill.

Click HERE to download this file.

Click on the picture below to check out more great freebies!

Freebie Fridays

It's a blog hop and I'm joining the fun!  Click on the picture below:

Teaching My 3

Students who like to argue

Have you ever had a student who wants to argue with you about everything?  For the purpose of this post, we'll call this student, Debatable Deb, because Deb feels like every topic is up for debate.  There are times you swear this student is playing devil's advocate because she argues for the sake of argument.  The years that you have one of these students, you go home mentally drained because you are constantly being challenged.

Years ago, I did my student teaching in a 3rd grade self-contained gifted classroom.  The elementary school had 2,000 students which at the time was the largest in the state.  There were 14 - 16 sections of each grade level and two of these sections had only gifted and talented students.  These students' lessons were taught at an accelerated pace.  My cooperating teacher told me that in a G/T classroom, arguing and debating is very common.  She shared a few tips with me that I thought I'd pass along.

Tip #1: There are times when you can listen to what the student has to say if it is said in a respectful tone.  But, it is also perfectly permissible for the teacher to say "this is not a matter for debate.".  You are the leader of the classroom not the student.  

Tip #2:  If you have a student who feels very passionate about some topic or decision, encourage Debatable Deb to write about it.  Have your Debatable Deb make a T-chart listing the pros and cons about the topic.  This will encourage your student to become more open minded. 

As a person who was born with a argumentative personality, I can tell you that it is very frustrating when you feel like you don't have an outlet or someone isn't listening to your opinions.  Have you ever had a principal who had the management style of "my way or the highway"?  Nothing was ever discussed, decisions were handed down like edicts, and you were left feeling like you were merely a worker bee.  You didn't necessarily want to argue with your boss about every decision he made, but you  wished you had some input before a decision was made that you were required to carry out. Some decisions could be improved if there was input from others. I sometimes think this must be how your Debatable Deb feels when you don't take the time to listen to  her opinions or give her an outlet like writing.  Granted, not every decision is open for discussion, just like with your principal.  But, there are some decisions that could involve more student input.  

Your Debatable Deb would like to add her input, but hasn't learned the proper way to do this yet.  She needs you to give her the tools for sharing meaningful input.  A few years ago, my daughter came home from school quite upset with her teacher.  She tried to turn in her Pizza Hut Book It form a day late but the teacher wouldn't accept it.  The form was due on a Monday.  We had been out of town for my grandfather's funeral Thursday - Sunday which was several states away.  I had emailed her teacher before we left so she knew why my daughter wasn't in school.  My daughter forgot to take her Book It form on Monday.  It was hanging on the refrigerator ready to go. Things were a little hectic that Monday morning and she forgot to take it.  Her teacher told her that it was due on Monday and since she was at school on Monday she wouldn't accept it on Tuesday.  My daughter wanted me to talk to her teacher.  But, I felt like this was a matter that should be handled between the two of them.  I told her that when she talked to her teacher she needs to remember:

Timing is everything!  Do not ask your teacher about this when she is getting ready to teach a new lesson or at the end of the day when it's a madhouse in the classroom. Timing is key!

Your tone of voice conveys so much.  Your tone should be respectful.

Your sentence should not begin with the word "you".  Wrong choice:  You should have accepted my Book It paper because I missed school for 2 days because my grandpa died.   A better choice:  I was out of town for my grandfather's funeral.  We flew home on Sunday evening.  I normally pack my backpack the evening before but I was off schedule.  I'm sorry.  Hopefully this won't happen again.

After talking with your teacher, you need to graciously accept whatever her decision is whether you agree with it or not.

Although her teacher did not accept her paper after my daughter spoke to her, my daughter wasn't upset.  Why?  Her teacher took the time to listen to her and her teacher explained her decision.  

This pin sums up what I think these students are thinking!

I asked my Facebook followers for advice when dealing with argumentative students.  Here are a few of the tips: 

*Giving them a designated time to discuss the matter that is not class time such as  recess or after school.

*Katherine Kelley, who teaches gifted students, tells her students that this is a classroom not a court room so there is no need to argue your case.  (I need to remember that line!)

*Do not engage!  Do not engage!  Do not engage!  Is some of my followers' mantra.  Some even suggest just staring at the student, not saying a word.  Eventually the student gets the point.

*Having a sense of humor is another tip to try.  

You can read more on my FB page by looking for the picture of the pin ("I'm not arguing, I'm explaining why I'm right.") above.  


Hispanic Heritage Month

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September 15th to October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month. This holiday began in 1968 under President Johnson as a week long celebration. In 1988, President Reagan expanded the holiday to a month. It begins on September 15th because it is the anniversary of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico celebrates its independence day on September 16th and Chile on September 17th. Click on the picture below to see the countries that this holiday honors:

This month your students can study a famous person from one of the countries above. Here is a list of famous people plus a worksheet for investigation notes your students can use. Click HERE to download this List of Famous Hispanics.

Here are some books you can share with your class: