Sunday, March 25, 2018

Spring Classroom Ideas & Resources

Spring is finally here, and if your classroom is like mine, that means that we are RUNNING on OVERDRIVE!  With report cards, Open House, Spring Break, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and everything else thrown in, it has been BUSY BUSY BUSY for us!

Yet with all these events, there were still so many opportunities for us to celebrate what we have accomplished so far and look forward to other great learning opportunities ahead of us.

Here's a recap of our March!

Our winter door decoration was definitely falling apart, so I put together a little surprise for the kids.  To create the rainbow mosaic, each student received a piece of color paper for every answer that they got correct on our math review.  I'm so happy to announce that all of the kids got to participate and added to our classroom rainbow! 

To go along with our door, we wrote an expository piece on why we needed to catch the Leprechaun from one of our read alouds.  After drafting, revising, and editing, the kids published their writing piece along with a FREE Leprechaun Directed Drawing from FirstandKindertBlueSkies!

Leprechaun Directed Drawing for St Patrick's Day

To make our leprechaun craftivity, I cut only these pieces below and the kids lined up to pick up their parts and assembled them together with me.  To add a little charm, we brainstormed of names for each other as if we were leprechauns.  The kids thought it was hilarious and had such a great time!

We also added in some counting coins review to our rainbow and St. Patrick's Day theme by creating Ways to Make $1 Rainbows!  I simply cut and sorted out the clouds and colored strips beforehand.  Our mini-lesson consisted of reviewing ways to make $1.  Then with a sheet of various coins, the kids completed their rainbow either with me in small groups, with a partner, or independently depending on their readiness.

Oh and there was also Open House thrown in the mix before our Spring Break!  Since our Open House is more of a Student Showcase Night, I decided to go along with a movie theme.  So I rolled out the red carpet (well more like red butcher paper) for the kids and their families to walk on as they entered the classroom.  At the end of the "red carpet" was a little photo-op waiting for them.  When they completed the scavenger hunt that I had left for them, they all received a little popcorn packet for POPPING in! :)

For this tag and more tags for the entire year, click to the image below!

Below is a picture of our little photo-op!

And because I love gift tags and love giving little gifts to brighten up my students' and teacher besties' days so much, I had to add these to the mix! Here's my confession: my son's kindergarten teacher is really is amazing!  So how could I resist wishing her the HAPPIEST birthday with this little gift?!  As for my students, I had leftover chocolate coins from Lunar New Year and had to make good use of them. Ha!  I have been randomly giving out a couple whenever I catch GOLDEN behavior in our classroom!

Click on the image below for more March Gift Tags!

March is also the month when I teach the water cycle, bodies of water, and landforms in science.  Here are my anchor charts and some Digital Interactive Notebooks that I use with my kids! These notebooks can be printed as .pdf files or used on Google Slides for Google Classroom.

I love how Interactive Digital Notebooks are paperless, interactive, and require NO PREP!They are perfect to use with Google Slides to help engage 21st Century students and integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum! If you are thinking about using Digital Notebooks for your own class, the answer is YES, you should!!! This digital notebook and others are now available in my store! Link in profile. I love how Interactive Digital Notebooks are paperless, interactive, and require NO PREP!They are created to use with Google Slides to help engage 21st Century students and integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum! If you are thinking about using Digital Notebooks for your own class, the answer is YES, you should!!! This Interactive Digital Notebook and others are now available in my store! 🖥📱💻#teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram #teachers #iteachtoo
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And yes, we still have some more days left of March left, but my mind is already in April! And for those who are still counting down to Spring Break, here's some digital bath salts for you and I hope it gets here ASAP as I know you truly deserve it! :)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Celebrate Lunar New Year in the Classroom

One of the units that I personally enjoy teaching is Lunar New Year or Tet as it is known to the Vietnamese community.  I love teaching about Tet because it takes me back to when I was a child and brings back all the wonderful and festive memories that I had with my family growing up. 

Besides Christmas, Tet was one of the most exciting times of the year for our family.  We always began by cleaning up our house to let go of all the previous year's bad luck, preparing for the incoming New Year with spring flowers and bright colored decorations to call on good luck, and tidying up our family shrine which purpose is to honor our ancestors and call on them to pray and bless our family for the New Year.

In addition, we attended Dragon Dances which are often done in shopping centers, restaurants, and places of worship, including our local church.  We would also dress up in our traditional long dresses, wish our elders good wishes for the New Year, receive lucky money, and enjoy traditional snacks and rice cakes.

If you are interested in integrating some cultural fun and celebrate Chinese New Year with your students, I have teamed up with Oriental Trading to bring to you some fun and teaching ideas!

Tidy Up the Classroom to Bring in Good Luck
Encourage students to help you clean out the classroom by starting with their personal learning space and belongings (desk, cubby, backpacks, pencil boxes, learning centers, etc.).  Enlist students to straighten up books from library center, pick up trash around the classroom, etc..


Decorate the Classroom with Bright Colors
Red is best known as the color of good luck in Asian traditions.  However, any bright color would definitely help make your classroom more festive and fun!  Use bright colored construction paper to make lanterns or create cherry blossoms or flowers to place around the classroom! Better yet, decorate your classroom door with this fun Foil Dragon Door Curtain that will definitely help set the stage for all the festivities!

Wish the Teacher and Get Lucky Money
This activity can easily be tied in with English/Language Arts as students are encouraged to write a short note to their teacher to wish him/her a happy and prosperous New Year in exchange for LUCKY MONEY!!!  Well, actually.... gold chocolate coins inside red envelops are more like it! :)  I promise you, your kids will love you so much for this! Click to the image to grab this and more in my Lunar New Year packet!

Enjoy Some Traditional New Year Snacks Together 
Asian markets are filled with traditional New Year snacks and rice cakes during the weeks leading to Chinese New Year.  If students are not allowed to consume the food products according to your district policies, they would still love seeing some of them in person or seeing pictures of them.

Read some books on Lunar New Year!
One of my personal favorites is Sam and the Lucky Money will Karen Chinn.  It's provides a short glimpse of how Lunar New Year is celebrated, and it provides the students with a good lesson on generosity.

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There are many more wonderful ways to teach and celebrate of Chinese New Year! No matter how you celebrate it, I hope you have a wonderful and prosperous New Year with your family!

Create Your Own Dragon Dance in the Classroom
Show students some drawings of dragons and have them draw and decorate only the head and tail of their dragon.  Use glitter, feathers, sequence, the gambit.  Connect the head of the dragon with tail but cutting and folding a strip of construction paper like an accordion.  Tape or glue a large popsicle stick to the head and another to its tail. Search and play Dragon Dance music on the internet and have your students parade around the classroom with their own dragons!


FREEBIE:  Click to the any of the images of the dragon above to download your own copy of the Writing Boxes for the dragon's body. 

If you would like to download the head of the dragon in addition to other valuable resources to celebrate Lunar/Chinese New Year with your students, click to the images below for more details.

Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliated links, meaning that I will earn a commission if you click through the links and make a purchase.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Books that Celebrate Asian Cultures

Recently I had a very thoughtful, open discussion about the importance of children, especially Asian children, feeling represented and celebrated at schools.  Growing up in the public school system in the 90's, I was not exposed to much literature about my culture.  I remember reading all the Classics during Read Alouds in my elementary classroom but rarely did I see main characters in books who represented and looked like me, spoke like me, or ate the things that I ate when I went home.  

When I became a teacher and did some research on my own, I realized how much children literature that celebrates Asian cultures are really out there!  

If you are a teacher and you have students who are Asian, please expose them to books of characters that represent them.  As humans, we all have the need to be acknowledged and "seen", truly seen as who we are.  Children are the same.  They need to know that others share their experiences and that their culture is worthy of being celebrated and shared in the classroom as other cultures do!  Even if you don't have Asian students in your classroom, please find some time to read these as well to enrich your students with knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

With that being said, I would like to share with you some of my favorite books that celebrate Asian cultures for the primary grades.

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This book hits home for me.  Just as the author, I was too a Vietnamese refugee.  I share so much of her personal experiences of growing up as a Vietnamese American and growing up in a new country that is now  home.  The book is longer than the other books listed, but it is written as a diary in a poetry form and is simple to understand for children.  I love this book and would recommend it for second graders and up and would use it to teach empathy, character traits, and making connections.

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This sweet, rhyming book is about a little Korean girl who helps her mom prepare to be a bee-bim bop, a dish with rice, meat, vegetables, and egg in a hot stone bowl.  While your students will notice that there are differences between the food that the main character eats and them, there are still many similarities between them as well! Therefore, this book would be perfect for comparing and contrasting, making connections, and used for as an example of a procedural text!  

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Do you have students who bring food from home for lunch that is not the traditional American school lunch food?  I remember packing some stir-fried noodles for the son one day when he was Pre-K.  He had it for dinner and loved it so much that he requested I would pack him the left-overs for him to eat at school.  So I did just that and was so excited for him!  When I picked him up, he said his friends asked him why he was eating noodles and he said that he didn't want to bring them to school anymore because it was different.  When he said that, it broke my heart.  Therefore, I love Yoko as it is a story of cat who brings sushi and red bean ice cream to school one day and is faced with questions and harsh words from her classmates.  Reading this in the classroom will definitely allow for some good conversations in the classroom about diversity, acceptance, and kindness!

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This sweet story is about a little Korean boy who receives a letter from his grandma who lives in a town near Seoul.  Through their correspondence, the reader gains a better understanding of where Juno's grandma lives and the close relationship between the two of them.  Not only does this book give young readers a peek into life in Korea, but it also encourages young readers to make text-to-self connections and is also a good segway for students to practice writing friendly letters to their own grandparents!

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In this book, Aneel's grandparents from India visits him and his grandfather, Dada-ji tells him some of the most wonderful and adventure-filled stories that he has ever heard. However, he figures that to have the same powers that his grandfather had as a kid, he has to learn to make and eat the hot, hot roti Dada-ji ate!  

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Children have always wondered about my name, Ha. Growing up, I always had kids question me about it and people still do when they first meet me, which I do not mind anymore.  However, I wish so much that my teacher could have read this book to me when I was a kid as I was the one with the ethnically marked name and had secretly wanted to change my name.  Now, I understand how my name has shaped me to be the person that I am today and how it is so much of my identify.  If you have students who also have ethnically marked names, this book will help them to understand how special their name really is while also helping other students to learn acceptance of differences.

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This story is based on the author's grandmother's journey of growing up in China and overcoming the traditional expectations of girls to becoming the person that she wanted to be.  I love this book because not only does it speak of Chinese traditions and culture, it also has a positive message for little girls! After reading this, students may write and share their wish for themselves and their dream of what they want to be when they grow up.

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Have you ever tried dim sum before?  It's one of my favorite Asian dishes! Almost every Sunday, my family would go to a local Chinese restaurant to eat dim sum after church when I was a kid.  The small dishes are dumplings filled with various meats and vegetables that are usually steamed or fried. They are flavorful, often served in mini bamboo steamers, and pushed around the restaurant in carts to patrons.  I love dim sum, and I love that this easy to read book describes these beloved Chinese dishes to young learners in such simple and descriptive terms!

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Set in the Hawaiian islands, this book describes how the main character celebrates New Year with her family.  It is filled with descriptions, details, and examples of how different Asian cultures blend together to make up her family.  Students can easily connect this text to her life as we all share so many traditions from other cultures within our family as well!

With Chinese/Lunar New Year coming up, this time of year is the perfect time to introduce your students to Asian cultures as many local Asian restaurants and grocery stores will be decorated with red decorations and pictures of the new Zodiac sign.  If you need a quick and meaningful read aloud, I highly suggest my personal favorite, Sam's Lucky Money by Karen Chinn.

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If you need resources to celebrate Chinese New Year with your students, click to the images below for more details.

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Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliated links, meaning that I will earn a commission if you click through the links and make a purchase.

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