Earth Day Literacy and Scattergories

 How do you help your students learn about Earth Day?  In our classrooms we love to use picture books as often as we can, and Earth Day has so many books that will help get your students thinking about taking care of our planet!  We'll share two with you—AND we have a free resource to share, too!

First up - a FREE resource for you to use right now!  Our kids love playing Scattergories!  It is a fun word game that challenges students' vocabulary and thinking skills!  Grab your Earth Day Scattergories freebie by clicking here!

Now for the literacy activities!  We usually start by reading The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and follow up with the art activity shown below.

This simple yet powerful tale involves a boy and a tree, and follows their relationship as the boy grows up and has wants that outgrow his beloved tree.  

After reading about how giving the tree is with the boy in this classic picture book, we have some conversations about how we are giving with others, and how others are giving with us.  Students trace their hands and arm to create the tree trunk and branches, and then they add heart shaped leaves on which the write several ways they are giving.

Each one is a "work of heart," especially when we add in a few red hearts on which students share the names people who are giving with them.

Another wonderful book to get your Earth Day conversation started is Chris Van Allsburg's Just a Dream.  Walter, the main character in this haunting tale, isn't very interested in being a good steward of our planet, until a "dream" gives him some insight into just how humans are impacting the future of our planet (and ourselves).  The artwork in this book will have your students begging to examine the illustrations up close.  We like to do the book as a read-aloud first, but then you'll want to read it again and mirror the pictures using a document camera or iPad (we use our Hue document camera) so the students can see and discuss the memorable illustrations.

This book is perfect for working with any of a wide variety of comprehension skills after reading this book.

  • Your students will have much to consider if your focus is character traits. You could compare and contrast Walter at the beginning of the story with the new Walter at the conclusion of the tale.  
  • If sequence is the skill you're working on, have your students create a timeline to chronicle the events of the story.  
  • If you're working on inference, combine inferencing practice with a writing mini-lesson on "Show, Don't Tell."  Read the page with Walter eating his jelly donut and focus on his actions in this one tiny moment of the book.  Discuss what we learn about Walter based on his actions (inference) and draw particular attention to how we know this about him, and guide students to find the language the author uses to show us a glimpse of Walter's character.  Now have students practice writing their own tiny snippet to show/don't tell their own glimpse of a character they've read or written about.  Students might write about Walter and show/don't tell how he's changed by adding on the the ending of the original story.
Be sure to leave us a comment to let us know what classroom activities you use for Earth Day!

Seven Surefire Hits for Teaching Area and Perimeter

Recently we worked on area and perimeter in math, and as usual we tried to incorporate a few fun activities to allow for practice at different levels. Here are some of the activities that were hits with our student.  Be sure to scroll down to check out our pictures, too!

1. Edible area and perimeter - use Cheez-Its crackers and have students create rectangles and squares to practice finding area and perimeter. 

 2. Area and perimeter of spelling list words - use THIS RESOURCE (thanks for the freebie, Confessions of a Teaching Junkie!) and write in a few spelling words, vocabulary words, or class names.  Serious fun!

 3. Wax paper tracings - if you have square tiles in your building, send students to that room (bathroom for us) with waxed paper and have them trace around the tiles to find area and perimeter.

4. Dice is nice - roll dice to find the dimensions and find the area/perimeter of the shape. This works well with grid or graph paper put down into a plastic sleeve and a recording sheet.  Follow this link to grab your FREE Area/Perimeter Dice Game!

5.  Robots - Give kids construction paper and guidelines (or not) to create a robot.  You may want to give them a big piece of construction paper on which to glue their robot, and specify that they need a head, neck, body, 2 arms and 2 legs.  Have them use an inch ruler (round to nearest inch) to find the area and perimeter of each part.

6.  Desktop area and perimeter - kids LOVE writing other desks!  Give them square pattern blocks or squares of construction paper and let them create different squares and rectangles.  This one is especially helpful for that pesky standard that has them give combined areas and all of the side measurements aren’t given.

7.  Anchor chart on your window - Take a chalk marker or construction paper letters and write “AREA” across the glass part of a classroom window; make word cards that say “PERIMETER” and put these up around the perimeter of the window.  

This helped immensely - when we were working with either one, I’d say, “AREA, look at the window; inside or outside?  Add or multiply?”  Or, we’d chant, “PERIMETER, look at the window; inside or outside?  Add or multiply?”  Seriously, it really helped!

Have fun with area and perimeter, and be sure to leave us a comment to tell us about any activities you use and love!

Writing on the desks is the BEST! Total engagement, I promise!

Use pattern blocks to practice adding areas; next find perimeter of each and combined shape.

Cheez-Its are GREAT for area and perimeter!

Challenge kids to create a robot; measure area and perimeter of each part.

Trace tiles and practice identifying area and perimeter.

Look at the link for our FREEBIE to have some fun with area and perimeter!

Wow, you stuck with us until the very END - you qualify for a bonus item - the EIGHTH way to have fun practicing....

8.  use TOILET PAPER squares!  Tear several sheets in a row and give to students.  They can combine with others to build a bigger shape.  It's so fun, and we guarantee they won't forget it!