Thursday, August 16, 2012

Get Busy!

Steady as a clock, busy as a bee, and cheerful as a cricket.  Martha Washington

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Teachers, students and parents all hope for a positive and productive start when it is time to head back to school; and there is no question that getting off on the right foot can help the flow of the whole year. Whether it is through classroom and community preparations, early academic reviews, or fun and easy projects to build enthusiasm, the activities of first few weeks are very important.

We hope that the following ideas from the “three R’s” to practical life exercises will give you some inspiration. 

Classroom environment sets the tone. 

Keep things cool and calm with Georgette from Cantemos’ Classroom Relaxation Exercise.
Practice social skills, build community, and appreciate individual differences with Dale from North American Montessori Center’s Getting to Know Each Other and The Friendship Tree exercises.

You will find other interesting and inspiring ideas in this article, Creating a Warm and Inclusive Classroom Environment: Planning for All Children to Feel Welcome by Jessica L. Bucholz of University of West Georgia and Julie L. Sheffler of Florida Atlantic University.

For another interesting perspective on classroom environment read this piece by Julie McLaughlin, describing her goals and lessons in classroom management in her first year as a student teacher.
Tune up on basic academics.

For spelling and vocabulary drills, check out’s Middle School Word Puzzles and

Dr. Borenson and Associates offer Fall Fun with Hands-On Equations. and
For a more in-depth math activity, look over Dianne Knesek’s Fraction Circle Labels & 

You can put a whole range of subjects into play with the Apples and Oranges Unit study  You will find lots of good introductory exercises and projects perfect for the first weeks of school

Reintroduce the arts and sciences.
Get the creative juices flowing with a fun craft activity to go along with the story The Mitten by Jan Brett, from Elaine at Kimbo.
Begin your explorations of hue, tone, shade, color mixing and more with Rae from The Creative Process’ color wheel lesson.

Explore color and shape with an easy seasonal art project that uses simple materials and minimal “traditional” artistic talent. Start your students off with Sara L. Ambarian’s Autumn Colors Tissue Paper Art Project The finished pieces make great classroom decorations, too. 

Switching to science, get your students ready for discovery by warming up with scientific equipment and concepts. 

Don and Diana from Nature’s Workshop Plus! share microscope pointers in Delighting in Little Things—Children and Microscopes.

The Human Cardiovascular System Unit Study includes anatomy, vocabulary, diagrams, function, nutrition, exercise and more.

Start with some easy kitchen projects.

The late Kathy O’Reilly’s Applesauce Parfait from Cooking with Children Can Be Easy is a great starter recipe to introduce young students to the basics of food preparation.

For more introductory exercises, check out the easy Filipino dessert recipes from Cherry Mae Miro.

Millie from Insta-Learn shares a super-simple alternative to boxed macaroni and cheese, which might be a good way to get kids thinking about the benefits of “scratch” cooking. It only takes two ingredients and some water. You can’t get simpler than that.

For students old enough for baking and ready to tackle a recipe with a few more steps, try Music for Little Folks’ Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

This interesting article from Disney’s Family Fun gives a good overview of the levels of skill and competence the average child goes through as they’re getting comfortable and learning to be safe in the kitchen. (Use the menu above the article to access each section.)
Limiting the number of ingredients in the recipes you make is one way of keeping things simple in the kitchen for novice cooks.  Here are a variety of recipes with five ingredients or less.

Have a short-attention-span cook in your class or family? Look through these 15-minute recipes. (Click the “view recipes” tab to see the whole collection.)
Another way to simplify an introduction to cooking is by removing the “cooking” part, and focusing on no-cook recipes. A lot of the recipes linked below are quite “grown-up”, and there IS knife work involved in many of them. However, they use fresh foods, are often very bright and attractive, and they illustrate the wide variety of types of food you can make without using a stove or oven.

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Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.  Theodore Roosevelt