'Twas The Week Before Break...Videos, Activities, and Reindeer

I'll keep it short: videos, activities, and ideas to keep your kids moving until they walk out the door on Friday afternoon.








If you're looking for some school-work activities check out a couple of my other creations:

SAVE CHRISTMAS:  A Project Based Learning Activity with elements of math social studies, ELA, and technology. This activity is ready to go, just print and begin.  Students have to help Santa find the missing Naughty and Nice List!  Every student packet follows the same story line, but how they solve/answer/create is up to themselves.  This works best with second through fifth graders.  There are plenty of opportunities within this packet to increase rigor, collaborate, and integrate technology.

QReate a STORY:  Build Stories with QR Codes.  Students can pick, roll, scan, organize, and write a holiday story based on elements they scanned.  It's a unique way for students to creatively write.  They might not know which characters, setting, and problems they'll face--but that's where the imagination and creativity comes into play.  Works with 1st through 5th grade with multiple graphic organizers at various levels.  Grab the FREE smaller here.


Reindeer & Peers. Allowing Students to Recognize Others Around Them

Holiday season has fully enveloped every aspect of school.  From the decorations and musical tunes to the craftivities in the class--we are all witnesses to the joy (and stressfulness) of the holidays.

In second grade we took the the wonderful creation of Reindeer Stand-Ups (by Susanna at Whimsy Workshop Teaching) and combined it with recognizing positive behavior in our friends.  We wanted to hep students recognize what and how other students (and friends) help them.  It's just another opportunity to work on strengthening social skills and even say "thanks" to our friends.

We called the project Reindeer & Peers.   Pick up the single page print-out here.   Instructions below.

The real key is the social/emotional learning component and teaching students to understand how other students around them can positively affect everyone.  Some students had a really difficult time with this because they wanted to tell how well THEY have been doing.  This activity does the opposite and ask student to notice what others doing for them?  

Here's a couple of examples from the letters they wrote.

Some of the highlights included helping other get organized, as siting with math problem, giving out compliments, inclusion during play/recess, making cards for teachers, and saying sorry.

I love it.

Once students finished it was time to color and cut their deer.


10 Great Christmas Movies Unranked, With Little Context. Don't Judge Me

Christmas movies.  I love them.  I don't even have to be watching them.  Just knowing these treasure are on the television in the background--it melts my heart.

Without further ado, I'm including a 10 ten list of Christmas movies you should see before Santa visits and delivers you coal.  Or socks.

Reminder:  People would get mad if I put Die Hard at the number one position, so I've included no numbers.

A Christmas Story

Home Alone
I don't care what you say about me.

Christmas Vacation

Enemy of the State

A Muppet Family Christmas

Die Hard
Pure Christmas.  Pure Bruce.

The Dunkin' Donuts by my house plays this every morning making it difficult to order.

Santa Claus
I don't care what you say.

Home Alone II
Yes, it happened again.

Die Hard II
Yes. It happened again.

So there you have it.  Ten Christmas movies to get you through the holiday season.  Don't fight it.  Just watch them.

Enjoy your holiday season.


240 FPS With Dogs and Googly Eyes, The iPhone Way

Googly eyes show off the effective creepiness of of slow-motion.  

Perhaps you're familiar with the camera on your phone, but have you tried shooting video using the 120 or 240 FPS (frames per second)?  I recently made an iPhone upgrade and was looking to see what wonderful camera upgrades there were for all my selfies.  And there were plenty, but my favorite feature is the slo-mo.

If you're not familiar the slow-motion feature uses more "frames per second" to captures action more clearly.  It's pretty stink in' cool because it makes old fashioned blurry slo-mo look silly.

On the camera app just slide it over to SLO-MO and decide if you want 120 or 240 (the higher the number the slower it'll be).  Get a co-worker to jump up and down, film them, then see what you got.

Here's a short film of my dog not catching treats that are tossed to her.  She's really good at not catching them.  See just how good bad her reaction time is.

There's only one real issue--uploading slow motion is a bit of difficult because many apps don't have the capable to support it.  This means it'll change the video back to regular speed, which kind of defeats the purpose.  One solution I've found is to import the video into iMovie and simply reSAVE it to your camera roll.  It takes a minute or two, but it works.

I've got a few ideas for incorporating this at school.  Some involve letting the kids act crazy then watching the silliness.  A couple of ideas might involve teachers too.  Ultimately, my advice would be to just try it out and see what you can come up with. 


QReative Writing. The QR Code Method

Creative writing--it's one of the few times where kids (and us adults) have free reign to write pretty much whatever we want.  BUT I'm pretty sure we've preconditioned so many kids to write like robots that when given opportunities to free-write they don't know what to do.  How many times have you heard a student say, "I don't know what to write about."

This goes for my own daughter and on a couple of lazy days during Thanksgiving break we tried to break the norm of creative writing by incorporating unknown QR code elements.  My thinking revolved around the idea that my own kids just need little bumps of engagement to get going and adding in the technology/QR code element is just the ticket.

Then I went to my quality control (that's my daughter) and asked her what she thought of the idea.  I could see her wheels spinning and she started telling me all kinds of ideas that should be included.

I created a die with codes for characters, setting, and a problem.  Then she (my second grader) had to write a story based around these ideas, but first she had to write out her rolls/scans on a graphic organizer.

Below is what she rolled and scanned:
Character:  Frosty the Snowman
Setting:  The Enchanted Forest
Problem:  There was not more hot chocolate.

This was the final story I got from her:

This was written during a break.  I didn't even bribe her with a new set of LEGOS.  I was even able to get my littlest kindergartener to do it to.  For a little differentiation I had her draw a picture of the three items she scanned.  She plowed through multiple stacks of paper using that method.

I love seeing this and watching my child grow as a writer.  It's a pretty good measuring stick.  I'm excited to use this in class and see what all my other students come up too.

Engagement is the absolute key for hooking my kids and students.  I think it would be a little preposterous to imagine that all kids come in ready to learn like one of Pavlov's dogs.  It doesn't work like that.  It never works like that.  It doesn't even work like that as an adult.  We want to be engaged and sometimes our imagination can't get the jump start it needs without a jumping-off point.  Sometimes engagement takes a little piece of technology or a idea-nugget from the teacher, either way works and either way is successful.

Grab a free sample below:

Full versions also available

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