A Great Graduation Gift

This is a reblog from a post that I did in November last year.  Now that the school year is quickly nearing its close, I’ve started hearing parents discuss what they can do to make upcoming milestones special.  Here is one idea you may want to consider.

heroes

My daughter was about to “graduate” from elementary school last year, and I started to panic.  I had seen on Pinterest all of the ideas for using the book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, with signatures from past teachers, as a graduation gift.  But I wanted to do something a little different.  After much internet detective work, I found, Heroes for My Daughter, by Brad Meltzer. (He has also written Heroes for My Son.)

Fortunately, I happen to work at my daughter’s school – at least, I did last year, before she went on to middle school.  Also fortunately, all of her past teachers, including her Music and P.E. teachers, still work there.  I took pictures of them, and used a photo editing tool to make the pictures look like the ones in the book.  Then, I asked each of her teaching heroes to write a message to her.

She cried when she opened the gift on her graduation day.  Granted, she had already cried several times that day.  Leaving elementary school was a lot more emotionally taxing than either of us suspected. Nevertheless, she seemed very appreciative of the book.

During the summer, we read one of the short chapters from the book each night before she went to bed.  We both learned a lot about the people in the book, such as Julia Child and the Three Stooges.

When we finished the book, she said, “I think we should read it again.”

If you are looking for a great book to give as a gift to a child, then you should definitely consider Heroes for My Daughter (or Heroes for My Son).  And, if you can, read it along with her or him. Your child will not be the only one who benefits from this gift.  (By the way, both books include role models from both genders.)

Here is my Pinterest Board of Books for Gifted Students.  Previous entries for this year’s “Gifts for the Gifted” post are:  CubeletsSifteo CubesScrabble Flash, and Make-Do.  (You can also find these on the Games and Toys for Gifted Students Pinterest Board.)

Transum Software

Transum Software

Don’t be mislead by the title of this site.  You are not required to download any software, and the math resources here are fun and free.  Although primarily designed for middle and high school students, there seem to be a lot of activities that could be used in upper elementary – and it would be a great site to refer to for extension activities.

The first thing I discovered when exploring the site was the “Starter of the Day” link, which gives a mathematical brain teaser for each day of the month.  Below is the example for today:

Starter of the day for 4/23/14 from Transum Software

Starter of the day for 4/23/14 from Transum Software

 

Shine + Write has many activities that would be great to use with an interactive white board.  This “True or False” game, for example, takes some thought.  Fun Maths has a page of games and math tricks that will be sure to entertain. Investigations offers challenges that might be good for gifted math students to work on independently.

There are many other links on Transum Software that you may find useful.  If you are looking for a way to make math class more exciting, I highly recommend checking out this site.

GoNoodle

It’s time for state-wide testing in my neck of the woods.  Even though we are not allowed to have computers on during the test, you might want to consider using GoNoodle after the test, particularly for students who have been sitting for awhile. They also recently added a feature called, “Flow,” which helps with stress.

I mentioned GoNoodle a while back in a post I did on “Physical Ways to Survive the Week Before Winter Break.”  Shortly afterward, I started meeting with my new Kinder GT students twice a week.  On Fridays, they miss Kinder Cafe (when the students go to the gym once a week to dance to different songs) to come to my class.  Last year, the students didn’t seem to mind.  But, this year I nearly had a mutiny on my hands. Even though, they only meet with me for an hour on Fridays, and we barely sit down the entire time, it was clear they needed a “Brain Break.” So, I thought I would give GoNoodle a try.

GoNoodle is free.  You can register your class (no individual student names necessary) and then get started.  It’s a fun way to gamify being physical for your entire class.  I usually choose a student randomly with Class Dojo to pick that day’s GoNoodle activity. (“Let it Go” and “Everything is Awesome” are huge favorites.) There are lots of videos to choose from – some including more physical activity than others.  Go Noodle keeps track of the time spent on the video, and gives the class points toward the next level.

The students enjoy the goofy looking characters and the silly pieces of trivia they offer.  But, of course, they enjoy the music and dancing the best.  Admittedly, not a lot of dancing goes on with “Let it Go.”  It’s actually more of a sing-along with dramatic magical gestures :)

If you are wondering about the appeal to older students, you might want to check out this post from @TechNinjaTodd about the way he uses GoNoodle with 5th graders.

Note: If you are in a district that blocks YouTube, you may have some trouble accessing some of the videos. Our district allows us to log-in, but the first time I tried to go directly “Be Happy” through GoNoodle without logging in, I had a group of very disappointed Kinders!

a selection of the GoNoodle Brain Breaks

a selection of the GoNoodle Brain Breaks

Maker’s Alphabet

Maker spaces are a hot topic in education forums right now.  It’s clear that our culture is craving outlets for creativity, and these are one way to address that.  If you want to learn about making from A to Z, you might want to consider backing this Kickstarter project from Melody Quintana & Sneha Pai, Maker’s Alphabet.  There are only 2 days left on their campaign (April 23, 2014 is the last day) and they have already raised double their goal of $4,500.  For a $30 pledge, you will get the hardcover book, an e-book (with links to resources for each letter), and the opportunity to vote on the letter “X”.

For more information on Maker resources, check out my Pinterest board.

Spring S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

Ms. Trayers (@jtrayers) at Not Just Child’s Play and I are always on the same wavelength!  I tried a new S.C.A.M.P.E.R.  activity for spring this week, and she posted about an Easter one that she did with her students.  I absolutely love that she had her students write their justification for the partners they chose for the Easter Bunny.  They are fabulous!

I need to add more writing to my curriculum and I am going to definitely use it more with these S.C.A.M.P.E.R. activities.  Usually, I just have the students do an illustration as a fun warm-up activity, but I like her idea to add a little more “depth” to their drawings.

The one I chose to do this week was from my Spring S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Packet, which you can find on my TPT site.  I asked my 1st grade GT students to imagine that a mother bird’s eggs hatch, but the last one is a huge surprise.  What is it?

There were a couple of Easter Bunnies, but then there were two that were opposite extremes of each other.  One student drew a baby hippopotamus, and another student drew a tiny little fly!  I asked them to identify what other S.C.A.M.P.E.R. piece they used to come up with these ideas, and they correctly named the “Magnify/Minimize” one.  And then there was the very cute, upside-down, walking baby cactus.  Talk about imagination!

Here is a free copy of the page that I used if you are interested.  You can find the rest of the packet, and other themed S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packs in my TPT store.

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Growth Mindset Videos

I’ve been collecting more and more resources on developing a “Growth Mindset.”  Today I wanted to share with you some videos that could be used to teach students about the value of embracing challenges and finding a way to learn from mistakes.

A little bit more advanced (vocabulary-wise) than the book, Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, this video from SciShow, “Your Brain is Plastic,” shows the importance of continuing to learn and making connections in your brain.

“Growth vs. Fixed Mindset” has great graphics that highlight the main differences between these two mindsets.

This 10 minute video of Eduardo Briceno at TEDx Manhattan Beach would be good to show older students, parents, and teachers.

Here are some more mindset resources, and a link to the post I did last week  about a lesson I did with my 1st graders about mindset.