Are You Looking for Engaging U.S. History Activities?

Does the idea of trying to find time to teach Social Studies give you a pain as you are trying to plan your school schedule?  With all the emphasis on the testing of math, science, and reading in my state, it was really hard to find activities that would help my students learn about our country’s history AND engage my students attention. Since social studies and history are not  state tested subjects in elementary school in my state, too often I had to leave the subject as an afterthought…a subject to visit AFTER end of grade testing was finished.

Let me help you make U.S. History a part of your reading lessons with a great book AND a variety of engaging activities for both reading and social studies lessons.  I found Blood on the River  by Elise Carbone!  A great novel about the founding of James Town as seen through the eyes of a young boy who is servant to Captain John Smith.  My students love this book and I am able to slip social studies lessons into my reading lessons!  WALLAH!

Blood on the River  allowed me to introduce vocabulary of the times, explore primary sources, compare characters and discussion questions along with meeting historical figures such as John Smith and Pocahontas.  All this and more is included in my TpT store product  Blood on the River Activities  Just clink on the link to check out my Blood on the River products!

If you aren’t able to choose your reading materials, don’t despair!  I have a bundle of activities that you can use to add hands-on, rigorous, yet engaging activities to go along with your studies of America from the early explorers to the American Revolution.  You can find this fabulous bundle in my TpT store American Social Studies Activities

Check out some really fun activities…my students really like the United States Branches activities. Make history come alive with the I Have, Who Has of the American Revolution!

I hope these activities will help your students develop an interest in the history of our country!!

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A New Year With New Novels For Your Students

I count myself  a lucky teacher when it comes to how I teach reading in my classroom.  I am not tied to a basal, but instead, I get to use novels as the basis for my lessons. This can be a two edged sword… I love introducing my students to new books.  However, after a few years of teaching a novel, I find myself wanting a new novel to use with my students and to also engage myself with new lessons.   As a result, I am always on the lookout for engaging novels for my fifth graders.

Not long ago, I was reading a thread on Facebook with teachers offering their favorite books for their students.  One book kept being mentioned…Because of Mr. Terupt.  So many teachers were singing the praises of the book that I just had to investigate it.    I was blown away by Rob Buyea’s novel!!!

Because of Mr. Terupt tells the story of a school year in the lives of 7 very different fifth grade students and the lessons they learn from their teacher, Mr. Terupt and each other.  We, as teachers, have had all of these students in our classes…the brain, the new girl, the shy girl and the class clown to name just a few of the seven characters.  This novel has my students engaged and excited about what the next chapter would bring! My students were so engaged, they decided to create a video, using Ipads,  of the culminating event of the novel.  Scripts were written and roles chosen.  This was definitely a student led project.  When it was finished, the students had a viewing for parents and invited the principal.  Writing, technology, and reading all in one project!

It tells the story of a group of students’ fifth grade year with a first year teacher, Mr.Terupt.    His fresh ideas and lessons engage and excite his students.  He connects with these seven kids, especially.  Mr. Terupt’s ways of teaching and discipling students leads to a terrible event that impacts the seven students and their  very different perspectives on the even make the rest of the novel very engaging and made for some really good class discussions as students shared their perspectives of the novel.  If you’d like to see some of the questions I used with my students just click Because of Mr. Terupt.

Another book I am really excited about is Fish In A Tree!  It’s about a sixth grade girl, Ally, who has managed to hide the fact she can’t read very well!  It’s written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt and it is another fabulous new novel.  Ally would rather be thought of as a troublemaker than admit she has trouble reading.  Her dad is deployed which will resonate with many students and the family has moved many times as part of his military career.  Ally’s new teacher, Mr. Daniels, has seen beneath the troublemaker pose Ally presents.  Ally has made two friends, almost in spite of herself, and together they discover their strengths.

I began Fish in a Tree as a read aloud, on the recommendation of one of my students who read it as part of Battle of the Books.  It  quickly captured my students’ attention and the discussions made me realize that my class and I needed to give this book much more attention. I took the book home and read it over the weekend. It is awesome!!!  So many students will identify with Ally and her struggles, both with reading and dealing with other students in her classroom as the new girl once again.

Fish in a Tree is going to be my next class novel after we finish Because of Mr. Terupt.   Both of these books were new to both myself and my students.  Their reactions to both books were very positive and kept my students wanting to know what was going to happen next.

Check out both books…I hope you enjoy them!  Let me know what you think!

 

 

End your year with a bang and a $1 sale!

Whew!  It’s quiet again at my house.  I am really lucky to have all my children and grandchildren within a day’s drive of my home.  Christmas  was a hectic, loud, and wonderful day spent with our three adult kids and six grandkids. One family came from out-of-town and was able to spend several days with us.  Cousins played and spent time getting acquainted again.

and it was so wonderful to see!   Our adult children grew up away from relatives and missed getting to know cousins, so we really treasure the time their children spend together.

With the quiet of the house, I find myself thinking about the coming of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  When I was younger, my hubby and I attended our fair share of parties and celebrations.  A good, albeit very late, time was had.  Cue the coming of our children and New Year’s Eve was better celebrated at home, in the comfort of our family room, as the ball dropped.

Well, you don’t have to wait until Dec. 31 to celebrate the New Year!!!  A terrific group of Teacher pay Teacher sellers are having a $1 sale on selected items from their store!  Yes, you read that right…$1 products!!!    To find these great deals, just type #Ringin2019 in the search bar and go shopping!

   

  All you have to do is click on the pictures to find my two $1 deals! 

 

Happy shopping!!!

Sue

 

It’s TpT Cyber Sale Time, So Update Your Wishlist!!!

It’s teachers’ favorite time of year….Teacherspayteachers Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) Sale!!!!  Let me help you AND save you some money at the same time!!!

I know that you  work hard all year and anything I can do to make your job a bit easier and say “Thank you” gives me a chance to extend the season of Thanksgiving.  Teacherspayteachers feels the same way and so Monday, November 26 and Tuesday, November 27  my store will be discountied 20%!  Plus if you use the code CYBER18, you will get an additional 5% in savings!!

Here’s your opportunity to grab all those many items on your wishlist at discounted prices!!!  I won’t lie; I hope you’ll take a look at all my goodies!  Susan Mescall , so just click on my name and browse my store of products.

 

Teacherspayteachers Cyber Sale!!!

Now that you know about the sale, polish your wishlist and get ready to save time and money!!!

Happy shopping!!!

Fraction Lessons Have You Tearing Out Your Hair?

Trying to make teaching fraction more interesting?   Tearing out your hair? It was that frustration that had me looking for a way to give my students information they could understand and more opportunities to practice those skills.   The math book just didn’t seem to meet the needs of my students.  I was reminded by my mentor that textbooks should be a supplemental tool and not the curriculum.

Let me help you by showing you what I did to make multiplying and dividing fractions less frustrating!

I decided to take the textbook information and put  it into kid-friendly words.  

I had the kids glue the notes into their journals so the information would be at their fingertips!

And because the dreaded “End of Grade” test looms all year…I decided to create word problems to go along with the note students put into their journals.  That would give my students more practice than what was in our math textbook.

I also used the word problems as a review game.  I put one word problem on each student’s desk, in no particular order.  Students stand behind their chairs and the game begins as each student solves the problem on their desk.  As they finish, students put their hands on their shoulders.  When everyone has solved the problem on their desk, students move to the next desk.  When all the students have moved around the room and are back at their own desk, we go over the answers and students share how they solved the problems.

The word problems can be used in a lot of different ways in your classroom, beyond just a review game!  The word problems can be used as bell ringers to get students thinking.  You could put the word problems in your math center for independent work.

If you want to check out my word problems, just click on my picture.

How I Improved My Grammar Lessons By Not Teaching!

when students talk, i listen

A few weeks ago, in the midst of coming in from recess, I was given the word by several students that my English lessons were boring  less engaging than some of my other subject lessons.  Now I could have gotten angry, or bent out of shape, or any other teacher emotion that comes to mind when told a lesson was not all that it could be.  Truth be told, my lessons had gotten stale…that after holidays, after January, waiting for Presidents’ Day time of year.  I won’t lie, grammar often got the short end of the stick in the day as I tried to fit everything in, as I am a self-contained fifth grade teacher!

Students step up!

While I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years, I’m pretty open to new ideas to improve the learning in my classroom.  Trust me, I’ve known a few  “done it this way for years so why change?.” teachers.  That’s not me, so I tuned in with all ears as I entered the conversation.  “How could I fix the lessons?, ” was what I asked.  Imagine my surprise when one of my best students asked if she could teach the next lesson!  We were both surprised when the words, “Sure, let’s do this!,” came out of my mouth.  Next thing I knew, several more students volunteered to teach lessons.

How do I do this, Teacher?

I sat down with my first volunteer and together we chose the lesson…Object Pronouns!  We chose a date…three days in the future and I gave her my teacher edition.  “I’ve got this, Mrs. Mescall” was what I heard until the day of the lesson.

D-Day or should I say T-Day (teach)!  My student did an amazing job…she taught us with a fun game using large dice.  The students rolled the two dice of different colors.  Each number on one of the dice corresponded to a specific object pronoun.  The second dice numbers corresponded to a specific subject pronoun.  Students then took those two pronouns and created a sentence with both pronouns used correctly.  The students loved the game and my teacher student then walked around checking sentences and having the class read their sentences!    SCORE!!  It was a good lesson and I will totally be stealing her game for another time!!!

Lining Up!

Our second student-led  lesson was about possessive pronouns.  I again shared my teacher edition and  that Brainpop had a good videos and activities.  My second student-led class was also a success! My second student’s lesson was more digital and the class really enjoyed it.   We did so well as a class that we were rewarded with “thin mints” as we were “smart cookies”!

Have I totally given up teaching grammar and English…not really.  I do still teach them both, but I have continued to offer the opportunity to teach the class.  Several more students are eager to teach and I will certainly be letting them try out their teaching skills!

Thanks,

 

 

I do have some games and activities you might want to try to add some fun and spice to your English lessons!  Check out the links below!

A fun game with verb tenses!

Here are activities to help master there, their, and they’re!

Here are 3 levels of antonyms to meet the needs of all!

Do You Really Know George & Abraham?

Fact or Fib?

George Washington never told a lie.  Abraham Lincoln walked ten miles to return a nickel.  Theses are some of the “facts” I was taught about these two most beloved and celebrated presidents.  What’s the truth?
                                                      

I went on a hunt for facts about both of these presidents, each of whom have wonderful, but not necessarily true stories about their lives.

sharing is caring!

As I accumulated the facts about George and Abraham, I began to think about how to share these facts with my students.  It was an easy decision to make a game of it all.  Part of why I create products is to make learning fun for my students while also making life easier for my teacher friends. Here was a perfect opportunity to share what I had learned with both my students AND friends!

Celebrate With George and Abraham

I created a “FACT” or “FIB” sort to have students read statements about each of the presidents,  and after discussion, decide whether it’s a fact or a fib.  I have included the answers for teachers.  I also thought it would be fun for students to then take their newly acquired facts and create an acrostic about either president or both!  I’ve included a short assessment or pre/post worksheet and also a Venn diagram to compare the two presidents.

 

Celebrate Presidents’ Day with George and Abraham!

 

What are some and engaging ways you celebrate Presidents’ Day?  Let me know!

Thanks!