An Epic 6-12 ELA Giveaway!


If you’re  a Middle School or High School ELA teacher, you won’t want to miss this Epic ELA Giveaway!

Mary Beth from Brain Waves Instruction and Jackie from Room 213 have teamed up to organize an amazing prize package featuring top-notch resources from 17 Secondary ELA TpT sellers!

The winner will receive a collection of resources  for reading, writing, research, poetry, speech-writing, media literary, and more! The best part: all resources in the prize package are non-text-specific so you can quickly and easily integrate them with your own curriculum! See why this giveaway is EPIC?!?


Check out the Winner’s Prize Package here:

Room 213:  Close Reading Lessons 

Brain Waves Instruction:  Substitute Teacher Toolkit

Study All Knight: A Flip Book for the Research Process

The Classroom Sparrow: A Speech Writing Mini-Book

Julie Faulkner: Graphic Organizers for Focused Reading

The Daring English Teacher: Editable English Tests

Presto Plans: Grammar Resource Bundle

The Language Arts Classroom: Write a Tabloid for a Mobile Device

The OCBeach Teacher: Reading Strategies for any Text

Stacey Lloyd: Figurative Language Posters

Brynn Allison: Poetry Constructed Responses

Literary Sherri: Reading Response Journal for any Text

The ELA Buffet: Poetry Close Reading

Tracee Orman: Figurative Language Interactive Reading Notebook

Addie Williams: Media Literacy and Advertising Pack

Juggling ELA: Journal Prompts Task Cards

Secondary Sara: Movie v Text Bundle

Did I mention you get up to 50 chances to win! Just follow each seller on TpT, Facebook, and her blog. Every click gives you a chance to win the amazing bundle of prizes! The winner (AKA “Luckiest ELA Teacher on Earth!”) will be announced on Sunday, February 7th at 5pm EST. Follow a few fabulous Secondary Teacher-Authors here . . . and best of luck!

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Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Middle School

As you know, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is right around the corner.  In celebration of King and to build awareness of his legacy, I like to have students read and analyze his speech, “What is Your Life’s Blueprint?”

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Have you ever read or heard this speech?  If not, stop reading this post right now, and check it out!

It’s such a powerful and motivating speech.  My favorite part is that he gave this speech to a group of junior high students.  Now, 48 years later, another group of students is hearing his message…and his words are just as real and relevant and important as ever.

When teaching this speech, I like to have students build background on Martin Luther King, Jr. by completing a timeline.  Then, to help them develop context for the speech, they work in small groups to investigate Jim Crow Laws, Segregation, The Montgomery Bus Boycott, and The Civil Rights Movement.  After reading the speech, students are encouraged to react to the speech, connect to the speech, and analyze the speech.  My favorite part is the reflection they write in response to King’s words.

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King’s message in “What is Your Life’s Blueprint” is clear…

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and it’s just as powerful and inspiring as it was the day he delivered the speech.  Now, that’s something worth celebrating on his day!

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Brain Waves Instruction

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Martin Luther King Jr. (plus a freebie)

There are few people I admire more than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was such a brave man and the essence of collaboration. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to get others to follow him, peacefully to stand up for what was right. He paid with his life and we owe him so much. One of my most favorite activities (of pretty much ALL TIME) is the collaboration group poster I create of him with my kids. I have two versions of this project–both are very fun!

The first version is really easy and requires that each student color a piece of their MLK poster according to a color provided to them. Each student has the important task of finishing their piece. photo 2 copyOnce all the pieces are finished the poster is put together and the final work is that of Martin Luther King Jr. Students see that through their individual efforts the entire poster comes together –it is essential that EVERY student does their part, or else the poster would not be complete! MLK image 1.001

Students that are more advanced or are in an art class will enjoy the second version of this poster. This is great for middle school and high school students.  In this option students each  draw their part of the poster. They have to work really closely with their “neighbors” on the poster to be sure their designs will line up. This poster doesn’t always look as good as the other one when it’s finished but it’s truly about the collaboration that goes into it–it’s VERY hard to make it look exactly like him when that many kids are working on it. However, the kids are always very impressed with their work in the end. These examples were created by two of my fourth grade classes–I’d LOVE to see some middle school or high school students do this project!

MLK.001I’ve had so many teacher who really “get it” when it comes to this poster and the deep meaning behind it. Many teachers leave me comments about how meaningful this project was to them and their students. I made sure the colors were all different to again represent the diversity in which MLK fought for. Rosa Parks is my next poster and it’s almost finished–I can’t wait to share it with my students!


I wanted to share something with you for taking the time to read my post and visit us at The Teaching 2 Step. If you click HERE or on the image below you can get a free worksheet that you can use on MLK day with your students. I let older students draw the image and younger students cut out and glue the pieces.

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Do me a favor…if you snagged a free copy of this woksheet please leave a comment below and share what grade level you plan to use this activity with…if I see there is a lot of interest I’ll try to provide more freebies like this in the future!

Debbie Clement is hosting a wonderful MLK linky party on her blog…so I’ve decided to link this article up to her site…she’s amazing…if you don’t already know about her check her out and you’ll find many other great resources in her link up! Click on the image below to see the other great MLK resources and link up. Blog Signature

Thanks for reading and for making art with your students!

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Jenny K. Signature



This post is written by Jenny K. If you enjoyed this post join Jenny K. on BloglovinFacebook, and/or Pinterest.


Getting Students to Think Outside the Box

We are always looking for ways to get students to think outside the box and to expand on their thoughts.  My gifted education supervisor gave us the book, Making Thinking Visible, in hopes that we’d use some of the routines in the classroom.  I’ll be the first to say that I immediately thought of this as just ANOTHER thing to do, but quickly changed my mind when I opened this book.

Screen shot 2014-11-17 at 8.14.12 PMI’m not much of a reader, so I randomly picked what I thought was  one of the shortest routines and started reading.  This was a routine called, Step-Inside.  This allows students to step inside the shoes of a character or object from a book, passage, picture, or poem.  This is a wonderful routine to use when you want students to open up their thinking and look at things from a different point of view.

I used this with my first graders.  We were already in the middle of a study on the book, Charlotte’s Web, and Step Inside worked perfectly.  I gave my students some academic choice by allowing them to choose if they wanted to “step inside” Zuckerman’s barn as Wilbur or as Charlotte.  At this point they were given Post-It notes with the chosen name to use for answering the proposed questions.

  • What does Charlotte/Wilbur see, feel, notice in the barn?
  • What might she/he know, understand, or believe?  Why?
  • What might she/he are deeply about?
  • What might she/he wonder about or question?


Notice the keyword is “might” in each question.  This is because we don’t truly know what anyone or anything else is feeling.

After all the questions were answered we went back through each question and discussed the student responses.  This thinking routine helps students explore perspectives and develop empathy.

Our next step is to use what we learned from this thinking routine and create a writing piece from the point of view  as our chosen character.  They, of course, will be writing in first person.  The sentence starters I will be giving them are:

  • Hello there, I’m Wilbur______________________________.
  • Salutations, I’m Charlotte __________________________.

This activity really requires students to think outside the box and look at things from a different perspective.  So far, I’ve been really impressed with the depth my first graders have gone to really “become” their character.  I can only imagine how they will grow the more we explore this thinking routine.

Have you used any Visible Thinking Routines in your classroom?

// Widgets

Manic Monday

Well, it is time to get back in the swing of things. I hope you all have had a relaxing break from school. It’s time to start thinking about curriculum, grades, kids, testing, etc.

I am linking up with Classroom Freebies for Manic Monday to share a great activity that you can put in your reading workstations.  These antonym task cards are great to use for practicing antonym questioning. There are 4 different types of questioning.

AntonymTaskCardsforworkstations_Page_3The kids love doing these task cards in workstation. These can also be used in groups of 2 or 3 kids. You can laminate them and let the students use dry erase markers to circle the correct answer.

Click on the picture below to download.

AntonymTaskCardsforworkstations_Page_1I hope you have a great week back to school. Make sure to go by and check out the other freebies at Manic Monday.

Manic Monday Freebie

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If you enjoyed this post, connect with me Bloglovin, Facebook, TPT, and Pinterest.

A few of our favorite things

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We at The Teaching 2 Step would like to wish all of our readers and colleagues a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. We would like to share some of our favorite things from this time of the year with you. Family photographs, family traditions and more. We thank you for following us on this journey and we look forward to what 2015 has in store for all of us!

a few of our favorite things blog post.001favorite things images for blog post.002Its the most wonderful time of year, with lots of holiday cheer. I truly love spending those precious moments with my family. With every changing year there is always so much to be thankful for. I am delighted to share with you a few of my favorite things during the Christmas season…

I love watching the Hallmark Channel movies during the holidays, my DVR fills up with all my favorites. My little ones fill the DVR with their holiday movies and we watch them together with cozy blankets, usually there is popcorn too. We enjoy a little holiday baking. Cookies  are a favorite desert around here. I love finding new recipes and the kids love trying them. My mom has tons of cookie cutters so they always come out unique with icing and sprinkles. Then a favorite during the holiday is decorating the tree it brings us all together, with Christmas music blaring and hot chocolate, we pull out each ornament and reminisce about family highlights.

The Teaching 2 Step: My Favorite Things at Christmas Time


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Hello everyone! I have to admit, I’m not an over-the-top Christmas person. My husband and I buy gifts for the kids, and then decide on a set amount for ourselves. We buy our own gifts. For me, the best part of the holidays is resting and just spending time with my family. I commute eighty-five miles to work each way, so when I get a break I am plain ole’ tuckered out. Over the break, we will probably take in a movie or two. My son and I both really want to see Exodus.

We will probably make a quick trip up to Oklahoma to visit my mom and step-dad, my sister, and all of the nieces and nephews. (My goal is to take them some of their favorite home-made jalapeno jelly & apricot jalapeno jam-I need to get cracky-lackin’ if I’m going to get all of that made!). Pretty much my whole family lives in and around a small town (If you blink, you’ll miss it) called Wapanucka. It’s about two hours from my house and lies in the Chickasaw Nation. My mom’s family settled there well over a hundred years ago on land they received back when Oklahoma was Indian Territory. In fact they received their land as part of the Indian land grants.

Finally, we will eat, eat, eat. After that, I’m making some changes (New Year’s Resolution maybe?). My small family has a tradition of letting the kids pick what they want for Christmas dinner. One year they wanted bacon cheeseburgers, so that is what we made. This year they want a traditional holiday dinner with ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac & cheese, and who knows what else.

Like I said, we’re a bit laid back! I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday season!

Merry Christmas!

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I love EVERYTHING about the holiday season. However, one of my all time favorite parts is designing our family christmas card. Before my daughter was born, I will admit, I was one of those people who put my dogs on our christmas cards (because they are so dang cute). Now that I have my sweet daugther I scour Pinterest for great ideas  and then play with them in my own way.  Here are the results from the last three years.T2S_favorite things post.001T2S_favorite things post.002

favorite things images for blog post.005One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is to ride the Christmas Train with my daughter. She gets so excited to see all of the lights and riding the train. I love just watching her. The look on her face truly brings me joy!


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My holiday traditions are fresh and new these days as this is my second Christmas with my husband as a married couple! This is also my first Christmas in our new home! There are a lot of changes this year as well since my brother (whom I am very close with) has moved across country and will not be home for Christmas. This is also my first year in about 6 years that I am NOT working retail! I get the next 16 days off from school and I do NOT have a second job, people! I am enjoying my fur babies, my wonderful mother, stepdad, and mother-in-law, my fantastic husband, all in my new home.

I am loving our tree and OUR ornaments on OUR tree. (Can you tell I’m fairly new to this living in my own HOUSE thing?!) ❤



I am thrilled this year to begin a new list of favorite things and favorite holiday traditions that are my own. I’m sure these things will change when I have kiddos of my own one day, but for now, I’m going to enjoy my simple life and the simple pleasures of staying home for the holidays with my husband. Merry Christmas everyone!

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Wow…what a magical time of year!  Everything is rushed and life is moving at a faster pace.  All I really want to do is relax in the warm glow of my fireplace and sparkling Christmas lights.  Here’s a picture compilation of a few of my favorite things this time of year.  I hope this wonderful season finds you healthy and happy.Meredith Christmas

favorite things images for blog post.008My favorite thing to do in celebration of this time of year is go to the Christmas tree farm and pick out a tree.  It’s the same farm that I went to as a child.  So, finding a tree there with my family feels especially meaningful.  My boys love it because there’s fun tree carts to ride on (not sure if that’s technically allowed), hot chocolate, cookies, and even an autograph wall where we track our boys’ growth each year.  Getting a tree signifies the start of this magical time of year.

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays and a fantastic new year!

Check out the fun we’ve had through the years (and how many years we got out of that blue coat!)…


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Living in South Africa, our Christmases are anything but white!  It is summer here and we spend our holidays at the pool or beach.  On Christmas day we go to my parent’s home.  It is a big gathering and all the in-laws are also invited – as far as I know, we will be 23 this year.  All of us milling by the poolside, eating a delicious roast lunch and then (hopefully, if the weather  permits) take a walk down to the beach to “make some space” for an feast of puddings on return.

Even our dog, Jack, gets into the Christmas spirit.
Even our dog, Jack, gets into the Christmas spirit.

I love baking and use this time of the year as an excuse to bake (and eat) lots of treats.  My daughter also loves being in the kitchen so this is our special quality time together. We have been so busy with trying new recipes that I think that this year is the year to give baked goods as Christmas presents!



I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics to “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music while I created my list of a few of my favorite holiday things! Creating this list was a nice way to reflect on the season and how grateful I am for the abundance of good in my life . . . I am blessed with many truly good people, good moments, good memories, and good living! Wishing you a beautiful holiday season with an abundance of good!

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I am such a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas!Santa Garland

I decorate with cones and evergreens, and with things that take me back to my childhood.Hurricane Vase with Candle

After finishing up the last of my Christmas shopping, I’ll be sewing gift bags. I buy fabric on sale after Christmas and pack it away until the next year. Then during the week before Christmas (or sometimes the week after depending on how busy things get) I sew and sew and sew. I make simple drawstring bags in a lot of sizes.  Drawstring Gift Bag I do still wrap presents that I’ll be taking to our family celebration at my sister’s house, but the presents that we open at home will be in gift bags. They are such a time saver, and reduce the waste of wrapping paper. But they also bring a homemade touch to gifts and can be used again and again. I just give them a quick laundering after the holiday and pack them away with the other decorations. I have a feeling I’ve started a new Christmas tradition – one that I’ll be happy to see passed on. I hope one day they are pulled from boxes with love, as treasured as the decorations that have been passed down to me.

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Special thanks to The 3 am Teacher and Winchestor Lambourne for the wonderful clip art used in this post.

Plan Now for a Brrr-illiant January!

As we enjoy the last of the busy school days with our students prior to winter break, now is a good time to think about January and helping our students look forward to returning to school! Here are a few things I do each year to prepare:

I introduce a new read-aloud book that we will start in January by reading an exciting paragraph or two that will hook students, then I display the book in the front of the room as a visual reminder that we have something to look forward to! The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo is a wonderful read-aloud (yes, I read picture books to my middle schoolers!). Love that Dog and Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech are great January read-alouds that get students laughing (and thinking . . . and writing).  Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a riveting read-aloud for middle schoolers that hooks students on a series — many of them will go on to read the rest of the series — 7 books in all — on their own!

Give students a few minutes during the last day or two to cut out paper snowflakes while you read a book aloud. Provide students with either coffee filters or copy paper (cut into 8×8 squares or 4×4 squares) to make snowflake-cutting more manageable. Use double-sided tape to hang the snowflakes around the room. You may also want to hang a few from the ceiling with fishing wire. Add a few white paper lanterns from the ceiling and return to a Winter Wonderland in January!


Take a few minutes on the last day of school prior to break to have students clean and organize their own desks, tables, cubbies, and work spaces. I also organize my own work spaces and clean the tops of all surfaces (hello, Lysol Dual Action Disinfecting Wipes!). There’s something really energizing about coming back to an extra-clean room! Students seem better able to focus and concentrate when their classroom is clean and organized – it’s a nice re-set button to push!

Bring in a couple of lamps. January’s gray days can be brightened with a little extra light in our classrooms, and a couple of colorful, fun table lamps or floor lamps add an ambience that is much more effective for learning than harsh overhead lights!


Plan a fun activity for the first or second week in January and build it up on the last day of school before break. Activities that work well in January include marshmallow catapults, Snow Ball (a fun day filled with snow-related activities and read-alouds), and snowman-building challenges (students work in teams to build snowmen using balls of newspaper that can later be recycled).


January is the perfect time to either reinforce or re-establish classroom expectations, so I also plan a couple of fun ice-breaker-type activities for our first days back that will provide an opportunity to review classroom rules, routines, and procedures.

Planning ahead for January can help both you and your students look forward to returning to school after a long winter’s nap break! What do you do to re-energize your class in January?

Literary Sherri

Literary Sherri TPT Super Cyber Sale December 1-2

Plan Now for a Brrr-illiant January was written by Literary Sherri.

If you enjoyed this post, connect with me on Bloglovin, FacebookPinterest, and TpT!



Manic Monday!

Classroom Freebies Manic MondayNeed something to keep little hands busy? Need something….free? Charity at Classroom Freebies hosts “Manic Monday” for teachers to find something they can use in their classrooms. I’m linking up my Christmas edition Santa-Grams. I love these! They are a set of ten cute little tangram puzzles featuring Santa monsters. Just copy on card stock, laminate, and cut. Give them to your little ones ans watch them have lots of fun while developing higher order thinking skills. Click either image below to get this freebie. Click the image above to visit Classroom Freebies!Slide1santa grams

I hope your kiddos enjoy these puzzles!

Have a great week,


Christmas in Kindergarten

How many of you are going NUTS this time of year fitting in all the awesome things you want to do?! *raises hand*

December is such a short month for school, but there’s SO much to cram into it. In Kindergarten, I swear crafts take 10 times as long, especially when you are one teacher to 19 kiddos that all need help. Sigh. Well, we were able to fit in a few fun things in spite of some Learning Checks and tests and trying to learn subtraction (who made these curriculum maps?! Learning a new skill in December is HARD!).

I am a firm believer in the importance of holidays in primary school. Kids are excited for Christmas, especially in Kindergarten. Even though time has been tight, it has been my mission to MAKE time for these special holiday goodies.


I found these ADORABLE Christmas tree glasses in the dollar spot at Target to spice up my guided reading and guided math center and I’m telling you, the kids are dying to go to guided reading (the effect we always want, am I right?). I bought 4 pairs and it was totally worth the $4 investment.

IMG_1013Did you decorate your room for the holidays? I was shocked to find out how many kids did not have Christmas trees set up at home (there are no religious conflicts in this group of students). I felt like that was an experience I could easily give the kids. I used our old tree (kind of small from our apartment living days) and all my old childhood ornaments. We also cut out strips of paper (the kids voted on the colors orange, red, and purple) and I brought out the markers (best teacher ever!!). They are so excited to continue to add to our paper chain garland and it was super easy for me. It has turned into an early finisher activity and we continue to build our chain. I bump my head on it daily, but it is worth it.

Picture2This is from a previous post that I had to mention again. This has been one of the best additions to my holiday curriculum yet. Read the entire post HERE. Basically, I got out all the Christmas and winter books and wrapped one for each day to place under the tree. Everyday, we unwrap a new one and then write about it in our Holiday Book Journals, which you can download for free on my TpT store. Click the image above to see the full post and click the image below to get the journals for free.

Unwrap CoverAnd now for a pinspiration result, that I could not be happier with!

SnowflakesThese were fun and easy and super inexpensive to make. And we were able to discuss that no two snowflakes are the same. 😉

More Pinspired photos coming soon!

Want more ideas for your Christmas classroom? Check out where it all started for me: Pinterest! The gals at The Teaching Two Step and I created a Pinterest board just for this occasion. Make sure you follow it for more great ideas!

Follow Amanda Smith @ Daisy Designs’s board Christmas in the Classroom Collaborative – The Teaching 2 Step on Pinterest.

Merry “Last Week of School Before Break” everyone! 😉 Amanda Daisy DesignsBUTTON BUZZ

Winter and Christmas Brain Breaks

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If you are a teacher, no matter what age group, you will know the frustrations of the time leading up to the Christmas break! Yes, it is a time of festivities and excitement and these are the exact reasons for the frustrations. Teaching ANYTHING during this time is difficult challenging impossible. Students are so busy day dreaming about the magical happenings going on in The North Pole, or whether the marshmallow they left in their mom’s bed by accident constitutes as being “naughty” or whether or not to give Tommy a Christmas gift without it being too obvious of the feelings involved.

Winter and Christmas Brain Breaks

These last few weeks can give even the coolest, calmest and most collected teachers a few extra grey hairs. It’s not exactly the right thing to give in to the excitement and proclaim that the two weeks leading up to Christmas break is  “Movie Time,” (although I do know some teachers who did *frown*).

To help to prevent you from falling into ‘that’ group, I have compiled a list of fun Christmas/Winter brain breaks that can be used as soon as you see your students drifting off into a world of elves, tinsel and cookies.

These YouTube videos offer lots of fun with movement to music. To me there is nothing better that jumping up and moving to a catchy tune to get the blood pumping and the brain juices working! Have a look at the links provided below:
Just Dance Kids 2 – Jingle Bells is a simple yet effective dance routine for younger students. The same movements are repeated so students will catch on quickly.

Winter and Christmas Brain Breaks - Teaching 2 Step

The Dancing Christmas Tree is also perfect for young children. The words are simple and repetition gives students an opportunity to learn them quickly and easily to sing along with the movements.

The dancing Christmas Tree

Jingle Bell Dance. This version of Jingle Bells has such a catchy beat! Students will be very excited to jump up and join in the moves. I have to admit… my favorite part is “Weeeeee.”

Jingle Bells

Just Dance 3 Santa Clone is a more vigorous dance where students need to copy Santa’s dance moves. These moves are more complicated and vary quite a bit and change frequently so I would recommend it for slightly older students, maybe Upper Elementary. The movements are fun and not your average swaying of the arms. The dancing only starts 30 seconds into the 3 minute video, so you might want to avoid students standing around waiting for the dancing to start by forwarding to the exciting bit.

Santa Clone

Let’s not forget about The Sid Shuffle or Continental Drift. Sid, from Ice Age, talks students through his fun and energetic dance.

Sid Shuffle

I would recommend watching YouTube videos in Safe Share. This site requires you to paste the desired video URL onto their page in order to generate a safe, ad-free video. There is a grey frame around the video which blocks out surrounding images and videos. You can also still enlarge the screen to full screen mode.

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For those who don’t have facilities to show a video for a brain break or want to vary the activities, I also loved using this Snowball Fight brain break with my 5th graders, but it can be used for older students as well. This one does not involve following dance moves. I also used it as an informal assessment to check if students grasped the concept I was teaching (while they were thinking of presents and Christmas trees). This is how it works:

After completing an explanation, let’s use ‘properties of quadrilaterals’ as an example, have students draw a quadrilateral on one side of a page. Then on the other side they write down the properties of that quadrilateral. Students then scrunch the page into a “snowball.” I would then tell them to stand up and throw three “snowballs” at one another. Once they had done that (and had a good break) they would each pick up a “snowball,” flatten it out and then write down the properties of the shape on the page. It is a self correcting activity as the answers are on the back of the page.

I’m sure that you (yes, you should also get involved in the fun) and your students are going to love these little brain breaks and they make the time up until Christmas productive and frustration free!

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Resources for the daily dance between teachers and students!