Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher

Classroom Activities for February {WITH FREEBIES}

Fun activities for Valentine's Day, Presidents Day and Black History Month

February is the shortest month of the year, but it is jam packed with fun learning opportunities for our students! Hold on tight, teacher friends! This is going to be a fun month. 

I have gathered lots of ideas that will save you some time and keep your students engaged.


Black History Month


I love taking extra time during February to learn about influential black men and women from our history. Sadly, out history books just don't do black history justice and so I feel like it is my responsibility to make it happen.

Books


I love adding some extra read alouds in for Black History Month. It's a wonderful time to teach into civil rights, but also a great time to just share books with strong black characters.



Click HERE to take a look at my favorites.

Interactive Notebook


My kiddos are crazy about interactive notebooks! They love the cutting and gluing. But I love them too! I feel like it's a sneaky way to squeeze in all kinds of hands-on practice. Plus, they end up with a wonderful resource that they can look back at over and over.

Black History Month Interactive Notebook


We use this Black History Interactive Notebook as bell work or during our social studies time. It includes so much great close reading and reading comprehension practice. Plus, it helps students to learn how to research as they practice picking facts out of the text.


Click HERE to check out this notebook activity. 

Valentine's Day

I won't lie. I totally geek out of Valentine's Day every year! Candy! Flowers! Cards! Does it get any better?!

Books


I am a huge book nerd and I am always looking for opportunities to share my love for reading with my students. There are so many cute books for Valentine's Day! 



Click HERE to check out my favorites.

Crafts


I love crafts that include writing and don't require glitter! My favorite Valentine's Day craft is this paper bag book.

Valentine's Day Craft Paper Bag Book

Students get to write about things that they love and do all of the book illustrations. 


Teacher bonus! This craft is super easy to put together! You just fold a few paper lunch bags in half and then staple the spine. BAM!

Click HERE to grab this fun craft.

Party Ideas


Valentine's Day just wouldn't ben complete without a class party. 

I am known for my unique party ideas. For many years I threw a sock hop for Valentine's Day! We would dress up, dance, play with hula hoops and race match box cars. My class loved it!


Click HERE to check out more fun Valentine's Day party ideas!

Valentine's Day Vocabulary


My favorite thing to do with holidays in the classroom is to mix the holiday fun with academics. The kiddos barely realize they are doing hard work! It's a win for everyone!

In my classroom we would always do THIS vocabulary routine, but during the week of Valentine's Day we use fun holiday words. They aren't so cheesy that the kids are rolling their eyes. I promise. And the best part? This activity is FREE!



Click HERE to grab the FREE Valentine's Day vocabulary activity!


President's Day


A lot of states have standards that require teachers to do lessons about holidays such as Presidents Day. That's one reason to include these activities in your lessons. But the true reason that I cover this holiday is because it is so fun! 

Teach your students about more than just George Washington! Teach them about the White House, the Secret Service, the faces on U.S. money and presidential monuments. Fun!

Interactive Notebooks

February is all about the social students interactive notebook for my kiddos. We are adding black history activities AND Presidents Day activities. 

Presidents Day Interactive Notebook


Students love it! They are learning so much about our country and practicing their reading comprehension. But, SHHHHH!!! They just think they are doing an art project! #mylittlesecret

President's Day Interactive Notebook


Click HERE to check out this Presidents Day notebook.

Show and Tell


You’re never too old for a good game of Show and Tell.  Take it up a notch by having each student find an interesting piece of information about a president and bring in something that represents it. Have everyone tells about their president.  

Think a stuffed buffalo for Grover Cleveland who got his start in Buffalo and was even nicknamed The Beast of Buffalo or a newspaper for Warren Harding since that was his first job or a wand for Van Buren because he was known as a “magician.”
FREE Show and Tell President's Day Activity

You can even set the artifacts and the written fact on desks and have the class next door take a tour. You made your own presidential museum! 

Click HERE to grab a free letter explaining the assignment to students and families and a fact sheet for students to complete.

Lego Monuments


Another super fun activity that I love doing with my students is building monuments with Legos! 

We start by learning about a monuments, such as the Lincoln Memorial or the White House. Then I put students into small groups. They all get a small container of Legos and 20-30 minutes to build. At first, I thought that these monuments would be too difficult for students to build. I could not have been more wrong! They had the best time and still learned so much!



Are you ready for some February fun and learning in your classroom?! You've got this! 

Fun activities for Valentine's Day, Presidents Day and Black History Month

Have a Not So Wimpy day!


FREE Valentines for Your Students


I am a lover of all holidays and Valentine's Day is no exception!

Gifting is my love language and so I get excited to give my students a fun valentine. It makes me feel like a kid again!

I made some fun and simple cards for you to give to your students. And the best part? They are FREE! #woot



Click HERE to grab the FREE Valentine's Day cards.



Enjoy and have a Not So Wimpy day!



P.S. If you are looking for a fun (and super simple) Valentine's Day craft to make with your students, I highly recommend THIS paper bag book! It's so cute!



Valentine's Day Classroom Party Ideas


Valentine's Day might be my favorite day to celebrate in the classroom. I love all the sweet little cards students write for each other. And chocolate. Chocolate is always good!

Are you getting ready to plan a Valentine's Day party for your students? How about a STEM party or a Minute-to-Win-It party? Or, maybe you'd like to try something really different with a kindness party? I gathered some fun and engaging ideas for you to celebrate the friendships in your classroom. 

STEM Party

My students love the challenges that I give them with STEM projects. They will love that I change up our room for a STEM day with Valentine's Day themed decorations and supplies. 

Your students can engineer structures out of toothpicks and heart-shaped jelly candy or heart shaped marshmallows. Or, how about a heart-launcher catapult? Students can also make Valentine's Day slime with added sequins, glitter, or confetti. 

You can learn more about these ideas from Little Bins Little Hands by clicking HERE

Valentine's Day STEM or STEAM activities to use in your classroom


Minute-to-Win-it Party

Students love playing games and you can keep your students highly engaged with some Valentine's Day themed Minute-to-Win-it games. 

How about playing Heart Stack? Students must stack candy hearts on a popsicle as high as they can in one minute. Take the same supply of candy hearts (because let's face it, they have fallen on the floor a few times already), and play Bottle Drop. Using empty narrow-top bottles, students must try to drop as many of the candy hearts as they can into the bottle from a standing position with the bottle on the ground in 1 minute. 

You can find directions and more game ideas from Together as Family by clicking HERE

Students can also play candy heart relay races and heart transfer games with straws or popsicle sticks. Click HERE to see directions to these games and other fun ideas by Happiness is Homemade.

Valentine's Day Minute-to-Win-It games for your students to play.


Spread Kindness Party 

This may not be your typical party, but it will help your students feel that they made a difference and you are teaching them life skills of being kind to others. The idea first came to me when I read some ideas in the Not So Wimpy Fifth Grade Teachers Facebook group. They were looking for service projects to complete as a possible alternative to a typical party. 

You could get the day started by reading the book The Jelly Donut Difference. It is an adorable story about kindness and generosity. 


Ideas shared in our teacher Facebook groups included making valentines for veterans or a nursing home. Another suggestion was to make fleece blankets for children in need. I also loved the suggestion about making heart-shaped animals to send to your local children's hospital to decorate doors. 

You could also spread kindness by having your students write thank you messages on hearts and tape to staff members' doors around your school (nurse's office, principal's office, secretary's desk, music teacher, custodians, etc.) 

Another idea is to participate in the Kindness Rocks Project by having your students paint rocks with sweet messages. They can take these home and have their families help them decide where to leave it, or you can set up an area in your school for your own motivational rock garden. Click HERE to see some ideas about decorating your kindness rocks. 

You can end your day by sharing some treats (maybe donuts?!) and Valentine cards for each other. Have a class conversation about how they can continue acts of kindness throughout the year. 

Valentine's Day kindness and community service ideas for your classroom.

Paper Bag Book


At the end of any Valentine's Day party, I like to have students make these fun paper bag books. They are super simple to make by folding a few paper lunch bags and stapling the spine. Students enjoy writing about all of the things they love! 


This craft is a good one for calming them down after the fun party games!



I hope you and your students fill your day with love, kindness, and laughter! 

Have a Not So Wimpy day!



FREE Valentine's Day Vocabulary Resource


I am a sucker for academic activities that have a holiday theme. It's just more fun! If you feel the same way, you will love this free vocabulary activity that I have for you. It's Valentine's Day themed!



Have you read about how I teach and practice vocabulary every week? You can read more about that HERE or watch THIS video.

This freebie goes right along with my usually vocabulary routine, but it includes fun Valentine's Day themed words. You could add it to your regular weekly words, or take a break and just use these words for one week.

This freebie includes:
  • student recording sheet
  • teacher guide with four words, definitions, sentences, synonyms and antonyms
  • wow word for practicing a root and suffix
  • assessment

Even though they are holiday words, they are still words that I would love to have my students use in their writing!


Would you like to use this free resource with your students? Just drop your name and personal email address in the boxes below and I will send it over to you right away.




Have a Not So Wimpy Day!


4 Reasons to Include Math Journals in Your Classroom

Open ended constructed response math journal prompts ask students to think deeper and explain their thinking!

Math is my absolute favorite subject to teach and I have always had very high expectations of myself and my students.

I don't think it is enough to just memorize a trick or song to solve a math problem. It just doesn't show a deep understanding.

Students should be expected to explain their mathematical thinking! 

Word problems for your math journals


What better way to incorporate this into your classroom than using math journals. Math journal prompts are open ended questions that ask students to explain their strategy or defend their answer.

Math journals can be a great tool for teachers in the classroom and, after students are taught how to correctly use them, they have several benefits.

Math journals show a deeper understanding of math content. 


Students are expected to organize their thinking and write about how they solve mathematical problems. When students are required to write out their steps, they are reviewing and checking their work. They are building a deeper understanding because they aren't just memorizing steps. This is a great reflection and self-assessment opportunity for students.  

Math journals help teachers identify misconceptions. 


Reading through your students' math journals is a great way to discover what misconceptions your students have and reevaluate your instruction for them. If students don't have a clear understanding of the concept, it becomes evident as you read their steps for how they problem solved. 

This becomes a great tool to use for differentiation and reteaching in your small groups.

Math journals incorporate multiple subjects at once.


Giving students the opportunity to write across several subjects is so important. Students learn how to write a specific genre in writing workshop and how to write when responding to written text in reading. They also should write about their mathematical thinking and problem solving strategies. 

Math journals are an excellent way to get extra writing practice in. When you are requiring complete and correct sentence structure, you are working on writing skills. When they explain their thinking, they are working on using evidence to prove their answer. When you require your students to reread their answers, they are working on their fluency. When you require students to check their work for correct spelling and grammar, you are working on editing skills. 

Math journals can be used with any curriculum.


Math journals can be used as a supplement to any curriculum! You can pick and choose the concepts and skills that match your current unit of study. I used Eureka curriculum and I taught students some unique strategies. I could still use open-ended journal prompts because it allows students to use ANY strategy that they want.

Math journal prompts can be used so many different ways that I am certain it can be fit in with any curriculum:
  • Morning Work
  • Math Warm Up
  • Center
  • Small Group
  • Test Prep
  • Exit Ticket
  • Homework
  • Early Finisher

I like to use a little combination of all of the above, but warm up and exit ticket are my favorite uses!


Once math journals become routine, you will find that these are a great resource in your classroom. 

Good news for third grade teachers!


My third grade math journal was one of the very first resources that I ever created for teachers. It was a hit from the start. But over the years, I have learned a few things (and gained a few wrinkles). I have been listening to my teacher buddies and I decided that the math journal needed MORE!
As of today, my 3rd grade math journal resource now includes three formats for each of the 100 prompts!

  1. ​Full Page: Perfect to bind into a book or use as an assessment
  2. Strips: Great way to save paper since students are just gluing a small strip in their notebook.
  3. PowerPoint: It's no prep! You just display the prompt and students can respond in their notebook. You could even download the resource into Google Classroom. 

I even made the full page prompts and the PowerPoint prompts editable so that you can add additional problems if you choose!
PLUS, I added an answer key and some tips to implement math journaling into your classroom!
Click HERE to check out the third grade math journal.

Do I have other grade levels of this resource?
Yes and no. I have the old version for 2nd4th and 5th grades. They are so embarrassing that it's hard for me to even give you a link. The good news is that I will be updating these to include the multiple formats and answer keys very soon! I promise! 
Open ended constructed response math journal prompts ask students to think deeper and explain their thinking!


Have a Not So Wimpy day!



Valentine's Day Read Alouds for the Classroom

Books about love, friendship and kindness to read to your students on Valentine's Day

Celebrating holidays with picture books is something I have always enjoyed doing. I went out and gathered my five favorite picture books that I have enjoyed sharing for Valentine's Day with my students, to share with you!

Words and Your Heart

Picture book to share with your students on Valentine's Day about how words affect our hearts.

The story behind this book is so heartwarming, I wanted to make sure you all had a chance to read it and share it.

Kate Jane Neal wrote and illustrated this book particularly for schools and for anti-bullying. This is not your typical book about Valentine's Day, but rather a book about how your words affect others' hearts with the power they have.

In my classroom, I have always used Valentine's Day as a day to show our friends how much we care about each other and what makes each student special. This book is perfect for helping students learn to choose words that are uplifting and encouraging. Valentine's Day is the perfect day to work on choosing kindness and encouragement to others because words truly affect our hearts.

Click HERE to find this book Amazon.

Olive, My Love

Picture books to share with your students on Valentine's Day.

If you read Olive, The Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh during the holidays, then you will want to share Olive, My Love with your students! In this book, Olive is off to return a heart that fell in his home. This is definitely a fun read aloud with sound effects and changing voices.

Click HERE to find this book on Amazon. 

Mr. Goat's Valentine

Picture books to share with your students on Valentine's Day

This story by Eve Bunting is a funny twist to the typical Valentine's Day presents, such as chocolates and flowers. In this book, Mr. Goat wants to share a bouquet of weeds and a box of rotten eggs with his first love. Do you think your students will figure out that his first love is his mother before it is told in the story?

Click HERE to find this book on Amazon. 

A Crankenstein Valentine

Picture books to read to your students on Valentine's Day

This book is funny with it's illustrations and descriptions of how an ordinary kid turns into a Crankenstein because of how mushy and lovey-dovey Valentine's Day is. This book will have your class laughing for sure! 

You can find this book on Amazon by clicking HERE

The Invisible String

Picture books to read to your students on Valentine's Day

Finally, consider celebrating Valentine's Day with this sweet book about how we are all connected by an invisible string, which is love. It is a great reminder to read to your students about how they are never alone and that love is all around us.

Click HERE to check out this book.

Books about love, friendship and kindness to read to your students on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day can be a great day to share with your students what makes them special, and a day to teach kindness and love for everyone.

Are you looking for another fun Valentine's Day activity? I LOVE making these paper bag books with my class. All you need are brown lunch bags. Students get to write about the things that they love and then illustrate their books. They turn out so cute!



Click HERE to check out this fun Valentine paper bag book!

Have a Not So Wimpy day!




G Rated Holiday Movies for the Classroom


Are you coming down to the end of your first semester? Do you wrap up your semester with parties or rewards for your class?

Many teachers are searching the Not So Wimpy Teacher Facebook groups for advice on movies that they can show their classes as a reward at the end of the semester. All of the movies suggested below are rated G. The majority of these movies are holiday related. However, I did include a movie that is winter themed in case you have children that do not celebrate the holidays.

(If you click on the title of the movie, it will take you to Amazon where you can read more about it.)


Santa Buddies

You can't go wrong with movies about adorable puppies! In this movie, the Christmas magic is beginning to disappear, and it's up to the puppies to save Christmas. Students will learn lessons of being kind, taking responsibility for their actions, and thinking about and caring for others. You could also show The Search for Santa Paws, which is another movie from the Buddies series. 


Annabelle's Wish

This animated holiday story is about a calf and a young boy who exchange their Christmas wishes. Students will learn about friendship in this movie.


The Muppet Christmas Carol

How about a version of the original Christmas Carol? This would be a great choice to teach children how Scrooge learns how to be generous and caring to others. 


The Polar Express

This instant classic teaches children about believing and the true meaning of friendship. Pair this movie with the picture book, pajamas, and some hot chocolate for the perfect day.

If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie

This Amazon Original movie is inspired by the picture book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If you are looking for a quick movie, this one is only 30 minutes. In this story, Mouse and his human friend Oliver, are preparing for Christmas. Mouse gets a little distracted and causes some problems along the way. With some help from his friends, he's able to fix the problems and learns about friendship and forgiveness.  


The Snowy Day

This is another Amazon Original animated movie based off the original picture book. Students are exposed to holiday traditions from different cultures including Hanukkah. They also learn about foods that other cultures share such as tamales and Asian noodles. 


Balto

This is a good choice if you are looking for a winter-themed movie that is not based on the holidays. Balto is an animated movie based on the true story of rural Alaskan kids with a serious illness. Students will learn how dogs helped rural Alaskan communities.



I hope that you and your students enjoy your holiday movie day! Merry Christmas!