I Am Not a Crafty Teacher and I Accept That

During my long term substitute teaching job, the first-grade team I was working with had started Fun Fridays. This is becoming a more and more common practice in schools, where the students who are caught up on work can participate in fun activities on Fridays, while other students take that time to work on assignments they may be missing. 

The four classes were intertwined and mixed into four different groups from all of first grade, allowing everyone to be with friends and peers from other classes. The doors to our rooms were opened up, and every Friday, chaos ensued. However, no matter how chaotic it seemed, it truly was a fun Friday to switch everything up just a bit and have a change of schedule. 

Each teacher had a responsibility to come up with a game or activity for the students in their classrooms for that week. We would repeat this every week with a different group until we made our way through the four groups, then move on to the next activity of teacher choice. 

On my first Friday I took over the class, the teacher had left me with the moving fish craft she had done the last two weeks prior, leaving me with two more groups to finish it with. 

Moving Fish


They are cute crafts and fun for kids to make! However, from a teacher’s standpoint, it’s actually a nightmare to conduct this craft with 30 first-graders, each needing individual help with 80% of the steps. Maybe I’m just not a crafty enough person, but this was not working out for me. I needed a change. I tried the fish craft for one week before I gave up and switched to a new craft for the last week of the month. This is what I chose: 

Origami Flowers


Why did I think for one second that I could pull off an origami craft with 30 students when I couldn’t pull off the moving fish craft, to begin with? That’s a very good question, because needless to say, I failed yet again. 

There are probably countless teachers that exist in schools all over the world that are great at crafting and teaching students cute origami and paper making crafts. I am not one of those teachers. I tried to be, I gave it my best effort, and I even felt obligated to because teachers are supposed to be crafty, aren’t they? I felt like they were known for that, and I was failing if I wasn’t crafty as well. However, at the end of the day, it wasn’t me. 

The biggest takeaway from my long term sub job was that being genuine as a teacher is the key to success. I had to fully accept that I was not a teacher that provided fun paper folding activities but instead prompted creativity in other ways. 

I found success in my Fun Friday activity the day I handed out a two-foot piece of yarn to every student and left a bowl of fruit loops on each table. I left no instructions beyond that, turned on classical music, and watched the magic happen. 

Many students walked away with fruit loop necklaces. Others with multiple bracelets because they cut the string into smaller pieces. I saw different weaves with the string and cereal pieces from kids, as well as some who simply just played with the string in their fingers and munched on dry cereal while they talked with friends. No one did it the right way, no one did it the wrong way, they simply just did it their way. 

This is the teacher that I am, and as soon as I learned and embraced it, it made the rest of my teaching experiences much smoother for myself and the students. All it took was a little life lesson from a simple cereal and string activity. 

How did you find yourself as a teacher? What helped you to create the culture in your classroom that flows and works for you and your students? 

Featured Image: pexels.com

Inquiry Into Symbiosis

Today’s inquiry post is by Melissa Sosa. Melissa is a mother of 2 young boys and a firm believer that life is a constant learning process. She currently lives in Humacao, Puerto Rico with her children and cat Quenepa.

I’ve always considered symbiosis to be a pretty interesting concept. Different species of animals and plants not only coexisting but collaborating together? I thought only humans did that! Well it turns out animals and plants are experts at maintaining symbiotic relationships that are crucial to the survival of our ecosystem.

When I created this provocation post I wanted to find fun resources that illustrated a fresh perspective to symbiosis, encouraging kids’ curiosity and understanding.  These resources have some examples of symbiotic relationships that may not be so common or well-known.

Resource #1: Symbiosis: A surprising tale of species cooperation by Ted Ed via The Kid Should See This

Resource #2: The Wood Wide Web by BBC News via The Kid Should See This

Resource #3: Butterflies drinking turtle tears!? via The Kid Should See This

Resource #4: Vanishing of the Bees trailer by Bee The Change

Resource #5: Carl & the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman

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Provocation Questions:

  • Why is the connection between humans, bees and flowers so important to our ecosystem?
  • How does symbiosis work like a partnership?
  • Can you think of an example of a symbiotic relationship in nature?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Miscellaneous Thought-Provoking Goodness for Students

My curation doesn’t always fit neatly into broader themes and concepts. Sometimes I squirrel away videos and resources that are just plain fascinating. I hope you can find uses for these to inspire thinking & wonder with your students this year!

Resource #1: The Icebreaker. Short flim by Timlab.pro

Which makes me wonder…

…How quickly does the ice form over the water?

…How does the crew deal with all the snow?

…What kinds of jobs take people out to these dangerous waters, and why?

Resource #2: Changemaker Quiz by Obama Foundation

Which makes me wonder…

…How can our personalities impact our communities for change?

…What kinds of change do we need and how can communities find out what they are?

Resource #3:

Which makes me wonder…

…How do our environments impact the way we move? The way we live?

What makes a place interesting to visit?

…How is movement and travel part of the human experience?

Resource #4: What Have You Changed Your Mind About? by SoulPancake

Which makes me wonder…

…What makes it hard for people to change their minds about things?

What makes people change their minds over time?

Resource #5: The true story of Mary Anning: The Girl Who Discovered Dinosaurs by BBC via The Kid Should See This

Which makes me wonder…

…How does our upbringing impact our interests and what we’re able to achieve?

…Why have women been excluded from science and most other fields over time? Why/how has this changed today?

Resource #6: These items worn down over time tell pretty interesting stories

Which makes me wonder…

What are other ways humans can observe change over time?

…How is critical thinking needed to tell the stories of change over time?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into SDGs: Zero Hunger

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. For more, click here

Zero Hunger. It’s a bold goal. But if we work together to wisely use the tools and abundance of our world today, it is possible. Share the resources below with students to help them inquire into this important global goal.

Resource #1: World Food Program Quiz on Hunger

Resource #2: Michael Pollan’s Food Rules by Ant House Studio

Resource #3: An Oasis in the Midst of a Food Desert by Great Big Story

Resource #4: Tweet from the World Food Program

Maria Rita says food has never been a problem for her family before #CycloneIdai. They used to grow tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, beans, maize and never ran out.

A joint seed & food distribution with @FAO is helping smallholder farmers in #Mozambique return to the field. 🌱🌾👇 pic.twitter.com/layeL3iQbG— World Food Programme (@WFP) April 17, 2019

Resource #5: The Good Garden: How One Family Went From Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway & Sylvie Daigneault

Provocation Questions:

  • Why does hunger exist?
  • What efforts improve hunger?
  • How can we more wisely use the food we grow?
  • What are the different perspectives on food shortages?
  • Whose responsibility is it to ensure everyone has enough to eat?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into SDGs: Decent Work & Economic Growth

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. For more, click here

A good summary of the Decent Work & Economic Growth global goal is as follows:

“The SDGs promote sustained economic growth, higher levels of productivity and technological innovation. Encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation are key to this, as are effective measures to eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. With these targets in mind, the goal is to achieve full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030.”

United Nations Development Programme

Below are resources intended to help students think about how they might make personal connections to this goal. How does it impact their local areas? How might their choices help?

Resource #1: PeopleMovin: interactive online graph of migration flows across the world


Resource #2: Fair Hotels advertisement by Naissance

Resource #3: My Brother by Audrey Yeo

Resource #4: One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway & Eugenie Fernandes

Provocation Questions:

  • What is “decent work” like?
  • What are the benefits of a human having a job?
  • How is job availability changing?
  • What are the effects when a person is unable to work? For themselves? For their families? For their communities?
  • How is work connected to healthy economies, communities, and countries?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Best Inquiry Picture Books: Learner Identities & Subjects Round-Up

This is part of a 3-part series. See also:

PYP inquiry picture books round-up, which includes learner attitudes and mindsets.

Sustainable Development Goals picture books round-up, which includes the global goals such as responsible production & consumption.

I’m continuing my picture book round-up today by drawing from my inquiry posts regarding learner identities, specific subjects, and social/emotional skills. I hope you can find some valuable new reads for your classroom, and I would love if you could share your own recommendations, too!

Being a Writer: Brave Jane Austen by Lisa Pliscou & Jen Corace; The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Being a Reader: A Child Of Books by Oliver Jeffers; How to Read A Story by Kate Messner & Mark Siegel

Being a Mathematician & Numbers inquiry (and other inquiry into large numbers): Infinity & Me by Gabi Swiatkowska & Kate Hosford; A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman & Isabel Greenberg; 1+1=5 by David LaRochelle, Brenda Sexton

Being a Scientist: tiny, perfect things by M. H. Clark & Madeline Kloepper; Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Design in Nature, & Color: Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin & Rosana Faria; Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman & Beth Krommes

Music: The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering & Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle & Rafael Lopez

Friendship & Bullying: The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig; Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson & E.B. Lewis; One by Kathryn Otoshi

Feelings & Goal-Making: The Heart & the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers; We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen; The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld; What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada & Mae Besom

Stay tuned for one more of these compilations!

featured image: kushboo.jain

Inquiry into SDG’s: Gender Equality

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. For more, click here

With International Women’s Day last week, I thought this would be a great time to publish the Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality. This goal aims to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”

Women and children are vulnerable in a myriad of ways, including child marriage, sexual violence, access to education, and presence in leadership, and equal pay. These resources are meant to help students consider what this global goal means to them and how they can be part of the solution.

Resource #1: #IWasTold by Ultimate Software

Resource #2: by International Women’s Day 2018 by Vodafone

Resource #3: Trailer for She Started It Movie

Resource #4: Dream Crazier by Nike

Resource #5: Equality, Sports & Title IX ~Erin Buzuvis & Kristine Newall by TedEd

Resource #6: Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoet

Provocation Questions:

  • What is gender equality?
  • How do gender equality issues look different around the world? How do they look similar?
  • How is gender equality changing?
  • Whose responsibility is it to make things more equal for all people?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto