5 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude in the Classroom This Thanksgiving

I like Thanksgiving. It's a holiday centered around gratitude-- hello social emotional learning! Plus, it's not religious, so most students and schools can celebrate it. There is that unfortunate aspect of the Thanksgiving origin story being totally made up, but that doesn't mean we can't take some time in November to reflect on things we are thankful for. Let's just stay away from construction paper headdresses, shall we?
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1. Create a thankfulness display. 
Kick off November by introducing the idea of gratitude to your students. Taking time to think about what you're thankful for is proven to have a positive effect on your mental health. Ask students to reflect on one or more things they are thankful for and write it down. You can create a beautiful bulletin board display or a festive anchor chart.

I created this anchor chart using the leaves from my Thankfulness Bulletin Board Kit. I printed the smaller leaves two to a page (just select this under the "Layout" option when printing) to make them the right size for my anchor chart tree! 

2. Read a book about gratitude.
Rather than perpetuating the fictional Thanksgiving story, take time this November to read a book about everyday thankfulness, such as Thankful by Eileen Spinelli. You could also read The Thankful Book by Todd Parr or The Things I'm Grateful For... by Arnie Lightning.  

3. Reflect and write about gratitude.
The week before or of Thanksgiving can be a challenging one for students. If you have a half week, it can difficult to find meaningful activities. This is a great time to have students do some more in-depth writing on what they are thankful for! My Thankfulness Reflection Journal has 5 journaling pages and 5 zen-style coloring pages that will keep students engaged in meaningful activity for hours. (Seriously... those detailed coloring pages can take a long time!)

4. Model thankfulness.
As Kid President says, "Grown-ups: it's scary, but true. Kids are learning how to be people by watching you." So take time to model gratitude to your students-- telling them what you are thankful for in your life and that you are grateful for them! You could even sport a Thankful Teacher tee!

5. Write a thank you note.
Have students write a note of appreciation to someone at your school. I've had whole classes do this for our cafeteria workers and custodians, and these staff members are always so touched. One of the cafeteria workers came in to speak to the class and told them she had never gotten a thank you note in all her years working at the school and how incredibly touched she was. It made a huge impression on the students! You can use notebook paper or snag my Thankful Notes if you want to make it a bit more festive.

Here's hoping you and your students have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

5 Self Care Quotes for Teachers

Self care is absolutely vital to your survival as a teacher. And most of know that deep down... but that doesn't mean we don't all need a reminder sometimes. 

1. Take care of yourself first. If you're not taking care of yourself, you can't take care of your students.

2. You can't pour from an empty cup. You need more to nourish your soul than work! Even if you love your job, you need other ways to fill your cup.

3. Self care is not selfish. So many of us went into teaching because we care deeply about others. It can be really hard to take time for ourselves without feeling guilty. So repeat after me... self care is not selfish!

4. Make time for what makes you happy. What hobbies or activities do you really enjoy? Were there things you loved before you became a teacher that you've stopped doing? Making time for those things is important.

5. Be kind to yourself. We are always telling our students that kindness counts, and I'm sure that you model this kindness for them as well. But, we also have to make sure that we're being kind to ourselves! Treat yourself as you would a student.

Want to print these out to hang out at work or at home? You can download them for free here. I recommend printing them on photo paper or cardstock. 

If you need more self care inspiration, check out 40 Acts of Self Care for Teachers! You might also want to check out my self care subscription box for teachers, Teacher Care Crate.

My Favorite Fall Resources

I'm excited to share my favorite fall resources for the classroom with you today, including a freebie!

Kick off October (with my birthday AND Halloween, it's clearly the best month of the year) with a pumpkin perseverance craftivity that'll look great on your bulletin board. With tons of size and style options, you can pick the version that works best for your students.

Decorate your door with a custom fall banner using the Fall Build Your Own Banner Letter Pennants! You could spell out "Welcome," "It's Fall Y'all!" or your own name! 

I like to keep my centers similar throughout the year (check out my post on how I set up my centers here), but the kids love when I add some seasonal options! In September and October, I use my Picking Apples and Gathering Leaves word sorts, and then bust out the Turkey Hunts for November!

As Thanksgiving approaches, consider an activity to encourage gratitude in your students. My Thankfulness Reflection Journal is chock full of thoughtful prompts and detailed coloring pages and quotes.

This FREE Autumn Alphabetical Order Activity makes a great center, or you can use the no-prep version as an early finisher or in your sub plans.

By November you'll likely be ready to change out your bulletin board. My Thanksgiving Thankfulness Bulletin Board Kit makes a beautiful display and is also low prep!

You can check out the Fall Resources section of my store for even more autumn activities! I hope you and your students enjoy this season to the fullest!

11 Adorable Halloween Costumes for Teachers

Holidays are one of the best parts of being a teacher, am I right? You can celebrate to your heart's content and you have a captive audience. Halloween might be my favorite holiday to celebrate at school, minus the sugar rush. Here are 11 adorable options for your teacher costume this year!

1. Mrs. Frizzle
Mrs. Frizzle is the teacher we all aspire to be (or is that just me?), and with the new Magic School Bus coming out soon, it's particularly topical.

2. Olivia the Pig

This Olivia the Pig costume is so, so cute and instantly recognizable to any elementary schooler.

3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This Very Hungry Caterpillar costume idea will let you dress up as the classic book without waddling around in a caterpillar suit all day.

4. Hedwig the Owl

Oh hey, it's me! I dressed up as Hedwig last year by making a cape out of fleece and painting yellow eyes on a white hat. Bonus points for a Hogwarts letter tied to your ankle!

5. Pete the Cat

Pete the Cat is beloved by students and teachers everywhere for his groovy attitude and snazzy shoes. 

6. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

I couldn't leave out Chicka Chicka Boom Boom-- the classic kindergarten teacher costume!

7. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

This If You Give A Mouse A Cookie outfit looks pretty easy to put together-- just overalls, ears, and a posterboard cookie!

8. Madeline

My friend Alicia of Primary Scouts makes the cutest Madeline of all time, does she not?!

9. Box of Crayons

This box of crayons costumes goes beyond the typical conehead crayon outfit! That felted sweater looks like a lot of work, but it sure is cute. (And I WOULD totally wear it on non-Halloween days too)

10. Arthur

This Arthur costume is SO easy and fun! I would even add a library card as a prop.

11. Pencil

From the same creator of the crayon outfit comes the best pencil costume I have ever seen!!! Time to bust out the sewing machine!

Who are you going to be for Halloween this year? Even without a costume, you can add some fall festivity to your classroom with my Perseverance Pumpkins Bulletin Board Kit!

Teaching the Six Syllable Types

Most phonics programs cover all sorts of one syllable words, from digraphs to diphthongs, but then stop. Or else, they jump right to prefixes and suffixes, without ever explicitly addressing how to read two syllable words. Many students are able to intuitively apply their phonics knowledge to read two syllable words with ease, but this is often not the case for our struggling readers. Introducing the six syllable types (and providing plenty of practice) is a great next step for your students that have mastered one syllable words, but still need explicit phonics instruction.

Closed Syllables
Closed syllables are the first kind of syllables most students learn to read. CVC words, for example, are closed syllable. A closed syllable has a short vowel and ends (or is "closed in") with a consonant. Cat, in, sock, and hug are all words that are closed syllables. Students who can read these words can easily learn to read two syllable words made up of closed syllables, such as cactus and rabbit. Teach students to look for two consonants in the middle of a word, and split the syllables between those consonants. For example: cac/tus and rab/bit. Students can sound out each syllable individually and put them together to form the word. I love teaching closed syllables because students can feel successful reading "big words" very quickly!

Silent E Syllables
Silent e syllables are those that have a long vowel and end with a silent e-- CVCe or VCe words, essentially. Cake, ice, and rope are all words that are silent e syllables. Many compound words contain silent e syllables, such as cupcake and sunrise, as well as non-compound words, like mistake and reptile. As with closed syllable words, teach students to look for two consonants and split the word between them, as in mis/take and cup/cake. Then, the student can read the two syllables and put them together to read the word.

R-Controlled Vowel Syllables
R-controlled syllables contain one of the r-controlled vowels pairs: AR, OR, IR, UR, or ER. Car, bird, and fern are all words that are r-controlled vowel syllables. Hammer, popcorn, and thunder are two syllable words with r-controlled vowel syllables. As with the above syllable types, teach students to split the words between the consonants, as in pop/corn and thun/der. If the r-controlled vowel syllable is the first syllable, teach students to split after the r-controlled vowel, as in star/fish and nar/whal. 

Vowel Team Syllables
Vowel team syllables contain one of the main vowel teams or diphthongs, such as EE, IGH, OA, or OI. Train, leaf, and claw are words that are vowel team syllables. Pillow, scooter, and poison are two syllable words that contain vowel teams syllables. As with the other syllable types, have students look for two consonants and split between them, as in pil/low. If there are not two consonants, have them split after the first vowel team, as in scoo/ter and poi/son. 

Consonant + LE Syllables
Consonant + LE syllables are made up of a consonant followed by LE, such as tle, cle, and zle. Unlike the other syllable types, these syllables do not form words on their own, but are always part of a multisyllable word, such as puzzle or turtle. Teach students that when they see LE at the end of a word, it will be read as /ull/. The consonant preceding LE will stay with the LE when splitting the syllables, regardless of whether there are two consonants or one. For example, students will of course split puzzle as puz/zle, but maple will be split ma/ple, not map/le. 

Open Syllables
Open syllables contain a long vowel and do not end with a consonant. I teach these syllables last, as students are generally less familiar with them. The one syllable words that are open syllables are mostly sight words, such as he, she, and be. Two syllable words with open syllables include robot, spider, and donut. With open syllables, students can't follow the simple rule of dividing between the two consonants, as these words have a single consonant in the middle. With open syllables, students will split after the vowel and before the consonant, as in spi/der and do/nut. However, some students may struggle with this, as these words could be split other ways still following the rules taught above. For example, a student might split donut don/ut to form two syllables. In this case, students can use trial and error. Prompt them to think, "Is don/ut a word? It's not, so the first syllable may be a closed syllable. Is do/nut a word? Yes, it is." 

You can snag my free poster outlining these syllable types with examples here.

You can also get the six week unit that has everything you need to teach the six syllable types here.

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