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Room on the Broom - a Great Picture Book for Halloween

I love to use picture books to teach everything, so today I want to share with you a great picture book to use with your students for Halloween. Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson is one Halloween picture book that is sure to delight your students.  It is a story written in rhyme about a witch and her cat on a broom.  The witch keeps losing her belongings - hat, wand, bow.  - After each item falls to the  ground it is discovered by an animal who gives it back  and asks to join the witch and the cat on her broom.  Of course eventually, the broom breaks and the animals tumble to the ground and into a bog.  A dragon flies by and wants to eat the witch, but the animals come to her rescue and frighten the dragon away.  I love to use this book to teach rhyming words, the use of sensory words, and the author's use of vivid verbs.  It's not scary and the kiddos will love the pictures. 

I created a unit to go along with the Room on the Broom which is available on my Teacher's Pay Teacher's store.  Remember, all of my products are 50% off for the first 48 hours!  Here are some photos to show you what is included in the unit.


I hope you enjoy using picture books in your classroom.  What are some of your favorite picture books for Halloween?

That's all for today!  Remember to always... Keep 'em Thinking!

Free Money Logic Puzzles

Just a quick post!  I thought I would share a fun freebie with you today!  This is a group of money logic puzzles geared toward 2nd and 3rd grade.  Children love puzzles and these money logic puzzles are fun!  They provide opportunities for students to develop skills in logical thinking, problem solving, making inferences, drawing conclusions, recognizing similarities and differences, and comparing and contrasting while reinforcing both reading and math skills.

This packet contains 11 puzzles in all:
  • 5 4 by 4 matrix logic puzzles
  • 6 Sudoku picture puzzles using coins
  • Yes/no cards for the logic puzzles
  • coin cards for the Sudoku puzzles
  • Answer keys 
You can use these puzzles in several ways with your students:  as morning work, in a center, as a whole group activity, or as independent work for early finishers. 

I hope you and your students enjoy these money logic puzzles as much as I enjoyed making them!

Just click on the link to download your free copy!

Money Logic Puzzles Freebie! from Keep 'em Thinking

A Blast From the Past - Old Classroom Photos

I've been out of the classroom for 5 years now, and sometimes it makes me a little sad.  Don't get me wrong,  I love being a gifted coordinator, but sometimes I miss interacting with the students and fixing up a classroom.  Today I was looking at old pictures of when I taught, and I came across some pictures of my old classroom.  I used to really get into fixing up my classroom to match the theme of the units I was teaching.  I suppose my favorite two classroom designs were for my marine biology unit and my unit on Ancient Egypt.  I must have spent a fortune fixing up those classrooms, but it was worth every penny. 

Whenever I decorated my classroom, I wanted the kids to feel they were immersed  in the unit, so I kinda went all out.  I thought I'd share a few of my classroom pictures with you.  These were taken in
2000-2001 and 2001-2002 school years.  You can tell by the computers!

Everyone always asks me how I made the murals on the walls and ceilings.  Well, the murals on the ceilings were actually pieces of tagboard cut to the exact dimensions of the ceiling tiles.  I copied the designs onto each one and painted them with acrylic paint.  When they were dry, I just slipped them into the dropped ceiling frame.  Now I was a lot younger then, so I don't know if I would get on a ladder to do it today. 

The murals on the walls were ecru sheets that I draped over some closets and using an overhead projector, to trace the designs from a coloring book about ancient Egypt onto the sheets using a sharpie pen  and then I painted them using acrylic paints.  I had an old mattress box I laid the sheets out on to paint them.  Believe it or not, they still look as good and vibrant today as they did back then.  The gifted teachers are doing a unit on ancient civilizations this year and four of the gifted specialists are using the murals in their classrooms.  We had to have a drawing because everyone wanted one and I didn't have enough to go around.

The next set of pictures was from my unit on marine biology.  I hung shower curtains over the windows so it looked like you were in an aquarium when you entered the classroom.

It's fun looking at old photos.  What old classroom photos are your favorites that you like to pull out?
Well,  that is all I have for today!  Remember to always...  Keep 'em Thinking!

Get Your Students Doodling!

Do you doodle? I do! I'm bad about sitting in a meeting and doodling all over my notes. But apparently I'm not alone. There have been some really famous doodlers like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Gates. I am happy to have something in common with these guys! Apparently doodling is not a bad thing. When we doodle our mind is very active according to Jackie Andrade, a professor at the University of Plymouth. She did a study where two groups listened to a tape of a boring phone conversation. One group was given paper and pencil and encouraged to doodle while listening to the tape while the other group was given nothing. Afterwards she tested each group's recall of the information on the tape. The doodlers remembered 29% more of the information in the conversation than the non-doodlers did in a surprise memory test. Andrade believes that doodling while we work can actually help you remember!

 Why is doodling a good thing? Andrade says we need to look at how our brains function when they're bored. Contrary to popular belief, when we're bored, our brains are very active and using lots of energy. The brain is designed to constantly process the millions of bits of information is it constantly being bombarded with. But when the brain finds an environment with little stimulation, it starts looking for something to think about. This is what happens when we begin to daydream which wastes a huge amount of brain energy. But doodling provides just enough stimulation to our brain during a task we find boring and prevents us from daydreaming. Doodling doesn't take away from concentration and can keep us from daydreaming and losing track of what is going on around us.

So how does this play out in the classroom? Should we encourage our students to doodle while listening to a lecture or watching a video? Actually, one of the greatest strategies particularly for our visual spatial kids to recall information is to take pictorial notes which we might consider minds-on doodling.

 In September, several of the gifted specialists attended a session at the Alabama Association of Gifted Children conference on a form of doodling called Zentangling. Apparently this is a trademarked form of doodling. Once you begin "tangling," you are hooked. Some of the gifted specialists have had their students "tangle" brains, their names, and even pumpkins for Halloween and they've come up with some pretty awesome products. If you're interested in having your kids get into "tangling," check out the books below:
That's all for today! Remember to always Keep 'em Thinking!

KenKen - Great Math Puzzles to Challenge Your Students!

I have discovered an absolutely wonderful website called KenKen.  People say KenKens are like Suduko puzzles on  steroids.  So exactly what is a KenKen?  It's a numerical puzzle that uses the four basic math operations - addition, subtraction, multiplication,  and division.  The puzzle is laid out on a grid  ranging from 3 by 3 to 9 by 9.  Also, they are available for different levels of complexity.  The most basic use only one operation (addition) and then they add subtraction, and the number of grids can also change.   The great thing about using these puzzles with your students is that it helps improve their math and  logic skills.  Here's a short video to teach you how it works!

If you go to the website, you will find  lots of KenKen puzzles ready for you to download for your kids.  They even have a version that can be played online, a mobile app, and if that isn't enough, you can sign up to have new sets of KenKen puzzles delivered to you by email each week!  Many of the gifted teachers in my system have a KenKen center in  their classroom.  But be careful, they're addicting!  The kiddos can't seem to get enough of them.  If you click under the section for teachers, they have a pdf file you can send home to teach your kiddo's parents how to KenKen as well.  So check it out and have fun while challenging your mind and boosting your brain power!

That's all  for  now!  Remember to always... Keep 'em Thinking!