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Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation: Preschool Activities

This year (2017) is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Teach your students about Martin Luther and the bold steps he took to ensure that everyone could read the Bible for themselves. He fought tirelessly to drive home the idea that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I know the story of Martin Luther and his fight against the Catholic Church is a little over the head of my preschool students, but I thought it was important for them to be introduced to this important Father of our Faith. 

We started out with the basics of Martin Luther's life in the 1500s and the way his life changed when he started reading the Bible for himself. We discussed the 95 Theses, or problems he had with the corruption he saw, and we "nailed" the document to a piece of styrofoam with golf tees to represent his nailing it to the church door.
We then discussed Martin Luther's seal - or a piece of wax with an individual design stamped into it. People use it to close a letter or document – it is a specific sign that it come from the person who sent it. It is like a signature or an autograph, but in picture-form. 

Martin Luther's seal had specific colors which symbolized important biblical truths:
Black cross – The cross causes pain and kills, but Jesus dying on the cross gives us life
Red heart – Faith in Jesus will keep us alive for all eternity
White rose: Faith causes peace and joy
Blue background: The sky reminds us to look up so that we look forward to heaven
Golden rim – Endless joy that awaits us in heaven

We then practiced our handwriting and focused on the letter M for Martin Luther.
Then we wrapped up with a color page and review our Bible verse for the week - Ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith..."

All of the activities we did are available in one print-and-go download in my TPT store. This resource includes print-and-go lesson plans with stories, activities, crafts, and more - perfect for the busy teacher, Sunday School leader, or homeschooling parent.

This resource includes:

  • List of materials
  • Suggested Bible verse
  • Suggested lesson plans
  • The Story: Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation
  • Activity: Nailing the 95 Theses
  • Craft: Martin Luther's Seal
  • Craft: My Personal Seal
  • Mm is for Martin Luther handwriting practice sheet
  • Bible verse cards (Ephesians 2:8) - 10 per page 

Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store to check out this print-and-go resource:

Halloween Book Project for ANY Book: Reading is a SWEET TREAT

Halloween is a fun time where students are eager for tasty candy treats. Build on their enthusiasm for candy with this fun twist - Reading is a Sweet Treat! 

This fun and engaging resource includes everything you need to assign, complete, and assess a project that can be used with ANY BOOK! (picture book or chapter book)

This resource includes two different sizes of the booklet pages - you can choose which one you'd like to use based on the age of your students and the space you have to display these.
My students always LOVED filling in these monthly book project - and I know yours will too! 

This resource is in a series of monthly themed book projects - check out the others in the series:

Teachers That Pray: Above-Average Students

Welcome to another week of Teachers that Pray!

Today I encourage you to pray for your ABOVE-AVERAGE STUDENTS. Pray for those in your class who excel academically. Pray that you, their teacher, would seek to meet the needs of your above-average students and challenge them in the classroom. Take the time to invest in them: learn about their interests and build on them. Pray that you would have the energy and motivation to differentiate your instruction so that these students would feel stimulated. Pray for creativity, wisdom, and patience.

Pray for these students by name. Their intelligence is a gift from God - Pray that they would use it for His glory. I pray that these students would stay focused and motivated in your classroom.

The verse I have chosen for this week is Philippians 4:19 "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." I know that God will meet the needs of these students and of you, the teacher, as you journey through this school year together.

Thanks for joining me, teacher friends! See you next week :)

Teachers That Pray: Struggling Students

Welcome to another week of Teachers that Pray! Today I want you to specifically pray for your STRUGGLING STUDENTS. 
By now you have identified the students in your classroom who are struggling, whether it be academically or socially. Take a moment today to pray for them by name. 
Pray for those who are having a hard time keeping up academically. Pray for strength, energy, and perseverance to keep trying, even when it's hard. Pray that they would not check out. Pray that you, their teacher, would have patience, energy, and determination. Pray that you would have the words to say to inspire, to motivate, and to hold accountable. Don't let these students fall through the cracks or skate by. Invest in them. Find creative ways to teach your material so that their learning style is being met and they can experience success in your classroom. 
Also pray for those who are having a difficult time socially. Pray for eyes to see the students who are feeling left out or made fun of. Pray that this would be a year where they grow in maturity and learn to relate to their peers. Pray for solid friendships to develop. Mix up your class seating, partner different students together for projects often, and teach your students about the art of friendship. Teach them to listen, to take an interest in others, and to help their classmates when needed. 
The verse for today is Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." God knows our hearts and he loves us with an unfathomable love. He loves each and every student in your classroom - pray that you would have His eyes to see those who are struggling. Pray for wisdom on steps you need to take to help those students feel welcomed, included, capable, and special. God chose YOU to be their teacher on purpose. It's an incredible blessing to be entrusted with little minds and little hearts for an entire year - but it's also a responsibility. Don't squander the time you have with them. 
There is power in prayer! Feel free to share this post and send to a teacher friend who might need this encouragement and motivation this morning. Also, leave a comment with what you are specifically praying for - I'd love to join you on my knees before the King of Kings  🍎🙏
*Teachers That Pray is a weekly series. Each Monday morning I post a prayer prompt for teachers to use to specifically pray for. I'd love for you to join me!

Teachers That Pray: Consistency

Welcome to another week of Teachers That Pray - today, let's pray for CONSISTENCY.
Pray for consistency in classroom management. Set your expectations high, have clear expectations, and hold your students to the standards you have set. I know it's tough. It can be draining. But it's so important. Your classroom will run more smoothly and your students will feel safe and confident in a classroom with consistent expectations and consequences. 

Pray for consistency in your grading. Keep things fair. Don't grade when you're over-tired or cranky. Each assignment is a fresh start for each student - don't grade today's writing assignment based on yesterday's poor behavior.

Pray for consistency in the time devoted to lesson planning. Spend time praying about what activities and ideas would be the most helpful for your class. Don't always just do exactly what you did last year. This is a different class. They have different needs. Different abilities. Different learning styles. Put forth consistent effort to meet those needs - your students deserve it.

The verse I have chosen for today is Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Do not grow weary, dear teachers - the Lord has PROMISED a harvest, but we must not give up! Keep plugging away - plan those engaging lessons, love your students, invest in them, and stay consistent. 

What area do you most need consistency in? Leave a comment below - I'd love to pray alongside you! Feel free to share with a teacher friend who might need to read this today.

*Teachers That Pray is a weekly series. Each Monday morning I post a prayer prompt for teachers to use to specifically pray for. I'd love for you to join me!

A Tip to Prevent Last-Minute Cramming

Hello friends!
Today I want to share a quick idea that I started doing with my class a couple years ago:

You may be thinking... "duh, tons of teachers use review sheets!"
And yes, you would be correct.
Many teachers hand out review sheets the day before a test so that the kiddos know what to focus on when preparing for the test.

But my trick is that I hand them out on the day that we START the unit!

On the first day of each science or social studies unit, 
I hand out a review sheet (they are always green for science and yellow for social studies).

Then as we go through the chapter each day, we fill in the definitions, answer short answer questions, and label diagrams on the review sheet.
The day before a quiz, I have the students highlight key information that needs to be studied.
Then, by the end of the unit, they have filled out the review sheet and have only to go home and review what they've already written down. The completed review sheet is turned in on test day as a completion grade. 

And sometimes, as a bonus, I let the kids use their review sheets on the test - it rewards those who have been faithfully filling in the correct, complete answers as we go :)

Voila! A simple, easy-to-implement strategy that keeps the information fresh and relevant throughout the unit - plus it cuts down on my kiddos feeling panicky and cramming the night before the test.

Anyone else use this strategy?

The Year I Stopped Giving Homework

I'm going to confess something that some of you may think is crazy: 
In my fifth grade classroom I don't give any homework.
At the beginning of the day they students write down everything we're going to do that day on their assignment sheet. As we go through the subjects I teach, we do sample problems together, and then they have a little bit of independent practice. If they finish the independent practice they check off the assignment. At the end of the day we have a 45 minute study hall for them to work on anything they didn't finish. After that, if they have anything left (which is rare) that is their homework. 

Parents know about my policy - they know that the students have adequate time in class plus study hall, so if they have lots of homework then it means the student most likely didn't spend his time wisely. I'm available during study hall to pull small groups and help if students have any questions (usually in math). Study hall is also a time when students can make corrections to their tests and earn back points (they can correct their mistakes and earn half a point back for each problem they fix - more on that in another blog post to come :))

I told them their "unofficial assignments" were to play outside, read to a younger sibling, help with the dishes, etc.   My students - and their parents - love this policy! It gives them more time to spend with their families, participate in sports/activities, and just be kids. Every month or so they will have a project they'll need to work on at home, but the lack of day-to-day homework frustration has been a game-changer in my classroom. I haven't found a major change in quiz or test scores since eliminating homework - I am purposeful in choosing the problems the students do as independent practice and this helps them master the concept without an hour of busy work each night.

What about YOU? How much homework do you give each night?

FREE Activity for the Greatest Homework Excuse Book Ever

Good morning teaching friends!
Today I want to share with you one of my favorite back-to-school books: Greatest Homework Excuse Book Ever
Have you read it? If not, zoom on out to the nearest library or bookstore and check this out!
It is a cute and clever book written and illustrated by a real-life fourth grade class:
The book discusses different excuses that a kid could come up with in order to explain why he doesn't have his homework. In the end, the students tells the truth and the teacher is caring and understanding, proving that there will be grace in school and that dishonesty is never a good policy.

We decided to have a little bit of fun with the book. I challenged each of my students to create their own imaginary excuse.
As you can guess, the students' imaginations went wild:
  We compiled all of the pages into a class book and it's not "published" in our classroom library:
If you'd like to try this FUN and ENGAGING activity, you can grab the booklet template for FREE HERE!

Improve Reading Fluency with Reading Buddies

Many of my students struggle with FLUENCY.
They can read the words accurately.
But sometimes they sound like robots.
Fast robots.
Slow robots.
or worst of all...
Bored robots.

So I tried a bunch of oral reading as a whole class.
And some partner work.
And we practiced and we practiced and we practiced.
I even monthly fluency tests, which helped many of them.
I made this fun fluency packet:

But then I wanted a more realistic way for these students to practice reading orally and developing their fluency. I wanted them to get into the stories, to read with different voices, and to express the emotion of the book. 
And it just wasn't working with their classmates. 
They are "too cool" or they "feel funny" reading it dramatically to their peers.

And then it dawned on me...
We needed a different audience.
younger audience.
So our Pre-school Reading Buddy Program was started!
Here's how it works:
Each student was assigned a preschool buddy.
They met their buddies and filled in these questionnaires to help guide them as they chose books:
Then, twice a month my student peruse the "little kids" section of the library to find the book that is just right for their "buddy." We practice the books in class and at home (each student has to practice to at least two people - parents, siblings, neighbors, etc.) and then we're ready to read to our buddies!
The students LOVE to read to their buddies - it's definitely their favorite days of the month. It's so fun to see them sift through the books in the library, trying to find one that their buddy will especially enjoy.

 This student loved our Bucket Filling project so much that she wanted to share the book with her preschool buddy!

 This student just moved here from Brazil - but she jumped right on board for the Buddy program:
*Note: it's an awesome experience for ELL or ESL students - builds their confidence and allows them to practice speaking English orally and fluently!

Each month the students update their Book Log to remember the books they've read to their buddies:

And last month we got a special treat...one of our "buddies" read to us!
It was so sweet to hear my students clap, cheer, and encourage him on!

Interested in TRYING Reading Buddies? Click here to download these forms for FREE:

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