Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Five Easy Ways to Use Youtube Videos in Your Classroom. (Tip #5 is my Favorite!)


Even if you aren't very "tech-savvy", don't let that scare you.  There are so many ways that you can implement technology into your classroom.  

Using videos from YouTube is an easy way to add the technology factor to your teaching!






There are so many great videos out there on YouTube.  In a busy teacher's life, you don't always have time to preview videos to check that they are safe for students.  However, you can subscribe to your favorite channels to create a playlist so that you can feel confident that these are quality videos.

As always, if you are unsure about where a video originates or if it is not from a channel that you trust, preview it before showing to your students.

(Side note... I am a LIST person.  I love lists.  All kinds of lists.  That includes folders on my computer and in my Google Drive. They might or might not be color coded by subjects with files inside of files...)

When I show my students a video that I like, it's very simple for me to copy that url and paste it on a word doc inside a folder for the subject we are learning.

Next year, the work is done.  All of those great videos are simply a click away, already organized by subject and ready to go into my lesson plans! 

Here are Five Easy Ways to use YouTube Videos in your classroom.

1.  Whole Group

Using an instructional video is a great "hook" to introduce a new topic.  Students can watch a catchy song, a funny story, watch a read-aloud, and more.  

It's hard for teachers to always be witty and entertaining.  Let the video do it for you!

2.  Remediation or Enrichment

Now that you have those urls saved  in an easily accessible place, assign the videos to students via Google Classroom.  (If youtube videos are blocked for students like they are in my school, first add them to safeshare.tv)

Students who need remediation on a subject will listen and watch the video through their Goggle Classroom account (with earphones of course!).  They can re-watch as many times as needed, whether they are at home or at school.  It's also a NO PREP assignment from you and differentiated to fit individual needs. (Win/Win)

Similar Assignments can be made for early finishers and/or students who need enrichment.  Students who have a firm hold on the concept can watch videos that are more advanced to learn new concepts and ideas.

3.  In a Private Facebook Group

Another favorite way of using youtube videos in my classroom is not really in the classroom.  Instead, I form a private Facebook Group for parents at the beginning of each school year.  It's such an efficient way to communicate with parents!  I like to post the instructional videos in the Facebook Group so that parents can see what we are learning in the classroom.  I especially like to post videos that show those tricky Common Core math strategies to teach the parents as well as the students!

4.  Indoor Recess

It happens to everyone at some point in the school year.  You've had all of the indoor recess noise that you can handle and you just can't take ONE. MORE. DAY of being indoors.  Put on an instructional video for the students to watch.  (My students LOVE the Liberty Kids videos.  Bonus points because these also gave us some quality social studies learning!)  This is an especially great idea if you happen to have a sub on an indoor recess day.

Now, to my last and FAVORITE tip...

5.  To Teach an Entire Subject from Beginning to End

WHAT?  Yes, you heard me correctly.  

Sometimes, (ok, honestly almost all of the time), it's just so dang HARD to fit everything into that 50 minute block.  Introduce, Instruct, Assign Practice Work (meaningful, yet busy), work with small groups, and do a conclusion for the day's lesson. 


So, I developed lesson plans that my students could work on at their own pace for the entire week using videos.  They had instructional videos to introduce the concept, songs to help put an earworm in their head, on-line games to play for practice and to solidify the concept, stories to listen to, on-line informational text to read, writing assignments, and more.

All videos are placed into safeshare.tv so that ads are removed and I know they are safe!




My students LOVED the assignments.  They were engaged.  The work was rigorous.  The learning was taking place in the modality they had been raised with.  


I LOVED this way of learning because I had time to work with individual students and small groups of students to remediate or challenge them.  Lesson planning was simple.  I had more time to focus on other areas in my classroom that needed my attention.


It was a win-win for all of us.  


Now, that I'm retired, I can focus making more of these and sharing this exciting way of learning in the classroom.  (Drop a comment or send an email if there is a particular concept you would like to see in this kind of unit.)

Click here if you would like to see more of these units.


Whether you use my ready made units, or you use videos to assign in Google Classroom for your students to learn at their own pace, you will love gaining the time to work with small groups!


There you have it.  Five Easy Ways to start using YouTube videos in your classroom.  (Was #5 your favorite also?)

If you are interested in more ideas, sign up for my email newsletter and get these 11 NO PREP Activities for FREE!




Using technology to make teaching easier.  That's just...

My Kind of Teaching!



Monday, June 1, 2020

Skip Counting Puzzles for Hands-on Learning

What is your style of teaching in your classroom?

If it's using hands-on activities, then you will love these puzzles!

These skip counting puzzles are such a hit in my Morning Tubs.  I have had so many teachers tell me that their students absolutely love using them!

These skip counting puzzles make a great add on to your morning tubs for anytime of the year.   You can find them with a spring or summer theme (and soon in a fall and winter theme).

Included are twenty beautiful photos.  There are five different levels.









These all include the same pictures making it easy to differentiate within the classroom.  Using the same pictures allows students to work at their level without embarrassment.

Print the pictures on cardstock, laminate, and cut on the lines.  Store in individual ziplock bags or mix them all together to add rigor.





A favorite activity is to add a small magnet on the back of each strip.  Students can put the puzzles together on a small cookie sheet, a magnetic board, the side of a file cabinet, or any other magnetic surface.

These can be printed full page or they work great printing two to a page also.


In fact, you can use this printing trick for any page that you would like to print smaller which saves both paper and ink.

Keeping the fun in the classroom with hands-on learning, and printing tips for the teacher is just...

My Kind of Teaching!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Healthy Eating for Kids: Tummy Ninjas vs. The Stomach Virus

Healthy Eating for Kids:  
Tummy Ninjas vs. The Stomach Virus

I'm so excited about having my dear friend, Melisa, as a guest.  She and I taught 2nd grade together and then a few years later we taught 4th grade together.  She is one of the most awesome people I know!  Melisa is passionate about teaching kids all about eating healthy!

Melisa has written a book, Tummy Ninjas vs. the Stomach Virus, and she's here to tell us all about it!


Hi, Melisa!  Thank you so much for being a guest.  Can you tell us a little about your background and who you are?

Hi!  My name is Melisa West and I am the author of Tummy Ninjas vs. the Stomach Virus.  I have been an elementary school teacher for 17 years, and I LOVE it. My husband Brandon and I have two amazingly adorable children of our own.  I have a bachelor's degree in health and physical education and a master's degree in special education.  I am a NESTA certified Childhood Nutrition Specialist and a NESTA certified Fitness Nutrition Coach. It is a blessing to use my skills as an educator and my passion for health to teach, motivate, and encourage young people and families to lead healthy lifestyles. 


 My daughter, Ava, looking at her copy of the Tummy Ninjas book.

Can you tell us how you encourage a healthy lifestyle in your classroom?

 As a teacher, I have worked with thousands of children.  It has been exciting to observe how easy it is to be a positive role model and set a good example for them.  I have had countless parents send me messages thanking me for motivating their children to drink more water or try a new fruit.  Yes, I am THAT teacher who doesn't give candy.  I do make fruit salad for my students several times per year, and I encourage healthy snacks.  I have found that my students appreciate this. Plus, the students feel better throughout the day and are ready to learn.

How did you first develop the idea of your Tummy Ninja story?

It is in the classroom that I first created the Tummy Ninja story 7+ years ago.  I had a group of adorable 2nd graders pulling out their snacks for the day.  To my astonishment, most students had a bag of candy as their snack (it was the day after Halloween).  I always eat snacks with my students.  This is just a very subtle way that I like to inspire them to make healthy choices.  On this special day, I was eating egg salad wrapped in a Romaine lettuce leaf.  We had a very brief talk about how the candy would make them feel after they ate it.  The students all agreed that they would feel "kind of yucky".  We then discussed how apples, bananas, or something with less sugar would make them feel.  They all agreed that those foods would give them more energy and make them feel great.  From there, I told them that when we feed our Tummy Ninjas fresh fruits and vegetables, they get strong and can fight off germs.

How did the students react to this?

This really made an impact on the students.  The most exciting part of this story is that on the very next day, the students brought apples, bananas, carrot sticks, and even egg salad for snack.  They were all talking about the Tummy Ninjas and how they were feeding them to make them strong.  How cool and simple was that?

That's amazing!  I remember all of the work you and Brandon put into writing and illustrating this book.  Can you tell us more about your book?



We used our two children as the stars of our books.  Miles is the hero of the book, and Ava has her own character.  My husband did all of the illustrations using both of them as models.  Here's a synopsis of the book:


What is your next step of utilizing your book to reach more children and encourage healthy eating for kids?

After publishing my book, I have designed several health lessons using my Tummy Ninja theme. The health lessons strongly incorporate reading and writing skills.  These lessons can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  To find these fun lessons, click here.

I have also created a website dedicated to teaching children and parents about healthy options.

Melisa has generously offered to give away one of her books and a unit from her store to TWO lucky winners.  For a chance to win visit this simple giveaway to enter.  This contest will run from Sunday, March 8, 2020 to Sunday, March 15, 2020.

To purchase your own copy of Tummy Ninjas vs. the Stomach Virus, click here.

Ava admiring her father's drawing of her.

Spreading news about great happenings in the classroom. 

That's just...  

My Kind of Teaching!



Sunday, March 1, 2020

Using Games to Learn: The Importance of Games in Your Classroom


Using Games to Learn:

The Importance of Games in Your Classroom



Do you use games in your classroom?

I mean, like ALL. THE. GAMES?


Card Games 

Board Games 
Whole Class Games 
Partner Games 
Individual Games 
Small Group Games

Do you incorporate games into ALL subjects?


If your answer is no, you are missing out on a virtual GOLDMINE of learning in your classroom!




Today, I’d like to talk about the importance of incorporating more games into your classroom routine.


Games are a great way to introduce a concept, practice and reinforce skills, review before a test, build confidence, and so many more benefits.



Using games instead of workbooks, homework, drill and kill is a FUN way to incorporate learning in a non-threatening way.  It feels rebellious and like you are "cheating" and not fully teaching, but that couldn't be further from the truth! 
Those of you that know me, know that my philosophy in both a traditional brick and mortar school setting as well as in homeschooling involves learning through play.
If this is not your mindset, it is never too late to change and to begin to think of play and games as part of your curriculum.  
Games ARE learning!

In addition to learning and practicing specific skills and concepts, playing games develop and encompass many other skills:
  • verbal skills
  • following directions
  • social skills
  • cooperation
  • critical thinking
  • problem-solving
  • focus

Your students will be THRILLED to come to your classroom when you put away the workbooks and worksheets and instead play a game.
You will be THRILLED because your load will become lighter with adding games to your day and week.  The benefits for you include:
  • less prep time (ALWAYS a win-win!)
  • nothing to grade
  • set-up is minimal
  • engagement is maximum
  • informal observations and assessments

There are many different ways you can add games to your day.
  • Add a game to your morning routine for "bell work"
  • Add games for early finishers
  • Add games to centers
  • BEGIN with a game in any subject
  • Complete other work and END with a game
  • End your day on a high-note with a game
  • Add games for enrichment or remediation

One of the easiest and most fun ways I used games in my classroom for a whole group was so very simple and involved absolutely NO PREP on my part. I call this game "Four Corners".  Here's how to play:
Designate each corner of your classroom as a letter.  You can even add the letters like I did.  One corner is A, another is B, and the other two are C and D.  Ask your students a question with four answers.  When you say, "move" the students all move to the corner they feel is the correct answer.
(When you first begin playing this game, students do not want to be "wrong" and will usually follow the kids that they think know the answer.  One way to stop this is to give each student a write/wipe board along with a dry-erase marker and eraser.  Before saying "move" the students must write the answer on the board.  When they move they take the board only with them and hold that board up so that you can see that they have written the same letter as where they are standing.)

As students become more confident with this game, they will be able to move to a letter with confidence, even if they are the only student.  It really becomes empowering when students realize that sometimes the majority of students actually move to the wrong answer!





Through many, MANY years of teaching, I have witnessed the power of using games in my classroom (and now our homeschool).  While it does take a little planning and gathering of materials on your part, it is still vastly less than printing worksheets, grading those worksheets, and more.  Use those worksheets sparingly as a way to have paper proof (if you must) that the students have learned the concept.  We all know that you know which students have it and which students don't without seeing it on that piece of paper!

You can add games to your classroom without a lot of money:

  • thrift stores
  • ask family members and friends
  • post on social media asking for donations to your classroom
  • yard sales
  • clearance
  • online printables
  • online digital

If you are interested, I have several printable games in my Teachers pay Teachers store.

Here is a FREE printable in my store.


Sign up for my weekly emails and get eleven FREE No Prep Centers and Games.


Giving your students time to learn in this format can and will transform your classroom environment and your students' confidence in their abilities. 



Try it.

Then, watch the magic happen.


Fun combined with learning.  That's just...
My Kind of Teaching


Friday, February 21, 2020

March Morning Tubs: A Great Alternative to Morning Worksheets

March Morning Tubs

Using morning tubs are a great alternative for morning worksheets! 

Who says that fun has to stop after kindergarten?  It’s certainly not me!  I am a big believer that children learn best through play and exploration.  With that philosophy in mind, I developed these morning tubs using many of the “play” components that younger children love and combined that with basic skills and standards necessary for success in second, third, and fourth grades.

Here's a closer look at the March Morning Tubs.

March Morning Tubs - ELA

All of the tubs whether 2nd, 3rd, or 4th contain the same activities for ELA.

Students will read the clues in the squares on each white board and find the puzzle pieces with the answers.  When all of the pieces are placed on the correct clues, a picture will be revealed.

The students will choose picture cards and write stories, including rich details about the pictures.
Optional: Use the document camera to reflect the picture onto the big screen.  Use as a writing assignment for the entire class.



Students will use the magnetic letters to spell the vocabulary words.  Two levels are included: with words and without.  Students can copy the words, or they can use the blank cards to spell the words.  This can be used with a cookie sheet (I bought mine for only $1 at the Dollar Tree) or with any magnetic surface including the side of a filing cabinet.

The students will walk around the room quietly and look at the animal cards.  The students will write the animals under the correct habitats.

The student will read the passage about an unusual animal and then complete the activities.
Optional: This activity could be used as a whole-group activity by showing the passage on your overhead projector and then having students complete a different activity daily.  (I have also included a link to a video about Mountain Chickens.)



Students will put the mini puzzles together by putting the words in alphabetical order.

Students will connect the words together to make compound words.
The first part of the compound word can be copied on a different color from the second word if you would like.
Extra supplies needed:  plastic links

This game can be played with 2-4 players.  Turn all letter tiles upside down.  Each student will begin with five letter tiles.  The student will place two letters at a time on the board and then draw two tiles so that he/she always has five letters.  The student who completes a word gets a block.  The person with the most blocks when all of the words have been completed is the winner.
Extra supplies needed:  small blocks


Place each stack of cards on the game board face down.  The students will take turns rolling a die.  The first student will take a card from the stack with the number shown on the die.  If the student can give an answer, he/she can keep the card.  If the student can’t give an answer, it is returned to the bottom of the stack.  The winner is the person with the most cards at the end of the game.
Extra supplies needed:  a die

March Morning Tubs - Math

The student will choose an answer by poking a hole with a straw or a pencil.  When the card is turned over, the student will check to see if the straw or pencil is through the hole with the circle.
Extra supplies needed:  a straw or pencil



For 2nd & 3rd grade: 
The students will draw four flowers from the bag or basket and place the numbers on the flowerpot.  The students will add the four numbers in order to “grow” the flowers.

Option: Students can use place value blocks if needed.
For 4th grade: 
The students will choose only two numbers and will multiply.
Extra supplies needed:  dry-erase marker and eraser


Students will clip the answers with clothespins.
Optional: Students can use dry-erase markers to circle the answers.
Extra supplies needed:  clothespins

 2nd Grade: Students will put the puzzles together by counting within 1,000.
3rd Grade: Puzzles to 100,000
4th Grade: Puzzles within millions
Optional: Add a small magnetic strip to the back of each puzzle strip.  Students can then use magnetic surfaces for completing the puzzles.

  2nd Grade: 
Students will turn all coins face down.  The students will take turns turning over a card.  If the answer is on the board, the coin will be placed on top of it.  The winner is the first person who finds all of the gold at the end of the rainbow and fills up the page.
 3rd and 4th Grade:
Products and Quotients



2nd and 3rd Grade:
The students will draw the shapes in sand.
4th Grade: Students will draw items such as parallel lines and different kinds of angles.

This game can be used for 2-4 players.  Print each board on a different color of cardstock.  The students will take turns rolling the dice, adding them together and covering that number on their board.  If the number is already covered, the student’s turn is over.  The winner is the student who covers his/her board first.
Two gameboards are included for adding two or three numbers.
*The third gameboard can be used for students working on multiplication.  Use two dice for this board.
Extra supplies needed:  small seasonal erasers or small blocks; dice

The students will use mental math to find six different equations that show the answers on the pots of gold.

The student will spin the spinner using a paper clip and a pencil.  The student will then take that color of Skittle and add it to his/her mat.  The student will continue until he/she has collected ten Skittles.  The student will then make fractions with the information. 
Extra supplies needed:  Skittles candy

March Morning Tubs - Fine Motor Skills


Laminate the word cards. The students will trace the spring words written in cursive.
Extra supplies needed:  dry-erase marker and eraser


Laminate.  The students will trace the pictures with dry-erase markers.
Optional: Print on regular copy paper.


Laminate.  The students will complete the pictures by drawing the mirror images of the parts shown.
Extra supplies needed:  dry-erase marker and eraser

March Morning Tubs - Critical Thinking Skills




Students will read the clues to find the tangled paths and place all of the pictures in the correct places.

Laminate.  The student will complete each grid square to draw a complete picture.
Optional: Print on regular copy paper.
Extra supplies needed:  dry-erase marker and eraser

Not only does morning tubs help set the tone for the day, but they get students excited about coming to school each and every day.  Who wouldn’t LOVE beginning the day with some play?  Students enjoy playing the activities so much, that they don’t even realize that they are actually practicing needed skills to be successful in school.

Find these March Morning Tubs in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking on the pictures below.  Feel free to pin also.  You can get one for free by subscribing to my email letters.  See below for the info.





Click on the picture below to receive free morning tubs when you sign up for my newsletter.


Keeping learning fun and engaging for students with morning tubs. That's just...

My Kind of Teaching!