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I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday :-)

DeBono's Thinking Hats

Have you heard of DeBono's Thinking Hats? This is a system often used in group discussion and individual thinking. I enjoy using it for critical thinking and looking at a topic in various perspectives. I try and incorporate Socratic Seminars and debates into my classroom, and this system lends a hand nicely to get students thinking in all kinds of ways and directions. 

In this post, I will go into detail how I use it with elementary students. The kids get excited about using it, especially when I tell them that it is used in the business world to make decisions! The main benefit, in my opinion, is removing the ego from the decision. Kids tend to get caught up in a particular point of view during a debate. For example, "I think this is a BAD idea and don't agree with it!". DeBono's Thinking Hats forces students to look at all angles and facets of the topic. 

With my third-graders, we take these hats VERY seriously. So seriously, that we wear actual hats. For an eight-year-old, visualizing the hats and literally taking them on and off is truly makes the concept "click." I purchased eight hats at the Dollar Tree for this activity and covered them in colored painters tape to make them match the correct hat color. 

I have done a whole group lesson with two different books: The Man That Walked Between the Towers and Milo and the Magical Stones. I chose these books because characters are making choices in them. I LOVE The Man That Walked Between the Towers, but elementary school students will veer off and start telling their parents September 11th stories. However, I think it is important that we remember the World Trade Towers and the New York City skyline for what it once is. It is not only an important discussion, but also a good way to help the kids remember that history is constantly evolving, and today we are looking at a snapshot of a point in history. 

I use whole-group the first time that I do DeBono's Thinking Hats with the kids. We read the book together, then look at the choice a character made. For example, in The Man That Walked Between the Towers, we specifically look at the man's choice to go on the tightrope. Would you have done it? First, we put on our Red Hat (yes, I literally put on the big, red Dollar Tree hat!). What do we feel about this? What emotions does it create? Are we excited? Anxious? Scared? The students and I discuss, then move onto the next hat. 

At the very end of the lesson, we make a decision as a whole group. Would we have chosen to walk across the tightrope now that we have looked at all angles of the decision? 

After students have had practice with DeBono's Thinking Hats, I give them an opportunity to work in a group with limited teacher assistance. I divide the kids into groups of three. Each group gets a different book where the character must make some sort of a choice or big decision. They go through the same steps as our whole group lesson, and make a decision on their book. 

Have you used DeBono's Thinking Hats in the classroom before?

Veterans' Day ideas!

This post is a tad bit last minute, but here are some ways to bring Veterans' Day into your classroom for tomorrow!

 Today, the kids traced their hands and cut them out of red, white, and blue paper. We assembled this darling, patriotic turkey. The kids were so excited to assemble this turkey and get ready for our Veterans' Day presentations tomorrow!

Interactive notebook resources

To celebrate Veterans' Day, my students will be making some of my Veterans' Day interactive notebook resources, which are available for $4 at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. First, we will watch a BrainPop on Veterans' Day. Next, we will talk about the five branches of military, and fill out the flipbook underneath.

During literacy stations, I will have both a guide word station and a part of speech sort! Guide words and using a dictionary is hard for my third-graders, so we have plenty of practice throughout the year. My kiddos love these holiday themed guide word searches, makes a dictionary much more fun :-)

Finally, I will be doing a read aloud on Veterans' Day! I will be reading "The Wall" by Eve Bunting, but some other great Veterans' Day books include "Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops" by Jill Biden and "A Poppy Is to Remember" by Heather Patterson.

Happy Veterans' Day to all those amazing men and women who have served and are currently serving in the military! Thank you today and everyday for all that you do.

What I Am Teaching This Week: Week of November 8th

We are continuing our fun patterns units! I am using a lot of packets made to integrate pattern blocks and geometric thinking. A fun math game we are using on the computers is Towers of Hanoi.

We continue with our literature circles this week! I am excited about the books that I picked out for the kids- I went with The Rat of Sumatra, Sing the Moon, Prince Caspain, and the Indian in the Cupboard. The kids were SO EXCITED. During Closing Circle, almost every student said that the best of their day was starting book club because they have never done something like it before. I love that they are excited, I am so happy to start! Many of my boys will only read science and nonfiction books at this point (which is great! But I never know how often they are reading or just looking at the glossy pictures), so I am also happy that I know they will be reading a little bit more :-)

We are starting our brainstorms & drafts on why we are thankful! This is a good opportunity to solidify paragraph writing. Each reason why one is thankful is a different paragraph, also helps with main idea & supporting details.

We start our Ancient Egypt unit this week! Ancient Egypt is my favorite unit. We use the W&M Egypt Social Studies units for this at my school, but I always incorporate my interactive notebook pieces and worksheets to make Egypt as fun as possible! We also do craft activities like making a sun dial, Egyptian headdresses, and Egyptian bread!


  • Thanksgiving
I begin incorporating Thanksgiving into my literacy stations at this point! I LOVE holidays and filling our room with anticipatory, holiday cheer! I have a new post as well with Thanksgiving activities, video resources, and ideas.

  • Veterans' Day
My school does a really good job with Veterans' Day. We have a high military population and transitory families, so it is an annual tradition to invite veterans in to talk about their jobs or stories. The kids are so proud to see their family members in the classroom.

Great week ahead! Let me know if you have any fun ideas or good video resources for various lessons that you may be teaching too :-)

4 easy steps to bring Thanksgiving into the classroom

I am a holiday fiend. I love incorporating the holidays into my third-grade classroom. Celebrating the seasons and special events each month truly makes the day more special. However, it can be lot of work to add festive cheer into the day! I like to find ways to easily integrate holidays into my everyday schedule. Here are four easy ways that I enjoy incorporating Thanksgiving into my classroom!

1. Read alouds
Every November I go to my school library to get a few read alouds... and everything is always checked out! I have a long list of read alouds because this will inevitably happen at your school too. This is probably a sign that I need to invest in my own read aloud books :-) (the following are Amazon Affiliate links).

Do you need a break (I'm always sick around Thanksgiving with a cold!)? This website, Just Books Read Aloud, has a HUGE selection of Thanksgiving books read aloud!

2. Thanksgiving interactive notebook activities

I love using my Thanksgiving Interactive Notebook flippables and folding templates during November to bring Thanksgiving into my classroom.

I incorporate Thanksgiving seasonal fun into my everyday literacy stations! For example, insert Thanksgiving themes into your cause & effect guided reading activities! Instead of "work on writing," kids can write about what they are thankful for. During a compare/contrast activity, use a venn diagram comparing the student and a pilgrim. There's not always enough time in a day to go all out with a holiday, so bring it into your station and center work. What I especially love about the interactive notebook resources is how darn easy it is. Printing and laminating cute centers is wonderful. but can be super stressful when you are already busy enough preparing for the holiday season and planning for school. Interactive notebook pieces are simple because you just push print on your computer and make copies... the kids do the cutting, folding, and writing!

I also like to make sure that students know WHY we celebrate Thanksgiving. So often the season gets wrapped up in pecan pie, mashed potatoes, football, and the Macy's Day Parade. I want the kids to know and understand where the holiday originated from. My Thanksgiving Interactive Notebook resources also includes pieces that give students a more thorough understanding of the Puritans arriving from England.

3. Turkey activities
Turkeys are super easy to incorporate into either science or language arts. For language arts, kids can write synonyms, antonyms, or guide words on the feathers. In math, they could write fact families, equivalent fractions, or multiplication facts. This year I made a darling display for the kids' language arts work. The kids created turkeys, then utilized a thesaurus to write synonyms on their feathers. I did not give the kids a template for the turkey, so they were super creative on their creations!

In writing, I have done a persuasive writing piece from the point of view of a turkey on Thanksgiving. I also have students work on their main idea and paragraph writing with "What I Am Thankful For." Each paragraph is a different reason why they are thankful, and they must write at least three supporting details. Not only is it thought-provoking for the kids, but it definitely drives home the skill of each paragraph being a separate "big idea."

4. Videos
In my county, the kids get out two hours early the day before Thanksgiving. This day is CRAZY. The kids are so excited for the holiday, and usually only 2/3 of my class shows up since the other students leave early to travel. Since so many kids are missing during this time, I am unable to teach new content since so many kids will be missing out.

What activities do you do for Thanksgiving? Do you have any fun or neat ways to bring Thanksgiving cheer into your classroom?

Need ideas for Thanksgiving activities in the classroom? Read about four easy ways to bring festive fun for kids into your elementary school!

What I Am Teaching This Week: Week of November 1st

We are continuing our fun patterns units! I am using a lot of packets made to integrate pattern blocks and geometric thinking. A fun math game we are using on the computers is Towers of Hanoi.

We are starting literature circle this week! I can't wait to go and choose the great books for each class. My kids will be so excited to start their reading!

We are finishing up our writing prompts on our favorite holidays! The kids are finishing up their revision stage with a partner, and will be moving on to their final soon! Can't wait to see the finished product.

We start our Ancient Egypt unit this week!

Yay, fun week ahead! Let me know if you have any fun ideas or good video resources for various lessons that you may be teaching too :-)