Christmas

Christmas Memes for Teachers

Thanksgiving break has been delightful!  A whole week to…do laundry, cook, catch up on housework, clean out closets, fix the dishwasher, replace a door, and of course sleep in, Netflix, spend time with the family and eat yummy food.  But on Monday, it all begins again.  Are you ready?

Teacher Humor from The Pensive Sloth Teacher Meme Brace Yourself Christmas is Coming

Teacher Humor from The Pensive Sloth Teacher Meme Christmas Crafts Glitter Scrap Paper Glue Everywhere

Teacher Humor from The Pensive Sloth Teacher Meme I'm Going to Need You To Line Up Again

Good luck.  May the force be with you.  Stay strong.  We’re all depending on you.  You can do it!

–The Pensive Sloth

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Teach History With Me–World War I and The Christmas Truce for Kids

Teach History With Me Blog Series from The Pensive Sloth for Teaching 5th and 6th Grade HistoryI never really liked history in school.  All I really remember is my 7th grade teacher giving us a packet of worksheets to fill in as we read a chapter in the book or my high school US history teacher holding classes in the bleachers so that he could practice with his baseball team on the field during the spring season.  I’m not kidding.  We filled in our worksheets from the bleachers, chasing after them (reluctantly) from time to time when the wind blew them away!  When I started teaching American history to my 5th graders, I wanted things to be different.  I wanted learning history to be fun…and hopefully memorable.

The week before Christmas is when I whip out one of my favorite history lessons–World War I and the Christmas Truce.

World War 1 and the Christmas Truce History Lesson 5th Grade

  • DAY 1–CAUSES OF THE WAR
    • We spend the first day learning about the events leading up to the war.  Of course there is the Archduke Ferdinand moment, but that was but one part.  There is so much more!  We discuss and act out the role of different countries as they seek to control lands in Africa (imperialism).  Every country wants to be wealthier, right?  Of course they do, and Africa had lots of natural resources!  We share our thoughts about why countries become allies and enemies and discuss why countries want to compete with each other to have the best weapons and strongest armies (militarism).  Then we discuss immigration and the different cultures that were coming to American soil during the early 20th century, each with their own beliefs and loyalties (nationalism), and how and why America decided to join the war.  By the end of the lesson students have a conceptual understanding of what led to the war.
  • DAY 2–TRENCH WARFARE
    • After reviewing what led to the war, it is time to dig in deep and discuss trench warfare!  We discuss the sacrifices the soldiers made and what life was like for them in the trenches.  What new weapons made the war so deadly and the chances of survival for those that fought–would they get trench foot?  Trench fever? Or killed or injured by the weapons of that time?  What was medical care like?  The YouTube video above does a great job of explaining trench warfare.  Please preview to make sure it is appropriate for your students.
Christmas in the Trenches 5th Grade Christmas and World War 1 History Lesson

Click the book cover to go the Amazon.com listing.

  • DAY 3–“CHRISTMAS IN THE TRENCHES” BOOK
    • Time to hear from a soldier!  I read the book “Christmas in the Trenches” by John McCutcheon. It’s a fabulous story!  A grandfather tells about Christmas night during the war, when enemy soldiers put down their weapons and ventured into no-man’s land to celebrate together.  The kids are always in awe at this idea.  If you order this book from Amazon.com it comes with a CD that includes the song “Silent Night” in German.  The kids LOVE it!

Garth Brooks Thumbs Up Meme World War 1 and The Christmas Truce Lesson

  • DAY 4–“BELLEAU WOOD” SONG/POEM BY GARTH BROOKS
    • This is where students really have to make connections and pull it all together.  I give the kids a printed copy of the song “Belleau Wood” by Garth Brooks.  NOTE–The word ‘hell’ is used towards the end.  I edited this out, both in the paper copy I give students and the audio version I play.  Know your audience.  It is used very appropriately in my opinion, but I err on the side of caution with language in 5th grade.  Back to the lesson…The song presents one soldier’s account of the Christmas truce.  I always get chills when listening.  I play the song once and they follow along.  We stop and discuss the content of the song as it relates to WWI, then talk about the poetic elements–speaker, change in tone, word choice, etc.
World War 1 and the Christmas Truce History Lesson 5th Grade

I like to post words on a chart while we are learning new content.  This helps students use the language during discussions and writing. A few of the really new or challenging terms can be taught before the lesson, which is especially helpful for ELL students. I have found that in the upper grades, content or unit specific word charts work better for me than a word wall.  I leave them up all year, but when we move to a new unit in social studies, I place the new chart on top.  Some kids still revisit the old charts when looking for a word.

  • DAY 5–ASSESSMENT
    • I do give an integrated assessment over the whole thing–a few poetry questions on the song, a pencil and paper quiz and essay on the content, some activities with the new vocabulary and so on.  Gotta get a few grades and check for mastery!
World War 1 and the Christmas Truce History Lesson 5th Grade

Critical Thinking–Discuss what might cause countries to be allies or enemies. Students can also work in groups to learn about the countries on either side, their flags, and the current relations they have with the United States.

PS–I’m working on a packet of resources to go with this lesson.  It’s not quite finished.  Hopefully over the Christmas break I can fit it into my busy napping schedule!

For more Teach History with Me posts, check out these posts on The Civil War and MLK and the Civil Rights Movement

–The Pensive Sloth

Reindeer Trail Mix…and an Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Looking for a goofy treat to share with your students this holiday season?  How about Reindeer Trail Mix!  Now, I started making this stuff years ago when I taught 1st grade and it was a hit.  When I moved to the upper grades, I needed a festive snack for our holiday party but wasn’t quite sure if my 5th and 6th graders would go along with the cheesiness of making “Reindeer Food.”  I decided to give it a try and…it turned out great!  The more I cheesed it up, the better.  Here’s the secret recipe:

 INGREDIENTS

  • “Reindeer Chow”–Coco Puff cereal
  • “Snowballs”–Small marshmallows
  • “Twigs”–Pretzel sticks
  • “Berries”–M & M candies
  • “Magic Flying Powder–Colored sugar, like you would sprinkle on cookies
  • A Ziplock baggie for each student

SETTING UP

I usually lay all of the ingredients out in bowls and post the recipe on an anchor chart.  The kids are pretty good about inferring what each ingredient in the recipe represents (twigs = pretzel sticks).  Students then go down the line to make their own trail mix, but…With the colored sugar, AKA “Magic Flying Powder,” I tape a fictional label over the manufacturer’s label.  That’s where it gets really cheesy!  It reads something like this–

“Magic Flying Powder:  Super concentrated flying powder for reindeer use only.  Use caution when feeding, making sure not to over sprinkle.  Using more than 2 shakes may cause such consequences as flight to the moon.” 

The kiddos know it is just their teacher being goofy, but they love to break the rules and over sprinkle, then joke about how they used so much that they will probably end up on Jupiter.  It’s fun for all!  HINT:  Buy an extra bottle of the “Magic Flying Powder” and keep it hidden.  Almost every year there are a few students who go way overboard and I run out, which makes those last kiddos to make the trail mix sad.  If that happens, you can pull out your extra bottle and brighten their day!

Reindeer Trail Mix Recipe Anchor Chart from The Pensive Sloth  (holidays in the upper elementary classroom)

LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING???

How would an Amazon gift card help?  A teacher blogger friend of mine is hosting a giveaway for a $65 Amazon gift card.  Entering is easy.  Click the picture below and head on over to NC Teacher Chick’s blog where a Rafflecopter is waiting for your entry.  The giveaway runs Tuesday December 16 through Sunday December 20, 2014.  Good luck!

Christmas Giveaway Amazon Gift Card from NC Teacher Chick December 2014

Click the image to visit NC Teacher Chick’s blog and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. The giveaway runs Tuesday December 16 through Saturday December 20, 2014.  Good luck!