February Ideas For The Elementary Classroom

 

February Holiday Ideas for School

To be the shortest month of the year February is certainly a busy one. Aside from the natural occurring holidays (Valentine’s, Ground Hog and President’s Days) there are several themes of recognition set in the month of February.

Perhaps because everyone thought February was such a boring month certain organizations decided to make February National “Whatever” Month.There is American Dental Month, Heart Health Month, Black History Month…the list goes on and on!

These special holidays and themes of recognition provide great opportunities for fantastic and creative instruction in the classroom for the month of February. The time of year is ripe for focus and rigor. The distraction of Fall and Winter holidays are over and breaks are at a minimum.

The second semester is relatively new. It’s just after the new year and it is the last chance to “get it right” before the end of the school year. Capitalize on all that positive energy and provide your students with creative, high-interest lessons. Following is a collection of ideas to get you going, and a wide range of grade levels are included. Materials used in the activities are inexpensive.

Valentines Math

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Patterning is an important skill for student and actually prepares the mind for algebraic concepts later on. Young students will really be motivated to use colored valentine cut-outs to follow a pattern started by the teacher to follow.Every other color is a beginning pattern, then go as complicated as needed for the ability level of the student.

Conversational hearts make great counters for beginning addition and subtraction problems for the youngest students.Use for teaching multiplication and division concepts to older elementary students. Have the students make arrays for multiplication, or put them in piles to show the inverse of multiplication and division. Students will love the lessons and participation is sure to be high! Have a set to count with and a some to eat separately in a plastic baggie!

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Are you teaching the concepts of place value and regrouping ones and tens? Use cinnamon heart candies to make groups of ten and then count the left over loose ones. Then have them to write the number represented by the candies.

These are just a few ideas for teaching math concepts with Valentine candy. Try bar graphs according to colored hearts or candies. The creative teacher can think of many ways to use Valentine candy to teach math concepts.

Valentine Art and Crafts for School

 

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Trading Valentine cards is a long standing tradition in elementary school. Use an empty tissue box for students to create their own “mailbox” for Valentine cards. Simply paint them with white tempera or acrylic and decorate with stickers, foam pieces or other creative ways. Let the imagination loose! Encourage creative thinking for your students. Students will love delivering their valentines to these cute tissue mailboxes. Have them to write their name on the bottom.

Centers are fairly standard in the early childhood class.If you need a good idea for the art center for February try sponge painting hearts on gift wrap. Pour tempera in meat trays. Provide heart shaped sponges for sponge painting on the gift wrap with red and pink hearts.Parents will love it when their kids bring home the gift wrap. Dads could use it to wrap the rose stems for Mom!

For students needing occupational therapy activities try this engaging activity. Cut out a big valentine of red paper. Provide lots of 1-inch squares of white tissue paper.Show students how to pinch them and create a ruffle to glue around the edge of the valentine.They will love it!

Groundhog Day Ideas for the Classroom

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Ground Hog Day is a good opportunity for both younger and older students to learn.Challenge older students to research the origin and meaning of the day. Have them create a report on their findings with a written or oral report, or perhaps a Powerpoint presentation.

Casting Shadows Across Literacy and Science is an awesome lesson plan written by Dr. Deborah Jensen and published by International Reading Association. Dr.Jensen links literacy and science beautifully as students explore what makes shadows and how and why shadows change. Tools are provided for the teacher to have students study and record observations of shadows. A wonderful study of literature that includes poetry about shadows is sure to encourage any budding authors in the group.

What makes a shadow? Do shadows change? Can a person escape his or her shadow? These questions guide students in developing a scientific understanding of shadows. Discussions on shadows in literature (fiction, informational text, and poetry) link scientific knowledge to the world of literature or students. A recording observations of shadows hand out is printable for the teacher’s use.

To help the very youngest students develop an early awareness of Ground Hog Day try this adorable idea by Marian Bartleson (Mailbox magazine, February/March 2006). Provide students with a pattern of a groundhog to trace and cut from brown construction paper. Glue the groundhog on a tongue depression stick. This will be a puppet for the background created with a sheet of blue construction paper. Add a snow covered ground, puffy cotton ball cloud and a yellow sun to help make the groundhog’s shadow. Help students cut a slot for sliding the puppet up and down simulating the groundhog popping out of his hole. Remember the tune I’m a Little Teapot? Teach young students these words for the same tune to perform with their puppets and backgrounds:

I’m a little groundhog, Brown and Stout, Will I see my shadow when I pop out.

If I see my shadow it will be six more weeks of winter that you see!

Students of all ages will enjoy making silhouette pictures. Tape butcher paper on a wall or screen. Have the student sit in a chair facing sideways in front of a bright light. An old overhead projector works for this. Another student (or the teacher for younger ones) traces the silhouette for the student to cut out. Then have the student trace this on white paper. Cut out the silhouette and mount on black paper. Play a guessing game by displaying them alongside a given number. Have students number their paper and write the name of whom they think each silhouette picture is.

Many will remember lying in bed making shadow puppets on the wall as a kid. Younger and older students alike will enjoy this great guide for making shadow characters. Challenge drama students at the secondary level to work in cooperative learning groups to produce and perform a play using shadow puppets.

 

President’s Day Ideas for School

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Give both younger and older students background information on the origin of this federal holiday. George Washington was the first American citizen whose birthday was used for an official holiday. For many years, that observance was held on February the 22nd which is his actual birth date. On January 1st, 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act shifted the date to the third Monday in February naming it President’s Day. Since Abraham Lincoln’s birth date is February 12th we typically engage in activities to commemorate his great presidency.

Assign upper elementary and middle school students a U.S. President to research– or if preferred let them select their own. Students then write a brief biography of the president following a given outline that includes their date of birth, childhood, education and contributions to history from their presidency. If desired students can complete the project making a life-size replica of the president by tracing around another student onto large white bulletin board paper, cutting out and then embellishing it with hats, clothes, and features to resemble the president.

Younger students will enjoy using paper plates and construction paper for creating George Washington and Abe Lincoln. Use cotton balls to make George Washington’s white curly wig. Lincoln’s top hat is easy, Washington’s hat is a bit more complicated.Here is a template for Washington’s hat.

Check out this Presidents Day Thematic Unit for younger students

Black History Month Ideas For School

Black History month recognizes great African Americans all month long. There are plenty of activists, inventors, and artists to recognize. Introduce a new one each day in the class or school morning news.

Go on a trip to the public library to check out a book about a famous African-American.

Teach students about the Harlem Renaissance and introduce students to African-American writers. Great projects are included that will take from three to five days to complete

There are plenty of interesting lessons on the civil rights movement.  Have students play a segregation simulation game in which they choose either a blue or green strip of paper. The greens interact with only greens and blues with blues for one day. This activity is sure to spark interesting class discussions the next day.

 

American Dental Health Month Ideas for School

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Thematic units are lessons that teachers create to meet the needs of their early childhood students. For American Dental Health week use one or more of these adorable books for sharing with students. The creative teacher is sure to come up with ideas for incorporating math and language arts in the classroom as whole group and center activities inspired by these stories.

  1. Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Jan and Stan Berenstain
  2. Brush Your Teeth Please by Leslie McGuire
  3. Little Rabbit’s Loose Tooth by Diane De Groat and Lucy Bate
  4. Dear Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce
  5. Throw Your Tooth on the Roof by Selby Beeler
  6. Doctor DeSoto by William Steig

 


Young children will enjoy making and eating these cute Apple Smiles snacks from Family Crafts at About.com. Using two apple slices line the inside with natural peanut butter. Attach marshmallows to the peanut butter. The outside of the apple represents lips and the meat of the apple is the gums. The teeth are mini marshmallows!

Older students can increase career awareness by researching dental health related careers at career websites such as vaview.org. Have students list the careers, education and job training for each and average salaries.

Heart Health Month Ideas for School

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It is important to teach students of all ages healthy habits for a healthy heart. Brainstorm a list of ideas that help keep healthy hearts. Be sure students include healthy diets that don’t include too many trans fats, not smoking and getting exercise. Students can pick one “heart healthy rule” and make a poster promoting it.

 

Other ideas:

  1. Pick a day in February for wearing the color red to recognize Heart Month.
  2. Use a week in the month to teach the circulatory system.
  3. Take pulse and compare between rest periods and activity periods.
  4. Use red and blue clay or play dough to build heart models
  5. Have students trace around another student’s body on butcher paper. Cut out and draw in the circulatory system.
  6. Have the school nurse to come in and speak on heart health and let the students listen to the heartbeat with a stethoscope.
  7. List foods that are heart healthy and create menus.

 

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