Showing posts with label Child Development. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Child Development. Show all posts

Friday, November 18, 2016

Paper Plate Turkeys!

One of my objectives in Child Development is to get my students to realize that early childhood is not always the blissful, easy experience that they now remember it as - childhood is hard work! To address this, I pepper the semester with various activities to help them develop empathy for their younger selves.

One method is to make them complete "simple" tasks with their non-dominant hands, like coloring. They get so excited when I pull out coloring pages and crayons, until they find out they have to use their "other" hands (by the way, I'm very careful to determine everyone's dominant hand well before any of these activities, so I won't have any cheaters).

From coloring I move on to more difficult tasks, such as creating a paper plate turkey! This involves not only coloring, but also cutting, gluing, and stapling. Fun, but very difficult to do with your opposite hand.

To make the project go smoother, I assemble their supplies beforehand (yep, there are those formula cans and copy paper box lids again!). In the cans (which double as their personal trash cans while working on this project) I place a little baggie of crayons, a glue stick, and safety scissors. Then in gallon-sized Ziploc bags, I place 2 paper plates, a small square of yellow construction paper, a small square of red construction paper, and two googly eyes. Then the cans and the baggies are placed in box lids, making them easy to store until I need them, and easy to pass out when we begin.

For the instructions, I play the video demonstration I created. This frees me up to help frustrated students - and also to catch the cheaters who are using their dominant hands!

When we are finished, I have a volunteer walk the big trash can around so students can empty their mini trash cans. Then someone else collects the now empty baggies, and a third student collects the cans with the scissors, glue stick, and crayons. Having only three students taking care of trash and collecting supplies is WAY LESS chaotic than having twenty-something high schoolers running around returning items.

And of course, there is also written component to the project, in which among other things students need to describe the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional benefits a child would experience from this activity. Feel free to use any and all of these resources!

Gobble Gobble!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pediatricians Say Absolutely NO DRINKING WHILE PREGNANT - it's about time!!!

Finally, finally, FINALLY, pediatricians are saying point blank NO DRINKING WHILE PREGNANT!

Why did this take so bloody long? Why, for years, have they allowed doctors, researchers, hairdressers to advise women that a little bit won't hurt? Unfathomable, completely unfathomable, given the irreparable harm that we know prenatal exposure to alcohol can have!

In my Child Development classes I told my students point blank, I don't care what you read in the news or see on TV or even hear from your doctor, NO AMOUNT OF ALCOHOL IS SAFE DURING PREGNANCY.

And then I showed them video after video of the results of fetal alcohol syndrome. Some years we read articles written by families affected by and children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder themselves. One year I was even able to convince a small group of girls to read "The Broken Cord" and use it for a book talk there were supposed to give in their English classes. All of this uphill against a media constantly blaring "Oh, a couple of drinks here and there won't hurt."

And let's not even get into how people don't understand what really constitutes "a couple of drinks." In towns that I've taught in there were massive amounts of people who thought a couple of drinks = passed out before midnight.

Thank you, pediatricians, for finally getting your act together!

NPR Article "Pediatricians Say Absolutely No Drinking While Pregnant"

Full text of clinical study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics

Infographic from Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network Society

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Special Deal - Over 100 Resources!

As promised, here is the special deal I alluded to earlier in the week!

This deal includes:

  • 24 weekly bell work sheets
  • 39 skeleton note forms with corresponding PPTs
  • ~50 resources for various activities
  • 24 recipes, most in lab plan format, many with self-evaluation forms and video demonstrations
  • 3 sets of lab task cards
  • 35 video links used regularly in class
  • an oodle of additional resources not easily categorized
  • everything you see in my TPT store (which is not a ton, but a decent amount)
  • Please click here to see a much more detailed list of the items here
On TPT this would cost you a small fortune. For the next few weeks all of this can be yours for... $25
Nope, not a typo! Why? To fight cancer!
Note: short link in image is outdated; visit  for this year's fundraiser! 

I will be running in the Chicago Marathon this fall, and I am running with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training! This is a cause very important to our family, as my husband lost his mother to multiple myeloma when he was still in high school. 

What does this have to do with FACS resources? Here's how to redeem the special offered above:
  1. Visit my fundraising page at and make a $25 dollar donation. 
  2. Use the word "FACS" somewhere within the message box.
  3. Receive the full bundle within 48 hours! 
That's it! The only caveat is that if you select the option to remain anonymous, I won't receive your email address to send you your goodies. You can still keep your name from being visible on the fundraising page by selecting this option:

Benefits for me:
  • You will be helping me to reach my fundraising goal!
  • 100% of your donation will go to Team in Training!
Benefits for you:
  • Lots of great resources!
  • You'll receive a receipt that you can use for a charitable tax deduction (it won't count toward the paltry educator expenses limit!)!
  • You will be fighting cancer!
Benefits for patients and their families:
  • Donations to blood cancer research means more lives saved!
Visit today, and thank you so much for helping in the fight against blood cancer!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Prenatal Timeline Activity

In keeping with my theme of short group activities (can two days be a theme?), here's another one that's been really successful.

Before we dive into prenatal development, I like to do a little formative assessment to get an idea of what they already know, and what they think they know, and what they have so very, very wrong. For this activity, I divide them into groups and send them back to the kitchens (as I've mentioned before, this gives them lots of counter space, and gets them up and moving). Then each group is given a set of cards (color-coded to match their kitchens, of course!) that contain week numbers and a description of something that happens during the prenatal period. I ask them to work together to take their best shot at matching up the week with the correct description. (These really aren't the best pictures, but it gives you a little something to visualize.)

I then walk around so I can hear them discussing each item and where they think it belongs along the timeline and why. I get so much information about their prior knowledge, their thinking process, their communication skills... it's really a fantastic assessment! In addition to those benefits, it gives me a really clear idea about what misconceptions I need to work on clearing up as we go through the unit (and believe me, there are A LOT - but if you teach child development, you already know that!).

By the way, if you don't have white boards for group work, you absolutely must get some. The kids love them and they are fantastic for quick group work and all sorts of spontaneous activities. Love them!

p.s. Tomorrow's the big day for releasing oodles of materials to share!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Play-Doh, Child Development, and Take-Out Boxes

So over a year ago I posted about using brightly colored take-out boxes (available at your local craft store) for project supplies, and promised to write about how we used the Play-Doh I stored in them in a later post. Well, here's the later post!
To review, the take-out boxes are not only a fun storage container, but being sealed and opaque they are also great for "secret" supplies and surprise projects. One thing that many students struggle with is understanding the differences between physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development (in particular they have a hard time teasing out social and emotional). In fairness, they are all of course interrelated, but I need them to understand each as a stand-alone as well. Because they have such trouble, my challenge is to take these abstract concepts and make them as concrete as possible, so I thought "Why not have them make physical representations of each?"

I divided the class into groups, then sent them back to the kitchens so they would have lots of counter space to work with (and also to get them physically moving around, get those brain juices flowing!). Each kitchen was given a take-out box (in the color that matched their kitchen, of course), which they were delighted to find contained Play-Doh! I explained that even though they were in groups they would each be making their own creations (haha to those who thought they could just watch! Boy, lots of exclamation points in this paragraph!). We quickly reviewed the different areas of development, and then I said "Okay, everyone create something with your Play-Doh related to physical development." And off they went! We did a few rounds each of physical, intellectual, social, and emotional. Check out some of their ideas:

I walked around as they worked, and asked them to explain what it was they produced and how it was related to that area of development. This was an important component because:
  1. not all of them were great Play-Doh artists and I'm not always the best mystery solver
  2. some of the creations could be applied to multiple categories so I wanted to hear their reasoning for their choice
  3. it forced them to not only think about what they were making but how they could explain what they were making to someone else
  4. viewing others' creations and listening to others' explanations deepened their understanding of the concepts and helped them apply the concepts to a wider range of objects/ activities/ relationships/ etc
They learned, they started performing much better on other assignments/ assessments related to areas of development, and we all had fun. And, I got to use the awesome color-coded take-out boxes! Slam dunk!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Docs Teach - a Great (Free!) Resource

Have you heard of Docs Teach? It's an online tool hosted by the National Archives that holds thousands of primary documents (and pictures, audio, video, maps, etc) along with a myriad of interactive lesson plans and activities based on those documents. You can even design your own activities based on documents of your choosing.

Think this could only work for history and government classes? Well, of course you don't, you know how interdisciplinary FACS is, but here's a random sample of items you could find:

  • An activity about the School Lunch Program and the Federal Government, including photos from the Great Depression, original advertisements for the school lunch program, school lunch recipes from 1946, letters from PTA presidents
  • Documents from an interview with a Montgomery Ward's executive as part of a Federal Trade Commission Home Furnishing Investigation on sewing machines
  • A letter to FDR from a recently unemployed woman arguing that married women with employed husbands are stealing jobs from desperate single women
  • Weekly family food supply plans published by the USDA in 1921
  • Resources on Civil Rights, child labor, drunk driving, food labels, unions, taxes, interior design, architecture, social security, environmentalism... and so on
There's even an app, for you 1:1/BYOD/Cart people! My brief blurb doesn't do it justice - take a few minutes to browse around Docs Teach, I'm sure you'll not only be impressed but will immediately be able to think of all sorts of ways to use it in your classroom. Below is a short video to give you an overview. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dumb Choices When Teaching Sex Ed

Well, since I brought up the topic of sex ed yesterday and discussed one of my recipes for success, today I'll share one of my biggest fails. I'll start by saying as many times as I've been through these units, I've actually never had any trouble with immaturity, inappropriateness, etc - I think this is primarily because kids don't want other kids to think that they are immature. As such, these particular class sessions tend to be more civilized and mature than most.

I've always had the policy that you can ask me anything - after all, if they don't ask me, they're probably going to ask their friends who actually know even less than they do. You open yourself up to all sorts of crazy things, but I'm not the type to become flustered by anything they have to say or ask.

There are, however, times when on the inside I'm thinking "please oh please oh please don't let anyone have overheard that" and "why oh why oh why did I open this can of worms." This used to be complicated by the fact that for three of my years teaching I had constant adult traffic coming in and out of my room, because kid you not the office to the Business Manager, Director of Building and Grounds, and Director of Transportation was accessible only by walking through my classroom. Which meant a constant parade of administrators, bus drivers, accountants, school board members, parents, etc were strolling through the room at any time.

So here's my story. We are beginning to learn about conception (for a great ice breaker, see yesterday's post), so we begin by going over the basics of anatomy, both male and female. We get to the point where we learn that women are born with all of the eggs that they are ever going to have, but men are constantly producing sperm. No matter how I set this up, without fail a conversation ensues on what happens when that sperm begins to build up. It is unavoidable.

And this particular year, for no real reason that I can think of now, I decided on the fly to try to avoid the m-word, and simply stated "Sexual activity does not have to involve another person."

The SECOND that phrase was out of my mouth I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen.

Immediately after I said that, a boy asked "So what, like a pig or something?" And chaos erupted.

"EWWWW!" "Who would do that?!" "Whaaaaaat???!!!" and then the inevitable "Mrs. C, do people really do that?"

Great. This is exactly what I wanted to discuss today. So I come back with yes, there are some people, it's called such and such, and by the way it's illegal.

"Why is it illegal? You own the pig!" And then a kid who I swear has never in his life written a paragraph that made any sense came back with the admittedly clever turn of phrase "Yeah, how come you can make your pig into pork but you can't pork your pig?"

Inside my head: make it stop, make it stop, make it stop... And then a girl chimes in "Wait, can you get the pig pregnant?"

And now I'm thinking REALLY? And I make a statement about DNA compatibility, etc, and how no, humans cannot get pigs pregnant.

And then comes my next mistake, which is one of automaticity: any time you say something to the effect of "no, you can't get pregnant from..." "you have a lower risk of pregnancy when..." etc, you automatically follow it up with something to the effect of "but that does not protect you from diseases." It's a good practice to always remind them that pregnancy is not the only risk associated with sexual activity. And so I made that statement.


At that precise moment a school board member was about three steps inside the room. He stopped dead in his tracks, raised his hands, and with a horrified look on his face pulled a 180 and made his escape. He did not come back. Ever.

And I was left to answer the question about pig herpes. Which went something like this:

"I don't really know enough about pigs to know if they actually carry the herpes virus, but obviously the risk of some kind of infection increases with this kind of activity. Leave the pigs - and all other animals - alone. If the pressure is getting to you, find a private space, lock the door, and fly solo."

To which they all nodded their heads in agreement that yes, that did seem like the more logical way to go about things.

And a girl said to me "I bet you wish you had just said that to begin with."

Amen, sister.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Sex (Education) Trick

Risque title today, eh? So one of the joys of being a FACS teacher is the sex ed component that accompanies so many of your units, particularly in Child Development when you really can't skip over that whole "How are babies made" question.

One of the challenging things about handling this subject matter is that you've got kids all the way across the comfort spectrum: some will have no problem publicly asking the most graphic questions, some wish only to curl up under their desks and die. Most are somewhere in between.

Because of this, it's really crucial to work to establish an environment in which nobody is spending a full 52 minutes desperately pleading with God for a bear to walk into the classroom and eat them so that they can escape this discussion. So naturally you're not going to jump straight into "When a mommy and a daddy love each other very much...", but instead you're going to take some time to create that more comfortable climate first. Even with that, you're going to need some boosters here and there to keep things light and break the tension when necessary.

Here's one of my favorites.

For background, I use guided (sometimes called "skeleton") notes for my classes - they're already formatted and have most of what they need, but they have to follow along and fill in the blanks as we go. It's enough to keep them paying attention and on task, but not so much that they're focusing only on copying to the exclusion of listening (or that their hands cramp up and they begin crying carpal tunnel).

When we begin our discussion of conception, I make no assumptions. We start with the basics - the essentials of female and male reproductive anatomy. As such, it's obviously necessary to work with some diagrams (NOT pictures, diagrams). When I have the female anatomy on the board - and their note sheets - and we go over the different structures, I've never had any issues at all, they take it stride, almost ho hum. As soon as we flip to the male anatomy, that changes - you just can't project a penis onto the board (again, a diagram people!) without the room immediately becoming charged (and you can really see it in the less comfortable kids' faces - "ohmygodtheresapenisupthereitsapenisicantdothis WHERE IS THAT BEAR, GOD????"). Additionally, you have your less mature kids who are desperately, desperately trying not to giggle because they don't want anyone else to think they are immature. And of course everyone else is aware that things suddenly got weird and now everyone's a bit on edge.

So here's my built-in way to diffuse this inevitable event. For about seven or eight blanks in a row, they have to write in the same word over and over: sperm. By about the third of fourth one they begin to catch on, and by the sixth time they're writing "sperm" everyone is laughing out loud, the tension has disappeared, and "sperm" is now a meaningless word because they've looked at it so much and we can now move on.

Seriously, works like a charm, every time.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Story Time, Part 3

My next story time idea was very specific, but had absolutely HILARIOUS results!

We read this book:

Synopsis - a brother and sister lament that no matter what story they share, their grandfather always remarks "Could Be Worse!" Grandpa, having overheard them, then tells them a fantastic tale of adventure and danger... to which they respond... well, I'm sure you can guess!

After reading this, I gave them a template with two large rectangles, then asked them to create their own "Could Be Worse!" scenario. The results were hilarious (and revealed some truly demented minds!). I again scanned them to use for story time the next day; I divided their stories onto different slides, so that the class could guess what would happen next before seeing it (modeling prediction as a reading strategy, anyone?). Here they are:

Boy did the kids love this one! In fact, by request I showed their "Could Be Worse" stories again at the end of the school year a few months later.

While super fun and entertaining, there were of course many real lessons learned:
  • discussion of the moral of the story
  • using prediction as a reading strategy
  • making text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections
  • discussions of how to utilize all of these when reading to little ones!
And of course, more memories made!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Story Time: Part 2

In Part 1 I mentioned that I would share activities that I incorporated into my Child Development class along with "Story Time" - here's the first!

On back-to-back days, I read the following books:

The first is exactly what you would think: an alphabet book of NASCAR terms. The second, well, it's obviously not a real children's book. Great opportunity to teach about both satire and using good judgement when choosing reading material for young children! Also, just plain hilarious for both teacher and students alike - definitely a memorable class moment!

Reading these in succession naturally leads to a discussion of why so many books for kids have an alphabet theme, wherein we review the importance of letter awareness and learning letter sounds. And then, I have them write their own mini-alphabet stories.

I gave them a blank template with four squares, and the following conditions:
  • Choose any four letters in a row of the alphabet
  • Choose a theme
  • Use words and pictures in each frame to create a mini-alphabet "book"
Here is a sampling of the results:

Several students chose a fruit/veggie/food theme.

A few chose to use names.

Animals were very popular.

And a couple of them really developed their themes.

After I collected them I created a slideshow from them, which became their "story" for the third day (note: before showing I of course went over guidelines for commenting on and responding to other students' stories - particularly the drawings and the spelling). For each we discussed what children could learn from these little stories, what age group each might be appropriate, and then we talked about how to help kids create their own short alphabet stories. 

And naturally the students LOVED having their stories projected on the board. Even for them I cropped the names out so that they could remain anonymous if they wished, but almost every single one was anxious to claim credit for their creation - pretty cute how much pride they took in something like this!

Very successful lesson, I would definitely do this one again. And if nothing else, you should definitely read "K is for Knifeball!"

Monday, August 4, 2014

Child Development: Story Time, Part 1

One agenda I chose to really push in my Child Development class this year was early literacy and the importance of reading to your children beginning in the womb. One method I used to do this was dedicating the last 5-10 minutes of nearly every class to "Story Time" - that's right, I read a story aloud to my high schoolers nearly every day. While some of them complained that it was "babyish" and beneath them, the complainers were usually the first to be upset when we ran out of time for their story.

The first several story time sessions, and on occasion throughout the rest of the semester as a refresher, we went over the following Story Time Rules before the story:

It really bugs me when people ruin the ending of anything for anybody - why do people DO that??

I did not have them sit in a circle on the floor or anything like that - they simply remained at their desks during story time. To make sure that they could all see the pictures (I didn't want a riot on my hands, after all), I did one of the following: 1) checked out oversized books from the library, 2) scanned the pictures and displayed them via projector, 3) took photos of the pictures with my phone, uploaded the pictures, then displayed them via projector. In addition to listening to the stories, they also engaged in various activities related to the stories - I'll present a few of them in subsequent posts.

The experience was amazing. I was able to model how to make reading an interactive rather than a passive process for the child, thereby increasing learning. I was able to introduce them to a wide variety of the children's literature that is available out there. I was able to trick them into working on their own listening skills, their own prediction skills, their own metacognitive skills. I was able to get them to make connections between the course content we were learning in class, the characters in the stories, and their own childhoods.

And best of all, I was able to create an experience that they will carry with them - remember that class in high school where that crazy teacher read us stories every day?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Intro to Parenting

I'm big on short group activities this year - it gets them up and moving, gives them a chance to chat, and offers a jumpstart/refresher/review to whatever topic we're covering.

In Child Development, we have a short unit on "Parental Readiness" - the primary objective of course being to convince them that they are NOT ready to have children at their age. To intro this topic, I divided them into five random groups, and sent each group to a kitchen with this sheet:

In the box labeled #1, they had to choose (as a group) what they thought would be the most difficult job to have. Then they had to fill in the boxes in the column below box #1 to the best of their ability with what they already know.

All groups had to finish column #1 before anyone was told what column #2 was for.

When all had finished column #1, they were told to write "Parent" in box #2, then repeat the exercise for that column.

It was not long at all before they realized how difficulty the job of "parent" must be, leading to some great discussion. Also, a terrific springboard for that day's lesson. Score!

Here are the filled out forms for your entertainment:

I'll definitely be doing this one again!

Friday, January 4, 2013


So I finally got around to opening all of the packages which contain the textbooks I'll need for my next grad school class, which begins Jan 23 (order early, get the best deals before my classmates!). This many packages cannot be good. Look at the fun they contain!
Did the song "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong?" pop into your head while looking at these? I couldn't help myself but order "K is for Knifeball" when I saw it. It is HILARIOUS. During my child care unit my students analyze various children's books, and I've been looking for a couple of books to slip in that are definitely not appropriate but look like books for kids (and I'm thinking slipping in "Go the F**k to Sleep" would probably get me fired) - this is perfect! And, an enjoyable read all on its own, of course.

And now that I'm scrolling through my blog, I don't think I've mentioned grad school at all. In September I went back to school for a Reading Specialist master's. I don't know what if any career changes that may lead to in the future, but what I'm learning has already made me a better teacher! It has always driven me crazy when high school/middle school content teachers pronounce "Well I'm not a reading teacher." Bull, we're all reading teachers! The number of strategies to help kids with their reading (and let's face it, no matter what you teach or what age you teach, you have got a LOT of kids who struggle with basic reading!) I've already learned is staggering, and I've implemented quite a few of them with great returns so far. I keep thinking "If only I had known this x years ago!"

The only problem with taking on a Reading degree is that it leaves you much less time for your own reading! I managed to get in some of the reading I wanted to do over break, but not what I aspired to (isn't that always the case with breaks?). One of the great ironies of being a teacher is that most of us love to read and most of us don't have anywhere close to the amount of time we need for such pursuits!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Year Two

Successful new lesson today, so I'm sharing. We're learning about toddlers, and their assignment was to create a "visual" timeline of the second year of life. They were given a sheet with 12 boxes, to represent the 12 months in a year. In each, they had to write the number of the month, a description of something you can expect to see in a child that age along with a picture, and a label of "P," "I," "S," or "E" (physical development, intellectual development, social development, or emotional development). They did a really great job! Here's a cute one:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Amazing World of Keep-Tube

YouTube has a lot to offer to a mild-mannered FACS teacher, from close-up demonstrations on how to chop an onion and thread a sewing machine to home potty training videos and  3D shaken baby simulations. Yet invariably when you try to show a short video in class your connection is weak and the buffering monster thwarts your noble plans. The solution? The miracle of Keep-Tube! This website allows you to download any YouTube video directly to your computer so that you can play it like any other media you have saved - no more buffering!

And as for that 3D shaken baby simulation, if you teach Child Development/Parenting/Child Care/etc, you should really check this out. There's a watermark and you'll have to narrate, but boy will it leave an impression on your students. There are a few other short shaken baby videos I also show from YouTube, but I have no doubt that this one is permanently etched in their brains.