August - An Idea for Every Day - Week 2
Welcome, leaders! We’re glad you’re here!
You’re looking for engaging activities to excite and intrigue your leaners and we want to help! We’re pairing daily holidays with learning opportunities for your learner, and we try to only choose the ones we find intriguing. Here are this week’s featured holidays with a brief description of skills covered.
- Book Lover’s Day (August 9th Annually) - Join Goodreads!
- Smithsonian Day (August 10th Annually) – Explore artists, read nonfiction leveled articles, discover history, join live science webinars or browse the archives (earth, life, paleontology and social studies), play online STEM games.
- Global Kinetic Sand Day (August 11th Annually) – Sensory play, following directions, reverse engineering STEM challenge, earth science, engineering, life science, creativity.
- Sewing Machine Day (August 12th Annually) – History, nonfiction text, diagram, fine motor skills, sewing, hand stitching, creativity, reusing objects, cutting, measurement, patterning, ironing, pinning, knot tying.
- Left Hander’s Day (August 13th Annually) – Building empathy, developing fine motor, exploring hand dominance.
- Navajo Code Talker’s Day (August 14th Annually) – Language, problem-solving, history, Navajo, WWII.
- Relaxation Day (August 15th Annually) – 20 Tips and Just Do It!
And look at all the different ways we’re plating them up for you:
- August Calendar (2020, 2021, 2022) – Ideas at a glance with clickable links for you advanced planners.
- Weekly Blog - You’re reading it now. 😊
- SUBSCRIBE by sharing your email address in the left side panel to get them delivered directly to your inbox.
- Check out the four latest posts (ideas never expire):
- Even More Ideas – Look over our Pinterest board.
|Bookcase image by Ricardo Esquivel via Pexels|
Readers rejoice! This day is for you. We must admit, of this group we take part. Our dream room features walls lined floor to ceiling with bookcases and hidden nooks spread about for stashing additional treasures. Nook and kindle, you’ll never hold a candle to our love of books.
If you find yourself also among this troupe, and you hold similar aspirations for your learner, then we hope you’ll find these book lover activities we’ve been stewing on for you inspirational.
Make a Goodreads account. If you’re not yet familiar with Goodreads, it’s a site where readers discover books based on adaptive suggestions and reader reviews, create to-be-read and topic-based booklists, recommend books to others, and link up with fellow book lovers. So, whether you’re looking for your next great read or book reading friends, Goodreads is a good place to begin.
Then, of course, the obvious next step is to select a book, get cozy and read!
|Smithsonian image by Kyaw Tun via Unsplash|
A learner’s paradise, the Smithsonian hosts key artifacts to all areas of academia, serving also as a key part to preserving our history. The good news, even if you can’t visit the Smithsonian, their virtual presence still entices curious minds.
On Smithsonian’s, Explore page, learners search by category (Art & Design; History & Culture; Science & Nature) or by typing in a search query. Here are a few samplings we’ve taste-tested for you:
- Discover which artist shares your birthday. We recommend just searching for the day and month; no artist came up for either of us when we included the year. Next, have your learner choose the artwork that they enjoy most and learn more about the selected artist that shares their birthday. Word of caution: as with all artwork, it is likely that some inappropriate results may populate. To circumvent this concern, prepare a list of appropriate artists from which your learner may choose.
- Read scaffolded articles of Smithsonian’s Tween Tribune. Filter articles by topic (animals, video – meaning it includes a video version of the article, culture, food & health, science, sports, movies, music & TV, school, tech and United States) or Lexile Level (find an approximation of your learner’s Lexile Level to grade level approximations at Lexile’s website). After reading the article, your learner can then take a quiz or comment to answer the provided question. If you, as the leader, register, you’ll receive daily articles, weekly lesson plans and a weekend newsletter to prep for the upcoming week (preview the list of all included features here).
- Use Smithsonian’s History Explorer to discover specific resources with options to filter by resource type, grade level, historical era and/or cross-curricular connections. Our search for “books” filtered by “resource type: artifact” and “grade level: K-2” results included the soldier’s pocket bible, the Codex Telleriano-Remensis and the El Chico Cookbook. Each of the artifact pages includes additional related resources, artifacts and relevant teaching standards for grades K-12.
- Find and attend a Live Video Program that works for you and your learner. Invite Smithsonian scientists into your home or classroom with free, zoom-based webinars. Choose from nine different series or choose a webinar of interest from the schedule. The series titles include: Expert is Online; For Families: Natural History at Home; Fossil Friday; HOT (Human Origins Today) Topics; Natural History on the Big Screen; Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World; Smithsonian Science How; Teacher Tuesday and Teen Tuesday: Earth Optimism. Smithsonian Science How is the program directed at elementary school students, but we think some of the other series might interest you as well. If you don’t want to attend a live event, you can always browse the archives. The archives are separated by series with additional links to each series’ specific archive page. Here’s a link to the Science How archives (further categorized by science branch and specific topics within) if you’d like to check them out now.
- And, because we all know that nearly every learner appreciates the opportunity to learn through play, you might consider checking out Smithsonian’s STEM Game Center. Play these games online or download them. Choose a game based on grade level and learning objective. Games like Tami’s Tower (K-2) where learners use engineering and design skills to help Tami get to her lunch, Morphy (3-5) which features an alien struggling to adapt and survive on a new planet and Bumper Ducks (Middle School) who struggle to cross a pond without getting bumped, but experience the impact of mass on acceleration if they do.
The Smithsonian also hosts a page just for kids called Fun Stuff for Kids and Teens. At this exclusive site, learners may choose activities and games from categories of Art, History and Culture; Science and Nature; Art Meets Science; Art, History, and Culture in the Collections; and Science and Nature in the Collections. Perhaps just lead them to the site and let them direct themselves through it. It always interests me to see what learners choose when left to their own devices - sometimes it’s what you expect, sometimes it’s really not.
After your day at the virtual museum, we’d love to hear about your discoveries. Comment below, write us an email (mr or firstname.lastname@example.org) or find us on social media (buttons below).
|Kinetic Sand image licensed as CC BY|
I’ve never played with the stuff, have you? I’ve always been curious about it, and imagine I would enjoy using it, should I ever get the opportunity. Playdough is therapeutic to me, and I’ve always enjoyed running sand through my hands and toes at the beach. In my imagination, Kinetic Sand would be a combination of the two. To those of you familiar with Kinetic Sand, I ask: are my inclinations correct? Or am I way off base? If you’re a kinetic sand lover, or if you’ve been looking for an excuse (ahem), I mean opportunity to try it out, today is your day! Take a peek at these kinetic sand activities we’ve been stewing on for you.
Make Your Own
Reverse Engineer It
Alternatively, you could make your learner reverse engineer their own recipe. First, give them a container of kinetic sand. Let them play with it for a while. Then, tell them that their goal is to replicate it. Go through the design process with them, or if they’re ready, monitor them as they do it alone. If you’d like a think sheet for the design process, we made one. Otherwise the steps are: ask, imagine, plan, create, improve. Here’s an example of how the process might unfold:
- Ask: Your learner describes the problem they are trying to solve in question form. For example, “How can I make kinetic sand?”
- Imagine: Make a list of every possible ingredient that might be useful in making kinetic sand. The idea here is not to overthink. There is no right or wrong right now; just get all your ideas out on paper. Even silly ones count! Sometimes the “silly” ones lead to creative solutions.
- Plan: Using the brainstorming results, create a list of ingredients to use. Scaffold the selection process, if needed, by asking your learner to categorize the brainstorming list by similar types of ingredients. Then, choose one ingredient from each category. Discuss properties of each individual ingredient if it’s difficult for them to choose between a few. After the ingredients are selected, formulate a plan of how to combine them. Record the ingredient list and order of steps so you have a plan to follow during the creation step.
- Create: Follow your plan.
- Improve: Compare your replicated kinetic sand with the original. How is it similar? How is it different? What might make your kinetic sand more like the original? If your kinetic sand feels exactly like the original, is there something you could do to make it even better? More appealing? Serve a different purpose? Support your learner (if needed) by encouraging them to research how other people made it or explore different varieties of kinetic sand for some improvement ideas.
After experimenting with some improvement ideas, have your learner record their favorite recipe so they can share it with others or refer to it later. Record it on a fun template (like this one we found on Pinterest) or create a digital recipe card (with Canva).
With kinetic sand in hand, whether bought or made, it’s time to find some ways to use it. Of course, we always recommend beginning with an open-ended investigation, but when interest begins to wane, we hope these ideas provide some inspiration.
- Browse Kinetic Sand’s Instagram account for creative ideas shared by both costumer and company alike. Once there, you’ll find colorful pictures and videos to get your creative juices flowing.
- We think your Preschool to First Grade learner might squirm in delight when asked to make an anthill with 3 Dinosaurs.
- While Second to Third Grade learners will rise to the challenge of building with kinetic sand blocks at Fun Learning for Kids.
- And solidify Fourth to Sixth Grade learners’ comprehension of plate tectonics with Teach Beside Me’s tutorial. While there, make sure you scroll down to find her list of plate tectonics books for kids.
We’d love to know if you made your own sand, reverse engineered it or just dove right into it. Let us know in the comments below!
|Sewing machine image via Pexels|
This day was chosen by my mother, a skilled seamstress. So, it is in her honor I dedicate these ideas, chosen for you. Ashamedly, I’ll admit, I have yet to claim proficiency at the sewing machine, yet it remains a desire of mine to do so. Whatever your proficiency level, you’re reading this, so you clearly harbor a desire for your learner to practice, experience, or learn about sewing, and we harbor a desire to help! Please, take a look at these sewing machine ideas we’ve been stewing on for you!
Your learners will surely want to know the history of a sewing machine. To answer their quest for knowledge, we point you to Contrado for a comprehensive sewing machine history beginning 20,000 years ago. To differentiate this article across the grade levels, consider bullet pointing each section for Kindergarten to 1st grade learners, reading the article with 2nd and 3rd grade learners and having 4th to 6th grade learners read it independently. Consider also having them communicate their learning in some way. One quick, easy, and we think fun way to consolidate learning is to have them record interesting facts on a sewing machine coloring page (via supercoloring.com). Tailor expectations to fit your learners needs or current objectives (i.e. number of facts, draft a poem, write a paragraph, talk from the perspective of a seamstress or article of clothing). Or, how cute would it be to make a timeline that looks like a tailor's tape measure?
After learning the history of the machine, it’s time to get to know the bits and pieces. This link leads you too a Berkley sewing machine diagram which will acquaint you with all the parts. Lucky for you, the names of the parts are located on the second page. So, if you wanted to quiz your learners on selected parts, this diagram makes that goal more than possible.
You know the history and the anatomy, it’s time to get to stitchin’. We’ve rounded up a few sewing projects we think might interest you and your learner.
- Beginning sewers will love these glove monsters at Craftaholics Anonymous. Linda, the author of the project, suggests repurposing mismatched gloves and talks you through the project, offering options and clear directions along the way. We like this project for beginning sewers because you have the option of using a machine or hand stitching and because of the open-endedness of customization.
- Intermediate sewers use recycled cardboard and fabric scraps to stitch together bookmarks with guidance of On Hand Modern. The skills practiced here include following directions, measurement, precision in cutting, hemming, sewing straight sides, and turning fabric right side out. We like this project for intermediate sewers because they’ll practice basic techniques required in sewing and will only need to sew straight lines.
- Advanced sewers need a place to store their sewing supplies, and this drawstring backpack, found at Skip to My Lou, may just be it. The skills practiced include following directions, measurement, precise cutting, patterning, careful ironing, pinning, basting, straight stitching, turning corners, turning fabric right side out, sewing multiple pieces together, controlling sewing speed, affixing grommets, feeding cording through sewn edges, and knot tying. We like this project for advanced sewers because it includes more complex skills, is not overwhelming, and provides a useful end product.
Speaking of end products, we’d love to see them! Won’t you consider sending us a picture of your finished product? Reach us by email (mr or email@example.com) or social media (follow buttons at bottom of post).
|Left Hander image by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash|
While sewing machine day honors my mother, left hander’s day celebrates me and fellow left hander’s, of course; I won’t hog the day for myself. Indeed, it’s one to share in recognition of the fact that there are more out there like us. Considering that only 9.2% of all people are left-handed (Psychology Today) and that it is sometimes viewed negatively, it’s time we celebrate the benefits and recognize the hardships of being lefties. If you’re a righty, you just wouldn’t understand; it’s something only lefties truly get 😉.
Now, joking aside, I do not believe either lefties or righties superior or inferior to another. It’s just another trait that adds to our uniqueness. Yet, this day does provide an intriguing opportunity for your learners. Explore hand dominance by challenging them to do activities with their opposite hand off and on throughout the day.
|Navajo Code Talkers image licensed as CC BY|
In our experience, most learners find communicating in code fascinating. Embrace that fascination. and sneak in a unique historical event, with these Navajo Code Talkers Day activities we’ve been stewing on for you.
To begin, you might consider reading a book about the code talkers. We like Wow Lit’s list because it has suggestions ranging from 6 to 16-year-olds. From the list, we think you might check out The Unbreakable Code by Sara Hoadland Hunter, illustrated by Julia Miner via Open Library (YouTube read aloud by New Mexico Historic Sites) for younger readers and Tales of the Mighty Code Talker, Volume 1 (Goodreads summary) edited by Arigon Starr for older readers.
Now it’s time to practice making coded messages. Of the following activities, only the PreK-K group does not include information on the Navajo Code Talkers. So, if you opt to skip the book reading and jump straight to the activities, you may wish to give this group a brief background on communicating in code and when it’s useful. For the other grade brackets, Navajo Code Talkers learning is already integrated.
Imagine the surprise your Preschool or Kindergarten learner will experience as they paint a blank page with watercolors only to reveal a secret message
With PBS’s Warrior Tradition lesson, your First to Second Grade learners will decode a secret message, then watch video clips to learn about the code talkers. The lesson plan includes an exit ticket and suggested extension activities.
Third to Sixth Grade learners will create and decode secret messages using the Navajo Code Talker’s dictionary (from the U.S. Navy’s History website) in this Education World Lesson plan. (The resource links at Education World do not work. Please use ours instead.) Before they begin working on their message, the lesson suggests you give them background information on the Navajo Code Talkers. If you chose not to read a book, we recommend the “Native Words Native Warriors,” post at the National Museum of the American Indian’s website. The article's headings are as follows: American Indian Warrior Tradition; Recruitment and Training; Constructing the Code; Creating Special Code Words; Sending Messages in Code; Locations Served in World War II; Code Talkers Remember the War; Carl Gorman in the War; and Charles Chibitty in the War. It ends with reflection and discussion questions as well as an activity to create and decode your own message. Alternatively, you could have learners watch the PBS Warrior Tradition video clips that are part of the first and second grade activities.
What was your coded message? Won't you consider sharing it? Write it down in the comments below, email us (mr or firstname.lastname@example.org), or catch up with us on social media (follow buttons at bottom of post).
|Spa image by Breaking Pic via Pexels|
When it comes to relaxing, the Mr. experiences more success than the Mrs. His perpetual relaxation tip: “Just do it.” If you need a little more relaxation advice than “just do it,” head over to Psych Central for 20 relaxation suggestions. Maybe even challenge yourself: how many relaxation strategies can you check off in one day?
Before You Go
We’d love to know:
- What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming week?
- Imagine you’re gifted with a day to relax - nothing on your plate, no expectations – what do you do?
That wraps up this week’s ideas for every day. And we just want to point out, any week that starts with Book Lover’s Day and ends in Relaxation Day is bound to be a good week! Until next week leaders, we sincerely hope you find the JOY in every day!
Interested in even more educational resources? Then stop by our Learning Lab. It's here where we store all the educational resources we've cooked up to date.