Monday, May 1, 2017

Teacher Appreciation Giveaway May 1-8, 2017

Hello, hello!

Today I'm teaming up with some amazing teacher authors to help celebrate the amazing work teachers do every day.  Please make sure to enter the Rafflecopter below to be entered for a chance to win "10 Teacher Must Haves", including a TpT Gift Card!  
Thank you for all that you do!

Prize: 10 Teacher "Must Haves" prize pack including: Mr. Sketch Markers, Flair Markers, Personal Laminator, Dry Erase Pockets, Dry Erase Markers, Astrobrights Paper, Sharpies, Ticonderoga Pencils, a Wall Calendar, and a $50 Teachers pay Teachers gift card.
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 5/8/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Stations of the Cross for Children & Lent Literature, Crafts, & Websites

While Advent is a time of preparation and exciting festivities, Lent can be a more difficult journey for students to grasp; perhaps because it is more somber, includes sacrifice and self-denial, and waiting patiently for Jesus' resurrection.  Included below are some of my favorite Lenten activities I have incorporated into my religion classes throughout the years. 

Six children's books for teaching about The Stations of the Cross

1.  The Centurion at the Cross retells the Crucifixion through the eyes of a soldier present at the events.  This easily lends itself to a lesson on point of view.  You could have students tell of the events from others' perspectives present that day as well.

2. The Day Jesus Died is a short read about Jesus' passion on Good Friday. Rhyming verse and bold illustrations make the a quick but informative read.  I like to use this book to help with chronological order.  I would have students divide a paper into sections and then draw and label each of the events in order to help with comprehension.

3. With new illustrations, The Legend of the Sand Dollar is a beautiful story about two cousins at the shore who discover the meaning of Jesus' sacrifice by examining sand dollars. Use this book with a lesson on symbolism.  Challenge your students to create their own symbolic objects to remind them of Jesus' love for them.

4. Make Room: A Child's Guide to Lent and Easter provides several hands-on activities to help your students live out Lent.  I use this book to reinforce Random Acts of Kindness in our school (serving others).  You could make a paper chain with a different activity on each chain link with different ways students could help those around them and then complete one activity each day.

5. The Story of the Easter Robin relates the events of Good Friday to a robin caring for its young. One of the morals found in this book is compassion, which is a very important trait for students to learn during Lent (and all year long).  Use with a lesson about teaching what compassion is and what it looks like in action.

6.  The Story of the Empty Tomb is another easy and quick read about the events that took place after Jesus' crucifixion.  This book will give your students hope after the grim events that took place on Good Friday. Discuss with your students what brings them hope. 

Four multimedia websites: Stations of the Cross

The following websites can be used alongside any Stations activity you are doing; but be aware that some of the links are for older students (more graphic), and others are a little more conservative.  Most of them have reflection questions for students to ponder at each station.

1.  Loyola Press
2. The Word Among Us
3. Busted Halo Visual Stations
4. Catholic Online

Six crafts/activities for Lent

The following are crafts I have done with my students and children throughout the years to help them find more meaning in this season. Hands on activities always seem to stick in my students' minds more readily.

1. Busted Halo: Lent Photo Challenge #BHLent2017
Make a photo collage with this picture-a-day Lent Photo Challenge.
2. Crucifixion Silhouettes  Paint these silhouettes for a beautiful Lenten bulletin board. Add a writing element by asking students to imagine what Jesus saw while he was on the cross.
3. Just Like Mary: Lent Lapbook
Your students will enjoy creating this Lenten Lapbook.  There are many elements and a Lenten calendar in this lapbook.
4. Look to Him & Be Radiant: Lenten Acts of Charity
This easy to assemble pop-up includes 40 ways to give to and pray for others.
5. The Domestic Notebook: Holy Week Poster
This activity will help kids visualize the events and scripture readings during Holy Week.
6. Look to Him & Be Radiant: Hands of Prayer
Sketch Notes are all the rage!  This printable will allow your students to pray for different persons in their lives for each different finger on a hand.

Also, I have created a Stations of the Cross booklet to be used anytime throughout Lent.  Your students will have the opportunity to reflect on each station and write brief messages to Jesus and others present on Good Friday.  Just click on the picture for more information.

Stations of the Cross booklet by Sugar Cube Learning Resources
What would you have said to Jesus if you had been there that Good Friday?
  I pray these Lenten ideas help bring Lent to life for your students.  Lent can be a challenging season for students to fully grasp, but I hope these activities will make it more meaningful for them.

This post contains affiliate links.  By clicking on the pictures and purchasing items through these links, I earn a small percentage of each sale.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Teaching Your Students Why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Leadership Was So Important

Looking for a fun and meaningful way to teach your students about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s leadership during the Civil Rights Movement?

I've created a Google Slides presentation that will have your pupils engaged as they explore the struggles of the era, and how Dr. King pursued peaceful ways to overcome the many hardships of the 1950s and 60s.  This resource was created for Google Classroom, but can be used in Microsoft 365.

Google Slide: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Childhood
Students will get a better understanding of Dr. King's influences from his childhood.

They will also learn about the many different hardships African Americans faced due to Jim Crow Laws. Students will learn of the many different events that Dr. King helped organize in order to overturn these laws.

Google Slide: Students create text messages between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and key persons that stood up to the struggles of the time.
Students will create text messages between Dr. King and key persons that stood up to the struggles of the time.

This interactive timeline asks students to identify the year each event took place, and then drag the matching picture over the event.

Google Slide: infer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s character and values using quotes from his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Students will analyze Dr. King's most famous speech, "I Have a Dream", and infer his character and values from quotes.
There are 8 activities in all, including an opinion writing prompt.  After completing this presentation, your students should have a clearer understanding of the struggles of the time and appreciate more greatly the efforts Dr. King and others took to overcome these hardships. I've also included video links, websites, and books to help students with their research.

I'd love for you to check it out!  Here is a little preview video.


Available now:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My Favorite Books to Help Introduce The Scientific Method + a FREE Scientific Method Brochure

boy scientist looking up with mouth open in awe

It guides students down an organized path of exploration.  Using the process of the scientific method with your students will allow them to gather the information and supplies they need to succesfully test a hypothesis.  I also love the fact that so many different life skills are involved too: drawing conclusions, trial and error, revision, etc.  And don't forget all of the different math skills, such as creating charts, graphs, and tables to record and analyze data.  Below are a list of my favorite books to help teach about the scientific method. (Please note that this post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By clicking on a book's cover and purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase.)

picture of eight books to help teach the scientific method: upper elementary
1) I included Teaching the Scientific Method: Instructional Strategies to Boost Student Understanding by Millie Blandford on this list because it has so many hands-on experiments. If your students are stuck for ideas, or you need experiments ready to go, check out this book.  It also includes simple project set-up and recording sheets, as well as rubrics.  It is not a read aloud, but a resource for you the teacher.
2) What Do You Do With an Idea? is a simple read aloud for younger students that will encourage them to try new things, not be afraid of what others say, and to persevere. It will boost your students' confidence to experiment and explore their own ideas.  Use this book to help your students begin brainstorming ideas that they'd like to discover further with their scientific method projects.
3) The Scientific Method in Fairy Tale Forest by Laura Magner combines classic fairy tales with the scientific method.  Students will make connections with the tales, and try to solve the problems presented in the stories using scientific inquiry.  This is a great cross-curricular resource.
4) Mistakes That Worked: The World's Familiar Inventions and How They Came to Be by Charlotte Jones takes a comical, cartoonish approach to the scientific method. I love the underlying message to students: It's okay to mess up sometimes, because something good might just become of it.  Learn from your mistakes. (This is a revised edition. You may wish to check out the older versions of this text as well.)
5) How to Think Like a Scientist: Answering Questions by the Scientific Method by Stephen Kramer is a read aloud that will have your students thinking about the hundreds of questions they ask themselves every day.  Some questions have easy answers. Others have unknown answers.  The scientific method is one way to find correct answers to everyday questions.  This is not a quick read, but one that could be spread out throughout your unit.
6) Your younger students will love the bright and quirky illustrations in Mad Margaret Experiments With the Scientific Method by Eric Braun.  Margaret loves science and uses the scientific method to help figure out why her friend keeps sneezing. This is a quick read that introduces the scientific method easily.
7) Investing the Scientific Method With Max Axiom by Donald Lempke uses a comic book style approach to teaching the scientific method.  Aimed at upper elementary students, this story packs a lot of facts in a fun-to-read for students format.  Check out the entire Max Axiom series.
8) Eleven Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill uses the scientific method to find answers to the silly questions kids wonder about all day long. It will get your students' creative juices flowing for sure. 

Picture books, read alouds, and videos are all helpful when teaching the scientific method. I also use interactive notebooks and digital recording sheets.  If interested, check out the following links.

Need a quick way to introduce or reinforce the scientific method with your students? Grab a copy of my free scientific method brochure below. Happy teaching!
click on picture to download free scientific method brochure
Click on the picture to download your FREE Scientific Method Brochure!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Digital Goal Setting in the Upper Elementary Classroom

Why is Goal Setting Important for Students?
Goal setting is an important skill for students to master because it helps them take charge of their learning. When teachers are the only ones telling students what is important to learn, students never have the opportunity to realize their own weaknesses and strengths.   Without these realizations, improvements (goals) can never be determined.

Helping your students achieve their goals doesn't have to be difficult.
The S.M.A.R.T. acronym is an easy way to to help your students outline their goals.  Goals should be specific, measurable, have an action plan, be realistic, and have a defined time limit.  When keeping these details in mind, your students' goals will be better focused, and more likely achieved.

Looking Back:  Monthly Goals Reflections
Goals are great to have; just ask anyone at the new year. However, if one does not take the time to reflect what worked or didn't, one will never fully realize if he or she has been successful.  Questions to ask your students might be:

  • How do you know you've mastered this goal? 
  • What was difficult about achieving this task? 
  • What other strategies can you use if initially unsuccessful?  

Allowing your students the time to monitor what did or did not work will help them see if more effort is needed, or if they are ready to set more challenging/different goals for themselves.

Click here for a simple brainstorming sheet to help your students get started with their goals.

Digital Resources Make it Easy to Keep Goals Organized
How many times have you jotted something important down, and then not been able to find it when needed?  Keeping papers organized, especially goal sheets that might not be used everyday, can be a recipe for disaster for unorganized students. Taming the stray papers in student desks is easy with digital resources.

Designed to work with Google Drive/Classroom and Microsoft OneDrive/365, my Monthly Digital Goal Setting and Reflection Booklet allows students to create three goals every month.  They could be academic, behavioral, or social goals.  Students are then asked to list specific strategies they will use to help accomplish each goal.

A second page for each month requires students to monitor their progress, reflect on what did or did not work for them, and to determine what they may do differently in order to be successful in the future.  Students type directly in the Google Slides presentation, and work is automatically saved.  If being used in Google Classroom, comments made by the teacher can be made in real-time, so students can get back on track if needed easily and quickly.

This booklet makes a fantastic learning tool for students to look back on throughout the school year. It also makes a great addition to portfolios (digital or traditional).  Use these as a part of parent-teacher conferences to let parents know what their child has been striving towards.  This can also be shared with future teachers of each student to see what strategies have been successful in the past (or unsuccessful).

Happy teaching!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Flexible Seating Discussion Booklet

 Flexible seating is sweeping through schools across the country.  If you're not familiar with flexible seating, imagine a classroom without desks!  Desks are being replaced with more comfortable seating options such as stability balls, wobble stools, yoga mats, crate seats, and wiggle seats.  What is great about this classroom design is that it is student-centered.  Students have the ability to choose to sit where they are most comfortable and work the best.  This arrangement has increased engagement, focus, and decreased behavior problems because 1) students love choice, 2) these seating tools give kids the freedom to move and wiggle, and 3) the seats are much more comfortable than the traditional hard chairs. Win, win!

If you are looking to incorporate flexible seating into your classroom and would like your students to be more engaged during your discussion, I have created a Flexible Seating Discussion Booklet that will keep them focused.  It includes writing and drawing prompts, and checklists for them to remember key points.

Check it out by clicking on the picture below! 

flexible seating tabbed booklet by Sugar Cube Learning Resources
Make introducing flexible seating easy with this tabbed booklet!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

3 Ways to Foster a Growth Mindset In Your Students, and Why It Matters

boy pointing to a light bulb signals a new thought and a growth mindset
 Cultivating a growth mindset in your students will be beneficial to them in their academics and life.
What is a Growth Mindset?

A 'growth mindset' is the term coined by Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck.  She believes that our students approach learning in two different ways: with either a 'fixed mindset', or a 'growth mindset'.  Students with a fixed mindset believe they cannot change how smart they are, avoid challenges, give up easily, and are threatened by others' successes.  On the other hand, pupils with a growth mindset desire to learn, accept new challenges, persevere through obstacles, and learn from their mistakes.

Having a growth mindset isn't only about giving more effort. While many teachers have been told to praise a child's efforts, this doesn't necessarily tell or show what the student has learned.   Teachers instead should encourage students to try new strategies and seek advice from peers when they get stuck or face obstacles. In order to improve and learn, students need to use one or more of these approaches.  

How I Can Help My Students 
Develop a Growth Mindset?

1) Pose challenging problems.
Scaffold if necessary, but stop spoon feeding students the answers.  We as teachers will not always be available for students to turn to for answers.  How will our students approach new challenges if they are never given any?

2) Allow for wait time. 
Give ample processing time. Encourage students to justify their answers. Collaborate and discuss if needed.  Ask, "Does someone have a different way to solve this problem? Do you agree or disagree with your classmate's answer? Why?"  Many students are more comfortable discussing content with their peers, rather than having to respond to a teacher.

3) Analyze the process, not the outcome.
Ultimately, the correct answer is preferred; however unique learning will take place when students are left to find answers for themselves.  Often times, they create strategies that work better than tried and true options. Let students know it's okay to make mistakes.  What did your students learn throughout the trials and errors of finding an outcome?  Guaranteed they will remember the information learned through the trial and error process much longer than if they had been given an easier way out.  Dr. Kathy Liu Sun has found that,
"Students are more likely to have a growth mindset in math classrooms where they are encouraged to explain their thinking, take risks, make mistakes, and persevere through challenges. On the other hand, students are more likely to develop a fixed mindset in classrooms where they are praised for speed and accuracy, not asked to explain their thinking or given time to struggle through confusion, and when they are only given one chance to submit work for a grade."
Why Is It Important For Students to Persevere?

1) The brain is malleable. It can grow like any other muscle. The more one uses it and pushes its limits, the more it will grow.

2) When students give up easily, they become discouraged, frustrated, and disengaged. This in turn can lead to behavior problems that occupy the teacher's attention and distract other classmates.

3) Learning new things is exciting!  If you've ever been around a third grade classroom, it is always energizing to introduce students to multiplication.  They are so eager to learn their times tables because it is a faster way to add. My students always felt like 'big kids' when they accomplished this task. How do you feel when you've done something you've never done before?  It feels good, right?

3) To be successful leaders in the future, we will need to encourage our students to take risks, accept challenges, and let them know it is okay to fail. It has been said that the word FAIL= first attempt in learning. When teachers take away the stigma of failure and that mistakes are bad, students feel more aware that the classroom is a safe zone to try new things without backlash.  Through these trials, much learning will occur.

I encourage you to learn more about instilling a growth mindset in your students to help them find positive and productive ways to overcome obstacles in their learning adventures.

If you are looking for growth mindset resources for your classroom, check out these items available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

You can also learn more about Carol Dweck's work by listening to her Ted Talk below or reading her revolutionary book.

**This post contains affiliate links. 


Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Growth Mindset'-Education Week.  Retrieved from
Sun, K. L., Boaler, J., Dweck, C. S., Stipek, D. J., & Stanford University. (2015). There's no limit: Mathematics teaching for a growth mindset.