The Perfect Square

perfect-square2 Recently I bought the book perfect square by Michael Hall.  It is the story of a square who was perfectly happy, but throughout the week things start happening to him – he is shattered, crumpled, torn, etc., but each time the square turns lemons into lemonade and transforms himself into something wonderful.  I loved this book.  I bought it because we are teaching a unit on geometry this year, but when I read it, I realized there was so much to this very simple story.  It’s a story about overcoming obstacles,  turning bad situations around, persistence and so much more!  I loved all the art and things the square turned himself into so much that I made my own versions which then led to creating a unit integrating art, math and literature using this one simple book.  The images on the front of the unit are the pictures I created from the book.

This unit contains:

  • How many shapes can you find? activity page
  • Vocabulary cards for word sorts
  • Comprehension question cards
  • Cause and effect graphic organizer
  • Sequencing cards
  • Templates to make the squares for each day of the week
  • Template for creating your own square

Click on the book to download a FREE copy!  I hope you enjoy using this unit with your students.   Also look below for a YouTube video which is great to use with this unit!  Always remember to Keep ‘Em Thinking!  – Susan Morrow



Do You Doodle?

brain doodle created by one of the gifted specialists

Do you doodle? I do! I’m bad about sitting in a meeting and doodling all over my notes. But apparently I’m not alone. There have been some really famous doodlers like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Gates. I am happy to have something in common with these guys! Apparently doodling is not a bad thing. When we doodle our mind is very active according to Jackie Andrade, a professor at the University of Plymouth. She did a study where two groups listened to a tape of a boring phone conversation. One group was given paper and pencil and encouraged to doodle while listening to the tape while the other group was given nothing. Afterwards she tested each group’s recall of the information on the tape. The doodlers remembered 29% more of the information in the conversation than the non-doodlers did in a surprise memory test. Andrade believes that doodling while we work can actually help you remember!
Why is doodling a good thing? Andrade says we need to look at how our brains function when they’re bored. Contrary to popular belief, when we’re bored our brains are very active and using lots of energy. The brain is designed to constantly process the millions of bits of information is it constantly being bombarded with. But when the brain finds an environment with little stimulation, it starts looking for something to think about. This is what happens when we begin to daydream which wastes a huge amount of brain energy. But doodling provides just enough stimulation to our brain during a task we find boring and prevents us from daydreaming. Doodling doesn’t take away from concentration and can keep us from daydreaming and losing track of what is going on around us.
So how does this play out in the classroom? Should we encourage our students to doodle while listening to a lecture or watching a video? Actually, one of the greatest strategies particularly for our visual spatial kids to recall information is to take pictorial notes which we might consider minds-on doodling.
In September, several of the gifted specialists attended a session at the Alabama Association of Gifted Children conference on a form of doodling called Zentangling. Apparently this is a trademarked form of doodling. Once you begin “tangling,” you are hooked. Some of the gifted specialists have had their students “tangle” brains, their names, and even pumpkins for Halloween and they’ve come up with some pretty awesome products. If you’re interested in having your kids get into “tangling,” check out the books below:

That’s all for today! Remember to always Keep ’em Thinking!

Free Multiple Intelligences Posters for Kids

Since the students in the elementary gifted program have been doing a unit on the brain,  I decided to create a set of multiple intelligence posters for kids. Be sure to click on the picture below to download your FREE COPY!  Every chiild is smart in a number of ways, but  they often only think of kids who excel in academics as smart.  Refer to the posters often in the classroom when doing different types of activities.  It’s fun when you are studying biographies of famous people to talk about the different types of intelligence they demonstrate.  Lastly, it is important for students to realize that you can increase your intelligence in any area.  Mike Phelps was not born an Olympic swimmer, but through practice, persistence, and hard work, he was able to grow his “body smarts” to win many Olympic gold medals.  It is the same in the classroom.  The more the students practice and perservere, the better they will become at reading, math, logic, art, music, etc.

I hope you enjoy these posters as much as I enjoyed making them. 

Brain Awareness Week Activities

This year the gifted specialists are teaching a unit on the brain.  It has been so much fun!  Students have learned about different types of intelligence, basic brain biology, neurtransmission, and how emotions, diet, sleep, and exercise affect learning and memory. To kick off National Brain Awareness Week which is March 11-17th, 2013, the gifted students will be sponsoring a huge Brain QUEST at a local mall on the Saturday, March 9th.  Each gifted classroom will have a different interactive exhibit.  Some of the exhibits include making models of neurons, playing memory games, doing the stroop test experiment, making optical illusions,  identifying smells,  and making brain hats.  One of the gifted specialists showed me the game Operation Brain Surgery by Milton Bradley which she got at a yard sale for $2.00.  It was missing some of the parts, but all we were interested in was the head.  We’re going to use it at the exhibit on touch.  You see the head has an opening at the top which you put your hand through to feel objects which are placed inside.  So, to teach about the sense of touch at our Brain QUEST exhibit, we are going to place various objects into the head and students will have to use the sense of touch to identify them.  One head won’t be enough for our exhibit, so I starting researching the game online and of course I discovered it is no longer being made.  So, my next step was Ebay!  There I found one of the games also missing some parts, for under $10.00, so I snatched it up!  I’m hoping to find one more at a great deal so we will have three for our exhibit.

I think there are all sorts of ways you could use this head in your classroom.  One idea is to have a center called What’s on You Mind? and inside you could have journal prompts such as Wondering questionsWhat if? questions, or Would You Rather? questions.   Students could stick their hand into the head and pull out a prompt and complete it in their journals.  A great idea for those early finishers. Well, that is all for today!  Always remember….

My Journey Into Blogging

I have decided to bite the bullet and create a blog.  All of my teacher friends have been encouraging me to do it.  Years ago I had a website called Mrs. Seagraves’ QUEST class on Geocities (I’ve since married and my name is now Susan Morrow), but when Geocities closed, I didn’t have the time to transfer the my site to a new host, so I basically just let it go.  A site called Oocities cloned most of that site and some of my old stuff is still floating out there in Cyberspace, but the site hasn’t been touched in ten years.  I tried to decide whether to create a blog or a website, and after combing various teacher blogs and websites on the Internet, I finally settled on venturing into the world of blogging.  Back in the old days, I used Microsoft Front Page to create my website and it was sooooo easy – just like creating a document in Word, but this blogging is a little more difficult.  Hopefully I’ll master it soon and my blog will be as beautiful as some of the others I see out there.  Just be patient with me, I don’t catch on to new technology as quickly as I used to.

I have decided to call my site Keep ’em Thinking because from my years of experience as a teacher of the gifted and now as a gifted coordinator, I believe that we must not only teach children content, but how to think.  I’ve been a proponent of infusing creativity and critical thinking into instruction, and so I will try to offer some ideas and freebies to help you do just that in your own classrooms.  Hopefully I will have some freebies posted by next week.  Anyhoo, please check back often and see what freebies, tidbits and ideas I have to offer!  Hope to see you back soon!  Remember to always . . .

Keep ’em Thinking!

Susan Morrow

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