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Before a long holiday, I always try to wrap up any major units of study so I can plan something fun the day or two before break. Many teachers show a movie, but in all honesty, a movie just is not that engaging for students - and they don't learn anything. It takes a little more work, but if you plan a thematic unit or a few out of the ordinary activities, students get excited about doing something new. Before Thanksgiving break, I like to plan a Popcorn-themed unit. There are so many cool things you can do with popcorn - and it is relatively inexpensive to purchase.

A great way to keep students engaged before a school vacation is a Popcorn-themed unit! This post discusses 10 creative ways teachers can use popcorn in the classroom.  Grades 3, 4, 5, and 6

Finding good history apps is not easy. There are a number of apps that seem geared to younger students, but what if you need something for older kids? It took time, but I found eight terrific apps for elementary or middle school students. Most of the apps are for American History, but I did manage to find a few for World History.

Are you looking for history apps to use in your upper elementary or middle school classroom? Check out these eight terrific history apps!
The apps are not in any particular order.  Each review discusses the price, availability, and focus of the app, as well as its pros and cons.
A fellow teacher told me that Nickelodeon made a TV movie of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library. (I haven't seen it yet, but I heard it isn't like the book - surprise!) The novel was a Sunshine State book pick a few years back, and it was well-liked by students. Before I watch the movie, I decided to read the book again. Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library really is a Hidden Gem for both teachers and students.

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein is a terrific novel for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade readers. Read the blog to find out how this book could be used to teach character development and plot in a language arts class.

The book's cover grabs people's attention with its bright colors and game pieces. However, the book is less focused on action and more focused on its characters.
Sadly, geography is really getting pushed by the wayside in a lot of elementary classrooms. There is so little time to cover everything, so geography is often reviewed but not taught to mastery. I have taught both upper elementary and middle school, and a lack of geographic knowledge impacts students as they move into higher level classes. Students have difficulty identifying with other cultures in world history, in part because they have no idea where the people are located nor the geography of the area. I have even had students that couldn't name the ocean that borders our state - and we only live 30 minutes away from the beach! How can students understand regional differences in Colonial America or how geography influenced regional developments in U.S. history if they can't even name the states?

Are you looking for add more geography in your upper elementary or middle school classroom? Check out these eight outstanding geography apps!
For time pressed classrooms, or even parents who want to supplement learning at home, apps are a great way to get kids interested in geography. I found a lot of apps are just "quiz me" apps, but there are some terrific atlases as well as interactive games. Here are eight outstanding apps for elementary (and middle school!) students.

Kids love to use technology, but what apps are worth buying?  Are the free ones worth downloading?  It takes so much time to research all of the options!  To help save you time, I have reviewed eight fantastic language arts apps for upper elementary classrooms.  Some of them are free, while others are paid.

Are you looking for fantastic language arts apps to use with your upper elementary students? Check out these eight fantastic language arts apps!
Each review explains the pros and cons of the app, as well as the apps cost and availability.

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