Sharing Our Blessings - Blog Hop and Giveaway!


Yay!  You're here!  I'm super excited to be joining up with some fabulous teacher-authors to share and celebrate our blessings with teachers like you! As you check out each teacher-author's post in the Sharing Our Blessings blog hop, you'll find personal expressions of gratitude, a chance to win a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card, a way to receive an entire resource free instantly, and more!  All together, we're giving away $400 in gift cards and 16 flash freebies!

Let's get started!


My heart is bursting with gratitude for educators just like you. I've always loved teachers. As a child, I idolized my teachers. They were the smartest, most inspiring people that I knew. Of course, I wanted to be just like them, and so I became a teacher myself. 

In the classroom, my gratitude for educators grew. I was constantly in awe of my teacher colleagues. Their work ethic along with their teacher-hearts made me love the profession even more.

Then, my two boys went off to school. 

I didn't think I could love teachers more, but when I sent them off to a classroom to be taught and nurtured, my own heart almost burst. Every day, I thank my lucky stars for the wonderful teachers that educate our sons.

Of course, there's you. You're a teacher in search of fresh ideas for your classroom. You read and search and discover new ways to make learning more fun. How amazing is that? I'm so very grateful for educators...the ones from my past, the ones that fill my sons' days, and the ones just like you!


This post is about to get really exciting because I'm going to share details about the "Sharing our Blessings Giveaway!" One lucky teacher is going to win a $25 TpT gift card and all teachers can download an entire resource for free - instantly!

Let's get started with the freebie! I'm giving away an entire resource! It's the popular set of 20 This or That Exit Slips! 

(Find details for entering to win the $25 gift card in the next section.)


These exit slips are all about choice and differentiation. With these exit slips, students get to choose to do the "This" or the "That" task as they reflect on their learning at the end of the lesson. They're designed to go along with any lesson on any day! 


If you'd like the entire exit slips resource sent right to your email inbox, just add your information below to join the Brain Waves Instruction Newsletter. Then, check your email for the instant freebie!  

    Join thousands of teachers and enjoy exclusive freebies, tips, tricks, and updates sent right to your inbox! Spam-free. Unsubscribe at any time.



    OK...remember that part about a $25 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers? Well, entering to win is really simple! Here are the details:

    ➤ There are a few ways to enter to win: 
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    ➤ You can enter by visiting the Brain Waves Instruction Facebook page, sharing what you're thankful for in the comments of a Facebook post and/or pinning a Brain Waves Instruction pin.  

    ➤ If you complete all the entry tasks, you'll be entered to win 3 times!

    ➤ Entries will be accepted until midnight on Monday, November 19th.

    ➤ The winner will be notified via email.

    ➤ The gift card will be sent via email, too.
    Guess what? There's more! If you're looking for a fun and free Thanksgiving-themed lesson, you might want to check out this Listening Comprehension activity that Art with Jenny K. and I created. 

    And...be sure to pop over to the other blogs using the links below to enter for your chance to win gift cards and find links to even more free resources!

    Just in case, just click here to enter to win the $25 gift card.

    And, you can sign up below to receive 
    20 This or That Exit Slips in your email:


      From the bottom of my heart, thanks so much for stopping by! 
      I'm so grateful for you!

      Mary Beth



      Laughing and Learning in the Classroom



      Did you know that the American Psychological Association found that laughter leads to learning? I bet you're not surprised. We all know that laughter lightens the mood, it brings pleasure, and it connects us to others. However, according to Zak Stambor, laughter can even help our students learn. That's because laughter has been found to increase students' participation in class and heighten students' ability to pay attention. If you've been in a classroom with laughing kids, you know that there's nothing better!

      Here are some easy ways to get students laughing AND learning in the classroom!



      FUNNY VOICESLet's face it, silly voices are so much fun! Here are some super easy ways to get students laughing with silly voices:

      --- Have students read out loud with a partner or a small group in a silly voice. I love to have students pick different voice challenges out of a basket or bag. After they pick a voice challenge, they have to read to their partner in that voice. I promise, even your most reluctant reader will get reading and laughing!




      Great news! You can find a set of 24 silly reading tasks in the Laughter and Learning Exclusive Freebie. 

      Just add your info. below and check your email inbox!


        --- Read a passage from a text as a class, in unison, in a silly voice. This is especially effective during the second reading of a passage. Read the passage in "normal" voices first, then have everyone read as if they're underwater or whispering or even like a pirate. 

        --- If you read books out loud to students, you might want to experiment with some funny voices for characters. You'll get students cracking up and following along!




        FUNNY STORIES - Sharing, writing, and reading funny stories is a wonderful way to bring laughter into the classroom. Here are a few ideas:

        --- Have students write their own funny stories. You can do so with an entire writing unit like this Descriptive Writing Unit where students make up funny stories (along with research) about a wild pet. Or, you can get students laughing with Creative Writing Lessons. One of my favorites is the Write and Pass Story. This activity is super easy and very funny! All you have to do is assemble small groups of students. Give them each a piece of paper. Have them each begin a story. 



        Then, after a couple of minutes, have them fold their paper to hide the majority of what they've written. Next, they need to pass it along to someone in their group who will pick up the story where their classmate left off. 



        This process of writing and passing continues until the story ends. Then, students get a chance to read the jumbled stories. They'll be laughing for sure!

        You can find all the materials you'll need for Write and Pass Stories in this FREE Laughter and Learning Resource. Just sign up below and check your email inbox!


          --- Tell students funny stories about your own life. Bonus points if you can connect the stories to their learning!

          --- Read funny pieces of literature! There are some funny short stories in Guys Write for Guys Read, and kids love the humor in the classic story, The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry. Oh, and if you'd like to get kids cracking up during a read aloud, try Crash by Jerry Spinelli. Poetry can be funny, too! Some of my favorite funny poems are in this blog post.



          FUNNY TASKS - Sometimes the easiest way to get students laughing is to add a funny twist to an otherwise ordinary task. Here are my favorite ways to make traditional tasks a little funnier!

          --- Homework Twists - Let's face it, homework could use a little humor. An easy way to get students cracking up while doing their homework is with homework twists. I love to staple Homework Twist Task Cards to the top of students' paper. 



          Or, you could roll a paper homework cube that challenges students to complete their work in usual and funny ways. Don't worry, I've included the Homework Cube in the Laughter and Learning Freebie!


            --- Test Questions - The next time you're writing a test, why not include some funny phrases or situations? You might fill a comma quiz with sentences all about a befuddled zookeeper or write passages for reading comprehension about the misadventures of a mad scientist. The idea is to sprinkle some humor into an otherwise humorless task!

            --- New Positions - Often, you can get students laughing by challenging them to do their work in strange and unusual positions. Instead of doing their daily warm-ups on top of their desks, why not have them complete them on top of their heads or behind their backs? You'll get students giggling as they try to complete the task and laughing out loud when they see what their work looks like! 



            My students loved these challenges so much that I made a paper cube that we could roll to determine silly ways for students to do their work! If you'd like, I'll send you a free copy, just add your info. below.




              FUNNY GAMES - Games are a great way to get students cracking up while they are actively involved in their learning. Here are a few of my favorites:

              --- Carpool - This game is inspired by the popular Improvisational Theatre Game, "Hitchiker." I altered it slightly to use in the classroom. It's a great game to practice inferencing skills, vocabulary, and character analysis. Students LOVE this game! 

              Here's how it works. Bring four chairs to the front of the classroom. Set them up like a car with two seats in front of the other two seats. Point out the driver's seat and passenger seats to students. Explain that the game will start with 3 students in the "car." They'll need to have a conversation for about 20 seconds until they pick up another student who is carpooling with them. Before this student gets in the car, you will need to give him/her a personality trait or vocabulary word. For instance, if you are studying "A Christmas Carol," you might give him the words miser, generosity, solitude, or specter. He will be responsible for acting in a way that the other passengers can guess the word or trait he is acting out. So, if he was given the word "generosity," he might offer the passengers his shoes or volunteer to drive or suggest going to a drive-thru so he can buy them lunch. The idea is that the new passenger will continue acting until the others catch on. Then, the other passengers should start behaving in the same way. Once everyone is acting incredibly generously, the game ends. Bring new students into the car and invite another student with a new trait to be the carpool-er. 

              This game is a super funny way to help students master character traits and/or vocabulary! After you play it once, and get the entire class laughing out loud, be prepared to play it many more times! It's a hit!


              --- Listen Up - This quick game combines listening skills and jokes to get students giggling. I've included it in a popular Listening Comprehension Unit. To prepare, find a joke or two that you think students might like. Then, "hide" the punchlines in a very different sentence. For instance:

              Joke: When do astronauts eat?
              Punchline: At launch time!
              Hidden Punchline: Ratlaugh on chairs with tiny mice.

              Create a set of instructions to help students eliminate the other letters in the hidden punchline phrase. For instance, "Cross out the first and last letters in the word 'rats.'" Then, to play the game, tell the joke to students. Have students write the hidden answer phrase on their papers. Explain that they will have to listen to and follow the directions that you read out loud to discover the punchline. Give students the directions one at a time until they reveal the punchline. This game is a funny way to practice listening skills!



              To save you time, I've put together a set of "Listen Up" activities in this exclusive FREEBIE. 



                I hope you've found a few ideas to make your classroom a little funnier! 



                Thanks so much for stopping by,

                Mary Beth







                * This post contains affiliate links.


                Free Halloween Lessons and Activities for the Classroom



                Are you on the hunt for some fun (and free) Halloween activities? If so, then you're in the right place! 

                I'm sharing 3 of my favorite Halloween-themed lessons that will have students writing, reading, and analyzing poetry! That's right! Who says that a holiday-themed lesson can't be rigorous AND engaging? Not me! I love lessons that pack an academic punch and these freebies do just that!



                Capitalize on students' natural love for Halloween with this fun creative writing activity! The writing activity begins when students roll story element dice (setting, character, obstacle, and a story starter) to create a random set of story components. Once students have their story elements, they'll plan and write a spooky story by combining all of the spooky parts that they rolled.


                Of course, this lesson taps into students' natural love of scary stories while helping them develop critical writing skills. You'll find a detailed planning page in the resource to help students outline their stories before they write their own. The cubes and guide not only make the activity more fun, they also set students up for success! You can find this lesson here...and I'll provide all the links at the bottom of the post.

                Speaking of celebrating special days, if you're in the mood for even more ideas, be sure to check out this mega-freebie filled with 40 pages of ideas for celebrating special days in the classroom.





                  I'm always trying to give students opportunities to read and analyze poems. So, it's no wonder that I put together this FREE poem analysis lesson!


                  In this FREE Halloween lesson students will analyze the Halloween-themed poem “Mr. Macklin’s Jack O’Lantern” by David McCord. Then, they’ll record their understanding and analysis of the poem in an interactive flip book. 

                  The lesson encourages multiple readings of the poem which leads to a deeper understanding and comprehension of the text. While analyzing the poem, students will identify the sequence of events, its mood, and elements of figurative language. Students will support their analysis with evidence from the poem. 

                  McCord’s poem is a perfect celebration of Halloween and the flip books make analyzing poetry fun!




                  I may have saved the best idea for last! This lesson is such a fun and educational way to celebrate Halloween. That's because this lesson gives students a trick AND treat!

                  In this resource you’ll find a “Halloween Fun” activity. This one is the ‘TRICK’. In this activity students need to read the instructions very carefully. However, most students do not read the entire set of directions before beginning (that’s the trick). That means that students will follow the directions to create a Halloween drawing and complete a figurative language activity before they realize that they only needed to do the first 2 steps of the 16 step activity.


                  Wondering where the ‘TREAT’ comes in? Well, this resource is also filled with a nonfiction passage and questions about the history of Halloween. When all the questions are answered students will reveal a “No Homework” message. Of course, this is their treat.

                  FYI: Since, the Halloween Fun activity requires students to write figurative language, you may want to teach this Figurative Language 5-Day Unit FIRST. 

                  This free resource is a super fun way to get into the spirit of Halloween! Plus, students will practice figurative language and reading comprehension skills!

                  If you're looking for even more teaching ideas for October, here's another FREEBIE for you...


                  And of course, if you love free lesson plans and ideas for the classroom, be sure to sign up for this 40-page Seasonal Sampler!



                    Here's a quick round-up of the links:


                    Wishing you a very happy Halloween,

                    Mary Beth

                    P.S. Veterans Day is right around the corner. Here's an engaging and meaningful lesson. First, students collect facts about Veterans Day for their Doodle Infographic. Then, they write a solider poem. LEARN MORE HERE.










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