The List

Personal qualities not measured by tests:


The list was inspired by a paragraph written by Robert Glaser, of the University of Pittsburgh for the National Academy of Education in 1987. It occurred in NAE’s critique of a plan to restructure the national assessment of educational progress and simply stated that the human qualities we value most are very difficult to assess, naming a few such qualities. One day, after rereading this passage, I created a list of these qualities that are either not assessed by tests in schools or which cannot be assessed by tests.

The qualities in the list cannot be directly taught. They can, however, be modeled, but only if teachers have sufficient time to model them or to discuss those people whose lives stand out as the qualities’ exemplars.

-Gerald W. Bracey


Food is a strong motivator for all of us, right?  It’s also something that we all need, enjoy and have in common. I mentioned in a previous post that my all-time favorite teacher made a special banana soup for the class when we studied tribes in Africa. That lesson was almost 30 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday. I use food so often (and love food so much) that I’ll have to restrain myself and offer only a few lesson ideas today.

We can’t start any good food conversation without my favorite Star Wars parody, Grocery Store Wars:

This video is such a fun way to start a food-based lesson. It also opens up a great conversation about the difference between organic food versus genetically engineered food or fruits and veggies grown with pesticides. Additionally, it leads nicely into a discussion about just how far away some of our food comes from. I just finished a great lesson with my daughter’s 2nd grade class about this very topic.  In groups of 5, each student picked their favorite fruit or vegetable from a basket I brought in. I made sure to have a variety of choices from as far away as possible.  Once the kids had their item, we looked at the produce sticker, found the origin country and mapped it.  The kids were shocked by just how far their piece of produce had traveled. Strawberries from Brazil! A mango from Nicaragua! An apple from Oregon! Wait…  YES! We also talked about why certain fruits are grown in places closer to the equator because they are warmer year-round than we are up here in the Pacific Northwest. But that we grow some yummy things here too.

Another food topic with some fun options is the Food Pyramid.  In 2011, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (NCPP) updated this concept with a new and improved Food Plate:

My Plate

If you click the image above, it will direct you to the kid-friendly part of the USDA’s site.  There are games, activity sheets, videos and songs. In an effort to make this topic more hands-on, I took my kids to a local pottery painting studio to make their own food plates. We use them often and the kids are very proud. It’s a great visual of what the group proportions should really look like when you make a meal:

IMG_5428 IMG_5430

I hope these ideas are useful. Thanks again for reading!

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration of the Chinese year. It is a holiday filled with symbolism, tradition, and excitement (fireworks!).  This year, the new year 4712 falls on January 31st. We had a great time celebrating last year. I tried to give my kids opportunities to absorb the celebration without too much direct instruction. They soaked it up.

In addition to the hand-ons experiences, there are wonderful folktales and storybooks to help bring the holiday alive for students:

15 Picture Books for Chinese New YearHappy New Year!

2014 Olympics Are Coming!


The opening ceremonies of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia are Friday, February 7th. The Olympics give us a wonderful opportunity to teach kids all about heroism, commitment, and good sportsmanship. The games also offer a chance to dive into geography, art, history, biographies of athletes, politics…the list goes on and on.  I’ve compiled a few links to help you get started:

Activity Pages

Winter Olympics Bingo Game

Design Your Own Winter Sport (K-6)

Winter Olympics Printables

Olympics Puzzles

Winter Olympics and Winter Sports (K-2)


Origami Olympic Rings

Olympic Flag Festival

Fun Information

Olympics Infographics

How Ice Rinks Work

Time for Kids – Sochi, Russia

IKEA Scavenger Hunt

Part of the fun of homeschooling is learning everywhere. One day I needed to run to IKEA with the kids. Why not make the trip fun and educational? I created this scavenger hunt to help my kids review their math facts, counting, measurement, and observation skills. I also made sure they got to use their compass to navigate the store. It made the trip much more entertaining. Your IKEA store may not be laid out the same way, but you are welcome to use my hunt: IKEA Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt and Compass in Hand!

Scavenger Hunt and Compass in Hand!

Using the store's measuring tape to size up some boxes.

Using the store’s measuring tape to size up some boxes.

Reading the map to figure out where to go!

Reading the map to figure out where to go!