Small things to make life better

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Making small changes in order to live a healthier life has been an obsession of mine for a while now. I love Gretchen Rubin and Zen Habits and all the other people out there who write meaningfully about this topic, without just making listicles like “12 Things to Do for Eternal Happiness.” So of course I was excited about the “One Small Thing” series from one of my favorite bloggers, Alicia at Jaybird! She and other bloggers write all about small, actionable things you can do to make yourself feel better and healthier – like making your bed every day, or storing your canvas bags more efficiently.

I get excited every time she posts a new one, and I was lucky enough to contribute as well! Click here to see my guest post on making grocery shopping faster, easier and more awesome. Just like the other ideas in her series, it’s a tiny thing that makes a big difference in reducing stress (which ultimately makes life better).

50 Ways to Bring Wonder: Mystery Bag Monday

50 Ways to Bring Wonder into the ClassroomIn an effort to bring curiosity and joy back into the elementary school classroom, I decided to start a series called 50 Ways to Bring Wonder into the Classroom. I hope to keep these ideas simple and easy to implement for the time-crunched teacher. Most of these ideas come from other teachers, blogs, and books – so I don’t claim credit for them! Click here to see previous posts in the series. And without further ado, here is the next idea!

4. Have Mystery Bag Monday.

Mystery Bag Monday is such a fun way to introduce a new topic or review an old one, and kids LOVE it. I just took a simple brown bag, glued a Mystery Bag picture on it, and voila! Instant Wonder And Mystery. Here’s how I do it:

When I’m starting a new unit, I choose something that represents the topic, such as a leaf for a Trees unit, a mini pumpkin for a Pumpkins unit, you get the idea. Then I pass the bag around the circle and let each student touch, hold and smell the bag. Just don’t peek inside! I write one clue at a time on the board, and call on a few kids to make predictions after I reveal each clue. Then, after all three clues are given, they take their science journal back to their tables and draw or write what they think is in the bag. We each share our predictions, and then I do the big reveal!

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This is so much fun, takes very little time, and is a great way to gauge your kids’ understanding of the new topic. You could do the same thing as an assessment, giving them three clues about something you’ve already studied. And most importantly, it brings a little bit of curiosity and wonder into any unit of study!