All posts by Megan Thompson

SEL Mini Spark #6 – A New Routine

Across the country, many teachers and students have transitioned into some form of distance learning. This is a big adjustment for most of us. You probably miss seeing your friends and teachers, going to special events like games and dances and even participating in ordinary parts of the school day, like lunch or short breaks. You might also miss — without realizing it — the routine that school brings to your life.

A school-day schedule helps us structure our time. It tells us when the day begins and ends, and how to spend all the hours in between. The school day builds in time for learning, physical activity and play, creativity, socializing, eating and taking breaks, too. Without this routine, a day at home can feel endless. Luckily, there are steps you can take to create a daily routine that works for you and provides some of the structure you’re missing. You’ll want to make sure your new routine allows you time for both productivity and rest.

Step 1: Read the rest of the Newsela article, Establishing a new routine for distance learning.

Step 2: Create a chart that includes the activities in your morning, afternoon, and evening distance learning routine. You may use a table in Google Docs or create a presentation in Google slides. Include clip art or photos that go along with each part of your day.


Step 3: Post your distance learning routine chart/slides in your home work space to keep you on track and get the most out of your distance learning journey!


L. Arts Mini Spark #55 – Bio Poems

bio poem is a simple poem written about a person, and it follows a predictable pattern. Bio poems generally don’t rhyme, and they can be autobiographical (about another person) or biographical (about yourself).

Step 1: Decide who you want to research for your Bio Poem. Here are some options to get your brainstorming kick started.

  • American Presidents
  • African American Leaders
  • Influential Women
  • Favorite Athlete, Musician or Artist
  • Family Member or Friend
  • Yourself

Step 2: Research your selected person (or interview family member) so that you have content for your Bio Poem. Take notes!

Step 3: Read the sample Bio Poem below about Rosa Parks.

Step 4: Use the guide and template below to draft your own Bio Poem!

Optional: Draw or include a picture of your selected person.

SEL Mini Spark #5 – Inner Voice

We all have an inner voice that speaks to us regularly. When this voice is kind and understanding, it can be a great guide to helping you through challenges.
This exercise is all about getting to know your inner voice better. How do you talk to yourself when you face a challenge? Are you compassionate? Do you speak to yourself like you are your own best friend? Or are you a little more harsh and critical? Which voice do you think helps you reach your goals.
Step 1: Read about the challenges below and see how a self-critical voice (left column) sounds versus a self-compassionate one (right column). The compare how these two different voices affect the character you’re reading about.
Next time you have an adversity, take a moment to notice how your inner voice sounds. See if you can choose to speak to yourself with greater compassion. Speak to yourself like a best friend would speak to you.
Step 2: Your turn? Use one of the templates below to write in what you think a self-critical and self-compassionate voice sounds like. You can even use the last challenge you faced as an example.

Social Studies Spark #41 – Forever Ago Podcasts

Forever Ago® is a history show for the whole family! Every episode explores the origin of just one thing — like sandwiches, video games, clocks and more — while teaching listeners to think critically about history.

Step 1 – Watch this brief video about the Forever Ago podcasts.

Step 2 – Choose 1 episode from the list below.

Step 3 – Record a Flipgrid to tell others what you learned! Use the Flipgrid Review Planner to organize your thoughts before recording. Visit the Flipgrid below to submit your review!


SEL Mini Spark # 4 – World Kindness Day

November 13th is World Kindness Day but you can celebrate all year long! Complete this mini spark to explore ideas of sharing kindness and making it a daily practice.

Step 1 – Read this article that highlights 20 acts of kindness.

World Kindness Day

Step 2 – Write down 3 things from the list that you can do today!

1 – 

2 – 

3 – 

Step 3 – Once you have completed your 3 acts of kindness, snap a photo of one of them and send to your EY Coordinator.


Early Enrichment Spark #50 – Turkey Time

Step 1 – Have you ever wondered why turkey is often a dish enjoyed at Thanksgiving Dinner? Check out this Wonderopolis to learn all about this tradition. Click below.

Now, that you have learned a little about this tradition, let’s get creative!

Step 2 – Watch this video for step-by-step directions on how to draw an adorable turkey. Grab a piece of paper and drawing utensil and click on the video below.

Remember, you can pause the video if you need more time.

Step 3 – Display your turkey drawing in your house for others to enjoy!

Science Mini Spark # 5 – How Clean Are Your Hands?

After spending some time at the playground, soccer field, or in the backyard, it can be easy to see the dirt on our hands.

What you can’t see are the invisible-to-your-eye germs that accumulate on your hands throughout the day. To see the effect those germs have, give this this eye-opening experiment a try.


What you’ll need:

  • Three slices of bread (the kind from a bakery or homemade works best — the fewer preservatives the better)
  • Three resealable bags


  1. Label each of the three bags:
    • Control
    • Dirty
    • Clean
  2. Place one slice of bread in the “control” bag without touching it.  You can use clean tongs, or turn the resealable bag inside out and use it like a glove to get the slice inside.  Seal the bag.
  3. Remove a second slice of bread and have your child touch the bread with her unwashed hands.  Place the bread in the bag and seal it.
  4. Have your child wash her hands with soap and water.
  5. Take a third slice of bread and have your child touch the bread with her freshly-washed hands.  Place the bread in the bag and seal it.
  6. Take all three sealed bags and put them in a cool, dry place.
  7. Look at the bread daily and write down your observations, but do not take the bread out of the bags. In a few days, mold should start to appear. What slice of bread gets moldy first? Which grows the most mold? Which grows the least? If mold starts to appear, have your child take a ruler and measure it and record your observations. You can even draw a picture of the bread each day, or keep a photo diary by taking pictures of the bread each day to watch the changes over time.

Learning about hand hygiene

When Should I Wash?

“You should wash your hands before, during, and after preparing food. Also wash before you eat, after using the restroom, after blowing your nose, after touching animals, and any time your hands appear dirty,” says Terri Stillwell, MD, Associate Hospital Epidemiologist at Mott Children’s Hospital, where she is responsible carrying out various roles for infection control and prevention. Dirty hands can spread all kinds of germs from the common cold to food poisoning to more serious illnesses.

How Do I Wash?

Most of us do not properly wash our hands. The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) recommends a multistep process:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

“The scrubbing part of washing your hands is important. It’s the combination of the friction of rubbing your hands together along with the soap that really gets them clean. Take your time and sing or hum the Happy Birthday song twice,” says Dr. Stillwell. If soap and water are not available, Dr. Stillwell recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. “Make sure it’s at least 60 percent alcohol. Rub the sanitizer all over your hands just like if you were scrubbing your hands with soap and water. Then allow the sanitizer to dry.”


L. Arts Mini Spark #52 – Thank You Notes

1 – Veteran’s Day is November 11th, visit this website to learn more about the history of Veterans Day

2 – Learn the basics of writing a thank you note!

Greeting. Don’t forget to make sure you’re using the correct form and spelling of the person’s name, as well as anyone else’s mentioned in the note.

  • Dear Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bob,

Express your thanks. Begin with the two most important words: Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for…
  • It made my day when I opened…
  • I’m so grateful you were there when…

Add specific details. Tell them how you plan to use or display their gift. It shows them that you really appreciate the thought that went into it. Even if it’s cold hard cash, describe how you’ll spend the stuff.

  • Here’s a picture of me with my new briefcase. I look so professional!
  • I can’t wait to use the birthday money you sent to decorate my dorm room.
  • The going-away party meant so much to me. Having all my friends and family in one place was something I’ll never forget.

Look ahead. Mention the next time you might see them, or just let them know you’re thinking of them.

  • We look forward to seeing you next month at Lucy’s party.

Restate your thanks. Add details to thank them in a different way.

  • Again, thank you for your generosity. I’m so excited about college. I’ll let you know all about it when I get settled.
  • We felt so blessed that you made the trip to be with us on our wedding day. We can’t wait to see you again soon!

End with your regards. “Sincerely” is a safe standby, but for closer relationships, you might choose a warmer option.

  • With love,
  • Many thanks,
  • Yours truly,


3 – Use the template above (or make your own) to write a thank you note to a Veteran. If you do not personally know a veteran, you can write a general thank you to all Veterans.