Thanksgiving Draw: A fun Thanksgiving Game

Thanksgiving drawing game


If you are looking for a fun game to play with your class, or with your family, I have created a “Pictionary” type game that may be what you are looking for.

The game is delivered as a pdf (so you can get it right away) and you print off the cards on to card stock. There are 24 cards and you just play until you run out of cards.

The game comes with 2 versions – one for a classroom where students will be divided into groups of 4 – 6 and one for a family set up where everyone is playing together.

Because the game is a pdf it is easy to print as many sets as you need.

Basically, players take turns drawing. Of course all the words are related to Thanksgiving. This game is suitable for elementary age and up. (Younger family members will enjoy getting involved in the guessing even if they can’t draw). Correctly guessed words score a point.

Of course, you don’t have to buy the one I created – you could also find a list of Thanksgiving words and make your own. But if you are pushed for time, and don’t want the hassle – this one only costs 99c.

I would love to see pictures if any of you get this and play it – post them on our Facebook page!

Online Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunts

Online thanksgiving scavenger hunt

Online Scavenger Hunts or Webquests are a great way for students to learn – by discovering the information themselves. They are far more likely to remember facts they have found – than they are to remember facts you told them.

I have searched online and found a number of Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunts and you are sure to find something here you can use for your class. You could also use this as a family.

Turn this into a fun assignment by offering a small prize to the winner – or the first few to finish.

A 23 question Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt for upper elementary or middle school students. This one is very nicely laid out and it is obvious what link to use to find the information needed.

Another good one with about 20 questions. The website the students need to access is listed with the related questions below it. The questions are a mixture of historical ones and general ones related to Thanksgiving today.
A nicely done hunt for 4th graders. There are 11 questions (and a reward game at the end) with links to help students find the answers.
This one has 6 questions and would be good for middle school. It uses articles, audio and photos to provide the necessary information

This is just 5 questions and they are multiple choice. They could be used as a bellringer activity. Answers are provided.
11 questions that either have answers in an article on the page, or links are provided to find the answers. Suitable for upper elementary.
This is actually a number of webquests each focusing on a different aspect of Thanksgiving. They cover the history of Thanksgiving and traditions linked to the holiday. This is for older students – middle and up.

Thanks to mochajelly for the cute Thanksgiving Divider 

Creating a Digital Student Newspaper

Class newspaper


For a number of years now I have had the students in my media class produce a student newspaper. But until now it has always been a paper and ink one. This year I knew it was time to make the transition to digital and it was actually a LOT easier than I expected.

Here’s exactly what we did:

1. Brainstormed ideas for the name of our newspaper. We persevered until we found one with an available domain name.

2. Bought the domain name on – I bought their special deal that included a Managed WordPress set up. Total cost was $13.17 for one year. Using this option means you don’t have to worry about the technical stuff and you just follow their really easy instructions to get started. I was so glad I had done this as I was worried this part would be hard to do as my husband had set up this blog and I had no prior experience.

3. Found a theme that looked like a newspaper. This took a bit of time and we eventually settled on Graphene which was free.

4. Downloaded a few plug ins:

Jetpack – this gives us stats on number of visitors and we are also using their subscription form

Advanced Ads


All-in-One Event Calendar by

Akismet - to prevent spam


NextGen Gallery

WordPress SEO

5. For the article writing  / editing process we are using Google Drive. I set up folders for “Drafts”, “Edited”, “Approved” and “Published”. Students upload their articles into “Drafts”. One of the editors edits it and moves it to the “Edited” folder. I then make sure no one has written something that will get me fired or them expelled and I move it into “Approved”. Finally our Layout Editor takes the article and puts it on the website and moves it to “Published”. This system is very easy to use.

newspaper google drive

We don’t have editions of the newspaper but just constantly update with new articles. We are trying to make this a business venture but so far the students haven’t managed to sell any advertising or classifieds but hopefully that will change soon.

I was really very surprised at how much easier it has been to “go digital” with the paper. I think one of the reasons has been that our Layout Editor learned to use WordPress very quickly and has been diligent about keeping the paper looking fresh all the time.

If you are reading this before June 2015 – take a look at Connexion. After that I am not sure if we will continue so if the link is dead, that is why (I don’t teach Media every year).


Student Contest Roundup October 31, 2014




The Geography Olympiad is a fairly new contest – only in its 3rd year – and it has different levels for all age groups. This is particularly exciting for high school students who may be missing the Geo Bee.  This year there will be a number of changes including the debut of their National Qualifying Quiz Tournaments, which will be held around the country.  This will give students an alternative way of qualifying for the National Qualifying Exams.  Good luck throughout the 2014-15 season!



Future City is a contest for teams of middle school students where they learn what it takes to build a city.  The Future City Competition is a national project-based learning experience where middle schooler, sixth through eighth grade imagine, design and build cities of the future.  Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity software.  They get to actually build scale models and present their ideas before judges at regional competitions.  Regional winners then advance to the finals in Washington D.C.


Christopher Columbus Awards

This is another cool contest for middle school students where they get to investigate a problem in their community and apply scientific principles to find a solution.  They work in teams of three or four to address widespread issues within their community.  Their goal is to provide a feasible solution to the problem.  They need to provide credible scientific data to back up their solution.  Then provide a well-written essay with visuals to present to the judges.  They win scholarships and a trip to Disney World and get a behind-the-scenes look at how it works.



Philosophy Slam is a contest for all school students – no matter where they live in the world. Younger students can draw while older ones use words to express their opinion on the current year’s topics.  The contest is designed to make philosophy fun for kids of all ages and abilities and to promote a philosophical discussion between kids and adults.  Since everyone has life experiences, even kids, Kids Philosophy Slam asks kids to write, create poetry or create artwork regarding a philosophical question posed each year.

American Legion Oratorical Contest

If students enjoy public speaking and the constitution – then here’s a contest for them. Prepare a speech according to the rules, wow the judges and you can earn a lot of scholarship money.  The Oratorical contest presents students with an academic speaking challenge that teaches them important leadership qualities.  It also gives them an insight into our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly and give them an understanding of their rights and privileges as an American.  This contest is open to high school students twenty years and younger currently enrolled in a high school program.


Shell Game by ThinkFun: Review

Shell Game from ThinkFun

Shell Game by ThinkFun is an excellent memory training solitaire game that is perfect for students who finish their work early, or just to play at home.

It works similarly to the “Shell Game” used by con men but this time it becomes a series of puzzles to solve using brain power. There are a total of 60 puzzles which start simply but become increasingly challenging. If you can’t work out how to solve any of them there is a solutions booklet provided.

The puzzles are all on separate pages in the puzzle book. Find the items listed as the ‘start’ items – here you need the Red A, Blue B and a grey stone.

Shell Game Start

Take those items and put them on the center circles opposite their start positions.

Shell Game 2


Next you have to cover everything up with shells.

Shell Game 4

Now comes the thinking part! Switch the a shell with another shell joined by an arc. Keep switching until you think you have moved the stones to the correct “end” location.

Shell Game 5


Think you have it correct? Lift the shells to check.

Shell Game 6


Still not clear? Here’s a video that demonstrates it.



I would highly recommend this game for upper elementary and older, though younger kids will be able to master the easier ones too. Now that I have played and reviewed it, I will be donating the review copy I was given to the after school center I help out in as this will be perfect for the students to play when they have completed their homework.

You can purchase Shell Game on Amazon.

Please note: the links in this post are Affiliate Links – that means I make a small amount but you don’t pay anything extra.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Student Contest Roundup October 24, 2014


Once again I have taken a while to do this – here are two more weeks of awesome contests!

Science Olympiad

Science Olympiad Science Olympiad is my favorite competition not only because the team I coach actually made it to Nationals a few years ago, but also because of the huge benefits I see when students participate. All states offer contests for middle and high school teams, but some also do for Elementary. Students compete as a team in 23 events (typically a student will do 2-5 events). Some events are building, some study, some have lab work components – and some are difficult to categorize. They are fun. They are challenging. And they prepare students to become the leaders of future in the science fields.

Vocabulary Bowl

Vocabulary Bowl Champions Students in K – 12 all over the United States compete in the Vocabulary Bowl as part of their school team to see who can master the most vocabulary words in a year. Monthly and annual awards are made – and there are prizes for top individual participants as well. It’s free to compete – so sign your school up!

Medusa Mythology

Medusa Mythology Exam This Mythology Contest is a written multiple-choice test for 6th-12th graders. Each year there is a specific focus for the exam. There are awards for different levels of achievement and the top achievers in high school go on to compete for scholarship money by writing an additional essay.

ACSL Programming Contest

This programming contest is a series of 5 tests over the year that operates on 4 different levels depending on the ability of the students taking it. Students can start in middle school and then move to harder levels as they learn more coding. Past exams are available to help students prepare. Great for computer clubs and classes.

Math Video Challenge

This is last year’s winning entry. Middle Schoolers compete to create videos to explain math concepts.


NaNoWriMo NaNoWriMo the November Writing Challenge has a special Youth Category where students set their own goals as to how many words they think they can write in a month. All students who complete their goals are winners and get certificates and can print off some copies of their masterpieces free of charge.

Vocabulary Video Contest

The NY Times is sponsoring a Vocabulary Video Contest where students get to make videos explaining words. The one above was last year’s winner.

School Band & Orchestra Essay Contest

Students in grades 4 – 12 can write an essay on the current year’s topic and stand to win music products and prizes for themselves and their school. Essays have to be less than 250 words, so this isn’t a lot to write. 5 winners are selected from 4th-8th grader entries and 5 from 9th-12th.



Grow Your Own Business Challenge

Grow your own business challenge

Students between the ages of 7 and 14 can submit their business ideas for a chance to win money – and trip to Omaha to meet the contest sponsor Warren Buffett.

Students can work alone or in teams and there will be 5 individual and 3 group finalists selected.

President’s Environmental Youth Award

Students in K – 12 work together in groups to show environmental stewardship. All qualifying projects receive Regional Awards and the top projects each year also receive National awards.

This is a good contest to make students more environmentally aware.

College ready?

Ready for college?

Are your children ready for college – or will they be by the time they are seniors?

This is a question it is better to ask in middle school so you have plenty of time to make sure the answer is a resounding ‘YES’ by the time it matters.

I recently gave a talk on this topic and this blog post is just a summary of what I shared with the teens and their parents.

Useful Books


This is the book my children found the most helpful in learning the vocabulary they needed for the standardized tests.


A huge book, updated every year that contains many of the scholarships available to students.




A thin easy-to-read book that is packed full of information that is actionable and likely to get students a little closer to their dreams.



Useful Websites  contains lots of good advice and I particularly recommend you get the guide (I got the pdf one). It has some excellent tips that I hadn’t found anywhere else.

Khan Academy is a great place to watch math videos and practice math.

College Junction has a list of all the scholarship websites I used to find scholarships for my children.

College Search on the Collegeboard website helps you narrow down colleges you might be interested in. has both free and paid options of ACT and SAT prep. Errors are well explained and parents can see how their students are progressing. teaches vocabulary in an online adaptive environment and adds a gamification element to make it fun. has college-level courses offered free which are perfect to stretch high schoolers intellectually. One course I particularly recommend is “Learning how to Learn”.I hope you found this useful. If you have any specific questions you would like help with, just ask in the comments. Read more

Student Contest Roundup October 10, 2014

Student Contests

I didn’t get around to putting the round up last week – so enjoy two weeks at once here!

Math Olympiad

 Math Olympiad LogoMath Olympiad is for 4th-8th graders. There are 2 divisions so students are competing against students close to their own age. Over a 5 month period students take 5 30 minute tests. Each test just has 5 questions and they range from easy to hard. Most students should be able to get at least one correct. At the end of the year there are trophies and patches for the top students.


Science Bowl

National Science Bowl LogoTeams of 4 compete head to head in live competition in the Science Bowl. The winners of each State proceed to Nationals.  There are separate competitions for middle and high school. Official homeschool groups can participate. Prizes for top teams at State and National level make it even more fun for students.

History Bee

History Bee

At the school level of the History Bee students compete against their fellow school mates either on a multiple choice paper test or in a typical bee format. The history covered is World History – so anything goes! The top 4 students from each school take an online test to see who advances to the Regional event. At the Regional event students use buzzers to answer questions and the top students move on to compete at the National level.



The North American Computional Linguistics Olympiad is a contest for highschoolers. The contest involves solving linguistic puzzles. This is great fun for students who love logic games. You do not need to know a foreign language or anything about linguistics.


Wevideo Contest: Sudan’s Secret Side Mini Documentary

Students of all ages can enter and try and win a GoPro. Sign up for access to the rules.

Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Verizon App ChallengeTeams of 5-7 middle or high school students must identify a need or problem in their that can be addressed by a mobile app. Homeschooled students and youth organizations are not eligible for this contest. Find more info here.



Teams of 3-4 6th through 9th graders in the same grade select a Mission Challenge which they research over a few months and then present suggested solutions to. More info here.

ShareAwesome Contest

Shareawesome Contest

Each week there is a different theme for teens to submit photos for – all related to Digital Citizenship. After the contest ends at the end of November then the finalists will produce a video to try an win a Surface Tablet. The contest is just for 13-17 year old.


Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Out Loud is a high school contest that starts at the school level and moves up to a National contest. Students learn by heart and deliver 2 poems of their choice.

This is a great contest to develop a love of poetry in students.


Wild for Wilderness Art Contest

Wild for Wilderness Art Contest

Grades 2-4 get to show they are “Wild for Wilderness” in this Art Contest.

If your children or students enter any of these and do well, come back here and let us know!

DuoLingo – an app that makes language learning easy

Duolingo app


DuoLingo is one of my favorite apps as it has done a great job of making language learning easy and enjoyable. It is available as both an iOS and Android app – as well as a web-based program. And it is FREE!!

DuoLingo works for any student who can read. We have mainly used the Spanish one – but there currently 8 languages to choose from.

It assumes you are an absolute beginner but if you aren’t, you can test out to get past the easy levels.

The exercises range from matching pictures to words to translating whole sentences. You don’t get to move on until you master your current level but you the gamification elements in the app that award you points and cups as you work, help you stay motivated.


DuoLingo Matching

DuoLingo cups


So far almost everyone I know who has used it, likes it.

Here is what Suzette LaPorte Ayo, FundaFunda’s online Spanish instructor thinks about DuoLingo:

  • Can test out of levels or go through them- your choice
  • Uses listening and pronunciation
  • Reminds you when you have missed a day
  • Earn rewards which you can then use to dual with others
  • Mixes vocabulary with grammar
  • There is no way to see all of the material available and choose or skip around – only within a certain level.
  • Need internet connection

Duolingo Translate

In our family we have used it as an extension to Spanish classes. My one daughter’s take on it is this:

  • The point-earning nature of it and how you have to “level up”. The competitive nature in me feels driven by that. B
  • It’s also nice because it builds on your knowledge and forces you to keep practicing and reusing things you have already learned. It feels effortless, yet the more I use it the better my Spanish becomes.
  • I wish more could be done with the points – more extrinsic motivation I suppose.
  • I enjoy it immensely. Every time I return to Duolingo and invest daily time in it, I notice how i become more comfortable in my vocabulary and grammar. Now they have the “coach” feature which allows you to set personal goals and then will remind you to come online and practice. And its minimal effort on a daily basis – i just put in 10-20 minutes a day andI see dramatic improvement. The key is consistency.
DuoLingo Coach
My one son had this to say:
  •  Ease of use (can do it wherever/whenever on my phone)
  • I’m not sure if it teaches the grammar super well
  • It is more of a help with starting out a language.
  • It’s a good way to get extra practice in.

If you have used it, please post a comment about how you have found it. And if you haven’t, go sign up online, or download from Google Play or the App store.

Student Contest Roundup September 26, 2014



Here are the contests for the week beginning 9/22/14. Remember to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google + to get notified of the #studentcontestoftheday.

Interstellar’s Math Madness

This contest has a middle school and high school division. Teams compete online against each other to solve math problems.

First Freedom Video and Essay Contest

High school students can either create a video, or write an essay on a specific topic related to the Freedom of Religion.


Exploravision is  contest for K-12 which is pretty unusual for a contest. There are various age brackets so students compete against their own age. This contest allows students to research what technology is used today and then dream of what the future may look like.

PicoCTF Hacking Contest

This Hacking Contest is for middle and high schoolers – and it teaches about computer security, but doesn’t encourage students to become hackers! They do get to hack into files etc so it is super fun!

Students work in teams to solve challenges centered around a storyline where participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the challenge. There are various levels so that no programming ability is necessary to compete the lower level challenges.

Helicopter Challenge

Students have fun designing the helicopter of the future. This contest is for 9-16 year olds.

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