April 2014

Arbor Day

by Alan Haskvitz

National Teachers Hall of Fame


About Arbor Day: Arbor Day is America’s National Tree Holiday, founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872 to commerate the important of trees to humanity. Imagine all the uses trees have and why, on this day, it is recommended that you plant a tree and educate others about their importance. In 1970 Arbor Day was proclained the last Friday in April.

Celebrating this day is a wonderful way to integrate lessons and meet Common Core objectives. You can combine science, math, literacy, and social studies in create meaningful lessons that can result in a life time appreciation of nature. The problem is where to find these lessons. I especially like the build your own greenhouse one (http://lessonplanspage.com/sciencessmars5buildgreenhouseworksheet-htm) that offers students to grow their own seeds. An unexpected lesson here is the one of delayed gratification and the uncertainty of nature. Having the students track the growth, but I like to have them write poem about what the plant feels and about what they feel.

Another good project is to have students research the many uses of wood and make a list that is kept in the room for the rest of the year so that students can add to it as they are awakened to a use. Having them put their name next to the new idea adds to the lesson.

One thing that I always do is read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree to the students. It really gets their attention and helps them develop an appreciation for trees. Here is the slideshow http://www.slideshare.net/wicaksana/the-giving-tree-3293089

Next I show this video and tell them to compare the two stories, this one by Lynne called, The Great Kapok Tree. It makes for a great discussion and also can be used for a variety of activites.


You should check out when your state celebrates Arbor Day and also note the State tree. A good art lesson would have each student research and draw a tree for every state. http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/arbor-day/when-is-arbor-day.html

Lessons by subject matter

An excellent selection and easy to use, but basic.


Here are some excellent lessons and videos

Mostly for K to 8


More lessons, crafts, and activities


A Pinterest site with lots of images of ideas

For younger students.


A lesson site that has good science ideas among others


Civics lessons

For older students


They are posted here





Arbor Day is America’s National Tree Holiday, founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872 to commemorate the importance of trees to humanity. Imagine all the uses trees have. That’s why on this day, it’s recommended you plant a tree and educate others about their importance. In 1970 Arbor Day was proclaimed the last Friday in April.


Celebrating this day is a wonderful way to integrate lessons and meet Common Core objectives. You can combine science, math, literacy, and social studies and create meaningful lessons that result in a lifetime appreciation of nature. The problem is finding lessons.


I especially like this Building Your Own Greenhouse Worksheet because it offers students a chance to grow their own seeds. Delayed gratification is an unexpected lesson here as well as the uncertainty of nature. I have students track the growth and write a poem about what they and the plant feel.


Another good ongoing project is asking students to research the many uses of wood. They make a list, which we post in the room for the rest of the year, so they can add to it as they awake to new uses. I have them write their name next to the new ideas.


One thing I always do on Arbor Day is read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. It really gets students’ attention and helps them develop an appreciation for trees. You can also show them The Giving Tree slideshow.


Next, I show The Great Kapok Tree video by Lynne Cherry and tell students to compare the two stories. It makes for a great discussion and also can be used for a variety of activities.


You should check out when your state celebrates Arbor Day and also note your state tree. For an art lesson, have each student research and draw a tree, assigning them by state.


I’ve found the following sites offer a nice variety of lessons, activities and resources. Check them out to find what you need.


Arbor Day in the Classroom

Lessons by subject matter – this is an excellent selection and easy to use, but basic.


Arbor Day Lessons and Teacher Resources

Find some excellent lessons and videos, mostly for K to 8


Arbor Day Tree Lesson Plans

A lesson site that includes good science ideas


From Arbor Day to Earth Day

Civics lessons for older students


Trees/Arbor Day Lesson Plans

More lessons, crafts, and activities


Tree Crafts and Arbor Day Projects for Kids

This Pinterest site offers lots of images of ideas for younger students

Mercedes GLK: Safety First
by The Car Family for more reviews go to

2013 GLK350 4MATIC

If you would love to own a Mercedes the GLK might be your best choice as it combines the legendary sturdy construction with utility and German engineering to produce a handsome looking vehicle that affords a touch of elegance to its on-task demeanor.
You can choose between a 3.5-liter V6 that develops 302 horsepower or a 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that makes 200 horsepower both running through a smooth seven-speed automatic. The powerplant provides excellent acceleration and plenty of poke for high speed merging or passing. However, the mileage on the diesel makes it a strong contender for those who travel a great deal as it get an average of 28 mpg versus 21 for the gas version. Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is optional on the GLK350 and standard on the GLK250 Bluetec.
Although this Mercedes is considered a luxury SUV and is equipped as such with standard dual-zone climate control, power front seats, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system, antilock brakes, stability control and airbags most everywhere, there are some excellent option packages that need to be added to the GLK even more comforting.
Mom’s view: It is definitely a different looking SUV with its angular exterior and upright stance looking much like an elongated G Class. The GLK has a firm ride that provides an “I Can” attitude when confronted with canyon cornering or emergency maneuvers. I found the front seats comfortable and controls easy to master. Be aware that the seats are “form fitting” so they take a while to get used to, but after a long drive your back doesn’t hurt. The handling is nimble and the steering has a nice feel, but the real plus is its solid build quality. The high quality interior treatment is very well done, but I strongly recommend the optional rear view camera and blind spot monitoring options. The interior is well done and the plastics are soft and and an overall feel of caring comfort. The step-in isn’t too high, but I recommend the automatic tailgate especially if you are on the petite side due to its height. Another feature that you must add is back-up camera because visibility to the rear is limitied. Overall, a classy ride, but one that cradles you in reassurance as well.

2013 GLK350 4MATIC
Dad’s view: Owning a Mercedes is all about the technology and the GLK won’t disappoint. Blind spot and lane departure warnings are available, a lane departure system, the ability to parallel park itself, and an adaptive cruise control (Distronic) system that practically enables the car to drive itself need to be experienced before buying. There is also all-wheel drive. The transmission features both a Sport and Economy setting, but we found the latter setting fine for even mountainous terrain. The suspension is well controlled, but it isn’t over done so you still get the feel of the road. As noted before, the many options make it most necessary to do your homework as they can totally change the nature of the GLK. For example, you can order a navigation, a rearview camera, a power liftgate, and a panoramic sunroof. Tempting, but there is a reason they call this a luxury vehicle with a list price that can escalate into the $50,000 range without caution from a base below $40,000. Either way, the residual value remains good on this model.
Young worker woman’s view: The dash is quite nice with a large screen and an array of buttons that should keep even an eight-year-old entertained. The optional leather upholstery is handsome and easy to clean. Driving the GLK is a pleasure with a reassuring feel to the electric steering and brakes that provide good feel and confidence. Look for real world fuel economy of around 20 mpg, but you can do better using the cruise control. Even in base form, the GLK has an abundance of features that extend to rain sensing wipers to power front seats.  This is one vehicle that you won’t mind your teenagers driving. Safety first appears to be its motto.  Indeed, I was struck by the thought put into this Mercedes. The rears seats fold flat making it easy to load large packages and there are small cubbyholes most everywhere to place small items. There is no doubt this is a real competitor in a field that includes the Lexus RX, the Audi Q5, and the BMW X3. But it is different enough in looks and appeal to make it attractive to those who want to drive in a vehicle that provides that bank vault type security.


2013 GLK350 4MATIC
Young working males’ view: Mercedes does listen and the turn signal and cruise control stalks were finally moved to a position where they were easy to use over their placement in earlier models. The part that intrigued me was what you get even in the base model compared to the competition. It doesn’t make the GLK a bargain, but it puts the price in perspective better especially for those who are more interested in the MSRP. There are some really technical packages, such as for lighting, in which the selection of “auto” means that car will handle the decision making for you. The GLK also offers a service where you can access the news, Google and even Facebook, among others as another option. I thought the monitor could easily be made larger, but it was easy to read. Some of the functions need to be mastered before hitting the highway. Regardless, for me, the bottom line in that in the event of a natural disaster the GLK would be an ideal base unit. In the meantime, it gets noticed and is eager to please.

Family conference: There is plenty of competition, but none have the Mercedes engineering and the solid granite feel. The Attention Assist is especially notable as it can alert a drowsy driver with an audible alert and a warning message on the dash and a coffee cup icon is brightly illuminated on the dash. We believe that attention to safety is what sets the GLK apart.
For more educational materials for all levels go to


April Grants for Teachers
by Alan Haskvitz

for more free resources go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/
For high school students.
InvenTeam projects span many fields from assistive devices to environmental technologies and consumer goods. Applicants are encouraged to consider needs of the world’s poorest people (those earning $2/day) when brainstorming invention ideas.

A large link site with rolling deadlines.
Most everything is listed here

Target grants
For everything from field trips to early childhood reading to arts.
Well worth exploring.

Farm to school grants
The purpose of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is to assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.

The Optical Society
A variety of grants for service learning and professional development

A large link for larger grants

Unsung hero grants

Grants for teachers or teams of teachers

Healthy Family grants
This is a large link site and even though some entries have past their deadlines it does not mean that the 2014 ones are not coming online.

Shakespeare for the Classroom: In Honor of His Birthday, Sort of
by Alan Haskvitz
National Teachers Hall of Fame

for more free resources go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/

No one knows for certain when William Shakespeare was born, but he was baptized on April 26, 1564 so why not use that date as an excuse to bring his work into the classroom. Here are some exciting ideas that can be used to meet Common Core standards and are useful for classes from upper elementary through high school.

I really like to read a sonnet to my students and have them discuss it. I use this site (http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/shakesonnets) Afterwords they create there own poem about the same subject. Some interesting and creative poetry comes from this, but most importantly when they are done they have to compare and contrast their work to Shakespeare’s and make a case for which one was the best. I let students work in teams based on the sonnets mentioned in the link.

Lots of good ideas for teachers are posted here:
Primary resources and videos of how to teach sonnets and other elements. Excellent.

The New York Times
All sorts of ideas to teach Shakespeare and make it come alive.

A great idea from the New York Times
This printable gives students an opportunity to learn that they may already know something about the bard.

These are quick, video overviews of some of Shakespeare’s work
It deals mainly with the plot.

The PBS offerings
Includes a webquest and more

148 Ideas
Uneven quality, but well worth a look.
98 More Ideas
Lots of good stuff here. I like the Types of Female Characters in Shakespeare to get students interested in reading more. For older students.