Activity Time: Say goodbye to mental burnout

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In some of my previous posts, I have touched upon the importance of keeping kids moving in the classroom.  Physical movement wakes up their brains, gets their blood flowing, and it’s just plain fun. While many of us typically seek comfort and routine in our daily lives, students in a classroom don’t always need that kind of comfort.  Yes, routines can help people stay focused and build self-discipline, but too much routine can also turn us into rigid creatures of habit. In my experience, students are more focused when classroom routines are followed, but there are also great benefits when they step away from the daily grind, and get moving. This is the ideal way to help them avoid mental burnout. 

When you add something out of the ordinary to your classroom activities, your students liven up.  I have found that the key to success in the classroom is the right mix of consistency and novelty, which can add just the right amount of spice!  The rhythm of Shurley English lessons provides day-to-day consistency and routine to keep students fully engaged in learning Language Arts.  However, students need something fresh and new to avoid mental burn-out.  Adding some creative flare to your Shurley English lessons can help you meet the needs of all learning styles and keep the learning process alive in your classroom.  When teachers integrate a healthy balance of consistency, practice, repetition, and differentiated activities, all students can enjoy success!

Take, for example, a simple game of charades.  This super activity engages the brain and has a powerful impact on kinesthetic and visual learners.  If you love to see students having fun while learning, here are a couple of ways you can make it happen when teaching verbs and imperative sentences, using charades:

Verb Charades

Supplies needed:  note cards

To reinforce verbs, make a list of simple action verbs and write each verb on an index card. Next, divide your students into teams. Then, one student from a team will draw a card and act out the action verb while their teammates attempt to guess the verb. If the student’s team guesses his/her action correctly, the team receives one point.

Imperative Charades

Supplies needed:  paper, pencil, note cards

To practice imperative sentences, have each student write a list of imperative sentences that can be acted out. (Examples: Close the door. Open a book.) Next, divide students into pairs and have them take turns reading their sentences. (This is the time to ensure each sentence is truly imperative.) Then, have students write each imperative sentence on a notecard. Gather all the notecards and mix them up. Now, it’s time to form teams and play Imperative Charades. One student from a team will draw a card and act out the command while their teammates attempt to guess the command. If the student’s team guesses his/her command correctly, the team receives one point.

These activities are sure to ward off the mental burnout that can sometimes set in at this time of year. So, liven up your classroom with a game of charades; it might be just the ticket to restore focus and energy!

Discovery Time: Creating a Winter Wonderland Tour

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If I could travel the world, I would!  I love the excitement of finding a new destination to experience.  I love having the freedom to go wherever I want or can afford whether I have a detailed itinerary or not!  For me, world travel is an adventure.  But, what if you don’t have the time or money to travel?   Shurley English can take you on a global adventure through Discovery Time!  

Discovery Time turns students into researchers. It gives them a chance to learn about different locations around the world, based on clues or tasks to complete.  For example, in Level 8, students choose one of Quigley’s Quests to complete.  One quest may ask the student to make a salt map of Machu Picchu, Peru; another may ask the student to imagine they are hiking the Incan Trail, research it, and create a brochure of must-see sights.  Students are given various options to showcase their creativity.  What an impactful way to teach across different subject areas and inspire your students to think globally!

As your students return from their Winter Break, keep them interested in learning by creating a Winter Wonderland Tour in your classroom!  Your students can make passports, create a travel-map bulletin board full of fun facts, incorporate countries from the Winter Olympics, etc.  You can make this engaging activity as big or as small as you want to. You never know how these experiences could inspire your student(s) to become a real world traveler.

Below, we have provided several examples of Discovery Time to help get you started. In each Discovery Time, students choose a quest and follow the directions to complete it.  Each quest offers great publishing ideas to share their work.  (Here’s more information on how to make the most of your Discovery Time.) If you don’t have Level 7 or Level 8 of Shurley English and would like to explore our curriculum in more detail, we invite you to go to our website and request an online sample of our language arts materials.

Happy traveling!

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How to Manage Stress During the Holiday Season

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There are only seven shopping days left before Christmas! (Let that sink in for just a minute!) I know that Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but right about now, I’m feeling a little less than wonderful!  The very idea that I only have a handful of days left to select, purchase, and wrap gifts for my family stresses me out!  I’ve never been this unprepared!

People deal with stress on a daily basis, but it’s no secret that stress runs extra-high during the holidays.  With all of the Christmas programs, parties, shopping, baking, etc., most people will experience stress in some form or another during the season. 

There are four common types of stress, according to Dr. Karl Albrecht in his book entitled, “Stress and the Manager.”  In it, he states that if a person can understand the common types of stress and know how to anticipate them, stress can be managed much easier.  Albrecht’s four common types of stress include:    

A. Time Stress- when you worry about time or the lack of time

B. Anticipatory Stress-when you worry about upcoming events

C. Situational Stress-when you’re in a scary situation and you have no control over what is happening

D. Encounter Stress-when you worry about interactions with a certain person or a certain group of people

Sometimes, no matter how mindful you are about the four common types of stress, life just happens!  Instead of sticking your head in the sand, blowing up, breaking down, or whatever your style under stress happens to be, why not try some instant stress relievers!  These ideas don’t cost a thing, and they just might help no matter what type of stress you have to manage!

Instant Stress Relievers:

Take a “Breathing-Break.”  That’s right.  Set aside a few minutes to concentrate on taking some deep, relaxing breaths.  Focus on the air coming in and going out of your lungs.  Scientists say that a deep breathe sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.

Take an “Exercise-Break.” Scientists have found that exercise reduces stress, so take a brisk walk during your break, or have fun climbing some stairs!  Exercise will improve your frame of mind.

Make Yourself Laugh. Watch a comedy show on television, or go to a funny movie.  Check out babies laughing-out-loud on a YouTube video.  Read some jokes and laugh out loud yourself!  Laughter is an amazing stress reliever.   Data is mounting on the short-term and long-term benefits to laughter, and stress reduction is at the top of the list.

Give or Receive a Hug. Hugging is universally comforting, and according to scientists, hugging reduces stress.  Hug your kids.  Hug your spouse.  Hug your pet.  Hug, hug, hug!

Change Your Scene. This stress-relieving technique can be done physically or mentally.  Physically, you can walk to a window or into another area, etc., to change the scene.  Figuratively, you can conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and reduce stress. 

Appreciate the Positives. Focus your thoughts on the positive aspects of your life and the things for which you are most grateful.  Positive thoughts reduce stress and make life happier! 


“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James 

From all of us at Shurley English, Happy Holidays!

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Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK.