Holiday Haze: How to Keep Students Engaged in Class

By Andrew Hawk

Holiday Haze: How to Keep Students Engaged in ClassEvery group of students seems to have one or two members who constantly work ahead of the rest of the pack. Sometimes these students have a better grasp of the material, so they can complete their work faster. Sometimes these students, much to the frustration of their teachers, rush through independent work, hoping that the next activity will be more appealing. Either way, teachers need to have a plan in place to help keep these students engaged. Furthermore, as the holidays and long breaks approach, students need help staying engaged in general. Here are some tips that will help keep your students engaged.

Clearly Communicate High Expectations
If students are rushing through their work, be sure they understand the quality of work that you expect from them. If the work they are turning in doesn’t meet your expectations, you might consider having students redo the assignment. If, during students’ work time you suspect that they are rushing, give a verbal reminder that you expect their best work.

Consider Differentiating Assignments
If you have students who finish before everyone else simply because they learn the material faster, it is time to differentiate their assignments. Please understand that this in no way means piling more work on these students than on their peers. Simply find a way to make the material more challenging for them. These students are at risk of acting out if they become bored. In some cases, you may have to give them a different assignment that is directly aligned to their instructional level.

Post a List of Possible Activities for Students to Complete
Some teachers like to make a list on chart paper of activities students can do if they finish work early and hang the list in the classroom. I have seen teachers make copies of the list and give them to students to keep at their desks. Other teachers change this list on a daily basis and write it on their whiteboard. The important thing is to have prepared a list of activities that are meaningful to student learning. Do not simply write a list of busywork. Popular items on this list include reviewing vocabulary words, pleasure reading, proofreading written work, and getting a head start on homework. If you have computers or tablets available, I recommend creating a list of approved websites or apps that students can use once they have finished their regular work. Please be careful, though—if you make the choices on this list more appealing than the independent work, students will be inclined to rush to complete their assignment.

Make a Shoebox Activity
Shoebox activities are a great way to let students work on science throughout the day. You place a science activity in a shoebox, tape the procedures to the bottom of the lid, and develop a worksheet for students to record their work on. Students take turns completing these activities in their spare time. Reading and writing are integrated by having students read the directions and complete the worksheet independently. My favorite shoebox activity called for students to use a needle, a magnet, and a small dish of water to create a working compass.

Peer Tutoring
Consider letting the students who finish their work early act as peer tutors to some of your struggling students. If their personalities mesh well, this can be a very positive experience for both students. This also keeps the tutor engaged in the subject matter.

Recognize When Students Will Be More Excited
It is perfectly natural for students to get excited as special days approach. This is especially true when you will be having a classroom celebration. Excitement is one of the best parts of childhood. Instead of squashing it by imposing consequences on kids who act excited, see what you can do to harness their excitement in a positive way.

Group Work
Many students struggle to control their talking when they are excited. By pairing them in small groups, you can guide them to talk about content matter. Be prepared to rotate throughout the room to help students stay on task.

Incorporate More Movement Into Your Instruction
Failure to accommodate students’ needs in the classroom may lead to a spike in misbehavior during parts of the day when there are more students and fewer adults. Lunch, recess, and the bus ride home could have a lot of behavioral challenges if teachers do not provide an outlet in the classroom. Limiting seat time and including more movement will help. The best way to do this will depend on grade level and subject. I have found that centers can be used at any grade level. Students enjoy the fast-paced activities and getting to rotate around the classroom.

Teach a Unit Using Readers’ Theater
Some teachers let students dress up and make props. Other teachers just have them read from a script. Either way, readers’ theater is a good strategy to help keep students engaged. I recommend letting your class practice a script and invite other classes for a live performance. Any subject can be integrated in a readers’ theater unit by choosing the correct script. You can even incorporate writing by letting students create their own scripts.

Brain Breaks
Some teachers use brain breaks every day. The idea is to give your class a two- to three-minute break. I have seen teachers in younger grades lead their classes in a short song or game of Simon Says. Math chants, trivia facts, and jokes from a joke book work well for older students. Brain breaks work to refocus students when their attention starts to wander.

Andrew HawkAndrew Hawk has worked in public education for fourteen years, starting as a teaching assistant in a special education classroom. He has taught first, second, and fifth grade as a classroom teacher, and for the past three years, has worked as a resource room teacher, providing services for fourth and fifth graders. Working as a special education teacher has given him the opportunity to work with a variety of age groups and exceptionalities. In 2011, he earned his master’s degree in special education from Western Governor’s University. When Andrew is not preparing for school, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter.

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Gratitude Is Good for the Heart: Teaching Kids the Value of Giving Thanks

By Barbara A. Lewis, author of The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” (A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh)

Gratitude Is Good for the Heart: Teaching Kids the Value of Giving ThanksToday I read a letter that came in the mail from one of our granddaughters. She thanked us for attending a special occasion for her birthday. As I looked at the scrawled handwriting and the misshapen hearts at the side, it brought a smile to my face and a tug in my chest. And did I ever feel gratitude for her? Absolutely! Strange as it might sound, I felt a stronger bond with her as well.

So what is so great about an attitude of gratitude? Well for one thing, our granddaughter’s gratitude increased a sense of gratitude in me. I promptly sent a thank- you text message back to her parents for teaching their kids to be grateful.

Many kids are taught about being grateful. After police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas were shot and killed, kids from Tulsa’s Eastwood Baptist Church summer camp in Oklahoma emptied out their pockets and piggy banks to make 157 candy bags to thank their city’s police officers for their service.

Another example of expressing service and gratitude happened when 2,500 kids from around the world drew cutouts of their hands and wrote what kind things they had done for a grateful person. They flooded Friend magazine’s mailbags with their paper hands. It started a wave of gratitude and service that spread.

Gratitude is the Siamese twin of service. They are intimately connected at the heart. You would think that the person who receives the service or gift is the one who benefits most. Not so fast. The giver receives the biggest boost of satisfaction.

According to Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, gratitude is good for us. New research has proven that showing gratitude releases a naturally occurring hormone called oxytocin. Often called the “love drug,” oxytocin encourages bonding, maternal instinct, friendship, marriage, and love. Wow!

We just feel good when we show gratitude. It is good for our health and our relationships. If that is not enough, studies also show that people who express gratitude feel more peaceful, have less stress, and even have stronger immune systems. What a bargain for a little gratitude!

So how can we help children, students, ourselves, and others around us develop greater gratitude and enjoy the loving boost of oxytocin?

For one thing, we can resist the urge to flood children with presents and opportunities to receive everything they want. To increase their gratitude and a feeling of self-confidence, we can require children to do chores for some of the things they want.

Richard Rende, a developmental psychologist, coauthored a book entitled Raising Can-Do Kids. He discusses data showing that children perform better academically, emotionally, and professionally if they do chores in their homes. It helps to correct the “gimme-gimme” syndrome. We can let kids see that privileges don’t just “poof” out of the air. Privileges require work. We can teach children to be grateful for all those brave people—both in our country and in our families—who worked hard before us and provided us with many blessings and benefits.

A defining example of gratitude comes from the family of 14-year-old Katelyn Zimmerman from Inverness, Florida, who was hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding her bike. Katelyn’s grandmother, Charlene Sweigart, knew of her granddaughter’s great love for life and gratitude for all she had. Charlene also heard Katelyn’s last words. Three hours before the accident, Katelyn had told her grandmother that she wanted to be an organ donor.

Ironically, that came true as her heart was rushed to a young boy named Alj. Alj and his family had almost given up hope that he would ever receive a heart. But the match fit. Later, the families met. Katelyn’s heart lived on inside another teenager. Alj shared a letter of gratitude that he had written to his unknown benefactor: “Thank you for a second chance at life. There were times when I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t walk without breath. I needed a miracle.” He wrote: “Katelyn, thank you for being my miracle.”

Nothing appears to improve gratitude more than helping someone else. It doesn’t have to be formal volunteering or donating an organ—but simply helping those in need in our families and communities. It also involves thanking those around us who assist us. It will help our hearts hold a “rather large amount of gratitude,” and it has been rumored to increase their sizes as well.

Yes, gratitude can be taught! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Set an example of gratitude for those around you. Say “thank you” to everyone who serves you—in the market, at work, at school, at home, wherever. Recognize the good that people do. It can snowball.
  • As the holidays approach, make wish lists of items to give to other people instead of gifts for ourselves. Teach children and teens to be grateful for their heritage, freedom, family, food, shelter, and those who came before them who secured their blessings.
  • Encourage kids to write down the good things that happen to them each day. Keep a gratitude jar in your home or classroom. Discuss grateful moments around the dinner table or at school and discuss experiences in expressing gratitude.
  • Send thank-you messages. Write to people to thank them for simple acts of kindness. To thank those who are not nearby, especially young children, use Skype or FaceTime. Or how about making a selfie thank-you message?
  • Make cookies or other treats and take them to someone to thank him or her.
  • Decorate the house, classroom, or office with sticky notes thanking others for their good services and kind actions. Keep plenty of sticky note pads around for kids to add their own. (Of course this kind of experience requires some clean-up time.)
  • Volunteer. Nothing improves gratitude more than helping someone else.

Most importantly, let’s all remember to thank those around us—children and adults—who offer their love, service, help, and forgiveness.

Author Barbara LewisBarbara A. Lewis is an author and educator who teaches kids how to think and solve real problems. Her elementary school students initiated the cleanup of hazardous waste, improved sidewalks, planted thousands of trees, and even instigated and pushed through several state laws and an amendment to a national law. She has been featured in many national newspapers and magazines and on news programs, and her books have won Parenting’s Reading Magic Award and have been named “Best of the Best for Children” by the American Library Association, among other honors.

Free Spirit books by Barbara A. Lewis:

What Do You Stand For? For Kids What Do You Stand For? For Teens Kids Guide To Social Action Kids With Courage Kids Guide To Service Projects The Teen Guide to Global Action

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

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What to Do with Blurters, Or How to Work with Extroverted Thinkers

By Richard M. Cash, Ed.D.
Part of our Cash in on Learning series by Richard M. Cash, Ed.D. Click to read other Cash in on Learning posts.

What to Do with BlurtersWe’ve all had them, the students who just have to call out answers without waiting to be recognized. For those of you old enough to recall the TV show Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–1979), Arnold Dingfelder Horshack, the Sweathog who had an irrepressible need to be called upon (Ohhohhohhohh), could be the poster child for blurters everywhere. These kids can often create a difficult classroom environment or disrupt the thinking process of other students. So what do we do with—and for—blurters?

Human personality theories, popularized by Carl Jung, define people on a continuum from introversion to extroversion. Typically, introverts are those individuals who are perceived as more reserved and sometimes demonstrate a desire to be in small groups or by themselves. Their sense of worth is developed intrinsically. Introverted students like to take time to ponder ideas until they feel confident in their responses. These kids expand their energies through contemplation and reflection. Large groups or commotion can sap their energies.

Extroverts gain their energies from group interactions and high levels of clatter. They tend to get gratification through extrinsic (outside the self) factors. They enjoy larger groups of people and parties, and tend to prefer physical activities. They can often be described as assertive and talkative. Extroverts think out loud, process information verbally, and sometimes don’t care if others are listening to them.

Extroverted thinkers are quick to respond and like to call out their answers before others have had a chance to think about the question. This fast action may make it appear as if extroverts are not deep thinkers. In some cases this may be true, however, I believe that extroverts’ level of fluency (speed) with thinking is actually a favorable quality. Fluent thinkers (those who come up with responses quickly) don’t prejudge their thoughts, giving them an advantage in the brainstorming process. Additionally, coming up with many ideas is extremely helpful when solving problems.

On the other hand, extroverted thinkers may not necessarily take enough time to contemplate their ideas, thoughts, or responses. This lack of inhibition, or need to blurt out, can be overpowering in a classroom and extremely distracting to those who don’t think out loud. As an extroverted thinker myself, I had to learn strategies and techniques to regulate my behavior in group settings.

Avert the Blurt
One of the most effective classroom strategies I’ve learned is to have extroverted thinkers write down their thoughts. To assist students with this idea, I had sticky notes printed with the word blurt at the top. My class went on an “Avert the Blurt” campaign. I taught students how to use the sticky note pads, where to post “blurts” so I could acknowledge their thoughts and responses, and what to do while they waited for others to respond. In many cases, after students posted their initial blurt responses, they would go back and rethink them or come up with another idea.

Extroverted thinkers just want to get the ideas out of their heads—if they don’t, they may perseverate on one idea to the point where they paralyze deeper thinking.

Time for Thinking Fast/Time for Thinking Slow
Another idea is to prepare all your students for times when you will be taking quick responses and times when you will be expecting delayed responses. Both extroverts and introverts can benefit from stretching beyond a preferred way of doing. Let your students know that there will be time for fast thinking and there will be time for slow thinking. Schedule the times throughout your day and post a sign in the classroom stating FAST or SLOW. Students will need verbal and visual reminders to help them regulate their response times.

We want our students to be proficient thinkers. How they approach the thinking process is an important aspect of proficiency. We don’t want to squelch extroverted thinkers by making them stay quiet while others take time to process. And we don’t want to inhibit our introverted thinkers by surrounding them with quick responders. We need to strike a balance. I’d love to hear your ideas on helping extroverted and introverted thinkers be successful in the classroom.

Richard CashRichard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit Publishing. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.


Free Spirit books by Richard Cash:

Self-regulation Advancing Differentiation Differentiation for Gifted Learners

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

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Spotting ADHD in Girls

By James J. Crist, Ph.D., author of What to Do When You’re Cranky and Blue

Spotting ADHD in GirlsIn the United States from 2011 to 2013, 9.5 percent of children ages 4–17 were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). More specifically, for kids ages 4–5, prevalence was 2.7 percent; for ages 6–11 it was 9.5 percent; and for ages 12–17 it was 11.8 percent.

However, the number of girls diagnosed and the number of boys diagnosed were significantly different. Among all age groups, the prevalence of being diagnosed with ADHD was more than twice as high in boys as it was in girls. While about 13.3 percent of boys were diagnosed with ADHD, only about 5.6 percent of girls received this diagnosis.

Not only is ADHD thought to be less prevalent in girls, but it is often harder to identify. Unfortunately, there are fewer studies on girls with ADHD so it is possible that ADHD in girls is more common than we realize. This post provides information about ADHD in girls as well as steps parents can take to identify it and successfully help their daughters with ADHD succeed in school and life.

Symptoms of ADHD
ADHD is a chronic mental health disorder that is characterized by persistent symptoms of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and/or inattention. It is most often diagnosed during childhood, but more adults are now being diagnosed and treated than before.

Behavior problems associated with hyperactivity are easier for parents and teachers to recognize. Inattentive symptoms are harder to pick up on. Adults may not realize that although students may look like they are focusing, they are actually daydreaming or zoning out. These students may be perceived as spacey or disorganized. Inattentive ADHD may not become apparent until students are unable to remember what they learned at school, forget to bring home the right materials, or get sidetracked while completing tasks at home.

Boys with ADHD more often have hyperactive symptoms while girls with ADHD more often have inattentive symptoms. As a result, ADHD in girls is often identified later than it is in boys.

In the book Understanding Girls with ADHD, Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D., states that “there are many girls left undiagnosed because their symptoms look different” because “girls are less rebellious, less defiant, generally less ‘difficult’ than boys.” On the other hand, some girls with ADHD are more chatty, which can cause problems in the classroom. Others may be more hyperactive.

Other Problems Associated with ADHD
Being able to identify and treat girls with ADHD is particularly important. Girls with ADHD are at higher risk for other mental health disorders (such as anxiety disorders, learning disorders, or oppositional defiant disorder) that often lead to additional problems as they get older. These problems can include getting involved in abusive relationships, teenage pregnancies, poor grades, and drug abuse. Girls with ADHD are also more likely to be overweight, which may be a result of overeating as a way of coping with the stress of not being focused and the negative reactions of others. Also, girls are more likely to blame themselves for their problems or think that they’re not very smart because they struggle in school, which increases their risk for developing depression. As they go through puberty, hormonal changes can also worsen ADHD symptoms in girls.

Some girls with ADHD may have trouble maintaining friendships, something that most girls find fairly easy. If girls with ADHD are overly talkative, interrupt others too often, or have trouble paying attention to what others are saying, other girls may see them as bossy or socially inept and may exclude them from conversations and activities. Also, girls with ADHD may process conversations more slowly, so that by the time they think of a response, the topic has already changed. This can be very frustrating, leading girls with ADHD to avoid interacting with others.

Getting a Thorough Evaluation
Before concluding that ADHD is the problem, a thorough evaluation is recommended. Psychological testing can help determine if a girl has ADHD and if other problems, such as anxiety, depression, processing speed, or learning disorders, may be present that can either look like ADHD or make ADHD more challenging to treat. Seeing a pediatrician is also recommended to rule out medical conditions that may be causing problems. For example, some girls who have trouble focusing may actually have hearing or vision problems. Sleep problems can be a symptom of ADHD, but fatigue can also exacerbate ADHD symptoms.

Treating ADHD in Girls
Treatment strategies for ADHD are similar for boys and girls. Kids need help with organization, and many tools, including electronic devices, behavior charts, and checklists, can help. For example, setting alarms for getting up in the morning, getting ready for school, and doing homework can help kids keep track of time. Posting lists of tasks that need to be accomplished can reduce the chances of forgetting steps. Incentive systems can also provide motivation to complete tasks that are seen as boring, which is a common problem for kids with ADHD. Frequent praise for completing tasks, such as chores and homework, can help boost kids’ self-esteem.

Medication can make a big difference in allowing kids with ADHD to reach their full potential. However, medications can have side effects for some kids, so it is important to ask questions about any medications recommended for your daughter. Most medications wear off by the time a child comes home from school, which can make tasks such as completing homework and doing chores harder. Parents may need to adjust their expectations accordingly. Sometimes, extra medication after school can help.

How Parents Can Help
You can help your daughter by doing a number of things, including the following:

  • Make sure she gets a thorough evaluation and an accurate diagnosis. Early intervention is key. Successful treatment can help prevent more serious problems as girls get older.
  • Help your daughter with organizational strategies, such as keeping an agenda, cleaning out her backpack on a weekly basis, and making a plan for how to tackle homework and studying.
  • Communicate with teachers more regularly to find out how your daughter is doing. Waiting until report card time may only set her up for failure. You need to know if your child is struggling sooner rather than later.
  • Inform teachers of your daughter’s diagnosis. While some parents are hesitant about this, teachers who see a child’s inattention as due to ADHD rather than laziness or indifference are more likely to provide help and not to see your daughter’s problems as intentional.
  • Provide frequent praise, especially for tasks that are difficult and require sustained attention, such as completing chores and homework.
  • Break down larger tasks into more manageable chunks. You are more likely to get your daughter to successfully complete one smaller task at a time than by giving her a series of tasks all at once, which will feel overwhelming.
  • Encourage your daughter to participate in activities that build her self-esteem, such as sports, chorus, theater, or anything else she may be interested in. Don’t make everything about schoolwork.
  • Educate yourself about parenting strategies for kids with ADHD. Research shows that when parents are trained in these strategies, a reduction in symptoms of ADHD, and often in associated oppositional behavior, is seen.

James CristDr. James J. Crist is a psychologist specializing in children with ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders. He is the clinical director and a staff psychologist at the Child and Family Counseling Center in Woodbridge, Virginia, where he provides psychological testing and individual, couples, and family psychotherapy for children, adolescents, and adults. Visit his website at

Free Spirit books by James Crist:

The Survival Guide for Making and Being Friends WhatToDoWhenYou'reScaredAndWorried What to Do When You’re Cranky & Blue Mad

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

Suggested Resources
4 ADHD, “Giving Girls the Attention They Need: What Parents Need to Know About Girls and ADD/ADHD”
Caralee Adams, “Girls and ADHD: Are You Missing the Signs?” Scholastic Teacher
Ellen Littman, Ph.D., “The Secret Lives of Girls with ADHD,” Attention
Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ph.D., “High School Girls with AD/HD,” ADDvance
Patricia N. Pastor, Ph.D.; Cynthia A. Reuben, M.A.; Catherine R. Duran, B.S.; and LaJeana D. Hawkins, M.P.H., C.H.E.S., “Association Between Diagnosed ADHD and Selected Characteristics Among Children Aged 4–17 Years: United States, 2011–2013,” National Center for Health Statistics
David Rabiner, Ph.D., “ADHD/ADD in Girls” 

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2016 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Activity: Help Kids Be Mindful Consumers During the Holidays

By Eric Braun and Sandy Donovan, coauthors of The Survival Guide for Money Smarts

Activity: Help Kids Be Mindful Consumers During the HolidaysAs we wade bravely into another holiday season, many of us will be trying to keep the inevitable consumerism to a minimum while emphasizing (especially to the young people in our lives) the more important reasons for the season—being generous, being grateful, and enjoying some extra time with our friends and families. But the winter holidays are consumer-driven—no getting around it—and that’s not all bad. It’s how our economy works.

As kids are making lists and thinking about gifts and getting wrapped up in the excitement of the holidays, teachers and parents can seize this enthusiasm as an opportunity to teach important financial literacy skills as well as how to make decisions that reflect kids’ positive character traits and best values. It starts with being mindful.

Being a mindful consumer simply means being aware of our part in the consumer cycle. It means thinking about all the things that happen as a result of our spending—not only how spending money affects us, but also how it affects others and the world. It means being aware that our choices make a difference and, therefore, being deliberate about our decisions.

There are three things consumers can do to make a difference:

  1. Buy less. (Reuse items you already have, buy pre-owned items, buy in bulk rather than buying individually wrapped items, and so on.)
  2. Buy products that do as little harm as possible. (Avoiding products that are tested on animals, food products that are made with chemicals, overly sugary foods, and products like tobacco and alcohol.)
  3. Buy from responsible companies whenever possible.

All three of these practices are important, and all three can be the focus of a classroom lesson or family discussion. The following activity focuses on the third practice. It will help kids:

  • understand where their money goes when they purchase a product
  • identify different companies they want to patronize
  • understand where a company stands on social and environmental issues as well as its community involvement

Through this activity, kids will learn how to make informed decisions about which companies they choose to give their money to. It is geared toward middle school kids but can be adjusted for kids in upper elementary. You can also make adjustments as needed to fit the financial realities of your group or family.

Company Ethics Research
Teachers can have students do this on their own, in small groups, or as a class. Kids choose a company that they patronize—maybe a company that makes a game they play, a food they eat, or a brand of clothes they wear. Or maybe the company produces entertainment, like a production company that makes a TV show they watch or an online music streaming service. Another option is to think of a vendor they buy from, like a grocery store chain or an online retailer.

Have kids research the company online to find out how it operates with regard to issues such as human rights, the environment, and animal welfare. How is the company involved in the community (for example, by donating to charities or encouraging employees to do community service)? Does it make political donations, and if so, what laws is it trying to influence? Has the company ever been in trouble for discrimination or harassment?

Kids can begin this search by typing the phrase “is [company] ethical” into an online search engine. They may also be able to find answers using websites like the Good Shopping Guide, Ethical Consumer (scores are available for free, but a subscription is required for in-depth results), and myriad other sites and apps. Students may want to use the “Is a Company Responsible?” handout from The Survival Guide for Money Smarts to help organize their research into a simple format.

Depending on how deeply you want kids to go, you can have them write a brief essay summarizing their findings, discuss their findings as a family, or have them research a second company in the same category (two coffee chains, for instance) and compare the results for various characteristics. Kids should compare their findings to their own values and discuss whether they will make a change in their shopping habits.

You can find this activity and many others, plus discussion/writing prompts, in the free leader’s guide to our book.

Author Eric BraunEric Braun writes and edits books for readers of all ages, specializing in academic and social-emotional topics. Books he has worked on have won awards and honors, including the Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award, a Foreword Book of the Year Gold Award, a Benjamin Franklin Award, and many others. A recent McKnight Artist Fellow and an Aspen Summer Words scholar for his fiction, he earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two sons.

Author Sandy DonovanSandy Donovan has written nonfiction books for kids and young adults on topics including economics, history, science, and pop stars. She has worked as a journalist, a workforce policy analyst, and a website developer. She currently works for the U.S. Department of Labor, developing online tools to help people of all ages meet their career, education, and employment goals. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in labor and public policy. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two sons.

The Survival Guide for Money SmartsEric and Sandy are coauthors of The Survival Guide for Money Smarts: Earn, Save, Spend, Give.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2016 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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