21st Century Learning Skills-Do you have them?

By: Andrea Chouhan

“For students to succeed in the coming decades, they must also learn to be creative, think critically, communicate, and collaborate.” New literacies of information, media and technology skills are additional skills that are vital for 21st Century Learning. Young children are already self-learning how to digitally think critically.

Let’s face it-children and students crave technology. Technology grabs their attention, is exciting and is engaging in many ways. Other than handheld blinking light toys, 2- 3 year olds first technology is the iPod or iPad. Its ease of use and simple directions are learned quickly. Young children learn that if they touch the screen-something exciting will happen. Sounds and animation are a given. This interactive technology wins against watching a cartoon on t.v.

The next type of technology that young children interact with is laptop computers. Like the iPad, it is handheld and interactive but in a different way. The computer allows a child to learn by searching the internet, using the keyboard to type letters and words, and using the mouse to click and drag objects on the screen.

All the above technologies foster learning by reaching out to so many learning styles: tactile, visual and auditory. Students today are influenced by the media-rich and instant technology based environment. Technology provides immediate, fast, engaging, and dynamic learning experiences. Students’ methods of learning are different than earlier generations. Students collaborate, network and communicate via technology, like Twitter, blogs, texting and Facebook. They learn online and rely on digital media for information and socialization. They crave this technology, just like prior generations craved the radio and talking on the home telephone.

It almost seems unfair that children have such easy access to technologies that were not even created when we were in high school. This brings up the fact that these children have the opportunity to learn more efficiently, than we did as children.

“Today’s students need to be prepared for life in a world that will require new skills. That need puts schools at the forefront of technology adoption and education.” In order for teachers to meet students “where they are at” schools must create a learning environment that inspires students to attain the 21st century skills that society demands of us. The classroom should be student-centered instead of teacher centered. In a student centered classroom, learners are engaged in meaningful conversations, interactions with technology and group-based tasks. The direction of learning is facilitated by the teacher, as opposed to being dogmatic about covering specific standards. Long gone should be teacher-centered classrooms, where the teacher stands in front of the classroom and talks while the students take notes and listen. Who actually likes to sit and take notes anyway? This is not a conducive style of learning for most people. This requires tough change, which begins with the school and then the teacher. This change begins with integrating and aligning technology within curriculum, instruction, learning standards, teacher professional development and student assessment. In order for schools, teachers and parents to nurture student learning, they must learn about these new technologies. Just as teenagers acquire more knowledge from the internet than they do their parents, we adults need to follow their example. To start with, I encourage you to investigate some of the new technologies that I have discovered. A simple Google search provided me with knowledge on the following: Augmented reality learning, iStation computer assessments, Animation-ish software. By clicking on the links below, you can begin your journey towards critical and creative thinking. Can you use these new technologies? Can your child or student use them? If so, how? Enjoy your learning journey!


e-book, “21st Century Learning”: Tech & Learning Online Magazine


Computer-based Reading Assessment-

Animation-ish Graphic design Software for children-

Letters Alive, Augmented Reality 3-D Software for the Whiteboard

Augmented Reality Technology Brings Sesame Street Characters to Life | Augmented Reality in Education and Training |

Interesting Parenting Article:

Yee-haw for Texas! A Rodeo Mini-Unit

It is Rodeo time, here in Houston, Texas! During the end of February and beginning of March is when I like to teach about “the lone star state”. By this time of the school year, most students are writing great sentences with their sight words. The book below is a free print out where students can color the pictures and write about what they learned. I like to get lots of books to teach students about each Texas symbol and its meaning. Then, I let students reflect and write! These are the symbols in the book: Texas, mockingbird, pecan tree, Texas flag, United States map, bluebonnet, NASA.

Texas coloring and writing book

More pictures and ideas are coming soon!






















Presidents Day in Kindergarten

Cover of "So You Want To Be President"

Sight Words Writing Activity – I plan to use this acrostic poem format (also from enchanted learning) and have students use the word wall to record as many words as they can using the letters in the name “Washington” for inspiration.


The President’s Song PowerPoint Video-This cute rap song list important facts about Lincoln and Washington

The Money Song Video-What a great way to reiterate money value….when talking about President’s Day!

Money Poem (adapted) from the song above:

United States penny, obverse, 2002

Image via Wikipedia



A penny is one,
A nickel is five,
A dime is ten and
a quarter twenty-five!

The Money Poem- Printable, Click here!

Reading Comprehension Venn Diagram – After reading “So You Want to be President” the students recalled what they learned. I wrote it down on chart paper to record their thoughts.


Student Venn Diagram – This is the independent work I had the students complete, after we did the above activity, whole group.


Social Studies- We made log cabins to commemorate Abraham Lincoln. I got the idea from where the complete instructions can be found. We previously learned about different types of homes in Social Studies and now we have one more to add to our list!

Here are the Log cabins that we made. First, the students colored small popsicle sticks with marker or crayons. I gave them small pieces of poster board for them to glue the sticks onto. Next, they colored simple clothing drawings, added a clip art image of Lincoln and glued a little hat drawing on top. Doesn’t it look like a bobble head?!?




Lincoln heads click here to print out the clipart of his head for the above activity.

Abraham Lincoln Portraits – Step 1: Glue on the pre-cut black jacket then the white triangle shirt. Step 2: Draw a head and neck. Step 3: Use flesh colored paint to paint his face-let dry. Step 4: Draw eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows. Step 5: Glue on a pre-cut rectangle hat and hat rim. Step 6: Finger paint (with your finger) his hair, beard and eyebrows.








President Writing Prompt – “If I could be President, I would……”





Presidents Day Comprehension pictures

Presidents Day Comprehension story and pictures

George Washington Portraits- The students drew a face on manila paper then cut it out and drew the face. I gave them pre-cut blue hats and jackets with a yellow square shirt. We learned that he was a general and we found a google image of him in his uniform. I cotton ball was used for the hair “wig.” The red paper is a half of a regular sized construction paper.





We wrote a letter to the president! Each word was written by a student and each one had a turn. This was a great lesson about “question” sentences!


Do you think our envelope is big enough? We wanted to make sure that
Mr. President notices it!



The 100th Day of School is Near!

Hip Hip Hooray – It is the 100th day of school! All of these activities rule and are really really cool! Have fun as you enjoy your favorite one!

Measuring 100 Video

Here is a wonderful video from a new online resource. It reminds me of United Streaming/Discovery Education. It also features Curious George. Enjoy!

How Do We Measure 100? : PBS LearningMedia.

Discovery and Research Activity

What was life like 100 years ago? First, calculate 100 years ago from this year (2012-100=1912)

100 Day of School PowerPoint – Life 100 years ago

* New Mexico became the 47th state and Arizona became the 48th state

* 1st parachute jump from an airplane occured

* Girl Scouts is formed!

* The electric starter was placed in the first car

* The first japanese cherry blossom tree was planted in Washington, D.C.

* The Titanic ship sinks

* The first neon advertising sign appears in Paris, France.

* The traffic light was invented

* Skee Ball was invented (1909) lke in Chuck-E-Cheese

* Electric Mixer invented (1908)

* The ice pop was invented (1905)

* The fly swatter was invented (1905)

* Electric sockets, to plug things into, was invented (1905)

* Air-conditioning (1902) was invented

* The average salary was $750 a year!

* Milk cost .32 a gallon!

* The car industry boomed as the Ford Model-T car was produced on an assembly line for $345!

Predictions of Us at 100 Years Old!


Today and 100 Years from now….

100 Years Writing Prompt

100 Days of School Activities – Free Printables!

Emergent Reader– 100 Animals – Free Printable!

100’s Charts – 4 different kinds where students write from 1-100! Free Printables!

Match the money to the number sight word– Cut and paste Money matching Number sight words

100th day of School Poem

Hello 100!

Hip Hip Hooray

I like the 100th day

This week we will say-

Hey! Hey! Hey!

It is the

one-hundredth day!

Click on this blue link to print the poem for free! 100 day of school poem


Dress like you are 100 years old!

History facts from: Facts from: and and

I had my students write and draw what they would look like at “100.” I just love a Kindergarten’s impression of “old!”


What would a Kindergartener do with $100? Here are some ideas….

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Gingerbread “No Cook” Play-dough fun!

My good friend Bethany (and a great teacher!) inspired me to make my own play-dough infused with the wonderful smell of gingerbread! My own children loved playing with it and using cookie cutters to make thier own pretend cookies. I made three batches of the recipe below (for less than $10!) and placed a little gingerbread man into a little plastic container. I made one container for each of my students. This will my Christmas present to them! Along with a cookie cutter and the play-dough, I will wrapping it in a little plastic bag and tie with curly ribbon. I love being able to make something for my own children and my classroom kids at the same time!

This is a great way to incorporate team work, recipe reading and following, and responsibility for cleaning up. Reading and following a recipe is a great way to teach sequencing and the skills of “first, next, last,” which is always a skill needed for any reading lesson. So, not only is making play-dough fun, it is also educational!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
1 tbsp. of each: cinnamon, allspice & ginger (this is a nice dark brown)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water

Mix with a wooden spoon until well mixed. When it is too hard to mix, take out of the bowl and knead on the counter. For an extra special touch, add multicolor glitter. It makes it sparkle nicely! This is a “no-cook” recipe!

Here are some great ideas of how to wrap up and “gift” the play-dough:


First, we made sure that we had all the ingredients.



This is why you “need” to knead the dough. It looks pretty gross during mixing.


Here it is! Isn’t it nice! And it smells so good!


Here are the kids using cookie cutters to make their own things.


These are the cute and cheap containers I found at Wal-Mart. Instead of rolling the dough into a ball, I cut out the shape of a gingerbread man.


Now they are stacked and ready for labels. Click below to print the label which contains the recipe and directions. You can also edit and change it in Microsoft Word and add in your own name.

Gingerbread play-dough labels

Humpty Dumpty Rhyme Video’s

Research shows that when children learn how to rhyme, then they will be better readers. Also, some dyslexic children have difficulty with rhyming. Practicing rhymes and making them fun will encourage the brain to remember rhymes. Repetition is the key, so if a child cannot “find or notice” a rhyme right away, than the adult should try something new. Animations, just like t.v., computer interaction and movies, is one way to grab the brain’s attention. Here is a YouTube video of a cute little Humpty Dumpty. Enjoy!