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Secondary Smorgasbord #3 Out of the Deep Freeze: Revisit My Planet Earth Awards

Secondary Smorgasbord 
January Blog Hop 
(Month #3) 

Once again it is time for the Secondary Bloghop event.  The theme for this month is "Out of the Deep Freeze" and is about an idea whose time has come (could be something we are currently working on), or a product that doesn't get the attention we'd like it to get and should get because, darn it, it's really good! 

I'd like to tell you about one of my products that I would like to see get more attention.  It is called "The Mother Nature Awards for the Planet Earth."

Over the years of teaching I have come to realize that some topics are very difficult for my students.  I find that the students learn and perform much better if I teach in spurts.  I teach a new concept for 15-20 minutes, and then I give my students a "brain-break".  

A "brain-break" is a 2 or 3 minute break away from the topic currently being taught.  It is a couple of minutes where the student can relax, and it relieves the tension of a very complex lesson.  I am still a teacher who wants every minute to count.  So during a "brain-break" I usually throw out a bit of science trivia.  These are just fun and interesting facts that teach the student about the amazing natural world we live in.  Over the last few months my "brain-breaks" have consisted of the Mother Nature Awards for Planet Earth.

Here is an example:

These are PowerPoint slides.  I insert one of these slides into a PowerPoint on cellular respiration or photosynthesis or enzyme-catalyzed reactions.  My students have come to expect these little surprises and they get excited when one of these pops up into my otherwise overly technical lecture.  This is fun, it teaches a bit about the wonders of nature, and best of all, it gives the student just a minute to relax and get focused again before I launch back into the real topic of the day.

After a slide has been viewed, I print it, laminate it, and place it on the wall in my classroom.  I have been very pleasantly surprised at how often students stop by the wall to look at the Mother Nature Awards.

I have put together a group of 20 of these awards and placed them in my store on  There are two product listings, one for Grades 2-5 and a separate listing for grades 6-12.

The listing for grades 2-5 comes with a set of activity worksheets (42 pages) for the students to complete as the PowerPoint slide is being viewed.  The finished worksheets can be put together to make a great Mother Nature Award book.

The listing for grades 6-12 comes with a worksheet for students to conduct their own research to develop a PowerPoint slide for a Mother Nature Award of their own choosing.  This makes a nice homework assignment for a grade, or for a great extra credit opportunity.

Don't forget that Earth Day is coming up soon.  The Mother Nature Awards are a perfect Earth Day activity.

Did you miss the first two months of this fun blogging event?  Those posts can be viewed by clicking these links:
Month 1: A Buffet of Resources
Month 2: Favorite Holiday Traditions

Be sure to check out all of the other participants in our monthly blog hop. Thanks to Darlene Anne Curran (The ELA Buffet) and Pamela Kranz (Desktop Learning Adventures) for hosting our monthly blog hop event!

Have fun teaching!


  1. So cool! These are "commercials that would be fun to wrap my head around. And I believe Planet Earth deserves an award for putting up with us! :)

    Desktop Learning Adventures

  2. I love brain breaks and what a perfect way to handle them!

  3. Educational AND Creative - love your brain breaks!

  4. Amy, your brain brakes are the best! I'll bet your students are so much more attentive during the entire lesson when they know there will be a little bit of fun in the mix. So clever! Thanks for sharing a great idea!

  5. I love how you use brain breaks for additional academic review!

  6. The Mother Nature Awards for Planet Earth and your brain breaks idea is brilliant! I would have loved science if I'd had you!

    A Lesson Plan for Teachers

  7. I will use your brain breaks with my grandson. I know science would have been his favorite subject if he could have been in your class. Great ideas!

  8. Great product- thank you for sharing, Amy!

  9. Amy,

    I love this "brain break" idea. In my teaching, I always followed the Rule of Three-planning three activities/class. Having the students take a mental breather to recharge their brains, and energy, is crucial. Very nice!

    Happy Teaching,