Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Christmas Gift That I’ll Treasure Forever

I received the gift of my career yesterday and I just had to share. It’s something that I’ll keep in my top desk drawer for “those days” when I need a little boost! There are 52 reasons…but here are some of my favorites.



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I was able to hold it together until I got to the last one…And people wonder why we do this…I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Have a great holiday season and a relaxing break everyone!

Krystal Mills, Lessons From The Mille, Teacher Blog


Bringing it to Life: Art in The Middle School Classroom

Thank you to Claire Holt for once more writing an amazing guest blog post! Fantastic ideas for incorporating art in middle school!


For enthusiastic students who are entering the fifth and sixth grades, life begins to shape itself in a myriad of fascinating ways as adolescents develop their sense of identity and nurture their ever-changing interests and attributes as the world opens before them. With so many possibilities awaiting and the desire to learn combined with the complex changes that begin to take place as they enter one of the most vital transitional phases of life, keeping the classroom open as an inclusive and dynamic space is essential. Engaging interest and cultivating critical thinking in preparation for the oncoming high school years is critical, and one of the best ways to do this is incorporate creative activities that are accessible and fun.

Here is where the humanities continue to play an important role, despite its reduced presence in the classroom over recent years due to cuts in public education. The core creative processes that drive innovative problem-solving skills as well as collaboration and a healthy venue for expression are essential for succeeding in today’s world, so it’s important to never take their value for granted. Through the discovery of music, art, and literature, individuals will find a unique outlet for their voice and incorporating them into the classroom – particularly art, and it can be included on a multi-disciplinary level.

Enhancing the Learning Experience through a Variety of Mediums

Art provides one of the most revealing mediums through which people can come to better understand the lives of their ancestors and the resonances of various events and beliefs throughout history. One of the most exciting and immersive ways to learn about past events and penetrate the “how”, “why”, as well as the “what” is to take a look through art textbooks at some of the vibrant mediums which artists used to portray the dynamic world around them. Featuring some of history’s most iconic works and inspiring the class to use similar techniques and create their own masterpieces will make this even more integrative – Medieval mosaics and coats of arms can be composed from construction paper, paint, and a little imagination, and can even be created online for a practice brainstorm. Small-scale models of ancient wonders can be made by using clay, cardboard, glue, popsicles, toothpicks, cloth, and paint etc. Building a bridge and testing its resilience by placing weights on it is one way to experiment with the basics of engineering as well as encourage peer participation and resourcefulness.

coat of arms



Finding Innovative Ways to Share Information

As well as discovering the many joys and complexities of art and architecture, teachers can generate interest in other creative fields which are found in the worlds of science, math, and information. As graphic design becomes the main medium by which facts and resources are delivered through the improvement of technological advances in media, experimenting with different ways to share this information is a vital skill for the growing generations. Using collages, colorful flow charts, diagrams, and 3 dimensional models – like a model of the solar system – draws on both visual and kinetic learning techniques, as well as transcending traditional methods of recording information.

art in middle school



Rhode Island School of Design President John Maeda states that “Great science is about thinking out of the box. And art is way out of the box, and having that kind of influence improves both sides. Artists test the edges of how humanity is and can be, and scientists make it happen.” Suggesting that one of the best ways to improve education at the earlier levels would be to more effectively combine the art and science communities, Maeda follows the forward-thinking educators who are seeking to work with more interesting methods of instruction.

By handing over the gauntlet to the class so to speak, students are more motivated to try out their own ideas and methods and with some encouraging guidance can develop their talents. The learning process which is undertaken during every project is gift enough in itself, but getting to enjoy the finished product and competing in local events featuring students from other classrooms and schools is another excellent activity which inspires community involvement. Classrooms can even go the extra mile and learn the value of helping out others by painting murals for local libraries and other public spaces, and witnessing the importance of how art can transform a community.

With a little bit of creativity, students and teachers can create an environment where the level of learning is both enjoyable and memorable, and cultivate their potential for thinking outside of the box which will equip them for success in years to come.


More Holiday Freebies Coming Your Way!

I got to be a part of a fantastic project again this year – our Holiday E-book! It’s jam-packed with freebies and holiday tips! Make sure to download your copy for this year! There are actually three holiday e-books, organized by grade level – I’m leaving all three links below for your browsing pleasure!

Holiday E-Book


Holiday E-Book Grades 7-12

Holiday E-Book Grades 3-6

Holiday E-Book Grades 1-2

Krystal Mills, Lessons From The Mille, Teacher Blog


December Facebook Freebie Frenzy!

I’m happy to a part of this month’s “Facebook Freebie Frenzy” for grades 6-12! There are twelve of us participating this month and the frenzy runs through until the 9th of December. Hop over to each Facebook page, click on the FB Frenzy tab and you’ll be on your way to downloading your freebie! So fun! After the 9th, the Freebie Frenzy tabs will disappear, so don’t miss out!

Here are the grade 6-12 participants for this month!

Freebie Frenzy for December

December Freebie Frenzy Map (Click to check out all of the Freebie Frenzy groups!)

Krystal Mills, Lessons From The Mille, Teacher Blog

A Playground For All! We need your help!

So if you didn’t hear, my school is in a competition to win $140 000 for an inclusive playground. I posted about it back in October. Well, you helped us to end the round in first place (thanks again) and catapulted us into the semi-final round. Yay you!

Poof! Semi-finals have begun today and guess what? We are in first place again – out of 92 projects! I’m not surprised – I really do believe that we’re going to win! However, just in case my enthusiasm isn’t enough…I mean, just for safety sake – if you could spare a moment perhaps you could register your email and vote for us? Maybe?

How cool will it be to find out in a month’s time that a $140 000 playground project to help children with disabilities and an entire community, has been made a reality and YOU were a part of it? I’m thinking super-cool! Incredible, even!

So, just so that you don’t feel left out when I post that amazing “WE WON” post, (because again, I really feel like we’re going to win…) how about you hop over to Aviva and register your email and throw your votes our way! You can vote once a day until December 11th. It’ll only take a few seconds of your time and we would VERY MUCH appreciate it!!!! I mean, I can’t even put into words what your votes mean to us. Okay, I’m done – it’s just that this a cause that is close to my heart. Obviously Wink 

Thanks so much and happy voting! Oh, did I mention that we’d love any shares, likes, tweets or pins also? We’ll take it all!

So again, “SOURIS A PLAYGROUND FOR ALL” thanks you!

A Playground for AllAviva



Cyber Monday Sale!

Thanks to everyone who entered our giveaway last week. The winners have been contacted and we’re waiting to hear back from everyone!

A quick note this evening to let you know about the Cyber Monday Sale that Teachers Pay Teachers is having Dec 2nd and 3rd. I’ve decided to begin my sale this evening and my entire TPT store is discounted! Happy browsing!


Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday Sale

Krystal Mills, Lessons From The Mille, Teacher Blog