Category: Teaching Idea

Teaching the Persuasive Technique – Bandwagon


Last month I created a series of four posts with songs that could be used to teach text structures. Because of the positive comments, I have planned a similar series. This time on persuasive techniques. Each Thursday in March, you can read about one persuasive technique or propaganda device. Posts feature commercial examples for each device. The series includes bandwagon, testimonials, loaded terms, and name calling.  

Bandwagon Definition

This technique encourages the hearer to think that because everyone else does something, you should too or you will be left out. In literature, bandwagon is used to persuade the reader to agree with the argument of the writer.

Questions to Ask

Does using bandwagon really help to sell products?

Which age does bandwagon appeal to the most?

Does bandwagon work best in small town USA or in large cities?


Old Navy “First Day of School Style”

Even though Julia Louis-Deyfus portrays a mom, her celebrity role is not pointed out. Instead, she acts the part of a mom dressing her son like a lawyer. He wants to dress like the other kids who shop at Old Navy. The commercial uses humor as well as bandwagon to sell Old Navy products. 


Coca-Cola “It’s Beautiful”

Coco-Cola has a history creating advertising that uses the idea that all people like Coke. One example is “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” campaign.

In this “It’s Beautiful” commercial, Americans sing “America the Beautiful” in Spanish, English, Arabic, and other languages. The message is clear. Everyone likes Coca-Cola.

Chuck E Cheese’s Every Kid’s a Winner

Every kid who comes in to Chuck E Cheese wins. The advertisement shows every kid winning tokens to play games.

Taco Bell

This commercial advertises Taco Bell’s newest menu item, the Quesalupa. The add shows person after person enjoying this cheesy treat. 

 Teaching the Persuasive Technique Bandwagon with Commercials
Gay Miller


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Teaching Sequencing with Songs


Last week I posted “Teaching Compare and Contrast with Songs” This week, I’m continuing the series with “Teaching Sequencing with Songs.” I’ve listened to hundreds of songs. In the comment area below, I would love to hear your suggestions. Remember the songs must be classroom friendly.

Historical Events

One genre to use in the classroom are songs that tell about an event in history. You can’t go wrong with sequencing events from the Battle of the Alamo. Here are some songs you might try:

Ballad of the Alamo by Marty Robbins

Shortly after the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian singer-songwriter, wrote this song to commemorate the sinking.

Casey Jones was an American railroader who worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. The Ballad of Casey Jones tells the story of how he was killed on April 30, 1900 when his train collided with a stalled freight train. The song was written in 1909, so it is now in public domain. Here is a printable that includes the words to the song and a main idea activity to go along with it. 

Here are a few more history songs you might try:

  • The Ballad of Davy Crockett by Tennessee Ernie Ford
  • The Battle of New Orleans by by Johnny Horton

Biographies in Song

Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton

Here are a few more you might try:

  • Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn
  • Leader of the Band by Dan Fogelberg

Songs that Tell a Story

Love Story by Taylor Swift  

All-American Girl by Carrie Underwood

Billy Don’t Be a Hero by Bo Donalsson and the Heywoods

Here are a few more you might try: 

  • Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood (2005)
  • Just a Dream by Carrie Underwood (2007)
  • Mary’s Song (Oh My My My) by Taylor Swift
  • Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin (1974)
  • Three Wooden Crosses by Randy Travis (2002)
  • Last Kiss by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers (1964)
  • Boulevard of Broken Dream by Green Day (2004)
  • In the Ghetto by Elvis Presley (1969)
  • The Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers (1979)
  • Wildfire by Michael Martin Murphey (1975)
  • Phantom 309 by Red Sovine (1967)Operator by Jim Croce (1972)
  • Fun, Fun, Fun by the Beach Boys (1964)
  • Ol’ Red by Blake Shelton (2001)
  • Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks (1990)
  • Baby Girl by Sugarland (2004)
  • The Leader of the Pack by The Shangri-Las (1965)
  • The Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry (1967)
  • He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones (1980)
  • Honey by Bobby Goldsboro
  • A Day in the Life by The Beatles (1967)
  • Rocky Mountain High by John Denver (1975)

Songs for Teaching Sequencing



Handout for This Blog Post

chevronribbonblueLinks to the Other Posts in this Teaching Text Structures with Songs Series

chevronribbonblueFREE Ordering/Sequencing Teaching Ideas



Teacher Pay Teacher Unit


Gay Miller


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The City of Ember Book Activities


The City of Ember ActivitiesThe city of Ember is dying. Power failures become more frequent and longer. The sky is dark. Outside the city, darkness looms in the Unknown Regions.

Lina Mayfleet finds a set of instructions she believes will help her find a way out of the city. Unfortunately, her baby sister finds the instructions first and chews holes in them. Lina and her friend, Doon Harrow, race against time and a corrupt mayor to piece together the clues in these instructions to save the people from their dying city. Read this novel by Jeanne DuPrau to see if Lina and Doon are successful in their quest.

 Activity #1 ~ Moth Life Cycle Craft 

The City of Ember Activities

The author, Jeanne DuPrau, included a storyline about Doon finding a caterpillar which turned into a moth. Our students created the life cycle of a moth as part of this integrated science-art project.

Students built each stage of the life cycle on a die cut leaf.

  • caterpillar -pompoms and a pipe cleaner
  • eggs and larvae – cotton balls and pipe cleaner
  • butterfly – crepe paper streamers and a construction paper body with wiggly eyes

See more photos here.

 Activity #2 ~ Pineapple Treat

The City of Ember ActivitiesGranny remembered eating pineapple as a special treat when she was a young girl. Students created this pineapple treat with Twinkie’s Hostess Cakes, vanilla pudding, pineapple, cherries, and whip cream. You can see the step-by-step recipe here.

 Activity #3 ~ Lina’s Dream City

The City of Ember ActivitiesStudents had a lesson on perspective drawing as they created cities from Lina’s dreams.

 Activity #4 ~ The City of Ember Bulletin Board 

The City of Ember Activities

I teach with a wonderful team of teachers. One of them came up with the fantastic idea. The bulletin board was relatively empty when we began reading The City of Ember. As the book progressed, so did the board. Get a closer look of some of the things that were included.

  Activity #5 ~ Story Map 

The City of Ember Activities

This free printable includes 7-half pages. The City of Ember Story Map asks students to write about theme, characters, point of view, setting, etc.

The City of Ember Book Unit Samples

Free Samples from The City of Ember Book UnitTry out the unit before you buy it with Lesson 3.

The City of Ember Book Unit

The City of Ember Book Unit


The City of Ember Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities covering vocabulary, comprehension questions, constructive response writing, and skill practice.


Gay Miller


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Prefix Spinner Game


Teaching prefixes can be both fun and challenging. This simple game is a great way for students to practice. Be sure to check out the bottom of the post for some additional prefix resources to help with you study.

Download the game here.


Plan for a small group activity. Run off the spinner boards for each group onto cardstock. Add spinners to the center of each. These may be purchased spinners or simply a brad and paperclip will work. 

Free Prefix Spinner Game

Free Prefix Spinner GameMake one copy of the game board for each student. [Optional – Duplicate the game boards onto cardstock and laminate for repeated use. With laminated boards, students will need markers such as BINGO discs to cover their boards instead of coloring in the spaces.]

Free Prefix Spinner Game

Note: The game board has prefixes that should be mastered at lower grade levels to the left. Each column becomes more difficult. You may wish to cut column(s) off the game card depending on the level of your students. Elementary teachers may wish to use only the first three columns. Middle school teachers may wish to cut off the column to the far right and the far left. High school teachers may wish to cut off the two columns to the left. [Adjust the rules of the game depending on how large your game board you have decided is appropriate for your students.]

Instructions for Students:

 You are going to move into small groups in a moment to play game similar to BINGO.

Every group will receive spinners. Each player will receive a game board. The players will determine who goes first, and then take turns moving in a clockwise rotation.

When it is a player’s turn, s/he will spin a spinner of his/her choosing. After the spinner lands, the player must think of a word that contains the prefix s/he has landed upon. [Optional: Students must tell the meaning of the prefix, tell a word that begins with the prefix, and define the word named.]

If the group feels the player has answered correctly, s/he may color in the box on his/her game board with the same prefix. [Note: Only the player who is taking a turn colors in a space. If everyone colors in a space everyone would win at the same time.]

The object of the game is to get [3, 4, 5 — Here is where you might wish to adjust the rules depending on the size of the game board.] squares colored in a row. The row may be vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The first player to have [3, 4, 5] colored boxes in a row is the winner.


  • Did anyone in your group think of words you were unfamiliar with? What were they?
  • How can learning the meanings of prefixes help you with the meanings of unfamiliar words?

Free Prefix Games Additional Prefix Resources

Gay Miller


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Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Activities


As Marty walks the hills of Friendly, West Virginia, he runs across a shy beagle pup. The pup follows him home. The two form an immediate friendship. Marty names the pup Shiloh after the place he finds him. He soon learns he must return the dog to its rightful owner, Judd Travers, who is unkind to his dogs. After doing so, Shiloh turns up at Marty’s home for a second time. Marty decides to hide him on the hill behind his house. This leads to all kinds of trouble for Marty. Read Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor to see how Marty deals with each obstacle. 

Activity #1

In this interactive online activity, students are asked to solve eight math problems related to the contract between Judd and Marty. The quiz is in a multiple choice format. Students are given immediate feedback for right and wrong answers. Activities to use with the book Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Activity #2

Your class will have a blast with this fun trivia quiz. Twenty questions ask students to “Name the Dog” from books, cartoons, television, toys, and movies. You can easily turn this into a friendly competition to see which student knows famous dogs the best. Activities to use with the book Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Activity #3 

This interactive crossword puzzle ask students questions related to the book. Students type the answer in a blank field, press enter, and the puzzle fills in the blanks. Once all the answers are filled in, students can get a grade for their work by clicking the “check button.” This is a fun alternative to pencil and paper crossword puzzles. 

Activities to use with the book Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Free Samples from Shiloh Book Unit


Try out this Shiloh Book Unit Sample with the first lessons for vocabulary, comprehension, writing, and skills.

Shiloh Book Unit

Shiloh Book Unit

Shiloh Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities covering vocabulary, comprehension questions, constructive response writing, and skill practice.


Gay Miller


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Genre Flash Cards


Genre Flash Cards contains 21 pairs (picture cards with matching fact cards) in a ready-to-use printable format. These are a free download at Teachers Pay Teachers.  

Free Genres Flash Cards

Ways to Use the Genre Flash Cards

Response Cards – The picture cards may be used as response cards. The teacher reads the definition or names a book title and the students hold up the correct card.

Matching Games – Games such as Slap Jack or Memory may be played by small groups.

Flash Cards – Students work in pairs or small groups holding up a genre card while the other student(s) tells the definition.

Learning Center Activity – Students match definitions to genres then record their answers on the chart provided on page 9 of the printable.

Organization – Place picture cards on the front of storage containers to help organize your class library.

Free Genre Flash Cards

Why Teach Genres

Teaching students about different genres is an important way for students to gain a deeper understanding of the text.

  • Understanding genres helps students with the concept of theme. Specific genres often center on specific themes such as detective genres try to solve a crime.
  • When students realize they are reading from a specific genre, they can rely on the textual schema to get a general understanding of the text. For example, when a student knows s/he is going to be reading poetry, rhyming scheme, figurative language, and rhythm become the focus of the text.
  • Exposing students to fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, and folklore helps students become better more well-rounded writers. Once students understand a specific genre, they are more prepared to write following the “rules” of the genre.

Download Genre Flash Cards
at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Gay Miller


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Where the Red Fern Grows – A Winter Mentor Text


Mentor Text Lesson

When thinking about a winter related book to use as a mentor text, I immediately thought of Where the Red Fern Grows. In the novel, Billy has to battle the winter weather in life and death situations twice.

In Chapter 10, Little Ann falls into the mostly ice covered river. Billy must save her as she hangs onto the ice shelf. The second catastrophe occurs in Chapters 17-18 when a blizzard blows in during the big coon hunt. First, Grandpa falls on the ice and injuries his ankle. Soon afterwards, Little Ann and Old Dan become lost in whiteout conditions only to be found the next morning nearly frozen solid with thick coats of ice covering their bodies.

Even if you do not have time for your class to read the full novel, you can use this activity as the events from Chapter 10 tell a complete mini-story. Because of this, I have placed a three page excerpt from the book on my website for those who do not have a set of novels. The excerpt can also be used for students to highlight.

You can find it here:

Activity 1 ~ Foldable Organizers Going over Summarizing Methods

Free Foldable Graphic Organizers going over Summarizing Methods

Students complete two foldable graphic organizers. The first organizer includes four basic steps for summarizing. The second briefly explains two methods for summarizing (Somebody Wanted But So and Who What Where When Why and How). Use these organizers to explain the basics of summarizing before having students tackle the project.

Activity 2 – Graphic Organizer for Summarizing

Summarizing with Where the Red Fern Grows


Students read the excerpt, highlight details, and complete a timeline organizer. Student then use the details from the timeline organizer to write a summary in paragraph form. 

Activity 3 – Craftivity for Summaries

Free Where the Red Fern Grows CraftivityAfter students proofread their summaries, they rewrite them on the printables provided. Covers for the summaries (pictured) are provided. These make a cute bulletin board. 

Resource Links

 Where the Red Fern Grows Book Unit
Gay Miller


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