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My mother used  idioms to teach me life lessons.  Maybe due to a popular song in the 80’s,  she would say “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going,” almost daily.  Basically, life is not always easy; I can make the most of it and do my best by not give up .  My mother didn’t “beat around the bush,” I needed to “pull myself up by my boot straps.”  These phrases are still relevant in today’s classroom.  What can we do to encourage our students to keep learning and growing?  In this post I will egrowth_1.jpgxplore ideas (and provide some Big Universe resources) that will benefit all students, regardless of learning style and ability.

Praise and Motivation–   Not all students learn at the same rate. However, using encouraging words will help students rise to the occasion. As educators, we should notice even small achievements and find out what motivates our students. This delightful book will allow you laugh with your students and teach valuable lessons!

Lori Ries (author), Frank W. Dormer (illustrator) (illustrator)
ISBN: 9781570916465


Model behavior–  Use various grouping techniques to foster relationgrowth_2.jpgships and encourage learning. This heartwarming story teaches perseverance and compassion.  When forming groups, I would encourage you to read this story with your students.  Every student needs to betreated fairly, which is the overriding theme in this fun and engaging book.

Robert Sansouci (author), Stefan Czernecki (illustrator)
ISBN: 9780874837643

August House

Challenge vs Overwhelm -If your students are beginning readers, it wouldgrowth_3.jpg be silly to assign and independent research project! However, you can challenge your students by asking higher level thinking questions.  This will motivate your students to begin small research projects.  Never make your students feel overwhelmed.  By overwhelming your students you could get the opposite desired outcome.

Matthew Hill, Anita Collins, Lisa Workman (authors), Chris Lewis, Shoua Vang (illustrator)
ISBN: 1933101512

Peddlesfoots Educational Holdings LLC

Set goals–  By setting up “checkpoints” along the way, students won’t fall under the radar.  This fabulous resource will allow you to take a peek into the livegrowth_4.jpgs of  fifteen learning disabled student and how they were able to achieve amidst these challenges.  This is a must read!

Jill Lauren (author)
ISBN: 9781595724120

Star Bright Books


Resources that teach life lessons with Idioms


Written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Illustrated by Jane Monroe Donovan
ISBN: 9781627531382

Sleeping Bear Press

Find additional resources that help teach idioms on Big growth_5.jpgUniverse by searching keyword, “idioms”.   

Other idioms that teach about hard work and determination– These would provide a basis for a great discussion.  Assign a phrase to a student or group.  Have them illustrate the literal meaning, research the meaning behind each phrase, and present their findings to the class.


Back to the drawing board
Ball is in your court
Bite off more than you can chew
Burn the midnight oil
Cut the mustard
Cut them some slack
Climbing to the top of the ladder
Cross that bridge when you come to it
Don’t cut corners
Have your work cut out
Hit the nail on the head
A long haul
On the ball
Piece of cake
Up to speed

We love to hear from our readers, what works well to encourage your students to rise to the occasion?

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