Round Up Of DIY
DIY activities can be fun to make and they can also be a great gift or fundraising opportunity.
At my school the grade 5 and 6 classes participated in a program called Young Entrepreneurs. I was intrigued when I saw the different things they created. I thought it would be interesting to see if my grade 3 class would be able to do something similar. Of course, it needed some modifications, but we took a chance and we managed to create many different products and then do a fundraiser sale for a special field trip. You can find out more here.
Here is a round-up of some of the different diy products that we did for the fundraiser. I wrote separate posts for 3 of them. You can check out the others in my post about the spring fundraiser. They were fun to make and easy to do so even younger children were able to participate.
DIY Fancy Bell Pencils
I Spy Jars
DIY Stress Balloons
DiY activities are great for making special gifts for special occasions. Here are some that were made for mothers and fathers for their special days.
DIY Father's Day Gift Idea
Mother's Day Ideas For Special Ladies
DIY Dad's Bug Kit
DIY Tic Tac Toe Boards
Father's Day Gift Ideas For Special Men
Christmas is a time when special keepsakes can be made. Here are some that my kids made.
Christmas Stained Glass Project
DIY Christmas Stained Glass Art Project
Easy DIY Christmas Gifts Kids Can Make
Of course, there are also DIY projects that can be subject based. Here is a hand clock that we made that was a real hit.
DIY Hand Clocks
These are only a few ideas that might be fun to try. There are many others, but I will leave them for now. The key is to find things that will spark the imagination and then watch as the creativity happens.
Special Days And Holidays Roundup
For the next couple of weeks I will be sharing information about different subjects in roundup posts. I have gone through my blog posts and selected a few that I feel will be helpful for your planning during the new year.
Since we are still dealing with a pandemic, some of the posts will be suitable for online teaching as well as in person teaching.
The first roundup is a collection of ideas, resources, and thoughts about special days and holidays. Hopefully it will provide you with some resources, ideas and inspiration as you map out the next year.
It makes sense to start with the New Year!. There are many special days in winter. We have Groundhog Day, Hundreds Day, Chinese New Year, And Valentines Day just to name a few. Here are some blog posts that share winter ideas and special activities for the New Year.
A New Year And A Fresh Start (good for both online and in person)
Winter Fun And Celebration
Math And Language Activities For January-February Celebrations
Groundhog Day Activities
Spring time brings more fun as the weather improves and we begin to focus on our Earth. We also begin to think about mothers and fathers and celebrate their special days. Here are some posts that share resources and ideas for these special days.
Earth Day Activity For Kids
Celebrating Mothers And Fathers
Mothers Day Ideas For Special Ladies
Fathers Day Ideas For Special Men
Back to School is a big topic, so I will save it for a different time.
In Canada, September is a time when we focus on Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope that he started over 40 years ago. Check out the following post for information about this event and some free posters.
Over Forty Years Later Terry Fox Is Still Remembered As A Canadian Hero
Thanksgiving comes earlier in Canada, but these ideas and resources are suitable for both Canadian and American Thanksgiving celebrations.
Thanksgiving Math And Language Activities
Thanksgiving Writing Template And Posters
How An Attitude Of Gratitude And Thanks Is Good For Mental Health
Halloween is a fun time for kids. Here are some ideas and resources for blending skill development and fun.
Halloween Parts of Speech
Halloween Math and Literacy Fun
How You Can Still Teach While Having Fun With Halloween
November 11th is an important day in history. In Canada we celebrate Remembrance Day, and in the United States Veterans Day is celebrated. Here are some ideas and resources that work for these two celebrations.
Remembrance Day Veterans Day
Friendship And Acts Of Kindness
Remembering Our Veterans
Why Is It Important to Teach Our Kids About November 11 And Our Veterans?
Christmas is also a big topic that requires it own post. I have several ideas that will make the season fun. There are many different ideas and resources that will be great for next year. Check them out in a future post.
Well, there you have it. This is just a sampling of ideas, but hopefully it is enough to give you some inspiration for ways to celebrate the many different special days and holidays throughout the year.
Back To Basics Is Key
Getting back to basics is key this year as many children strive to catch up after a year of online learning and missed opportunities for individual support due to the pandemic. Last week I spoke about focusing on the mental health of the kids first and academics second. That doesn't mean that we stop teaching the academics and following the curriculum, but we need to find the balance that will support the students where they are at. Returning to some of the basics will be key.
For younger children, literacy is huge. Developing and nurturing literacy skills is important. This may include phonics, phonemic awareness, word attack skills, emergent reading and writing activities, and guided reading groups. Sometimes all of these will be needed as the range in primary classrooms can be developmentally wide.
Choosing activities that are interactive and hands on will be more engaging than worksheets and will also allow for small group work so that everyone can be working on different skills or concepts that are appropriate. This will require some assessment, preparation, and scheduling, but it will be worth it.
Check out my guided reading post to see how I managed this in a multi-level classroom.
For math, most curriculums work with a spiral approach so that skills are reviewed and then built on as the concepts are mastered. This is a good practice and makes it easier to adjust to meet the needs of the kids. In the primary grades it is important to make sure that the activities start with the concrete before moving to the abstract. Some kids are able to do this quickly and others will require additional practice with hands on activities. Small group activities and guided math situations will help with this as well. As with the literacy activities, you will need to assess, prepare, and schedule things to make them run smoothly. Check out this blog post for tips that help kids struggling with math.
Social studies in the primary grades can be global or community based depending on the specific concepts being taught. Mapping activities can be simple or complex to fit the needs of the children. Studying about the community and more global ideas can also be made simpler or more detailed for the children. Project based activities work well for this. Check out this post to see how I successfully used projects with my primary classes. You can also grab a mapping activity from my followers free resources page if you have subscribed to my newsletter.
As for science choose a few different areas and focus on them. It isn't necessary to do all the different topics. This will allow deeper learning and concept development. Kids love doing science experiments and learning about how things work. You can even add in a project if it works. There is a free gravity experiment on my followers free resources page as well as some other free resources in my TPT store that may help you out.
Mental Health First and Academics Second
I remember talking to a friend of mine one day about how things had changed and she reminded me that there were some positive things that came out of last year that hopefully would be continued this year. For instance, kids were washing their hands more often, staying home when they weren't well, taking more care with belongings, cleaning up better, and focusing more on their own work instead of socializing so much.
Of course, there were also many things that were missing that were important for social emotional learning. Being able to return to in person learning and carefully starting to do group activities really made a difference for some kids. I realize that not all schools went totally back to in person teaching, but hopefully they will soon. We learned how important personal connections are as we were prevented from being together for so long.
This was a wake up call for many as the number of children suffering from mental health issues increased significantly in the last year and a half. It goes to show how important it is to ensure that we focus on the social emotional well-being of our students. Academics are important, but not at the expense of a child's mental health.
Teaching SEL Helps Develop Good Mental Health
We, as teachers, nurture the kids and help them to develop positive self esteem and self confidence. It is important that we help them to see that they are special and valuable. Often, when kids act out, they are really crying for attention or help with issues that they may not be able to voice or even recognize. We need to look past the behavior and try to see what may be causing it. This is not an easy task and we may not get it right, but if we are able to let the child see that we care, hopefully it will make a difference.
Getting back to the basics
I heard from many teachers that this year has been a big challenge because of the wide range of levels they need to teach in their classes. Since the start of the pandemic this gap has grown. Some children flourished with online learning and others floundered or didn't even show up. Assignments were left incomplete, comprehension was sporadic, and trying to teach a skill or concept to everyone at the same time virtually was often very difficult and unsuccessful.
Now that many children are back in the classroom, the teacher needs to reassess what they know and where the gaps are so that they can continue on. This may lead to many stressful moments for both the kids and the teachers, especially during assessment times and testing times for those schools that are required to do standardized testing.
I know it may seem unmanageable at times, but it is important that the focus be on what is good for the kids. If it means stepping back and revisiting material that was previously covered in order to provide the base for future learning, do it. If it means that you have to teach in small groups to reinforce and reintroduce concepts, do it. If it means that you won't get to some of the material this year, then so be it.
Pushing through the curriculum just to complete it won't benefit anyone. You will feel like you didn't do your best teaching, and the kids will not get the understanding and knowledge needed to be successful in future lessons. Everyone will feel frustrated and stressed.
You've got this
You may be reading this and saying to yourself, "But you don't understand. It isn't up to me. I am responsible for teaching this curriculum so that my students can do well on the tests." I get it, but I also get that the kids won't do as well on the tests if they don't have a proper understanding of the material. As I said earlier, we need to protect their mental health. Even if it means the academics have to be limited for a short time.
When you give extra support and teaching in the areas that are weak, the kids will develop the skills and confidence to move on to more difficult material and they will ultimately fair better with future assessments and the curriculum requirements.
Remember that every group has had some disruption and that there are many children that are struggling with the academics across the country, and maybe even across the world, so you are not alone with this predicament.
You've got this. Your students will start to catch up as you support them where they are. Remember to encourage them along the way and help them to see that they will be successful and they will be able to reach for their goals and succeed along the way.
Next week I will give some specific ideas for getting back to the basics for primary children.
Hang in there. The holiday break will be here soon and you will be able to recharge and regroup. It may not always feel like it, but you do make a difference for your kids. You are a star. Keep on shining even if the light doesn't seem very bright at times.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.