It's that time of year again. But it is also different this year. Normally teachers would be planning and creating in a renewed state, eager to start off a new year with new students and exciting activities. This year, there is a lot of uncertainty and stress as teachers fear going back to school and the difficulties it will bring.
Teachers need to support each other through these difficult circumstances. Self care becomes very important. I posted some ideas for self care in my last post. You can check it out here.
As teachers and students return to school, there will be some excitement, and apprehension as new protocols are put in place to deal with the ongoing pandemic. It will be important to help put children at ease as they adjust and learn to engage in a different way.
Start by doing activities that help your students get to know each other and and create relationships. Mixers, groups, and partner activities can still happen, but in a different way. Maintaining social distancing while doing these activities can be a challenge, but as creative teachers, we finds ways to make them happen. That is our super power.
First week activities help students to ease back into learning and following routines. Here are some resources that might help.
These are also available in a bundle that includes start up forms and a back to school kit. I also have several poster sets and theme kits in my Back to School category in my store.
I wish you well as you begin this new year. Stay safe and try to enjoy your time with your students.
The Marathon of Hope began many years ago when Terry Fox was a young man. He lost his leg to bone cancer when he was 18 years old. On April 12, 1980 he started his Marathon of Hope for cancer research.
He was determined to run across Canada and raise $1.00 for every Canadian. He began his run on the east coast by dipping his foot in the Atlantic Ocean.
Terry ran every day for about 42 km (26 miles). Imagine running a marathon distance every day. This is hard enough for someone with two strong legs, but Terry did it with a prosthesis on his one leg. He did this for 143 days.
Terry Fox was unable to finish his Marathon of Hope. On September 1, 1980 he had to stop because cancer appeared in his lungs. He returned to his home and began treatment for the cancer. He was determined to continue fighting. On June 28,1981 his battle ended. He was no longer with us, but his legacy continues on.
Every September cities across Canada and worldwide run in Terry's memory to continue his Marathon of Hope.
Click here to find out more about Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope.
Here are some free activities to use with your students if you do a Terry Fox run in your area. I know it is very important in our schools and children still learn about our Canadian hero. Click on the image above to get your copy.
I love to create teaching materials, but since I retired, sometimes it is hard to come up with the ideas. I have found that the best way to get motivated, is to engage with children and find things that would be helpful for them and fun for them to do.
When I teach a concept, I like to have a practical application to go along with it. I tutor two girls, and right now we are learning about the kitchen and cooking. I decided that it would be fun to actually try following a French recipe to make some cookies. The girls really enjoyed making the cookies and they remember a lot of the vocabulary because they could make connections to the activity.
I created this booklet after we did the cooking. I took pictures as they were cooking and I put them into the booklet. They were excited to see the pictures and read the booklet. I followed up the lesson by looking at some French recipe books. We reviewed the vocabulary and then talked about doing another cooking lesson in the future.
The next lesson, we looked at the different items that can be found in the kitchen. We then did some games with the task cards.
They are going to do some more cooking when we have a longer session. The deal is that they need to be able to identify the different items in the kitchen and follow the instructions in French. They are very excited about this.
As is becoming a habit, I have made an English version for each of these products.
Stay tuned as I share more ideas that become activities and products from my experiences with kids.
I love working with small reading groups and interacting with the children. The other day, I did a group in my grandson's French Immersion class. He was actually in the group that day! We talked about losing teeth and they each got to share a story about losing their first tooth. It was fun to see them engaging and making connections to the different stories.
After our discussion, we looked at a story I wrote about losing a tooth. We first did a picture walk and shared what we thought was happening on each page. Then we read the story and discussed how our predictions and the actual events were the same or different. We also made connections between the text and our personal stories.
After our discussion, each child wrote one or two sentences about losing a tooth and then added an illustration. It was too bad that we didn't have more time, because I could see that this could have been a great time for creating little booklets and personal stories.
I have also created the same story in English. I am hoping to use it with one of my English reading groups.
Everyone needs to find something that motivates them to create or perform activities and tasks.
What inspires you and give you motivation? For me, it is often my grandchildren or children that I work with at school. Last month, my grandson participated in his first out of town swim meet. He swam some events for the first time. I was so proud of him.
Here he is waiting for his event and having a quick snack. His sister and his dad were there to help cheer him on.
Last week I was in Victoria looking after my grandchildren. While there, I did the runaround between swimming and dancing. My younger grandson had swimming lessons. He just turned five, but he is already swimming the length of the pool without fear. Here he is practicing his streamlining and kicking.
Swimming has been an important sport for our family throughout the years. All of our children participated in the summer swimming club and one of my daughters was a swim coach for several years. The two boys in the pictures above are hers.
I am tutoring two girls right now, and one of them has swimming lessons before she comes to her lesson. This made me think about swimming and so during the lesson we created some swimming stories. It was a great way for them to use their language to make a connection with what they do. These are the little booklets that they are working on. They are creating their own illustrations. I also created a booklet that included both of them as the characters. It was fun to see them read and enjoy the booklets.
This gave me an idea for an emergent reader. I have found that most of my ideas lately have come from experiences with the kids. Here is the book that I created about learning to swim. I made it in French first, and then I made an English copy.
Stay tuned for some other resources that I am working on that are directly related to activities and situations that are happening now! Here are some I have just finished.
Where does your inspiration come from when creating materials? For me it comes from a need for certain resources in the classroom or for my grandchildren to support them in their learning.
I just started tutoring my grandson in French. He moved into a K/1 French Immersion class in March. He is in grade 1, but he is a capable student, so my son decided to move him early rather than do lots of tutoring over the summer and then move him into a grade 2 class. Already he is showing a good understanding of the language and he is able to figure out what is needed during the school day.
He can read the words and he has a few phrases that he can use, but he is really starting all over again. As I began creating a few materials for him, I noticed how similar it was to creating materials for my guided reading groups of emergent readers.
I decided to create a French version and an English version of each booklet or activity. So far I have created a few little readers and a package of interactive materials using basic vocabulary.
I took my little English readers into the Learning Support Teacher and she was so excited. She said it was like Christmas! I am happy that she will be able to use them with her struggling readers. I also plan on using them with some of my emergent readers when I go in to volunteer with reading groups.
When learning to read, it is the same process, no matter what language you are learning.
I am looking forward to creating more resources that will be covering a variety of themes. Stayed tuned for the next group of books.
Have you ever noticed that kids seem to learn languages more easily than adults? Children seem to be able to pick up the inflections and sounds more readily and they often mimic accents and dialects when they are around them for extended periods of time. This is not to say that adults cannot learn to be just as fluent as children, but sometimes it takes more effort to master it.
When our children were young, we decided to put them in French Immersion. I live in Canada, and French is one of our official languages. We thought it would be good to have them learn a second language while they were young. Both my husband and I took French in school, and we managed to do quite well, but it was sometimes difficult to get the correct pronunciation for some words. The programs then were more focused on writing rather than on speaking. They were just beginning to use oral language for teaching. I continued to study oral French in university and then went on to teach in a French Immersion school. My husband studied other languages as well and he finds language acquisition easy.
Many people opt to put their children into a language immersion program rather than have them study it as a course. Being immersed in a language, they tend to become familiar with the inflections, syntax, and basic grammar through hearing it being used on a continuous basis. When they are introduced to it in written form, it makes more sense. Of course, immersion is not for everyone and many people are able to learn well through classes also. (I found learning French fairly easy even though I didn't have the immersion setting.)
Oral language acquisition is best done in a conversational setting. This allows for practicing phrases that are useful and practical with others rather than doing worksheets full of conjugating verbs, and learning lists of vocabulary words. Of course, in order to do written work and read passages or books in another language, some of these exercises are useful as well. It is important to find a balance that works.
My next post will focus on 6 steps for learning a second language.
If you are interested in finding out more about French materials for language and numbers, check here.
Children love to play with money and they get very excited when they have the opportunity to use it for activities. This makes it a great tool for teaching many different math skills as well as life lessons. Here are several money products that I have used with my students to help them better understand how money is used.
One of the first things we want them to be able to do is recognize currency and the value of each coin or bill. They need to be able to count money and figure out how much money is needed for various purchases. These products focus on counting coins and deciding what coins are needed to make different amounts.
Once children are able to count money, they need to be able to produce the correct amounts in order to make purchases. They also need to know how to count change when they overpay so they are able to manage their money as they use it in the real world.
Money is also a great tool for learning how to do regrouping. I often taught my students that they were going to the bank when they needed more ones or tens or when they had too many and had to trade them in for larger amounts. They would actually use the coins to do the math transactions and this helped them to better understand the concept of regrouping.
Word problems can be difficult for children because not only do they need to do the math, they need to understand what the words mean in order to do the math questions. Using money as manipulatives can sometimes help with making sense of the problems. These word problems are some examples of things that children could encounter in real life.
This is one of my favorite units. It was created with my students. It started out as a simple activity and grew to be one of our most memorable moments that year. We created a spring fundraiser to raise money for a special field trip. We made many different things to sell. It was a perfect way to put into practice the skills we had worked on during the unit. (It works well for both Canadian and American money.)
We recently stopped using the penny in Canada. This created some confusion for businesses, so it was necessary to begin rounding up or down when making change. I created this product to address this situation.
This is a set of task cards that helps children to identify and count coins and match them up with the written form of the money amounts.
Here are my Canadian money products all in one place.
For three years before I retired, my class collected Pennies for Presents to help buy gifts for needy families at Christmas time. This was a wonderful way to give to others, but the added bonus was learning how to count money as we kept an on-going tally of what was collected each day. You can read about it here.
I hope that you find some of these ideas helpful for teaching about money in your classroom.
It is hard to believe that it has been almost 100 years since World War 1 ended and 71 years since World War 2 ended. That means that most of us who are alive now never knew what it was like to live during war time. Most of our veterans have left us now and we only have stories and their memories to remind us of all that was sacrificed in order for us to have our freedom today.
It is very important that we share those stories and memories with our students so that we never take for granted what we have been given. With all the glorified movies and video games presented to us, we don't really understand the pain and anguish that was caused for families and the nightmares that our veterans had to endure.
When we think of Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, we should think about what we have gained from their sacrifices. We need to teach our children about the meaning of Peace. Not only do we need to talk about it, we need to model it. Many children live in situations that are not necessarily peaceful. School should be a safe place for them where they can feel at peace.
Many families have relatives or friends who are in the service now, or who served in some of the more recent wars and battles around the world. We need to think about them too. They are fighting battles that aren't even their own to give others freedom and a safe place to live.
I am retired now, but while I was teaching, I spent a lot of time on this subject because I felt it was more that just a one day thing that we recognized every year. Here is a blog post from last year that shares some of the things we did in the past years. It also includes some special video clips that I would play for the kids.
I had the opportunity to work with another teacher 's class last year and share this special topic with them. Here is the recap of that time.
Thank you for taking the time to reflect on this important moment in time.
Here are some other posts that might be of interest from some my teacher friends.
Using projects evolved from a need to help students share their learning in a variety of different ways. I discovered early in my classroom teaching experience that some students had a wealth of knowledge, but that they were unable to truly share it in written activities. I decided to try using projects for representing their learning, and I have never looked back.
Here are some of my most popular social studies projects as well as a couple of other special projects.
This 3D community project started out as a class project where the class created the community from beginning to end based on what we learned during our study of what a community needs. Our celebration was our chance to share what was learned during this unit.
Check out one of our communities below.
I find that Social Studies lends itself well to projects. Most of my projects deal
with Canada and the provinces and territories, but I have also done some
projects that are more global.
Our Solar System was one of my first school/home projects that required the children to choose from a variety of activities to share their learning. It also contained a criteria marking sheet so that they knew what was expected and
how it would be graded from the beginning. It was amazing to see how they rose to the challenge. Including the families when it came time to create the projects was a great way of communicating what we were doing at school.
Check out some of the projects that my students created. The greatest part
was when they shared them with the families and other guests. Their pride
and the positive atmosphere made it all worthwhile.
Here is a summary of some of the lessons and a couple of pages to go with lesson 5. Click on the grid if you would like a copy.
I hope that you have found these ideas helpful. I would love to hear about how you use projects in your classroom to represent learning.
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.