1 piece of card stock cut out so it is a 8.5 inch square
10 puffy balls (2 colors - 5 of each color)
10 foam shapes
ribbon or brickbrack for the lines and border (8 pieces 8.5 inches long)
Games are a great way to interact with family members. Here is a simple DIY for making a tic tac toe game board that can be used for travel or at home.
To make this board, you will need the following materials:
1 piece of card stock cut out so it is a 8.5 inch square
10 puffy balls (2 colors - 5 of each color)
10 foam shapes
ribbon or brickbrack for the lines and border (8 pieces 8.5 inches long)
Step 1: Glue the ribbon around the edges of the card stock
Step 2: Glue the lines for the spaces
Step 3: Glue the foam shapes on the puffy balls. These will help keep them from rolling away.
Now your game is ready to use. Find a partner and start playing.
When you finish, you can easily store your game in a ziplock bag.
This is a simple game to make, but can provide hours of fun. My students made this one year for their fathers for Father's Day. They just added a card and made some gift wrapping paper and it was ready to go. For more Father's Day ideas and activities, click here.
Communicating student learning is important. Many teachers still use a parent/teacher format, but I have found that the student-led model is far more effective. I am retired now, but this is the model I used for over 20 years and the feedback was always positive and very helpful. I never experienced a time when it wasn't effective or well-received by both parents and students.
Conducting student-led conferences requires management that allows for sharing, communicating, and reflecting. In my classroom, there were up to 3 families at a time. They all had an agenda to follow and several different things to do. One of those things was to meet with the teacher. There was also flexibility to come and go if the family had multiple children and conferences to participate in.
Student-led conferences work because they include the child in the process. They empower children to be the leaders in sharing their learning. When they are done well, there are opportunities to share what has been learned, work together on activities with parents that relate to what they are studying, look at evaluations from both the child and the teacher, and discuss concerns and goals for future learning.
Student-led conferences are a blend of sharing, reflecting, and setting goals for future learning. It is important to prepare the children for these conferences. Role playing and practicing helps them to understand what to expect and sets them up for success.
Scheduling enough time in the conferences is also important. Children need time to share their successes, participate in activities with their parents, and discuss their learning with the teacher and their parents.
The materials and activities that you use for your conferences should reflect what is happening in your classroom. I have created a package with some materials that have worked well for me. They can be used as a sample that can be adapted for your conferences.
For more specifics and to see what is included in this package, check out this post.
Teaching children about money is different now than it was a few years ago. We live in a plastic world and children rarely handle actual cash. This makes paying for things and dealing with change a challenge.They still need to understand how to use money, but they need to be taught in a different way for this to make sense to them. Here is a unit that my class created with me that is called "Money Lessons For Children".
Just before I retired, I created a unit on money with my students. It started out simply, but very quickly became the focus of our math classes. Because my students were directly involved in creating the unit and working through the different aspects of it, they were able to apply what they learned to future activities.
The older students in the school had been learning about becoming Young Entrepreneurs earlier in the year. When I saw what they were doing, I decided to modify this to work with my grade 3 students. They were very excited about this and they worked hard to create materials for a Spring fundraiser.
Before they were able to start working on the projects, they needed to learn about money and how to work with it. We talked about debit cards and money in the bank. Most of them didn't realize that there needed to be money in the bank in order to take money out or use the debit card to pay for things. They thought that people could just use the card whenever they wanted to buy something.
They were given a "debit" card and they were assigned a starting amount of money. They were then taught how to spend money and keep track of the balance. They were shown ways to earn money to add to the card in order to continue buying things.
The challenge was to come up with ideas of ways to earn money as children. We brainstormed different jobs/chores that could be done and decided on how much money might be earned for each job. Then we used the classroom money and practiced earning and spending money to see how it worked.
These are only some of the activities we did as we developed this unit. It was definitely one of the most valuable units that I have used and it had a great finale as it helped us to earn money for a special field trip.
Here is a sampling of the unit that we created together.
If you check out the DIY category on my blog, you will find the directions for making many of the items we used for our Spring Fundraiser.
Capturing the attention of students is key to engaging them in their learning. Escape rooms are becoming more and more popular as a means of practicing and reinforcing skills and concepts. They are fun to do and they can promote healthy teamwork and collaboration.
I have been tutoring some girls in French for awhile now and we have worked on a lot of vocabulary as well as grammar. I created several materials for them throughout this time. (Click here to view them.)
I also help out in a Grade 1/2 French Immersion classroom when I can. I work with small groups doing language activities and reading.
I noticed that many people were starting to use escape room activities, so I thought it might be fun to try to create one. The girls that I tutor in French worked on this project with me for a few weeks and I had the pleasure of seeing it in action in the Grade 1/2 French Immersion classroom a few days ago.
I thought it would be great in other classrooms as well, so I also created an English version.
The feedback from the children was very encouraging. They were proud of themselves for completing the tasks to earn the locks and they were excited to move on to each new category. They said that they liked working as a group and doing the activities together. I was impressed with how well they collaborated and discussed the choices of answers. They were also able to do most of the reading without help from the adults.
Actually receiving a lock to place on the hasp after each challenge was a major hit. They could hardly wait to get all the locks and then solve the mystery word.
Check out some pictures of them working together.
Feedback for teachers is important too. I discovered a few different things when watching it in action. I was able to make some small tweaks to improve the product for future use. Most of the changes are in how to prepare the materials. For example, it is not necessary to have the large colored pages of the categories unless the images are being projected. Smaller ones with 4 to a page will work just as well and save on ink. I discovered that when I printed out the small working sheets and clue pages, that they didn't match exactly. This has now been fixed as well.
The big thing I noticed, is that with the younger children, it is best to break the activities up into 2 or even 3 sessions so that all of the students can remain engaged the whole time. This is especially true when working in a second language. They get tired after about 2 or 3 activities. Also, the groups work best if they are of mixed ability. Some students are stronger at reading, writing, or drawing, so there is a role for everyone.
Note: We did this activity over 2 days because it takes a couple of hours to complete. It would have worked even better over 3 days with 2 activities for each day.
This product can be used for vocabulary review at the end of the year, or for a group activity review at the beginning of a new school year. It is also suitable for a late immersion class or for grades 3-5 if the more advanced math questions are used and if the students are required to write out the vocabulary with correct spelling.
I am excited about the results of this product and I hope to be able to create others in the future. I would love to hear about any experiences you might have had with escape rooms.
Many students find math concepts abstract and difficult to understand. Math manipulatives help to make the ideas concrete and easier to visualize. Hands on math manipulatives also connect the thinking with psychomotor activities. These connections help students to remember the concepts or skills practiced. Not only do they learn better, they have fun while learning.
How do math manipulatives help student learning?
Math manipulatives capture the attention of the kids. They like to touch and move things around. They get excited when they get to play games. They don't realize that they are practicing skills when they are playing. They will stay engaged longer and practice more when using math manipulatives instead of just working with paper and pencil activities.
Hands on math manipulatives engage the senses. They allow kids to see how things go together and they are fun to touch. They develop concrete thinking and understanding of the concepts before moving on to more abstract concepts.
In the picture above, there are several different math manipulatives. All of these manipulatives were used to help kids represent numbers in different ways. I made up games and activities with a group of students that needed to practice number recognition using these materials. They had lots of fun and before long they were able to recognize different numbers by shape, order, pattern, etc.
Get creative and use whatever you have available to help engage the kids to learn more about math.
How can you use math manipulatives effectively in the classroom?
Math manipulatives can be used effectively in large group situations, in centers, as partner activities, and as aids for individual work. Sometimes it is the size of the math manipulatives that determines how they are used. For example, if you are working with a large group, you would want the manipulatives to be large so that they are easily visible to everyone. If students are to work in centers or with partners, the math manipulatives would be smaller so that they don't occupy too much space. For individual work, the manipulatives don't need to be very big. (The ten frames in the picture above were designed with this in mind.)
It is important to show the students how to use the math manipulatives before handing them out. If they are not correctly used, they are not as effective. Kids need time to practice using the manipulatives so that they use them correctly. They will be engaged and participate when they understand what to do.
Make sure that you have enough math manipulatives for the tasks given. If they are doing partner work, each pair will need a set of manipulatives. Create multiple activities or centers that use different math manipulatives if you don't have enough manipulatives for everyone.
How do you store math manipulatives?
Math manipulatives can take up a lot of space. Using small tubs or reusing empty containers can help with organizing them. I used an old wipes container for my base ten math manipulatives. It had room for a smaller container as well that held the units so they didn't get mixed up in the main container (see in the image above).
The small rollaway carts with multiple drawers work well for holding many different types of math manipulatives all in one place.
In our school we have big carts that hold several tubs. Each tub has a different math manipulative in it. This makes it easy for doing group work or centers. Just grab whatever tub you need and take it to the area you are working at.
As the new school year approaches, I hope these tips help with making your math lessons enjoyable and engaging for your students. I would love to hear how you use math manipulatives in your classroom.
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 seen 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.
Heading back to school can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. Here are some tips to help the school year start of well.
1. Make sure that you are mentally prepared and refreshed so that you will have the energy for the first few weeks. It is amazing how tired teachers can get the first few weeks of school. Take some time for yourself and allow yourself to be pampered. You are worth it and you will find that you have more energy and stamina if you go into the year refreshed and relaxed.
2. Have a plan for organizing your classroom, but don't worry about it being just perfect. You can always tweak it later. The main thing is to have the basics in place so that you can welcome in your students and begin working with them. Perhaps they can help you to make the classroom their own by adding some of their own ideas and decor during the first few weeks.
3. Change up your room a bit even if you plan on using the same decor. It has the same affect as doing spring cleaning and working around the yard tidying it up after the winter. Things are fresh again and organized. I found that this was great for the kids as well. In our schools we get the same students back for the first week or two as the new classes are organized. Sometimes with split grades, some of the students will also be in your class for a second year. Having a different arrangement of furniture or a change in the way things looks helps them to feel like they are moving on also.
4. Begin the first few classes with a focus on class community, self esteem activities, and review or introduction of school and classroom routines. This will pay big time in the months to come. When kids know that you care about them, they will be more willing to engage and work for you. It isn't about making buddies with them, you are the teacher and they are the students, but rather it is gaining their respect by showing kindness and respect.
5. Share some of your life with your students. Let them know a bit about who you are outside of the classroom.
I loved to share stories about my family and my pets with my students. They would often refer to them throughout the year and want to know more. Little things can mean a lot. My students loved singing Happy Birthday to my mom or my kids. I would put them on speaker phone and they would sing. My mom still remembers those calls and how special they made her feel.
6. Be consistent and follow through when you set routines and consequences. If you let up on these, the kids will push the boundaries and it will be tough to get them to believe what you say. They will test you to see if you mean what you say. When they realize that you mean it, they will stop pushing so hard.
If the routines and consequences make sense and they have been explained and accepted as part of the class rules, then it will be easier to enforce them as well.
7. Have a schedule to follow and lessons prepared, but be willing to throw it out or postpone it for teachable moments. If something happens during the day that is relevant to your students, it deserves to be allowed to be discussed, explored, and experienced. Kids learn more from teachable moments than they do from a structured lesson that is presented at the wrong time. No matter how fabulous the lesson is, if it is taught at the wrong time, it won't have the same impact.
8. Differentiate when necessary. Every child comes to school with different needs and abilities. It doesn't work to try and teach exactly the same material to each one. Although it takes time and some extra planning, differentiating the subject will allow everyone to engage and experience some success. Sometimes this might be as simple as finding reading material of different levels on the same topic. Or maybe it might be reducing the number of questions to do on a written assignment, answering orally instead of writing things down, or showing learning in a different way. Varying teaching styles to reach the different types of learners might also work well.
9. Make sure that you have brain breaks or physical movement added to your day. Nobody works well without breaks. Think about what things you start to do when it is time to write report cards. If you are anything like me, you will write for a bit and then need to do something different before continuing. You want to avoid doing them so you look for reasons to take breaks as well. This feeling could be the same for your students. Not everyone enjoys doing seat work for long periods of time.
10. Have fun with your students. If your students are happy they will enjoy learning. If you are happy, you will enjoy teaching more. Teaching can be hard enough nowadays with all the added pressures of assessment, social and political environments, and burnout. You need to do things to protect yourself from the stress these things cause. Laughing and enjoying your classroom experiences with your students is one way to do this.
Well, there you have it. I hope these tips help. I wish you a happy and fulfilling new school year.
I would love to hear about some of the other tips you might have. Add them into the comments below.
If you are interested in checking out some of the materials that I use for starting up the school year, click here.
I have been adding a line of French products to my store lately. If you teach French Immersion or French as a Second Language, you can check these products out here.
I just love the characters from Winnie the Pooh. The stories are whimsical but they are full of truths. I was looking at my stuffed characters that I have for my grandchildren and I decided I had to create some posters to share some of the well-known quotes that are part of the stories.
Piglet warms my heart with all that he shares and the wonder he sees in life. He may be small, but he definitely fills the heart with love.
What a boring world it would be if everyone was the same. Different doesn't mean bad, and it is important that we see the value in our uniqueness. Eeyore would not be Eeyore if he didn't see the other side of things first.
Tigger is so bouncy he is hard to miss. He has a big presence and he is able to add energy to every situation.
This is one of my favorites. Pooh says it best: "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
What a powerful thing to share with others.
Click here or on the image above to get all 16 free posters. I hope you enjoy them and that they bring you smiles and happy thoughts.
Reading strategies are very important for developing good reading skills. They help children to make meaning out of unfamiliar words and ideas in a variety of ways. Many children get stuck when they rely on only one or two strategies. Introducing these 8 strategies and practicing them will give them the tools to better understand the material they are reading.
About 3 years ago, I was introduced to these cute animals and their uses as reading strategies. I loved how the children engaged with them. I had to get my own stuffies so that they could actually hold them and interact with them. I use them all the time now in my guided reading groups.
I created a set of bookmarks and posters to go with these strategies. If you would like to get a copy of these bookmarks and posters, click the image below.
I hope you find these tools helpful with your young readers. I would love to hear how you use strategies in reading.
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.
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