Stay tuned as I share more ideas that become activities and products from my experiences with kids.
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.
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.
I love using story books for springboards into teaching concepts. It is always fun to see where the ideas go. One of my favourite stories is Stone Soup. I have 2 versions that I usually share with the children.
I like to read the version by Marcia Brown. It is great to present it when studying about veterans because in the story the soldiers were returning from war. It is a good springboard for discussions.
It is interesting to see how the children react when the villagers hide the food. Just last week, when I read the story with my reading group, they kept commenting on how everyone was "lying". They also found it to be magical that stones could make soup for a king.
We also read the version by Ann McGovern. We then did a comparison of the two versions and how they had many similarities but they also had some differences.
I created some activities to further explore these ideas. Some of these activities can be used for single versions as well.
If I still had my own class, I would continue to investigate further and discuss how caring and sharing are inclusive and we can all be richer as a result. Sharing of the stone soup was not just about eating soup, but reconnecting with others and working together. As the villagers learned, because of the stone soup experience, they would never go hungry again.
As a culminating activity, I would make stone soup with my class. They were always amazed that the soup tasted so good. They really thought it was because of the stones!
I told my reading group that I usually did this with my class and they asked if they could be in my class. Unfortunately, I don't have my own class now and I don't have the opportunity to do things like make soup anymore. It warmed my heart to have them say that though.
What are some stories you have used to create discussions and do other activities with? I would love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.
I love teaching guided reading and I continue to do so even though I am retired. I volunteer a couple of mornings a week and I work with 6 different groups. Some groups are still working on sounds and cvc activities. Others are working on beginning chapter books and reading for deeper meaning and understanding. I enjoy being able to take them beyond the basic story and I often incorporate other activities.
Lately I have also been tutoring some children in French. I have found it to be very similar to teaching beginning reading. I have been busy creating activities and resources that introduce basic language and concepts using themes. I am thrilled to see how quickly they are grasping the ideas.
I went into my grandson's grade 1/2 class last week and I got to work with small groups using one of the themed task cards. It was so much fun. I also helped out with a reading group. Again, it was refreshing to see that the language didn't matter. The process was the same and the kids engaged in a similar manner. I am not certain why I didn't think about that sooner. I guess it is because I was so focused on teaching reading in my own class that I didn't think about how it worked in other situations.
Differentiation is important. I found that some groups were better able to do the activities than others as some of the children were reading and other were not quite there yet. I was able to make modifications to the games to allow for both groups to be successful. I look forward to going back again soon.
Once I finished creating simple emergent readers and the thematic visual task cards, I started to translate them into English. They will be fun to use with my guided reading groups as well. I am surprised that I didn't think of making them in English first, followed by a French translation. I guess it is because the inspiration came from a need for materials.
I am proud of my new products. If you are interested in checking them out, you can find them here. Just click on the images below.
This is an update to a previous blog post. I feel it is still relevant today so I am re-sharing it.
Building Relationships is one of the most important things we can do when we get our new students. We need to help them to understand that we are there for them, we care about them, and we want them to be successful. I feel that this is crucial for a successful year.
Team building and getting to know each other is essential. Everyone will do this in different ways depending on their personalities and interests, but that is okay. It helps with learning to accept uniqueness and diversity.
Getting to know your students is very important. Who better to ask than the parents. Every year I send home a form called "Getting Acquainted". It is a way for parents to share some insights about their child and the family. Since so many parents are now working, it is harder to have face to face conversations with them. They want to be involved in their child's learning, but sometimes we have to be more creative to make sure this happens.
It is important to keep the lines of communication open so that we can have the frank conversations when necessary. I believe that each day is a fresh start, so if I can focus on what is right in the classroom and help my students to do the same, this can be communicated to the family through notes, phone calls, or face to face conversations when possible.
Often parents will ask what they can do at home to help support the learning that is happening at school. I believe that the best way to help is to read with their child and give them lots of real life experiences that use the skills and concepts taught. I send home a paper that explains how to go about doing Home Reading so that it can be effectively done and a positive experience for everyone. It is amazing how stressful home reading can be in some homes otherwise.
Here are samples from my letters. These are also available in my Back to School Start Up Forms package.
Maintaining a positive relationship with support staff is also very important. They can be great allies throughout the year. We need to help them to feel appreciated for all that they do. Sometimes they can feel like they are taken for granted and a smile or a friendly comment can make their day. A special note also makes them feel special.
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.
Using games and activities that are fun will help to engage children and they will learn skills without realizing that they are learning. It is wonderful to see them taking risks and challenges and enjoying learning.
I have always tried to include games in my guided reading lessons and my literacy blocks. Children can often get frustrated if they are working hard at learning to decode or make meaning of what they are reading. Using games to focus on some of the skills relieves some of that stress and allows them to practice the skills in a fun environment.
I use lots of different boxed games, but I also use task cards and other games that I have created. The ones that I have made are specific for what I might be covering in groups. I have many different themes for my sight words so that they are always fun to use because they are linked to different holidays, or special times.
Here are some other types of activities that I have used with my students. Depending on the abilities and the needs, I have made the materials simple for learning letter sounds and names and more difficult for learning about figurative language and parts of speech. I have also created activities for the interactive whiteboard. Bingo games that go with various topics are also fun to create.
If you are interested in checking out some of these products or other literacy activities that I have created, click here.
I volunteer at school and work with several guided reading groups. I create games and activities for them. Another retired teacher volunteers as well. She asked me to make up some game boards for her. You can check them out here.
Here is a free sample from the set of game boards. Click the image below to get your copy.
I have fun creating games and I love seeing the children react when a new game is presented to them. But more importantly, I am excited to see them learning skills that they were struggling with. It is so thrilling to see them applying the skills to their reading and writing lessons.
I would love to hear how you use games in your classroom to teach skills.
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.
Learning a second language doesn't have to be difficult. There are many ways to learn. Today I will be touching on a few strategies and steps that can help.
There are 6 steps to follow if you want to really learn to use a second or third language. Not surprisingly, these are the same steps we use when learning our first language. They do not necessarily need to be done in this order or one at a time.
Step one is to begin by listening to others speak so that you become accustomed to how the language sounds. This may seem a bit crazy, but if you go into any area where there are different languages being spoken, you will notice differences in the way the languages sound.
I find it interesting to listen to people speaking to each other in a store or at the airport or some sightseeing venue. It doesn't take too long to recognize whether they are speaking in French, Spanish, Asian, or other languages. I may not be able to understand what they are saying, but some accents and sounds are distinguishable and characteristic of different regions or countries.
Step two is to try speaking some of the words and phrases. This is usually done by copying what someone else is saying. It may be copying from a language program on the computer or at a listening center, or it may be copying someone who is speaking to you. With constant repetition, this will become easier and more natural sounding.
Step three is to work on the pronunciation so that it is as close as possible to the native sound of the language. This will take practice. Recording oneself when speaking and playing it back may be helpful. Using a "telephone" is also a good way to hear what is being said.
Step four is to develop a good vocabulary. The bigger the vocabulary acquired, the more a person will be able to communicate with others on a variety of topics.
Step five is to practice reading the words and reading simple passages that use the vocabulary in written form. As fluency and comprehension develops the passages can get more difficult and varied. It is important that comprehension be included, because it is possible to read words fluently without understanding what is being said. This is particularly true for some languages that are very phonetic.
Step six is to practice writing the language. The most difficult part of this process will be getting the grammar and syntax correct. Most languages are not translated literally, so you need to have an understanding of the language and how phrases are formed in order to communicate well.
There are many different approaches, but these steps have worked well in our schools and with my own children and grandchildren.
If you have other ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 8, 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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