Does the following sound like something you might say?
"I want to do guided reading, but I teach French. How can I make it work with kids that have limited French language skills and who are afraid to speak? "
I know it can be more difficult with a second language, but it is possible to make it work successfully.
Benefits of guided reading
First of all, you need to understand why guided reading is something to consider. In most classrooms, kids learn at different speeds and they have different levels of comprehension and language skills. Teaching to the whole class at once doesn't always meet the needs of every student.
Working in smaller groups helps with targeting information that is needed to develop language skills and comprehension and this helps build up confidence. Each group can work on material that's appropriate for their skill level. It works for those who need extra support, those who are doing okay, and those who need enrichment and a challenge.
Those that need more support are able to get it in a safer environment. They will take more risks if they feel encouraged and less intimidated. This will help them to build confidence and be successful.
Guided reading and French
When it comes to teaching FSL with guided reading groups or center activities, the challenge can be greater because of limited understanding of the language. However, guided reading groups can give French beginners the chance to engage with the language in meaningful ways and practice their new skills. They also gain exposure to French in a supportive environment.
Although I don't have a lot of experience with using guided reading in French Immersion, I can tell you that when I was volunteering in a Grade 1/2 French Immersion class, the small groups that I worked with behaved in a similar manner to those guided reading groups I had in my English classroom.
If you choose to do guided reading, it's important to make sure that you have centers set up with appropriate activities and materials for the groups that are not getting direct instruction. At any guided reading center or station, it's important that all participants are given the opportunity to practice their French whether they are working independently or with a partner.
There are definitely challenges to running a guided reading program in early French Immersion classes due to the language skills needed, but it is doable once they have some basic skills. Later on in first grade or in second grade, most students should have enough language skills to handle independent activities at centers if they are taught how to use the different materials and activities.
Extra adult support would be helpful so that multiple stations could be used. If not, you may need to work with any group receiving direct reading instruction while the rest of the class is working on one or two different activities.
Center ideas and activities
if you are able to run multiple centers there are many different activities that you can try. Here are 4 different types of centers that you could consider along with possible activities that can be done at them.
- alphabetizing exercises where words must be sorted into alphabetical order;
- matching word cards with images
- flashcards games
- word bingo
- sorting task cards by sound or rhyme
Sentence building and words center
- Sentence building and word games
- word searches
- sentence building using word wall or word banks
- sentence scrambles
- silly sentences
Listening and recording center
- listening to French songs
- recording stories read
- reciting a poem in French
- engaging in audio reading where they can listen to a story and respond to questions afterward.
- creative writing assignments in French that focus on feelings and emotions;
- responding to text-related questions to build on comprehension skills
- French comprehension worksheets
- filling out simple dialogues with pictures to teach common words and phrases
- making storyboards
- sequencing images to create stories
Other activities to develop French language skills
- role playing skits
- partner reading where students help one another with words they don't understand,
- creating a story together with a partner using select vocabulary words
- using both auditory and visual clues while giving directions in French
- comprehension quizzes on text that they have read
Directed reading group ideas
To help ensure beginning students become proficient French speakers, there are several easy-to-implement French activities that can be applied to your directed guided reading groups. Examples include dictation exercises, introducing stories in chunks and practicing context specific vocabulary; practising letter recognition, phonemic awareness and word building activities; drawing story maps to help narrate the plot; playing dramatic storytelling games or roleplaying French dialogues.
French Language Resources
Here are some French language resources that I created and used in the classroom while volunteering. They may be helpful as you set up different activities and centers for your class.
Themed vocabulary word match activities
vocabulary task cards
escape room activity
word games and activities
Using guided reading and centers in French classes can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. By using creative tips and tricks to engage your students in their learning environment, they are sure to see progress.
Here is a new French resource that you could use for vocabulary work or sentence building. It has 81 high frequency French words with the English translations so it can be used for a variety of different activities.
Okay, you've decided to try reading groups. But, what do you do once your guided reading groups are set up? Making the groups is the first step, but in order for the groups to be successful the activities and centers are important as well. Here are some center ideas and tips that may help.
Directed guided reading group
The directed guided reading group is the one that gets direct instruction from the teacher. This group will do reading and perhaps some followup discussion or activities together with the teacher as they focus on a specific skill or concept.
The centers listed below are stations that can be used for the rotation of other groups. Depending on the number of groups you have, some centers may or may not be used every time.
Center 1 - Vocabulary Activities Station
Sight word games and vocabulary matching games are great for building up a working vocabulary. Using images and words and doing matching activities helps to imprint words with the objects they represent. These can be done with partners or individually and they can be a lot of fun.
Word searches and crossword puzzles are also great for vocabulary development.
Center 2 - Sentence Building Station
Word sorts and sentence building are also good for centers. Using word walls, personal dictionaries, picture dictionaries or word banks help with creating sentences. Doing silly sentence activities help with learning parts of speech and creating sentences with adjectives, nouns, and verbs. They also create laughter because they can be pretty silly. Click here if you would like to check out some themed sets.
Center 3 - Listening And Recording Station
Listening centers are great for listening to stories and following along with text. They can also be used for practicing reading along with the audio recording. If microphones are available and connected to computers, the students can record themselves and listen to themselves. This is a good way to help them understand what they sound like and can help them develop fluency.
Center 4 - Bingo Station
A bingo station could also be set up at a center and used for a variety of different language skills. Letter recognition and sight words are two things that come to mind. Use your own creativity to choose other types of skills that might work. Maybe the choices could be based on the books or subjects being studied.
Center 5 - Writing Station
You could also have a writing station where comprehension activities or writing extensions are provided. These could be reading responses, character studies, storyboards, retelling or continuing stories, or journaling. There are many other options, but you get the idea.
These are a few ideas that may help with setting up your centers. Depending on the abilities of your students and the space available, one area could be for silent reading. Sometimes kids just need time to read.
Don't forget that board games and other language activities are also great to use. Puppetry and readers' theater activities also work, but you need the space so there isn't too much noise. Otherwise, this could interfere with other groups and cause distractions.
When it comes to creating stations, it is up to you to decide on what to set up based on the needs of your students and the availability of materials and equipment. Whatever you choose, these stations will help make guided reading successful if they are well planned and kids know what to do.
Here's a sight word sampler for your vocabulary activities station.
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Guided reading is a great way to meet the needs of your students and develop a love for reading, or at least less of a distaste for it. The other good thing about this is it can work in other languages too.
If you are teaching FSL, or even French Immersion, you can still use guided reading effectively. It may take some adjusting for the language skills that the kids have, but with some creativity and activities that can be done independently, it can be done. Organization and group management will be key for success.
Note: I will share more tips for how to make this work with French in a future post.
When it comes to reading, there can be many different levels and abilities in a classroom. Guided reading allows for small group instruction that focuses on skills and materials that are suitable for the students in each group. It may seem difficult to imagine running several groups in one classroom, but it is possible and it does ensure that kids of similar needs can get the instruction that best suits them. Those needing a challenge or enrichment are also able to do more complex work and not feel like they are being ignored.
There are several different components that I include when doing guided reading groups. I feel it is important to include reading, responding to reading, listening, speaking, vocabulary and writing activities as well as followup games and activities to practice skills taught. By incorporating all of these elements through centers and rotations, it is possible to have several groups working at the same time.
Getting started with guided reading
There are a few steps involved in creating and running guided reading groups.
First, you need to decide on how many will be in each group and do some assessment of the kids. This will help you determine what their needs are, what level materials they need, what skills are missing or weak, what time commitment may be needed and what kinds of rotations may work.
This may seem daunting, but it can be done. If you have extra support, that will help you determine how to create the groups.
Determining groups based on assessment
Assessment is important if you want to provide your students with the best instruction, but it is difficult to do a formal assessment of all your students while teaching your lessons. I found informal assessments worked just as well. They give you a chance to connect individually with each child and they also seem to help the child relax.
Use a selection of material from a variety of different levels and topics and try out some of them to see what would be a good fit to start with. I usually did this while others were doing some quiet seat work or silent reading.
Once you finish an informal assessment on the kids, look for similar abilities and make your groups based on this. Sometimes you will have to group a couple of levels together to avoid too many groups, but always made sure that those requiring the most support have no more than 4 or 5 in them. If you have extra support in the classroom, you can adjust the sizes somewhat.
Note: In a second language situation, the groups may be slightly bigger if you are working on language acquisition and vocabulary skills, but it is still important to keep groups small for those who may be struggling.
What to do when your groups are formed
Once you have formed some guided reading groups, it's important to figure out what time you have available and how you will create a rotation that will allow for the best use of the time. This may mean that not all groups get individual attention with you each day, but they will all have activities that will support their reading when they are not reading with you.
It's important that those needing the most support get direct instruction during your reading time. Others will get direct instruction on a rotating basis. The number of groups you create will help determine how your rotations work and this will help with organizing them.
Once you have a plan for your rotations, it's important to make sure that your students understand how the different activities or centers work and what their responsibilities are. While one group is getting direct instruction, it's important that the other groups know what they are to do. This could be reading, responding to reading, language activities, centers, listening activities or other language related activities. This will need to be taught so that everyone understands and you are not putting out fires during your guided reading instruction.
Planning and preparing
Once you have your rotations organized, it's important to make sure that you have a plan for how the groups move from one activity to the next. Creating a flow chart or a schedule can help. Practicing the movement is also important.
Materials should be prepared ahead of time so that the flow isn't disrupted by searching for materials or equipment.
Set up baskets with the materials for each guided reading group to ensure that you aren't hunting for things during the direct instruction. Gather up materials and equipment for each center or activity and have them in place before starting the rotations. This will help make your guided reading sessions flow smoothly and successfully.
Check out my TPT store for some resources that may help. I have a guided reading category, sight word category, and literacy category with materials that can work for reading groups. I also have several French resources available.
Note: It is not always possible to have several groups happening at the same time. Sometimes you may need to have one or two activities that the others are working on while you work with one group. You need to do what works for you.
I hope these ideas help and that you give guided reading a try.
Next time I will elaborate more about activities and centers that might work with the different groups.
Have you ever reflected back on why you teach the way you do? What made you use that story? How did you know what to do when a certain situation arose? Could you have approached things in a different way?
Teaching kids language skills so they are able to communicate effectively can be complicated at times. There are so many different experiences and abilities to take into consideration.
I started to do some self reflection and realized that some of my most valuable lessons and ideas have come from raising my own children. As I stumbled through those first few years helping them learn to talk, read, write, and self regulate, I found myself creating a toolkit of skills and resources that would ultimately go with me into the classroom.
Who knew those constant "why ......? questions would shape my teaching for years to come.
I have 4 children and as might be expected, they all learn differently. What worked for one child didn't necessarily work the same way for the others. Sounds like most classroom situations, right? That means that we need to have multiple ways to approach each situation so that we can help all our students to be successful as they learn.
Let's focus on language development for today.
Language development requires being able to recognize sounds, letters, and how all of this goes together to communicate.
One of the best ways to help children develop strong language skills is to combine oral communication with phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. By combining all of these elements, you can create a powerful tool for teaching language development.
When it comes to teaching language development skills, phonemic awareness and phonics are two of the most important concepts for primary teachers to understand. Simply put, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. Phonics is the relationship between those sounds and the letters that represent them.
How we approach teaching these skills will vary depending on the abilities of our students, our teaching styles, and of course access to resources and support available.
There are many different ways to approach phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. Some teachers prefer to work on phonemic awareness activities first, and then move on to teaching phonics. Others teach phonics from the beginning, using games and activities to make it fun and engaging for students.
Whichever approach you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it's important to make sure that your students are comprehending what you're teaching them. Second, be sure to provide plenty of opportunities for practice. And finally, don't forget to mix things up now and then- kids learn best when they're having fun!
Phonemic awareness and phonics activities
There are a variety of phonemic awareness and phonics activities that you can do with your students. Here are a few ideas.
Word work activities are a great way to practice phonemic awareness and phonics skills. Word family activities, segmenting and blending, for example, help students learn about how individual sounds come together to form words. These activities are essential for helping students develop phonemic awareness and phonics skills.
One way to introduce phonemic awareness is through rhyming games. You can start by saying a word and having your child say a word that rhymes with it. As they get better at identifying rhyming words, you can start saying a series of words and have them identify the word that doesn't rhyme. This will help them to start thinking about the individual sounds in words.
Another popular activity is called "sound swapping". To do this, you'll need a list of words that all begin with the same sound (for example, hat, ham, hog). Write each word on a separate sheet of paper or index card. Then mix up the cards and have your students draw one from a pile. The goal is for them to read the word aloud and then swap out one of the phonemes (sounds) to create a new word. For example, if they draw the word "hog," they might change the /h/ sound to a /t/ sound to create the word "tog." This activity is great for practicing phonemic awareness skills while also reinforcing letter-sound relationships.
Word families activities are a great way to reinforce phonics skills. A word family is a group of words that share the same ending sound (-at, -an, -ig, etc.). You can introduce word families by reading aloud a list of words from the same family (-at words: cat, hat, rat, bat). Then challenge your students to come up with additional words from that same family (-at words: mat, sat). Once they've had some practice with this, you can start mixing things up by having them create words from different families (-am words: jam, ham) .
Word family activities not only help students understand how different letter combinations can create new sounds; they also provide valuable practice in blending and segmenting words - two essential skills for reading success!
My son loved to try and read words he saw around him and he liked to have me make word lists and tape them to his closet door from the time he was a toddler. I still remember all the "ss" word lists. He would read through them and try to figure out other words that might go in each list.
Read alouds are a great way to model phonemic awareness and phonics skills for students. When you read aloud, pay attention to the rhythm and flow of the words. Point out how the different sounds come together to form words. You can also do some fun language activities together, like clapping out the syllables in words or finding words that start with the same sound.
My daughter used to listen to me read books to her and then she would record herself reading the books. I was amazed at how well she was able to copy the intonation and fluency from an early age. It goes to show the importance of reading aloud to help with language development and oral communication.
The concept of print is also important for primary students to understand, as it helps them to make connections between what they see on a page and the words that correspond to those images.
Sight word games help students to learn how letter-sound relationships work. For example, students might be asked to match pictures with words or to identify words that begin with a certain sound. These games are not only fun for students, but they also help them to develop a better understanding of how written language works.
Here are several themed sight word sets and activities that may be helpful.
The importance of phonemic awareness and phonics cannot be overstated. These skills are essential for language development and reading comprehension. Without them, students would have difficulty understanding spoken or written language.
The ultimate goal of phonemic awareness and phonics instruction is to improve reading comprehension. So go ahead and get started on some fun phonemic awareness and phonics activities with your students today!
This is a sampler of alphabet sounds game board that is free for my newsletter subscribers. If you are interested in the full resource, you can find it here.
Teaching kids reading nowadays is a juggling act, balancing a wide range of abilities and skills with confusion, engagement, and boredom. Differentiation is a must, not a suggestion anymore. Full class lessons are often replaced with guided reading groups.
Planning guided reading groups
Guided reading can be a bit daunting for primary teachers. When you consider all of the different guided reading activities, it's no wonder we sometimes feel overwhelmed! But guided reading doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, planning guided reading groups is actually quite simple, and the benefits are well worth the effort. Here are a few tips to get you started.
First, do some pre-assessment to decide on appropriate reading levels to start with. Then, choose texts that are appropriate for the levels of your students.
Next, decide what you want your students to focus on during guided reading.
Finally, don't forget about word work!
Choose appropriate texts
Once you have decided on the levels for each reading group, it's important to have a variety of materials and topics available so that all students can be successful. You want to make sure that the texts are interesting and engaging.
It's important to select books that are not too difficult or too easy, as this can lead to frustration or boredom. Fortunately, there are now many leveled readers available, so finding the perfect books for your groups should be a snap.
Decide on the group focus
The needs for each group will be different. You will need to decide on what the focus will be based on these needs. Do you want them to work on fluency? Comprehension? Vocabulary development? Once you know your goals, you can choose activities and games that will help your students meet those objectives.
Don't forget word work
You'll need to prepare your guided reading materials. This includes creating sight word lists, preparing word work activities, and generating questions for each group. You'll need to select language activities and games that are appropriate for each group.
This is an important part of guided reading, and it's a great way to help students build their vocabulary and sight word recognition skills. There are many fun and engaging ways to incorporate word work into guided reading, so get creative and have fun!
Setting up guided reading groups
Guided reading is a great way to help your students improve their reading skills. But how do you set up guided reading groups? And what should you do with the different groups?
Managing multiple guided reading groups can be a challenge, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
First, make sure you have a clear plan for each session. This will help you stay organized and keep the groups moving along at a good pace.
Second, provide clear instructions and model each activity before jumping into small groups.
Build in some flexibility into your schedule so that you can adjust as needed.
Finally, it's important to monitor the groups and adjust as needed. This might include changing the texts or activities based on student progress or adding in intervention or enrichment activities.
If you would like more specifics about setting up groups, check out these posts.
Guided Reading - Getting Started
Running A Guided Reading Program
Keeping kids on task
Once you get your guided reading groups set up, you need to make sure that kids are staying on task. Here are five guided reading activities that will help keep your young readers engaged:
1. Read the first sentence of the story together and have them predict what will happen next. This is a great way to get them thinking about the story and making predictions.
2. Ask them questions about the characters and what they think the characters might do next. This gets them invested in the story and thinking about the characters' motivations.
3. Have them illustrate a scene from the story. This allows them to use their imagination and really visualize what's going on in the story.
4. Have them retell the story in their own words. This helps to solidify their understanding of the story and gives you an opportunity to check for comprehension.
5. Put together a class book with illustrations from each student. This is a great way to end a guided reading unit and gives everyone a chance to see their work in print!
Guided reading is a great way to support your students' literacy development. By taking some time to plan and prepare ahead of time, you'll be ready to make the most of this instructional approach! By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to success with guided reading!
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There's nothing quite like the feeling of struggling to read or write. It can be frustrating, overwhelming, and even a little bit scary for kids. But there's hope!
I often hear the question, "What can I do to help my struggling readers and writers?" While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are a few strategies and activities that can be used to help struggling students.
Supporting your students
If you have a wide range of reading abilities in your class, it is important that you find ways to support all your students in developing and expanding their skills and knowledge. One of the best ways to do this is to create reading groups of similar abilities so that you can target the instruction to the specific needs of each group.
Note: There can be many high achieving readers and writers in the class, but for this post, I will be focusing on those who struggle.)
Ideas for struggling readers
Do guided reading groups. This can be done with just a few students at a time, so everyone gets the individual attention they need. Choose books that are at the right level for each group, and then take turns reading aloud. As you read, stop and discuss vocabulary words or tricky concepts. This will help your students build their comprehension skills and confidence.
Create some reading center activities that complement what is happening in the reading groups to help kids to remain engaged and motivated to keep trying. For example:
1. Provide a variety of books of a similar level for kids to choose to read quietly alone or with a partner. Make sure you have a variety of different genres of books for your struggling readers. This will help them find something that interests them and that they can read at their level.
2. Create word lists or anchor charts with high frequency words or sight words. The students can use the word lists to help them read the books.
3. Provide word games and activities that they can use to improve their decoding and fluency skills.
Be sure to set realistic goals for struggling readers and help them celebrate their progress along the way.
Ideas for struggling writers
Getting started is one of the most difficult things for struggling writers. There may be a variety of different reasons for this, but it is a barrier that they need to get past in order to become good writers. Sometimes it is hard to come up with an idea, or maybe it is a fear of not knowing how to spell words, or maybe it is the motor skill of writing itself.
These are only a few examples of things stopping the writing from happening. If we provide support to help with these roadblocks it is amazing what can happen with our struggling writers.
Here are a few suggestions that might help our writers to get started.
For those who have difficulty coming up with ideas
1. Try using favorite interests, hobbies, events, or things that are important to them as starting points.
Work on brainstorming ideas and organizing thoughts.
2. Encourage them to draw pictures or create a graphic organizer before actually writing.
Provide a variety of different writing supports such as sentence starters, word banks, scaffolds, templates or prompts to support getting their ideas down on paper.
3.Encourage them to write for 20 minutes each day and help them brainstorm ideas for stories or poems.
Give struggling writers plenty of opportunities to practice writing, whether it's through daily journaling or regular writing assignments.
For those who worry about correct spelling
1. Provide word banks or word lists and dictionaries.
2. Encourage them to use approximations to get their ideas down and then go back and check for the "dictionary spelling". (It is important to get the ideas out first and then edit.)
3. Have someone scribe for them at first and gradually get them to write on their own.
Don't forget to provide plenty of praise and encouragement!
For those who have motor issues
1. Create an area with paper, pencils, and crayons. The students can practice writing their names, letters, and words. They can also draw pictures and tell stories. These activities will help the struggling writers to develop their skills.
2. Set up a dictation area where they can orally tell their stories and then have them transcribed.
Set up a writing center
Establish a writing center where struggling writers can go to work on their skills. Here they can work on different writing strategies. They might work on brainstorming ideas, organizing their thoughts, or using descriptive language.
They might work on specific writing goals with your guidance. For example, you might have a student who is working on adding more detail to their writing. Give them some sentence starters that they can use, and then have them add as much detail as they can. Alternatively, you might have a student who is working on editing their work for grammar mistakes. Give them a list of common mistakes to look for, and then have them edit their own work or someone else's.
Writing centers are flexible, so you can tailor them to meet the needs of your students.
Help struggling writers set realistic goals and celebrate their progress along the way. Be sure to praise their efforts and provide specific feedback on their work.
Assess how they are doing
Finally, make sure you have a plan for monitoring the progress of your struggling readers and writers. This will help you know if they are making progress and where they need additional support. By taking these steps, you can help struggling readers and writers get the support they need to be successful in your class.
Organizing reading and writing groups can seem daunting, but it's worth it! Your struggling students will benefit from the extra attention and support. And who knows - you might just see some strong readers and writers emerge.
Grab a free copy of this set of templates and scaffolds for your young writers by signing up for my newsletter.
Round Up Of Tips, Ideas, And Activities
During the summer, there are lots of opportunities to do activities that blend academics and fun. This helps kids to practice and maintain concepts and skills already covered and also gives them chances to see how these concepts matter in real life.
Here is a round up of different tips, ideas and activities that I have shared in the past that I feel are still relevant and worth revisiting.
Math is often thought of as lots of calculations, worksheets, equations and critical thinking activities, but in fact, math is used in almost every decision and action that we make on a daily basis. Math is everywhere around you. We use math for most activities without even realizing it. In my blog post Tips For School And Home:How To Help Primary Kids With Math, I suggested a few different activities for sorting and classifying, measurement, estimation, time, geometry, fractions, and basic operations.
In Math Real Life Activities For Children I talk about math in the kitchen, math in the workshop, shopping and math, and working with money. These are only a few ways that math can be connected to real life situations at home as well as at school.
Language Arts - Reading and writing are only a couple of the components of language arts. In my blog post Tips For School And Home: How To Help Kids With Language Arts, I share several different suggestions and activities for the various aspects of language arts.
It is important to note that language development starts at home and then is refined at school. There are many different ways to promote language development with reading, writing, and oral communication activities. I shared ideas and resources for phonics and vocabulary development, reading, writing, and oral communication in the above mentioned post.
If you are looking for more ideas that will help with reading and writing for students that struggle in these areas, check out the following posts:
Motivatiing Reluctant Readers
Tips For Helping Struggling Writers In The Classroom
Just take a look around you and think about the various things you see and the things you do and if you start to analyze them, you will be amazed at how they involve science. Science is involved in every aspect of our lives. At school, kids are introduced to some of the basics, and various experiments and investigations are done. At home, more of these types of activities can happen and deeper learning can be accomplished.
In my blog post, Tips For School And Home: How To Help Kids With Science, I break science down into different categories to help with providing a broad glimpse into the world of science. Hopefully, this will inspire kids to look further and continue to learn about the marvels around them.
You will find some tips and ideas for chemistry, biology and life sciences, earth science, and several different areas of physics.
Science Ideas For School And Home also gives some more ideas and possible activities that might be fun to try.
Social Studies is the study of people and their relationships to other people and the world. For young children, it starts with family and then spreads out to community, regions, provinces, states, or territories, and from there, to countries and the world.
It can be broken up into 5 different categories: geography, history, culture and society, civics and government, and economics. I wrote 2 posts last year because there was so much to cover.
Tips For School And Home: How To Help Primary Kids With Social Studies talks about geography, history, and culture, heritage and traditions and gives some ideas and possible resources that might work.
Tips For School And Home: How To Help Primary Kids With Social Studies Part 2 This blog post focuses on the rights and responsibilities of people and regional leaders, relationships between people and the environment, multicultural awareness and diversity, and the interactions of First Nations people and early settlers.
Social Studies Ideas And Activities For Outdoors also provides some tips and activities for learning more about the area where we live and the surrounding environment.
In my final instalment, Tips For Summer Support: How To Help Primary Kids, I focus on finding creative ways to do academic activities to make learning fun during the summer break.
Well there you have a selection of tips and activities for the various academic areas that can be used to help kids keep learning throughout the summer while they are enjoying their holiday break.
I hope that these tips and ideas have given you some inspiration for ways to keep the learning going while having fun during the summer break.
Taking Learning Outdoors
Spring is just around the corner and along with it comes longer days, sunshine, fresh breezes, and early buds and blooms. What a great time to get outdoors with your students and take learning outside as well.
Ideas For Social Studies And Science Outdoors
There are many different opportunities to cover academics outside and still enjoy the outdoors. Here are a few ideas that may help.
For social studies, neighbourhood walks, checking out the community, following maps, doing geocaching and using coordinates are just a few things that can be done. If you want more information, check out my post about social studies outdoors.
For science, you can do experiments such as coke and mentos to check out chemical reactions, the clink clunk test to investigate gravity, or do things to check out nature. Starting a garden, growing plants in pots and following their growth, taking a walk in the park or the forest, if you live near one, or visiting the seashore if you live near the ocean are just a few ideas. Kids love to interact with nature and they learn many life skills that they can use later on as well.
Reading and Writing Ideas For Outdoors
For reading and writing there are many different options to try.
Reading can be done in the environment by checking out signs, reading books with buddies while enjoying the sunshine, and playing games like Scoot for sight words are just a few ideas.
During the warmer weather, we would often take our books outside for silent reading and find a quiet spot on the hillside at the edge of the playground to do our reading.
One of my favorite activities for writing is to go outside and explore our senses. After making a list of different things for each of the senses, we use these ideas to develop stories. We choose a theme and use the list to create a descriptive story. My descriptive writing templates were developed for this.
Math Ideas For Outdoors
For math, the outdoors is a great place to work on measurement activities. You can do activities that work with larger units such as meters or yards and you can do perimeter and area activities. Kids love using the trundle wheels and measurement tapes to measure the fields, buildings, and other objects.
The information gathered outside can then be used for creating scaled diagrams on graph paper.
Taking Physical Activity And Gym Class Outdoors
Taking gym outside is an easy thing and I suspect is often done already. Many of the different sports can be done outside as well as inside. The fields and nearby parks are great open spaces for running activities, soccer, kickball, and games. Kids love being able to run around and get active without worrying about being too noisy.
At my school, there is a courtyard and blacktop area with basketball hoops, tetherball, foursquare areas, or hopscotch games available. I liked using this for doing rotations of activities. Everyone could be doing activities at the same time instead of some people waiting for their turn.
Try Music Games Outdoors
Even music class can go outdoors. I used to take my primary music classes outside to do circle games that require running and even rhythm games. One of my favorite rhythm games was a version of California kickball. Instead of just pitching the ball, I would clap out rhythms and they would have to say the rhythm correctly in order to get the ball thrown for them.
These are just a few examples of how you can take learning outdoors this spring. It really comes down to your own comfort and creativity. Enjoy the weather and have fun teaching outside.
My Teaching Journey
I have been sharing lots of tips and strategies for getting started with back to school lately. I think it is time to shift gears. This week I am going to share a bit about my teaching journey, what I've been doing lately, and how I have stayed motivated throughout the pandemic.
I have wanted to be a teacher since I was five years old. I still remember teaching my stuffies, my pets, my siblings, and even the neighborhood kids. We would set up "school" in my basement and we would practice doing some of the things I was learning at school.
I find this very interesting now as I look back because I was very shy when I was young. I remember finding it difficult to join in during activities and I was often found playing alone in the dollhouse during free time at kindergarten. I gradually began to make friends and participate more readily and as I grew older, I was able to widen my group of friends and join different groups. In high school I joined the future teachers club and started tutoring young children.
When I first started teaching, communicating with parents was the most difficult thing for me. I had no problem being animated and teaching the kids, but speaking to adults still scared me. I had to learn to do this and become more comfortable with adults if I was to be able to effectively communicate during conferences and other interactions. It took work, but I learned to do so.
I am now retired and I am able to strike up conversations with others, even people I don't know. My grandkids often say that whenever they go anywhere with me we meet someone I know. My daughter even asks me if I know a person after she sees me talking to someone. They find it hard to believe that I was shy and afraid to talk to adults because they see me interacting easily now. It goes to show that you can learn to do things that are uncomfortable when necessary.
I would venture to guess that there are many other teachers who can identify with this. You can be an introvert and still be a good teacher. You are there to make a difference for the kids, and if you feel strongly about this, you will work through the uncomfortable things to make it happen.
From music to primary classroom
I began my teaching career teaching elementary music. My husband was an elementary music teacher, so it was a common interest for us. (We still teach several ukulele groups.) I ended up teaching French Immersion music at 2 schools. I continued with this for a few years, and finally had the opportunity to teach part time in a primary classroom teaching grade 1/2 and part time French Immersion music at one school.
Although I enjoyed teaching the music, I loved teaching primary and finally moved full time into a grade 2/3 classroom. I continued to teach a noon hour ukulele group as well.
Projects For Kids
Throughout the years, I became passionate about finding ways for my students to share their learning in different ways. Projects became a regular part of my instruction. We would have at least one big project, if not two, to share with the school and families each year. It was amazing to see how the kids thrived with this approach. You can find out more about some of these projects here.
Small group instruction and reading centers
I also became fairly adept at creating and running centers for guided reading and math. I enjoyed being able to provide a wide variety of activities for the kids and I learned early in my career that it was important to work with small groups and differentiate because there was such a wide range of needs in the classroom and whole group instruction wasn't reaching everyone. When I had parent helpers, or educational assistants available, that was bonus, but often there was a shortage of extra help and I had to figure out how to still make it happen. You can find out some of the tips for doing this here.
Student led conferences
Student led conferences were a new thing back in the nineties. Not many teachers were willing to give them a try. I decided to do so, and I didn't look back. I found them empowering for the kids, and the parents seemed to find them beneficial. It was so good to see the positive interaction between the kids and their parents. If you want to learn more about student led conferences, check them out here.
Fast forward many years, and I am now retired. I was tired of the politics, but I still loved teaching, so I began volunteering at the school. I did reading and math groups until the pandemic hit and volunteers were no longer allowed into the school. I had also been tutoring in math, reading, and French. When they stopped allowing others into our homes, this had to stop as well. This was really tough for me because I wasn't ready to stop teaching. I needed to find a way to keep going.
Luckily, I was able to stay connected to a couple of the teachers in the school and provide them with help and resources. This motivated me to continue sharing tips and strategies. I started to create resources to complement these strategies and I continued to communicate with my friends. I also took some courses that helped with my product creation and blogging.
Final words and a tip
Now that some of the restrictions have been lifted, I am hoping to be able to return to my volunteering in the fall. I miss being with the kids and seeing them light up when they understand something.
Well, there you have it. A brief history of my teaching journey and where I am now. Next time I will continue to share more tips and ideas with you. I wish you well as you continue to venture into a new year with a new normal. Before you go, here is a final tip.
Remember to take what you learned throughout the pandemic and use it to enhance your future teaching. Don't dwell on what didn't work, focus on what good came out of it. If you look closely, you will find some positive things.
Week 6 Focus: Summer Support For Primary Kids
Have you ever worried about your child forgetting what was learned during the school year because of the long summer break? This is often referred to as the summer slide. Maybe you have had some experience with that yourself if you have taken a course and then not looked at the material for a long time.
Although there will be some lag after a break, if we do things to help make connections with the skills and concepts during the break, the lag will be short lived and with a bit of review, learning can continue. Here are some different ideas for summer support for your child.
Take a break from academics
Just as we need to recharge and refresh, so do children, especially this year after a much more stressful and different type of year. Taking a break from the academics and doing something different for awhile may actually help with improving learning and retention. Fresh ideas and more attention will be easier after a break as long as the break isn't too long.
Connect activities with real life
Do activities that connect the real world with the skills and concepts taught at school. If you would like more details about the various subjects, you can check out my previous blog posts in this series.
Week 1 Focus: Primary Language Arts
Week 2 Focus: Primary Math
Week 3 Focus: Primary Science
Week 4 Focus: Primary Social Studies Part 1
Week 5 Focus: Primary Social Studies Part 2
Make activities engaging and fun
Kids want to feel like they are having a break from school. There are many ways to help them continue learning without making them feel like they are doing schoolwork. Using games and hands on activities help to engage them and the concepts get reinforced while they are having fun. Here is an example. This is a blog post I wrote about using manipulatives and games in math.
Enjoy the outdoors while learning
Let them get outdoors and soak up the sun while learning at the same time. There are so many ways that learning can be done in the real world. Here are some examples.
Try having races and using stopwatches to see how fast they can go. Compare with others. See if they can better the times.
Go geocaching as a family and search for treasures. This is a great way to learn about places around the community that you may not have known existed. It is also a good way to practice using coordinates and mapping skills.
Collect rocks and sort them by different characteristics. Then find ways to use them for other activities such as graphing, crafts, and rock studies.
Let your child help plan a camping trip. They could help with planning meals, doing the grocery shopping, making lists of what equipment is needed, and looking at routes and distances.
History, Family Heritage and Traditions
Learn about local history by visiting museums, historic landmarks, interviewing long time residents or doing research at the library.
Help your child learn about your family heritage, culture, and traditions.
Create a pictorial timeline of the family.
Get creative practicing academics
It is important to sometimes do activities that specifically reinforce and review skills and concepts in order for them to be maintained. This is the time to get creative with the academic activities. Mix them up with active games and brain breaks to keep learning fun. Try to avoid too many worksheets and drills. Engage your child in reading and writing activities that have themes or special hooks to make them interesting. Perhaps the library has a summer program where different authors visit or they may have incentives for reading a certain number of books.
Puppet shows are a great way to practice acting out stories. Maybe your child could write some different stories and then create puppet shows to present to the family.
Try using nursery rhymes or simple songs and using them as the springboard for writing new lyrics based on a variety of themes. There are many different examples floating around on the internet this year that are parodies using popular themes.
Check out my blog posts for struggling readers, writers and learners for more ideas.
Motivating Reluctant Readers
Tips For Helping Struggling Writers In The Classroom
How To Engage Your Reluctant Learners In The Classroom
Math is definitely an area where I suggest using hands on activities and making things as visual as possible. Math is abstract and therefore hard for many young children to understand if they don't get lots of practical exposure first. I have worked with many older children that struggle with understanding how to do basic operations and more complex math because they haven't figured out how it works. By doing lots of games and hands on activities with them, they have been able to move on and be successful in more difficult math situations.
Check out some ways that I have worked with them to help math make sense.
Tips For Helping Math Make Sense
These are just a few ideas that may help to keep the learning going throughout the summer. Remember to have fun and the learning will happen.
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.