Teaching science to primary kids is a magical journey of discovery, curiosity, and boundless enthusiasm. By tapping into the innate sense of wonder that children possess, teachers can transform science education into a fun and exciting adventure.
Let's explore creative ways to make science come alive for young minds, focusing on the wonders of nature and the marvels of scientific exploration.
Embrace Hands On Learning And Experiences
Young children are natural explorers who learn best through hands-on experiences. Incorporating experiments and interactive activities not only makes science real but also creates a sense of excitement and discovery. Whether it's observing the growth of plants, creating simple chemical reactions, or exploring the properties of magnets, hands-on learning engages students and leaves a lasting impact.
Nature is the ultimate classroom for budding scientists. Take your students outside to explore the wonders of the natural world. From observing insects and birds to examining different types of rocks, the outdoors provide a rich learning environment that stimulates curiosity and develops a love for science. Nature walks, scavenger hunts, and outdoor experiments can turn a science lesson into an unforgettable adventure.
Create A Curiosity Driven Classroom
Encourage questions and nurture the natural curiosity of your students. A curiosity-driven classroom is one where students feel empowered to ask "why" and "how." This not only enhances their critical thinking skills but also opens the door to exciting scientific discoveries. Create a safe and supportive environment where curiosity is celebrated, and students feel comfortable exploring the unknown.
Weave captivating stories into your science lessons to make abstract concepts more relatable. Whether it's the life cycle of a butterfly or the water cycle, storytelling adds a narrative element that captures the imagination of children. Consider incorporating picture books, interactive storytelling sessions, or even creating class stories that connect science concepts to real-world scenarios.
Use Everyday Objects In Teaching
Science is all around us, and everyday objects can serve as fantastic teaching tools. Turn household items into science experiments or use them to demonstrate scientific principles. For example, a simple baking soda and vinegar volcano can illustrate the power of chemical reactions, while a magnifying glass can turn an ordinary leaf into a fascinating study of plant structures.
Celebrate Curiosity And Learning From Mistakes
In the world of science, curiosity often leads to unexpected discoveries. Encourage students to embrace their curiosities and not fear making mistakes. Create an atmosphere where "failed" experiments are seen as opportunities to learn and refine hypotheses. Celebrate the journey of exploration, and help kids develop resilience and a positive attitude towards challenges.
Teaching science to young children can be a joyful and rewarding experience when approached with creativity and a sense of wonder. By integrating hands-on activities, exploring the outdoors, fostering curiosity, using storytelling, and celebrating everyday objects, teachers can create an environment where science becomes a thrilling adventure.
Have fun with these tips and help instill a lifelong love for learning and discovery in the hearts of our youngest scientists.
There's no better way to capture a child's interest and spark his imagination than to create things to demonstrate learning. This could be a model, a poster, task cards, a game, a diorama, a play, or a podcast just to name a few.
When children are engaged and motivated, they tend to learn more deeply and they are more passionate about their project.
There are many different types of projects that can be done based on the subject and concepts that are to be studied. Today, I would like to focus on some projects that work well with the primary social studies topics of families and communities.
Community projects and research
Assigning research projects where children investigate different aspects of their community, such as its history, economy, or cultural heritage and present their findings through presentations, posters, or multimedia projects develops research skills, information literacy, and a deeper understanding of the community's development.
We often study about families and look at family trees in the early grades. I wanted to take this further, so I developed a project that studied family heritage. To find out more about it and why it was important to me, check out this post.
The goal of the project was to learn more about what make us unique and special. It was a great way to research different cultural aspects of various countries and share them with others. Check out the project here.
Flat Family Project
Many people are probably familiar with Flat Stanley and the project that began with sending cutouts of Flat Stanley around the world and recording adventures with him. Then people began sending cutouts of themselves to record these adventures.
I decided to take this a step further as part of our heritage studies. We created flat families and journals that we mailed to family members in different parts of the world. The families took photos of activities together and made journal entries to share. They returned these journals along with special mementos to the children. It was so exciting to watch the faces of the children when a package arrived and the contents were shared with the class.
This Flat Family project has been set up for others to try. You can read more about it here.
Creating A 3D Community Project
Learning about communities and what they need is important. What better way to make sure that they understand what they have learned than to create a 3D community. This was a fun project that wowed the parents and other classes, not only because of its appearance, but also because of how much the kids could share that they had learned. Check it out here.
If you would like to learn more about how we created it, check out this blog post.
These are just 3 different projects that can be done. If you are interested in other projects, check out my social studies category. I hope you find doing projects as successful as I did.
When thinking about communities, the story of the country mouse and the town mouse often comes to mind. Where we live becomes our reality and we often don't know much about other ways of life except through stories and pictures. It is important to broaden our horizons and discover more about the world around us and the different types of communities that make up our world.
As teachers, we need to teach our students about communities and how they can impact our lives. Learning about communities, their importance, differences, and development can be an engaging and meaningful experience for children.
There are many different ways to help kids better understand what communities are, how they are the same or different, and why they are important. These could include field trips, community interviews, listening to guest speakers, role playing different community helper roles, participating in different community service activities, comparing different kinds of communities, creating community maps, exploring literature and listening to storytelling, participating in different cultural celebrations and creating a community project.
Let's take a closer look.
1. Field Trips
Field trips are a great way to get a hands on experience. They can be done in a couple of different ways.
1. Arrange field trips to various community locations such as fire stations, libraries, local government offices, farms, parks, or historical sites. This gives the children the opportunity to observe, interact, and learn from community members. Encourage them to ask questions and make connections between the places they visit and the roles they play within the community.
2. Organize field trips to different types of communities within your region, such as urban areas, rural towns, or suburban neighborhoods. Visit local government buildings, parks, historical sites, or cultural centers. Encourage children to observe and compare the features, services, and characteristics of each community.
2. Community Interviews
Encourage children to interview community members, such as parents, grandparents, neighbors, local business owners, or local volunteers about their experiences and contributions to the community. They can ask questions about their roles, the services they provide, and the changes they have witnessed in the community over time. This activity promotes interaction, communication skills, and understanding of different perspectives. It allows children to learn about different perspectives, values, and the ways in which individuals shape and impact their communities.
3. Guest Speakers
Invite guest speakers from various professions or community organizations, such as local government officials, community leaders, or representatives from nonprofit organizations to talk to the children. They can share their experiences, explain their roles within the community, discuss the importance of their work, and talk about the development and unique aspects of their specific community. This firsthand interaction helps children understand the diversity of community roles and how they contribute to the well-being of society.
4. Literature And Storytelling
Read books and stories that focus on communities and their development. Discuss the roles of different community members, the services they provide, and the ways in which they contribute to the well-being of the community. Encourage children to discuss the characters' experiences, values, and the significance of community in the story. Help them make connections and share their own stories or experiences related to their community.
5. Role Playing
Set up a dramatic play area where children can pretend to be community helpers or act out community-related scenarios. Provide props, costumes, and materials that represent various community roles like doctors, teachers, police officers, or shopkeepers. This hands-on experience allows children to explore different community roles and understand their responsibilities.
6. Community Service Participation
Engage children in community service projects such as organizing a neighborhood clean-up, food drives, bottle drives, collecting donations for local charities, or planting trees in public spaces. These projects promote active involvement and an understanding of community needs. This hands-on experience helps them develop empathy, a sense of responsibility, and a deeper appreciation for their community. Children learn the importance of active citizenship and the positive impact they can have on their community.
7. Different Kinds Of Communities
Explore different types of communities, such as rural, suburban, and urban areas. Discuss the similarities and differences between them, including aspects like housing, transportation, amenities, and services. This helps children understand the diversity of communities and the factors that shape their development.
Here are some resources that might help.
8. Community Maps
Have children create maps of their own communities. They can include landmarks, places of interest, and community resources. They can identify and label places like schools, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores. Have discussions about the purpose of these places, their roles within the community, and how they contribute to the well-being of residents.
Look at community maps of different places and types of communities. Compare and contrast the maps to highlight the diversity and uniqueness of each community.
9. Cultural Celebrations
Celebrate and explore cultural diversity within the community through festivals, cultural events, or international days. Invite families to share their traditions, music, dance, or cuisine with the children. This helps children recognize and appreciate the diversity within their community and promotes understanding and acceptance of different cultures. It helps them understand that communities are made up of people from various backgrounds.
10. Community Project
Engage children in community development projects for their school, such as creating a community garden, or planning a recycling program. Allow them to brainstorm ideas, collaborate, and take action to address school community needs. This hands-on involvement fosters a sense of ownership and empowers children to contribute to the betterment of their community.
Have fun with these activities and teaching your students.
Travel today is very different. Technology has advanced so much that it is rare to see paper maps in the car now unless you are on The Amazing Race!
I'm sure some of you remember hauling out a folded up map or a booklet of travel maps when taking a trip. You usually had to plot your trip at home so that you could find your way when driving or you needed a navigator to help you get to where you were going.
Let's check out some different activities and resources that focus on mapping skills using technology.
Google Earth Exploration
Using the app Google Earth, start by checking out different places in the community. Kids love to see their homes on the screen. It can be fun to see how things have changed if the images are older and the houses have been renovated or painted.
Once you have checked out areas in the community, expand the exploration to other parts of the country and the world. This is a great activity to tie in with a social studies project like my Flat Family Project where the flat families are sent around the world to other relatives.
Plan A Geocaching Adventure
Geocaching is popular around the world. It is really a high tech treasure hunt. Sometimes there are small trinkets to trade, but the excitement is really in finding the small cache (sometimes it is very small and called a nano). Kids love to go treasure hunting, so this is a great way to introduce them to the gps devices and how they work.
Organize a mini-geocaching activity on the school grounds or in a nearby area. This will require students to follow GPS coordinates and maps to find hidden caches.
I did this with my class and then we actually planted a cache for others to find. It was exciting to see the messages when people found it. Unfortunately, it isn't there anymore as someone took it away, but it was fun while it lasted.
Virtual Map Exploration
Utilize interactive online mapping tools or apps that allow children to explore maps virtually. These tools can make map exploration engaging as well as interactive. They can zoom in and out, explore different regions, and locate famous landmarks. Encourage them to identify key features, read labels, and learn about different places.
Online Map Games
Incorporate map-based games and quizzes to test and reinforce your students' knowledge. (You can always do some off-line games and quizzes too if you don't have enough devices available.)
Virtual Field Trips
Take your students on virtual field trips to different parts of the world. Websites and platforms offer immersive experiences that connect geography and culture.
Local museums and other places may also have tours available that can be viewed online. Our museum had a walking tour of the different landmarks in town available. At each spot there were questions to answer. This was a great way to learn about the history as well as discover the locations of the the different landmarks.
These are only a few of the different ways you can use technology with mapping skills.
It might be fun to get your students to brainstorm more ways that technology is used and perhaps do a project or activity that shares these ideas with others.
Are you looking for innovative ways to introduce mapping skills to your young students? Mapping skills are an important tool for students to have as they navigate their way through the world. It's important to nurture these fundamental skills early on. Here are some creative ideas to make learning about maps engaging and fun in your classroom.
Puzzles are a great tool for learning about geography and how to read maps. They can be used to study areas where kids live or other parts of the world. Starting with smaller areas and expanding to the world view follows a similar pattern to teaching about families, neighborhoods, cities, provinces, territories, or states, and then full countries when learning about communities.
Encourage artistic expression by having students create their own maps, whether it's their neighborhood, a fantasy land, or a treasure map. You could even create a map gallery or bulletin board with their maps. It might be fun to have them create some stories to go along with their maps.
Map stories can be incorporated in a variety of ways to make mapping more meaningful. Here are a few ideas.
1. Create some stories that involve using a map or discovering a place by following directions. These can be based on actual events or fantasies.
2. Integrate storytelling with mapping. Read colorful storybooks that involve journeys and create simple story maps together. Ask your students to draw the story's path on their own maps.
3. Read books and stories that focus on communities and their development. Discuss the roles of different community members, the services they provide, and the ways in which they contribute to the well-being of the community. Encourage children to share their own stories or experiences related to their community.
4. Have students create maps of their favorite storybooks. This activity not only reinforces map skills but also connects literature and geography.
As soon as you mention a treasure hunt, some children are hooked. They are curious to find out about hidden treasure and to go on the hunt. This is a great time to incorporate mapping skills and adventure.
Organize classroom treasure hunts where students use maps to locate hidden "treasures" within the school. This activity combines problem-solving with map reading.
Create a treasure hunt activity outdoors where children follow a map to find hidden objects or clues. Provide a simple map with landmarks and directional instructions, and let them navigate their way to the treasure. This activity promotes map reading, following directions, and spatial awareness.
Map Symbols And Legends
Some important mapping skills for young children to learn include being able to interpret symbols and legends as well as use scale and a compass rose. Activities should be created to help with developing these skills. Here are some suggestions:
1. Provide them with simple maps and legends and practice reading them together. They should learn to recognize and locate landmarks, such as buildings, parks, or bodies of water, on maps. This helps them build a mental map of their environment and develop a sense of place. They can also practice creating simple maps of their classroom, neighborhood, or a familiar route using symbols and adding in a legend.
2. Understanding the concept of scale on maps, where distances are represented proportionally is another important skill for them to learn. They need to learn to estimate distances and understand that maps are a condensed representation of a larger area. Doing activities that help them to visualize how scale works helps.
For example: if they want to walk down to the corner, it is very different from walking several blocks to the store. They need to understand that on a map you can't really draw the distances as they really are and that small distances need to be very close together and longer distances need to be much further apart on the map to represent the distances in real life. Try using a tiled floor to show how this could work. The distance of one tile could be one block. If something was down at the corner, it could be one tile away. If something was 6 blocks away, it could be 6 tiles away. This could then be transferred to graph paper so that each square represents a block. Using graph paper instead of tiles helps them to see that to represent larger distances the scale needs to be smaller.
3. Following directions can be difficult at first. Learning about the compass rose and cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) and basic navigational concepts like left, right, up, and down is an important skill.
Do plenty of games and activities to practice giving and following directions using maps or verbal instructions. For example, you can play "Simon Says" using directional cues like "Simon says take two steps forward" or "Simon says turn to the left." This activity reinforces cardinal directions and helps them practice spatial orientation.
Map Reading Challenges: Provide children with different maps and ask them to locate specific landmarks, calculate distances, or plan routes between two points. You can also create map-based riddles or puzzles for them to solve. This activity enhances their map-reading skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities.
There are many different ways to create community maps and each of them can serve different purposes. Here are a few suggestions and how they can be used to enhance student learning.
1. Encourage students to create community maps that depict different features, landmarks, and institutions in their local area. They can identify and label places like schools, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores. Discuss the purpose of these places, their roles within the community, and how they contribute to the well-being of residents.
2. Have them create maps of different communities that include landmarks, places of interest, and community resources. Encourage them to label different locations and discuss their importance. Compare and contrast the maps to highlight the diversity and uniqueness of each community.
3. Collaboratively create a map of your school's surroundings or neighborhood. Include landmarks, parks, and other points of interest.
4. Collaborate with other classrooms or community members to create a community map. Each group can be responsible for mapping a specific area or theme. Children can work together to gather information, create maps, and present their findings to the community. This project fosters teamwork, research skills, and a sense of community engagement.
These are only a few of the different ways that teaching mapping skills can be engaging and fun for kids. For some resources that may help, check out my social studies category on TPT.
Next time we will look at using technology with mapping skills to enhance the learning and take it further away from home.
Mapping skills are very important for navigating through the world as we know it. They provide a foundation for understanding spatial relationships, developing a sense of direction, and enhancing critical thinking abilities. Let's look a little closer at some reasons mapping skills are important for young children to learn.
1. Spatial Awareness: Mapping skills help children develop a sense of space and their position within it. They learn to understand distances, sizes, and locations of objects in relation to themselves and other landmarks. This spatial awareness is crucial for tasks such as navigating their environment, following directions, and understanding maps or diagrams.
2. Critical Thinking: Learning mapping skills involves analyzing, interpreting, and synthesizing information. Children learn to observe details, identify patterns, and make connections between different elements. They develop critical thinking skills as they solve problems, plan routes, and make decisions based on visual information.
3. Communication and Language Development: Maps are a form of visual communication. By learning to read and interpret maps, children enhance their communication and language skills. They learn to understand and use symbols, legends, and keys to convey information. They also develop vocabulary related to directions, landmarks, and spatial concepts.
Not only does teaching mapping skills promote these qualities, they also prepare children for other aspects of life. It is important to provide as many opportunities to develop these skills as possible to equip them for life experiences. Here are some mapping skills that are important for young children to learn.
Children should learn how to read basic maps, including understanding symbols, legends, and scales. They can also practice creating simple maps of their classroom, neighborhood, or a familiar route.
They should also learn cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) and basic navigational concepts like left, right, up, and down. They can practice giving and following directions using maps or verbal instructions.
Identifying landmarks around them is an important skill that helps them to recognize and locate landmarks, such as buildings, parks, or bodies of water, on maps. This helps them build a mental map of their environment and develop a sense of place.
The concept of scale and proportion are also key for reading maps, where distances are represented proportionally. They can learn to estimate distances and understand that maps are a condensed representation of a larger area.
The goal is for chilidren to be able to transfer their map skills to real-world scenarios. For example, they can use maps to plan a route for a field trip, find their way in a new park, or locate specific areas in their community.
Mapping skills empower children to navigate their surroundings independently. By understanding maps, they can find their way, plan routes, and locate places of interest. This fosters self-reliance, confidence, and a sense of agency in exploring their environment.
This booklet is a great introduction to map skills for young children.
Next time I will share some different activities that can help with engaging kids by teaching these important mapping skills.
Numbers are all around us, and they play a big part in our lives. Many people might think that math is just something they are required to learn in school, but understanding numbers, also known as "number sense," is super important in real life too! It helps with everyday problem solving and making smart choices. Understanding numbers is a confidence booster and something of a super power that helps us in the real world.
Teaching kids number sense is necessary to help them function successfully in real life. Here are some examples that may help your students understand why they are learning about numbers.
Imagine you're at a store, and you want to buy a toy. You need to know how much it costs and how much money you have. That's where number sense comes in. It helps you figure out if you have enough money to buy that awesome game or if you need to save a little more. Number sense makes everyday problem-solving easier!
It also helps with making smart choices. Let's say you're planning a birthday party, and you need to know how many cupcakes to bake or how many friends to invite. Number sense helps you make those decisions, so your party turns out just right.
When you understand numbers, you feel more confident in everything you do with math. Whether it's doing homework, playing math games, or even just counting your candy, number sense gives you the power to tackle math challenges with a big smile.
Think of number sense as a real-life superpower. It helps you understand money, time, and measurements. You'll use it daily, whether you're budgeting your money, planning a trip, or even cooking your favorite meal.
Think about how math sometimes feels like a tricky puzzle. Students often seemed overwhelmed and confused as they try to figure out the puzzle. Well, number sense is like having a magic key to unlock those puzzles. It helps them add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers like a pro. When math is easy, it's more fun!
Here are some ways to teach math in the classroom so students are more engaged and able to understand how it works.
Teaching Number Sense in the Classroom
1. Math Adventures and Hands-on Learning: Start with everyday stuff. Let students count and group toys, buttons, or snacks. Count books, pencils, or even footsteps. Ask questions like, "Can you find seven red buttons?" or "How many pencils do we have?" or "How many paper clips do you have?" This makes math real and relatable.
2. Games are a game-changer in the classroom. Try "I Spy" with numbers, "Math Bingo", "Number Twister" ,"Number Bingo," "Math Memory," or "Guess the Missing Number." These games make learning feel like play and add in math skills while having fun.
3. Story Telling Math: Create math stories or scenarios. Imagine going on a treasure hunt, where students need to count their steps to find the hidden treasure. It's math with a story twist!
4. Math Puzzles and Riddles: Challenge young minds with math puzzles and riddles. These are like brain workouts that make kids smarter while having fun. They boost problem-solving skills and number sense.
5. Real-Life Math: Show them that math is everywhere. Involve them in cooking (measuring ingredients), shopping (calculating change), or planning (measuring distances on a map).
Ideas for Parents to Nurture Number Sense at Home
1. Math Conversations: Engage your child in casual conversations about numbers and math concepts. Ask open-ended questions like, "How many ways can we make 10 using addition?"
2. Math Books: Read math-themed books together. Many children's books incorporate math concepts in a story format, making learning more enjoyable. Reading together not only bonds you but also makes math part of your child's bedtime routine.
3. Math Art Projects: Create art using math. For instance, make symmetrical drawings, geometric shapes, or patterns. It helps with pattern recognition and can be a fun way to express math.
4. Math Apps and Websites: Explore kid-friendly math apps and websites. There are plenty of interactive games that make learning math feel like play.
5. Family Math Challenges: Set up friendly math challenges or competitions within the family. For example: Who can count the most objects in a minute? This can motivate kids to apply their number sense skills in a fun way.
6. Math Treasure Hunt: Create your own math treasure hunt at home. Write clues that involve counting, adding, or subtracting. Your child will be the Sherlock Holmes of math!
7. Math Around the House: Integrate math into daily life. Measuring ingredients while cooking or estimating how many socks are in the laundry basket are perfect opportunities.
8. Math Exploration: Encourage exploration by providing materials like measuring tapes, rulers, and scales. Let your child measure objects around the house.
As primary school teachers, we have the power to make math come alive for our students. By teaching number sense in an engaging way and offering parents practical ways to reinforce it at home, we're setting the stage for a lifetime of math success. Remember, math is not just about numbers; it's about exploration, discovery, and making sense of the world. Let's work together to make math a joyful journey for our students, both in the classroom and at home!
If you are looking for resources that will help with number sense and other math concepts, check out my math activities category for a variety of different options.
Have fun with math and watch your students flourish as they gain more understanding of numbers and how they work.
Numbers are all around us, and they play a big part in our lives. You might think that math is just something you learn in school, but understanding numbers, also known as "number sense," is super important in real life too! Teaching our children to understand numbers helps them develop a strong and intuitive grasp of math concepts. So, let's explore what number sense is and how we can make math exciting in the classroom.
What is number sense?
Number sense is like having a superpower for numbers. It's not just about memorizing math facts but truly understanding how numbers work together. It covers counting, number relationships, estimation, identifying patterns, and understanding place value. It provides the tools to be able to handle every day situations that involve math confidently and comfortably.
Let's take a closer look at some of the concepts it covers and how we can help kids understand the concepts.
Children need to learn to count fluently, not by rote, but with an understanding of each number being a quantity. When they count objects, each number relates to an object being counted. Touching objects as they count them will help with this correlation. It is important to practice counting objects until they are able to correctly count them every time.
Do hands on activities so the math is tangible. Start with real-life objects. Let students count and group toys, buttons, or snacks. Count books, pencils, or even footsteps. Ask questions like, "Can you find five red objects?" or "How many shoes do we have?" This makes numbers real and relatable.
It is important for kids to see how numbers relate to one another. For example: 6 is one more than 5 or two less than 8. These relationships will help them understand the basic operations of addition and subtraction and later on multiplication and division. Math vocabulary for these relationships in also important. Terms like: more than, less than, equal to, and greater than are only a few examples that can be taught to help them understand these relationships.
Play games that involve looking for clues that use some addition and subtraction to solve them. Practice making groups that show the relationships between numbers. Play "Guess the missing number" by answering yes or no questions.
It is not always possible to count everything, so it is important to make educated guesses for quantities. For example: How many candies are in the jar? Children often have little idea about how to estimate and the responses are way off. It will take practice estimating and then counting for them to understand how to get closer in their approximations.
Turn estimation activities into challenges. Who can get the closest number? Can they get it without going over?
Practice using small amounts at first and gradually increase the number of objects being estimated as the results get closer.
Get kids to recognize patterns in numbers, like even numbers (2, 4, 6) or the way odd numbers always end in 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9.
Try skip counting games and look for patterns when counting. For example: when counting by 5 all numbers end in 5 or 0.
Reading books about math patterns is also fun to do and helps kids understand the patterns better. For example: Even Steven and Odd Todd shows the relationship between even and odd numbers. Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream shows how multiplication is just a faster way of adding.
There are many books that show math patterns and relationships. Find some that fit with the concepts that you are teaching to help enrich your students' understanding.
Understanding place value
It is important that students understand what the relationship is between multiple numbers grouped together and their placement or order. For example: 4 in 42 means forty, and 2 means two). We refer to these as digits that represent different values.
Play games that encourage kids to identify the mystery digit or build a number with the place values given.
Check out this blog post for more about place value and some activities and resources that might interest you.
Connecting number sense to the real world
Number sense is not just for math classes. It is a necessary skill for navigating in the real world. The more we focus on how it is used in practical settings, the more our students will see its purpose and begin to use it more confidently.
Being able to understand number sense and use it effectively will help with handling money, time, and measurements. It will also be used in many different settings, whether budgeting an allowance, planning a trip, or even cooking a favorite meal.
Remember, math is not just about numbers; it's about exploring, discovering, and making sense of the world around us.
Next time I will share ideas and activities that can bring number sense into everyday activities, and how we can encourage activities at home to help our students develop a solid understanding of how to use their number sense skills in their world.
Are classroom disruptions, kids not listening, friends bickering, and an unsettled environment driving you nuts? This was how I felt at the beginning of some school years until I made some changes to create harmony and a respectful, caring environment the norm.
I remember one year, prior to school happening, we had a professional development day that caused me to rethink how I approached my class. During the keynote address, we were challenged with "Focus on what is going right in the world". We were encouraged to find what was positive and good and change our focus to that instead of letting the negative drive our day.
That makes lots of sense, and it's probably something everyone wants to do, but the reality is, when negative things are happening around us, we can easily get derailed and begin focusing on that instead.
I made a conscious effort that year to change my approach and it helped me to get through some very challenging years with surprising success.
One thing I did was find ways for kids to save face after negative situations and give them opportunities to start fresh. I decided to work on ways to help kids remain in the classroom and not be sent out for misbehaviors. This was definitely challenging at times, and I admit, I wasn't always able to do so. I did have to maintain the safety of all my students, so there were times when I had no other choice.
I started to focus on behaviors in the classroom that I wanted others to emulate. This was the start of my positive freckles.
I had some small happy face stickers that I would put on the faces or hands of kids that I noticed doing things that I wanted others to do. It was fun to see how the kids reacted as they headed out to recess with freckles and how others in the class wanted to have the same.
I also started handing out student tickets for work habits and other behaviors that I noticed during seat work time. These were collected in a container and at the end of each week I would draw names for prizes. (I collected small toys and trinkets for them to choose from.)
I made sure that those who were struggling to behave positively were recognized as sometimes it is easy to overlook them for the ones who are always doing what is expected. It is important to make sure that they feel they have a chance or they will give up.
The school started up a Gotcha program where tickets were handed out around the school for behaviors noticed by different staff members. Recognition was given to the students and some were rewarded with special treats at assemblies. This tied in nicely with the student tickets I was using in my classroom.
There are several different variations of recognizing positive behaviors that have been used in classrooms. Another one that is quite popular is the warm fuzzy jar. This jar collects notes or objects and is used to acknowledge class behaviors and ultimately earn a class reward. The cool thing about this idea is the class can decide together what to work towards as a reward and the students can support each other so that they can earn the reward as a team.
Sometimes there may be a student who requires more support to move in a positive direction. This will look different for each child, but ultimately, it will require a cheering section (classmates and teacher) and consistency. Giving attention for positive behaviors usually will help to overcome the need for getting attention by negative behaviors. It may take a long time and you may not see immediate results, but I believe that if we help kids develop positive self esteem they will behave more positively.
Parents can also use some of these ideas to help with behaviors at home. Tensions rise as kids unwind after a long day at school and parents come home tired after a day at work. It is easy to have patience with other people, but it takes way more effort and patience to handle your own kids without frustration.
Try using the warm fuzzy jar or some other type of recognition for positive behaviors and see how it goes.
I set up these warm fuzzy jars for my grandchildren when they were feeling overwhelmed from moving to another city, getting ready to start a new school, and missing their friends and cousins. With all the stress and emotions, listening and being respectful and kind to each other was slipping and everyone was getting frustrated.
Things calmed down quickly when they had something visual to focus on and tensions lessened. This didn't end some of the behaviors, but it did create more positive interactions and the negative behaviors were less frequent.
In this case, each child decorated a jar and had colored pompoms to collect. A family jar was also created. When everyone was working together and the parents decided it merited a pompom they added one to this jar. The goal of reaching a certain number of pompoms for a special family treat was the incentive.
Note: The other day I called them and they were excited to tell me they had more pompoms in their jars. They also helped with these pictures so you could see it in action.
I encourage you to "focus on what is going right" and use whatever tools or ideas work for you to create harmony and a respectful, caring environment in your classroom or at home. Everyone will benefit from working together in a positive environment and this will enhance learning as well.
Changing weather, cooler temperatures, and color changes are all signs of the arrival of fall. There's something magical about the colors, sounds, and smells of fall. Students often find themselves more engaged in learning when they are surrounded by the beauty of nature. Whether it's studying the changing colors of leaves, identifying different animals, or learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin, outdoor lessons are inherently captivating.
Fresh air and natural surroundings can help improve students' focus and stimulate their creativity. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can boost cognitive function and problem-solving skills, making outdoor classrooms an ideal setting for critical thinking activities.
Spending time outdoors has been linked to improved mental health and reduced stress levels. Fall's cool, crisp air and the calming influence of nature can help students feel more relaxed and connected to the world around them.
The hands on experiences and fresh air also invigorate students and engage them in their learning.
Fall is the perfect time to encourage physical activity among students. Hiking, nature walks, and outdoor games not only promote exercise but also foster teamwork and social interaction. Getting students moving in a natural setting can help overcome the hours of sitting in classrooms and keep them engaged.
There are many different subjects that can be taught outdoors. Each of these add a real world element to the students' learning and experience. Integrating social studies and science activities into your fall outdoor learning adventures can provide a well-rounded educational experience. To further enrich your fall outdoor learning adventures, try incorporating some math and language activities into the mix.
Here are some suggestions for social studies, science, math, and language arts that might be of interest.
• visiting local historical landmarks
* learning about fall harvest and traditions
• using maps and doing a geography scavenger hunt
• leaf identification activities
• studying the pumpkin life cycle
• weather monitoring
• learning about weathering and erosion
* keeping a nature journal
• stream study
• learning about seed dispersements
• nature math scavenger hunt
• using measurement skills outdoors
• fall data collection
• outdoor poetry writing
• nature journaling with descriptive writing
• vocabulary scavenger hunt (looking for examples in nature)
• reading fall themed books
Here are some preparation tips that will help make your outdoor sessions successful.
Select an outdoor location that suits your curriculum and learning objectives. Local parks, forested areas, the seashore, or even your school's own outdoor spaces can be transformed into effective learning environments. Make sure students are dressed appropriately for the fall weather. Layers, hats, and gloves are essential to keep everyone comfortable during outdoor lessons.
Tailor your lessons to incorporate the unique features of fall. Explore topics like the changing colors of leaves, the science behind falling leaves, the life cycle of pumpkins, or even Halloween-themed literature.
Bring technology outdoors by using tablets or smartphones for nature observation apps or taking pictures to document findings. This can enhance the learning experience and provide opportunities for digital storytelling.
Make sure that your plans are flexible and adaptable as the weather can be unpredictable and you may need to make changes quickly.
With preparation ahead of time and some back up ideas in case of change, getting outside to learn is worth the effort and will benefit your students.
Embracing the great outdoors during the fall season is a fantastic way to enhance your students' learning experience. The benefits of outdoor education are numerous, from improved engagement and focus to enhanced physical and mental well-being. By incorporating nature into your curriculum, you can create unforgettable learning moments and inspire a lifelong love for the natural world in your students. So, this fall, take your class outside and let the wonders of the season become your classroom.
Happy outdoor learning!
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.