Stay tuned as I share more ideas that become activities and products from my experiences with kids.
I love to create teaching materials, but since I retired, sometimes it is hard to come up with the ideas. I have found that the best way to get motivated, is to engage with children and find things that would be helpful for them and fun for them to do.
When I teach a concept, I like to have a practical application to go along with it. I tutor two girls, and right now we are learning about the kitchen and cooking. I decided that it would be fun to actually try following a French recipe to make some cookies. The girls really enjoyed making the cookies and they remember a lot of the vocabulary because they could make connections to the activity.
I created this booklet after we did the cooking. I took pictures as they were cooking and I put them into the booklet. They were excited to see the pictures and read the booklet. I followed up the lesson by looking at some French recipe books. We reviewed the vocabulary and then talked about doing another cooking lesson in the future.
The next lesson, we looked at the different items that can be found in the kitchen. We then did some games with the task cards.
They are going to do some more cooking when we have a longer session. The deal is that they need to be able to identify the different items in the kitchen and follow the instructions in French. They are very excited about this.
As is becoming a habit, I have made an English version for each of these products.
Stay tuned as I share more ideas that become activities and products from my experiences with kids.
I love working with small reading groups and interacting with the children. The other day, I did a group in my grandson's French Immersion class. He was actually in the group that day! We talked about losing teeth and they each got to share a story about losing their first tooth. It was fun to seen them engaging and making connections to the different stories.
After our discussion, we looked at a story I wrote about losing a tooth. We first did a picture walk and shared what we thought was happening on each page. Then we read the story and discussed how our predictions and the actual events were the same or different. We also made connections between the text and our personal stories.
After our discussion, each child wrote one or two sentences about losing a tooth and then added an illustration. It was too bad that we didn't have more time, because I could see that this could have been a great time for creating little booklets and personal stories.
I have also created the same story in English. I am hoping to use it with one of my English reading groups.
Everyone needs to find something that motivates them to create or perform activities and tasks.
What inspires you and give you motivation? For me, it is often my grandchildren or children that I work with at school. Last month, my grandson participated in his first out of town swim meet. He swam some events for the first time. I was so proud of him.
Here he is waiting for his event and having a quick snack. His sister and his dad were there to help cheer him on.
Last week I was in Victoria looking after my grandchildren. While there, I did the runaround between swimming and dancing. My younger grandson had swimming lessons. He just turned five, but he is already swimming the length of the pool without fear. Here he is practicing his streamlining and kicking.
Swimming has been an important sport for our family throughout the years. All of our children participated in the summer swimming club and one of my daughters was a swim coach for several years. The two boys in the pictures above are hers.
I am tutoring two girls right now, and one of them has swimming lessons before she comes to her lesson. This made me think about swimming and so during the lesson we created some swimming stories. It was a great way for them to use their language to make a connection with what they do. These are the little booklets that they are working on. They are creating their own illustrations. I also created a booklet that included both of them as the characters. It was fun to see them read and enjoy the booklets.
This gave me an idea for an emergent reader. I have found that most of my ideas lately have come from experiences with the kids. Here is the book that I created about learning to swim. I made it in French first, and then I made an English copy.
Stay tuned for some other resources that I am working on that are directly related to activities and situations that are happening now! Here are some I have just finished.
Who said being retired would be relaxing. It has been 2 1/2 years since I retired and I am busier than ever. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, just commenting.
I still go to school and work with kids. The difference is, I am now a volunteer. I get to do reading groups and help out in classrooms, but I don't have the assessments, meetings, and politics to deal with. I just get to do what I love, work with kids.
I also do some French tutoring and I work with several ukulele groups.
I often wondered how people that are retired remained motivated to create materials. I didn't know if I would be able to feel connected enough to do so. I was wrong. I am creating materials for my tutoring and then translating them to English. I am also creating materials for my reading groups.
When my son and daughter-in-law were working on their teaching degrees I also had the privilege of creating materials for them to use in their practicums.
The fun part is trying out my games and little books with the kids at school. It is so rewarding to see them engaging and learning. I also learn what works and what doesn't from them. I am able to make changes and fine tune things when needed.
My family sometimes gives me a hard time about spending so much time at school, but they don't understand that I love what I am doing and I don't feel stressed out when I am at there. Some of the other commitments can be more daunting, particularly during concert seasons. It is important to continue to do things you love.
I LOVE TEACHING!
It is hard to believe that it is almost time for the winter games to begin again. Every time I think about them I remember the excitement we felt when they were held in Vancouver in 2010. It was such a special time for those of us who live in British Columbia.
My students were so engaged and felt connected to the athletes and their accomplishments. We would listen to the theme song I Believe and this became our song in class. As some of you may know, "believe" is my power word and it comes up often as I am constantly coming across things with the word on them.
It is times like this that I miss having my own class. There are so many things I would love to do with my students. During the last winter games, I created some activities that could be used to make writing and Math time winter game focused. I would certainly be doing some of them in the next few weeks if I had the opportunity.
Here are some task card templates that can be used to create your own questions, games, or activities. I hope you find them helpful as we watch the athletes compete to represent the various countries.
I know this will be an exciting time for people all around the world as they cheer on their athletes. It is a time when we focus on the good in the world. It is a time to unite instead of divide. I hope for more caring and kindness towards one another, not just during the games but everyday.
I love using story books for springboards into teaching concepts. It is always fun to see where the ideas go. One of my favourite stories is Stone Soup. I have 2 versions that I usually share with the children.
I like to read the version by Marcia Brown. It is great to present it when studying about veterans because in the story the soldiers were returning from war. It is a good springboard for discussions.
It is interesting to see how the children react when the villagers hide the food. Just last week, when I read the story with my reading group, they kept commenting on how everyone was "lying". They also found it to be magical that stones could make soup for a king.
We also read the version by Ann McGovern. We then did a comparison of the two versions and how they had many similarities but they also had some differences.
I created some activities to further explore these ideas. Some of these activities can be used for single versions as well.
If I still had my own class, I would continue to investigate further and discuss how caring and sharing are inclusive and we can all be richer as a result. Sharing of the stone soup was not just about eating soup, but reconnecting with others and working together. As the villagers learned, because of the stone soup experience, they would never go hungry again.
As a culminating activity, I would make stone soup with my class. They were always amazed that the soup tasted so good. They really thought it was because of the stones!
I told my reading group that I usually did this with my class and they asked if they could be in my class. Unfortunately, I don't have my own class now and I don't have the opportunity to do things like make soup anymore. It warmed my heart to have them say that though.
What are some stories you have used to create discussions and do other activities with? I would love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.
I love teaching guided reading and I continue to do so even though I am retired. I volunteer a couple of mornings a week and I work with 6 different groups. Some groups are still working on sounds and cvc activities. Others are working on beginning chapter books and reading for deeper meaning and understanding. I enjoy being able to take them beyond the basic story and I often incorporate other activities.
Lately I have also been tutoring some children in French. I have found it to be very similar to teaching beginning reading. I have been busy creating activities and resources that introduce basic language and concepts using themes. I am thrilled to see how quickly they are grasping the ideas.
I went into my grandson's grade 1/2 class last week and I got to work with small groups using one of the themed task cards. It was so much fun. I also helped out with a reading group. Again, it was refreshing to see that the language didn't matter. The process was the same and the kids engaged in a similar manner. I am not certain why I didn't think about that sooner. I guess it is because I was so focused on teaching reading in my own class that I didn't think about how it worked in other situations.
Differentiation is important. I found that some groups were better able to do the activities than others as some of the children were reading and other were not quite there yet. I was able to make modifications to the games to allow for both groups to be successful. I look forward to going back again soon.
Once I finished creating simple emergent readers and the thematic visual task cards, I started to translate them into English. They will be fun to use with my guided reading groups as well. I am surprised that I didn't think of making them in English first, followed by a French translation. I guess it is because the inspiration came from a need for materials.
I am proud of my new products. If you are interested in checking them out, you can find them here. Just click on the images below.
As we come to the end of October, it is time to think about the many things we can be thankful for. We are blessed to live in a country where freedom is available for everyone. This is huge and we need to always remember that there are many places where this is not true.
I have been retired for 2 years now, but I still volunteer at the school and I like to be able to participate in the Remembrance Day assembly and some of the activities leading up to it in the classrooms. It is so heartwarming to see that the teachers are still spending a significant amount of time sharing this important message with children.
In Canada, we celebrate Remembrance Day, and in the USA, they celebrate Veterans Day. Our celebrations may differ slightly, but they are similar in one respect. They are a day to give thanks and remember. We have freedom because of the actions taken by our veterans. We would not have that luxury if it wasn't for their sacrifices both many years ago and still today.
War is a reality in many countries and it is important that our students understand this. War is not a glamorized video game or action movie, it is a dangerous and painful situation that many children live with every day. They also need to see that they are able to do something to help make a difference even as children.
I love using videos to help kids to see what peace can be. Here is a link to a former post that I wrote that has several videos on it that we would watch the week before Remembrance Day. They led to many very important discussions.
Below is one of my favourites.
I hope that these thoughts will be helpful for you as you prepare to share this important time with you classes. If you would like some more materials to use in your classroom, check out the Remembrance Day/Veterans Day category in my TPT store for several free products.
Here in Canada, summer vacation is nearing an end and teachers are preparing their classrooms for a new year. In other places, some teachers are already back at school. It is always exciting to freshen up a classroom, prepare for the new students, and just begin a new adventure.
Back to school sales are happening everywhere. Who doesn't want to have new pencils, felts, crayons, notebooks, backpacks and clothes?
Well, teachers love back to school sales too! Teachers Pay Teachers is having a special Back to School Ready Bonus sale just for teachers.
I am excited to be able to offer a $10 TPT gift card to one lucky person as well as a product valued up to $5.00 from my TPT store. In order to enter, comment below with the item that you would choose if you were the winner and your email contact. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted Tuesday. This will still allow you to use the gift card for the sale.
I am excited to be able to share all of my products with you for an extra discount for one day only. Here are some of my favourites. Click on the images to see more about them.
Several of my Canadian teacher friends collaborated to put together a back to school e-book of tips and freebies just for you. Check it out here or by clicking on the image.
Enjoy your time with your new students and returning ones too. Don't forget to get lots of rest also. I always forget just how tired a teacher can get the first few weeks of school.
I wish you a very happy and rewarding year.
This is an update to a previous blog post. I feel it is still relevant today so I am re-sharing it.
Building Relationships is one of the most important things we can do when we get our new students. We need to help them to understand that we are there for them, we care about them, and we want them to be successful. I feel that this is crucial for a successful year.
Team building and getting to know each other is essential. Everyone will do this in different ways depending on their personalities and interests, but that is okay. It helps with learning to accept uniqueness and diversity.
Getting to know your students is very important. Who better to ask than the parents. Every year I send home a form called "Getting Acquainted". It is a way for parents to share some insights about their child and the family. Since so many parents are now working, it is harder to have face to face conversations with them. They want to be involved in their child's learning, but sometimes we have to be more creative to make sure this happens.
It is important to keep the lines of communication open so that we can have the frank conversations when necessary. I believe that each day is a fresh start, so if I can focus on what is right in the classroom and help my students to do the same, this can be communicated to the family through notes, phone calls, or face to face conversations when possible.
Often parents will ask what they can do at home to help support the learning that is happening at school. I believe that the best way to help is to read with their child and give them lots of real life experiences that use the skills and concepts taught. I send home a paper that explains how to go about doing Home Reading so that it can be effectively done and a positive experience for everyone. It is amazing how stressful home reading can be in some homes otherwise.
Here are samples from my letters. These are also available in my Back to School Start Up Forms package.
Maintaining a positive relationship with support staff is also very important. They can be great allies throughout the year. We need to help them to feel appreciated for all that they do. Sometimes they can feel like they are taken for granted and a smile or a friendly comment can make their day. A special note also makes them feel special.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 8, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.
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