Monday, March 31, 2014

POP UP Q & A

It’s worth reading my blog today for this one idea alone. 

Pop Up Q & A (Jessica Hebert)
Divide students into pairs. The teacher poses a question. The students talk to their partner, agree on an answer, and then stoop down. When the teacher sees all students down she says, “Pop!” The students pop up and say their answer.

Number Sticks 1-20 (Mrs. LaFont)
Use paint sticks from Home Depot and write the number word and numeral on them. Use puff paint to make dot sets on them. Children pick the sticks out of a can and put them in order.
*Put a smile face in the corner to make sure the stick is facing the correct way.

Skittles Cheer (Mrs. LaFont)
Have children pretend to fill their mouth with Skittles as they “taste the rainbow.”

Green Apples and Red Apples (Amanda Caillouret)
Use this idea to match children up for partner work. Write higher students’ names on green apples. Write children who need extra help on the red apples. Pass the apples out and have children pick a friend with a different color for their partner.
Paper Bag King Cake (Jefforson Parish Teachers)
Take a paper bag and open it up. Roll down the bag from the top. Let children cut or tear purple, green, and gold (yellow) paper and glue it on the bag. You can also add a little glitter and put a small plastic baby in the cake.
*The king cake is associated with Mardi Gras/Carnival. A plastic baby representing Baby Jesus is baked in the cake. The person who gets the piece of cake with the baby gets special privileges.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

ROCK STAR CHEER

Rock Star Cheer (Kellea McGehee) 
Children hold their guitar and shake it like a rock star – but they have to do it silently!

Tattle Tales (Melissa Dumont)
Children can only tattle with the 3 B’s – broken, bleeding, or bruised!!!

Naughty Numbers (Kellea McGehee)
5 and 6 are naughty numbers because they face the wrong way. 


                                      
Super Vowels (Kellea McGehee)
The magic “e” makes the first vowel a super vowel so it no longer makes the short vowel sound. Let the kids write the word and then draw a cape on the middle vowel.
*Kellea also makes up motions for each sound in the alphabet. When they go through the alphabet each morning the students make the motion and then they do the letters in sign language.

Clipboard Partners (Cathy G. Houma)
When visiting a museum, divide the children into partners and give each pair a clipboard with objects that can be found in the museum. As they find the items they can circle the picture. This will keep the children interested and learning while they have fun.

PowerPoint Relay Race (Leslie Willis)
You can use this game with high frequency words, numbers, etc. When the high frequency words come up on the smart board a child runs up, touches the word, and then tags a friend.

Number Monster (Angelic Reynolds)
Fold a sheet of paper in half and draw around the child’s hand with the outer side of the hand on the fold. Glue the unfolded handprint on paper. Make eyes and a smile on the handprint and write the numbers 1-10 above the fingers. Put the title using the child’s name on the top. For example: “Angelic’s Number Monster.” Let the children use their number monsters to practice counting, number recognition, etc.

Nursery Rhyme Book (April Wittmann)
Introduce a nursery rhyme each week. Read it as a group and then at the end of the week create a page for that rhyme that children can add to their nursery rhyme notebook. By the end of the year, the children can read/recite about 30 nursery rhymes. They present their notebooks to their moms as part of their mother’s day present. The mothers love that their gift is their child reading to them!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

CHILDHOOD IS FRAGILE!

Honestly, I get so frustrated with some of the stories I hear these days I could scream!!!! It breaks my heart the way teachers are getting beat up and children are having their joy taken away! We have a friend who is seriously ill and my daughter reminded me that “life is fragile.” I’d like to remind some of the decision makers and people who evaluate teachers that CHILDHOOD IS FRAGILE! The way we are shoving academics down children’s throats is like giving them steroids. Sure, they may be able to pass the test today, but what kind of person will they be 20 years from now? 
   
I can’t do anything about assessment and your curriculum, but I can tell you to shut your door and sing and love and make learning fun. So, here are some great ideas teachers in Utah, Louisiana, and Mississippi shared this week that I hope will add a few smiles to your day!
                                               


Home, Home in Alaska (Elisa Erickson said her mom Deanne Ellis sang this to her growing up in Alaska)
Tune: “Home on the Range”
Oh, give me a home between Fairbanks and Nome
Where the moose and the caribou play.
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are colorful all day.
Home, home in Alaska,
Where the lynx and the lemming play.
Where seldom is heard of discouraging words
And the skies are colorful all day.
*Adapt to other habitats and places.

kidpeopleclassroom.com
Kathleen Wright sent me an email telling me about her website and blog. Her freebie list paper is a perfect way to encourage writing and reading.
Line Up Rhyme (Pre-K & K Teachers at Cook Elementary, Columbus, MS)
Tootsie roll and lollipop. (Roll hands and pretend to lick lollipop.)
We were talking and now all stop! (Hands out and clap above head on stop.)
(Children then put pretend bubbles in their mouths and fish tails behind their backs as they walk down the hallway.)

Photo Album Fun (Sierra Kennedy)
Take a dollar store photo album and put flashcards in it. Let children trace over the words, letters, shapes, etc. with a dry erase marker.
*Put cheers on sticks for the students to choose.

Index Card Book (Heather)
Staple several index cards together to make a book. One side will be plain for a picture, and the other side will have lines for writing. 
                                                
Spot Light (Barbara Nemes)
Make a black headband with a yellow circle on the front. Attach a letter to the circle so the children can go around the room and “spot” the alphabet.

Quiet as Clouds (Taylor & Amanda)
Give cotton balls to students who are exceptionally quiet because they are "quiet as clouds."

Friday, March 28, 2014

TATTLE TALE, TATTLE TALE!


We all know how important it is to listen to children, but tattling can be like a fire out of control.  The world is changing rapidly, but one thing that is as alive today in the classroom as it was years ago is tattling!  To prevent negativity/aka “the squeaky wheel” from getting too much attention, it’s important to have a discussion with your class about what is an emergency.  If someone is in danger of getting hurt, then it’s an emergency.  (One teacher said she used the “3 B Principle” – bathroom, blood, or barf!!!)  There are also several good books out now that help children understand when it is appropriate to tell the teacher and what happens when you cry wolf. (A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue  by Fran Sandon is adorable!)

Phone
Put an old phone on your desk for children to tell their concerns.  Explain that you’ll listen to your messages at the end of the day.  You might even want to have a directory.
Press #1 for the principal.
Press #2 for the school secretary.
Press #3 for your teacher.
Press #4 for your parents…etc.

Comment Box
Put a box, notepad, and pencil on a shelf.  Explain that when they want to complain or make a comment they need to write it on a piece of paper.  They must start their sentence with a capital letter and end it with a period if they want the teacher to read it at the end of the day.

Lunch Bag
Open a lunch bag and set it on your desk.  When children come up to tattle say, “Go put it in the bag.  I’ll listen at the end of the day.”  (Yes, trust me!  They will go over and talk in the bag.)  At the end of the day put the bag next to your ear and pretend to listen for 15-20 seconds.  Then wad up the bag and throw it in the trash as you say, “That’s the end of that!”

Book
Get a spiral notebook and write “Things the Teacher Needs to Know” on the cover.  When children come to tattle hand them the book and say, “Write it all down and don’t leave out a thing.”  If they say, “I can’t write,” respond with, “Well, just draw a picture and don’t leave out a thing!”

Tattle Time
One of my favorite stories about tattle tales came from a teacher many years ago.  When her students tried to tattle she’d smile and say, “I’m sorry.  Today’s not tattle tale day.  Wait until May 14th and then you can tell me.”

Oreo
Another teacher said she used the concept of an Oreo cookie for tattle tales.  The child reporting had to say one nice thing, then the tale, then another nice thing.

Tattle Toy
Choose a stuffed animal or puppet to listen to children’s complaints and tattles.  Be sure and name the character.  Explain that when you are busy they can always tell Teddy (or whatever) their problems.  He’s always there waiting to be their friend.

President
Here’s another great idea for tattle tales.   Put a photograph of the President on your wall and say, “I’m just your teacher.  Why don’t you tell the President?”  You won’t believe it, but the children will walk over and talk to the picture!

Plant
Tell the plant.  Enlarge a picture of yourself and put it on a stick.  Insert the stick in a plant and direct the children to the plant when they want to tattle.

Sometimes a sense of humor is the best solution to a problem.  Keep calm and laugh inside!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

BABY BIRD STORY

This is a "cut and tell" story I did this week at a workshop.  I think grown-ups love it as much as children.  
Materials: construction paper, scissors, marker
Directions: Begin this story with a sheet of paper, scissors, and marker in your lap. Follow the directions as you tell the story. (You can either cut the paper or tear it.)

It was spring time and mother and father bird decided to build a nest. Who can tell me some of the things they might have used to make their nest?
(Fold the paper in half and cut accordingly.)

Mother bird sat on the nest and laid a beautiful egg.
(Open the nest to reveal the egg shape.)

Now, mother bird could not leave the egg. She had to sit on it and keep it warm and safe. Even when it rained and the wind blew hard, mother bird had to sit there and protect her egg. Fortunately, two little bugs who lived in the tree made friends with mother bird and kept her company. This is one little bug. His name was _____. (Use a child’s name in the class.)
(Draw a little dot for the bug.)
This is the other little bug. Her name was _____, (Use another child’s name in the class.)
(Draw another little dot on the opposite side.)

One day as mother bird was sitting on the egg, she heard a little cracking sound. She looked down and saw a little crack in her egg.
(Cut a little slit on the fold slanted toward the eyes.)
Then she heard a great, big cracking sound.
(Cut around the eye and slit as shown stopping before
you get to the end of the egg.)

And guess what mother bird saw coming out of the big crack in her egg? 
She saw her baby bird!
(Open the egg and bend up the beak as shown.)

Hint! You can also cut this story out of a paper plate.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I PHONE - I LEARN

Do I love my job or what? I have tons of things I need to do, but it’s more fun to be creative and do what I want to do!

Run off a copy of a cell phone keyboard for each child. (I downloaded this one from the internet. I tried placing my phone on my copier, but it didn’t come out clear enough.) After children cut it out and glue it to cardstock they can design their personal phone cover. Now, wouldn’t they get a kick out of that! You’ve got their attention, so these are a few learning activities with the phones:

Phone Number – Let children practice typing their phone number.

911 – Discuss what you do when there’s an emergency. Be very emphatic about not calling this number unless it is a real emergency!

Math – Have children find the number that comes before…after…one more than…how many ones in…how many tens…addition & subtraction

Spelling – Spell names, word wall words, etc.

Value – What is your name worth? Which spelling word is worth 10?

*Can you think of other things to do with the phone?
*Can the children think of things to do with their phones?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DON'T YOU JUST LOVE TO READ, READ, READ!


Life is full of surprises, and this is like finding a gold ring in a box of Cracker Jacks! (Actually, it costs less than a box of Cracker Jacks!) Dan Sheffield of Help Me 2 Learn Company called me about a year ago and wanted to develop an app using one of my songs. Sure! Whatever! I am blown away by what he has created! I can’t stop smiling! (I actually like the cartoon Dr. Jean better than the real Dr. Jean because she looks so young!)

Right now the app is available to download on iPads:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/read-a-book-hd/id655603470?mt=8
(The version for iPhones and Android devices will be ready soon.)

Here’s a description:
This fun and educational app teaches young children the foundational skills they need to start reading. Kids will have fun as they learn through interactive lessons, a fun song, a word sound activity and a story building game. The lessons are based on the Common Core Standards for Kindergarten...
 
                                            
BUT WAIT! There’s more! In addition to the silly song “Read a Book” children can learn how to sound out words, play letter games, and build their own story. It’s pretty cool if I do say so myself. You know how I feel about screen time, but this app is so child-friendly and engaging - and they can’t help learning something. Many of the apps I’ve looked at have way too much going on for young children. These characters are sweet and the graphics allow the children to focus on the skills.

I can’t believe you get the app and all the games for $.99!! You can’t even buy a cup of coffee or a candy bar for that price. I’m just tickled to be a part of something so positive and fun!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME...

Some of you have probably made this nest from a paper bag with me at my workshops. All you have to do is open the bag and then slowly roll out and down to create the nest. Recently, a teacher added to that by telling me about the tissue birds she makes with her class. Wad up one tissue and wrap another tissue around it. Tie a string to make the head and fluff up the rest to be the body and wings. (An adult will need to do this part.) Children can add eyes with a marker and glue on a beak. The teacher said it’s so cute to see the children put the bird in the nest and carry it gently as if it were real.
*Good time to introduce vocabulary words like “fragile” and “delicate.”
*How about informative writing? How to build a nest.
*Creative thinking - What would you do if you were a bird?
                                           
Two Little Blackbirds
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill. (Stick up both thumbs.)
One named Jack (Wiggle right thumb.)
And one named Jill. (Wiggle left thumb.)
Fly away Jack. (Put right thumb behind back.)
Fly away Jill (Put left thumb behind back.)
Come back Jack. (Bring back right thumb.)
Come back Jill. (Bring back left thumb.)

Opposite variations:
One named Happy and one named Sad… (Say happy and then sad.)
One named Loud and one named Soft… (Say loud and then soft.)
One named Fast and one named Slow… (Move one fast and one slow.)
Continue letting children think of names and motions for the birds.

                                             
Bird Puppet
One more little bird day project that’s made with felt, glue, and a wiggly eye.                                                                                                   Cut out two bird bodies similar to the one shown. Cut out the wings on the fold. Glue around the edges leaving a 2” opening in the bottom where you can insert your finger. Cut a 2” slot in the top and insert the wings. Add a beak, eyes, and you’re ready to fly.
*Call it “Word Bird” and let children wear it to read words.
*Use it to track from left to write as you read chorally or count on the calendar.
*Play the “quiet game” with word bird. One child wears the bird and says:

         Blue bird, blue bird, how quiet can you be? (Insert whatever color.)
         Fly to a quiet friend, one, two, three.
The child passes the bird to a quiet friend who comes to the front of the room and the game continues.

Birdies  (Happy Everything CD)
Way up in the sky (Put hands in arm pits and flap arms
The big birdies fly. like a bird.)
Way down in the nest (Make a nest by cupping hands.)
The little birds rest.
With a wing on the left, (Wiggle left arm like a wing.)
And a wing on the right, (Wiggle right arm like a wing.)
The little birds sleep (Put head down on palms as if sleeping.)
All through the night.
SHHHHHH! (Put finger over lips.)
DON’T WAKE UP THE BIRDIES!
Then up comes the sun. (Put arms over your head.)
The dew falls away. (Bring down palms.)
Good morning! Good morning! (Put open palms around your head.)
The little birds say.
*This is the perfect song to demonstrate the exclamation point and talk about exaggeration!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

SPRING THINGS LIKE BUTTERFLY WINGS


Is there anything more magical or amazing than the life cycle of a butterfly? We may grow older, but we're still children at heart when we see a butterfly. There are so many learning opportunities from caterpillars and butterflies: comparing and contrasting fiction and non-fiction books, saying finger plays, writing books about the life cycle, art projects, dramatizations...

Butterflies
(Tune: Up on the Housetop)
First comes the butterfly (Hook thumbs and flutter fingers.)
Who lays an egg.
Out comes a caterpillar (Wiggle index finger.)
With many legs.
Then the caterpillar
Spins and spins (Roll hands around.)
A little chrysalis
To sleep in. (Place head on hands.)
Oh, oh, oh! (Fingers around eyes.)
Look and see.
Oh, oh, oh!
Look and see.
Out of the chrysalis, (Hook thumbs and flutter fingers.)
My, oh, my!
Out comes a (Move butterfly fingers all around.)
Beautiful butterfly!

Drama
Let children act out the life cycle of a butterfly. First, they lay on the floor in a ball. Next, they crawl around like caterpillars. Can they spin around and make a chrysalis? Finally, they can spread their wings and FLY!

Baggie Butterfly
Make a butterfly by tearing up little pieces of colored tissue paper and putting them in a 
zip lunch bag. Gather up in the middle and twist on a pipe cleaner to make the body and antennae. Attach a string for flying.


Smoosh Painting
Cut butterfly shapes out of newsprint. Fold in half. Let children drop paint with a spoon or eye dropper on one half. Fold and rub. Open to view your butterfly.

                                      
Life Cycle Flip Book
Make a flip book for the children to illustrate the life cycle of the butterfly.
                                                                                   
I've got a special free song download called "Caterpillar's Story" for you on my website on April 1st - and that's no joke!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I'M A SEE SAW!

I’m off to Utah for their Early Childhood Conference. Salt Lake City is absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait to sing and dance with their enthusiastic teachers. Next week I’ll be in New Orleans and Jackson, MS, but I’ve been busy creating new blogs so you’ll get something from me every day!

Do your students even know what a seesaw is? I was pondering this in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. (Thank goodness I have my blog to think about instead of worrying about landfills and taxes.) We had seesaws on playgrounds at one time, but most have disappeared…like dinosaurs…and finger plays. Your students will probably come across a seesaw in a book or cartoon if not in real life. I did the movement activity below as a brain break with my students and they loved it. Ask your students if they know what a seesaw is? Some people call a seesaw a teeter-totter. Can they make a seesaw with their body? Do the chant slowly several times with a syncopated beat. Be sure and be a little dramatic with the “boo-hoo.”

I’m a seesaw    (Spread legs apart. Arms stretched out horizontal.)
In the park.
Children ride me   (Right arm down to right leg and left arm in air.)
Until dark.   (Left arm down to left leg and right arm in air.)
Then off the jump   (Jump feet together.)
And home they run.   (Run in place.)
While I stay in the park   (Arms stretched out again.)
All alone…boo hoo!   (Bend head sadly to right and then left.)

Have children stand like a seesaw. Explain that a seesaw is similar to the balance scale in the math center. When you put something heavy on one side, it goes down and the other side goes up. Let’s pretend you are a balance scale. If I put a brick in your right hand, what will happen? I’ll take the brick away from your right hand and put it in your left hand. What will happen now? Give other examples for children to demonstrate with their arms. Put pretend amounts of numbers in the children’s hands and have them show you with their arms. Here are 6 apples for your right hand and 3 apples for your left hand. Here are two books for your right hand and two books for your left hand…etc.

*Challenge children to construct a seesaw in the block center or with objects from a junk box.
*Look for pictures of seesaws in children’s books.

video




Friday, March 21, 2014

HUNTING FOR SPRING

Yes, Virginia, there is a season called SPRING! I know many of you think it’s an imaginary land, but one morning you’ll wake up and hear a bird sing or see a crocus blooming through the snow. 

Nature scavenger hunts are always fun for children, but I adapted this one for a spring 
walk. If you teach older students divide them into small groups and let them hunt for the objects on the playground. Give them paper and pencils to record their findings. (I think I smell a writing standard here!)
Hint! Do this as a large group activity with younger children.

                                               
Spring Scavenger Hunt
Can you find a sign of spring?
Can you find something older than you?
Can you find something younger than you?
Can you find something rough?                    
Can you find something that feels soft?
Can you find something living?
Can you find something dead?
Can you find something smaller than your fingernail?
Can you find something bigger than you?
Can you find something green?
Can you find something yellow?
Can you find something that smells good?
Can you find some trash? Pick it up and throw it away!
Note! You may need to adapt some of the items to your habitat.

Spring Acrostic
After a spring walk, have children write the word spring vertically down the left side of their paper. Can they write a word for each letter that is a sign or symbol of spring?
Hint! With younger children do this as an interactive writing activity. 


Spring Words
How many words can they write from the letters in “spring”?

Spring Designs

Let children write the word spring in the middle of a sheet of paper and then make a spring design out of it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

BLOOMING WITH BLOOM'S QUESTIONS


Bloom’s Taxonomy is probably the most well-known hierarchy of assessing thinking.
As I was researching this topic I thought,  "Do teachers really care about this?"  The answer is YES because we all want our children to THINK!  I bet you already ask many of these, so take a look and then you can kiss your brain!

Level One – Knowledge – Ask students to identify and recall information.
Who____________?
What____________?
Where__________?
When__________?
How many_______?
Define_________
Describe_________
What happened after ______?
Can you name _________?
Can you tell why ________?
True or false?

Level Two – Comprehension - Ask students to organize information or put it in another form.
Re-tell _________
What is the main idea?
Can you summarize?
What do you think might happen next?
Who was the main character?
Give an example______
Can you explain_____?
Describe _____

Level Three – Application - Have students use facts, rules, and principles.
How is ____related to ______?
Could you think of another instance where ____?
What would happen if______?
Who would this information be useful to?
Can you think of a lesson/rule from_______?
What would you do______?

Level Four – Analysis - Ask students to break information into parts.
How does ____compare/contrast with _____?
If ___ happened what might the ending be?
What are the parts of______?
What was the turning point____?
What was the problem with_____?
How is____ similar to ____?
What’s fact?  What’s opinion?
  
Level Five – Synthesis - Invite students to compile information in a new way.
Can you think of a song… solution…
What ideas can you add to____?
What if______? 
Why do you suppose that____?
How many ways can you_____?

Level Six – Evaluation - Ask students to develop an opinion or make judgments.
Is there a better solution____?
How would you have handled____?
How would you feel if_____?
What changes would you recommend_____?
Do you agree______?
What do you think about____?

Hint!  Write sample questions for each level on color coded paper.  Store them in a can and use them to spark questions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

PICK ME! PICK ME!

I’ve shared the “pick stick” idea before, but if you’ve never made them, this is a good week to give it a try. Take a look and see if you can find “pick” another simple idea for asking more meaningful questions.

Pick Sticks – Ask each child to write his/her name on a large craft stick. Color one end green and one end red. Place the red end in the bottom of a can. Ask a question, and then choose a stick. That child gets to answer the question. Return their stick to the can with the red end up.

Right Now! Right Now! Right Now! – Children stop and freeze. Teacher asks, “Who can tell me something right now that they’ve learned that they didn’t know when they came to school this morning?”

Sign Language (Yes/No) – Teach children the signs for “yes” (wiggle fist in the air) and “no” (touch index and middle finger to thumb like a mouth closing).

How Much Do You Know? - Children hold up on their fingers from 1-5 to indicate how much they know about a particular topic.

Phone a Friend – If children don’t know the answer, allow them to phone a friend (place hand by mouth and ear like a phone) for help.
*They could also “ask the audience” for help with an answer.

Think Partners – Divide children up into pairs and let them discuss answers.
Children can also review information by “teaching” a friend what they have learned.

Written Response – Ask children to write the answer to a question.

Illustrated Response – Have children draw the answer to a question.

Choral Response – Children answer in unison.

Brainstorm – Brainstorm as a large group, small group, or individually.

Question of the Day – Write a thought-provoking question on the board each day. Take time to listen to children’s responses at the end of the day.

Student Created Questions – Let students generate their own questions for a review.

Any more questions? Oh, so you’ve been asked to include higher level questioning strategies in your lessons. Well, come back tomorrow and we’ll do the “Cliff Notes” version of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?

One of the most powerful questions teachers can ask is, “How did you know that?” If one child knows the answer and you ask them to THINK OUT LOUD and explain their reasoning, then it will help the other students scaffold to a higher level. You can use this strategy with pre-k children, 4th graders, or grad students. It works with a reading lesson, math, science, or social studies. Now, don’t be surprised when you start asking that question if they shrug their shoulders or respond, “I don’t know?” PAUSE! (Another great questioning strategy I’m not very good at.) Don’t say anything. Wait! They’ll eventually come out with something and then you can give them positive body language and say, “Good thinking!” Asking children to explain their thinking is good for the responder because it helps her clarify her thoughts. That child also serves as a constructive model for the other students.

Here are some other “tips” for asking good questions.

Open-ended – Ask open-ended questions, rather than “yes” or “no.”  
Convergent questions have one answer, but divergent questions encourage students to make new connections and think outside the box. 

Phrase Questions Clearly – Focus on one aspect at a time.

Acknowledge Responses - Avoid judging answers by repeating their response. “Good thinking!” “That’s close.” “I never thought about that before.” “Kiss your brain!”

Probe – Extend students’ thinking by having them clarify an idea or support an opinion.

Give Time - Help children think about what they want to say and provide for individual differences by asking children to smile if they know the answer. Allow 3-5 seconds of think time.

1-2-3 Tell – Ask a question and then slowly count, “1, 2, 3.” When you say, “Tell,” the children all say the answer.

Whisper & Release – Children whisper the answer in their fists. When the teacher says, “Release,” the students open their fists.

Connections – Demonstrate how to touch index fingers to indicate that they have made a connection in their brain. This will engage children when classmates are answering a question and let you know that they understand.

Now, here’s a question for you! Want to learn more about improving your questioning strategies? Come back tomorrow for another exciting episode!
                                                  

Monday, March 17, 2014

TOP O' THE MORNING TO YOU!

I journeyed to  
The rainbow’s end                    
And found not gold,
But you, my friends!

Thanks for being my friends! You might not find the leprechaun’s pot of gold today, but friendship is better than silver or gold! We used to sing a song in Brownies that went like this:
     Make new friends,
     But keep the old.
     One is silver and
     The other’s gold.

The song reminds me of how I try to keep the “old” songs, stories, rhymes, and games alive for you and children. You also have to make friends with “new” technology and standards. Embrace the “new”, but keep your feet grounded in the “old.”

Here’s a leprechaun’s magic wand to make with your kiddles today. Take a square sheet of paper and color on all four sides as shown. Turn over and start at one corner and roll up tightly. Tape the end. Taaa daaa! 

*Use the magic wands as pointers to track words, count on the hundreds chart, find details in pictures, etc. Children could also write stories about what they would do if they had a magic wand.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

MOVING THE MORNING MEETING

Is your morning meaning (aka circle time) growing and growing and getting longer and longer? There’s limited time children can sit and pay attention, but this idea might help spark interest in your morning routine as you build skills. If you have 4 walls in your classroom, you could designate each wall for “My World,” “Math and Science,” “Word Wall,” and “Alphabet Wall.” No worries if everything is on one or two walls in your classroom. The key to the success is having children stand and move instead of having them sit. As children stand and face each wall or content area, you can engage them in some of the songs, movements, and interactive activities suggested.

My World
What? flag, US map, picture of President/Governor
                  poster of “Cheers and Celebrations”
How? Sing a good morning song, say the pledge, do a
                  handshake, review rules, etc.

Math/Science
What? calendar, weather chart, hundreds chart, daily schedule
How? Sing songs about the days of the week or the months.
                  Review your daily schedule.
                  Sing the weather song and have a “meteorologist” report.
                  Count, add boys and girls present, think of equations that equal
                  the date, etc.

Word Wall
What? word wall, flashlight, pointer, fly swatter
How? Sing, dance, clap, and cheer words. Make
                  sentences with words, play games, spotlight words,
                  spell words with sign language, etc.

Alphabet Wall
What? class alphabet, pointers
How? Sing alphabet songs and play letter recognition games.
                  Clap on consonants and jump on vowels.
                  Do Karate writing where children punch up high for tall letters,
                  punch in front of them for middle letters, and give a little kick
                  for letters with a tail.

Hint! Even if you don’t want to do all of the above activities, try breaking your morning meeting up this week with one or two active songs and you’ll be amazed at how it wakes up the brain.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

SUMMERTIME, SUMMERTIME, SUM-SUM-SUMMERTIME!




I think everybody is ready for summer right now. Enough about snow and assessments - think sun and vacation! Some of my sweetest memories as a child were summer vacations with the family. I’m a big (old) girl now, but I still get excited about summer and visiting new places and making new friends. As you’re thinking about what you want to do this summer, here are some great locations where you can be a “tourist” and learn at the same time.

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
Common Core and MORE!
College of Charleston
June 19 - 20, 2014
http://ecsummit.cofc.edu/ECSummit/Home.html

TAMPA, FLORIDA
Summer Camp for Teachers
June 23-24, 2014
sde.com

NEW ORLEANS, LA
Reading, Writing, Math, & More
June 25-27
http://www.sde.com/readwritemath2014/

LAS VEGAS, NV
I T K – I Teach Kindergarten!

July 7-10
http://www.sde.com/iteachk2014/

ST. LOUIS, MO
Summer Camp for Teachers
July 14-15
sde.com

DALLAS, TX
Summer Camp for Teachers
August 6-7
sde.com

Want to win a free registration for the New Orleans Conference?
1) Go to https://www.facebook.com/SDE4Educators
2) Like our page
3) Click on Contests
4) Enter your email

Hope you can come play, learn, and build a special memory with me this summer!

Friday, March 14, 2014

FIVE LITTLE STANDARDS

I sang at 3 schools Thursday and what a treat! I wanted to do the “happy” dance! (By the way, if you haven’t seen Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” it will make you smile!) Most of the teachers I visited with are “bummed” about the same things that are stressing you…
testing, standards, inappropriate practices… So, on a positive note today, here is a way to do five little standards with “Five Little Hotdogs.”

I know a number represents an amount of objects. K.CC.4
When I count I know that each number I say represents one object. K.CC4a
I can use objects, fingers, and pictures to help me show addition. K.OA.1
I can show different ways to make the number 5 out of 5 objects. K.OA.3
I can add and subtract within 5. K.OA.5

Five Little Hotdogs

Five little hotdogs frying in the pan. (Hold up five fingers.)
The grease got hot, and one went BAM! (Clap.)
Four little hotdogs… (Four fingers.)
Three… (Three fingers.)
Two… (Two fingers.)
One… (One finger.)
No little hotdogs frying in the pan. (Hold up fist.)
The pan got hot and it went BAM!

Act It Out
Materials: none
Directions: Choose five children to be hotdogs and stand in front of the room. Number them from left to right and explain that when you point to them in the rhyme they get to shout, “Bam!” and then fall to the ground.
*Let children act out addition problems. “I had 2 hotdogs (2 children stand up). I got 2 more (2 more children stand up). How many in all?” 


Missing Hotdogs
Materials: red and brown felt, flannel board
Directions: Cut hotdogs out of felt similar to the ones shown. Place five hotdogs on the flannel board and count them with the children. Tell the children to close their eyes while you remove several hotdogs. Have the children open their eyes and identify the number of hotdogs. How many are missing? How did you know that? Continue removing hotdogs with sets of five.
*Scatter and count the hotdogs. Place them in a row. How many? Place them in a column. How many? Place them upside down. How many? 

Play Dough
Materials: play dough, plastic plates, permanent marker
Directions: Write numerals 1-5 on plastic plates with a permanent marker. Children roll the play dough into hotdogs and place the appropriate amount on each plate.

Clothespin Hotdogs
Materials: spring clothespins, red paper, tape, file folder
Directions: Cut out hotdogs and tape them to the spring clothespins. Draw a frying pan similar to the one shown on a file folder. Cut a slit through the middle of the pan and insert the clothespin hotdogs.
*Children can make up number stories by adding and removing the hotdogs.
                                                     
Addition
Materials: paper, pencils
Directions: Demonstrate drawing pans (circles) and making hotdogs (vertical lines) to do addition problems.
Make your pan. (Children draw a circle.)

If I had 2 hotdogs (children draw 2 lines) and you gave me 1 more (children draw another line), how many altogether?
*Children could erase or cross through hotdogs to demonstrate subtraction.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

My webmaster sent this interesting tweak on assessment. I think most teachers would agree with me that testing has grown out of proportion. Education is not about children and learning – it’s about a cold, hard test score. 

Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, has introduced a bill that would require the commissioner of education to come up with ways to measure how active parents are in their children's learning. That information would be used as a mitigating factor when looking at student achievement, one of the things teachers will be evaluated on beginning next year…

"If there's not a partnership in the education of the child, there's a disadvantage to the teacher," Burzichelli told The Star-Ledger.


http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/opinion/editorials/teacher-evaluations-parents-matter/article_27b6b5bd-7d46-5be2-9ba6-64bb5111f109.html?mode=jqm#.Ux76iV3dKTw.

This whole assessment thing makes me ANGRY! Instead of teaching children, educators are spending their time testing. What’s the point? 40 years ago when I started teaching I didn’t have to worry about assessment and record keeping. But, you know what? I knew where each child was in my room. I knew their strengths, their weaknesses, and how to motivate them. I didn’t need to put them in front of a screen to have a computer tell me…I KNEW them from eye contact and hands-on experiences!

I know I’m preaching to the choir. It’s like trying to hold back the ocean, but at least there are some rumblings and grumblings that might indicate a change is coming. Never give up!

Children are like caterpillars. They need time to squirm and wiggle…create and explore…play and talk…do their own thing…and they will all FLY!!

Little Caterpillars
“Let’s go to sleep,” (Wiggle fingers.) 
the little caterpillars said,
as they tucked themselves (Fold fingers down.)
into bed.

They will awaken (Slowly open fingers.)
By and by,
And each one will be (Clasp thumbs and wiggle fingers like a butterfly.)
A lovely butterfly!
                                                           

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

JUMP INTO SPRING!

I don’t know what it’s like in your part of the country, but it is GLORIOUS here in South Carolina! I think we really appreciate the sun after such a long, dismal winter. You just can’t help but smile and have a spring in your step. And speaking of steps and springs reminds me of how much fun I had jumping rope as a child…and then teaching my students to jump rope. For some of the children it was easy, but other children really had to work at it. Being persistent and not giving up is a good thing to learn. Jump roping also encouraged social skills, motor skills, and oral language. It’s good for the body and the brain!

Here are some chants we used to say, but you can adapt them if you don’t like the words. You could also use these on a rainy day. Just have the children get a pretend jump rope and jump along as you say the rhymes.
*You can jump on two feet or alternate jumping on feet.

Bubble Gum
Bubble gum,                
Bubble gum in a dish.
How many pieces
Do you wish?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5…

Bathing Beauty
Bathing Beauty
Thinks she’s a cutie
All she wears is bathing suities.
If you jump to 24, you will get an extra turn.
1, 2, 3…24

Cinderella
Cinderella dressed in yella.
Went upstairs to kiss her fella.
Made a mistake and kissed a snake.
How many doctors did it take?
1, 2, 3…8


Engine No. 9
Engine, engine number nine
Going down the railroad line.
If the train jumps off the track
You will get your money back.
How much money will you get?
1, 2, 3, …10

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, read the news.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, tie your shoes.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, go upstairs.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, sit down in your chair!

Blue Bells
Blue bells, cockle shells, eevie, ivy, over.
I like coffee. I like tea. I like you to jump with me.

Do you remember any jump rope rhymes? I’m sure if you asked Mr. Google you could find hundreds to add to this list. But, watch the words because some of them might be a little inappropriate!
                                                            
Jump Rope Rhyme Book
It might be fun to give children copies of the rhymes and let them make a book of jump rope rhymes. They could illustrate these and use them for independent reading.