Thursday, June 16, 2016


SONG CATCHER was a popular movie in 2000 about a musicologist who discovered a treasure of traditional English ballads that had been preserved in the mountains of Appalachia for over a hundred years. Her goal was to "catch" the songs, preserve them, and share them with the outside world.

I consider myself a TEACHER IDEA CATCHER. As I travel across the United States I invite teachers to share their ideas and then I keep them alive for you on my blog.
In the remaining days of June I will revisit blogs from the past 5 years and share the “best of the best” with you. I'm hoping that you'll find at least one treasure each day that you will want to save and use in the new school year.
Can you believe that I started writing a blog in 2011? Here are some ideas from summer workshops five years ago. The “Beach Week” idea is absolutely brilliant!!!

Beach Week (Kathy Conway)

If you have a family vacation planned take your "ready to make" materials and supplies. Gather your family around a big table and have a "make and chat" party. Your family will love to help and the conversation will be great.

*Beach beverages optional but recommended.

Focus Finger Play (Pat Kesler uses this before handwriting. It wires up the brain!)

Two tall telephone poles (Fists touching with index fingers pointing up.)

Across them a wire was strung. (Touch middle fingers.)

Two little birds hopped on ((Put thumbs up on middle fingers.)

And sung and sung and sung. (Swing fingers.)

Facebook (Ruth Lefko )

Take two boxes and write "Facebook In Box" on one and "Facebook Out Box" on the other. Provide children with scrap paper, pencils, and markers. Children fold a sheet of paper in half and draw their face or a picture on the front. Inside they write a note to the teacher or a friend and place it in the "In Box." The messages are delivered and then the teacher or friend write a reply and place it in the "Out Box." What a great idea to encourage writing!
Short Vowels (Joanne Poland)
Here’s an active way to help children remember short vowel the chair – children stand at their chairs as you emphasize the short /a/
edge of the chair – children sit on the edge of their chairs = short /e/
in the chair – children sit in the chair – short /i/
on the chair – children stand on the chair – short /o/
under the chair – children crawl under the chair – short /u/

Name Game (Kristin Murray)
Put stickers on unifix cubes and write the letters in the children’s names.
-Count how many letters in each person’s name.
-Pair children up and see who has more, less, or the same.
-Graph names. Whose name is shorter, longer, or the same as the teacher’s name?

Bbbaaattt (Megan Stewart and Rachel Patterson)
Take the chorus for “Tooty Ta” and use it for blending CVC words.
/b/b/b/ /a/a/a/ /t/t/t/ BAT
/p/p/p/ /e/e/e/ /n/n/n/ PEN

A Fuzzy Little Caterpillar (Leanne Hutchison, Jackson, TN)
(Tune: "I Had a Little Turtle")
A fuzzy little caterpillar wiggled right by me. (Wiggle index finger.)
He wiggled long. (Wiggle finger away.)
He wiggled short. (Wiggle finger close.)
He wiggled right at me. (Wiggle finger at your face.)
I put him in a box. (Cup hands.)
"Don't go away I said!" (Point finger.)
But when I opened up the box
There was a butterfly instead! (Clasp thumbs and wiggle fingers like a butterfly.)

*You can adapt this song for "I had a little tadpole...I put him in a jar... Don't go away I said. . But when I opened up the jar a frog hopped out instead!"

Word Bags
Prepare bags with different multi-sensory materials similar to those below. Children choose a bag, take it to their desk, and then spell words (sight words, vocabulary, spelling) using the material in the bag.
*Wikki sticks
*magnetic letters
*colored pencils for rainbow words
*alphabet stickers
*alphabet blocks
*dry erase board
Chant Sight Words (Becky Ashton, Indianapolis, IN)
HE - muscles up and say "h"
muscles up and say "e"
flex muscles and say "HE"
SHE - flick hair on "s"
flick hair on "h"
flick hair on "e"
hands on hips and say "SHE"

Yummy Words (Sarah Kilfoil)
Let each child select a favorite word - yummy word! It can be a favorite food, something they like to do, etc. Place the words in a pocket chart or word wall and use for attendance.

Back to Back
This is a great brain break that a teacher in Indianapolis demonstrated with us. Every child needs a partner and touches body parts as the teacher calls out:
back to back (touch backs)
shoulder to shoulder (touch shoulders)
elbow to elbow
knee to knee
head to head
wrist to wrist
feet to feet
hip to hip
Continue calling out vaious body parts...
End with "bottom to chair" as children sit down!

Can You Dig It? (Rachel Lawrence)
Hide magnetic numerals in a sand table. Each student is given a sheet with math facts appropriate to their level. During math centers they have to do their facts and then dig out the answers (magnetic letters) in the sand.
*You can also hide letters and have children spell words.
Shape Crackers (Pamela Pounds)
Send a note to parents the first week of school asking them to send crackers to help the children learn their shapes. (Ritz - circles, Club crackers - rectangles, Doritos - triangles, Wheat Thins - squares, and Town House crackers - ovals.)
*Give children two crackers and ask them to describe how they are different.
*Have children eat one half of a cracker.
*Give children a square cracker and challenge them to nibble it into a circle.
*Give children two like crackers. Ask, “Are they the same amount?” Next, have them break one of the crackers into little pieces. Ask, “Are they the same amount now?” You’ll be surprised at their response. (This is called conservation of quantity and is an experiment Piaget used to demonstrate developmental stages.
*Give children a sheet of paper. Pass out a square cracker to each child and tell the children to draw what it looks like on their paper. Next, give them a circle shaped cracker and ask them to draw it. Continue with other shapes. It’s a fun way to practice pre-writing skills.

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