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Saturday, November 10, 2012


The weather outside was frightful, but the teachers inside were delightful!  Oh, my, oh, my!  I didn’t meet any Mounties, but I sure met some GREAT teachers last week at the Early Childhood Education Council in Edmonton, CA.  What an awesome conference with Alberta’s BEST teachers!  Take a look at the balloon sculpture that they did of me!  Blue eyes, pearls, and everything!  (Please say I really don’t look like that!)
Early childhood teachers have a unique quality wherever I go.  They are caring, giving, and hold hands and stick together – just like we tell the children to do.  Here are some teachers with a photo of their colleague who was unable to come due to breast cancer.  I “THINK PINK” and hope that we are able to beat that monster soon!
By the way, I am embarrassed to admit it, but when I’m on the road I watch TLC “Say Yes to the Dress.”  Last week Lorie (the owner of Atlanta’s bridal boutique) opened her heart to share her experience with breast cancer.  The courage, humor, determination, and honesty that she modeled was inspiring.  If you know anyone battling breast cancer, I’d certainly recommend the show.  Lorie is a “Steel Magnolia” for sure!

The conference was held at the world’s largest mall, and I could hardly wait to finish my sessions so I could get out there.  I walked around with my bag of caramel popcorn like a little country kid in the big city.  WOW! 

Here are a few ideas the teachers shared.

Snowball Fight  (Denyse Boyd)
Write one letter (capital or lowercase) on paper.  Divide the class in half.  Children wad up the paper with letters to make snowballs.  They throw their snowballs at each other and then pick up a snowball and try to find their partner. 
*Make similar games with sets and numerals, math facts and numerals, etc.

Alphabet Soup (Kelly Clarke)
Sit around the “pot” (carpet) and pass out a letter to each child.  The teacher starts the activity by saying, “Our soup needs /k/.”  The student holding the K puts it in the pot and says, “Our soup needs ___.”  The game continues as letters are added to the soup.  Encourage the children to look at their fellow “chefs” to see which letters/sounds are still needed in the soup.  (Never leave a chef stranded.  Even the best chef has a sous-chef!)
Stir the soup with a spoon/pointer.
*Students pretend to pick out a letter and eat it.  Then they “burp” the sound!

Car Wash Cheer  (Kelly Clarke)
Roll up your windows.  (Pretend to roll up each side.)
Polish your car.  (Brush hands on each shoulder.)

A-B Parnters  (Sharon Norman)
Divide the class into A-B partners.  Encourage them to discuss things with their partner when the teacher is busy or to check in with their partner for assistance.  Partners are trained to notice one super-de-duper thing and one thing they can improve on.   “I notice you did super-de-duper coloring, but I also notice that you need to add your name.”
*Don’t you love “super-de-duper”?

Marching around the Alphabet  (Sharon Norman)
Place letter tiles (or any type of alphabet letters) on the carpet in a circle.  Children march around the alphabet until the whistle blows (or music stops).  Students bend down, pick up a letter, and tell their neighbor on each side which letter they are holding.
*Hap Palmer made the original song, but you could use any music.

Letterland  (Sharon Norman)
This is an awesome, multi-sensory way of teaching the alphabet.  There are visual characters and actions for each letter.  You can catch a glimpse of the “Letterland” characters here:

Sliding Blends  (Joline Huisman)
Put a picture of a slide on the board (Smart, white, or plain old chalkboard).
Write a word on the slide and then use special voices to make the sound of climbing the slide to read the sounds.  Talk about how the first time you go down a slide it’s a bit scary so hang on to the sides really tight and go slowly down.  Slide down the slide  saying the sound of each letter.  When you get to the bottom, climb back up because it was so much fun.  Now it’s not so scary and you can go faster.  Put your hands in the air and slide down really fast blending the sounds together to read the word.

Voice Levels  (Jolien Huisman)
Practice using different voice levels.  Voice 1 is no voice; voice 2 is whispers; voice 3 is quiet talking voice; voice 4 is regular talking voice; voice 5 is outside voice.  When dismissing children from circle time, hold up name cards or puppet people (children’s photos attached to straws) using voice 1.
*You could also use different voice levels for singing songs, saying rhymes, rereads of big books, etc.
I found this photo of some different types of puppets 
you could use for songs, transitions, stories, etc.