Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Talk about hitting pay dirt!  Did I get some great ideas in North Carolina last week!!  Someone once said, “Teachers don’t steal ideas, they harvest ideas!”  Well, I’ve got some terrific ideas for you to harvest and adapt for your classroom.

My journey started with a concert at my friend’s grandson’s school in Durham.  The kindergarteners were so delightful it made me want to go back to the classroom.

Here we are doing the “Banana Dance.”  I used to be called the “Tooty Ta Lady,” but now the kids call me the “Banana Lady.”

William showed me how to do the eagle wave by crossing the wrists and wiggling the palms.
Envelope Factory
This is how teachers take an idea and milk it for all its worth!  I’ve showed you before how to cut an envelope in half to make a puppet.  Look how this can be used to reinforce Core Standards.
*Put a period on one side and a question mark on the other.  When the teacher makes a statement, children hold up the period.   When the teacher asks a question, the children hold up the question mark.
*Write “fact” on one side and “opinion” on the other side.
*Write “fiction” on one side and “non-fiction” on the other side.
*Write “yes” on one side and “no” on the other side for a quick review.

Mustard Cheer  (Trish Snyder)
Clap one hand on top of the other so it looks like you are holding a bottle as you squeeze it and say, “Th th th th thpt thpt.”

Letter Pops   (Kristi Moore)
Glue upper and lowercase letters on jumbo craft sticks.  Children can match letters that go together.
*You could also use these for helping children find a partner.

Silent Math  (Cindy Lang)
While students are waiting for the restroom or drinking fountain, one student shows the person beside them a number on their fingers and then a function sign (+ or -) and another number.  The friend will answer by showing the correct number of fingers.  Continue playing until everyone is back in line.

Syllable Stepping  (Michaela White)
As a way to transition and line up students, have them step out syllables and sounds.  Every student stands in place.  The teacher (or student helper) calls out a word.  The students move according to the syllables they hear. 
Ex:  arctic – 2 syllables – walk 2 steps in line
*Segment sounds (CVC words, etc.) by stepping for each sound and then sliding as you blend the sounds.
*Students can step on long vowel words, but they must freeze on short vowel words.

Twister (Traci Branch)
Use a Twister mat and write words, numerals, letters, etc. on the circles.  Write the words on the spinner and let the children play.
Hint!  A shower curtain can be used to make the game with a homemade spinner.

Word Family Step Book  (Gaye Vitolo)
Staple a step book at the top and cut up as shown.  Write a different rime on each section and then challenge children to write all the words they can that end with that sound.
*Use for long vowel, short vowel, and r controlled.
*Use for tenses or place value.
Question Strategy  (Jamie Turnage)
Students tap their brain to think of the answer to a question and then blow the answer in their hands.  They all release the answer on the count of three.

Wolfpack Cheer  (Julie Earnhardt, Lisa Byrom, Joan Munn)
Stick index finger and pinky up in the air and then touch middle finger and ring finger to your thumb to make the “wolf.”  Children can make fingers “bark” as they give a silent cheer for their friends.

Schoolwide Vocabulary Parade (Tammi and Tiffany from Manchester El.)
This is a one month project.  First, each child chooses a word and writes a proposal with the word, the definition, a sentence, and a picture.
Kindergarten – nouns
1st Grade – verbs
2nd Grade – adjectives
3rd Grade – multiple meaning words
4th Grade – similes
5th Grade – idioms
Based on their word, each child creates a hat that they wear on a special day and they parade around the school.

Word Wall Wednesday (Joan Munn)
Ask questions about words on the word wall.  Assess by having the student write down their answer on a “ticket.”
*On “Thinking Thursday” do math word problems.

This Is Why We Do What We Do!  (Tiffany Berry)
This is a touching story that a teacher shared:
In August of 2011 I was blessed to teach a beautiful little girl from Canada.  This student was previously home schooled on-line in Canada.  She was very intelligent, but struggled with being in a regular classroom setting.  She struggled with social interaction, communication, the mechanics of writing, and the lack of immediate gratification.  ALL of her previous learning had taken place on the computer, which would provide instant praise.  Coming into my first grade classroom was overwhelming for her!  We sing, dance, act, and write – all things this child was not accustomed to doing.  I had to teach her social skills of looking at someone when you are speaking to them, saying hello to friends, saying please and thank you, and that it is absolutely O.K. to run and play with your classmates at recess.  I adore the time I spent with this student, but if the world is only based on technology for children it is not the world I would like to see.  Children should laugh, jump, dance, sing, and create.  Technology can be great, but PLEASE let kids be kids!