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Tuesday, December 9, 2014


I had my final workshops for 2014 last week in Springfield, MA, Albany, NY, and Binghamton, NY. It might have been cold outside, but the teachers warmed up the room with their energy and enthusiasm. I bet you’ll all find at least one super idea just right for your class from the activities they shared! 

C’est La Vie (Reenie King) 

To role-play coping mechanisms, instead of saying “Oh, my!” we practice “C’est la vie” or “that’s life” in French. Show your class France on a map and say it with a dramatic French accent. 

Smart Centers (Reenie King)

Call centers “Art Smart,” “Math Smart,” “Drama Smart,” “Building Smart,” “Writing Smart,” “Reading Smart,” etc. It helps children realize that the work/play they do in that center is making them smart. It also encourages them to take it more seriously.

Colored Paper (Reenie King)

Instead of using plain white paper for creating pictures, use light colored paper. It encourages children to create more colorful and realistic details in their pictures and they are more careful in what they produce.

City of Names (Cindy Hartney)

Use sentence strips and outline children’s names with a black Sharpie. Color in with crayons and highlight the windows. Use this for open house and see if the parents can find their child’s name.
*Children can use this same technique for sight words.

Send Tattles to the President (Gina Abysalh Brassard)

Put the President’s picture on a mailbox. The kids draw or write their tattle and put it in the box. The teacher explains that she will mail them to the President every Friday.
*There are some cute little mailboxes at the dollar store right now.

My Smart Hands App (Tracie Lord)

Alphabetical list of many signs with a short video clip and explanation. and are other good websites for sign language.

Peace Flower (Abigail Cadigan)

When kids are having an argument they get the peace flower. (If a person offers it to you then you cannot refuse it.) Both students put both of their hands on the peace flower and they can’t let go of it until they come up with a solution that works for BOTH of them.
*Students are free to go to the peace flower whenever they need it. They do not need to ask the teacher. 


Can You Dig It? (Becky Nunn)

Pretend to dig as you say each letter. Say the sound when you toss it over your shoulder.

Vowel Basketball

Dribble 4 times for the short sound /a/ /a/ /a/ /a/
Shoot a basket for the long sound /aaaaa/

Guinea Pig Cheer (Melissa Schmidt)

Make five squeals of delight as you touch each finger. On the last finger make a long squeak.
Squeak! Squeak! Squeak! Squeak! S-Q-U-E-E-E-A-K!

PRIDE (Dina Baker)

Before a student can say he’s “done,” ask him to self-assess with this acronym…
P- put my best into it.
R – really followed directions.
I – I used my neatest writing.
D – Developed my idea.
E – Excited to show it.

Itsy Bitsy Book (Heather Robilotto)

Fold a sheet of paper in eighths. Fold in half and cut a slit halfway down. Squeeze sides and wrap around.

Syllable Jam (Heidi Sprouse)

We’re jamming, we’re jamming, (Step back and forth and clap hands.)
We’re jamming to the beat.
We’re jamming, we’re jamming,
Clapping is so neat.
We can clap the beats or syllables in…
Our names, words about winter, etc.

Rhyming Hop

Mop – Hop (Hop on each word.)
They end in “op.” (Hop one more time.)
*Heidi has written 3 books on Amazon. “All the Little Things,” “Lightning Can Strike Twice,” “Aging Gracefully.”

No Biggy

This book by Elycia Rubin helps children feel it’s O.K. about problems that they have. We just say, “No biggy!”

Basket of Lotion (Jolene Clark)

Keep a basket with a variety of lotions with different scents. Label them:
Boo Boo Lotion
Smart Lotion
Reading Lotion
Be creative!!!

Lunchbox Poem (Lois Suffern)

If your students swing their lunchboxes all around here’s a poem for you.
I hold my lunchbox at my side.
I hang it in my hand and take it for a ride.
Next to my leg is where it needs to be.
Not above my elbow, but beside my knee.

Tablets (Rachel Magic Years School)

Purchase magna doodles (from Lakeshore) for the children and use these for writing words, letters, counting, drawing, etc. They think it’s cool to “get their tablets” and do
their work!

Holiday Voices (Carolyn Kisloski)

We use different “voices” for reading sight words this time of year. We do Frosty (where we shiver as we say the word), Rudolph (where we flash our hands in front of our nose like a blinking light as we read the word), and Santa (where we say the word 3 times "ho,ho,ho" style in a deep Santa voice). Santa style is fun with words like "no, no, no," "go, go, go," and "so, so, so." It really seems like the children are so excited to do the voice, that they relax and aren't nervous about reading the word, and read it so much easier.
*In the spring you could a little hop after each word for Easter like a bunny. In October do ghost (saying BOO after each sight word), scarecrow (scared), witch (with a cackle), and Jack-O-Lantern (making a HUGE smile after we say the word) .

You can visit Carolyn's website for some more fantastic ideas.