Sunday, 11 June 2017

10 Must Have Classroom Essentials; Part 4

Problem: Students have a difficult time calming down.

In Kindergarten and First Grade especially, there are a lot of BIG feelings that come up in school, whether that be getting along with others, frustration over not being able to do something, or just plain feelings with no event attached!
I wanted to create a space in my room where students could go to get calmed down if they got frustrated so that we could speak when they are ready.
Here is what I have in my cool down corner:
-bean bag to sit in
-cards that show different ideas to cool down
-feeling pictures
-Magnetic calm down cards
-Small, medium and big problem
-Zones of Regulation
-Sand timer so they don't stay too long!

 -Calm down bottle
I found the idea from Preschool Inspirations.
I ordered everything off of amazon:

I love my magnetic feeling choose board. I got the idea from Conscious Discipline, but I wanted a magnetic board instead of the felt board they have. I printed the pictures on magnetic paper, cut them out and used a simple magnetic whiteboard. The kids (and my three year old who has one at home) love using this board!

How do you keep your kids calm in your classroom? What do you use in your calm down corner? Let me know in the comment section!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

10 Must Have Classroom Essentials- Part 3

Problem: The horrible fluorescent lighting in my room.

It seriously drives me crazy, I find the lights to be so overstimulating and if I could I would ditch them entirely! That being said, I found a solution is to turn half of them off and use lamps around the classroom to create that warm, cozy feel. I like ikea lamps but I found they haven't held up very well, so I found some other more sturdy lamps.

I have three in my room, but I would like to add a few more and am always on the lookout for a new one. What kind of lighting do you have in your room? What would you change if you could.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

10 Must Have Classroom Essentials- Part 2

Part 2:
Problem: Writing on completed student work and communicating with students (and parents) about the work.

As my students were completing their work I would write notes, abbreviations in various coloured pens for work that was complete, incomplete, needed to be corrected or I had worked with them. I found it was taking lots of time and the abbreviations I was using may not have been clear to parents when they looked through their children's work.

I wanted some personalized stamps of some kind and found these amazing self inking ones that I was able to make into exactly what I wanted. 

These save me SO much time and help the students quickly fix anything that needs to be changed as well as keep parents in the loop so they know if work was completed with teacher assistance. I just can't live without these now! I got them from Rubber Stamps, they have a great selection, I want to make so many more!
See you next week for part 3!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

10 Must Have Classroom Essentials- Part 1

I find as a teacher I am constantly scouring the internet/books/asking other teachers for innovative ways to solve problems that I encounter in my classroom. I decided to do a little series (I will TRY to do 1 each week) of the top 10 essential 'problem solving items' in my classroom. 

Problem: Losing my voice/students focusing on my voice and directions. 
Have you ever found that all of that talking makes your voice run out of steam pretty quickly? I know I have. I also know that my students have some, erm, trouble hearing my voice at times. I'm not a quiet person at all, but even with a loud voice I still have some students struggle to 'focus on the sound of my voice'.
I knew I needed a voice amplifier, and over the years I have managed to snag one from our district services or Library, but they can be difficult to come by and are often broken or missing parts.
So I went searching on the internet to see if there was something affordable that I could get for myself and then I wouldn't have to worry each year about finding one.

SOLUTION: Enter the WinBridge voice amplifier. This thing is amazing. No separate speaker required, I attach this to my belt at the beginning of the day and I am ready to go. It is easy to charge and I find it lasts for quite a while. The headset works well and I don't find feedback to be an issue unless I put the mic too close to the amplifier.

At around $40, this has saved time, effort and MY VOICE. I just can't live without this classroom essential.

Check in next week to find another MUST HAVE in my classroom.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Father's Day S'mores

As we get closer to June, I am trying to plan ahead for Father's Day. I always have a difficult time coming up with ideas for something to make for Dad, and of course remain sensitive to those students   for which this is a difficult day.

What better way to make dad happy than through his stomach? I decided to create a bunch of different Father's Day activities about... SMORES!!! Yum. 

The students created bags with enough crackers, chocolate and marshmallows for a SMORE for their Dad and themselves. They were SO excited, and many of them told me after they made them while they were camping over the weekend, so fun.

They also made a booklet and card to take home as well for that special guy that takes care of them. They loved writing the story. We made a canvas picture using their hands for the fire, which turned out super cute.

How do you celebrate Father's Day in your classroom? You can find the writing activity, tag for the SMORE bag, card templates and more in my Father's Day resource.
Thanks for stopping by, Happy Father's Day!


Monday, 31 October 2016

Lest We Forget- Remembrance Day in the Elementary Classroom

As a little girl, I can remember attending Remembrance Day ceremonies at school. While listening to the trumpets sad song I wondered what we were remembering and why it was so important.

As an adult I have a better understanding of the importance of remembering fallen soldiers from the wars of the past as well as honouring the veterans who proudly serve our country today. After my husband joined the reserves, and did a tour in Afghanistan, I felt an enormous responsibility in my classroom to connect students with Remembrance Day. Because so many of the veterans of WWI and WWII no longer with us, I wondered how to honour their memory so their sacrifice would never be forgotten.
 Here are some ideas, activities and resources to honour the fallen and teach your students about the importance of Remembrance Day.

Art: I love to do art projects for Remembrance day. I think my favourite image to create is the poppy and I have used different mediums, ideas and text to go with it. Here are a few different ones I have done over the years.

If you would like to find the step by step instructions for these art activities and many others please visit Gail, THAT ARTIST WOMAN. Scroll down the fall projects until you find Remembrance Day. You can also find more Remembrance Day art ideas on my Pinterest page.

Writing: A great writing activity for Remembrance Day is to write letters or postcards to Veterans or Soldiers currently serving. To find more information on where to send these messages please visit the Veterans Affairs website.

Reading: I love a good read aloud to introduce a topic to students; however, finding a story that is both appropriate for young children as well as relevant is a bit difficult for Remembrance Day. Here are a few that I use in my classroom.

'A Poppy Is to Remember' by Heather Patterson is probably one of my favourites. The pictures are beautiful, the text is simple and it helps students to understand more about why we wear a poppy and the importance of Remembrance Day. It also includes the ever important poem 'In Flanders Fields'.

'Lest We Forget' by Kerry Brown is a remarkable story in that it helps young children relate to the generation that went to war through images, in a way that is appropriate for young children. I think this book is a great tool that allows students to better understand what it must have been like for the soldiers and their families.

'What does Peace feel like?' by  wonderful imagery and would be a great starting place for a writing activity where students could write about what peace looks like, smells like or tastes like. I love the pictures and ideas from children. This gives students great examples of things that they experience in their own life and how they can bring Peace to those around them.

I love how 'Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion' by Jane Barclay uses animals to tell the story in this unique book. The little boy's grandpa uses animals to describe what he was feeling during his wartime experiences. It definitely gets me misty eyed at the end.  

                                                REMEMBRANCE DAY CEREMONY
If you are in charge of preparing the Remembrance Day ceremony at school, it can be a daunting task! Here is a great resource from the Veterans Affairs website with information about the CEREMONY.

One of the most important things at a Remembrance Day ceremony, besides the 2 minutes of silence, is inviting a Veteran to your school to lay a wreath and if possible speak to the students. My husband always attends the ceremonies at my school. When he was in Afghanistan a few of the junior high students wrote letters to him while he was there, and when he came back he talked to the boys and girls about his experience in Kabul. They formed a connection with him and I believe this made the Remembrance Day ceremony much more meaningful. If you would like a veteran to speak at your school you can find more information HERE.

Another great tool to engage students during the ceremony, or in the classroom,  is showing a video. This one always gets me emotional, and encourages students before the 2 minutes of silence to really take time to honour the fallen.

My husband made this video using pictures he took of a memorial wall in Afghanistan with messages dedicated to the fallen.

Click on the links below to visit other Canadian teacher-bloggers showcasing their ideas for Remembrance Day lessons.



Monday, 3 October 2016

Halloween Center Activities

As the leaves change colours, the weather becomes cooler, and the pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters come out of hiding, it can only mean one thing; it's October! I know that this month all I will hear about is one thing, and one thing only. You guessed it; HALLOWEEN!!!

First graders will probably ask every day in October if it is Halloween yet, and so as the anticipation builds and the excitement grows, when the day finally comes, they are about ready to explode! When October 31st arrives it is so difficult to focus on curriculum that I had to come up with a way to keep the students engaged and busy and what better way than, you guessed it, centers!

If possible, I ask an older grade to join us in the classroom so they can assist the grade one students with each activity. The centers take all afternoon as the students spend about 10 minutes at each one. I make sure to include math and literacy skills plus a whole lot of fun!! I prepare eight stations for the students, with direction cards at each one and materials all prepped and ready to go. They stay with their buddy and a small group of students for the entire afternoon.

I think the favourite is the snack center, I mean who doesn't love a spooky Halloween snack! I make sure they are healthy snacks because they will be eating so much candy at night, with a spooky twist. Eyeballs, Jack-O-Lanterns and Ghosts OH MY!

Our math center focuses on estimation. I always carve a pumpkin with the kids earlier in the week and we do some five senses writing about what we see, feel, and smell. I save then seeds, wash them off and then put a plastic bag in the pumpkin. Students take a small handful of seeds, estimate how many there are and record it.

I find it helpful to have buddies at this one as students often forget about the estimation part and skip right to counting and recording their seedsx.

We do lots of Language Arts; I include some spooky stories at one center, halloween sentence making at another and a listening center. I use my SMARTboard to show the story and hook up ear phones so the whole group can hear.
Another one of my favourite centers is the Haunted house! Students use their senses to predict what is in the jar. Some of them are too afraid to touch, but once they figure out what is actually in the container they can't wait to try it out! THE HAUNTED HOUSE IS A FREE ACTIVITY you can try out in your classroom by clicking on the picture.

I also like to do a craft with the students, a Jack-O-Lantern Lantern!!! Again, it is super helpful to have a buddy at the this station. I provide visual instructions for each step so it is easy to follow along. After students complete each activity I have them put it on top of their desk, and then at the end of the day they get to take everything home with them.
How do you deal with the Halloween Crazies in your class? To try out all of these centers in your classroom, click on the picture! Happy Halloween friends.