Thursday, 25 May 2017

Independent Group Learning

Hey All!

I am trying to be a better blogger and share lots of great classroom ideas with you!  So each week I am going to be focussing on one great thing I have done in my classroom that week.

This week I want to talk to you about how I use independent group learning in my Prep (Kinder) room.  In my classroom we call it rotations or group learning (I have trained myself not to use the word work!)

Very early on I get my kiddos to practice how to start and stop an activity on my signal and then how to move around to the next activity.  When I am doing this I use very easy games and activities that the kiddos can do by themselves while I am free to move around and help them learn the etiquette of group learning.  The amount of time you spend doing this is solely dependent on your class or group of kiddos you have.  One year we practiced for only one week before they picked it up, another year it took my kiddos three practices.  In the beginning we may only be at one activity for 5-10 minutes eventually stretching it out to 20-30 minutes later in the year.

So what do we do in these initial first weeks of rotations, easy,peasy activities!

  • Playdough
  • Threading
  • Drawing
  • Tracing
  • Cutting
  • Counting manipulatives
  • Listening to stories on ipads
  • Tracing our names
  • Puzzles
  • Sorting

Are you getting the picture?  I don't put any games in this first week as I have found that I spend most of the time with that group talking about rules, turn taking etc.  What they are learning during this time is a routine and procedure so you want to be available to help them with that.

When time is up I clap my hands (you can use whatever signal you want, a timer, a shaker, whatever works for you)  then I ask them to pack up the activity so it is ready for the next group not ready to put away.  I instruct the students to point to where they are going next and each table will have a number so they go to the next number, this is an opportunity for you to correct students on where they are going.  When they are quiet and pointing correctly you move them on!  I like to give them an instruction related to something we are learning so maybe moving like a certain animal or the beginning sound we are learning about etc.

When your kiddos have got a better idea on how to move around then you are able to start with them being in one group with you and the other group independent activities.  This is when I will start introducing a game with me one week and the next week it goes in as an independent activity, this gives them extra practice with a concept and social skill!

I love doing rotations and small group learning, it is such a great way to focus on individuals and pinpoint a skill or concept that they may be struggling with.  Not only that it is fun, fast and your planning is done for more multiple days.  

My next post will have more of the practicalities on how to group students and how to plan the groups.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Mega May Giveaway!

I know, I know, it has been a very, very long time since I have posted and well....that's life I guess.

The good news about this though, is today I am posting a great giveaway for you!

TEACHERS!!! It’s been a long school year and it’s time for a Gift Cards for Teachers MEGA Giveaway! We are ready to reward 5 LUCKY teachers by giving away 5 $100 gift cards! You could win a $100 Gift Card to Target, Amazon, Erin Condren, or Teachers Pay Teachers! Details for entering our Gift Card Giveaway:

All you need to do is enter the Rafflcopter below for your chance to win one of 5 $100 Gift cards! What?!  That sounds to easy right?  Well no catches here, go ahead be in it to win it!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 4 November 2016

Twinkl, Twinkl

Hey friends!

I wanted to share a website with you that I have been using this term.  Twinkl is a great education resource website that has Australian Curriculum aligned resources for you to download and print. You can save your resources to your computer or to your account which means you can access it from any computer as long as you have an internet connection.

I used some great Jack and the Beanstalk resources in my first couple of weeks back at school to support my Biological Science and integrated it with my literacy block as well as rotations.

The great thing about using Twinkl is that all of the resources look similar so that it is a seamless transition from one activity to the next.

The first thing we used was the narrated story of Jack and the Beanstalk which I had saved in my account, it opened in a new window and to save it on to my computer I just right clicked and saved as an mp4 file.  There are options to save the resource as other files such as a PowerPoint which is also very helpful.  I used this as my Close Read and we discussed some of the vocabulary from the story and then went on to talk about the characteristics of Jack.

Some of the other items I used were an oral language picture, plants and fruit/vegetables matching cards, counting to 20 and a Jack and the Beanstalk game.

Needless to say my kiddos loved all of the activities.  It is a great save when you have to quickly get together a lesson or activity on the run as well as a great way to help you plan a unit.

If you are an Aussie teacher then you are in luck!  Twinkl caters for our curriculum!That's right there is a whole section for the Australian curriculum and is organised by year level as well as topic or content.

You can join as a premium member individually or as a school and there are 3 different levels of access with different price points so a great way to cater to a variety of teacher budgets.

So if you are a time poor teacher who still wants to have great resources for your students this may be the answer for you.

*Disclosure: This review is an honest opinion of the author in return for a 6 month membership*

Monday, 3 October 2016

Roll and Cover Games

Hey friends just popping in to let you know about a new resource I have finally finished.  This has been on the back burner for a while so with horrible rainy weather I thought this was the perfect time to get it finished.  So I give you Editable Roll and Cover Gameboards!

This is my first editable product I have attempted and I am pretty happy with how it has turned out!  This file allows you to differentiate these game boards to suit your class and students or even for different groups.  You can add numbers, letters or sight words whatever your needs are, it really is endless.  You only need to teach your students once how to play this game and then it will become a familiar and easy center for your sttudents.

All you need to do is open the PowerPoint, choose the slide that has the dice then click on the 'text here' boxes and add whatever it is you want to be on the roll and cover game boards, print, cut and glue the dice together.  Next step is to choose what theme or gameboard you would like your students to use.  Choose from Summer, Autumn/Fall, Winter, Spring, Easter, Christmas gifts, Balloons, Dinosaurs and Stars.  Then just do the same thing for the gameboards as you did for the dice, each theme has 4 gameboards included.

Pictured above is the Stars themed gameboard, just click on the 'text here' and add whatever it is that you want the students to practice.  You are able to change the font, colour and size to suit your needs.
The great thing about this file is that I will be adding to it as I think of more great themes to add.

If you want a copy it will be half price sale for 24 hours only.  Just click on any of the pics to get your copy now.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Our indoor garden

To use the term "I have been a bad blogger" would be an understatement.....I can't even promise to do better, all I can say is that when I can, I will.  Big thank you to those who have stuck with me!

Currently I am on holidays for 2 weeks and I popped in to school today to update our home corner. We have been looking at Biological Science and with the end of term being super busy we didn't get a chance to finish it.  So I have decided to keep it going for Term 4 (before we head into Christmas activities....oh yeah we are heading there people)  We will be adding in some real plants and talking about what living plants need to stay alive and compare this to our investigations into what animals and humans need to stay alive.  I will also be using this area for some measurement activities and literacy ( I need to add in my books about gardens and plants as well as some of our words for our word wall).

So here are a few pics of what it looks like!

I moved our seasons tree into the "garden" and I have added a tent which is a time out/sensory escape for one of my students.  Inside the tent will be a timer and a flickering tealight  to help with calming.  The table has paper, straws, pipe cleaners, glue, scissors, drawing and writing utensils as well as a bunch of other craft stuff so the kids can create and add to our garden.

The glavanised tubs have brown rice, stones and lavender added as well as some plastic flowers for them to start the garden.  How cute are those flamingos!!

Some of the "tools" they might need, gloves, hose, watering can and small garden shovels.  There is also a chalkboard for them to write messages about the garden.

Here is a better look at what is in the tubs.

I'm really looking forward to the creativity and learning that will happen in our "garden" this term and what better way to celebrate spring!

Friday, 15 July 2016

The Real Top 5 Tips for Back to School

Well my friends I have spent the last 2 weeks with my butt on my couch and binge watching trashy TV....but now it is time for back to school.  I have been reading lots of tips for heading back to school and while I like to be organised and colour co-ordinated with my resources the reality is these are not the things that will help you to master the back to school rush.

We all know that heading back to school is like training for a marathon, most of the time though the only training you have done is putting on shoes with laces :)  Here are 5 easy to follow tips that will get you in fine form to meet and greet your students on the first day of school.

1. Bladder Training
Set an alarm for recess and lunch breaks and only have your toilet breaks on these alarms.  I know, I know this will be hard for you to push through after being able to dance and frolic your way to the toilet any time it pleased you and your bladder....but you really don't want to be doing the toilet dance in front of your students while you desperately think of deserts and dry ice.

2. Fake it Till you Make it.
Practice your smile in the mirror.  You know the one, it conveys interest in what another person is saying to you while you are thinking about 500 other things you have to get done. Sure you want to hear all about the intracacies of the implementation of the new school policy on not having a margarita slushy machine in the staff room but there are other things that are more important....such as how you can implement a school policy on having a margarita slushy machine installed permanently in the staff room.
If Fake it Till you Make it was an embassy I would be the ambassador.

3. Hot or Cold
This one is important and super easy to train for.  Make a coffe, tea or any hot beverage of your choice, now put it in the refrigerator for 7-10 minutes depending on your taste.  Now go ahead and drink that "hot" beverage and then spit it back into the cup because you didn't realise it was cold.  The next part is optional, you can reheat that beverage in the microwave and then have just one sip, put it down and then come back to it at the end of the day.

4.The Stop/Start
What you need to do here is to start an activity such as folding the laundry, do this for 20 seconds, then walk off and leave it and start another activity such as reading a book, only do this for 20 seconds then put it down, walk away and start something else.  I think you are getting the drift here.  Make sure you leave all the unfinished activities till the end of the week and then you can have an afternoon of "Finishing Off" time.

5. Hug Time!
Finally you need to get ready for those hugs because even though we will be facing tying up 24 pairs of wet shoe laces, dry skin from all the hand sanitizer, diplomatically answering emails from "those" parents and avoiding heartburn from the lunch you had 1 minute and 37 seconds to eat, we wouldn't give any of it up.  Why?  That first day back we know we will be greeted with hugs or we may need to give hugs.  This is the most important tip be ready for those smiles or tears and hand out the hugs accordingly :)

Hope you are able to use some of these tips and have a great first day back at school!

Disclaimer: This is meant to be a humorous post and in no way do I guarantee that any of these tips will work :)

Monday, 13 June 2016

Teaching in the teens

Hi Ho folks!  We are currently enjoying the Queens Birthday long weekend here in Oz. I do think the old girl is just a little selfish having her birthday in our Winter but oh well I guess it is a good excuse to be on the couch with the heater on and some good movies :) thanks old duck!

But I digress, I really popped in to share our learning in our classroom.  The last couple of weeks we have been investigating the teen numbers.  We spent lots of time in term 1 looking at numbers to 10 and while I still have some littles that need to continue their explorations, the majority are ready to move onward and upward! Read on to the end to get a FREEBIE!

My main aim with the teen numbers was finding out if they knew that the one means one ten,so I asked them to explain what they thought the number 1 meant.  These are seriously some of the responses I got.

Student: It means number 1 is first.
Student: It means you can draw love hearts and go to a castle (ummm....what?!!!  but sure ok)
Student: It means a big number and a little number  (thought I was getting there with this one but he actually pointed to the 1 as being a little number)

So clearly we had lots of work to do.  We first looked at the number sequence to 20 on a hundreds board and they began to notice the patterns of adding ten more but still couldn't verbalise it.  Our next step was to make a teen number and then find the matching number on our snakes and ladders game outside. Still some students weren't matching numbers and amounts.  Hmmm, definitely needed more hands on investigations.

My next step was to make number chains, I gave each child ten strips of blue paper and then a number of yellow strips. I asked them to write 1-10 on the strips and then make it into a chain, then they counted on 11, 12, 13 etc until they had used all of their yellow strips.  This is where some of them started having their AHA! moment I had a number of them saying all teen numbers have ten and then some more.  We put the chains in order and this is when they could really see that all of their teen numbers had 10 in them.  We discussed that 10 has a 1 at the beginning and that teen numbers all have a 1 at the beginning, this was their next AHA! moment. This was the beginning of connecting that 1 to 1 ten.  Oh I love my job on these days :)

Our next lesson on teen numbers I gave out the number 10 written on blue card (see the connection?)  then a single digit number on yellow card.  I asked the students to draw the correct amount on each card but the 10 had to be drawn on the same side as the number 1 (left) and the single digit had to be drawn to the right of the number. Then I asked them to find a partner blue with yellow. Next we put the numbers together so that they look like the pics below

Love that this little went ahead and did ten but then realised that whoops!that  might be too many 

Now we are experts in our classroom on teen numbers.  I loved the idea of the cards so much I made a quick freebie for you :) just click on the pic below to get your copy.