Thursday, December 4, 2014

Go Noodle

The website that will change your life...

'Tis the season for lots of indoor recess, at least where I live in Minnesota, and this website is a life saver! It is the best collection of brain breaks I have ever found on the web. So easy to use and kids LOVE it...they BEG for it...they borderline worship it!

All you have to do is sign your class up...

Choose a "champ" (a mascot for your class)...

And get started selecting from an always growing collection of brain breaks!
They have activities designed to calm, energize, and challenge.
Most take only a minute or two and will leave your class refreshed and ready for more learning.

So...sign up and GO NOODLE!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back-To-School 2014

Long time, no blog! I took a break from all things "school" this summer and it was wonderful! By the end, I was ready to be back in the classroom, though. It's always fun to set up and re-start for a new school year. Here is a glimpse at my classroom set-up:

Meeting Area

Classroom Library

Teacher Table
(I don't have a desk and LOVE it!)

Smart-board/Instructional Area

Desk Arrangements
(Love my cute pennants)

A Panorama of how it all comes together!!
(My room looks huge in this pic. Wish it was that big.)

Happy Back to School Everyone!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Class Activities

I am ALWAYS on the lookout for new games and activities to use as brain-breaks or team building activities in my morning meeting --especially now that the kids have spring fever! To organize my expanding collection, I write the name of the activity on a large Popsicle stick and store them in a cute mini-pail from Target. These hang in our meeting area.

Here are some of our favorite activities:

2-4-6-8: This is like the classic team cheer. The class stands in a big circle and everyone puts one hand in toward the center. All together, cheer this chant: "2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate? __(name)___, yeah! yeah!, ____(name)___, hey!" During the chant, one child goes around inside the circle and gives a "low five" to each person. They should return to their spot by the time everyone chants, "hey" then the next person goes in the center. Repeat until everyone has a turn. At the end we like to have everyone put their hand in the center and we do a big cheer to our school or class.

North, South, East, West: This game is SO simple but the kids LOVE it! In your classroom, post labels on the walls of the 4 directions (North, South, East, and West). One child hides their eyes and counts down from 10. During the countdown, everyone scrambles around the room and chooses one of the 4 directions. When the leader gets to zero (eyes still closed), he/she calls out a direction. Everyone who is standing in that direction is out! The game repeats until one person remains as the winner (or everyone is just out!).

1-2-3-4: Get ready to dance the wiggles out! Everyone stands in a circle and chants, "1-2-3-4 come on __(name)___, hit the floor! We're so glad you're hear today! Makes us shout hip-hip-hooray!" (We also do a pat-clap beat to keep the rhythm going). During that time, a student goes in the middle and gets dancing! Repeat until everyone has had a turn. At the end we like to do, "1-2-3-4 come on EVERYONE hit the floor!"

I 8 the : A silly counting game. To start someone says "I 1 the ___(insert something silly)__." The next person says, "I 2 the ___." Keep going until you get to "I 8 the ___." It sounds something like this, "I 1 the toad. I 2 the toad. I 3 the toad. I 4 the toad. I 5 the toad. I 6 the toad. I 7 the toad. I 8 the toad." I ate the toad!!! (HAHAHA!) You can see how kids would get into this!

Hot Dog: Another counting game. To play, you need a ball, beanbag, or something to pass around the circle. The first person starts with 1, next person 2, next person 3, next person 4, then instead of 5 the child says hot dog and sits down. Start again from 1 and continue counting until "hot dog!" The game ends when the last child sits down. The goal is to go as fast as you can so kids love timing the game and keeping a "hot dog record." As they get good at it, you can make it more challenging by counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, etc.

Silent Ball: SO easy but the kids beg for it and it's one of the quietest times in our day (bonus for the teacher!). It's also great for practicing eye contact and communication without speaking. Stand in a circle. Start a timer. At that point, NO ONE can speak or make any noise. Continue to toss the ball across the circle to each other for as long as possible. The game ends if someone makes noise or the ball drops. It's fun to keep a record posted for this game, too, trying for a longer and longer time. 

Hope this has given you some ideas for getting your class moving and working together!           Comment below if you have more.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Our Class Promise

It's usually the beginning of the year when classes' are working on establishing expectations and setting the tone in the classroom community, but the "home-stretch" of the school year can often be a time that behavior starts to slip and you have to re-visit the topic.

In my classroom, we call it our class promise. At the start of the school year, we have discussions during our morning meetings about what we want our classroom to be like and what we all need to promise to do in order to make that happen. The list is often quite lengthy and long, but in time patterns emerge (I'm usually charting their ideas on a large chart paper as we go along). Once we see the common themes, we try to narrow it down to 4 to 5 BIG ideas that then become our class promise. I post these prominently above our meeting area where they will stay for the whole school year. Each child also creates an art project of him/herself (which is also a great social studies lesson!) and we hang that that with the class promise to show that we're all in this together. It takes teamwork to make a great classroom! I like this process because everyone has a voice and everyone shares a common vision. It helps the rest of the school year run so smoothly.

From time to time, we may re-visit a discussion about one promises that isn't going so well. Right now that would be "Listen and follow directions." (First graders having a hard time with that?!? No!) But it doesn't take long to address the problem and come up with a solution because everyone is dedicated to the class promise.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wake Up Your Brain

Many teachers ask kids to work on some kind of "start of the day" activity upon entering the classroom. Some call it seat work, others call it morning work, but I call it "Wake Up Your Brain." The kids love this fun play on words and it brings a playful element to sometimes boring or routine (but necessary) tasks. 
 I started doing "Wake Up Your Brain" in my first year of teaching when I noticed kids needing to do one short academic task to set the tone for being at school. I used to have them just start with some choice time where they could play games, do puzzles, color, legos, etc. Things would get a little rowdy when we went straight into play! I still find that time to be really valuable but I've found that it's better when they have already completed a learning task to kick-off the day! Usually, I choose something simple that they can do alone or with a partner. It's a great time to do some math practice pages, handwriting practice, or other "busy work" kind of things that support and reinforce learning. I don't usually introduce something brand new.
I created a cute sign to hang on the corner of my whiteboard then I write the task in the same place each day. The kids know to come in the classroom in the AM, put their things away, and look at the white board for the "Wake Up Your Brain" task. Then they're off with a great start to the day!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year, New You!

January is the perfect time to revisit goals and expectations in the classroom. One fun way to do this is to have your students create their own new year's resolutions for school. We share our resolutions by making a "new year's self" complete with our resolution written on the hat. It makes a cute bulletin board for the room, plus hanging it up holds students accountable to really working on their goals.
This idea is ALL OVER Pinterest in many various forms, but I wanted to share the way I did it in my classroom + offer you a free printable of the lined paper for the hat! Happy New Year!
Click for printable: PDF of New Years Resolution Hat Paper