Today over at Blog Hoppin’ teachers are finishing this sentence: “Activities like…” So how would you finish that sentence? As I was reflecting back on my career of 30+ years, some activities stand out in my mind. They were the engaging activities that developed a deeper level of thinking and understanding. But, more important than that, they were fun, the ones that kids remember years after they leave my classroom. In our print and go society, it’s even more important to be sure that we include activities that provide for authentic learning. One of my favorite sayings is, “The brain learns by pattern by seeks novelty.” So then how do I finish that sentence? Activities like this make learning fun and memorable! Here are a few of my favorites:
I love this poem by Shel Silverstein. My sweet hubby helped me sew this body snake. As we are singing the poem the snake can eat the kids! You can also use a king sized pillow case instead of sewing one from fabric. Just add a face and you are ready to go. So what are the standards: body parts, rhyming, sequencing, print concepts and developing oral prosody…which is essential for reading comprehension.
This song, “Five Cute Dalmatians” is sung to the tune of “Three Little Angels”. I made the puppets from dog food scoops, but you can also use the dust pans. As we sing the song, the children sit down to reduce the number of dogs. So what are the standards: number combinations, subtraction, subitizing and one less are all math standards, but you can also use the chart to teach any of the print concepts, sight words, or prosody that are all language arts standards.
When I first started teaching we actually had a standard that said, “Children will role play stories.” Now, I haven’t seen that wording in quite some time. But, role playing is an excellent “tool” used to show evidence of comprehension. Children are sequencing events and developing their awareness of characters and their adventures---both of which are common core standards. The Three Bears are made from splatter guards, felt, and spray paint. The Three Pigs are made from colanders. Can’t find pink ones? Just spray paint some of the silver ones! The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie is made from ball hats, spray paint, and a bed sheet.
So why do I do activities like these? Because I run into grown adults who say to me, “I remember when we…” followed by them recalling an activity similar to one of these. I promise you that sentence is never finished by saying “wrote a row of Bbs, drew lines to match capital and lower case letters, etc.” So, what is our job? Aren’t we suppose to develop schema, build a love of learning, form connections, inspire confidence? And this, teaching friends, is why I am a teacher!