KinderGals: April 2015

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Building Brain Power through Role Playing and Storytelling

Since I retired, I have slowly gone through 30 years worth of “teacher hoarding.” You know, those things that we might need so we just can’t throw them away?  Over the last 3 years, I have either given away or thrown away a lot of stuff!!  Once I retired, I admit, I had an emotional attachment to many of the things, thus making this process very difficult. Like how cool was it when I found these photographs of my son Tyler that I once used in a lesson to show how babies grow? This was when he was in kindergarten!!!
Or how about these photographs of my children role-playing “ Little Red Hen”, taken more than 20 years ago,  that I had made into a handwritten book. 20 years ago we did a lot of “playing” in kindergarten.
Soooo many of those activities have gone by the wayside in many rooms in sake of preparing kids for the “test”! But stop and look at each chapter in this book and you will once again see the power of those activities that grow smarter kids!!!
Marcia says, “When learning is physical, it is more motivating, engaging, and likely to be extended.” Here are a few ideas using these strategies in our classrooms to teach math concepts:
I taught my kids this song “Five Cute Dalmatians” sung to the tune of “Three Little Angels.” We used the puppets that I made from dog food scoops (I made a set for Megan’s room using the tiny dust pans that come with the little brooms.” After singing the song just for fun, we pulled the puppets back out during math. We were working on the idea of “one less.”
I made a set of chef puppets using these splatter guards that I picked up at the dollar store. We used the puppets to sing our song “ Five Little Chefs” sung to the tune “Three Little Elephants.”
While 5 kids were role playing, other kids were manipulating chef clip art as they sang along. We were working on combinations for the number 5.
CAUTION: One thing that really made me think that was in Marcia’s book was this quote: “Although students can find role plays or enactments very engaging, they can take a great deal of time and are not as effective if the teacher does not have students explain the important concept enacted.” So here’s what I think that means…We must be sure that the standard is clear and evident. That the children are able to state what they are learning and that all are aware of the learning outcome.
We used these frog hats to role play the song “Five Little Speckled Frogs”. I made a log from brown towels for the kids to sit on as we sang. Marcia’s book states: “It can be a very engaging and highly effective activity to have a group of students act out or role play a word problem.”
I also found these bag clips that I could use. I made each child a set of frogs and a log with the recording page so that all children would be engaged. You can get that as a freebee (here).
The dramatic play center is a great place to teach math concepts through playing store. Here the kids are counting pennies onto tens frames to make purchases. A great way to develop that mental image of a number, develop 1 to 1 counting, to identify how many more to make a ten, to compose and decompose numbers 11-19……
And here are a few examples of using these strategies to teach language arts:
How fun to retell “The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” by wearing the hats and crawling into the old lady’s mouth that I spray painted on the sheet?!?! To say they loved it would be an understatement!
Then, we can role play the story using our reader’s theater script!
How about using these splatter guard puppets for role playing “The Three Bears?” So why does the brain like this? “Role plays use visual, spatial, linguistic, and bodily modalities, and, therefore, not only access students’ emotions but also enable students to comprehend at much deeper levels than a lecture would.”
Here two kids are retelling the story “The Mitten” using a mitten they made. Or as in the photo above, I just stapled a mitten to a plastic bag and the kids used the pieces to retell. “Stories not only allow students’ brains to relax but also they help them have an easier time of retaining the newly acquired material.” Teaching children that authors often sequence characters is a special order that  help us retell a story, is a strategy that kids can use on future stories, not just for the sake of retelling this particular story.
Here’s where the kids use the Peter puppet to retell the story. “Children naturally develop a sense of story and the brains fascination with story continues throughout their lives.”
Love, love, love these puppets one of my little cuties made in the art center. Then, they made up a story to go with the puppets!
And here are a few example of using this strategy to  teach science.
During science we were learning about the balance of life in the ocean. This game of predator/prey helped the kids to understand that concept. To play, some children stood behind the wall and threw “predators” at the “prey” in the ocean. If you were hit, you had to leave the ocean.
We role played being whales as we shook our film cans trying to find the our family. I put different items in the cans, making 4 of each. As the kids shook their can, they found their family and hooked elbows. (Whales can locate their families through the sounds they make.)
chapter 14-15

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

5 Dollar Store Deals You Just Have to Have!

Do you like to shop the Dollar Tree, The Target Dollar Spot, or other stores with great Dollar Deals? do I! Read below to see just how badly I like to go! This post has some Target Dollar Spot Finds!
I finally did it! I finally took both boys, by myself, shopping! Now I know that for some of you this is an every day event. But for this grandma to take two babies under the age of 2 shopping was quite an undertaking. Let’s just say I “might” have been bribed into buying a slushie at Target!  And….it was before lunch!
In the dollar spot I hit the jackpot! Nonfiction, lift the flap books for a dollar! There were 8 titles and I grabbed up one of each. As I headed back to the seasonal area, I found all the Easter supplies for 70% off! Now is the time to stock up  on those eggs so that you will have them for your farm or oviparous animals units and for NEXT Easter.
Later that night Megan, Ginny and I headed to the Dollar Tree. Another jackpot! We found these music books for a dollar each. These will work perfect in our music center.
We found the frog box in the gift wrapping area. The lips were stuck on the box. So, I just pulled them back and cut a slit. Now you can feed the frog anything you want….beginning sounds, rhyming, sight words, etc.
Love the coconut sippy cups. We got 10 of them to  make a bowling game. To play:
  • Stand all 10 cups in a bowling pin formation.
  • Roll a real coconut to knock down the pins.
  • Now tell your combination for 10. “5 standing up and 5 knocked down.”
Last, I picked up these dive sticks. During a recent post on using manipulatives (here), I explained a fun game that will be perfect for these fish.
Here’s how you play:
  1. Collect a bowl of water and the fish.
  2. The children roll the dice and put that many fish in the water.
  3. Roll again. Now they must decide whether they need to put some in(addition) or take some out (subtraction.)
  4. If they have 5 fish in the bowl and they roll a 3, then they take 2 fish out of the bowl.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Building Brain Power with Reciprocal Teaching and Cooperative Learning

Have you ever heard the saying, “If you can teach it to someone else, than you really understand?” Well, I recently told a few teachers that I have become better teacher since I started  presenting. Every time I present and teachers ask questions, I have to rethink my practices. Now, when I get back in the classroom with kids, I have taken more time to think through the lessons. The book tells us, “Students’ memory is strengthened when they are provided with opportunities to teach the entire class, partners, or small groups.”
Here are a few ideas that use this strategy:
Here the kids worked together to make the story map to retell “Rosie’s Walk”. Then, when it was time to retell, they made a circle and told the part of the story for which they made the setting.
Here’s another example. Kids worked in groups of three to make the story map to retell “Mrs. Wishy Washy”. Then, they took turns telling the story to each other.
Here the kids each have a character from “The Little Red Hen”. The children worked together to retell the story with each one becoming the character they were holding.
Here the kids were comparing the character Ralph in two books from the “Bunny Trouble” series. They were working together to complete the Venn Diagram.
Marcia’s book tells us, “Because humans are social beings, working collaboratively elicits thinking that is superior to individual efforts.”
On the rug, the kids spend a lot of time talking to their elbow partner. Once I teach them something, I have them turn to their elbow partner and explain what we just learned.
They can also do quick “lean and tells” with the partner to share responses.
In Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop, kids work with their partner as part of their “read and write with others” time.
As Marcia’s book tells us, “Share what you know and watch memories grow.”
In math the children work together to create ways to use the manipulatives to make meaning.
Play centers are the perfect place to encourage cooperative learning! The children work together to create projects, games, art, and other such activities.
A few thoughts:
I sometimes think we get too caught up in taking a grade. This is when we move towards children working in isolation. But, if we can shift our thinking to ways to develop smarter children, we will see that cooperative learning is more effective.
I heard a recent research study on ipads. In one class there was 1 ipad for each child. In the other class, there were half as many. The children worked together in pairs on the ipads. The results…..the children in the second classroom actually outscored the first classroom!
Explicit lesson on how to work in cooperative groups and with partners must be taught. Children need to receive direct instruction on how to have a conversation!
Different types of cooperative/partner pairings are effective. I use heterogeneous groups for centers and cooperative groups. I tend to keep these groups all year unless there are problems.  Here is a blog post I  did to explain how I form these groups.
For readers and writers workshop and for elbow buddies, the partners are close to the same level. These change frequently.
And finally, I love this quote from the book:
People learn…
  • 10% of what they read
  • 20% of what they hear
  • 30% of what they see
  • 50% of what they both see and hear
  • 70% of what thy say as they talk
  • 90% of what they say as they do a thing
Now head on over to Stephanie’s blog see what other teachers are sharing.bookstudy1
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Building Brain Power with Music Rhythm, Rhyme and Rap

One day I was asking my kids to tell me the days of the week. One kid, that I knew knew the days of the week, just looked at me with a blank stare. So I said to him, “You can sing them if you want.” Once I said that, the kid began to sing, “There are seven days, there are seven day…..” It was a simple song that I had taught my kids to tell me the days of the week.
Chapter 11 reminds us of the power of music in a classroom. As a kindergarten teacher, music has always been as much a part of our day as pencils, paper, and crayons. But…..I was lucky enough to visit my friend’s, Hope King, classroom at the Ron Clark Academy. She teaches 5th grade…and sings with her kids! As I observed her teaching her children about plot, the kids all suddenly jumped up and started moving as they sang a song about the elements of plot. Then, just as quickly they set back down! Wow! All of  her kids knew the information!
Marcia Tate tells up “Whenever students put content to music, they stand a better chance of remembering it.”
Here are a few of the ideas we use in our rooms:
I love Shari Sloane’s song, Vowel Bat. I promise you, my kids all know the vowel sounds.
My sweet husband actually made me these vowel bat capes that my kids can wear while we sing the song!
I made little music books to go with songs from Shari’s School is Cool and Get Ready Cd’s. We use these when we sing the songs together, but I also have them in a special basket for our music center.
Here is a little song I wrote to the tune of  “All Around the Mulberry Bush” to teach my children what plants need.
And here is a snake that I made by sewing the fabric together to make a large “pillow case” snake. The children can get inside the “snake”. As we sing the song, “I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor,” the snake swallows up the children! They love it! A great way to teach poetry, rhyming, sequencing, body parts, prosody!!!
So head on over to  "What the Teacher Wants" to see what other teachers are doing to use music in their classrooms.
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