Five for Friday | March 11, 2016

Linky_F4FBanner

I barely took any photos this week and was worried I wouldn’t even have 5 different activities from my classroom and/or teaching life this week, but amazingly I did. This makes me super happy, because it has been a very, very long week this week!

#1
This week, one of our Investigations science/art activities was salt paintings. This is was the first time I’ve tried this activity with the kids in Investigations (thanks to my lovely team member, Jacinta, for suggesting it!). The kiddos absolutely adore it and came up with some great random glue patterns and had a ball dropping food colouring on to it!

54FMar112016_01

#2
Tuesday’s weather was horrible. (Horrible as in waaaay too hot.) Very unpleasant. Looking forward to cooler weather in the coming months.

54FMar112016_02

#3
Because of the hot weather and planning week we’ve had a bit of quiet developmental play in the afternoons after pack-up. I’m so pleased my kiddos are choosing to explore with maths materials and manipulatives. On Tuesday, the only materials they requested were from the maths supplies – teddies, pattern blocks, Unifix cubes, and MAB. They came up with some very creative ways to use them, too!
54FMar112016_03

#4
We’ve been scheduling in some directed drawing tasks to our writing program. I have a lot of reluctant writers and drawers so this has been a great way to engage them in some drawing and also shared pen writing, too. This week we drew our friend, Pete the Cat. (Although not everyone remembered that Pete was blue. But as Pete would say, it’s all good.)

54FMar112016_04

#5
This morning I woke up to find out that (at least) 5 people have signed up to GoNoodle through my referral links, which is so great! You all know I’m such a fan of the site and the fun, short activities to break up the day, and I’m so pleased some of you are trying it out for the first time! I hope you love it!

54FMar112016_05

And that’s it from me for this week. If you haven’t already, go check out this week’s Tuesday Tip – 5 Ways to End the Day and let me know your tips for the end of the day!

We have a long weekend here in Melbourne, so I’m keen to take a moment to chill out and relax and regroup for the last two weeks before our Autumn break. I hope everyone else has a fabulous weekend, too!

5 Ways to End the Day

TT_waystoendday

If your classroom is anything like mine, the end of the day before pick-up, can be quite a hectic time as everyone’s packing bags, collecting belongings, tidying the classroom, etc. There seems to be an endless list of things that needs to be attended to.

That said, I try to make sure the last 5-10 minutes of each day is dedicated to something positive to end the day for the students and myself – no matter what kind of day we’ve had!

To that end, I’m sharing 5 of my favourite ways to end the day. Most of these activities are designed to give the students a few minutes of down-time before they go home to their parents, too, which creates a calm send-off!

1. Read a story together

This is one I know many teachers already do, but it’s such a lovely way to end the day with students. It can sometimes be the only time we read for enjoyment during the day without feeling the need to push a learning outcome on to students. You could even have your Helper of the Day, or Star Student (or whatever system you have in place) pick the book for the afternoon which gives students some ownership over the additional stories they hear.

Note: Depending on how long the day has been (or how active) I’ve even been known to let students lie down, close their eyes and just listen to the story.

2. Reflection time

I love having students reflect on their day at school. We have a very structured time to share the things we have enjoyed throughout the day using sentence starters and students who are willing to share things. As the year progresses, we move from just using sentence starters to expanding on our reasons why we enjoyed particular activities.

Some of the sentence starters we use include:
– I liked
– I really enjoyed
– Today I learnt
– Tomorrow I would like to

3. Reflection books/blog posts

Once we get in to Term 2 and Term 3 I like to take Reflection Time one step further and record student ideas in either a class book or a blog post. All classes at my school have their own class blog and it’s a great way to share learning with families who might not otherwise be able to make it in to school to see what’s happening.

This could be as simple as typing up student responses as they share them (being sure to put the student’s name at the end for credit) – this could then be made into a class book or shared on a blog post. Imagine having a series of class books that reflect the learning that’s taken place throughout the year – these are great to have out during Parent/Teacher Interviews and Open Days/Nights.

When I do Reflection Blog Posts I tend to do them on a Friday as a reflection of the whole week. This gives us a really lovely snapshot of the highlights of our week!

4. Play a game

Games are a great way to end the day on a positive note. Yes, they’re fun, but they’re also educational (but the students don’t always realise this!). Make a list as a class of everyone’s favourite games and post them up in the room. If you have time at the end of the day, have a student pick a game from the list to play with everyone. This is a great way to have fun, friendly energy right before they go home.

Some great games (or activities) include:
– Around the World
– Buzz
– Hangman (I love this for practising high frequency words with younger students)
– Whisper Train
– Body Patterns
– Doggy, doggy, who’s got the bone?

5. GoNoodle

I almost got through a post without mentioning GoNoodle, but honestly, I use this all the time in my classroom, even at the end of the day. A few weeks ago I shared some of the calming down activities I love on this website, but at the end of the day, I really love their positive thinking activities.

Activities from the Flow category:

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.17.34 PM

and from Think About It really help students to reflect on the day, or issues that may have arisen.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 8.18.01 PM

I’d really love to hear about your favourite ways to end the day with your students? Do you have special routines or activities? Share them in the comments so that we can all grow a wonderful bank of end of day resources.

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful start to the week and I’ll be back again soon with more tips and tricks for the classroom!

Happy teaching, friends!

Five for Friday | March 5

Linky_F4FBanner

A bit late this week, but it’s been crazy!

#1
We’ve been exploring 2D shapes as part of our applied maths lessons over the last few weeks. We had a lot of fun looking through magazines and finding circles, squares, rectangles and triangles in the shape of real life objects. The kiddos worked in their table groups on a particular shape, but they were getting up and sharing their ‘found’ shapes with other tables, too! They were so sweet!

54F_201635_01

#2
Our school has a fete coming up in a few weeks, and one of the stalls is a silent auction for artwork on canvas created by each class during their Art lessons.  My kiddos’ art teacher and I spent a lot of time loving on how my class’ canvas turned out! All the kiddos helped create the butterfly paper using dispersion paper. (Many thanks to the parent helpers who helped cut out the butterflies and put the canvas together!)54F_201635_02

#3
Quick tip: if you find yourself lacking display space (which I am) in the classroom, turn displays into class books and then they’re much easier to have in the classroom all year round! Those 2D shape posters we made above? Are now in a book that the kiddos have been flipping through all week!
54F_201635_03

#4
One of my team members found this fun shape pizza idea on Pinterest and came up with a version that was appropriate to our kiddos. We spent our Friday after lunch making our wonderful shape pizzas – the kiddos loved ‘shopping’ for pizza ingredients and having a go at counting how many of each shape they used! Can’t wait to find somewhere to put these on display!54F_201635_04a

#5
Friday was a big day for us. We had Ride to School, 35+ degree (celsius) weather and lots of disruptions to our regular program. In the afternoon, we needed a bit of down-time, so I asked the kiddos what they would like to have a ten-minute play/explore with from the classroom. And guess what? Everything they picked was from a maths lesson! (This makes me so happy.) Teddy patterns, MAB exploration, pattern blocks… Go kiddos!54F_201635_05

Stopping Pen Bleed-Through

TeacherTipTuesday

Every day, in classrooms all over the place, teachers are writing on chart paper.

Am I right?!

If you’re anything like me, I like to use Sharpie pens. I like the way they write, and I like the bright, bold colours that stand out and are clear to read.

But I hate the bleed-through on the back because there’s nothing more annoying than scrubbing Sharpie off your whiteboard because you had the paper leaning on it.

Thus, I bring you this week’s tip:

TTT_penbleedthrough000

I’m the teacher who likes to work in a Spiral paper pad. Mostly because there’s a whole ton of paper in a pad and it keeps it nice and safe and when we’re ready to put a chart up, I can pull it out and hang it up. Plus, the paper is nice to write on, too!TTT_penbleedthrough001

Here’s my big tip. If you use a paper pad, TURN IT TO THE BACK.TTT_penbleedthrough002When you want to write on the pad, open the pad backwards from the back and word on the last page – that way the paper you’re working on is the one leaning against the back cover of the book. If you have any bleed-through, it gets on the back of the pad (and since I’m only going to throw it out when the pad is empty, it doesn’t make a difference)!

TTT_penbleedthrough003

Next time you write, you don’t have to worry about pens leaving marks on the surfaces beneath!TTT_penbleedthrough004 TTT_penbleedthrough005

Alternatively: if you don’t have a paper pad like this, find a piece of a cardboard box that you can store flat in your classroom and clip your chart paper to it. Then you can write anywhere and everywhere without worrying about getting marker pen everywhere!

As always, if you have any other tips, leave them in the comments below and until next time, happy teaching, friends!

Five for Friday | February 12th

Linky_F4FBanner

#1

This week we were looking at the sound /m/ so we read The Magic Hat by Mem Fox and made these cute painted/glittered Magic Hats that we were then able to hang on our deck window! Every year I do some sort of Magic Hat activity (whether it’s painting/decorating a picture of a hat or making an actual hat/crown). These ones were fun, bright and covered in glitter pieces!

54F_Feb12_001

#2

We started Investigations this week. The kids loved using the BeeBots and making letters using glass beads!

54F_Feb12_002 54F_Feb12_004

#3

Another super popular Investigations activity was this Fizzy Paint activity using baking soda, food dye and vinegar. It’s hard to see in these pictures, but the ‘paint’ dries super sparkly and has an awesome texture!

54F_Feb12_003

#4

We’ve been practising some directed drawings this week and then writing about them. Today, we shared the pen to write the sentence I see a mouse. This was the kids first go at writing on the IWB, too. I foresee a lot more shared pen writing in the future!

54F_Feb12_006

#5

I completely forgot to take a photo of my Valentine’s Day gifts for students, but I did remember to snap a photo of our poem/song for the day from my Ten Little Hearts poem pack. The kiddos had a ball singing this today and were very excited to take home a copy to teach their families. We had a big chat about making sure they tell all the people they love that they love them lots this weekend!

54F_Feb12_005

I hope you’ve all had a marvellous week! I can’t wait to see what everyone else got up to!

5 Ways to Calm Down After Play

TeacherTipTuesday

At my school, we have two main play breaks for students – a 30 minute morning recess and a 50 minute lunch time break. The students go outside, run around and play with their friends.

Then the bell rings and they have to come inside and  it can be a challenge to settle the little ones after they’ve had so much time to do as they please. So today I thought I would share 5 of my favourite ways to settle my class after recess.

Title_5WaysPlay

#1 – GoNoodle

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you won’t be surprised to see this on my list. I use GoNoodle daily to provide quick brain breaks for my students. During the day when we need to get the wiggles out we do some high energy activities, but after lunch, I prefer the more calming activities on offer, like Flow and Airtime. My class this year (and last year) are obsessed with Airtime Space.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 8.41.22 PM

During Airtime Space, students breath in and out in time to the glowing orb travelling through the solar system. Each break is about two minutes long and it really calms them down. They’re also very fascinated by the space facts we learn each afternoon. I use Airtime Space exclusively in the afternoon for that reason. It’s our way to regroup for our afternoon learning.

#2 – Smiling Minds

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 8.39.50 PM

If you’re not familiar with Smiling Minds, it’s a great online resource for guided meditation for different age groups (both young and old). This is something you can put on for students to follow along to when they need to regain some focus.

#3 – Circle Time

Sometimes all you need to regroup at the end of the day is a brief circle time session with students sharing things that happened during their outdoor play time. It could be that they’ve come into the classroom with unresolved issues from the yard that a simple conversation as a class can fix, ready for everyone to move on for a productive afternoon.

#4 – Responding With Wonderment and Awe

At my school we use Habits of Mind, and a few years ago I found some amazing time-lapse videos used to demonstrate Responding With Wonderment and Awe. These are simply nature at it’s finest set to some very beautiful, calming music and often playing these short clips gave students time to calm down, settle and think about the wonderful world we live in. (They’re also great talking points, too.) My little ones have always been transfixed by these videos. I’ve shared one below, but you can find others here on Vimeo.

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

#5 – Quiet Music Time

You’ll notice a trend with some of these suggestions – music. Music is powerful for little people. Sometimes, we just need to take away the visual stimulus, lie down, close our eyes and just listen, particularly at the start of the school year when their little minds are overwhelmed with what’s going on around them.

Often, when we need a bit of down-time – and this is usually 2-3 minutes (that’s all you need!) – I jump on Youtube and search ‘kids meditation music.’ There are plenty to choose from.

I also discovered this gem – Disney Piano Collection – that’s just perfect for a short break: 

What are your favourite calm down tips? Leave them in the comments – we would love to hear them!

Five for Friday | Feb 5th

Linky_F4FBanner

I’m going to take a moment to reflect on how absolutely difficult it is to actually stop and remember to take photos during the first week of Foundation/Prep/Kinder. (To be honest, it’s kind of hard to remember to do anything except keep going during this first week.) I apologise in advance for not too many teaching photos because I honestly was so busy running around that I simply forgot to take photos. I will try better next week!

#1

Prepping for another day of Start Up Learning at school – we filled in this chart as a class. It’s not fancy or shiny, but it worked! I also added a few clipart pieces from some of my favourite clip artists to jazz it up a tiny bit!

54FFeb5_002

#2

I actually remembered to make myself a tea one morning this week as I ran out the door. I call that a win! Kiwi Sorbet by T2 Tea in one of their bright pink mugs!

54FFeb5_003

#3

We made a list of all the things that were important for our class in the upcoming year. Number 1? HAVE FUN! A new class motto for 2016!

54FFeb5_004

#4

Friday afternoon on my way home. That’s bag one of three. Filled with things to do on the weekend. I refused to leave work this afternoon until all student books had their covers and student name labels on them. After a big week I am one exhausted teacher!

54FFeb5_005

#5

But do you know what makes me feel better. THIS FACE! How can you not love this face!

54FFeb5_001

It’s Friday night now and I think I need to go to bed! (Oh, what an exciting life I lead!)

I’m planning my upcoming Teacher Tip Tuesday posts (if you have any things you’d like to see tips on leave comments below) and some new general classroom posts for the next few weeks.

I hope you all have a marvellous weekend!

Handwriting Bags

TeacherTipTuesday

Hello teacher friends!

I hope everyone’s having a wonderful start to the week.

This week has been absolutely full-on, and it’s only Tuesday! Since my last Teacher Tip Tuesday I’ve started the new teaching year with my lovely Foundation class. We’re three days in to learning new rules, routines and what school’s all about.

(And I’m one tired teacher!)

This week I’m going to throw-back to one of my most popular blog posts from 20145 and 2015 because I have quite a few new readers and it’s great to highlight tips that work year after year!

Handwriting Bags

I love to set up handwriting bags each year for students. These are handy, go-to bags that the kids keep in their chair-bags (you could also keep them in tubs) and work great for practising letter formation – both in formal handwriting lessons and as early finishers practise.

Each child has 1 A4 laminated page with Vic Modern Cursive alphabets in upper and lowercase letters, a small whiteboard, a whiteboard marker, a cut-up piece of Magic Eraser and a small tub of play dough. It all goes in a Snaplock bag and you’re ready to go.

It’s also great when you need the whole class to have their own whiteboards and pens because you can just say ‘Everyone get their whiteboard and marker and come to the floor.’

If you’d like more detail about these bags, click this link to visit a more detailed post.

I also have a version of my placemat available for Victorian teachers in my TpT store, and you can find it by clicking the image below:

Slide1-1p1vl1v

Thanks for stopping by – don’t forget to leave your handwriting tips in the comments below.

Stay tuned next week for a brand new tip! Have an amazing week in your classrooms!

Five for Friday | January 29

Linky_F4FBanner

#1

This year I have an external door to my classroom (and a bigger, shared deck area). This is one of my room signs… soon to be surrounded by student artwork!

54F_29Jan001

#2

I’m going to miss early morning cuddles with this ridiculous bundle of fluff. He likes to hog the bed.

54F_29Jan002

#3

The newest addition to my reading corner – a Dr. Seuss curtain, made by my gorgeous Mum. She’s been the superstar in my entire classroom move this year, and I’m very grateful!

54F_29Jan003

#4

Today was the first day of school for my class. I like to use a simple, chalkboard-inspired sign for our first day photos!

54F_29Jan004

#5

My post-student classroom at 12:30pm. Had to tidy up before I went to lunch.

54F_29Jan005

Happy weekend, friends!

Organising Your Coloured Paper

TeacherTipTuesday

Hello friends!

School starts back this week here in Australia and teachers have been frantically (tell me I’m not the only one, please!) setting up their classrooms in preparation for the new year and new students.

One of my roles in my school is to work with Graduate Teachers, supporting them, sharing tips and tricks (and connecting them with other teachers who can do the same), and ensuring they have a great start to their teaching career. I absolutely love this role!

What I thought I would do each week (hopefully!) is share one teaching tip that I have with all of you. They’re not all necessarily new ideas, and they may not work for all teachers, but by sharing I hope that I can inspire you, my lovely readers, to find a system that works best for you.

This week’s tip is about organising and storying your coloured A4 paper.

Typically, in my school, this is the paper I hoard because it comes out of the area budget when I run out! (I have a separate collection of construction paper that I’m happy for my students to use whenever the like.) This is the paper for projects and gifts and arts and crafts activities.

PaperStorage001

I purchased this file storage box from Aldi a few years ago. It’s plastic and super sturdy. Plus, it sits beautifully under my computer table.

PaperStorage002

Inside, I’ve adding hanging files and simply place the paper in by colour.

(Those people wondering about the multicolour file – that’s a collection of printing paper, not cardstock, that was donated a while back. I keep it separate so I know the difference in the gsm quality!)

This system is portable and very easy to pull out and find the colours I need at any given time.

Bonus tip: If you find you have excess A3 coloured paper that you’re not using, slice it in half with a paper trimmer and you’ve got yourself extra A4 coloured paper!

If you have a paper storage and organisation tip, I’d love for you leave me a comment below! Links are more than welcome, too. I love seeing the different ways people have for organising paper.