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.




Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Do you You Tube in the classroom?

Hey there friends!  How often do you use You Tube in your classroom?  Does your school district block You Tube?  Do you hate having to skip those annoying ads?

Well today I am going to share with you a way to download a You Tube video so that you can either save it to your computer or to a usb stick and then play it at school without any worries.
I wish I had known about this before the time I put a You Tube video up about the solar system and one of my darlings pointed out the swear word in the comments.  The walk of shame to the Principals office to inform her of my gaff was enough to turn me off You Tube forever, which would have been a real shame because there are so many great videos that support our teaching.

So let's get to it! This is super easy by the way.

First find the You Tube video that you want to download.  My class loves Storybots and we are looking at days of the week so I chose this vid



Then add an ss just after the www. and before the youtube bit in the address bar, just like in the pic below




 When you click enter it will take you to a screen that looks a bit like this.  Click on the green download button I always save it as an MP4 at 720p because I have been told that is the best quality.  You can save it at a lower quality if you need to save file space.  There will be a pop up box that says you can download a program that makes it easy to save videos but I just do it this way and I haven't had any issues.


That is pretty much it, you will see it downloading in the corner of your screen, then just save it to where you need it :) too easy right!



I hope this was helpful and that you will now never suffer the embarrassment of having to explain to your kids and Principal about swear words in the comments.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Learning Update

No I am not dead nor have I joined a cult that forbids the use of blogging as a way of communicating. I am just busy getting my butt kicked by a bunch of 5 year olds.

Seriously guys this year is HARD!  I am struggling to fit everything in and that includes blogging :( please forgive me!

On the other hand I have been super busy in the classroom and I wanted to share some of the things we have been doing while I have an hour to myself (yes I know I should be writing reports.....but I don't want to).


We have been all about trying out new technology in our classroom.  We are very lucky to have received and Osmo and some Touchtronics letters and numbers for our Prep room.  The kiddos love how interactive it is and it has now become a favourite hands on ipad activity.

We have been heavy on counting activities as well!  We have used lots of different objects to count below you can see our counting penguins which the kiddos love. 

  
counting penguins

Adding "river rocks" to help dinosaurs cross the river
Another favourite activity was laying river rocks across a river to help dinosuars cross to the other side.  The kiddos loved it so much I had to leave it out for over a week.  The kiddos rolled a dice and then laid the glass stones end to end, only one dinosaur could cross one bridge so they had to do it multiple times.  The aim was to get as many dinosaurs across as they could.


Threading washers

I also had some bolts, washers and nuts out in a tinkering tray, the kiddos had to thread the washers onto the bolts and then put a nut on to the end to secure it, they then had to pass it to a friend to check, have you noticed the fine motor practice I sneak in heehee.


Balloon Pop!

The last activity I wanted to share with you is a game I made called Balloon Pop to 10, this is great for counting forward to 10 and backwards from 10.  Just click here or on the pic for your free copy.



As you can see in this next pic, we love reading to our Book Buddies :) we do this multiple times during the week in different contexts.  These littles are reading their take home readers prior to them going home, we also use our book buddies during guided reading and free choice reading.



I hope to be back in a week to share some more fun learning from our classroom......who am I kidding, see you in a month haha. (unless I join a cult)







Saturday, 5 March 2016

A peek at our Week

Hey friends, hope this week finds you well and rested.

I wanted to share with you a few things that have been happening in our Prep class.  We have spent the first few weeks of school getting to know the routines and procedures in the classroom and we are finally settling into some serious learning.





We have been doing lots of work around patterns, clapping patterns, making patterns with people, finding patterns in our classroom, building patterns with blocks and peg patterns.  I loved this activity because it also incorporated a little bit of fine motor as well.  Most kiddos did an AB pattern but I did have a couple that did and ABB pattern which I was pretty happy with.  This inspired me to create a Peg Pattern file which will be up in my store very soon!  I will keep you posted

 Sorting was another fave activity for my kiddos this week.  I got these containers at Big W in the party section and just poured some random buttons in the centre.  Kiddos had to justify and explain their reasoning and then draw their sorting into their books.  I kind of think this looks like a flower don't you?



Our Summer tree :)



The change of season to our Autumn tree!  Our tree is also used to display what our sound focus is for that day.  Currently it is Ll, the kiddos collect the letter from the letter nest and we find names, words and pics to put in the tree, I love it because it is constantly changing.

We also found some pics in magazines to identify foods, clothing and activities that would show the season of Summer and Autumn.  Next week we will be making Autumn handprint trees.  

That is it for now, this tired teacher is going to take a Nana nap heehee



Sunday, 14 February 2016

I Survived!

Well I am happy to say I survived my almost first whole week of Prep!

We worked very hard this week in consolidating the routines and procedures of our classroom, in particular walking in a line quietly.  I will say we have had varied success with this one but it is certainly less like herding cats now :)

I must say there have been many things I had forgotten about teaching a Prep class considering the last time I taught Prep was 6 years ago.  One thing I had forgotten about was how much I need to TALK, how many times I am REPEATING an instruction! My voice was quite mangled by the end of the week and I have given it a good rest over the weekend much to the pleasure of my family :)

One of the other things I had forgotten about was how small their bladders are!!!!  Of course once somebody says they need to go, they all need to go!  Every. Single.Time.
On the academic side of things we have been learning about sounds and letters that our names begin with and identifying them in other people's names.  We have also been incorporating sight words that begin with the sound.  We will be doing a letter a day and then going back to look at them more in depth later on.

My kiddos have been awesome at doing rotations which has been the highlight of the week for me.  I have had a range of activities that children rotate around including 

fine motor
number/counting
shape
patterns
reading
ipads
phonics

Here are a few pics of the activities we have done so far.


These were some cards I made up quite a number of years ago but they still did the job of counting and recognising numbers and collections as well as 1 to 1 correspondence.


Penguins on ice!  They luuurrved this activity!  Roll the die and put that amount of penguins on.


The boys particularly liked this activity from Brooke Beynon.  Parking lot dominoes.  

I have been leaving the afternoons as Free Choice Play (but not really because I put the activities out that I want them to 'play' with).  This also gives them a chance to have some quiet time as everyone has been so, so tired come the end of the day.  I have also been using this time as a bit of one on one time with some of them to get to know them and do some quick assessments.

Next week we start our PIPS testing so it will be a busy couple of weeks for all of us :)




Saturday, 6 February 2016

A new journey!



Hey friends!

Well I went back to school last week and started my new school year with a new grade level and a new team.  This year I am teaching Preps (you might call it Kinder) and I am no longer job sharing. While I was very sad to leave behind my Grade 2 and Grade 3 teaching partners I am super excited to have my own space and my own group.

So I have a new teaching journey this year, I haven't taught Prep for 6 years so I am going into this new adventure with some knowledge but also a lot to learn :)

I wanted to share some classroom photos with you today.  I love my room, it makes me smile.



This is our library corner, the lanterns and fluffy decorations now hang from the ceiling.  In the cloud storage basket is lots of book buddies and puppets for the kiddos to read to.

This is going to be my Sounds and Seasons tree.  I will change out the colours each season to match, there is also a little birds nest that I plan on putting our letter of the day in.  The students will pull it out and then choose from a range of objects, student names and words that will go on the sounds tree.  The tree is now in a pot to protect his roots :)  Next to the tree is our class calender.


Looking towards our IWB and my maths shelf

 
Looking from the door back towards my desk

Our home corner is very popular!  Once again the lanterns and fluffy decorations are now hanging up thanks to my lovely groundsman.


Our home for the rest of the year!

I'm really looking forward to sharing my journey with you this year and even though I am physically and mentally exhausted right now, I am also brimming with excitement for the amazing learning that is going to happen for all of us here.

I'll be back with some posts about our rotations we have been doing,