Earth Day Mobiles - Freebie

We've had such a wonderful time learning about our environment in preparation for Earth Day.  I was able to use two wonderful resources to help me teach.  If you have not done so, go purchase Earth Day Activities and Crafts by A Year of Many Firsts and Fran Kramer's Friends of the Earth unit.  You will not be disappointed.

As a culmination of our learning, we created these Earth Day mobiles using washable markers and a coffee filter.  After our Earths dried, I used contact paper to preserve them for their memory box later. 

The next day, we brainstormed ways how we could take better care of our Earth and wrote our Earth Day Promise.  The kids did such a wonderful job applying their new learning into their promise.  I thought you might like to try this with your class too.  Click here for your freebie.  Enjoy!

Happy Teaching!

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Play Is Serious Learning

Can you imagine a world in which there is no play? I can't either.

Why is play so important?  According to  the American Journal of Pediatrics, "Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development." 

I know that as districts and schools move towards the CCSS and 21st Century skills, sometimes play can get lost in the shuffle.  But at what cost?

Currently, I have a Donor Choose project which would help my school develop and foster active engagement in outdoor play while building upon 21st Century skills of communication, creativity and collaboration.

I would appreciate your help in this endeavor.  My kids need many opportunities where they can learn to talk and problem solve with one another.  We need them to be able to work together both in and out of the classroom.  I can think of no better place to learn these skills than through play.  

I do believe that play is serious learning.  If you do too, I would hope that you consider sharing my project with others or consider donating yourself to this cause.

With Gratitude,

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Buttons Come and Buttons Go

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons is my favorite book to use when introducing subtraction.  Children can't resist singing along and participating with the book.  We listen to the free publisher's version of the story.

Afterwards, we made our own Pete the Cats and created our own subtraction problems. In the past, I have used this but this year, I wanted to try something new.  I found several great ideas on Pinterest but ended up making my own version.

Here's how I did it.

I made my own template for Pete the Cat's face but you could probably use this one if needed. I used KinderBlossoms Template for our subtraction word problem. I liked that it was easy enough for them to read on their own.

I monitored students as they created their word problems.  I did not let them glue on their buttons until they had shared their problem with me.  This gave me a chance to do a quick check on who needed more support.  Most students only had one button pop off but a few choose to do more.

When we create these types of craft lessons, I like to break it up into small chunks of learning so that everyone is successful.  I usually model a portion and then they go and do it.  I also do not keep all the supplies needed out in the open.  They had to tell me how many buttons they were making before getting those supplies.  They also had to ask me for the accordion folds to make their buttons pop off.  I find that this way helps me know what they are doing but it also alleviates some of the rush and messiness and makes for a better overall project.  Fast finishers help with cleaning the carpet, recycling,  or help friends.  It does take a bit more time but it is worth it.

What are your favorite ways to teach subtraction?

Happy Teaching!

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At School - Social Story

A social story  according to Wikipedia, is "a tool to help individuals on the autism spectrum better understand the nuances of interpersonal communication so that they could interact in an effective and appropriate manner."

I have used social stories in various manners with children along the spectrum as well as with "normal" children.  Why? Because it is an effective tool to teach and show expectations.  

If you have ever taught kindergarten, you understand that we spend a great deal of our day modeling and teaching expectations.  A social story is just another support; usually a visual support to explicitly show what you expect.

For example, in the beginning of the year, our kindergarten children were having difficulty keeping our restrooms clean. Each teacher had talked about the expectations, but the behaviors did not improve until a visual support and modeling was provided and taught.

This was especially true for my friend who needed a reminder each and every time he went to the restroom.  It was right there for him.  All I had to do was remind him verbally, "In the bathroom, I pee in the toilet."  He would return, happily reporting that he peed in the toilet.  I would congratulate him and reward him with a PBIS reward.  Eventually, he stopped needing that verbal support and reward but the visual is still there for him and others.

Sometimes it is hard for some children to understand the expectations of a school/classroom setting. This can be true for children who have never been to school or for the child who may need more explicit modeling. I created this Social Story to to teach classroom expectations.  The language is easy enough to be read independently but the pictures explicitly shows my expectations.  

I used this with all my students at the beginning of the year.  It was our shared reading story the first week of school.  At the end of the week, each child was able to read it and understand for the most part what are our classroom expectations. Eventually, the children took it home, except for the child who still needs it.  It continues to be in his book box so that we can review it if I notice a behavior needs review or after a long break.  The book is a reinforcer of the positive behaviors that I expect in my classroom.  It has helped him be more independent as well as helped me teach more effectively.  A win-win for all of us!

I am not an expert, just a teacher, who wants each child in my classroom to be as successful as possible. I've also use this paid site to create more specific social stories. If you would like to learn more about social stories go here.

I hope you enjoy this freebie and consider leaving a comment or following me on Bloglovin'.

Lastly, stop by Melondheadz Illustrating to get this adorable clip art set in honor of Autism Awareness month.

Happy Teaching!

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Life Changers - Autism Awareness

As teachers, we are used to teaching all sorts of children.  But nothing really prepares us for those children who will affect who you are forever.

Well, it happened to me four years ago when I was the inclusion classroom to 3 special needs children. One of the children, N. was autistic.  That year, I learned about the token system, My Turn/Your Turn, sensory input, diet, etc.  I saw my students care and nurture him.  My students could tell when he needed a break or should get a reward.  It was a magical year.  One that I will always cherish.

He changed my life as a teacher and mother forever.  I am a better person because he entered my life.  He taught me patience, acceptance, perseverance, and most of all to love unconditionally.

Since then, Autism Awareness month means much more to me.  So when Nikki of Melonheadz Illustrating fulfilled my request of a clip art for Autism Awareness month, I was in awe.  I asked for an image to upload on the sidebar of my blog.  Instead, she created an entire set of images!
Please stop by her blog to "get" this beautiful set.

I think Temple Gardin sums it up best; with these two quotes:
"Different. Not Less"
"I can not emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher."

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An Educational Journey Through Oz

My class and I have been on a journey; an educational journey through Oz.  For the past few weeks, we have enjoyed listening to The Wizard of Oz.

Each day, we read one page of the book and complete an extension activity.  I like thematic teaching and this book lends itself well to learning about many things.

Here are some highlights of our learning during our unit of study.

We're Not In Kansas Anymore
As you know, the book begins with Dorothy being transported to the land of Oz via a tornado.  We are not familiar with tornadoes so we used this resource here and here to provide background knowledge.  Afterwards, we wrote about our learning.  Here is the finished product.

I'm Melting
We conducted a science experiment to illustrate melting.  (To read why this happens go here.)

This was a perfect experiment to talk about making a hypothesis and how sometimes we are wrong in making our predictions.  Great teachable moment.

We're Off to See the Wizard

We created this pictograph to go with the question - Which would you rather have? Brains? Heart? Courage?.  I gave each child a half sheet containing each of the pictures and they had to pick one.  Each secretly went to a hiding spot in the classroom to make their selection.  Afterwards, we shared our choice with each other.  Later on, they used their choice to write.

At the conclusion of the unit, we watched the movie version and compared it to the book.  All in all, it was a great unit of study.

Happy Teaching!

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