Think It Through: Fall Owls

“Whooo” likes owls?! We do! See what I did there? Whoooo- like an owl? Gosh, I crack myself up!

With the changing seasons comes new animals and habitats to explore! I decided to try out the makings of an owl for this weeks Think it Through activity. As with all think it through activities, we began with going over the steps to creating our baby owls.

IMG_8572

I will say that the pumpkin activity proved to be more clear when it came to the finished product but in all honesty, that’s not the point! The point is for students to exercise their independence and begin strengthening their cognitive skills when it comes to interpreting information.

IMG_8578

IMG_8579

I find this activity so powerful. Again, it works on establishing and growing those important skills but it creates an environment where students can feel confident in practicing. By not having a model to refer to and only a set of instructions, this eliminates the common concern of doing something the right or wrong way. This activity helps to solidify the mentality that there are many ways to do the same thing and many ways to interpret information.

IMG_8580

IMG_8581

I absolutely love how our Think It Through wall is looking right now! On to the next… what will it be?!

IMG_8586

Letter Dunk!

Thinking up and creating new centres is one of my favourite parts of kindergarten! Kindergarten is built upon inquiry and play based learning, where centres are created and introduced based on the interests of the students in the class. The reading level in our kindergarten classroom varies. There are a few students who are already reading books, some who are actually at the higher grade 1 reading level, while some students are still struggling with letter recognition. It’s great to see that students are wanting to learn to read and learn their letters!

I found myself inclined to create a centre that merged students love for games and hands on activities along with literacy skills. I had seen a number game that used the some of the same materials as this activity and it inspired me to create a centre that worked in a similar capacity.

Knowing that I would need a good amount of egg cartons, I tasked my partner with making sure to save all the cartons after he finished them! I used one 18 carton and one 12 carton to create ONE letter dunk game. I painted them a fun and bright colour and then hot glued them together. After, I printed enough letters, both upper and lower case letters to fit into the carton and hot glued them into each space!

IMG_0133

There are many ways to cater to the different literacy levels within the class. For students who are just beginning their literacy journey, have them toss the ping pong ball into the carton. Then, have them find the letter that their ball fell in on the colouring sheet and have them colour it in.

IMG_8574

For students who are more advanced in their literacy skills, give them 20 turns and have them record each letter that they think. At the end of their 20 turns, ask them to try and make a word with some of the letters they sank.

IMG_8563

This game also works as a great form of assessment; working with a student one-on-one, have students orally identify the letters that they sink. This will help you gauge where the student is at in their letter recognition and competency!

IMG_8568

This centre has been a hit! Have you tried something similar before? I would love to hear your ideas!

 

 

Silly Jack-o-lanters

Well it certainly feels like October flew by, doesn’t it?! Like post people, I absolutely love the season of fall. Even if the temperatures stayed warmer for longer than I would have liked, there are still so many changes that spur wonderful conversation in the classroom!

Of course, a big part of October is Halloween and the kids get so excited, which makes me excited too! In order to celebrate, I decided to cater this week’s Think it Through activity to the spirit of the occasion!

*Pause* Think It Through activity? What’s that? Good question! I am not sure about you, but I sometimes find myself challenged by the new Kinder program. Don’t get me wrong, I love it- but it requires a new approach to teaching which can, at times, prove to be challenging. It requires a degree of hands off in order to foster the “child lead learning”. It requires teachers to knowingly take a step back and allow the students to work through the activities on their own. Teachers need to work at suppressing some deeply ingrained impulses to readily help students and offer them solutions to their learning processes. *Enter Think It Through Activity* This kind of activity really helps the teacher to follow through and practice the attitude of child lead learning. The teacher writes out instructions in the most simplest form, as a class, you go through each of them so that they all understand what each step says. Then…. they do it. With no intervention from the teacher (unless safety is an issue of course!).

IMG_0117

I prepared the materials for the students; I had the orange and yellow paint in a bowl, but not mixed. Step 1: Mix orange and yellow paint and make a circle.

IMG_0116

I had already cut out pieces of black and white construction paper in order to save time, but simply gave them to the students once everyone had completed Step 1 and we took away all of the paint and brushes.

Step 2: Use construction paper to make eyes, a mouth and some teeth. How many eyes? Don’t know…. How many teeth? Up to you!

IMG_0111

Step 3: Glue the face on your pumpkin and add a stem!

IMG_0112IMG_0113

I ended up loving this activity. It was so telling about all the students in various ways! The activity helped me see how my students interpreted information. Which students needed to constantly ask for clarification, who was looking over at their neighbour and following their lead? Who was working completely independently? It was a great formative assessment activity! Watching how students worked and processed instructions helped me understand the strengths and needs of my students in order to plan where I needed to go in my teaching moving forward.

My favourite part however, was hanging all of the creations and seeing how different each and everyone turned out. It is my favourite wall in the classroom!

Have you done a Think It Through Activity before? 

IMG_0115

“Sky Colour” Imagination & Art Activity

I have always been a big fan of the books by Peter H. Reynolds. If you teach in an elementary school I highly doubt that you have never read “The Dot”. Many of my kinder students had read that particular book, so I decided to try out “Sky Colour”.

Sky Colour is about a girl name Marisol who is a great artist! Her class is tasked with creating a mural and she decides to paint the sky. But when she goes to begin, she realizes that there is no blue paint… How can she paint the sky without blue paint?

Marisol goes home and notices that at different times of the day, the sky changes colours… Blue, orange, purple, black, grey…. Hmmm…

Marisol goes to school the next day with a renewed ambition and she raced for the paints and began mixing every colour! The sky she paints is every colour! When her classmate asks her, “What colour is THAT?”, Marisol responds, “THAT is Sky Colour!”. 

As a class, we began talking about how things can look differently to each of us! Whether it is the sky, the ocean or even…. our problems! But what we learned was that there is no ONE right way to paint the sky, the ocean etc., and there is no ONE right way to solve a problem.

The students were then given the opportunity to create their own sky! Using (precut/rationed) tissue paper of many different colours, students made a sky collage. Each student’s creation was wonderful and drastically different, but none the less, a sky!

IMG_7948.JPG

Measurement Station

Just like you, I am constantly thinking up new centres to bring into the kindergarten classroom. Being that we are talking a little bit about measurement this week, I thought that this station would be perfect! I actually was shown this centre in one of my education classes at the university. I loved how it incorporated hands on activities, small motor skills and math all in one! There is room for a lot of variety in this station. Here are different ways that you can explore measurement in this station:

  • Predict which design is the longest and shortest
  • Cut a string the same length as each design that you have created. Put all of the strings together and have students decide which string belongs to which design.
  • With the matching string stationed at each design, have students string on as many beads to each string as possible. Which string/design has more beads? Which string/design has less?
  • Using stacking cubes, line them up on the tape of the design. How many cubes did it take to complete the design? Which design had the most cubes? Which cube has the least?

How else could you explore measurement with this station? Have you tried similar stations? I’d love to hear about them!

IMG_8110.JPG

“The Way I Feel” Emotion Emoji Activity!

Since the beginning of the year, I have been working with the students to explore behaviours. When we began the year, we started with books that helped us reinforce the behaviours that were expected within the classroom and at school. While setting these standards and expectations are incredibly important for your classroom management, I felt like we also needed to spend time discussing and exploring the deeper roots of these expectations. I wanted to stress to my students that ‘having feelings, whatever they are; is okay!’ But what is important are ‘the choices we make on how to deal with our feelings’. It is okay to be angry, but it is not okay to take our anger out on our classmates, teacher or objects in the classroom etc., Instead, what can we do to deal with our anger? “We can take a time out!”, “We can go into the quiet tent!”, “We can take a deep breath!”. By pairing emotional education alongside behavioural expectations, students will understand their feelings better while also using the behavioural expectations as a guide to appropriately responding to those emotions.

“The Way I Feel” by Janan Cain, is a great book if you want to cover a variety of different emotions in one lesson/read. While this book in particular does not offer suggestions on how to deal with each of these emotions, it is wonderful for describing each emotion.

I wanted to pair this book with a fun, hands on activity that continued to pursue the identification of different emotions. Obviously I made my way to Pinterest when I came across the blog of The Curious KindergartenShe had a lesson about emotions and turned to emojis! “BRILLIANT!”- I said to myself! I knew that emojis would be an immediate hit with my students and would instantly hook them on the activity.

I made the play doh on my prep….. well… the first batch. I looked for a “no cook play doh” recipe and found one! Easy enough… Except it turned out resembling cake batter rather than play doh… Panic starting to set in I ran to one of the ECE’s in my classroom. She confirmed that “No…. it’s definitely not suppose to look like that…”.. So we compared recipes. Everything was the same… except- HOT WATER.

  1. Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add food colouring TO the **boiling water** then into the dry ingredients (colour optional)
  3. Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough.
  4. Add the glycerine (optional)

I guess the hot water activates some of the components in the ingredients. Once I added the hot water to my NEW batch, it instantly worked. I used yellow food colouring and left out glycerine.

I gave each student their own ball of play doh and each table group had an emoji emotion chart, eyes and gems. The students were tasked with recreating different emojis from the chart and identifying what they were.

It turned out to be a big hit! We went way past our usual allotted time because they were so engaged and focused! The clean up was easy and putting all the gems back into their specific dishes also acted as a great sorting activity 😛

Moving forward, I am going to be focusing on specific feelings that I often see in our classroom. The activities that will accompany these lessons will encourage us as a class to think about how best to handle each of these emotions. What would be a good choice in handling this feeling, and what would be a not so good choice?

Have you tried this kind of activity? How did it go? What story did you read?

IMG_8142.JPG

Grade 6: Inference

So… You’re on to the inference unit… Looking for a fun way to really get kids involved? Why not try a real life crime scene! Now before you get a head of yourself and think I am the most R rate teacher out there, this crime scene is definitely G rated! Are you ready?….

Students walk into the classroom… Miss. Lyons is very serious… the students notice… What could be the matter?

Miss Lyons: We have something very serious to discuss this morning. All of the teachers have just received an email informing us that a crime took place in the gym last night… Students were caught having a party! The principal has narrowed it down to 5 suspects and as a class, we need to use our inference skills to figure out who was the party organizer…”

Check out the lesson plan attached below! Have fun!

February 10 Crime Scene Inference lesson