Sunday, January 3, 2016

Zaner Bloser Handwriting Review

Friends~With the age of technology,  I am seeing a major decline in handwriting development with our elementary students. We are all moving towards techonology as a way to communicate.  That is all well and good but there are times when a person/student needs to be able to write a response or sign a check. 

My school has begun a search for a new handwritng program for our elementary students. We hope that if we take just a few minutes a day to focus solely on letter formation our students will be free to focus more on the thought process of tasks and not get tripped up about forming the letters.  

Let's face it, improving their handwriting helps me out too!  Deciphering the phonetic spelling of a first grader can be tricky but if the handwriting is poor,  it can be almost impossible.  

My friends at Zaner Bloser asked me to review one of their new handwriting products and I couldn't believe the timing! 

After visiting their site and looking over sample materials, I found that the program runs from pre school to grade 6.  I love that the K-2 products are manuscript.  Manuscript allows students to make connections to environmental print and support literacy growth.  

Cursive comes into play at the end of 2nd grade and it is a gradual build from the manuscript fundamentals.  

 Below is the first grade student book and it came with a teacher manuel as well. There are great visuals for the students like the man on the lines below showing where letters need to fall.  
Desender Space 
(Desender is great vocabulary word for students!)

The Keys to Legibility are also a great visual for students to self check!

One of my total favorite parts is the Handwriting Tutor!  Scan the QR code to meet your handwriting tutor!
These little videos are perfect for the handwriting center!

The teacher's manual is filled with more goodies!  
The songs are fantastic way to give the students a brain break and also tap into auditory learners. 
Each lesson has occupational therapist support too!
One of my favorites was having students practice pushing push pins into foam.  The students were encouraged to use the correct pencil grip.  
Middle Finger
(GREAT for my kinesthetic learners!)
Be sure to click DIGITAL GOODIES to grab some FREE sample masters to try out in your classroom! 

I am really impressed with Zaner Bloser and their handwriting program.  Lots of great hands on lessons that meet manydifferent learning styles!

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Impulse Control in the Classroom

Friends~Every Friday in my classroom we do an activity that goes along with our study of Executive Brain Functions.  This month, our focus was on impulse control. (Well, actually we will be working on this forever!)  I am so exited to share with you just how much fun we had! 

We had our guest speaker, Dr. Brain come in and give us the science behind impluse control and review how our brain works.  
We did a warm up game of FREEZE with some holiday music. (Click the link above to learn more about games that impact impulse control.)  I told the class that it was a very old game that helped students practice impulse control.  We talked about if you are falling on the floor, laughing, or moving you are being impulsive

We started with this video from The Cookie Monster! He is the perfect example of impulse control issues:)
In the video, Cookie Monster plays a waiting game and comes up with strategies to not eat the cookie so that he can earn another.  

We listed strategies that he used like:
Singing a Song
Pretending it was a Smelly Fish
Playing with a Toy

I then told the class that we were going do an experiment.    
The Shaving Cream Experiment!
Basically, all you need is some shaving foam and paper plates.  SOOOOO simple but SOOOOO powerful!
I told the class that I was going to give them some shaving cream.  They could touch it and play with it all they want.  BUT...I was going to leave and if they didn't touch the shaving cream,  I would give them more.  

So, I left.  Shut the door with 20 first graders and 20 piles of shaving cream.  

Round one went very well but as we progressed into round 2 and 3 their stress levels began to rise along with their pile of shaving cream.  It was AMAZING to see the strategies they naturally came up with to avoid touching the shaving cream.  
They were counting, reading, laying under the table, meditating and so much more. 
By the third round, they were exercising with push up and running in place to avoid touching the shaving cream.  It was fantastic! 
NO ONE touched it!  At all!  They were soooo determined!
They really practiced impulse control and I can't wait to see how their behavior changes are we continue to revisit the topic.  They now have a real life experience to draw upon when someone tells the to control themselves!
We celebrated by taking our plates filled with shaving cream outside and were totally impulsive!

The girls were a bit timid at first but don't worry!  They totally got into it!  
ALERT!!!!! We did have to go into the bathroom and have some adult help cleaning it out of hair, ears, and off clothes but it was all worth it.  My wonderful parents forgave me and I just know this is one lesson that will not be forgotten!

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Portable QR Code Listening Center

Friends~I can't wait to share my QR Code Listening Center with you!  The best part is, it is totally portable and super easy for the students to manage in the classroom.
They are simple and cheap to make.  You can update as the seasons or themes change in your classroom. 

~The first thing you will need to do is head to your local $ Store and grab some old school photo albums. (I can't believe they are old school-totally showing my age!)  The one that you just flip open and slide a photo under the clear flap.  

~I then hopped on YouTube and collected some of my favorite books read online and copied the URL. Open a QR code generator, paste your URL and BAM you have your QR Code.  

I then take a quick snip of the book cover and add the code to it.  Print them out and add them to my photo albums.  You can check them out below!         (I make the images 4x6 just like a picture.) 
 (Keep in mind that if you are not making your own recordings, the URL may change or go away all together so you may need to make a new one next year.  I don't worry about this since they are so simple and fast to make.)

~My kiddos then grab an album and a Kindle and off they go.  (Just head to your App store and download a FREE QR Code scanner.) 

Be sure to grab a FREE copy of my covers and my November Codes Below!


Happy Scanning!!!

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloween Math Centers

Friends~We had so much fun this week with our Halloween Math centers! We are working on number bonds and addition facts to 10.  

ALERT!  Please keep in mind that I am not in my regular classroom.  Our new school is being built as I type (Please hurry!) and I am at a local church.  I also move in every Monday and out every Friday so I have had to be pretty creative with my classroom.
~Oh, and I can't hang anything on the walls except Post it chart paper.  
~My classroom is totally mobile.
~All centers are on small carts on wheels.
~#Survival Mode

I wanted to share (FREEBIES) what I have in my math "CART" center for the Halloween season:
Pumpkin Tens Frame Odd or Even Sort
(Pumpkin Ice Cube Trays and Candy Pumpkins)
Skulls and Bones Number Sheet
(Candy at $ Store or HERE)
Spider Number Bonds
(Plastic Spiders from $ Store)
Eye Ball Greater Than or Less Than
(Eyeballs erasers from Target and candy corn for symbol)

Currently, I am running 4 stations so that my 4 tables can rotate through.  

I always grab the skulls and bones candy at the $ Store every year and my kiddos work on representing numbers with them.  Be sure to grab the freebie above!

The pumpkin trays make perfect tens frames and I teach my kiddos that they only need one.  They identify the number in the ones place and make that number with candy pumpkins in the the trays.  They then use dry erase markers to write the numbers in the correct side of their Tchart.  (Simply laminate the freebie above!)

The eyeball greater than, less than is so simple with candy corn as your symbol.  You could use any manipulative but eyeballs are super fun!

With the plastic spiders, my kiddos represent each part of the number bond with different colored spiders and then the whole is a combination of 2 colors.  SOOO FUN!

I am crazy excited about my math next week!  It is based off the book BONE Soup!  Check out my file below! It is on sale until the 27th!

We are going to be making BONE SOUP!!!!!!
I am so excited!  It is going to take the place of my Witch's Brew activity so that all my students can participate.  No worries about food allergies:)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Number Bond FUN!

Friends~I LOVE number bonds! This year, we are using Math in Focus which is a math program centered around Singapore Math.  I am still working my way through the program but I am thrilled with the results so far. 

My students have spent the week working with numbers to 10 and creating 2 and 3 part number bonds.  It has been so exciting to see them decompose numbers.  

Number bonds are simple.  The are made up of parts and wholes.  (Think fact family!)  The parts are the numbers added and the whole is the sum.  Math in Focus uses basic unifix cubes to represent number bonds in trains.  I also use base ten cubes and paper plates for my students to explore. 

Notice that the paper plates are different colors.  I have them use the green to represent the parts and the pink to represent the wholes.

This app is awesome for number bonds and for challenging those higher level students!  We will be using it next week in centers! 
We played the best game with number bonds last week.  All you need are some paper plates, 2 different colored markers, and some unifix cubes.  

Directions: Create number bonds by writing the parts on individual plates in one color and the whole on the other.  

*Place plates number side down
* Students then go off and choose a plate.  
*They must find their other part and then their whole.
*Students head to the unifix cubes to represent their bond. 
(When they were done, I had them come to me for a check. If they were correct, I took the plates and put them back out.  The students broke apart their bond and moved on to the next one.)

Example: 3,7,10 would be 3 red cubes, 7 blue cubes in a unifix tower/train that equals 10.
 I am also soooo obsessed with this number bond scale! It totally helped my students see how the numbers work together!  Click the picture to check it out on Amazon!

We are finishing up our number bonds next week and heading into the BIG world of addition.  I am super excited to see how these number bond help my students with more traditional algorithms! 

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Halloween: Where's My Mummy

Friends~I just love Halloween and Fall is my favorite season!  Where's My Mummy by Carolyn Crimi is one of my all time, most loved books for the season!  It is filled with vivid illustrations and fun alliteration!  I love the pictures of the Baby Mummy and Bones cracks me up.  

It is the one book that is NEVER in my library because it is usually in a student's reading bag.  I usually read it in class as a read aloud but this year, I decided to take it to a much more exciting level.  

I am planning to start with this online reading by Jennifer Fourcade on Youtube!  I love how she changes her voice with the characters. 

I will also be reading the book in class with the students.  You can grab a copy of the book by clicking below. 

When we read, my students will be listening for alliteration.  I am going to pass out these fun mummies and when they hear an example of alliteration the will be able to hold up their mummy!

We are also going to make this super simple mummy craft.  I plan to supply the class with paper plates and ask them to color in their faces.  I will then give them a supply of white strips of paper to paste over their face to create a mummy.  The students will then hide their mummy and write directions to where it is located in our classroom.  
I have so much more planned like my Where's My Mummy Vowel game! I'l be sure to post a video when we play so that you can check it out.  

If you are interested in any of the activities above or you want to check out my literature unit for Where's My Mummy, you can click the image below.  I am off to get printing!  I have a ton of mummies cards to make:)

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