I just wanted to share this super cute art work that my kiddos did a few weeks back.  I got the idea from this site: Deep Space Sparkle

It was really easy for them to do and they loved getting creative with their penguins.

If you're looking for a fun art lesson that looks great on the walls, give this one a try!


Games Galore...a little play based learning!

Day 2 of trying out this play based learning business went pretty well! I still need A LOT more work and tweaking to figure out how to get that right balance between the play and the learning.

I borrowed this idea from a teacher at another school and the kids went nuts!

Here is what I put out for them:
I put out paper, dice, markers and pencil crayons.
My hope was that they would catch my drift and create some games and boy did they ever!

This is the start of a Minecraft game!

This is "Gummy Land" which looks like just a picture but actually had an elaborate game structure to go with it.

This game even had game cards to go with it!
We did this on a Friday and on the Monday I spoke with a couple parents who said they spent all weekend playing the game!


Why Writers Write...

The primary division at my school has decided to try out something new with our writing program.  In the past we have always taught each of our learning cycles with a focus on a particular writing form.  We came to find that this wasn't producing better writers because we were so focused on the particulars of each writing form rather than the basics of writing.  So we selected learning goals for our students based on what they really needed to improve on and we gave them the freedom to choose their form based on their purpose for writing.

This was one of the best decisions I have made in my teaching career!  I have never seen students so engaged in writing and they are begging me to write each day.  They are excited for their creations because they had a say in what they wrote and how they wrote it.  I have class generated anchor charts of each form that we learned about posted so that they can review them while they are writing.  Then I conference individually or with small groups based on what their writing goals are or based on what type of writing they are doing.  If I notice that a group of students has begun writing stories then I might take them and do a small group lesson on quotations or beginning, middle and end.  If I notice that many people are struggling with punctuation then I would teach a mini lesson on that for the whole class.

Right now I have students writing plays, poetry, lists, brainstorming maps, stories, procedures, letters, comics and more! It definitely makes for more interesting sharing time at the end of Writer's Workshop.

This is part of our writing wall. The chart on invitations was inspired by birthday invites a student was handing out!


Daily 5

My students absolutely love Daily 5 time! They love that they get to choose what they are doing each day and that helps to keep them engaged.  I love that they are working on meaningful literacy activities while I confer with small groups or conduct individual conferences.
I got my Daily 5 posters from this blog! I would post her button but I'm not quite sure how to do that yet (feel free to comment and let me know!!).
The most popular word work activity in my room is definitely the keyboards.  Our computer lab had some extra keyboards so I borrowed them and added them to our word work area.  The kiddos love to play teacher and office with them and they have made up their own games to go along with them as well.


My First Freebie

My little explorers have been researching other countries using books and the ipads.  I created a booklet for them to record their information about food, clothing, climate, shelter and so on.  First they worked in research groups and did some rough research and recorded it on chart paper.  They transferred their information to the booklets in sentence format.

You can get it as a freebie here: Country Report Booklet.  If you have any tips for me, feel free to comment!!

Here are my students working in their booklets 


My First Blog Post

I’m so excited to be writing my first blog post! I’ve spent years reading other blogs and being inspired by so many teachers around the world and now I have caught the blogging bug.
My first post will be about something new I am trying in my class! I’ve been a part of a group of teachers in my district who are trying out play based learning (or inquiry learning or exploration time) in Kindergarten up to grade two. The idea is that you find out what the students are interested in and you guide their learning through purposeful placement of materials and allowing students more time to talk and explore with each other. The teacher has more of a facilitator role and spends more time observing and less time giving instructions. Students are given a guiding question or problem and through their own explorations they come to the answers with minimal teacher direction. Let me tell you, it is VERY hard to give up that control. This is very much a work in progress and I have only tried it out a few times with my students but it is exciting and the students were highly engaged.
I was inspired by this video:

So, I promptly went to school the next day and gave my students cardboard, tape and markers and told them to create something. In no time at all we had dog houses, castles, posters, computers, a firehall, a giant card, a Pac Man game and more. Now you might wonder what they were actually learning. Well, for this first exploration time I just wanted to observe the students working with each other, I wanted to listen to conversations and watch them problem solve. They were developing some important learning skills during this time. In the future there will be more of a purposeful curriculum focus during exploration time but for that one day it was wonderful to watch and listen to kids being kids.