Saturday, January 7, 2017

Is Indoor Recess Driving You Crazy? Here's Help!

Hi, Teaching Friends!

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful ..."

Uh-oh. We all know what THAT means for teachers.

Here in NJ, it seems like the slightest thing can change recess plans. Snow, rain, well sure! But sometimes it's even things like muddy fields, "it might rain" {might???}, or temps under 45 degrees {yes, seriously, I've seen it happen!}. C'mon, these kids need to MOVE!

Whether your school has a supervised indoor recess in the gym for all classes {oh,my, the NOISE!} or you have the *joy* of supervising your own students in your own classroom, indoor recess is NO FUN for teachers!

There's an awful lot of pent-up student energy that needs to be released, or, as we all know,  you can kiss their attention goodbye during your afternoon lessons. And when indoor recess goes on for weeks and weeks,well, that's just not an option!

Let's take a quick look at a few ideas for how you can spread that energy throughout the day, regardless of where your students spend indoor recess times. I'll bet that you're already doing lots of these things, but I hope that you'll find some new ideas to try!

* Do you already give your students brain breaks? Super!! When it's indoor recess season, think about having brain breaks more frequently and with greater variety, in both morning and afternoon. Look for brain breaks that go beyond dancing or calisthenics to activities that also engage the brain - challenges like counting backwards while doing jumping jacks will improve your students' focus ... and also address curriculum - and I do love to hit two birds with one stone, don't you?

Click here for some great info on brain breaks from The Teacher Next Door.

* Integrate movement into every lesson that you teach.  Here are just a few examples.

>  When you ask a yes/no question, have your students "vote" their answer with movement, by standing with arms waving over their heads or marching in place. Yes, it's craziness at first, but doing this not only gets your kids moving - they'll also listen to the question and directions more carefully, so it will improve listening skills!

>  Are you practicing skip counting? Have you ever tried doing windmills with your class? I sure do wish that I had a video to share, but no luck, so here goes: Children sit in their chairs (assuming that you still have chairs, right? :) If not, you can do your windmills standing up!) Alternate touching the right hand to the left shin, then both arms back up, then the left hand to the right shin. Since this activity involves crossing the midline, you're activating both sides of your students' brains - helping the skip counting info stick AND squeezing in some extra large muscle activity!

Visit OT Mom Learning Activities for more information on crossing the midline, and lots of ideas for incorporating this kind of active learning into your teaching day.

>  After a read aloud, retell the story, but not just with words. Get up and act the story out! Keep a supply of "character cards" ready to use - laminate sheets of 9X12 construction paper, punch two holes in the top corners and add a piece of yarn to make a card that you can quickly write a character name on (erasable marker, of course!) so your students can just slip them over their heads ... and slip right into character! As they improvise their retelling, encourage them to move dramatically rather than just talking.

>  Look for learning games that use large muscles, like hopping on a number line.  This is also a great time of year to think of those "throw the snowball" games that are all over Pinterest. You know the kind ... write a math model on a quarter sheet of recycled scrap paper, trade papers with a friend, solve and check, then crunch the paper into a "snowball" and take turns tossing them at a target, like a wastebasket ;). Five minutes of this kind of "snow play" is a great activity!

*  Most teachers know how important is is to get our students up and out of their seats.

That being said, there are times when you need to have everyone facing you and able to see the whiteboard.  Moving your students to the carpet is one alternative, but little bodies there tend to scrunch up instead of moving, and, in my own experience, our kiddos often need even more stretching, jumping, etc. after time on the carpet. Have you ever tried letting your students sit on top of their desks?  Most kids will start swinging their legs once they're up on top ... more big muscle movement!

*  Last but definitely not least, never underestimate the power of a good brisk walk! Whether it's inside or out, keep the pace quick and the arms swinging. Even a two minute walk will get the wiggles out and the brains oxygenated, ready to focus and learn again. Try a walk mid-morning and another right after recess, to get your class community gathered and refocused. Concerned about an administrator questioning the time spent on your walk? Call it PE, or plan your route to stop along the way for a brief discussion at an interesting bulletin board. Where there's a will, there's a way!

I hope you've found something new here to try. I'd love to hear what other tricks you use during your day to make those indoor recess days a bit smoother!

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

It's All About "New": New Games and New Years Freebies!

Happy New Year, Teaching Friends!

Just a quick post today about some things that I don't want you to miss out on!

I have been stuck-like-glue lately on making one page math games, so I thnk it's about time to shake it up a bit with some (guess what??) ... one page phonics games!

If you follow my TpT store, you may have already seen these and know the theme ... good ol' CVC words! Seriously, who couldn't use more practice blending the sounds smoothly, thinking of rhymes, and writing the words?

Each of these game sets focuses on just one vowel sound, and each set includes six games, with a bit of a gradient of difficulty in the games to make it easier for you to differentiate.

Each game comes in both color (less than 20% of the page) and blackline.

But my favorite part?  These games are soooo easy to implement in your literacy centers. Here's why.

      * Each game is just one page, with no cards to print and cut (which means, let's get serious - no          cards to lose!).  Even the directions are right on the game board. All you'll need to add is  
         erasable markers and dice.

      * Because the games are the same for each vowel, you'll save lots of reteaching time! Teach  
         your students how to play once and then just review as necessary. You know that The Experts  
         on the rules for each game will pop up in your classroom in no time, so maybe you won't even            need to review the rules at all!


I like to offer my readers and followers a little extra deal when I first post resources - 50% off for the first 24 hours ... which quite often slides to 36 hours, 48 hours ... generosity or forgetfulness, call it what you will. ;)

Short U is yet to come (maybe tomorrow), as well as sets for mixed vowel practice and consonant blends/short vowels.

Here are the sets that are available now. Click on the pictures to see them at my store.



Part 2: New Years Freebies!

These are not new, but maybe there're new to you! (sounds like a slogan for a conignment shop...)


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter Freebies Part 2 - Literacy!

Hi, Teaching Friends!

In my last post, I gathered together a big batch of my winter math freebies and promised I'd do the same soon with literacy freebies. So, here they are!

First up is this read-aloud for winter. With its strong picture-text match, lots of high frequency words, and patterned text, this book is great for modeling early reading strategies - and for your students to practice the strategies on their own, too! Click on the picture to get your copy.

Winter Snowman Read-Aloud Book

Are your little learners practicing CVC words? Try this game!

When your ready for some meaty writing prompts for winter ... prompts with questions to guide and expand your students' writing ... try these!


Here's another writing freebie!  These three writing tools will thaw the frozen writers' brains even in subzero temps!

Winter Writing Tools

Build sight word knowledge and fluency with this set of winter fluency phrases.  Print, snip, punch a hole, and put them on a ring, and you're ready to go! Includes a Beat the Clock partner page!

Here's a winter letter match for the little guys.

Do you use whole class journals? Check this post for ideas and to get this set of free covers to help you get started.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to review the names and sequence of the months. Find simple tips and tricks on this post, plus free printables.

Here's a set of thematic word cards for alphabetizing ... but they'd also make an easy and engaging addition to your writing center.

ABC Order: A Wintery Mix

If you're practicing antonyms, download the preview of Gingerbread Opposites Literacy Centers to get this free chart of common opposites.

Do you teach about penguins in January? One of my favorite units! Try this free read the room activity.

Well, now that I've spilled the beans on all these freebies, I guess I'll have to get busy making some new ones for you and your students very soon!  In the meantime, I hope you'll stop by my TpT store and take a look at my other winter resources.  I hope you'll find just what you need to keep your school days merry and bright!

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Winter Freebie Roundup!

Hi, Teaching Friends!

I recently realized just how many freebies I have for winter!  Rather than making you hunt here and there for them, I decided to put together a quick post that will put a bunch of them in one spot for you! Today, the math freebies!

In my last post, I shared that I recently updated this oldie but goodie, and also posted it in my TpT store.  Your students will add and subtract the dots on dominos, and then sort their answers by odd/even. Find it here.

Are you working on the 120 chart? Here's a slides and ladders game to practice adding one and adding two!

Adding ten on the 120 chart? Got that covered, too! Try this!

Here's one for the little guys! Your PreK and kindergarten students will use these 48 cards to match numerals to number words, objects, and ten frame representations.

Winter Number Match-Up

Here's one of the three games you'll find in Snowy Strategies Addition Games.

Kids getting itchy with all those indoor recess days? Here's a Read the Room activity that will get them up and out of their seats to get some of the wiggles out.

This set is great to use throughout December as part of your calendar time. Your students will tally and graph their favorite holiday characters, colors, cookies and more. There's a book cover included, if you'd like to assemble the finished graphs into a class book.

December Data Collection: Tallies and Graphs

These are not "official" freebies, but did you know that you can get two free math games in the preview of each of these resources? Just click on any of the pictures to see it at my TpT store.



I hope you'll enjoy using these with your class this year! Keep an eye out for a winter literacy freebies post, coming soon!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cyber Sale Updates ... Revisions and a Freebie!

Hi, Teaching Friends!

It's time for The BIG NEWS about The BIG SALE!

Everything you need to know is in this lovely graphic from My Happy Place.  The sale is Monday and Tuesday, and with 28% off, it's exactly the right time to clear out your wishlist.

Everything in my store is 20% off  (bundles, too!), and when you use the code CYBER2016 at checkout, you'll save another 10% on top of that.  The code, the code, remember to use the code. Talking to myself, actually .. yes, I've forgotten to use the code in the past, and that's pretty upsetting to a thrifty person!

I'd like to take just a moment to give you some short and sweet updates on what's updated, what's new, and what's free in my store.

What's Updated:

Rudy, a second grade math game, now has more cards and a four-in-a-row game. Rudy is a fun game ... the number 8 (as in "Little Reindeer") plays a starring role! :)   $2.34 at the Cyber Sale!

What's New:

I've been working and working on getting these first grade parter math games finished! Each set has 20 games. Each single-page game comes in both color and blackline. And the best part? These are TIMESAVERS for you - there are no cards to print and cut!

Download the preview of these games - you'll find two free games in each one!

There's also a place value set in my store! Each set will be $5.76 during the sale.

More math! Because so many of you enjoyed Turkey Chase for Thanksgiving math, I made a winter set for counting up and counting back on the number line. Catch a Snowflake is bigger and better - it has 90 more cards and a four-in-a-row game for lots more fun and practice.   $2.70 Monday and Tuesday.

What's Free:

I actually had this on my blog a long time ago, but as of today it's brightened up, it has more dominos, and it's in my TpT store. Practice addition, subtraction, and odd/even! Enjoy this winter freebie!

Just one final tidbit: As I often do, I'll be extending my 20% discount through Wednesday, in honor of my fellow procrastinators!  ;)

Happy Teaching!

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