Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kids Make Videos to Teach Procedures

It seems like just about the time that the school year ends, my Kinders have just about gotten the classroom routines and school policies down. And then the school year ends.

Now, as the next school year begins, the process of teaching and training the newbies starts again. In the ten years that I have taught kindergarten, I have noticed that when the newbies come in, they are often more enthralled in the newness of everything in the classroom than they are with the talking head teacher, so I came up with an idea to engage them in learning the new routines and policies. I had kindergarten students create videos to teach them so that they did not have to sit for a long period of time and listen to me try to abstractly tell them about their new life in kindergarten.

I had the kindergarteners use one of my Flip video cameras to video their friends. I asked them to be careful not to include their friends faces. At times, that was difficult for them to do the entire time, so I did have to do some editing in Windows Movie Maker (which is free on my PC and very easy to use). I was able to add music and text with that program.

In the video our class created, the students go through various episodes of hand washing. I know we have all seen our students do the quick "run through" by just rushing their hands under the water and running. We have also seen our students pump the soap dispenser empty and splash soap all over the mirrors or themselves when they think no one is looking.

One thing I would change in this video would be to have the students turn off the water and not waste the water while they were soaping their hands.

I have probably one of the funniest "hand washing" episodes to tell you about. Hand sanitizer stations were set up around our campus. They worked by just running your hand under them and they were not originally installed with a tray to catch the gel that fell. They happened to be installed at the perfect height that allowed my students to walk under them and take a sanitizer shower!! It took me awhile to figure out why they were coming back to class with more than their hands cleaned! The trays were installed shortly thereafter, so no more sanitizing showers.

One more funny: I know you NEVER miss a hand washing in your classroom, right? Right :/ Well, one day, we did, and we were in a hot foot rush to get to lunch on time, so I handed everyone a baby wipe as they lined up. They each dropped their wipe in the trash on the way out the door and received a little squeeze of hand sanitizer. One little boy said, "No thanks, Mrs. Aronen, I don't want any HAND FERTILIZER today." I LOVE when they mix up their statements like that.

I would love to hear how you introduce classroom routines and school policies at the beginning of the school year. I need all the help I can get!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Doctor and ME ABC written for the youngest patients

Do your students get worried about visits that they have to take to the doctor's office? Periodically, mine do! 

My Doctor and Me ABC is a sweet book you can add to your classroom library. Written by Dr. Stephanie Cox, a family physician from Des Moines, Iowa, this adorably illustrated rhyming ABC book shows a variety of things that a little patient would see at the doctor's office. I love that each page focuses on one thing only, such as C is for Cough or L is for lung and gives information about that one topic in a fun to read rhyming format. We all know our students love the opportunity to guess what word will come next when listening to a book written with a rhyme format, so this book is fun for little ones to listen to.

Each page is illustrated with a cheerful child. I can see all students relating to this book, as the illustrations include children from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. The illustrations are clear and not complicated by background drawings. They simply allow for the child to focus on the one topic shared on the page.

Dr. Cox wrote this book to help children with their fears about going to the doctor's office. She has infused her years of working with children of all ages into this book. She also wrote this book to teach children more about healthy lifestyles and the human body. The fun rhyming tempo of this book is sure to draw your students into the story.

This book is truly a wonderful addition to the classroom library and a health and wellness unit for the classroom. If you would like this book in your classroom library, it can be found at Amazon in an 8.5 x 8.5 softcover book or a kindle version for under $10.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rekenreks for Numeracy: Create Your Own for Only Pennies!

I recently attended a conference for Singapore Math. In many of the classes, I learned about a wonderful tool that brings the concept of numeracy from an abstract concept to a concrete concept for young students. 

It is called the REKENREK.

This type of rekenrek is based on ancient similar devices such as the abacus. This version was created in the Netherlands. When counting from 0 to 20, you would use a two string rekenrek like this. Each string has 10 beads. The first 5 are red and the second 5 beads are white. The reason for this is for something called "subitizing". The eyes are trained to recognize that the red ones are 5 and so the child doesn't have to count them out one by one when working with the 5 red beads. Using this model allows the student to count by 5's when counting to 20. Students can use these beads to create numbers in groups of 5's and 10's.

To use the rekenrek, you begin with all beads slid to the right side like the picture above.

For a kindergarten classroom, you would want to create an individual rekenrek for each child. However, since we do not begin with students counting from 0-20 at the beginning of class, you would create one and simply cover the bottom row with a folded 3x5 card to block it out to only work with the numbers 0-10 like below.

Creating your own rekenreks is very simple and inexpensive. Pony beads are sold everywhere including Michael's and Hobby Lobby. However, I found them very inexpensively at 

To make a rekenrek, you will need:
     1) plastic canvas
     2) 10 red pony beads
     3) 10 white pony beads
     4) 2 pipe cleaners
     5) optional: 1 folded 3x5 card

1st) String 5 white beads and 5 red beads on each of the two pipe cleaners.

2nd) String the pipe cleaners through the back of the plastic canvas.

 3rd) Twist the ends of the pipe cleaners together so they are secured. You can either bend the ends down or you can snip the ends off.

4th) adjust as needed so that the lines are fairly straight and the beads can move smoothly.

The rekenrek is turned like this to begin using.

I have a new board on pinterest called Singapore Math. I have pinned many ways that you can use these rekenreks in your classroom.

If you are using rekenreks in your classroom, I am using them this year for the first time and would love to hear how you use yours.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Free Father's Day Craftivity Gift

Father's Day is soon approaching and I have a fun and easy craftivity for your child to create. This project can be created for a father or for someone who is like a father. When you download the free shirt template, choose which version is perfect for your needs. Here is our class set that we created in the last week of school.

Click on the picture to receive your free template

This is a 3 page packet. It includes one tie that can be written on for "Dad", one that can be written to someone "like a Dad", and one that is left blank for anyone the child would like to write about at Father's Day. 

This can be simply written on and colored as is. Students can create a head out of construction paper to depict the person they are writing on the tie about. This would make a terrific Father's Day display!

I copied this template onto white construction paper. I had the children cut the middle out of a paper plate for the head. We started by drawing an "L" in the middle for the nose. I did this as a reference point for where to put the eyes. I told them to draw two long jellybean ovals at the top of the "L" and showed them how to color the middle in with their father's eye color. The students added a black circle in the middle for the pupil. They then added their own style of mouth. I then asked them to think about what color hair their father had (if they have any, LOL) and draw the eyebrows that color. I then had them use the eyes as a reference point for where to draw the hairline (if their father had shorter hair...if they didn't, we discussed how to personalize this part for their father.)

I "interviewed" them to ask them what they'd like to write about how special their dad (or the person who is like a dad to them) is. I wrote it on a Post-It for them and they took it to their desk and near point copied it onto the lines of the tie. They then used a black Sharpie to trace over their words.

Next, they used colored pencils and colored the lines of the tie and the collar of the shirt any color(s) they wanted to. I had them color in the suit coat part with black crayon because it had a larger surface. They then put glue along the back of the shirt collar and on the front of the chin on the face and put the head onto the shirt.

Finally, they glued the entire project to a bright colored paper and wrote, "Happy Father's Day!" on the bottom.

I hung them up for one day on our board so that everyone could enjoy each other's. However, we didn't want any Dads to see them early, so we packed them into the Friday folders and sent them home to be saved as a gift for the big day. I think the sweetest part of this was watching how many of them drew in "those pokey things that stick out of his face"! I did have to rescue one project. The son said his father is tan...which he kind of is, and the father has light brown, almost blondish hair and the boy colored the father's skin dark brown and his hair dark brown. Fortunately, crayon is pretty easy to erase from construction paper, so we did a little rescue with the crayon and it turned out pretty good.

I hope you get a chance to try this project.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

FarFaria Reading App GIVEAWAY (2 winners)

Here is an iPad opportunity you will NOT want to pass up on! 

How would you like access to more than 600 incredible and colorful children's stories, with five brand new ones added EVERY week for free for 3 months?

Farfaria is an amazing iPad app that was created for children ages 2-9 that provides an incredibly engaging reading experience. Every single story in this app can be differentiated for different levels of reading abilities and is leveled according to reading level with a badge right on the book cover. One option for reading the stories allows for the iPad to automatically turn the pages as the story is read by a cheerful narrator. Another option allows for the reader to swipe their finger right to left across the page and the narrator reads the book to the reader. The final option allows the reader to turn the page and do all the reading themselves. My students love the "Read to Me" option because the narrators are so upbeat and many of the stories include background sounds and/or music.

I LOVE to "grab" the corner of the page and let it "peel" part way across the iPad to give them "sneak peaks" of what comes next in the story. My students literally beg me to hurry and turn the page.

The "homepage" of FarFaria is designed similar to Disneyland in which you can access different genres of books in different "lands". Here is one example.

Every one of the books on FarFaria can be saved as a "favorite" to be read offline later. I like to save the books as favorites because most of the books are so well received by the students that they usually ask to see it again the next day. Some of their favorites are "Grumpy Cat" and "Monkey Ninjas".

Before I tell you how you can win one of 2 free 3 month memberships that are good for use in the USA and Canada, check out the FarFaria Demo that will give you a look at what I am sure will be one of your new #1 "go-to" apps.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also try the FarFaria for free on your own. You can download the app and read one free story every day with no obligation to pay. If you like the app, you can purchase it for $3.99 a month or $39.99 for the year. 

In my classroom, I do not have Apple TV to show the whole class what is on my iPad, but I have found an awesome work-around that allows me to share FarFaria with everyone at once. I open FarFaria on my iPad and place it under my document camera. Students can then see the story unfold before them up on the large classroom screen through the LCD projector. I have translucent pointers that I use to point out details or point to words I want them to practice with in the story. My students give this app 46 thumbs up! 

Good luck on your entry!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Year Long Technology Project

Are you looking for a YEAR-LONG technology idea to do with your class this or next year? Watch this Prezi for some ideas about something you could do with a few tools (and possibly some help from a few volunteers).

I am always looking through Pinterest for technology ideas I can use in my classroom. Please tell me about some of your favorite ideas!

Enjoy the Prezi!

Look for more tech tips from teachers here!
Teaching with Technology

Monday, February 3, 2014

Feel the Love, Valentine Math Freebies

"I'm doooo-ooooone!" we have all heard those words from one of our lightning flash fast students at one point or another. When my students are finished with their work, I have them turn to their "unfinished work" folder. However, when the work is finished there too, I will then let the students work in a center or work in pairs on the iPads. At times, there is really not quite enough time to really start an activity on the iPad or in a center, so I always keep a current folder of an extension activity for math and phonics. Here are a few of my favorite February ones just for you.

In the spirit of Valentine's Day activities, I have some that I have created that you can have for FREE!

A Valentine Pictograph

This is a card game that can be laminated, cut, and played with either in a math center or individually in the classroom. This activity reinforces knowing how to count from 1-20 and also reinforces matching objects to numbers. This game can also be used as an assessment by having the children try to put the number cards in correct order from 1-20. Accelerated students could then match the correct object card to the number card.

Give each student a box of candy hearts. Have them sort their colors on to the sorting sheet first. Then have them graph their candy on the Valentine Heart Graph. I allow my students to remove their candy and place it back in the box and then use the correct colored crayon to show how many hearts were on each line. I then send the paper and the box of candy hearts home with the students. This is a HUGE hit every year.

Finally, how about some BONUS LOVE! If you enjoy these activities and leave a comment about how you might use my activities with your email address, I will send you my  most popular math activity for FREE! This is a paid product in my TpT store, but I will send it to you for FREE!

Leave a comment to get this paid product for free!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...