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.


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