Tag Archives: lessons

Team Building In The Classroom Part 2

25 Mar

HUMAN BINGO

This is a great game for when a group of kids gets together for the first time. We used it during the first week of school so that the students could get a little more comfortable around each other. Each student gets a sheet and a pen, and then has a designated amount of time to get BINGO on their card (You can change the rules to suit your needs and your time restraints, ie. first one to complete a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row, first one to fill in the entire sheet, or the person who gets the most filled in within the time limit.) The hardest part about this game is making the Bingo sheets, and luckily for you, I’ve already done it for you!! There are 5 different sheets, each one with different questions so that no one can just copy off of someone else. Feel free to change the squares to suit your kids!

Bingo Sheet 1
Bingo Sheet 2
Bingo Sheet 3
Bingo Sheet 4
Bingo Sheet 5

NOSE JOUSTING

An activity that forces participants to be ok with feeling a little silly.

Everyone gets a strip of masking tape approximately 3 inches long. Everyone rolls their tape into a loop, sticky side out (like if you were putting it on the back of a piece of paper to hang up) and sticks it on their nose. When the teacher says “Go!” everyone begins “jousting.” To nose joust is to touch the tip of your nose to another’s, and see who’s tape “grabs” the tape off of the other persons nose. The student who loses their tape in battle places their hands on the shoulders of the winner and creates a train behind them (preferably chanting the name of the winner.) The winner then battles another winner, and whoever loses also joins on the train. The jousting continues until only 2 people remain with huge balls of tape on their nose. They compete in the final joust. This game is fast-paced, as it starts out with many jousts occurring at the same time, and is exciting because as more people join the chain, the chanting gets louder and the anticipation builds. It’s also great because “losers” immediately become part of a potentially winning team.

ALPHABET HANDS AND FEET

Divide students up into teams of five. They will need to play this game with bare feet. Groups can play against each other, or the clock. Use a felt tip (washable) marker and write 3 letters on each student: one on each hand, and one on one foot. Use these letters:

1. TDO
2. HYI
3. EHR
4. BFT
5. OCS

As you call out words from the list below, the group has to spell out the word using their hands and feet. The words must be shown to the teacher, or to another student you designate as a judge.

rest, fist, dice, trot, crib, boot, rich, host, shoot, first, drift, shirt, roost, shred, hired, forest, theory, bitter, bother, frosty, boiled, strict, thirsty, ostrich, october, boosted, shifted, hoisted, stitched

Happy team building, let me know how it goes!

Teachers Wear Masks…Remember “Miss Nelson Is Missing”???

17 Mar


Everyone has professional development days. Those days where every school in the state has professional development, and while the kids yell “We have no school on Tuesday!!” the teachers groan and mutter to each other that this professional development better be more interesting than the last one, where we learned about a great online curriculum…except our classrooms don’t have computers. See, unfortunately, because our school is not a public school, we’re usually left out in the cold when it comes to professional development. Usually, the principal tries to bring in someone interesting, and if no one is available, we come up with something “important” ourselves, which usually turns into a complaint session with no solutions. After sitting through countless numbers of these sessions, I asked the principal if I could have a few hours during the next session to do a little art lesson with the teachers. I explained that it would be a good way to get everyone to open up a little, have fun, and at the same time see how art (and the art teacher!) can be used for so much more than making pretty bulletin boards.

So I prepared a mask lesson that would require each teacher to make an animal mask embodying characteristics that also applied to themselves. I wheeled out a cart that was loaded with supplies, and after completing a short brainstorm session, everybody got to work. It was really enlightening to teach my co-workers, and even more so to see how clearly their personalities and styles came out in their mask. One teacher finished in about ten minutes, even though he knew he had 45. He quickly cut, added some pipe cleaner whiskers, and called it a fox. At the other end of the spectrum, another teacher used every material available in every possible color, and created the most imaginative, beautiful creature that never existed. If anyone was paying attention, it was utterly obvious through the expression of these masks what it would be like to sit in each teacher’s classroom for a day and be taught by them.

The best part of the activity was the wrap-up. I had everyone view each mask, and write on a piece of paper adjectives and descriptive phrases that they felt it conveyed. When everyone read the descriptions of their own mask, they were surprised how other people’s interpretations were different than what they originally intended to express. What does this say about the messages they’re sending to their students without even knowing it? They say teachers have to wear many different hats, but I think it might be the “masks” that we wear when we’re teaching that have the biggest effect on our students.

Get the full lesson plan here!!
Get the worksheet here!!

There’s a Wocket in My Pocket

16 Mar

I was a pretty imaginative kid. When shopping with my mom, I pretended everything I touched I got to keep; as though there was a storage unit somewhere being filled up, and my fingertips were my price gun. I imagined that the swing set in my backyard was a rocket ship that could transport me anywhere in the world. I imagined that my breakfast cereal was alive. Each little Cheerio was a teeny tiny being that couldn’t swim…but as long as there were enough banana-rafts to go around, they would all be OK. Sometimes my imagination would get carried away. And sometimes, when I look at my elementary kids, I wonder where their imaginations have gone.

I have to be careful when I assign projects to the little ones. If they hear each others’ ideas, or if they catch a glimpse of another’s paper, they end up all making the same thing. Everyone’s robot will have laser eyes. Everyone’s dream house will have a gold roof and a front door made of chocolate. Not that these aren’t very imaginative ideas, but it’s like there is only room for one idea in their little heads, and once it gets in there, they can’t come up with their own.

That’s why I love the book “There’s a Wocket in My Pocket” by Dr. Seuss. The little boy in the story imagines that there are creatures all over his house, and they are constantly doing crazy things. I read this book to my kids, and then had them create their own Wocket. For the first time, I didn’t have to encourage them to be more imaginative. They did it on their own! By giving them colored scraps of paper and little other instruction, they were able to create the most amazing, unique creatures. Plus, I think they just like saying “Wocket.”

Get the full lesson plan here!

If the World Was a Village…

15 Mar

Many of you have probably seen the “If the World Was a Village of 100 People” statistics. I’ve always found them very interesting, and they really put things in perspective in a straightforward way. Plus, my kids could always use an eye-opening lesson in acceptance and appreciation. So I made a bulletin board. If I do say so myself, it is one of the best bulletin boards I’ve ever made. All of the pieces are hand-made from decorative paper. It was the longest lasting bulletin board in the history of my school, a place where things get ripped off the walls on a day-to-day basis. If you have the time, I highly recommend using this as inspiration for a board of your own.

The Single Most Important Tool a Teacher Can Have

12 Mar

My college roommate took an education course for which the professor had one main objective: that each student in her class would not pass until they had made a yarnball. She hailed the yarnball as the single most important tool a teacher could have. My roommate, who was not very crafty and even less coordinated, claimed the professor was crazy and cursed her throughout the entire process. She looked like a kitten in a yarn store, tangled in a wooly web for days on end. I haven’t talked to my old roommate in years, but if I did I would tell her how right her professor was. I love my yarnball.

I use my yarnball for all sorts of things. Sometimes I do team building exercises with the kids at the beginning of class, and the yarnball is the perfect tool. When I’m calling on students for answers, I’ll toss them the yarnball. They’ll know it’s their turn, and then they’ll toss it to the next person. Sometimes we use it just for fun, for Silent Ball or other games. Sometimes I use it as a reward, if a student is doing really well and wants to hang on to the yarnball for the period. I’ve even tossed it at a kid when I knew he wasn’t paying attention…

Make a yarnball. You’ll figure out how to use it. Here’s the instructions.
**Your yarnball will come out the best if you COMPLETELY FILL the center hole with yarn…don’t just do a layer or two.

Best Gesture Drawing Lesson Ever!!

3 Mar

My kids are scared of drawing. Even the ones who are good at it get very self-conscious and don’t want to try. They will trace other people’s pictures with no problem, but when I try to get them to draw from life they freak out. So attempting to teach them about gesture drawing was a daunting task for me. I knew I needed to take the focus off of the drawing itself, and convince them that I wasn’t going to pick their work apart.

So I set up stations. About twelve separate stations around the room, each one containing a sign to number the station, and a simple object to draw. After discussing the difference between gesture drawing and contour drawing, which we had already discussed, I assigned each student a starting place, and told them they were going to rotate around the stations until they had returned to their original positions. I took out my timer, and set it to thirty seconds. Before they could even protest, I pressed start and shouted “Go!”

“But Miss! I can’t…”
“Go Darren! You’re losing time!”

So they drew. Some of them did great, and drew with great concentration. Some of them laughed the whole time about the fact that they were drawing Kermit. And the rest of them grumbled and complained about how bad they were at drawing, but they were drawing none the less! When the class had finished, we gathered up everyone’s work and compared some of the results. This also produced some laughs, but really got them to see that nothing bad was going to happen if Kermit looked like he had six arms and no legs. When we moved on to more drawing lessons, I was proud of how much the kids had loosened up by doing this exercise for me.

Get the Full Lesson Plan Here

Tomorrow: Overcoming fear of drawing…help them take the next step.

A Creative Behavior System

1 Mar

If you’re read some of my previous posts, you know that my elementary class has always been the most difficult for me. The students ranged from first grade to fifth, all in one classroom! Talk about modifications. They also had some of the most extreme behaviors. Restraint was unfortunately a common occurrence with these guys, due to their volatile outbursts that were dangerous not only to each other but to themselves. I really needed a behavior system that worked for them, because once trouble started brewing, it quickly got out of hand!! Better to ward off problems before they started (always good advice.)

So I started the Smile Pops system. Each kid got a pocket on my bulletin board, and in each pocket were 3 lollipops: one red, one yellow, and one green. Think of these pops like a traffic light. If you have all 3 pops, including your green, you’re good to “go”. If you start to get a little crazy, and need to be reminded more than once, you lose your green pop and are now on yellow, meaning “slow down”. If things continue to escalate from there, you’ll lose your yellow and drop down to red, “stop”. I’ve never gotten past yellow, but theoretically if the behavior gets worse after being on red, the kid probably needs to be removed from the classroom. The best part about this system are the rewards that come with it. If you keep all of your pops, you get 2 stickers for the day. If you lose only one pop, you still get one sticker. After you accumulate 5 stickers, you get a prize (doesn’t have to be a lollipop!) Prizes were anything from candy to coupons to temporary tattoos to stress balls, you name it. I was amazed at how well the system worked, and it almost completely eliminated disruptions and disorder from our art class!