Tuesday, 25 February 2014

YouTube Tuesday, and the SALE!

Let me start by confessing that when I said last Tuesday I'd be back again this week to share some more YouTube clips, I wasn't actually that confident that I would be... But here I am!  Gold star for me. :)

Today's clips are brain breaks - those that you can use at any time of your day to allow your kidlets to get their wiggles out.  I like to have brain breaks that the children can copy or follow along with - saves those flailing dance moves and break dancing on the floor that do nothing other than hype the kids up. (Is it just me or do some kids have no other freestyle dance moves than mad waving and jumping?) Just a reminder - always watch a clip before you show it to your class, and check the sidebar etc. for inappropriate ads and images, just in case!

First up is our current favourite, Dooby Wop the Robot Dance!

Who doesn't love Sid the sloth?  Try his Sid Shuffle!

This one's great for little ones - The Hokey Pokey is an oldie but a goodie!

Hi 5 is perfect for the classroom because of their G-rated dance moves. :)  Move Your Body gets the kids up and wiggling.  If your class likes this one, there's a heap more from Hi 5 you can try.

OK, I know I said I like to have a clip that the kids can follow - but this one is freestyle!  You will be the 'Best Teacher Ever' if you work this one into your playlist - it's definitely the flavour of the month (year?).

Before I go I'll mention something that I'm positive is already on your radar: TpT is holding a SALE this Thursday and Friday (the 27th and 28th) to celebrate being 3 million sellers strong!  My store along with many others will be 20% off during this time.  Enter the code TPT3 when you checkout to grab and extra discount.

Happy dancing! 


Monday, 24 February 2014

Monday Made It - Felt Button Chains and Sight Word Treasure!

I'm either reallllly late to February Made It, or super early to the March edition.  Either way I told myself I wasn't allowed to have any ice-cream tonight until I came by to share a few projects I worked on this past weekend!  So here we go. :)

First up is a colourful fine motor activity that I saw on Pinterest (pinned from here).  I was totally shocked last week when one of my kidlets couldn't do the buttons on her shirt up herself!  A quick survey of the class told me that I needed to get onto making these Felt Button Chains quick smart.  

All you need is some felt (I bought mine from the dollar store in an A4 sized pieces for $1 each), some buttons (a craft pack from Spotlight) and some wool (I used an upholstery needle so the wool would fit through the eye).

Cut the felt into strips and sew a button on one end.  I only did one stitch and then tied the wool off - there won't be room in the button holes for much more!  Make a cut in the other end as a button hole - leave a decent amount of felt between the hole and the edge just in case enthusiastic kidlets rip it a little as they are buttoning!

There you have it - DIY Felt Chains for fine motor practice. :)

I added them to our rotations this morning and they were a hit! Quiet, calming and great for those little finger muscles.  We just need a little work on linking them together properly. :)

My second project was inspired by another pin that led me to Carolyn's blog - Holding Hands and Sticking Together.  I get so many wonderful ideas from Carolyn and this one was no exception.  My Sight Word treasure took no time at all to make.  All you need are some rocks (mine were river stones from Bunnings) some gold spray paint and a marker.

I'm using these tomorrow in my Literacy groups - the kidlets are going to dig for treasure and write the words that they find on each gold nugget on a simple recording sheet.  

Link up with 4th Grade Frolics to share your crafty projects, too.  Right, job done... ice cream for me! :)


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Five for Funday! (with a giveaway!)

Sunday already?  How did that happen?  Seems like just a minute ago I was driving home from work on Friday afternoon excited about the weekend and now it's practically over.  Oh well, I guess I must have been busy yesterday if I'm only just now getting around to posting my Five for Friday!

1. Although Valentine's Day was last week I can technically share my gift this week because it arrived on Saturday. :)  Chris sent me the most gorgeous bunch of red roses I have ever seen.  He never forgets about me, even though I am so far away!

2. We had a tonne of fun this week in Maths!  We played 'Race to 10' more than once as a whole class and the kidlets were super excited every time.  It's a simple game, you just need a number line, a die and some markers.  We used a roll out number line, pocket dice with the numbers 1-3 represented and 2 of our 'Reading Buddies' (we played boys vs. girls).  Roll the dice, move the markers, first to 10 wins.  So great for number recognition, an introduction to moving along a number line and really sparks discussion about more than/less than, how many more and early addition concepts.  Plus it's heaps of fun. :)

Another favourite game is one I call 'Pirate Booty' - the kidlets call it 'Treasure Chests'... we can't reach a happy compromise! :)  I bought some cardboard treasure chests from the dollar store last year and made an extra special one with an old box and some gold spray paint to hold the pirate's gold.  To play just roll a die (early in the year I use a pocket dice with the numbers 1-3, later in the year a regular one is fine) and add that many 'jewels' (coloured counters) to a ten frame template. Once the ten frame is full, trade in the jewels for a gold coin (also from the dollar store) and pop it in your very own treasure chest. Working with ten frames? Check.  Counting? Check.  Beginning to think about number facts to 10? Check.  Fun? Double check!

You'll need a computer for this one!  'Mucky Monsters' is a game that works on the concept of more and less.  The mucky monsters haven't washed their hands, so a voiceover asks 'Who has more/less bugs?' Kidlets simply count and then click on the monster's hands to choose.  The most hilarious part?  To get more bugs and the next question, you need to click on the toilet to flush it (complete with flushing sound effect!).  My kidlets LOVE this game... just because it's so gross!

3. I've been on the search for a floral kimono style top and I finally found one I loved!  Gave it a whirl last night.  Can't decide if it's me or not?

4. One of the important skills my Preppies need to have is distinguishing between a letter, a word and a sentence.  I whipped up a card sorting resource with Dolch and simple CVC words that we used in the pocket chart.  I used the gorgeous Scrappy Kids from Graphics from the Pond and was so excited with how cute they look! :) The finished product has upper and lowercase letters, my photo doesn't because I only realised after I'd printed it for my class that I should have varied the types of letters.

We also used the simple recording sheet I made to go with the sorting cards as evidence of our learning.  Now for the giveaway!  Head on over to my store and pin an image of this product.  Leave a comment to let me know where you pinned it and I'll choose 2 random winners who I'll send this and 1 other product to.  You've got until Tuesday evening. :)

5. I found this pin last week, but felt it was way to close to Valentine's Day and I didn't want to look like a party pooper (even though it doesn't reflect my actual feelings!).  It made me smile!

Phew! That was a long post.  Thanks for sticking with me. :) Have a wonderful weekend lovely friends!


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A Little YouTube on a Tuesday! Clips your kidlets will love.

Not a day goes by that I don't use a song or movie from YouTube in my classroom. Either as a brain break, to practice counting, to explain a concept in a different way or to 'hook' the kidlets and prompt discussion for a new topic. Even since you-know-who has scaled back the number of his videos on YouTube there's still a million and one awesome clips that you can use for free. Searching for relevant and good quality YouTube treasures can eat up hours of time (let's face it, you have to watch them before showing them to your kidlets just in case there's something randomly inappropriate lurking in there!) so each week I'll share a few that I have found, used and loved. This week they all match a book that you probably read in your classroom.

First up is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom as a song! My kidlets were mad for this ditty when we had our Chicka Chicka week. We played it at least once a day that week and they still ask me for it whenever there's a spare minute or two.


 The Wishy Washy Washer Woman is the perfect jig to introduce to your class when you have read Mrs. Wishy Washy. Lots of fun and so cute to watch them dance to this. :) Just a warning - it will get stuck in your head!


 Sometimes it can be hard to find a read aloud online - there's a lot out there but lots are poor quality and most of the time the voices of the readers are a bit grating and can even be muffled. In the first week of school we read The Kissing Hand and I found this gorgeous recording. The lady who reads it has a lovely, calm voice and I found that it really settled my kidlets when they needed refocusing in those first few days of school. Not sure whether her voice lulled them into calm or if it's the reminder that Mummy is at home thinking of them. :)


 Well, it's a big night of TV here - new Big Bang Theory, The Bachelorette and My Kitchen Rules - so I'd better get myself into a more horizontal position on the couch to enjoy it... that's if I can stay awake! :)


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Two 'Magic' Ideas for Behaviour Management... with a FREEBIE!

Guess what?  It's the weekend!  Two glorious days of sleeping in and lazing about (I wish!). And boy, do I deserve them after the week I have had with my precious treasures. :)

The first few weeks of Prep (or Kindergarten if you're not from 'round these parts!) are always tough as the kidlets get used to the routines and rules of school.  Throw in a handful of boys with 'tricky' behaviour and you've got yourself a recipe for days that feel like they go on forever... during which you use your 'cranky voice' more than once.  This week I found myself using a few behaviour management ideas that are truly 'magic' in a slightly desperate attempt to get things in my classroom back on track. 

Day-to-day I use the famous 'clip chart', known in my room as the 'peg chart', for kidlets to monitor their behaviours. I use the Monster Manners pack from Growing Kinders as a springboard for moving up (to the pink card - Super Kid!) or down the chart.  Seriously, you need this pack!  So cute and so effective (also helps that it's free)!  I refer to my display daily and the kids get it.  Within a day, one of my precious treasures said "You sit criss cross, and that's the bottom of the line!" (If you use this pack, you'll understand!)

This year, the clip chart was working for about 90% of the kidlets... and those remaining 10% sure were giving me the run around.  Bring in the magic tricks!  Trick number 1 is a life lesson, as well as a magic cure for some tricky classroom behaviours.

All you need are some dollar store bubbles, and you have some 'Self Control Bubbles'!  Take your class outside and sit them in a circle.  Explain that you are going to blow some bubbles in their direction, and the first time you do they can pop away as much as they want.  Go ahead and let them go wild (within reason... I always tell my kidlets their bottoms must stay on the ground). Make sure everyone gets a heap of bubbles to pop.  The second time, explain that you are going to blow more bubbles, but this time they MUST NOT pop a single one... even if it lands right on their nose!  Explain that the feeling of really, really wanting to do something, but holding back, is called self control.  Ask for a volunteer to go first and choose someone you know will resist the bubbles.  Praise them for using self control. Then go around the circle and blow more bubbles at each kidlet (I make sure to get right 'up in their face' so they really, really have to control themselves!) - making sure to encourage all of them to think about how it feels to have self control.  As the weeks go on refer back to this activity any time one of your kidlets is struggling with those behaviours that require them to practice more self control.  They will be able to recall the feeling, trust me!  You might like to repeat the bubble activity a few times during the year - my kidlets LOVE knowing that they are pros at something... and self control ain't a bad thing to be pro at! :)

Grab this free pack from my TpT store that will help you use this activity in your classroom.  It contains  an explanation of how to complete the Self Control Bubbles activity, a label for your bubble bottle, and 3 simple recording sheets.

And for my second trick... Quiet Spray!  All you need for this is an empty spray bottle.  I bought mine from Kmart for less than $2.  Fill it with water.   My spray bottle wasn't clear, but if it was I would have added a drop of food colouring or some glitter to make it look more 'magic'.  I also would have taken time to make sure my label was size-appropriate for my bottle... but you live and learn! :)

I added a few drops of rosewater to my Quiet Spray... mostly because I wanted lavender, couldn't find it at the grocery store, but wanted my Quiet Spray to smell calming.  Here's how it works: Any time you want your kidlets to work quietly (I used mine today before group work), explain that you will use the Quiet Spray to help them work the best that they can.  I ask my class to take a deep breath in through their noses and out through their mouths as I mist Quiet Spray over their heads.  MAGIC!  You could even use Quiet Spray at the beginning of each day along with some relaxation techniques, or for individual students who need some extra magic in their day. :)

There you have it folks, some new magic tricks for you to try with your tricky kidlets. :)  Please let me know if they work for you!

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend! :)


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Fine Motor Madness, Random Moments and Advice Needed! Five for Friday 07/02/14

It seems like it's been ages since I was here linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday! Now that I'm back into the swing of a new school year, it will hopefully become a weekly habit like it used to be. :)  I'm excited to share with you some of the fun my new Preppies had this week, as well as a moment or two of randomness and a plea for advice!

1. Let's start with the low point of my week...

Yep, that's my little car with a big ole dent in the door.  Someone reversed into it.  Even though I won't be out of pocket because this wasn't my fault (I was parked at the time) it's still a giant pain in the butt to run around getting the damage fixed.  I'll be without a car for about 5 days... Oh well, at least no one was injured!

2. We jumped right into proper group work on Monday!  During the kidlets' first week of school (ever) last week we did some practise activities to get used to staying with our group and on task.  Each morning we do fine motor activities that groups (although I call them 'teams' with the kidlets) rotate through during the week.  Here's some of their favourites:

Jump Frogs are actually quite tricky and require a fair bit of muscle strength and co-ordination... well, they do for me anyway! ;) A few of my kidlets really struggled with applying enough pressure to the frog to make it jump... all the more reason for them to practise! I got my frogs from Big W for $1.

Pokey Pinning is such a great way for children to strengthen the muscles they need to hold their pencil and put pressure on paper when they are writing (lots of my kidlets struggle with this and it seems to be becoming more common).  All you need is a pin (thumbtack) and an outline to pin on.  I use this pack by From the Pond.  You can pin on the carpet (or other soft-ish surface) but I use cork boards.

Using tongs to move pom poms onto a very professional looking template (Sharpie on card!).  

Is there anything better than playdough?  So quick and easy to make with so many uses!  This week we used my Playdough Mats Number 1-10 in fine motor rotations.  These are great because they have picture clue directions so the kidlets don't need to be able to read the instructions in order to be successful.  If you need a great no-cook playdough recipe (I have never cooked playdough, and never will!) there's one in my Stirring Up Fun freebie.

3. Check out my new water bottle!

It's seriously huge (see the pen next to it for comparison?).  I've been really trying to keep up my water intake since school went back, and this baby is awesome because I only need to fill it once in the morning and it lasts the whole school day!

4. During Maths this week I introduced my kidlets to Gone Buggy - and was rewarded with squeals of laughter when each group played it as rotations changed each day.  

I absolutely love this game because it allows kidlets to practise number recognition, counting and taking turns in a hands on and FUN way.  :)

5. OK, number 5 is a plea for advice!  I have two gorgeous kidlets this year who are seriously wriggly - beyond the regular 'getting used to being at school' wiggles.  Both are boys (surprise!).  One will touch anything within arm's length - other kids included - because he can't help himself.  The other does the same but latches on to the closest object.  I sit him right by me (he's also a chatter/blurter) and he literally koala hugs my leg and puts his mouth on my knee during carpet time.  I want to find a 'fidget' to give each of these precious boys to occupy their hands while we are on the carpet and would LOVE some advice on the best DIY option.  I'm happy to spend money and order something - but I need an option for Monday. :)  In the past I've used stress balls, but I have a feeling that these boys will need a fidget that keeps their fingers busier than a stress ball would.  Does anyone out there have any tips for me?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Well folks, the sun has almost set and my glass is empty so it's time for me to leave my lovely patio and head inside for the evening.  I hope you had a great week and are enjoying a relaxing weekend just like I am!


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Currently February... Or am I too late??

I just checked... I'm going to be #305 in Farley's Currently linky this month!  I promise that I had the best of intentions to link up last weekend - and then I got food poisoning.  Bleuch!  After spending Saturday and Sunday in bed, I've been chasing my tail this week with lesson planning and resource making for my class.  Wednesday night and I finally feel on top of it, so I'm sharing my Currently - even though I'm late!

Listening: Lately here in Queensland it has been super hot and we haven't had decent rain in ages.  This afternoon showers set in and it's so relaxing to hear the rain falling and feel the cool air.  If only the sound of the washing machine wasn't in the background! :)

Loving: I love getting to know a fresh batch of Prep kidlets every year!  I have some hilarious characters who are brightening up my school days for sure.

Thinking: This term some of my non-contact time falls in a block in middle session on Thursdays.  Although I would love to use that time to get the following week's planning done, tomorrow I have a long list of jobs that I need to get finished.  Fingers crossed I'm productive, but I'm really not good with unstructured time...!

Wanting: After my non-weekend (it doesn't count if I was sick the whole time!) I have a whole heap of housework to do.  Maybe if I wish upon a star a friendly cleaning fairy will visit in the night and do it for me?

Needing: Ugh, I always feel disorganised!!  Filing, sorting, labelling... not my thing!

What's the fib??
Believe it or not, I HATE mangoes.  The smell of them turns my stomach, and I've never actually eaten one.  I know, I know - I should be thrown out of Australia in disgrace.  My morning coffee is a necessity, and I am a leftie (or South Paw as I was called in Canada) so those are the 2 truths! :)

I'd better hurry to get this posted before it's not even February anymore!  Link up (if you haven't already) and share in the Currently fun. :)