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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Go Outside!

"Go outside and play", this was the direction given by my mother daily when I was growing up. I know I'm taking the risk of sounding like grandma but, back in my day, we played outside. A lot. 
I spent the weekend enjoying some warm sunny weather, and it got me thinking. Being outside is good for the soul. It clears your mind and it feels wonderful to fill your lungs with fresh air. 

I worry my students don't spend enough time outside exploring, discovering nature, just being part of something bigger than themselves. I want them to come in with dirty knees, with cuts and scrapes, filthy hands, and a body that's tired. They should be digging in the dirt and finding bugs. It's not beach weather here in the northeast, but it is spring. It's the perfect time to get outside. I may not be interested in looking for bugs, but I love taking a hike, a walk around a lake.  Dusting off that bike in the garage, filling the tires with air, and taking a spin around the neighborhood sounds like heaven. When I was a girl I used to love that feeling of almost flying when I was on a swing. It makes me smile just thinking of it.  Being outside is great for kids, but it's also great for adults. The stewardess tells us every time we travel. Take care of yourself first, then you'll be able to care for the young. Now that spring is here let's make a decision to go outside and play. A lot.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Writing in Kindergarten



I love teaching kindergarten because the kids go from barely knowing their letters in the fall to full on writers by the end of the year. However the journey is not always easy. 

I've seen my kids be really excited during group, ready to get to writing then they get to their seats and..... nothing. They get stuck; they forget what they want to write about. They feel a little intimidated. I honestly believe the first step in writing is not only having a topic that you know about, but believing you can do it.

One of my effective strategies is …..
Visual writing prompts.

I love using visual writing prompts because it’s very user friendly. Of course I want to hear their stories, their voice, but for some kids they just have a hard time getting their ideas down. This is what I use with those kids to build their confidence.


I give them an engaging picture, something they know a lot about recess, sports, friends, then I ask them to color the picture and write a sentence.  
"I see the girl cleaning the table."


The coloring aspect really helps  the reluctant writer. They can sit down next to a strong writer and not stare at an empty page.  They can start to color.  I do a mini lesson on the rug first, we talk about the picture, I model writing, then they turn and talk to tell a friend what they will write. Then it’s back to the table to get at it.


When we started I got a lot of sentences like. “I see a girl.”  But as we have progressed they have evolved into sentences like “The girl is going down the slide at the park. I think she is happy because she is smiling. I love to swing on the swings.  The park is fun”  

If you have students who struggle to get their ideas down, try this and let me know what you think. Here are some of my most popular prompts 
 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What I love about board games.

Can we bring back board games? I love technology and I'm so grateful that children have constant access to it, but I love board games.  There's nothing quite like sitting around the kitchen table with an old fashioned game. My own kids  love "family game night" and so do I.

                                 


In this society of everyone gets a trophy I honestly feel there is a lot to be learned  from playing a board game. Here are my top 5 reasons for playing a board game with the family.

#1 Not everyone wins. Imagine, you have to survive getting sent to "jail"  you do not pass go, you do not collect $200. Sure we get disappointed, but guess what? We survive. We learn not to fall apart when it happens. We learn the next roll of the dice can change everything.

#2 You talk to each other!! Imagine? Good old fashioned face to face look em in the eye talking to each other. Maybe we wont have earth shattering conversations, but we can feel  connected to each other in a way that can only come from actually sitting and being with that person and sharing an experience.   A text just can't come close.

#3 You actually learn. What better predictor of future real estate mogul than Monopoly? What about strategy and looking forward with a plan. Checkers ( and especially chess) can help you learn just that. You need a strategy if you want to sink your brother's battleship. Rolling dice is probably the best way to subitize numbers. 

#4 You have to take turns. Honestly, enough said. 

#5 Good for ages 5-99. Such a great way to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa. Connecting with family members that are multi-generational is one of the best reasons to play a game together. Often the experiences of our kids are so different from our parents, but everyone can feel the joy of the "get out of jail free" card. 

                                         


So put down your phone, turn off the TV and dust off a board game, I bet you'll have some laughs and simply enjoy the fun of playing a game together.


Check out my newest writing prompt about games