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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What did you learn today?

I often wonder when the inevitable question of "What did you learn today?" is asked to my students what the response is?  Most parents have reported that the typical response is "Nothing".  
That both concerns and delights me...  

 It either means that they are learning, without realizing they are learning.  All those hands on experiences, games, and interactive lessons are paying off.  It's like I'm sneaking the vegetables into the spaghetti sauce!   While on the other hand... maybe they aren't learning anything at all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Indoor Recess

Oh the dreaded rain or frigid cold and even the humidity could make or break my day.  On such a day we are doomed with indoor recess.  Often both the teachers and children give the expected "ohhhhhhhhahhhhh"  when it's declared  unsuitable to venture outside.  Believe me when I say, there are days that I don't neccesarily enjoy putting on layer after layer, or smothering kids in suncreen, but most days I would rather be outside in the elements than endure an indoor recess.

An indoor recess in my classroom is as follows; loud, chaotic and messy.  Children have every toy out and are busy making rockets, and houses and  light sabers.  Pieces of puzzles are scattered, no matter how many reminders you give about tidying up.  Some children are using the chalk boards, while others are playing with stuffed animals. When things get too crazy, I always can rely on the trusty "eye spy", "hang man", "freeze dance" or "simon says" games. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Joys of a Field Trip

You know those days, when you pile all the kids on the bus for an adventure.  Won't you probably don't realize is all the work that goes into the preparation for the day out! 

First there is the field trip forms.  You send them out, you remind parents to return them, you photocopy more forms for the ones they lost, you collect the money, you remind the parents again to return.  Then the day of the field trip arrives and parents are scrambling to fill out forms and pay you in twoonies found underneath their car seat.

The day of the field trip ... teachers come in early to ensure the name labels are made for each child,the snacks are packed, the cell phone is charged, reservations are confirmed, parent volunteers know their duties, payment is in hand.

15 minutes prior to departure... you ensure everyone has gone to the washroom, they have everything packed, you are scramble around to get the last minute details- epi pens, and emergency contact information. Prior to boarding the bus you remind the kids of the rules, during the bus ride you remind the kids of the rules, after about 20 times of telling the same two kids to stop kicking the seats in front of them and to sit down you seperate them. 

You arrive at your destination, the kids are estatic and all you can think is I should have brought more coffee.  The day is fun filled- for the kids.  You are too busy counting little heads, and re counting, running to the washroom, making sure everyone has sanitized before snack and reminding them that it's not okay to climb on the displays and that the ropes are there for a reason- dinosaur bones are old and don't want to be touched. 

Time to head back to the school- you are exhausted, the kids are exhausted but all you can think about was- that was interesting,... when is the next field trip?!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


What are your thoughts on incentive programs in the classroom?  My theory is basically this... whatever works!  Although in an ideal world, every child would be intrinsically motivated to learn every subject with ease, this is not the case in my classroom.  Every child is different, I value and honour that, so therefore created different incentive programs for every learner.  Some children in my class need daily reminders to choose some work in different areas of curriculum. Since I know these boys would rather talk about their recent Mario Bros accomplishments than do Math, Science,  Language or anything else that has to do with learning- each time they complete some challenging work they recieve a coin.  If they can collect 12 coins in a week they recieve $1 to spend at our classroom store.  This money can also be spent on purchasing a party for the classroom.  Part of me feels guilty for bribbing these children to learn and the other half of me thinks- how guilty would I feel if I couldnt get them to do any work.?  What do you think....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Yoga in the Classroom

Before I get into this blog I must confess that I am a Children's Yoga Instructor so therefore I am a little bias about the benefits of yoga in the classroom.  I have a yoga mat and yoga cards in my classroom that the children can use at any time.  That being said children's yoga is not the relaxing, peaceful kind you may be use to.  I'm talking ... a peeing downward dog, flea eating chimps and trees blowing in the wind. 

I believe yoga can be integrated into any classroom and can easily link to curriculum expectations.  
Science- While doing cat/cow pose get into a discussion about animal classification.
Geography- See how long they can hold airplane pose and if they could fly anywhere in the world where would they go?
Math- While in triangle pose ask the children to name all the different types of triangles they can think of
Language- I love to integrate stories into my yoga instruction.  The children love to act out the stories using yoga poses.  Try "Were going on a bear hunt" or "Brown Bear, Brown  Bear"
Art- During my yoga programs we always end with a craft, whether it be mandalas, or something that incorporates the theme for the day. 

I have added some helpful resources.  Check them out! 

Little Leprechauns

With St. Patrick's Day approaching I thought I would have a  little fun with the kids.  While they were out at recess I quickly ran "into the washroom" ( Not to worry someone was watching them) to set up a little surprise. I took some green paint from our easel and over turned it.  I then proceeded to make little finger prints in the shape of tiny footprints from the easel to the table.  The footprints walked from lunch box to lunch box inspecting for healthy foods.  The footprints proceeded to go over to the whiteboard and wrote a message for the kids. 

It read  "Dear Children,  I enjoyed playing in your classroom!  My name is Mindy.  I am a Leprechaun from Ireland!  I like to make messes and enjoyed a munch of some of your lunches." 

Upon arriving back into the classroom for lunch I seemed shocked and upset and who had made such a mess and who was the last to be at the easel as there was paint everywhere!!  Everyone denied it (obviously) and then.... we found the note from Mindy.  The looks of surprise and excitement are definelty not something I will forget anytime soon.  They went around telling every teacher in the school about our visitor.  After the commotion was settled we had a circle to discuss St. Patricks Day, Leprechauns and why it is important to tidy messes.  As a class we wrote Mindy back saying its not polite to come in a mess up something and eat things that don't belong to you.  We also asked her about rainbows and gold. 

Tomorrow I will hide gold coins around the room- one for each child and write another note from Mindy.  Man.. my job is fun! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cooking with Kids

 For Valentine's Day we made cupcakes.   Why not I think, they are easy to make and everyone loves them.  Although, I started off with great intentions I soon realized I just acquired some new grey hairs. I just hoped that they would't end up like last years christmas cake disaster!!    During my prep time I prepared all the ingredients, cleaned the work space and took some time to breathe.  No matter how many times I have cooked with kids each time it's a unique and unforgettable experience.  The kids are so excited they are pratically jumping off the walls- why am I giving them more sugar?!    First off,  I explain to the children that everyone will have a chance to help with the reciepe and that I will call them over three at a time to wash their hands and help out. 

Next thing I know I'm being bombardded by every child around the table!  Someone sneezed in the cupcakes general direction and everyone was  being pushed and squished.  Oh no!!  There is the first spill- milk everywhere!  Okay, let;s try this again!  I call over the next group and try to get the other kids engaged in something.   I tried to ensure every child had a turn to mix and pour.  Next thing I know, some kids are crying because other kids have apparently had a longer time than others with mixing or they wanted to crack the egg.  Other kids are tattling because they saw someone sneak some batter.   Through all the mayhem we discuss measurement and fractions and allergies and how so and so's grandma can only eat things with fiber because it helps her with "her morning routine".  All in all, the cupcakes turn out wonderfully.  What's on the menu next month?!!