Sunday, November 12, 2017

COOPERATIVE LEARNING: BODY PARTS/HALLOWEEN

Our school encourages us to use Cooperative Learning techniques in the classroom.

Research shows cooperative learning helps to produce:

  • Higher achievement
  • Increased retention
  • More positive relationships and a wider circle of friends
  • Greater intrinsic motivation
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Greater social support
  • More on-task behavior
  • Better attitudes toward teachers
  • Better attitudes toward school

Some of the Cooperative Learning structures we use are:

  • Pass the Paper (a version of Round Robin)
  • Pencils in the Middle
  • Three-Minute Stop (or Three-Minute Review)
  • 1-2-4
  • Shared Reading
  • Jigsaw Groups

Most of these structures have to be modified according to the age of the students if you want to use them in preschool or kindergarten. With some common sense and creativity, you will be able to put them in practice and reap the benefits of cooperative learning.

Here’s an example of how I use Pass the Paper and Pencils in the Middle with my 5-year-olds. For both activities, students were divided in groups of five.

We were learning PARTS OF THE BODY and HALLOWEEN was approaching, so I thought a monster-related activity would be perfect.

First, we used Pass the Paper  to draw the monsters body. I gave each team this worksheet with the monsters head and torso. Each group only had one worksheet so they were drawing the same monster.

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They had to draw the rest of the body parts, one by one. For example, one kid would say: “arms”, and she would draw the monster’s arms. Then she would pass the paper and the next kid would say: “eyes”, and he would draw the monster’s eyes, and so on.

The rules were simple:

  • Name the body part you are going to draw
  • Don’t repeat the body part if someone else has already drawn it
  • Don’t waste time
  • Make it look like a monster (kids have a natural inclination to draw 2 eyes, 1 nose, 2 arms, 2 legs… and make it look like a person. You need to insist that they make and odd number of body parts to make the monster look “funny”.)

While working with this technique, kids have to be alert to see what the rest of the group are drawing, and to be able to help if someone doesn’t remember a word in English. At the same time, some have to learn to inhibit their desire to tell others what to do, and to wait patiently for their turn.

I though the resulting pictures were very nice and creative.

Monster  (1)Monster  (2)Monster  (4)Monster  (5)Monster  (6)


For our next lesson, I made a copy of the monster for each member of the group. This time, we used Pencils in the Middle to colour the monster in. Make sure each group has crayons of each colour for everyone.

First, I asked everyone a question: “What colour are the monsters legs?” Then, each group had to decide on the colour. After the decision had been made, they could start colouring. When I saw that almost everyone had finished, I called “pencils in the middle”. At that moment, students had to put their pencils away and put their hands behind their backs (this helps them inhibit the impulse to grab the first colour they think of before the group decision has been made). I would ask another question like: “What colour are the monsters ears?”, and so on, until the monsters are coloured-in.

The rules for this structure are:

  • Use indoor voices
  • Everyone participates in the decision making and uses the same colours
  • Don’t waste time
  • If you haven’t finished colouring when I call “pencils in the middle”, you’ll have time at the end of the activity

While working with this technique, kids learn to compromise, come to an agreement and cooperate.

These are the resulting monsters:

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It is not easy to use these structures with little kids for the first time, you’ll have to invest time in explaining the rules and even then you’ll need to remind them constantly what to do. My students have been using Pass the Paper for two years now, and Pencils in the Middle, since last year, so they’ve had some practice.

If you decide to use Cooperative Learning in your classroom, you’ll have to be patient and persistent at first, but I assure you, as your students get older, they will reap the benefits of this active learning methodology.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

THE QUIET GAME

It´s a Game For Keeping a Class Busy While the Teacher Answers the Phone, etc. I´ve just found it on “Heidi Songs” blog and I´m really looking forward to trying it out in my classroom. This is what Heidi writes:

What you need:
1.  Your teacher chair.
2.  A DISTRACTION that pulls you away from teaching your class for a minute or two- like a child wetting his pants, or a parent that MUST talk to you right away, in private!

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How to play:
1. Choose one child to be the “starter.”  This child gets to sit in your teacher chair and chooses the quietest person in the room.
2. The person that gets chosen by the starter gets to be the next leader.  He gets to sit in the teacher chair and picks the next quietest person to sit in the teacher chair.
-Boys must pick girls, and girls must pick boys.  No “pick backs” allowed!
-No “stalling” allowed; (you can’t just sit there and pick no one, or the teacher will choose for you.  If I notice kids stalling, I call out, “Okay, I’m going to count to three, and then I will pick for you!”  That always does it.  They pick someone immediately!

The end of the game:
When you are done managing your DISTRACTION: have the person in the chair choose someone to start the game next time.  Don’t let the person in the chair be the starter next time, or kids may sit and “stall,” refusing to choose someone- usually because they hope to be the starter next time!

Tip:
* Keep track of who gets to be the next “starter” on a small white board and pin it to a wall or bulletin board nearby your teacher chair.  If you can find a small one that has a place to attach a little dry erase marker with an eraser on the end of it, then it will be really quick and easy to write it down each time.

Quiet Game White Board

* If my “starter” is absent or busy with something, then I usually have my helper of the day start the game.

The children in my class last year loved playing this game so much that they would whine about it if we didn’t get a chance to play during the day!  And, sometimes while a few of them were waiting for their parents to pick them up at the end of the day, they would play it while they waited!  They would even play it when there were only TWO children in the room!  You wouldn’t believe how dramatically they would think and think before they would choose that other person!  I even had a child play it once by herself!  She got a couple of dolls and bears from the playhouse, put them on the carpet squares, and proceeded to pick the “quietest” one!  (Don’t ask me how she made THAT decision!  Ah, the wonders of the Kindergarten imagination!)

HERE’S a link to the full article where you can find 4 more games that can help you with your classroom management.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

WINTER SENSORY BINS

This is the second year I include seasons-themed sensory bins in my lessons, and I’m really happy about the way they work in the classroom. My kids have fun playing with them while developing their language and fine motor skills. Also, I´ve been reading about the importance of providing kids with sensory stimuli, so I plan a sensory play lesson for every season (autumn, winter, spring and summer) with my 3-year-olds.

This time I prepared two winter-themed bins. The first one was filled with cotton balls, cotton filling, different-sized porexpan balls, some white stones and a few animal figurines (penguins, polar bears and seals). I also put some clothespins in there in case they wanted to use them for moving the cotton balls around.

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The second bin was filled with Epsom salt. You can see animals and some glittery strips in the picture here, but I took them out later as they were a bit of a distraction from the sensory experience I wanted it to be. Kids just loooved burying their hands in the “snow” and making “snow castles”. Epsom salt is a great material for this as it has a very pleasant touch and the colour is just like real snow. You can store it and use it again later, as long as you put several net pouches (the ones used for small gifts) with rice in it to absorb the humidity.

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We have 25 kids in each class so you have to plan and organize this kind of activities really well. My kids played in each bin in groups of five for about 10 minutes. While 2 groups were playing, the rest were doing something else with another teacher.

To learn about the importance of sensory play you can read THIS. You can also read about my AUTUMN and SPRING sensory bins.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How young children learn English

Here’s an article by Opal Dunn, educational consultant and author, that I find very interesting.

Introduction

Young children are natural language acquirers; they are self-motivated to pick up language without conscious learning, unlike adolescents and adults. They have the ability to imitate pronunciation and work out the rules for themselves. Any idea that learning to talk in English is difficult does not occur to them unless it’s suggested by adults, who themselves probably learned English academically at a later age through grammar-based text books.

Read the notes below about young children learning English as another language. You can also download these notes as a booklet. Right-click on the link below to download the booklet to your computer. You may print this booklet.

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The advantages of beginning early

  • Young children are still using their individual, innate language-learning strategies to acquire their home language and soon find they can also use these strategies to pick up English.
  • Young children have time to learn through play-like activities. They pick up language by taking part in an activity shared with an adult. They firstly make sense of the activity and then get meaning from the adult’s shared language.
  • Young children have more time to fit English into the daily programme. School programmes tend to be informal and children’s minds are not yet cluttered with facts to be stored and tested. They may have little or no homework and are less stressed by having to achieve set standards.
  • Children who have the opportunity to pick up a second language while they are still young appear to use the same innate language-learning strategies throughout life when learning other languages. Picking up third, fourth, or even more languages is easier than picking up a second.
  • Young children who acquire language rather than consciously learn it, as older children and adults have to, are more likely to have better pronunciation and feel for the language and culture. When monolingual children reach puberty and become more self-conscious, their ability to pick up language diminishes and they feel they have to consciously study English through grammar-based programmes. The age at which this change occurs depends greatly on the individual child’s developmental levels as well as the expectations of their society.

Stages in picking up English

Spoken language comes naturally before reading and writing.

Silent period
When babies learn their home language, there is a ‘silent period’, when they look and listen and communicate through facial expression or gestures before they begin to speak. When young children learn English, there may be a similar ‘silent period’ when communication and understanding may take place before they actually speak any English words.

During this time parents should not force children to take part in spoken dialogue by making them repeat words. Spoken dialogues should be one-sided, the adult’s talk providing useful opportunities for the child to pick up language. Where the adult uses parentese (an adjusted form of speech) to facilitate learning, the child may use many of the same strategies they used in learning their home language.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE

Saturday, April 23, 2016

AUTUMN SENSORY BINS

Last year I tried sensory play in my English class and it was a great success. You can read about it HERE. Also, since then I´ve been reading a lot about the importance of providing kids with sensory stimuli, so this year I planned a sensory play lesson for every season (autumn, winter, spring and summer) with my 3-year-olds.

I prepared two autumn-themed sensory bins. The first one was filled with corn and pasta as a base, and enriched with leaves, conkers, chestnuts, walnuts, acorns, pinecones and forest animals’ figurines. I also provided several containers so that the kids could fill them up and empty them as they liked.

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The other bin required more preparation time. It was basically stawberry, lemon, orange and coke jelly I prepared at home the previous day. I used these flavours for their autumn colours, obviously.  I made two different-coloured layers in each container which aloud me to insert tiny objects between them and make it even more exciting for the kids to dig their hands in as they would find these little “treasures” (mostly buttons and pointy balls) inside.

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imageWe have 25 kids in each class so you have to plan and organize this kind of activities really well. My kids played in each bin in groups of five for about 10 minutes. While 2 groups were playing, the rest were doing something else with another teacher.

To learn about the importance of sensory play you can read THIS.

Friday, October 30, 2015

EASY WITCH HANDPRINT CRAFT

Last week I made this witch craft with my 5-year-olds. Easy and fun!

#Halloween #Craft ♥ Handprint Witch Craft #Halloween craft for kids to make! | CraftyMorning.com:

HALLOWEEN COLOURING PAGES

Here are some Halloween colouring pages I like and use in my classroom:

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halloween coloring

 

 

Also, there are some fun coloring sheets on THIS PAGE. This one is my favourite:

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