Since my classroom theme is going to be safari, I have started looking for ideas for how to make it really connected and standout. The Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes website had a great activity on it that I would share. She had a sensory bin with safari creatures, and ground in it for the students to manipulate and explore. I think this idea seems very engaging and a wonderful way for the students to have a mini safari in the room! It wasn’t too difficult to re-create either (I won’t have the authentic African bowls, but other than that, the beans and animals are easy to find). With the younger grades, which I hope to teach, there are so many hands-on activities that I can incorporate to really connect with them in a fun way. There is definitely a standard about different animals and habitats, so I could connect safari terrain to that 🙂 It is important for children to be excited to learn, and since you can’t actually take the class to Africa, you can bring Africa to the room in miniature. With a theme, I think it is beneficial if you can have as many things connect to it as possible in your room so the students really understand that it ties everything together. It is also a fun way for them to organize materials and keep track of the main ideas.
I have another tool to share from the “rubber boots and elf shoes” blog! This one is called “The Hugging Tree” and it relates to letting go of worries as well. There is a tree with lots of branches that you give to the students and have them put as many worries they can think of (either in drawings or words) on the branches. They will keep the tree at home and hug it before they go to bed – so that when they let go of the tree, they are letting of the worries that surround it. Young children need different visualizing activities for concepts that they might not fully understand yet, like shrugging off worries. For class tomorrow, there was an article that involved breaking down the steps of how to resolve conflicts. It is important for teachers to go through these types of processes in a step-by-step manner with their students during morning meetings or if an event arises, because children haven’t had much experience figuring out how to handle stress, worries, or conflicts on their own yet.I look forward to trying some of these activities out on the Kindergarteners – I hope my new CT in the spring will allow morning meetings to be incorporated into her schedule. I decided to try out Kindergarten next term because I have observed/taught in grades 1, 2, 4, and 5 (and figured grade 3 was similar to second and fourth). Schools will have many openings in Kindergarten teaching positions due to a new all-day law, and I thought I’d try the really young ones and keep my options strong 🙂 Kinders really benefit from activities like the one above because they are still learning basic social skills.
I discovered this blog called http://rubberbootsandelfshoes.blogspot.ca/ and it has some really great ideas dealing with issues that students could be having. The class is Kindergarten so the teacher uses more activities that address feelings, respect, and other basic social skills. I really liked this one called “The Bag of Worries“ (the description is attached for you to read). I would bring in a bag full of worries (creepy monster stickers, small stuffed monster toys, rocks with faces drawn on, etc) and discuss that we all have worries but we must figure out a way to brush them off and not let them get to us. I highlighted some sentences from the guidelines including “as they take out a worry monster, see if they want to give any of them a funny name/ personality /explanation of the worry,” and to focus on “different ways to take the POWER AND FEAR OUT of the worries.” These statements are crucial in letting the students see how they can change the way a worry affects them.Having activities like this to pull from when classroom dynamics get tough is very useful! You won’t have to think of something on the spot and it can help lead a tricky conversation with younger students. I am very glad that I found this blog 🙂 You should check it out too. There will probably be several tools from it that I post about. I look forward to integrating all the different tools that I have in my “teacher grab bag” from classes, blogs, fellow grad students, and other teachers.