Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Manipulatives- Making your own

Kids love using manipulatives in class. In kindergarten we use them primarily in math, reading, and science. The kids calls these "learning toys" and they have a great time exploring and creating new things. Lots of these manipulatives are the expected ones: pattern blocks, linking cubes, teddy bear counters, letter unifix cubes, magnetic letters, etc. The possibilities are endless though...if you can just be creative.

I want to offer my students the best learning tools I can. Sometimes though, my pocket book just doesn't always agree. So, how can you get more manipulatives without breaking the bank? Find free stuff or make your own.

Here are some free or inexpensive items you can buy or make to use as manipulatives
-Recycle water bottle caps-you can write letters or numbers on them. Use for a variety of activities.
-Collect shells the next time you go to the beach. The kids can use them for counting, sorting, making patterns
-Dye pasta. I'm sure you could do the same with white rice too. The students can sort the pasta in various ways. We also use them during math to copy, extend and created patterns. Our favorite activity is creating our own pattern necklaces. See pictures of what you need to dye the pasta.

-Buy mini erasers from Oriental Trading or Smile Makers
-Use different shaped snacks and cereals. An excuse to play and learn with food.
-Cut the colorful foam sheets into inch squares. Write a letter on each one. Instant soft letter tiles for word building.
-Collect leaves. Put in a science center with some mini magnifying glasses.
-Spread some shaving cream on a desk and practice writing. Makes everything smell great too!
-Buy plain sponges from the Dollar tree. Cut into shapes.
-Collect buttons. Search your button box, grab the extra buttons you get with some blouses.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Reading

One of the benefits of teaching is having the summers off. Now, that does not mean that it's all fun and games. Yes, I take some time for myself, but I value the time to be able to read professional development books so that next year I can be even more spectacular than the last.

Here's what I've been reading:
Teaching With Love and Logic-Taking Control of the Classroom.....Jim Fay and David Funk explain the importance of giving students choices.

The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser-Focuses on a new approach to "centers." Instead of having center activites change week to week, there are only 5 simple tasks involved: Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Working with Words, and Work on Writing. I think it will make my planning a WHOLE lot simpler. No more spending hours every week coming up with cutsey center activities that aren't true reading activities.

---You can read more about The Daily 5 by going to The 2 Sister's Website

Teaching With Intention by Debbie Miller-She has really got me thinking about the "why" of everything I do in the classroom. I've had lots of "ah ha" moments along the way.

Now for the fun books
My best friend and I were on our way to Chattanooga TN this summer. We desperately needed to take a break and stretch our legs. What a better way to do that than go shopping for books? :) I stumbled upon a book called Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith. I have since finished that book and am about halfway through with the second book in that series, Age Before Beauty.


This blog is going to serve as both a class webpage and a resource spot for Prek-1st grade teachers. I hope to highlight all of the exciting things happening in my classroom.