Kids and Question Topics

Kids ask LOTS OF questions

COVID -19 has taught us many things.  As many parents have experienced full time over the last few months, kids ask a lot of questions.  Sometimes they are different but most of the time, it is the same question over and over.  Of course, we should be answering all their questions but, that’s not life. Question Topics might be the answer!

However, answering and asking questions is good for kids.  It helps them respond to answers and gets them thinking.  Asking questions helps them express their creativity but also shows their comprehension skills. The trick to questioning and answering, (and keeping your sanity) is to ask questions that can have both broad and multiple answers.  Focusing on a topic will help to keep the conversation focused and will allow your child to expand their thinking.  Extending their thoughts is beneficial to both of you.  Check out the following topics and see if you can “survive” the next round of questions.

Question Topics for Discussion

  • What things make you happy?  Extend conversation with why?
  • What do you like daydreaming about?  What was your favorite daydream and why?
  • What would you do if I told you we were going to the beach?  Extend with prompts like: how would you get there, what would you bring, what will we do when we get there, when and how will we get home.
  • How would you design a treehouse?  How would you start the plan, what would you include, what would it be made of, how would you get into it, where would it be, what would you do in it, who would you invite to visit you.
  • What are three different things you want to do this summer?
  • If your stuffed animal could talk, what would it say?  Which animal, how about a different animal?
  • When you woke up this morning, what did you want to do? 
  • What is your favorite meal?  If you were the chef in a restaurant what would you add to your menu?

Don’t be afraid to recycle question topics. It’s fun to see the changes to their stories.

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May Jokes for Kids & Adults

Jokes Make Us Smile
Jokes Make Us Smile

If ever there was a time that we all need to smile, it certainly is now. When kids learn about jokes they often tell some really “corny” ones and sometimes you just have to laugh because THEY THINK they are REALLY FUNNY!    A smile or a laugh could do us all some good!

Top Jokes of the Month

  • What kind of tree fits in your hand? ANSWER: A palm tree
  • What animal is always at a baseball game? ANSWER: A bat
  • How do we know that the ocean is friendly? ANSWER: It waves
  • Why do fish like to eat worms? ANSWER: Because they get hooked on them
  • What is a shark’s favorite sandwich? ANSWER: Peanut butter and jellyfish
  • Where do eggs go for summer vacation? ANSWER: New Yolk
  • Why didn’t the elephant buy a suitcase to stuff his clothes for vacation? ANSWER: Because he already has trunks!
  • Tell us one instance when you go at red and stop at green? ANSWER: When you are eating watermelon.
  • What do we call a dog enjoying his summer vacation on a beach? ANSWER: A hot dog
  • How does the sun drink water? ANSWER: Out of sunglasses
  • What kind of water cannot freeze? ANSWER: Hot water

Go on.  Admit it. 

At least one of these gave you a laugh, a giggle or at least an eye roll.  

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Easy Mother’s Day Songs

Create songs Mother’s Day songs to celebrate mom

Here’s an easy activity to help kids celebrate their moms’s this Mother’s Day. Choose a song kids know, help them change the words to talk about their mom and help them practice, practice, and practice. Dad’s don’t be surprised if you hear similar songs on your big days. Be sure to act surprised!

4 Steps to Creative Songs

  • Pick a tune your child knows.
  • Put your words into the song to make it rhyme (or close)
  • Write it down so you can sing it again. 
  • Keep it simple so it is easier to remember and practice.

5 Mother’s Day Songs

(all adapted from familiar nursery rhymes and/or familiar children’s tunes)  

Title: MOMMY (Tune: BINGO)

There was a kid and he/she had a mom, and Mommy was her name-o. M-O-M-M-Y, M-O-M-M-Y, M-O-M-M-Y, And Mommy was her name-o.

Title: Five Little Mommies (Tune: Five Little Ducks)

Five little mommies I once knew,
Nice ones, pretty ones, happy ones, too,
And the one in the middle that belongs to me…
I love her and she loves me!
Down to the grocery store we would go,
Wiggle – wobble, wiggle – wobble, to and fro,
And the one in the middle that belongs to me,
I love her and she loves me! 

Title: Mother’s Day (Tune: This Old Man)
Mother’s Day,
Mother’s Day,
Is a very special day.
Here’s a great big hug
And lots of kisses too.
Each one says that I love you! 

Title: I Love You Mommy (Tune: You are my Sunshine)
I love you mommy
My funny mommy,
You make me happy
When I am sad.
I want to tell you
How much I love you!
When I’m with you
I am so glad! 

Title: Happy Mother’s Day (Tune: Happy Birthday)
Happy Mother’s Day to you.
Happy Mother’s Day to you.
Happy Mother’s Day, dear Mommy,
Happy Mother’s Day to you!

To all the moms out there, and especially my daughter and daughters-in-law, THANK YOU for being great moms and taking such good care of your families. I love you all!

Teacher Appreciation Week and COVID-19

 Appreciating Teachers in a Pandemic
Appreciating Teachers in a Pandemic

Teacher Appreciation Week is always the first week in May. It is a week full of activities to thank teachers for their hard work. Obviously, COVID-19 has closed many schools closed this year and therefore, the event will not be held. It is ironic, in a year where teachers have been challenged to teach remotely, some appreciation would certainly be welcomed. Teachers have learned to use new technology, in warp speed, to present lessons and continue relationships with kids and their families. All, while managing their own issues and worries in their own family life.

Luncheons and daily treats were always enjoyed during Teacher Appreciation Week.  But it was the notes from kids and parents that were the most appreciated.  If you get a minute this week, write a quick note to a classroom teacher and thank them for helping teach your child. It will make their day!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

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1000 Books Before Kindergarten: YES!

1000 Books Before Kindergarten
1000 Books Before Kindergarten

Reading 1000 Books to a child before Kindergarten? We’ve all heard about the importance of reading to young children. But, 1000 before kindergarten? It sounds like a lot, but if you read just one book a day that’s a little less than 3 years. Or, reading just 2 books a week, is another way to get to a 1000 by the time your child is 5. It certainly is possible if you start to keep track.

So, why is it important? Research shows that as many as one in five children have trouble learning to read and reading has been linked to academic success. With formal schooling not usually starting until ages 5-6, exposing your child to reading before kindergarten makes a lot of sense.

This gives the role of teacher for the first years of a child’s life to parents, caregivers, and preschool teachers. These are the people that spend countless hours with our kids, so recruit them into the counting process. Join the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge and give your child a good head start in learning.

So, maybe you don’t read 1000 books, but you get the idea. The more books you read to your child before kindergarten the better it is for your child.

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Early Childhood Great Websites

Great resources for early childhood teachers
Great resources for early childhood teachers

When working with Early Childhood Student Teachers I often hear that they are spending lots of time looking online for resources.  There is SO MUCH OUT THERE, I certainly can see how that happens! My suggestion for them is to start with just 2 “Tried and True” sites and explore them thoroughly.  The two that I suggest are The National Association for the Education of Young Children and Family Education. They are extensive and are updated regularly.

I also suggest that they open a Word Doc and write a few notes about their favorite websites including notes and the dates that you researched it. This helps to organize past research and topic areas. Yes, you can BOOKMARK it too, but you’ll soon learn that many of the site names sound alike! 

  • National Association for the Education of Young Children Expand your knowledge and skills and find classroom activities quickly with these great resources from NAEYC.  Check out the quick list of resources for new and classic resource.
  • Family Education Great articles, activity ideas, internet tips for teachers (including special needs) can be found at this site. Good parenting articles also.

Once you tackle these two, start to explore some of the other resources from earlier posts.   Happy Researching!

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National Zoo Day: April 8th

April 8th is National Zoo Lovers Day
April 8th is National Zoo Lovers Day

April 8th is National Zoo Lovers Day and although COVID-19  has most of us staying home, there are many zoos and aquariums to discover online. I’ve posted about zoos and encouraged webcam watching.  Unfortunately, the animals aren’t always doing something when the kids stop by to view!  So, here’s a few more zoo links that might have animals doing something fun when you “drop by” to see them.

National Zoo Day Facts

  • The first public zoo in the United States was the Central Park Zoo in New York which opened in 1874.
  • The oldest zoo is the Vienna Zoo and was opened in 1765. 
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom has had almost 10 million visitors.

Zoo and Aquarium Live Cams

  • Atlanta Zoo– Along with the panda webcam, the zoo also has a large collection of “At Home” lessons.  Lessons are easy-to-use and include a wide variety of activities for kids of all ages. Check out the Panda Cam
  • Houston Webcams:  Check out the webcams that watch 7 different animals that call the Houston Zoo home. Kids will love seeing chimpanzees, giraffes, flamingos, rhinos, chimps, elephants, gorillas and ants.
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium:  Explore the wonders of the ocean through the lens of ten live cams.
  • National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland has a live cam of jellyfish and the Blacktip Reef and Pacific Coral Reef.  I like that they include photos of fish to look for while you are viewing the webcam.

Zoo Trivia

  • A group of deer is called a? Herd
  • How many legs does a spider have?  8
  • Which animal has the highest blood pressure? Giraffe
  • The largest mammal in the world? Blue whale
  • Name the only animal which cannot jump?  Elephant
  • How many heart chambers does a cockroach have?  12
  • Which bird is a universal symbol of peace?  Dove
  • The fingerprints of which animal most resemble a human’s? A koala
  • A mandrill is what kind of animal? A monkey
  • A snail can sleep for how many years?  Three
  • All six legs of an ant are attached to what part of the body?   thorax
  • A group of lions is called a?  Pride
  • Name the slowest animal in the world? Three-toed sloth
  • Dogs only have sweat glands in their? Paws
  • Which animal never sleeps?  Bullfrog
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Puppets: Easy to Make

Puppets are easy to make out of many different materials.
Puppets are easy to make out of many different materials.

There are many advantages of puppet play with kids and they are quick and easy to make.  Your puppets don’t have to be marionettes or ready for Sesame Street.  Kids love dramatic play and we all know how young kids can make “talking characters” out of pretty much all their toys.  So, let’s be good to ourselves and make puppetry easy for us to tackle so we can enjoy those special moments with our kids. No puppet “stage”, no problem.  All you need is something (large or small) for your little puppet master to hide behind that allows their character to be seen.  Then, you are “on with the show”. 

Puppets Everywhere Using Everything

  • Sock puppets – Perfect use for those socks without a match!  Add a face with markers and you are ready to go.  Once again, scraps only add to the creativity.
  • Stick puppets– Add some faces on craft sticks or even an emery board. Craft scraps or googly eyes are a nice addition but not necessary.  
  • Paper bag puppets – Drawing a face to the bottom of the bag and adding some teeth, and a tongue into the folder part and your talking puppet is ready to go.  Draw some clothes on the bottom of the bag and you can make all types of characters. 
  • Mitten puppets – Lost mitten use. Yes, crafts scraps (wool, buttons) can be added but not necessary.
  • Oven mittens – Yes, I’ve had my oven mittens talk with NO ADDITIONAL decorations! No planning just some basic puppet talking with the grandkids.    They now come in different sizes and textures and perfect to make different characters.  They even have small size now which are perfect for little hands.  
  • Paper plate puppets – Paper plates are not just for picnics.  They are perfect to draw a face on and tape them on silverware or large serving utensils.
  • Shadow puppets – No materials, no problem.  Use your hands and fingers to make shadow puppets on a wall.  Hold your hand between a light source and wall and “see” what puppet characters you can make.  

Quick, fun and easy ways to keep those kids in your lives busy. Enjoy!

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

  • Puppets Are Good for Kids

COVID-19 Virtual Museum Tours

Virtual Museum Tours for FREE
Virtual Museum Tours for FREE

With schools closed throughout the world many parents are searching for additional resources that are worthwhile for kids to explore.  One suggestion that I received from a blog follower is to explore the Virtual Museum resources of some of the most famous museums in the world. Your kids can spend countless hours exploring these worldwide resources.  You can visit them all in one day or one or two a day.  Alone or with a partner, kids and parents are bound to see and learn interesting facts about our world.

As we face these uncertain times, we might as well use the time wisely and learn while sheltering in place.  Be safe everyone.

5 Virtual Museum Tours in the United States

  • The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – Located in Washington, D.C it is one of the most visited museums in the world.  The online virtual tour brings visitors on a walking tour of its many famous exhibits.  Be sure to check out the Hall of Mammals, Insect Zoo, and Dinosaurs.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art – The Met is in New York City and is home to over 2 million works of fine art.  Check out the online collection and virtual tours of some of its most impressive pieces from famous artists. The Met also works with the Google Cultural Institute to make even more artwork (that’s not featured in its own online collection) available for view.
  • NASA offers free virtual tours of the Langley Research Center in Virginia, as well as Ohio’s Glenn Research Center.  While exploring space, you can also download the new app for the  Houston Space Center that provides virtual tours and videos.
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City makes some of its collections and exhibits available online. Be sure to check out the works of Pablo Picasso and Jeff Koons, two of my favorites.
  • The National Women’s History Museum is located in Alexandria, Virginia.  The museum includes online exhibits and oral histories that highlight the role of women in the history and culture of the United States.

2 Virtual Museum Tours in Europe

The Louvre is in Paris, France and is one of the world’s largest art museums. Check out the free online tours of the popular exhibits such as Egyptian antiquities and works from Michelangelo.

The Vatican Museums feature an extensive collection of important art and classical sculptures. Be sure to check out the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Beautiful!

Enjoy!  Happy Travels!

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Reading Skills Checklist for Early Readers

Reading Skills Checklist for  Early Readers
Reading Skills Checklist for Early Readers

One thing that I stress when working with my Elementary Student teachers is to remember that observing their students’ reading skills should occur often and throughout the day. Using a checklist of reading skills and behaviors helps a teacher track student reading needs and helps to better plan instruction.

The BIG 10 of Reading Skills

Yes, I am using a March Madness term, but after all it is March!  However, it’s also a good way of remembering 10 BIG areas to track in early reading behaviors.  Some behaviors are basic and usually achieved in the very early grades.  Other skills need to be reviewed and reinforced throughout the reading process since mastery may be dependent on the reading or genre of the reading material. Since student teachers are always preparing for that first teacher job, knowing all 10 areas is always a good idea. Excellent info for teaching interviews as well.

  • Directionality
    • Knows where to start on a page
    • Reads from left to right
    • Reads top to bottom
    • Return sweeps
  • One to One correspondence
    • Matches spoken to written word
    • Rereads to make word match
  • Unknown Words
    • Can locate unknown word using letters and sounds
  • Structure
    • Asks, does it sound right?
    • Asks, does it sound like the way we say it?
    • Rereads for how it sounds
  • Monitoring
    • Recognizes when an error is made but may not know how to fix it.
  • Self-correcting
    • Recognizes when a mistake is made and is able to fix it.
  • Cross-checking
    • Uses picture, meaning, structure and visual clues
    • Rereads and uses more than one source to check information
  • Visual Clues
    • Matches spoken to written word
    • Checks beginning, middle and end
    • Uses sound and chunks to solve unknown words
  • High frequency words
    • Is able to locate words on a word wall for spelling
    • Reads (number) of words from Dolch list
  • Determining meaning
    • Uses pictures
    • Rereads
    • Asking does this make sense
    • Uses background knowledge
    • Uses story
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COVID-19 Learning Activities Reading Newsletter

COVID-19 Learning  Activities for Reading
COVID-19 Learning Activities for Reading

Who would think that I would ever be posting a COVID-19 Learning activities newsletter? However, here we are with schools closed and millions of kids home. Parents are stepping up to “homeschool” their children and are using home packets and online resources. For many this is unfamiliar territory and an added element to their already full plates.

Many parents are scouring the internet to find school activities to support schoolwork or looking for additional activities. To help shorten your search I’m working on some mid-month newsletters of some past posts from my blog to get you started. This newsletter is focused on  READING activities. Keep checking back for additional posts.

Reading Resources

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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Puppets Are Good for Kids

Puppets are good for kids
Puppets are good for kids

Yesterday I finished helping a kindergarten teacher friend of mine write a grant for some puppets for her classroom.  Writing the grant was easy because, I just LOVE puppets.  I remember vividly watching “Lambchop” on TV many, many years ago.  Happy memories.  These days I am reliving my past playing with puppets and connecting with my grandkids.  Laughing and having fun just like it should be in retirement.

Why Use Puppets with Your Child?

There are many benefits in using puppets with kids.  Puppets provide a developmentally appropriate way to build vocabulary, creativity, and imagination.  Acting out scenes, telling stores, practicing new words, and talking about emotions all tend to be easier behind a puppet. 

Puppet Activity Ideas

  • Help your child identify each character by giving them an identity.  Have them give their new friend a name, a voice, place to live, or a favorite book.  Everything to make them a “real person”. Best thing is that the next day, their puppet can be someone else with a new story to tell.  
  • Build their vocabulary by helping them describe their puppet.  Their personality, their clothes, their homes are all opportunities to learn and use both day to day vocabulary and advanced vocabulary.  How often do you hear a 3-year-old tell you that something is hilarious?  Challenge yourself to give your child enough information about a puppy being funny that they will start to use the word hilarious.  Use it with puppets and in everyday activities and step back (and smile) when you hear it from your child.
  • Use the puppets to act out a scene.  An everyday routine or a creative adventure.
  • Use your puppets to talk to each other. Communicating through question and answering is everyday life.  Modeling talking and listening will help your child’s communication skills.
  • Encourage your child to act out a story they know or a story they’ve made up.   
  • Help your child navigate difficult social situations playing with puppets.  Perhaps it’s a problem with a friend that says inappropriate words.  Help your child through puppet play to know what to do and what to say when it happens.  Give them the words to help the understand and speak up to solve the problem. Giving their puppet the correct language will teach your child problem solving skills.
  • Kids can be brave when they are behind a puppet.  Puppets can share problems and joys and be listened to by caring and loving people.  They can be a great lens into your child’s life.

Puppets can become a part everyday play.  They give us a chance to talk together, laugh together and share quality time.  I hope you enjoy this wonderful “hand to hand” activity.

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Creative Thinking Fun for Kids

Creative Thinking Fun for Kids
Creative Thinking Fun for Kids

Creative thinking is the ability to invent and/or create something new.  It is based on looking at things in a new way that hasn’t previously been considered.  Teaching kids to use their creative thinking skills can be done easily using everyday happenings.

As a teacher of Talented and Gifted students, creative and divergent thinking activities were common. Divergent thinking involves looking at things and making new connections. When we encourage divergent thinking, we help to motivate student learning.

A favorite activity I used in the classroom was asking children to generate 100 ideas to melt a snowball. It involved little teacher preparation and fostered kids thinking skills. There ideas were VERY CREATIVE, and some were hilarious. The outcome of the activity was that kids were thinking and communicating their ideas.

Here’s a super easy example that can be replicated with small changes. Show the picture below of the yellow house.  Challenge the kids in your life to name 100 things that are almost the same color. Help kids think of things by thinking about categories such as cars, signs, plants, food, clothing etc.  Don’t be surprised if you start seeing yellow all around you.  Have fun!

The yellow house makes me think of…..
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Community Foundation Grants: Hudson Valley

Community Foundation Grants of Hudson Valley Grants applications are available now
Community Foundation of Hudson Valley Grants applications are available now

Teachers of PreK – 12 in Dutchess, Putnam and Ulster Counties (Parochial, Private/Independent, and Public Schools)

3 Foundation Grants Categories

  • Fund for Excellence in Education Grants: Funding opportunities for classroom teachers that fulfill one or both of these criteria:
  1. Support for classroom projects and initiatives which will improve learning opportunities for students. **Grant funding not to be used for field trips or after-school activities.**
  2. Support for the personal and professional enhancement of teachers (not to fulfill Masters program or certification requirements).
  • Writing Grant(s): A grant will be awarded to K-12 teachers for either professional development in the field of teaching writing or for a specific program designed to enhance the writing abilities of students.
  • Verizon STEM Grant(s): Grants will be awarded for STEM related projects, activities and equipment.

Grants Available to Public Schools Only:

  • Marionette/Puppet Grant(s):  A grant will be awarded to a public school teacher for projects which incorporate student and/or teacher-made marionettes and puppets in the curricula.  Preference will be given to multi-cultural or multi-disciplinary projects.  
  • Dutchess County – Dennis Markle Memorial Community​ Service Grant(s):  Community Service Grants will be awarded to Dutchess County public school teachers for projects involving their students in community service.  These community service awards are made from the Dennis Markle Memorial Community Fund which was started by the Dutchess County United Teacher’s Council.  Examples of the type of projects which would be considered for these grants are:  projects involving senior citizens, hospice, day care, disadvantaged populations, community beautification projects, etc.  

Awards: Grants made through this program will not exceed $2,500. 
Online grant application. Click here to access the Grants Portal.

Applications must be submitted by March 15th. Awards will be announced in May. 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Let’s Get Our Creative Grant Writing Hats On!

World Poetry Day: March 21, 2020

World Poetry Day is March 21st. Why not start a poetry unit?
World Poetry Day is March 21st. Why not start a poetry unit?

World Poetry Day is celebrated each year on March 21st. The special day was started by the United Nations in 1999 as a day to celebrate the greatness of this type of writing. Younger students find the simple rhymes, actions and colorful imagery an opportunity to have FUN. Older students find it a way to learn about topics and/or express their own ideas.  However, there are many other reasons to enjoy poems at home and school.

5 Reasons to Love Poetry

  • Encourages kids to read aloud.
  • Helps students find reading easier because they can predict the beat of the poem.
  • Imagery helps expand student vocabulary.
  • The “non-rules” of free verse allow creativity in word choice. Imagery promotes adjective use.   

2 Favorite Websites

Each website below includes many resources to make poetry teaching easy and FUN! The resources include articles to help you understand how to teach it and many lessons and activities.

  • ReadWriteThink: An amazing resource you can use to help teach your kids about poetry. (It’s an amazing site on all literacy topics) There are many interactive lessons for kids of all ages to help them understand more about poetry and how to write a poem. There are lessons on a wide variety of styles (haikus, shapes, riddles, nursery rhymes).
  • Poetry4Kids is a site created by Kenn Nesbitt, a children’s author.  I like this site because it includes funny poems for kids (and kid-like adults) to read.  You will also find classic children’s poems, games, lessons, and activities.  Be sure to look at the rhyming dictionary and videos.  One stop FREE resources for all your needs.  Fun to explore!  

If you’ve been hesitant to try poetry in your classroom, why not make World Poetry Day the start of a new beginning?  You’re going to love it!

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Dr. Seuss Day: March 2, 2020

Dr. Seuss Day is March 2, 2020
Dr. Seuss Day is March 2, 2020

Read Across America Day, also known as Dr. Seuss Day, is a yearly observance in the USA inaugurated by the NEA (National Education Association). It is held on the school day that is nearest to 2 March, Dr Seuss birthday. Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American artist, book publisher, animator, poet, a political cartoonist as well as an author. He is best known for authoring over 60 children’s books.

The Read Across America initiative began in 1997 to encourage children to read more and get excited about reading. The holiday mainly focuses on motivating children to read as it improves their performance in school. On this day, hospitals, bookstores, community centers, churches, libraries as well as schools host many events. So, it’s time to grab your Dr. Seuss hat get reading!    

You don’t have a hat, nor Seuss book to read?

Relax, my friend and take the lead

Put your memory cap on and do not worry

The Seuss characters will return to you in a hurry.

OK my Seuss -ish poem was not very good, but you get the idea!  Enjoy Friends!

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Active Listening Can Be Taught

Active listening can be taught to kids.
Active listening can be taught to kids.

As a teacher and a principal, I was often asked by parents what they can do to prepare their child for school.  People were always surprised that I didn’t answer with pre-reading and/or math skills.  My answer was always active listening. REALLY LISTENING.  I laugh when I think about that now because even today, I say (or think about) saying “are you listening to me”?

Much of a child’s school day is spent speaking and listening. Schools and states recognize the importance of listening and speaking and include these components in most testing. A child with good listening and speaking skills will have increased comprehension and communication skills.

Your child can develop the skill of being an active listener.  Active listening means that a child uses what he hears and acts on what was said.  Listening activities strengthen the entire communication process and are necessary for daily living.  The activities below can be done often, anywhere and with little preparation.

3 Active Listening Activities

  • Following Directions – Create simple following direction activities involving things in your home or classroom. (Stand up, sit down, touch your head, turn around, count to 10 etc.) This activity involves listening and doing.  After saying a sequence of activities, the child is challenged to try to do the activities in the correct order.  Younger kids and “newbies to following directions” can start with 1 and 2 step directions and proceed to more difficult or longer sequences.
  • Blind Directions – Have kids sit back to back, to listen to directions from a partner to draw a picture of a simple 6-line design. When the directions are completed, the students can compare how close the new drawing was to the original.
  • Puppet Talk – Some kids find it difficult to speak in front of others, Playacting provides lots of opportunities for speaking and listening in a relaxed atmosphere. Puppets are one way to help ease public speaking.  It also encourages creative dialogue as the puppets (talk) to each other

By working with your child on these activities you can give him academic and social advantages in the future.  All the while having a good time. Enjoy!

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Gradual Release of Responsibility

Using Gradual Release of Responsibility helps kids learn
Using Gradual Release of Responsibility helps kids learn

Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) came up recently in a discussion with one of my student teachers.  The topic came up during brainstorming ways to meet the Distinguished criteria on the Teacher Evaluation tool. The GRR model of instruction suggests that learning should gradually shift from solely teacher modeling, to joint responsibility between teachers and students, to independent practice and application by the students.

I was introduced to Gradual Release of Responsibility during a Professional Development opportunity in our school. The consultant demonstrated an activity in our classroom, co-taught with us the next day and then observed us use the strategy. Each session ended with self-reflection. This method is successful both in classrooms and in Teacher Professional Development. Simply: “I do, we do, you do it alone.”

Gradual Release of Responsibility Principles:

  • Mistakes are part of the learning process; the more practice, the fewer mistakes.
  • Background knowledge and skills sets differ student by student which means that preparedness for learning also differs.
  • Many students learn best through hands-on learning as opposed to watching or listening to others. 

Although the GRR instructional model was first used in reading comprehension, it is now used in all content areas.  The model helps move classroom instruction from lecture and whole group instruction to a more student-centered classroom that uses collaboration and independent practice.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: January Posts

Happy New Year Friends!

Each day we spend with kids is an opportunity to teach a piece of ourselves.

January posts … maybe not? Last year my 2019 Blog resolution was to be sure that I posted a newsletter on time each month. Resolution Success! This year I weighed whether to continue the blog or to spend the majority of my time with a larger writing project. After much deliberation and support from family and blog followers, I’ve decided to continue blogging for another year. So, my 2020 Blog resolution is to continue writing the Threeringsconnections blog AND still getting the newsletter out on time each month. Let the balancing of efforts begin! 1 newsletter down and 11 to go. Hello 2020!

January Posts

January’s Most Popular Posts

My Favorite January Posts

I choose my favorites each month for different reasons. Sometimes it’s timeliness, a hot education topic, student teacher needs or as a family and friends resource. Sometimes, it’s just, BECAUSE. Enjoy!

2019 Archives

2018 Archives

Check out some topics coming next month
  • Buddy Reading
  • February Writing Prompts
  • Gradual Release of Responsibility

February Prompts to Get Students Writing

February prompts to encourage student writing
February prompts to encourage student writing

Writing gives children an opportunity to share their ideas and express their creativity.  But writing is not easy and many new writers struggle when faced with a blank page.  Writers, both novice and experienced, need encouragement but they also can benefit from getting some ideas (prompts) to get them started. 

Giving your kids a variety of topics to help them extend their vocabulary and language skills.  Kids can find their “voice” through writing poems, songs, jokes or stories.  But don’t limit their choices to “common” types of writing.  Encourage them to see and find “writing” in the world around them.  Commercials, plays, TV shows, ads, emails and blogs are all opportunities to share their writing.

February Prompts

  • Magical Garden:  Gardens grow many foods for us to eat.  But what if you had a magical garden?  What magical things grow in your garden?
  • Valentine’s Day:  Valentine’s Day is this month.  Have you given a compliment to anyone to make them feel good?  If not, it’s not too late.  Write down a compliment for 5 different people that you see often.  IF you decide to share it with them you might see some big smiles.
  • Soup of the Day: When it’s cold outside, don’t you just love a bowl of soup? How about a soup made with your favorite foods?  Write down your recipe with 15 different foods to make your “Soup of the Day”.  Do you think it will taste great?
  • Fortune Cookie: Fortune Cookies have small pieces of paper included inside with a message.  Sometimes it’s a prediction, a lucky number or some advice.  Write down 5 messages that you would like to find inside YOUR fortune cookie.  Then write down 5 messages that you would like to find inside a family member’s fortune cookie. 
  • Talk to me: How many times do you find yourself asking (and sometimes answering) your pet questions?  Are you hungry, do you want to go out, how’s my boy today?  Write down five answers to 5 different questionos you might ask your pet. Perhaps your pet will answer like a comedian or maybe he/she is having a bad day. Be creative!

Check out my monthly post of writing prompt ideas to help inspire our new authors. Let’s make 2020 the Year of the Writer! Enjoy!

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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