We tried out a new brain break the other day when we needed to move our bodies. I think kiddos enjoyed it. See if you can figure out the directions. 🙂
Did you figure it out? (Or did I repeat them in the video? LOL) In case you didn’t, it’s an easy “game” where you just walk around until I say “Rock, Tree, House” and then you find a small group and you have to represent each part with your bodies. Easy peasy, fun to do, and got us moving!
We are readers in Rm. 204! One of the ways that I encourage and foster a strong love of reading is by doing lots of it myself! Many years ago I learned about #classroombookaday on Twitter and knew it was for me and my students. Check out some past stories I’ve written about it here, here, and here. It’s such a fun and visual way for kids to see all the books that they have enjoyed together as a class, and allows us an easy way to make connections to math and other topics. I LOVE participating in #classroombookaday and after a few hiccups during COVID years, it’s back up and running.
The concept is simple: we read a book and post it on the bulletin board. Then we watch as it fills up! I realized that this picture I’m sharing is even a little bit old now, as the board changes every day! Here’s a picture of it from a week or so ago, in case you haven’t seen it.
I purposefully put this display outside of our room, so that anyone who walks by can see it, interact with it and hopefully be inspired to read something new! When I taught 1st grade in past years and had a room downstairs, our display was right in one of the main hallways where EVERYONE at Robinson walked on a daily basis and it was such a great conversation starter. That year we got to 561 books on our display and it was A.MAZ.ING to look at. Who knows if we’ll get to that number this year, but no matter what, we are committed to reading and learning together with a ton of good books in Rm. 204.
Do you have a suggestion for a book we should read? Leave us a comment and we’ll check it out. Maybe you’ll see it in a #classroombookaday update soon!
Have you ever wondered how classroom “rules” are made? Read on to find out!
In our room, these rules are called expectations, and we decide on them together. It has been a process, and kids were involved all along the way. Let me show you!
We started in what may be a surprising way–with questions. I put 6 charts around the room, and kiddos spent time answering them with post-its as they walked around.
Now, not all of these questions will help us create our expectations, but they definitely help me get a feel for what they want, who they are and how they need things to be.
We mostly zoned in on the question that asked “What do you want our classroom to be like?” The answers to that question are KEY to the next step. Check out what they said: like home, family friendly, calm, kind, quiet, fun, respectful and following directions. Sounds like a great place to learn, right? WELL…if that’s what they want, then we have to figure out HOW we will make it that way.
The next step is to have crews brainstorm what our expectations we would need in order for our class to be (or become) those things we mentioned. Teams worked together to suggest what they thought good rules would be.
Can you guess what happened next?
I took the most popular suggestions and put them together on a new sheet, then crews had to choose the most important five expectations.
Once we made crew choices, then we compared those and made the final decisions as a class. Some of them we combined, and ended up with this:
I’m excited to see what happens now that we have our collective expectations and can helped each other to them. Our plan is that following these expectations will help us have all of those things we put on our list. :).
Hey–come closer. A little closer. I have to tell you something. Ready? I teach 3rd graders and we have choice time in our class. Yep. Maybe every day. And they love it.
I know that to some (many?) people that is a controversial statement. To some (many?) 3rd grade marks a change in school. This is the year when kids are supposed to get serious. They’re supposed to have moved on past the play time and ease of primary grades and be ready now for real school, where they should be expected to sit still and work silently (often in a desk), have lots of homework and get ready for middle school (oh man, don’t even get me started about that statement….maybe more on that later…). Gone are the days of games and free time and arts and crafts. Now is the time for work.
While I am by no means an expert on third grade or third graders, I have spent a lot of time in a classroom and have taught grades on both sides of it, so I know some of how parents and teachers alike expect third grade to go. I’m going to suggest there’s another way to do it. A way that values both play and learning, as play IS a way children learn.
If you Google “quotes on play” you can sit for hours and go through all sorts of things that people say about play. Here are just a few:
As an early childhood educator, I was taught–and firmly believe–that children are the crafters of their learning and my job is one of a facilitator. I provide the opportunities and invitations, and kiddos do the thinking and discovering as they figure things out and own their knowledge. Yes, there are times when you have to give them information, but more often than not, leading them there and having them find out things for themselves is the best way. The more they do for themselves, the more they remember and the more ownership they take. Also, it’s way more fun to figure things out than to always have the adults around you be the experts telling you all the things.
Why do I even mention this? Because like I mentioned before, people find choice time–or art, LEGOs, games, building, recess–to be a no-no for older kiddos. I need you to know that this is an expectation in my classroom, and we will work hard through play, choice and fun.
Especially at the beginning of the year, unstructured time with new people in a new classroom is crucial–both for students and for me. As I give them time to make choices of what to do and who to work (play) with, I am learning as much as them. I can get info on who they work well with (and who they don’t!); what they do when they are frustrated; what makes them happy; what they enjoy doing; how long they can stay engaged with an activity; what they know about problem-solving, creativity and figuring out what to do on their own; how well they clean up after themselves (or don’t LOL); more about their language skills; and countless other things. They can learn about their friends, meet new ones, relieve stress, create things, learn a new game or skill, become comfortable in our classroom and of course, it’s FUN! I honestly do not know what I would do in my classroom if there was not time or room for kids to play. It’s good for all parts of them, and it’s good for me, too. Some of the best conversations I have had with kids have come during unstructured time in our room when they don’t feel pressure to be “on” or like I’m expecting something from them. They are at ease and are often more likely to share things that then help me in future interactions with them as learners.
I look forward to the ways we will play and learn together, and how I can encourage kiddos to do new and hard things by presenting the challenges to them in a fun, welcoming way. Sharing my own stories of play are important, too. I’m sure we will make mistakes, get messy and learn a TON together. Hope you are along for the ride!
Tell us, what is your favorite way to play? Leave a comment and we’ll be sure to respond soon! 🙂
If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1 of these highlights, be sure to do that first! Don’t want to miss anything. 🙂
What to Do With a Box
We read a great book called What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen. It’s about a kiddo who does amazing things with a box and their imagination. After the book, kiddos saw this on our carpet:
As they thought about which box they wanted to use, they were matching it up with what they thought their box could become. There were not at many parameters for this one–“Make something new out of your box,” were the only directions. They could add anything we had in our classroom to the project. Oh, except paint because we haven’t gotten that out yet. LOL. They could choose to work alone or with a partner, putting their boxes together to create something bigger (and probably better!).
Once we finished, kiddos created an “exhibit” to tell about their creation. They wrote 3 sentences to tell about what it was and how they made it. We set them all up around the room in a mini-museum and then did a gallery walk (after we talk about what they meant and how to follow museum etiquette, of course! 🙂 ).
Oh, and by the way–kids LOVED this! It was definitely one of the highlights of the day, and probably the week. Which was kind of the point, really. I always have a goal during these first few days (and always, really!) of helping kids see that learning is fun, that our classroom is a safe place to make and share your ideas, to create things, to make mistakes (and messes!) and a place to explore new things by yourself and with your friends. I want to set the stage for the year from day 1!
“My Favorites” Game
Kiddos played a game with their crews where they answered questions about their favorite things. This was one fun and can be played over and over again with different groups. Oh, and this one was a good place to teach kiddos how to roll dice in my room. Yep, you heard it right. I HATE the sound of clicking dice on floors and tables, and also hate when learning time is spent running after roll-away dice, so I have a lesson the first time we get the dice box out. I know you’re wondering what that lesson looked like. hee hee If you have a student in this class, be sure to have them teach it to you, and if you don’t leave a comment and I’ll add a video to show you. ;). Anyhow, they really enjoyed this way of learning about their friends.
I love a puzzle! I have loved doing jigsaw puzzles all my life, and even today usually do one daily, on an app on my iPad. Every year on Global School Play day, our class puts together a 500+ piece puzzle together over the day. So as we begin the year together, I had to introduce puzzles to the class. Besides being fun, there are sooo many other skills that doing puzzles supports. Kiddos practice problem-solving, perseverance, stamina for hard things, focus, communication, play and free choice options, cooperation, and also just time to be with friends and/or make new ones. And guess what? They loved this, too. 🙂 Check out these amazing puzzle-solvers!
Library Tours–our classroom and Robinson’s!
We spent some time getting to know our classroom library, as well as the Robinson library–the latter with a scavenger hunt. So fun! I usually do this during the first days anyway, but we definitely had to do it sooner. They were dying to go book shopping and of course I had to oblige!
We needed some mini versions of ourselves so we made some! This activity came after the book Happy in Our Skin, and we had fun creating a beautiful classroom line of US! We’ll use these as decoration as well as a way to keep track of who’s in charge (which is what we call helpers in our class!).
Ok, that’s all for now. But like I said before, keep coming back, because there will be A LOT to show you as we go through this year! I already have a list of things that aren’t on this list of “first week” things. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next post! Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave us a comment to let us know what you think about what’s going on in Rm. 204!
Yesterday’s grand opening meant an air of excitement, brightly frosted cupcakes and lots of money spent on new books to add to my ever-growing collection. I mean, come on—is it possible to have too many books?
The inside of the shop is small, but nicely decorated and clear on who’s important here: the little readers who fill those tiny chairs and spend time finding a new favorite book! There is definitely a South City vibe, which is great. And the best part? I can walk there! (Although I guess that does cause some trouble in that it limits the size of my book haul to whatever I can carry! 😆 Oh well, I’ll figure it out. Maybe a wagon??)
Speaking of “book haul,” let me show you what we bought!
I found two new titles I am excited to share with my kiddos, and one that is an old favorite—but in paperback!
I hope to be able to visit this little gem of a store for years to come and that they get to grow and grow, putting books into the hands of Little Readers all over town! Visit them, will ya?!
I have been busy in my new room, and yesterday I made a breakthrough! Have been working on getting the library–which is all around our meeting area rug–put together and the rough draft of it is pretty much done. I’m so excited to share what’s starting to take shape. There are many small details I have to fix, but I am so excited for our new class to gather in the library every day for learning!
Check it out! And I’d love to know what you think–leave a comment below! 🙂
I know, I know. That’s really a Virginia thing. But yet, I didn’t just take a vacay to Virginia. So San Fran it is. 🙂
If you’ve spent time around here–either as a long-time blog reader or a new reader who’s been getting their feet wet–you have hopefully noticed that I am a reader. Books are kind of a big deal around here: at home and in my classroom. And so, it seems, books are a big deal for me on vacation, too.
We went to lots of fun places on our tour of San Francisco. Some places I can tell you about by the name of the neighborhood, and some I can tell you by the name of the books stores I visited while I was there. 🙂
I think in the end we found three cute little independent book stores, and bought something at all of them! Cuz what’s a better souvenir than a book. Or ten? LOL
The first place we ran into was The Book Passage, in the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. Besides being easy to get to, it had great views of the bay. We went here more than once, just because we could.
On one of our dinner adventures, Grant and I were walking around after our visit to Burma Superstar (YUM!) and came upon this little gem:
Besides being lovely and cute and small and independent, they also had a sale bin. :). Found many things I was excited for some good finds, but especially for the book about the Golden Gate Bridge I had seen in other stores at full price. Here it was over 50% off! WIN!!
The last one was so good we visited it twice: Browser Books.
On our first visit we ran into one of those “blind date with a book” sale boxes and bought almost the whole thing!
Do you have guesses for what those books might be? Are you dying right now? Should I show you what we ended up with? Oh, ok. :). Here’s what was inside of those packages. Be sure to leave me a comment to let me know if you guessed right. I actually did guess one of them correctly!
I think I mentioned that this was our first trip to this store? On the second trip I found two more great books (not on sale, but sooo great it didn’t matter) that I’m excited to incorporate into my classroom this year.
WHEW! What a great trip with such great little bookstore finds. What a special part of traveling–the bookstores come home in my heart and the books come home in my suitcase!
If you read my last post, then you know we were just on a family trip to San Francisco. Yesterday was a really long day of flying home (from San Fran to Burbank, then Burbank to Phoenix, and then Phoenix to St. Louis, because I know you were wondering 😉).
As I began each leg of the flight, I listened as the flight attendants (who are amazing group of people, I should add!) explained all of the safety protocols and what to do when and how and all of those essential things. It made me chuckle each time as they said the word “mask,” as I thought of how our understanding and use of that word has changed soooo much over the course of this last year and a half.
Yes, originally when that safety spiel was written, it referred to the yellow plastic cup with the rubber strap that I’m supposed to put on myself first and then on my child in case of a sudden drop in cabin pressure (which, thankfully I’ve never had to do!). I was further reminded during one presentation of the possible confusion when the attendant closest to me actually pulled down his fabric mask to demonstrate how you’d have an extra step now of removing one mask for the other mask to work appropriately.
Also there in my memory is how the word mask used to be relegated only to Halloween, something that I hated to wear a child because they were so hot (and you don’t really need one when you dress up as Laura Ingalls Wilder or Jem—shout out or anyone old enough to appreciate that reference 🤣), and that now I also know you’re not supposed to bring to school for the classroom parade but instead save for “real” trick-or-treating at home later that night.
Enter 2020 and COVID-19 and of course that word has a completely different definition and as well a different connotation depending on the wearer. (And no, dear reader, I am not going to spending time here on any political statements or judgments of right or wrong. I am simply going to tell stories about masks. Stories that I am sure will be highly entertaining, so I hope you stick around. 😉)
I remember the beginning of the pandemic when the whole idea of masks came up and my friend shared with me a tutorial on how to make one out of a dish towel or a t-shirt and how silly I thought that was. She was of course over-reacting, we were never going to need to know how to do that. Right?
Ha! Of course I was so very wrong. Let me stop a second here to show you how wrong I was. And when I say “wrong” I mean let me show you the first versions of masks we wore around my house, which were made of strips of fabric and ponytail holders. Please be kind as you enjoy this picture:
Instead of Halloween- or airplane-related, scarcely worn and foreign, mask is now a term that has become common place to all of us. But to me it’s also become an opportunity to express my creativity and also a bit of a fashion statement. Or at least an opportunity to match a new accessory to my clothes!
We went on like that with those strip-and-rubber-band masks for a bit.
Once we knew we were going to need more “official” masks, I had a choice to make. And since I’m definitely an “I’d-rather-make-it-than-buy-it” kind of person, I knew that meant I needed to figure out how to make some better fabric face coverings. Then I remembered the scrap fabric pile in the basement and decided we needed a little bit of an upgrade. The second iteration of the Bearden family mask stash was a little better than these, and at least has some sewn elements, thanks for a PLETHORA of YouTube videos on the subject. (I’m not kidding, check it out, I am pretty sure EVERYONE has posted a video on how to make a mask as home! When you find out how many there actually are, leave me a comment and tell me the number, will ya? 🙂 ). Eventually we had a small stash of masks that were at least presentable in public, but that were mostly adult sized. My husband was the only one leaving at this time, since we were all doing school at home and we decided it was best for the rest of use to stay in as much as we could. He and I shared these first masks, and of course washed them after each wearing. At that point no one besides him was even really needing them, so we had only a few through which we rotated.
This basically got us all the way through the summer, as we tried to steer clear of places where we’d even come in contact with people. Our kids stayed at home, and we really only went on short trips to the grocery store–as were most others, too. We even managed a beach vacation, where we stayed in our condo and played on the beach by ourselves and again only ventured out a couple of times to pack our fridge or sneak a quick ice cream treat from a stand nearby. It took me all the way to June to even find a picture in my albums of someone wearing one of those masks I sewed. Seems like by that time we at least were willing to venture out a bit, I think mostly because it was summer and we could be outside.
The big turn came when–gasp!–the decision was made to return to school in October. Now, not only did A and I need a mask for every day, we also needed ones that we were willing to be seen in. LOL.
That began my search for a better design as well as prints and fabrics that were more fun. I mean, hey, if you have to wear something you may as well enjoy it right? I think by now I’ve gotten this whole mask-making thing down to a science, and can hand-sew a mask in 25 minutes from 8″ X 8″ square to complete mask with straps and pleats–like these that I just added to the stash tonight:
As I’ve been working on this post, going back to find pictures to use, I’ve realized how FEW I actually have! Some of that, I think, is because of how little we actually left our house over the last year, hence we weren’t places where we’d both be wearing masks and taking pictures. The other thing is that when we were outside, we tried to stay away from others, therefore not wearing masks. But that makes our picture documentation of the pandemic and quarantine look a lot like others years–I wonder if that will be something I will miss in the future when I look back on 2020. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. 🙂
I mentioned earlier that the return to school meant that we all needed more masks, and so I needed to get busy. My first pile of additions were made with scrap fabric, but were inspired by some of our favorite colors, characters and prints.
Once my hubby finally went back to in-person school in January, he needed another set of new masks since he’d now need them every day of the week.
Eventually, we just started finding cute fabric and making more masks not because we needed them, but because they went with clothes we have, or just because they were cute.
Like I said, I’ve learned somethings that might be helpful if you’re making your own masks. There are many, many tutorials online–and heck, you could probably figure out how to do it on your own if you already know how to sew. I used several different versions. The first looked like this, with a filter pocket and long straps so that they could fit both me and my husband. We just tied slip knots in the ties if they needed to be a littler smaller.
The style I’ve landed on–both because they are easiest to make and also because they fit the best are basically like what you can find on this post by Diary of a Quilter. We use 8″ X 8″ squares a little bigger if they’re for my husband’s face or a little smaller if they’re for my daughter), scissors, needle and thread (for hand-sewing), and nylon stretchy loops like you made potholders with when you were a kid. I found this pack of 288 of them on Amazon and will have plenty for a long time to come. You cut them in half and use one for each mask. These have been our favorite straps by far because they are soooo comfy and soft on your ears. 🙂
Whew. Wow–who knew there were so many words to write about masks? I certainly didn’t. Especially last year when masks weren’t even things I even really ever wore. Now they are everywhere, and despite what you think about their health benefit, they definitely keep people from knowing if I have coffee breath in the morning or if I had onions on my salad at lunch. LOL And that, friends, is definitely a win-win in my book.