July 31, 2016

V.I.P. Table and a FREEBIE

One of the new ideas that I am so excited to implement in my classroom this school year is a V.I.P. table!  I heard about this idea last summer at the National I Teach K! Conference in Las Vegas, but I had too many other new and exciting ideas to get it going last year.  If you haven't heard of a V.I.P table, it is a good behavior incentive that allows students who exemplify good behavior to sit at the table and be the envy of everyone else in the class have special privileges.  

In my room, two V.I.P. students will have access to smelly gel pens, fun pencils, and colored pencils.  They will also (I think, jury is still out) be able to use a staple-free stapler and tape for some work.  They have special chair backs that say "King of the Classroom" and "Queen of the Classroom."  They will also get to carry our stuffed class pets with them for the day.  

Here is a snapshot of what my table looks like:

I also will have V.I.P. brag tags for my two students to wear for the day.  I have included this file as a freebie for you below (just click the text below the picture to download)!

Do you use a V.I.P table?  If so, what are some challenges you face, or what are your favorite things about it?  If not, what is something new you are trying in your classroom this year?

July 30, 2016

Scissor Jail

This is a quick and not so fancy project I did today.  We all have those friends in our classroom who have happy scissor hands and get a little carried away cutting clothing, hair, or classroom items! In the past, I have told students that their scissors are in "time out," and had them lay them on my desk.  Today I made a "Scissor Jail" jar, where students can place their scissors.  Now my desk will be free of the scissor time out pile! Hooray!

First, you will need to decide on your container.  I will admit that earlier this week I attempted to spray paint a small Folgers coffee can and it did not go well.  Even letting the paint coats dry overnight in between (I used white first, then black), the tape pulled paint off the can and I did not get clean lines.  It was a disaster. I chose a short, squatty glass vase for my second try.

Then, you will need to gather your supplies.  I used black acrylic paint and "Frogtape" brand painter's tape. The frog tape is a tad expensive, but is also the best I have found.

Next, tape your container in sections leaving blank stripes in between.  I chose to leave thin stripes.  The wideness of your stripes is up to you!  Make sure you press the tape down as firmly as possible, sealing all edges.

Paint over the tape and allow it to dry (not pictured).  I painted 3 coats.  The first coat will look streaky if you paint on glass.  I let my paint dry about two-three hours. Once dry, peel your tape off carefully.  you may have some edges that are not perfectly clean.  The good thing about glass is you can use a fingernail to scrape some off the rough looking stuff off and clean it up a bit.

The last thing I did was add some large sparkly letter stickers to spell "SCISSOR JAIL."  You may want to use smaller letters, or leave it off, but this is what I had in my craft cabinet at school, so this is what I went with! If you have another tip for scissor control, comment below! :)

July 22, 2016

The Best Videos for Teaching Kids About Coins

If your students are anything like mine, mastering the names and values of coins is one of the hardest math skills they will face.  I start introducing this skill almost immediately when school begins during our calendar procedures.  We continually practice and review, practice and review, practice and review.  Our math curriculum introduces each coin one at a time and we practice and review.  We sing songs, say poems, read books.  I show them giant versions of the coin and we note the differences.  I give them a clue for each coin. For example, quarter's clue is "big," nickel's clue is "smooth edges," dime's clue is "little," and penny's clue is "copper brown."  We sort plastic coins and I also expose them to the real deal.  I implore parents to have them sort and touch as many real coins at home as possible.  I send my students to math stations where they practice and review, practice and review, practice and review.

Then comes time to test them on coins.  I am just sure that they will know the names.  I call each precious Kinder babe to my table.  It never fails that I have more than expected that will shout "PENNY!" for one of the silver coins.  *FACEPALM*  This year was by far the best year I have had with my students mastering names and values of coins.  We did all of the above methods, and I also added in the videos below when we had 3-5 minutes of time gaps in our day that needed to be filled.  I had a teacher friend recommend one of these, and I discovered a couple.  I need to add that one or two of these videos made me want to pull all of my ever loving hair from my head.  However, my Kinders LOVED them.  They BEGGED me to watch them.  I honestly think that it helped them with their mastery of the skill!  So, without further ado, my short and sweet list of the best coin videos for kids:

1.  "Coin Song"

2.  "Coins!" by ABCmouse.com

3.  "Money Song" by Jack Hartmann

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