Saturday, 26 November 2016

5 Meaningful Ways to Fill 5 Minutes in the Classroom


It happens every day.  We all have 5 minutes here and there during our day in the classroom that we need to fill. Even more importantly, we want to make the most of those minutes, so it is important to find activities that are both educational and quick.  I am here to help!

5 ways to effectively use those short amounts of time that we have each day in our classroom.  Teach Math and Literacy skills and make that time meaningful.

Today I am going to share with you 3 super simple activities you can use in your primary classroom right away, 1 website that is a must and 1 new product that will help you teach foundational Phonemic Awareness skills in just 5 minutes a day!

Stand Up/Sit Down

This listening activity can be used with any topic you choose.  In grade 1 I use it to get to know students by asking questions about them, their families and their interests.  It gets them moving but they need to listen to be able to play.  Some possibilities are using letters or sounds in names: Stand up if you have the "s" sound in your name.  You can use it in math as a way to answer survey questions:  Stand up if an apple is your favorite fruit.  There are many possibilities.

Around the Circle

This is a game we play in our carpet area.  My kids giggle when I tell them we are going to play Around the Circle because we actually make a rectangle to play.  Around the Rectangle doesn't have the same ring!  I have played different variations of this game, too.  The most popular one is a counting game  - as I go around the circle I count each student according to the pattern I have decided.  At the beginning, I determine a number or numbers that, if you are counted, you will sit down.  For instance, if we are counting by 1's to 50 I might say that if your number ends in 0 you must sit down when you are counted.  We continue counting to 50 until there is only one person left standing.  The kids start to predict who will sit down next based on how the pattern has progressed. This is a great way to practice skip counting too.

Categories is another version.  We all stand up and I give a category.  Each student in the circle has to say a word that fits in that category with the hopes that you can make it all around the circle. Categories could relate to any content area, for instance: name a healthy food or name an even number. If a student doesn't have an answer they can sit down or you can start a new category if you don't want anyone to go "out".

Body Spell

In my version of body spell, we spell the word wall words.  We don't make the actual letters but I use these actions:
Tall letters - hands over head
Tummy letters (letters that sit on the line) - tap your stomach
Dangly letters (letters that drop below the line) - touch your toes

I give them a clue before I start - The word start the letter W or it is on the top half of the Word Wall or in the Word Jail.  If I was spelling "went" I would tap my stomach 3 times and the put my hands in the air.  I encourage them to count my movements so they can use the clue of how many letters in the word to help them find the word.  They become very good at figuring out the word and love to come to the front and body spell for their classmates. It is a great way to get your students to look closely at the letters in words and another awesome way to use your Word Wall. If you are interested in learning more about how to set up and use a Word Wall you can check out my part 1 of a 3 part series {HERE}

GoNoodle!


If you don't use GoNoodle then you need to. There are so many quick brain breaks that will easily fill 5 minutes.  The only down side for me is that my classroom room computer is so sloooooow sometimes that it takes almost that much time to get the page open and select the brain break.


Phonemic Awareness in 5 Minutes

As a first grade teacher, I start the year assessing my student's phonemic awareness skills with the screener we are provided.  Once I have analyzed the data I make a plan for addressing the gaps that most students have and plan to do some whole group work.  All of our phonemic awareness resources are in a big binder that is not very teacher friendly while you are teaching the whole group at the carpet. I needed a portable resource that I could hold in my hand and have ready to go.


Phonemic Awareness in 5 Minutes was born out of this necessity.  It has 122 Word Lists covering everything from Word Awareness to Sound/Phoneme Manipulation.  All of the cards are color coded but you can just as easily print them on colored paper to easily distinguish the different sets.



Put a set of cards on its own binder ring and hang the sets or sets that you need in your teaching area.


Choose the skills that fit your needs!  Cards sets for skills from Word Awareness up to the more complex skill of phoneme manipulation.  


There are enough words for each skill that you will not need to repeat words, so each student has their own word to show their understanding with.

22 Word Lists to help teach phonemic awareness skills.  They are perfect for RTI.


The cards are set up in such a way to make it easy for a volunteers or parents to use with minimal direction or training.

If you are interested click on any of the images or on this link:

 Phonemic Awareness in 5 Minutes - Word Lists.


I hope that you have found some new ways to fill those gaps in your day. Thanks for stopping by.  

Until next time.  

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Celebrate Thanksgiving in the Classroom with a Thankful Card and Craftivity



Thanksgiving is here again and we all have turkey on mind.  I love using Thanksgiving themes in Art and any other area of the curriculum that I can easily integrate.



First up is this adorable turkey card.  I found the idea on Pinterest and made it with my first graders. I must admit that they don't look a whole lot like the beautiful version I have seen online, but they were fun to make!  Anytime we use paint it is always a hit.  Painting with our fingers is extra exciting.



These little guys are ready for googly eyes when I am sure they are all dried.  Some of these turkeys have pretty thick paint on them.

I often read a book like "Thanks for Thanksgiving" to provoke conversation about things we are thankful for.  Most children immediately say their Mom, Dad, sister, brother, friends or pets and that is what they write about inside of their card.  Not one of these little guys mentioned anything materialistic.  That makes my teacher heart happy!

Speaking of great literature, there are so many fun Thanksgiving books that revolve around a turkey trying to escape so he isn't eaten at Thanksgiving dinner  One of my favourites is The Great Turkey Rescue by Steve Metzger.  In this book the turkeys are on the "lamb" having escaped last year's dinner and return to their farm to save the chickens.  I love this book to work on inferring skills.  I also use it for some creative writing to go along with my turkey craftivity.  I created this resource to compliment this book or any other book about runaway turkeys.


After enjoying the book and working through some whole group inferencing activities the students get to colour their own turkey and disguise him so that he can hide.  You will find all the information in the unit.  This year I added another layer and had students create a pattern for the feathers as we just wrapped up our patterning unit.


They are going to create their disguises for their turkeys next.  They can pick from several included with the craftivity or they can make their own props.  After the turkeys are disguised the students write about how they disguised their turkey and what he is going to do.

Last year's class had some wonderful ideas:



I can't wait to see what this year's class comes up with.

What are your favourite Thanksgiving Read Alouds?  I am always looking to expand my library (aren't we all!)

If you are looking for other ideas check out my Fall theme Pinterest board for more ideas:



I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with great food and family.

Until next time,