Showing posts with label Engaging Activities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Engaging Activities. Show all posts


Scoot: Increase Fun and Engagement in the Classroom

Are your students sitting around with droopy eyes, barely holding their heads above their desks?  Are you tired of hearing yourself talk?  Are you looking for a way to work more movement into your lessons?

Scoot is the activity you are looking for!

Scoot is a great game to play in the classroom.  What is Scoot you ask?  Scoot is a game that can be played with any subject or standard.  The basic routine is simply to teach and you can use ANY content you want.  You set up the game by picking a subject or standard and making (or buying) task cards to use.

OMG, I was amazed at how much my kids loved it when we played earlier this year.  They were so engaged and so focused!  I'm guessing the movement part is really helping them focus.

I am going to use my Spring Short Vowel Word Sort to show you how to play Scoot.  I have played this game with multiple grade levels in various situations and each group has loved it!

Here is the set so SCOOT on over and get it!

To play Scoot, you place a card at each spot.  Each card has a problem to be solved, a word to write or a task to complete.  Students rotate around the places, recording their answers on the recording sheet. Students start at their seats and answer the question, solve the problem or follow the direction at their seats.  On your signal, students stand and move to the next seat.  They look at the card at that seat and answer the question, solve the problem or follow the direction.  I like to use the commands "Start (Followed by work time), Stop, Stand, SCOOT (students move to the right), Sit" and repeat. 

We all end up giggling with my one-word commands!

For my Kindergartners, we mostly play around their tables and sometimes they go to another table and rotate around that one! My Second Graders loved when I put the cards up on the wall around the classroom

For this Short Vowel Word Sort, I created real and nonsense CVC words and put them on eggs.  Students were given a sheet with 2 columns, one for real words and one for nonsense words.  Students rotated around their table.  They read each word on the egg, decided if it was a real word or a nonsense word, and wrote it in the correct column.

Each table has 5 or 6 seats.  Students rotated around 3 tables this day, so they all practiced reading 15-18 CVC words!  I had some kids who are still struggling readers, so my assistant and I stuck near them and helped them sound out the words.
When you first introduce the game, it is important to practice the movement from seat to seat.  First I showed one table how to move with my directions (sit... start... stop... stand... scoot) and then they practiced and modeled for the whole class.  Then the whole class practiced moving around their table.  It took a few rotations for all the kids to get it.  Typical mistakes from students were moving in the wrong direction and moving too many seats.  Students generally got it after a complete rotation around their table.

I also have a FREEBIE for you.  This Scoot: A How to Play Guide will help you get your kids moving in the right direction.  It includes directions and arrow cards to show your students which direction to move.

The game I used in these images is great for Kindergarten in the Spring.  These resources from my store will work just as well.


Old Tracks, New Tricks: Introducing Trixie, Tracky and Tinker

Old Tracks, New Tricks is an amusing new book by Jessica Peterson, published by Innovation Press.  The book stars Trixie, Tracky and Tinker as a set of tracks who get purchased and taken home to join a train set.  The three friends are in for a shock when they realize their new life is not what they thought it would be.  In their new home, the trains are in charge and order the tracks around.  Trixie, Tracky and Tinker are used to having fun and doing tricks.

Will they be happy in their new home?  You will have to read it and see!

(Please note, these links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!  Also, I received an ARC in exchange for writing a review of this book and creating a free resource to go along.)

Buy Old Tracks, New Tricks here!

I truly enjoyed reading this book.  It is perfect for PK-2 and I'm excited to read it to my class.  The human character is quite a bit younger than 2nd graders, but I think they will enjoy the photograph images. 

Pre-K Teachers can use the book:
-as part of a train unit (especially the activities in the back)
-practice identifying characters
-encouraging creativity when building with tracks

Kindergarten Teachers can use the book:
-as part of a train unit
-recognizing and producing rhyming words
-counting items on each page

First and Second Grade Teachers can use the book:
-recognizing and producing rhyming words
-identify characters, setting, problem and solution
-sequence events in the story

This will be a great book to use when discussing the difference between fiction and nonfiction.  Having photographs is generally an indication of a nonfiction book, but this book uses photographs and is purely fiction.

It's also a great book for character lessons such as being kind, playing with others, taking responsible risks and being yourself.

My favorite part of the book is at the very end.  There are 2 special sections, the first is called How to Invent Your Own Track Tricks and is a great way to teach the engineering process.  The next section is called Track-tivities and has 20 activities you can do with a train set such as Painting Tracks, Train Bell Shaker and Track-tastrophe!  

You can also use these FREE word problems based on the antics of Trixie, Tracky and Tinker.  Click here to download them!

How to Make a Sound Activity with Plastic Eggs

If your nearby shops are anything like mine, the plastic eggs have been out since February 15th. They are EVERYWHERE!  I am a firm believer in the power of novelty so I snap up a couple packs at the local dollar store as soon as I can.

One of the activities I made with them this year are sound shakers.  This was a fun activity to kick off our sound unit.

Step 1- Prepping the Eggs

Gather your supplies!  I used 12 plastic eggs and a variety of small items I found around my house.  I used safety pins, paper clips, pennies, rice, oatmeal, a ball of dough (like playdoh), a foam cube, dry spaghetti, buttons, beads and  etc... you could also use marbles, small erasers, lego bricks. or pencil top erasers.  Your imagination is only limited by what will fit inside the egg!

Place a different item in each egg. For most items, I filled about half of the egg.  I numbered each egg with numbers 1 through 12.

⭐A little HINT- Put a little tape around the egg to keep them from opening! ⭐

I also printed and copied one recording sheet for each student! You can get the recording sheet here for free!

Step 2- Using the Eggs

When lesson time came, we sat in a circle.  Everyone had a clipboard, pencil and recording sheet.  The recording sheet had 12 eggs on it and each egg has 2 lines.  (I feel like the start of a word problem! 🤣)  Starting with egg #1, students shook the egg, recorded a prediction of what they thought was in the egg and passed the egg to the next child.  This let everyone engage multiple senses by feeling, shaking and hearing the egg. When the first egg got about a third of the way around the circle, I started the next week.  This allowed the eggs to move through fairly quickly and reduced the downtime students had.

Step 3- The Discussion

After everyone made their predictions, we shook the eggs again and listened for eggs that had high and low pitches.  We also listened for eggs that had similar sounds.

Step 4- The Reveal

Due to my schedule, we split this activity into a 2 day event.  On day 2, we did the Big Reveal!  For each egg, I shook the egg so everyone could hear it again.  Students shared with a partner and/or the class what they predicted was in the egg and then we revealed the inside!  I'm telling you, this was like a huge party!  I had NO idea kids would get this excited about paperclips in a plastic egg.  Students were cheering and high-fiving each when they got it right.  After revealing the egg, students recorded the correct material on the second line of the egg.

Step 5- Follow Up Discussion

We talk a lot in my room, so we finished this activity by going back to the discussion of which eggs sounds similar. We drew connections to eggs that sounds similar to each other where made out of the same type of material or were similar in size.

You can print the recording sheet AND discussion cards here!

If you use this activity, drop me a note to tell me how it went!


Stop the Boredom! 3 secrets to engaging students in centers!

I 💓 centers!  They promote independence in my students.  Give me time to work with small groups or individuals.  AND-- they are FUN!  (Did I say fun?  Shhhh!  Don't tell anyone!)

Seriously, sometimes I feel like all the fun is being sucked out of learning, school and being a kid!  We HAVE to do this...they HAVE to master that...

Really?  What about wonder?  Engagement? Fun?

For years, I have searched for the perfect way to keep centers consistent so students can complete them on their own, but engaging so students don't get bored.

You know what does it?


Novelty is defined as being new, original or unusual, I find that it also means it's fun.  Kids having fun are engaged.  Engaged kids are learning kids!

Here are my top three secrets to using novelty in centers.

(Please note, some links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!)

#1- Think cheap.  

Novelty wears off if you keep it around too long so do NOT sink much money into it.  One of my students favorite bits of novelty is tiny centers.  I print center activity resources 2 to a page so that they are about half the size.  Set some magnifying glasses out with the center and its a whole new ballgame.  Guess how much that cost?  Yep, NOTHING! (If you already have the magnifying glasses.  If you need magnifying glasses, it is a small investment!)

#2- Make it seasonal.  

This allows you to keep the same structure to an activity so students can continue to work independently, but make it different enough that students are engaged.  In January, put it on snowflakes and snowmen.  In February, break out the hearts!

#3- Change the writing utensils.  

For writing instruction and assignments, I prefer students to use pencil.  However, when they are making a list of short a words or writing in a collaborative journal, I relax that rule.  Every few weeks, I put different writing tools out for students to use.  A pack of metallic crayons cost me a few dollars, but brought tons of multi-paragraph writing!

I am always looking for new ways to add novelty so I would love to hear what you do!  Leave me a note and watch for a shout out!


A Teacher's Trick for Modeling Think Alouds

Raise your hand if you use thinking aloud as a strategy with your students!

I do!
All. The. Time.  

(Please note, some links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!)

I think aloud during reading, math, science, social studies... solving behavior problems.  I often worry that my students are missing the point.  I wanted to create a cue that would remind students of when I was sharing what was in my head, and when I was really talking.

I like to use a lot of visual cues with my students so I decided to create a 'thought bubble' to hold above my head when I'm modeling my think aloud.

To create my 'thought bubble', I purchased a gold paint pen, blackposter board and some wooden dowels.  I also found a super cool gold marker that had a blade already inserted in the tip that was awesome but proved difficult to use for this project.

To begin, I hand drew a thought bubble and a speech bubble on the black poster board.  I cut it out and used the gold paint pen to outline the bubbles in a thick line to make it stand out. I ended up going over it several times to get the gold nice and thick so it would stand out!

While I try to have neat handwriting, there is no way I could write words on the bubbles neatly.  Using a font from Teach123, I printed out the words "I think..." and "I say...". Using the fancy trick of penciling the back and rubbing it on the black poster board, I was able to transfer the words to the poster board. 

First, I turned the paper over so I could see the blank side.  Next, I took a pencil and heavily shaded an outline of the letters.  It helps if you place it against a window so the sunlight shines through and you can see.  For the best results, be plentiful with the pencil to make the transfer easier to see.  Then, I turned the paper over and placed it on top of the poster board, with the pencil side down.  Last, I used a wood stick to rub the text and transfer the pencil to the poster board. 

 Using the gold paint pen, I traced the letters a few times until they were nice and thick.

I hot glued dowel rods to the back so I could hold them in one hand while I'm teaching.

In hindsight, I wish the speech bubble was a little smaller.  I had to do some complicated dowel gluing on the back to make it support itself.  The thought bubble turned out perfectly!

How do you use think aloud as a strategy?  I would love to hear about it!



If you haven't heard, there's a BIG Pokemon craze happening right now!

 Before I really get started sharing, I want to clear something up.  I am NOT creating, or giving away, Pokemon materials.  Why?  I don't own it OR have the rights to produce materials with Pokemon images.  I have seen a TON of products out there and while some of them may have rights to create and sell Pokemon products, I'm willing to bet the majority do not.  I'm not willing to risk my integrity or my business by creating Pokemon products!

(Please excuse me while I jump off my soap box!)

What I do have, is a way to engage your students by linking in with something they are most likely familiar with and excited about.

I had no plans on playing PokemonGo until I learned about the company Niantic.  Niantic is also the creator of an app called Field Trip.  Field Trip is a locating app in that it gives you locations of places to visit based on where you are physically standing, including historically and culturally relevant landmarks.  I also knew that my students would be into PokemonGo and I wanted to experience it so I could relate to my students.

So guess where the PokeStops and gyms are?

You guessed it!  They are located at cultural and historical locations and landmarks.

I started playing in Alabama while I was attending Space Camp and was blown away by all the things I learned that I would not have been aware of had I not been playing.

That's also when I had the idea to bring the concept off the screen and into real life.

Just as a warning, this was a pretty complicated process that required help from my new assistant!

Not really, he's just precious.  His name is Marty McMeow and he is about 6 weeks old!

I went to the local Mighty Dollar and found a bucket (red=my school color), printed a picture of my school's mascot (bulldog), and dug my black glittery duct tape out of the craft box.

After laminating the picture, I used tape to attach it to the red bucket.  I also used the glittery tape to create some lines on the bucket for decoration.

This will be used to play a game I call BullpupGo!  Students will receive a small slip of paper with a problem or task on it.  After solving the problem and having it checked for accuracy, students will crumple the paper into a ball and try to toss it into the bucket.  If they get the ball in the bucket, the "catch" a prize-  which will be a sticker, brag tag or pawbuck.

That's my idea for incorporating popular culture into the classroom-- what new ideas do you have?  Tell me all about them in the comments!


Letters to the Teacher

One of my favorite weekly activities we do is called Letters to the Teacher.  I got the idea from a coworker and I absolutely LOVE it!

We started it during writing class when we talked about writing letters.  Their last assignment was to write me a letter.  The next week, I had letters to them that I wrote in response to the letters they wrote me the previous week.  This cycle continues every week.  Monday-Thursday, my students have a morning work packet they work on which is currently math facts and reading passages with questions to practice underlining the answers in the text.  On Friday, each student has a letter from me on their desk.

One of the reasons I love Letters to the Teacher is because students are writing authentically and their writing has real life application.  Whether you type it or write it, put it in an envelop or send it electronically- people write letters.

I also love that I am having regular conversations with EACH one of my students and each one of them is unique and individual.

In the beginning, almost all of the letters looked the same.  They were full of 'I love you! and You're the best teacher ever!'  While I admit that it was nice to hear every week, that wasn't what I wanted the letters to be.  I wanted to interact with each child individually and connect with them.

To help students move beyond "I love you!", I started reading them 'letters' I had gotten.  In reality, no one wrote those letters, I made them up.  I would read it to the class AND model how I would answer it.

I also make sure that I ask my students questions that will lead to discussion.

Anyone else write letters to their students?

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