Thursday, July 14, 2016

Top Ten Fun Calendar Time Videos


As part of our calendar time routine each day, we sing a months of the year song and a days of the week song. When I first started teaching we did the Addam's Family days of the week adapation - where you snap or clap in between each line. We sang it EVERY DAY because it was the only days of the week song I knew. We also did the Months of the Year Macarena EVERY DAY. Within a few months I was bored with calendar time, the kids were tuning it out and it was becoming a waste of time.
I knew I had to do something, so I started to try to find ways to jazz up calendar time. I searched YouTube and found so many awesome calendar songs! There are short ones and long ones, silly ones and loud ones. Now I can switch up my calendar routine daily - if the kids have extra energy we get up and dance, if they're bouncing off the walls, I calm them with a song. Since they're being exposed to the names of the months and days through so many songs, they learn them so much better! I've had years when I've had students who were too shy to join in with the Months of the Year Macarena, but are perfectly fine with a different song. Since the video plays on my SmartBoard, they get to see the words as we sing too, which helps with recognizing the words in print.

So today I'm bringing you my Top Ten Calendar Videos - hopefully you'll learn a new one or two that you can use to spice up your own calendar time! In no particular order, here are my favorites:

Months of the Year:


The Learning Station - my students love the animation and its a simple tune they pick up quickly.


Harry Kindergarten - I love this one because it emphasizes that after the 12 months you "start back over". It's only 1:59 too, so its a go-to if I have to cut calendar time down for some reason.


Jack Hartmann - you can never go wrong with Jack - especially when he puts on a cowboy hat! My kids loved learning this simple dance too!


Dream English Kids - the kids love pretending to play the different instruments in this one. I have a secret crush on Matt - he's just so mellow and chill, I bet he would be a blast to hang out with! I use a lot of his songs, they make me happy!

Miss Rossi - I had several ELL students in my class this year who only spoke Spanish. Playing videos in their home language helped to connect the English months of the year songs so they understood what we were singing about. My goal is to become more proficient in Spanish, so it helps me learn too!


Busy Beavers - I love this one because we can sit down and sing it calmly, plus it has ice cream in it! It also has the days of the week, so its a two-for-one lol. On those days when admin calls down needing something asap during calendar time, this is the song I go to - because the kids are sitting and singing so my attention can afford to be divided (which I don't do if they're up and moving and grooving to a song).

Days of the Week:
Dr. Jean - This one is amazing because it involves sign language and memory work! The kids love it, and it really helps them remember the names of the days!

The Learning Station - my students LOVE this one! We get loud during the loud part, but luckily I'm far enough down the hallway we don't bother anyone!

Jack Hartmann - who can resist Jack doing a rap?? My students love this one too - they think they're such cool little rap stars!

Dream English Kids - here's my pal Matt again - the kids love trying to do the little hand dance thing he has going on in this video.


Pink Fong - these guys have some great dinosaur videos that my son LOVES,  and this simple days of the week song is short and sweet!


Mr. R's Songs for Teaching - this one is nice because its long and calm! It also reinforces which day comes after the next! This is another one I might play when I HAVE to reply to an email or read a note from a parent during calendar time. Again, I try to keep those kind of interruptions to a minimum, but sometimes, things come up! Its good to be prepared with something that will still keep the kids in routine, but will allow me to divide my focus for a minute!


Bonus:
Scratch Garden - If your students don't know left from right yet, throw this video into your calendar time mix and reap the benefits. My students asked for this one all the time and would giggle like crazy at the salamander! 

Caveat:
You cannot simply put on a video and sit back. I am actively dancing and singing with the kids. We make up hand moves, throw in sign language and do all we can to make it an active learning experience. The minute you don't put 100% into INTERACTING with the video, you will lose the kids and all the cute songs in the world won't be able to get them back. That means marching, stomping and clapping along, making funny faces and generally doing embarrassing things - even when someone else enters the room! If my principal walks in, I just keep singing and dancing with my kids, regardless of embarrassment! We also pause the videos periodically to identify letters on the screen, make a predication about what comes next or count something. Anything to bring novelty into calendar time - because the brain craves novelty. Keep those litle minds actively thinking all day long!

Alright, this was actually 12 songs, but if you know of any other fun ones, please rustle up a comment below and share!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dollar Store Deals For The Early Childhood Classroom

If you're anything like me, you're struggling to rein in your classroom spending. With the back-to-school season fast approaching and store shelves starting to fill up with school supplies, the temptation to spend, spend, spend is everywhere! That's why I love the Dollar Tree - it satisfies my urge to shop without destroying my budget. And, there are so many ways to use the items in the classroom!

For a quick Math Center, grab a snack tray and some pompoms. You can have students sort by color, count how many of each color, and then even order them by amount! If you give them some cards with numbers written on them, they can count out that number of pompoms, working on 1-1 correspondence and number recognition. Not bad for $2 in supplies!

A fun addition to a Writing Center is this two-sided dry erase board and cute eraser! The board is blank on one side and lined on the other, so students can practice handwriting or writing spelling words or sight words!

If you're a new teacher just starting out, or someone who'd love to switch up their class theme, check out these adorable Disney decor items:
 They have Finding Dory,

Mickey Mouse,

and Good Dinosaur sets! 
There are borders, cutouts and recognition awards.

If you need an inexpensive alphabet activity, you can't beat a set of magnetic letters and images, along with a cookie sheet! Matching upper to lower case letters, letters to beginning sound pictures, or eventually creating CVC words, this is an easily differentiated activity for just $2!

One of my students' favorite things is when our Elf on the Shelf brings us science activities! I grab them up in the summer when their in stock, and save them for December. We grow a crystal tree for our Elf and then he leaves us 'magic snow" and water beads for our Sensory Center or more "magic" powder that will grow colored rock crystals. Each time he leaves us a little baggie, he leaves us a note telling us what to do, but not what the "magic" will create. We have a great time writing our predictions and making observations in our journals! Each activity is just $1!

I always pick up some large tweezers, for fine motor practice in our Sensory Center. This year I spotted these little test tubes which will be perfect for our Science Center - I plan on letting the students do basic mixing experiments in small group. I also found reusable dry erase pockets that are great for when I don't want to make a million copies of a recording sheet!

Another fun word work activity is writing letters or words on the decorative stones. The metallic Sharpies show up really well on the black river rocks, and a quick coat of clear nail polish makes sure the letters don't rub off! You can also do this with clear or colored glass gems! You can put these in a Sensory Table for students to find, or have them make CVC words and record them!

Are you excited about all of the inexpensive centers you can make now?! Well, don't run to the Dollar Tree yet, you'll especially want to check out these:


Dollar Tree has these adorable Coordinated Paper Cut Outs:




I've created FREE recording sheets for these activities!


What about a fun Picnic theme? These adorable mustard and ketchup cutouts are perfect for a fun actiity:



You can download the FREE recording sheets by clicking on the pictures!



I hope these ideas help you to get some fund centers in your classroom without breaking the bank! If you have more inexpensive center ideas, please rustle up a comment below so that we can all share!
Thank you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer Fun

Summer is in full swing, which for me means lots of fun in the sun with my own 5 children (ages 2-17!) This is the time of year where I make up for working late during the school year. All of those nights where I was too busy cutting out lamination, writing lesson plans and preparing for a class full of students to focus 100% of my attention on my kids. I'm not in back-to-school mode yet, so it's all summer fun, all day long at our house!

One of my go-to shops for that summer fun is Oriental Trading. I've written before about how I use their products during the school year. They have a great educational line and lots of activities and games that can be used in the classroom. Oriental Trading also has a ton of summer products, that my own kids love!

Summer Crafts:
They have so many crafts that are perfect for when the weather isn't cooperating for outdoor play. My 2 year old loves to dress up and pretend play, so masks are a perfect choice for him. These Magic Color Scratch Animal Masks are fun to make, so even the older kids get into it!

Summer Toys:
Let's face it, those summer days can be long....and with the heat in Oklahoma above 100 degrees, we're practically living at the pool or lake. That's fine...until you hear the dreaded "I'm bored!" Luckily, OT has some inexpensive summer toys that make any day more fun.

One of the things that I love is that often I can get multiple items for a low price - like these mini inflatable beach balls that are only $6.50 for a dozen. That's plenty for my kids, and even enough to share with a toddler at the pool who becomes fascinated with them (Sullivan is pretty good about sharing his toys, but it's nice to have an extra or two so no one's feelings are hurt!) I may or may not also hide a few to use in my classroom lol!
There are lots of options for more active play too - like this Monkey Bean Bag Toss Game. This is another item that will sneak its way into my classroom after summer lol!

Party Supplies:


I think everyone knows that OT is the go-to place for party supplies. We have 3 summer birthdays in my family so inexpensive, FUN party supplies are a must! From luau decorations for my daughter to a Dino Dig theme for my son, I can get everything I need from OT! And since they have free Project Ideas, I don't even have to spend hours trying to find ideas on Pinterest lol!

And of course, while I'm shopping for summer fun items, I always take a peek at the Teacher Resources page.  If a pocket chart or two make their way into the cart, well what can I say? You can put a teacher on summer break, but there's always going to be that small part that is turning over new ideas for the classroom lol!

Don't forget to enter to win a OT's Classroom Giveaway too - a $500 Grand Prize and 6 $100  gift cards are up for grabs! Click here to enter!


*I received free products in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was provided.*


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