Thursday, April 24, 2014

Interactive Storytelling Glove

I love storytelling!  This storytelling glove is a great way for students to have prompts when presenting their stories.  It also offers a great visual for the audience.
Choosing the Story:
Some students retold classics like the Three Little Pigs. Some students added unique endings to classics. Other students created completely original stories with creative characters.

Here are the materials:
-child's glove
-Velcro strips cut into pieces to fit on glove fingertips
-paper characters/pictures from the story 
(some clip art, some original artwork, stickers on card stock also work)


  • First, each student told a peer or teacher their story.
  • Next, they drew pictures of the story line in a a graphic organizer.  
  • Then each person chose, cut and decorated paper clip art characters for their retelling of the story. 
  • I laminated the clip art characters or put them on card stock for durability. 
  • Then the students attached the Velcro to the back of each clip art and glove fingertips.  

The best part was the presentation of the stories! 

Through out the verbal storytelling, the students introduced the characters by attaching a clip art image to one of the fingertips.  Sometimes the characters on different fingertips were made to talk with each other.  As characters left the scene, the students removed that clip art from their finger tips.

This activity enabled student independence and creativity. Each child's story was expressed through art, voice, and body.  Most of the students retold their stories repeatedly at home, to family and with other students.

Real Life Writing-Yum!

I love to do interactive writing that has a real life purpose.  This engages students as well as creates motivation and meaning for the writing.

Here is a great activity for expository writing using recipes!

We did a shared writing activity as we made peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

                                Each step was told verbally first.
                                We followed the verbal step physically.
                                We wrote a sentence describing the step we took.

The concrete sandwich making created an accessible reference point or reminder when writing.  We worked on sounding out words as we wrote.  We also looked for word clues to spell new words.  For example- peanut was referenced on the peanut butter jar.  These clues created independence when writing.  She even thought of a 'hint' for making her sandwich.  Recipes also require or introduce sequencing of events.

Good recipes to write include: familiar foods, short processes, child-appropriate accessible ingredients
exs. sandwiches
ants on a log

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Saving Summer

The end of the school year ushers in new schedules where educational activities once were.  Studies have shown that summer vacation can result in an estimated one month of lost skills or learning retention per school year.  (Cooper,  Summer also means an increase in potential free time at home.  Summer can be a fun, relaxed opportunity to build relationships and learning. 

There are many simple activities that will help with learning retention or preparation, and build healthier relationships between family members.   Learning at home can go beyond worksheets or educational television.  Summer offers hands-on situations that magnify classroom theory.  It is the time to apply academic skills, natural curiosity and critical thinking to real life. 
Some meaningful activities include: field-trips to natural habitats, library trips, gardening, museum visits, cooking and grocery shopping.   Some learning activities with low parental involvement are: water or sand tables, specialized Lego/block activities or 'reading BINGO'.   

Throughout summer, I will post resources and offer activities to increase the value of summer time.  I also offer sessions with children or parents for fun learning activities.  Future posts will explore the ideas mentioned above along with parent-guided activities and independent activities for children.  Please email questions or ideas as you plan your summer fun.  

Here are some good resources to get started:

Get the Facts & Solutions:
Cooper, Harris. Colorin Colorado! WETA, "Summer Learning Loss: The Problem and Some Solutions." 2003, Web. 15 May 2013.

National Summer Learning Association Research article on Summer Learning:

Quick Tips:
 My past professor Damon L. Bahr and literacy professor Timothy G. Morrison discuss ideas to help with the learning setback in the article Summer Slump from Spring 2013 BYU Magazine.  They list quick  learning activities to try:

Summer Reading Tips:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Routine - the framework for the school day

Show students what we are doing now and where we are going by maintaining a routine.  This structure allows children to prepare for activities and follow along through the schedule.  This creates predictability and security for children allowing them to accomplish activities.  An example of a basic routine is:

Homework Turn-in
Self-Starter Activity
Math Facts
Math Groups
D.E.A.R time

Behavior is successfully managed when children can prepare for activities and anticipate expectations.  Teachers show students the steps for each activity by modeling for students what is expected and how to follow the routine.  For example, each day the students begin by setting up their learning space.  They have been taught to find the supplies they need, put homework in a certain space and start on the daily journal topic at their seat.  This routine allows autonomy and ownership of learning.

 Students feel success and gain confidence as they learn to manage themselves.  The Early Childhood Curriculum explains, “Routines and procedures provide the predictability in the school environment that young learners need to feel secure-secure in their predictability of the known and secure in their self-confident to carry out known responsibilities.” (p.53)   The teacher and parent is able to focus on teaching and positive interactions instead of micromanaging every step of each activity. 

Routine does not mean boring!  Variety and fun come from the activities planned within the routine.  Creating a schedule is a great place to start when building a successful classroom or productive homework time.  Implementing an age appropriate routine teaches life skills for success throughout personal and professional life.

Tips for Routines & Schedules:

-Create a basic outline of when each subject will be studied
-Estimate and test the time required for each activity within a given subject slot
-write out and go through the steps required for each activity
-Examine which procedures students can accomplish on their own once instructed and practiced
-Create transitions to move easily between other subjects
-Use physical movement and breaks appropriately in or between activities
-Post a simple, easy to read schedule for the day
-State, post & remind students of a specific behavior and learning expectation for each activity
-When home schooling, include students in preparing the routine:
                -Early Elementary- go over the daily routine visually showing students the general schedule
                -allow them to choose 1 activity a day: D.E.A.R time, choose one math center during math time
from a few different options
-Older Elementary- consult students as to when they may learn a subject best or when they
want to tackle a more difficult/more enjoyable subject
-Have them review the schedule and have them choose areas they want to have more
independence or responsibility

A routine planner will be posted in Lesson Preparation & Templates page, located under the blog title.  The routine planner is a great place to get started!

Krogh, Suzanne and Pamela Morehouse. The Early Childhood Curriculum: Inquiry Learning Through Integration. McGraw-Hill, 2007. Print.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sweatin' for Sammy

Samantha Green is an incredible little girl.  I lived across the street from Samantha and her parents while I was attending college.  My time spent with Samantha has left me inspired.  She has a spunky personality, and brings joy to everyone around her.  She was born with an extremely rare condition called Microcephaly.  She also has cerebral palsy and epilepsy.  She has beaten many medical odds already.   Her struggles are great, but she has the power to join communities as we rally for her success.  I will be running this May to raise funds for her physical therapy treatment which costs $6,000 for a three week session.  Feelings of love and support will fill the whole trail as we race along side Sammy's stroller on May 19th.

Follow Sammy's story @

Register to Support Sammy @

Emotional Intelligence - An Emotion A Day, Shows Kids The Way

Growing up, I would watch Sesame Street every day.  Each episode featured a letter or number of the day.  Both of these subjects are crucial to academic intelligence and life skills. My experience working with students and families has drawn my attention to the need for another form of intelligence.  As children develop academic ally, an equally crucial area of development is emotional competence.   Many students gain training with math processes and spelling, yet lack the social and emotional skills necessary for a fully successful life or education.  

A complete education includes cognitive, or thinking processes, and emotional learning.  The division of left and right brain skills merits the need for balance between thinking and emotion for a whole self.  One student who is a very successful test taker may struggle with recognizing tension within a friendship.  Another student may achieve high grades from hard work, but crumble under stress or self-demands. Life requires many emotional skills to hold careers, maintain intimate relationships and to be fulfilled self-aware individuals. 

Academic subjects require emotional intelligence to fully grasp concepts, contribute to group projects and make meaningful learning connections.  A student reads a story about children in Haiti.  He feels sadness as he hears about the effects of natural disasters on the children.  He is motivated because he can imagine and reciprocate their feelings in the story.  He is able to relate to the children by feeling empathy due to his ability to identify and express emotions.  He also remembers details from the story due to his strong emotional connection.  Emotions and motivation are greatly connected.  Another student gives up finishing a math assignment. He does not connect his feelings to the fact that he does not know how to use division in this problem.  He then thinks he is not smart enough to finish the assignment.  He lessens his frustration by eliminating the source of his anxiety-the assignment.  Emotions can create or cloud learning efforts.

Emotion is a tool for safety, behavioral choices and goal achievement.  We ultimately choose how we feel in every situation.   Every emotion has a purpose.  We can use our emotions to gather information and then make choices. Emotional competence includes these basic abilities:

·   Identify and express emotion: the ability to recognize, label, and appropriately express emotions in ones’ self or other people.
ex. I can recognize that I feel angry right now from my teeth being clenched, my heart racing and my defensive thoughts. I tell you I am feeling angry right now.
·   Manage and regulate emotion: the ability to appropriately adjust ones’ emotions to act or respond in the way we need to achieve a situational social goal.
ex. I feel very sad that you took my toy away.  I take deep breaths to relax my body and think about why I am sad.  I calm my voice and sad thoughts, so I can tell you how I feel in a way you can understand.  I choose how I feel, and I will adjust my sad response to communicate to you to get my toy back. 
·   Respond to emotional information: the ability to react to emotions one feels or other people feel in an appropriate manner to achieve goals in social interactions.
ex. My sister is scared to go into the pool, but we both want to go swimming together.  I will comfort her by holding her hand, and using a calm voice as I promise to stay by her in the pool where we can both stand.  We will start by touching the water with our toes; then work our way in to wading and swimming.
(Mayer) (Shaffer, 120-121)

I Look back to my sesame street days, and want to add an ‘emotion of the day’.  To educate the whole child, we can integrate academic and emotional learning.  Below are some practical ideas for helping our students improve their education and life skills through enhancing their emotional intelligence.

Feature an emotion a day/week: Read a story where a character experiences a certain emotion.  Discuss situations or times when we might have that particular emotion.  Draw a picture of the emotion or someone feeling that emotion.  Listen to music and look at pictures to practice identifying the emotions we feel from what we hear or see.

Role-Play: Role-play daily situations emphasizing emotions we feel, and how our emotions become actions or behaviors.  Practice ways to react to emotional situations that help us reach our goals, and healthy relationships.

Emotions charts: Display an emotions chart with emoticons and labels for emotions. Take turns throughout the day identifying how each person feels. Create your own emotions chart.  Choose a list of emotions. Take a picture of your face reflecting the different emotions.  Label each picture with the different emotions.  Create 2 columns to write appropriate and inappropriate ways to react when we feel this emotion. You may want to choose a color for each emotion also.

Parent think-a-loud:  Important-We do not want to burden, control or scare children.  Instead, plan a head contemplating what is appropriate to share with children. Choose a time with the child and appropriately verbally express: What do I feel right now? What created this reaction for me to feel this way? How my body feels and what thoughts come to my mind when I feel this?  How are my options to act when I feel this way?  What are the consequences from my actions? 
ex. I am trying to get the rest of the ketchup out of the bottle. I feel impatient because I need the ketchup for my food to taste good, and this is taking a long time.  I feel frustrated because I have tried many different ways without success to get the ketchup out.  My muscles are tightening in my arms, and I am hitting the bottle faster.  I can throw the bottle across the room.  I can ask for help from another person.  I can eat my food without the ketchup.  If I throw the bottle, I will make a mess and possibly hurt someone or something without getting ketchup on my food.  If I ask for help, I can take a break from my hard work and they might be able to help me.  If I stop trying to get the ketchup, then I can eat now but not have the ketchup.

More examples and materials to start emotion learning activities will be posted under the ‘activity ideas’ page.

Good Books for learning about emotions:
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain  
Understanding Myself by Mary Lamia
How Are You Peeling? By Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers
How to Take the Grrr Out of Anger (Laugh and Learn) by Elizabeth Verdick & Marjorie Lisovskis
The Grouchies by Debbie Wagenback & Steven Mack
A Bad Case Of Stripes by David Shannon
Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
Article for parents about emotional intelligence- 


Mayer, John D. “What is Emotional Intelligence (EI)? The four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence”.  Emotional Intelligence Information. 5 Aug. 2004. Web. 20 April 2012.

Shaffer, David. Social and Personality Development.  5th ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2005. Print.