Kid's Yoga

6 Easy Group Yoga Games

Hey everyone! It’s April vacation week over here and I thought a great way to avoid writing my research paper for grad school would be to write a blog post! #gradschoolproblems

I’ve been teaching Kid’s Yoga for 2 years now. I did my certification through Kidding Around Yoga. There was an online portion to the training and a 2-day in person training. I absolutely loved it! My favorite part of this program is the music that comes with it is really amazing. I use it in every yoga class I teach. Also, the online portal provides a lot of background information on yoga and offers ways to teach yoga to different age groups. *

I teach Kid’s Yoga weekly to a group of around 10-18 students. I also teach at summer camps were there are anywhere from 20-40 kids. My biggest session ever was at a PTO event that had 45 kids! That was a c-r-a-z-y night. One way I keep that many students occupied is to plan quick and easy group games. Read below for a breakdown of 6 of my favorite group games modified for kid’s yoga.

1. Pass the Puppy: This can also be called Pass the Kitty, the Penguin, the Heart….pretty much Pass The Whatever Stuffed Animal You Have Available. Here’s how you play: Have the yogis sit criss-cross in a circle, with their knees close to each other. One player gets to be “it” and sits in the middle with his or her eyes closed. The other students pass the stuffed animal around the circle and count to ten slowly. When they get to 10 they yell “HIDE!”. Whoever is holding the stuffed animal hides it behind their back. All of the other students also pretend to hide the stuffed animal behind their backs. The person in the middle has 3 chances to guess who has it. Whether the person who is “it” guesses correctly or not, the person with the stuffed animal goes in the middle. Repeat.

What I love about this game: Easy, fun, and no one really wins or looses.

Getting ready to play Pass The Puppy

2. Four Corners: This is a yoga-twist on the classic game of 4 corners. Even if your room doesn’t have 4 corners, just put a folded piece of cardstock with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 written and put it where you would like the corners to be. How to play: One student gets to be “it”. They stand in the middle with their eyes closed and count loudly and slowly to ten. Meanwhile, the rest of the students run, skip, walk, hop (you choose) to a corner. Once they get to that corner they have to hold a standing or kneeling yoga pose, like tree, chair, or camel. You can even put a visual card in each corner of what pose you would like children to do. Next, the person in the middle calls a corner, like “Corner Number 3”. Everyone in corner 3 is out. They come to the middle and try to hold plank pose. The person who is “it” keeps counting and calling corners until just 1 person in left. Then, everyone is back in and that new child gets to be “it”!

What I love about this game: It’s great for a small or big group of kids. Can be played with no set-up at all!

Camel pose for 4 corners!

3. A Yogi Says: This game is straight from my Kidding Around Yoga (KAY) training. The Facebook group for KAY teachers is wonderful. So many great ideas are shared! How to Play: This is like Simon Says, where one person is “Simon” or “A Yogi”. The yogi tells other students what to do by saying “A Yogi says downward dog”. Then, all the students get into downward facing dog. The yogi who is “it” keeps going with different poses, like “A yogi says star, a yogi says tree, child’s pose”. On the last one, other students who do child’s pose would be “out” because a “yogi didn’t say”. However, in Kid’s Yoga classes, I still let those students be in. I just kind of say “ohhhh did a yogi say to do that?”. After a little while, the person who is it says ” A yogis says _____ is it” and they pick a new friend to be it.

What I like about this game: A lot of students can be “it”all while the little yogis are practicing a lot of poses!

A yogi says “triangle pose”!

4. Red Light, Green Light, Tree! This is another fan favorite from my KAY training. A fun twist of Red Light, Green Light. How to Play: Have all the students line up against a wall. One person gets to be the caller and stands opposite the other students. Red Light means freeze. Green light means walk slowly or army crawl. Or, the caller can shout out a yoga pose like: “star!”, “mountain!”, or “warrior!”. The students have to hold the yoga pose without falling. They are moving towards the caller for green light. Once one student is close enough to high 5 the caller, he or she can be “it” next.

What I like about this game: No additional set up is needed and it goes quickly, so many students get a turn to be it!

Star pose!

5. Freeze Dance: Okay, this one is really easy and a crowd-pleaser. How to play: Play an up-beat song from your device over a speaker that really pumps up the jam. I use music from My Amazon (I do not subscribe monthly. If you have Amazon Prime, you have access to 1,000s of songs through the app for FREE!). I usually use Kidz-Bop because it is “safe” for little kids to listen to. I crank it up loud and let students free dance. Que the floss! Then, I pause the music and students have to freeze in a yoga pose. Standing ones tend to work better, like chair, warrior, tree, dancer, eagle, goddess, star, mountain, and more! Play until the song is over. A fun bonus idea: let students use sunglasses or bead necklaces to dress up their moves.

What I love about this game: You can play music to any themed class you may have, like a St.Patrick’s Jig or a Halloween Thriller!

Freeze dance after pic!

6. Freeze Tree: A variation on the game explained above to help build self-regulation skills. How to play: Play an up-beat song. I usually pick from Kidz Bop (see above for more details). The main difference in this game is the music never stops. The teacher will call out “Freeze” or “Tree”. When the teacher calls out “freeze” students freeze in any statue-like pose that they were dancing in. The goal is to be very still (the music is still playing so that makes it hard!). When the teacher calls out “tree” all of the students hold tree pose without falling. Again, the music doesn’t stop, so students need to focus. The game ends when the song is over.

Why I love this game: It helps children focus on the moment and to respond to oral directions.

Tree!

Do you have any go-to yoga games you love to use? Share them below!

Xoxo,

Jillian

*I am not a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), just a first grade teacher who loves to share my Kid’s Yoga Training!

Writing

Helen Lester Learning Log

I am still trying to come out of my food coma from Super Bowl LIII last night. We went to a friends house and oh my- lots of delicious food!


Gotta love the Nard Dog

Yup- that’s me. I essentially go to football parties for the food. I couldn’t care less who wins, but it’s fun to get together with friends. Now that I am having my second round of chocolate trifle, I thought I would share with you guys my Helen Lester Learning log!

Helen Lester:  She is one of my FAVORITE children’s authors! I think her characters are relate-able and her humor connects to kids on several levels. Even though I use her for a first grade character study unit, I think her books are ideal for second grade cuties! In January, our curriculum asks that students look at character traits and respond to text using pictures or words. I decided to create a learning log to track my student’s progress with these skills!

I just love Tacky!

The learning log starts with the lovable character of Tacky! After reading Tacky the Penguin , Tacky in Trouble , Tacky the Emperor , Three Cheers for Tacky , Tacky Goes to Camp , and Tackylocks and the Three Bears, students complete a response sheet for each story. The skills that are covered come with a chart describing the learning outcome. For example:

Black and White version of this poster included also!
Tacky is an odd bird!

After Tacky is completed, other Helen Lester read alouds are explored. Hurty Feelings, Listen Buddy, Hooway for Wodney Wat, All For Me and None For All, and A Porcupine Named Fluffy. All of these books have great characters, problem and solution, and hilarious plots!

This book has won over 17 awards!

Lastly, the learning log ends with Author: A True Story. With this true story of how Helen became an author, students answer comprehension questions. This helps facilitate a discussion in class of what authors do, the writing process, and dealing with failures.

Also a great book for writer’s workshop on perseverance!

How I Use the Learning Log: First, I print the student learning posters and laminate these for durability. There is also an about the author page! Then, I print and assemble the learning logs. Each students gets one and I have them keep the logs in their book bins. When we are ready to read a story, students get their log, a pencil, and a clipboard and join me on the rug. One thing that is great about these learning logs is that I have provided blank white space and lines for DIFFERENTIATION!  The learning log clearly tells the teacher when to stop while reading (“stop on page 9 and make a prediction). I usually let the students turn and talk and then jot down their ideas.

This takes me about 3 weeks to complete!

When we are done with the learning logs, I collect them and write students feedback on their writing. I look for students who were able to write complete sentences versus students who drew pictures. I can them make notes for guided reading mini-lessons. I love this learning log, because it keeps student work all in once place while completing an entire unit!

You can find this learning log in my Tpt Store!

Do you use learning logs in your classroom? Do you love Helen Lester as much as me? Leave a comment below!

Xoxo,

Jillian

Writing

I Am~Positive Affirmation Posters

New year, new mantras. I took a page out of my kid’s yoga training and did some positive affirmations with my firsties. The results were adorable!

Just look at this cutie ūüôā

I simply wrote the words “I am” in 4 different ways on card stock.   I copied them onto more card stock paper through the bypass tray on the Ricoh machine (first time I ever used the bypass tray…I was nervous for a paper jam, but it worked great!)

I guided the students through a meditation. We sat in a circle on the rug, criss-cross. I had the students close their eyes and take 5 deep breaths. I had them imagine how they would describe themselves in a positive way. I told them if we repeat a positive phrase over and over it becomes our mantra and eventually, our truth. I told them to pick one positive thought that they want to focus on for the new year.

I then had the students write their idea in pencil on the “I am ____” paper. They then traced their writing over with black Sharpie. After that, I had students use watercolor paint and paintbrushes to make a beautiful design.

Love it.

I then took a picture of each child holding their positive affirmation poster. I printed the pictures and hung them in our backpack area. I like to hang pictures of the kiddos so they feel included and welcomed in the classroom. I save all the pictures throughout the school year and use them in our end year “yearbooks”.

I Am Strong
I am Amazing!

I’ve added these posters to my TpT Store. I *do not* claim to be a hand-lettering artist. This was just a simple, quick, and cute idea I came up with and decided to share with you. This would work great in any elementary classroom, from Kindergarten to 5th grade!

Watercolor painting isn’t necessary either. I just find it relaxing. Students could also use crayons or colored pencils.

Click below to grab these posters FREE in my store! I am GRATEFUL for this little space on the web to share my passion.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Am-Handwritten-Posters-FREEBIE-4321334

Xoxo,

Jillian

Home Life

How He Asked ~ Our Story

It’s been over a month since I’ve written an elementary-school related blog post. After Thanksgiving was the typical whirlwind with holiday parties, class crafts, parent gifts, thank you cards, holiday concerts, Xmas cards, Gingerbread-themed lessons, Polar Express PJ party and then…I got engaged. Oh yeah, that one little detail was VERY exciting for me! I’ve been living on a cloud since.

Image result for teachers in december meme

Our Story: Jesse and I had been dating for a little over 5 years. We met while both working at a restaurant in 2013. I had just gotten my first “real” teaching job as a maternity substitute, with low pay and no benefits. I needed a second job that was nights and weekends. I started working as a hostess and met Jesse who was one of the managers. After 4 months of working together, we went out on our first date! A year and a half later we moved in together. He really is my best friend.

Block Island vacation

How¬†He¬†Asked: December 7th, 2018 Jesse and I had plans to meet at my school in the afternoon. We had tickets to see my favorite band, Dave Matthews Band, in Boston. This was our 4th show to see him this year, my 30th-ish show overall. (Big DMB fan over here). I texted him during the day and said “come to school a little early to meet the kiddos”. He came in right towards the end of the day and the kids were pretty wild. Jesse had a gift bag and I asked him if it was a present for the classroom, “Is that a succulent?”, I asked. Since, he had bought gifts for my classroom before. He said “it’s for tonight”. So I let that be.

This is what was waiting for me in the bag…

It was fun for the kids to guess who he was and when I told them it was my boyfriend they really freaked out with excitement. After I calmed them down, I rushed outside to dismiss them. When I came back in, Jesse asked to use the men’s room. I showed him where in the building it was. Then, I headed back to my classroom to clean up and get ready to go.

Jesse came back in and I said “I just gotta change”. He was acting a little off and kind of rushing me, which is not typical for him. When I came out I had my jacket on, all my bags ready to go- let’s do this! He said “you’re going to want to hear this first”. ¬†He started playing You & Me by Dave Matthews from his phone and I just knew right away. I glanced to my right and saw all the teachers I work with in my doorway with their phones recording. (he had told them on his way back from the bathroom that he was going to propose). CUE- instant water works from me.

How He Asked

I was so incredibly surprised and caught off guard that I couldn’t stop crying! I was overwhelmed with emotion. I literally did not hear a word Jesse said after “For the past 5 years…”. ¬†

Okay, you can stop crying now.

After calming down (somewhat), all the ladies I work with rushed in to give me a hug and say congratulations. It was awesome to have so many people I know witness my special moment and catch it on camera. I will now have this precious memory on video for the rest of my life.

My classroom is my happy place. It’s now an extra special place to me.

After all that excitement, we were off to meet up with friends in the city and enjoy the concert! It was perfect timing to be able to share my good news in person with my friends. Even better to end the night listening to my favorite music. Best.Day.Ever!

Perma-grin for days…

Now I sit here on my comfy couch on New Year’s Eve planning for the future with my best friend by my side. I’ve slowly been taking down my Christmas decor reminiscing on one of the best year’s of my life. And, now I am looking forward to a blissful 2019.

Thanks for stopping by!

XoXo

Jillian

Classroom Management, Math, Math Centers

Math Vocabulary Word Wall

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I am proud of myself- I didn’t over indulge. Just the right amount of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, veggies, rolls, and of course desserts. I did have a little mishap though. A cheesecake disaster, if you will.

Yikes:

After I got over the shock of my beautiful cheesecake all over the counter and floor, I came up with a new dessert game plan. Pecan pie was already on the menu, so I added Joanna Gaines’ Chocolate Chip Cookies. They.are.everything. SOOOOO delicious! I highly recommend making them.

 

So now I am fully recouped from our Thanksgiving festivities and ready to talk about Math Vocabulary Word Wall. Do you have one? I think you should! Placing large visuals in your classroom can help learners with understanding new concepts. My school uses the Pearson Envision 2.0 Math Program. I have created large, clear vocabulary cards that compliment the program’s small vocabulary cards.

 

I’ve made them for Grade 1:

I’ve made them for Grade 2:¬†

I’ve made them for Grade 3:

And, Grade 4:

 

Each grade has a different amount of vocabulary cards based upon the grade’s topics outlined by enVisions. I have also made¬†black and white¬†versions of each vocabulary word!

Why Vocabulary:¬†Even though we are teaching math, it is very important to teach the language of math. According to the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics),¬†Vocabulary knowledge is essential to student achievement because‚ÄĒ

‚ÄĘ vocabulary is strongly correlated
to reading comprehension (Davis
1968; Fitzgerald and Graves 2005);
‚ÄĘ vocabulary is a predictor of students‚Äô
comprehension (Anderson
and Freebody 1981; Nagy 1988)
and content area learning (Espin
and Foegen 1996); and
‚ÄĘ lack of vocabulary knowledge can
negatively affect learning content
(Fisher and Frey 2008).  

These are some great reasons to start your math word wall today! Most lower elementary classrooms have a word wall for sight words and words of the day, now it’s time to add math to that practice!

Image result for understanding math meme

How To Use: Over the summer, I printed first grade cards, laminated them and put them in order for easy access.  While we are learning about  a topic, like Addition Strategies within 20, I will pull out the vocabulary cards- sum, plus, add, equation, fact family, etc... I will read the definition and students will repeat it. They will take their small version of vocab cards and add it to a ring in their math toolboxes. ( a pencil case where we keep math supplies). I then add the cards to a board to quick and easy reference.

These vocabulary words are a simple way to add great visuals to your classroom! If you teach math using the Pearson Envisions Program, then these vocabulary cards are perfect for you. You can find them in my TpT store here:

Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Higher Education - TeachersPayTeachers.com

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving break.

Xoxo,

Jillian

Math Centers, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Math Center Games

Thanksgiving is almost here! This is one of my favorite holidays of the year. The creamy mashed potatoes, the decadent desserts, spending a quiet day with family….it’s the best. I also feel like Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season. I always decorate the day after turkey day for Christmas (and NOT a day earlier!). We actually just got snow here in Rhode Island, on November 16th. Ugh…

Anyways, one thing I like to do the week leading up to Thanksgiving is sprinkle in some themed math centers. We still teach our regular math program (Pearson enVisions 2.0). However, I like to add some games to my math center that are Thanksgiving-inspired!

Memory Games: Included in this pack are 2 versions of a memory game. These games are ideal for Kindergartners or beginning of the year first graders. One game is a subitize, where you have to identify how many of an object there are without counting them. For example, if there was 5 pumpkins, a student may see a pattern of 2 and 3. They then flip over a different colored card that has the answers. If they get a match, they write it down on a recording sheet. They also get to go again! They other game is a ten frame match game. Students have to match the number of items in a ten frame with a different colored card that has the answer. Again, there is a recording sheet to make students stay on track!

 

TEACHER TIP: When printing the memory game, put the questions on one colored paper and the answers on a different colored paper! This lets students easily see which ones to match with which. Also, it helps the game move along quickly.

 

Go Fish Games:¬†This pack also includes two different Go Fish Games! One is addition facts within 10 and the other is subtraction facts within 10. Both sets include visuals. For example, on the equation “3 + 4” there would be 3 Pilgrim hats plus 4 Pilgrim hats. The student would ask a group member “Joe, do you have 7 Pilgrim hats?”. If Joe does have 7 hats, then he hands over the match. The first student records his or her match on a recording sheet. It is important that students state the clipart on their card, because there is more than 1 “7” card in the deck. Students play the same way with subtraction facts. This center helps build¬† fact¬†fluency all while having fun!

 

 

 

This pack is really easy! All you have to do is print, laminate if you would like durability, and then place in your math centers! I rotate these games during the whole week leading up to Thanksgiving. It helps give students a review of skills, while keeping them engaged in learning! This pack also includes black and white versions, student directions, and a fun way to store games! You can purchase this pack here. 

 

 

 

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Leave a comment below.

Xoxo,

Jillian

Classroom Management

5 Easy Ways to Bring Calm to Your Classroom

Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, breathing….these are all becoming powerful “buzz” words in education. Aside from being popular, these practices are essential for creating a positive, warm, and calm classroom community. According to MindfulSchool.org,¬† solid scientific evidence suggests that mindfulness interventions improve attention, self-control, emotional resilience, recovery from addiction, memory and immune response. As educators, we are now learning the importance of mindfulness in our classroom. What are 5 actions you can take today to create a calmer classroom?

Read below!

  1. Mindful Minute:¬†Participate in a mindful minute exercise. After morning meeting, I lead a mindful minute every day.¬† This can be as simple as practicing deep breathing, trying some yoga poses, or closing our eyes as I walk students through a guided meditation. I was trained in Kidding Around Yoga and I use a script for students to take a journey to their Secret Garden. Essentially, students lay down and relax their legs, arms, face and then mind. I talk slowly urging them to imagine a calm and peaceful place to them. This can last anywhere from 1-4 minutes. If students are laying quietly, I will hold on as long as I can as the meditation facilitator. There are lots of resources out there on the web, just type in “mindfulness” and you can see a plethora of ideas!
  2. Glitter Jar: This is a simple and easy-to-use tool to create calm in your classroom! First, take a Mason Jar or a re-used plastic bottle, like an OJ bottle. (I would use glass for adult-use only and plastic if you want kiddos to be able to shake it up).  TO MAKE: Pour hot water (hot is the key!) and any color glitter glue you like into the bottle. Let it settle. Then shake it up and you have a glitter jar for life! I use the glitter jar after an exciting activity to help students calm down. I shake it up and put it in the center of the carpet. I tell students to lay on their stomach and they can put their head down on their hands. Their goal is to watch all of the glitter settle to the bottom. You can purchase the same glitter glue I did on Amazon:

 

3.¬†Go Noodle:¬†A free resource! One way you can bring zen into your classroom is through Flow and Maximo from Go Noodle. I would describe Flow as a mindfulness activity and Maximo as yoga and breathing practice. Go Noodle has a lot of great energizer categories, but I think it is helpful to use Flow or Maximo to bring some calm to your day. Ahhhhhh……

 

 

 

4.¬†Quiet Time: Do you do quiet time everyday? Yes, great! No, why? I learned about quiet time during my Responsive Classroom training. Do your kiddos come back after lunch and recess all wound up and their excitement spilling over? Quiet time is a great solution to this transition problem. As explained on Responsive Classroom’s site,¬†Quiet time offers an opportunity for students to transition back into the classroom in a purposeful and relaxed way so they are better ready for an afternoon of learning. Just 10 to 15 minutes of time to read, write, draw, work on a puzzle, or do some other quiet work can help children take a physical, mental, and emotional breather so they are more ready to engage in learning in the afternoon.¬†

 

 

5.¬†Essential Oils: I use oils from Pure Haven. An oil is “essential” in the sense that it contains the “essence‚ÄĚ of the plant’s fragrance -the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived. The oils contain the chemical components that naturally occur in plants, which can help our bodies heal¬†themselves.¬†¬†I use essential oils in my classroom in a diffuser. I use 2-3 drops of an oil mixed with water (follow directions on diffuser- MUST use 100% pure oil).¬†I purchased my plug-in humidifier with a diffuser from Amazon. I use it everyday and love the smell in my classroom. Depending on the needs of my students, I choose different oils. (You can buy oils from me here). Students feeling tired? Use lemon. Students are anxious? Use lavender. The fun changing colors of my diffuser make it a cozy addition to my classroom!

 

 

 

What are some ways you bring calmness to your classroom? Share below!

Xoxo,

Jillian

 

Classroom Management, Routines

Alternatives to Morning Work-Tubs & Show What You Know

First Moments of the Day:¬†As a first grade teacher, I know that first 5 minutes of the day can set the tone for the whole day. Do I have a crying child…hungry cutie who didn’t have breakfast…anxious kid not ready to transition to school? One way I like to set the tone for the day is with my morning work. Read on to see how I got rid of worksheets and will never look back.

Image result for someecards teacher multitask

Exploration Time: If I know that we will be using a new math manipulative or science tool, I like to give students the opportunity to explore with that supply. Placing a tub on their tables in the morning provides them with that opportunity. Do things get loud? Yes. Do I need to set expectations? Absolutely. But, it is a fun way to start the day. I see the students come in and get excited about learning. Who gets excited about worksheets? Not me and probably not my students. Most importantly, I like to connect it to something we will be doing later that day or reinforcing a skill already learned, like real words versus nonsense words, as seen below :

 

 

 

Show What You Know: As educators, we are always told to activate prior knowledge and to build schema. One way I like to do this is to roll out a piece of butcher paper and have students¬†show what they know. It’s easy. It’s simple. It’s effective. I can be creative and make the paper look a pumpkin for our October learning or I can be quick and roll out the brown paper. I give students the choice to write words or draw pictures. Usually, I save the charts from the tables and display them as a warm up. For example, for a math lesson on adding strategies, I would lay out the completed chart papers around the room and have students do a gallery-walk for a guided math warm-up discussion. They would come back to the rug and share 1 thing they notice and 1 thing they wonder. Sometimes I use the charts to hang up around the room to display student thinking. It’s all¬†student-centered.¬†

Making the Change: This is a simple change to my routine as a teacher. The time I would spend making photocopies or searching the internet for a worksheet I can now spend creating these easy charts. Better yet, throwing a bin of a game, manipulative or supply that is already on hand is that much easier. The best part- it’s fun. #makelearningfunagain

 

Thank you for reading!

~Jillian

 

 

 

Classroom Management, Flexible Seating

Flexible Seating with a Twist~Reveal

New School Year, New Style: To move towards flexible seating, I made some changes at the end of the last school year- like getting rid of my teacher desk and filling cabinets. I also put together a Donor’s Choose Project. To read more about that, look here:¬†My Donors Choose Journey to Create a Flexible Seating Classroom.¬†¬†I finally got all my pieces from the Donor’s Choose project and have put them into use! It took a few days to figure out exactly how the pieces were going to work and where everything would be stored. Now that we are 22 days into school, the students are into a great routine with the seating!

Cooperative Learning:¬†When I first started at this school, we had traditional desks in the classroom. When it was time to order new ones, the first grade team opted for tables instead. I love these tables! We have enough space for each table to have an extra chair or two. This is great for myself and the special education staff to sit with a child who may need some extra help. I knew when moving into flexible seating that getting rid of these tables was not an option. They are very new and I love having them. This year, I decided not to tape name tags in a spot. This way, students can move their seats as needed. Also, during a whole-group lesson, students that receive inclusion support can be grouped together accordingly. Each child has his or her own chair with a “pocket” that houses a lot of supplies.

Setting up for Success: For flexible seating, I ordered wobbly chairs, bouncy ball seats, wobbly cushions, lap desks, and yoga mats. I already had pillows and bean bag cushions that my talented seamstress mother made. I introduced one piece at a time to my class. I used Interactive Modeling from Responsive Classroom to quickly and effectively teach a routine and expectation for each piece of equipment. After I showed students how I expected them to sit in a chair, I asked students to notice what I did. I then had a couple of student volunteers model that piece of equipment and other students discussed what they noticed.  We came up with some agreed-upon rules. Each child signed our rules board and this is now hanging in the classroom.

Maintaining Consistency:¬†The main rule is that if a child doesn’t use the piece of equipment correctly, he or she is asked to sit somewhere else. Students are shown how to put the equipment away correctly and are held accountable for doing so. Some times during the day, students are asked to sit at their table seats for working. At other times, students are allowed to choose a spot to sit. Once they pick a spot, they need to “stick to it” (i.e., not moving around, changing spots, etc.). Most importantly, students need to get their work done. At first, I noticed it took students a little while to get situated. Now that we have been doing it for several weeks, students are able to quickly get settled.

My Major Take Away:¬†I think the major benefit of flexible seating in addition to cooperative seating (table seats) is that students have some choice in their day. They can choose where to sit. They choose on the fly. I do not agree with having students picking a spot with a clothespin the day prior. I think students should be allowed to have autonomy over their learning environment. Hence the term “flexible”. Their learning environment is flexible and organic in that moment.¬†Thanks everyone and happy learning!

~Jillian

Classroom Management, Flexible Seating

My Donors Choose Journey to Create a Flexible Seating Classroom

Flexible Seating. It’s all the rage now in classrooms. I have been thinking about incorporating elements into my classroom for a while now. I’ve been pinning ideas for a few years. I started small with ordering tables for my first graders instead of desks. Then, I hit a wall. I didn’t really know what to do next. I had asked about getting rid of my large, cumbersome teacher desk, but was denied. As more teachers in the building started talking about flexible seating, the more we worked on ways to incorporate it into our classrooms. I asked again about my teacher desk and was surprised by the answer¬†yes!¬† While I was at it, I got rid of a metal filing cabinet. I knew this freed up more space in my classroom and I was ready for the next step.

Donor’s Choose.¬†¬†A friend of mine had posted on her Facebook about receiving funding for her Donor’s Choose project. I had never known someone personally who did a Donor’s Choose. I thought to myself,¬†why not me.¬†I can certainly do this! I started researching a little more how Donor’s Choose works and de-bunked my own myths.¬†No you don’t pay for it yourself up front and then get reimbursed. No, you don’t have to be a low-income school. No you don’t need to be a Title-I classroom.¬†¬†Whew, I knew this would be a good fundraising avenue to venture down.

 

Creating a Donor’s Choose.¬†It was all very simple. The website walks you through each step and provides tips as you go along. First, you create and account and verify your email. You make a profile page of you as a teacher, including a picture. To start your first project, you will need to fill out a few paragraphs called¬†MY STUDENTS. This is where you get to be all mushy and write awesome things about your students. Next, you upload a picture of your classroom. I choose an active picture of my kiddos, that supported my project of needed flexible seating.

 

 

Creating a Project: Now, the fun part came. SHOPPING! ( I may have an addiction). Donor’s Choose provides you with a list of preferred vendors, like Amazon Business, Lakeshore Learning, Best Buy Education, Scholastic, and the list goes on. You can view the list of vendors here. The website states that 88% of projects under $600 will be fully funded. I love those odds! So, I aimed to keep my project under $600. I know I really wanted to focus on seating, since I already have a variety of tables in my room. One thing I really paid attention to and took my time figuring out:¬†dimensions!¬† I figure I’ve got one shot to make this right, so I want to make sure everything is the right size for my little learners. See below for a look into my cart.

 

Once you’ve added the items to your cart (you actually do to this, but there is no check out. It is sent to DonorsChoose.org for review), you are ready for the next step. You have to give THE WHY. You explain how you will use the items effectively for your students. You explain very explicitly the use of each item (remember, not everyone who donates is a teacher, so refrain from too much educator jargon). I choose to explain flexible seating using evidence from research. One of the first articles I had read on flexible seating was by Kayla Delzer, from Top Dog Teaching (love her. love her Instagram).¬† I included some of her findings in my quest to explain the benefits of having wobbly chairs and bouncy ball seats for some active first graders.

Oh, and I can’t forget. You have to choose a catchy title that clearly states what you’re asking for from donors. All of these steps on Donors Choose have examples that you can filter through for inspiration. Here’s mine:

Moving Into 21st Century Learning: Creating a Flexible Seating Classroom

Being Published: The (somewhat) last step is submitting your proposal to be approved by the Donor’s Choose team. The email I received stated that it could be up to 5 days before I hear back. It sounds like they will either approve your project or ask follow-up questions. The cool thing is they allow you to start fundraising right away with a¬†private link.¬† You can link your page to Facebook, Twitter, or create an email using their template. I have done the first two so far. Once I am published, I intend to promote further through social media (Instagram? Pinterest?).

I hope these steps have been helpful for anyone looking to try a Donor’s Choose project for the first time. I am very excited about the possibilities and will share my results!

 

Xoxo,

Jillian