In primary and intermediate classrooms each student needs his own picture file. "Free" pictures are lurking everywhere: old calendars, greeting cards, travel brochures, magazines, junk mail, newspaper ads, flyers, wrapping paper, banners, entertainment brochures, etc. Make sure you screen all the pictures yourself to make sure they're appropriate. I like to use photos, drawings, and pictures that depict people of all colors, sizes, shapes, ethnicities, cultures, and age groups. These picture files provide great resources for ideas and discussions, word games, critical thinking, explanations, sequencing, and especially VERBAL SKILLS and WRITING. When your students tire of their own pictures, have a picture "garage sale" and let them swap out with other kids. They can always opt to keep special pictures they don't want to part with.
These little boards are at Target, right up front where the inexpensive gadgets and toys are displayed. They're great for all sorts of ideas in the classroom. When you're asking questions that require one word or very short answers, students can write their answers and then hold their white boards in front of them, so you can easily see who knows and who doesn't. They're also great for learning letter formation. "Let's write the letter m." Pause. "Does yours look like mine? Show me!"
I keep a “Bag of Tricks” that is ONLY used when we have the little ones with us and are waiting at restaurants, doctors’ offices, etc. I keep it in the car, and I add new items when I find interesting things around the house, freebies, or things from discount stores. I can’t tell you how many times the Bag of Tricks has occupied grandchildren or visiting friends and kept them from getting into trouble. Some of the items can be used independently, and others are things that I can do with them. Where. Has. This. Been. All. My. Life?
This is an inexpensive, razzle-dazzle-sparkle idea for your classroom. I use plate chargers as picture frames for student work, special awards, parent gifts, bulletin-board displays, and class photographs. Plate chargers are in all the discount and craft stores, and right now is a good time to grab some because we’re nearing the holidays. They come in all colors. Many times you can find round and square ones for $0.99, but mine with the scalloped edges were $1.99 at Hobby Lobby.
Print colored pictures on cardstock paper, and cut out an 8-inch circle. Glue the photograph to the center of the charger. Use inexpensive stickers or paint pens to write a message on the rim of the charger. You can stick these to a display with Velcro tape, or drill two holes in the top and string them with ribbon. Voila! You’re in business. How cute are these? I want them in every color!
I wish someone had told me about this idea when I was in my twenties; it would have saved a lot of nicks and cuts over the years. Who said it? “Too soon old. Too late smart.” Rick and I keep a caddy for dirty knives next to the kitchen sink. Instead of putting them in the sink or on the counter where someone can accidentally get cut, we keep them here until the rest of the dishes are done. Then it’s easy to do these knives by hand and to be extra careful.
At an early age, kids need to develop a sense of place in the world, a feeling of companionship to other children and cultures, and to recognize that they have a voice. When confronted with any sort of need that has arisen out of a problem, disaster, or dilemma, no matter how small or big, a citizen of the world asks:
What can I do? What can we do?
Help your students to become citizens of the world, starting right in their school and neighborhoods. Remind them that even though they are kids, they still have a responsibility to their fellow man to reach out and make the world a better place in whatever manner they can.
Download the following PDF for excellent ideas on how to teach your students to become citizens of the world!
Use clip art or digital photos you take yourself to create sets of words for primary writers. If you produce the word cards by topic, such as Weather Words, Rain Forest Words, Musical Instrument Words, etc., you can match these to words on your word wall that are also grouped in sets. The colorful pictures help with memory and decoding.
Perky Pockets…you can’t teach without them once you try them. Perky Pockets are bright mini-aprons to hold your stickers, stamps, stars, jewels, sticky-note pads, hole punches, etc., as you walk around your classroom and want to validate or reward students. The idea for Perky Pockets came from my book Primary Pizzazz Writing, and teachers have been asking for them ever since. You can make your own, following the easy-breezy directions in the book, or you can purchase them at Lana's Loving Stiches. Lana Bays, a good friend of mine, has made gorgeous ones for the classroom, and they are the cutest things you’ve ever seen.
At a recent primary-writing workshop, I shared my 3-D alphabet card idea with the teachers at Pinecrest Elementary in Immokalee, Florida, and first-grade bilingual teacher Kasandra Gallegos took the ball and ran with it. To my delight, she shared these darling pictures of her first-grade students in their word lineups upon my return visit. I felt like dancing the Texas two-step! This is the kind of hands-on, interactive learning all children need for long-term retention.
To help her students master vocabulary words in English, she made photo FLASHCARDS, engaging her students as the cardholders and actors in the pictures. The children acted out the meanings of the words and did a lot of laughing and congratulating each other. They received sets of the flashcard words to keep at their desks as resources for reading and writing. The best news: Kasandra said EVERY CHILD in her class COULD NOW READ AND SPELL THESE WORDS! This is the kind of Teacher Spectacular we need in all of our bilingual primary classes. Olé! Trabajo bien hecho!