Tools of the Trade

Scissors, tape, glue, hole punches, and… sticks?

Yesterday after school my children and I were collecting sticks, redwood cones, and bark that had blown to the ground in the autumn wind (cue new idea!), and today my students spelled CVC words with sticks in class. They could only use uppercase letters that consist of straight lines, although toward the end they figured out how to make straight “curved” letters, digit style. I should have known they would be that clever!

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At another table they made red and orange paper chains to show all the addition facts for making ten. I wrote the addends on white stickers with corresponding red and orange pen, then stuck the finished chains to the window frame for a lovely window treatment.

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At the third table they used a hole punch to make multiplication facts for three. Even though I was so excited about using my “spelling sticks”, I gotta say this one was my favorite. I love “Thirty Thursday”!

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New and Improved Number Wall

This year, for the first time ever, I am coding my number wall with stickers so we can count by threes, fours, sixes, sevens, eights, and nines. This is in addition to the color-coding I already do for fives, tens, and twenty-fives. For example, the threes have bee stickers, so we say, “When you count by threes, you count the little bees.” Counting is so fun!

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Fabulous Free Find

I came across these irresistible paint samples at Home Depot and snatched some up because I just *knew* I would use them. Here is our first project: color collages using the magazine clippings my students brought in for sharing (with paint samples as an introduction to each color)…

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I also used one as a birthday card for a Home Depot-themed gift for a 5-year-old. The gift, by the way, was a pail labeled with the birthday girl’s name in reflective letters, fancy duck (not duct) tape, a green party bulb, and metal (house #) 5.

P.S. Our Spanish teacher is using them as vocabulary flash cards.

What will you do with your paint samples?

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Montessori Glory

Montessori inspired my new Thirty Thursday centers, then my centers inspired some funky bracelets. Read on…

My husband and I went to a Guide to Montessori workshop at our boys’ school last week, where we learned more about the Montessori philosophy and specific activities for the Montessori classroom and home. I left feeling so happy about the environment our children are in, and very inspired for some new activities in my own classroom!

Every year I somehow seem to forget about the vast difference between kinders and first graders at the end of a school year versus a new batch of four- and five-year olds in September! I jumped in way over my head with the keyboard activity last week. Thanks to Montessori, I was reminded about the basics, and got some great tips for fine motor development activities which will aide in- my favorite- handwriting!

Center #1: Using teaspoons to scoop beads from fancy dishes to make various pattern bracelets (AB, ABC, etc.). Placemats to define own space and fine motor development for handwriting included!

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Center #2: Cutting a strip of paper into pieces, cutting fringe along an edge, and cutting on wavy lines (like trying to keep your car on Highway 9, we said).

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After this activity, a student said, “I want to make a bracelet!”, so we got taping! This would be the inspiration for my own version, which you’ll be seeing soon…photo 3

Center #3: Putting drops of glue on grey dots and adding a single sequin (taken from an ice cube tray) to each dot. Control, control, control! This. Was. SO. Fun. You can get my free Glue Dots download by clicking here. Or you could easily make one yourself. I’m planning on making dots in different designs (like hearts and stars) in the future.

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The next I took my boys to the fabric store to get creepy Halloween spider decorations. Then, with spiders in our cart, we took a detour to the ribbon section. Here’s what I came up with. I’m thinking of putting them on Etsy… just to see what happens.

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Oh, and HAPPY FALL 🙂

Cut & Paste Keyboard

My latest creation provides practice with letter identification, familiarity with the keyboard, and fine motor work… very fine! Students cut apart the letters A-Z and paste them on a grid to look like a real keyboard. This was one of those activities where I found myself thinking: what was I thinking (because of the paper scraps and the actual duration of the project versus the time I thought it would take). Have I learned nothing in the last decade? But ultimately, my students loved this project. Click here to get my keyboard. It’s free!



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