Circle and Erase ... {An Easy Game}


I love when something is so easy and engaging.  I honestly have no idea why the kids like this activity so much, but I'm not complaining.  It doesn't require the printer, the copier, or the laminator, so it's all good for me.  

And I wish I had a fancier or more clever name to share with you, but we just call it the "Circle and Erase" game.  (And, psst, it's not actually a game.  There are no rules and no losers.  But the kids think it's a game, so yay!)

This group of kids is working on recognizing letters and sounds, so I write random letters on the easel and then begin with the circling prompts:

"Circle the a."
"Circle the m."
"Circle the letter that comes after d."

When they're finished recognizing the letters, we take turns erasing them based on a given sound:

"Erase the letter that makes the sound /s/."
"Erase the letter that makes the sound at the beginning of hat."

Yep.  That's it. 

But the kids love it.  It's as fast-paced as you want it to be, so it's perfect for a quick little warm-up or review.  

And if you come up with a better name for it, let me know.  

Until then, happy teaching!

Laser Tag in the Classroom

My students really LOVE using these "Loco Lasers" to play laser tag in the classroom.  They're easy to find in the pet section of most discount stores or pet shops.  (I found these at Walmart for only $3.97 each... which is a lot better than at an office supply store where they can easily cost between $14 and $30 dollars!)

I usually use them in a small group setting as a warm-up activity, but I've used them with the whole class, giving one person per team a laser and then having them take turns using it to respond to the questions.  

Right now, I'm working with a small group of kindergarten children who are learning how to recognize and name the letters of the alphabet.  I placed letter cards randomly on the wall and then gave each a laser.  I can simply say:

"Tag the letter K."

Or I can elevate the challenge a little and ask:

"Can you tag the letter that makes the sound /t/?"

Or I might say:

"Tag a vowel."
"Tag the letter that comes after O."
"Tag the letter that makes the sound at the end of the word mop."

You can really "tag" anything though.  We often play "Word Wall Laser Tag" where I challenge the kids to tag certain words on our word wall:

"Tag the word have."
"Tag the word that rhymes with bike."
"Tag the word that makes sense in this sentence."  (Provide a sentence with a missing word.)

You can write numbers on the board and ask kids to tag the answers to quick math facts:

"What is 3+4?  Tag the answer."
"What number comes before 9?"
"How many sides does a triangle have?"

Want a low-prep idea?  Students can tag objects you already have in the room:

"Tag an object that rhymes with rock."  
"Tag an object that begins with the /d/ sound."
"Tag an object that has 3 syllables in it."
"Tag an object that is shaped like a circle."

Be creative... the options are endless.  But definitely get a few of these for your classroom.  You won't believe how engaged the kids will be for these activities!

Happy teaching!

The Balanced Teacher: Purple Cows

What are Purple Cows and why do you need them in your lesson plans?  Take a look as I share a few highlights from chapter 12 of Justin Ashley's book The Balanced Teacher Path.

Happy teaching!  :)

The Balanced Teacher: Thank You Notes

This is a simple, but powerful, idea for helping you achieve happiness at work... and it comes from Chapter 10 in Justin Ashley's book, The Balanced Teacher Path.  

It's about writing thank-you cards.

But it was born out of frustration.  

(Like so many of our good ideas, right?)

And it kind of goes like this:  In a nutshell, Justin found himself becoming increasingly challenged by a disruptive student... a student who blurted out constantly... a student who was continuously a distraction during lessons.  One day, after a completely interrupted lesson, and while deciding how to redirect this student, Justin walked to the back of the classroom, thinking he'd surely come up with a new (or old) way to deal with this student.  But as he stopped to think, he noticed every (every) student was working productively on the assignment.  

(Well, every child but the one.)

He realized he was spending a lot of time thinking about one problem and maybe missing the bigger picture... the majority of the class was doing the right thing.  

He writes in this chapter, "The biggest problem with calling out a student isn't the distraction they cause for other students.  It's the distraction they create in you.  Deal with them quickly and turn your attention back to where it belongs: on the good stuff."

So, he invited his little chatterbox to work outside the room and then had the idea of writing thank you notes to the other students.  The response was powerful and not only did it impact the students and their families positively, it also shifted Justin's focus to the good things happening around him.

Note:  He was only able to write a few notes during that time, but it became a teacher-habit of his.  His tip?  Keep track of who you're giving cards to and how often.  Without giving false praise, be fair and make sure everyone gets acknowledged with a note at some point.  

I think that's part of achieving balance in this profession.  We have to be intentional about remembering why we became teachers because knowing that is the key to staying motivated and feeling purposeful.  Without those feelings, we can easily feel under-appreciated and become burned-out.

He ends the chapter by reminding us, "In life and in class, don't let the bad outshine the good."

How do you maintain an attitude of gratitude?  What strategies do you find helpful for focusing on the positives? 

The Balanced Teacher: Part 3

Teachers... It's time to take your weekend back!  

(Unless you're one of the lucky ones who never gave it away. And, if so, tell us your secrets!)

In this video, I share the author's ideas for being intentional with your weekends, so you can rest and re-energize for the week ahead of you.  It's also about striking a balance between your professional life and your personal life, making time for yourself and your family and friends.  

Check it out and comment below:

1.  What do YOU do during the weekends?

2.  Do you PLAN your weekends or freestyle?

3.  What are some of your favorite family field trips?

I think it's so important to protect your weekends as much as is reasonable.  Let's get a conversation going and help each other out... share your experience and your best tips in the comments.

Happy teaching!

The Balanced Teacher: Part 2

The Balanced Teacher Path by Justin Ashley

I really liked this chapter (I hope you will, too) because it's about BTFs... or Best Teacher Friends!  Having a really good BTF can help you create balance in your professional life.  And who doesn't need a little more balance?    

• Do you have a BTF at work?  

• What makes this person your BTF?

• How does that relationship positively impact your teaching life?

If you'd like to share your thoughts, leave a comment below for others to read.  Who knows... you might even find a BTF here! 

Happy teaching!

Fun Fall Pinterest Boards!

I'll be the first to raise my hand and say, "Yes, I miss the sunny days of summer."  But there is something fun and new about those first fall breezes.  Autumn sort of marks the beginning of all my favorite holidays... they're right around the corner! 

I have 5 GREAT Pinterest boards that are loaded with ideas, lessons, games, videos, and more for some of the big "themes" or holidays coming up soon.  You can click on each board to go directly to it or follow my whole Pinterest page HERE.

Happy teaching!

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