Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lego Therapy

Here is another great activity I heard about at the teacher in-service I attended last month. Lego therapy! Here is an excerpt from another site "Research has shown that during play therapy, Children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behaviour, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others". 

Of course I went to Target the next week and puchased 3 boxes of the small 50 - 60 piece Lego puzzles to do a little experimenting with my own kids. I explained to the kids what it was we were going to do. I explained each job title and the job duties of each of those people. I then assigned 1 box of Lego's to each table of 3 students and one staff. As you can see from the picture above 

Each table consisted of:

A Supplier - He is in charge of the parts
An Architect - He is in charge of the plans
A Builder - His job is to build the model 
And of course an aide who's job was to gently "guide" them.

Here's how it works:

The architect (he's holding the directions) is to explain the part he needs to the supplier (white flat piece with 4 dots) who then provides the part to the builder. The architect then explains to the builder where the piece needs to go according to the directions. Some of it really took some explaining and I think it's important that your architect be pretty social. My aides were only there to step in and inform one of them of maybe a better way to give directions to their group. I also put my lower boys as the suppliers as I am pretty sure they wouldn't have been able to do the other jobs our first time out.

It was amazing how much better the kids got as the time went on. It pretty much came to the point where my aides weren't having to speak at all. The kids were able to finish each of the boxes within about 40 minutes and were really proud of what they had built! 

My plan is to do this every 2-3 weeks rotating the boxes in their groups and possibly some of their jobs. I love their team work and the fact that they are verbally having to relate to each other in order to finish the task. I am curious to see how it goes each week and how the are progressing. I'll keep you up to date.

Have a great weekend,

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cooking Eggs, 5 Ways!

I haven't done any real cooking with the kids due to the new rules laid out for us at the beginning of this year. Last week during a conversation about table manners and the importance of thanking the person that cooks for you, I noticed that even though I have had parents telling me their kids help cook at home, according to me kids, and what they know, they do not appear to at all. Another reason why I wish I could continue the cooking classes we used to have. 

So today I taught a cooking class. I didn't allow them to help, they sat in a semi-circle in front of me and we talked about what I was doing in each step. We would also pause to write the steps on the board. First we hard boiled, then fried, then scrambled, we made a cheese omelet, then made deviled eggs with the eggs we had hard boiled. You will have to forgive my omelet, I am totally out of practice and it probably could have used another egg for the size pan I had as there was NO flipping that thing!

We have been watching Youtube videos of people cooking all year when I find a good one that's appropriate. This was so much better as they were right up in there and we could talk about each step and they could ask questions.  Luckily no one even asked to try anything which made it a lot easier for me to not have to say no. Apparently eggs are not a hot ticket item with my kids. Oh, and my two female aides guessed 20 and 30 minutes on how long to boil an egg!!!! One said she was even going to go home tonight and do it for 3 minutes to see for herself, lol.

Now, I am going to ask this which I know is going to make me so jealous, but.... Do you do cooking classes with your kids at school? Do they/you have a favorite thing to cook?

FYI... I put a bulletin board up in the kids lunch room today that count's down the days left of school this year, and guess what?  We have 60 more days!!!!

Have a great week,

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baggie Money Count

We do some sort of money lesson each week, and they can get so mundane at times.  Now that we are 3/4 of the way through the year I find myself searching for new fun ways to deliver the skill. Today during my lunch, I was racking my brain on what money lesson I was going to do with them this afternoon. A worksheet, money games, something on the projector, small groups??? My money eggs came to mind as the kids really enjoy doing that activity box. It just so happened that a co-worker had borrowed some of my sandwich bags earlier in the day and when I saw them sitting on the cabinet I thought "money bags". I spend the next 10 minutes numbering and filling 20 baggies for our lesson! 

Here's how afternoon class works in my room. When the kids come back from lunch, I give them about 20 minutes of free time to finish up anything from the morning that wasn't completed or to just hang out with their classmates and draw or play games with my support staff. At the end of 20 minutes I play one song for my girl (if she hasn't lied). This song is kind of like our "time to clean up" song. Then I play one song for my boy who knows EVERYTHING about music. He actually gives me his list Monday mornings for the whole week. When it's time for his song to play I inform the kids how much time they have until the song ends, and everyone knows, they need to be seated and ready for class at the round table by the time the song is over. It's almost like a game, but it works!

Ok, back to the money bags. I handed each students a lined piece of paper and had them write their name and number they paper 1 - 20. The bags then got dispersed around the table and they were to open a bag, count the money, write the answer on their paper that matched the number on the bag, put the money back in the bag, and pass the bag clockwise. I had one aide sitting between two boys that required a little help and another aide that worked with two boys and they counted together with her as they require more assistance. It took about 40 minutes for most of them to complete the lesson. I was surprised that they stayed incredibly engaged the whole time as well. Sometimes it's hit or miss, but this was definitely a hit! Now to start thinking about what to do next week!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Adventures from the Book of Virtues

I have a student in my class who lies. She comes up with the most amazing stories. I am not sure if they are memories from her past, things she has seen on tv or stories she has heard about from someone else. 

We have been working on this for over a year and we have had some major improvements. Her currency, music. Our deal is, she doesn't lie all day, and she gets to pick a song we will listen to after lunch. This is a BIG deal to her and about 3 - 4 days a week this works. I still almost daily have to remind her, when I see the wheels spinning in her head, to think before she speaks so she won't lose her song. Her reply usually "I will talk to you later", lol. 

I was telling the story to my kids the other day about The Boy who Cried Wolf after an incident with our sweet girl. I went online to see if I could find maybe a reading of it in Youtube and that is where I stumbled on this amazing little video. I watched it during my lunch to make sure it was appropriate for them and then again with the kids when they returned to class. I did stop the video a few times to see if they were keeping up with what was happening and also to explain integrity a bit. The kids were glued to the screen and we had a great discussion afterwards. It's not just the story "The Boy who Cried Wolf" it is about a boy who lies at school about his project and gets caught up in his lie. It then goes to the "wolf" story then back to the original kids. I noticed many more similar videos posted from Jay & Jay friends that I thought the kids might enjoy as well. 

This weekend I have spent a bit of time watching a few of the other videos I saw, and I am excited to fit them into my curriculum. Cartoons that teach social skills, what a win win in my book! There are so MANY to choose from! Click on this LINK to find the list of video's they offer. 

Here are a couple: