I teach “mapping” as a writing strategy to my college comp students. It’s a fun visual way for them to get their thoughts organized on paper, before they begin to write their essay.
A name map is a terrific way to introduce "mapping" to elementary students.
This is also a nice icebreaker for the first week of school and a great way to get to know your new students.
Children think of a symbol that represents them and draw that in the middle. I chose an apple as it’s sort of universal for school or teaching.
Branching out from the center symbol is a variety of things about the person such as hobbies, their favorite season, birthday, what they want to be when they grow up etc.
By having students use their two favorite colors to write their first and last names in the center of their object, everyone gets to know another “tidbit” about that person.
The completed activity makes a wonderful back to school bulletin board too!
Make sure you do a personal one of yourself, so that you have a sample to show your students as a way to explain things, as well as a means for them to get to know their new teacher. Includes an explanatory note home to families.
Sharing name maps is a nice activity to do after reading the story Chrysanthemum.
This is a wonderful back to school tale, whose main character is a little mouse named Chrysanthemum. She loved her unusual name until she started school and everyone began making fun of her.
My inspiration to do name maps, came from an art teacher’s “heart maps” that he did with his 4th graders at Riverside Elementary.
Click on the link to check out their awesome endeavors.
I hope you and yours have as much fun!
Click on the link to view/download Name Maps.
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“There’s few things as uncommon as common sense.” –Frank McKinney Hubbard
"They may not be easy to see, but these are 5 things I want you to know about me!"
That's what the sentence says at the top of the paper.
It's a quick and easy icebreaker for the first day or first week of school, that’s a terrific writing prompt for September, and fun way to get to know your students.
When completed, they make a cute back to school bulletin board too!
Make sure you do one yourself, so you have an example to share with your students, so they know how to do the assignment, as well as get to know their new teacher!
Older students can draw their own self-portraits in the blank oval.
Remind them that this is just a section of their face from the nose up, or even just their eyes.
They should color their hair and eyes to represent themselves.
I find that younger students are less overwhelmed if they have some sort of template to follow and have a bit more fun with the activity if they don’t have to start from scratch.
You also won’t have to listen to whining: “I can’t draw a face; or “I don’t know how to draw.”
Little ones also tend to draw a tiny circle instead of a big one, or they draw an entire stick body.
You can include the template in your “Welcome to school summer letter” or Open House packet, and have students return them on the first day of school, so they can share with their new classmates right away.
Another plus of doing it this way, is that parents can help little ones write down the 5 things.
If you don’t do a summer letter or before school starts Open House, hand them out the first day of class and send them in backpacks for a home-school connection to be returned in the next few days.
Gather little ones on the floor in a circle and have them practice coming up and sharing in front of their new friends.
Older students can stand up beside their desks and read their list.
No matter what my students’ ages, I always have them applaud each child’s sharing. This is a big deal for many “shy” kids.
Writing in different colored markers jazzes things up.
If you have the time, turn this into even more of a keepsake, by tracing your students’ handprint on flesh-colored construction paper. Fold it over and cut once for 2 handprints.
Glue them “holding” the paper in such a way that they can "flop" open to reveal the paper.
You can punch a hole in the top and hang them back-to-back and suspend from the ceiling or line them up as a cute border, just below the ceiling in the hallway.
Click on the link to view/download 5 Things Icebreaker Portraits
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"By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn." -Latin Proverb
The Very Hungry Student is a fun way for students to write down what they have learned each month.
Because it records their accomplishments, it’s a terrific way to build self-esteem.
Because students write in it each month, you will see improvement in their handwriting, as well as their writing abilities, so the booklet is a good addition to a portfolio, if you have them, or tuck into a student folder, to take out and share with parents during conferences.
Practice reading the simple rhyming sentences, after students complete their page, so that at the end of the year, children are able to read their booklet when they take it home to share with their families!
I have a cute caterpillar with a face for one cover, but you can make this even more special, by having students glue their photo over his face for a “student caterpillar” instead.
Because this is a quick and easy writing assignment, that students can do independently, it makes a nice Daily 5 activity too.
If you don't do Daily 5, keep the booklets for your writing center.
They make a great writing prompt for the first day of school, as there is a page specifically for that.
Because there is a page for each month, you could start out September and each month, with The Very Hungry Student's page as your writing prompt for the month.
For an activity that helps students with verbal acuity, gather children in a circle and have them share that day’s page by reading it to their classmates.
At the end of the year, you can discuss what everyone’s favorite thing was that they learned, or their favorite month of activities. If they overlap, graph them.
A little bit of science is covered, as the very hungry caterpillar is "bursting with knowledge" and turns into a butterfly, flying into the next grade.
In June, (s)he is once again a fat little caterpillar, promising to slim down over the summer, so they are ready to fatten up and gobble down more knowledge, in their new grade!
Click on the link to view/download The Very Hungry Student booklet.
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I hope you can pop in tomorrow for another back-to-school idea!
"Stop trying to fit in, when you were born to stand out!" - Dr. Seuss
Using Chicka Boom Boom To Help Teach A Common Core Standard
You might have noticed that any item in the shopping cart, that has to do with learning the upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet, now has Common Core RF:K.1d in the description.
I ran off a copy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Kindergarten and First Grade and am going through each standard and then finding all of the items on my shopping cart that will help teach that standard and labeling it with that standard.
Since I have so many items that help teach upper and lowercase letters, I thought I’d start there.
I hope teachers will find this helpful. I also want to make positive affirmation cards for you, as well as take a crack at assessments and certificates when students pass the standard.
I plan to work on this each day throughout the summer. I feel there is a real need out there for this information, as there are only a handful of states that haven’t jumped on the bandwagon and teachers don’t have enough time to prep all of this.
I hope to have the shopping cart cataloged by the end of summer. It would be so helpful, if you are downloading an item, because you find it will be helpful for a specific CCSS, and you see that I don’t have it marked, if you would please take a moment to shoot me an e-mail and tell me what standard you are using it for.
It’s a bit labor intensive for me, because there are no standards for Y5’s, so I never had to worry about them.
I’ve been spending lots of time doing research online learning about Common Core and picking my teacher friends’ brains. Anyway….thanks in advance.
One of my hottest downloads that teach CCSS RF:K.1d is my Chicka Boom Activities packet.
This packet is great for the first week of school and a fun way to help your students learn about their classmates, as you include their photo on the coconuts and write their names in alphabetical order in your first class book!
I LOVE the Chicka Boom books; they were certainly a favorite read aloud for my students, and are perfect for back to school.
Click on the link to view/download the Chicka Boom Activities packet.
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"Dear teacher. I like to talk to everyone, so moving my seat won't help."
It's All In A Name...
Part of the excitement of the first day of school for teachers, as well as the children, is meeting all of the new students! I try to make learning everyone’s name fun. So I do several activities that involve names. There are several report card standards that the Y5’s have that revolve around their name: being able to recognize it as well as write it, so they’re not only learning each other’s names, they are practicing standards. Woo-hoo for a first day win-win!
Have students sit in a circle.
Decide on a fun “movement pattern” like clap twice, pat knees twice.
For older students you can add snap fingers twice too.
Say the following after the movement:
_______________(child's name) ______________ (child's name)
How do you do?
Who's that sitting next to you?
Child says name of person sitting beside them.
Count to 3 slowly and if they don’t know then that child says their name.
This is also a fun and easy “busy activity” while you’re doing those crazy little “have-to-get-done’s”, or assessing to see where children are at.
I hope you got some name ideas to use for back-to-school.
Do you have a name tip that you’d like to share?
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly...) So everyone can keep smiling!
Our principal required that each teacher have a handbook for their classroom. I included mine in my Open House packet. Click on the link to view/print all of my handy handbooks.
When I first started teaching elementary, I was coming in as a high school teacher. It was difficult for me to “dream up" all of the handbooks and handouts that were required for the beginning of school.
That’s why I post them all on my website. I was grateful to Stephanie, a Y5 teacher, who lent me her handbook so I had a skeleton to start with!
Hopefully mine will jumpstart your brain and you can tweak them anyway you want; at least you're not reinventing the wheel and hopefully this will be a real time saver for you, especially if you are a beginning teacher.
I find all too often tho’ that parents are inundated with “paper mountain” from the school and have little time to read “everything”, so I made up this cute little ABC checklist to cover my main points and send it home with my students the first day of school. I feel that “short and sweet” is more apt to be read.
You can tweak mine to fit your needs. To help you do that, I’ve included one that has some of the information blank for you to type, cut and paste.
You can send this home the first day, tuck in your Welcome to school summer letter/packet, or your Open House packet.
Click on the link to view/print My ABC’s Of School Info Sheet
I hope this helps you get YOUR personal “paper mountain” of back-to-school “stuff” into a mole hill!
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"The really great man is the man who makes every man feel great." -G.K. Chesterton
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"I am not a teacher, but an awakener." -Robert Frost