Something new to my classroom this year was the purchase of a class set of mini whiteboards. My students were extremely chuffed to receive their very own whiteboard marker and couldn’t wait to get started incorporating these ‘new toys’ into our lessons and activities.
It’s been so liberating for them to be able to participate instantly in class discussions by writing or drawing their ideas, instead of wearing out their raised arm waiting for their chance to speak. They simply hold up their board and I am able to acknowledge their contribution and classmates can simply see each other’s thoughts.
Instructional teaching sessions have become much more engaging and dynamic with these boards in my students’ laps. So far we have used them for brainstorming, history timelines, scoreboards, maths quizzes, class voting, note taking and summarising.
To top it all off, it’s been an excellent way to reduce our use of paper in the classroom!
I first heard of using these mini whiteboards through UK educator, Dylan Wiliam, and am on the look out for more innovative uses of these amazing little tools, so please share!
I am lucky enough to have the very talented Mrs B working in the room next door to me. Each week she is determined to create a new and exciting play space for her Kinders and ‘playgroup’. Often the play spaces are left for a few weeks with subtle changes, maybe the animals change or something little is left for the children to discover. This week she focused on frogs but some horses crept in too! For the babies we found some great bead mazes from our local tip shop and pom-poms with cardboard rolls! It is true as early childhood teachers our occupation is play.
These beautiful, rustic creations were undertaken as a First Week of School activity. Students were asked to construct their first name initial out of sticks from the playground and then wrap them with colours and patterns of their choice.
Such a straight-forward sounding activity in fact evolved into a lesson in problem solving, patience, perseverance, collaboration, cooperation and knot tying. Upon completion of my 1000th knot for the day, I felt I had got to know my new students quite well – those who could cope with challenge and those who needed more guidance; the perfectionists and the more abstract thinkers; those who could tie a knot and those who could not…
The end products were well worth the effort!
The excitement builds every Friday afternoon in anticipation of…the selection of the new Museum Curator!
We pull out a name and then the space belongs to them for the following week. Students are able to display their collections, interests, artworks, artefacts and so on. The curator gives us a guided tour and their classmates love to point out all the personal connections they have made. It’s been powerful way to get to know each other.
Some curators provide labels, or even informational handouts. Some change their display a number of times during their week. It’s all up to them!
This Easter is a little different from others… Because now I have a toddler! Evie is almost 2 and right into anything messy. My aim today was to create a few Easter drawings for her great grandparents. We ventured into painting with brushes and using the most fabulous drawing product I’ve come across, Crayola Twistable Slick Sticks. Painting was great fun but wow it covered me, her and the deck! The crayons were a delight and although a little messy they were so smooth to draw with. The slightest touch and they produced beautiful marks. Crayola suggest using them on all sorts of surfaces. I experimented with them on tin foil and they shimmer; perfect for Rainbow Fish art? Might try that at school.
How do chameleons change colour?
It turns out this question in very complicated! Our students had all sorts of ideas, from what they eat to the colour seeping into their feet… We watched the animation of The Mixed Up Chameleon by Eric Carl and then used Sharpie black markers and Kindergarten Food Dyes to create beautiful chameleons. We chose to use the dyes as they have such vibrant colours and are easy to apply.
Although they may look like glued together piles of junk, rest assured our students were immensely proud of their Push and Pull Machines. In yet another Scrapheap Challenge, this one at the commencement of our science unit on forces, students’ teamwork skills were put to the test to design a device which incorporated both a push and pull force.
Miss M’s Grade 4 class were learning about contact and non-contact forces. As a tuning-in activity, students were given a paperclip, a magnet and a shoebox lid. Their design brief was to create a maze for their paperclip to travel through, guided by the non-contact force of the magnet. Of course, things got pretty creative straight away with water jumps, tunnels, bridges and race tracks incorporated into plans. This exploration phase of the lesson raised many questions for the budding scientists, which they later went on to test (Will the paperclip make it up the slope with a stronger magnet? Will magnetic force work in water?). They only had 20 minutes to complete the task, but they would have happily worked on their designs all day.
We studied the fact that all living things are made of cells. We looked at lettuce leaves under the microscope and were inspired to create crayon and dye wash artworks of their findings.
If your students are anything like ours, they love to use paper hand towels by the truckload. For a more sustainable solution, invest in some cheap face washers (or better still just cut up some old towels). These can be used over and over and require a wash or soak in the sink every few weeks depending upon grottiness levels. They’re also ideal for the art studio where students can use them for wiping brushes between colour changes.