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Showing posts with label concentration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label concentration. Show all posts

Five Reasons for Children to Read "Out Soft"

My students read "out soft" for many reasons in the classroom.
Five Reasons for Children to Read "Out Soft" This simple strategy can help children in a variety of situations in and out of the classroom.

First of all, I'll bet you've already figured out the meaning of "out soft." Although I made up the term, the students understand what it means right away. I'll introduce this idea at the very beginning of the school year, and make sure the students know that reading "out soft" means the children are able to hear their own voice as they reads, but wouldn't disturb the person sitting next to them. An adult might call this "barely audible." As you might have guessed, it's the opposite of "out loud," which requires volume and projection. You might call it whispering, but the term "out soft" is just more fun!
 
We practice. Some children, by nature, struggle with turning down the volume and turning off the projection, but they do get it.Once they get it, they are empowered!

 
This little trick has helped many little ones. Plus, it has helped me as well! Sometimes directions are hard to understand, but I've found that when reading those same directions loud enough to hear yourself, they can make a whole lot more sense! Seriously, how many times has a child come to you confused about written directions... then you ask the child to read the directions to you, and suddenly they'll say, "Oh, I get it!"  Works like a charm!
 
 
I always start reading groups with a warm up. The children are trained to arrive at the reading table, choose one of their books, and start reading "out soft." This not only prevents down time while waiting for the stragglers, but it gives me a chance to listen in and do some assessing. Sometimes I'll give them something specific to warm up with. 
 
Studies show reading words in phrases increases fluency, so I often have the children warm up with these phrases: Fry Sight Word Phrases One little hint: be sure the sight words are easy for the children so they can build the fluency when practicing them as phrases.
 
These sets are similar to the above, using different lists. Reading Warm Up Phrases
 
 
As you know, many children struggle to concentrate on independent reading. They are distracted by just about anything, including their own thoughts. I find having these children read "out soft" really helps them pay attention to their reading!

Reading with a peer is a wonderful strategy that should be used frequently in the classroom. Think about it, 50% of the children are all practicing their reading skills, while the other 50% are listening and guiding the readers. It's a win-win! Plus, the children love it! But when all the children are interacting at once, they'll need to be reading "out soft!"
 
When children hear themselves, it helps the memory. This works with word reading (see #2) as well as important science facts, and even math facts! When I use these practice cards with my students, I encourage lots of repetition, but I also encourage the children to say the entire fact "out soft." Fact Fluency Practice Cards
 
 
This same system is available on Boom Learning:  Boom Learning Fact Fluency System Bundle

How else can children learn by reading "out soft?"


Five Reasons for Children to Read "Out Soft" This simple strategy can help children in a variety of situations in and out of the classroom.

Dramatics in the Classroom

Children learn in many ways. 
I'm particularly partial to the arts. 
Research on the brain proves that the arts make strong connections with the memory. 
Today's post is about one of my favorite arts, dramatics!


There are many ways to use dramatics in the classroom, and many reasons to do it!  Here are some of the "whys!"


Yes, it's true. It's a great place for those shy kids! It sounds odd, but seriously, when you give a shy kid a character to play, they really come out of their shell! Did you ever hear that many movie stars are actually introverts? It all makes sense!

Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!

Reading scripts gives the children practice with reading skills. And, of course, children need to learn to speak clearly. Dramatics give them plenty of opportunities to practice speaking in front of others!

Actors depend upon each other when performing. If someone misses a line, that affects all the others. Therefore, if all team members live up to their responsibilities, they will all be successful.

Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!


When pretending to be a character, children need to put themselves in the shoes of the character, and think about how that character feels. They learn empathy!

 Actors must pay attention to the script and focus on what is happening in the performance.  


Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!

In the context of a performance, problems always arise. Children easily solve these while working together toward that common goal: a successful performance! 

Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!

Both verbal and nonverbal communication are important when putting on a play! Children learn to show their feelings with and without words. 

Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!

When children put on a skit or a play, or act out a scene, they work hard together toward a common goal. That's the kind of thing that builds confidence and self-esteem! When it's over, they beam with pride!


Now that we understand why dramatics are beneficial to children in the classroom, here are some ways to fit dramatics into your busy day!

Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!
Not only is it fun to act out stories of the past, but as the children act out different parts, their movements settle into their memories. I often had my students act out the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, including saying goodbye to loved ones, the constant rocking, eating the ship's food, sea sickness, (they loved that part) seeing a newborn baby on the ship, and sighting land. As I described each detail, they went through the motions, and were totally engaged in the trip! The best part? They remember it because they were physically involved as well as emotionally involved.


Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!

Similar to the above, but this one doesn't have to be from factual information. It works particularly well with group read alouds, or if a group is all reading the same book.  It might sound something like this, "Show what Wilber's face looks like when Charlotte wove her web." Or maybe, "Show Max's face when he realizes his dinner is still warm."
Having to recreate these moments helps them build empathy and develop feelings for the characters in their stories.


Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!

I remember having to memorize a list of vocabulary words every week. Do I remember those words now? Not many of them! Acting out the words makes them real. Plus, it works across the curriculum! Yes, even math!


Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!
Encourage writing stories that have characters having conversations! Kids are so creative, they might enjoy a writing prompt that encourages unusual "personalities" having a discussion, for example, "What would your pencil say to your paper?" or "What would your desk say to your chair?"  This really gets them thinking about conversations and personalities.


Reader's Theater is a favorite of the students as well as the teachers! Why? The kiddos like it because it's fun! The teachers like it because it incorporates so many important skills: reading, speaking, thinking, building empathy for others, and working together, to name a few! 

Here are a few Reader's Theater resources for you to explore:


Here's a series of character Reader's Theater where the children make up the ending:

Here's one more fun resource that the children love, especially when they can make up a voice for each character:

I hope you enjoy using dramatics in the classroom as much as I do!


Dramatics in the Classroom: There are many reasons to use dramatics in the classroom, and many ways to use it. This blog post explains HOW and WHY to use dramatics in the classroom!

Space Balls: Build Team Building and Community as Well as Imagination and Concentration!

Space Balls: 

It sounds like something odd, but it really is as simple as can be!
 
Space Balls are balls that are made up of nothing but space!

Space Balls: Here's a quick game that children love, that develops team work, concentration, and imagination. Plus, it doesn't require any materials!

Space Balls is a great game for team building, but also works on focus, concentration, and imagination! It works well in morning meeting, or any time of day they need a break.

Space Balls: Here's a quick game that children love, that develops team work, concentration, and imagination. Plus, it doesn't require any materials!

To start, establish what a space ball actually is: a ball made of space! Since you can't see the ball, it's important to show the size, shape, and weight of the ball by the way you hold the ball. 

Space Balls: Here's a quick game that children love, that develops team work, concentration, and imagination. Plus, it doesn't require any materials!

Then, slowly pass the space ball around the circle. 
Students should watch to see that the ball maintains its size and shape. 

For many students, that's enough for the first time.

Later, or on another day, introduce a "new" space ball, and review the concept by passing the ball around the circle again. Make the new space ball somewhat different from the first one. (smaller, heavier, etc.)

When the ball completes the circle, it's a good time to break the group into groups of 2 or 3 to play catch with the space balls. (Have some fun passing out space balls to each small group! Encourage their creativity by asking what sort of ball they want, then slowly taking that ball out of your "box" for them to see!)

Another option is to toss the space ball to someone across the circle. (See photo at top.) In these cases, remind the children to show the size and shape of the ball, remembering to maintain the size and shape.

Space Balls: Here's a quick game that children love, that develops team work, concentration, and imagination. Plus, it doesn't require any materials!

On another day, introduce the idea of changing the space ball. Model squishing the space into a very small ball, or stretching it into a very large ball. The space can also become quite heavy (grunting is encouraged) or it can become quite light like a balloon. The students' hands and body language should always show the size, shape, and weight of the space ball, so their partner can follow. 

Space Balls: Here's a quick game that children love, that develops team work, concentration, and imagination. Plus, it doesn't require any materials!

Now it's time to let the children be creative: pass a space ball around the circle, letting children change the space ball any way they want to.  The students should be very clear in taking the space ball from the previous person, maintaining its shape, then showing the group how they are changing the space ball.

 I'll bet you (or your students) can think of more variations of "Space Ball!" 
Can you think of a way to include curriculum concepts?
Please share these variations in the comments!

You might even see them playing it at recess time!
 

Looking for some other team building games?  

 

Looking for something that can be used for socially distant or remote learning? 




Side note: the teacher in the photo above is my daughter playing space balls with her students at summer music camp! She has her own blog, Me vs Rent!

Pass the Clap - A Fun Game for Team Building!

A couple of years ago, I learned a fun circle game called "Pass the Clap". My kiddos really love it, and it's got many benefits!
 
Pass the Clap - A Fun Game for all ages! This is a great game for team building. with many benefits in the classroom, and plenty of giggles, too!
 
1. It's a nice break from the regular routine.
2. It helps the children learn to work together.
3. It forces them to focus and concentrate on each other, and the game.
4. It's been known to create giggling children. 
5. It works well with all ages, preschool through adult!

If you don't believe #4 is a benefit, you'll have to read THIS post about how laughter is healthy!

So here's how to play:

To pass the clap, you must make eye contact with the "clap receiver", then clap.
That person passes the clap to the next person, and so on. 

There are a few varieties. We start simple.

1. Pass the clap, one by one, all the way around the circle.
2. Pass it around the circle, then reverse and bring the clap back to the starting point.

My students like to time how fast it takes for the clap to get around the circle. Then we time it again and see if we beat our previous time. (Which usually brings a celebration!)

A couple more variations:

3. Anyone can change the direction! This certainly livens things up!
4. The clap can be passed across the circle.

This last variation really requires focus and concentration, and plenty of team work! The children do rise for the occasion, and it's totally amazing!
 
Side note: some people don't care for the name of this game. Feel free to change it. Since I work with little ones, the name is not offensive and it's very clear.

If you like this team building game, try some of these: 60 Team Building Games and Activities.

Pass the Clap - A Fun Game! This is a game with many benefits in the classroom, and plenty of giggles, too!




Don't Blame Santa!

I've heard a lot of teachers blaming the holidays for the struggle many children have in school this time of year.

Don't Blame Santa! Here are some reasons why the children struggle this time of year. It's not really Santa's fault!
 
I suspect it's not the holidays that are making it tough for them to concentrate. I think it's a couple of other things.


1.  These little guys have been pushing since August! They've had a couple of long weekends, but they really haven't had a real vacation! They're due for a break!

2.  The days are short. They get up in the dark. By the time they get home from school, the sun is pretty much down. Not only are they not getting outside to let off steam, but so much darkness robs them of Vitamin D, and makes them sleepy!

Some of my little guys can barely hold their heads up during the day! 

I had a little girl today looking lost, so I asked her what she was looking for. She said she couldn't remember. (I admit, I do that all the time: walk to the other side of the room, then can't remember why I walked over there, but I blame old age!)

Honestly, I think the holidays are the only thing that hold them together! The promise of fun activities, Santa's watching to see if they're good, seasonal literature and games... there's still some great learning happening, despite their low concentration.

They'll be back on track after a good rest. We have almost 2 weeks off coming up, if we can make it through 4 more school days!

...but I'm not blaming Santa! He's the one who's helping them hold it together!

Don't Blame Santa! Here are some reasons why the children struggle this time of year. It's not really Santa's fault!
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