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Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games

I have been fascinated with the brain and how it works for years now. 
 
I do a whole lot of reading about the brain. I have a ton of books about the brain and learning. I follow several online journals and newsletters, and make note of any articles that have something to do with the brain and how it works.
   
Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.


Here are some of the things I've learned about the brain:



Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

1. Practice Makes Permanent! We know that “Practice Makes Perfect” is a fallacy since we know if a child practices something incorrectly, he learns it incorrectly.  Whatever they practice needs to be accurate so the child learns it correctly. (I’m sure you know how hard it is to break a bad habit!) Games can be played over and over, giving the children plenty of opportunities for practice! 


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

2. Practice with Feedback is even better!  As the 
children work in pairs or small groups, the teacher or the partner should immediately say the correct answer if it’s not given. That feedback is essential! I emphasize partners checking answers during game playing.


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

3.  The Brain is a Parallel Processor! Brains are 
much more likely to remember something if the learner 
uses more than one process.  If the children are 
looking at the fact, saying the fact out loud, and making gestures or moving manipulatives on the tens frame, 
they are more likely to remember the information than if they just looked at it. I expect my students to say say facts out loud during game play.


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

4. Brains Need Social Interaction!  When children work together, they are keeping the brain happy. Social interaction is HUGE when it comes to learning! 

Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.
5. Emotions play a big role in memory! A little healthy competition gets the blood moving, bringing oxygen to the brain and helping the memory do its thing. They sure love to win! (But make sure they know how to lose as well!)

Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

6. Brains remember patterns! If you organize information 
by patterns, it helps! An example might be learning math facts by fact family or sight words by word family. These two fact fluency sets are based on patterns.  Brain Friendly Addition and Subtraction Fact Fluency and Brain Friendly Multiplication and Division Fact Fluency


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

7. Brains remember colors!  Seriously! Using color 
helps the kiddos remember! The above fact fluency systems are color coded for better learning!


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

8. The Working Memory can hold 2 to 4 chunks of information at a time! This is why I suggest starting many games with just some of the cards, not all the cards at once!


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.


9. A little bit each day is more productive than a lot, 
once a week! I like to spend 5 minutes a day with 
math facts games, 5 minutes a day practicing sight words games, etc. This is so much more valuable than a half hour once a week!


Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

10. Music helps the brain organize data! It is recommended that appropriate background music is played during practice times. When possible, play music during game time! It really makes a difference!

Some other blog posts about games:

Ten Easy Learning Games -  Here are some easy ways to make learning fun, and all you need are some games you probably have on hand!


Playing Math Games to Strengthen Important Skills: This post tells why it's important to play math games, and has some suggestions on how to teach them and what to play!

Practice Makes Permanent and Games Make it Fun! Sometimes kids just need to drill something until they've got it. This blog post describes a fun game that makes practice more fun! (Plus a freebie!)

A Fun Way to Review Basic Information: This is a great end-of-the-year, beginning of the year, or anytime game, with suggestions on how to use it.


Strengthen Math Skills - Some information about how games strengthen math skills, and ideas for games, including 2 freebies!



Doesn't this make you want to play games?




Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.




Ten Reasons My Students Play Lots of Games - This post gives reasons based on brain research on why students should be playing games in the classroom.

Quick, Easy, and Honest Feedback!

Brain research tells us that honest feedback is essential in order for learning to happen. Common sense also tells us that children need to know if they're on track.
 
 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!
 

I make a point to give honest feedback whenever I can.


On written work, I use 4 highlighters: red (or pink), yellow, green, and purple.
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

Here's how it works:

 
If I highlight the child's name in green, that means they're doing just what's expected, they're right on track!

If the child's name is highlighted in yellow, that means he's on track, but needs to be careful about something. (I usually write a little note to let them know.)

If the child's name is highlighted in red (or pink), that means stop! There's a problem here. (We usually have a little conversation.)

But there's one more: if a child's name is highlighted in purple, that means his work is above and beyond expectations. Purple represents royalty, so I'll often bow to these children! 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

For most papers, like homework, the only mark I make is the highlight at the top of the paper. Sometimes I'll focus on a specific skill, and make a note and highlight about that topic or skill. In the spelling papers below, I focused on the correct formation of the lower case m.
 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!
Then, of course, I'll find a little something spectacular that a child has done, and I'll make a point to make a purple star right on that part of the paper. 

I often hold up these papers for the children to see. The next day, many children are doing the same thing on their papers. It's amazing how happy it makes the children to get a little positive attention!

On the paper below, I've made purple stars for children showing their work in math. 
Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!

Well, there you go! It's easy to remember. It cuts back on my correcting time AND it gives the children the honest feedback they need! 
 

I hope you find this bright idea helpful!


Quick, Easy, Honest Feedback: Here's an idea that will save time in the classroom, make your life easier, and give the kiddos the information they need to grow!


Do I Add or Subtract?

Brain research suggests adding movement with words in order to help the memory.

Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.
 
Many children struggle to remember when to add or subtract when they read math story problems. I decided to add some movement to help the kids remember when to add or subtract.

When we talk about an addition story, I have the children gesture one arm out and reference the first set. Then they gesture the second arm out and reference the second set. Then while we ask the question, we swoop our arms together into a plus sign, and say "How many all together?" or "How many in all?" The motion of bringing both arms together into a plus sign while saying the words really helps!

Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.
  For subtraction, we start by gesturing a set in one arm. Then the second arm swoops away part of that set, making a minus sign with the arms.

Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.

Finally, for a subtraction comparison story, we gesture being a scale, balancing a set on each hand while saying, "How many more?" or "How many less?"

Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.

These gestures seem rather simple, yet with a few repetitions, the children remember them when they are doing word problems. In fact, I've had children come back to me long after they left my class and tell me how glad they are I taught them these gestures!

 It helps if you have fun math stories for the children to practice with. Here are a few themed math story problems to make the practice a little more fun!

 
Do I Add or Subtract? This post includes some brain based ideas for adding movement and gestures to help children figure out whether to add and subtract when solving math story problems.




Learning About New Hampshire!


What better way to learn about your home state (and the nearby states) than reading in a fun book?

I've joined up with a group of bloggers for Booking Across the USA!
I was lucky enough to be involved in this project last year (See THIS blog post) and I couldn't wait to do it again!

For more about the Booking Across the USA Project, click the image below or click HERE:


This year is particularly cool, since we got to use these books, thanks to Blue Apple Books!
I shared Travelin' the Northeast with my class, and it's adorable! Each book represents a section of the United States, and has a page about each state, along with facts about that state. The best part? There's this cute little dog named Charlie that's on every page, and they absolutely LOVE searching through each state for Charlie!

Here are some of the facts we learned about New Hampshire from this book:

  • The first free public library was established in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
  • Tupperware was invented in New Hampshire.
  • The alarm clock was invented by Levi Hutchins in Concord, New Hampshire in 1787.
  • Alan Shepard, the first US Astronaut in space, was born in Derry, New Hampshire November 23, 1923.
  • Plus, there are some cool pictures on the map page of New Hampshire that give us more information about the state!
  • Brain research tells us making connections to the arts help children remember.
  • Most teachers have these around their classrooms:

If not, they're easy to find!
How about these?
Pipe cleaners are easy to find! If you put these two
materials together, you can make something like this:

Here's how it works:  Each time a child can share a fact about one of the states they've learned, they get a new bead for their bracelet. As they build up beads, they can go through the beads, remembering each of the facts they have learned. The beads are helping the memory!

Another way to use the beads: Attach another bead to the bracelet for each state the children can find on the map!


5 Resources for Earth Day

My Earth is pretty important to me! 

It's my home, and it's the home for my kids (both biological and students) and their children. If we make the effort, we can make our Earth and its resources last!
 
 
5 Resources for Earth Day - books, videos, freebies and resources to celebrate Earth Day in the primary classroom.

I plan to make the whole week all about protecting our Earth and its resources.  Here are some of my plans:

1.  Literature! I always use plenty of literature whenever I teach a concept.  Here are some great books that tell what happens if we don't take care of our Earth: (Click image for a link to Amazon for more information about these books.)
     

Here are some more books to bring Earth Day awareness:
         

2. Resources! Here's what I'll be using next week to tie Earth Day into reading, writing and math in my second grade classroom: Earth Day No Prep

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Earth-Day-No-Prep-Activities-for-Literacy-and-Math-1206273?utm_source=Earth%20Day%20Blog%20Post&utm_campaign=Earth%20Day%20No%20Prep

These Earth Day Math Story Problems are a favorite! 

5 Resources for Earth Day - books, videos, freebies and resources to celebrate Earth Day in the primary classroom.

3. Videos!  Speaking of Youtube, there is a wealth of information out there, and some of it is pretty good!  Here are a few I've found that are great for Earth Day:









4. Be a Role Model! If you want the kids to do what they can to protect our Earth, you need to show them how! Let them see you reduce, reuse, and recycle! I always warn my students not to use more than their share of paper, not to waste materials, and not to let the water run. They see me being careful about using paper. I even print on both sides whenever I can! If a paper has print on one side, I save it and put it upside down in my printer to use again. We have a recycling box in our class for paper, and save paper scraps, especially construction paper that can be used again on other projects! I also make a point to mention when I see a child being conservative with materials.

5. Freebies! Here are a couple more Earth Day freebies!

Here's a freebie for students to write about their Earth Day plans: EarthDay Writing Paper

 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Earth-Day-Themed-Creative-Writing-Paper-5462544?utm_source=EarthDay%20blog%20post&utm_campaign=earth%20day%20paper%20freebie

This freebie is a song to the tune of Take me Out to the Ballgame! Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reduce-Reuse-and-Recycle-Song-for-Earth-Day-235776?utm_source=Earth%20Day%20Blog%20Post&utm_campaign=Earth%20Day%20song

Can you tell Earth Day is important to me? 

Happy Earth Week!


5 Resources for Earth Day - books, videos, freebies and resources to celebrate Earth Day in the primary classroom.



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