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The "Summer Games" are Complete!

I made it through the last week of school by celebrating the Academic Olympic Summer Games. (See THIS POST)

 
The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!
 

We had an exciting week, starting with our Opening Ceremonies!


We marched up and down each hallway with our flags and banners. The Olympic torch led the parade, and the American flag was at the end. (The USA was the "host country"!) Other countries include: Japan, Italy, France, Mexico, and Canada. (It just so happens I had flags to represent those countries, and a very old CD that has the National Anthems of each country, which was needed for the medal ceremonies! We came back to the classroom, read the Academic Summer Games Oath and Creed, and said that famous phrase: 

"Let the Games Begin!"


The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!

I wish you could see the pride in their faces!

We had many medal competitions during the week. Yes, medals were given daily for behavior, plus there were competitions in sight word reading, math facts, group scoot games, memory games, and brainstorming games. We recited the creed daily, along with the Pledge of Allegiance and our school's promise!
The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!
For a freebie copy of this, and a few other related items, check out this resource: 
 

Their banners and some of their medals:

Canada!

The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!

France and Italy!

The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!

Japan and Mexico!

The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!

Honestly, there were double this many medals by the Closing Ceremony!

I think everyone's favorite part was when we had medal ceremonies, which was a lot!
The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!

The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!

Yes, I actually let the kiddos stand on desks!
Again, I wish you could see the pride in their faces!

Finally, it was time to "sail home", from the U.S.A. back to Japan, Italy, France, Mexico, and Canada! The children made ships from milk cartons and various "S.T.E.M." materials and set sail.
The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!

I confess, I didn't get any pictures of the real ships they decorated. This photo was from a Summer Themed Week we had a few years ago, that you can read about HERE. Their ships were far more colorful and elaborate! I couldn't be prouder!

A few other "Olympic related" resources that might interest you:

 

The "Summer Games" are Complete! This is a review of a week's worth of Academic Olympics to end the school year, including a freebie!


Academic Summer Games! A Celebration of Learning!

This is our last full week of school, and we'll be celebrating learning by having Academic Summer Games!

Academic Summer Games! I love to keep the kids busy by adding a little bit of friendly competition at the end of the school year. This post gives plenty of fun ideas on how to do this!

My goals:
  1. Have fun!
  2. Give the kids a taste of what the Olympics are like!
  3. Give the children some experience with some of the different countries all over the world.
  4. Review skills from the year!
  5. Liven up these last few dreary days!
  6. Promote teamwork and positive feelings.
  7. Promote individual self esteem
  8. Grab an opportunity for some Project Based Learning.
  9. Did I mention having fun?
Of course, the real Olympics start in August and will be over before we come back to school in the fall.  But I'm a huge fan of the Olympics, and rather passionate about Social Studies as well. What better way to learn about different countries from all over the world?

Here's my plan:
  1. Form 5 groups of 4.  Those students will choose a country to represent, design a banner to represent that country, make a flag for that country, and pick a color to wear on the days of "competition".
  2. We'll start with a "parade of athletes" around the school.  Each "country" will carry its banner and flag, and will proudly display their colors.  
  3. Then we'll hold a number of "events".  I'm thinking a few scoot games, like these, perhaps a "read-a-thon", brainstorming contests (How many nouns can you think of in 60 seconds?), math facts contests, a S.T.E.M. project (something to do with water that can be done outside!), physical contests (How many jumping jacks can you do in 60 seconds?)
  4. After each ceremony, hold a "medal ceremony" for the winners.  I'm thinking some events will be group events, and some will be individual events. Yes, I actually own a CD of national anthems, so I'll play the one that goes with the country they represent, while they display their flag/ banner.
  5. If necessary, I'll come up with my own events, to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to be a winner. (Most people wearing purple?)
  6. Send them home with smiling faces and stories to tell.
Brain research tells us that emotions play a big role in memory. Contests and competition get the blood pumping! Brain research also tells us that the social part of learning is essential. This will include quite a bit of movement, music, artwork, and opportunities for everyone on every team to show their strengths. According to brain research, this will touch on many important points.  

Here are some books with Olympics themes: (Each image is a link to Amazon for more information.)
                                                   
What do you think?  Have you ever done anything like this?  Do you have any ideas for "educational contests"?  Any ideas for organizing it all?

I'm looking forward to your input!

For more ideas and details of my Academic Olympics, as well as a freebie, see THIS POST.






Six Years Ago Today

Stroke

Six years ago today, I had a life changing event.  It wasn’t necessarily a good one, but it changed my life forever.

On May 29, 2010, I had a stroke.

Luckily, I look fine. You'd never know just by looking at me.

Although, honestly, sometimes I think if I were somewhat maimed or deformed, people might be a tad more compassionate. There are actually people who think I’m just lazy and using the stroke as an excuse.

I much prefer to think of myself as a fighter. Or a survivor.

The stroke affected the left side of my body. You know that “pins and needles” feeling you get when you fall asleep on your arm? That’s what I feel ALL THE TIME. When I first had the stroke, it was my entire left side. I could actually draw a line down the middle of my face. Luckily, it has subsided some, but it’s still there. I have some “hot spots": my left elbow and my left knee, where the “pins and needles” feelings are the most intense.

My left side is super sensitive now. If you brush against my left side, it’s extremely uncomfortable for me. There are many of those “touchy-feely” types that have to touch people when they talk to them. In an effort to be polite, I try not to scream, but honestly, once someone has touched my left side, all I can concentrate on is NOT screaming, and I’ve lost pretty much everything they’ve said to me.

After the stroke, I went to Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy for several months, in an effort to get certain muscles working again. We made a little progress, but there are parts that will never work again like they used to.

My left hand is unable to grip things like it used to. I can hold things for a short time, but it takes a good deal of concentration, and it starts to hurt real fast. Blow drying my hair, putting on necklaces, or going through a drive through are some of the things that are very difficult now.

I can’t lift much anymore because of weakened shoulder muscles.

I can walk just fine, but I have trouble with balance because of weak core muscles. If I walk on soft or uneven turf, or have to turn quickly, I will lose my balance. Unfortunately, when I lose my balance, I look like I've had too much to drink. It's very embarrassing, not to mention all the bruises I wear all the time!

The hardest effect from the stroke has been the constant fatigue.

Before the stroke, I used to perform in a lot of musical theatre productions. We had rehearsals several times a week, often with very physical demands. I also was in an adult tap dance group. I was busy often after school, going from one rehearsal to another performance, both on weekdays and weekends. That was my release at the end of the school day. It’s what I loved to do for myself.

Since the stroke, I have trouble getting through the school day. I wouldn’t dare make any plans for after school. When I’m done with my daily school work, I go straight home to rest and relax.

I use weekends to catch up on my resting.

Want to read a good explanation of the fatigue? Google “The Spoon Theory” at http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/category/the-spoon-theory  

I am certainly grateful that I never hesitated to enjoy life when I had the opportunities.

Luckily, I have a job I love, since I really don't do much else besides my job.

I have a wonderful man in my life who is very understanding of how tired I get.

And I found a hobby I can do sitting down: blogging!

How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning?

 Kiddos sure have a hard time sitting for long periods of time, don't they?
 
According to research, they shouldn't! So how can we let them be active, yet keep them learning?
 
How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning? Here are three ideas to keep them moving AND learning, and even having some fun, too!
 

 Clearly, the answer is... have them learn standing up!


I've got a very active group of kids this year, so we've been learning in a variety of positions all year!

Here are some ways we can keep moving as part of their learning:

1. Have them move as part of the learning! For example, when we learn to spell a new word, the kids "dance" the words. For each tall letter, we stand tall with our hands in the air. For each medium sized letter, we put our hands on our hips. For the letters that go below the baseline, we squat with our hands on the floor. A couple of my students really enjoy the "dance" concept, and have added a hip movement as we spell and dance out the words. I'm all for making it more fun! 

2. Brain breaks! Sometimes children need a break FROM learning, and that's fine. But it's possible to add a physical break that's also part of the learning! For example, in math, the children could do "wall push ups" while counting by fives... or reciting math facts. When sharing a story with the children, the children can take a walk as if they were one of the characters in the story.

Here's a little freebie with some Social Studies and Science related Brain Breaks!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Science-and-Social-Studies-Brain-Breaks-Freebie-1983266?utm_source=blog%20post%20on%20active%20students%20&utm_campaign=s%20and%20ss%20brain%20breaks


3. Scoot! Scoot is an active game where children move from desk to desk answering questions or performing tasks. It's fun to play any time of year, but I find it particularly necessary as we get to those last few weeks of school.  Here is a blog post explaining how to play Scoot.

 
How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning? Here are three ideas to keep them moving AND learning, and even having some fun, too!

Keeping these ideas in mind, I've made a couple of new resources! Each resource has an informational text with 10 text based questions, 4 text based sketches for drawing, and 6 text related brain breaks. These are perfect for Scoot, or simply as task cards for those kiddos that need to move. Explore the links below if you want more information!







 Keep those kiddos moving!


How Can I Keep My Active Students Learning? Here are three ideas to keep them moving AND learning, even at the end of the school year!

Organizing the Class Library

I've struggled with keeping my classroom library organized for years.


Organizing the Class Library: Children aren't always careful when it comes to putting books away. Here's an idea to help them learn to be responsible!
 
The kids are in such a hurry when they put books away, the tubs often look like this:
 
Organizing the Class Library: Children aren't always careful when it comes to putting books away. Here's an idea to help them learn to be responsible!

If you look closely, you'll see that not only are the books a mess, but hardly any of them go with the topic Information Books About Sports! Hopefully, the reason they're in such a hurry is because they're excited about the other books! (One can hope!)

What do I do?


I have the kids re-organize the books!

Yep, about once a month, I take about a half hour of my reading time to have the children re-organize the books. 

Yes, as you guessed, at first it's chaos. But once I get them going, it's amazing!

The Benefits:

1. The children learn to organize books.
2. The children have ownership of the book tubs.
3. The children learn the find the author of the books on the cover and on the title page.
4. The children usually find interesting books they didn't realize were in the classroom library!

Plus, the tubs now look like this:
Organizing the Class Library: Children aren't always careful when it comes to putting books away. Here's an idea to help them learn to be responsible!


Help! Teaching is Stressful!

Let's face it. Teaching is stressful. In so many ways! In fact, teaching brings on the worse kind of stress: chronic stress!
 
Help! Teaching is Stressful! Here are 10 of the dangers of chronic stress, and 20 things we can do about it!
 
Taking care of a whole classroom of little ones (or big ones) who all need attention and help is pretty draining!

Not to mention testing.

Not to mention all the other things that we are required to do that has absolutely NOTHING to do with children and teaching!

OK, venting is over. 

But seriously, here are some of the dangers of chronic stress.
Help! Teaching is Stressful! Here are 10 of the dangers of chronic stress, and 20 things we can do about it!

Dangers of Chronic Stress:

1. Chronic stress can cause cravings for sweet foods.
2. Chronic stress leads to excessive fat in the abdominal region.
3. Chronic stress has been linked to back pain. 

4. Chronic stress can make a person more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke.

5. Chronic stress can cause hair loss.
6. Chronic stress can cause an imbalance of microorganisms in the gut, leading to digestive problems.
7. Chronic stress can interfere with sexual function.
8. Chronic stress affects hormone production, causing fatigue and inability to handle stress. 
9. Chronic stress weakens immunity.
10. Chronic stress causes premature aging. 

Sounds scary doesn't it? All is not lost. There are plenty of things you can do about all that stress!
 

Help! Teaching is Stressful! Here are 10 of the dangers of chronic stress, and 20 things we can do about it!

Strategies for Coping with Stress

1. Identify your stressors.
2. Meditate!
3. Spend time with friends!
4. Exercise!
5. Color! (I'm sure you've seen coloring books for adults!)
6. Hug! (Seriously, Science proves this helps!)
7. Experience Nature!
8. Religious rituals!
9. Acupuncture!
10. Aromatherapy!
11. Sing!
12. Dance!
13. Kiss!(See THIS post.)
14. Listen to music!
15.Enjoy a hobby!
16. Chew Gum!
17. Laugh more!(See THIS post.)
18.  Take a break!
19. Get extra sleep!
20. Express your gratitude!

Good luck taking control of your stress!


Help! Teaching is Stressful! Here are 10 of the dangers of chronic stress, and 20 things we can do about it!



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