Saturday, May 29, 2010

Summer Slide

Summer Slide is the phenomena that occurs when kids are not working very much on academics over the summer vacation. They typically lose at least 2 1/2 months of learning, which means next year's teacher will have to review those concepts before introducing new ones, which means we all begin the year behind. A few suggestions:
1) Start a book club for kids. Invite their friends, cousins-choose a book read it aloud and then have the kids discuss it the way grown-ups in book clubs do. Make it as child-centered as possible. It can even be you and your kid in a tent in the backyard or in beach chairs by an inflatable pool-go with the theme of the story.

2) You don't just have to read books. Recipes, backs of DVD's, comics, magazines-it's all reading. They should still be reading every day.

3) Plant a garden and use it to review science concepts. Measure how tall the flowers got, journal their observations.

4) Speaking of journals, why not make a summer journal. Buy a simple composition book-they can write about their adventures and even save souveniers from trips, etc.

5) Read a chapter book and compare it to the movie. There are so many books that have been made into movies over the past few years, even 2 movies of some. Have the child take part of the story and rework it-give Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a different ending. Change part of the plot and then invent what would happen. What if Despereaux never got out of the dungeon? They can do a puppet show or anything to show their ideas creatively.

Yes, have vacation-the kids do still deserve a break. But to prevent the loss of any academic knowledge, give them opportunties to apply some of the great things they've learned!


Since getting a puppy last year, I can compare a lot of dog training techniques to what I do in the classroom. I know that sounds funny-but my trainer actually gets a newsletter entitled "Teaching the Whole Dog" (like the "whole child"!).  My dog is unquestionably GT and one of those kids who looks for things to get themselves into if you don't challenge them enough. She has probably at least 50 toys and bones-but she doesn't want to play with any of those. Now take one and put it inside the other, fill one with treats or just tie 2 of them together and well, it's a whole new toy.

Kids are the same way. They love novelty in the classroom. They will notice if you change the posters or hang something from the ceiling. If you let them read with a stuffed animal and then one day give them sunglasses with the lenses popped out-well, that's a whole new workstation! We have to remember these kids spend 9 months of the year looking at the same scenery, using the same materials. We have to do what we can to shake things up every once in awhile and make learning exciting for them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Giving Kids Inspiration

Inspiration is a big concept for kids to comprehend. My kids just completed their final class book and wrote about who inspires them. I received responses from moms to Martin Luther King, Jr. to our principal to sharks.  All of them could justify how those people were something they aspire to be.

I stole an idea from my neighbor teacher (she's phenomenal- what I want to be when I grow up). She put pictures of famous architecture out with her block station to inspire the kids with ideas of what they could build. Of course, we encourage them to create something, but this gives them ideas to spark that creativity.