Sunday, July 19, 2015

Clothespin Shapes ~ How fun!


Ever notice how satisfying it is to work with wood? My kids love anything that uses clothespins. I stopped by the Dollar Tree last night and they had lots of bags for $1. Irresistible!

I made these little clothespin shapes and wanted to share them.   


My son and I had fun building shapes.    




But, it seemed like something was missing. So, I created these simple shape cards that students can build around. (The file is not in color. These are printed on colored cardstock.)
                                       






To download a copy of these shape cards, just click here or on any of the pictures. If you have any trouble getting the file to download, email me at Annegardner4@gmail.com and I'll be happy to send the file right out to you. 

** Getting the last clothespin into a shape is a little like closing the last side of a box . . .   

Thanks for stopping by!

:) Anne


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Have you seen this video? I think kids are going to love it!


I just discovered this video, "What Do the Letters Say?"  It gets kids singing letter names and repeating letter sounds.  It's upbeat and just makes me smile!  Have Fun Teaching even thought to introduce consonants and vowels as they created this video!  I'm so excited that I just have to share a few ideas for using it in the classroom.  (Click on the picture to view the video.) 

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1) Give each child an alphabet chart and a special pointer.  Have kids point at each letter as they sing and say the sound. 

2) Use an alphabet chart and a set of magnetic letters.  Challenge kids to match the letters as they sing along.  (Pause as needed to give kids a chance to catch up.)

3) Duplicate an alphabet tracing sheet.  Have kids trace each letter as they sing. 

4) To line up for lunch or recess, randomly give kids a letter card.  Have them come line up as the class sings their letter. 

5) Use this song as a BrainBreak.  Kids can hop up whenever they hear a letter that's in their name. 

Looking for an interesting link for your next newsletter?  Send the link to this free YouTube video home so kids can enjoy it at home with their families. 

Thanks for stopping by!  I'd love to hear your ideas for using this video.

:) Anne



Thursday, July 2, 2015


Which pencil is best? 
   
All of these contraptions have been highly recommended for various reasons over the years.  

Personally, I am blessed with horrific fine motor skills.  For many years, I thought this was a curse. (I started teaching back in the days when teachers were expected to write on a chalkboard on a regular basis . . . )

Technology has been my friend.  It's so much easier being able to project work onto a screen!   

I have grown to appreciate my tendency toward weak fine motor skills as this has helped me understand the plight of students who really struggle with handwriting. This often starts with basic letter formation - but continues throughout school as students are expected to write compositions of increasing length. 

So, here's my answer to the age-old question ~ Which pencil is best?

The one the writer is most comfortable using!
   
Giving students the opportunity to experiment with and choose between a variety of writing tools can really help enhance their ability to stay focused on writing tasks (for a variety of reasons).  Just for fun, here are some thoughts on some of the contraptions shown above: 

Recently, there's been lots of discussion about how small pencils (such as golf pencils) are better suited to little hands.  I've found it true that using small pencils deters students from using a "fist grip."  There just isn't enough to hold onto . . .  They are the pencil of choice for some students. I have also found that some students are more comfortable with a large pencil, particularly when a triangular grip is added.  



Other students prefer the use of a weighted pencil.  For kids who also need a fidget tool, I love the wingnut pencil.  Kids can earn washers, spacers and wingnuts as prizes. To collect hardware, I searched through our garage. You can also go to a hardware store with a pencil in hand. (You may end up with some small pencil shavings the first time the wingnuts are used.)


The second pencil down in this picture has a pipe cleaner (or stem) wrapped around it.  It can be kept in place using a rubber band above and/or below as needed.  Many kids love this texture - and it's also a comfortable pencil grip for some. This one happens to be wrapped around a mechanical pencil. 

The 4th picture from the top was a fidget pencil I purchased many years ago for a couple dollars.  It is visually appealing, but the wingnut moves so easily that I find kids wildly spinning it instead of truly using up extra (fidgety) energy. 

The bottom pencil is one of my favorites.  It's a golf whiffle ball on a regular size pencil.  (I had to use the file from my fingernail clippers to slightly enlarge the holes.)  If I have to write for hours, this is my tool of choice.  A number of students, over the years, have found that their hands do not tire as easily using this "contraption." 

Thanks so much for stopping by!  If you have a favorite writing tool, I'd love to hear about it!

:) Anne