Sunday, January 31, 2016

Kindergarten: Active Listening Skills Lesson

One of my favorite annual core-curriculum lessons for kindergartners is a listening skills lesson. It's not complicated, simple to implement, and the kids LOVE it!! I tend to do this lesson at the beginning of they year because it sets the tone for my listening expectations each time I come into the classroom over the course of the school year.

First, gather students in front of you and teach them active listening skills. When they are being "active listeners" they are hearing what is being said, thinking about what is being said, and ready to answer questions and talk about what is being said. I display this Carson Dellosa poster and ask students what they notice about the student that makes him a fantastic active listener. As students name each item on the poster one-by-one, I turn to the group and expect to see the same behavior (as they sit on the floor). While this student poster is the one I use, there are some other poster options...this Monster one by Carson Dellosa or this Whole Body Listening by Wilson and Sautter. I do use the Whole Body Listening poster for the older grades in my small support groups!

I use this book: I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie in the next part of the lesson. Prior to the lesson and using clipart on the computer, I make small versions of each item of food that is talked about in the story. The side of each picture is about 5x7 and is mounted on cardstock and laminated for durable student use. Each student in the class needs at least one of the food item pictures, so be sure to make enough ahead of time! Also, make one larger picture of each food item mounted on cardstock and laminated. The size for these is roughly 8.5x11. These pictures should look the same as the smaller ones - just bigger. I have mounted magnets on the back of mine to easily display on a magnetic easel!

This book works out well because I typically do this lesson in November before Thanksgiving. However, there are a number of other books that would also work and might fit the time of year a bit better for you: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves, etc.

During the lesson, I tell students that I want to see for myself just how good their active listening skills are. I tell them that in a few minutes I will be reading a story about a yellow squash, pie, turkey, pot, ten layer cake, bread, apple cider, roll, salad, etc. As I name each of these, I hold up the large version of each so the kids can hear the name of each item. Then, I hand out a smaller food item picture to each student after giving them explicit directions on how I expect my materials to be treated. As a challenge, give students more than one picture. Also, I make sure more than one student has a picture of the food item. For example, 2 students have the salad and three students have the apple pie, etc. 

I tell the students that as I read the story, they must carefully listen. When they hear me read the word of the picture they have in their hands, they are to hold up their picture and show it to me.

Then we practice! I name each of the food items - holding up each of the large food item pictures and watch and monitor as the students hold up their smaller versions. Then, I begin reading the book - again watching and monitoring the students as they hold up the picture of the food item they are holding - as I read it in the story. 

PLEASE NOTE: There is a line in the story "Perhaps she'll die....." - I DO NOT read this line and I cover it with my fingers when I show the pictures. Also, as I start the story, we discuss how this story is make believe!!

After I'm finished reading, I systematically collect the pictures and direct students to return to their tables - showing me the active listening skills we learned about today and saw on the poster. If I remember my camera, I might take a picture or two of students who look just like the student on the poster. After I print those photos, I will hang them in the hallway for models of active listening!

Have fun teaching this lesson!!

Graphics and fonts by:

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Toilet Paper and Potty Posters

While attending Rutgers University (many, many years ago) our Resident Adviser would disperse important university and dorm information by hanging a sign on the back of the bathroom stall door. The sign included important, fun and educational information. All these years, I thought this was a clever way of keeping folks informed. Where else do you have someone's undivided attention? Introducing my version of these collegiate signs which are hung in our staff bathrooms.

Toilet Paper is the informational, educational and fun sheet. The fonts are from Kimberly Geswein.

Each Potty Poster is an inspirational, motivational, or funny quote to get folks thinking or to uplift spirits. The fonts are from Kimberly Geswein and graphic backgrounds are from Mad Scrapper on Etsy.

Each issue of Toilet Paper and Potty Poster comes out every 2-3 weeks. 

Toilet Paper contains the following sections: 

  • A Message - either a message from me, a story,or a photo
  • Uber Facts - random facts I pulled from Uber Facts on Twitter
  • Random Acts of Kindness Challenge - kindess ideas to attempt over the next few weeks
  • Healthy Tips - just that - healthy tips found via Twitter, Facebook...wherever
  • Tweets - Twitter Tweets that stuck with me and are worthy of sharing
  • Stay Current - current educational news
  • Tech Tools - handy technology tools
  • What's Happening - upcoming community events with locations, dates, times and contact information

I purchased these SourceOne Deluxe Sign Holders 10 Pack from Amazon and these Command Strips from Amazon. We have four staff bathrooms -2 sign holders and 8 command strips per bathroom. I print each Toilet Paper onto colorful Astrobrights copy paper. This Astrobright set - called Happy - from Amazon is my favorite (I use this paper for everything school related).

I have received such positive feedback from my staff! Amazing how something so small can be enjoyed and appreciated so much!

As my gift to you, get the first 4 Potty Poster signs by clicking below. You can download and print these for free! Future signs will be sold in my blog shop. Check out Kimberly Geswein's amazing fonts by clicking here!

Please note: Use my idea as a springboard to your own idea! While Toilet Paper and Potty Posters are my idea - you can come up with your own name for these documents and create a version that makes sense for your school. Enjoy!


Saturday, September 05, 2015

Stay Hydrated!

Usually the products I post about have something to do with the services we provide to our students, staff, and families. This post has nothing to do with "school stuff"....but I needed to share with you because as educators we are so busy and don't always get to grab a drink when we need one or when we'd like to. We are in the "talking" business and my-oh-my, does my throat get dry - especially at the beginning of the school year when I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. If you are looking for a new travel mug and/or water bottle, I wanted to suggest the following.

I wanted to end my frequent stops to pick up a coffee on the way to school, but, my travel mug was useless in keeping my coffee hot. The coffee was often lukewarm by the time I arrived at school. So, in search of the perfect travel mug, I came across this 16 oz. Zojirushi SM-KHE48NL stainless steel mug in Champagne Gold. The past two days I've filled it up at 7:00 a.m. and my coffee was still hot after lunch. Usually I finish my coffee much quicker, but I've been so busy the past few days that my coffee took the back seat. This item works! It is a bit on the pricey side, but does the job and will save me money in the long run. It is smaller than I thought it would be, but holds the perfect amount of coffee each morning. It easily fits in my car cup holder for my trip to school.

Likewise, I was in search of a nice-sized water bottle that would keep my water cold all day! I was so tired of drinking lukewarm ice water in the afternoon. So, I purchased the 24oz. Hydro Flask stainless steel water bottle in Green Zen and tried it out this week. It was in the 90's here and my office has been about 91 degrees the past three days. In my eyes, this was a true "coldness" test. I filled up this bottle with ice and water at 7:00 a.m. three days this past week. As of 8:30 p.m. each day I had a little bit of water left inside. I couldn't believe it, there was still ice in the water bottle and the water was still cold!!! Again, this bottle is a bit on the pricey side, but will save you a ton of money if you are a bottled water purchaser. The opening on the top is a bit, only small ice cubes will fit.

Stay hydrated and enjoy!


Saturday, August 29, 2015

YOU ARE Bulletin Board -- Follow-Up

I've been asked by many to show a photo of the finished product of my YOU ARE bulletin board hanging in my school hallway. Here it is!! Clean, simple, and refreshing...I think! 

While I was hanging it up, it sparked a conversation with a staff member who was enjoying the positive message. It got me to thinking - if someone is having a difficult day (students or staff, etc.) then maybe one glimpse at this board will remind that person what a gift he/she is and lift his/her spirits. Never know....

Another quick tip...find a local printer who will print out your projects for you at a minimal cost. I have a wonderful printer down the street who allows me to email my files to them, I tell them the size and paper for each piece, they print the document for me in color or b&w, and I swing by and pick up the order (and pay for it of course). So, when I sent this project to be printed I asked for the YOU and ARE pages to be printed on 11x14 gloss stock, one side full color and the rest of the pages in the file on 8.5x11 gloss stock, one side full color. The bigger YOU ARE signs made that stand out and the gloss stock prevented me from having to laminate everything (it's shiny). I find it way cheaper than using my printer's color ink for projects like this!!

You can get your very own YOU ARE bulletin board by clicking on the here or on the photo below. It's all ready for you, just purchase, download, print, and hang. That's it...instant inspirational bulletin board!


Click on the graphic below to purchase this bulletin board!