Category Archives: Classroom Mgmt

Winter and Christmas Brain Breaks

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If you are a teacher, no matter what age group, you will know the frustrations of the time leading up to the Christmas break! Yes, it is a time of festivities and excitement and these are the exact reasons for the frustrations. Teaching ANYTHING during this time is difficult challenging impossible. Students are so busy day dreaming about the magical happenings going on in The North Pole, or whether the marshmallow they left in their mom’s bed by accident constitutes as being “naughty” or whether or not to give Tommy a Christmas gift without it being too obvious of the feelings involved.

Winter and Christmas Brain Breaks

These last few weeks can give even the coolest, calmest and most collected teachers a few extra grey hairs. It’s not exactly the right thing to give in to the excitement and proclaim that the two weeks leading up to Christmas break is  “Movie Time,” (although I do know some teachers who did *frown*).

To help to prevent you from falling into ‘that’ group, I have compiled a list of fun Christmas/Winter brain breaks that can be used as soon as you see your students drifting off into a world of elves, tinsel and cookies.

These YouTube videos offer lots of fun with movement to music. To me there is nothing better that jumping up and moving to a catchy tune to get the blood pumping and the brain juices working! Have a look at the links provided below:
Just Dance Kids 2 – Jingle Bells is a simple yet effective dance routine for younger students. The same movements are repeated so students will catch on quickly.

Winter and Christmas Brain Breaks - Teaching 2 Step

The Dancing Christmas Tree is also perfect for young children. The words are simple and repetition gives students an opportunity to learn them quickly and easily to sing along with the movements.

The dancing Christmas Tree

Jingle Bell Dance. This version of Jingle Bells has such a catchy beat! Students will be very excited to jump up and join in the moves. I have to admit… my favorite part is “Weeeeee.”

Jingle Bells

Just Dance 3 Santa Clone is a more vigorous dance where students need to copy Santa’s dance moves. These moves are more complicated and vary quite a bit and change frequently so I would recommend it for slightly older students, maybe Upper Elementary. The movements are fun and not your average swaying of the arms. The dancing only starts 30 seconds into the 3 minute video, so you might want to avoid students standing around waiting for the dancing to start by forwarding to the exciting bit.

Santa Clone

Let’s not forget about The Sid Shuffle or Continental Drift. Sid, from Ice Age, talks students through his fun and energetic dance.

Sid Shuffle

I would recommend watching YouTube videos in Safe Share. This site requires you to paste the desired video URL onto their page in order to generate a safe, ad-free video. There is a grey frame around the video which blocks out surrounding images and videos. You can also still enlarge the screen to full screen mode.

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For those who don’t have facilities to show a video for a brain break or want to vary the activities, I also loved using this Snowball Fight brain break with my 5th graders, but it can be used for older students as well. This one does not involve following dance moves. I also used it as an informal assessment to check if students grasped the concept I was teaching (while they were thinking of presents and Christmas trees). This is how it works:

After completing an explanation, let’s use ‘properties of quadrilaterals’ as an example, have students draw a quadrilateral on one side of a page. Then on the other side they write down the properties of that quadrilateral. Students then scrunch the page into a “snowball.” I would then tell them to stand up and throw three “snowballs” at one another. Once they had done that (and had a good break) they would each pick up a “snowball,” flatten it out and then write down the properties of the shape on the page. It is a self correcting activity as the answers are on the back of the page.

I’m sure that you (yes, you should also get involved in the fun) and your students are going to love these little brain breaks and they make the time up until Christmas productive and frustration free!

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I’m Done…Now What?

As teachers we hear this ALL the time, “I’m done, now what?”  No matter how much we plan ahead, differentiate, or scaffold our lessons we have those early finishers.

I have a few things in place for my students to do when they finish a task.  First, they have logic books in their folders they can complete.  You can read about those here.

But since I teach several grades, (kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd) I have to have something meaningful, ready for all grades and ability levels.

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One of those is Boggle. This helps with spelling and decoding skills.  I change the letters every few weeks.  I use this recording sheet.  This particular recording sheet allows students to add points for each letter and get their scores to compare with their classmates.  This usually makes them try harder to get more words and longer words.

You can get the letters to create your own Boggle board here for free. The font is a little different than mine, but this one is really cute.  It includes a recording sheet, but it doesn’t assign points for the number of letters like the one linked above.

VocabJar

The Vocabulary Jar is something new I’ve been using this year with my second graders.  It does a great job of introducing new vocabulary and reinforcing other skills like, synonyms, antonyms, as well as, using a dictionary.  This set contains 378 vocabulary words, a recording sheet, and all the everything else you need to create your own vocabulary jar.  You can get this set here.  This is WELL worth the money.

VocabRecordingI print the recording sheet with two on each side and make double sided copies.  This allows them to do four vocabulary words on one sheet of paper.  I just staple a few sheets together and each child has a packet they can grab as they need it.

sudoku board

My kiddos LOVE sudoku.  We started with picture sudoku and then moved on to 6-square sudoku and now we’ve graduated to 9-square.  I decided to make this into a bulletin board for those early finishers.  These are laminated squares that I just use a dry erase marker to change the numbers.  The more numbers I fill in, the easier the puzzle is for the students.  You can read more about this here.  I’m in the process of creating I have finished an interactive Sudoku bulletin board set for my TPT store.  You can grab it here.

secretcode

Finally, my new favorite.  I just started this one this week with my first graders.  This is a secret code activity.  This can be used for anything.  Since we are currently studying and researching kaleidoscopes, I had my students write a fact about kaleidoscopes in code and have a classmate decode the message. They LOVED it.  I suggest starting out having them code or decode spelling or vocabulary words until they get the hang of using the secret code circle.  You can read more about it and get this for FREE at The Teacher Wife‘s blog.

The key to using these or any other resource for early finishers is to have something for them that they can do WITHOUT needing your help or disrupting their classmates.

I’m Done, Now What? was written by Meredith B. If you enjoyed this post join Teaching with a Twist on Blogger, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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What’s Your Classroom Management Secret?

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Hey again, it’s Meredith from Teaching with a Twist here to talk about classroom management.

When it comes to classroom management, you have to figure out what works for you and your kiddos.  I try to keep it simple and quick.  After the initial lesson on what the rules are and what the consequences are, I don’t like to spend a lot of time referring back to the expectations.  I carry a clip board with everyone’s name on it  and simply put a tally mark if a rule is broken and write a brief explanation.    I also keep track, if someone doesn’t bring back their signed folder and homework from the night before.  At the end of each day, I circle each child’s conduct on the calendar that is stapled inside everyone’s folder.  Each day has a space for the parent’s initials. Done!!!  Easy, peasy!!

Here’s a peek at the very simple, monthly calendar.  The conduct choices for my school district are EE-exceeds expectations, ME-meets expectations, and NME-not meeting expectations.

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In addition to this, I also do Brownie Points.  This is a “class” conduct reward.  When everyone brings their folders back with completed homework and signed conduct, they get a brownie point.  The only other way to gain a brownie point is for them to receive a compliment from another teacher on their positive behavior.  This encourages them to behave in support classes, the hallway, and the cafeteria.  After all, your class is a direct reflection of YOU.  So if they behave in the cafeteria, you look good. When the cookie sheet is full (10 brownies) we have a brownie party.  Simple, but VERY effective.  The cookie sheet gets wiped clean and then we start over.

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This works for me.  You may need something different for your students.  I firmly believe that NO instruction can take place if there is NO classroom management.  YOU have to be in control and you HAVE to figure out how to do this.  If you’re new to teaching and what you are currently using, isn’t working……..ask for help NOW.  You will be respected by your peers and your administration if your students are well behaved, I promise.  And when you figure it out, be consistent.  Children thrive on consistency and your life will be easier in the long run.

Learn your students and learn what makes them tick.  Here’s another classroom management post from Teacher by the Beach and what works for her.  And lastly, I’ll leave you with a FREEBIE from First Grade Fever.  Be sure to leave feedback if you download.

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