Monday, September 15, 2014

Spotlight on Sight Words: No Power, No Problem!

Last Friday, we experienced a brief power outage at school. However, even a short power outage can severely cramp your lesson-plan style, right? This little activity was a last-minute improvisation to help us spend our power-less time constructively.

Since it was the end of the week, I had several wrap-up activities planned to help review sight words. When the lights went off, we pulled out miniature flashlights and used them to play what I called "Spotlight on Sight Words."

The game was simple: the teacher calls out a word, and students race to "light" up the word somewhere on the rapid word chart. After a few rounds, the students took turns being the teacher as well. They had a blast reviewing their sight words this way, and I didn't feel like the time was a total loss for us. Whew!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Get to Know Me! An Activity to Motivate Student Communication

The beginning of the school year is a blur, isn't it? So much to do, so little time… and it seems that really getting to know your students, one of the most vital elements of our back-to-school process, has become a challenging task amid all the other tasks on our back-to-school checklists.  On the flip side, for many of our younger students, who are a little overwhelmed at the beginning of the year as well, getting the conversation flowing can be challenging at first. So this is an activity I love to use, and it never fails to spark a little excitement among my students. This year, I used fruit loops, but I have seen it used with M&M's, Skittles, etc.

The concept is simple: students choose their favorite color fruit loop and then they answer a color-coded question that corresponds to their fruit loop. I waited until after the students chose their fruit loops to display the questions, so they had no idea why they were getting fruit loops at first. It added a nice element of surprise. Just this year alone, I have used this activity with students ranging from Kindergarten to fourth grade, and they all loved it!

These are the questions that I used, but you could easily create your own questions if you didn't like these.
Another thing I love about this activity is that you can use this activity in either small-group or whole-group settings, depending on your teaching situation and age group. Either way, it promotes communication and cooperation among students.

Be warned, though; your students will probably expect you to choose your own fruit loop and play along!

This activity is now available as a component in the "Back to School Packet," available in the Tally Tales TPT store. If you want it, grab it here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Vintage Door Refinish & Sliding Barn Door Install

Hey friends!!! Are you surprised to hear from me? I promise I am still around. With our basement renovation, back-to-school busy-ness, AND our baby on-the-way, I have been a bit distracted from the blogging world lately. I am so sorry to those of you who usually hear from me on your blogs; I can't tell you the last time I sat down to blog hop and comment. I promise to visit again eventually! :)

I have managed to snap a few pictures here and there along the way, and I want to share some of our progress with you. This project is particularly dear to me. (Forgive the poor pictures; the lighting hasn't been the best to work with at times.)

So I started out with this door from my grandparents' home. It is at least eighty years old, and I really wanted to preserve it somehow as a feature in our home. I sanded down past the aging crinkle and crackle of the original paint. Surprisingly, much of the original coat remained, along with a real, authentic weathered look.

I lined all the edges of the center rectangles with painter's tape…
and filled the space with this rich chocolate-brown color that would blend well with the already existing cracks and aged hardware.
I removed the tape and coated the edges with a polyurethane coat. I really wanted to keep the original color on the door as well, and the polyurethane provided a nice finish to seal and protect the door from any future peeling.
Last, we (my father and husband… I really had nothing to do with this part!) installed the door on a sliding barn door mount. You can find these barn door installation kits at most of your standard hardware/home improvement stores, but I actually ordered ours from Amazon. It was about a third of the cost, and worked perfectly for us. I can't speak for heavier door models, and I'm not sure how well this would really hold up outside on an actual barn, but for our indoor, small-door use, it was perfect!
So there's a quick glimpse at some of the changes we have going on around here. We aren't finished yet, but we are getting close! I'll try to post room pictures soon! 

I hope you blogger friends are doing well! :)