It's Jennifer here from Stories and Songs in Second stopping in from my whirlwind summer tour!
It's been almost two weeks since I've returned from Vegas, where I met and made some wonderful memories with my Primary Pack pals! I will save that story for another post though! Let's just say I loved making new friends and learned a LOT!
Today I'd like to share a few of the different "hooks" I use to catch the interest of my student "fishies" so that our school year gets off to a swimmingly good start and stays on track! I've collected them over my many years as a substitute and contract teacher, and can attest that they are tried, true, and terrific ways to engage and interest your students--especially when they return from a summer of not having to follow step-by-step directions or group rules!
There is always an audible gasp and whispers of "It's just like the one in the book!" when I take out my replica of Lily's purple plastic purse (complete with music playing, shiny coins, and sparkly sunglasses) before reading the story! There are giggles and grins when I talk "low and slow" like Toad and "high and fast" like Frog. There are empathetic nods when I introduce Wodney as a "wat" who gets made fun of and bullied because he cannot say his "r" sounds correctly. Never underestimate the teaching power of a stuffed animal to help children make important real-life connections to text, my friends!
Your students will get a real kick out of watching and listening to you have hilarious conversations with a miniature version of Phillip Johnny Bob while wearing a pink-polka dotted bow just like
Junie B.'s! Just don't forget to take it OUT of your hair before heading to the grocery store after school! HA!
A scepter, a sequined tiara, and a feathered boa are all you need to command respect from the royal subjects in your classroom kingdom! Add a very Queen Elizabeth or Mary Poppins British accent and you will have their full attention! A retired friend of mine used to call herself "The Princess of Picky" while wearing her crown, and would check for clean desks or edit writing drafts in a very regal, entertaining way!
In the words of my favorite big-hair band, Journey, DON'T STOP BELIEVIN' in the magic of a microphone and a pair of fun sunglasses! Even the most shy and quiet student will enjoy publishing their latest journal entry or poem with these cool tools!
"Flashlight Reads" are the most requested Fun Friday privilege in my classroom! Students bring them from home and use them during our afternoon Read To Self time. Even my most reluctant readers are eager to find a quiet spot to enjoy their favorite books! It's a cozy time, and just like a camp out, but without the mosquitoes or scary night critters!
Keep a bucket full of different pointers near your anchor and pocket charts so that you can have students take turns tracking print, making comparisons, matching rhyming words, and pointing out different types of punctuation!
A small ball made of rubber or yarn is all you need to help your students develop important oral language skills! Sometimes I ask a simple question that each child has to answer in the form of a question when I toss the ball out to them. Sometimes I toss the ball out and require that the ask me a question about what we're reading or learning. Sometimes I toss the ball out and ask them to give me an example of something we are learning about (like a mammal or an adjective or a rhyming pair of words). Sometimes I toss the ball out and accidentally hit someone in the noggin'.....and then we just laugh uproariously!
Working with a partner is always more fun when you have finger flashlights, monster word trackers, and groovy sunglasses as "cool tools!" A soapbox speech about "tools must not turn into toys or they will be taken away" is always needed before productivity ensues though!
AND LAST BUT MOST CERTAINLY NOT LEAST.....
Make every new book you introduce to your group an evangelical, uplifting experience.
Show them that stories are their passports to laughter, imagination, knowledge, and adventure.
Unlock the magic on the pages with your excitement.
Treat books with reverence and awe.
In the words of Donalyn Miller...
In the words of Pernille Ripp...
Lead the charge by sharing stories that ENCHANT and INSPIRE and ENCOURAGE.
As always, thank you for sharing my story! I hope that you'll leave comments below about the fun ways that you engage and grab the attention of your students! Until next time, know that the colorful gals in this special blogging bunch appreciate your continued support and readership! Keep calm and teach on!