Pin Art and Fine Motor Skills

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Did you know that fine motor skills need to be developed just like other early developmental skills like recognizing colors and letters?  Fine motor skills is a synonym to dexterity which is the coordination of small muscles in movements mostly involving the hands and fingers.  Fine motor skills can be developed in a variety of ways if you have a toddler or young child there are a lot of fun, engaging activities you can introduce to them.

fine motor skills ideas

One great way to get your toddler or preschooler more adept in the area of fine motor skills is the pasta drainer activity.  Place a pasta drainer and some pipe cleaners down in front of them.  Show them how they can push and pull the pipe cleaner through the small holes of the pasta drainer.  They will love it and be busy for a long while. ( Maybe you can fit in that phone call or organize the pantry. )  This simple skill will develop their fine motor skills and practicing this often will build up those muscles.  It's also perfect for eye hand coordination as well.  These types of activities can better prepare your child for holding a pencil in their later years in preschool or kindergarten.  

develop fine motor skills and eye hand coordination with a pasta drainer

fine motor skills for preschoolers

Using their little hands to string beads through pipe cleaner is always a great idea as well. 

fine motor skills for preschoolers

If you teacher K -4th you can also incorporate pin art.  Pin art is wonderful for several reasons!  For one, it definitely helps build their fine motor skills!  In order to use pin art if you aren't familiar with the idea your child or student is asked to hold a push pin in their hand while pressing into a soft area like carpet.  They push through the paper and lift their pin, then the go to the next dot on the paper and repeat.  It's a fun, engaging activity and a quiet classroom activity if you've been cooped up inside from indoor recess it's a great way to keep your sanity.

pin art great for fine motor skills

pin art great for fine motor skills

pin art great for fine motor skills

As you can see introducing young children to these fine motor skills will help make them more successful as they enter their formal education.  Also, it's important to keep their fine motor skills strong and pin art is a wonderful way to do that.  If you are interested in more pin art resources you can find them 
What other ideas have your tried to help build your young child's fine motor skills?


Be the difference

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My heart comes to you this week very heavy teacher friends...
with the most recent shooting in Florida I'm spent.  I'm sad, frustrated, and beyond angry!  Why don't the powers at be listen?  Why isn't there more funding in education?  Why have counselors and psychologists been cut out of the budget?
I've done some proactive things if you are curious, I'm not just complaining.  I've called representatives, I've donated to, I've joined with thousands of teacher friends to share our frustrations.  #armmewith 
But I do know one thing I can do every single day between the 4 walls of my classroom.  It is a simple thing really, it doesn't cost any money and it comes naturally to me - well, probably to most of us that chose this profession, at least I would hope.

arm me with

It's to LOVE ON my students each year as well as OTHER students on my campus.  I find those kids like a magnet : those that are fatherless, or mope around campus.  I don't care what grade they are, I will find them.  I seek them out when I have playground duty, I get to know their names quickly.  I pursue them guys...I really do.
The girl that just moved to the area that never looks anyone in the eye, yeah that one.  I know her by name.  I ask her daily how she is.  I compliment her on something and get her to smile.  I check on her at snack to see if she's still smiling and give her a high 5.  THESE kids NEED US more than EVER!  The ones that are broken and hurting, the ones that could fall through the cracks.  The ones that are always looking at the black top and quiet.  They need you!  They need an adult in their corner that will check in on them.  
I ate lunch with the most difficult boy on campus every Wednesday.  I had him in first grade years ago and as a 5th grader he would come down and have lunch with me.  We didn't have the same lunch - it overlapped just enough that we could share 15 minutes together.  HE SHOWED UP EVERY SINGLE TIME!  He was a troubled kid, he had a chip on his shoulder, he had referrals daily.  BUT, he wanted to and looked forward to eating lunch with me a teacher, not a celebrity, not a famous you tuber...just plain ole me.  
Guess what?!!?  I listened to him, I asked him questions.  I HEARD him, sometimes he vented about a current teacher he had, I listened.  Sometimes he vented about other kids, I listened.  We would also laugh and I would always try to find something we could celebrate together.  If he turned his homework in on time, or didn't get in trouble.  His reward sometimes would be to spend 20 minutes in my class if he met a behavioral goal.  He actually wanted to do that.  Again, just me - an average everyday adult that pursued a kid that would otherwise be ignored and come to hate school.  I'm no superhero, I'm not extraordinary.  
I love this line from the movie While you were sleeping - you can watch it ( here ) go to :38
Sandra Bullock says to Peter          :
" You give up your seat everyday on the train."  
Peter says, " Well that's not heroic."
Sandra replies, "It is to the person that sits in it."

So go out there and be heroic friends!  Whether it's to the kids in your own class or a child you see moping around campus.  We can't save all the broken souls of the world - we can't truly stop evil and school shootings.  BUT, maybe the boy that I sat and had lunch with every Wednesday...maybe he was on that path to ... well who knows?  I don't want to think about that. Maybe he needed me as a caring adult in his life to help change his inner demons just a bit.  Maybe he'll have a couple more like me in middle and high school and just this handful of teachers that reached out and looked out for him is enough.  YOU NEVER KNOW, if I can be the adult or one of them that makes a child realize he's loved and it stops even one from hurting themselves or others than I've done well.
Be that adult friends!  We can't control congress, we can't control the lack of funding for counselors... but we can control how we deal with the angry child that lashes out.  We can choose to be extra patient and kind.  We can choose to listen and take the time to show love even when they may be disrespectful.  Our most difficult kids need us the most!!!!  I'm always drawn to these kids, my heart aches for them.  Some say but you aren't their parent, just let it go.  NO!!!  I say NO WAY!  God has placed that child in my class for a reason and I am responsible for my actions towards that child.  I WILL take a bullet for any student but I WILL NOT let a child slip through the cracks.
At least we can control this - every single day we can control this.
Be that teacher - make that difference - plant that seed that shows you care.
I'm proud to be a teacher and proud to know thousands of teachers that do this every day as well.

You can join me every Wednesday here on my blog for...



5 valentine ideas to try in your classroom today

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day and Wait for it Wednesday friends...

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and there are so many fun ways to celebrate at home or school!  I wanted to share a few that have worked well and been meaningful in the last few years:

Often times around this time of year some of our students behaviors aren't on point shall we say.  So, this is the perfect time to get it back in check with a fun freebie.  This freebie will be a treat for your students.  They will be thrilled to 'earn' the heart of the day at the end of class.  I tell my students that each day in February ( I had to start the end of January actually to get them all in ) they have the opportunity to receive a special 'love' note from their teacher delivered in a fun heart envelope.  I love seeing their faces when I drop off the heart envelope at the end of the day.  It has now become a time when the other students are congratulating them and clapping for the one that receives it.  This is how it looks:

Valentine's Day freebie
You can grab the freebie ( here ) just in time for Valentine's Day.  So I put the card in the felt heart envelope that I picked up from the Target Dollar Spot.  It's kinda like the rose given out on a group date if you watch the Bachelor...hahaha.  The kids see my walking with it and they are all looking and hoping. 

I did this last year for my students...It's a similar idea to the first one but everyone had one placed on their desks the morning of Valentine's Day...they also received a Valentine from me too of course.  But I tried to write something specific about their personality on these to make them feel extra special.  If you have a die cut machine at school these are basically free to make and a real crowd pleaser!

classroom valentine ideas

I've done this for my kids since Mandy was a toddler but you could easily do it for your student too.  If I ever order a pizza for a party or something I ask a mom helper to pick it up for me and give her the money.  So, research pizza restaurants in your area and see if they offer a heart shaped pizza.  My own children love this tradition and they are now 18 and almost 16.  But how fun would it be for your students if you had a couple heart shaped pizzas for lunch or during your Valentine's Day party with them?!?

classroom valentine party ideas

I happened to find this darling idea on tpt ~ how fun would it be to put these on your student's desks and have their friends write compliments to them!?!?!  You can get this freebie ( here )

Instead of having parents bring in super sugary sweets why not have a fun, easy snack available for your students?!  This snack is super easy and can be sorta, kinda healthy depending on what you put in it...

Valentine's Day snack

You can have pretzels, Valentine colored m & m's, quaker heart shaped cereal, strawberry mini wheats, strawberry wafers, strawberry yogurt raisins, popcorn, etc.  This snack is easy to thrown into a bowl and your students can scoop some up with a plastic cup.  It's easy to eat while waiting for their turn to pass out Valentine's.  
How are you celebrating in your classroom?


Fractions on a number line

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Teaching { equivalent } fractions on a number line can be fun for your students...I promise!  Today we had a blast and turned it into an interactive activity.  Happy hump day and of course that means it's....

First make a large number line with butcher paper:

fractions on a number line lesson

Then I had pre cut fraction cards ( that I got off of ) and purposely made my number line look like it does above.  I only had lines for the eights and I added 
1 1/8 at the end instead of just 8/8.  I want my students to understand that number lines don't always end right at 1.  We've introduced mixed fractions so I thought it was appropriate.  Then we spun the random number generator and my students came up and picked a card with their eyes closed to glue to our number line. They read the number to the class ( they also had number lines to do it along with them on their white boards ), then they had to look at our large number line and figure out where to glue it. 

fractions on a number line lesson
Drawing cards is fun!

After we completed the number line - we finished off our fun math block with math rotations.  We had:
dice roll fractions with our white boards - roll dice, the smaller number is the numerator and larger is the denominator.  Draw the fraction to represent it and write it out.
Scoot - fraction scoot - if you are in need of scoot activities , I have some you can get ( here ).
Multiplication round up - I have a bucket of engaging multiplication activities that they really enjoy!  Some are old school, some are new from Donor's Choose.  They like them all.

We had a ball today ~ the interactive number line activity was a huge hit.  Just be sure when you prep it that you put lines for one set of fractions and then include equivalent fractions in your cards that don't have lines on it.  They will have to use their strategies to figure out where they go.  It was engaging and rigorous for my third graders!
I hope I gave you a fun twist on how to reinforce or review equivalent fractions....
happy teaching!