Tag Archives: Activities

Part 4: {fun!} Games to train your brain

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed. 

This is part four in a four-part series on cognitive weaknesses. Comment to win a $20 School Box gift card.

Here are a few tips for sharpening children’s cognitive skills using everyday items, as shared by Kristen Thompson, LearningRx owner and former teacher.

  • Work on critical thinking with learning-geared computer games, like Disney’s Where’s My Water, that require critical thinking to solve a multi-step challenge.
  • Improve logic and reasoning by identifying patterns. Set out blocks in a certain pattern (red, blue, yellow, yellow, red….) and have children continue the pattern. For more pattern ideas, click here.
  • Build mental processing with a deck of cards. Tell the child to shuffle the cards thoroughly, then sort the cards into four piles as fast as he/she can. Note: no need to put the cards in order, focus on speed.
  1. Pile 1: RED cards Ace through 10
  2. Pile 2: BLACK cards Ace through 10
  3. Pile 3: BLACK face cards
  4. Pile 4: RED face cards
  5. Now, add difficulty: Next time count by 2’s out loud as you sort the cards. Then, count by 3’s out loud as you sort the cards. After that, sort again, and each time a face card is added to a pile, call out the name of the card (Ace, King, Queen, Jack). Do not say anything when adding other cards. Finally, each time an even numbered card is added to a pile, call out the number of the card (2, 4, 6, 8, 10). Do not say anything when adding other cards. Click here for more card ideas.
  • Improve memory…with your refrigerator! Open the refrigerator door and ask your student to look inside for 20 seconds and try to remember all they see. Then, shut the door and ask the student to write down everything they can remember. Open the door together and count to see how well they did. Now, add difficulty: Same 20-second peek as above, but this time ask your student to recall the items one shelf at a time and remember as much as possible from that one area at a time. Open it up and see how well he or she did.
  • Get moving! Physical activity is good for the body and the mind.

Kristen Thompson owns the LearningRx Brain Training Center in Kennesaw, Georgia. Call 770-529-4800 or visit www.learningrx.com/kennesaw for more information. Activities featured here are from www.unlocktheeinsteininside.com.

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Filed under Academic Success, brain training, cognitive weakness, Critical Thinking, Games

Recycled Ocean Bulletin Board {with how-to pics!}

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

This fabulous idea was found organically (no pun intended) when my son’s pre-K class was learning about both recycling and the ocean. His {wonderful} teachers Lindsey Allman and Ariana Hull combined the two units in this uber-creative bulletin board, featuring an array of marine life made by the children out of materials pilfered from their recycling bins.

Check out the pictures below. This bulletin board is too cute not to share…and recreate!

How to build your own recycled ocean: 

The bulletin board was covered in white paper and then topped with crinkled blue cellophane wrap. Add a sandy ocean floor made out of textured scrapbook paper, white paper painted sandy tones, sandpaper, or a roll of craft paper. You could even get creative and have the children glue on dry grits: Paint white glue (thinned with a bit of water) over paper with a large brush, sprinkle on grits as you would glitter, allow to dry, dump off the excess, and hang.

The items can be attached to the board with staples, strong tape like Mavalus Mounting Tape, and/or a glue gun.

Add some yogurt-container ribbon jelly fish. The children loved painting their “trash!”

Check out the empty detergent-bottle Shamu!

Here’s how Shamu was attached…a little ingenuity, a little ribbon, and some staples. :)

How cute is this cardboard sea turtle with an egg carton head?

This empty container was inverted, painted, and given eight streamer tentacles with bead suctions. Adorable octopus!

A school of water-bottle fish is happily swimming in the corner. The bottles were cut by the teacher and their “tails” were stapled shut. The children customized their own fishies.

Some empty bottles cut into strips and painted green became seaweed. (Others were painted orange and assembled into coral.)

Paint and streamers transformed this drink bottle into a giant squid.

These three little egg carton clams may just be my favorite.

I like the idea of including a “what was learned” paragraph with the bulletin board, especially since this one is hanging in the hallway outside the classroom:

See why I had to share this idea? This bulletin board epitomizes a great culminating project: it combines two units of study, allows the children to utilize their creativity, and results in stunning student-made decor. Fabulous!

And…the class had loads of fun building this “recycled robot” out of their leftover trash:

credits:

Many thanks to Ariana Hull and Lindsey Allman with Primrose Schools for these awesome ideas. Your creativity is inspiring!

Click here for more ocean-themed activities, courtesy of The School Box.

Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Classroom Decor, Science, Social Studies

Mother’s Day Craft: Rolled Pipe Cleaner Flowers

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You have a secret. You want to be outside enjoying the mild spring weather just as much as your students do. Don’t worry; we won’t tell. But we will provide you with a fun craft, courtesy of Diane Burdick, M. Ed., to bring some of that springtime beauty inside. {It’s the least we could do.}

And…this idea also makes a super cute (and affordable) Mother’s Day gift!

Pipe Cleaner Flowers

The beauty of this craft (aside from the finished product) is that it uses a cheap classroom staple: colored pipe cleaners. Use only pipe cleaners, if you so desire, or add a few more embellishments, such as buttons, pom-poms, beads, silk flower leaves or jewels to add a bit of fancy to your flowers.

Options (and shapes!) are endless. We were inspired by the three variations pictured from MakeandTakes.com (above left), Martha Stewart Weddings (right), and Crunchy Catholic Mama (below; dontcha love that blog’s name?).

Things You’ll Need

6 12”-pipe cleaners in an array of colors for each flower

2 12”-green pipe cleaners for each flower stem and leaf

Optional supplies: ribbon (to tie around the flowers), or a small terra cotta pot, glue, and dry grits or dry rice (to plant the flowers)

What You’ll Do

  1. Bundle together six pipe cleaners of the same color; straighten pipe cleaners so that the ends line up evenly. Twist the bunch in the middle about four times, until the outside edges look like a bow-tie or cat whiskers.
  2. Twist the end of a green piece of pipe cleaner around the middle of this “bow-tie” to create the stem.
  3. Twist the petal-colored pipe cleaner around one more time to ensure the “stem” is attached to the “petals”. (For a sturdier stem, fold the green stem in half from the bottom up.)
  4. Spread out the “petal” pieces out into individual strands, and roll each petal piece inward until you reach the center. Work around the flower, rolling up each piece. You can bend and angle the “petals” to give your flower a fuller look.
  5. Add a “leaf” to the flower by wrapping another green pipe cleaner at the base of the “petal.” Roll the pipe cleaner as you did the “petals,” and pinch it a bit at the top to give it a leaf shape.

Present the flowers to the recipient individually, or gather a few in a bunch for greater impact. Wrap with a ribbon or with another colored pipe cleaner to make an attractive bundle.

To “plant” the flowers in a pot, mix dry grits or rice with white glue and pour into the bottom of a small terra cotta pot (with the drain whole covered on the inside with a scrap of paper). Stick the pipe cleaner flowers into the glue-grits/rice mixture and allow to dry.

Happy spring! It may not be a full-blown garden, but these flowers will bring a bit of welcomed color into your classroom. 

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Filed under Activities, Art, Holidays

It’s Slime Time!

We know you’ve seen those Hollywood productions that have a ghost, ghoul or other alien creature dripping, drooling or slinging their green and gooey stuff all over the place. It’s disgusting, it’s messy, but for some reason, kids (and even some adults) love this kind of stuff. Well, now you can create your very own batch of green goo. The best part? It only takes four ingredients and under five minutes from start to finish!

What You Need

  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Elmer’s Glue-All Glue
  • 1/4 Cup Liquid Starch
  • Food Coloring (green, red, or whatever color you wish)

How To Make It

  • Pour 1/4 cup of glue and 1/4 of water into a ziplock bag or bowl. Knead or stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Add six drops of food coloring to mixture. Knead or stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Pour in 1/4 cup of liquid starch. Mix thoroughly. Mixture should be fairly blobby at the start, but the more you play with it the  more stretchy it will become and easier to hold.

The Science Lesson

Voila! You’re done! But how does it work? The glue is a liquid polymer. This means that the tiny molecules in the glue are in strands like a chain. When you add the liquid starch, the strands of the polymer glue hold together, giving it its slimy feel. The starch acts as a cross-linker that links all the polymer strands together.

Make sure you keep the slime in a ziplock bag or sealed container when you’re not playing with it to preserve it for future fun time!

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Filed under Activities, Crafts

Solutions for the Changing Seasons

by Rachel Stepp

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As fall progresses and the weather gets cooler, it is time to adapt to the changes that the environment goes through. There are a few things that you can do to help yourself and your students transition smoothly. Consider these suggestions to create a classroom where students are aware of their environment:

  1. Talk About It. First, have a discussion with your students about the seasons and the local weather. Discuss weather patterns and how it feels outside. Talk about different holidays that happen during fall and winter and how your students feel during those holidays. Ask your students to recall how they dress during the holidays. This will help raise your students’ awareness about the weather outside.
  2. Make Room. You might need to adapt your classroom to the weather changes, as well. Make sure lockers, cubbies and book bag hooks are cleaned out to make room for large, fluffy coats.
  3. Play Away! If outdoor recess is a regular part of your day, you may want to come up with a stash of indoor activities to have on-hand for those just-too-cold days. Board games, art projects or team-building activities are fun alternatives. For some great ideas, check out www.funindooroutdoorgames.com, a site brimming with indoor activities. Who knows…some students may even enjoy indoor recess more than the regular outdoor recess!
  4. Give Back. Encourage your students to participate in some type of service project for their community during this time. You can organize a canned food drive, coat/blanket drive, or a Thanksgiving food drive. Students and their families will enjoy helping their peers and other people from the community have a good holiday season. Talk to your school’s counselor about families that might need donations or how to organize this type of service project.

By using some or all of these ideas, you can help your students prepare for the weather changes. The transition between fall and winter is a beautiful time of year to be celebrated…and enjoyed!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who is full of good ideas to share on A Learning Experience!

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Filed under Activities, Classroom Community