Flexibility at it's Finest

With the recent heat wave in Southern Indiana, my classroom can't seem to cool down. My kiddos came in from their last recess, sweaty and out of breath, and couldn't seem to catch a break to cool down because, even with the windows open, our room was so (dare I say it?) hot! We all sat in anticipation for a gust of wind to blow through our two open windows, that unfortunately, never came. Today we had reached our frustration level with it, and just had to get out.

As the result, some great activities popped into my mind. The first, not so original, but still, nonetheless, effective.

I borrowed some sidewalk chalk from a fellow Kinder teacher, and we headed outside.
We practiced our new set of spelling words and practiced a few addition and subtraction problems. The kids were having fun and were still practicing the same things we would have been doing in class, just having more fun while doing it, and let's be honest, more cool (literally) way. It definitely allowed us to get our excess energy out, and practice what I felt we needed to review in math. Practicing our spelling words was just an added bonus.

Following this activity, I continued to not want to be confined to my classroom. Pride aside, I literally just pulled an idea completely out of thin air. I don't typically like to do this because my OCD doesn't allow for it, but it really worked today, and my kiddos LOVED it. Here's what happened...

While outside working with the sidewalk chalk, I began to think about all of the ESGI testing that I really should have been doing for report cards that are due in a week and a half. I thought about the high frequency/sight/star words that we had not covered yet in class due to all of the snow days, but that will still show up on their test for their report cards. I absolutely despise testing over something that we have yet to cover in class; it is completely setting them up to fail. On Monday, I pulled the cards with the words on them that we haven't covered yet, but that are on the test, and have spent some time each morning devoted just to those words. (We always devote ten minutes each morning to our star words, but I have been spending extra time just on these words because they haven't seen them before this week.) So today was the second day of going over those words. So while I was standing outside with my mind going a million miles an hour trying to figure out a better method of getting them to learn them, and in a quicker manner, a star words musical chairs type of game was born.

I took pieces of construction paper and wrote each of the new words on them. We then headed for the cafeteria/gymnasium where I set the pieces of paper all around the floor. I had eight cards down at a time, and had nine students playing each round. Here is how the game went: nine students stood in a circle in the middle of the gym at the start of the game. The students on the sidelines said "Go!" and then began reciting our nursery rhyme this week, "Little Boy Blue." (The nursery rhyme played the part the music plays in musical chairs. Great way to get them to practice their nursery rhyme without them knowing it. *insert evil laugh here.*) The students who were in the circle ran around the gym until the nursery rhyme was over. At that time, they found a piece of paper with a star word on it and sat down next to it. Only one student per card.  Anyone who didn't have a card, was out of the game and had to go sit out on the sidelines. I then went around and had each student say the word on their card. If they knew it, they got to stay in the game for the next round. If they didn't, they had to sit out a round and wait for their next turn. In order to keep the game challenging, I had to come up with some provisions. **They could not go to the same card if they stayed in the game for more than one round. **They also were not allowed to sit until the nursery rhyme was over because you better believe a few of them would run straight to a card and sit on it and not allow anyone around it the moment they had the chance, unless they had this rule.

Now, it may sound cruel to you that I would have the students who get their words wrong sit out of the next round, when they had only spent two days working on these words, but you would be surprised by how many miraculously knew them all of a sudden. Not to mention, we played several rounds and they started catching on to listening when others were saying the words on the cards, just in case they didn't know it and ended up with that card when they had their turn.  We played several times, and everyone got numerous turns. By the end of it, my students were wore out, but were already asking me if we could play again tomorrow. I knew at that point that they had no idea that my evil plan for them to learn those words ASAP had worked! They just thought I was letting them play. Mission accomplished.

Now, I am not trying to put anyone under the impression that by the end every single one of my students all of a sudden knew all of the 10+ words on the cards, but they certainly knew them better than they did before. Also, I bet more than anything else, they will be paying closer attention when we go over them in the morning tomorrow, just in case we were to play again in the afternoon. Everyone wants to stay in the game as long as possible, at whatever cost it may be. Even if it is to pay attention and learn some star words from the teacher. ;)