Tag Archives: Teaching

Lionzebragiraffe one, poo, free.

So it has been an extremely long time since the last time I posted.  Sorry about that.  I also changed the name of my blog (I’ll explain that in a later post).

This week we made a lion mask, and because I just have to be different, I decided to incorporate a couple of other animals into my mask (and yes, I insist on doing all of the crafts my students do, and not just giving the directions.  It’s more fun that way)…

I don’t think any of my students knew what I was doing, even after I explained it to them.  That’s ok.  They colored their lions blue and purple and tye-dye, so whatever.  Let me have my lionzebragiraffe.

My students are working on counting in math, and even though I am so sick and tired of working on that goal I laugh every. single. time.  I love hearing them count to ten.











Gets me every time.


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Where’s all the fun / “dangerous” playground equipment?

Since working in elementary schools the past year and a half, I’ve noticed a serious change in playground equipment at schools.  When I was in elementary school we had big teeter-totters, swings, and those spinny things that you push and then hold on for dear life as it turns.  But it seems like parents and school administrators think these things are now too dangerous for their little darlings, and they’ve come up with new-fangled playground toys to replace the old medieval torture tools.

Hamburger Jail vs. Rocket Cage

Remember these hamburger jails?  I admit, I never had one at my school, but I did play on them at McDonald’s.  I haven’t seen one of these in years.  Instead, they’re being replaced with things like this giant rocket.  I will confess that the rocket is pretty cool, but, how can one grow up to be a fully functioning adult without getting stuck inside a huge hamburger?  There’s so much space in that rocket that there’s no possible fear of entrapment.  That was the thrill of the hamburger!  Crawling up that tiny tube ladder and looking through those bars while you’re freedom of movement was seriously restricted by the arc of the bun.  I feel like the rocket is more conducive to child meditation than traumatization.  That’s why I have to go with the hamburger.

Merry-Go-Round vs. Bowl

This was my hands-down favorite thing on the playground.  Oh my gosh, when I got going you had better have been holding on with both hands and both legs cause you’d fly off it you weren’t.  Where else do you have the opportunity to feel what it’s like to be inside a tornado, without actually being in a tornado?  These big blue plastic bowl things are terrible.  There’s one at my school now and I just shake my head every time I see the kids on it.  It doesn’t go fast and there’s no way you can fall out.  Even if you did fall out, you’re going so slow you’d have plenty of time to catch yourself before you break your face.  Kids these days need to know how to protect themselves and feel the wind in they’re hair.  They just aren’t getting that skill with today’s playground toys.

Teeter Toter vs. Plane Sculpture 

I just don’t understand this plane teeter toter thing.  The old school version is awesome.  You could go super high, catapult someone, decapitate a passer-by, etc.  This new plane thing and others like it is dumb.  Look at those kids.  They’re hardly even off the ground.  I guess it’s safe or whatever, but anyone over the age of three and a half can’t really have any fun on it.

Swing Set vs. Tire Swing

This one really surprised me.  Last August I walk onto a playground and realized something was missing.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was a definite void.  And then it hit me.  THERE WERE NO SWINGS.  NO SWINGS.  There were a couple of tire swings, but who wants a tire swing when you can have a regular swing?  The only thing you can do on a tire swing is spin really fast with the help of a friend.  But on a regular swing you can do so much more!  You can also spin really fast by twisting the chain up to the tip top, you can swing super duper high and tempt fate by almost going over the crossbar, you can swing on your stomach, and of course, you can JUMP OFF of the swing.  Seriously, what’s a childhood without a good ole’ fashioned jumping competition?  And those chains?  These kids today don’t know what blisters on your hand or getting your flesh stuck in a chain feels like.  Poor things.  They don’t know what they’re missing.

My point is that although this new playground equipment is safe and colorful, it isn’t nearly as fun as the old stuff.  Parents and administrators need to channel their inner child and go with what they loved when they were kids, and not with what will protect the already entitled generation.


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They Might Be Giants

Today was the first day back at work after the holiday break.  Guess how many of my students showed up?  One.  As in uno.  I couldn’t believe it.  Needless to say it was a pretty boring day.  The time went by super slow because nothing ridiculous or potentially life-threatening happened.

So we decided to have a fun day.  The one little girl that did show up got to watch some of my favorite Looney Tunes cartoons from my childhood – yes, I am a child of the 90s.  Both of them are They Might Be Giants songs, and both of them are stuck in my head at the same time.  Enjoy!

Oh, and watch out for any accidental learning that might occur when watching these videos.



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High Tech High

Why is this such a novelty?


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Dinosaur Stop Motion

In a previous post I talked about using a stop motion app on my phone to make a video with my students.  Well, it looks like we’re going to do it after all (not King Kong vs. Pterodactyl, but something that goes along with our jungle theme).  Summer school is on hold for the holiday week, so it’ll have to wait, but I thought I would take a look at a couple of videos I made with some of my fourth graders with Autism this past school year.

Their classes were doing a stop motion project all together, but both of them were going to be gone when they were filming the video because we take our students to gymnastics once a week.  I didn’t want them to miss out on this awesome project, so I downloaded a free app called Stop Animator.  I had each kid draw their own scenery and tape it on the wall, as well as arrange the dinosaurs how ever they wanted for each picture.  It was difficult to explain to them what we were doing, and we could only take 20-30 pictures before they got impatient with the project, but the smiles on their faces were worth it.

Both of them watched their videos over and over and over and over and over again, and both of them showed their videos to their classes.  It was a great project and I can’t wait to do it again with the kids I have now.

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My car smells like finger paint

Welp, another day another craft.  I am really not the crafty sort.  I have plenty of ideas, but zero patience for actually executing them.  But now that I’m teaching elementary school kids I really have no choice but to follow through with my ideas.

This means that my car’s a hot mess (and I mean this in the most literal sense.  It’s been over 100 degrees everyday this week) full of rolls of tin foil and rainbow yarn left over from my Father’s Day prank (yes, I did actually have some left over), popsicle sticks, construction paper, glue, scissors, and finger paint.  I could probably make a pretty decent profit selling craft supplies out of the back seat of my car to desperate stay-at-home moms that need to keep their kids busy.

Anywho, so far this week the kids have made two paper bag puppets – a monkey and a parrot.  They seemed to really like both of the crafts, come to think of it, they like all crafts.  It doesn’t matter what we do, they always love it.  I could give them each one broken crayon and a dirty piece of paper and they would still have fun.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I used the same trick with some of the spots as I did with these flower/stars from the jungle collage.  They’re just cut out circles from dried paper plates we used for painting a few days before.  I noticed that today the kids were much more comfortable with the abstract-ness of the spots than they were before.  With the exception of the little girl that made this red bird, they all were willing to use them on their birds.  I’m all about helping these kids get outside of their teeny tiny comfort zones.

It wasn’t until after I sent them home with their dry monkeys that I realized I had missed a golden opportunity.  How amazingly cool would it have been to have a monkey vs. parrot fight!  King Kong vs. Pterodactyl right in my own classroom.  I could have used the stop motion app on my phone and pulled out the creepy barbie doll in my school-issued laptop case.  It would have been epic.  But, as my grandma used to say, “If we would’ve had some ham we would’ve had some ham and eggs, if we would’ve had some eggs.”  That’s just how it goes sometimes.

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To play or not to play?

As you may know, I’m teaching kids with special needs this summer. The school day is only 3 hours long and we only go to school three days a week. That’s not a whole lot of time to get to know the kids, and with all the IEP stuff and data collection we have to do it can be hard to find time to have fun with them.

We do, however, have a twenty minute recess. Usually recess is a plan time for most teachers while a few are on duty. But in summer school everyone is on duty – all of the teachers and all of the aides. So a typical recess at summer school is ten or so adults standing off to the side chatting while about fifteen kids play on the playground.

It may be wrong, but I love the unhelpful high school teacher.

I have to admit that adult conversation is a nice break from the kid songs and nonsense that usually come out of my mouth when I’m teaching, but recently I’ve realized that retreating into the adult corner is somewhat of a missed opportunity. Recess is really the only time in our short day that requires no data collection or teaching. This is a sacred time specifically and exclusively reserved for having fun.

Every recess I’m torn between hanging out with the cool teachers and going down the slide with the little stinkers that keep my stock in Excedrine in the black. Some days I choose the cool, jaded teachers and other days I choose the stinkers, but I’ve noticed a definite change in my view towards the kids when I play with them. Student A isn’t IEP goal 3.1.4, she’s the brave little one that likes to go down the slide backwards (this is totally against the rules btw). Student B isn’t just working on extending patterns and finding rhymes, he’s building a strong friendship with a kid in another class by playing tag.

I’m not a mushy, sappy, lovey-dovey person with an unrealistic and rose-colored view of “being the change” or whatever, but it is my experience that spending a few minutes to enjoy my students does have a positive affect on their education. On the days I play with them, something kind of amazing happens – they’re more willing to follow directions and stay on task. I really don’t know why. I’m not more lenient and I’m not their friend. In fact, I’ve gotten more strict with them as the days go on. Maybe they feel more comfortable with me? I don’t know. But whatever the reason I guess I would just encourage anyone else who works kids with special needs to spend a few minutes to just relax and have fun with them.

Related Article: Power of Playtime by Science Daily

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