About 2flowerslearn

I am a mom of three; Daisy, Rose and Fred and an elementary teacher. I am sharing our experiences of learning through play; trying out products for our family business, Quality Classrooms and just having fun on our days at home. "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." George Bernard Shaw, 1856 - 1950 Thank you so much for visiting. I would love to hear from you. ; )

Fidgets

I have a class currently who often need some help to sit quietly and listen. Sitting still for any length of time, either at desks or on the carpet can be very challenging for many in this group. As a teacher, I understand it is challenging to sit still and listen. I have gum, or snacks in meetings or sit and doodle if they are long. Do I have ADHD… who knows but I do know fidgeting helps me listen. Fidgets seemed like a good aid to introduce to help those struggling to sit still and listen.

Here are some of the fidgets we offered:

Textured Bean BagsTextured Bean Bags come in a variety of textures and a great price for a set of 12. The six pairs have fur, flannel, wool, satin, corduroy and velour textures. Great for promoting sensory skills. Machine washable and dryable. The white furry ones are my favourite.

DNA Balls

DNA Balls are filled with mini spheres in hot neon colours. The multi coloured balls form a different mosaic pattern after every squeeze. It’s visual, tactile and irresistible.

Therapy Relax Tangle

Tangle Therapy is made to maximize hand, joint and muscle motion while providing a one of a kind feel and action. The soft pliable rubber coating and distinctive raised tactile nodes give a relaxing sensation while twisting it in your hand.

Clear Sensory Balls

Clear Sensory balls with bright colourful pellets inside. They make a satisfying gentle sound when being played with.

Scoop Rocker - Set of 6

The alternative seating we implemented a few months ago is also helping students focus. Reminders about  the need to respect the seating are needed ongoing as our students change monthly and sometimes weekly or daily. I do believe giving students options and encouraging them to become aware of what works best for them, enables better choices and better learning.

Fidgets are suggested to help students with ADHD concentrate better, and considering many students in the class are already fidgety, giving them permission to fidget seemed like a good solution. The selection of fidgets were introduced with rules inspired by Mrs Parsons at The Grading Scale:

The rules were explained, translated where possible and are reinforced daily. Every student wanted a fidget initially but after a few days the novelty wore off and some students declined. Using fidgets is not always smooth as new students are unfamiliar with the expectations of how to use it without distracting others however I believe the benefits out weigh the teaching effort needed.

Yesterday we had a break through. A student was struggling to sit still during an activity where he was writing and colouring. The lead teacher gave him a fidget and said “I think you need this for a little while”. He sat down, coloured while playing with the fidget in his other hand and worked peacefully. Ten minutes later he returned the fidget to the teachers and said “thank you”. This was a huge step for us in class 2. Having a student recognize when they need help to self regulate is what we are aiming for. In this case the student identified that he no longer needed the help, the fidget had worked to calm his body and help him achieve his goal of finishing his task.

I do not know if any of my students have ADHD nor do I need to know. I only know what they bring to the classroom and that is usually apprehension, experience of trauma, excitement and a drive to learn. I hope that I can begin to help them settle into a life in Canada and prepare them for the Canadian school system in the short time they are with us at NEEDS. This is a wonderful reminder for us all as educators:

Bill of Rights for Misunderstood Kids

Bill of Rights for Children with ADD

HELP ME TO FOCUS…
Please teach me through my sense of touch. I need “hands-on” and body movement.

I NEED TO KNOW WHAT COMES NEXT…
Please give me a structured environment where there is a dependable routine. Give me an advance warning if there will be changes.

WAIT FOR ME, I’M STILL THINKING…
Please allow me to go at my own pace. If I’m rushed, I get confused and upset.

I’M STUCK, I CAN’T DO IT…!
Please offer me options for problem solving. If the road is blocked, I need to know the detours.

IS IT RIGHT? I NEED TO KNOW NOW…
Please give me rich and immediate feedback on how I’m doing.

I DIDN’T KNOW I WASN’T IN MY SEAT…!
Please remind me to stop, think, and act.

AM I ALMOST DONE…?
Please give me short work periods with short-term goals.

WHAT…?
Please don’t say “I already told you that.” Tell me again, in different words. Give me a signal. Draw me a symbol.

I KNOW IT’S ALL WRONG, ISN’T IT…?
Please give me praise for partial success. Reward me for self-improvement, not just for perfection.

BUT WHY DO I ALWAYS GET YELLED AT…?
Please catch me doing something right and praise me for the specific positive behavior. Remind me–and yourself–about my good points when I’m having a bad day.

{Author Unknown}

(Discovered in Jan Zeiger’s article in TeachersNet.Gazette and taken from http://adhd.kids.tripod.com/bill.html)

 

Celebrating Fall Leaves

Yes, they are dropping…are you happy, sad, excited for snow? As adults, many of us dread winter coming whereas smaller people tend to love the approach of the cold, wet stuff. Either way, fall is a wonderful reason to celebrate the change of the seasons for a little while longer. It will be white for a while soon!

Maple Leaves Punch Outs

Maple Leaves Punch Outs are perfect for labeling lockers, using for name plates or creating games.

Nature Mobile Maker

The Nature Mobile Maker is a great base for making a colourful mobile. Students can add their own light weight collections such as shells and pine cones and attach to the already notched tree branches.

How about some Art from a nature walk? I walk through a park at the moment will yield a treasure trove of beautiful leaves, twigs and pebbles.

Exploring a fall sensory box? The options are endless with sensory boxes and the open ended nature, facilitates independent and individualized learning.

Creating fall fairies is a possibility with all the wonderful options on the ground for inspiration.

Leaf Rubbing Plates

Comparing leaf rubbings with leaf rubbing plates will help with sorting, and classifying skills.

Big Oak Tree Bulletin Board

Creating a classroom reading tree and having a student complete a leaf with each book read, encourages and celebrates reading achievement.

Fall tree painting on a window? Why not, windows make an awesome canvas!

You can find lots of inspiration on Quality Classrooms’ Pinterest board here.

Tempera Paint Sticks Review

As a big fan of paint I was not sure how to react to a mess free alternative to the paint brush and liquid paint. Tempera paint blocks or cakes, you know the ones:

Tempera Cakes

They are still popular in classrooms and centers but I find they don’t give great coverage. Sometimes students are frustrated by the wateriness of the paint. Learning to apply paint from a tempera cake, without ripping your paper with too much water can be a challenge! However they have a place and are great to pull out quickly, with minimal clean up.

Liquid tempera, you know the type:

Prang Washable Tempera Paint - 8oz

It is great for coverage but can be messy to apply and clean up!

As a fan of process rather than product, my initial reaction to Tempera Paint Sticks was hope that they would not replace the process of painting which I believe all children need to explore, learn and enjoy.

I am a huge fan of oil pastels and wondered if they would be similar.

Tempera Paint Sticks

Turns out they are even more awesome! They are smooth to apply as they glide over the paper and yet they look like a glue stick. They dry almost instantly with full coverage. Check it out:

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The flowers reactions were funny. Daisy said “Oh these are cool, they are kinda like a crayon and kinda like an oil pastel.” and “they go on really easy”.

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Rose said “awesome” and “can we use them later?” when I told her to get ready for the bus.

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They were both engrossed in their art.

They are so easy to apply, drawing is a natural reaction to using these paint sticks, as you can see from the photos.

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We applied liquid watercolour paint on top of the Tempera Paint Sticks and it stayed put. Not bad for newsprint paper!

The paint dries almost instantly so artwork can be taken home the same day.

Lets face it there are times when you want great colour impact but don’t have time to pull out the paints. These Tempera Paint Sticks give the colour impact without the mess of paint or the smudging of oil pastel. What more can I say?

At only $4.25 for 4, give them a try and I think you will be impressed.

 

Alternative Seating

Giving students choices on where they can sit is becoming more popular. Why? Allowing students to choose their best way to learn is believed to improve behaviour and academic success. Some students find sitting “criss-cross apple sauce” on the carpet very challenging while others detest sitting in a chair. This can result in standing, rocking unsafely and stooped posture while writing. The way students are learning has also evolved. Gone are the lessons when students would sit and listen to the teacher lecture for 20-30 minutes and then write what they have learned or complete written exercises for 60 minutes. Our teaching and learning involves more short bursts of learning and activity, catering more to the developing capabilities of our students. Teaching students to know their best way of learning in multiple skills situations is essential. This includes finding the best body position for the learning situation too.

I will be trying alternative seating in my classroom at NEEDS over the next few months and let you know how it is going. Some of the types of seating we will be trying include:

Scoop Rocker Case

Scoop Rocker, a very popular seating choice for under 50 lb.

Mini Throw Pillows

Pillows.

Jive Balance Stool 21"

A Balance Stool.

Spiky Tactile Cushion

Spiky Tactile Cushion.

Multi Fold Padded Seat

A Multi Fold Padded Seat.

The Scoop Rockers are a huge hit already:

What are your experiences of trying alternative seating?

 

All About Me Activity Cards in Action

I have used All About Me Family Counters for a few years. They are the go to, grab and go activity as all three of my children now play with them, in different ways.

All About Me Family Counters

Here you can see how we have played with them in the past: Fun with Family Counters.Fun with Family Counters

I did have a male ECE correct my stereotyping as I displayed them with the baby on the Mama’s hip and have successfully balanced the baby on the Papa’s hip also!

These counters are the perfect size for dramatic play/restaurant waiting/older sibling activity waiting, and of course for their original design: math concept teaching!

Here you can see the All About Me Family Counters in use with the NEW All About Me Activity Cards in my classroom.

All About Me Activity Cards in Action

The students are watching a demonstration of how to continue a sequence, such as the purple, blue, purple, blue, you can see in the bottom left of the photo. They are also reinforcing characteristic description such as “smaller”, “boy”, colours and patterning.

All About Me Action Cards

Here we have the wonderful sequence and a person riding a cat… why not?

All About Me Activity Cards

Adding: person and cat style! Our next step is to use the formal written number which some of these students are still learning (we were reinforcing the subtraction with finger counting here!).

All about me activity cards

Adding in action!

The structure of these cards allows for group work and discussion as we did here but also for independent and gradual skill building. They are an awesome addition to the math resource collection.

All About Me Activity Cards

Here is the low down on the All About Me Activity Cards:

Help children learn essential early math skills while learning about themselves and the world around them with 20 double-sided, write & wipe Activity Cards. Illustrations on these full-colour Activity Cards match the actual size of the All About Me Family Counters (202090) and are perfect for developing patterning, early addition and subtraction, and sorting skills. Includes over 40 activities and a guide. PreK+. Ages 5+.

 

 

Sort and Play Cups #giveaway

We had the opportunity to play with these Sort and Count Cups from Quality Classrooms.

Fred enjoyed putting the colured discs into the bowls, sorting and matching by colour.

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Rose went a step furhter and discussed how she was mixing the primary colours to make new colours:

Sort & Count Cups

She made a turtle, dramatically making it lose its shell.

Sort & Count Cups- turtle

Sequencing by colour and number was next.

Sort & Count Cups- sequencing

Putting two cups together with discs inside made great sounds and an entertaining showers of discs!

Sort & Count Cups- shower

Dramatic cheeks!

Sort and Count Cups- Cheeks

And of course a cup of tea with your pinky finger sticking out is a necessity.

Sort and Count Cups- Tea

Here is the low down on the Sort and Count Cups:

Sort & Count Cups

Children can learn to sort and count with this simple design that can be played in a variety of ways. Play instruction and cotton bag included. Ages 18 months+.

Sort and Counts Cups is a Plan Toy and as such is made from a combination of natural rubber wood and PlanWood™. PlanToys® are made from natural rubber wood trees that no longer produce latex. To keep the wood pure, no fertilizer is added to the soil three years prior to cut the trees down.

To strengthen the wood, PlanToys® uses a chemical-free kiln-drying process. PlanWood™ is another high quality, safe and sustainable material in our toy-making process. This material will be used in harmony with our solid rubberwood.

PlanToys® is assembled using a certified E-Zero formaldehyde free glue in place of traditional toxic wood glue. PlanToys® commits itself to find the best eco-friendly material. The organic color is not only good for children but also for our environment. PlanToys® does not use chemical dyes containing lead or any other heavy metals.

Recycled paper and Soy ink are used for our printed materials. Soy ink is more readily biodegradable and can be recycled more efficiently than standard chemical ink.

Feeling great about the sustainability of our children’s toys makes parents happy too!

Win a Sort and Count Cups!

Comment below sharing your favourite game or activity to promote sorting, matching or counting, then you will be entered to win. Winner will be randomly selected after 5:30 pm CST on Thursday July 7th, 2016. Must be a Canadian resident to win.

What is your favourite game or activity to promote sorting, matching or counting?

Go!

 

 

Paint Nite Style Party for Children

Complaints that Mama was getting to go to Painting Parties while children missed out were countered by having a “Paint Nite” style birthday party for 9 year old Daisy. She is an avid artist and was very excited to host a painting party for her friends.

Guests were asked to bring an art smock or old shirt and when they all arrived we headed down to the basement to the spare bedroom aka The Art Studio!

Everything was ready and waiting ahead of schedule and included:

Easels and canvases were purchased from the dollar store. Paintbrushes were from Quality Classrooms and were great quality.

Beginner Brush Set

They were an affordable starter pack and the different colours made it easier to direct artists to pick up a particular sized brush.

Paint was a mixture of tempera and then for the white we used acrylic. I did notice the white on top pulled colour from the background which you can notice in the completed painting. When looking at paint night style paintings they usually layer darker colours on top, probably for this reason.

Paint-nite-blog-1

Here the artists are adding green to their background. A simple painting of a panda was chosen to tie in with the theme Daisy wanted. As I painted the example, prior to the party, I noted the stages and steps. In the style of a paint night party, I talked through each step and emphasized the importance of enjoying the painting and not comparing with each other. Everyone’s painting will be different and we are all artists.

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Then bamboo was created with white paint. This was the perfect time for supper which allowed the paint to dry.

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After tummy’s were full, back to painting. The black paint was great for coverage but even the white acrylic struggled. As mentioned earlier, I recommend dark colours for top layers when working in a tight timescale.

We noticed the easels were designed for smaller canvases so they did cause an indentation on the canvas while painting. I am wondering if they could be adapted to a bigger canvas? …next time!

Paint-nite-blog-4The finished Panda by Daisy. One of the artists mentioned that this painting was easy when it was broken down into steps and you were guided through it. What more of an endorsement does this style of painting need? This party was a lot of fun and the entertainment from the guest artists was awesome! As they painted they told ghost stories, sang and chatted. It was a wonderful glimpse into the life of a 9 year old!