Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's a Blog Hop & Swap...Swing on In!

Happy Saturday! I'm here, but not here today! It's a blog hop and swap today. I WILL be in blog world, but posting on someone else's blog today. (Elementary Matters blog...#17 on the blog swap list) I am so blessed to have Rebecca from Teaching First posting on my blog today. You're in for a real treat.  Check out the great things she has to share! Due to the Blog Hop and Swap, there will be no "Spotlight Saturday" feature today. However, today's adventure will lead you to many great posts, where you'll be able to find your own freebies and great advice! Pull up a comfy chair, put your books or newspapers down, have a notebook ready to jot down some ideas, grab something cold to drink on this hot day, and HAVE a FABULOUS time!

I am so excited to be a guest on Michelle's adorable blog for our "Blog Swap and Hop".  I am Rebecca from Teaching First blog and I am really happy to meet everyone! I've been in the middle of planning my July wedding and have been going ca-razzzy trying to get all the last minute details pulled together! 

Even though I have been busy planning a wedding, I have also been gearing up for the new school year! There are certain activities I use year after year to build my classroom environment. I wanted to take some time to share with you some of my favorite classroom ideas. 
1. The Talking Stick
2. Favorite Morning Meeting Idea- Name Games
3. Favorite Goodbye Meeting Ideas


I learned of the idea of using a talking stick  (another resource on talking sticks) in my classroom from reading about Native Americans.  My stick isn't actually a stick...I use a rainstick that you can order online. But, you can use any stick of your choice. You can add a special feather or ribbon to make it your own. You can also have the children each bring in their own stick and have them tie a feather or beads to decorate. I like the rainstick because it is filled with tiny pebbles that make a soothing sound when it is turned over. 

The rainstick is used when two or more children need to work through a conflict. I use a lot of modeling with the rainstick before I actually turn it completely over to the children. The rules of the  talking stick are:
a) whomever is holding the stick has the right to speak. 
b) If you don't have the stick, you cannot speak. It is time to listen and try to understand the person who is speaking. Even if you do not agree with what is being said, it is your time to listen. (This takes practice, even for adults!!)
c) Once the first child has explained how they feel or what has happened, the second child is handed the stick and tells their side of the story. The first child must then listen and try to understand.
d) There is no interrupting.
e) Once each child has spoken, they then take turns telling each other what they heard and understood the other to be saying.
f) Apologies are encouraged between the children by the teacher. When one child apologizes, the other says "Thank you" and not "It's ok" because I teach them when a child does something hurtful, it is not "ok". 
g) End with a high 5, handshake or hug between the children

For young children, the teacher needs to moderate and help each child take turns listening to the other. Older children, (3rd and up) are able to moderate themselves once this has been practiced for several months. 

Once both children have spoken, with help from the teacher they come to a resolution that makes both children feel heard and validated.  Many times, as the teacher, I find myself pointing out that many times there is just a misunderstanding. 

Morning Meeting
I use the morning meeting to help form bonds of friendship between my students. It is a time to play a quick cooperative learning game, sing a song or share some news. At the beginning of the school year, we sit on the carpet in a large circle and play name games. I start by passing around a small ball (I have a basket full of small balls of different sizes and textures). When you get the ball you say your name and then hand it to the person to the left, and so on. It is a very simple game for young learners. It is very important for each child to be recognized by his name, so we spend many weeks on name games.

Another more complex name game follows a similar pattern. Sitting in a circle, the teacher says the name of a child. The child responds by looking at the teacher in the eyes, and making outstretching his arms and making a fist with his hands and pulling his fists in towards his body he responds "Yes". Once the child shows the sign and says yes, the teacher can then, and only then, roll the ball across the circle to the child. Once the child receives the ball, he or she chooses another child across the circle and calls out his or her name. That child must make the same motion with his arms and fists and say "Yes" before the ball can be rolled across the circle to the second child. The game continues in play until each child in the circle has had a turn. Once my class gets the hang of this game, we try to see how quickly we can play it. To make it even more challenging, I add more balls to the game. Each ball is passed to the exact same child during the game. And each ball cannot be passed until the child acknowledges he heard his name called by showing the sign and saying "Yes".

Goodbye Meeting
I end each day by gathering my class in a large circle at the carpet. We pass around a ball and share one thing that was good for us during the day, a favorite activity or one thing we learned. If a child does not want to share, they say "pass" when they get the ball. Then we sing our goodbye song as we hold hands and pass a gentle squeeze around the circle. 

"Go now in peace.
Go now in peace. 
May all good and love surround you, 
everywhere, everywhere, you may go." 

Using these activities really helps my students bond and form deeper friendships. There are so many wonderful ideas for circle time! Click HERE to download for free some more of my favorite name activities!

I've had fun sharing these ideas with you! I hope they made sense and that you are able to use some of them! Thanks so much for letting me drop in and say hello to you today! I hope you'll pop over and say hi sometime! Happy blog hopping!!

There is only Love,

Teaching First

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Heather's Heart said...

I love the idea of the rainstick.

Thank you for sharing the great *freebies*! =)

It was fun seeing you over here today. =)

Heather's Heart

Lisa R. said...

Oh my gosh, I love the Talking Stick idea! That is a must have for next year. Thanks for sharing your fabulous ideas!
Learning Is Something to Treasure

Michelle Tsivgadellis said...

I actually have a rain stick...what a great tool to use!! Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge!!

Off to more blog-hoppin'

The 3AM Teacher
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Michelle said...

Thank you Rebecca for sharing your fantastic post with us today! I'm so grateful!

Chrissy said...

Thanks for sharing all those great name games! I'll be using some at the start of the year!
First Grade Found Me

Mary Lirette said...

Great ideas! I've used a beanbag for passing back and forth but I love the rain stick idea even better! :)

Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives

Deb Thomas said...

Rebecca, I love the talking stick and I will definitely use this in my classroom this year. My son makes native american flutes so he will be thrilled to read this post too! Thanks so much for the freebie and for being able to be a guest on your blog while you are here!

Deb at Fabulously First
My TpT Store
Fabulously First on FB

Grade School Giggles said...

I've used this idea, but with a glitter wand. It really does help. Thanks for the great post.

Grade School Giggles

Lori Rosenberg said...

I love activities that a bring a class closer together. Thanks for the wonderful ideas!

ΡΌ Lori
Teaching With Love and Laughter

Sally said...


Great idea! I love community building ideas as well, can't get enough!

Michelle, be sure to come back over to Elementary Matters, your guest blog has received lots of great comments!

Sally from Elementary Matters

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