Saturday, 13 August 2016

Struggling to win over your students. Try this...

As the new school year begins and you meet your new class of students, are you concerned of personality clashes?

We have all had the experience of a personality clash, whether it be with a parent, colleague or student.   It's tough... putting 25 individual students into a class with an adult and that they all have to get along.  You may have found, in the past, (or you may have even identified one already) you have a personality clash with one of your students.  It doesn't make you a bad person, or them a bad person.  Your personalities just...clash.

It is, however, your job as the adult to try every possible way to try and win this student over and make their year an enjoyable one - because we all know that a happy student results in a productive year.  (Plus, happy students = happy teachers)

This is a list of suggestions that you can use to attempt in winning that students over.

  1. Praise them for the tiniest things - you may want to read my blog post on "Be Your Student's Hero".  It focuses on finding the positive in each child and praising them for little things.
  2. Pay them a compliment - By paying them a compliment, it shows them that you notice them and find good in them.
  3. Give them a special job - This shows that you trust them and what are relationships based on?  Trust!  Make sure that the job you give will enable the student to experience success.  You don't want it to backfire and you end up nagging and complaining more than before.
  4. Write a note home to their parents about a good occurrence - There is nothing more special than if you take the time out to make a fuss to the parents.  A special call or note can go a long way.  
  5. Send them to the principal with good work.  Once again, recognition.  You are recognizing that they have achieved something.  Look at things like improving their work, an exceptionally well presented task, good group work, a well read passage (all based on their standards and not the highest achieving pupil in class's standards).  You need to vary it up so that the same children are not always going.  Find reasons for your 'unwilling' child to showcase themselves. 
  6. Use them as a good example - "Look at how tidy Tom's desk is." Let them feel proud in front of the class for something they did.
  7. Find reasons to move up on the reward charts - Often this student will not have many dots/stars/points on the reward chart as they act out 'against' you.  Find reasons to give them rewards.  Bringing me back to my past post, you need to find the positive in every child.  What self-worth does a child with no stars have in a class filled with 'chart-fillers'?  None!  
  8. Share a secret - It can be about what you did over the weekend or a fear you have.  By giving them a piece of information as a secret, you are 'letting your guard down' and opening yourself up to them.  You will then share something that no one else does.  It also once again shows that you trust them.
  9. Inquire about their likes and dislikes - show you are interested.  Once you know what they like, you can make a conscious effort to find out about it.  Maybe it's a specific football team (find out when they are playing and make mention of the scores in class), maybe it's horses or camping or fishing or reading or math...
What is important to remember, is that you want your attempt to be subtle.  Enough for the student to feel a positive emotion but not enough for the class to pick up on it and start teasing or discriminating against the child for being the 'favorite'.  Find a balance.

I hope you have found these suggestions helpful.  I am also busy with a series of identifying and handling specific behavior problems.  You may want to check it out if you think your student has a specific behavior problem.

I would love to hear what you found useful in your class and success you have experienced in willing over a child.

Let's make learning fun!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Be Your Student's Superhero!

This has been on my mind for a while now.  It is something that I think does not come naturally to everyone, and is therefore overlooked by many.  It applies to not only teachers, but parents too.

I'll be honest with you and admit that my 'light-bulb' moment only happened after my daughter, Megan, was born.  She is six now and from when she could move, talk, and even blink I realized that she had a mind of her own and would be D.E.T.E.R.M.I.N.E.D to show me who is boss (well, I had news for her...).  The more I argued, the more she dug her heels in.  The more I punished, the more she had to prove her point.  The more I explained, the more she negotiated.  It was a constant battle...until... I shifted my focus.  My role as a mother was to be her HERO.  As a teacher, we have the same role towards our students. 

So what did I do?  I focused on all the positive she was doing.  I did mention and offer an alternative for undesired behavior, but I focused on the positive.  Don't get me wrong, there were consequences for certain situations but I "picked my battles."  I focused on the good she was doing and not so much on the 'bad'.  She thrived off the positive reinforcement and therefore sought it out.  Asking for more responsibility, in order to show off her 'positive' skills.

Right, now how does this fit in with being your student's hero, you may ask?  The secret is... Focus on the Positive.

Adopt this attitude...

... and I can assure you that you will start looking at your students differently and they in turn, will look at you differently.

Find something in every child that is special, and focus on that.  No matter how naughty, rude, untidy or disruptive they are.  There WILL be something!  Focus on the positive.

Go out of your way to praise them for the tiniest things: the ability to share, tidy up, raise their hand, wait their turn, pick up papers, speak politely, hang their coat on the hook, hold the pencil correctly, creativity in the dolly corner, agility on the obstacle course, ability to balance on the beam... and so I can go on.

Make them feel like they matter!  Like you notice them!  Like they are special! Like you are truly happy to see them and have the privilege to know them!

(Am I going a bit far saying it is a privilege to know each of your students?  No.  If you find the positive in each child, you will realize that it IS a privilege to know each one of them!)

With some children you may need to dig deep to find the positive quality to praise, and you know what?  Those are the children that most often need it the most!

Be their HERO!  Make them matter!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Oh so Fun Summer Fashion for Teachers!

Would you wear these t-shirts?  I probably would...

I found it here.

Get it here.
This one comes from here.

I found this here.
You can find it here.

Hehe, I definitely need one of these.  My non-teacher friends can't believe that I would arrange and organize other people's children in a public place...

I would love to see your Summer Teacher outfits.  Tag me in your Instagram or upload an image to my Facebook page.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

DIY Puzzles

Adam is loving puzzles at the moment!  Once he starts, he wants to build all our age appropriate puzzles and even digs into Megan's box, which is not a good idea yet as her pieces are tiny and she would not be happy if he manages to lose a piece or two.

In the past I had spotted these great paint color sample cards at my local DIY store.  They are not the normal multi-colored ones but rather a larger rectangle of the solid color.  I have always kept these in mind for projects as they come in loads of different colors and they are free!

I knew that this project would be perfect for those little cards, so I pooped down to the store to grab a few (or maybe a lot :) ) - I must admit, I felt a slight stitch of guilt selecting my color cards knowing I would not be doing any painting - oh well, it didn't last long ;)

On each card I drew a picture with my limited skill, but fortunately my children don't notice where I think my skills are lacking - aren't they wonderful!

Once the pictures had been drawn, I cut them up into various sizes and shapes.  The nice thing about this is you can make it as challenging as you wish.  I started by cutting each puzzle into four pieces, but once my son gets the hang of it, I can cut them again so that there are eight pieces.  He will then be familiar with the picture of the puzzle but it will be more challenging to put it together.

The different colors also help with color recognition and sorting.

If you can't get these paint samples in your home town, you may just want to use ordinary card stock - which can give you a bigger image if you would like.

I placed a small ball of sticky putty under each of the pieces to help to hold them in place while building the puzzles.  They tend to move around quite a bit.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Give your Preschooler the Edge...

Do you have a child who is Pre-K and you desperately want to give them the edge at school by doing some 'prep' work at home with them?  Maybe you have no idea where to start...

Adam is now nearly 3 and we spend a lot of time doing 'educational' activities such as sorting and threading and building  and running and climbing and and and...  you get the picture.

He was quite a late speaker (and I use that loosely because I know it was not that late at all) and has only just started stringing words together into little sentences and building his vocabulary fairly quickly.

I had a request to design and make a Mini Office File Folder for a customer's 2-year old son.  I know what 2-year olds are capable of and didn't want to make some thing that would be overwhelming for him and it would only get used in a year or two.  It is for this reason that I thought to make it interactive!

While designing it,  got more and more excited at the thought of using guess what...I had to make one for Adam too.

It is interactive in the sense that you can choose a focus topic for the day or week, and 'separate' that focus topic from the rest of the information in the file.  Let me show you what I mean...

Do you see those magnetic strips under the concepts?  That is where to place the focus topic.  Initially I thought to use sticky back velcro, but then they were out of stock at my local store, so it made me think more about it and this is WAY better!  Adam attaches a paper clip to the desired image (great fine motor!!!) and then sticks it to the strip.  So for example, the focus color for this week is purple:

He searched for the purple block followed by 3 purple images (he still had to find one more).  In this above image you can see the Letter A and number 5 are part of our focus.  

The additional strip under My Body will be used for pictures we cut out of magazines of a body part or 2D /3D shapes, depending on what we are focusing on.  (Once again making the magnetic strips and paper clips more versatile than the velcro).

This page of the folder shows how it can be used to practice names.  There is also a little astronaut (Adam, where has it gone??) that moves up and down the day of week and month.

Further use for when they are older:

I included an extra set of letters so that once your child has moved past the information on the board, you can encourage writing words with the letters on the magnetic strips e.g.  Write a word that starts with a c (maybe give them a picture in the beginning), they can write a simple CVC word like cat.  Or think of something that is gray and write the word, which could be bat.

If you think you could use this Mini Office Folder, you can purchase it here.

Or if you would like a Princess Theme version, get it here.

This specific one has a theme of space, but I am more than willing to adapt it to any theme you require!  Let me know by sending me  an email ( and I'll make it my priority!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

10 Summer Fun Activities for the Kids

I love summer...the beach, the sun , the kids! I have been sifting through Pinterest to try and find some activities for my children to do during the vacation.  I have a 2-year old and a 6-year old and wanted to find activities appropriate for both of them to do together.

I have compiled this list as a go to and hope to get through the list during the vacation.  You can always check back to see how it went and how far we got.

1.  Sandy Footprints on the beach:  I found this image on Pinterest and think it will be a special keepsake activity with their little feet printed on the 'beach'.  There was no source attached to the picture so if you know who it belongs to, please let me know so that I can reference it.

2.  Make a milk jug feeder:  There is nothing better than a garden filled with singing birds.  Lure them to your garden with some home made milk jug bird feeders.  You can get an in-depth description on how to make one similar to the one below here.

3.  Play a game of Sponge Bullseye:  You can incorporate educational information as well by asking your children to add their scores(6 - year old, I'll make the numbers more applicable for her ability) or identify the color they landed on (2-year old).  See how to make one here.

4.  Do a Garden Scavenger hunt:  Children love pottering in the garden, now they have a reason to search for goodies.  Read about it here (there is also a FREE printable to go with it).

5.  Practice writing words:  This can be their name if they need practice with that or a new sight word.  can choose and then let them use what they find in the garden to create the word.  You can do a light outline for them to follow if need be.  That is what I will do with my son.

6.  What Melts in the Sun?  Do a simple science experiment with your children focusing on what melts in the sun.  Let your children predict what is going to happen.  Get some ideas on what to use here.

7.  Make a Dream catcher.  We have done this and it was a lovely fine motor activity for my son and my daughter loved the idea of it catching all the bad dreams.  Here are the instructions.

8.  Excavate the toys!  This is the perfect activity for a hot day!  freeze your children's toys in a big block of ice and they need to get them out.  I probably will not do this with my 2-year old as we might lose some fingers and/or toes but it will be such fun for my daughter when he takes a nap.   The post does show how the writer's sons got to their toys without sharp objects and it was a great problem solving activity. Check it out here.

9.  Who doesn't love blowing bubbles?  Well my dogs love it the most - well catching them that is.  Have a look here how to make giant bubbles. The perfect summer fun!

10.  Ok and the final one is a boredom jar.  I came across this one and I loved the ideas and the washi tape.  

I can't take the words... "I'm bored"  especially when I walk into the playroom and everything is gathering dust.  Maybe my children are too reliant on me to do activities with them.  Dsespite all the fun activities listed here, I think I need to squeeze in some "Keep yourself busy time" too.

I hope you enjoyed this and got some ideas for the summer break.  Let me know if you try any of them and how it went.  Pop back to see how we did with the list.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

It's All About Shark Week!

You are not going to believe this...but, this is the first time I hear about Shark week!  Fortunately I joined Jenny from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad for this wonderful Blog Hop, all in aim of Shark Week.

Grab a cup of coffee and relax, while moving from one Blog to the next learning about this fascinating creature and grabbing some wonderful FREE activities while you are at it. 

I chose to focus on the Whale Shark in my product for you. We quite enjoy watching nature shows at home and I love it when I spot a Whale Shark.  They are such docile, majestic creatures.   Below you can see the size comparison of a Whale Shark and an average person.

By Matt Martyniuk - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

While doing some research for this activity, I discovered that the first documented Whale Shark was done off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa - my home country.  I think this made me slightly more biased to these beautiful creatures and made me want to learn some more.

The activity which I have prepared for you is a "Let's Listen for Nouns"  activity.  It is a listening piece which gets read out and students need to record all the nouns they hear.  You can access it by clicking on the image below:

Hop over to The Tattooed Teacher for the next Freebie.  Be sure not to miss out on any of the activities available.

Happy Hopping :)

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