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Monday, March 12, 2012

Leapin' Leprechauns

Here is a terrific little game perfect for St. Patrick's Day learning centres, taught to me by a the talented Occupational Therapist Denise Rice who regularly visited my classroom last year.

Here is how it works:
1.  Each student playing needs a Leapin' Leprechaun page (as seen in the photo above).
2.  Each student places 10 pennies on the green circles at the top of the page.
3.  Taking turns, players roll the dice and remove the corresponding number of pennies from the green circles.  As per Denise's instructions "students pick up the required number of pennies by “squirreling” them in their hand (for example, pick up the pennies with their thumb,  index, and 3rd  finger and at the same time (and with the same hand) hold the pennies they have already picked up with their 4th and 5th fingers against their palms).  This also helps to develop proper pencil grasp, so the muscles of the hand learn a correct tripod grasp and the other fingers are curled into the palm of the hand which acts as a “stabilizer” while holding a pencil for drawing/printing. "
4.  The game continues until all players pennies have been moved from the green circles to the pot of gold via "swooshing" them along the rainbow.  Again, the motion of "swooshing" each penny from the base of the rainbow to the pot helps to develop fine-motor control as the child's index finger controls the movement of the penny.
5.  Once everyone is finished, each child gets a chance to wave the magic wand (actually a magnet wand) over the pennies in the pot of gold.  The magical part is that only certain pennies from certain years are magnetic depending on the metal composition of the coin... not that you have to explain that to your kindergarten students.
6. I often provide some addition practice to my students by challenging them to figure out how many magic pennies (magnetic pennies)  there are all together.

If you would like a PDF file of the Leapin' Leprechaun page please drop me a line at and I'd be happy to share!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Flurry of Fun

With the end of winter just around the corner in these parts, I thought it a good idea for my students to create snowpeople that would resist melting.  After reading various stories about snowmen (Snowballs by Lois Ehlert, The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler, and Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner) we set about to write a list of criteria for making the perfect snowman.  We used empty coffee cream bottles and styrofoam balls as the base of our sculptures adding details such as googly eyes, buttons, fabric scraps, and feathers from a moulting boa I found lying around my house (don't ask!).  Our Grade 4 Reading Buddies assisted the kindergarten children by helping with gluing and the insertion of appendages (we used popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and golf tees for arms).
Notice that the snowman front and centre is sporting a pattern on his buttons.
An incredible little math detail that the young artist included without being asked to.
We proudly displayed our finished masterpieces in the school office so that parents and guests can feast their eyes upon our "Flurry of Fun!"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Curb Appeal

A hot property has just become available in Room 216!  This charming gingerbread cottage features newly installed chocolate chip cookie shingles, peppermint stick trim, and lollipop landscaping. Run, run as fast as you can, it is a house fit for an aspiring gingerbread man.
This is the house as it neared the completion of its most recent renovation.
That giant green beanstalk to the right of the house is one of three we made
after reading Jack and the Beanstalk.  
For the past week the students in my room have been merrily working on decorating this giant cardboard house which was generously donated to us from Notables (Edmonton's fanciest card and gift shop located in the posh 124 Street area).  

Don't let the beauty of it fool you... there has been some hard work and many curricular objectives met through the assembly of this "gingerbread" house.  Multiple skills were used for the chocolate chip shingles alone:  students had to trace around a circular stencil, cut the curved lines they drew, draw 7 chocolate chips on each cookie, and learned about light brown, medium brown, and dark brown.  Notice the gumdrop trim on the rooftop.  Each candy has been carefully cut out by nimble little fingers and then added to the structure in a pattern.  Peppermint sticks were a particular challenge to many children demanding that they pay careful attention to stay in the lines and repeat red on every second segment of the candy cane.  Who knew math and fine-motor development could be so sweet? 

I am currently using the gingerbread house as a quiet place for two students to play with the Lite-Brite (another great fine-motor activity allowing fingers to push light pegs into corresponding holes). And the best part is that the decor can be removed and changed out to a new theme once the holidays are over.