Friday, November 16, 2012

Teaching Visualization (I love this!)

Last year, I was teaching my first grade students about visualization or 'making movies in your mind' whenever you read or hear text.  One of my teaching partners had a song that she used to play and have her students illustrate.  It was a wonderful idea, but to be honest I wasn't a huge fan of the song.

I was driving in the car one day and one of my daughter's favorite songs came on the radio and as I listened, I thought now THIS is a perfect song for teaching visualization.  The song is catchy and it certainly tells a story from the beginning with a lot of great detail!

When I got home, I bought the song on iTunes and typed out the lyrics.  I put a few sentences on a page and printed out the entire song.  My big kids (Ali in first grade and Joe in second) took the pages, read the words and drew what they saw happening in their mind based on what they read.  

When they were done, I used iMovie (though you could use any computer program that lets you make videos) and I turned their pictures into a video (which they loved).  It was such a huge success that I did it with my own students (who also loved it) and shared the idea with all of my teaching friends.  The truth is I think that all grade levels would like this.  I also put all the pages into a classroom book that my students loved reading (again... and again... and again...).

If this is something you may want to try, feel free to click HERE and download the pages that I use. If you watch the video, you will notice that I did draw a zigzag line down the conversation portion of the song to show the two characters talking on the phone.

You can click HERE to watch the video on YouTube and buy the song or just watch it below.  The song is called, "The Princess Who Saved Herself" by John Coulton.  

I've also done this using the Beatles "Yellow Submarine" but it didn't turn out quite as cool.  I'm always looking for more great kid songs to do this with.  I think the key is finding a song that tells a story and doesn't have too long of a chorus (like Yellow Submarine...).  If you have some ideas you use, I'd love to hear them (and steal them).  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pumpkin Gutter (Coolest thing EVER!)

I was walking through Meijer a few weeks before Halloween and I stumbled across this.  It is called the Pumpkin Gutter and claimed that it could gut a pumpkin quickly and easily without damaging the seeds (not damaging the seeds being a high priority for me because we LOVE eating them).
It was on sale for four bucks, so I thought it worth the gamble and scooped one up.

After cutting the hole in the top of the pumpkin, all you do is attach this baby to a drill and run it along the inside and bottom of your pumpkin.  It says in the directions not to go fast but I did (which just made it go faster... the seeds were still perfect!).  I also was able to use it without anyone holding on to the pumpkin.  The best thing to do is just try it and see what works for you.  After using this, all we had to do was scoop out the insides and separate guts from seeds.  I think it cut this activity by at least an hour for me.  And bonus, it was super easy to clean!

I highly recommend one!  Here is the link to their page:

(But try to find it cheaper.  I got mine for only four bucks remember, and it was worth every penny!).