Sometimes the Best Things are Free

8 May

We are counting down with 4 1/2 weeks of school left.  We even saw some sunny days which made people think that summer will make it yet.  We get a lot of rain this time of year so sun is appreciated. It is hard to keep students interested when they would  rather be outside.  I am especially low on ideas for the life skills program.  I came across this BINGO game and it was the perfect activity for this week.  The students took turns drawing the call cards and making the faces so everyone could guess which one it was on their  Bingo card.  Even the students with limited verbal abilities had a good time.  You can find them at   http://peoniesandpoppyseeds.com/  here

 

Feelings BINGO

 

May is also the month I bring out the Pear Tree for Homonyms.  It seems to look different every year.  I thought you might like to see how it is looking this year.  I am still giving out lollipops for each homonym pair a student comes up with.  After doing this several years, I am pleased to find that students that contributed when they were younger do not need prompting to come up with words now.

Pear2014

Trial and Error Pass

8 Apr

 

trial error button

This is an activity I use with my  social pragmatic groups.   The activity requires students to use a trial and error method of problem solving.  It is a good one to use for defeating  Rock Brain because to be successful students need to be willing to try  different moves.  For students  who fall apart when they are wrong,  it provides opportunity to defeat Glass Man.  This activity can be used to reinforces the idea that mistakes are not necessarily bad and can be used for learning.  It is important to talk about this before you begin so students have the tools to work through their feelings in a constructive manner.

This activity also teaches students to work together toward a common goal.  The solution will be found by observing the mistakes of everyone and it would be very difficult to succeed individually.  Students  also need to use their short term memory and make inferences to predict the pattern.

This activity can be used with small groups of students, two competing teams, or with one or two students.  The object of the game is to cross  a   6×6 grid of steps using the correct pattern.  I lay the grid out on the floor so that students have a good view and can use motor movement.

thumbnail of grid

Pattern cards are made pattern C          A judge, who could be a student or teacher, is selected.  The judge takes one of the pattern cards that will be the solution to the stepping pattern.  A student begins the challenge by stepping on one of the stars in the first row and moves one row ahead for each step.    As the move is made the judge indicates if it is the correct one by saying right or wrong move.  A buzzer for a wrong move adds a game show feature and are available free as an app.   If it is the right step the student continues to move forward.  If it is the wrong step the person returns to the start or the end of the line and watches the attempts of others until they get to the front of the line again.  The students may notice that a pattern is developing as students discover the correct moves.  This will speed up the progress until someone finally makes it across.  Everyone that was paying attention can then make the crossing.  Students should be reinforced for working as a team and not as an individual competition to make it to the finish.

It doesn’t take much to  make pattern cards  and a  grid  on your own.  However, if you prefer to have some of the work done for you, I am putting a set up on the TPT store for download at a minimum cost.

Build a Paper Tower; A Cooperative Challenge

3 Mar

It seems  a lot of people were enthused about the rubber band and paper cup activity.  If you liked that one, you may also like the paper tower  activity.  It has been in the social pragmatics section. Sometimes when directions are just on paper you  don’t see how great an activity is.  I think the paper tower might be one of those activities.   You usually don’t have to go far for materials.  Just empty out your recycle box.

This activity works  well with  Rockbrain if you are doing the Superflex program.   A little instruction about being flexible with your thinking and allowing other people to have different ideas helps on this one.  I have used this activity with different sizes of  social pragmatic groups who were sometimes divided into competing teams.  They were given flat pieces of paper out of the recycle bin and told to build as high of a tower as they could.  No other materials were allowed.  There really isn’t a wrong way to do this.  It seems they typically divide into the cylinder group, or the fold into squares or triangle group.

Cylinder paper tower

IMG240

build a paper tower

It really is a good activity for group participation and sharing of ideas. They have made it as high as 6 levels.  By that time a student is standing on a chair and no one is breathing.  One false move and the whole thing comes tumbling.  Hopefully no one will have a Brain Eater moment.

Just a note to let you know I updated the (Comprehension of Complex Sentences)   I am putting 3 pages for a free download here.

I have 36 cards available at the TPT store

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Cynthia-Montalbano

Styrofoam Cups and Rubber Bands

15 Feb

Having a party day mid week sure throws off the concentration.  There was a level of energy that  was  hard to contain.   It made for a long week with a lot of interruptions.

This month the  4th grade students  studied  different types of machines.  The final task was making machines that would deliver valentines to  their valentine boxes.  The styrofoam cup activity that is in the pragmatics section is a good example of a tool/machine operation.  I decided to bring it out again to reinforce what was happening in the classroom and add my language component.    I used it previous years  with larger social pragmatic groups so some of you may already have found it and  used it.  I thought it was worth mentioning again.   I would love to hear how it worked for you if you tried it.  Please go  to the pragmatic section to download  more specific directions.

This time I adapted the activity for  my smaller therapy groups of 2 to 3 students.  We used 6 to 8 strings on a rubber band  and each student pulled 2 of them.  I added myself  to the mix.  Basically the tool is a rubber band with 2 feet lengths of yarn tied to it.  Students take a yarn in each hand and pull  to open it  enough to fit around the end of a  styrofoam cup placed  bottoms up on a table.  They were instructed not to use their hands when moving the cups.  When they released the tension the rubber band grabbed  the cup and they  then lifted the cup with the yarn pieces and moved it  into position to form a pyramid.  15 cups make a nice size pyramid.  Students took turns being the leader to give directions. yarn tool

I found adding myself allowed for some sabotage.  I just didn’t move unless specific directions were given.  One person not moving can make a big difference in the operation of the rubber band which is the beauty of this activity.  They learned quickly to use positional words and to work cooperatively.  I pointed out that “Whole Body Listening” is important here.    One person can ruin the whole operation if they are not focused on the group and cups.   That rubber band can assume a rather flat appearance and not be functional if someone isn’t pulling right.  Also they can’t make assumptions that people will know where to move.

It’s How You Say it

31 Dec

I have been working on some new social pragmatic cards.   I found that most of my social pragmatic cards did not have answers included.  I needed  cards that students could use  in small group activities and would have an answer they could discuss if an adult wasn’t with their  group to get them thinking.  I also wanted to use them for  role playing.  I found that students really enjoyed video taping themselves and viewing themselves.  However a written prompt  was needed for some students.    Students will be told that the answer is a possible answer and there may be more than one possible answer in some cases.

These  cards  were made for  my students in 3rd through 6th grade.  I tried to include some more difficult scenarios  that would be beyond the school environment.  Some of my older students need to spread their wings a bit more.

I included 12 cards for download here and  under Social Language.   There are 20 more at the TPT store.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Cynthia-Montalbano