Quiet Critters

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 6.59.59 AMAlthough I have been a teacher for many years now, this year my skills have been truly tested.  As a relief teacher I have had to get used to the rules and routines of so many different schools, grades and classes.  One thing they all have in common, is a need for some AWESOME behaviour management strategies.  There are many a child out there who use having a new teacher as a  chance to test the boundaries!

I have used the tried and true, stickers and prizes but for the Early Years (Ages 4-7) I was needing a new creative strategy.  I make no excuses for my strict classroom style but I also love to play tricks, joke and make up stories for the kids.  Thats where the Quiet Critters come in.

THE STORY GOES….

My Quiet Critters have been very lonely at my house as my kids go to school all day and the baby just wants to put them in his mouth!  So they asked me if they could come to school with me to find some new friends!

They are looking for a very particular kind of friend to show them how school works.

  • An attentive listener (because they have very quiet voices)
  • A hard worker who always tries their best (so they can learn new things)
  • Responsible (So they wont get lost)
  • Kind and Caring (So they can make new friends) 
  • Keeps their hands and feet to themselves. (so they wont get hurt)

When they see a friend like this they will want to sit with them! They will sit quietly on your desk or at your feet and watch and learn with you!  

BUT if you suddenly are not doing the right thing they will ask to find a new friend or even worse just go back home into their container! 

HOW TO MAKE QUIET CRITTERS

The Quiet Critters

The Quiet Critters

You could make them out of anything!  I have seen pet rocks, pom poms with eyes glued on, teddy bears or in my case party favours!  These cute little soft and spiky guys were in a pack of 6 in a discount store in the party aisle!  Then for a bit of variety I found a pack of 4  little of “Moshi Monsters” (in The Reject Shop) for $3.  I placed them in a round plastic container (plastic so its light and unbreakable in my bag) added some sticker letters and a bow for the lid!

THE VERDICT

Yesterday I tried them out in a Prep class (5 year olds).  ABSOLUTE WINNER!!!  They were all desperate for a quiet critter and were trying so hard to get one!  No one got silly or attempted to hide or throw them (which I had thought could happen)  I was glad I had quite a few and at times they would sit in the middle of the hardest working group.

This is definitely a fun technique I will be using in my classroom in the future!

 

 

 

A Peek At Our Week – Weekly Schedule for Kids

Between the activities that happen each day at school (music, sport, library) and the extra curricular activities that our children participate in during the year, our schedule is CRAZY! 

Last year I had Master O constantly asking me Is today Library? Do I have swimming tomorrow? I had my own schedule planned in my diary but never got around to making one that he could follow himself.  Now with two cherubs at school it has become a necessity.

Our Schedule Must Have’s

  • FLEXIBLE. Be able to be changed around – We have winter and summer sports, term timetables that change and I am not going to be printing out a new timetable every time I need to change it!
  • MULTIPLE. A timetable each.  I though about creating one big family planner, but with the number of activities it would get too confusing. Which brings me to my next point
  • EASY. Ease of use.  I need it to be read and understood by a 3 year old! Hence it will require images as well as text.
  • BUSY. Must be able to track multiple activities on each day.

 How we did it!

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1.  Flexibility.  Instead of just creating a printed schedule that can’t be changed, I looked for a more flexible option.  Enter the photo frame.  I would create a blank timetable to go behind the frame and use velcro dots on the glass, so that I could change the activities as often as needed!  You will need a frame big enough to fit an almost a4 size of paper.  This frame was an 8×10 from Kmart for $5.  Velcro dots can be found at Spotlight, Riot (art and Craft) and most dollar stores.

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2. A weekly timetable.  I then created a weekly timetable template in word.  I included Monday to Saturday as we generally don’t have activities on a Sunday.  I can easily add a Sunday activity to the bottom of a staurday box and use a whiteboard marker to add the word Sunday!  Yet another beauty of using glass, you can write on it and it’s not permanent. Of course when Little Miss A saw me doing this she insisted I make one for her in pink! Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 7.17.32 AM

3. Print and Frame.  Simply print the template, cut it to fit your frame and put it in! Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 7.20.42 AM

4.  The activity cards!  We don’t do all of these activities but after a lengthy Facebook discussion I have added some popular activities for YOU! I have also left one blank that you can add in as need be.   Simply Print, Cut (inside the lines), Laminate, Cut.  Attach a velcro dot to the back and you have a flexible and easy to read activity card!

Attach a velcro dot to the outside of your frame as needed and simply attach and reattach an activity as needed!

I must say I just know this is going to SIMPLIFY our life!  It will keep us on track and maybe, just maybe stop some of the million questions about what is happening this week!!!

I have love creating this for us and FOR YOU TOO!  I have bought the images from DigiWebStudio and due to your request I have added a “DONATE” button to my sidebar >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

These PRINTABLES are free for you to use to help organise your home, but if you LOVE them, feel free to make a donation to help cover costs.

Get ready to get ORGANISED!

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Peek-at-Our- Week – Activity Cards

 

Busy Bags

School is back and that means “Tot School” is in session.  This year our “Tot School” is going to look VERY different as Little Miss A now attends Kindergarden 2-3 days a week!

We are also gradually progressing away from “Tot” activities and transitiong into preschool activities like reading and writing! 

One of the most important parts of our Tot school are “Busy Bags”

Busy Bags are;

  • A 5-10 minute activity, contained in a bag.
  • Designed to be independent and self directed. (Once introduced, the child should be able to do the activity with minimal parental assistance)
  • Contain a variety of skills including fine motor,  numeracy concepts, letters, colours, anything! 
  • Inexpensive – Using every day home items or cheap craft items.
  • Hands On – Hands must be kept busy! 
  • Rotated after a week-forntnight.

Each week we put out 5 Busy Bags.  Now that Little Miss A is only home 5 days a fortnight I am planning on keeping them out for a fortnight.  

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#1 – “Cupcake Counting”

  • – Write numbers on the end of oversized paddle pop sticks
  • – child places the right number of cupcake pegs on the stick! 

I love using pegs because they are great for fine motor!  They help to develop grip and control strengthening little finger muscles. 

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#2 “Love Maths” –

  • Place the love hearts in size order! Biggest to smallest, smallest to biggest
  • The random hearts are for matching, patterning, sequencing, sorting! Possibilities are endless! Can they sort them by colour/pattern? Sort by size?
  • Make a size pattern (big, small, small) Make a colour pattern? (Pink, purple) 

This one is especially for Valentines Day coming up! I often like to theme the activities depending on special days, seasons, holidays.

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#3 “Peg My Name”

  • Make a laminated card with your child’s name on it.
  • We “beautified” it by adding her name onto a pony picture
  • Write the letters of their name onto some pegs. One letter on each peg! Don’t forget to use a capital letter for the first letter and lowercase for the rest! –
  • Now they select the right letter peg and add it to the corresponding letter on the card!

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 7.50.23 AM#4 “Learning Letters” – I bought this great little book from Kmart for $2!

  • I tore out the pages and laminated them, making them reusable!
  • I only place 3-5 cards in the bag with a whiteboard marker.
  • I only put the cards in, once we have gone over the letter one on one*
  • Once she has written in the card she wipes it off with a baby wipe!

*As part of our tot school we are focusing on 3 letters a week.  Once we have completed a few introductory activities on this letter, I put the corresponding card into the busy bag.

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  • I have had these laminated colour cards from my classroom for years!
  • Little Miss A lives to line them up, match them and add the same colour button! Easy!

I create the bags each Sunday and place them on top of our toy rotation trolley in a little basket.  

 

I collected the little clear pencil cases from various cheap shops! Once the activity is finished for the fortnight I place it into a clear snap lock bag and into a large storage container ready for in a few months to place out again!

Little Miss A (and sometimes even Master O) are free to grab a bag and complete an activity ANYTIME they want to.  There are also times I “madate” they play with a busy bag.  During Master O’s homework time or when they need a little quiet and calm time or in a month or two when Mummy is feeding the baby! I don’t “prescribe” an amount of time they play with the activity as generally it is just until they finish the activity which is usually 5-10 minutes.  Somedays like Monday’s she wants to do all the bags at once and by the end of fortnight she is showing little interest in ANY of them.

We love busy bags, as they give us a quick, educational, answer to “What can I play Mum?” as well as ensuring that some of the time during the week is devoted to play based  activities that cover a variety of educational concepts. 

As we change our activities around I will be sure to share them with you! 

Sensational Sensory Tubs

Learning is more than flashcards and work sheets.  Children learn best when they use their whole body, including all their senses.  What better way to introduce learning to your toddler or preschooler than with Sensory Tubs.  Sensory Tubs are, a tub (Bucket, storage container) filled with a variety of materials, often themed, that children can explore using their hands, tools and imaginations.
1. Start with a container.  I like to use a container that has a lid so that at the end of play I can put it away safely from babies or prying fingers!  Be sure to choose a container that is deep enough for digging in!
2.  Choose a theme!  This is optional but a fun way to introduce sensory tubs. A theme could be something as simple as a colour or dinosaurs, cars, garden, cooking, a season or celebration.
3. Choose a base material.  The base material takes up the most space in the tub.  Think of materials with unusual textures our favourites are….. 

4. Add  creative play items.  Use items of differing size, shape, colour and texture.  Search through your toy room, kitchen cupboards, craft supplies!
5.  Add some tools!  Shovels, Buckets, strainers, chopsticks, spoons, funnels, tubes, pipes anything that the base material can go in, under, through!!!

 
 

 

For an amazing variety of ideas, google, sensory tubs or search away on Pinterest!

 

Get Creative and Happy Playing!!!!

When all is quiet..

When all is quiet, you know mischief is brewing.  

This mischief includes TWO packets of what were unopened feathers…

To say she created a massive mess is an understatement!

 But what is childhood without some feather fun?

That look on her face, her squeels, the way she jumped higher each time, was worth every feather fibre found throughout the house!

Does mess make you cringe?  Or can you let it slide in order to have some fun?

Linking up with…. 

My Little Drummer Boys

The Perfect Play Picks.

 As we continue work on our “Project Playroom” it got me thinking…..what are the perfect play items?  You know the tried and true items that outlast the latest Disney fad and encourage your child to play and learn?  Here is what I came up with….

Hand Puppets $34.95 ~ Lime Tree Kids

Puppet Play:  Finger puppets, hand puppets, sock puppets, any puppets help encourage language, role play, social skills and story telling!  It is a great way to introduce to your child the concept of story, without using books.  Puppets have also long been used in counselling sessions as children work through problems through role play or discussing problems with a non threatening and fun puppet!

Chic Greengrocer Set $59.95 ~ Lime Tree Kids

Teach your child counting, measuring and social language by playing shops!  This is by far the best “shopping” set I have seen as it includes scales!  Playing shops introduces so many valuable topic specific vocabulary terms like, heavy, light, more, less, dollars, cents, change, cost and of course please and thank you!  By buying a set without the sounds and lights it encourages your child to imagine and explore on their own without the aid of some batteries!

Chic Breakfast Set $69.95 ~ Lime Tree Kids

Time for Tea: Oh I am in love with this breakfast set!  Why?  I love that it is not only made of wood but gender neutral!  I have long been searching for a tea set that was not pink or flowery, so it could be used by “My Pigeon Pair.” Role playing tea parties is a great way to build on a child’s social skill teaching them to take turns, share, use their manners and to not always be the boss!

Tampominos Letters $19.95 ~ Lime Tree Kids

I have to admit I have been lving under a rock when it comes to “Tamponimos”  As soon as I mentioned them to a group of school Mums I seemed to be the only one who hadn’t heard of them before!  Tamponimos come in letters or numbers and are a great hands on and visual way of teaching the foundation numeracy and literacy skills.  The letter ones could be used to experiment with letters, name writing, sight words and word building!

Craft Turntable $29.95 ~ Lime Tree Kids

 Ok so this one is not for them but for Mum!  Looking for a clever way to store and organise al those drawing utensils?  This turntable does that AND allows all children to turn the console to reach what they need!

So what are your tried and true play items that also encourage learning?

All these items are available from our long time supporter and sponsor Shelley at

Lime Tree Kids.

Playtime Overhaul

I have a horrible case of boring Mummy syndrome.  Sypmtoms include;  asking your child if they want to do a puzzle whenever they say they are bored, craft ability is suddenly limited to drawing, and helping to hang up the clothes is a game isn’t it?

So this week I have trawled the web looking for some new play ideas for Master O (4) and Miss A (1).

I-Spy Rice ~ Living on a Latte

This is a great idea for all ages!  Just place some rice in a bottle with some little things for your little one to discover!  This would keep Master O very entertained and of course Little Miss A had to sneak a peek to see what he was so excited about.  In the end she used it as a shaker!

When the washing machine steals your socks ~ Mummy to Five

Now you have to be clever to see that big pile of socks as a fun game for kids….but it is!

Simply line the kids up and let them take turns to throw the socks into the bucket!

See the gorgeous photos on the link above!  

Chatterboxes ~ Puddles and Gumboots

Boy do these bring back memories!  Master O wanted to help me make these and was quite fascinated by the folding of the paper but even more fun was making his little sister do whatever it said inside!  Including lay an egg like a chicken!

What are your favourite games this week?