I loved making learning fun for the children. Instead of having Independent Reading, we had Book Nook Time. Once a month, I gave each child an index card. They would write their name on it and decorate it. Then, they could go around the room and find a place they would like to read independently. It had to be a place they would be able to read and not interact with others. Then using that blue sticky tack, they would place their index card there and that was their place to read for the month. I always had a fun reading spot around the room — maybe a tent or a big pillow area or a cardboard box. One time, I even had a plastic swimming pool with pillows. It would be different every year. I had tables and not desks. They loved sitting under tables or in the center circle. They loved sitting in my desk chair or under my desk. They loved sitting in the rocking chair or the Author Chair. They could sit by a friend as long as they read and did not talk. Book Nooks gave them a chance to move around and not just sit in their chair all day. I loved seeing what the children thought were fun places to read!
One of the hardest things for me as a teacher was discipling children’s behavior! A couple of years before I retired, I had 2 VERY challenging boys. I taught first grade. It wasn’t before long I used up all my discipline tricks! I needed something new. I went home, picked up a book and the word choice came to mind. I decided to teach these 2 little boys, my class and myself about making choices. We talked about making choices and the consequences they bring. Good choices bring consequences that make you happy, feel good. Bad choices bring consequences that DO NOT make you happy. I talked with each parent and explained what I am doing and what I would like them to do. The boys and I set up a contract. Every day before lunch and at the end of the day, the boys had to self-evaluate how they did. Did they have a good morning, making good choices or did they have a problem. Same at the end of the day. If there was a problem, they had to tell me what it was and what they could do differently. I would write the problem on the sheet. If the boys had a good morning and afternoon, they got a fruit roll up — very motivating. They took the contract home and their parent had to sign it and return it the next day. If there was a problem, they had to help them find a way to make a better choice. One issue that came up, was that, these two little guys got fruit roll ups and the rest of the class didn’t. I sure didn’t want their behavior to change. So I made little charts with 20 boxes in each chart. I gave one to each of the other children. They kept them on their desk. As I was teaching, if I saw someone going something good, I would say, “Johnny, give yourself a plus!” When they filled their chart, they got a fruit roll up! It was a good year for the fruit roll up company :) We got through the year. By the end of the year, one would say to other, make a better choice. I felt successful and I didn’t lose all my hair that year. The funny thing is that I learned about making choices in my personal life. You never know! If you ever have any questions, I am happy to answer them. There is a Let’s Keep In Touch button at the bottom that you can click on. Have fun making good choices!
As a first grade teacher, I didn’t give out homework, accept to read at home for 15 minutes every day. But, I did like to be a little tricky, so… Every summer, I would look for a really fun stuffed animal. Something a little different that kids would love. I created a journal to go with it. I used a composition notebook, created a fun Title Page, made a cute cover with the animal’s name on it and used clear contact on the cover to make it last longer. This little guy is fun because he is a puppet too. I am a quilter, so I made a cute bag to put them both in or you could purchase a bag. I also typed up a letter explaining that each night a different child will take the animal home, have adventures with it, write about the adventures, draw a picture — families can do it together, and bring it back to school. The next day, the child will read their adventures to the class and draw the name of the next child to take the animal and journal home. It’s fun to hear all the different adventures the little animal has. Kids love it and they are working on writing skills at home with their family! At the end of the year, there is a drawing and someone will take home the stuffed animal.