Saturday, February 15, 2014

Balloons in the Classroom

Snowstorm!  School is cancelled and everyone is at home.  How fun it is too have a snow day!  But when the snow days turn into what seems like an extension of the winter holiday it can make reinstating classroom routines difficult when school does open again.

To make things worse, (due to the snow) the outdoor play area is too wet to use for recess.  There is a classroom full of students that are out of sync with the school routine and they're stuck inside!  Did I mention that the gymnasium is not an option either?  The teacher is now faced with finding something to do inside.  She could play "7-up".  (That's what they did when I was a kid.)  She could pull out the board games and puzzles.  Another option would be to toss an old 1980's exercise video into the dinosaur-like television/video combo and hope the tape doesn't get eaten.  She could also skip "recess" altogether and have her students brush up on those addition facts.  That option might be counterproductive. 

Here is another choice for you to consider.  Balloons!  Playing with balloons in the classroom gives the children a chance to get up and move.  It builds their upper arm muscles.  It's an opportunity to foster cooperative learning skills when students work with a fellow classmate and play "Keep it Up" with their shared balloon.  Balloons have the potential to become an educational tool!  Write spelling words or rhyming words on them.  The colors of the balloons can be discussed with preschoolers. 
I wrote words that rhymed with pink and drew hearts around the words.
Blow a balloon up and hold it around the neck. Have the children watch. Release the balloon and watch it fly through the air. Repeat the event with the same conditions and have the students predict the balloon's landing point.

Other "Balloon Benefits"  A package of balloons takes up very little space and are easy to store in the classroom.  They're inexpensive.  Balloons are lightweight making them indoor-friendly.  Balloons are fun for kids!
You need a dull permanent marker, a package of balloons, and a good set of lungs!

You will need a dull permanent marker to write words on the balloons with.  Kids also love it when you draw faces and pictures on the balloons.  Allow the ink on the balloon to dry for about 10-20 seconds.  The magic markers will cause smearing.  The sharp permanent markers can poke the balloons.  It will also help if you have a good set of lungs.  You will also need to establish a few rules with the children before starting the activity.

What activities do you engage your students with when outdoor recess is not an option?  Post your idea here.

Lessons by Molly © 2014  All rights reserved.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Decorating Cookies in the Classroom for Valentine's Day

Hello viewers!

For those of you that have been sticking with your New Year's resolutions, I thought I might tempt you into going astray with the photo below.
This is a photo of frosted cookies.

Are you ready to celebrate Valentine's Day with your students this Friday? Here's an idea that's easy and simple. It's decorating cookies! This activity is sure to be a winner with the children. The fact that they end up with something to eat "sweetens" the deal!

There are a few things you'll need to do to get started.  Of course you will need to check out any potential food allergies that some of your students may have.  For these students, send a note home to the parents suggesting that a snack be brought to school on the day you plan this.

First, you will need some cookies.  Get the plain ones that are not frosted.  Select a variety that is strong enough for little hands to hold and to frost with.  I used the Keebler brand "simply made" butter cookies.  You get about twenty cookies in one package.  You will also need at least one container of white frosting, red food coloring, sprinkles or crystals (or both), cupcake liners (or something else to hold them inside of), small paper plates, and plastic knives for the children to spread the frosting with.

This is what the cookies in the first photo looked liked before they were frosted.

Using just a single container of frosting will make it difficult for twenty or more children to view the transformation of the frosting as it changes from white to pink.  Divide the frosting into several separate containers. This way, you can have small groups of children watch the magic happen.  For the purposes of this blog, and not the classroom setting, I am adding the red food coloring directly into one container.

Add a few drops of red food coloring to the white frosting.
Stir the red food coloring into the frosting so that is is well mixed.
Once you have made the pink frosting, give each child a cookie on a small paper plate.  Provide each child with some sprinkles, a small amount of frosting, and a plastic knife for spreading. 

This photo shows the frosting as it is spread onto the cookie.  The cupcake liner seen behind the cookie holds the sprinkles and a candied heart.  Treats are nice for Valentine's Day.  It's even sweeter when the kids "make" their treat themselves.
Save at least one cooking as unfrosted to provide a visual reminder of what the cookie looked like before it was frosted.
What are the educational values of the activity? 

1.  Motor Skills:  The children are spreading the frosting on their cookies and sprinkling it with other decorations.  They are using muscles in their hands. 
2.  Language development:  The educator can talk about what the cookie looked like before it was frosted.  He/she can also discuss its appearance after it was frosted.  The words, frosted and unfrosted can be introduced.  A discussion on how the frosting changed can also be discussed.
3.  Writing:  The children can write about the experience!  They can practice using adjectives to describe the cookies.

The above activity can be done anytime during the school year.  Change the color of the frosting to yellow or green for a spring themed cookie decorating activity. 

I made a few Valentine cookie recording sheets that can be used by the children to draw or write their observations.  I made them generic enough that they can be used anytime of the year.  You can view them below. 

Children can make pictorial representations of the cookies before and after the frosting activity.

The unfrosted word list might include size, shape, and color.  The frosted cookies word list might include the same words with the color of the frosting added and words like, "pretty", "colorful", and "beautiful".

Click on the words, Valentine Cookie Recording Sheets to get them.

Lessons by Molly © 2014  All rights reserved.