Sunday, February 7, 2016

Building STAMINA in Young Learners

What is STAMINA?

Stamina is the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.

Why is stamina important to teachers and for students?

Just like you build the stamina to run long distance, you also need to build stamina to read, write, listen, and even sit. Everything we do is affected by stamina.

A child’s ability to do anything for a long period of time absolutely affects what they are able to learn. As a teacher, it is unfair to expect students to do something that they have not been taught, seen modeled, and practiced. Practice builds stamina. We can’t expect a five year old to come into class the first week of school and sit on the carpet for a ten minute lesson, holding their attention without interruption. They have most likely not built the stamina to do that yet. The same thing is true for expecting a child to read at their seat quietly and independently when this is something they have not practiced or built stamina for.

How can you help build a child’s stamina?

Set realistic expectations and goals. If your goal is to have your children reading independently for thirty minutes by the end of the year, back it up and divide the amount of time out to set weekly goals. It’s okay to start with a one minute goal. I know that doesn’t seem like much but you are building a foundation for success. First, you need to model your expectation so students know exactly what to do. They need to SEE what it’s supposed to look like.

Think of it this way. If you were training for a marathon, would you force yourself to run the entire distance the first time you ran? Well, no! You may pass out. I know I would. Ha! You have to train your body for success and not just for a week. People train for months to just complete a marathon.

We need to have the same understanding for the needs of young learners. The greatest gift we can give them is TIME. Time to learn, process and most importantly GROW. So, start small and build from there. Don’t be hard on yourself as the teacher. You can’t make a child do what they are not ready to do. As long as you are consistent and they are growing, you are doing your job. GROWTH=Increased STAMINA

Monitor and celebrate PROGRESS. Don’t measure success by completion, measure success by growth. As long as we are moving forward, we are moving. Yes! So much of early learning is developmental and each child will learn at a different pace. Set individual goals for each student and help them to build on whatever foundation they walk in the door with. They may only be able to read to themselves for one minute now but you just wait and see, it will be ten minutes before you know it. The same thing goes for any area of learning. You can’t expect a child to sit and write page after page of stories. They need to build writing stamina. Once they can write one page or even one sentence, celebrate it. Once they can sit through an entire story without getting up or asking a million questions, celebrate it! We live in a society where test grades dictate success. Newsflash: all children are not the same. As a teacher, it is SO important that we learn to measure each student’s progress based upon their ability to grow THEIR foundation!

Remember, GROWTH=Increased STAMINA

Be Consistent. If you only run once a week, you won’t be ready for a marathon. The same concept applies when learning in the classroom. If you want a child to build stamina for anything, you must provide consistent structure, practice and expectations. If you become lax on expectation, they will take a step back. A healthy push is good for children. They need to know that you believe in them and know they can be successful. Be consistent. If you skip a day’s work, it will show. Practice creates progress. Progress will increase stamina. Do you see where I keep going here? Ha!

Maybe you haven’t focused on building stamina in your classroom yet. Guess what? You can start tomorrow! Create a chart with your students and teach them what stamina is and why it is important. Then, set goals. You can even create another resource chart marking your class progress or individual progress and be sure to celebrate that progress. 

Here are a few free resources I found on Teachers Pay Teachers too!

Remember, stamina is necessary for all areas: reading, writing, sitting, listening, etc. We have to grow the ability to do all tasks while staying focused and without getting tired. 

We can build super readers, writers, listeners, etc. one minute at a time!

Sending love and virtual hugs! 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The 100th Day of School is Coming!

This post is filled with ghosts of 100th Day past. My hundredth day isn't until Thursday but I thought I would look back at the years past to help me plan. Here are some of my favorite activities from previous years. This year I plan to have five stations that students will rotate through. We will pull a few new tricks out of our party hats that I will post about later. For now, I hope you will enjoy this combination of throw back posts! 

Here are a few creative ways you can count practice counting to 100.  Most importantly, kids are doing the work. :) These are displayed in our Kinder hall by my teammates and I. We each do different things so they are fun to look at. 

Counting by 10's, 5's, and 1's to 100!

I love this idea of counting to 100 by using pipe cleaners to make tally marks. 

Have each student brings a bag of 100 items.  We send home a note and a bag a week before our celebration.  We get out the 100's charts so students can count each other's items. My teammate, Paula, took it a little further.  She took some away from a few bags and added items to a few bags so not all would equal 100.  Then the graphed their results. LOVE!

On the 100th day, I always do table rotations.  Each group is at a table for about 15 minutes.  This year our tables consisted of: Zero the Hero puppet, 100th day snack (to be eaten later in the day), 100th day necklace (stringing fruit loops), 100 gum balls (bingo daubers) on the gum ball machine, 100th day triangle for our class banner (sorry I didn't take a picture of the finished banner).  I had a back up activity at each table too just in case they finished early.  The kids worked so well and quietly too. 


We also made these hats, a cute freebie we grabbed from Kinder-Craze. 


I'll post later with what we did this year. What is something fun you do with your class for the 100th day of school?

Love and virtual hugs!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Prepping For February!

Y'all! What in the world is going on with January? I feel like it was just 2015 yesterday. Ha! No really, this year just started and it's already flying by. I'm not going to complain because I am totally enjoying my three day weekend at the moment. I may even take down our Christmas tree today. Yes, you read that correctly. My tree is STILL UP. Sigh. In my defense, we did spend the last eight days of the Christmas break traveling to Disney World and back. An 18 hour road trip there and back is not usually my idea of fun but it was a GREAT trip! My girl got to mascot at the Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day. So cool! My mom went with us too which was such a blessing. The memories we made with my kids and each other were just priceless! Before booking our trip, I told my husband if he was going to go and hate life (because he hates crowds of people and amusement parks, ha) to please save us a thousand dollars and stay home. No one would think he was a bad dad or husband. So, he didn't go. Ha! (Really, I was relieved because I knew he would hate it!) I felt like a hustler for months while I fundraised for this trip but it was so worth it. I am so proud of my daughter for getting All American Mascot and getting to experience the neatest things!

Here are a few pics from our fun trip! Public service announcement before you look: I am literally a hot mess. I had sweat in places you should never sweat y'all. It was hotter than the flipping sun in Florida while we were there. It is so weird to be somewhere in December and melting. I am super shiny in all pictures. I wanted to post on Facebook "Please tell me I look like I have lost weight, even if you are lying. It would make the ten miles a day and all of the sweat worth it!" Ha! Yeah, no one said that. Bummer.

This would be my "Mom Drink". My award one night for keeping my three teens from killing each other. Ha! The sad part is that by time I walked back to my room, I was too tired to drink my pina colada. At that point, I wanted to use it as an ice pack for my achy body. Ha!

My girl is the leopard in the center wearing the red tutu. 
She did SO good!

2016 is starting out pretty sweet too. We added to our family this weekend. No, it's not a baby but he sure is cute. Meet Rudy Radke! Yes, he is named after the movie. My husband is a HUGE Notre Dame fan. Isn't he the cutest? He's a havanese and is the sweetest, most snugly puppy in the history of ever. I'm not even an animal person (don't judge, I love children) but he has totally stolen my heart! 

He's just a little fat fur ball. He fits right in around here. Ha!

Okay, moving on to FEBRUARY! Over the past four years, I have wrote several posts showing what I do in February. I was looking through all of them today, thinking about what I need to start prepping. This blog actually serves as my planning memory. Ha! Unfortunately, I can't remember (for the life of me) what I did last year. It's a good thing I have this site because I get attacked by squirrels all day long. Ha! 

Anywho, I thought I would share a few of my favorite pics with you from the previous years. You can also search "Valentine" in the search box on the top left of the site. Easy peasy lemon squeazy!

I also posted a new product yesterday. I created new February Math Centers based on what my students need to work on right now. There are eight centers in this set and I'm super excited about them. You can click here to see more. 

Here are the activities included.


Last year I posted these Literacy Centers and my kids LOVED them. I can't wait to bust them out for my students this year. And bonus, they are already prepped from last year. #Winning

 Here are the centers included in this set:

I've bundled both of these sets with a nice discount. You can check it out here or click the picture!

Before I jet, I wanted to share with you the cutest January door eva. My teammate (who I want to be just like when I grow up) made this snowman with her students. It took them about a week and she had the students cut out the circles. Then they made a huge chart with their guesses (estimates) on how many snowballs were in the snowman. When they were done with their learning, they decided to share with all of us. She put it on the door with a clipboard to the left of her door so we could write down our guess and then you could lift the lid of her mailbox on the right of the door to see if we were close. How cool is that?! 

Holy guacamole, this ended up being a long post. Goodness. Thanks for making it to the end. I hope you are off today like me and if not, I hope you were blessed with a wonderful day with well behaved students or a staff development that you were able to stay awake for. Ha! 

Hang in there. Spring Break will be here before we know it. In the mean time, I hope you found a few February ideas you can use. Happy planning! Love and virtual hugs!