The snowball throw Alphabet game and.. a Letter Monster!

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Students love sports and any game that gives them the opportunity to throw or kick a ball at something is a win! This game, which I have come across on Pinterest, is a great way to bring winter fun indoors . Plus, it gives the students  a chance to burn off their energy when stuck inside. It reinforces letter/word recognition and letter sounds while also developing gross motor skills like coordination. It is so simple and easy to set up too!

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Materials 

Package of ping pong balls (affiliate) –You can also make a sticky tape ball or a simple paper ball.

ABC or vocabulary flashcards

Tape

or

A marker or other writing utensil

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Once I have all the flashcards taped to the wall,or letters/words written on the board, I explain the game to the kids.

They work in two teams. I tell them that they have to throw snowballs at the letters/words – pretend snowballs! They need to hold on to a snowball and wait for me to call out a letter.. Afterward, they have to locate the letter on the wall and throw the snowball at it.

Then, they tell me what sound that letter makes or what words start with that letter or the name of the letter in the Alphabet…. If they are right, they win a point for their team.

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I use the same game for word recognition, before we finish the Alphabet. If you wish to do the same after you have finished teaching  the Alphabet and some basic vocabulary, you can ask the players to spell the word they hit, or you can spell a word for the players to spot and hit! The teacher could also, call a word in the student’s mother tongue . The players find and throw the snowball at the corresponding English word on the board, to win a point for their team.

If younger  students don’t know the letter sounds yet, you can just call out a letter and they can throw a snowball at it once they find it on the wall. For a faster paced game, you can call out a letter sound and the players throw a snowball at the corresponding letter.

This is tons of fun! We have done most of the game variations above and my little ones enjoyed them all. Some of the letters were high up on the board, so he had the extra challenge of trying to hit those letters with the  ball.

I love it when my students are happy! Games, make them happy, for sure! I am sure, your students will enjoy this play-based literacy activity, too !

 

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A nice ABC variation that my students love, has to do with a….Monster!!

I was inspired to create this last year reading an interesting  blog post and I thought I’d share it if anyone would like to use it. I just print a copy for each team . Then I laminate it and tape it onto a fly swatter with the middle part cut out. It can work as a letter monster, a word monster, or even a number monster. I also found a cute little rhyme to go with it.

Here’s the template.

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This strategy is a fun way for students to get engaged. It teaches reading in a fun way. It helps students look at all the letters in a word one by one. This strategy also teaches blending. The students look at one letter at a time and blend them together to make a word. This strategy can be applied to all areas across the curriculum. Students will be assessed by using the letter monster swatter.

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End-of-the-school-year fun activities!

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Some people might think that, an “End-of-the-Year event” may seem unimportant, however it is  VERY IMPORTANT cause,…it’s the end of the school year! The positive memories have an effect on the children’s attitude and last forever!…

This is a time to look back and reflect –as well as a time to think ahead. Additionally, we should be sure to recognize our  graduating students ,in some way!

The ideas below,come from many different sources ! One I can recall   is  http://www.kidactivities.net/

I have tried too many such activities in my teaching career, so far! The ones I am sharing here, are the ones I used  last school year, with huge success! And as I often say, ” It has worked in my class; it might work in your class, too”!

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END OF THE YEAR FUN IDEA for the little ones...

Two nice ideas for younger children

  1.  Hand each student a sheet of paper
  2.  Then have the children draw pictures and write words  of the things they would like to say “goodbye to” in your classroom.
  3.  It’s good “therapy” because we know how hard it can be to say goodbye to our familiar room and friends. When complete… bind it into a program book titled ‘GOODBYE ROOM’.

Grade —– (Or__________ ) HAS BEEN A BALL!

This is a fun and different way to have an autograph party as a remembrance of the time spent in class.

Beach balls are fairly inexpensive–order some from a novelty company-have children blow them up and then get autographs from each other on the balls!

For older students….

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BALLOON TOSS: GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

At your end-of-year lesson, give each child a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.

Have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, have kids toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud –with the rest of the group.

(Actually, work the last part out in a way that the majority of the group likes—read one message, several messages, or all or no messages)

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THANKS FOR THE COMPLIMENT (A nice way to end the school year!)

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Need: Paper, markers, tape

  1.  Everyone gets a piece of paper taped to their back. (Make sure their name is at the top of the paper.)
  2.  Each person is given a marker.
  3.  Each person in the group must walk around the room and write a compliment or positive remark about that person on their back….. NO PEEKING!
  4.  When everyone has written something positive on each others back, they return to their seat and read what was written.
  5.  With a smaller group, everyone exchanges papers without looking at their own. Each participant can take a turn at reading aloud from person’s list they have. . (Adjust for a larger group)

This is a great self-esteem booster! If some children still don’t know each other very well…they can write such things as: You have a great smile; You’re hair always looks nice; Great blue eyes; etc.

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AUTOGRAPH BOOK

At the end of the year have each child make an autograph book. They pass around their books and get everyone’s signatures and friendly notes for a summer keepsake.

Variation:You can ask them to decorate  their own summer postcards and ask all their classmates to write a personal comment and sign on them.

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One very favourite activity, I always do:

 TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.

  1.   I  show this as PART OF A YEAR-END SCHOOL EVENT—but it would also be a wonderful “WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION to the new children we will have the next school year.
  2.  You could use it to show children and families some of the things you do-how they’re done–and what to expect! If you haven’t started, get your slides, videos, and activity scrapbooks going now!

Here’s the link to our last year’s slide show I have already posted about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr9-iFULcMo[/embed]

 

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WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER

At the end of the school year, have students write themselves a letter. Tell them that no one but they will read this letter so they can say anything they want in it. However, part of that letter might include who their friends are, their current height and weight, favorite movies and music, and special things both good and bad that occurred during the year, summer plans…

Variation: Every year, i have  them write me letters, as well!

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On another sheet of paper or the back of that sheet ask students to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by this time next year (or sooner). Students seal this letter in an envelope, self-address it, and give it to you. In a year (or sooner) mail (or return in person) the letters  to the students.

I loved this idea the very moment my NLP mentor Bonnie Tsai, asked us to do something similar in the end of our summer course at Pilgrim’s, Canterbury,  Kent, three years ago!

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A LETTER TO PARENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR…

I always send letters to the parents in the end of each school year, both in Greek and in English.

This is the letter in English I sent them last school year.

“Dear Parents,

I give you back your child ~ the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give him/her back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature then he was then.

Although he would have attained his growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch his personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.

Ten years from now if we met on the street, we’ll feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.

We have lived, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him/back I must. Take care of him, (or her) for he (she) is precious. I’ll always be interested in your child and his destiny, wherever he goes, whatever he does, whoever he becomes.”

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MURAL OF MEMORIES

On a nice day–take this activity outside!

Use paints, markers or colored chalk and invite children to create a mural illustrating the many wonderful things your group did, saw, and learned this year. It will be a great “advertisement” for next year’s program or class. (Don’t forget to hang it up when the new school year starts!) I personally, decided to do something alternative with it last school year: I used it to wrap up our class post box!!

As an extension, you can have your group write about the favorite memories they drew.

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END OF THE YEAR BULLETIN BOARD AUTOGRAPHS

BONUS! The board is up and ready to go during the first week of school!

  • Remove what is currently on your Board such as art projects, etc. LEAVE UP Bulletin Board Backgrounds and Borders.
  • During the week BEFORE the last week of school, ask a talented student artist (or do this yourself!) to block letter the words: “HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!” on your bulletin board background paper.
  • Have several children color in the letters…
  • As the days get closer to the end, have youth autograph and write messages on the bulletin board paper.
  • With younger students, ask them to write words and draw pictures of what they have enjoyed the most during the school year!
  • Leave their NAMES AND MESSAGES up for everyone to appreciate.
  • When you return for the new school year you’ll be starting off with one area already decorated with POSSITIVE MESSAGES!
  • No bulletin board area? Get a long piece of butcher roll-paper and do the same…(Actually, this is what I did..)
  • The kids will like reading what they and others left a couple months back!

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This activity is similar to this one…

I REMEMBER WHEN…

Put up the caption in big letters on your bulletin board or butcher paper taped to the wall— and then have children “decorate” it by writing things that they enjoyed doing in your program the past year!

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A SUMMER LAPBOOK

I just love lapbooks! You can read about my first lapbooks in this previous post:

https://aphrogranger.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/our-first-lapbook/

Lapbooks are made of file folders that are folded into a shutter flap so it opens up. Inside you have mini booklets that have a question or theme and the answers are inside. There are a variety of ways a booklet can be folded to demonstrate a topic.

They are really fun and my visual learners love lapbooks since we were introduced to them last year.

There are loads of topics that you can cover in your summer lapbook. I find that because I want to cover a broad topic, it’s nice to take bits and pieces from different lapbooks or it may be easier to create your own.

If you have never completed a lapbook, I suggest doing a free one yourself , to see how you like it.

Make a list of what you would like to cover and teach. Ask your children what they would like to learn. This will get them more involved and excited about their project as well.

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Last but not least: THE-END-OF-THE-SCHOOL-YEAR (graduating students) SHOW

I love staging mini-musicals at the end of each school year!

School Musicals

Enthusiastic audience!!

Enthusiastic audience!!

School musicals and music TV show parodies, offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions. It has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more. School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

Taking part in a school musical or Tv parody  production, has many benefits for children – increased self-esteem, the development of their dramatic and musical talents, and the opportunity to learn about working together as part of a team.

I find ideas in our library English Readers or in different  books or sites such as

http://www.childrenstheatreplays.com/schoolplays.htm

Here are some examples of what we have staged during the last few years!

Starting with this year’s TV talent show parody “The Voice”!

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Our coaches and show presenters

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My students seem to remember these end-of-the-year shows, for..ever!

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Dancing, singing, improvisation ….all their talents in action!!

"The Wizard of Oz":School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

“The Wizard of Oz”:School musicals offer a good chance to children to bring out their talent, build self confidence, and overcome all of their inhibitions

" Alice in Wonderland":School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

” Alice in Wonderland”:School musicals, drama, and plays teach children to work in a team, develop organizational abilities, communication and more.

" The Wizard of Oz": A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

” The Wizard of Oz”: A School musical, has many benefits for children like development of right self-esteem, instilling interest for music and drama and more.

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

Our sixth graders musical every year, is a huge success! Both the kids and their parents are looking so much forward to it!

 

"Your face sounds familiar- A concert": Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

“Your face sounds familiar- A concert”: Music, is an essential part in musical performances! It helps my students reveal their inner talents!

 

" Your face sounds familiar-A concert": The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

” Your face sounds familiar-A concert”: The FUN element of ELT music shows, is is obvious in this photo!!

 

" A Eurovision song contest parody": Here's an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in...Eurovision 2013!!

” A Eurovision song contest parody”: Here’s an Improvisation end-of-the-school year concert which we all just LOVED! In the photo, Agathonas Iakovides and Coza Mostra in…Eurovision 2013!!

ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!

LET’S RECHARGE OUR BATTERIES AND GET READY FOR ANOTHER AMAZING SCHOOL YEAR!!

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Class Letter Box

Writing , is really important in my classes! Writing for a purpose and addressing real people, writing for a reason, has always been crucial in my teaching!

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In my classroom, there is always a letter box, where,  students ,during the week, can drop a letter to me or their classmates. They are asked to write in english only, and everybody who receives a letter should reply ! We open the letter box and deliver mail, every last lesson of the week !

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They look  so much forward to it!

I always make sure, I have a glance at each letter before I hand it to the recipient, just to make sure it’s written in english and/or doesn’t contain any …bad language or insulting comments!

The letter box is what  I also use the very first day in class,to drop my students my first letter , writing about how excited I am to be with them , my expectations, hopes, wishes and comments!

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The students, are asked to reply , writing about  their goals , asking  me about anything they want to know, or just share their feelings! They are told that, every letter will be answered and no letter will be read in public- of course..! I want them to be free to share anything that troubles or excites  them!

It’s surprising that, most of them, feel the need to share even personal stuff, fears, anxieties and  even ask for advice about problems and concerns they might face!

My reply letters are  short, encouraging and really positively inspired!

They are always so excited when the post box opens!

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This is where they find their foreign pen friends  letters, too! The one above, comes from Taiwan !

They  even use the letter box , to drop the special  note they are asked to  complete at the end of each lesson , on a volunteer basis,about what they have  learned, a question they still have or something that is still not clear to them after the lesson and needs to be explained  ..

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This is great feedback for me! I always answer  all  notes  I receive!

Build your students'self-esteem through praise and affirmations

Build your students’self-esteem through praise and affirmations

Pen pals

Here's a third graders' introductory letter to our partners in Taiwan: Our Doves of Peace!

Here’s a third graders’ introductory letter to our partners in Taiwan: Our Doves of Peace!

It has been more than 20 years now that I make sure ,  all my students have pen friends! I have practically collaborated with schools and colleagues all over the world!!

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The only continent we haven’t had a partner from yet, is Australia! ….One of the main reasons, I have been working with snail mail is of course….THE LACK of Tech in my school!! Believe it or not, there is only ONE PC in our school inside the headmaster’s office…

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The second reason though, is the fact that, …old-fashioned letter and projects exchanges , have  always seemed fascinating to me!

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I had my first pen friend , when I was 10!! We have been friends since then!! Her name is Julie Barbee! She lives in North Carolina with her wonderful family! She has become a primary school teacher and we  had our students exchange letters some years ago, too!!

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When she got married, I sent her a card and a present , when I gave birth to my babies, she cared to send me a little present , we exchange Christmas cards every year and we have become  friends on Facebook ,too!!

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I wanted my students to have the same experience and I managed to do so, even when I used to work in remote villages, I didn’t have a car and had to carry the parcels to the post office, on foot!

Today, it’s not just letters…it’s PROJECTS exchange! And we enjoy it all the same!

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Parcels, ready to be sent…

 

What we practically do is that, we send our pen friends all our group projects, on a topic we have already worked on in class and we ask them to reply by sending us the same topic based project! The first topic with my 4th graders this year is going to be “My country” and we are sending it to their new friends in Brasil!The projects we send, can be in the form of posters, flyers, magazines, newspapers, albums etc….Arts and craft work is really important on our project work ! The kids feel the need to personilize them even more and they ask the permission to include little gifts having to do with themselves or the project topic, too….I put all our partners projects and photos up  on our classroom walls! They are so proud to show everybody at school, who their new pen pal is….

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Part  of the work which has been sent to us so far, has been simply amazing and some of the colleagues I have collaborated with are just awesome! An example is Annie Tsai from Taiwan who is a very talented teacher and  a member of my PLN! I feel really blessed to be working with her…!

I wish I had Skype, too…I might be able to bring my own laptop and have a Skype session this year in class…I might also , take part in an etwinning.com project ! ( note: a year later, 2014 and our etwinning project ” Pen Pals etwinned” has been the most precious experience my students have had so far and I am thankful for that!)

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To be honest with you, I have been thinking about the fact that, for almost 20 years, I have been actually…..etwinning but not OFFICIALLY with countries all over the GLOBE!

Excitement is the key word here…As they enter the room, I wave the big envelope in the air. They know what it is, and the room comes alive !They can barely wait until I open the envelope and pass out the contents. Their pen pal letters have arrived!

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There is nothing like a letter. No form of technology-based communication produces the excitement on my students’ faces like the arrival of a letter from their pen pal.

A Skype meeting, is the best way to get to know our pen pals better!

A Skype meeting, is the best way to get to know our pen pals better!

Pen pal letters provide the opportunity to break down classroom walls. Whether the class you connect with is in another greek school or another country, it serves the same purpose. It gives your students a chance to see a world outside of their walls. My classes have connected with other classes as close as Turkey and Italy  and as far away as Taiwan!

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My students know that not only is someone actually going to read their letter, but also respond to it. This encourages students to write with meaning, to write with a sense of purpose. As the year progresses, there is always a vast improvement in their writing.

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I always require my students to begin with a first letter of introduction. They write at least two paragraphs, one talking about themselves, and the other asking any questions they may have for their pen pal.

It’s always a good idea to read the letters that are sent to your students. My students are made aware of the type of conversations they are allowed to have, and I always read their letters. They do not write their last name and may not disclose personal information.

Pen pal letters provide the opportunity to break down classroom walls.

Pen pal letters provide the opportunity to break down classroom walls.

They are so proud to show everybody at school, who their new pen pal is....

They are so proud to show everybody at school, who their new pen pal is….

Today, it's not just letters...it's PROJECTS exchange! And we enjoy it all the same!

Today, it’s not just letters…it’s PROJECTS exchange! And we enjoy it all the same!

Excitement is the key word here.

Excitement is the key word here.

They can barely wait until I open the envelope and pass out the contents.

They can barely wait until I open the envelope and pass out the contents.

This encourages students to write with meaning, to write with a sense of purpose

This encourages students to write with meaning, to write with a sense of purpose

Pen pal letters may be a thing of the past to many people, but they will continue to be a part of my classroom’s future!

A flock of doves! Getting to know other children, by means of English!!

A flock of doves! Getting to know other children, by means of English!!

Meet IRENE- PEACE in greek-...our handmade puppet ! She travelled all the way from Greece to Taiwan to help our pen friends know us better and help us find out more about them!

Meet IRENE- PEACE in greek-…our handmade puppet ! She travelled all the way from Greece to Taiwan to help our pen friends know us better and help us find out more about them!