Boredom Buster

Boredom Buster is a term my daughter recently coined for an activity I introduced her to while she was waiting for her brother to finish his lunch (I should mention that sledding was next on our agenda and so she was impatiently nudging our slow eater along). I drew a letter in her sketch pad and challenged her to turn it into a picture. Before long, her sketch pad was filled with dressed up letters. My son, who had been eagerly watching, asked to join in. With the promise of eating faster and multi-tasking efficiently, he set to the boredom buster as well (which by now was serving a different purpose entirely). Five minutes later, the lunch plate was empty but neither of them were in any rush to go sledding anymore (gotta love those moments).
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Boredom Buster or Time Filler activities are great for the classroom Image result for kids working together in schoolas well. They certainly come in handy when there are a few minutes to spare between lessons or transitions in the day. In my classroom I use these kind of activities as add-ons when students complete their work (or during indoor recesses). As a variation to dressed-up letters, you can also use numbers, punctuation marks, symbols and different kinds of lines. For the older students, a writing piece (i.e., poem, caption, etc.) can also accompany the illustrations.
What Boredom Busters do you use with your kids and students? Feel free to share.
Lora

 

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Words Build. Words Destroy!

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“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.”

Vashti Quiroz-Vega


Words on a Limb is proud to announce the launch of its first picture-book:

Words Title - Regular
Written and Illustrated by Lora Rozler

Softcover MarketingIn this emotional and Hardcover Marketing
highly visual picture book,
a lonely letter sets off on a journey to find meaning.
As it encounters various letter combinations, it is confronted by two distinct paths and must make an important choice.

Readers of all ages will be captivated by this simple, yet high concept, story that explores universal themes of discovery, relationships and the need to belong, with an underlying message about bullying. Both timeless and original, Words is an evocative tale about how letters become words and words create meaning – meaning which could ultimately build or destroy.

“A compelling story-line, simple yet poignant illustrations, engaging language, a great read-aloud that offers many opportunities for reflection and discussion with children.”

“A heart-warming story with a clever, powerful message about anti-bullying. An absolute must-have
for every parent and educator.”


Available at all major online retailers including:

  barnes_noble_samsung

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For a FREE Parent and Teacher Companion Kit, based on the book, Words

click on the image below

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Attention all Mini-Artists: Join our Words-Through-Art Sketch Competition

IMG_20150707_180423Get out your sketch pads, sharpen those pencils, it’s time foIMG_20150707_171159r an Art Competition. Words on a Limb would like to invite readers (ages 6-10) to send in their best illustrations, capturing the essence of the picture-book, Words. The winner will receive a hardcover edition of Words and have their work featured on our site, as well as Lora Rozler’s author website.

All entries must be submitted to wordsonalimb@bell.net by August 15, 2015. Please indicate Art Competition in the subject line and specify the artist’s age in the email. The winner will be announced on August 22, 2015. Let the sketching begin!

Happy Mother’s Day!

mothersDayRoses, cards, chocolates, cookies, breakfast in bed, you-name-it, Mother’s Day sure brings out the sweetest in us. Celebrated on the second Sunday in May each year, Mother’s Day is a time to honour our one and only – our precious Mother (or a mother figure in our life).

I am sure I speak on behalf of many moms out there when I say the most precious gift we can receive on Mother’s Day is one that is especially handcrafted for us. As a teacher I keep this in mind as we set out to cut, glue and craft a personal treasure that Mom will want to keep around for a very long time (if not forever). 

Below is a poem I wrote and plan to share with my students this week. Keeping in mind that not all children may have a mother in their life, I left the recipient open to include a figure that takes the place of a dominant caregiver, whether it be a grandmother, aunt, sister, etc. 

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Creative Commons License

Under Your Wing by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


For this year’s Mother’s Day craft, my students will be making a mobile frame, with the theme of my latest poem in mind. Here is a sample of the finished product.

Mobile frame – Back side

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Front SIDE – option 1

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front side – option 2

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To download a copy of the poem and the craft templates, for your personal use in the classroom, click on the heart image below.

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Morris

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Let the countdown and crafting begin! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Lora

Three Witty Goats Gruff

admin-ajaxHello everyone. I hope you had a restful March break and are excited about the week ahead. I’d like to share a poem I wrote a little while back titled, Three Witty Goats Gruff.  It is based on a variation of the original story, Three Billy Goats GruffI plan to revisit it with my students this week as we continue our exploration around the concept of Measurement and Size.

After reading several versions of the original story to my students, I plan to introduce my version of it via a poem. When I first introduced it (last year), students really enjoyed the chant and patterns, while I loved the teachable moments that stemmed from it.

MATH – counting backwards, detecting patterns, reinforcing concepts of measurement and size, subtraction, etc.

LITERACY – introducing new vocabulary, making predictions, using context clues to make inferences, singular/plural pronouns, synonyms, etc.

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Creative Commons License

Three Witty Goats Gruff by Words On A Limb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


giantpuppetsOne of my students favourite follow-up activities was to re-enact the poem using stick puppets. It is a wonderful way for them to practise retelling the story and have fun while doing so. Some benefits of using stick puppets to teach literacy include strengthening oral vocabulary, acting in role, building comprehension, retelling a story in sequence, and recalling details.

Here are some cross-curricular extension activities, including: 1. Three Billy Goats Gruff Maze – students help the Billy Goats navigate through a maze to get to a field of fresh grass (good for refining fine motor, spatial and problem-solving skills); 2. Writing Template – students reflect on their favourite part of the story (while practising important writing skills); 3. Fill In The Blanks – students use a word bank to fill in the missing words from the poem (great for memory skills and practising high-frequency words); 4. Making Patterns Math Worksheet – students complete and create their own pattern using characters from the story (aids with visual discrimination and patterning concepts).

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Goat_cartoonTo download a copy of my poem, Three Witty Goats Gruff, including the Stick Puppet Templates, for your personal use in the classroom, along with the cross-curricular activities hown above, click on Billy Goat.

I hope you and your students enjoy the poem and have fun with these activities in the classroom. As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.

Morris

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Have a great week everyone.

facebook-20141123-101343Lora

What the Leaves Blew In…

fall_leaves_1_Winter is just around the corner (pout, moan, cry). But before its official debut, I thought I’d pay tribute to the wonderful adventures we embarked on during our study of Autumn.

Autumn LeavesWe began our exploration by taking an investigative walk around the school yard, looking for evidence of Fall.  Among the many things we observed, students marveled at the beautiful, colourful leaves everywhere; leaves of different shape, size and colour.

IMG_3884As with any great investigation, we had to gather specimens to bring back and explore further in our classroom – red leaves, yellow leaves, big leaves, little leaves, oak leaves, maple leaves, and what’s this – acorns, pine cones, flowers, twigs and rocks – all were welcomed.

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Over the next several weeks, we were quite busy inquiring, learning and integrating our artifacts into every aspect of our day. We read many books about Fall, trees, seeds and leaves.

leafmanredleafyellowleafwhentheleafblewin mousefirstfall

We documented and wrote about Fall changes. We learned about and labeled the different parts of a leaf. We counted, graphed, sorted and made patterns with leaves. We even made a pine cone shaker (to complement the seed shaker we previously made during our Apple inquiry – it turned out to be a great way to distinguish between the different sounds seeds can make).

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We created art with leaf rubbings and leaf stamps (students loved creating their own Leaf Creatures, which after being displayed on our walls, made an entertaining class book).

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It was endless! The ideas kept pouring, and the fun and learning continued.

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For the culminating activity, we created a class book where each student got to contribute their idea to a page about leaves (parents really enjoyed looking through it during our Fall conferences). Students also had a chance to read a personalized book about leaves with our Grade Three Reading Buddies – they were so excited, I was so proud.

IMG_4373Though I generally have an overall sense of where I’d like an inquiry based opportunity to lead, I can never truly predict how vast or fruitful it will grow to be. It is the students’ curiosity and eagerness that determines the direction and range of learning. Regardless, I am always pleasantly surprised and excited to see where each inquiry will take us.

GravatarEnjoy the last bit of Fall everyone. Thank you for your time.

Lora

Words on a Limb Interviews Eric Litwin

EricWe were ever so fortunate to spend a moment with the entertaining storyteller, musician, teacher and prolific author of the first four Pete the Cat picturebooks, Eric Litwin … Mr. Eric. He is also the author of the new musical series The Nuts.

He has spent the better part of his career championing literacy through music and movement, particularly impacting new and emerging readers. Eric has travelled across the US, Canada and abroad spreading the message of building creative communities where children feel confident tackling their first reading experience, and having a fun time along the way.

He spoke to us from his home in Atlanta, where he is busy dreaming up the further adventures of the Nut Family. Here is his story:


Where did you grow up? What were you like as a kid? What still holds true for you?
I grew up in Dobbs Ferry on the Hudson, a small town in the Hudson River Valley. It’s very beautiful there. As a kid I would say I was creative and quiet. I loved to read.

This is an interesting question, I give about 300 performances every year, where I entertain in front of a group, it’s hard to claim that I’m introverted and shy, but I will say that it’s been a long time since I’ve felt shy.

You have been a teacher. What were your influences encouraging you towards writing?
Wonderful question! I was a special needs teacher. I have a masters degree in both education and administration. My main interest in education was to get my students engaged and interested in reading, and feel empowered about reading. I was also a musician at night, focusing on getting my audience involved with a lot of folk type of music with interactivity. So I started using music and movement along with interactive techniques. My influences were folk tales and songs – the whole American oral tradition of music and stories.

Tell us the story about the first turning point of your career?
I taught for 3 years – I found my favourite part of teaching was creating the content and writing the story. I realized this was where my greatest gift was, so I left the classroom to create content and performances. I became a very popular performer, doing 200-300 performances every year for almost 10 years. I would perform in schools, libraries – during assemblies. Believe it or not, it was during these performances that I started to develop a writing style, which I now call interactive literacy, because I don’t have a better name for it. It basically means stories told with sing-alongs and move-alongs. There’s call-response and repetition. These techniques engage the audience and they engage the reader. It not only makes a great performance piece, but it also makes it a great early reader. That was the key to the first four Pete the Cat books.

So during those ten years I guess I did what Malcolm Gladwell calls putting in your 10,000 hours. I wrote the story of a little girl and her white shoes. It was the best story I’d ever written, I knew it was special. It was a story that would work with different characters so I would swap her out for a cool cat or cool dog. Some time after, I saw Pete the Cat at an art festival, he was a folk art character created by illustrator James Dean. I felt that this cat and the story of the girl with her white shoes were a good fit. I had a vision to blend early literacy, folk art and music together.

Continue reading

Alphabet Bingo

Alphabet BingoALPHABET BINGO is a fun game to play with young children as they learn the letters of the alphabet! Created with Primary students in mind, this unique game is designed to help kids recognize both uppercase and lowercase letters, while reinforcing basic shapes and colours.

Played like most bingo games, children use a cover-up bingo chip to cover letters as they are named by a “caller” (teacher, parent, student). Alphabet Bingo can also be played with a focus on sounds. For example, instead of calling out lower case b, emphasize a sound (i.e., This is a letter that makes the sound bbb, as in ball).  In this variation, both uppercase and lowercase b will be covered up.

The download includes 48 bingo cards, a set of 52 Upper case and Lower case Letters to call out and an instruction sheet.

Click HERE to get all you need.
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Happy Playing!

Lora


Alphabet Bingo by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Sight Words BINGO!

Bingo GameSight Words Bingo

Sight word acquisition is an important building block in the construction of a child’s ability to read. Once she is able to read these words, she has access to up to 75% of what is printed in almost any piece of children’s literature. How exactly do teachers and parents help children develop their stores of sight words? There are several proven techniques that any adult can use to teach sight words.

Children do not learn new words by being exposed to them only once. Repetition is key to sight word acquisition. Young readers should be given opportunities to read and write a new sight word multiple times. Repetitive reading of texts featuring certain sight words is one strategy for helping children commit these words to memory.

Once children have had the opportunity to study new sight words, games are a fun, hands on way to help strengthen their retention. These games are easy to create at home or at school and can be modified based on the particular sight words a child is learning at the time. We designed a game based on an all-time favourite, BINGO. The incentive to find a word coupled with the urge to complete a card, creates an active environment for memorizing these essential words.

The download includes 48 Sun-Moon-Star-Earth bingo cards as well as a set of 40 sight words to call out. All you need is lots of bingo chips and eager players, and you are ready to go.

Just click here to download the package.

Enjoy!