garage sale haul + internship pd event

On the weekend, I was out of town visiting a high school friend. It was an absolutely beautiful day outside AND there were a ton of local garage sales for us to hit up – WIN WIN! In true teacher fashion, I bought items entirely for future classroom use. Most of my finds were influenced by a recent PD event I attended through Sun West School Division (the school division in which I will be doing my internship).

I traveled to Rosetown (the location of the division office) to take part in an event for Kindergarten teachers that focused on “Play and Exploration: Early Learning Program Guide,” which is a resource that supplements the curriculum for Early Childhood Educators. It focused a lot on the vision and principles of a quality early childhood education program and I am very excited to try out some of the ideas in the fall. We all had a chance to try our hand at creating an engaging ‘invitation for learning.’

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My invitation focused on objects and items that were round or circular. I thought this would tie in well with Medicine Wheels and other Indigenous elements – drums, sun, earth, moon, etc.

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This centre encourages students to explore the letters of the alphabet in a variety of mediums.

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An invitation to delve into shapes.

At the workshop, I had a chance to meet my cooperating teacher for the first time. She greeted me with an embrace as she said “I’m a hugger!” That was an instant moment of happiness and comfort. My coop teacher has been teaching Kindergarten for five years, and told me that she is hoping to try some new things next year – “We will learn together” as she put it. She was very informative and answered my jumble of questions eagerly. I am so excited to embark upon this awesome journey with such a bubbly and helpful cooperating teacher by my side.

At the workshop, I learned that it is important to have a quiet corner in your classroom for students to decompress and have alone time, if needed. This can also double as a reading corner. Inviting and comfortable furniture is a must to implement this kind of area in your classroom, which leads me to my first garage sale purchase: two wicker benches perfect for little bodies to curl up on. The drawers are a perfect hiding spot for inviting books. I also found two natural-toned pillows that could pair with benches as cushions, or be put in the carpet area for sitting.

These could also double as a centre area for activities  if plastic trays or blankets were placed on the top. The drawers could hold blocks, drawing materials, props for dress up, etc.

These could also double as a centre area for activities if plastic trays or blankets were placed on the top. The drawers could hold blocks, drawing materials, props for dress up, etc.

The small bench is perfect for one.

The small bench is perfect for one.

The larger bench of the two.

The larger bench of the two.

These could also be incorporated into a dramatic play centre such as an office, restaurant, or house if the right props were added.

These could also be incorporated into a dramatic play centre such as an office, restaurant, or house if the right props were added.

A comfy place to sit and read a favourite book with calming, natural colours.

A comfy place to sit and read a favourite book with calming, natural colours.

The other thing I learned at the workshop (which echoed many of the ideals I learned in my ECE courses at U of R) was that invitations require aesthetically pleasing and organized presentation. This means you need a lot of containers (to display, sort, organize, and store all of your items). So I stocked up on a variety of trays, containers, and organizers to inspire, encourage, and direct student exploration.

Baskets of differing sizes, colours, and shapes provide variety to satisfy many uses.

Baskets of differing sizes, colours, and shapes provide variety to satisfy many uses.

These beautifully filigreed silver boxes reminded me of delicate treasure chests. The smaller one can nest inside the large one to decrease storage space. These would be perfect to hold numerous kinds of materials.

These beautifully filigreed silver boxes reminded me of delicate treasure chests. The smaller one can nest inside the large one to decrease storage space. These would be perfect to hold numerous kinds of materials.

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I fell in love with these wooden fruit-shaped trays. They are all separated to inspire sorting and classifying - great for math tasks.

I fell in love with these wooden fruit-shaped trays. They are all separated to inspire sorting and classifying – great for math tasks.

Displaying interesting objects

Displaying interesting objects

Sort object by colour, size, shape, texture, etc. Or use to count as you move objects from one space to the other.

Sort object by colour, size, shape, texture, etc. Or use to count as you move objects from one space to the other.

This square glass tray was too cute to pass up - I love the design and colour. Perfect for sorting and displaying.

This square glass tray was too cute to pass up – I love the design and colour. Perfect for sorting and displaying.

I got a whole box full of these blue plastic containers. They came in a multitude of sizes and shapes. They all came with lids too, which is a bonus.

I got a whole box full of these blue plastic containers. They came in a multitude of sizes and shapes. They all came with lids too, which is a bonus.

Aside from providing storage, I thought students might also use these as building blocks!

Aside from providing storage, I thought students might also use these as building blocks!

Circular trays perfect for sorting, arranging, displaying, or organizing. Could also be used for liquids or solids such as grains of rice, beans, seeds, etc.

Circular trays perfect for sorting, arranging, displaying, or organizing. Could also be used for liquids or solids such as grains of rice, beans, seeds, etc.

I really loved these 4 square trays. The wood grain looking texture is very natural. Could serve so many purposes!

I really loved these 4 square trays. The wood grain looking texture is very natural. Could serve so many purposes!

I chose this oblong silver tray because of its reflective properties - perfect for exploring light and reflections. These three lady bug stones were just too cute to pass up.

I chose this oblong silver tray because of its reflective properties – perfect for exploring light and reflections. These three lady bug stones were just too cute to pass up.

This ice cube tray was free! They are perfect for sorting or counting. Here I showed how they could be used to distinguish hues and shades of the different colours.

This ice cube tray was free! They are perfect for sorting or counting. Here I showed how they could be used to distinguish hues and shades of the different colours.

What was your best garage sale or bargain find for your classroom? 

Until next time,

-KKF

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OT kit

I created an OT (Occupational Therapy) kit for an assignment in one of my Education classes. This kit is geared towards Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 1 and is focused on developing pre-printing skills, such as pencil grip and hand strength (as well as some hand-eye coordination activities). The materials within each activity are every day objects that can easily be found around the house. All of the activities are meant to be fun and challenging, so students will actually enjoy practicing these skills.

If I were to implement this kit in my classroom, I would have students choose an activity to work on for 5-10 minutes before a printing/writing class in order to warm up their hands. These activities could also be turned into centres in a Pre-K or Kindergarten classroom, too.

Food Olympics

Playdoh SpagPenne

This station consists of two different activities. For the first activity, students hold a piece of dry spaghetti in between their thumb and index finger and attempt to pick up a dry penne noodle off of the table. In the second activity, students stick spaghetti noodles into a lump of Play-Doh on the table and use their thumb and index fingers to pick up Froot Loops (or Cheerios, beads, etc.) and thread them onto the spaghetti.

Modifications

  • use the coloured Froot Loops to make a pattern on the spaghetti noodle (ex. pink, purple, green, pink, purple, green)

Mr./Mrs. Ball

Mr Ball

Making Mr. or Mrs. Ball is really easy – just cut a small slit into a tennis ball (the bigger the slit, the easier it is to open Mr./Mrs. Ball’s mouth, so you can have a few with differing sizes to make the activity more challenging as students progress).

Students have to use their thumb and index finger to squeeze Mr. or Mrs. Ball so their mouth will open. Then students hold the mouth open and use their other hand to ‘feed’ the ball some buttons, round chips, etc. When Mr. or Mrs. Ball is full, just hold their mouth open and shake out the buttons to start all over.

Modifications

  • count how many buttons you feed Mr. or Mrs. Ball one by one

Cotton Ball Push

Turkey Baster

Students use their turkey baster to blow the items off of the edge of the table (note: make sure you use your thumb and index finger to pinch the end of the turkey baster). This activity is a lot harder than it looks! Students may need to hold the small end of the turkey baster with their other hand to ‘aim.’ Materials of different sizes (ex. packing peanuts, cotton balls, small foam beads, etc.) can be used to increase difficulty.

Modifications

  • blow the cotton ball into a certain area of the table (marked off with tape)
  • count how many items you can blow off of the table in 1 minute

Tweezer Pick Up

Tweezers

Students use their thumb and index finger to pick up various items (pom poms, cotton balls, beads, popsicle sticks, buttons) with the tweezers.

Modifications

  • have various items all mixed together and students use their tweezers to sort them into categories (type, colour, size)
  • count the items that you can pick up in 1 minute
  • count how many of each item there are as you pick them up

Fishing

Fish

This activity uses triple the hand strength/finger grip! First, place the fish on the floor and have students stand when they use the fishing rod. Students must hold the rod in between their index finger and thumb and move the fishing rod so that the binder clip on the end touches one of the fish (this will be a test of hand-eye coordination as well). Once they touch a fish, students bend down and use their pencil-grasp fingers to open the binder clip and clip it to their fish. Finally, students use their index fingers and thumbs (on each end of the pencil) to turn the rod around and around in order to ‘reel in’ their fish (as the string gets shorter and shorter from being wrapped around the pencil).

Modifications

  • challenge students to touch the binder clip to a certain colour fish
  • see how fast you can reel in all of the fish
  • math: “We started with 6 fish and you reeled in 2. How many are left to catch?”

Firefighter

Firefighter

Students will love to be a hero and put out the fire on this burning building! Make sure to laminate the colouring page (or put it in a page protector) so that it can be used again and again. First, students colour in the flames on the picture with washable marker. Then, they dip their sponge into the small cup of water and use it to ‘put out the fire’ by washing off the marker.

This activity would go great with a Social Studies unit learning about community helpers or a Health unit on Fire Safety!

Crazy Straw Maze

Crazy Straw

This is another activity that can be surprisingly tough (especially with very bendy straws). Simply cut out some shapes from felt or foam and add holes in the middle. Students thread the shapes onto the straw and attempt to get them off of the other side of the straw by maneuvering the straw and shapes with their index fingers and thumbs. Note: Do not use crazy straws that make a complete loop (shown below), as the foam shapes will not be able to pass through this obstacle.

Modifications

  • name the shapes as you get them through the maze
  • put shapes through the maze in a pattern (square, then circle, square, then circle)
  • see how many you can get through the maze in 1 minute

CrazyStraws

DO NOT USE CRAZY STRAWS LIKE THIS —->

Hang the Laundry

LaundryStudents simply hang up baby or doll clothes onto a bungee cord or string. Ensure that students are using their thumb and index finger to pinch the clothespins open.

Modifications

  • hang up the laundry in a pattern (yellow, green, pink OR sock, sock, mitten)
  • math: how many people can you dress with the clothes that are on the line?

Hockey

HockeyA Canadian classic! Popsicle sticks as hockey sticks (use your index finger and thumb!), pom pom as a puck, and masking tape to make lines/goals.

Modifications

  • play in teams (you must pass to each partner before attempting to score a goal)
  • shoot to the goal on the other side of the table from behind the opposite side

Penny Flipping

PenniesLay all the pennies out in a line on the table (this works best if all of the pennies are the same way – all with heads showing, for example). Have the students flip the pennies over, one by one, using their index finger and thumb.

Modifications

  • use coins of different denominations and have students count the total as they flip (ex. for dime dime dime they would say 10 cents, 20 cents, 30 cents)
  • have students start at opposite ends of the line and see how fast they can flip all of the pennies over as a team

Tug of War

Rubber Bands2 students form an ‘O’ shape with their index finger and thumb (like the gesture for A-OK!) and hold the rubber band within the ‘O’ they made with their fingers. Students rest their elbows on the table, wrists bent, and slowly move their arms (from the elbow) apart. Try to make the other person’s ‘O’ break. Note: try to have thick rubber bands or bands covered in fabric so that they won’t snap and hurt the students. Emphasize that students use caution – we aren’t trying to hurt each other, just make our fingers stronger!

Beading

BeadsHand-eye coordination, hand strength, and fine motor skills are rolled into one. Students can take home whatever they make in this station, which is a bonus!

Modifications

  • use your beads to make a pattern
  • practice tying knots in your string
  • count the beads as you thread them

Mazes

MazesLaminating or putting mazes in a page protector means they can be reused many times.

Pom Pom Sort

Pom Pom SortStudents use their thumb and index fingers to pick up the pom poms and put them in the corresponding colour-coded tube. This is also a great way for students to learn their colours.

Modifications

  • primary-secondary colours: have pom poms in the primary colours and tubes in secondary colours. Students have to put the two primary colours into the corresponding secondary colour tube (ex. red and blue pom poms go into purple tube)
  • math: I had five blue pom poms at the start and I have one left in my hand. How many pom poms are hiding in the tube?
  • quick pick up: how fast can I sort all of the pom poms?

Ring Toss

Ring TossDecorate your paper plate rings any way you want. You can make a base for the paper towel tube post or have one student hold the post while the other partner throws the rings.

If students make their own paper plate rings, cutting the holes in the plates is a great hand-eye coordination and hand strengthening exercise.

Hope you enjoyed my OT kit!

What OT activities do you incorporate into your classroom?

Until next time,

-KKF