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Learning Another Language

  • April 30, 2015 6:46 pm

Recently I accepted a substitute teaching position for a fourth grade class, never imagining that it would be a Chinese immersion class! It was taught by a native Chinese student teacher. I was flabbergasted! The class was taught and the students spoke only in Chinese. They wrote in Chinese. They even chit-chatted with each other in Chinese.

I was impressed with how attentive these fourth-graders were. What a wonderful way to challenge bright students.

Music Appreciation for Kids

  • April 2, 2015 5:17 pm

Children seem to naturally love music. Here’s a great website to help youngsters gain a greater appreciation of the great composers from the past and of music in general:

Painting the World

  • March 20, 2015 8:09 am

I am a Webelo scout leader. We’ve been working on the Artist award, and one of the assignments was to draw or paint something outside. I took the boys outside and talked to them a little about plein air art. We talked about how to measure relationships in distance using a pencil. I told them that when you are out in nature, you look around you and you want to paint or draw everything. You feel overwhelmed. It is important, therefore, to pin down what you want to focus on. Zero in on something.

I was interested in what the boys chose to draw. One drew an intricate drawing of the trailer parked in the driveway next door. The details he added even included the bolts. Another boy drew the telephone pole across the street.

Plein air art is amazing. It brings out individuality in a remarkable way.

Should Writing be a Punishment? No!

  • February 5, 2015 6:00 pm

I subbed in a class recently in which one of the punishments was to write a certain sentence over and over…I don’t remember how many times.

I really disagree with such a punishment. It makes writing an unpleasant thing, something to be avoided.

Surely there are other ways to discipline.

Encouraging a Love of Music

  • January 28, 2015 8:19 pm

Helping children develop a love of music is synonymous with developing creativity.

This article gives some great ways to encourage a love for music in children:

1. Listen to music.

2. Move to music.

3. Listen to rhymes and sing songs.

4. Learn and play with music toys.

5. Make homemade musical instruments.

6. Read books about music.

7. Do music-related crafts and activities.

8. Take a music class/lessons.

9. Attend live musical performances.

10. Let them make noise.

11. Learn about instruments.

Give the Gift of Creativity

  • December 4, 2014 6:53 pm

I’ve run across some websites lately the share lists of creative gifts you can give children. Instead of toys, consider giving such things as magic markers, colored paper, scrapbook scissors, glitter glue, craft foam…things that can be used to create a myriad of artistic masterpieces. Other ideas for creative gifts include providing lessons, special family excursions and coupons for spending time together.

Instead of giving yet another toy, give gifts of creativity and gifts of memories.

Living or Non-Living

  • November 13, 2014 10:25 am

Sometimes we assume that young children have an understanding of things that we as adults consider elementary.

This week I substituted in a third grade class. The science assignment was to study two paintings and to list the things in the picture that are living and the things that are non-living. When I first read the assignment, I thought, how simple can it get. Was I surprised.

Many of the children struggled with the distinction between living and non-living. “Mrs. M., is sky living? Are clouds? They move.” “No, the sky and clouds are not living.” “Are mountains?” “Well, some of the things on the mountains are living, like bushes and grass, but mountains are basically rock and dirt. They aren’t living.” And so it continued.

The challenge is to make sure that children are not only understanding what you’re trying to say but are also not misunderstanding you.

Creative Halloween Costumes

  • October 31, 2014 4:45 pm

Happy Halloween. I subbed today at an elementary school. The kids were all so excited and looked fantastic in their Halloween costumes. I was especially drawn to the costumes that were obviously put together by creative families, using a minimum of materials. What fun it is to see what you can come up with out of what you have around the house.


  • October 1, 2014 5:56 pm

Are children today so structured that they don’t have time to daydream? If so, what a pity.

And why is it when you get older you think there’s something wrong with daydreaming? I think daydreaming is a marvelous mini-vacation that we can take. It’s refreshing. It’s rejuvenating. What’s wrong with escaping from reality for a few minutes and letting our mind soar? It’s great for boosting creativity.

Write about a Special Day

  • September 27, 2014 8:02 am

Writing prompts are often used by school teachers in language arts classes. They can give a student a jump start in deciding what to write about. But sometimes the prompts don’t help much.

I was substituting in a third grade class and on the lesson plan that teacher had left instructions for the class to write about a special day they’d had.

Most students jumped right in and began writing away. A few gazed blankly, pencils limp.

One boy seemed especially perplexed. I stooped down and asked him to tell me about a special day that he’d had. He said he’d never had a special day. How about Christmas? I asked. Do you do anything special on Christmas? The boy shook his head. How about your birthday? What special things do you do on your birthday? Special food? Special…the boy again shook his head. He had the saddest look on his face. Haven’t you done something fun with your dad or mom or gone on a vacation? No.

I don’t think he ever got anything written down for that assignment.

How sad.