Sunday, 29 June 2014

GoNoodle for brain breaks!

Having returned to work this year in a Special Education setting, I have learnt just how important it is to ‘timetable’ movement or sensory breaks into our day. Research has shown a link between thinking and movement and also demonstrates how short bursts of energy can improve learning and engagement. With the children I am currently working with, you cannot expect them to sit in a chair or on the floor for more than 10minutes (and those are the higher functioning children). For some of those that I teach, we timetable in trampoline time, exercise-ball time, swing time or sensory based activities such as play-dough, sand and/or water-play or shaving cream. These allow them the opportunity to move around, have the sensory stimulation they require to focus better, or sometimes we use these as a calming tool, where they are either over-excited, stressed or anxious about something that has occurred.

But it can get tricky to provide these breaks when inclement weather occurs – and I am not just talking wet weather (because some of our kids don’t mind getting wet!). If it’s excessively windy or really hot (and we can get a run of hot days here in Wollongong, Australia) you can’t go outside between 10am-2pm! So what to do for children that require these breaks every 15minutes of so? This is where a program such as GoNoodle is fantastic!
GoNoodle is a free brain break teacher resource that will help your students be more engaged, energised and productive – and I’m not just talking about students with special needs. This program would work really well in a Primary and even lower level high school classroom. The hard work of trawling the internet to find brain-break style activities is done for you, and all activities are in one convenient program that’s FREE to join!!

There is a variety of activities to meet the needs of your students at different times of day or for a change in situation. Activities range from dancing, running and jumping, to yoga-style stretch with Maximo and deep breathing bubble blowing.

Some of the brain break activities on the GoNoodle site.

Where else are you going to find these hit songs in the one place? I’m sure one, if not all will motivate your children and have each and everyone of them out of their seats, bopping around!

Along with the compliation of songs, including ‘Happy’ and ‘Don’t Give Up’ (a personal favourite) which can be used as part of your morning circle routine, or as a session break, a favourite for a calming tool is ‘Air Time’. Now while it is an American based activity where students use deep breathing to blow the bubble across the states of America, it is still a good activity to use with children in Australia, as it will encourage them to broaden their knowledge of America whilst encouraging them to develop good self-calming  and breathing techniques, which can be used in stressful situations before or during exams and tests.
So do yourself a favour, get on over to GoNoodle, sign-up and start using their brain breaks as part of your daily activities. You'll notice a difference in your kids, and the positive effects this simple act can have.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

It's not just a bag.... it's the ultimate Teacher's Bag!

A Teacher's bag is invariably a treasure trove of day-to-day essentials, especially if you are a casual teacher. It needs to be sturdy, have plenty of room and be large enough to hold plenty of books, games and other odds and ends we teachers carry.
Upon finding out I would be returning to the classroom two days a week, and having to go between 4 different classes I thought it was time I really find myself the ULTIMATE teacher's bag. So after some searching of google images, and perusing countless blogs, I came across the brand "Thirty One Gifts" and their wonderful array of  trendy and affordable totes, purses etc. I was initially so excited about their range (there are plenty of colours and patterns to suit all), but then was deflated when I realised it's only sold in the states (for those of us in Australia it's like a Tupperware kind-of-thing where you can only buy the items by attending or hosting a party).
But, like most things these days, one quick search of eBay revealed that I could purchase the item I wanted probably direct from the manufacturer. I picked what pattern I wanted, went searching and purchased it! And I couldn't be happier with the product!! The bag has two mesh side pockets (which I use to carry my wallet and water in), then the front has three pockets (here I carry two CDs, my phone and then my name badge, whistle etc) and on the back are two more pockets in which I place my pencil case in one, and tissues & hand cream in the other. The zipper on the main section is AWESOME, as it stops things falling out when it's in the car or you're on the move.
 (Front)                                                 (Back)
(Inside - complete with zipper to keep it all in when it's in the car)
Here it is with some book inside, including reading books, text books and activity books. I've also got some CDs in the front.
I've been using this bag for a few months now, and it's by far the best I've used. It's sturdy and well-made. I also use it as a nappy/toddler bag during the holidays! So if you're in need of a good teacher's bag, definitely check these out!