Why should I incorporate novels in my class?
This is my third year teaching Language Arts in the middle school and I can honestly say I LOVE IT! Over the years I have watched students grow in so many ways and I think it is because of the novels that we read. Students who typically have a difficult time engaging in class are sitting for extended periods of time and following along with the novel. So the big question is, what about these novels is engaging students and opening their minds to learning.
Where to Start
The first thing that I do in the beginning of the year is get to know my students reading levels and interests. I try to find a novel that is of interest to the students so that it is something they will enjoy. Next I choose 4-5 novels and have the students take a vote on which book they would like to read. After choosing the book we do a little prereading and get to know the author. I ask students to make predictions of what they think the book may be about. When we begin reading we go over character traits, plot, setting, vocabulary, descriptive words, etc. You can pretty much use any goals and incorporate them to the book!
The book is over now what do I do ?
Now the fun begins!! When you are finished reading the book have the students choose characters that they are drawn to. After voting assign students roles and begin acting out scenes. The past two years we have created our very own movie version of the book. This has given students the opportunities to write lines, create scenery, practice speaking and communication, etc. Not only are students using all of these skills but they are building relationships with the other students who they are acting with as well as learning how to put themselves in someone else's shoes. For example, the student that is acting like the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz needs to express the emotions that the lion portrays and practice being that character.
Reading novels is such a great way to engage students and teach them any language arts goals in a fun and motivating way. According to one of my past students “It is fun. Acting out the books and making a movie is spectacular.” What a great vocabulary word he used in that statement!!! - Samantha Losurdo, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Sensory play is any activity that stimulates the senses, which include the five senses: touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound.
Sensory play is an important part of a child's development; all five senses must work together in order to experience the world around us. Children learn through their senses, the touch of sandpaper, the smell of a flower, the sight of a blue bird, the taste of a lemon, and the sounds of music. It’s making sense and organizing all that stimuli that comes through senses, that a child begins to learn how their bodies function. So how does sensory play involve all of the five senses? It uses the five senses, and strengthens our experiences and understanding in the world we live in.
When you think of sensory most of us think tactile, but in sensory play it's more than touch, it involves using all of our senses in play. Sensory play reinforces language, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, problem solving, motor planning, thinking, creative play and it can also be used as a calming tool.
How do you get your child involved in sensory play? This type of play enhances learning through hands on activities that stimulates a child's senses. There are many things you can make with ingredients from home that are great sensory play ideas. To name a few: play doh, slime, sensory rice bags, homemade pizza and calming bottles. Many of the recipes can be found online, make a list of some of the things you can do with your child and pick one to do each day.
When making, for example, slime:
1) Write down the ingredients, “let’s write down what we need to make the goo.”
2) Work together to gather the ingredients, “can you get the flour for me?”
3) Build anticipation “this slime is going to be so gooey.”
4) Don’t do for your child what they are capable of doing for themselves. If your child has weak gross and fine motor skills, work hand over hand, if needed.
5) Once all your ingredients are in a bowl, have your child put his hands in and mix it together. “ wow that must feel so gooey!” “you’re doing a great job mixing!”
By taking things that you already have in the house you can create many fun experiences for you and your child. These activities will allow a child to explore, create, and communicate. When a child is allowed to use his senses, they will learn from the experience and retain more information.
The senses shape our experiences and when we draw attention to our senses and discuss them, children begin to get a better understanding of and communicate about the world we live in.
Sensory play is calming for children, not only does it help a child regulate, it also helps your child in finding a source to regulate his/her internal discomfort. The slime you made with your child may be the tool he/she needs to support their sensory system and your child just learned what he/she needs in order to find comfort.
-Lissette Gray, L3 Paraprofessional, Celebrate the Children
"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is the theme in my "All Girl" class every day! I went to an "All Girl" high school and what I thought was going to be horrible at first, became something I am truly grateful for. Girls being silly, letting loose, and openly sharing girl issues make for some really close friendships that last a lifetime. I have made many friends I consider sisters to this day.
I feel the same way about teaching in an "All Girl" class. There is something about girls having time to socialize without boys around. We all talk about girl issues and feel the power of sisterhood around us. Girls dancing, singing, painting, playing ball, scrapbooking, brushing hair, doing nails, and putting on makeup together really builds self-esteem in a very fun-loving environment. There is always a "You Go Girl" vibe in the class and a camaraderie that continues to build every day. The girls really get to know each other. They are in-tune to the feeling of each other and often show signs of caring for one another. Many students will make a bracelet or craft and want to give it to a friend. The classroom is decorated to fully embrace our "Girl Power" attitude and we all benefit from it!
Though I know the girls love seeing the boys in other classes, it is apparent that we all enjoy our "Girl Time" together!
Lisa Silva, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.