I'm a firm believer in discovering kids' interests and connecting the teaching to those interests. I've been thinking about ways to connect writing, reading, and "mathing" to some of those interests. Well, connecting them in ways that build skills and understanding instead of just "fun" stuff. (Not that there's anything wrong with fun!)
For example, I have a few boys that are obsessed with Spiderman. One in particular draws lots of pictures of Spiderman in his journal...but won't write any words about those pictures. He struggles with his confidence in reading and in math. I've heard him sounding and reading. He can do it. He just thinks he can't - and he's not as proficient as some of the others in my class. I've been trying to think of ways to help him push beyond his current skill level.
Here are some of the things I bought to use next week.
I want to "think sideways" (as my friend Aunt Annie says) and move from just Spiderman to webs and spiders and so forth. (It helps that it's October and this stuff is readily available.) A trip to the local used bookstore garnered me many readers and nonfiction books about spiders, bugs, and other animals. (We're also beginning a focus on animals in science this week.) My wife (a wonderful support to me) went to Target and grabbed up some spiders (among other things for me). We will be writing and counting and adding and subtracting and using spiders a lot in the next couple of weeks.
I've also begun seeing lots of spider-related activities online. (Again, it's October!) Here are some of the things I'm thinking about using with my friends in class.
No Time for Flash Cards: Spider Web Walking - I "clipped" this idea last year. I'm working on how to use it in my classroom. Walking on the web and read sight words or walking on web to pick up spiders or put down spiders for adding/subtracting.
Kindergarten's 3 R's: Sight Word Spider - I definitely want to figure out a way to use this with my kids. Maybe I'll let them choose words to work on and glue on their spiders.
hands on: as we grow: Sticky Spider Web - Instead of tossing, I think we'll roll dice or draw numbers (from my Uno cards) and add/subtract spiders on the sticky web.
Freebie-Licious: Very Busy Spider Writing Prompt - Use this to think about beginning, middle, and end of the story. (Note: Freebie-Licious is one of my new favorite Web sites.)
Dr. Jean: Spider Rings! - Lots of fun ideas for using those spider rings.
Clutter-Free Classroom: Eeek! A Spider - Ideas for researching and writing about spiders.
Lessons from a Teacher: Incy Wincy Spider Hexagons - This idea was posted on my Facebook page when I mentioned that I was collecting spider ideas. (Isn't the online community great?!!) I love the paper plate webs a lot.
Inner Child Learning: Monster Math - I love the idea of using wiggle eyes as counters. Or even just drawing them on with dry erase markers. I'm going to make this game with spiders instead of monsters.
Building on kids' interests is important to engaging them in the learning process even more. I'll keep you posted on how we weave webs, journal about spiders, and compare what spiders do to what other animals do.
(And, for the record, I'm not a big fan of spiders. So we probably won't have real ones in the classroom. But, if the opportunity arises, I'll do whatever I need to do to help my kids learn.)