Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Novelty & Learning

Have you ever noticed how kids just can not resist the pull of something strange and new? Novelty helps capture attention.

 I love capitalizing on childrens' love of novelty to cement new information into their brains. Thus, I began to dream up "Container Creations".
The beauty of these interesting objects is that they are novel and grab attention, but also have some specific educational value. The kids are able to interact with the creations and practice specific skills. It turns rote practice into a coveted activity. 
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Catching Student Attention With Container Creations

 One of my kids had some difficulty understanding and retaining the differences between long and short vowel sounds. I tried all kinds of different tricks and games to help him recall those sounds, but nothing seemed to work. As a last resort, I came up with creating two animals with long and short vowels in their names. 'Abby the Alligator' and 'Jake the Snake' joined the family. They started out as clip art on sorting mats, but I quickly realized that this was not bold enough. I happen to be a pack rat and had multiple Cascade containers lying around and Abby and Jake were "born".
Having the actual animal made all the difference. This child was able to strongly identify with Abby and Jake. He called the animals by name and "fed" them the words. We made a huge deal about each animal only eating their specific vowel sound. Initially, I would cough and sputter and make the animal regurgitate the word, if the vowel sound was incorrect. This was a huge source of fun and it allowed him to really dissect each word and listen to the sound, because he wanted to please the animal. Silly, yes. Worth it, absolutely.
After the success of Abby and Jake, I created a whole set of animals that correspond with the short and long vowel sounds. 'Abby the Alligator' and 'Jake the Snake' are still two of my favorites. You can see another blog post with my DIY directions for Abby & Jake here. You can see the complete long and short vowel pack here. 
Sorting picture cards with a Long & Short Vowel Sorting Book

Short On Time...Break Out The Stuffed Animals

When I introduce the animals and vowel sounds, I bring out a stuffed animal or creation from my closet. This visual and auditory pairing, along with a cartoon-like animal pal, help to cement the information in some children's brains. You don't need to create something as elaborate as a container creation. It can be as simple as finding a stuffed animal and building up the intrigue around it.
 Leave it on your desk with it's head poking out over the top of a bag or container. I like building up the mystery by not answering questions about the creature. The suspense builds until they can't wait to find out about and interact with the "guests" in your room.

Use Puppets To Amp Up The Excitement

Puppets are another quick and easy way to bring any type of learning to life. A lot of kids are fascinated by any type of puppet. You can add the puppet to a learning center to add another type of hands on learning!

Bring Your Content to Life

Reading the "Frog and Toad" books by Arnold Lobel? Why not bring out a frog and toad to teach some literacy skills!
I made another set of container creations- this time a frog and toad.  'Freddy Frog' only snacks on short vowel words, while 'Toby Toad' eats only long vowel words. Kids can sort pictures or words.  It is easy to differentiate and fun to play. If you don't want to make the "Container Creations", simply print out the labels. Either way, kids will love it. See my blog post with DIY directions on making Frog and Toad + you can pick up the freebie, too!

I hope you picked up a few ideas on how to capture and harness your children's attention! Please let me know, if you have any requests on a "Container Creation". I love a challenge, and would love to create something that will have your kids lining up to learn! You can see the DIY directions on creating the dog container here.

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