That's one S.M.A.R.T. Teacher
When tasks are challenging, the right kind of motivation can make all the difference between trying our best and giving up. Do you remember the first time you tried the Alligator Crawl during your workshop? S.M.A.R.T. activities can be hard! Your students need a motivator. Often, your encouragement and cheerleading is exactly what they need. But would you like to make it a little sweeter?
Laura, a pre-k educator from Blooming Prairie Elementary, is one S.M.A.R.T. teacher. Playing on our “S.M.A.R.T.” theme, Laura created S.M.A.R.T. tickets to be given with a Smartie candy as motivation and a reward for children who are working hard and staying on task during S.M.A.R.T. activities. Check out how cute these are?!
A closer look at the letters will reveal a fun nod to the movement names that make it even more fun for students to receive.
Can you adapt this idea to fit your S.M.A.R.T. implementation plan? Perhaps the tickets can be accumulated to be turned into a raffle each week or, like Laura does, given with a small Smartie as a reward for trying a task even when it is hard. We think she is an “Awesome Blossom" and love that she shared this idea with her fellow S.M.A.R.T. community.
Using tokens and rewards in S.M.A.R.T. might be just the thing your students need to stay motivated to keep up with these every important movement activities. Download a copy of the tickets below.
“Crawling like an alligator? Rolling like a pencil? Yardsticks on the floor? What are these activities my child keeps talking about?!”
How might you respond to parent inquiries about the S.M.A.R.T. program?
This year, as with every year, we are committed to meeting every child where they are at and to look at them through the lens of potential. One way we are doing this is by implementing activities in our classroom that are developmentally appropriate, brain stimulating, and movement based. The program is called S.M.A.R.T. and that stands for Stimulating Maturity Through Readiness Training. It is a developmental movement program that helps to get children’s brains and bodies ready to learn and uses movement to anchor learning. Also...it’s fun!
The Balance Beam activity is one of the easier activities to find space for. Aim for 6-8 feet of space to put down a tapeline, yardsticks, 2x4, or a purchased beam. The photos below model how to use perimeters in your classroom and what materials work well for this movement activity.
Remember to use the resources in your S.M.A.R.T. Pre-K CORE Guide or S.M.A.R.T. Curriculum Guide for each activity. Tips for set-up and how to teach the activity are laid out for you.
You likely cannot imagine doing one more thing as you prep and plan for the first few weeks of this school year. Let us help you with one “must do”. Here is a perfect beginning set of Creep Track/Slap Track cards. “
During the S.M.A.R.T. workshop, the importance of keeping the cards simple in your Creep Track/Slap Track was emphasized. Smooth movement is the key piece of this activity, not the drilling of information on the cards. A great starting point at the beginning of the year are handprints. Students understand the concept of moving down the track, high-fiving each hand, in a smooth, patterned way. This often helps with proper hand placement. Fingers are facing forward, gently slapping each card as their hand matches the handprint.
Simply print out these cards, cut them across the middle, and slip them into the pockets of the track. You will be ready to demonstrate and add this activity into your S.M.A.R.T. routine in just a few minutes. A quick note in the download will share some helpful implementation tips about keeping that pattern simple.
Would you like another quick durability tip? Print these cards on cardstock and laminate them. The cards will last longer and hold up for use at the beginning of next year too!
Time Saving Tips
Making Learning Ladders can be time-consuming if you want to add pictures or like things to be uniform. Our Learning Ladder Time Saving Tip is to use Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides.
Do you (and your students) dread sight word checks? Have you noticed some students freeze up when you “test” them? We have an easy solution. Instead of pulling them to the hallway or your desk, put the sight words up as a Learning Ladder in the S.M.A.R.T. Course. Then stand beside the Learning Ladder to listen as they identify the words while they jump on the rebounder, toss a ball, or cross pattern in place. Listening to them read the words on a Learning Ladder as a part of their regular S.M.A.R.T. Course removes the feeling of being tested. It also allows you to give them another input of words they haven’t mastered yet.
But what happens if you have students at multiple levels and one Learning Ladder doesn’t work? Put up multiple Learning Ladders! This allows you to check multiple levels without changing the Learning Ladder for every child.
When the snow starts flying and the winter wind starts blowing, it can be hard to convince kids to MOVE! As adults, we know how important movement is to get us through the long winter months, but sometimes kids have to be convinced. So, movement + a game = Movement Bingo! We’ve put together some of our favorite developmental movements to help chase away the winter blues.
For an added level of challenge, take the activities outside!
At Prairie Ridge Early Learning Center, One S.M.A.R.T. Teacher, Katie Rhoten found a different use for her Balance Beam yardstick. Katie adheres it to a cupboard or bookshelf and uses the Velcro side to attach a Learning Ladder!
Are you struggling to find the right space for your Tactile Trackers or Wagon Wheels? Or are you having difficulty finding a place to put them so you can adjust the height to fit the heights of your students? We recommend using the lockers in the hallway, like Katy from Janesville!
Because Tactile Trackers and Wagon Wheels are teacher-directed activities, many S.M.A.R.T. teachers hang them near the bathroom and use them while students are lining up. This clever tip helps teachers monitor the activity, keeps groups small, and engages students during an otherwise boring wait time.
Why are Tactile Trackers and Wagon Wheels so important? These fundamental eye movement activities help increase the stamina of students who avoid visual tasks, have a shortened attention span, or get tired easily when doing visual activities by encouraging the eyes to follow along as the student smoothly traces the line. Keep in mind your students will be at varying stages of development which transcribe into varying levels of abilities. Check out the different stages of development in the S.M.A.R.T. Pre-K CORE Guide.