Spring has sprung! Or has it? Here in the Midwest, we hold our breath in anticipation of spring during late March and early April. Will the sun shine the whole day? Dare we remove our coat in 40 degree weather? Those of you who survived another winter know exactly what we are talking about. But I have some good news for you. There is a space where the sun can always shine and the signs of spring can be planted and celebrated.
Make your S.M.A.R.T. Space a Spring Space! It is amazing how much energy and positivity the students have with brightly themed S.M.A.R.T. activities.
On recent visits to Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial and Kasson-Mantorville Elementary, we discovered some fun spring variations. Use them and our idea in Time Saving Tips to create a simple and fun Spring theme. Check out the rainbow Alligator Crawl!
Using PVC pipe to build arches, Mrs. Alicia wrapped crepe paper to create a beautiful rainbow for children to crawl under. Hello fun! See the dimensions Alicia used to accommodate for students ages 4-6 years below.
In Kasson-Mantorville, students were celebrating spring green by slapping cards that prompted them to say “green – grass”. One card was a large green square and the other was a Ziploc bag of green Easter grass that can be found a local dollar store, Walmart, or Target.
Creeping and crawling are key developmental movements that help to solidify the foundational skills students need for academic success. We loved seeing how each site offered variations to these crucial activities, keeping students engaged in the movement.
PVC pipe archways
To cover your 16 feet of crawling space, we recommend building four arches. An ideal width is about 30” to accommodate for student bodies. An ideal height is about 24”.
S.M.A.R.T. at Home
Have you ever shockingly discovered your child has scribbled on the walls? Odds are you've had the pleasure of parenting through this behavior because most children have engaged in the act of writing on walls. Once upon a time, children used large chalkboards for lessons and painted at easels. They drew with sidewalk chalk on brick walls and sprayed them off with a hose. But why is working on vertical surfaces so attractive and beneficial for children?
Large movements lead to fine movements. Full arm movements provide the foundation for hand and wrist development. In order for children to have success with fine motor tasks such as handwriting, cutting, buttoning, etc they must build up strength and flexibility in their shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand.
You can build this strength by doing fun activities on vertical surfaces. Chalkboards, whiteboards, and easels are all great places to encourage drawing and writing. But what if you don’t have those at home?
Tape up large pieces of paper on a door or wall surface for children to draw on. Younger children can peel and stick stickers to the paper. Some parents have used leftover wrapping paper or paper grocery bags as a paper surface for children to create art on.
Try doing some work on a sliding glass door or window with erase markers. BONUS: Your child can clean with window afterwards! Shaving cream on windows can also be fun yet fairly simple to wipe off. Target and Amazon carry window crayons designed for drawing on glass surfaces guaranteed to wipe clean.
If you are feeling very brave and adventurous this mom has a window paint recipe for you here.
Want more fun ideas?
Check out this resource Why Kids Should Work on a Vertical Surface for a long list of ideas that encourage children of all ages to develop the foundation for fine motor success. Magnets, legos, stencils, squirt bottles, and more!
Time Saving Tips
There is no such thing as too many Learning Ladders and Tactile Trackers when it comes to the S.M.A.R.T. program. Why not explore the idea of using one picture for both activities?
This Tactile Tracker turned Learning Ladder will help students identify parts of a flower. Hang this up in a place where students have a little space to do a movement.
First, use it as an eye movement activity by having the student trace the parts of the flower following the correct procedure:
After printing out the picture, you will have to add the color. Color or trace each part of the flower with a thick line that the students will be able to trace. When you get to the petals of the flower, we suggest outlining the outer edges making an easier line for students to follow.
We hope this with be a SPRING board (pun intended) for you to use with other content areas you use or already have in your classroom.
Flower Learning Ladder (PDF)
That's One S.M.A.R.T. Teacher!
S.M.A.R.T. workshops are filled with learning, making connections, ah-ha moments, and sometimes a good laugh. It is on the final day that we feel a renewed passion for teaching coming from the group.
This past month was no exception. Our one S.M.A.R.T. teacher was sitting on the left, mindfully taking notes, making correlations between activities and her curriculum, engaging in her team’s discussions, and building with excitement.
Just a few days after the workshop, we received an email from One S.M.A.R.T. Kindergarten Teacher Erica, from Marshall, Minnesota. In her email, she referred to the workshop as a “new transformation.”
Erica spent the entire weekend after her training living, breathing, dreaming, yes, she said even dreaming, about S.M.A.R.T. in her classroom! Her complete submersion results in a freebie for you. Erica was thrilled to explore ways to incorporate brain-stimulating activities into her lessons for the week. She accomplished this by creating literacy Scanning Games or Loop do Loos.
As the photo below shows, Erica created sheets of her district assigned kindergarten sight words. As students practice the spelling of the word, they are working on eye movements and eye-hand coordination.
Download and try the Scanning Game out with your students. As Erica writes, “they were EXCITED to do it.”
Focus on just a few lines per day to avoid boredom. For more fun, have students use colored pencils and vary the color they use with each line.
Spelling Scanning Game