Posted in Miscellaneous

Using Sock Puppets

Puppet Collage Winter 2014

By: Annie Day

Each Sunday, as my husband and I head to teach our small primary class of five-year-olds, I am filled with trepidation. Will today’s lesson grab their attention or will I be left with a room of rowdy children? Although, on a good day our class only consists of nine students, to say it is difficult to constantly engage the students is an understatement. However, after a great deal of trial and error we have found one foolproof method: puppets. When we pull out our simple, homemade sock puppets, it’s as if we wave a magic wand, and our two puppets effortlessly grab the students’ attention.

Because of the amazing results I have experienced using this simple tool, I want to give a quick puppet-making tutorial, along with some simple teaching tips using these little friends.

  1. Select a sock. I have found that colorful or over-decorated socks can be distracting. So use simple colors and patterns for the best results.
  2. Place the sock puppet on your hand, tucking in the toe of the sock until it reaches the palm of your hand. This should create a small mouth and give your sock a little bit of life. At this point I like to manipulate my puppet to give it more expression. Expression can be attained by how you manipulate the mouth of the puppet; pull at the toe until you are happy with the shape of the mouth.
  3. After you are happy with the shape of the mouth of your puppet, all you have to do is a simple invisible stitch to connect the toe of the sock to the arch of the sock. This creates a puppet that will not lose its shape.
  4. This is the fun part—now you can add details as you see fit. Be careful not to forget the eyes! But outside of that, you can add crazy hair on your puppet, clothes, eyelashes, hair or any other accessories that fit the character of your puppet. The important thing is to be creative.

 

After your puppet is completed, be sure to follow these simple puppeteering techniques:

 

  1. When your puppet is talking, be sure to look at it. It can be a little scary if you and your puppet are both looking at the students as you talk.
  2. Be sure that the movement of the puppet’s mouth follows the vowels. The more animated, the better!
  3. Don’t keep your hand in one place; move the puppet around, focusing on different students. This works really well with students who may be losing interest.
  4. Most importantly, have fun! If you are enjoying yourself, your students will have fun too.


A special thanks to Professor Lisa Bean and the girls in my Theatre Class for your great puppets! You really inspired me!

Posted in Elementary Education Preparation, Lesson Plans

Be Prepared

If I have learned anything from the past while of teaching, it is to be prepared. A lot can happen in a school day and you need to be prepared to handle it all. The inspiration for this blog post is this past school week. All in the past week, three unexpected events happened, none of which I was prepared for. So let this be a warning, think about these things BEFORE the school year.

Event #1: Sick Student

It was early Tuesday morning and I had just finished my “Class, it is flu season” speech on leaving the room if they were going to throw up. I looked over to see one of my students quickly cover his mouth and then barf all over the rug. Keep in mind he was surrounded by 30 other students. I went into panic mode. Where could I even start? After this event, I have a few simple steps to successfully handle this situation.

Step 1: Move the class away from the area with a task to do (like silent reading at their desks).

Step 2: Comfort the sick child. It doesn’t really matter that you get them the trash can, at this point the custodian will have to come anyways. Let them finish.

Step 3: Grab the trash can and escort the sick student down to the office. Alert them of the spill and have the custodian paged. Also have the sick child call home.

Step 4: Take your students’ minds off of it. I sent my students down for a bathroom/ drink break. Just removing them from the situation helps them not to get sick thinking about it.

Step 5: Move on as if nothing has happened and be aware that the custodian will interrupt class to clean things up.

 

Event #2: Emergency Substitute Plans

In the event of all of my students getting sick, I realized I had no “emergency substitute plans” for the times when I might need them. Make them generic, easy to follow, and have them in an accessible spot. This will alleviate SO much stress if you have to leave early or can’t come one day. Just tell your team where your plans are and rest easy.

 

Event #3: Inside Recess

Growing up in Utah, you would have thought I would have a plan for this but today came, and I wasn’t ready. One of my team members gave me the idea to just put a movie on. This helps with so many aspects. I wasn’t a fan of having the students play games in the classroom, nor did I want to have to entertain them during my lunch break, so this was the perfect alternative. One of the recess aides popped into to check on my class during lunch, and he turned to me and said “Smart teacher. You’ve got this figured out!” My advice is this: Have a 45-60 min. movie ready for inside recesses. This way you can start it one recess, and if the other recess is inside as well, you can watch the rest then. This way you can get your much needed break and the kids aren’t running around unsupervised.

 

All this has caused me to think back to what a veteran teacher said to me when I first started teaching. He stopped me in the faculty room and asked if I was ready for the first day. I told him I didn’t think I’d ever be ready. He smiled and said, “If there’s anything I’ve learned in 30 years of teaching, it is that no matter how long you teach, you will never feel ready.”

Truer words have never been said.

Posted in Miscellaneous

The Perfect Way to Teach

Abigail_Smith_Adams_by_Gilbert_Stuart

By: Annie Day

Feminism has become an important topic in both education and politics. Although I do not necessarily agree with many of the ideas espoused by feminists, I am an advocate of the importance of the female mind. Because of that simple belief, I would like to take some time and discuss a powerful woman and the sweet and simple lessons we can attain through her words. Abigail Adams stands as one of the most of the influential women in American history. In her lifetime she endured almost unimaginable trials. Her faith in the importance of the cause of freedom stands throughout her continued support to her husband as president, and throughout the American Revolution. With this in mind I would like to discuss one of her quotes that stands out to me as one of her defining characteristics. Abigail Adams wrote, “We have too many high sounding words and too few actions to correspond with them.”  Abigail Adams was not a bystander throughout her lifetime; instead she wanted to make a difference day by day by applying her knowledge and beliefs to influence change.

As a student of education I have listened to countless discussions about the “perfect” way to teach. With idyllic thoughts and ideas, many students in my class mean well as they struggle to find their own perfect methods. The problem that I have witnessed, and like Abigail Adams discussed, is that too often individuals spend far too long reaching a perfect concept or standard before applying their ideas. In no way am I saying that learning about correct teaching techniques is an improper use of time–I believe that it is equally important as applying the ideas in a classroom setting.  Too many times in my brief teaching experience I have planned what I thought was the perfect lesson only to have the students show me the true nature of my high sounding words. Teaching is not about the perfect lesson plan; instead teaching takes understanding, practice, and countless mistakes before perfection can be attained. As students of education, let’s apply our thoughts and beliefs into actual classroom settings.