Tuesday, 19 July 2016

What I Have in My Teaching Suitcase

I have recently attended a webinar presented by author and storyteller Mary Jo Huff. The theme of the webinar was storytelling and teaching literacy with the help of puppets. The next day I met Stella, one of my teacher friends, and talked about the webinar.

A recurrent idea that I’ve stumbled across was this “teaching suitcase”. At first it didn’t seem that important to have one, but then I thought it through. I realised that I move quite a lot, although I have my own group and classroom. We quite often have activities in other rooms of the house, or outside on the rocks. So maybe having a teaching suitcase wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

I started making a list of things I think I should include. It was pretty easy, because I already have a teaching drawer with lots of resources, so most of the things I can just take from there. But the suitcase just makes it easier to move around.

Erasers with the alphabet, noise maker, stickers, magnetic wand, and story cubes

Here’s what I’ll pack in it:
  • A list of fun activities and boredom busters – because sometimes you might forget an activity or game that the kids enjoyed a lot;
  • My favourite book with children’s songs: Shake, Rattle, and Roll, by Abigail Finch Connors.
  • Jolly Phonics Book with songs
  • My Super Simple Songs CDs – I couldn’t imagine teaching without these! They get children engaged in a couple of seconds.
  • Some tweezers and scoopers – these are perfect for fine motor skills: they can be used in pretend games, sensory games, and vocabulary games; For more ideas on how to use them and where to find scoopers and tweezers, check this article.
  • Basic flashcards – I teach EFL/ESL, so I use lots of flashcards for games and everyday situations where I have to explain things. Having some flashcards for the basic themes is necessary: clothes, family, the body, verbs, adjectives, food and cooking, in space, nature, animals, etc. I’ve been working on new flashcards for these themes, so keep an eye on my blog because I’m going to post them soon.
  • A memory game – the ones from IKEA are cute and very cheap;
  • Bells, drums, and any small musical instruments that you can use;
  • Puppets: papier mache puppets, finger puppets, stick puppets, sock puppets, hand puppets, funny looking hats – these are captivating for little children and will keep them engaged for a long time; For ideas on how to use them, you can read All You Need To Know About Storytelling.
  • Masks and costumes for pretend play or acting stories out;
  • Peepers – because you can use them in so many ways! They’re great for storytelling, teaching kids animals, seasons, music lessons, etc.
  • A small craft box – I bought a fishing tackle box from a local store and I used it for small craft supplies. It comes in handy when you have a small craft project outside.
  • Post it notes and some markers – you can play sight word games, or quickly make flashcards for any theme you want;
  • A “magic wand” to convince kids to do something J;
  • Plastic food and paper money;
  • Magnetic wand and coins – you can play all sorts of number recognition games and vocabulary games. Here are some ideas;
  • A noise maker for you to use as attention grabber;
  • Popsicle sticks and number flashcards;
  • A few busy bags;
  • The Action Box – this is great with very young kids and emergent readers. They can play the game for almost an hour, and once they understand the instructions, they can play it by themselves;
  • My song bag – I’ve taken images from every song that the kids have learnt and made tags. They are laminated for durability. We have a bag where we keep all of them and each kid gets to choose one with his eyes shut;
  • Stickers for rewards and games;
  • A bug swatter for vocabulary games. Here’s a fun game to play with bug swatters;
  • Some story cubes;
  • Alphabet erasers for phoneme segmentation;
  • A cute door stopper (I have one that looks like an own) to use as a mascot with kids who have troubles sitting still.
I’ll add things to the list as soon as I remember them. I’m sure that there will be more to add!

Do you have a teaching suitcase? What do you keep inside? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Peepers, finger puppets, and number recognition games in busy bags

Stick puppets for one of the Super Simple Songs, scoopers, and tweezers

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