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One Free Activity– So Many Ideas!

Hi Friends!  I’m sure you know that we give away a free activity every month, which is great, but it’s awesome when you realize that it can be used in a bunch of different ways.  The August freebie is an activity that goes with Eric Carle’s book, From Head To Toe.  As I mentioned in our the blog Share the Calm with Repeated Readings, this book is perfect for the beginning of the year.  I mean, come on!  It’s Eric Carle!  It also teaches body awareness through the use of physical movement and a repetitive refrain that will empower kids.

What could be better?  How about getting six great activities out of one freebie?!  Yes Please!

So first, before I tell you about the five activities, let’s talk about something you probably already know, but may not think about–How do kids learn to identify new things?  For some kids, you pick up a book with a picture of an apple, show it to them, say “apple”, and they’ve got it.  That’s an apple.  For others, the process takes longer and has to be more methodical.  So instead of showing the child a picture, you would show the child a real apple.  That’s an apple.  Now can the child match another apple to the original apple?  Yes?  That’s great!  They can visually discriminate!  That’s step one. So next you would show the child the picture of an apple. Can he match another picture of an apple to it?  Yes? Awesome! Now he’s ready to receptively identify the apple.  So you show him a picture of an apple and a picture of a chair.  You ask him to point to the apple.  Can he do it?  Yes?  Maybe he’s ready to expressively communicate what he’s learned.  This may mean that he can verbally tell you “apple” when you ask him what is in the picture.  It may mean that he activates a device that says apple.  It may mean that he signs the word apple.  However he does it, the foundational skills are there!       

Now back to the six activities I was telling you about.  These activities are intended to engage students at every level of language acquisition.  You can tailor each one to meet the needs of every student, no matter where they are.  For some, these activities might be appropriate in a large group, some may need small group instruction, and some may need to do these activities one-on-one with the teacher. You’re the expert on your kiddos.  You’ve got this!

Activity #1:  Guess Who

We are going to use the story board that we made a few blogs ago for this activity.  Feel free to scoot back to that post if you missed it.

I have folded several pieces of paper of cardstock.  This is an activity that you can reuse with every curriculum unit, so I suggest laminating them.  I put velcro on the back so they will stick to the board.  I also put velcro on the inside. For this activity, I printed and laminated two copies of the free activity for August, Can you do it? I can do it.  I just used the regular printer settings so the image is nice and big.

You will put one picture in each folded sheet of paper so that it is covered up.  Now here is where you have some flexibility based on your students’ needs.  You can have the child come up and choose a “door” to reveal what’s underneath, then let them match the correct animal to it by choosing from two.  Or, maybe your kids are ready to tell you what animal is underneath and maybe even what movement they do in the story.  You can modify it to meet the needs of your kids.

Another variation of this is to do different colored paper for the doors and allow children to choose their color, assign them a color (to practice identifying), or let them roll the “Cube of Knowledge” (our next activity) which you would set up with colors. (You can do this with numbers, too!)

Activity #2:  The Cube of Knowledge

The Cube of Knowledge is a magical tool!  It can be fancy, like this one available on Amazon…

It can also be homemade. I made mine out of a square box that I fashioned out of a larger not square box.  (We teachers are so crafty!)  You can also look for large dice at the dollar store.  The point of the cube is that you will put choices on it, like colors, numbers, animals, actions, etc. and the children will roll the cube to determine what they need to do.

For this particular activity, I printed the Head To Toe activity using the 2 pages per sheet setting on my printer. This makes the images smaller.  On my printer, I just had to click the Properties button in the Print window, then choose 2 pages per sheet in the Page Format drop-down list.

Then you put one action on each side of the cube.  The children will roll the cube and then act out the action.  Fun, right?!

Activity #3:  Story Stick

I feel like story sticks are almost as important as the story board.  I got these super sturdy sticks in the paint department of The Home Depot for free.  I painted mine and then just put velcro down the middle.  I printed my images from Head To Toe on the 4 pages per sheet setting for this so that they would be small enough to fit on the story stick.  The story stick is nice because it is super portable.  You can take it outside to extend your literacy activities to the outdoors for example.  You could also make enough for each child to have one to use during circle time!

One way to use the story stick would be to give an image to each child to hold during the story.  When you get to the page that has their animal or their action, they would then put it on the story stick.

Activity #4:  Matching Line-up

This activity would be great for a center, small group, or individual work time.  You can see here how I’ve folded the paper and cut the top half into strips wide enough to cover an image printed in the 4 pages per sheet setting.  You’ll put one image under each flap using velcro.  The child then must match the same image to the velcro piece on the other portion of the paper.

Once you make a few of these sheets, you can really put anything in them.  You could make a simple color match game or you could spell out words and have children match the right letters to spell it a second time.  There’s no limit to how these might be used.

Activity #5:  The Magical Bag of Mystery

I used “The Magical Bag of Mystery” all the time in my class! I would put on my best Count VonCount from Sesame Street and say “The Magical Bag of Mystery–wah ah ah!”  I used to introduce new projects by putting things inside, like a small pumpkin in October, and passing it around to let the children feel the outside of the bag to try to guess what was in it.  At the beginning of the year, I would put toys from the classroom in the bag and then we would practice putting them away correctly (a fun way to teach kids how to clean up.)  I also used it as a fun way for kids to participate.  With regard to the freebie, they could choose an action to act out by choosing a laminated image from the bag (the regular sized images would be best for this so they’re easier to grab out of the bag.)

Activity #6:  Pizza Pan

The pizza pan can be used much like the story stick except that you would put a magnet on the back of the image (printed on the 4 pages per sheet setting) so that the child can just place it on the pan to stick.  (Kids think this is super fun, plus you can get a little science lesson out of it.)  You could also use two pizza pans and ask children to determine if the image on the card is a person or an animal, sorting them into two groups.  You might remove a few so that there aren’t even numbers of animals and people so that, at the end, you can count how many you have of each to see which group had more or less.  Or keep the same number of each and talk about the concept of them being “equal”.


There’s still time to get Can You Do It?  I Can Do It! Click below for the activity.

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