5 Quick and Easy Brain Breaks for the Classroom

Hello!  Joya here from Live Love Serve Teach.  Today I'm sharing some quick and easy brain breaks for the classroom, and let's face it, home too.  These are super simple but very powerful and don't require a computer... something that's important to me as a substitute since I usually don't have access to one.


Did you know that jumping resets your brain?  Cortisol levels remain in the brain for up to 30 days if nothing is done to relieve stress.  Jumping helps reduce cortisol levels and resets the brain. Simple jumping in place works.  Feeling creative?  Get out the jump ropes and teach them a rhyme from your childhood.  "Not last night but the night before... 24 robbers  came knocking at my door".  Anyone remember that one?  Or did I just qualify myself as old?

Leave the room!  

Leaving the room resets the brain.  Ever wonder why when you walk into another room to get something you tend to forget what it is you were looking for?  All. the. time!!!  This is why!  Simply take the class on a walk where they leave the room and BAM!  Brains are reset.

Staying Alive!

Yes!  You heard me right.  Do a little John Travolta action in your classroom as a brain break.  The motion of crossing your body when you reach across and to the sky and then back down to the ground helps reset the brain.  If you have a computer you can play the music... as a sub I just sing it out and we do it as a class.

4 Simple Moves!

These 4 simple moves provide a brain break for kids:
1. push your hands together in front of you as hard as you can
2. holding your two hands together in front of you, try and pull them apart
3. sitting in their chair, students push down as hard as they can on their desks with their hands
4. sitting in their chair, students use their hands to try and do a chair push up by pushing down on their chair and raising themselves off their chair. 
For each of these we count to 5 and release.  Works like a charm!

Upside Down!

Kids need to be upside down.  I swear my 5 year old son spends most of his days upside down in some form or another.  The simple yoga move downward dog is an excellent way to get kids upside down.  Also doing a bridge or crab walk helps, even though it's not completely upside down.  I will also have kids lay down next to their chair and just put their legs (knee and down) up on their chair.  Believe it or not... it works.  I often let kids read in this position for independent reading, especially if they missed out on getting a special spot.  

What quick and easy brain breaks do you use in your classroom??

Sounds of Spring

Hooray!  Spring is just around the corner!  I'm sure those of you who have had to brave the cold and snow are excited for warmer days.  Here in Northern California, we are finally getting some much needed rain.  I absolutely love spring time in the classroom.  My Kinders have routines and procedures down, they are so much more capable, and we really get to enjoy some exciting themes during this time of year.

Teaching the seasons is a big deal in Kindergarten.  This can be a challenging task where we live (especially trying to really explain winter!).  Luckily, there are some amazing resources out there to help us out.

One of my absolute favorite resources in the classroom is BrainpopJr.  We are lucky enough to have a school site subscription and I use it all the time!  This video helps to explain the season of spring in a very kid appropriate way.

There are some beautiful and super fun books for spring.  Here are some of my personal favs:

Last year, I picked up Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum from Scholastic.  It is a National Geographic Kids book and is an amazing combination of real photographs and poetic language.  
After reading the book, we brainstorm a list of spring sounds.  I love what the kids come up with each year.
After our brainstorm, each child writes and illustrates a page for our class book.
"Spring sounds like baby birds chirping for worms.  It is soothing."

Want to try this with your class?  You can grab the writing page and cover for a class book in my TpT shop for FREE!  Just click the image below.

What are some of your favorite activities for spring?
Happy Spring!


Why I Love Using Tailwind For My Business

I have been obsessed with Pinterest since I first started using it 5 or so years ago.  Like back when you had to get an invite to sign up. Do you remember that?  I've used it personally for recipes, craft ideas and home decor ideas.  When I started using it for business, it was a different ballgame.  It was no longer just finding pins that I loved and pinning them to a relevant board.  Suddenly I was worried about collaborative boards, peak times, smart feeds, algorithms and analytics.  It started to become stressful and take some of the fun out of Pinterest for me.  If you own a small business (TpT store, Etsy store, etc.), you know how important Pinterest is for marketing and getting your products out there, but there is more to it than just pinning your products.  Last spring, I discovered the website Tailwind.  Tailwind is a pin scheduler and it also gives a lot of analytics about your account.  Let me explain why I love Tailwind so much.

1. The customer service is fantastic.

When I first discovered this company and heard about other TpTers that were using it, I was intrigued.  I hadn't really taken the plunge and signed up or maybe I had just signed up for a trial, when I first contacted the company.  I took a shot and asked them for a donation to our Vegas meetup for Full Time TpTers/Work at Home Moms.  Imagine my shock when the president emailed me back saying he'd love to help and wanted to talk to me on the phone.  I spent 45 minutes on the phone with president of Tailwind not only explaining our group and why were were meeting up and what their donations would be used for, but also explaining our needs as TpTers as far as Pinterest was concerned.  Based on their incredible generosity and their genuine desire to help our community, I was completely sold and signed up for a paid account right away.  Their customer service continues to impress me.  They love to hear from their clients and respond very quickly.  You can email them or start a chat on the websit through your dashboard.  I went back and forth with one of their employees a few days ago and she was responding to my questions within the hour (usually faster) with detailed and thoughtful responses.  I found out exactly what I needed without having to wait around forever to hear back from them.

2.  I can pin daily without having to be online daily.

When you are pinning for fun on Pinterest, you can go on whenever you want, whenever you have time, whenever you are bored.  However, it is a different ballgame when you are pinning for business.  You need to pin regularly and consistently to get your pins seen.  As much as I love Pinterest, I know I don't have the time to be on it daily especially at peak times which I hear is around dinner time and into the evening.  Umm hold on kids, mommy can't make dinner right now because I need to pin some things first.  Ha.  Yeah right.  That isn't an option.  With scheduling my pins through Tailwind, I can schedule them out ahead of time (I currently have my pins scheduled for the entire month) so that they pin at peak times to make them more visible to my target audience.  I still go on Pinterest at other times for fun, if I'm looking for something specific or to save some pins to schedule later, but there is no pressure to pin daily now.

3.  Tailwind tells me my optimized times for pinning.

When you first start your account with Tailwind, they analyze your Pinterest account.  Part of that analysis is determining who your target audience is (who is repinning your pins) and when they are the most active.  This is crucial because then the people you want to see your pins are actually seeing your pins.  What a concept!!  Things have changed a bit with the smart feed changes in the algorithm as far as what your followers are seeing, but it is still important to be pinning when your audience is pinning.  Obviously it would be easy for me to pin during naptime but most teachers are at work and most moms are busy with their kids during the day, so my target audience isn't on Pinterest seeing my pins at that point.  Tailwind suggests ideal times for you to pin each day and you can select as many or as few as you want to add to your schedule.

4.  Tailwind gives me a lot of analytics and insights into my Pinterest account.  

I will have to admit that this is the feature I use the least on Tailwind.  I like to check into my numbers on my various social media accounts but I don't have time to dig deeply. Now I have the option with Tailwind if I want it.  One of my favorite insights that they give me is my progress for the past seven days.  They will tell me how many followers and repins I got in the past week and then they will tell me if that is above or below what I've been averaging weekly.  

5.  I've been gaining more followers and getting more repins since starting Tailwind.

Now I'm not a Pinterest rockstar by any means.  I don't have a ton of followers or repins but I have been growing.  I kept my weekly stats before Tailwind and you can clearly see when I started because I was gaining more followers each week than I ever have before.  I really think it goes back to my target audience being active while my pins are being pinned.

I could probably go on and on about Tailwind.  I know that it can be sort of overwhelming when you first get started.  I am helping a friend get started on Tailwind and it got me thinking - if she needs help and has questions, I'm sure there are others who have the same needs, so I decided to write a blog post.  Because I feel like there is a lot to explain but I want to break it into smaller chunks, I decided to do a series of blog posts starting next week on my blog Sara J Creations.  If you have any specific questions that you want me to address, leave them below in the comments.  If you want to try out Tailwind and get your account set up and ready for my how to series next week, you can sign up for a free month trial by clicking HERE. (Full disclosure - that is an affiliate link that gets you the free month.)  I started with the free trial so I could play around with the site and see if it made a difference in my Pinterest schedule.  I don't think I even lasted the full month before I signed up for a paid subscription.  Let me know what questions you have about Tailwind that I can try to answer for you.      

CVC Ping Pom

Hey Punchbowl lovers! It’s Jordan from Ferrell in First! I cannot wait to share one of my new favorite activities with you! My kinders are having so much fun with reading and I always try to find as many ways as I can to keep them engaged and wanting more. Every Friday in my room we have been doing STEM Centers and it has become one of my absolute favorite times of the week. Listening to their little convos and seeing them have so much fun is worth every second of the prep and then some! Last week we did a pom-pom ball catapult and the room was non-stop giggles. Anyways, after all the fun we had with the pom-poms and the solo cups I wanted MORE! Which brings me to… CVC Ping Pom! I am going to warn you, it is nothing beautiful and fancy but I can tell you my kiddos had a blast and I would be willing to be that yours will too! So this is how I set it up! I placed 6 cups on the left side (beginning sound), 5 in the middle (vowels) and then 6 on the right side (ending sound.) In each of the cups I placed a little magnet letter that I had but the freebie I am attaching also has round letter cards you can place in the bottom.

It looks a little something like this!

The kiddos then got 3 of those little pom-poms and had to sink it into 3 cups for a beginning, middle and ending sound. Once they had a pom-pom in each of the cups they could step up and check out what sounds they landed! They had to read them aloud to their group as the group records them and then finally had to decide if the word was real or nonsense.

(Don't mind the hat....Hat day haha)

Having all of the kiddos record the word kept everyone engaged and having fun! What is also great is this is so easy to adapt for the kiddos who are still struggling with the CVC words. Still having a hard time?? No problem, the group was able to help! 

Here are some more pics of my kiddos in action!

Safe to say they had a blast and learned a whole lot while doing so. I will chalk this one up as a win!

Interested in doing this activity in your classroom? Materials are easy: solo cups, pom-pom balls and letters! If you would like to use my recording sheets you can grab the freebie here!

Thanks for stopping by!

Inside Recess

Recess time during the Winter and (rainy) Spring can be the pits! 
Our Kinders love to spend their recess time burning off their extra energy on the playground. But, more often than not lately, they are forced to spend their recess inside.  In the past, this was a huge headache for us!  
We have a small variety of "playthings" we use during this play time, and our students used to FIGHT over everything.  Fifteen people were playing with the Farm Animals, and everyone wanted the cow!  We were putting out fires and playing referee the whole time, and this part of the day became the opposite of recess for us! 
So, we decided to limit the number of students that could play at one "Recess Center" at a time. We chose to manage this with "Recess Cards!"  We made a card for each center we had, and put dots at the bottom to represent how many kiddos could play at that center at a time.  We gave each student a clothes pin with his/her name or PE number on it.  They clip their clothes pins onto the bottom of the cards (on the dots) to pick the place they want to play.  If they want  to switch to another center, they can only pick a center that has a free dot.
Here is what it looks like in Ashley's room.  She chose to put her Recess Cards on the inside of a cabinet so she could close it away when they were not in use!!!!
This has DRASTICALLY changed our recess time, and our kids can now manage it by themselves!!!
If this is something you would like to try, and need some cards to get started, please send us an email at markersandmascara@gmail.com.  We would love to make some cards to fit in your classroom!!!

Powered by Blogger.