Welcome to the world of creative teaching! In my opinion, there should be no need to make a distinction between regular teaching and teaching with creativity. However, time restraints, low school budgets and overworked teachers have slowly pushed us away from making the classroom a very special and magical place. I’m here to tell you that it can be done, and after you’ve tried it, there’s simply no turning back!
This blog is about my creative adventures in the classroom, but I’ve created this little section of the site to share some of my favorite ideas for parents and teachers, to help them inject a little magic in the time they spend with their students and children. You’ll find some of my favorite blogs on teaching, interesting articles, new ideas, great places to find supplies, and much more.
During my school years, I had some of the most incredible teachers by my side. They used techniques and prepared lessons in ways no other school was doing. The walls were covered with projects and oozing with creativity and I can still remember those lessons as if they took place yesterday. In my experience as a teacher, the more unique and creative a lesson is, the more memorable it is for the student. Not to mention the little groups of incredibly motivated students you will have, after showing them that learning can be fun, interesting and special. As you know I’m an ESL teacher (English as a second language), but many of these ideas can be adapted for any kind of class or subject if you use your imagination. Enjoy some of my favorite ideas, sites and recommendations below!
Using Games/Making your own
In spite of it being the era of the Play Station and the Xbox, I’ve found that if you put any game in front of a child and offer them some quality time to play together, they will love any kind of game you put in front of them. For this reason, I love showing up to class with a set of legos for sentence construction, board games to encourage speaking in English, card games for remembering vocabulary and verb tenses, there are so many options out there! I love making my own board games like “The Great Underwater Adventure” in the photo below. Below are some great links to ideas, amazing teaching blogs and software you can use to make your own.
– For hundreds of games, ideas and activities you can adapt for your classroom or use at home, one of my favorite blogs A Magical Childhood.
– My two secret weapons for making my own games: iWeb for diagraming (or any design or paint software), a color printer, some card or white paper and a laminator for making those amazing resources last forever. Make flashcards with the vocabulary students will learn/use during the game and then review it in future lessons!
– The place where I collect and share all the teaching goodies I find online with all of you: my Pinterest board “Teach”. Click on any of the pictures and it will take you to the website where I pinned it from. Making your own teaching pin board is also a great way to keep all your ideas organized so you can pop in at any time wherever you are and get ideas for your lessons.
I can still remember the books I read as a child, and the wonderful way my teachers made me love books and reading to this day. It needs to start early and it needs to be fun. Books and stories are two things kids love as children and sweep under the rug as soon as they get a little bit older. Yes, the electronic age is partly to blame, but I can remember very clearly that when books I wasn’t interested in were forced on me I completely lost interest. Let’s face it, as adults we don’t walk into a bookstore and ask the employees “ok, what book am I supposed to read today?”. We walk in, spend a long time looking around, reading back covers, looking at the front cover and noticing how it makes us feel. We browse the staff recommendation section, and the top selling books, or we go to the crazy categories we love and pick from there. Give your students a voice and a choice when it comes to reading. Remember you are beginning to forge the reading habits they will have later on in life. There are so many great authors and topics to choose from that there’s no need to be stingy. Have a great selection of action and adventure books for the boys, or strange stories about ogres and monsters (The Twits by Roald Dahl is a big hit with my students). As a girl I loved fairy tales, and tales of princesses had to be included, but there are so many empowering books about strong, brave girls, that you can surely match their interests with powerful literature that you would like them to read.
Give them options and plan activities that will give them the power to choose what they would like to read. Here are some great ideas:
– Check out Runde’s Room for some great reading project ideas like her paper bag character book reports.
– For a list of great books for girls to help empower them, raise their confidence and self esteem and help them become brave young women, the incredible site of an Almighty Girl.
– A great selection of children’s books arranged by topics and areas you need to work on in class. A truly brilliant approach to book recommendations: The Clever School Teacher.
– Another great website filled with book recommendations, Children’s Book Guide.
– There are plenty more resources in my “Teach” Pin Board on Pinterest.
– Always remember to add games, extra activities, arts and crafts, video, vocabulary revision, and especially creative projects to your reading activities. I share many ideas I’ve been trying out in our weekly blog posts.
Resources and Supplies
Are you a little bit stuck with where to buy some great teaching supplies? I know I was in the beginning, but it just took a little time with Google and Pinterest, to find some great sites, and of course nothing beats sharing information and tips with fellow teachers or going to seminars or workshops to find out what’s new. Here are some of my go to places:
– Amazon.com, Tiger and your local educational toy store.
– Visiting flee markets or garage sales to find some great props for drama activities in the classroom.
– Steve Spangler Science for some cool science and technology toys and games.
– Buy a laminator and a color printer and the world is your oyster! You will make your own supplies and they’ll last forever. You don’t need to spend a fortune, my laminator was the simplest one they had in the store, I spent 14 euros and it’s wonderful.
– Here’s Mr. Printables for beautiful flashcards, and free printables and activities for kids.
– The dollar (or euro) bin in your local supermarket will often have incredible supplies for your classroom simply because they’re moving stock around. Always check it to see what treasures you might find.
– Involve your students in making signs and posters for class, they love it and will always take good care of their creations once they’re up. All you need for this is some markers, card and maybe some finger paints or poster paint.
– You can make very unusual and inexpensive items work for the classroom. A hula hoop to create a giant human clock and teach how to tell time, popsicle sticks to invent story lines. Not to mention what a cartoon scene, a movie, a comic book or a funny youtube video can do to motivate a classroom and help teach a lesson. Video is a powerful thing and they love it, so use it! The possibilities are endless. Again, note that many of these ideas like the giant clock and popsicle sticks are not of my making and you can visit all of these incredible sites through my Pinterest board, it goes to show that a little researching can do wonders for your lessons. Never stick only to what you know. Think outside the box and take advantage of all the incredible blogs and websites that are out there.
Here are my mottos: Teach with love. Always keep in mind that your students are great teachers as well. Listen to them, give them choices, give them a voice. In no time you will have created an eager mind open to learning and enjoying the process. The smiles will be reward enough I can assure you.
Please email me if you want more information, goodies, links, ideas, plans, and resources. I’ll be happy to share!
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