After 10 years of teaching either English as a Second Language (ESL) or Library Media at the elementary level, I am heading into the classroom this coming school year. I will be teaching 2nd grade next year and I am very excited because it has always been my favorite grade level to teach and since I student taught in a 2nd grade class, this grade level has always had a special place in my heart.
I am very overwhelmed by the prospects of heading into the classroom at this point in my career, but it could be worse. My friend Janine is also heading into a 2nd grade classroom next school year after teaching elementary music for 27 years! Yikes! I feel for her! In order to help with the transition I’ve been doing some work at home this summer and one project I am really proud of are my brain break sticks. As our district shifts to Common Core next year we will be scheduling a 2 hour language arts block and a 90-minute math block. Facing that I knew brain breaks would be a must.
A few years ago our wonderful P.E. staff did a presentation at our conference days on brain breaks and it was great. With their presentation in mind and some pins from Pinterest as inspiration, here’s what I came up with.
Hard to see and upside down, yes, I know. It’s a bit pathetic what my blogging skills have become. In all honesty, I have yet to find a blogging website that has a format that I can figure out. Technologically inclined, yes. Natural born blogger, no.
Anywho… here’s what I did. The original post I found on Pinterest was from Keep Calm and Teach On (http://keepcalmandteachon.blogspot.com/2011/04/acitivity-sticks.html) and this great link for 20 3-minute brain breaks from Minds in Bloom (http://www.minds-in-bloom.com/2012/04/20-three-minute-brain-breaks.html?m=1).
I compiled ideas from both sites and typed a little cheat sheet to not only help myself remember what I was thinking at 12am one morning and for substitute teachers. You can download that here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1k9ADucB7_Afr3YaIPbrRNHrdL2bkhN5937dznM3w6OY/edit.
Then, using my super-fab Post-it File Folder Labels, I typed each brain break into the labels document, printed it, and affixed ne label to each popsicle stick. These, by the way, are the large popsicle sticks that I picked up at Michael’s craft store for some other projects long ago. I suspect that since these are post-it note labels they may not last in the long run. But my back-up plan is to simply put some packaging tape over the labels if needed.
I also did a little color-coding to help me out. Say, if we only have a minute to do a brain break I put the really quick ones (Like High Cincos, Spin 3X, etc.) on one color so I know what to grab if we need a brain break but time is limited. Same things with longer activities… they are on another color if we have a little time to kill before heading to lunch while we’re in line, etc.
I know this isn’t anything groundbreaking, awe-inspiring, or even magical. But, it’s one simple, easy, quick item I was able to create at home that I know will help me out as I make such a huge transition in the coming months. The best part of this project is I finally have a use for the super-cute tin can project my 3yo sweet pea made for me at preschool this past year 🙂