Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Power of Brain Breaks


I love Brain Breaks!  I mean, I really {puffy heart} love Brain Breaks.  If you don't know what a brain break is - its a short activity designed to give your students' brains a break from the focus and rigor of learning and working.  Some involve movement to help get the wiggles out, others are just fun and silly, and still others help them refocus.  I have been using brain breaks in my classroom since I started teaching and I don't think I could live without them.

Today I am so excited to share with you a Brain Break Website that I stumbled upon.  It is called GoNoodle!

GoNoodle is a free brain break resources for teachers all around the world.  Even if you already use brain breaks in the classroom I think you will love the ease of GoNoodle!  GoNoodle has its own original brain breaks, plus all the favorites from You Tube in one central location.  As a teacher I love the variety of brain breaks available.  They have everything from running to dancing, and zumba to meditation like focus activities.  In my classroom we generally do one movement based activity and then one focus activity.  Sometimes we throw in a silly or singing activity just for fun too!  One of our class favorites is the Zumba dances!!


I love that it gets my kids up and moving, gets the wiggles out, and sure helps to develop their eye-body coordination!



After we Zumba then it is time to refocus our bodies and brain.  We sit and do the Airtime video.



This video is amazing!  It does some deep breathing all while traveling - via bubble - around the United States.  My students get so excited to see where they landed.  Here we are breathing in oxygen to help our brains!



My students love the adorable mascots who grows and change based on the amount of time you are doing brain breaks.  This is our class mascot right now:

You can see the progression as he grows through the level.  I let my class vote on the mascot and then we love watching him grow.  Each level is 15 minutes of activity.  Sometimes we get through a level in a day (especially when indoor recess is involved) and sometimes it takes a day or 2.  But either way my students love watching the time to see when our mascot will grow!

So how do you start brain breaking with GoNoodle?  Just click the picture below and sign-up for a free account.

To Sign-up and use GoNoodle just follow these simple and easy steps.  Start by clicking the orange GoNoodle picture above.  You will then see this:


After you sign-up, then create your class.


Two quick steps to give your class a name.  If you teach multiple classes, you can set them each up separately.



That's it.  Now comes the fun part - choosing your class mascot.  This is not a forever mascot because you get to choose a new one after your reach level 5.  I let my students vote, but you could easily just make the choice for them too.


Once you have chosen your mascot you will be directed to your class home screen.  After the first time, this is where you will start when you log-in each day.  Click Play to start.


You get a a variety of Brain Breaks to choose from.  I also love how they are divided up by category too!


Once you find the one you want, just click it to get started.  The video will automatically start playing.  When it is done click Quit Playing to "bank" your time toward the next level.



Then it is back to the home screen where you can start again!


Once your account is set up it is as easy as a couple clicks of the mouse to get your students energized and moving, or slowing down and ready to focus.

GoNoodle does offer a Premium subscription with some additional Brain Break activities.  But unlike most websites - the FREE account is amazing!!!  There is so much available on the free account.  The premium subscription offers some additional brain break activities not on the free account.  Keep reading to find out how you can win a GoNoodle premium subscription!

GoNoodle also helped me change my thoughts on brain breaks.  Before I thought that if movement wasn't involved, then it wasn't a good brain break.  Well this video changed my mind.
This is one of our absolute favorites right now!  After sitting and singing, my students are ready to focus on the next lesson - and no movement is involved.  Not only do we use it as a Brain Break, but I have been know to stop the video and ask my students to come find sight words or other phonics skills we are working on.  We even added "Frozen words" to our word wall!  I LOVE that the words are there while they sing for that extra reading practice!

Pointing out sight words in the Frozen sing along.
And just for fun - I thought I'd share my sweet kiddos singing their hearts out to Let it Go.  This just makes me smile!


I hope you will take the chance to give GoNoodle a try.  What do you have to lose but wiggles, daydreaming and inattention?  It's free and the benefits for the kids are amazing!!!  After you sign-up, come back and enter to win a 1 year Premium Subscription from GoNoodle!  THANK YOU GoNoodle for donating this!!





Saturday, April 12, 2014

Secret Admirer?


It's not what you think.  Actually I had the privilege of being the admirer in this fun blog party!  Today I am so excited to share with you a teacher creator that I admire - Paula from The Reading Bungalow!  Paula is a reading specialist in Alaska.  Although she doesn't have a blog to follow, there are lots of great ideas and resources being shared!  You can find The Reading Bungalow on Facebook, Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers.

For this round of Blogs We Admire I had the chance to check out her Facebook page and all the amazing resources she has available in her TpT store.  There are so many ready to go, easy to use resources.  I have been using her Race to the Top - CVC Words games with my students this past week and boy do they love this game!


I loved this game too!  I first used the game during tutoring with my kiddos that are struggling with blending.  They sure loved the race and didn't even realize they were practicing their reading skills!





  Not only did they have a blast playing the game, but it was great to watch them help each other with letter sounds and cheer each other on!  After a great success in tutoring I had to use it in my classroom during center time.  I paired up my students with similar reading levels for this game.  My kids that have mastered blending were working on fluency while my kids that struggle with blending continued to work on sounding out and pushing the sounds together.  Everyone loved the game!!!

If you would like to try this game out with your students, click on the picture below to get a freebie sample of the game!



There are more great games and resources like this in Paula's TpT store.  Here's just a couple that I have my eye on!!!!

These CVC Word Puzzles would make a great center or
guided reading group activity.
I think I MUST have these for the beginning of the year next year!
What a great, fun way to focus on beginning sounds!
Make sure and check out The Reading Bungalow!  I know you won't be disappointed.



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