Thursday, September 26, 2013

Do you know your ABC's?

God definitely me in a spot to get me out of my comfort zone here in Korea by teaching at a blind school.  I have 8 different classes.  For the elementary level, I have 4 classes, and I only see them once a week.  For the middle and high school level, I have 4 classes, and I see them 2-3 times a week.  The majority of the students I work with at the Pre-K and Kindergarten level, and I only work with 1 or 2 students at a time.  They are learning their ABC's, reviewing their ABC's and learning the sounds, or learning phonics and basic sight words.  I have never taught Kindergarten.  I taught at a KinderCare when I was in graduate school, but that was years ago.  Most of my teaching has been centered around 4th, 5th, and 6th grade.  I love teaching at the intermediate level.

So when I found that I was teaching at a blind school and most of my students are at a lower level, I knew I would be out of my comfort zone.  I was fine with that as long as I could find a way to bring something new to the students and do the best job that I could.  When I first got here, my co-teacher handed me a piece of paper with the alphabet on it and told me to use that.  After 2 minutes of that, I was bored.  If I was bored, I could imagine that the students were bored as well.  So I started researching on Google different ways to teach the ABC's.  By the way...what did we ever do without Google?  LOVE Google!

I found some cool ABC songs on YouTube...several I have already shared with you.  I found this new one yesterday, and my students really like.  It's basically the same ABC song that you and I grew up singing, but it has a beat and bold colors, which my visually impaired students really like.

Then we watched our favorite ABC song, which I have shared before.  I really like it for my students because it has rhythm, shows the letter, says the sound, and says a word for that letter.

We have played this one so many times that they are starting to sing along, which makes me happy.  That means they are starting to know and understand not only the letters, but also the sounds and the words for each letter.

Then we watched a new ABC video that I found on the Sesame Street channel on YouTube.  Have you checked out that channel?  It's great for little kids!

Here's the video:

After watching the videos, we played this game.  I found this game, Fiddle Sticks, on Pinterest last year when I taught 5th grade math.  I used it for practicing those dreaded multiplication facts, and my students always begged me to play it.  Here is the original link:

I thought I would use the same concept to practice the letters of the alphabet with my students here in Korea.  I went looking at our local dollar store, Daiso, but I couldn't find any popsicle sticks.  The closest thing I could find were clear plastic spoons.  So I bought several packages at about 1,000 won (or $1) each.  I used my Sharpie that I had brought from home to write a letter of the alphabet on each spoon.  Then I drew a star on two spoons.  In the original game, Fiddle Sticks, you draw a red dot on two sticks.  I didn't have a red marker, so I just drew a star.  I put all the spoons into a little waste bucket I also found at Daiso.  I introduced the game to two of my middle school boys yesterday.  One of these boys is always tired in my class and puts his head down or just closes his eyes while sitting in his chair.  It's been a challenge to motivate him.  Well, this game did it!  I was ecstatic.  I will mention that I also "bribed" them with Fruit Loops, which I'm sure helped. Let me tell you how we played it...

You put all the spoons in the bucket, with the handles up and the letters down.  Student #1 picks a spoon.  If he says the correct letter, he gets one Fruit Loop (yes, just one).  If he also says the word for that letter, he gets another Fruit Loop. For example: B, and B is for ball.  They loved getting the Fruit Loops.  I was amazed that it worked better than candy or stickers.  Then Student #2 picks a spoon and does the same thing.  If the student picks a spoon and does not know the letter, then he puts the spoon back.  If the students picks a spoon with the star, then he has to put back all of his spoons.  You should have heard the groans and the "oh no"'s when they picked the star.  It was cracking me up.  And the boy who always just wants to sleep?  Well he was wide awake during this game!  And he knew all of his letters and most of the words that went with each letter.  I was shocked and amazed and giddy!  I am definitely going to have to buy more Fruit Loops at Home Plus, but I'm totally OK with that.  And if you're wondering, yes, the Fruit Loops taste different here in Korea, and they are actually called Fruit Rings.  They are just not the same as in America.  :(

Here is my little bucket...

And my spoons...
The ABC spoons
I am still a little surprised that my game worked so well.  I actually used the game again today with 2 middle school boys from another class, and they liked it just as much as the first 2 boys.  Woo-hoo!  Now, I'm on the lookout for more simple games like this to use in the classroom.

I haven't yet figured out a name for my game.  I would love to call it Fiddle Sticks, but there aren't any sticks involved.  Maybe Fiddle Spoons.  What do you think?

My next goal is to use the same game but with basic sight words instead of letters of the alphabet.  I'm going on a search this weekend to a big stationery store here in Daejeon, hoping to find some popsicle/craft sticks.  Wish me luck!

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