Tools for Teachers ~~Instant Reading & Math Learning Stations
As a teacher I was always looking for a way to reinvent our learning environment. The goal was to keep it interesting and stimulating while maintaining normalcy. One way to change things a bit was through the use of 'grapes.'
There are in every classroom students who consistently finish their assignments early and well done. The grapes were one way that those students could make constructive use of the extra time they found available to them. It was never okay to me for a child to wonder what to do next or to have the feeling they were B O R E D. There was always something new to do or discover...no time to be bored.
The reading grapes were some choices of things that a student could do alone or, if indicated, with a buddy.
To make 'grapes' will depend on how you decide to use them
For grapes that I would be posting for a three month period, I cut out large circles from construction paper and laminated them. I could then write on them what the choices were and erase later when it was time to change.
I made a stem and some leaves to go along with the bunch of 'grapes' too.
Color? The first bunch you see photographed has purple grapes. The reason the other 'grapes' are not all purple (or green) is that one year the students asked me if I would make them different colors I did and we had fun with it ever since.
Great suggestions for primary grades
Reading grapes consisted of six choices which I changed about every 3 months.
- Word(s) of the day...
Students logs in reading journals the new words of the day they come across in their reading. They also record the two new words of the day posted in the classroom by a student or the teacher.
- Listen and respond
For this activity, students choose a book and tape to listen to or went onto to
This site on line does charge a fee. I still have my own personal subscription. It is worth the investment. You may wish to consider it for home or school. If students chose to go on line, they did not have to complete the form provided for responding as that was taken care of by completing the story on line.
If they listened to a tape, they draw a picture about what they read and heard and write a few sentences about it or write their reaction to the story on the form provided.
- Read and respond with a buddy
- both read the same story and complete the form together.
- Play banagrams, scrabble, or word play for kids
There is socialization and a game.
- Synonyms, anotonyms, homonyms with friends (not more than 3)
Locate words from the word wall, from their reading, or from lists provided by the teacher and put them under the correct heading on a form they are given.
Bonus points can be assigned if they use new synonyms, antonyms, or homonyms correctly in writing or speaking.
- Free choice
This option can be available one day out of six.
To keep track of what they activities they had completed, students keep a form their station folder. The folders are turned in a the end of the six day cycle.(Teacher monitors daily.)
There are other suggestions for helping stimulate learning at the following links:
Math grapes were used as well. Choices were changed about every three months as they were with the reading grapes. The first set of choices was:
- Take timed test.with a budy
Pairs of students use a timer, a clipboard, paper, pencil or individual white boards ,
Find a corner of the room and practice timing each other on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts.
- Practice times tables
Individually or with a partner.- practice saying and writing times tables till proficient
- Math journal
Catch up time activity. --children were absent during the week and need to update math journals can do this during station time. Math vocabulary, formulas, geometric figure information, and other important math information can be update in their journals.
- Solve story problems with a buddy
Students work with their peers to make the 'lightfbulb' come on.as they solve story problems..
- Complete today's assignment
"Visit" and work.
Every now and then a huge outburst of laughter will occur happen.. ..that is ok.
- Free choice
Free choice includes math activities on the computer such as timed tests. If they want to do this one, they needed to sign up the day before to be in line to use the compute
Spelling Grapes a little something extra for you.
Spelling grapes were to be used for those early finishers during a time of the day when we were not having math or reading.
The choices were:
- Practice with a friend
Students socialize & practice.
Use clipboards, paper and pencil
Take turns calling the words to each other and practice the ones they miss.
- Whiteboard practice
Practice writing words on individual whiteboards with a buddy or individually.
- Magnetic letters practice
Practice writing words using magnetic letters.
- Scrabble letter practice
Use scrabble letters to practice writing the spelling words
- Make a chain
Make a chain for each spelling words. Small pieces of colorful paper are provided. Students write spelling words on a strip and connected to the next word.
They can also use one strip for each letter so they wound up with a longer chain.
- shaving cream (whole class activity.. .a favorite
Shaving cream is smeared on the table or desk.
Kids write their spelling words in it. It is easy to clean off with a damp cloth.
I did this once a month.
Family grapes- Try these with your family
Family grapes ...why not?
Family grapes can be made into magnets for your refrigerator or on a large whiteboard in your den or family room. We used these mainly in the summer.
- Electronics-free night
- Pajama party night
- Movie marathon night
- Picnic in the living room night
- Give back day
The way we used these grapes was in this way.
One grape was used each week if at all possible. Sometimes our schedules did not permit it but we tried to do at least one a week.
At the end of the night, we would vote on our next grape.
- Picnic in the living room
Picnic in the living room was so much fun. We put a blanket and big pillows on the floor so we could lounge around. I had a red and white checkered tablecloth we used. We made sandwiches and salads together. Food was packed into the picnic basket Soft drinks of choice were stashed n a cooler and off to the living room we went.
Someone even found fake ants to set on the tablecloth!
When everything was ready, we would enjoy our picnic meal. This was always a fun relaxing time.
- Pajama party night
What is more fun than to get all showered and ready to relax in our pj's?
Everyone snuggled up in a comfy spot reading a favorite book, listening to family stories, or reading some favorite stories aloud.
Maybe top of the evening wiith a light snack of cheese, apples, grapes, of course, and some special crackers.
- Electronics-free night
No xbox360, no cell phones (except for designated adult for emergencies), no distractions. Break out the puzzles and drawing paper. Have tables set up stocked with a variety of puzzles.
Have other areas provided for drawing and coloring. Some kids even BIG KIDS, like me like to color. Have lots of paper, crayons, markers, and colored pencils.
Just a nice evening to chat and be together.
- Movie marathon night
Vote on G or PG rated movies for family viewing. Maybe an oldie but goodie movie that is a family favorite. The Incredible Journey was always a favorite with us.
Stop at the dollar store and buy some plastic 'popcorn' cups. Don't forget to buy some popcorn and maybe get the kind you can cook in a pan and not the microwave.
Gather round for viewing a couple of movies, munching on some freshly popped corn, and enjoying each other's company.
- Give back day
Give back day is important. It will help you instill in your children that we are on this planet together. And, that we should do what we can for our fellow man or woman or boy or girl and for our planet.
There are many ways this could be accomplished.
- Have children save some of their allowance to contribute to buy a couple of bags of cat or dog food for an animal shelter. The whole family can go there together to drop it off.
- Rake an elderly neighbors yard and pick up debris from the yard as a family. Bag it up and haul it off the property. If you have a lawn mower that mulches, mulch and put around plants on the property.
- Run errands for the same neighbor if the need arises.
- Take canned goods, unused clothing, and blankets to a shelter that provides for those in need.
- Call a nursing home and ask who would be cheered up by a visit from a family. Together make cards to take to the person. Who knows -- it might become a regular visit.
- Collect trash on your street or several streets near your home. Equip everyone with gloves and a trash bag.
The ways you can give back are endless and will of course be ones you feel a commitment to do. This is just an important way for children of all ages to see they have a responsibility as a member of the community.
These 'grapes' can be another way to add interest to the classroom and to your family life. The ways to change them so they do not become the B word (boring) are limitless.
As a teacher, you can find ideas in books on learning stations or centers to use on your grapes.
© 2012 Patricia Scott
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