Using Devices in Elementary Years

When you think of children in the classroom, it is likely that your mind turns to studious heads bent low over notebooks, textbooks and worksheet handouts. It is likely you think of children turning in handwritten assignments, and if they are very young, learning to read and write like you did as a child. It is unlikely, however, that you think of those same children leaning over tablets and computers, playing educational games and sending in assignments that are typed, but this very picture is becoming a reality in a lot of classrooms around the country. Tablets and computers in the classroom offer some very distinct advantages to the elementary school student beyond just the novelty of using a computer in class. Electronic devices such as computers and tablets really are the way forward. Keep reading to learn why this is.

 

Interactivity

Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom are quite interactive. They allow students to write, publish and edit which are important workforce skills. Students are also encouraged to collaborate with other learners who may have different learning styles. This builds teamwork skills, as well as helping students become effective communicators with a wide variety of other students in classrooms across the country. This exercise also encourages problem-solving as students may have to work around such issues as language barriers and accessibility needs of others they come into contact with. Furthermore, this increased interactivity allows students to have an authentic learning experience in a way that is difficult to reproduce in physical space.

 

Accommodating Differentiated Learning

Not all students learn in the same manner. Computers and tablets in the classroom can help every student, based on learning style. Education no longer has to be simply a matter of writing and memorizing facts. Students can be shown how things happen, and in some cases they can actually have a chance to do things hands-on, even virtually. Also, for those students who have English as a second language, or those with learning disabilities there are podcasts and vodcasts, which allow students to have the content read aloud to them, and also to go back and study content which they have previously had difficulty with at any time.

 

The STEM Subjects and Digital Literacy

STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These skills are all very important if a student plans on entering the job market later in life. It is important to start teaching children these necessary tasks even in the early elementary years. Furthermore, an increase in digital literacy early on means that children, by the time they are ready to find a job, will already be  familiar with computers and tablets, and will not have to take classes on basic computer use before seeking that first job or college education, as many college classes also have a computer component.

 

Learning early use of computers is overall an important skillset for students, and what better place to learn than in the classroom? Computer-aided curricula allow students to become better problem solvers. They also learn to more effectively manage as team players, to anticipate and work with the needs of others, and to positively collaborate with children who may be quite different than themselves. Further, technology in the classroom allows for the lesson materials to be tailored to a child’s individual learning style. Computer-aided lessons also allow for a hands-on experience and incorporation of the STEM subjects into the curriculum. Therefore, having computers in the classroom really is the way to proceed.

Bringing Out The Best In Your Special Needs Students

Every student has the potential to succeed. But in a traditional classroom, it can be harder for students with special needs to tap into that potential.

Special needs students’ success can be limited by the unique challenges they face. It can require a thoughtful effort from teachers to ensure that special needs students thrive in the classroom.

 

How can teachers help special needs students thrive? Offer them the support they with these tips for classroom success:

 

Create a Safe, Welcoming Class Environment
From how a teacher talks to the posters on the walls, make sure that all of the cues in the classroom are positive and accepting of diversity from day one. Be clear that all different kinds of people have unique gifts.

Be Clear and Consistent About Rules
Set classroom expectations early, and adhere to them consistently. When a student understands what is expected and can count on the consequences, good or bad, being the same every time, it offers an important foundation and sense of order.

Look for Students’ Strengths
Speak with the previous teachers of special needs students, and the students’ parents. Ask them about the child’s strengths and challenges. Also talk to each special needs student one-on-one—what do they perceive themselves to be good at? What do they perceive themselves to be bad at? These conversations can offer a wealth of information to give each student appropriate support.

Tap Into Students’ Interests
As you engage with students, learn about what their interests and passions are. Then, find ways to incorporate their interests into the lessons. For example, instead of a typical math problem about trains, can you make one about hockey for a sports fan?

Arrange Desks in Groups
When students are grouped in a way that encourages engagement, it can foster an inclusive learning environment. All students benefit when they interact with individuals who are different from them, but it can be especially helpful for special needs students, who will benefit from working together on class activities.

Show Students Their Career Potential
Students with special needs can struggle to see themselves fitting into the adult world, as there is very little imagery available in mainstream culture to model success for them. Encourage them by making links between their interests, strengths, and specific career paths. For example, a dyslexic student who loves art could find success as a graphic designer.

Break Large Tasks Into Smaller Goals
This can serve two purposes. First, it helps students who struggle to bring large tasks to completion a sense of accomplishment. It also helps teachers measure individual students’ productivity and pinpoint specific struggles.

Follow the IEP
Every student with special needs is required to have an IEP—an individual education plan. This document includes goals, objectives and support services specific to each child for their entire academic career. Knowing the IEP for each student helps teachers ensure they stay on track for their education goals.

Communicate With Parents
Keep parents and caregivers informed of what the class is learning, how their child is doing, and especially notify them of any problems or areas of concern. Working together with parents and caregivers can stem concerns before they become serious issues.

 

With Support, Every Student Can Thrive

Students with special needs may have face more challenges within the confines of a traditional classroom setting, but with patience and support, every student can find success. To help yours reach their potential, establish a positive, consistent learning environment and support their learning process with the appropriate tools, goals and interests.

How to Handle Bullying Situations In School

According to DoSomething.org, a whopping 3.2 million students are bullied each year. Most teachers want to help, but we can’t always prevent bullying situations from occurring, but we can be prepared to handle bullying properly when it does take place.

Here are some tips to handle bullying situations involving your students:

 

Responding to Acts of Bullying:

  • If you witness bullying taking place, act immediately and stay calm. If necessary, get a second adult to help.
  • However, don’t call out other students to publicly state what they saw, and don’t question the students involved in front of other kids. Don’t force the students involved to make up on the spot.
  • Instead, separate the students involved. Before anything else, check to make sure that they are all safe and uninjured. Don’t try to sort out the facts from the students on the spot, and don’t talk to the two students involved together.
  • Address any medical or mental health needs, and get the police or medical professionals involved immediately if there was a weapon involved, any kind of hate-motivated violence such as racism or homophobia, or sexual abuse.
  • Also involve the police if there were threats of violence or accusations of any kind of illegal act, such as a theft.
  • As you deal with the students involved, model the kind of behavior you want students to emulate. Stay calm, and listen without blaming. Speak to each student involved, keeping the involved parties separate.
  • Don’t call the act “bullying” while you are still collecting information about what happened.
  • Whatever you do, don’t ignore the situation—bullying is not something students will work out on their own.

 

Dealing With a Student Who Was Bullied

  • Assure the student it is not their fault. Focus on the student to understand what the situation is, and show them you want to help.
  • Ask the student what would make them feel safe—but keep changes to their routine at minimal as possible, as the bullied student should not be singled out or penalized for being a victim. Work with schools, parents, and other relevant organizations to create a plan to ensure the student’s safety.
  • Never tell a student to just ignore a bully, and don’t blame the student for being bullied.
  • Children who are bullied sometimes struggle to talk about it, and may do better if referred to a mental health professional.

 

Dealing With a Bully

  • When addressing a bully, be clear about what the problem behavior is—and that bullying will not be tolerated.
  • Appropriate consequences for bullying behaviors focus on building empathy. For example, have the student lead a class discussion about how to be a good friend, or read a book about bullying.
  • It can also be beneficial to involve the student in making amends with the student who was bullied. This can include writing a letter apologizing, or paying for any property damaged. And of course, adhere to any guidelines in your school district’s code of conduct.
  • However, avoid using “zero tolerance” or “three strikes” approaches—witnesses to bullying tend to be less likely to report it if suspension or expulsion is the consequence.
  • Group treatment and peer mediation don’t work, either. Bullies tend to encourage bad behaviors in each other in groups, while mediation is only appropriate for parties who share equal blame.

 

Working for Safer Schools

A teacher can’t always prevent a bullying situation from occurring, but how you respond to one can be the difference between ongoing harassment and a brief incident. When adults act quickly and consistently to bullying, students get the message that this behavior is not acceptable, and research shows that this significantly reduces bullying behavior over time.

And remember, be persistent. Bullying is not likely to stop immediately, but by being diligent and working together with others at the school, you can create a safe environment for all students.

Bullying: Advice for Parents and Teachers

What is Bullying?

Put simply, bullying is when one child picks on another child. Bullying is defined as any unwanted, aggressive behavior from one or more children, toward another child or children. Bullying is often not an isolated event, but rather is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated.

Bullying can happen in various ways – physically, verbally or socially. It can take place anywhere – at school, on the bus, over the internet or even via texting. Bullying often involves an imbalance of power – whether it is real or perceived – leaving the victim feeling intimidated and inferior.

 

There are three main types of bullying which occur:

 

Verbal

This can include teasing, name-calling, taunting, making inappropriate comments or verbally threatening. This can occur orally or through written messages on the internet or via mobile phones

 

Social

Social bullying relates to bullying which affects a child’s social relationships. This might include attempts at damaging a child’s reputation by spreading rumours, leaving someone out in an attempt to isolate them or making public attempts to embarrass them.

 

Physical

Physical bullying relates to hurting a child physically, or even hurting their possessions. Physical bullies may use aggressive physical behavior such as hitting or kicking to hurt a child, they might try and induce physical harm by tripping someone or pulling their chair out etc., or may simply use rude hand gestures toward them.

 

National studies show that almost 30 percent of children are bullied, with cyberbullying becoming the fastest growing method of delivering the bullying behavior. Children who are bullied as well as children who bully are both at risk for very serious, lasting problems. Whether your child or student is being bullied or they are doing the bullying, it is a serious issue which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

 

 

When Your Child or Student Is Bullied

Children who are bullied often feel vulnerable and powerless to their situations. If the bullying has been happening for some time they are often conditioned to feel different and alone.
Children who are bullied are often unable to stand up for themselves because the power imbalance that occurs in bullying can leave them feeling that they are not as powerful as the bully. Victims of bullying often exhibit behaviors such as appearing anxious or nervous, feeling sick or not doing as well at school as they usually do. If your child or student is acting differently, try and find out if they are being bullied. If they are, make sure the school and teachers are aware of the problems, and try the following tips in order to help the child deal with the situation:

 

·        Ask what he or she needs to feel safe and be clear that you are there to help
·        Teach the child to respond by looking the bully in the eye, standing tall and remaining calm. Teach them to walk away with their head held high.
·        Teach the child how to address the bully in a firm voice. Saying things like “I don’t like that” and “Please do not speak to me like that” can be helpful in confronting the bully about his or her behavior.
·        Ensure that the child knows who they can speak to about being bullied – trusted adults, teachers etc.
·        Develop a plan of action – be sure to communicate openly with the school and plan some steps that can be taken in order to resolve the situation. Consider what changes could be made to help (rearranging the classroom, switching bus route etc.)

 

Most importantly, be sure you support the child who is being bullied. Listen to what has been happening and focus on how the child is feeling. Assure the child that what has been happening is not their fault and that they are not alone – lots of other children have struggled with this problem. If your child is not willing to talk about it or is having difficulty opening up, think about who else might be able to speak with them about it – consider a school counsellor or other mental health service.

 

Don’t forget to be persistent – the issue may not resolve itself overnight. You will need to commit to ensuring that the bullying stops and support the child until it does.

 

When Your Child Is the Bully

Kids can exhibit bullying behavior for a number of reasons. This may include copying friends or trying to look ‘cool’, bullying in order to make themselves feel better or more powerful than the child they are bullying or even as a reaction to other circumstances in their lives such as problems at home. Whatever the reason – bullying is never acceptable. Studies have shown that children who bully often encounter problems as adults, including substance abuse, getting into fights and leaving school early.
If your child or student is responsible for bullying, it is important to address it right away – for the good of the child being bullied, and the bully. Here are some tips for addressing bullying with the child who is carrying out the bullying behavior:

 

·         Ensure that the child knows what it is they are doing wrong. In some cases, children don’t even realise how what they are doing is wrong or how it hurts people. Be specific – point out why it’s wrong and how it affects the child being bullied.
·         Be serious. Bullying is not a joking matter – make sure your child or student knows that you are taking the issue very seriously and that any continuation of the behavior will not be tolerated.
·         Speak with the child and try to get to the bottom of why he or she might be doing the bullying. Consider whether he or she might need some additional support from the school counsellor or another outside organisation.
·         Let the punishment fit the crime. Children who bully should not simply be let away with it – use consequences but ensure that they are appropriate and help the child to learn about bullying (you might consider having the child make an anti-bullying poster to paste around the school, or write a story about the effects of bullying on other children).
·         Make sure the child who bullied is involved in repairing the situation they have caused. This might mean writing a letter of apology or replacing any property that was damaged.

 

When Your Child Is a Bystander

If your child or student is merely a witness to bullying, there are still things to be aware of. Children who witness bullying may feel helpless or worried for another child’s safety, or their own. They may start to join in the bullying or they may not tell anyone about the bullying if they are feeling anxious that they will be bullied. Encourage children who are bystanders to tell an adult as soon as possible about the bullying and to help support bullied children.

Even being a bystander to bullying can affect children very negatively. Make sure they know that it is okay to speak out.

Family Literacy Day

Every year on January 27, Canada celebrates Family Literary Day. This annual awareness event was created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1992 with the mission of spreading word about the importance of reading and engaging in literacy-related activities as a family.

Literacy levels in Canada have become a serious issue. Here are some literacy awareness facts:

  • Increasing the literacy rate by 1 percent would generate $18 billion in economic growth annually
  • 42 percent of Canadian adults have a literacy level too low to keep up with the increasing information demands of modern life
  • In Ontario alone, only 61 percent of adults with the lowest literacy levels are employed
  • Meanwhile, 82 percent of those with the highest literacy levels are employed, but only make up 20 percent of the population
  • Seniors, native people, prisoners, people with disabilities, minorities and the long-term unemployed are more likely to have low literacy levels, and to be living in poverty

The fight to improve literacy throughout Canada starts in your own home. In honor of Family Literacy Day, take the pledge to engage your kids in “15 Minutes of Fun” every day and do an activity together that encourages reading, learning and creativity.

These activities can range from researching your favorite foods online to see if you can make them at home, to singing a conversation to the tune of your favorite song. See the full list of example activities here.

Sources: Canadian Library & Learning Network, The Excellence in Literacy Foundation, Literacy and Policing Project, Literacy Council

Identifying Different Types of Learners

There are many different ways that people learn, and in any classroom, you are bound to encounter several students from each learning category.  While one method of teaching may work very well for a certain type of learner, another type may not respond at all to what you try.  As a new teacher, it is very important to learn how to identify the different types of learners in your classroom, and then to make sure that each one of your lessons takes into account every style of learning that your students may need.  To become an effective teacher, you must anticipate the needs of your students and tailor your lesson plans to best benefit each type of learning your classroom.

 

 

Auditory Learners

In the past, most styles of education relied on the belief that all students were auditory learners.  This has, of course, since been proven incorrect, so you should never rely solely on auditory teaching methods to reach your class.

Auditory learners focus best on verbal, spoken language, but may struggle with the written word and with hands-on projects.  While listening to information over and over again can help an auditory learner remember much more easily, the same student may get nothing out of reading a chapter silently out of a book.  These students are easy to identify, even as a new teacher, because they tend to be the most outgoing students in the classroom.  They may be social butterflies who enjoy talking and hearing themselves talk, and they tend to be class clowns who always seem to be at the center of attention.

 

 

Visual Learners

Visual learning focuses on the interpretation and absorption of taught information by seeing and processing it.  Visual learners are slightly less common than auditory learners, but still may comprise the majority of your classroom.

A student who learns best visually does well at quiet reading time, and can learn material from watching movies as well.  The same student may struggle with directions that are given verbally, and may not do very well when trying to construct something by hand.  Visual learners can be identified by their strong attention to detail and need to be organized, even at a young age.  These students are good at one-on-one conversation, but may not be part of a larger group, and may be much quieter than their auditory counterparts.  Noise often distracts a visual learner, and these students may need you to physically perform a task before they can repeat it.

 

 

Kinesthetic Learners

Although kinesthetic learners are not quite as common as auditory and visual learners are, they are still common enough that you are sure to encounter a handful even in your first class.  They may be more challenging to teach, but if you are prepared you should not have any trouble.

Kinesthetic learners are best suited to learning by doing.  These students retain information when they are able to manipulate objects or understand information by interacting with parts of it.  They may not do well when given verbal direction or shown how to do something, but instead want to dive in and try it on their own.  You can identify a kinesthetic learner in your classroom by pinpointing the students who cannot seem to sit still while you are teaching them.  Gain their attention by providing lots of hands-on class experiences.

 

Identifying and teaching different learning types in your classroom does not have to be a difficult achievement.  Simply keep these tips and strategies in mind, and you will be well on your way to successful teaching in no time.

The Good Teacher’s Guide

A child’s education is nothing without a quality teacher to provide it.  But just what makes a good teacher?  What are the characteristics that all teachers should strive toward in order to have the biggest influence on their students?  Read on to learn all about the ways in which a teacher can go from being simply  a teacher to becoming a good, effective teacher.

 

Use Understandable Objectives and Goals

Every teacher needs a lesson plan, but if that plan is complicated, confusing, or does not seem to have an endgame in mind, it is useless.  Teachers often fall into the trap of teaching scattered subjects from all over the place, when in reality, a good teacher is one who can focus his or her time and energy and cover every subject in a sequential order.  In the same way, a teacher must provide consistent feedback through grades and notes.  The grading policy should not change in the middle of the year.

 

Engage While Teaching

Many teachers feel that all they have to do is stand in front of a class, give a lecture, ask a few questions, and move on.  This is one way to dispense information, but it is not a viable method of teaching successfully.  Students get bored with this type of instruction very quickly, and they do not retain much of the information provided if they are not engaged.  Ask students to look at facts that have presented and come up with their own conclusions.  Keep questions open-ended whenever possible, and be sure to call on students equally without returning to one or two favorites.

 

Know What You Teach

A great teacher must be an expert in his or her field of education.  If you teach science but cannot explain the difference between a proton and a neutron without looking it up, your students are going to lose faith in you quickly, and you will not be able to reach them.  To be a good teacher, you must be able to answer basic questions about your subject at the drop of a hat, and you should be prepared for students who want to study the topic more in-depth.  If you are good at what you teach, and you teach what you know, you are bound to make a connection with a few students who want to go on to focus on your field as well.

 

Talk To Parents

It may be daunting to try to communicate with parents, but this is a very important part of any good teacher’s job.  Schools usually require parent-teacher conferences at least twice per semester, but it can be beneficial to you and your students as well if you send home letters explaining how the student is doing throughout the year, or even reach out with a phone call if your school allows it.  If you are worried about how a student is doing, talk to the parents.  They will be pleased, and you will be better equipped to help that student succeed.

 

 

It does not take much to be a good teacher, and anyone can do it, but you may need to re-evaluate your methods in order to reach that goal.  Do not be afraid to try new things, to talk to parents and engage students, and to be sure you are well equipped to teach your subject matter.  If you follow these few tips, you will be well on your way to being an excellent teacher in no time.

Traditional Education: Does ‘later’ always mean ‘greater’?

Traditional education is, at its core, the most commonly practised form of education throughout much of the world.  This term refers to a back-to-basics way of teaching, where a single instructor (or perhaps an instructor with an aide, for larger classes) speaks to a group of students who are seated at desks or tables.  This teacher-driven type of education has been called into question in recent years, with some groups hoping to reform the educational system and provide students with a task-oriented learning environment that is not so rigidly structured.  This means that teachers must rethink their strategies and try to determine where they and their methods fall in the world of new education reform.

 

“Old School” Educational Methods

For a long time, education has been centered around traditional “old school” methods of providing students with information.  To this day, several of these methods are still used in the classroom, but they are becoming much less commonplace.  For example, English and vocabulary lessons are no longer based on the study of root words and phonics, as they once were.  Students of the past learned new vocabulary words by identifying their roots and thinking about where they could have come from.  The word “questionable,” for example, has a root word of “question,” which can lead a student to make a good guess as to what the word means.

Math, too, was once taught much differently than it is today.  Students were required to memorize their times tables when they learned multiplication, and classrooms were filled with math pupils who recited, in unison, simple multiplication based on number families.  Some schools even went so far as to have students write their times tables by hand over and over again to ingrain the information into their minds.

Even handwriting has fallen to the wayside and is no longer explored in the classroom the way it used to be.  Students are no longer taught cursive writing at all, save for in certain private schools, and penmanship is not a subject that is graded by teachers any longer.  Students are allowed to write in whatever hand they develop, so long as it is somewhat legible by the teacher.

 

New Methods of Teaching

There are many ways in which teachers are moving from these traditional, teacher-centered ways of presenting students with information and into a more hands-on, student-driven educational environment.  Perhaps the largest of these new methods is student engagement.  This refers to a teacher giving students basic information and then engaging them in a conversation about the subject matter.  Students learn analytical skills by thinking about the facts they have been given and working toward understanding why things happen the way they do, and how the information pertains to them and their personal lives.

Engagement also refers to giving students hands-on experience in any given subject.  Field trips are much more common in an engagement-driven classroom, and students visit locations where they can watch real world applications of the subjects they learn in school.  Even a local business office can be a great field trip location for students who want to see how math, communication, or other subjects can affect their adult lives.

Some teachers are beginning to adopt a concept called spaced learning for information presentation in the classroom.  This works with the short attention spans of today’s students by combining a small amount of rote memorization with plenty of fun activities to keep the brain moving.  In a spaced learning classroom, a teacher sets aside about an hour to an hour and a half of class time to focus on a subject.  The information is taught to the students first for about fifteen minutes, in a condensed format.  Students then break for a physical activity that lasts ten minutes, before returning to hear the same information repeated in the same order for another fifteen minutes.  The ten-minute physical activity break is repeated, and finally, the fifteen minutes of information is repeated once more to solidify the learning experience.

Spaced learning may seem a little strange at first, but it is a great way to keep students interested in the topic at hand by providing them frequent mental breaks.  The repetition of the information helps keep the subject fresh in their minds, and the physical activity keeps them from getting bored and losing focus.

 

Why Should Teachers Be Current?

It is very important for teachers to remain up to date with current trends in educational practices.  Prepared teachers who are willing to try new methods of helping students learn are some of the greatest teachers out there, and the results from their classrooms will surely prove that.  Continuing education courses as well as lectures from successful teachers can provide plenty of opportunity for educators to learn about new methods for their own classrooms.  As society and children change throughout the years, the needs of students and their ability to focus and pay attention also changes.  It is vital for teachers to be ready to combat these changes with a dynamic strategy for their lessons.

60 Class Projects for Art Teachers

It is well known among teachers that children respond well to art. Whether they are simply looking at it, learning about it or creating it, using art in the classroom is a fantastic way to get kids engaged and offers many benefits for their development.

According to studies, children who regularly participate in art are more likely to achieve academically, and are more likely to score higher marks in standardized testing. Studies also show that children enjoy coming to school to participate in art lessons as they enjoy the hands on focus of art lessons and producing pieces which they can take home and show off.

Art offers a very tangible sense of achievement for children –they learn the skills required, study the techniques and then produce something which demonstrates what they can do, to their audience (usually parents or grandparents). It helps to build confidence and encourages students to think positively about their education and about what they are capable of doing. Art is also a fantastic way to foster creativity in children young and old and helps them to develop their critical thinking skills as they learn to observe, analyse and synthesize the world through an artistic lens.

Statistically, engagement in art is linked to higher test scores, lower drop-out rates at high school level and increased engagement with their community as an adult. Even if you are not an artistic person, or you are teaching a group of students who are not particularly artistic, you should still consider integrating some art into your classroom. Using art can liven things up and expose your students to character building experiences.

Depending on the level of your students, you may want to try offering a variety of lessons using different mediums.

Here is our list of 60 different art lessons for your classroom.  Try making:

• Nature collages
• Portrait sketches
• Cartoon strips
• Shoe-box puppet theaters
• Finger paintings
• Scrapbooks
• Painting of fruit or vegetables
• Mobiles
• Fairy gardens in an ice cream container
• String art
• Melted crayon art
• Dyed pasta jewelry
• Homemade snow globes
• Paper snowflakes
• Origami
• Paper Mache’
• Paper lanterns
• Paper chains
• Yarn Easter eggs
• Potato stamped paper or fabric
• Decorated newsprint for personalized gift-wrap
• Sock puppets
• Salt dough pinch pots
• Christmas wreaths
• Paper dolls with split pins
• Christmas cookie ornaments
• Homemade greeting cards
• Dyed Easter eggs
• Paper beads
• Clay masks
• Painted national flags
• Create or color in coloring pages
• Picture frames from card
• Fingerprint trees
• Weaved paper coasters
• Button art
• Yarn wrapped letters
• Paint chip bookmarks
• Tie Dyed shirts
• Cups decorated with a sharpie
• Leaf paintings
• Coin rubbings
• Rock paintings
• Geometric drawings
• Foil art
• Paper plate masks
• Puffy paintings
• Bird feeders
• Painted pinecones
• Surrealist glue art
• Mixed media boards
• Milk art
• Modern tin art
• Bottle cap murals
• Body tracings
• Grape and toothpick sculptures
• Leaf printing on fabric
• Air dry dough beads
• Shaving cream marbled paper
• Plaster of Paris sandcasts

Whichever lessons you choose to work on with your class, remember – exposing children to art is not just about teaching them how to recognize a Picasso. It is about exposing young minds to experiences that will change their view of art, and the world.

Backpack Safety

With the summer coming to a close, matters such as uniforms, stationery and bus routes are often at the top of any parents mind, as children everywhere start preparing for their return to school. However, one important piece of school equipment is commonly overlooked: the backpack.

While buying whichever backpack is in fashion, or the least expensive might be your first port of call, it is important to keep in mind what the best fit might be for a healthy backpack. Not all backpacks are created equal, and your child will wear whichever pack you choose every day, so it’s worth taking the time to ensure that you have chosen a backpack that will help your child to be comfortable and secure throughout the entire school day.

A backpack is an essential item that no school child can do without but according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 28,000 injuries are treated in emergency rooms each year due to wearing backpacks. The following are our tips for ensuring that your child’s backpack is the best fit. A child wearing an inadequate backpack or wearing one incorrectly can lead to muscle strains, pain and fatigue.

Get your child started off on the right foot this school year by making sure they have the right backpack, and know how to wear it properly.

 

Buying

  • When buying a backpack, choose one with wide, padded straps and a padded back. The padding will provide additional support and stop the straps from digging into your child’s shoulders when the backpack is full
  • If the school allows it, consider purchasing a rolling backpack – this will give your child some respite from wearing it all the time if it contains a heavy load. Just make sure that the backpack fits into your child’s locker
  • Choose a backpack that is no wider or longer than your child’s torso. Have your child try the backpack on and check that it fits from around two inches below your child’s shoulder blades to their waist
  • Make sure your child can stand straight with the backpack on – if they lean forward when the backpack is on then it doesn’t fit them correctly
  • If you purchase a backpack online, make sure there is a return policy just in case it fits your child poorly and needs to be exchanged
  • Consider choosing a backpack with a hip belt – these help to relieve some of the weight, particularly taking it off the shoulders and neck
  • According to studies, almost 80 percent of school children think their bag is too heavy. Don’t purchase a larger bag, hoping it will last longer – buy a bag that is size appropriate for your child’s age
  • Take into account the weight of the bag before you buy it – canvas and cotton bags weigh less than leather
  • Make sure the backpack has a drink bottle holder on the outside to avoid spillage and consequent problems such as stains or mildew

 

Wearing

  • Don’t overload backpacks with unnecessary items. Make sure it has all the essentials but does not weight more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s overall body weight.
  • If your child has a lot of heavy books to carry, encourage them to leave as much as they can in their locker or desk while at school, and leave any unnecessary items at home. If this is not possible, offset some of the weight by using a book bag which can be carried separately
  • Make good use of all the compartments in a backpack so that the weight is distributed as evenly as possible. Properly utilising compartments also makes it easier for kids to find the things they need quickly
  • If your child is carrying heavier items, make sure they are packed as close to the back as you can, in the center of the bag
  • Don’t allow your child to sling their backpack over one shoulder – both straps should be used to avoid straining muscles and causing poor posture

 

If you notice anything unusual about your child when they are wearing their backpack, check it. Changes in posture, pain, red markings, numbness or difficulty taking the bag off or on can all be signs that the backpack is too heavy or is inadequate.