Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Four Activities for Starting a Relaxed Morning in the Class and Lowering Level of Stress and Pressure

Some classes need to go into a "silent learning zone", a kind of silence and tranquility that allows concentration, listening, work, collaboration and patience.
Schools are full of stress factors – social, educational, emotional baggage each child carries with him/her, thoughts, fears etc. The latest security issues are also not easy and add more stress to the kids, and even serve as a deflection on a daily basis.

The educational-organizational-personal discourses make a lot of use in tools such as Meditation, Mind-folds, Guided Imaginations and others in order to succeed in being "here and now" in our overloaded world, and kids very much enjoy playing or being concentrated in various activities that allow them to drift away on one side from all the stress, and immediately concentrate afterwards on the other hand.

Here are four simple activities that can be done with your class. There is no need to be anxious or worried if during the first few times there will be some jiggles and some embarrassment:

1. While sitting on chairs or lying on the floor on their backs – slow breaths with eyes shut, inhaling air and ballooning the belly, exhaling the air for 3-4 seconds. In each exhale the body sinks more and more to the chair/floor; there is no stress in the shoulder, pelvis, hands, neck and head. After 507 minutes the kids can open their eyes and open the day.

2. Every child sits in front of an A4 empty page, while pleasant music is played in the background (classical, acoustic guitars, melody, world music) and the kids draw the music (Take a look in the "seeing music" post). When the music ends the children place the page in their backpacks and continue to the next assignment.
*You can have a conversation of the drawings, how the music made them feel, thoughts etc.

3. Stand in a circle, and throw a ball while saying words that express fear/stress/anxiety/anger etc. Once each child has spoken, ask the children to say a trait or a personal ability to cope with different issues while throwing the ball to a friend. The friend in turn must remember what were the traits named before the ball was thrown to him/her, and after a sequence of 5-6 traits you start over.
The goal is to create a positive chain that shows the power the class and the kids have.
You can also play this game with naming good traits or behaviors in the class, such as listening, helping each other etc.

4. There are games in which the power of the group is of great importance, when after the game has ended you can discuss and analyze the subject projecting on any relevant issue, such as to our family, or to any specific personal or educational coping mechanism.

You can turn the method elected to a daily routine for a certain amount of time, thus entering the kids to a better zone of learning and listening for the rest of the day.   

All the posts and materials belongs to Sharon Michaeli- Ramon ©

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Game of Flags - A Social Mirror and a Social and Personal Working Tool

I believe in the power of a group to create a change, and in the power of the game. This year I am educating 5th graders for the first time, and I have met the pupils for the first time on September. In order to reach different goals I have placed for us, I am using various strategies, and currently I would like to present the Game of Flags, which is a strategic-physical-social game, from which you can learn a lot on the class/group, and work on various issues with them.

Game of Flags is an intensive game in which two groups play against each other in order to obtain the opponent's group flag. 

You divide a court to two parts, one for each group, and place 2 different flags in each of its sides. Every team gathers and decides what will be her strategy, how to get to the opponents' flag, who is in defense and who is in offence, who will protect the flag, who will rescue team-mates etc.
The middle of the playground is marked, and you can captive any of the other group members that enter your side. The "prisoner" must wait where he was caught until he is rescued by someone from his group by a "high-five".
The game is a field for many interactions, and I, as the educator, stands on the side and observe. This is one game in which I only observe the teams, and I don't take an active part in it. Some of the things I take notes of are:

1/ the coherence of the group/class
2/ the way each group plans strategically
3/ the personal character of each pupil

4/ the way the pupils plan, their courage, patience etc. For example: pupil who try to save "captives" even at the risk of being caught themselves; pupils who will always be careful and stay at their group's territory, ambushing an opponent member when they enter this territory; a pupil who was caught but cheats and runs back into the court (and the reaction of their friends)  etc.

5/It is supposed to be a fun time of the group/class. Are they having fun? Are there any frictions? Does anyone prefer not to participate?

Through the game I wish to develop : A class's coherence and cooperation; girls and boys cooperation; patience; a joint strategic planning and not just the emergence of the natural "sporty leaders"; personal abilities such as patience, thinking and planning etc.; a reflection ability and feedback – both personal and in the group; elevating class value.

Work Stages:
You go out with the class to play the game a few times, when I keep changing the group composition, in order to balance the boys/girls numbers, balance athletic  kids with non-athletic ones etc, and also in order to gently break pre-existing sub-groups.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Seeing rhythm and music

As part of the work I'm doing with my class I try to stimulate all the senses, and to interweave different kinds of experiences and study methods - Both from the notion that every child has a different way of learning, and from knowing that different experiences (thinking, moving, imagining etc.) contribute to the cognitive-physical-emotional development.
The different experiences are part of the study material, all intended and contributing to my main goal and labor as a teacher - building and reinforcing the children's self-esteem.

Every other week or two we hold a rhythm session in class - drumming, playing by a certain rhythm, playing, dancing etc. 
Here, for example, is a sequence of four sessions we did in class:
Session no. 1
We opened with this amazing video I found on 
After watching the video in which you see how music presents itself in different materials we discussed various ways to draw music. Is it possible? I asked the children how would  they draw different kinds of music. 
I played a rather melodic and calm song, and the children drew the music, The diversity was immense: musical notes, letters, pictures, colors, textures, thoughts and shapes.
We came to the conclusion that music can be drawn in many different ways and that it involves not only listening, but feeling, movement, thought, criticism etc.

Session no. 2
I divided the class to several groups of three, and each threesome was guided to show me some sort of rhythm.
The originality blew me away! 
Some took a paper, placed it on a table, then drummed on the table causing the paper to bounce according to the rhythm. Others used sticks to play. Another group waved their sweatshirts in the air, creating sound and air-movement.

Session no. 3
I opened with this video
And then we worked with play dough and hand-colors. Each child received a big paper, and they created whatever they felt like according to what the music stimulated in them. 
Later on, each child presented his or her creation to the class with movement, sound, or

Session no. 4-
A mother arrived to the class and gave a lecture on Kandinsky and "music in the arts".

Working with music and combining it with unconventional demands encourages thinking, criticism, openness, curiosity, interest and lots of fun.
The children enjoy creating, playing, thinking, and collaborating. The challenges increase the experience and enhance it. Additional subjects also arise, such as musical instruments, different kinds of art, physics, science, creativity etc. 

Personally, I enjoy getting to know the kids in unconventional ways, not just by strictly teaching the formal materials, thus, enabling each and every one of them to express different and new parts of themselves.

All the posts and materials belongs to Sharon Michaeli- Ramon ©