Monday, November 26, 2012

Making the Best of Recess Series #2

To see all posts in this series click here.

Everybody knows the rules 
  • Your group should never go out on the playground without first having a good grasp on the playground rules.  They could be different during school and you should not assume that they know the rules that you want them to follow.
    • Make sure everyone knows if there is a rule change. 
        • It’s okay to change the rules if you need to, but you cannot give consequences for a new rule without making sure that everyone knows it and understands the reason behind it.
    • Give rules refreshers
        • It is ridiculous to think that you can tell a child something once, and they will know it forever!  You have to repeat yourself, possibly quite often.  How many times have you said, “How many times have I told you …” If you have to say that, then the answer is, not enough times.
        • If there is a particular issue that has been re-occurring, stop recess, bring everyone into a circle and talk about it.  Yes, use their recess time to refresh on a rule that gets broken often.  They don’t need a big lecture, just a simple, “We are having trouble remembering this rule…..”,  “The reason for this rule is………”, “The consequences will be……….” And let them return to their playtime.
Following the Rules
  • We all have different ways of dealing with discipline.  But certain changes may need to be made to that during recess. 
    • Students should be taken out of an activity if they are being overly aggressive or competitive.
      • Because we have different ages of kids after school, we need to be ultra sensitive to the fact that older children can be a bad example, or even hurt younger children.  Giving a student too much leeway could result in a serious injury to a younger child.
    • Cheating should not be tolerated.
      • When a student cheats it ruins the fun for everyone.  Students who knowingly cheat should be removed from the game for the rest of the game.  Students should realize that there are serious consequences for cheating and therefore will not want to cheat.  Not giving serious consequences sends a "It's okay to cheat." message. 
        • Of course concessions can be made for little guys and students with special needs who may not understand following rules.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nature Scavenger Hunt - Perfect for Fall After School

On a nice dry autumn day, what a fun way to get kids engaged!  I found this great FREE sheet to help out. 

FREE - ABC Nature Walk for any group of Kids
  • Separate kids into groups with mixed ages. 
  • At least one or two older kids to write. 
  • A Clipboard and pencil. 
    • Older kids can write the labels and younger kids can draw a few pictures.
  • Send them out to search around the playground, or around the school (with an adult). 
  • Ask them to leave nature in nature, and to just observe.
  • Afterward, have them tell about the most interesting thing they saw.
Check your area wildlife preserve or National Forest for FREE classroom presentations.  These are usually available to after school programs and summer camps as well.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Good School Relationship Is Key

     It is so important to have a good relationship with your school.  Some schools love the after school program and include them as part of their community, and others don't.  I have worked for both types of schools. 
     There are sometimes reasons why a school gives the after school program the cold shoulder.  Maybe the last site supervisor didn't do such a great job.  It's possible that some people at the school resent the fact that you are using their time, space and resources.  In any case, there are things you can do to get a better reputation with the school, or keep the great reputation you currently have.

  • Volunteer Students to Help After School
    • I don't mean that you should pawn students off on the custodian to get them out of your hair.  Students should ONLY be sent to help teachers once you have offered OR they have been requested.
      • Some students will badger their teachers to let them come in and help, and that actually puts a burden on the teachers.  If students ask you to help in a classroom, first make sure the teacher requested them and they DID NOT ask the teacher.
    • Students can go around with an adult and pick up recycling from all of the classrooms once a week.
    • Students can go around the playground and pick up trash once or twice a week.  They should be with an adult and wear gloves in case they come upon anything dangerous.
    • Decorating or organizing for PTA, or school events.
    • Students can complete projects for teachers including cutting, coloring, removing staples from a bulletin board, shelving library books, light cleaning or even correcting papers.
      • Make sure you have the right student for the job.  Students who play around too much or aren't very serious, should not be sent.  Young students cannot do most jobs and will be more trouble then help. 
  • Volunteer your services.
    • Go on a field trip if enough parents haven't signed up.
    • Volunteer to help organize, decorate or clean up after a school event.
    • Help facilitate school activities.
  • Be a Positive Force In Your School
    • Say hello to teachers and staff and engage them in (appropriate) conversation.  Being friendly can give you major points.
    • Make friends with the secretaries and custodians.  These are your best allies in the school. Bring them a treat and remember their birthdays.
  • Think of Others
    • Keep students quiet in the halls.  Teachers are working on their lesson plans and grading and they need a bit of quiet.  If you come down the hall with a bunch of wild monkeys, it won't be appreciated.
    • Make sure that everything you use is returned as neat as you found it, or better.  Gym equipment should be in good shape and returned neatly.  Computers should be logged off or turned off, and chairs pushed in in the computer lab.  Tables should be washed, and floors should be swept.
     One of the things that I did to help out at a school was to spearhead a Whole School Visual Incentive for the Canned Food Drive.  We used Turkeys with feathers to show how many cans of food each class brought in.  I had the after school students help make the turkeys.  They went around to get totals from the teachers each day and added feathers to the turkeys on the main display.  It was a fun project and the school ended up tripling the amount of Canned Foods we brought in for the drive.

     I have made a Canned Food Drive Whole School Incentive Pack with a Turkey theme.  It is up for sale for $2.50 at However, if you are willing to help with the project at your school, just drop me an email at and I will send you the pack for FREE. 


Friday, November 9, 2012

You must love ART!

He is a swell guy!  He must have been to have all of that creative stuff named after him.  ;-)

Great Blog with lots of Art Ideas.
Finding My Marbles 



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Making the Best of Recess Series #1

To see all posts in this series click here.
I'm a big fan of using every teachable moment as an opportunity.  Recess is no exception.  Recess provides students with many important things.  I don't want to innundate you with all of my thoughts and so I will break up the Recess posts into a series.
            Surprise!  Recess is not a time for you to take a break.  While the kids are getting a much-needed break from the day, you have to be more on your toes than ever. 

  • Why do we have Recess?
    • There are a few great reasons why we have recess.
      • Recess gives the kids a mental break from the day.
      • Social and character development are improved.        
        • Children have the opportunity to interact with others without supervision, which is important. They need be able to find their own voice and way to communicate with their peers.
      • Develops motor skills both fine and gross.
      • Exercise.
Recess can be spread far and wide, depending on the size of your playground, and it can involve lots of different groups of kids doing risk-taking activities.  There are a few ways that you can keep recess fun and safe for your students.

  • Keep moving       
    • Walk around to each activity in progress and talk to the kids.  Engage with kids who are just walking around talking, or spend a few minutes with someone who is wandering around alone.  Stand by the sidelines of a game happening and cheer them on or make a few positive comments before you move on.  Try to make it around to everyone or every group at least once.
    • If you aren’t staying in one place and they know you will come around to them, they also know that this isn’t a time when they can get away with things. 
      • Recess is often the time when bullying happens, if you regularly make the rounds you can decrease some of that behavior.
More on this topic next week.....


Monday, November 5, 2012

Starting up!

I am so excited to start a new blog about After School Programs.  I have spent 15 years working for after school programs as a site supervisor and a program director.  I spent, what feels like, millions of hours developing curriculum and management tools for my programs.  I finally decided that it's silly to keep them to myself.  I'd love to share them with you.  Please feel free to comment or share Ideas of your own.  I'd love to have guest bloggers!

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Some of my curriculum items will be available on TeachersPayTeachers, which is a great resource for ideas.  Yes, many are for pay, but there are literally thousands of free items as well.

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