Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Mental Back Pocket

The Toddler's Busy Book
The Toddler's Busy Book, by Trish Kuffner, along with its predecessor Preschooler's Busy Book: 365 Creative Games & Activities To Occupy 3-6 Year Olds, are my "back pocket" books. By that I mean that I keep an idea or two from these books in my mental back pocket for when the class does the planned activities more quickly than I thought it would or when we need to change gears from the day's plan. Hopefully you can tell from the photo that my copy has been abused a bit over the years, so you know it gets used. Now that my own kids can read they'll look through it themselves and ask if we can do one or more of the activities they've done in the past.

I don't use this book for day-to-day planning, for the most part. It's the book I use when I need to be rescued. For awhile I kept it in my cabinet at school with pages bookmarked, but now I just refresh my mind periodically and keep some activities in waiting. I usually gather the materials needed in advance and just keep them in my classroom until we use them, but many of the activities are so easy to set up I can take a few kids with me to the supply room during the day to get what we need.

This book has plenty of art activities but also things you wouldn't think of as "activities" at all. At home my kids loved a game based on one from the book that they called "Balls, Balls, Balls" and simply involved tossing all our balls down the stairs, gathering them back up, and dumping them again. At school I like to use spring-loaded clothspins as a manipulative occasionally, which is an idea I got out of one of these books.

So what do you keep in your mental back pocket?

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