Colored Rice

After seeing ideas for sensory bins online, I started wishing that I had access to all the resources that they did…Dollar Tree, WalMart, the Dollar Section at Target….I became quite envious of American teachers.

But what’s a girl to do? Where commercialism fails, creativity has to take over, and where creativity has to take over, Google is a girl’s best friend.  Sure enough, a quick Google search on “how to dye rice” turned up a super-simple recipe on the first try.  The recipe calls for 1/4 c. of vinegar, but subsequent experiments showed that 1/4 cup was waaaay too much for the amount of rice I was wanting to make to start with (about a cup of rice).  I ended up using about 1/8 c. for later batches, and looking a little further on Google showed me a recipe that used only two tablespoons for a cup of rice.

To make the rice, I put the vinegar in a plastic bag (the recipe called for Ziploc bags, but there was no way I was going to use my precious expensive baggies for this; I just used a cheap transparent plastic bag, twisted the top so nothing spilled, and it worked great).  I added a generous squirt of food coloring (the recipe called for just a few drops, but I think perhaps the food coloring here in Peru isn’t as strong as in the States? Anyway, I almost always have to use more than recipes call for).  I mixed the vinegar and food coloring, added the rice, smooshed it around until it was all colored, and spread it out to dry.

It was dry to the touch after just a few hours (all except the first batch, where I used the full 1/4 c.; that still isn’t quite dry) but I let it dry overnight just to be sure.  Once it was dry, I stored it in plastic containers (I buy bouillion cubes in the round plastic containers shown, so I always save them when I’m done with them!)

 

Just to see what it looks like, I took a pinch of each color and mixed them.  The result was such a happy, cheery confetti-mix that I just fell in love with it!  You can’t really tell from the pictures just how bright and cheerful the colors are, but they’re absolutely adorable.

The only problem is that my green (I didn’t have dark green, only lime green) ended up being so close to yellow that you can’t really tell it apart when the colors are mixed.  I had wanted to play a sorting game (give each child a tablespoon of rice, and see who could sort it into colors the fastest) with four colors, but I think I’ll count the “green” and the yellow as just one.

 

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Slap!

This year’s class is much more hyper than last year, and it’s a lot harder to grab their attention.  I’ve been using mainly games this first week (although getting them to be quiet and listen long enough to explain the rules is quite a challenge in and of itself!).  One of the most popular games we’ve done so far is Slap!

To play, print off small flashcards (I get four cards to an A4 sheet of paper) of the vocabulary you want to review.  You’ll need one set for each team (in my case, since we have four tables, I have four teams).  You can laminate them if you want.  Actually, you have to laminate them, if you want them to last more than one game!

Place a set of cards on each table, face up.  Call out a word.  All students at the table should slap the card with the correct word.  There are two ways to keep score: either award a point to every child who slaps the correct card (which means, basically, every child gets a point, because slower students will wait to see which card the faster ones slap, and slap the same one; they’re still learning, so it’s all good!)  or, only award points to the first child to slap the card.

The first variation is better for small kids who may not be mature enough to handle competition yet.  I use this one all the time with my K4 class, and usually up until the middle of the year with my K5 class.  But the second version, where only the fastest kids win a point, is probably better for older kids, or else you lose the excitement of the game.

K5 got the hang of the game right away this week.  K4 is a little slower on the uptake; I had previously done a game with them where they had to pick up the (color) I called out, so it took a long time and several tries to get them to understand that we weren’t picking up the cards this time!

Be warned, though, this game can get pretty intense….especially if you have little boys in your class who like to roughhouse a lot!  If you have students who are slapping their classmates’ hands with unnecessary force, you can always make them sit out of the game for a round.

I’d give this game an A in K5, and a B- in K4 (I’m hoping it will get better as we continue to play and the kids pick up on the rules!)

Back to School

School started back last week, which means life has been busy, busy, busy!  We did a “Dive into Learning” classroom theme in K5 this year…I can’t wait to post pictures!  It turned out beautifully!

Every year brings a new group of kids, and sometimes it can be hard to keep from comparing one group with another.  This year’s class is much more challenging than last year’s was, and getting them to pay attention long enough to learn ANYTHING is an uphill battle.  In times like this, I think it’s important to step back and remember that each child is an individual, and no matter how distracted or mischievious or downright difficult they are, they ALL need love and attention.  (And they CAN learn….it’s just going to take a lot more time and creativity!)

Over the next few weeks, I plan to post some of the ideas I’ve been coming up with for teaching difficult classes….and whether or not they worked!  Stay tuned!