In an earlier post, I went over a list of memory review games that I am planning on using this year with my Foundations class. (CLICK HERE if you would like to read that post.) In this post, I am sharing the games and silly props that I will be using with my students to help introduce new grammar at the beginning of the class session. Even if you aren’t a tutor, you can use many of these ideas with your kids at home. I will definitely be doing that with my own kiddos.
Magnetic Memory Mix Up
In order to use this game, you will need to have access to a magnetic surface (like a magnetic dry erase board). The premise is simple. You break up whatever you are trying to memorize into “chunks” and write each chunk in Sharpie on a blank index card. The chunk can be a single word or a phrase. So I might chunk one piece of memory work like this: A preposition – relates – a noun – or a pronoun – to another – word. I will then mix-up the chunks on the board and the students have to come up and put them in order.
My first idea was to stick one of those sticky magnets on the back of each index card. The only problem with this idea is that you would go through magnets like crazy. So instead, I am going to cut 4 x 6 sections of foam board and attach 4 x 6 plastic sleeves to one side of the foam board and adhesive magnets to the other side. I can then slip the index cards into the sleeves and that way I can reuse the sleeves over and over for different memory work. Here is everything you need to make this idea work:
My 8-year-old daughter is in love with squishies. The idea behind this grammar introduction exercise is simple, and several experienced tutors have told me that they use a variation of it. You gather a collection of squishies and place them in a big glass jar. The squishies can be balls, foams, slime, or anything that stretches. The “jar” is also open to interpretation, but I suggest something transparent so the kids can see your collection of toys.
As you introduce the new grammar, you toss a toy to a student. That child gets to play with the toy, stretching and squishing it, as they recite the grammar. Simple but super fun. I suggest partnering with other tutors in your CC community to purchase an assortment of toys at cheap prices and then divide them up between your classes. Here’s some affordable squishy selections from Amazon:
This set of (2) Penny Candy Jars seems perfect to hold the squishies and is quite affordable…especially if you split the cost with a second tutor and divide up the set:
One thing I love about Classical Conversations is the “stick in the sand” method. I love that our kids are learning to enjoy learning for its own sake…not because they are being motivated by an intricate reward system. Because of the wisdom and simplicity of the CC system, not much else is needed to make introducing grammar fun for the kids. There are little things, however, that don’t cost much, and can keep the students excited and engaged during grammar introduction. I got most of the following ideas for simple props from experienced tutors who shared their “tricks” at the practicum that I attended. Here are my favorite suggestions and the ones that I will be purchasing to use in my classroom this year:
Paw Pointer – Seriously how adorable is this? I have a feeling the kids are going to LOVE taking turns pointing to the memory work written on the white board.
CLICK HERE to Add the Paw Pointer to Your Amazon Wish List
Puppet – One of the long-time tutors at our practicum busted out a sock puppet that she always uses with the kids for Latin. Each child gets a chance to hold the puppet and recite the particular declension or conjugation of the week. The kids love it. There’s only one problem for me…I may have mentioned my general lack of craftiness? So I went to Amazon for help. There are LOTS of puppets on there…but these are my two favorites. Speaking of which…care to help me decide which one to get? Are you Team Puppy or Team Parrot?
CLICK HERE to Add the Puppy Puppet to Your Amazon Wish List
Microphone/Voice Changer – This was another item that the experienced tutors said was worth its weight in gold. They pass the voice changer around the class and let each student recite the memory work using a different, funny voice. I also like the idea of just passing around a plastic microphone and assigning a voice to each student. For example, “Recite the memory work in a pirate voice.” Or, “Recite the memory work in a dog voice.” The possibilities are endless.
If you want to go the electronic voice changer route, this one has 10 different voice options, is under $10, and has over 2000 good reviews:
CLICK HERE to Add the Voice Changer to Your Amazon Wish List
If you would rather go the low-tech route, here is one of those “rubber-band-powered” plastic microphones:
CLICK HERE to Add the Echo Mic to Your Amazon Wish List
Easy Button – Another idea that was presented at practicum was having an “easy button” where once the kids finish reciting the assigned memory work, they can hit the easy button. I like this idea and I imagine the kids really get a kick out of it, but I wanted to change it up a bit. I decided to purchase a button that lets you record your own message. That way, I can change the affirmation each week. I think this will add an element of playfulness and surprise. Also, the recordable button was $4 cheaper than the “easy” button so win-win!
CLICK HERE to Add a Recordable Message Button to Your Amazon Wish List
Skip Ropes for Skip Counting – This last one is my brain child. I think it would be really fun to have a “skip” rope for each of my students so that they can each skip rope as we skip count together as a class. I was able to find a pack of one dozen jump ropes for under $10…so I went ahead and bought them. I think the kids will love it.
CLICK HERE to Add One Dozen Jump Ropes to Your Amazon Wish List
Run, Flip, Recite, Sit
This is a game I came up with that can combine a little physical effort with mental activity. To play, you need a pocket chart of some kind and the CC Memory Work Flashcards. You set up this grammar introduction activity before the children arrive by placing memory work flash cards, blank side showing, into the pockets of the chart…one card per pocket. You pick which subjects you want to introduce using this activity, and only place those flash cards on the chart.
You then take turns having a child run up to the board, remove a card from the pocket of their choice, quickly (but clearly) recite the memory work on that card, and then lead the class in repeating after them. As soon as the class finishes repeating after the student, that child runs back to his or her seat and the next child runs up. This continues until all the cards have been read and recited. I am hoping that this will be a fast-paced, fun way to introduce our new grammar. I will let you know how it goes.
Here is the pocket chart I purchased to use for this and other games. The pocket dimensions are perfect for holding the CC Flash Cards and it was the best price I could find online or retail:
CLICK HERE to Add This Pocket Chart to Your Amazon Wish List
It is kind of ridiculous how excited I am to use these goodies when I teach my Foundations kids this year. I think I am just a big kid at heart and having a few fun tricks up my sleeve makes me feel more confident about something that I’m a little intimidated by…getting up in front of these kiddos. So hooray for silly props and fun games that make our job a little easier! Stay tuned for the next tutor-related post where I discuss ideas for making presentation time run smoothly.