Monday, January 24, 2011

Elementary School Learning

Ahh elementary school.  It’s the formal beginning of our education; the foundation upon which each child starts to learn.  There are no more important years for our students, then that of their elementary years.  And there is no time of greater growth in our learning.

For the most part, elementary school years consist of Kindergarten to Fifth grade.  And with our students being so young, little kids to older children, there’s a great opportunity to integrate creativity into our day-to-day.  One aspect of elementary school that I love the most is being able to do fun  arts-focused activities; drawing/painting/coloring, acting out a play or reader’s theatre, dressing up as historical characters whilst doing re-enactments.  Plus, I can take my science and social studies lessons out of the classroom.  How many of you have explored your school campus to see the leaves, grasses, or trees?  Or maybe you’ve had your students see how many different bugs they can find and then draw their own versions?  Really, being an elementary school teacher allows for versatility in the learning; which is the appeal to educators.

As our students start their learning in Kindergarten, play is a huge element; and showing them that playing can also mean learning.  Our 1st and 2nd graders are like little sponges soaking up that learning and everything it means to be in school.  Their joy at knowing something is a wonder to see.  For 3rd and 4th graders, it’s a different type of joy that we get to experience, we see their personalities develop, along side their strengths and weaknesses.  As their teachers, we have the chance to encourage those strengths, and assist with their weaknesses.  And our 5th graders, still so young, but like baby birds leaving the nest – they are ready to stretch their wings and find those new opportunities that await them in middle school.

Ahhh elementary school.  The building blocks to our children’s education, the start of it all.  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

*This article was written by Rosshalde Pak, an admin for the Tchr2Tchr blog.

Here are a few resources that are specifically designed for elementary school classrooms.  We’ve gone through and looked at them individually and highly recommend them for teachers.


  1. I agree that elementary school should be a place of creative and engaging learning. When I started teaching 1st grade 17 years ago, I spent many hours a week with my students conducting experiments, creating art projects, and just enjoying the thrill of learning something new. Now, in my 2nd grade classroom, I have so many "mandated" obligations that I have to fight for every scrap of creative time I can get. Play time is out the window, as we only get one 15 minute recess each day and many of the children spend that time eating snacks. We wonder why children have such difficulty getting along with others, but we don't stop and think that we've taken away those unstructured play and learning times where they have that chance to interact and figure things out for themselves. Thank God for creative teachers who haven't given up on trying to integrate fun and meaning into their teaching!

  2. Well put! The article was exactly what I wish everyone would understand.

  3. I agree. I wish everyone could see the negative impact on learning when you take away creative play and exploration. By the time they reach high school, their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills are so poor. As each year goes by, I see more and more teenagers unable to answer higher-level questions--ones that make them think and relate to the text rather than scan for the answer. But they can score well on the yearly tests. It makes no sense. I can't think of any occupations in the real world where standardized test-taking skills trump problem-solving skills. We need to re-think our priorities and put creativity back into our curriculum before it's too late (and it may already be).

  4. See how passionate people become when we start talking about our students and our classrooms? A great deal of pressure is put on educators to 'perform' and we forget that in the meantime, all of our kids learn in different ways and at various rates.
    That's why I was excited about these products we picked, they are unique in their workings; and maybe can make a difference for our teachers.

    Mr. Blake, how many teachers do you think are wishing everyday that recess and P.E. weren't gone? I bet everyone! Not only does it allow our students to play and get some fresh air, it helps to combat the health issues they are facing, as well as burn off some of that excess energy that can sometimes hinder them from learning.

    Wise Owl, thanks for the feedback! It's just the beginning, but we sure are excited for the future.

    Tracee, it's that need for exploration that we have to bring BACK into our classrooms. Thinking of how hard that is at elementary school -- just ponder those poor high-schoolers (and their teachers) always reading from a textbook, rarely doing anything 'fun' to learn! One of our admins, Rosshalde, created a bingo game designed for high-schoolers, as a small attempt to bring fun back into their learning.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. We hope it continues to grow, and that your exposure on TPT does too!!!

  5. Right--I agreed. Creativity and exploration build problem-solving skills and make students critically think about topics rather than memorize or scan for answers. :)

  6. T2T, that's my point exactly. I am lucky to be at a school where we have PE twice a week. I make my own morning "recess" by taking the children out every morning for exercise and healthy snack time. As with many outrageous mandates passed down from the higher realms of education, teachers deal with it by closing their doors and making sure their students get what they need. Thanks for providing this forum where we can discuss these issues with fellow educators.


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