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Brain Research for Learning

Brain Research for Learning

What can we do to help students learn more and better? You need to know how the brain works!  Information on this page is taken from workshops conducted by Dr. BethAnn Pratte at the Penn State York Literacy Institute and the book Brain Rules by John Medina. 
teachmagically brainresearch brain learning

Learning-What do children need to learn?

  • A child's attention span = Age in Years (i.e. a 5 year old will have about a 5 minute attention span)
    • Attention spans can be lengthened by incorporating movement or exercise
  • The brain seeks connections to past memories (background knowledge) and learnings as well as patterns.
  • Children learn through talking.
  • The brain can learn difficult concepts more easily through music.

Sleep-Can it help with learning?

  • Why is sleep important?
    • Neurons are highly active during sleep, replaying what you learned that day.
  • Recommended Amounts of Sleep
    • Elementary- 10 hours
    • Middle School- 9.5-10 hours
    • High School- 9 hours
  • Results of Lack of Sleep
    • Loss of facts and knowledge- declarative knowledge is programmed into the brain during the last 2 hours of sleep
    • Symptoms of ADHD- hyperactivity, difficulty focusing and/or concentrating, lack of attention
    • Irritability
    • Increases appetite
    • Increases chance of Type II Diabetes
    • Impacts logical reasoning and motor dexterity

Nutrition-Does it help with learning?

  • Limit carbohydrates, particularly white, refined flours. Go for whole wheat, whole grains as much as possible.
  • Limit/avoid all processed foods/sugars.
  • Increase intake of fatty acids (fish, almonds, walnuts, avocados).
  • Eat lean proteins.
  • Increase intake of fresh/frozen vegetables and fruits. Variety is key.

Hydration-Why is water important?

  • Water is a natural conductor of electricity. Neurons in the brain need water to communicate. 
  • Properly hydrated students learn 20% more information than those who are not properly hydrated.
  • Lack of water is the main cause of daytime fatigue and can also cause issues with short-term memory, basic math, and difficulty focusing.

teachmagically movementforlearning learning

Exercise-How does exercise help with learning?
  • Exercisers outperform sedentary people in every mental test. Check out Gross Motor in the classroom.
  • Gets blood to your brain, bringing more energy and oxygen ( allows brain to rid body of toxins and stimulates the neural connections)
  • Exercise while learning new information allows you to learn quicker and retain more.
  • Helps with concentration, impulse control, problem solving, and memory.

Modeling-Why should you show to help learning?

  • The brain has "mirror neurons" which allows us to learn through watching others.
  • Modeling is practice without actually doing the activity.
  • Visualization and self talk can increase chance of success.
  • Mirror neurons are the reason children do as we do, and not as we say.

I hope you’ve found this information about how the brain works helpful. If you have any additional tips that might help a teacher, please share it with us!
Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners!
And you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. Here’s where you can find me:
Make everyday magical,
Debora from Teach Magically

Build Confidence Through Play

Children Learn by Playing

TeachMagically Blog Post about ways to build confidence through play

All children love to play! When children play their language, physical, and cognitive abilities develop through their play experiences, as well as their concentration, imagination,  self-confidence and sociability skills. Check out how to develop active listening during play.

teachmagically learning confidence through play

Tips To Boost Your Child's Self-Confidence Through Play

  • Give lots of praise when your child plays well.

  • Use age-appropriate toys that challenge your child's understanding.

  • Gently encourage your child to play with puzzle toys.

  • Aim for your child to increase learning in small stages by providing a variety of play opportunities

  • Let your child choose what toys to play with, most of the time.

  • Prove that you are interested by watching your child at play.

  • Be sympathetic when your child becomes frustrated in play.

  • Avoid comparing the way your child plays with the way another child plays.

  • Brag to your friends and relatives about your child's play achievements in front of them.

  • Give your child a cuddle sometimes during play.

  • HAVE FUN!!


Check the pictures below for fun games that develop reading and math skills through play. You can see a few fun alphabet games we play to help develop phonemic awareness and letter identification.

I hope you’ve found my tips on play helpful. If you have any additional tips that might help a teacher, please share it with us!
Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners!
And you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. Here’s where you can find me:
Make everyday magical,
Debora from Teach Magically

Ways to Use Poetry


I love to use poetry as much as possible!

teachmagically poetry procedure poems

Working with poetry helps build a culture of reading within any classroom! I love to use a poem a week to help kindergarten/ 1st grade students focus and play with reading and poetry.

1st Day-Listen/Discuss/Read Poem 

I like to have the students close their eyes and imagine what they hear. No pictures allowed! Students turn and discuss what was imagined. Then I show the poem and point to the words as I reread, still no picture...no comprehension questions, just enjoyment of a simple poem.

2nd Day-Reread

I read the poem as I point to the words. Usually the students will join along and read with me. Sometimes I need to encourage them...a slight pause usually works. I usually have an image at this point. Yes, discussion usually follows.

3rd Day-Reread and Take Turns

Students get a chance to point to the words as the class chorally reads the poem. Students love to choose a special pointer. It really helps me see who has one to one correspondence and provides practice.

4th Day-Reread and Hunt

We practice reading the poem once and then student hunt for words or letters depending on the ability of the students. Once a few students practice chorally reading, the students can circle or highlight words I ask for them to find in their personal journals. I usually only let them hunt the words I ask for because they will sometimes circle all words, and I really want to focus the learning. We may also look for Concepts of Print.

poems poetry teachmagically poetryprocedure5th Day-Illustrate or Color

We reread the poem in their journals as they all point to the words in journals. We hunt for special words and/or letters then the students can color and illustrate their poem. Once finished, students reread other poems or count words/ letters as they wait for their friends to finish.

Check out this short, informative video on how I use these poems! So much fun and rewarding to watch the students grow as readers of poetry!
Must Have Poetry Resource

I hope you’ve found this information about poetry helpful. If you have any additional tips that might help a teacher, please share below in comments!






Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners and you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. Here’s where you can find me:Teachers Pay TeachersFacebookInstagram, or Pinterest


Make everyday magical,
Debora 
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Kindergarten Reading

Beginning Readers Can Read Before They Can Read Words

teachmagically reading kindergarten

Beginning readers really working hard on learning to read words. There are many things that beginning readers can do before learning to read the actual words in the books. Taking time to really read will help develop concepts about print, an important skill needed for reading and writing.


teachmagically reading beginningreadingTeachmagically beginning readers reading beginningreading teachmagically readingteachmagically beginningreading reading

How do you read before words are know?  

There are many ways, but here are a few:
1.  Look at the pictures and tell yourself a story.
2.  Look to see if you can find any letters in your name. 
3. Count the letters you find on each page.
4.  Search for capital letters.  Where do you see them?
5.  Search for lower case letters.  Where do you see them?
6.  Search for words you know.
7.  Point and read words known. Click here for ways to read Easy Sight Word Poems.


I hope you’ve found my tips on beginning reading helpful. You can also find a few games to play with beginning readers to help develop letters and sounds (Fun Games for Letters and Sounds). If you have any additional tips that might help a teacher, please share in comments!
Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners!
And you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. Here’s where you can find me:
Make everyday magical,
Debora from Teach Magically

Active Listening

Children need to develop strategies to effectively and efficiently remember auditory information to learn, especially in kindergarten.  Active listening needs to be taught so learners become responsible for success; it is not a passive experience.

Many times as teachers, we feel that students have difficulties "listening" and we spend so much time telling them to listen!  They may need to be taught how to do this important skill!
How do you teach students to listen?
Blog from Teach Magically about Active Listening

1st-Establish "rules" for active listening!

  • body still (hug body)
  • voice quiet (pointer finger to lips)
  • eyes looking at the speaker (point to eyes)
  • ears listening to what is being said (not what you know about a topic) (cup ears)
  • ignore background noise and movement (use finger like binoculars around eyes)
  • don't interrupt speaker (pointer to lips then move finger out)
  • wait to ask questions (pointer finger up...like "wait a minute" signal)


Be sure to discuss and review what each rule looks like and sounds like.  Practice by saying the rule and see if the students can do the motion.  Then do the motion and have the students tell the rule. Be sure to review and practice until it becomes habit!


2nd-Practice active listening

Tell a story and have the students tell it back making sure not to tell any extra information, only the information they heard from you.
 Dog story- I have a special dog.  It is a little, tiny dog.  It is all white with a black spot on its eye.  it loves to dig in the dirt and run around the house.  I give it food and water each day.  I walk my dog on a long leash.

Play Repeat Simon Says.
Play just like "Simon Say" but make the student repeat what you said before doing it.  Increase number of directions from 1, then 2, then three, as auditory memory gets better. 

3rd-Practice patience.


Be sure to provide times for students to focus on what they need to do to listen.
Students need to stand and wait some times! Check out how we Calm Down. Then we practice this skill as we wait in line for a turn.  It has to be practiced and discussed to help these skills occur naturally!

Here we are waiting to write on the board!  
Practicing active listening started with repeating the directions for the activity!
Ss-"Start at the top.  Say the letter and sound. Pass the chalk to the next person."

 We discussed ways to wait and to be patient.

  • Counting to 100
  • Saying the ABC's
  • Using self-talk "I can stand still.  I can wait my turn...)
Then we did the activity and put it all together!

Finally, we reflected on what we did!  Students shared what they did to wait patiently and what they could work on in the future!

What do you do to help learn about active listening?







Snowmen Segmenting and Successive Blending

noprep segmenting  and successive blending from teachmagically

For children to understand what they read, they must be able to read words rapidly and accurately. Rapid and accurate word reading frees children to focus their attention on the meaning of what they read but it doesn't happen without practice so we use cute no prep snowmen to practice this difficult skill. We had so much fun segmenting snowmen that showed us pictures on their bellies!  We used snowballs (cotton balls) to segment and search for sounds.
      noprep segmenting  and successive blending from teachmagically
Say the first sound as you move a cotton ball onto the first snowman.
noprep segmenting  and successive blending from teachmagically
Say the second sound and move the snowball.
noprep segmenting  and successive blending from teachmagically
Say the last sound and move the final snowball!
Then we went back and wrote the letters that stand for the sounds!
noprep segmenting  and successive blending from teachmagically
We practiced reading the sounds and saying the word! Then use successive blending to read the words. 

Why successive blending?

Successive blending is less demanding on working memory and helps students blend words accurately.

It is difficult for many beginning readers to make the connection between a seemingly random string of phonemes (sounds) and an actual word.  Because these sounds initially appear random, reproducing the sounds in sequence taxes working, short term, memory.
When decoding and unknown word like“hit”, students might be able to identify the individual sounds as /h/…/i/…/t/.  However, because they see these sounds as random, students are relying completely on his working memory to recall the sounds in sequence.  As a result, mistakes are made in various ways. For example, hit could be read as (it), sounds are left out, additional sounds are added (hist), or sounds could be out of sequence sequence (tip).

What is successive blending?

Successive Blending is an instructional technique that provides a scaffold for students who are unable to sequence more than two sounds or have working memory issues. For example, a student who would benefit from successive blending might read the word “hit” as “hip”, “ip”, or “top”, among other possibilities.  This suggests that the student is unable to remember all three sounds in order.
When using successive blending, children say the first two sounds in a word and immediately blend those two sounds together.  Then, they say the third sound and immediately blend that sound with the first two blended sounds.  Successive blending is less taxing on short term memory.
The following are the steps for reading the word “hit” using successive blending:
  • The reader looks at the first letter and says /h/.
  • The reader looks at the next letter and says /i/.
  • The reader blends the first two sounds together and says /hi/
  • The reader repeats /hi/, looks at the last letter and says /t/
  • The reader blends /hi/ and /t/ together to make “hit”
Each page had a specific short vowel sound!  Next, we will work on mixed vowels to help us solidly understand all the parts of a word!
Here is the resource
noprep segmenting  and successive blending from teachmagically
Other products to help segment and successive blending!
free segmenting  and successive blending snowmen from teachmagically segmenting  and successive blending phonemic awareness puzzles from teachmagically segmenting  and successive blending snowmen bundle from teachmagically 

Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners and you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. Here’s where you can find me:Teachers Pay TeachersFacebookInstagram, or Pinterest
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Concepts of Print

Concepts of Print

teachmagically print concepts
Have you ever wondered what you should do to help a child learn to read? It really starts with just reading....but there are simple, easy, important things to do as you read. It's called concepts of print which are essential to reading and writing.

What are Concepts About Print?

Concepts of print refers to the basic understandings that children need in order to navigate text. 
Some of these include:

  • left to right tracking of words
  • top and bottom of the page
  • front and back of the book
  • front cover
  • page numbers
  • punctuation marks
  • spaces between words

What can you do to help develop concepts about print?

Practice Print Concepts

Talking about words, letters, and stories develops print concepts that makes reading fun and engaging. Model concepts of print and  practice manipulating text. Constantly model print when doing tasks throughout the day and provide varied, fun ways to practice reading. Click here to see fun ways to begin reading before words are known.
conceptsaboutprint teachmagically print

Read to develop print concepts

Constant exposure to different kinds or genres of text and understanding concepts of print will help develop the skills needed to be a successful reader. So be sure to read each day. Yes, it's ok to read and reread the same book!

Look for Patterns in Print

For example, repetitive sentence patterns (I see the . . . ), sentence location on each page, a common character located on each page somewhere (Mercer Mayer has a cricket, grasshopper, mouse, or spider on each page. In Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown has the mouse all around the room...and check out the clock.)

Sentence Construction

Print a brief, familiar rhyme or poem on individual word cards (Simple Alphabet Poems). Construct and reconstruct the text by line.

printconcepts teachmagically conceptsaboutprint


Write a Grocery List to develop Concepts of Print

Ask: “Should we put our first word at the top or the bottom?”
“Will the first letter go on the right or the left?”
“Should the K in Kix be upper case or lower case?”

Sight Word Work Sentence Building

Add cards with names and names of family members, periods, exclamation marks and question marks and action words to a bag with sight words. Put together the cards, leaving spaces between each card, to create simple sentences (“Mary can jump.” vs. “Can Paul sing?” vs. “I can run!”)


I hope you’ve found this information about concepts of print helpful. If you have any additional tips that might help a teacher, please share below in comments!
Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners!
And you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. Here’s where you can find me:

Make everyday magical,
Debora