According to Coach Gretchen, making learning fun can be a challenge when you are not face-to-face with your students. Here is one mega resource and Gretchen’s top five suggestions for ramping up engagement during your live lessons. Coming soon: Recorded coaching session using Toy Theater while conducting a live lesson!
The amazing, TOY THEATER at https://toytheater.com/ is a live lesson teachers’ dream come true for many reasons, including that you don’t have to sign in, sign up, or download anything!
There are so many great ways to use this resource and everything on Toy Theater is educational and safe for kids. Super appropriate for grades K-3, it is also great for students with special education services who may need visual representations of concepts and includes a few things for those ever tricky concepts like fractions and ratios that you may encounter in the upper elementary grade levels. The Games, Art, and Teacher tabs are helpful for those teaching K-5. There is even an animation tool that could be applicable K-8.
So, without further ado, here are my top 5 fun way to liven up your virtual lessons using Toy Theater:
- Teacher Tab: By clicking on teacher tools, you get access to 70 virtual manipulatives that are super simple to use. You can easily translate what you used to do in person to your virtual classroom. The key is to share control of your screen with your student(s) so they can manipulate, the manipulatives! You can do this through Zoom’s remote control features. Note: the remote screen function is not currently supporting on IOS (iPad). Too, there are reports of folks using Chromebook’s, having issues with giving screen control to meeting participants. So, if you have a MAC or PC laptop of desktop, that is recommend.
- Puzzles Tab: The puzzles in Toy Theater are sophisticated yet fun ways to work on critical skills such as visual discrimination, attending to details, sustaining attention, short term memory, sequences, and so much more! My personal favorites are the hidden picture puzzles, and the parking lot game, which requires problem solving and trail and error. Open lessons with a puzzle, sprinkle them in along the way, or close with a couple that relate to the topic you are teaching.
- Read Tab: In the reading tab, you can take the hidden picture visual discrimination tools I mentioned above to the next level, by doing a hidden picture party with your students. They are given a word to read, and then have to find that item in the hidden picture. The awesome thing about every Toy Theater tool is that none of them last more than a minute or two max. You can scatter them in and around the longer tasks you want your students to do, use them as motivational breaks, and/or use them as a part of your concept developments.
- Math Tab: The math tab is an K-3 teachers’ dream. The tools are organized by concept, task, and grade level. The Pool game is so uber fun! Students understand place value with tens frames and then use a virtual cue ball to aim it at pool balls that keep changing the count in the tens frame, until the pool table is cleared. It adds such an engaging element in that the virtual pool balls behave much like real ones, so students learn about momentum and angles too! With the math tools, it becomes possible for students to participate in concept development, versus passive participation by watching you, or a watching and listening to a video, on the screen.
- Games Tab: The games tab is a great way to connect with your students in a fun way. The games are challenging yet simple enough to teach on the fly and play right away. They are non-violent and use all sorts of skills kids need to encourage cognitive development. My favorites are the darts game and reversi. As a special education teacher, I can see games as a way to connect with my kiddos who have social and behavioral goals – setting the stage for talking about how things are going while in a very low stress environment.