Adventures in Guest Teaching

Info & Opinions, Fresh from the Trenches of Substitute Teaching

Flip-flop learning June 29, 2013

Just a heads-up, this post  has nothing to do with flipped classrooms where homework is done first. We’re literally talking about footwear here.

Old Navy has been blasting commercials about their $1 flip-flop day, so I thought this would be a good time to share a reading project we did with my nieces during a 10-day reading frenzy we called Cousin Camp.

OK, so substitute teachers are probably not going to buy armloads of flip-flops for their classes, at least not with what they pay subs around here. But this just might be fun if you tutor kiddos over the summer.

I already had alphabet beads on hand, so we came up with summer-themed phrases that would fit on flip-flops.

In this case, my niece strung together “She sells seashells by the sea shore.” (For spacers, any plain beads will do. We used some glow beads purchased so long ago I don’t remember where…maybe at Joann or our local Meijer store?)

The girls strung the beads on clear plastic cording, then I hot-glued them to the shoes. I would change both of these steps if we ever did this project again.

For one thing, it’s better for children to be as hands-on as possible with the project, instead of having to watch during the long, tedious glue gun process.

In addition, the hot glue was messy and didn’t land where I wanted it. I had to take extra cording and wrap (and glue) the bead strand around the flip-flop bands. This meant the glue blobs and cording that ended up underneath would rub their feet, so I cut foam pieces and glued them to the bottom of the bands.

If there is a next time, I’d simply have the girls string beads with a needle and thread. I’m sure they could handle this but of course, it depends on the child’s age, personality and abilities. Be sure to check the bead strand against the flip-flop bands to ensure it fits. You may have to add more spacers, or pick a phrase with fewer or shorter words, depending on your bead size.

I wouldn’t use the glue gun again, either. Instead, I’d find a good craft glue, such as The Ultimate, by Crafter’s Pick. While I haven’t used this myself, the description and reviews sound promising, and I see this is sold at stores such such as Hobby Lobby too. Not only will this be less messy, it sounds as if it will hold the bead in place upon contact, but not dry so quickly that you can’t adjust it. Note: I recommend gluing the middle spacer bead first, then working backward.

This is a fun, practical and manageable project, but if you have the time and some old flip-flops, I’d recommend practicing first.

As for the educational aspect, clearly a student won’t exhibit dramatic progress after one project.

My aim was simply to get reading on the kids’ radar, so the girls would start seeing fun reading opportunities everywhere they look, from cereal boxes to billboards to footwear. Sure, when someone asks what their shoes say, they’ll have the phrase memorized. But it’s still a visual reminder of the sounds “e” makes, different ways to spell the long “e” sound, and some consonant blends.

The flip-flop project was just one fun Cousin Camp activity to bolster the girls’ reading skills. We also wrote books and plays, did daily reading treasure hunts, music and TV contestant-style games, cooked, played with clay, made puppets and other crafts, and of course enjoyed lots of engaging books. I hope to post more about these activities over the summer.

Writing about this has got me wondering if this could be used to practice math facts, if I could find number beads. Hmmm….

What are your thoughts and ideas on this project? Please post your comments here!