Sunday, March 8, 2015

March Madness: Sight Word Basketball

March to me means a few things...most importantly it means that spring should be arriving, but it also means St. Patty's Day and March Madness Basketball! I love all the fun festivities that come along with St. Patty's Day. I also like to pretend that I follow March Madness very closely, but truthfully, it's just always on in our house this month because my hubby is obsessed with watching all the games. So, I technically also "watch" all the games...but really I only get into the reallllly exciting ones and more or less tune out the rest. :)

But, I do like to use the theme of basketball in my classroom, especially during the month of March because my little friends go crazy for it! The first thing I have my little friends do is actually practice making the sight words with their magnetic letters. Once they've done this successfully, we get to play sight word basketball!

This is one of those activities where after the first time you play it, everyday afterward your little friends will ask, "Can we play sight word basketball today??" I don't know about you, but I'm all for any game/activity that will get my little ones excited and ready to learn each day, so though we do not do this everyday by any means, I do keep it in a frequent rotation to keep them engaged...and learning those sight words, of course!

I got the basketball "hoop" from the Target Dollar Section {of course} several years could easily use a basket of any sort- this one is just even better since it has the basketball on it! Then I have those soft mini basketballs for my little friends to use. All they do is pick up a b-ball sight word card, read it and then attempt to make a basket. That's it! They repeat this until all the words are gone and they can't get enough of it! When we don't have time to fully play sight word basketball, I just use the basketball themed sight word cards to do quick checks of their sight word knowledge.

You can download the sight word cards  freebie right here...hope your little readers also go wild for March Madness! {Pre-primer and Primer Dolch Words are all included!}

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

GeoBoards in the Classroom

Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size. 

Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.

Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.

In both kindergarten and first grade we want to help students to understand that objects are made up of a shapes.  As well as we want children to see a shape and its defining attributes. For instance, we want to instill in children that a three sided, closed object is a triangle no matter if it is big or small, blue or yellow-it is still a triangle because of its defining attributes.  We can tell students this and even show them...but what better way to teach students than to let them explore with shapes and orientation on their own through structured play.

Whether you have GeoBoards or iPads in your classroom, you can take advantage of my latest pack to help your students explore with shapes in a fun independent center.

GeoBoards allow students to use rubber bands to create shapes by dragging them and putting the rubber bands on pegs.  The only difficult thing is, you are giving a bag of rubber bands to your first graders!  Don't get me wrong, many of my students can handle these; however, there are a couple (I will not name names...) that the rubber bands sometimes always seem to break or go flying!  And of coarse, it is always an accident...always. 

The solution to flying rubber bands?!?!  A FUN FREE APP of coarse! :)  GeoBoard, by The Math Learning Center is an engaging app that gives students the opportunity to explore shapes.  This app allows students to make drag rubber bands to make shapes and create images made by shapes.

To accompany this free app, I created a math pack called GeoBoard Mania!  This pack gives students the opportunity to explore shapes and to be challenged by combining several shapes together to make new designs.  Students have to be persistent in order to get these designs and my students LOVE the challenge of this.  There are several printables to hold students accountable for their word during center time.  

Whether you are using regular GeoBoards or have an iPad in your classroom and want to try GeoBoard, by The Math Learning Center try this pack to challenge and push your students!  Click HERE or on the picture above to take you to this pack! 

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Searching for Apps! {AppCrawlr}

I'm always looking for fun new apps to try out with my little readers. I recently came across an app search engine that has been great for finding new apps to try out! It's called AppCrawlr and basically you can search for anything and everything that you are interested in finding apps for and it gives you a whole selection.

All you do is type in your topic of choice at the top, select what type of device you want it on and then narrow down your search by checking the boxes that fit your needs (free vs paid, games vs educational, etc.). Then a list of options will show up and you can start choosing ones to look further into that might well work for your students.

Once you find some apps you like, you can click directly on those and then read reviews, find ratings and get more information about that app. You can also click to find other similar apps or simply click the download button to be taken directly to iTunes. It's very user-friendly and takes you right where you need to go to actually get the app!
Thanks to Hello Literacy and Teaching Super Power for the wonderful fonts and graphics!

So, if you are looking for a way to find some apps specific to topics you are working on in your classroom, I recommend checking AppCrawlr out! I just love that I can type in "word families" and find a whole list of apps that might work well for my little friends! Happy searching :) 

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Making the Most of Winter: Literacy Ideas

Winter lasts forever here in the Chicagoland area, so what do we do? We make the most of it! With my little readers, that means practicing all sorts of reading skills, but making it more exciting...with everything being winter-themed. My little friends truly love when we get new literacy centers, stories, etc that fit with our season or theme. Most of the time, they are so distracted by the new theme that they don't even realize we are working super hard- they just think everything is so fun and a game! :)

We've been working on A TON of literacy skills- from reading CVC words, identifying sight words, rhyming words and the beginning/ending sounds in words. We are practicing all these skills with a fun winter theme, of course! You can check out these literacy centers here.

Another way we keep the winter theme going in our room is through our close reading passages. These stories are so fun for my little friends to listen to and dive into. They love the passages and love even more being able to discuss the passages and then complete their own graphic organizers. They enjoy having their own passage to mark up too- they always ask me, "Can I circle this? Can I underline it?" which I just love because it shows that they really are paying attention to the text and soaking it in- woohoo!  You can check out this Winter Close Reading Pack here.

And since we are on the topic of close's a little freebie that you can check out. It's a great resource to just get you started with close reading in your classroom! This pack follows the same format as all my other close reading packs- teacher passage for displaying, lesson plan, student copy and graphic organizers for the re-readings. Grab it here!
Thanks to Hello Literacy and Teaching Super Power for the fonts and graphics! 

Have a great day!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Learn those Vowels!

Vowels can be so challenging for readers of all ages...from my ELL to my youngest readers all the way up to my 4th graders. I try to incorporate a whole lot of activities to help all my friends truly learn the vowel sounds both in and out of context.

I love these books for my littlest friends- they are fun and have tons of words with the short vowel focus of the book for my friends to listen for and identify while reading. I'll usually have them give me a thumbs up when they hear the specific vowel sound in that book, during reading, and then we make a chart together, after reading, of the words we heard.

Flip books are wonderful for several reasons. They are simple to make, hands-on for my friends to create, meaningful and can be used as a reference resource for each child! All you need is some construction paper, some scissors and markers. I cut the little strips ahead of time for each of my students, but they do all the writing.

The outside of the flip books are the vowel sounds and then under each flap my friends wrote words that began with each vowel sound. Some also drew pictures on the front of their flip books to help them remember each sound. These flip books will be staying in our room for them to refer back to whenever needed. I love that it is their own creation and that they can take personal pride in their work with these!

I love that you can make these flip books with any concept is a long vowel combinations version. Keeping with the vowel theme, the flip books can be made for long vowels with silent e, r controlled vowels, etc!

And here are some techy ways to get students engaged with learning vowels. ...I figure the more ways I can get my friends practicing them, the more likely they will learn the sounds in the end! 

This YouTube video is a fun one to help my friends actually hear and learn the vowel sounds. It compares short vs long vowels. If you have a BrainPop subscription, they also have one about vowels vs consonants. It's a great introductory lesson. Just search for short vowels once you log in!

And, if you have any iPads in your room, here are two free apps which are fun for centers! Phonics Vowels covers all kinds of vowel sounds. This one gives part of a word and matching picture, including the vowel and students have to find the missing sound to complete the word. It is good for hearing the vowel sounds repeatedly. 

Howie Finds Vowels Lite also is a game that covers a variety of vowel sounds (short, long, r controlled, vowel combinations, etc). It includes the fun monster, Howie, who the kids are trying to feed a hotdog choosing the right vowel sound that they hear, Howie can eat the hotdog! Both can be downloaded for free from iTunes. :)

Thanks to Hello Literacy for the fonts and Teaching Super Power for the fun graphics!

Have a great day!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Top 5 Word Work Activities

Amanda and I started blogging over at Who's Who and Who's New- it is a collaborative blog which includes lots of fabulous bloggers- go check it out, if you haven't yet! I posted this a few weeks ago on there, but wanted to share it on here as well, just in case you missed it.

I use lots of different ideas week after week, but these are my top five that keep making an appearance, day after day.  

One of the main reasons these activities stick around in my classroom is because they work and are super simple to implement each day! Below are a few ways that I use these handy little tools to help my little readers become better each day at reading new words.

Thanks to TeachingSuperPower for the graphics and Hello Literacy for the fonts!
Have a great day!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Great December Read Alouds!

Well December is here and now there are just 2 weeks left to go before winter break! I love that with each new month I can pull out some new books to use for read alouds with my little friends. My winter selection is kind of overflowing seeing that we live in the Chicagoland area and, well, winter just lasts a reallllll long time here for us. 

Here are some of my favorite Christmas-y and not-so-Christmas-y read alouds that I use in December. I included two graphic organizers {freebies} at the bottom that you can use with any winter-themed books! 

Year after year I come back to these same stories in December, generally because my students always love them...and so do I! They are just fun, good reads. We usually discuss the books as I am reading them and then do a follow up activity, like the graphic organizers below...scroll down to grab your own copy!

Thanks to Prettygrafik for the backgrounds, Hello Literacy for the fonts and Whimsy Clips & Krista Wallden for the clipart!

Download these reading response freebies here! Enjoy :)

Have a great day!

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