April 9, 2017

Easter Fluency Find It

I LOVE my new Fluency Find Its series because it incorporates movement and team building into your literacy and math lessons. These fun holiday themed games work on essential reading and math skills that students should be fluent in for each period of the year, while giving them a chance to get out of their seats and move a little bit. 
Here's a little preview of my Easter Fluency Find It in action in a few classrooms. The CVCe words are from the Kindergarten bundle and the Place Value game is from the 1st grade bundle. 

How to Play:
Students get in small groups and stand behind their table with their worksheet in front of them. Students will say what they see on the screen, then hunt for the answer on their paper. After a couple of turns, a screen will pop up prompting students to switch players. The student finding the answers, will go to the end of the line. The switch spots screen is animated so they can watch the Bunny run down to the Easter basket. :) 

Differentiation
I've included 2 ways to play: timed slides or manual slides depending on how fluent your students are in that skill. This is the CVCe game in the Kindergarten bundle.
Literacy & Math Skills
Each bundle includes 5 different games to work on a variety of reading and math skills. It also includes an editable version so you can make your own! :) 

Below is the place value game from my 1st grade bundle. 
Recording Sheets
Students can play in groups to help each other hunt for the answer on the paper to match what they see on the screen. There are 2 worksheets you can use to differentiate learning if needed. You can have students color, circle, or highlight the answers, write in the answers, or I found some fun stamps to let them mark their answers as well.  

Assessments
You can use this as an assessment and have students play this individually and then when the switch spots screen comes up, they can grab their paper and move to another spot at their table. Collect these at the end to see if kids know their letters, how to write their numbers, etc. 

If you like this idea, you can check out all of my Fluency Find It games here, along with my GROWING bundles! 

March 27, 2017

10 More Ways to Practice Sight Words

Teachers are always on the hunt for new ways to help their students learn, review, and practice their sight words. I previously did a blog post with 10 ways to practice sight words, which you can read here. I keep seeing teachers ask for sight word activities in some of our Facebook groups, so I wanted to show you even MORE ideas to use. Some of these may be things you've done in the past and just forgot about, some may be new ideas. Either way, now you'll have 20 activities to do whole group, small group, or independently at centers, so your students never get bored.  
Sight Word Towers - Simply write sight words on small cups. I found these baby solo cups at Target. Students will read the word and then build a tower. They can read them again as they take it down.

Hide and Seek - Students can play this game in pairs. One student hides a bear under a cup. Then, the other student has to name a sight word to guess where the bear is hiding. I like finding multi uses for materials I buy for the classroom, so use these cups in a variety of ways!

Mystery Words - Write words on white paper with a white crayon. Students paint over the words with watercolors to make the mystery words appear. This is by far a favorite activity!

Find the... - Put some sight words in a pocket chart. The students in the group will cover their eyes, while 1 student hides the picture behind a word. The other students then have to guess words until they find the picture. Whoever finds the picture, gets to hide it next. Simply change out the image for each month and you can use this center all year! 

Bead the Word - Students can build words with letter beads. Use pipe cleaners, so they stay in place. I like these letter beads from Amazon here. (affiliate link)

Bend and Spell - You can use pipe cleaners, yarn, wikki stix, etc. to have student simply bend the pieces into letters so they can spell a word.
Playdoh - Playdoh is a great way to incorporate fine motor skills while learning sight words. If you put a sight word list in a sheet protector, they can make off the words as they go.

MagnetsMagnets are always a fun and easy way to work on words. Use a variety of sets, so students recognize different fonts. I have a huge drip pan I got in the automotive section at Walmart to make a really big magnetic center.

Letter Tiles - Some reading series come with letter tiles which you can have students use to build words. If you don't have any, you can find some for only $10 on Amazon here. (affiliate link)

Scrabble - This scrabble spelling is similar to using the letter tiles above to spell out words. However, if your students are able to, they can also then add the numbers together to see how much their word is worth. This is a great way to incorporate math and reading together! You can use normal scrabble pieces, but these are some giant scrabble pieces that my college found at JoAnn Fabrics one Summer.
Hopefully you've got a whole new collection of ideas to try out with your students to make learning and practicing sight words a bit more engaging!

Don't forget to check out my other post here with more fun ways to practice sight words!

March 13, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Fluency Find It

I LOVE my new Fluency Find Its series because it incorporates movement and team building into your literacy and math lessons. These fun holiday themed games work on essential reading and math skills that students should be fluent in for each period of the year, while giving them a chance to get out of their seats and move a little bit. 

Here's a little preview of my St. Patrick's Day Fluency Find It in action in a classroom. This is the Kindergarten counting by 10s game, but it comes with 4 other skills too. 

How to Play:
Students get in small groups and stand behind their table with their worksheet in front of them. Students will say what they see on the screen, then hunt for the answer on their paper. After a couple of turns, a screen will pop up prompting students to switch players. The student finding the answers, will go to the end of the line. The switch spots screen is animated so they can watch the Leprechaun run down to the pot of gold. :) 

Differentiation
I've included 2 ways to play: timed slides or manual slides depending on how fluent your students are in that skill. This is the counting by 10s game in the Kindergarten bundle.
Literacy & Math Skills
Each bundle includes 5 different games to work on a variety of reading and math skills. It also includes an editable version so you can make your own! :) 

These students are playing the contractions game from my 1st grade bundle. 
Recording Sheets
Students can play in groups to help each other hunt for the answer on the paper to match what they see on the screen. There are 2 worksheets you can use to differentiate learning if needed. You can have students color, circle, or highlight the answers, write in the answers, or I found some fun stamps to let them mark their answers as well.  

Assessments
You can use this as an assessment and have students play this individually and then when the switch spots screen comes up, they can grab their paper and move to another spot at their table. Collect these at the end to see if kids know their letters, how to write their numbers, etc. 
If you like this idea, you can check out all of my Fluency Find It games here, along with my GROWING bundles! 

March 1, 2017

Building Words Literacy Center Game

Teaching students how to build words can help them on letter sounds, spelling, blending, and reading. I use these building word cards throughout the entire year to help students word on reading simple words, but to also have them identify beginning, middle, and ending sounds. I love how these cards are differentiated, so I can meet the needs of all of my little learners. 
At the beginning of the year, we work on beginning sounds. I give students a card and have them look at the picture clue first. We then practice listening for the first sound in the word. After students say the sound, they then identify what the letter is, and hunt for that letter.  For students that are ready to work on reading simple words, we'll point to each sound and start to blend the word. 

All the cards are differentiated so you can meet the needs of your students. One set of cards has dotted letter clues for kids to simply match up the letter, while the other set has an empty box so students have to figure out the missing sound on their own. You can use any kid of letter tiles, letter beads, magnets etc. I'll provide the affiliate links, so you can find the ones I like to use in case you need some for your room.  I found these white letter tiles on Amazon here
After your students master beginning sounds, you can start on the ending sounds cards. Since students will already know how to play this game, you can easily throw it in your centers and tell them this time they are working on ending sounds. I like using similar games throughout the year because it makes planning easy on me and giving instructions for new centers easy on the kids! These alphabet letters are actually beads, so besides using them for this activity, students can string these beads to word on building words, sequencing the alphabet, practicing their names, etc. I found them on Amazon here. I have the uppercase set, but it'd be nice to get the lowercase set as well so students are building the words correctly. 
When you are ready to teach short vowel sounds, you can whip out these middle sound cards.
Each set of cards comes with a recording sheet as well. Students will write down the missing sound they found to build their word. This is a nice way to hold your students accountable for their work while they are at centers.
You can find this Building Words Bundle in my TPT store here

February 14, 2017

Sight Word Books for Pre-Primer Dolch Words with a FREEBIE

Sight words are an important skill for students to master. If students are able to recognize many sight words while reading, it can help aide in their comprehension and build confidence. In Kindergarten, students are still learning how to decode words, but if they can recognize some of the words on the page already, they will feel like they are readers! These sight word books are a great way to help students learn how to become readers. 
I like to use these sight word stories in small group to work on the focus sight word(s) of the week. We practice with this book for a few minutes each day of small group. This Sight Word Stories bundle includes 40 books to work on the words from the Dolch Pre-Primer List. I've included a 5 day lesson plan in this bundle to give you an idea of how to use these stories. You can also combine the lessons and do a few lessons in 1 day.
Each book has 4 pages of simple sentences. The sentences are repetitive with only 1 or 2 words changing, therefore students can start to predict the text. This also helps build in confidence in reading! Students can use the picture clues to help them figure out the tougher words. We read this book all week doing choral reading, partner reading, and independent reading. For added fun, have students highlight the sight word on each page.
At the end of each book is an interactive page where students can color, trace, and build the sight word. I like to let students use skinny markers to trace the words because it writes similar to a pencil, but is more exciting!
To save on printing, each page has 4 books. After the week is over, I let students take the book home to read to their families or put in their book box for read to self/read to a partner. They love having a book of their own! You can find these sight word books in my TPT store here.
If you'd like to try a FREE sample of the "see" book, you can find it in my TPT store here.

January 29, 2017

Why I LOVE my Treadmill Desk

First, I want to start by saying I am not getting paid to do a review on my treadmill desk, nor did I get my treadmill desk for free (I wish!). This is a 100% honest review. I simply have had many teachers ask me how I'm liking my treadmill desk, so I wanted to share my thoughts with you. I'll answer a few of the most common questions I have received. 
What treadmill desk did you buy?
I did some research before purchasing a treadmill desk and found many great reviews for the LifeSpan Treadmill Desks. I thought for the money, features, and positive reviews, it was the best option for me. I decided to go with the LifeSpan TR1200-DT7 Treadmill Desk which you can find here. It is pricey at $1,499, but I have put on about 20lbs since I left the classroom 3 years ago, and needed something to get me off of my butt. I sit on my computer for hours and work on TPT and on my husband's business. I do not like to work out, so I figured this was a great way to get me up and moving, while having the ability to stay productive. I knew I'd be wasting money on a gym membership, so I decided to invest in this instead. I also priced regular treadmills and they weren't that much cheaper. 

There is another treadmill desk (LifeSpan TR1200-DT5) for $200 less, but the desk itself has to be moved manually up and down instead of electronically. I knew that if I wanted to take a break from walking and a put a chair on the treadmill to sit for a bit, it'd be nice to just push a button and lower the desk. I read reviews that the DT5 was a bit hard to move up/down by yourself. 
Is there enough room to work?
Here is what the desk looks like. I got the gray color, but it does come in 4 colors. The desk comes in 38" and 48" sizes. I went with the 38" desk because my office is kind of small, and I figured with just a laptop, that would be plenty of room.
What features does this treadmill desk have?
Here is what the control screen looks like. You can keep track of your time, distance, steps, calories burned, and speed. I never used a FitBit or Apple watch to keep track of my steps, because I knew I was always sitting on my butt all day working and wouldn't have even gotten close to 10,000 steps. I didn't need something tracking how lazy I am. :) Now, I love seeing how many steps I have in! I've even gotten over 21,000 steps in one day.  Since I work from home, I typically get in 4-6 miles a day with some days going up to 8+ miles! 

If you hit the stop/reset button on the treadmill to take a break, it will keep all of your information on the screen. I really like this feature, because I may walk for 3 different segments throughout the day, and then I can see how many calories/steps/miles/etc. I did for that entire day. You can hold down the stop/reset button and it will clear all of your info, so you can start from 0 if you'd like. I reset it each day. 
How big is the treadmill desk?
The whole treadmill desk measures about 69"x38". Remember I said my office was kind of small, so I knew this would look a bit big in the room. I figured it'd be worth it to get me off my butt! :) I think it took my husband about 45min or so to put this whole thing together.
How fast do you walk?
I read most people typically walk at 1.5mph. I'm a fast walker as it is, just ask my past students; they were always way behind me in line LOL! I was walking at 2mp to get used to working and walking. I didn't have any trouble focusing or learning how to work and walk. After a week of walking at 2mph, I decided to try 2.5mph. This is a great pace for me: not too fast, not too slow. It does go up to 4mph, so you can find what pace fits you. The 4mph is more of a speed walk, so I wouldn't recommend it for working. However, 4mph was too slow to run. These treadmills are not meant for running. I will also say that it seems fairly quiet. I can have my TV on in the background and hear it just fine without having to turn the volume way up.

Is it hard to work and walk?
For me, not at all! I don't have a problem creating resources, answering e-mails, writing blog posts, etc. I can honestly say that I feel more focused working. Yes, I take breaks to go run errands, sit and watch TV, eat, etc. because of course those are the benefits of working from home and having a flexible schedule. However, I used to sit on the couch and work (even though I did have an office) and I found I would get distracted easily. It could be the fact that I'm getting more oxygen to my brain to help me focus, my determination to lose weight, or just the fact that I truly enjoy walking and working. I NEVER wanted to work out, so this is perfect for me. I get so focused on TPT sometimes, that I forget I'm even walking.
I have recommended this treadmill desk to my sister who also works from home, to other full time TPTers, and to other teachers that would like to just move a bit more without having to lose their time to work. You can easily grade papers, lesson plan, blog, etc. while walking.

You can search the LifeSpan website here, to see what options are best for you. If you already have a standing desk, you may just want to buy the treadmill to go under it. They also have bike desks as well.

Let me know if you have any more questions that I can answer! This was a big purchase, and I was nervous about it, but it has turned out to be worth every penny!

January 12, 2017

Companion Activities for 6 Popular Winter Books

Even though I'm not a big fan of Winter, some of my favorite children's books are read in the Winter such as The Gingerbread Man, The Polar Express, and the Mitten. These books are so much fun to read, that I like to use them for a whole week. I created a Winter Stories Bundle with some activities to go along with 6 popular books many teachers read in December and January. This way you can teach with this book all week long. I will include affiliate links to these books on Amazon in case you don't have any of these. 
Each bundle includes the same activities, so you students will start to learn what to do without you having to explain the directions over and over. 

Activities included
• teacher large vocabulary/retelling cards in color
• student small vocabulary/retelling cards in b/w
• full sheet poem/quote from the book (color or b/w) 
• small poem/quote from the book (b/w with image)
• small poem/quote from the book (b/w without image, students illustrate it)
• sequencing cut & paste worksheet
• student book (shortened summary of the book)
• comprehension quiz

Students enjoy having their own set of puppets/vocabulary cards to retell each story. They also enjoy making the small books, so they have their own version to read during reading time or to take home to their family to read. I like using the comprehension quiz and sequencing worksheet so I can see if students were listening to the stories and comprehending what was happening. 
Some teachers read The Gingerbread Man at the beginning of school and send their kids on a hunt (tour of the school) to find the Gingerbread Man. I like to read many of the Gingerbread series books in December. We always start with the original The Gingerbread Man before adding some of the newer Gingerbread titles. It's a fun story about a Gingerbread Man cookie who tries to run away from everyone so he doesn't get eaten. 
The Gingerbread Girl is such a cute book about her getting revenge on the fox for eating her brother The Gingerbread Man. 
The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett is adorable and always a student favorite as it has a new twist on the gingerbread cookie trying to escape. 
The last week of school in December, we read The Polar Express and watch the movie on our last day before break.  Students enjoy this book because a little boy gets to ride a train to the North Pole and receives the 1st gift of Christmas!
Another great book from Jan Brett is The Mitten. It's a cute story about a boy who drops his mitten in the snow and many animals try to climb inside to stay warm.
I couldn't find this exact book for sale anymore, but I did find another Frosty the Snowman book if you need it. This book has a fun song to go with it and the story sparks students excitement about a snowman coming to life to play. 
You can find all of these activities for each individual story, or you can buy the whole Winter Stories Bundle and save $$$!