September 25, 2016

Learning Blends & Digraphs Through Movement - Physical Phonics {part 2}

Once students have mastered their alphabet and letter sounds, it's time to start teaching them more advanced phonics skills that will help them with decoding words. After I teach the alphabet, I work on digraphs and blends. Research shows that using a multi-sensory approach to learning, can help students learn the information in multiple ways and retain the information better. I created Physical Phonics to do just that! Physical Phonics helps meet the needs of all of your students, no matter which way they learn best. I have found that students are not only more engaged when they use Physical Phonics, but they also retain the information and learn their sounds quicker. 
Here's a little preview of what is included in my Physical Phonics Alphabet set. 
(turn your sound on)

Below are the teacher direction cards. You will use these cards to teach your students the blends and digraphs letter pairs and sounds, all while incorporating movement. This helps the brain learn through a variety of learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic movement. 
 Lesson Example:
1. Say the Sound: First I show the students the card and tell them the sound the blend/digraph makes. We say the sound 3 times. I do this because learning sounds is the most important thing to help them become readers and I tell them the letters are how we show that sound. The picture of the little kid at the bottom of the card, lets students know that is what they will say.  
     Remember:When you say the letter sounds, make sure to say them quickly and not add the schwa (uh) sound at the end. Bl says /bl/ not /bluh/, make sure that you're not dropping your jaw and accidentally adding the UH sound at the end. If you do, then when students start to write they'll want to add the letter u to many words. 

2. Say the Picture Clue: Then I will tell them the picture clue and how we hear that sound when we see it in a word.  EX: flower begins with the sound /fl/ I will show them the hand motions we will do to help us remember the sounds. Then we'll practice and say the sound 3 times, then name the pictures EX: /fl/ /fl/ /fl/ flower  I will then give the class a list of a few more words that begin with that sound and see if they can come up with any. 

3. Say the Letters: Last I will show them the letters that we write to represent these blends and digraph sounds. 
Finally you are ready to put it all together and practice the sounds again. Say the sound 3 times, say the picture clue, then the letter.   EX: /gl/ /gl/ /gl/  glove  (say all this while pretending to put on a glove)

I created instructional videos that you can use to learn all of the movements, but the students really enjoy watching the video and playing along. The video is in alphabetical order, so if you teach the sounds in a different order, you can quickly just scroll to the sound you are teaching that day.  The first part of the video works on blends, then I take a break and tell students it's turn to learn their digraphs. You can these videos with students in whole group, small group, or let them watch it during center time on your computer to give them extra practice.
These charts can be printed as is or blown up into poster size and will be a helpful reminder for your students. One set has the directions on it as a reminder for you, parent volunteers, or a substitute.  These would be great to hang up at your writing center, throw in centers for your students to use as a reference, or keep these at your small group table. 
 These students strips will be a great resource for your students that they can keep in their folders or you can throw into center tubs.
I created a small set of just the picture cards as well. These are great to throw in centers, use in your small group, or send some home with students to get extra practice. Students could play memory with these cards and the blends/digraphs cards below, match magnetic letters to the correct picture, or use a wipe off board to write down the sounds they hear. You can always use picture cards! 
 I also made some simple cards with just the blends/digraph letters.
I wanted to create a book that is sturdy enough to last for weeks as you teach students all of the blends and digraphs. This book is divided into 2 sections deepening on which skill you teach first. It also has a list at the front of the book with all of the blends and digraphs taught. Simply print the pages double sides, add the cover, and then staple together. Easy-peasy!
Here's what the inside of the book looks like. Each page has the picture clue and the blend or digraph at the top. If you want to differentiate this activity, you can have your students draw pictures that start with that sound, they would just write words for that sound, or they can do both. Use these in centers, during writing time, or while you are teaching them the new sound. When you are finished they will have yet another resource to refer to when they are working on blends and digraphs.
This Physical Phonics set has been in the works for a long time, so I'm thrilled to have it done. I hope you really find that your students learn and retain their blends and digraphs sounds more now that you have incorporated some moment. You can find this Physical Phonics bundle on TPT here

I have also created Physical Phonics Alphabet set for the beginning of the year and I'm working on a word work bundle as well. 

September 12, 2016

15 FREE Letter Activities to Help Students Learn the Alphabet

Learning the alphabet is essential, so it is important to make it engaging and fun for students. It takes weeks to go over the whole alphabet at the beginning of Kindergarten, so we don't want to make it monotonous. Here are 15 FREE ideas & a few other activities that your students may enjoy so they have a variety of ways to learn their letters. 
Have you seen the new Kraft macaroni boxes with the alphabet and numbers? They are awesome and can be used in so many ways. I created 2 FREE Macaroni games to go with the ABC noodles. In the Missing Macaroni game, students will fill in the missing letters. In the Macaroni Match game, students simply match up all the letters of the alphabet. Print these on colorful card stock for a pop of color to your centers. You can grab these FREE games here
One way to practice the alphabet, yet get in some fine motor practice is to use toothpicks. Students will poke the letters with a toothpick and then hold it up to a light to see the letters glow. Make sure to model this activity, so students know the toothpicks are ONLY used for the paper and not to poke themselves or a friend! 
Rainbow writing is a colorful way to practice letters. You can give students a worksheet with the alphabet already on it, or they can make up their own. Students simply trace the letter over and over using a variety of colors.
For some more fine motor and alphabet practice, you can use a pencil box, sand or salt, and a pencil. Students will pick a letter card and then write that letter in the salt. 
Everyone needs a simple set of flashcards, so I have made these FREE! You can find these uppercase and lowercase alphabet flashcards in my TPT store here. The vowels are in red and the consonants are all black. I like to use these cards to make a simple memory game where students match up the uppercase and lowercase letters. However, there are SO many ways you can use ABC cards.
Shaving cream writing has to be one of the most fun and engaging ways to practice letters. Find some cheap shaving cream, squirt it onto the table, and then have students write the letter you tell them. You can use this for name practice, sight words, etc. It does get messy, so be prepared with a lot of paper towels and extra time to clean up! :) 
Another way to practice writing letters is to use Dr. Jean's song "Letter Tales".  Dr. Jean has fantastic songs for learning and they are fun! You can find the "Letter Tales" song on her Just For Fun CD here (scroll almost to the bottom). This song is great because it sings about the letter and the sound, but sings it slow enough so students have time to write down the letters before it's time for the next letter. 
Magnetic letters are fun to use on cookie sheets, but why not throw them into a bucket of water? Students can use a shovel to hunt for letters and then name the letter they find. You could also have students write down the letter they found on a wipe off board. If you have a sensory bin, you can throw magnetic letters into water and play this game, or use sand.
Playdoh is yet another fun way to practicing the alphabet. Students can easily use the Playdoh to make letters on their tables or you could use the ABC flashcards from above for students to make their letter on. I've created these Alphabet Writing Cards where students can use Playdoh, dry erase markers, or use a race car to "drive" around the letter. You can find in my TPT store here.
I found a frog fly swatter at The Dollar Tree and knew it would make a fun game. If you can't find one, I have included a frog image you can just attach to a flyswatter. One way to play this is to simply tell the student a letter to find, and they can use the flyswatter to "jump" onto the letter. You could also have students pick the lowercase letter cardand then jump onto the uppercase letter. Find this FREE game here
These Bingo Dauber ABC pages from the DLTK website are so much fun! Even better, they are FREE!!! You can find them here. Have students say the letter name as they fill in the dots on the letters. When they fill in the dots on the picture, they can say the letter sound each time. 
If you follow me already, you know all about Fluency & Fitness and how it's an absolute favorite activity for teachers and students! Even administrators love it because it incorporates technology, movements, and learning! With this alphabet version, students will be able to get up and move to get the wiggles out, while practicing their uppercase letter, lowercase letters, or a mixture of both! If you don't know what Fluency & Fitness is, just watch the video below. I have this for over 40 different skills! The Alphabet Fluency & Fitness can be found in my store here. I also have a FREE small sample of this alphabet version here if you want to try it before you buy it! 
Another way to incorporate some technology into learning, is with iPad games. I found this FREE alphabet tracing app and I'm absolutely in LOVE with it!! It's called ABC tracer and can be found here. There are a few different games to play, but I chose the lowercase letter tracing. The app shows you how to form the letter correctly. Then the students get to trace the letter on the right side. The green line follows the letter only if they use a continuous motion and stay on the dots provided. If they get sloppy or stop the flow of their writing, it will turn red. I love that it really makes students focus on forming the letters correctly. They can also click on the picture at the bottom and it will say the name of the picture and then do an little animation.
The kids always get a kick out of doing "back writing". Some teachers do sky writing where students write the letter in the air, but back writing is so much more fun! You can play it a few different ways. First, students get in pairs. Then you can either tell them a letter and they can write it on their partner's back. For added difficulty, have 1 student close their eyes, you can show the writers a letter card, they then write the letter on their friend's back, and that kid has to guess what letter was written. This works on letters, concentration, and patience. :) 
Stamping is another favorite activity. I use a stamping center for the whole year, and just simply change out the worksheets for the skill we're working on (letters, sounds, cvc words, digraphs, blends etc). You can find this stamping bundle in my TPT store here.  You can also have students use the stamp without ink and worksheets and have them stamp in Playdoh instead. Of course they wouldn't be able to match up letters, but they could spell words, their name, do abc order, etc.
You can also find so many pre-made games that are easy to throw in centers and take no time to prepare! Of course they aren't free, but they are fun! This Pop for Letters game is always a hit with kids. They draw the letter, say the name of the letter, and get to keep the card if they are correct. If they draw the "pop" card, they lose all of their cards. You can find this game from Learning Resources here. They have this game for other skills as well. 
These pre-made games from Lakeshore Learning are awesome and so easy to just throw in a center. You can find this alphabet matching game here, but they have many other alphabet games too!
I've also created a hands-on bundle of engaging alphabet activities that you can use in centers or with some of your RTI students. I like creating an alphabet book for each student, so they can practice the letters as we learn them. You can find the bundle here
I hope you'll be able to use many these ideas to help your student master the alphabet. Enjoy all the FREEBIES!
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August 19, 2016

Learning the Alphabet Through Movement - Physical Phonics {part 1}

When students come to us as Kindergarteners, many of them do not know their alphabet or even the letters in their name. Teaching the alphabet and letter sounds are the building blocks of teaching children how to read.  Research shows that using a multi-sensory approach to learning, can help students learn the information in multiple ways and retain the information better. I created Physical Phonics to do just that! Physical Phonics helps meet the needs of all of your students, no matter which way they learn best. I have found that students are not only more engaged when they use Physical Phonics, but they also retain the information and learn their alphabet and sounds quicker. 
Here's a little preview of what is included in my Physical Phonics Alphabet set. 
(turn your sound on)
One of the most important things I keep in mind when introducing the alphabet to students, is to show them proper letter formation. When creating this new set, I made sure to use Kindergarten appropriate fonts and easy to recognize pictures. 

Below are the teacher direction cards. You will use these cards to teach your students the letter and the letter sound all while incorporating movement. This helps the brain learn through a variety of learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic movement. 
Lesson Example:
1. Say the Sound: First I show the students the card and tell them the sound the letter makes. We say the sound 3 times. I do this because learning sounds is the most important thing to help them become readers and I tell them the letter is how we show that sound. The picture of the little kid at the bottom of the card, lets students know that is what they will say.  
     Remember:When you say the letter sounds, make sure to say them quickly and not add the schwa (uh) sound at the end. B says /b/ not /buh/, make sure that you're not dropping your jaw and accidentally adding the UH sound at the end. If you do, then when students start to write they'll want to add the letter u to many words. 

2. Say the Picture Clue: Then I will tell them the picture clue and how we hear that sound at the beginning of that word.  EX: alligator begins with the sound /a/ I will show them the hand motions we will do to help us remember the sounds. Then we'll practice and say the sound 3 times, then name the pictures EX: /a/ /a/ /a/ alligator  I will then give the class a list of a few more words that begin with that sound and see if they can come up with any. 

3. Say the Letter: Last I will show tell them the letter name at the top of the card. I show them how to write that letter on my white board. They practice writing the letter in the air a few times. 
    
Finally you are ready to put it all together and practice the sound again. Say the sound 3 times, say the picture clue, then the letter.   EX: /c/ /c/ /c/   car   C  (say all this while pretending to drive)

I created instructional videos that you can use to learn all of the movements, but the students really enjoy watching the video and playing along. The video is in alphabetical order, so if you teach the letters in a different order, you can quickly just scroll to the letter you are teaching that day.  There are 2 videos. The 1st is the alphabet with sort vowels, the 2nd is just the short and long vowel sounds. You can these videos with students in whole group, small group, or let them watch it during center time on your computer to give them extra practice.
These ABC charts can be printed as is or blown up into poster size and will be a helpful reminder for your students. One set has the directions on it as a reminder for you, parent volunteer, or substitute.  These would be great to hang up at your writing center, throw in centers for your students to use as a reference, or keep these at your small group table. 
These students strips will be a great resource for your students. Here are a few ways to use them.
1. "Point to the letter ____"
2.  What is the letter after ____ (or before)
3. "Point to the sound ____"
4. Use with the Dr. Jean song "Letter Tales" and have students say the names of these pictures instead of the song. "a for alligator /a/ /a/ /a/, b for bed /b/ /b/ /b/...
I created a small set of just the picture cards as well. These are great to throw in centers, use in your small group, or send some home with students to get extra practice. Students could play memory with these cards and the alphabet cards below, match a magnetic letter to the correct picture, or use a wipe off board to write down the beginning sound they hear.
Teachers can never haver enough letter cards either!
Besides learning the name and sounds of the letters, students also need a lot of practicing writing their letters. I wanted to create a writing book that is sturdy enough to last for weeks as you teach the alphabet. 
I also know how much time teachers spend on their classroom, so I wanted to make this book as easy as possible to put together.  Simply print the pages double sided, fold, attach the cover page & staple! I used card stock to make the cover sturdier. 
Here's what the inside of the book looks like. Each page has the picture clue, spaces for students to trace the letters, and then space for them to practice writing the letters on their own. If you want to differentiate this activity, you can have your students draw more pictures that start with that same beginning sound in the empty space on the top. Use these in centers, during writing time, or while you are teaching them the new sound. 
This Physical Phonics set has been in the works for a long time, so I'm thrilled to have it done. I hope you really find that your students learn and retain their alphabet and letter sounds more now that you have incorporated some moment. You can find this Physical Phonics bundle on TPT here

I have also created Physical Phonics Blends & Digraphs set for later on in the year and I'm working on a word work bundle as well. 
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August 7, 2016

How to get FREE $$$ for your Classroom

I have had many teachers tell me how much their students LOVE using my Fluency & Fitness activities in the classroom. Teachers love that they don't miss any instructional time, yet their students get a chance to get the wiggles out. For teachers that want the Fluency & Fitness MEGA bundle, it is a big purchase. What if I told you that you could get it for FREE? One teacher told me that she applied for a grant to get the MEGA bundle for her classroom. I thought that was a FANTASTIC idea, so I wanted to share with your all the different ways that you can get FREE $$$ for your classroom! 

 If you don't know what Fluency & Fitness is, here's a little sneak peek. 
There are MANY companies out there that provide grants for classrooms and many companies are looking to provide grants that incorporate movement and a healthy lifestyle into the classroom. Many of these grants below are technology related, but some of them provide grants for anything and everything. There are also ways to post the projects/supplies you need for your classroom and the public can donate to help your classroom.

Get Donations for your Classroom
Donor's Choose & Target
If you haven't heard of Donor's Choose, it's a great way to get some money for your classroom! You simply fill out a form explaining what materials you need for your classroom and how it will be used. The public can then donate a little or a lot to help fund your project. Many businesses also use this site to match donations so your project can get funded quicker. Sharing your project on social media is an easy way to show your friends and family how they can help support your classroom. 
Even better yet, Target has partnered up with Donor's Choose and they are giving away $5 MILLION toward teacher's projects and classroom requests.  They are funding Health & Sports projects that will help students live a healthier and more active lifestyle. Some of the teachers that have already been funded requested items such as sports balls, balance balls, bouncy bands, pedometers, yoga mats, etc. You can set up your own Donor's Choose page here and find out the details of what types of things Target is looking to fund. The deadline is October 1, 2016.   
PledgeCents
If you like Donor's Choose, you'll LOVE PledgeCents! It's very similar, in the fact that you will list what supplies/projects you need for your classroom and then then public can donate money. You can even ask for annual subscriptions to your favorite websites to be funded. However, the part I love about this company, is that you get to keep ALL of the money raised, even if your project doesn't get fully funded! Check out their website here

Apply for Grants (state/local)
State grants
If you can't find any national grants or your project wasn't chosen to be funded, try searching for grants offered by your state or companies in your state. I just googled "Indiana grants for teachers" and right way this grant program from he Lily Endowment company popped up. They are accepting applications until September 1, 2016. Indiana residents can apply here
Visit your state education website to look for grants. The Indiana Dept. of Education has a few grants listed here

Local Grants
Many school corporations have education foundations that also provide grants. I have received a few $500 from our local education foundation and the form to fill out was one of the easiest! Ask your principal or other teachers if they know of any local grants offered by your school or community. 
                          
                Apply for Grants (corporations)
Corning Incorporated Foundation
The Corning Incorporated Foundations provides a variety of grants for classrooms every year. They give back over $5 million annually to communities. "The Corning Incorporated Foundation grants for local education programs reflect a strong commitment to ensuring an informed citizenry and a skilled workforce. To that end, Foundation funding tends to target innovative and collaborative projects that enhance the teaching and learning of science and math curricula with the goal of improving student outcomes". (Corning Incorporated Foundation website) You can apply for one of their grants here.
NEA Foundation 
If you are a NEA member than you can apply for grants from he NEA Foundation. They have given schools over $7 million in 10 years! Their grants are also open-ended, but you do have to be a NEA member. Visit the NEA Foundation grant website here.
Forum Credit Union
Look for larger companies such as banks, grocery stores, big box stores, etc. that offers grants. I came across this grant offered by the Forum Credit Union for any of their FCU members in good standing. Applications are accepted until September 1, 2016. If you are a FCU member you can apply here.


Teachers Count
Instead of being 1 specific grant, Teachers Count gives you a big list of websites and companies that provide grants. This website is nice because it will break the grants down into categories which may give your grant request a higher chance of getting funded. You can visit their site here

Grant Wrangler 
Grant Wrangler also lets you search many grants at one time. You can search by categories, keywords, deadlines, etc.  You can visit their site here
As you can see their are SO MANY WAYS to get funds for your classroom. The money is out there to support your students and your projects, sometimes you just have to do a little digging!