March 30, 2015

Engaging Centers and Crafts Just in Time for Easter

To make our room festive for Easter, we create these small bunny baskets and I give students the chance to bring in something small for their classmates, similar to what I do with their stockings at Christmas. These Easter baskets are super easy to make: you just need a few plates, construction paper, and Easter grass! My students get to choose what colors they want to use for their grass and bunny ears/nose. 

Another easy craft are these "peek-a-boo" bunnies, and they are always a hit in my class! I give my students 2 ovals and have them decorate one any way they want to, and then they make a bunny face on the second oval. Make sure your students color the top egg first before cutting it in half. I go around and assemble them with metal brads as they are working on their bunny face. 
I finally got around to updating my Easter bundle and ended up adding 3 new games to it! It now includes 6 math and 5 literacy activities for your students to get lots of egg-stra practice! ;) 
We've been working on place value, so this Place Value Peeps game gives my students a lot of reinforcement during center time. They just clip the clothespin on the correct number, then flip it over to see if they got the right answer (I put a black dot behind the correct number).
This is a simple worksheet where students break up the number into tens and ones.
My students love doing these graphs with the dry erase markers and the dice, so I have a set of 2 graphs for each month in my A Year of Graphing Bundle! I do hold them accountable by making them fill out the response sheet about their graph after they finish. 
You can also just use it as a worksheet too instead of putting it in a page protector. 
This Number Chicks game helps students work on their number, number words, and 1-1 correspondence. 
Syllables always seem to be a hard skill for Kindergarteners to get, so this Easter Syllables game gives them a bit more practice clapping out the syllables in each picture.
This is a new game in my bundle and it is helping my students work on the middle sound they hear in the word. They simply had to cut out the pictures on the bottom and glue it into the correct cup that matches the middle sound in the word. I made 5 different versions so they can get a lot of practice on short vowels.
We are needing more practice on word families, so I use this Egg-celent Word Families game in my literacy centers. My high students use the cards with 3 letter word families, while my lowers students are still using the 2 letter word family cards.
I hope you have an EGG-CELENT Easter!!!

March 25, 2015

Alphabet Activities and Letter Recognition Practice for Kindergarten Students

Even though it's March, I'm sure you still have some students that are STILL struggling with their letters. Maybe they just moved into your district, maybe they didn't have preschool, but whatever the reason, they need some extra practice! We've all been there and it's hard to get that kid caught up, when the rest of the class is already reading. I've made 5 different sets of activities that work on writing, naming, and recognizing, uppercase and lowercase letters. For students that aren't grasping their alphabet easily, REPETITION is key! 

This activity below can be put together as an ABC book or used in journals as an interactive notebook. I chose to make it an ABC book, so we could refer to it often and "hunt" for letters. 
Once you staple the book, students will work on coloring, tracing, writing, and finding letters. We do a few pages a day. Once finished, I'll say "find me the letter ___" this helps me see if they know their letters AND it helps them start to learn the order of the alphabet. Your more advanced kids will start at the back of the book if they are looking for V because they know it's at the end of the alphabet. 
To make this an interactive notebook: Students will cut on the black lines to make "flaps", then glue the page into their books. They can lift up their flap and draw a picture that begins with that sound or practice writing the letter some more. 
For more practice recognizing and writing letters, use this Letter Ladders game. Students roll the dice, name the letter, then write that letter on one of the rungs of the ladder. To make this more difficult, give students the uppercase dice, and have them find the lowercase letter to write. 
 Who does't love spinner games? In Letter Lollipops, students simple spin a letter, name the letter, find that letter, then color it.
It is important for students to not only recognize their letters, but recognize them in different fonts. Words in books, signs, TV, computers, etc. won't always be written in Zaner Bloser or D'Nealian font, so they need to be able to recognize that letter even if it's "fancy" as my students like to say. 
If you have students that are still struggling mastering their letters after the first few months, you may needs to start some regular fluency practice. One thing that I find extremely helpful to work on recognizing and naming letters fluently are my Letter Naming Fluency assessments. These are in a similar format to the DIBELS assessment the students takes 3 times a year. Show students the “master copy” of the assessments, and you refer to the ”student packets”. Students will try to name as many letters as possible within one minute. Students just need to say the letter name, not “uppercase A, lowercase d”. They love trying to see how many they can name before the timer runs out. I love it because they are becoming more fluent! I typically don't show students the timer so they don't get distracted by it, but I wanted to include it in this picture to show you how I assess them.

Here is the teacher copy of the assessment. I make "student packets" by stapling all of the assessments together and put their results sheet on top. I like having all of their assessments in one spot in case I need it for report card time, parent-teacher conference, RTI meeting, etc. When a student says a letter incorrectly, you put a slash through it on that assessment page. If after 3 seconds they don’t say the letter correctly, count it wrong, and prompt them to move on. I also put a bracket where they stopped. Count and tally how many letters they missed. Record it at the bottom of the page, then graph how they did on your “results” page. I pull students once a week to give this assessment and see how they are progressing.
I use this graphing sheet to keep track of my students progress along the way. This helps me see if they are making progress or hitting a plateau. I let my students graph their results, so they are aware of their progress as well. 
You can find all of these activities in my RTI Printables Letter Bundle. Hopefully this repeated practice of letters will help your students recognize and name letters more fluently! Use this with your RTI kiddos or snatch is up for the beginning of the year!

If you're looking for a way to teach the alphabet and include movement, learn about my Physical Phonics Alphabet here

March 22, 2015

Frixion Erasable Markers

Have you seen these Pilot Frixion Colors Erasable MarkersThe Frixion markers are not only colorful, but erasable!! I got these from a friend who uses them a lot with anchor charts, so if you mess up, it's no big deal! This reminded a lot of us of the erasable pens that we used to use in grade school. I LOVE these markers and will be using them ALL the time!! 
They really do erase!! How cool is that?!?! My new favorite thing!! 
I just had to use them one more time!!
I'm going to add these to my Kindergarten task cards boxes so students have something fun to write with when recording their answers! 
(affiliate links are included in this post)

March 17, 2015

5 Activities for Working on Word Families

We've been working on word families as we are trying to become more fluent with our reading. Word families help students start to recognize word patterns. To begin teaching word families, I use these word family mats. I got these write & wipe word family mats from Lakeshore a long time ago, and sadly when I looked at their website, it says these are discontinued. When introducing word families, I use these mats in our whole group lesson. It's a great way to show students that they just switch the beginning sound to create a new word. I love how these mats give students a clue of the word family by having the mats in a giant shape of a word in that family. 
After we work on these mats in whole group, I can then use them for small group or center work. My students really enjoy these mats, and they seem to catch on to the idea of word families quickly. My students love to show me when they use a blend or digraph to make a bigger word. Word families are an easy way to help build student confidence in reading!
During my small group, we used these mini cups to work on word families. I gave students a cup with a red word family on it. They then had a stack of blue letters, and put one letter in front of the word family to make a new word. Next, they could stack another blue letter on top of the other cup to make a new word. The word family cup (red) doesn't move until they've built 5 words. They can then get a new word family and start making new words. Eventually, I'll add harder word families and blend/digraphs instead of just 1 letter on the cups. 
I made some super easy word family dice. I grabbed some blocks from our math manipulatives and added beginning sounds and word families. Students roll a word then write it on their wipe off board. Students can also say if it's a real or nonsense word that they rolled. I put a few dice in this center so they can make a variety of words. 
I have some of the Lakeshore Instant Centers that I got with a grant a few years back. This game works on word families and has students match words to the correct family. I couldn't find this game on the Lakeshore website either! I hate that they've discontinued some of my favorite activities.
If you want your students to work on word families AND get the wiggles out, this Word Families Fluency & Fitness bundle will be perfect! Your class won't even realize they are learning!
If you are looking for more word family activities, check out the ones I have in my TPT store.

March 6, 2015

Literacy & Math Centers for St. Patrick's Day with a FREEBIE

I can't believe I'm gearing up for St. Patrick's Day centers and there's snow on the ground! Can it please stop already!! Here are a few of the games that I put in my literacy and math centers for St. Patrick's Day. These are all included in my St. Patrick's Day bundle.  
I'm sure you've heard of the game "BUMP", where students roll the dice, cover the number, but can BUMP each other off that spot too. My students LOVE this game! They get a kick out of bumping their friend's piece off the board, so I added this Counting Coins Bump game to my math centers. Some of my students still need help recognizing numbers and adding with 2 dice. 
You can never get too much graphing in! I use these graphing paper in sheet protectors, so students can use dry-erase markers for added fun! After they roll and graph their results, they have a set of questions they have to answer about their graph. What is it about dry-erase markers and dice that makes things so much more exciting?
I used these worksheets below when working with some of my students who need a little extra math RTI support. One student is still working on numbers 1-10, while the other one was ready to go to 20. They both were working on filling in missing numbers and searching for the biggest number. 
For literacy, we have been discussing tricky sounds and working on digraphs. I created this simple sorting game, which includes pictures and words so I can differentiate the game depending on the group. I also used pictures/words that have the digraph not only at the beginning of the word, but also at the end for added difficulty.
As you know from my blog, I create a lot of games with game boards for my competitive kiddos. This game has them reading sight words from the pre-primer and primer Dolch lists. I like using the same type of games in my centers, so I can just throw in the new game/cards, and my students already know how that game works. 
My students actually took this picture below with our iPad because they were excited at how quickly they were able to build these scrambled sentences. If they choose, each group can take 1 picture with the iPad during each center so they can show me their work. This cuts down from the students wanting to interrupt me during small group, just to show me how good they did. :) I show some of these photos when we have our "share time" at the end of reading and math workshop. 
If you need something for a writing center, you can grab these FREE St. Patrick's Day ABC order cards and recording sheet by clicking here. Enjoy!

March 2, 2015

How to Make Opinion Writing Fun - March Madness Book Bracket

Last year, I had a handful of boys that were obsessed with basketball. In March, that's all they wanted to talk about it. I was trying to think of a way to incorporate what we were learning with basketball to capture their March Madness excitement. I thought about doing a bracket, but instead of basketball teams, we would do it with some of my class's favorite books! 

I selected 16 books and created this bracket below using the book covers of each book. Since we were working on opinion writing, I decided to use their opinion writing work as our deciding factor for which book would go on to the next level. 
For the top 16 books, I divided students into groups for each contest: Example: 4 kids choose their favorite book between Chicka Chicka Boom Boom or The Kissing Hand, 4 kids would write about The Rainbow Fish or No David!, etc.  If I let students just write about their favorite book, there would probably be many books that didn't have a opinion paper about them and then they wouldn't be able to move on to the next level.

To get their favorite book to move on to the next level, students had to write an opinion paper about their favorite book. I told them that I wouldn't pick the book that has the most votes, I would choose the winning book based on whose paper told me details about their book AND convinced me that their book was the best. Opinion writing is a bit hard in Kindergarten, but they really had fun with this! Even my students that typically would only write 1 sentence, started writing more because they wanted me to choose their paper so their book would win! Grab this FREE writing prompt here.
We did this all month and followed the schedule of the normal March Madness bracket, so as the games were in the Elite 8, so was our bulletin board. This bulletin was a HUGE hit not only with my class, but the whole school. My room was right by the exit to the buses and tons of kids would stop and see which book moved to the next level and couldn't wait to see which one would win. I even had some older students ask if they could write me a paper so their favorite book would win. :)

As we got down to fewer books, I did let the students choose which book they wanted write about instead of my telling them they had to choose between 2 certain books. Each time I chose a winner, I posted the paper that convinced me to choose that book. My competitive class also liked this, because they wanted their paper to go up. This made them start to write more sentences, better details, and more opinions as the month went on. Notice the picture above "please please please pick my book". LOL! 
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog was the winner!!!