Race and Read Fluency Game

Race & Read was a game I'd made when I first started creating on TPT. I use it with my students during RTI. I have completely re-created this game with better clipart and a simpler format. Students simply roll the dice, read the row of letters, words, etc. next to that number. If correct, they can move that many spots around the board game. 
I let my students use race cars to "race & read" down the row. This game includes sheets for letters, beginning sounds, CVC words, sight words, and sentences.

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 a Physical Phonics Word Work Bundle too. 

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.   
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!