Sunday, November 12, 2017

Get Your Santa Advent Calendar Ready!

Time to print off and get ready for one of our absolute favorite projects!  Our Santa Advent Calendar!

This precious Santa Calendar template was originally hand drawn by one of our 1st grade teacher's moms decades ago and has been a 1st grade favorite ever since!

My 1st graders were SOOOO excited when I pulled out my sample and announced that we were making these advent calendars. They couldn't wait to get started.

As always with 1st grade, each Santa was unique and precious.

After only 30 minutes, our Santas were done! All ready to hang on the wall and add a cotton ball for each day! It was hard to tell them they couldn't take them home quite yet...

Get your Santa Advent Calendar HERE.

Thanks for looking!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

6 EASY Tips for Teaching Blends (With FREE Sample!)

When it comes to small group guided reading instruction, we have the perfect opportunity to target our instruction to the specific needs of our students. Some students catch on quickly to blending consonant sounds. For those students, continue to practice blends in text, but move on to their next reading goal. Other students, especially those with speech disabilities, struggle with blending consonants. They need more repetitions as well as different instructional presentations in order to be successful, confident readers.

Pull out your toolbox of interventions for your students who need more. When it comes to blending consonant sounds, it's best to have several instructional strategies to pull out. There are many out there, but these are the strategies I have found to work the best for my students and are the easiest to implement. I LOVE easy!

1. Sound Boxes Taped to the Table

The following activity is short and sweet, but can be very powerful for those students who need more practice with hearing/saying the phonemes in a word. Get out 4 sticky notes to start and add more as your students progress with blends.

Once the sticky notes are taped down, all you need is your finger and students' attention. Make sure they are looking at the boxes, not you.
Teacher: Say crab. (teacher sweeps across or under boxes)
Students: Crab (teacher sweeps finger across or under boxes)
Teacher: Sound 
Students: c-r-a-b (teacher points to each box for each sound)
At this point, some students will combine cr for the first sound. It is important that they distinguish the sounds as separate, but be able to blend them together. If this happens, model with the following.
Teacher: My turn. c-r-a-b (teacher models pointing to each box for each sound) Your turn. Say crab. (repeat above until students can say each sound for each box.)

After a few days of this activity with various words, when students are proficient with sound-by-sound blending orally, then move onto identifying individual sounds in the word.

After saying the sounds in the word (above), teacher then points to the first box and says:
Teacher: First sound?
Students: /c/
Teacher: Last sound? (pointing to last box)
Students: /b/

After a few days of practicing initial and ending sounds, move onto second and middle sounds.

Scaffold this activity so you are working at their level for several days for only 1-2 minutes tops each day and build upon the activity until they are able to easily identify individual sounds. Then add boxes as needed to work on longer words with blends.

2. Use Speed Drills Daily

Depending on the skill the group is working on, I use speed drills daily for only 1-3 minutes. Students whisper read each line of sounds or words as I quickly listen to each individual, giving feedback as necessary. Since this is a daily routine, students quickly start reading, I listen, and then we move on to the next activity. Every week I pull out new drills that specifically target each group's goals. In order to save precious instruction time, have them ready to go in that group's bin.
Find all my drills for various skills including sight words HERE.

Get a FREE Speed Drills Sample HERE.

3. Using Magnetic Letters to Build Words

I like to use magnetic letters because they are fun, as well as quick and easy for students to put back into place. And BONUS... they are very effective for teaching blends. I first saw this strategy used years ago in a Jan Richardson demonstration and modified it to fit my instructional needs.
Tip: I display a giving tree at open house and magnetic letters is one of my requests. 
First I purchased 6 small cookie sheets at WalMart for 88 cents each. Seriously. 88 cents. They are small enough to place in front of each student in a small group or at a center.
Next, I used a sharpie to mark where each letter goes so students can quickly put letters back.
I place them in a basket with other guided reading tools I use for the week (Expo markers, old socks for erasing, sight word cards, etc.)

I say a word, they quickly build it. I tell them to mix it up and build it again. We repeat this process 2-3 times with different words and it takes 2-3 minutes from start to finish. It works because it is a daily routine that students learn to anticipate and know quickly what to do, taking very little time. Words can be built right on the table. The metal pan is only used for keeping the letters in ABC order for storage.

4. Roll and Read Blends Center

Once I feel my students can attack those blends more independently or with a partner, I include Roll and Read Beginning Blends Activities in their centers. I don't use these during instruction since this is a game for fluency practice. I reserve my guided reading time for activities that require guidance from me. These stay as a May Do activity for a week and then I change them out each week. (See my Must Do, May Do blog HERE.)
See other Roll and Read Activities HERE.

5. Word Family Flip Books Center

My students love making these Word Family Flip books and reading the words over and over. There is practice with short and long vowels and various blends. 
First they cut up each part and then staple them into small books with one staple. Then they read each word and determine whether it is a real word or not a real word. This forces them to carefully read each word. Easy Peasy!
See all of my Word Family Flip Books HERE.

6. Consonant Cluster Pocket Chart Center

The pocket chart center one of my students' favorite centers. I change it out weekly depending on their skill level. With this center, students simply organize the words under the correct blend. Super easy and they work so well with a partner to complete this center activity. Then they must read each word in each column. LOVE!
See this Consonant Cluster Pocket Chart Center HERE.
See all my Pocket Chart Centers HERE.

Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

Monday, October 2, 2017

Flashlight Fridays in Reading!

Wow, did we have fun last Friday! I'm not sure who was more excited, the kids or me. Now Flashlight Friday is not an original idea. I saw it on this blog that is dated back to 2013 : Head Over Heels For Teaching and just had to try it. What a great way to motivate our students to read. But instead of using full size flashlights, we used Finger Lights that I bought on Amazon. See them HERE.
There are 100 in the package with 4 different colors, so our team of 4 teachers each got 25 of these little beauties, each class with a different color. I looked at other brands, but this one had the best ratings. So far so good...

With just a few rules to go over first, our first graders settled down for a good 15 minutes to partner read and independently read. (I figure if we go longer, the novelty will wear off too fast, so I'm sticking to a short time once a week.) They just strapped their little lights on their fingers and away they went. And they were reading! 

Let's see how well it goes for the next few weeks! If you try it out, come back and leave a comment sharing your experience and ideas!

Thanks for stopping by...

Sunday, October 1, 2017

10 Halloween Math Games + FREEBIE!

Perfect for 1st and 2nd grade to play all month long!
Just print on cardstock, slip into a plastic sleeve, and insert dice and other playing pieces.
♥ Addition
♥ Subtraction
♥ Writing Equations
♥ Fact Families
♥ Part-Part-Whole
♥ Doubles
♥ Number Grid Puzzles
♥ Even and Odd
♥ And More!

Get it HERE!
Get the FREEBIE Sample of Halloween Roll and Cover HERE!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Color by Code Through the Year

My students LOVE coloring these cute Color by Code at math centers, during inside recess, free time, you name it! Review those foundational math skills. See the list below.

Math Skills Currently Included Through the Year:
♥ Number recognition to 10
♥ Dice
♥ 10 Frames
♥ Dominoes
♥ Tallies
♥ Base 10 Blocks
♥ Addition to 9
♥ Addition to 15
♥ Addition to 20
♥ Shapes
♥ Even and Odd Numbers
♥ Coins
♥ Subtraction
♥ Adding 3 Numbers
♥ Number Words
♥ <, >, =
♥ Fractions

The Year Long Color by Code BUNDLE is nearly finished! It includes 104 pages of Color By Code Activities for the year including Back to School, Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving (soon to come), Christmas, March, Earth Day (soon to come) and Spring Activities. One example from each is shown below:
Thanks for stopping by! 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Graphing Through The Year!

Your 1st and 2nd graders will be engaged and love collecting data, recording it on the graph and interpreting their data with these Graphing Activities Through the Year. Be sure to grab the FREEBIE sample below!

These graphing activities follow the seasons and include counting, coloring, rolling a die, spinning with a pencil and paper clip, recording data with tallies, recording data on a graph and interpreting their data. 
Slip them into plastic sleeves and use them over and over again! With the dice and spin activities, data will be different each time.
Grab a FREE Sample HERE.
See the full graphing product HERE.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 7, 2017

4 Guided Reading Must-Dos

I get a lot of questions about how to run guided reading lessons, and I could share exactly how I structure my lessons, but to be frank, there is no ONE perfect way to run all guided reading lessons. If you observed every primary classroom in your school during guided reading time, you would probably see vast differences in approaches, strategies, methods, materials used, and personalities while teaching. You can't be me and I can't be you. But we can learn best practices from each other, and that is what my focus is for this post. So I've narrowed it down to my 4 Must-Dos when it comes to teaching Guided Reading for any student at any level.

1. Target your instruction to your student needs

If you know me, you know this is a biggie for me. Guided reading lessons must be targeted to the needs of the students you have in front of you. Not all guided reading lessons should look the same. Just like the treatment prescribed by a doctor should be targeted to the specific health needs of the patient. Not everyone should be treated for appendicitis. (Wait, it's just a sore throat!) 

For example, not all students need to practice sight words. If a student is reading fluently and has demonstrated that all assigned words have been mastered, then don't waste precious time reviewing them. Does each student know all their sounds? Maybe you have documented last week that one group is struggling with long/short vowel discrimination. Perhaps another group needs more work with phonemic awareness activities. And another group is ready for more challenging prefix/suffix skill work along with more rigorous comprehension activities. This requires close daily observation, note taking, progress monitoring once or twice a month that includes sight word testing, sounds testing, fluency testing, word decoding and blending. We use DIBELS testing along with sight word and sounds testing. Using this information along with our daily observations in small groups, I target our instruction using this best-selling program: Targeted Guided Reading Plan for K-2 (Also Targeted Guided Reading Plan for 3-5 and Targeted Guided Reading K-5 Bundle.

Once every 2 weeks, I create a new plan. I record names and the target(s) for each group using the plan below.
Then I use the included Targeted Guided Reading Suggested Activities Flip Books to select activities that will help meet my students' needs. (If flip books aren't your thing, no worries...All of the information included in the flip books are also included in easy to follow full sheets that are easy to store in binders.)

Read in greater detail about Targeted Guided Reading HERE.

2. Use every minute of your guided reading time wisely

You probably only have 15-20 minutes each day to meet with each guided reading group. In order for students to make the reading growth necessary, we have to use every minute.

There's no time to search for those white boards or markers. All materials need to be ready to grab and this requires planning. Once the Targeted Guided Reading Plan is in place, you can select activities and materials needed. Have them ready to grab.

Keep somewhat of a routine for each group so students are ready for the next activity and they know what your expectations are. If you change up your activities too often, you are constantly spending time explaining what they need to do and answering questions. Keep activities simple and routine.

Write down in your guided reading plans exactly how much time you are allotting for each activity so you can stay on target for time.

Make sure the other kids are doing what they are supposed to do and that transitions to the table and to their centers are smooth. Keep activities simple to follow and again, somewhat routine. My Must-Do, May-Do System (instead of rotating reading centers) works great! Read about it HERE.

3. Keep the teacher talk to a minimum

Yes, you need to teach. But often, less is more when it comes to teacher talk. You are guiding them to read, so let them do the work and guide them without too many interruptions and long instructions/verbal lessons.

Try to:
  • point to a missed word to indicate a mistake
  • prompt students who pause before challenging words with one word: "sound" to remind them to sound it out
  • prompt students who pause before sight words with "sight word" to remind them it is a word they need to know by sight
  • listen to each student read several times with quiet prompts so you are not interrupting their flow
(The video at the end of this post has great modeling of quiet listening and prompting from the teacher among many other things!)

4. Keep your activities engaging and research-based

There are so many fun sight word activities out there! But are they all the most effective for your students? Make sure you are using activities that are 1. going to meet your targeted goals and 2. that are engaging and help to reach different types of learners.

If all you do is flash sight words at your students, you may not be reaching all of your different learners. 
Try a couple different approaches:
  • sight word flash cards
  • dictating sight words (paper or white boards)
  • read, spell, read sight words
  • building sight words (see 16:00 on video)
  • focus on a few weekly sight words
  • sight word focus boards or drills (example HERE)
This video demonstrates most of the points I have made above. She makes smooth transitions from one activity to the next and keeps students engaged, she has everything ready so no time is wasted, she uses a variety of strategies to teach sight words, students know exactly how to do each task, she quietly listens to each student and gives quick feedback, she takes notes as they read, and so much more. See what you think:

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