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Make It, Play It, Learn It Sight Word Fun

Low Prep Fun Sight Word Activities

If you will make it, they will play it and they will learn it!  Sometimes you just need some easy, low prep activities, but ones the students will enjoy and be engaged in so learning takes place and not just play.

Low Prep Fun Sight Word Activities

My students in summer school did this sight word activity.  It is so easy to differentiate.  Whatever words the student is working on is their list.  They work on 5- 10 words at a time building them in the small pocket chart.  This pocket chart is on the side of my desk.  Great way to use space that is not being used!  The key is the student needs to read out loud the word as they build it and then to read the whole list after building the entire list.  It won't help to just match up letters.  They can have a peer come listen to them read the list or the teacher can come check them.


Low Prep Fun Sight Word Activities

Another fun and engaging way to learn sight words is with Heidi Songs sight word dvds.  I have Heidi's sight words dvds volume 1 and 2.  Kids love to sing and they love to move!  Most children learn more quickly and easier if it is in a song and if there is movement to go along with it.  Heidi is using both in her dvds.  Kids love to sing and move along with her and I have even sent the dvd home for a parent to work with their child who was really struggling to learn sight words.  You can click Heidi's picture above or you can click here to be taken to Heidi's site to check out her sight word resources!

Low Prep Fun Sight Word Activities

Another really quick and easy way to get in some sight word practice is to use the iPad or other tablet.  My students LOVE any reason to get to use the iPads.  This app is Magnetic ABC Lite.  Students just need their word list and then can build their words right on the iPad.  Again, every time they build a word, they need to be reading it out loud.

Low Prep Fun Sight Word Activities

I use these cubes all the time!  They are so great for so many different activities.  I got mine on Amazon, but they can be found at teaching stores too.  I use them for ABC activities, fluency, and phonics activities.  But this is a super simple easy prep activity that you could use pre-printed sight words or just write them yourself.  Then just roll, say the word and write it.  It's all designed to get those words to be automatically read and written.

Low Prep Fun Sight Word Activities

Anything with a swatter is going to get kids' attention!  They can just scatter out their word cards on some bulletin paper.  You wouldn't even have to use the paper, but it does give them a boundary so the cards are not all over the room.  Then another student calls out a word for the swatter to find and swat.  Popular game!  Be sure to go over expectations for that swatter!  :)

Low Prep Fun Sight Word Activities

Sight Word Monster is a very popular game in my room!  I use it a lot during RTI time.  All the word cards face out and a monster or other type of card is hidden behind one of the cards.

Low Prep Fun Sight Word Activities

Students choose and read a card that they think the monster might be hiding behind.  The card is pulled to see if he is hiding behind there or not.  My students would literally play this game over and over if they could!

Today I am guest posting over at A Spark of Inspiration!  Go check out my post about how to manage differentiating sight word learning!  If you have missed it in the past, it is about how I use file folders to help differentiate and accelerate student learning.  



Reading ~ It's Epic!

Using Epic ebooks in the classroom

We all need new resources, right?  I know I am always needing/wanting new books for my classroom.  But sometimes those can be hard to come by.  Well, I discovered EPIC for the iPad this summer.  My kids just LOVE it!!  And guess what!  It's free for teachers and librarians!  Don't you just love when a company recognizes that we need resources for our students and is willing to help us out?  And this is not a paid promotion for them either.  I just really enjoyed their product.

Using Epic ebooks in the classroom

Each profile you set up has stats that are kept on what the student reads.  Books finished, time spent reading, their reading log, etc...  I like in the reading log you can see the books they read and the time spent on each book.  I can tell if the student just flipped through the book or actually spent some time reading it.  That is a nice feature.

Using Epic ebooks in the classroom

Some days I had my students read the books to themselves.  You can choose the levels and the type of books they can then choose what interests them.  But then on some days, I had them listen as the book was read TO them.  That was a great option.  Some students really enjoyed reading themselves and some enjoyed having it read to them.  I like that they can listen to a fluent reading from time to time.

Using Epic ebooks in the classroom

Epic has lots of books to choose from including fiction and informational books.  Scaredy Squirrel was a popular choice!  Students adapted so quickly to reading on the iPad and it was engaging for them.  After the book is completed, the students get to have a voice by rating how much they enjoyed the book.  My students looked forward to that option at the end of each story because everyone likes to have their voice heard on what they enjoy and what they don't!

New Resources

Using Context Clues acivities

Context Clues Task Cards:  My students struggle with this skill.  They can have fun building their vocabulary with words like malarkey and knickerbockers while practicing their context clues skills.

Context Clues Activities

Then the same task cards can be used for students to record what words were clues to determine the meanings.  This is particularly difficult for my readers. 

ABC Activities

Roll It, Say It, Write It:  I've used these cubes a lot!  They are great for my young students to practice the letters in their names and the ABCs.  

ABC Letters Activities

Students can practice letter pairs.

ABC Letter Activites

Or capitals or lower case letters too.  You can click the pictures to see the resources.  


Reading Emergencies


Finding Your Own Reading Emergencies

Do you ever have reading emergencies?  I do all the time!  But didn't know what to call them until I started reading Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. 

Finding Your Own Reading Emergencies

Donalyn describes Reading Emergencies as "those unexpected moments when you are stuck somewhere longer than you planned."  Actually, it was her husband who said this!

I understand these emergencies completely!  I find those times where I have a few moments of waiting and I cannot just sit there and stare.  I have to be reading something!  Anything...posts on my phone, professional books, personal reads, something.  

You see, I was one of THOSE readers she talks about in her book, Reading in the Wild.  I was what you would call a Wild Reader.  I would carry a book with me all the time and I snuck in reading any time that I could.  

Finding Your Own Reading Emergencies

I would read the cereal box or milk carton in the mornings.  I was not capable of just sitting there eating.  I had to read something!

I want to take that passion for reading and transfer it to my struggling readers.  The idea of reading in moments of stolen time (waiting at the doctor's office, in the car, at bedtime (my absolute favorite time as a child and now)  is foreign to most of my students.  That makes me so sad.  

So I must teach them to how to find those moments.  I must be intentional about pointing these times out to them.  The whole purpose of my teaching is for students to take reading FROM the school and apply it to their lives OUT of school.  Otherwise, I am not building lifelong readers!

Reading in the Wild as re-motivated (is this a word?) me to stoke this fire again for my students.  I am a realist.  A practical person.  I know most of my students do not read at home.  They don't have the stamina, the knowledge of how to carve out minutes from their day, or the motivation.  

But I can be intentional and show my students how to do this!  Donalyn recommends talking to your students about where you find extra moments to read.  Then let your students make a list of times they could have read that week if they had brought a book with them.  Their list might look something like this:

Finding Your Own Reading Emergencies

I think a key point that Donalyn makes (she is so smart!) is having the students have conversations with each other about when they read.  Also, where they read.  When students hear where their friends are reading and when, it may spark the thought they that could do that too!  After all, isn't that what we do as adults?  We TALK to each other about the books we read and where we read them.  Let's teach students to do authentic, real world reading.  Not reading logs, dioramas,  and such.  But Real World Reading.  Enjoying books and wondering why characters acted the way the did, and having conversations with friends who love reading too!




Giving Choices with Informational Text & A Freebie!

Give students choice with informational texts

Do you give your students choices for what they will read?  Choice is a huge motivator.  We had been reading informational text and learning about the features author's include to make it easier for us to understand the text.  So they were ready to make some choices of what they each wanted to read and learn about.

Give students choice with informational texts

I chose several informational books within a range of levels to fit my students. Then I labeled the books A-E with Post It notes and placed them around the room.  


Give students choice with informational texts

Students were given this packet to clip to a clipboard.  They used the packet as they traveled around to the different books.  

After previewing each book, the students would record what they thought about the books.  Then at the end, they listed their choices of what they would each like to read.

Give students choice with informational texts

Each student made their choice for themselves.  They were not voting on what the group would read.  This was a time they could be individual with their thoughts and choices.  Unless the level was particularly difficult for them, I gave them what they chose for their number 1 choice.  Then students got to read and mark places in their books with Post It notes to help them fill out the next packet.

Give students choice with informational texts

The students really enjoyed their informational texts that they were reading and learning about because it was information that they chose.  They were invested in it and found the texts very interesting.  It was a favorite activity for them.

Give students choice with informational texts

This student was still working on his packet when I snapped this picture.  But I wanted you to be able to see what information he was reading for on the second page. 

If you click here you can pick up this informational freebie for you classroom and students!  Hope you enjoy! 



What Will You Read This Summer?

Books to read this summer for PD for teachers

Summer!!  A time for teachers to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate.  But like most teachers, for me it is also a time for me to work on my craft. Build my skills.  Find new ideas.  Stoke the fire again for my passion.  

Professional Development Resources

I thought I would share some professional resources that you might like.  Some are books I've already read, some are books I have to be read and some I am wanting to read.

Professional Development Resources for Teachers

I am hearing a lot of buzz about this book!  I am really thinking I need this one. Have you read this one?  Did you find it helpful?  


Reading in the Wild

I have this book and it's been waiting on me to find the time to get to it.  I am excited about it.  I really enjoyed Donalyn Miller's other book, The Book Whisperer.  Great ideas so I have high hopes for this one too!

Classrooms That Work

I love this book!  I read an older edition several years ago and the ideas just seems to be so obvious to me that they work.  Pat Cunningham and Richard Allington really know their stuff!

The Fluent Reader

This book is a must read if you are needing to improve your students' fluency.  Great ideas from Timothy Rasinski, the fluency guru!  He describes how to do repeated readings in this book.  I did this activity for my action research for my master's degree and I tell you it works so well!!  The BEST way to improve struggling reader's fluency!

Teach Like a Pirate

Our school used Teach Like a Pirate for our book study this year.  This book may motivate you and cause you to look for more ways to engage your students in class.

Okay, it's your turn!  What will YOU be reading this summer to build and strengthen your craft of teaching??  I would LOVE to know!








Tame the Packing Chaos!

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Have you wrapped up your school year yet?  We just did and just like every other teacher who has to pack up the classroom, I dread it every year!  I have learned a thing or two over the years to make this packing a bit more organized and easier to do.  As you pack up, keep the next school year in mind.  If you do your packing with in a way that makes the unpacking easier you will help save yourself time, effort, and maybe your sanity!  

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier
First, clean everything!  This is easier to do if you can have your students help you.  They can do the easy cleaning with gentle cleaning products- cleaning inside and tops of desks, baskets in sinks, easels, tables, etc... Students love to help out and this will save you some valuable time for when you unpack.  

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Next, get rid of anything you are not using.  Teachers tend to keep EVERYTHING just in case we might need it later since we don't have enough budget money.  But get rid of the clutter, things you don't use, broken or missing piece items.  Give away to other teachers anything in good shape, but get rid of the extra.  I love to throw away clutter and get it out of my room!


How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Label all your boxes.  Not just what's in it, but where it goes.  That will help you when unpacking to get everything back like before and if you are lucky enough to have someone help you unpack, they will know right where to put it.

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Use nice looking labels on everything you have to mark with your name or room number.  If they look nice enough, you can just leave them on all year and you won't have to repeat this step the next year.  Another time saver

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Create a classroom map for the custodians so there is no confusion as to where to place your furniture.  Save the map on your computer so it can easily be changed from year to year so you don't have to start all over if you change some of the layout in your classroom.

How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Do you use Interactive Reader's Notebooks?  Have students take their pages out and then help you get the notebooks ready for next year.  Much easier to prep these notebooks when you have extra hands to help you than at the beginning of the year and no help.  You can have the notebooks ready to pull and use!


How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

Along the same thinking is to prep your box or crate or whatever you use to house your extra copies of papers you use frequently, like Interactive Reader's Notebook pages, running records sheets, graphic organizers, etc...


How to pack up your classroom to make unpacking easier

One last tip, hang up a sheet in an easy to use place and record supplies you are low in and will need to order.  Makes it a lot easier when you go to fill out your requisitions for next year.

Good luck with your packing as you wrap up your school year and head into your summer!

Universal Screenings & RTI Plans

Using the DRA for Universal Screenings

As we are finishing up our RTI groups for our second cycle of RTI, it is also time to begin our universal screenings of all our students for reading.  At our school, we are using the DRA 2 for our universal screening for students reading up to level 38.  After students pass a level 38, we move them over to assessing with the IRI.  It is so gratifying to see the progress these RTI students can make after 10 weeks or 12 weeks of targeted interventions.  

Teachers keep graphs each week to show the amount of progress each student is making with their interventions.  We use the information from the weekly graphs along with the DRA and IRI scores to help our RTI committee make decisions on moving students in and out of tiers.

Pencil Nubs

Do anyone else's class pencils look like this?  Actually mine look like this minus the eraser!  By this time of year, our pencils seem to always be worn down to a nub and we NEVER have erasers left on them.  And for some reason it seems some students purposely choose these nubs of pencils over the longer ones!  I am not sure why though.  I have to go through and toss the shorties so students will actually use the nice, new long ones!

RTI Reading Intervention Visual Plans and Resources


Here are your visual plans for the week!  As you can see short vowels and long vowels still needing some work.  The centers used in the plans above are in my Spring Literacy Pack.  There are 6 phonemic awareness and phonics activities included in the pack.

Spring Literacy Centers

For students in the other group who are farther along in their skills, open and closed syllable centers is what they need.  They can work in centers with the multisyllabic words and then apply that skill in the fluency passages that have comprehension questions to go along with them.  

Enjoy your week and I hope your school and parents pamper you for Teacher Appreciation Week!