Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Want Fluent Readers? (Freebie, too!)

It helps!  Really!  A natural fit for Daily Five.  I let the kids pick a stuffed friend to read to and they'll read for an hour straight if we had the time.  For my emergent readers, these animals are the most patient listeners! After the kids meet with me during guided reading, they get to read all of the books in their reading bag to a stuffed friend. 

I often include Read to A Stuffed Friend in my Tic-Tac-Show What You Know Reading Program.  The whole class loves to grab a buddy and read away.  Grab the recording sheet if you'd like.  It holds them accountable but doesn't take long to complete. 

Have a great day!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Toss-A-Ball: A Quick, Fun Way to Practice Sight Words

I bought a bunch of plastic Ping Pong balls at Dollar Tree a few years ago and wrote some sight words on them.  These happen to be green and red but I have orange, blue, and hot pink too. 

I keep them in baskets around the room.  At any given time, I pick one up and call out a child's name.  Once they look up, I toss a ball to the child.

The child says the word, spells it, then says it again.  Then I say it and we ALL spell it together.  Yep, it's that simple.  Effective and fun!

A few tips before you try this:

1. Tell the class that ONLY the child you call on is allowed to touch the ball.  If they miss the catch and it rolls onto the floor, no one is allowed to make a mad dash or scramble to get it.  The called upon child is the only one allowed to get up and get it.  Worked perfectly!  They are mindful of the rule which allows us to play at any given time.

2. The balls are plastic and if a little pressure is applied, they will dent.  I took the time to let each child feel the ball before we started and I had a few available that I allowed to be squeezed.  I did this AFTER the first child ruined a ball.  Since then, no more ruined balls.  Do it before you play and I bet you'll be dent-free!

3. Use a Sharpie to write the words but then dab a bit of clear nail polish over the word so it doesn't wear off.  Works great!

This really has helped my kids with recognizing words and especially spelling them/applying them into their writing.  Sometimes I throw one and move on but other times, I have a Toss-A-Ball Marathon and everyone gets one.

It sure is fun teaching the little ones, isn't it?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Holiday Emergent Readers

While I have lots of emergent reader books in my classroom, I only have a few children who must have the predictability of the text at this time of the year.  Because I only have a couple of kids, I get to send home lots of the readers in their reading bags that the kids can reread/practice at home.  Some of my teacher friends are afraid the books will disappear into a black hole.  But honestly, they all come back.  Even if one or two went missing, I feel it's just the price you pay to get those kids on the road to fluency and mastering sight words.

Is your school allowed to send home your readers?  Until recently, I thought all schools were given the green light.  Nope.  Not so. My sister is forbidden to.  She teaches Kindergarten and to send home emergent readers for all of her students, I suppose, could be risky.  Too much potential loss?  Me?  I just have one or two kids this time of year. But her students are all at the emergent reader level.

So, that's why I started writing them...she needs them!  Grab your freebie in my prior post.  The latest two she requested are Hanukkah and Christmas readers.  I LOVE the art I found for the Gingerbread Book.  Too edgy for her little ones?  Not sure but I know my two firsties will get a good laugh. 

These smart cookies beg you to eat dessert...as long as it isn't them!
I print two to a page to save paper.
Have a happy day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Freebie Emergent Reader (Dinosaurs with Color Words)

Who doesn't love dinosaurs? This FREEBIE Emergent Reader is perfect to practice reading predictable texts and highlights the Sight Word MY. Also features color words. It's a great choice for repeated readings at home and school which will help build fluency in your youngest readers.

There are TWO versions of this book which allows for differentiation.

Select the one that best meets your students' needs OR mix and match the pages. The last FOUR pages in this book can either be included in the book or used after the book is completed/read. The “Write 3 Ways” refers to 1. Rainbow Writing the word (I ask them to say word, trace over with one color crayon and repeat the word. Then do whole process two more times using an alternate color each time.) 2. Use your finger to write the word in the palm of your hand or a friends’ hand, and 3. Use a dauber to stamp out the word on paper. Can use the large MY I’ve included.)

Click cover to grab!

I love that they can take them home and practice fluency. No more worrying about having books returned on Mondays. They keep these! My Dinosaur is super cute so download and share with your students! Enjoy!

Here is a set of Math Emergent Readers...

On another note, John just added The Underground Railroad Clip Art to his clip art store. Love it!  He's such a history buff that I'm never surprised to find out he's working on "another history set" for his store.

Have a great day!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Streamlining Words Their Way

I know many of you are WTW experts out there.  Kudos to you!!  Seriously!  This post isn't for you.  It was written for those of you who may feel a little frustrated with the program or looking for a way to streamline it...

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with this program. I do a ton of word work in my class- what first grade teacher doesn't? But managing parts of the program has proven a challenge for me. For the last three years, Word Study WTW homework has been "required" to be given.  I know, I know...not really how the program is designed. 

On top of that, despite clear directions, the parents didn't seem to follow through or understand what to do.  It came back a mess and done any which way.  That's not how my other HW came back.  Ever.  I finally realized it came back the way it did because I wasn't vested into the HW the way I should have been....I didn't believe in it.  I didn't want to send it home but had to.

This year, I've streamlined a bit and am NOT required to send home.  I already feel a huge sense of relief on so many levels.  One thing I HATED was that we used a black marble composition book.  I feel asking my firsties to write on those tiny lines is unfair. 

So, I had them write on proper paper and glue the page in book.  Wasted time.  This year, here's what I'm doing:  Booklets.  Already made for the year.  Each week is only a 2-sided sheet of paper.  (Feel free to grab it on first pic.)


Day 1: Introduce, cut, sort.  TIP: No more having kids write initials on back of each cut out.  Instead, teach them to use a crayon and run a line down the middle of the sort. (Tip courtesy of my son who said that's what his teacher did when he was in first grade.)  I modeled and remodeled for some.  Every child has own color.  After 12 kids got a color, I decided to have the rest of the kids use TWO colors together.  In the first week, we had five wayward pieces on the floor and getting them back to the right owner was a snap.
This is the back of a sheet but you can see the words through it. 
This child was assigned the green crayon.

Here's a double line.  So much faster than writing initials, isn't it?
I have them write the words in the journal.  Then they must use a colored pencil to retrace the letter combinations/rules of the week.  All words go into a baggie.  TIP: Only give half a sheet if kids are overwhelmed with words.  Can always give other half another day. Also: if more words than spaces, that's fine.  That's all I make them write down.  No biggie.
Day 2 is always various sorting activities.
Day 3 is sorting and then completing the top half of the second page in booklet: sentences.  ( I only make them pick one word per header.)
Day 4: Sort and then apply new combinations to new words which is the bottom of the second page. For now, I don't care if they are made up words as long as they follow the pattern.
Day 5: I have small group dictation which I use as my assessment.  The words I select are NOT the words they cut out.  Again, I'm looking to see if they can apply rules/combos to new words.  And my biggest change?  They DO NOT glue words into book this year.  This way, they get to re-sort over and over again until I feel they have truly nailed it. 
Hope it helps someone out there!