One of my favorite pastimes is perusing the aisles at our local dollar stores and the toy sections of Walmart and Meijer for ideas for center activities. My three children are now in college and instead of spending my time on the soccer fields I’m now spending that time shopping. Insert HUGE sigh– I really miss my kids and I would go back to those days in a minute. I’m not adjusting very well to my empty nest. While shopping at Walmart the other day I stumbled upon the card section in the toy area and found a few relatively inexpensive games that would be a nice addition to your literacy centers.
The first treasure was the Scrabble Slam! card game. It’s a great phonemic awareness activity as students use the letter cards in their hand to change the word. The first player to get rid of all their cards wins the game. I’m thinking that this activity would be ideal for mid-first grade/ beginning second grade.
I really love the Apples to Apples game. Sometimes it’s difficult to find activities targeting vocabulary. A word is provided (green card) and the students choose a picture card from their hand that best matches the word. They then try to convince the judge as to why their card best describes the word. This is awesome for oral language development!
I have one more fun find at Walmart. There are ways to make your own card holders using recycled CDs and plastic lids, but this card holder really wasn’t that expensive so I decided to go ahead and purchase it rather than make my own. Card holders are very helpful for playing card games as little hands have difficulty holding and fanning the cards.
Are there games that you find helpful for centers? Be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments. Enjoy!
It’s amazing sometimes where inspiration hits. A few weeks ago I had to kill about an hour and decided to hop on over to Michael’s Craft Store. As I was walking through the bead aisle I found this really handy plastic tote. It was just the right size to fit picture cards! Many of my teacher friends are constantly on the move and tote is just perfect!
The phonemic awareness tote contains over 500 colorful pictures for teaching the Syllables, Rhyme, Beginning Sounds, Onset-Rime, Phoneme Isolation and Phoneme Segmentation. Each skill area contains a common core alignment card, activity card(s) and colorful and engaging pictures. The borders are color-coded per skill for easy organization.
Although the tote found at Michael’s is perfect, the cards will fit in any similar-sized tote. You could even store the cards in travel soap boxes (you could find the coordinating colors) or baggies.
The Make, Take & Teach The Big Box of Phonemic Awareness Activities can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
The Big Box of Phonics Activities is also available in my TpT store. This file contains pictures and activities for working with Short Vowels/Word Families, Blends, Digraphs, Magic e, R-Controlled Vowels and Common Vowel Teams.
Also included in the download is the template with the labels to fit this tote. Hoping my friends love the tote as much as I do!
I have to admit it– I’ve been obsessed with painted cookie sheets for awhile now. You see, I have this “thing” for color coding. A few years ago I created a series of phonics-based activities that are intended to be used on cookie sheets. The regular grayish cookie sheets- well… they just didn’t match my borders . Since that time I’ve been fiddling around with different primers, paint colors, paint types and gloss to get just the “right look” and functionality. I think I have it now. So, if you are interested in making your painted cookie sheets this is what you’ll need:
1. Cookie Sheet- There’s a trick with finding just the right cookie sheet. You will want to purchase a cookie sheet with the least amount of teflon possible. The good news is is that these are always the cheapest cookie sheets. I purchase my cookie sheets at either Walmart or the Dollar Tree. I use 9 X 13 cookie sheets for my activities so the Small Cookie Sheet by MainStay (Walmart brand) is perfect.
2. Sander- You will need to buff your cookie sheet so you will need to either use sand paper or a block sander.
3. Degreaser- We experimented with several degreasers and found Zep (purchased at the Home Depot) to be the best. This degreaser is a strong and water soluble.
4. Rubber or plastic gloves
5. Primer- I like to use the Rust-Oleum Metal Primer
6. Paint- In terms of spray paint, I love the bright colors of Valspar. I purchase the paint at Lowes. Any paint color will do, but here are my favorites:
7. Glaze- I use the Triple Thick Glaze which I purchase at the Home Depot. The glaze puts a nice coating on the paint and prevents chipping and scratching.
8. Optional, but a good idea- face mask.
Step 1: Sand your cookie sheet. I use a fine sander sanding block. When sanding, be sure to sand the side borders and the upper lids of the cookie sheet. Note: I only sand and paint the top.
Step 2: Degrease. Wash the cookie sheet with a degreaser. This step is to ensure that all the non-stick material is removed from the cookie sheet. Be sure to read the directions on the container carefully. The degreaser I purchased is water soluble. There are extra clean-up and safety tips that you need to be aware of when using this type of liquid.
3. Prepare your area. I cut out old boxes and placed my cookie sheets in the boxes for painting. I planned to paint multiple cookie sheets so I set up several boxes; however, if you are only painting one cookie sheet you may not need the box. Simply place the cookie sheet on newspaper.
4. Paint with a primer. Now it’s time to get painting! You will need to first paint the cookie sheet with a primer. I know– some paints say that the primer is included and this would be an unnecessary step, but I haven’t had much luck by simply using only the color. The white base of the primer also limits the number of coats needed with the colored paint.
5. Paint with color. Now the fun begins! Choose your favorite color and spray away. You will need to spray on several coats of paint to fully cover the cookie sheet. I found that you can paint approximately 12 cookie sheets with one can of paint. Just a helpful hint: Choose a darker color paint so that you don’t need to use as many coats.
6. Top Coat. Once the cookie sheet is totally dry, spray the glaze over the paint. This step just provides one extra assurance that your paint won’t chip or scratch.
7. Wait. This is the hard part. The paint just needs to settle in. I typically wait 2 weeks before using the cookie sheets.
Well, that’s it. It’s pretty simple, but a bit time consuming. If you are not sure you want to take on such a project and still want the colored cookie sheets, I have a few available on the Make, Take & Teach website. My garage has turned into somewhat of a painted cookie sheet production area and eventually my husband will want his side of garage back. Of course, these painted cookie sheets were made for use with students and for educational and arts/crafts purposes. They are not intended for baking (my little disclaimer).
Just click HERE if you’d like to order the cookie sheets.
The Make, Take & Teach Cookie Sheet Activities are hands-on activities designed for teaching and practicing early literacy and math skills. The Pre K- K bundle contains activities for teaching alphabetic order, rhyme, CVC words, beginning sounds, short vowels, number order and basic number concepts. These activities are great for use within independent literacy centers or for small group instruction.
The Cookie Sheet Activities Pre-K/ Kindergarten Bundle is available in my online Teachers Pay Teacher store.
The Cookie Sheet Activities First Grade Bundle contains activities for learning and practicing sight words, blends and digraphs and word families. This bundle is also available in my TpT store.
Oh, summertime! One of my goals this summer is to revamp several of my earlier created activities and the Consonant Blends and Digraphs Game Boards activity is first on my list. I’ve added several new game boards for a total of 20! Each game board is also available in a black and white version so that they can be copied and sent them home with students for added practice. The consonant digraphs game boards contains the production cues which is a nice companion to the Consonant Digraphs cue card. Be sure to download the free cue card by clicking the link below:
Just click the following link: Consonant Digraphs Cue Card
Click the following link to download this free poster Homophones Poster
Many reading programs introduce the concept of homophones in second grade. Homophones are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have a different meaning. Our students need to be able to tell the difference in the meanings of these words and to use the correct spelling in their writing. If students misspell words or use the wrong word in writing, the reader is not likely to understand what they are trying to say. Here’s a list of common homophones that you may wish to introduce to your students.
Click the following link to download this freebie Homophones Word List 2
Learning homophones can be tons of fun! One way to introduce the concept of homophones is by reading the Dear Deer book. This adorable book contains tons of examples of homophones.
There are so many activities for introducing and practicing these types of words. Classic games such as “Memory” or “I Have, Who Has” are ideal for small group instruction. The Make, Take & Teach Homophone Activity Pack contains 10 hands-on activities for introducing and practicing homophones. It’s also helpful to have homophone posters within the classroom as a reference for our young writers.
These posters and activities can be found in the Homophones Activity Pack.
Using a fly swatter to swat flies (with letters, words or math facts) during small group intervention or in literacy centers has been an all time favorite activity. It’s always fun and engaging to add a little movement into any learning activity. To assemble the activity all you need to do is place a strip of velcro on a fly swatter, print and cut out the flies, and then place a small velcro dot on each fly. Students take turns swatting flies and reading the word on the flies they catch. Very simple, but guaranteed to keep them practicing those words for a long time.
Before children learn to read, they must first have an understanding of how sounds work within words. Learning to recognize and produce rhyme is one of the very first phonological skills that children acquire on their way to becoming proficient readers. Working with rhyme is an important component of the early childhood curriculum. Research tells us that most children learn to recognize rhyme by 5 (which words rhyme: cat, bug, rat) and can provide a rhyming word by 5 1/2. When children appreciate rhyme and are able to provide rhyming words, they show that they understand that words are made up of individual speech sounds which can be changed to create different words. That understanding is the basis of reading. Here’s a graphic explaining the difference between phonological awareness, phonemic awareness and phonics. For more information, you may wish to visit the Phonological Awareness, Phonemic Awareness and Phonics blog post.
Click the following link to download this handout Phonological-Awareness
There is a developmental sequence for the acquisition of phonological awareness skills. This handout outlines the steps- it’s a helpful reference for our preschool and kindergarten teachers.
Click the following link to download this handout Developmental Stages of Phonemic Awareness
Teaching students to recognize and produce rhyme is a whole lot of fun. Using books with rhyme is a great way to introduce this concept. When you read rhyming books, children are exposed to the rhythm of language. Using books in this manner also improves oral language development. Here are a few of my favorite books:
My children are all now in college so digging these books from the depths of the old bookshelves has certainly brought back memories! I loved reading these books to my own children and just couldn’t bear to part with them. My all time favorite rhyming book is Jamberry by Bruce Degen. I can tell that our book was very much loved as the spine is nearly falling apart. Of course, you can count on Dr. Seuss for all things rhyme. Green Eggs and Ham and Fox in Socks were two of our favorites. Although not in my own bookshelf, Is Your Mama a Llama and Sheep in a Jeep were two books that I often used when I was teaching preschool.
Matching games are also ideal for teaching students to recognize and produce rhyme. I always like to incorporate a holiday or seasonal theme into the activity. Here’s an example of the mitten match game that we use during the cold months of winter:
The candy corn game is certainly a favorite! Students beg for this activity way past Halloween!
These activities are just two of seven contained in the Big Bundle of Rhyme Activities.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit now you may know that I’m a pretty big soccer fan. Although I never played, my three children played soccer ever since they were 4. I even coached for several years. I loved every minute of it! My youngest daughter, Lizzie, will be heading off to college in the fall and I will soon be “an empty-nester”. So not only will I miss the craziness of traveling to sporting events, I’ll to get used to a very quite house. Creating these soccer-themed activities has brought back so many wonderful memories of evenings and Saturdays spent at the soccer fields (sniff, sniff). I’m hoping your little soccer fans will enjoy them too.
The Short Vowel Shoot Out! activity is a fun twist on a classic sorting activity. Sorting activities are particularly helpful when students are having difficulty confusing those similar sounding vowels. This activity is easily differentiated as two sets of sorting soccer balls are provided. There are 60 soccer balls with short vowel pictures and 90 soccer balls with CVC words. Also contained in this activity are 7 different sorting templates varying in the number and which vowels to be sorted; therefore, you can tailor the activity specifically to the needs of your students.
For my little older soccer fans, I created the Let’s Play Soccer! for learning and practicing sight words and the Soccer Shoot Out! for long vowel sounds.