So it’s late November and we have just a few first graders who have not yet mastered their letters and sounds. For these little firsties, we needed to readjust their intervention plan and bump it up a knotch in terms of intensity. It’s always difficult to find time in a jam-packed school day, but mastering letters and sounds is really important and must take priority right now. One way to add intervention time is to teach volunteers and/or the child’s parent in how to teach and practice letters and sounds. Having the right activities available and directions for correctly using the activities is really important. I’ve collected 10 of my most favorite activities for teaching letters and sounds and gathered them in a teaching bag with the directions for each activity. The alphabet bags can either be used at home or at school.
It all begins with assessment. Before beginning with the alphabet bags, it is important that you know which sounds your student knows and does not know. If you do not have an assessment that you already administer at school, feel free to download the Make, Take & Teach Letters and Sounds assessment. I’ve included progress monitoring charts so that you can track your student’s progress.
Click the following link to download the FREE assessment with progress monitoring charts Letter Sound Assessment
The following pdf contains the directions for each activity as well as a time recording sheet to keep track of the practice sessions. Be sure to write the upper- and lowercase letters that the student missed at the top of the form as these letters will be used in the teaching activities.
Click the following link to download the free directions for using this kit Learning Letters and Sounds
Each practice session will begin with the letter flashcards. Specific directions for this review are listed on the pdf above. To make the flashcards, you’ll simply need to cut along the dotted line.
Click the following link to download FREE letter flashcards Small Flashcards- Alphabet
Following the flashcard review, have your student choose one of the six teaching activities. (1) I printed the unknown letters from the Dough Letters activity to use with the Play Doh, but you can also use the free Multi-Sensory cards for this activity if you choose. (2) Bendaroos are wax covered sticks often found in the arts and crafts or toy section in large chain stores such as Walmart. You can purchase those in any size. I typically purchase a large box and place about 20 in a baggie for each student. (3) Craft sand can be purchased at Walmart. Simply put sand on a paper plate and have the student write the letters in the sand. (4 and 5) Dry erase boards and small Magnadoodles can be purchased in a dollar store. (6) Plastic screens can be purchased in the arts and crafts needle work section of Walmart or a similar store. Specific directions for the volunteer or parent are on the pdf.
Click the following link to download FREE multi-sensory letter cards Multi-Sensory Letters
If you’d like to use the Dough Letters for the Play-Doh, click HERE. Helpful hint: I used only the unknown letters and covered the page with contact paper so it would be easy to use multiple times.
After the direct teaching activity, have your student choose one of the 5 letter/sound games. My all time favorite activity for practicing letters (and sight words too) is (7) Fiddle Sticks. To make this activity write a letter with a black Sharpie marker at the end of a large craft stick (you’ll need about 50 sticks). On one stick color the tip red or, in this case, I put a snowflake on the stick to match the cup. Directions for playing this game are on the pdf above.
The (8) ABC Turtle game is a fun game for practicing letters and sounds. This activity can be downloaded for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Click HERE to download the FREE ABC Turtle game.
To make the (9) Make A Word activity you will need 3 wooden blocks. I use 1″x1″ blocks. Using a black Sharpie marker, write the following letters on the first block: g, r, d, m, j and p. Again using the black marker, write the following letters on second block: f, c, b, h, t and s. Using either a blue or red Sharpie marker, write the following letters on the third block: a, e, i, o, u and a. Again, directions for this activity are on the “Learning Letters and Sounds” pdf.
Click the following link to download this free template Make A Word Template
The (10) ABC Order and (11) Making Words activity from the Cookie Sheet Activities file complete the alphabet bag! Okay, so my math is a bit off. I guess there are 11 alphabet activities in the bag. For these activities you’ll need magnetic letters and I often place the templates and the letters on a cookie sheet. You can find magnetic letters at the dollar store, but I purchase mine through Banks School Supply as I like the size and shape of the letters (picky, I know).
Click HERE to download this file from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
I’m hoping that this little alphabet bag will quickly help those first graders master their letters and sounds! Hope you, too, find it helpful with your students.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know by now I love my Walmart. I mean I REALLY love Walmart! The seasonal section is right at the entrance and it’s my very first stop in the store. I especially love the seasonal section during Christmas. There are so many items that jump off the shelf shouting ”make me into an activity!”
The fun find this week are these cute little snowmen containers (the penguin containers are adorable, too). I decided that they’d be great for a sorting activity. Although I have two pictured here, you may want to purchase four as I have digraph snowball pictures for sh, ch, th and wh. This activity is easily differentiated as you can choose how many digraphs to use for your students to sort. So, just click the link below to download 19 FREE colorful digraph snowballs. Happy sorting!
Click the following link to download your FREE digraph snowballs Digraph Snowballs
My new teacher friend, Heidi, developed this recording sheet for the digraph sorting activity. She sent it to me just to share with everyone. Thanks Heidi! sort digraph snowball
Be sure to check out other Make, Take & Teach products designed to teach consonant blends and digraphs
Last week we had our district wide inservice day. I’m in the small minority of educators who actually enjoy attending trainings. Not only do we have the chance to learn something new, inservice days allow us to network (okay, socialize) with other educators across our area. Our presenter that day focused on the content and strategies from Robert Marazano and Debra Pickering’s book The Highly Engaged Classroom. Integrating technology into classroom lessons was one of many strategies presented that can be used to increase student engagement in the learning process. One of the really cool tech tools the presenter introduced was the use of word clouds. Here’s an example of a word cloud that I made using Wordle for an upcoming Response to Intervention training.
Okay, I’m not the most technology-gifted person. I will tell you that making a word cloud was super easy using Wordle. There are two programs that you can use to make word clouds, Wordle and Tagxedo. I’ve tried both and Wordle is by far the easiest although you have many more options with Tagxedo. To make a word cloud in Wordle all you do is go to www.wordle.net and click the “create” link. You can either copy and paste text from a document or type in your own words. Words that appear the most will be larger. To create the RtI Wordle, I copied the definition of RtI from our policy manual into the text box. I wanted to be sure that the word “intervention” was larger so I just typed the word in several times at the end of the text. Once your text is in box, just click the “Go” button and the program creates the Wordle. You can easily change the font, color scheme and direction of your Wordle. There are two little tricks I’ve learned. First if you want specific words to stay together you have to link them with the ~. So, in my example, I wanted problem solving to stay together so I typed them in as problem~solving into the text box. If you do not want a specific word in your Wordle (e.g. and) simply right click on the word and it disappears. Once your Wordle is complete you can print it directly or “open in Window” in which you can save it as a picture to your computer.
Are you wondering now how you could use Wordle in your classroom? One very simple way is to have your students make their own Wordle describing their own characteristics. I had my daughter, Lizzie, create her own. See above.
Another creative way of using Wordle is typing words from an upcoming reading selection and having your students predict what they think the story will be about. Lizzie’s teacher typed in text from the book A Raisin in the Sun and created a Wordle such as this. The students then had to make their prediction. Lizzie is in high school, but you can do the same with any text from an elementary-appropriate book.
How about having your students create a Wordle describing a character from a book? Using Wordle for vocabulary words? The options are endless. For more ideas on using Wordle in the classroom, simply type in Wordle+classroom into google and you’ll have tons of links.
Interested in more strategies to engage learners, be sure to check out Marazano and Pickering’s book The Highly Engaged Classroom.
It’s such an exciting time in education! Social media has opened doors for new ways of connecting with teachers across the country. My favorite part of blogging is networking with so many educators in various stages in their careers. I love hearing from college students majoring in education, brand new teachers and teachers nearing retirement who have been revitalized with this new platform of collaborating. It’s also so much fun finding new ”virtual friends” who share your views and similar passions in education. I’d like to introduce you to my new friend, Melissa Taylor, from Imagination Soup.
Melissa’s passion is finding playful ways to engage children in reading and writing. Melissa’s blog, Imagination Soup, has won numerous awards including the PBS Kids VIP Blog and the Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine Best Reading and Blog.
Melissa is an educational consultant and a freelace writer! She’s even had articles published in USA Today, Parenting, and Scholastic Parent and Child. Here’s the best part. Melissa has a brand new book that is released today (November 15th). She sent me an advanced copy to read and it’s filled with helpful advice for parents.
Oh, did I mention that Melissa mentioned Make, Take & Teach in her book!
When a vowel is followed by an r, the r changes the sound that the vowel makes. The vowel is called an r-controlled vowel. Sometimes teachers refer to the “r” as the “bossy r” because the r “bosses” the vowel to make a new sound. When the “a” is followed by r, it makes the sound you hear in “bar” or “car”. When the “o” is followed by the r, it makes the sound you hear in the word “corn”. The “ir”, “ur” and “er” make the same sound /er/ as in the words “bird”, “fur” and “her”. It is important to teach students to recognize and practice words containing r-controlled vowels.
Here’s a little freebie for practicing r-controlled vowels. I put all the r-controlled vowels on the stick, but you can easily differentiate the activity by writing only 2 or 3 vowels on the stick.
Here are the directions for making this activity:
1) Print the pdf on cardstock and cut out each circle.
Click the following link to download your FREE r-controlled vowel pics R Controlled Vowel Sticks
2) With a hot glue gun, glue the picture on the end of a large craft stick.
3) Write the r-controlled vowels on the stick using a black Sharpie marker. Remember you can differentiate by choosing how many r-controlled vowels are on the stick.
4) Flip the stick over and place a blue dot behind the correct r-controlled vowel. This serves as a self-checking feature for this activity.
5) Optional: I place a small foam star (purchased at Office Max in the education section) on the end of a clothespin.
For this activity, the students name the picture on the stick and then clips the clothespin on the r-controlled vowel they think is in the word. To see if their choice is correct, they turn the stick over and if the clothespin is covering the dot, they are correct.
Here are a few other Make, Take & Teach r-controlled vowel activities.
Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store.
Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store.