Only two more weeks until Christmas! This school year is just flying by. I woke up this morning to a light dusting of snow in our backyard. Living in Northern Michigan, we can almost count on having snow for Christmas. I will have to say, though, that it’s a little late coming this year. Usually by now we’ve had at least one snow day and the ski resorts typically open Thanksgiving day. Well the snow has certainly put me in the holiday spirit.
You still have a little time to put together a few holiday-themed activities. I picked up these gift tags at Walmart and thought they’d make for a quick and easy literacy center activity for practicing beginning sounds.
There were several gift tag options. I almost chose the snowmen–they were so adorable! Each package contains 16 game tags. I simply cut each tag down the center so that only the front of the tag is used. You could use the back of the tag, too, as a separate card if you wish. If you only want to use the pictured side, you will need 3 packages of gift tags for the complete alphabet set. Purchase 2 packages if you’re choosing to use the card back.
Simply print the following pdf on a full sized Avery label and cut out the letters and pictures. Adhere a letter or picture to each tag.
Click the following link to download your FREE alphabet pictures for creating this activity Alphabet Pictures for Gift Tags
These seasonal boxes are intended to be used for gift cards. They make such a cute box for storing the activity. They can be found right under the gift tags.
Looking for some more holiday themed activities? Here’s a little CVC activity I created for use in small group instruction or literacy centers for practicing reading consonant-vowel-consonant words.
Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store.
I was strollin’ through the Christmas section at my local Walmart and found these holiday stakes. They really are meant to placed in the ground around the house, but they are oh so cute and I just couldn’t resist using them for an activity. We have just a few little first graders who still need practice with the short vowel sounds so I thought this would be a perfect holiday activity for use in a literacy center.
To make this activity, first print and cut out the 25 short vowel pictures I put on snowballs. You’ll want to be sure to print the pics on cardstock so that they are durable.
Click the following link to download your 25 FREE short vowel pics Snowball Vowel Sorting
Cut a long strip of Velcro and adhere it to each stick. If you’d like, you can cover the point tip with the Velcro (it’s really not sharp).
Place a piece of Velcro on the back of each snowball and on each short vowel snowball.
Well, that’s pretty much it. So quick and easy.
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.
Well I made the Candy Corn Alphabet activity with a cute little box found at JoAnn Fabrics and the Halloween Rhyming game with plastic discs found at Michaels Craft Store; I just couldn’t leave out my other favorite craft store- the Hobby Lobby. While on my shopping trip with my daughter in the “big city” of Lansing, we stopped by the Hobby Lobby and found these cute little foam aliens. I thought they’d be perfect for a Halloween-themed math center activity. Okay– there is some assembly involved, but aren’t they so, so cute? There are a total of 30 aliens! The directions for assembly are on the pdf which you can download for free.
This is what the package looks like.
Click the following link to download this FREE pdf Monster AdditionAlien
I asked my fabulous artist, Kyle, to whip up a few cute little monsters. I have to say I’m lovin’ that adorable one-eyed red monster. I hoping to use him in another Halloween-themed activity. The Monster Addition game is great for practicing math facts to 20.
Click HERE to download the Monster Addition activity from my TpT store
A few months ago I posted the Classroom-Sized Monster Sight Word Game Board. There are 220 monster feet with words from the Dolch sight word lists 1-9. Place the feet around your classroom for a giant game board!
Click HERE to download the Classroom Sized Monster Feet Game Board
I love my job. I really, really do! One of the favorite parts about my job is that I get to network with a whole bunch of very talented teachers. I love hearing about and seeing them implement creative strategies to improve student learning. During the past several years, many of our local school districts have focused on improving writing instruction. All of our schools, from elementary to high school, received training in the Collins Writing Program. In addition, teachers were able to participate in other inservices such as the 6 Traits of Writing to enhance their instruction in this area.
My good friend and colleague, Michelle (same job, just different schools) came back to our office one day so excited to share what she had seen in one of the first grade classrooms she visited. She was so impressed with the quality of writing and the independence displayed by this classroom of first graders during their writing time that she just had to bring back the tool the teacher used to show us all. Sue, a first grade teacher, uses ”focus sticks” to help her students develop and assess their own writing. The focus sticks are placed in a cup in the center of the table. After completing their writing, the students use a focus stick to check to be sure their writing includes the pictured elements. The icons placed on the sticks serve as cues. Below is a stick that Sue uses during the beginning of the school year.
During whole group instruction, she has explained and modeled the expectation for each icon.
Click the following link to download these focus stick icons Focus Sticks Level 1
As the year goes on, and as each student progresses in the writing process, the icons on the sticks change depending upon the expectations. So, here is another stick that Sue uses as her students advance.
You can see in this focus stick, she has incorporated three of the six traits: ideas, voice and sentence fluency. Of course she has provided instruction in those areas before introducing the icons on the stick.
Click the following link to download these focus stick icons Focus Sticks Level 2
When appropriate, Sue transitions the students from the use of the focus stick to a written rubric.
Not all students use the same stick at the same time. Some students may be working on the skills contained within the initial focus stick for a long time while others quickly move to the second stick and then to the written rubric. For our struggling students, removing icons is always an option. For example, for one student, the goals of a writing assignment may be to use correct letter sizing and to draw a picture to match the text.
You can also cut the icons out individually if you’d like to focus on specific skills.
To make your own focus sticks you will need large craft sticks (I color coordinated my sticks, but it is not necessary), wiggly eyes (I used 25mm, but any size will do), full size Avery labels and cups. The amount of materials will depend upon how many sticks you wish to make.
1. Print the desired pdf of the focus stick icons on the full size Avery labels and cut along the dotted lines.
2. Center the icons on the stick and fold over the edges.
3. Using a hot glue gun, glue the wiggly eye at the end of the stick. Here’s a trick… put the glue on the stick, hold the stick upside down and push the wiggly eye up on the stick. This way the wiggly eye will wiggle. If you push the eye down on the stick, the black wiggly touches the glue and won’t wiggle (tragic, I know).
4. Adhere the sticker on the cup.
I’ve included a classroom set of posters which corresponds to the icons on the focus sticks for use during instruction as well as reminders for students as they are writing.
Click the following link to download all classroom sized posters Writing sticks Posters
If you’d like more information on the 6+1 Traits of Writing, the book is awesome!
A few months ago, my good friend Keri from the Sweet Life of Teaching was preparing for a training that she was about to offer. On the table was a roll of vinyl chalkboard paper (I’ve never seen or heard of it until this time). As she was describing what it was and how she uses it in her classroom, I was literally getting goosebumps. You can purchase the paper in single sheets, but Keri loves it so much, she purchased a whole roll! Whoever invented vinyl chalkboard paper is a genius. This product is so versitle… from using it to label bins to creating activities…it is awesome! The paper can be cut into any size (just like contact paper). You, or your students, write on the paper with liquid chalk. Once dried (pretty quick), it’ll stay on until you use a small amount of water to wipe it off. Just think… how about using it to label bins, cubbies? You can keep the label on the cubbie and when you have a student move, simply wipe the name off and it’ll be ready for any new student who make walk through your door.
I knew eventually that an idea for using it within an activity would pop into my head. It happen last week with the “Build It-Write It” activity. To make this activity, you’ll need the following materials: printed cards, vinyl chalkboard paper, liquid chalk, fine point black Sharpie marker, and 24 square counting tiles. The cards will need to be laminated so if you do not have access to a laminator, you’ll also need clear contact paper. Here’s how to create the activity.
1. Print the pdf file on cardstock.
You will get 28 cards for building Consonant-Vowel-Consonant words
You will get 12 cards for building CCVC/CVCC words
Click HERE to download your free Build It-Write It cards
2. Laminate or cover the cards with clear contact paper and cut along the dotted lines.
3. I tend to use red colored tiles for vowels and another color for consonants. If you choose to do the same, using your black Sharpie marker write vowels on the red counting tiles and the following consonants on the other color(s): 2- b, c, d, f, g, h, j, l, 2-m, n, p, r, s, 2-t, v, and w.
4. Now you’ll need to cut your vinyl chalkboard paper. Cut 28- 1″ x 3″ and 12- 1″ x 4″ rectangles. I am a scrapbooker so I use my scrapbooking cutting tools. You can certainly use scissors.
5. Simply peel the back layer from the chalkboard paper and adhere it to the cards.
For this activity, your students will first build the word using the tiles and then write the word below using the liquid chalk. Be sure to differentiate this activity by choosing how many tiles and cards are used. This activity is a great activity for use during small group instruction or as an activity in your literacy centers.
I have not yet found the vinyl chalkboard paper in stores so your best bet is to order it online. Here are the links to the products used with this activity: Vinly chalkboard paper- sheets, Vinyl chalkboard paper- roll, liquid chalk, and square counting tiles.
Be sure to pay, Keri, over at the Sweet Life of Teaching a visit. She has great DIY ideas for the classroom!