Just Another Fun Find at Walmart


You gotta know I love my local Walmart.  I always seem to stumble upon something a little unique that’s perfect for creating an activity.  Well, my newest find are these dry erase sticky circles from Elmer’s.  They were in the sale basket too!


So what can you do with these sticky circles?  They are perfect for sound sorting!  I simply placed a sticky circle on a cup and wrote a letter on the circle.  You can change the letter/sound matching activity by simply erasing the letter and writing another. So simple.


I’m sure there are many uses for these dry erase circles.  If you’d like to use the circles for sound sorting, these pics are just one activity contained in the Response to Intervention Alphabetic Principle Kit.



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3 Freebies for Teaching and Practicing Short Vowels and CVC Words

3 Freebiespng.001

Here are a few of my favorite activities for introducing and teaching short vowel sounds and CVC words.  There’s a little bit of assembly involved for each activity, but you’re done, you’ll have three activities that will last for years!  Enjoy!

1. Vowel Sticks

Those short vowel sounds can be so tricky!  It’s so important that our kiddos learn to hear the differences between the short vowel sounds so that they can decode and write words correctly.  These vowel sticks are quite helpful in teaching students discriminate the sounds.  You can easily differentiate the activity by choosing which and how many vowels to use during your lesson.  For students who are having a great deal of difficulty with vowels, I recommend starting with only 2 vowels with very dissimilar sounds (e.g. “a” and “o”).  You can then increase the difficulty by adding more sounds and similar sounding vowels (e.g. “a” and “e”).   For those students who are quickly learning this skill, try providing words (e.g. “cat”, “beg”) and have them hold up the correct vowel.


 Just click HERE to download the printable for creating your own vowel sticks.  The directions for assembling the activity as well as using the activity during instruction are included in the file.


2. Word Family Sliders

Word sliders are often helpful when introducing word families.  When you download this file you’ll receive the printable for creating 18 word family sliders. You could print the activity on card stock and call it good, but if you’d like to add a little color and durability to your activity print the word family cards on a full size Avery label and adhere them to Glidden paint samples (Home Depot).  I color-coded the borders of the word family cards to the paint samples and the letter sliders are also color-coordinated so that the students can easily match them to the card.


 Just click HERE to download the printable for creating your own word slides.


 3. Build It- Write It Cards

The Build It-Write It cards are great for your independent centers.  To create this activity you will need counting tiles, adhesive chalkboard paper and liquid chalk.  You could substitute adhesive dry erase paper and a dry erase marker for the chalkboard paper/liquid chalk.  For specific directions for assembling this activity, visit the Build It-Write It for CVC and CCVC Words.


Just click HERE to download the printable for creating the Build-It Write-It deck

 Enjoy these freebies!


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Recycle those bike tubes!


This summer I took up biking.  We are so fortunate to live right by a “rails to trails” path which connects two of our cities.  The path is a gorgeous tree-lined trail which extends 15 miles through rural Northern Michigan.  Every bike ride brings with it a new adventure.  There’s always turtles at the pond, snakes who quickly scurry across the path and, occasionally, a deer stops for a quick pic.


Well, last Monday was quite an adventure in a different-sort-of-way.  Two miles into my bike ride, I blew a tire.  Oh, boy.  That has never happened.  Fortunately, I was with my dad who is an avid biker.  Little did I know that pack he always carries on the back of his bike contained a tire repair kit complete with a replacement tube.  Thank goodness for dad.  As I stood by helplessly as dad changed the tire, I spied the popped tube laying on the trail.  It reminded me of a blog post that I wrote a year ago featuring an idea to help those kiddos who just need to move.  Scott, from Bouncy Bands, asked if I could try out a new product he just developed and I absolutely LOVED this idea.  Basically, you place PVC pipes on the desk legs and tie an old bike tube on each leg.  How simple!  Here’s a pic:

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They are so easy to make and quite inexpensive.  The Home Depot people often volunteer to cut the tubes if you tell them you are a teacher and bike shops often have old tubes on hand.  This is a great DIY project!

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 Be sure to stop by Scott’s website.  You can also order them from the site.  Just click HERE.

After running to Home Depot, I’m going to take a quick trip to the bike shop and pick up one of those packs.


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DIY Play Doh Recipe

Winter Dough

Making Play Doh takes me back to when I used to teach preschool.  I just loved making my own Play Doh- homemade Play Doh is so much softer- and it was so much fun changing the colors and even, at times, adding scents.  I’ve tried a billion different recipes and found that the recipes that used cream of tartar and required cooking were hands-down the best.  Of course, it’s a bit more work, but well worth the extra effort.  I made this seasonal-themed Play Doh for the Winter Themed Math Activities for K-1 Packet.  Using the glitter added just the right touch to give it that glittery-snow effect.  So here’s the recipe:

1 cup of flour

1/2 cup of salt

2 Tablespoons of cream of tartar

1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil

1 cup of water

Food coloring

First mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a pan.  Add the water and mix well.  Now cook the mixture over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.  You’ll need to stir constantly until the mixture becomes firm.  When the mixture is firm, remove from the pan and knead until soft.  Now just add in the food coloring.  I like to use the Wilton food coloring because I find that the colors are so vibrant.  Now just add the glitter and you’re all done!


Here’s my little friend, Eleanor, using the Play Doh.  Great hands-on activity for learning numbers and number concepts.


So go on- give it a try.  You’ll never go back to buying Play Doh from the store.





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DIY Number Puzzles


I’ve been seeing number puzzles all over Pinterest.  These puzzles are ideal for independent centers for working with number order.  They’ve been printing the  puzzles on card stock and cutting and the pieces.  That’s a great idea, but I thought if we created the puzzles on craft sticks they’d be much more durable and will last for years to come.  Sure, it’s a little more work on the front-end, but it’s so well worth the effort.

Making your own puzzles is super easy.  All you’ll need is Mod Podge, large craft sticks and pictures.  I created my own pictures on the computer which you could download for free.  You could also copy your own photographs on a printer or use pictures from magazines.


NumberPuzClick the following link to download 6 pictures to create your own puzzles Number Puzzle Pictures

The first step in the process is to line up your craft sticks and tape them together.  The pictures in the printable above are designed for 10 craft sticks.


 Now flip the sticks over and coat the top of the sticks with a thin layer of Mod Podge.


Adhere your picture to the sticks.  Watch for bubbles.  You’ll have to rub them out.  Then cover the top of the picture with a thin layer of Mod Podge.


Now simply write the numbers on each stick.  I numbered my sticks 1-10, but you could easily number the sticks 11-20.


After the Mod Podge has completely dried, remove the tape from the back and cut along the edges of the craft stick with an X Acto knife.


Well, that’s it!  Really!  Have fun creating your number puzzles.  Your kiddos will love them.


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D.I.Y. Wax Covered Yarn

Wax yarn

I love using Wikki Stix for multi-sensory activities.  Wikki Stix are simply wax covered yarn that can be shaped.  It’s great to use when teaching letters or sight words as the students shape the yarn into letters.   Although Play-Doh is an awesome multi-sensory activity, the clean up with the Wikki Stix is quicker and easier.  Now Wikki Stix can purchased commercially, but they are quite expensive.  Recently I found a similar product at Walmart- Bendaroos.  Bendaroos are a bit cheaper especially if you can get them sale. To even drive the cost down further and in the spirit of D.I.Y., I found a recipe for making your own wax covered yarn.  I was so anxious to try this.

To make your own wax covered yarn you’ll need to gather the following materials:

  • 1 wax covered toilet wax bowl ring
  • 1/2 cup of paraffin wax
  • Yarn

Wikki pic1

So the first thing you’ll do is melt the wax ring in a pan, but first place the pan in another pan filled with water.  When the wax is melted, remove the plastic ring.

toilet ring

Now place the paraffin wax in the pan.  My paraffin wax came in blocks so I wasn’t quite sure how to measure 1/2 cup.  I placed one block in the pan, but in hindsight, I should have used 1 1/2- 2 blocks as I wish my sticks were a little “stickier”.


As the paraffin wax is melting, cut your yarn.  You can cut the yarn into any length you wish.  When you purchase Wikki Stix or Bendaroos, the sticks are approximately 6″ in length.  I always wish they were longer so I cut 12″ pieces.   As you can see from the above pic, the wax has a brown color.  The red, green and blue yarn that I used worked great, but the purple yarn came out more brownish than purple.

Now simply dip the yarn in the wax and then place it on wax paper to dry.  Be sure to hold the yarn up over the pan so that the excess wax can drip off.

dip yarn

yarn strips

So, how many wax covered yarn sticks can you make with this method?  Tons!  I was dipping yarn for over 1/2 hour before calling it quits.  I actually had wax left over so I could have been dipping for at least 15 minutes more.  After the sticks dried, I simply cut them again in various lengths and stored them in a baggie.

Now your students are ready to use the yarn to form letters or words.



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