3 Freebies for Teaching and Practicing Short Vowels and CVC Words

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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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Hands-on Activities for Teaching Contractions

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Last year I created the original File Folder Phonics activities and they fast became a favorite for introducing and practicing phonics concepts.  They are great for independent centers as well as first introducing the concept during small group instruction.  Since creating the initial file folder activities bundle, I’ve been receiving request after request for additional activities.  Two of my new favorite file folder activities are the ones that introduce the concept of contractions.  This is a skill that is typically introduced mid-first grade; however, I find that many second graders could use added practice.   As with all the file folder activities, an explanation of the concept or a statement of the rule is included as well as a hands-on activity for learning the concept.

The first file folder activity for contractions includes 20 colorful dog dishes (some on the back too) with coordinating dog bones.  Students simply match the dog bone to the dish.  This activity is ideal when first introducing the concept of contractions.



 The File Folder Phonics- Contractions #1 can be found in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.

The second file folder activity is an extension of the first.  For this activity, students write the contraction on the dog bone.  When the student is finished with the activity, simply wipe the file folder clean and the activity is ready for use again!



The File Folder Phonics- Contractions #2 can be found in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.

These activities are two of 13 file folder phonics activities contained in the Even More! File Folder Phonics.  Activities contained in this bundle include activities targeted at the following skills: contractions, FLOSS rule, doubling rule, past tense -ed, -s/-ing endings, plurals and more!

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Dry Erase Pocket Phonics

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I just love working with dry erase pockets.  They’re great for small group instruction as phonics pages can slide right inside and then later erased so that they can be used over and over again.  Last year I was able to pick up quite a few dry erase pockets at Walmart during the back to school sale and I have been using them ever since.   I created these dry erase pocket activities for working with short vowel sounds and dry erase pockets.  There are 17 differentiated templates.  They’ve been great for our little learners.

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The Dry Erase Pockets Phonics Activities for Short Vowels/CVC Words can be found in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store or on the Make, Take & Teach website. 

Here’s a link to purchasing the dry erase pockets in bulk as they are not always available in larger department stores.

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Even MORE! File Folder Phonics

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I absolutely love activities that are super easy to set up and can be used over and over again.  Sure, it takes a little bit of cutting and laminating on the front end, but when they are all assembled you’ll have activities that will last for years!  Last year I created file folder activities for my second grade teacher friends to address higher level phonics concepts.  They were such a hit and the students absolutely loved them.  I just couldn’t wait to create a series for kindergarten and first grade.  The File Folder Phonics for learning the Alphabet is just one in a series that I have in the works.  When you download this file you’ll receive 26 file folder activities for teaching letters and sounds.

Forming the upper- and lowercase letters with Play Doh or homemade dough is always an engaging activity for teaching letter formation.  After the students form the letters with the dough, be sure to have them trace the letters with their finger while saying the letter sound.


When teaching beginning sounds, there’s nothing better than sorting activities.  When you download this activity you’ll receive 16 colorful pictures per letter (pictures that begin with the target sound and pictures that do not begin with the sound).


Just turn the file folder over and you’ll have a practice template for letter formation.  After use, simply wipe the page clean and it’s ready to used over and over again!


I purchased these file folder containers at our local Office Max.  It’s an easy way of storing the file folders.  I’ve included the stickers for you just in case you’d like to store yours in the same way.


Both File Folder Phonics Bundles are available through my Teachers Pay Teachers store or on the Make, Take & Teach website.

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 The Make, Take & Teach File Folder Phonics for the Alphabet is available through my online Teachers Pay Teachers store or through the Make, Take & Teach website.


The File Folder Phonics Bundle is available in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store or though the Make, Take & Teach website.


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How to Paint a Cookie Sheet

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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:


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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:

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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.

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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.


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Blends and Digraphs Game Boards

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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:

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Just click the following link: Consonant Digraphs Cue Card


The Consonant Blends and Digraphs Game Boards are available through the Make, Take & Teach website or through my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.


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