Short Vowel Sounds Snowball Sorting Activity


Those short vowel sounds can be tricky.  It’s so important that our young readers have a good handle on vowels.  The best place to start with kiddos who are confusing the sounds is with discrimination activities.  These types of activities help our students to first hear the differences between the vowel sounds.  The first step is to find out which vowel sounds the student is confusing.  An easy way to do this is to take a look at the student’s writing.  The Make, Take & Teach Sorting Snowballs activities have several differentiated templates with varying number of vowels and different vowels combinations. Students sort either the picture or the word according to the vowel.  There are 60 colorful short vowel pictures printed on snowballs and 90 CVC words for practicing reading the vowels within words.  This activity is ideal for either small group instruction or as an activity within your literacy centers.  Given targeted intervention, our students can master these critical sounds!


The Make, Take & Teach Sorting Snowballs activity is available through my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.



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Cookie Sheet Bundle for Sight Words, Blends/Digraphs and Word Families!


The Cookie Sheet Activities have certainly been popular with my kindergarten and first grade teacher friends.  They are so versatile- they can be used within small group instruction or as independent literacy center activities.  It’s always so important to incorporate hands-on learning especially for our young and struggling readers and these activities do the trick.  Our  Cookie Sheet Activities for Pre K – K Bundle incorporates the skills of ABC order, rhyme, beginning sounds and early numeracy.  The first grade bundle contains a little more advanced skills.  The first activities within this bundle focus on learning and practicing sight words.  The first sight word activity requires your students to build the words with magnetic letters.  There are 43 templates in this file.


It’s important that our kiddos begin to recognize those words in text right away.  It’s one thing to be able to read words in isolation, but readings words in text, well, that’s a whole other ballgame.  That’s why I included the sight word sentences activity within this bundle.


Shortly after students learn letter/sound correspondences, we introduce common consonant blends and digraphs.  To address this skill, sorting and building templates for digraphs and blends are included.  The templates are differentiated as you can choose to have students sort two or four digraphs or blends.  The kiddos love the colorful pics!


For the building activity, you can either use magnetic letters or the pre-printed digraphs and blends included in this file.


Teaching word families can be tons of fun!  It’s important that students learn to recognize “chunks” in words to become fluent readers.  That’s why word family building and sorting activities are included in the first grade bundle.


For easy storage of the activities, I picked up these Sterilite containers at Walmart.  They are the perfect size and everything fits so nicely.  Oh, and they stack!  I’ve included the stickers for the outside of the container as well as the label for the baggies in the file.




If you are interested in purchasing the Cookie Sheet Activities First Grade Bundle, there are two options.  You can either go to my online store and download the file. It’s super easy and you’ll have the activities right away.


The Cookie Sheet Activities First Grade Bundle can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

The second option is to let me do the printing for you!  When you order the printed bundle you’ll receive the templates printed in color on office paper, the pictures printed in color on 90lb card stock, and the labels printed on a full size Avery label.   In addition, you will also receive a painted cookie sheet!


The Printed Cookie Sheet Activities First Grade Bundle can also be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.



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The Snow is Flying! Grab Those Mittens


Here in Northern Michigan winter can last for months (and I mean months and months).  We often have snow from late November through mid-April.  Well, up in the north, putting on your boots, mittens, hats, coats, and snow pants is an everyday event.  It can take up to 10 minutes to get our little kindergarteners ready to go outside–and then another 10 minutes to get undressed!  Multiply that routine by three times a day–craziness!  Whether you live in a winter wonderland or in warmer parts of the world, the Mitten Match activity is sure to be a hit with your kiddos during the winter months.

Last year, my fabulous artist created these adorable mittens.  They were perfect for creating a matching activity, so I made activities for beginning sounds, rhyme and vocabulary.  They are especially ideal for your literacy centers.  Students simply find the matching mitten pairs and clip them together with a clothespin.  If you choose to store your activities in baggies, I’ve included a label for you.  I print my activity labels on a full size Avery label.


I am so envious those arts and crafts people who come up with these fabulous ideas for decorating clipboards, pencil cans and any other item with washi tape.  I’ve purchased several spools of washi tape a few weeks ago and it’s been just sitting in my drawer waiting for the perfect project.  Okay, so this is certainly not the most creative use of the washi tape, I know, but the dots of the tape nearly match the dots of the mittens.  LOVE IT!  I simply cut a strip of tape and placed it right on the clothespin.


When you download the Mitten Match Beginning Sounds activity, you’ll receive 26 beginning sound mittens.  This activity is available through my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.


There are 30 colorful rhyming mitten pairs in the MT&T Mitten Match Rhyme activity.  This activity is ideal for preschool and kindergarten centers and can also be found in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.


The Mitten Match Vocabulary activity contains 35 matching mitten pairs.  This activity is ideal for vocabulary development as the students pair pictures that “go together”.  You may want to use this activity during small group instruction as you can expand oral language by having your students explain why the pictures go together.


The Mitten Match Vocabulary activity can be downloaded from my  Teachers Pay Teachers store.


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A Strategy for Helping Students Learn to Blend


If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you may know that I’m just a little (okay, a lot) addicted to professional books.  I really love keeping up with the current research in reading and learning difficulties.  One of my favorite authors is Isabel Beck.  I love her book, Bringing Words to Life – it’s the go-to book on teaching vocabulary.  Her most recent book, Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys is an equally valuable resource for phonics instruction.  I was re-reading the book the other night and came across a strategy for blending that I thought would be helpful for many of my kindergarten and first grade teacher friends.  The strategy is called successive blending.

After students have learned a few letter/sound correspondences, they should begin to blend those sounds into words.  Think about for a bit.  How many words can be made using the first 8 letter/sound correspondences introduced in a popular reading series (m, s, r, t, p, c, a)?  Really, quite a few.  Students should begin putting letters/sounds into meaningful words as soon as possible.  When teaching students to decode we begin with consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words.  A typical teaching scenario could be:

Teacher:  (placing the letters “r” “a” and “g” on a blending board or pocket chart)  Sally, please sound out this word

Sally: /r/ /a/ /g/  /gum/

What?  How did she get “gum” from /r/ /a/ /g/?  Actually, it’s pretty common for our beginning readers to correctly say each sound and then come up with a totally incorrect word.  So, why is this?  A big part of this has to do with short term memory.  When we are asking our students to decode a CVC word we are asking them to first recall the sound correspondence for the letters and then hold those individual sounds in their memory before going back to blend the sounds together.  So not only are we asking them to blend, we are asking them to remember each sound.  This could be a little much for our beginning readers.  Using Isabel Beck’s strategy, students do not need to hold more than 2 sounds together in their memory at one time.  Below is her 8 step sequence for blending.

Place the letter cards “s” “a” and “t” separated in a pocket chart or blending board

  1. Point to the “s” and say /s/
  2. Point to the “a” and say /a/
  3. Physically slide the “a” over to the “s”
  4. Slide finger along the “sa” and say /sa/
  5. Point to the “t” and say /t/
  6. Move the “t” card next to the “sa” to make the word “sat”
  7. Slide finger under “sat” and say “sat” slowly
  8. Read the word naturally

If you’d like to give it a try, feel free to download these free letter cards.

Letter Cardsborder

 To download the cards, just click the following link:  Letter Cards

Not too difficult, right?  This relatively simple sequence can make an incredible difference.  Of course you’ll want to model the procedure with gradual release of responsibility.  In her book, she provides more information on exactly how to do this as well as how to use the steps with consonant blends.

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 Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys

If you have students who are struggling with blending, be sure to try this strategy.

Oh, one more thing.  These blending boards are great for small group instruction.  We had these made in bulk for all our classroom years ago.  Here’s a picture and the directions on how to make your own.


Blending Board Directions

To download the directions just click the following link:  Blending Board Directions



For notification of all new Make, Take & Teach activities, be sure to follow the Make, Take & Teach online store on TpT.  Just click the green “follow” star.


ABC Penguins Freebie


I’m just in love with these cute little penguins that Kyle created.  I thought they’d make a super fun ABC order activity for my preschool and kindergarten friends.  I created both an upper- and lowercase set so that you can have your kiddos either put them in alphabetical order or match the upper- to lowercase letters.  Feel free to download this freebie.  Enjoy!


 Just click the following link to download this file:  ABC Order Penguins

For notification of all new Make, Take & Teach activities, be sure to follow the Make, Take & Teach online store on TpT.  Just click the green “follow” star.



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Phonics Activities on the Go!


It all started with a box.  Literally– really– it all started with a box.  While walking through Michael’s Craft Store one day I came across this plastic bead tote and thought what a great container for activities.  I have several teacher friends who serve as Title One support for classrooms and they are always on the go.  When moving from classroom to classroom having materials organized is certainly a must.  Even if you’re not moving between classrooms, having your materials organized is so important as you could lose precious minutes during intervention just trying to find your materials.


This box can certainly help with organizing picture cards. I decided to create two sets- a phonemic awareness box and a phonic box.  The Big Box of Phonics Activities contains over 500 picture cards designed to teaching and reinforce basic phonics concepts.  The concepts in this download include: short vowels/CVC words, Consonant Blends, Consonant Digraphs, Magic e, R-Controlled Vowels and Vowel Teams.


Each concepts includes a Common Core Alignment card and several activities with step-by-step directions.  The activities are ideal for use during small group instruction.


Although the cards and stickers were specifically designed to fit into this box, there are many different ways to store the cards.  Some teachers have chosen to store their cards in small-plastic soap-like containers.  That works too!


 The Big Box of Phonics is available in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.

The Big Box of Phonemic Awareness Activities is also available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.




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