This past week was our spring break. We did what it seems like half the population of Michigan did–travel down to the sunny beaches of Flordia. The drive down and back was a little crazy (okay, a lot crazy) and Ft. Myers Beach was jam-packed with tourists, but it was well worth sitting in the warm sun even for a few short days. During break, I learned a few things about myself. I suffer from two addictions. One I kind of knew about and the other was a surprise. My first addiction–the internet. Although our condo had internet and I did bring my computer with me, I didn’t take the right power cord. My uncharged computer sat in a corner of the bedroom all week long. I couldn’t work at all! It took about three days, but I eventually adjusted. My other addiction came as a surprise. I am addicted to my books. I have about 50 books on my countertop at home. I had to choose which books to take with me to read on the beach. So, which books made the cut. Here are my favorites.
I love neurology and I’m really interested in how a typical reader learns to reads and how a struggling reader reads. There are definite differences in the pathways that typical and struggling readers use when reading. What’s more important is that, when given intervention, the pathways in the brain used for reading change! It’s truly remarkable. My favorite books on the neurology of reading are David Sousa’s How The Brain Learns to Read, Building The Reading Brain Pre K-3 by Patricia Wolfe and Pamela Nevills and Overcoming Dylexia by Sally Shaywitz. Of course, I couldn’t leave these books behind.
On the Wednesday before break I was in one of my schools and a question came up regarding the best way to teach vocabulary. Being a Speech/Language Pathologist prior to my current job, the topic of vocabulary is one of my favorites. For sure I had to take my favorite books on vocabulary to the beach!
Isabel Beck’s book, Bringing Words To Life is my all-time favorite!
Janet Allen’s Words, Words, Words book made the beach read cut mostly because I really need to begin to think about literacy instruction in the upper grades.
You can’t talk about vocabulary instruction without talking about the king of educational research, Robert Marzano! The Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works and Vocabulary Games for the Classroom are both very heavy books, but well worth lugging to the beach.
I go nowhere without my two favorite books on Response to Intervention. Response to Intervention: A Practical Guide for Every Teacher and A Principal’s Guide: Implementing Response To Intervention explains RtI so nicely and have many examples of successful implementation in schools.
A few of our teachers are reading “the sisters” two books, The Cafe Book and The Daily 5. I’ve read selected chapters of the books, but really need to get a handle on the big picture and correlate it to the National Reading Panel’s recommendations.
Okay, listing all these books really does make it look like I’m really obsessive. Truth is there are a few more books I threw in my beach reading bag and trucked down to the beach everyday. There are even a few books that I wish I had with me. I know most people take steamy novels with them on spring break, but I sat happily reading my professional books. The only regret is that a few of them now have sand within their pages.
I know the calendar says “spring”, but we still have 3 inches of snow up here in northern Michigan. To get into the “spring” spirit I thought I’d dig through my files and pull out all the fun bird, frog and bug activities. The Robin’s Nest activity is one of my springtime favorites. When you download the word families activity you’ll receive 15 different word family nests and 66 colorful word family pictures printed on robin eggs. Your students simply sort the eggs according to the word family.
Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store
The Robin’s Nest Beginning Sounds activity contains 25 robin’s nests (x not included) and 119 blue eggs.
Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store
The word families and beginning sounds activity can be easily differentiated as you choose how many nests and eggs to use. These activities are great for either small group instruction or as a center activity.
Here’s a fun Robin’s Nest freebie perfect for your math centers for practicing math facts to 12.
Click HERE to download this FREEBIE!
Here’s to hoping our snow melts soon.
I’m really having fun creating sports-themed activities. It’s kind of funny that I haven’t yet created a single activity for my all-time favorite sport, tennis, and only one for my second all-time favorite sport- soccer. I’m trying to keep with the sports season and it seems like baseball is it for the spring. Baseball really wasn’t big in my family. The kids played in our recreational league as young children and only lasted a few summers. We found it, oh should I really say it?–deep breath–kind of boring. Okay, please no hate comments from baseball fans. I will say, however, that one of my favorite family pictures was taken at the ball field.
Oh my gosh, this picture was literally taken 13 years ago! Two of those little kiddos are in college now and I’ll be shopping for a prom dress with the other little one this coming week. Time really does fly by.
I know there are many little baseball fans out there and spring sign up for baseball leagues is just around the corner. So, for my first grade friends I made this baseball themed freebie for practicing common vowel teams.
The game is quick and easy to assemble. First you’ll need to print the game boards. There are 4 different game boards with words containing common vowel teams.
Click the following link to download the game boards Vowel Team Baseball
Now you’ll need to write the vowel teams on a wooden cube using a black fine point Sharpie marker. Draw a star on the remaining two sides. You can purchase the cubes at any craft store or at a store such as Walmart.
Now you’ll need about 20 markers for each student. You can use bingo chips of course, but I like to use these mini erasers that I purchased at Oriental Trading to go along with the theme of the activity.
To play the game, the first player rolls the die and reads a word from the row of the vowel team rolled. So, for example, if the player rolled “ee” he/she would read the word “peel” from his board. A marker is then placed over the word. The next player rolls the die, reads a word, and places a marker on the word. If a row is filled with markers and a player rolls that vowel team, he/she must skip a turn. If a star is rolled, the player can read a word from any row. The player to fill his/her board first wins the game. No worries, when you download the game board, I’ve included the directions for you.
For all the baseball fans–have an exciting baseball season.
The Final Four March Madness Basketball Tournament started today. I really love college basketball! With my son attending Michigan State University, we’ve been lucky enough to travel to East Lansing to see a few games. On top of that, we are traveling again to MSU this weekend to watch our high school basketball team compete in the class B semi-finals. How exciting!! This is the first time in 40 years that our high school team has made it this far in the play-offs. Wishing them all the luck in the world. Well, in honor of the Final 4, I whipped up a few activities for our little basketball fans.
Click HERE to download Swoosh! Basketball Sight Word Game from my TpT store.
The Swoosh! game is pretty easy to put togther and makes for a fun literacy center activity. Students simply take turns choosing a basketball and reading the word. If the player picks the “Swoosh” card, he/she can choose 3 more balls. However, if the player chooses the “Penalty” ball, all the balls must be put back into the pile and play continues. The Swoosh! game is a fast-paced activity with lots of opportunities for response.
Just for my first grade friends working on long vowel sounds, I created the game with words using common vowel teams.
Click HERE to download Swoosh! Basketball Game for Vowel Teams
Seems like everytime I create a fun activity for reading, a receive a request for the same activity for math. So, if you need a math center activity, here’s the game for practicing addition and subtraction facts to 20.
Click HERE to download the Swoosh! game for math.
Hope you enjoy these basketball-themed activities. Even if you are not-so-much a hoops fan, they are really fun. AND… hoping you’ll watch at least a little bit of the March Madness Tournament–it’s all exciting.
I just can’t believe Easter is just around the corner! Seeing all those wonderful Easter and spring themed ideas all over Pinterest is really getting me in the mood for spring. I received so much positive feedback from the candy corn activity that we posted around halloween for practicing rhyme and beginning sounds, that I thought I’d have Kyle create an Easter egg too. She is such a talented artist and they are absolutely adorable! The Easter egg rhyme activity contains 24 colorful rhyming eggs and the beginning sounds activity contains 26 eggs.
Click HERE to download the Easter Egg Rhyme Matching Activity from my TpT store.
Click HERE to download the Easter Egg Beginning Sound activity from my TpT store
Earlier this school year our social workers shared this really cool website that they found. It has tons of intervention strategies for dealing with students who are demonstrating behavioral issues in school. I love it because in addition to the strategies, it also offers options for tracking and monitoring progress which, of course, is at the heart of Response to Intervention. The website is called PBIS World. Let me show you what the site has to offer.
When you log onto the site, this is the first page you’ll see. Note the tabs along the top…Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and Data Tracking. If you click the Data Tracking tab, there is literally over 100 different questionairres and forms to use for gathering information and tracking behavior. On the main page is a list of possible behaviors that a student may be exhibiting.
Simply click the behavior that your student is exhibiting and you’ll be taken to a page which lists possible characteristics that may describe your student. If the characteristics describe your student, you’ll click “Yes”.
After clicking “Yes”, you’ll be taken to page with a list of Tier 1 research-based strategies to address the specific issue. If you click on a specific strategy, a description of strategy, how to implement the strategy and possible data tracking forms are provided. Isn’t this awesome?
So let’s take a peek. I’ve clicked the Tier 2 interventions to address the issue of hyperactivity and I’m taken to this page which lists possible interventions and strategies.
If the Check in Check Out strategy is a strategy that I believe may work with this student, I simply click the link. I’m taken to page which describes the strategy in detail. Not only is there a complete description of the strategy, but there are ideas of when and how to use it. Did I mention there are also data tracking forms??
If you have challenging students in your classroom be sure to check out this website. It’s really, really helpful!
Well, if the cookie sheet activities are my all time favorite, the Write-It cards come in a very, very close second. The Write-It cards are great for either small group instruction or as an independent activity for your literacy centers. The cards are ideal for working with specific phonics skills. Each packet contains between 30-52 colorful and engaging pictures. Simply copy the pdf on cardstock, laminate and bind together with a 1″ ring and you’re all set. Students write the letter(s) on the card with a dry erase marker. After they’re done, wipe the cards clean and they’re ready for use again. You can use these cards for years!
The Write It Phonics Cards are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Write-It Phonics Cards for Beginning Sounds
Write-It Phonics Cards for Ending Sounds
Write-It Phonics Cards for Short Vowel Sounds
Write-It Phonics Cards for Consonant Digraphs
Write-It Phonics Cards for Magic e
Write-It Phonics Cards for R-Controlled Vowels
I know spring is a little ways away and we haven’t yet even celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, but Kyle (fabulous artist) just finished these adorable caterpillars and I couldn’t help but post these a little early. They are so, so cute and would be a perfect activity to go along with Very Hungry Caterpillar book (just love that book). When you download the word families activity, you’ll receive 15 colorful word family caterpillars. You can use these caterpillar when working on rhyme too.
Click HERE to download the Word Families activity from my TpT store.
Of couse, we had to create an activity for working on the alphabetic principle.
Click HERE to download the Beginning Sounds activity from my TpT store.
You’ll want to be sure to laminate the activity before cutting out the caterpillar body pieces. There’s a little bit of cutting involved, but it’ll be well worth it!