If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit now you may know that I’m a pretty big soccer fan. Although I never played, my three children played soccer ever since they were 4. I even coached for several years. I loved every minute of it! My youngest daughter, Lizzie, will be heading off to college in the fall and I will soon be “an empty-nester”. So not only will I miss the craziness of traveling to sporting events, I’ll to get used to a very quite house. Creating these soccer-themed activities has brought back so many wonderful memories of evenings and Saturdays spent at the soccer fields (sniff, sniff). I’m hoping your little soccer fans will enjoy them too.
The Short Vowel Shoot Out! activity is a fun twist on a classic sorting activity. Sorting activities are particularly helpful when students are having difficulty confusing those similar sounding vowels. This activity is easily differentiated as two sets of sorting soccer balls are provided. There are 60 soccer balls with short vowel pictures and 90 soccer balls with CVC words. Also contained in this activity are 7 different sorting templates varying in the number and which vowels to be sorted; therefore, you can tailor the activity specifically to the needs of your students.
For my little older soccer fans, I created the Let’s Play Soccer! for learning and practicing sight words and the Soccer Shoot Out! for long vowel sounds.
Last week I was talking with several colleagues about the elements of successful small group instruction. We started chatting about the core curriculum, determining skill based groups, materials for use during small groups and on and on. We quickly, however, turned our focus to classroom management. The reality is is that if classroom management is lacking there really is no way to run small groups. Successful small group instruction is highly dependent upon having all the other children highly engaged and independent in their center activities. In order to make those precious minutes of small group intervention count within the classroom, your instructional time needs to be free of interruption. During this discussion, one of my collegues kept whispering “Harry Wong”. After a bit, I asked, “Who is Harry Wong?” at which there was a collective gasp from the others at the table. Within an hour after returning to my work area, Harry Wong’s book, “The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher” was placed on my desk.
By the end of the day, I managed to read over 100 pages of the book! It certainly is a must-read for any new teacher; however, the book contains tons of helpful hints and strategies for setting up and maintaining an effective classroom. My favorite chapter by far is Chapter 20: How to Have Students Follow Classroom Procedures. This chapter is particularly helpful when thinking about not only how to run your classroom, but how to set up and present your literacy centers to your students. Mr. Wong emphasizes the importance of establishing procedures in your classroom the first day of school. Setting procedures in the first days of school will impact your success in teaching and learning for the entire school year.
Click the following link to download this poster Student Achievement
So what procedures should be taught?
Think about maximizing time-on-task. Think about the non-instructional times during the school day and how much time they take away from instruction and learning. In order to increase time on task, it’s important to minimize the amount of time these activities take. In an early elementary classroom, here’s a list of common classroom activities that you will want to establish procedures for right away:
How are procedures taught?
There are essentially three steps in establishing a procedure:
Click the following link to download this poster Steps for Teaching Procedures
I believe that many teachers understand the importance of establishing produres and do introduce the procedures to their students; however, if steps 2 and 3 are not implemented to the needed degree, then the procedures will likely not be successful. It’s not uncommon for a teacher attempt to gain the attention of the class by using a cue (e.g. “One, two, three, eyes on me”) and then have 4-5 students continue to talk as the teacher begins instruction and then minutes later have to discipline the chatty students. The rehearsal and reinforcement steps to establishing procedures is critical. Consistency with expectations of what is to occur with the procedure is also important.
Example of a procedure
One procedure that every classroom teacher must have in place is a procedure to immediately gain the attention of the students. We want students to be active learners and this means that we encourage movement and discussion; however, when it is time for the teacher to give a direction or deliver direct instruction, the students must immediately stop what they are doing and attend to the teacher. There are tons and tons of clever ways to gain the attention of the class. One quick and easy way is the “Give Me Five” method. This method was presented in the book; however, it’s a pretty common technique. Essentially, when the teacher wants to gain the attention of the students, he/she says “Give Me Five” and then counts down (5, 4, 3, 2, 1). By the time the teacher reaches “1”, the students are to have their eyes on the teacher, are quiet, still, have nothing in their hands are are ready to listen.
Click the following link to download this poster Give Me Five
It sounds so simple, right? It is and it isn’t… just be prepared to practice and practice. It’s so much easier and efficient to put the time and effort on the front end then try to correct it later on.
Click the following link to download this poster For a child to learn…
So what about those literacy centers and small groups?
The ability to have 20 plus little first graders work independently and in small groups of their own as the teacher works with her/his own group of students requires spot-on classroom mangagement. Not only do those basic classroom procedures need to be established, but there also needs to be procedures for appropriate behavior and use of materials within the literacy centers themselves. One of my favorite resources for literacy centers is Debbie Diller’s Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work. In this book she provides information on how to introduce the centers to your students, what materials are appropriate, how to model the use of the materials as well as how to differentiate based on student need.
The bottom line is that in order for students to learn and grow, the classroom environment needs to be structured and orderly. This means that procedures need to be put in place and implemented consistently so that the students understand what is expected of them. If you are finding that your classroom isn’t running as smoothly as you’d like or if you think that you are correcting behavior often, think about the procedures that are put in place. Maybe there are too few? Maybe they need to be practiced? I’ll end with another quote from Harry Wong’s book which holds true.
Click the following link to download this poster An Effective Teacher Manages a Classroom
Soccer is my sport! I love, love, love soccer. My oldest child was five when we enrolled him in our city recreational league. Our family has been hooked ever since. You know how organizations are always short on volunteers? Well, the soccer league was short on coaches. When I was asked to coach I remember saying, “I’ll think about it” and the next thing I know I received a roster of 15 10-year-old boys. Having never played soccer, I did what any rational person would do–googled “how to coach soccer.” How difficult can it be- right? Well, ever since I’ve coached all three of my kids recreational league teams as well as Lizzie’s travel team. I loved every minute of it.
Here’s a picture of my travel team with my good friend, Mike, who I coached with for many years. When this picture was taken, these little girls were 11 and 12. It’s hard to believe that they will all be leaving for college in the fall. Lizzie is my youngest so I’m going to have to adjust to being “an empty nester”. It’s certainly not something I’m looking forward to.
So, being such a soccer fan myself, I really enjoyed creating these soccer-themed activities. The World Cup is now starting and the memories are flooding back! For my little friends learning sight words, I created a super fun sight word activity. This activity is easily differentiated as you choose which and how many sight word soccer balls to use. Simply have your students take turns choosing the balls and reading words. If a player chooses the “Goal” ball, he/she can choose 3 more balls. If the player chooses the “Penalty” cards, balls must be returned to the pile. The player with the most balls at the end of time wins the game. I love this game as it’s fast-paced and allows many practice opportunities.
Click HERE to download this activity from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
For my first grade friends working with long vowel sounds, I created the “Soccer Shoot Out! Long Vowel Sounds” game. This activity addresses the common spellings for long vowel sounds. Students read the words on the soccer balls and match the balls to the corresponding soccer net. There’s also a fun little variation of the activity. There are soccer nets for all 5 vowels and 140 soccer balls!
Just click HERE to download this activity from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Hoping your little soccer fans enjoy these activities!
Good readers often draw upon their background knowledge and experiences to help them understand what they are reading. Good readers use that knowledge to make connections with the text. Research has shown that students who are able to make those personal connections with the text and question whether the text they are reading makes sense based upon their own background knowledge, tend to understand what they are reading. As good readers access their prior knowledge to improve their comprehension of the text, struggling readers tend to move through the text without stopping to make those connections or considering if what they are reading makes sense. Often, when presented with difficult reading material, the struggling reader is so focused on decoding those difficult words, there is little mental space left for “thinking about reading”.
“Activating Background Knowledge” is one of several key comprehension strategies. Colleen Buddy proposed three different ways in which readers draw upon their background knowledge to make connections to the text: text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world (Buddy quoted in Keene and Zimmerman, 2007).
When a reader makes a text-to-self connection, he is drawing upon his own personal life experiences to connect with the text. For example, a reader may say, “Hey, I’ve been to the beach before and my dad and I walked along the shore looking for starfish!” prior to reading a book about the seashore.
Click the following link to download all 3 classroom posters: Making Connections- Classroom Poster Set
Questions that facilitate making text-to-self connections: Has this or something like this ever happened to me?, How similar or different is this to my life? What does this remind me of in my own life?
A text-to-text connection occurs when a reader makes a connection between a text that he will be or is reading to another text. A reader may make a connection between texts written by the same author, a story of a similar genre, or another book or article on the same topic.
Questions that facilitate making text-to-text connections: Does this remind me of another book I’ve read? Have I read about this topic before?, How is this similar or different from other texts I’ve read?
A reader makes a text-to-world connection when he connects what he is reading to ideas and events occurring the world. Readers have ideas of how the world works that go beyond personal experiences and what was read in previous texts. Readers learn about the world and events through a variety of media and other means such as conversations with others.
Questions that facilitate text-to-world connections: What does this remind me of in the world?, How does is this similar or different to what I know happens in the world?
Teaching the Strategy
For some students, making connections comes naturally. All too often our struggling readers fail to instinctively use the strategies that can help them understand what they are reading. For all readers, though, direct teacher modeling though think-alouds is the best way to teach students to use this strategy. Prior to reading text, the teacher may model a text-to-self connection by saying something to the effect of, “this text reminds me of a time when I…”. Having students read a variety of texts on a given topic will provide a vehicle for teaching students to make connections between texts. The teacher can then model the connections by saying, “Oh, this part of this text reminds me of the other book we read….”. Having the posters may also cue your students to remember to make those connections that will improve reading comprehension.
Horray! The bowling pins are back on the shelves at Walmart! Last year I found these adorable bowling pins and decided to create a hand-on activity for learning and practicing sight words. While they’re not exactly the same bowling pins as I originally purchased last year, they certainly will do the trick. To create your sight word bowling pins simply print the pdf file below on an Avery label 8161 (1″x4″) and place the desired stickers on the bowling pins.
To play the game, have the students take turns bowling and reading the words on the pins that were knocked down. If the word is read correctly, he/she can keep the bowling pin. Just a fun little game to keep learning sight words enjoyable.
Click the following link to download this freebie Sight-Word-Stickers-Lists-1-3-2
It’s that time again! Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual sale in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week! It’s really a great time to stock up on activities for next school year (or even the remaining months of this year). Here are some bundled activities that you may find helpful:
I just finished and uploaded the bundled Activities on the Go! sets. These activities fit right into old VHS cases and store nicely on a classroom shelf. I created them with classroom volunteers and para-professionals in mind, but they are certainly ideal for small group and 1:1 instruction. The directions are contained on the left-hand side of the container and the activity with the needed materials on the right. All you need to do is grab the activity and go!
There are 17 Activities on the Go! phonics based and sight word activities. You can purchase them separately or within the bundled sets.
Activities on the Go! Set 1: Rhyme, Syllables, Beginning Sounds, Ending Sounds and Writing Letters
Activities on the Go! Set 2: Short Vowels, CVC Words, Segmenting and Blending
Activities on the Go! Set 3: Digraphs, Blends, Magic e, R-Controlled Vowels and Vowel Teams
Activities on the Go! Set 4: Dolch Sight Words Lists 1-3, Lists 4-6 and Lists 7-9
The Make, Take & Teach Cookie Sheet Activities are our most popular printables. The bundling sets are the best way to stretch a dollar. Each bundle contains three cookie sheet volumes!
The File Folder Phonics Bundle contain 10 hands-on activities for learning and practicing targeted phonics skills. These activities are ideal for your independent literacy centers.
Hope you enjoy the sale! The TpT Teacher Appreciation sale only comes once a year. Again, be sure to enter that promo code at checkout. It’s so easy to skip that step.
The Road Racers activities are fast becoming one of my favorite activities! It’s amazing how motivating a little car can be. A month or so ago I created the activity for letters and sounds, and it was such a hit that I quickly created another to work on short vowels, word families and CVC words.
When you download the Road Racers for the Alphabet, you’ll receive 35 road templates with letters following the sequence of a commonly utilized reading series. Review roads are included for each 4 and 8 letter sequence. Simply print the road templates and gather a few little dollar store race cars and you’ll have a ready-made activity for either small group instruction or for independent literacy centers. Students push their cars along the road while either saying the letter name or sound. I’ve also included race-themed alphabet flashcards for added practice.
When you download the Road Racers for Short Vowels, Word Families and CVC words you’ll receive 39 colorful race car tracks. There are 6 templates specifically for short vowels, 19 for word families and 11 for CVC words. These race car tracks are differentiated, too!
Click the following link to download this free handout Developmental Stages of Phonemic Awareness
My good friend, Heidi, who is a Reading Specialist at one of our local elementary buildings, asked if I’d be interested in co-presenting with her at our next year’s district-wide professional development day. I love working with Heidi so, of course, I jumped at the chance. Next year Heidi and I will be presenting on the topic of phonological and phonemic awareness. Our target audience will be preschool and Pre-K teachers. I developed this handout for the presentation and thought others may find it helpful. Feel free to download it if you’d like! Enjoy!