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Saturday, January 4, 2020

Zero the Hero...Beyond Day 100

Who says Zero the Hero can only come the first 100 days of school? Our kids loved the math games that he was bringing them, so....if you can't beat them, join them. We found this a perfect way to introduce new games and review previously taught standards.  This blog post shares how to organize and set it up as well as some of the activities from post day 100!
We kept the same bag that we had used for the first 10 visits, so no need to make a new one.  Each 10th day, Zero packs the bag with a special surprise. It contains a letter from Zero the Hero as well as a new game.
The letter introduces the math concept for the new game. Here are a few of the games:

Spin and Add

To play this game, invite the kids to spin the spinner and subitize the number of fingers where the spinner lands.
To make the spinner really spin, consider adding a pony bead to the brad. This acts as a washer and gives the paper clip the room it needs to spin.
After spinning, invite the kids to color the fingers on the hands (they will spin twice).  Now, write the equation and the sum!

Roll and Add

This is a super easy game.  Invite the kids to roll two dice. Add the dots together, and trace the sum! Which numeral gets to the top first?
Here's another teacher hack! To keep from having sums over 10, simply cover the 6 dots to show "zero" dots!

Spin and Decompose

To play this game, invite the children to spin the 11-19 spinner.  Now, using a crayon, invite the children to color in the tens frames to show the number. Write the equation below.

Make a 10

Here is another game to use with a dice.  Invite the child to roll the dice. Color that many squares on the tens frame. Color the remaining squares a different color. Record your equation.

Jump and Subtract

For this game, give each child a dice and a number line  Invite the children to roll a dice. Using a plastic frog or a frog clip art pictures, jump the frog down the number line to match the number on the dice.  Record the equation on the recording page.

Domino Sort

To play the game, you can use real dominoes (if you have enough) or paper ones that you make. Invite the kids to cut and sort the dominoes by subitizing the sum. Glue them into the correct column on the recording page.

All of these ideas and included in this Zero the Hero Unit.

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Christmas Literacy Games

December is a great time of year to introduce hands on activities that kids can play independently in literacy centers. Here are a few of our favorite games for kindergarten and first grade kids.
Roll a Word
To play this game:

  • Invite the kids to place a cube or other marker at the bottom of each row of pictures.
  • Roll a dice and move the first marker up the column that many spaces.
  • Repeat for columns two and three.
  • Give each child a worksheet, recording page, "Roll a Word".
  • Next, the kids write the three letters, where the markers landed, on the paper.
  • Lastly, write the three letters together and read the word!

Roll, Say, Keep
To play this game:

  • Invite the kids to place one of the cards in each of the 6 boxes on the game board.
  • Roll a dice.
  • Look on the game board and find the box with the dots that match the dice.
  • Invite the child to read the card.
  • If they can, keep the card.
  • Replace the card with a new card.
  • If they can't, leave the card on the game board.

Spin a Word
Here's how to play this game:
  • Invite the kids to spin the consonant spinner. 
  • Find the tree box with the letter on which the spinner landed.
  • Next, spin the vowel spinner.
  • Find the tree box with the letter on which the spinner landed.
  • Repeat on the consonant spinner.

  • As you spin and collect the letters, place them on the tree game board.

  • Record the words on the recording page.
Syllable Sorting

Here's how to play this game:

  • Invite the kids to select one of the presents.
  • Name the picture.
  • Count the syllables.
  • Place the pictures under the correct tree.


  • Record the words on the recording page.
All of these games are from this literacy game pack: Christmas Literacy Game Pack

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Monday, November 25, 2019

December Pocket Chart Activities

The Pocket Chart...we all have one,right? But do our kids really choose that center? IF they do choose it, do they know what to do? I developed 6 different types of activities for the pocket chart that kindergarten and first grade kids can use independently as part of your center rotation.  By keeping the same types of activities, and just changing the standard and themes, the kids quickly become independent! Here are the 6 activities for December:
Pocket Chart Poem
Each month, I write a poem that the children can sequence in the pocket chart. First, I invite the kids to sequence the pictures to tell the story.  Then, we match the sentences to the pictures. Next, the kids can build each sentence by matching the words.  Once they learn the poem, the kids can skip the sentence step, and just sequence the words to make the sentences.  I reproduce each sentence on a different color of paper. This helps kids know which words go together.
Syllable Sorting
I also include some type of sort. In December, the kids are sorting seasonal clip art by 1 or 2 syllables.
I also included a cut and paste activity for each of the 6 activities. These make great follow up activities for morning work or another independent time.  It's a great way to spot check to see if they are successfully mastering the standard on the pocket chart.
Word Family Sort
For a different sorting idea, the kids sort the pictures on the present cards by the word families.  Place the 4 trees across the top of the pocket chart. Invite the kids to sort the pictures into the correct column. This would be a phonemic sort.  If you want the kids to practice phonics, have them sort the picture cards with the words. The kids then, complete the word by finding the beginning sounds.
Making Words
Making words is another activity included each month.  I just select some seasonal words and find the clip art. Then, the kids match the pictures with the word card and the pictures.  Lastly, they kids use letters to make each word.
Find the Hidden Picture
This is the class favorite of all the pocket chart activities.  For this game we are using sight words, but you can easily change this to letters, pictures, or any other standard.  To play the game, kids take turns reading one of the words on the chimney. As they read the word, they flip over the card.
They keep taking turns reading the words and flipping over the cards until one of them finds the hidden picture.
Beginning Sound Match Up
The final activity is some kind of matching game.  Here the kids are matching the beginning sound (blends and digraphs) to the picture of the item in the sleigh.
Since color clip art isn't available to everyone, I also made all of the activities in black and white. Simply choose your favorite color of paper, copy, and laminate!
Here is another example of the cut and past activities!
All of these activities are included in the December Pocket Chart Unit


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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Teaching Reading Strategies with the Super Reader League

The Super Reader League is a great way to create excitement and engagement while teaching your kids all of the Reading Strategies. This blog post shares how we build up to our first visit from the SRL. You can also read all about the things the SRL sends the kids for each of the "powers".
At the beginning of the year we carefully craft our read aloud time.  We make sure that we read books that have great illustrations that will support effective retelling.  Books with rhythm and rhyme work well too.  Begin a collection of these books.  If you have multiple copies of the book, great. Collect all of them.  Once you have a collection that contains enough books for each child to receive one, you are ready to "wrap" up a special gift.  Place the books inside gift bags, one for each child.
Invite the kids to open up their gift! They are so excited because these are the books that you have carefully selected! These are the books that they can easily retell.
Once each child has their gift opened, quickly make a line and parade throughout the school. As we marched through the school, we chanted..."We are readers! We are readers!" After the parade, invite the kids to place this book inside their special book box.  This is when we introduce the idea of each child having their own box of books for independent reading time.
When we get back to the room, we find a special box has been delivered to our room! Create a fun box with a special label that identifies the sender as the Super Reader League. With care and anticipation, open the box! Here's what you will find in the box:
Letter From the Super Reader League
In the box you will find a letter from the Super Reader League.  The letter always congratulates the kids on how well they are doing. Then, it introduces the "power" that is to be highlighted. 
The Gift
The SRL always sends some sort of "gift". In our first box celebrating book lover power, the SRL sent bookmarks.  The kids added the bookmarks to their book boxes to remind them to always love their books.
Super Power Strip
The next thing in the box is the super power strip.  The kids will each get one of these for each power. When they get the first power, we also include a metal ring for each child. This ring will hold all of the power strips.  These power strips remind kids of each of the super powers and how to use them to be good readers.  These are also kept in their book boxes.
Super Reader League Powers Anchor Chart
To make the anchor chart begin with a blank piece of poster board.  Glue the title to the top of the chart. Each time the class gets a new box from the SRL, the card for that power is included. Add the cards to the chart. We use velcro dots. This way we can reuse them next year!  There are 12 powers in all. These are the first 6.
Super Power Chants
For each of the powers we wrote a jingle using a familiar tune.  Invite the kids to add the chant to their poetry notebook. They also keep this notebook in their book boxes.
Super Power Craftivity
For each power, the kids also receive a craft activity. Here are a few from the first 6 powers.  For book lovers power, the kids made these fun crowns.  After cutting out the crown, the kids cut out and past the habits of book lovers around the band.
For picture power, the kids make this fun retelling craft.  After cutting out the camera, add the strip to retell Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  As they slide the strip through the camera, they retell the story.

For partner power, we made these fun partner necklaces. Invite the kids to cut out their own dog tags and each partnership to cut out one medallion. The kids string beads in a pattern stopping half way to add the medallion and the dog tag. Finish the pattern.
Find your book buddy. Match your medallion and your will receive partner power!
For sight word power, we made these fun SRL paper bag puppets. We added our sight words to our capes!
This is an example of the box for partner power. All of the things you see in the picture are placed in the box from the Super Reader League. How fun to open the box and find all of the goodies inside!
All of these items are found in the Super Reader League Unit 1.  Be sure and watch for Unit 2. It will have the other 6 powers.

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