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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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Monday, October 14, 2019

Pumpkin Patch Bakery

We love adding seasonal bakeries to our home living area. We already have a kitchen, so why not put it to use.  During the fall our kids love cooking up a little magic in the Pumpkin Bakery. Here's all the fun, and learning, that happens!
First, we made a sign to identify the area for the bakery.  Signage is very important to develop literacy.  Some of the first words kids learn to read are environmental print.  It is amazing to watch kids begin to use these words in their writing because these words have meaning to them!
Next, we set up the shelf. We have really loved having this shelf in the home living area. It gives us a place to set up the thematic items needed for the bakery or whatever we are setting up.  Each of the items has a label. This helps kids learn to sort and organize the area. 
One item that works well in a bakery---pans! We picked up several different shapes and sizes of pans at The Dollar Tree. I cut some felt to fit inside of the pans. Then, I used hot glue to attach the felt.
We added orange pompoms to make "pumpkin filling".
We added both strips and larger pieces of felt to make the crust.
I picked up a few "fall" potholders at the Dollar Tree. Now it's time to get ready to put our creations in the oven.
Set the oven and pop in the items.
And here you go...a pumpkin pie! Want to bring in literacy? How about using the pictures you take and create sequencing cards. Or, have the kids write the steps!
We added some other items to the bakery.  We cut some doughnut shapes out of felt. Then, we cut some "frosting" out of orange to make pumpkin spice doughnuts.
We also added some rectangular pans for making pumpkin bread.
And we added some muffin tins for pumpkin muffins!
What's the best part? Eating! You can find all of our signage and other props to create a pumpkin patch and a hayride in this unit.
You can read more about the pumpkin patch in this blog post: 

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