Wednesday, March 15, 2023

St. Patrick's Day Seek and Find Activities for Numbers 1-20 and Letters A-Z

Living near Savannah, St. Patrick's Day is a big deal.  Schools close down, the big parade is down town, the fountain is turned green and thousands of people flock to the city for the festivities.  We opt to stay home and avoid the craziness of the St. Patrick's Day activities.  We do our own things at home, one of the more fun things for the little kids are these seek and find mats.  They love hunting for each letter and number as they practice recognizing and matching.

These mats work great for handwriting practice.  Students can find the letter on their card and trace it on their mat.  If these pages are laminated or placed in page protectors, then they will be a reusable center to use with dry eraser marker.

You can also pair these mats with mini erasers.  My oldest daughter loved anything to do with the mini erasers because they were fun shapes and very colorful.  Students can simply find the number on their card and cover it with the mini eraser.  This center can also be used over and over with students who need extra practice with letter or number recognition.

Students can also color the number from their card on their mat.  They can use crayons, markers, colored pencils or anything else that can be used for coloring.

These mats and cards can also make a fun write the room activity.  The teacher will place the cards around the room and the students will color in or trace each letter on their mat as they locate them.  This activity combines the necessary skills of letter recognition and handwriting with gross motor movement to get students engaging with the material in multiple ways.

All of my kids have loved using dot markers for any activity I would let them.  Students can use dot markers to mark each letter as they locate it on their page.

This is my three year old's favorite activity to do with these mats.  She loves picking a magnetic letter and finding its match on her letter mat!  The first time I introduced this activity to her, she wanted to do it over and over.  

These mats are the perfect way to incorporate St. Patrick's Day in your room.  These mats are versatile, with many ways to complete, meaning you can find the activities your students engage with the most.  


Thursday, January 12, 2023

Alternatives to Teachers Pay Teachers

There are many places where teachers can purchase or access teaching materials other than Teachers Pay Teachers.  This post will list only a fraction of sites available, as I will only be talking about the ones I have experience with.  This post, however, will not be detailing blogs with freebies, as there would be too many to list.  This post will have other teaching marketplaces and subscription sites where teachers can access material for their classrooms.

Teacher Sherpa
Teacher Sherpa is a newer site I have recently discovered.  It is a subscription based site, where teachers can sign up to get unlimited downloads for a set price.  They also have a free version, where you can sign up for a free account and receive 5 free downloads of anything on the site each month.  Another interesting thing about Teacher Sherpa is the ability to use their platform to create  your own worksheets.  With fonts and some clip art preloaded to their editing tool, it is possible to create your own activities for you students to complete.

Teach Simple
Teach Simple is another subscription site where teachers can sign up for a small monthly fee and get unlimited downloads of material.  Teach Simple does offer the first month of membership for free, so you can try it out before making a financial commitment.  

Classful is a teacher marketplace, much like Teachers Pay Teachers.  You can make a free account and shop their listings for teaching materials to use in your classrooms.  Classful also has other features, like fundraisers and messaging.  This site is trying to become a platform where teachers can connect.

Made By Teachers
Made by Teachers is more of a basic marketplace, more like what TPT used to be before they started all of the new programs.  Made by Teachers is strictly a marketplace to purchase teacher made lessons and activities. 


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Why Use Prewriting Tracing Lines?

There are many steps to learning to write.  The need for fine motor development of the hand muscles, proper grip of writing utensils, a general idea of how writing from top to bottom, left to right.  Many times children are given a pencil and expected to just know what they are doing, or to be able to easily trace or copy.  This just is not true.  Being taught how to write is just like teaching one how to ride a bike.  None one is able to hope on a bike and just go, they have to learn to balance and petal in order to even start riding, just like a child needs to develop their hand muscles before they can even begin to properly form letters.  

One way you can show yourself how difficult handwriting can be is to try and write something using your foot.  This was an exercise I was given at a teacher training I did my very first year.  We were told to try and write our names with our feet.  By doing so, we were to understand what it feels like for a child to try learning to write with their hands.  They are wobbly, don't always have the best grip and the letters just don't look right in the end.  With practice, and further hand development they will get there!  Once they have their fine motor muscles build up they can work with beginning writing.  That is where I introduce prewriting lines.

What Are Prewriting Lines?
You might be wondering what are prewriting lines and how are prewriting lines beneficial to a child learning to write.  Prewriting lines are lines that students can trace to practice common handwriting patterns.  Tracing can be done with writing utensils or their finger.   By practicing the line patterns over and over, students create a muscle memory of forming lines that will later be beneficial when learning to form letters in both print and cursive.

How Can I Use Prewriting Lines?
I would recommend laminating tracing pages or placing them inside page protectors to create a write and wipe activity.  You can also place the pages inside a binder for easy storage or a quick to put together writing center.   Prewriting line cards make a great writing center activity, fine motor center activity, morning tub or morning basket activity, as well as a small group activity.  

The prewriting lines pictured are from an alphabet animal tracing line packet.  Students will trace the lines from the capital letter to the lowercase letter.  Students get practice with letter recognition and line tracing with these pages.  The fun animal theme also allows students to see an animal that begins with each respective letter.


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Sight Word Flip Book and

Why Teach Sight Words?
I know there has recently been a huge shift in moving away from sight words in the early elementary classroom.  Many now only teach heart words along side phonics, which for many children, is a perfectly fine, and valid way of teaching.  Many words on the lists commonly used in the kindergarten and first grade classrooms have many words that are decodable, and heart words are the words that do not follow normal phonics patterns.  

I do, however, think we should not neglect sight words altogether, even the decodable ones.  My main reason for belief is my experience with my own daughter.  She struggles SO much with picking up phonics and still has a lot of trouble phonetically pronouncing words (She is currently 10 years old), so even phonetically spelled sight words that she hasn't been explicitly taught, still mess her up.  These flip books have been a good, repetitive activity that has helped my daughter pick up new words.  I started with the most common words and worked my way to the less common words, and this allowed her to be successful when she so badly wanted to read like her peers, and before the phonics skills began to click with her.

What is the purpose of sight words?
Sight words are used specifically to increase early fluency in reading.  If a child must sound out every single word every time they read, it will be heard for them to gain mastery or understanding of the text.  By teaching the most common words they will see in a text, they are able to use those words by memory and then only have to sound out a few words in a given sentence.

Each sight word flip book has a cover page that students can simply color.  There are 6 different activity pages included and the last two pages have variants that allow you to differentiate for students on different levels.

The first page in the flip book is a find and color page.  Students will look for the target sight word and then color the circle with the word.  Students can also use dot markers to cover the word or stickers for a fine motor activity.

The next page is a trace and write page.  Students gain handwriting practice by tracing the target sight word, then writing it on their own.

Then, there is a spelling page.  At the bottom of this printable page are letter tiles students can use to spell the word.  You can also use alphabet stamps or magazine letters to spell each word.

The next page is a cut and paste page.  At the bottom of this page are the sight word in a variety of different fonts.  Students can also look through printed materials like newspapers or magazines for examples of the word to cut and paste.

On the read, write, and draw page, students will read the sentence, copy the sentence then draw a picture of what the sentence said.  Students get handwriting practice as well as reading comprehension practice with this page.  An alternative to this page is available for students to come up with their own sentence with the sight word.

This page allowed students to write the missing sight word on the page and then read a passage that targets the sight word.  

This page is an alternative to the write and read page.  This page simple has students read a passage containing the sight word.  You may choose to have the students identify the sight word in the passage by having then underline or circle the word they are learning.

For a full list of words available for these sight word flip books, please check out this page:  Sight Word Flip Book Page


St. Patrick's Day Seek and Find Activities for Numbers 1-20 and Letters A-Z

Living near Savannah, St. Patrick's Day is a big deal.  Schools close down, the big parade is down town, the fountain is turned gree...