CVC Fun and Glue Gun Love!

I don't know about you, but I LOVE stationery! I could spend hours (and a serious sum of money) in a store filled with paper, ink and pretty office supplies. A few weeks back, I was in one such shop looking for some glue sticks for my hot glue gun, and what did I see sitting on the shelf right next to the glue sticks? A pink glue gun with 20 glue sticks for $8.99. I didn't even do the 'do I really need this?' dance. I put it in my basket, paid and walked out smiling!

For the past 5 years (since we moved back to Australia) I have been using a big, old, ugly, black glue gun with a UK power plug. As the only UK adapter in the house was under the computer desk and attached to all sorts of computer related devices, I would bundle all my gluing up and crawl under the desk to glue and make resources! Needless to say, I have been enjoying gluing in style (yes, on the kitchen table!), armed with my pink glue gun.

Inspired by my pretty purchase (I really cannot stop thinking of things that involve gluing at the moment), I created a fun resource for my little learners to learn word families while practicing their fine motor.

I like to introduce CVC words once all single sounds have been taught. I start with the short 'a' word family and continue through the vowels. In this activity, little learners decode CVC words by moving the rime down the onset strip.  The color coded vowel sets make identifying the medial sound easier, and storage a breeze!

This activity works great in centers. Because it is simple yet hands-on, little learners are both able and engaged as they move the 'ug' square next to the 'b' and say 'bug'. They continue to move the rime down the onset, saying the word each time 'dug', 'hug' and so on until the strip is complete.

Finding new and different ways to teach the same content can be so difficult. I am glad to add this resource to the many others I use to help little learners master word families and become more confident and fluent readers.

Click here if you would also like to add this to your collection! 

What are some of your favorite ways to teach CVC words? I'd love to hear them!


Managing Taking Turns in the Classroom

I just love how enthusiastic little learners are to volunteer in the classroom! What I don't love is their waving and begging hands as these little learners indicate their willingness to help. And I find it even more difficult to see their disappointed faces when they are not chosen. To keep it fair and encourage even the shyest little learner to participate, I like to use systems in the classroom to manage taking turns.

For this system I bought some little white boxes from the cheap shop. I split the class into gender groups, but you could use the whole class or group the students according to reading groups etc. depending on your needs. Then I simply typed each little learner's name, cut to size and placed in the box. When a volunteer is needed in the classroom, simply choose the top name from the box and call their name. Then place that name at the bottom of the pile. Because I have two groups, I then place that box to the bottom, so I know which box I am choosing from next time (anyone else suffer from amnesia in the classroom at times?). To keep the suspense, I also like to include a colored paper at the beginning to mark when each child has had a turn. This way I can shuffle the names after one rotation (or a couple) and the little learners don't get to know the order.

This is just one of many systems I have used to keep those little faces smiling and the classroom running smoothly. Would love to hear how you manage turn taking in your classroom!


Shop? Who me? Never!

Actually believe it or not, I have never really been much of a shopper. Now that I have children and responsibilities (apparently they need to be fed every single day and several times at that), I enjoy shopping even less! I have just never really understood the shoe obsession thing, rarely have I accompanied my girlfriends on shopping sprees and I can count on one hand the number of times I have felt the need for retail therapy. Shops, crowds, bright lights, those horrible mirrors that LIE, shop layouts that make me feel disorientated. I just never did get the whole shopping thing! Until, that is, I found TpT!

Here in Australia at the moment it is tax time. I have been putting off totally up (and sharing with my hubby) how much I have spent on teaching resources over the past year. While I may not have an amazing shoe collection, I do have a pretty awesome collection of clip art! My clothes may not be this seasons (or the last several), but I do have many resources that reflect the latest innovations in education. So when I heard that TpT was having their big Blast off Back to School Sale on August 4-5, I thought I might just hang off on tallying up last year's bill! Just a few more items won't hurt, right? But just in case my wonderful hubby is looking over my shoulder while I shop on Monday and Tuesday, I have a plan. You see, I won't really be shopping. I will actually be......

Extending our Holidays and Salvaging our Family Time!
Buying a quality activity that would take me hours to make, in my opinion, is money well spent! I don't have to tell you that working in classrooms is a physically and emotionally draining job! For me purchasing something for a few dollars to help me through a patch where I am time poor is a no-brainer! Besides, have you seen where I holidayed recently? More holidays please!

Investing in Works of Art
Over recent years, collecting art has become increasingly popular and financially rewarding. I'm pretty sure investing in clip art is the same thing :) Besides, it is pretty and it makes me happy! Here are a couple of things I have my eye on from two of my favorite artists!

Encouraging my Family Members
My lovely mum and very talented sister-in-law have begun selling on Teachers Pay Teachers. I am looking forward to supporting them! I like the look of my mum's Get to Know You Name Activities.

I'm having trouble deciding what to choose from my sister-in-law's store. I love all of her drawings! I particularly like one of her latest sets: Emergency/Rescue Vehicle Clip Art. So cute!

Supporting Friends
One of the wonderful things about beginning a life online is that I have had the opportunity to meet new friends from all over the world that I wouldn't have met otherwise! So fun to be able to support them too!

And if none of those reasons work, I will be able to throw this next one at my hubby. Okay, so it might be shopping, but I am celebrating the release of my new decor bundle that I have been working on for ages!

Shop? Who me? Never! But I may do a spot of supporting friends and family, investing in art and salvaging my precious time! 

Oh and by the way, details of Scrooge the Husband have been added for dramatic effect! He really is very generous!


Back to School Tips - Set Aside the Chevron Welcome Banner

There seems like there are a million things to get done around back to school time! Classroom set up, lesson plans, meet and greets, labeling, establishing routines and can be such an overwhelming time for teachers! With such a heavy load, it is possible for us teachers to temporarily forget what is really important. For me, there is no point in having the cutest classroom decor (and you all know I love to make things pretty!) or the latest innovation in teaching and learning, if I don't know my students and they are not attached to me. Building connection and trust in the classroom affects the way our students learn, the way we teach and the way our class runs. So if you are running out of time before school starts to get that chevron welcome banner finished, set it aside and make a plan on how you will make your students feel welcome as you get to know them.

How do we build relationship and connection in the classroom you might ask? Much the same as you or I would in our adult lives - spending time together, starting conversations without being invasive, showing interest, finding common ground, being trustworthy, showing respect, making eye contact, listening. I have mentioned before that little ones love speaking about themselves. I recently found out that us adults are not that different. The lovely Lucy from Here's an Idea from Lucy S asked me to be an interviewee for her Teacher-Authors Around the World Series. I was flattered that she was interested in my story and initiated a virtual get-together. As we were chatting, I realized she knew and remember many things from our previous interactions. Lucy had listened to me! We communicated about our common interest (education) and explored unknown territory. I am excited about our new friendship, which I hope will grow with time and contact, and all because Lucy asked me to talk about myself :) You can head on over to Lucy's blog to check out the full interview.

Showing interest in our students is the first step to building a trusting relationship. All the cute decor and educational innovations in the world won't matter much if your students are not connected to you. Here's a nice freebie to help get the ball rolling. Just click on the image below. Don't forget to complete one yourself! After all, it is not just the little ones who enjoy talking about themselves ;)

Linking up with Brownbag Academics Back to School Blog Hop. Click on the image to check out more Back to School Teacher Tips!


Sight Word Interactive Notebooks - Part 2

I love using Interactive Notebooks for introducing and practicing individual sight words. I also love to use them for revising a whole bunch of words after they have been introduced and practiced. Today I'd love to show you how we do that.

We begin our revision with a simple cut and paste activity. Students read and color the high frequency words. They then cut and arrange the letters in order and glue to make the word under the flap.

Similarly, in the next activity students read the sight word and make it by stamping (a favorite!), rainbow writing, bingo marking or any other preferred method on the left. On the right, students trace the word on the top sheet and color the word under the flap.

In this colorful activity, students repeatedly write the words in the rainbow strips according to the colors on the rainbow review shape.

The Sight Words Sliders are a fun way to practice saying these 'tricky' words. Students move the strip up and down, saying the new word each time. They love to have races against themselves or others :)

The alphabet sort is not only great for sorting the sight words, but also great for any additional words we are learning in class. For this reason although not all letters have a sight word, the complete alphabet included is great!

The Words I Know/Words to Learn pockets are great for me as an at a glance progress report. The kiddies love moving their words from Words to Learn to Words I Know too! To use this activity, students simply cut the word strips, trace and place in the pocket where they belong. (Please excuse my old photo that has word instead of words. It has been fixed, but I haven't had the chance to photograph it yet! Where does the time go?)


Fast Finishers and Meticulous Incompleters {Finished & Unfinished Trays}

Does it happen to you too? For the vast majority of your students you hit the nail on the head. They get it and they finish their work in the time you have allocated. You pat yourself on the back and you smile! Awesome lesson, you say to yourself. Well done! But wait, there are two sweeties over there working meticulously on their activity and they are just not going to finish before break. Then there is another who will have the same outcome, but for a whole different set of reasons! And don't forget the ever so eager one who completed the task as you finished explaining it. One of the most difficult things I have found when teaching a class filled with differing abilities and learning styles (which is every class you or I have ever taught), is managing the rate at which work is completed. What to do? Enter the finished/unfinished trays.

This is such a simple strategy! When the students finish their independent activity they simply place their work in the finished tray. They can do this as and when they finish the activity without interrupting me. They then work on their 'fast finishers' tasks. One of these tasks is to check the unfinished tray.

If any of the sweeties don't finish their independent activity in the time allocated, they simply place it in the unfinished tray. When a spare five minutes arises through the day, students can collect their work from the tray and continue the activity.

The great thing about this strategy is that all the sheets are in one place for marking! I can also see who is struggling (or taking extra care) with a particular concept at a glance. It has made a huge difference in managing this tricky classroom issue.

If you would like a copy of these free labels click HERE or on the images.

So what are your classroom management tips and tricks? I would love to hear them!


Sight Word Interactive Notebooks

Just in case you have been hiding under a rock, let me tell you about a super fun way to engage your students in learning....Interactive Notebooks! Interactive Notebooks are great for introducing, practicing and revising concepts. Today I would like to walk you through my Sight Words Interactive Notebooks, which have been a wonderful help for students learning high frequency (and often tricky) words.

When the sight word is introduced, I like to have the students trace over the word with their finger. After this, the kiddies stick stickers or use bingo markers to dot the word. Any tactile activity works well here! Under this flap students then write the word in the box shapes and glue. Students then find the sight word in the next two practice examples. These activities are completed on the first day.

By now you will notice there is no getting around it. Interactive Notebooks involve lots of cutting, gluing and coloring. While practicing these skills in the elementary years is important for fine motor development, it can take away precious lesson time. That is why I find that working in small groups (with a parent/volunteer) is particularly helpful when introducing these activities. As students become familiar with the layout and better with their cutting skills, this can be done as a larger group or independent activity.

Students love making the picture! They read and write their sight words as they create the scene. They print, rainbow write and repeat the word. This activity is completed on the second day. Similar opportunities to practice are included with the 'cross' activity, where students trace, color, rainbow write and print the sight word on and under the flaps.

In the 'read and trace' sentence practice activity, students have the opportunity to see the word used in context. This page is completed on the third day.

At the beginning of the year, each word is introduced and practiced over a 3 day period. As students become more confident with the process and their cutting skills, this can be done over a 2 day period and the house picture can be used as an independent revision activity.

I love to use these notebooks when there is an extra 5 minutes to fill throughout the day. The kiddies simply take out their books and revise their sight words! They love it and so do I! Of course, not all activities must be used, or used as I have described. That's what I love about teaching - adapting activities to suit the learners in our care!

Check out this fun learning resource!


Popping Math Facts

I found this very cute toaster recently (at Smiggle for any Aussie readers) and just had to have it! It was labeled as a notepad - pop the 'toast' and write on the piece that pops. Cute idea, but of course I immediately thought of the uses in the classroom: sight words that pop, popping math questions, exit tickets, review - you get the picture! Whatever I would use it for, I was certain it would be a success!

I ended up settling on math questions. During transition times, as my Kinders were coming to the carpet, I would get out 'Toaster Ted', select a volunteer and have them pop the toast. It was amazing how quickly and QUIETLY everyone came to the carpet in the hope they would be chosen to answer the question, and thus win the next turn at popping Ted!

I just love how approaching something from a different angle can disguise learning and create fun! I'd love to hear what tricks you use to shake learning up in your classroom! Comment below!