15 April 2016

I use flashcards everyday in my classroom. They're practical, useful, and convenient. 

I've made DIY alphabet flashcards before, but today's flashcards are comparable to Hefty Bags. Perhaps it's because I accidentally bought the strongest card stock at Michael's which is good because you don't need to print these flashcards. All you need is heavy-duty card stock and stickers. Here's what we did: 

 MATERIALS: Seven sheets of 110lb card stock, scissors, and stickers (which I purchased from Target). 

First, cut the card stock in fourths. You'll need 26 cards. Next, carefully place the stickers onto the cards. 

TADA! Instant, DURABLE flashcards. Enjoy!


25 March 2016

Today we're learning about the letter W, so we made a watermelon W. A cute book to accompany this watermelon activity is The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli. It's a story about an alligator swallowing a watermelon seed. If you were a worried youngster like me, then this story will transport you back to your childhood. ;) Here's what we did:

MATERIALS: Red, green, white, and black paper; scissors, glue, and a w template
DIRECTIONS: 1. Print the W template. Trace and cut it out. This W will serve as your stencil. 2. Using the stencil, trace a W onto the red paper. 3. Carefully cut it out. 4. Using the W template, trace out a W from the green paper. 5. Cut it out. 

6. Then, go back and trace out a thin W. This is your watermelon rind.

7. From the black paper, draw and cut out little watermelon seeds. 

9. It's time to assemble!

9. First put a little outline of glue on the red W. Lay the green piece onto it. 9. Add your seeds. 

Let it dry!

TA DA! W is for Watermelon. Enjoy!


23 March 2016

Today I'm showing you how I use these flashcards to teach alphabet knowledge. If you haven't downloaded the flashcard templates, click here to download and print. And refer to this post to create them. Here's what we did:

ACTIVITY ONE: Recite the alphabet. Sing the alphabet song. Need help? Click here to sing along with Storybots. 

After arranging the cards in alphabetical order, ask your child to match the magnetic letters to the flashcard.

It's good to talk about uppercase and lowercase letters because young children need to be taught the difference between the two types of letters. Also mention that uppercase letters are used at the beginning of proper names and at the beginning of sentences. 

ACTIVITY TWO: This next activity is more advanced. The purpose is to see if your child knows what letter comes next in the alphabet. For example, on the top-left image, your child finds the letter J (capital and lowercase) because it comes after Ii. Just do four-at-a-time because it could cause confusion if there's multiple cards at one time. 

Activity ONE and TWO could be done independently. However, the next activity needs two players: 

ACTIVITY THREE: This activity focuses on letter sounds. First, review the sounds. I have two ways of doing this: 1) Show the flashcard and says its sound; 2) Watch this video because it reviews letters and sounds. 

Next, shuffle the flashcards. Stack them. One person looks at the card and says the letter name. The other player says the letter's sound. Then they look for the magnetic letter and place it next to the card. Continue until all cards are used.  

To add another flavor to this game, do this: Instead of naming the letter, think of a word that begins with the letter. For example, say  "octopus" for O and "house" for H. This activity helps with recognizing beginning sounds. It's a great tool for teaching phonemic awareness. Enjoy!


18 March 2016

It's Freebie Friday. Today I have worksheets that focus on -at, -et, -it, -ot, and -ut endings. But these aren't your run-of-the-mill worksheets. Yes, your child will read, write, and spell CVC words. But they will also build fine motor skills with these worksheets. Your child will cut, glue, and use magnetic letters to learn about word endings. Here's what we did: 

As a warm-up activity, read through these flipbooks. Next, print the word family worksheets.

On the first page, cut and paste the word to the corresponding picture. 

It's time to bring out the magnetic letters. Now it's time to find the object's beginning letter sounds. 

Clear the worksheet. Now cut and paste the beginning sound.

Finally, it's time to spell out the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) word from memory. 

It's time to write the CVC words too!

An additional activity is to use the flipbooks and magnetic letters to make more word family words.

Click on -AT, -ET-IT-OT, and -UT to download and print the worksheets. If you'd like more word family worksheets, comment below and I'm happy to make more. Enjoy!


16 March 2016

How do you teach phonics? 

A. Direct Instruction B. Worksheets C. Activities D. Games E. Videos F. All of the Above

If you have a holistic approach to teach reading, then I'm sure your answer is All of the Above. Phonics is just one component of a balanced reading program. A strong reading program has: 
  1. Phonics
  2. Read Aloud
  3. Comprehension
  4. Word study (sight words plus vocabulary)
  5. (Hand)writing
  6. Guided reading

Usually it takes about 2 1/2 hours to cover all the components in a day. 

So where am I going with this? Each child develops in his/her own way and time. Some are faster, others are take their time. Some are reading by four, some don't pick it up by six or seven. You will have students or children who will develop the skill at different times. To help you teach phonics in a systematic and sequential way, I use Saxon Phonics for classroom instruction. But for independent work for my students, I use Explode the Code. I love it. 

When a child finishes her language arts for the day, she grabs her workbook and works on it for 5-10 minutes. Sometimes he'll finish one page, sometimes two, or sometimes three. I like this source because students can independently work on it, the workbooks are systematic, and it's sequential. Plus, the pictures are cute. ;)

The best way to teach phonics is direct instruction using many resources like flashcards, games, puzzles, activities, and videos. Again, these workbooks are supplemental but they're useful when a child finishes early and there's still extra time. My students enjoy them. Well, for the most part. They still are worksheets. ;) Happy Wednesday!

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