Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sight Word Solution! {And a FREEBIE!}

Sight words.  For years, teaching sight words has been an uphill battle with so many of my first graders.  I hear from other teachers (and parents!) all the time & they’re asking “Why does learning sight words have to be so hard?”  Kids ask this, too!  Assigning children a list of words that have no logical connection to one another has always seemed a little “off” to me, but it was the way everyone did it, so it was the way I did it. 

As teachers of sight words, most of us are used to teaching the words as they are listed on the original Dolche or Fry lists. Sometimes this can be frustrating for small children because there is no logical pattern to the words they are learning. 

Even parents are confused by sight words because many of them never learned them when they were in school. I have the solution!

When I was working with my lower babies & doing a lot of work with RTI groups, I had students put their assigned sight words into groups that made sense to them. I noticed that the kids were grouping their word cards by the phonics and spelling patterns they were familiar with.  

That’s how their little brains worked, and I found that my kids are able to master words more quickly if they follow a logical pattern or “make sense”. 

That’s when these lists made their way into my classroom instruction & it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done with sight words. In my district, first graders are asked to master 600 words by the end of the year.  That’s a lot, I know!

This system takes all of the 600+ sight words and groups them by spelling or phonics pattern

For instance, in List 1, children are only learning 2-letter words with long vowel e.
And in List 32, students are only focusing on the r-controlled vowel /ar/.  Breaking words down into manageable parts provides learners with that logical pattern they are often seeking when mastering sight words. 

Sure, there are words that don’t fit a specific pattern, and those are included, as well. They are marked in BOLD in each list.

I’ve made charts that show how each of these lists are correlated with the original Dolche & Fry lists. This is how I made it all work in my head. I had to know that all of the words I was teaching my children were the ones they really needed to know.
 When students have mastered all of the words that can be learned through spelling & phonics patterns, they move onto the challenge words. These challenge words are based on the Fry lists of the most frequently used words in the English language.  

 For these words, each child gets a list to study, as well as a Fluency Passage that includes ALL of the words for practice.  These passages are included because research shows that learning words in isolation is not the best way to master them, but rather embedding them in text has a more positive and long-lasting result.

As children learn their words, we celebrate our success with Sight Word Superstars!!!  In my room, each child has a command hook under their name. There are stars for each 5 lists, and for every list mastered, I punch a hole or put a sticker over the number. When they have learned all 5 lists for that star, they get to hang their star under their name. 
You can choose to cut out each individual star, or just cut out the squares.

You can also just hang them on a binder ring or key ring like you would Brag Tags. Kids love to hang these off their backpacks, or keep them in their cubbies. This is a great way to celebrate without taking up too much classroom space, or if you prefer not to have a public display in your room.

The kids love earning their stars!!

Now, do you have to teach your kids all 600 words? Absolutely not! I know the requirements for sight word mastery varies from district to district, so there is a set for the most common groups – 50, 100, 220, 450, and 600 (the challenge words).

If you’re interested in trying it out, the first set is a Starter Set for the first 50+ words, and it’s FREE for you to download and try. Just click the picture to check it out.

 If you want to check out the other sets, there are previews for each listing that will show you everything included. Just click the picture of each set to check it out! :)

***** EACH SET IS CUMULATIVE! That means, if you teach 220 words, only download the 220 set because it includes everything in the 50 & 100 set, as well as everything you will need to teach 220. YOU ONLY NEED TO PURCHASE ONE SET...the set that is based on how many words you want to teach your students. 

If you only teach 100 words, you only need that one set. However, if you want to teach all 600 words to your kiddos, you can get that, too. It’s 278 pages of EVERYTHING you’ll need to teach that Sight Word Solution!

This has seriously changed the way I teach sight words, and the level of mastery in my classroom. I have seen some of my kids just thrive with this program.  Check out the FREEBIE & let me know what you think!! :)

As always, thanks for stopping by!!
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Bingo Dauber Glue Sponges

Hi Friends!
   Today marks four weeks since my summer began, and as you probably know, I have been spending my time doing a whole bunch of...well, nothing.  Okay, I can't say that. I've been doing a whole lot of everything, but nothing school related. 
   Now that I realize my time is wearing thin, and I've got two weeks of vacation planned in the midst of my last four weeks of summer, it was time to light a little fire under my hiney and do something for my classroom.

   For the last few years, I have made glue sponges each summer to get ready for the school year. By now, you've probably heard about glue sponges, and honey, lemme tell you, they are one of the BEST things that have ever happened to me as a teacher.
If you don't know about glue sponges, I'll give you a little run down.  The original idea comes from Greg at The Kindergarten Smorgasboard.  Basically, you get some tight-sealing plastic containers, layer the bottom with white glue, cut & lay sponge on top of the glue, then pour more glue on top.  Seal up the container,and let it sit for a couple weeks for the sponges to really soak up all the glue.  
In the past, I've gotten some Glad Sandwich containers & the kids shared. This year, I decided to make these little individual ones for each student. 

To put these bad boys to good use in the classroom, the kids cut out their little pieces of paper, lay gently on top of the sponge (because all the glue has been absorbed by the sponge) and voila - glue on the paper AND there's NO MESS!  

Plus, it cuts down on the use of glue sticks, which apparently, my kids eat. Seriously, we go through about 200 before Christmas.  So, glue sponges have saved my sanity....and my money! :)

But...and this is a BIG BUT, my kids always have a problem when we use BIG pieces of paper.  We make crafts with pieces that are simply too big to put into the glue sponge container..even the sandwich ones.

So, my only option so far has been bottle glue..... which means that every kid's desk ends up looking like this. Messy and I'm sure you know what their paper looks like. Globby, runny, wet, and all stuck together.  Ugh.

This year, I wanted to try making something that would help alleviate the Glue Spill Issue, and still utilize the brilliance behind the glue sponge. 
I ordered some empty bingo daubers off Amazon, and set out to try my little idea.  {Note: the ones you buy at the Dollar Tree won't work - the tops don't come off. Just FYI!}. 

They were pretty cheap & they're perfect for what I want to do with them. Plus, their itty bitty -- perfect for little first grade hands.  I just filled them up half way, put the dauber on top, sealed them & done!

You just squeeze until the glue fills the spongy top & then "dab" onto the BIG pieces of paper that won't fit in the containers. You can also drag them if you need a little more glue, but no matter what, NO MESS!  Woo hoo!!! :)
 I'm in love with my new Glue Daubers.

You might ask, "Why don't you just use glue bottles?"  I know that makes the most sense, but seriously, friends, my kids get bottle glue EVERYwhere, no matter how many lessons we have on "Just a Dot, Not a Lot".  There are some that get it & do wonderfully with glue bottles, and then there are some that just like glue. 
A lot. A whole lot.

Plus, they think the Glue Sponges are cool, and I know they'll love these little daubers, too! Maybe your little ones will love them, too! :)

So, that's it for me, y'all ! I hope you're enjoying your summer & can take advantage of this little tip!
Thanks for stopping by! :)

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Quick Teacher Tip: Summer Notes

Hi Friends!
    I'm keeping it short today, but I wanted to share something I do every summer. 
It's a very small something, but it has a BIG impact.  
We're about halfway through the summer here in Georgia, and this is usually about the time I sit down and write each of my "last year" students a little note.  

It's not much. I keep it simple.  I ask them about their summer,and what they have been doing over the break. Then, I tell them one or two things I have been doing.  I end with telling them to come see at Open House or when school starts back and letting them know I have been thinking about them & how much I miss their smiling face.

It takes a little bit of time to personalize a note for every child, but it's so worth it.  Every August when school starts back, I have kids come by to tell me they were so excited to get their "REAL MAIL!".  
Come on, you know you love REAL MAIL, too!  

Not bills, not ads, but the real mail that makes you feel special and like someone thought enough to send you something through the Snail Mail. 

In this day & age of email & SnapChat, very rarely do children get something in the mailbox that is actually theirs...and is personalized just for them! 

Plus, it teaches them a little about note or letter structure, and how to actually correspond using proper capitalization, punctuation and sentence formation.  It's also a great real world connection to the content I teach in first grade.  

Not only do my kids love it, but parents do, too! They love knowing that their child still holds a special place in a teacher's heart, even after the last day of school. 

I mail them out & use the school's address as my return address. That saves any sort of problem with privacy or letting parents and students know where I live.  

There are some of my former students that I still send Summer Notes to - they have written me back over the years, and it's become a bit of a tradition. I love being part of my students lives, and letting them know that they always matter!

So, that's it for me. Just a little Saturday tip for maintaining those relationships and letting students know that they will always be "one of my kids".

As always, thanks for stopping by! :)

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Five for Friday: I'm a Nomad!

It's been a while, but I'm finally linking back up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday linky. It's one of my favorites, because I just love seeing everybody's random glimpses into their lives.  And summertime is the best time for random!
 So, here we go....
I've spent most of my summer on the road, driving up and down the interstate and on country back roads catching up with old friends, MB, my parents, and absolutely loving it. I'm only 3 weeks into my summer, and I've put over a thousand miles on my car! Yep, I'm  a nomad this summer!

 I started the week in the North Alabama mountains. This is Little River Canyon, which is basically a canyon on top of a mountain. That totally blows my mind!  You can drive all the way around the rim, visit the waterfalls, and even hike down to the bottom and go swimming!

 So, my next "drive" is to my 20 year high school reunion. I mean, 5 year reunion. Yeah, that's it!  It's funny how "old" is relative to your own age.  38 used to be old. It's not anymore, at all. 

  Seriously, I'm not quite sure how the last twenty years have gone by so fast, but I'm looking forward to going back to my hometown and catching up with old friends.  
This is my senior picture. Look at those eyebrows!! Wowza!

 Speaking of trips. I"m getting ready to head to Vegas for the TpT conference in July. Look at my SWAG!!  I'm so excited about my t-shirt (will blog about this soon!), and my awesome planner, and they were all waiting for me when I swung by my house to check the mail.  
Don't you just love coming home to packages??  YES! :)

 And, lastly, I have joined up with some other TpT sellers and bloggers for the summer Seller Challenge. This week, we were challenged to give one of our products a makeover. It was just the kick in the butt I needed.

I redid my Manners Unit...and not just the cover...the WHOLE thing!  New clip art, new fonts, new activities, and 18 more pages!  It's a full 10 days worth of lesson plans, complete with crafts, activities, task cards, graphic organizers and worksheets.  If you're interested in learning more, just click the picture and check out the preview.

I also bundled my Addition and Subtraction Fluency Tickets. I start these right away when we go back to school, and we use them all year. They're great for increasing that math fact fluency!  On sale now - just click the picture to learn more! :)

So, that's it for me! I hope you've had a fabulous week & you're enjoying your summer! :) As always, thanks for stopping by! :)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I'm a Summer Slug!

What can I say? It's been almost 2 months since I've blogged. It's been 2 months since I've really had anything to say.  I had the hardest year of my teaching career, and when school ended May 29th, I just walked out the door and drove away. Honestly.

For the first time in 14 years, I left the school building with no box.....NOTHING. Just me and my keys.   I was outta there!

And you know what? It felt pretty darn good. 

Well, eventually it did.

 In typical teacher fashion, I got home that night and started feeling guilty. Thoughts like "I'll go back up there tomorrow and grab some stuff", "I should start my to-do list of what I need to get started on" and "I wonder when they'll let us back in the building" were swirling through my head.  But then, I just decided it was okay NOT to be in teacher mode ALL the time. 

It was okay to be a summer slug.  
 So I embraced it.

I went to the beach for a week with some amazing girls & had a blast.
I slept as late as I wanted to with no alarm.
I read books.... books that were sweet, sappy, scary and funny....books that didn't require any thinking or brain power at all.
I spent time with my family.
I spent time with my friends.
I went shopping.
I binged on Netflix.
I took naps.
I floated in the pool for hours.
And it has been fabulous.
What did I NOT do??

 I didn't spend hours on Pinterest looking for ideas for next year.
I didn't try to come up with a new theme for my classroom.
I didn't dream of data charts and RTI meetings.
 I didn't start making lesson plans for next year.
I didn't wake up in the middle of the night thinking about "school stuff".

 And one more thing.. I DIDN'T miss it. I DIDN'T feel bad.

For three weeks, I have been a summer slug, and I have loved every minute of it.

As teachers, we are always on "go".  And that doesn't stop in the summer (despite popular belief). Actually, more often than not, we are in hyper-drive during the summer coming up with all the stuff we want to do next year. We never stop thinking, planning, reading, researching, buying, making, doing.... and by the time school starts, we're already exhausted.

This year, I decided I was going to take a break from it all and just be.  
Nothing more. 

So, embrace your inner slug if you want to.  Or be in overdrive if you want to.
The key is do a little of what YOU want to!

 I have five more weeks of summer, and I plan to start easing back into teaching mode.  I can't just turn it off... I'm not sure any of us really can really pull the plug on teacher brain. ( I may or may not have already scanned the school supply aisle at Target....just saying)

But, I have learned it's alright to hit "pause" for a little while. 

So, that's it, friends.. I'm a slug...and I'm okay with that.

I hope you are enjoying your summer -doing whatever it is that makes you happy - and as always, thanks for stopping by!  

Promise to get my rear in gear & post more soon :)

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Primary Peach: Freebie Blog Hop!!!

Hi Friends!
  As y'all know, I am proud to be a southern gal & a Georgia Peach! I am so excited to be teaming up with about 30 other amazing elementary bloggers from this fabulous state in a brand new, collaborative blog.  Let me introduce you to....
For our very first blog post, we are all giving away a bunch of fabulous freebies!  Each blogger has something special for you & it's all geared for the end of the year.  We all know how crazy the end of the year can be - the kids are crazy and have summer on the brain....and you do too! Plus, if you're anything like me, you're always on the lookout for new and fun stuff to do in your classroom. Believe me there's some great stuff in this hop.

But, before I get to that, let me introduce myself....
My name is Kelly and this is my blog! I teach first grade right outside of Atlanta, and have been doing and loving my job for 14 years.  I can't believe it's been that long!  I love creating and crafting, and I absolutely love sharing ideas with you.  I am slightly addicted to Instagram and Pinterest, and simply can't get enough of all the amazing things that teachers do each and every day. I am so honored to be part of this profession, and to have the opportunity to share with all of you!

Now, how about that FREEBIE?
I just love doing crafts in my room, and my kids do, too!  My first graders are always so excited when we get out the glue & scissors, and I truly believe in making learning and engaging, that is!

We spend a lot of our end-of-the-year time practicing our writing skills....and the kids spend a lot of THEIR time telling me about their summer plans.  So, one of our favorite activities is this little writing & craftivity for Sailing Into Summer...

The kids write about their summer plans & make this super cute ship to go with it!  Here are some pics of it in action...

 The freebie includes all the templates for the craft.
 My firsties cut their own stripes for the top & I use a craft punch to make the portholes.

Time to write!

I just love first grade writing!
 Aren't they cute??
 Can't wait to get these hung up in the hallway!

So, that's it !  Super fun activity for the end of the year...and it's FREE!
Just click {here} to grab the templates and writing sheets.

Don't forget to check out the other bloggers for more freebies, too!

Oh, and we're not done yet.... wanna win some money to spend?  Head on over to The Primary Peach to enter a giveaway for some TpT $$$$!!  Woo hoo!! Money, money, money!!

Now, head on over to the next peach, my amazing friend Meghan of Keeping up With Mrs Harris & hop along with us. We're all so glad you're here!

If you like this activity, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for a lot more ideas! As always, thanks for stopping by! :)
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