Sunday, April 14, 2019

Effective Word Work Centers & Activities for Phonics Instruction

When setting up your word work center, there's lots of things you need to consider. In my classroom, I want my word work center activities to match the phonics skills we are working on. 
I also wanted to make sure that my students could do these activities independently! That's why I keep the activities veeeerrrryyyy similar, but I change out the skills in my word work center.

First activity: Word Sort - In this activity, students sort the cards depending on the skill. For example, they might sort by putting all of the AR words in one column and the OR words in another. 

To differentiate, I include various sorting cards. Some students will write the entire word with a dry erase marker, some will write the missing phonics skills, and some won't write anything and will only sort the cards.
Activity Two: Puzzles - My students LOVE puzzles, so I LOVE to include various puzzles with our phonics skills! Sometimes they're simple two-piece matching puzzles, and sometimes they're puzzles with multiple pieces. No matter what kind of puzzle it is, it's a super easy activity to include in my word work center because students know what they have to do!
Activity Three: Dominoes - I love letting my students match the dominoes end-to-end! It's another super engaging activity for students to practice phonics & word work skills! 
Activity Four: Task Cards - Task cards are great to include in your word work center. My favorite task cards are the ones where students use letter magnets or letter tiles to build words. It's a hands-on, simple way for students to continue practicing these skills. 
Activity Five: Paper/Pencil Practice - While you've probably noticed that the first four activities were worksheet-free, the final activity I'm including is worksheets. While I don't always love paper pencil activities, I do believe students need some practice with it!
If you're in need of word work centers that match the phonics skills you're working on, you can find them below!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Simple, No Prep Sight Word Game for Word Work

Looking for a new way to practice sight words? Today I'm sharing with you a one of my favorite sight word games that my students LOVE! Bonus: It's a NO PREP, easy to implement game!
This game is called Guess My Sight Word and works best if you have a classroom word wall filled with sight words. You could also have students use a printable word wall if you don't have one hanging in your room.

I teach this game whole group first, but once students get the hang of it they can play in pairs. First, choose a sight word on the board and write 3-5 clues about the sight word. See example clues below for the sight word think. (Grab the free download here)
To start, I tell students that my sight word is any word on the word wall. They love to try to read my mind think, and they it's silly because there are so many to choose from! Students will write down a guess next to #1 on a post-it note, index card, or paper.

Then I give the 2nd clue. As students hear the next clue, they should be able to make a more accurate guess. After each clue, give students a chance to write down their next guess. After the final clue, students can make their most accurate guess.

Below is a sample list of guesses a student might make given the clues above.
This is a fun game to play during word work, and once students get the hang of it, they're able to play in partners or small groups. I also love to use this game when I need random 3-5 minutes time filler!

You can play this game with post-its, index cards, or scraps of paper. However, if you want the free printables for your word work center, just leave click here!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Top 5 Favorite Chapter Book Read Alouds for First & Second Grade

What's the one time you look forward to every single day when you come to school? For my class, it's our read aloud time. Right when we come inside from recess and are trying to calm down, we settle at the carpet for our chapter book read aloud.

It is seriously the BEST time of our day. Every day when we inevitably have to end our read aloud time, my kiddos all say, "Touch your nose if you want Mrs. Fretwell to read one more chapter!!!" They never want our time to end!
I thought it would be best to share our TOP 5 FAVORITE read alouds for the year. You can find the links to all of them (and a few more) in my Amazon shop.

Heads Up: My post contains Amazon affiliate links, so if you buy something through it, you won't pay a penny more, but I'll get a small commission to help keep Simply Creative Teaching up and running!

5. My Dog, My Hero by Betsy Byars
I really love to read this book at the beginning of the year. In this book, eight dogs are chosen to compete for the Hero medal. In each chapter, the owner nominating the dog tells the story of how that dog is a hero. The chapters and stories for each dog are short, but the stories are engaging, detailed, and kids are absolutely captivated! By the end of the book, everyone is debating which dog they think will win the Hero medal. It's the perfect book to read at the beginning of the year to hook your students into daily read aloud time. I promise they'll love it!

This is another favorite book that I usually read at the beginning of the year. These stories are silly, weird, and your kids will LOVE hearing all of the craziness that happens at Wayside School!

3. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
This is my personal FAVORITE. I cannot go a year without reading this book to my kiddos. This book tells the story of a brave mouse named Desepereaux who is banished to a dungeon, but he is also in love with a princess named Pea. Kate DiCamillo often speaks to the readers in this book and asks questions of those reading by saying things like, "Reader, do you believe ____?" Your kids will LOVE it. Cross my heart. 

Yes, it's another animal story, but I promise The World According to Humphrey is another wonderful book your class will love! Humphrey, a hamster, is a class pet. Each weekend he goes home with students and has amazing adventures. But, there's one problem... Everyone loves Humphrey, except the dreaded teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, seems to be out to get him! 

1. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Edward Tulane is by far my number one favorite every single year. Edward is a rabbit who belonged to a little girl named Abilene who loved him very much. However, one day he gets lost and his miraculous journey begins. It's an incredibly well-written, engaging story, and my students are always eager to hear what's happening next on Edward's journey and who he'll meet.

Hopefully you found a title or two that you want to read to your class! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Creating Effective Individual Student Behavior Charts

Finding yourself with a student who might need a little extra help when it comes to managing behavior? I feel you! That's why I wanted to quickly show you my favorite little behavior charts that you might find helpful with one (or a few!) of your students!

These {editable} behavior charts are designed 2 per page, and you can add your daily schedule to them. As students go throughout the day, they will color in the emoji that aligns with their behavior. You can choose between 2 emojis (happy/sad) or 3 emojis (happy, straight, sad).
For one of my students, I used these Crayola Color Switchers (affiliate link), which are basically just magic markers. You can use them to hide smiley faces, and I let my student color in boxes in a little grid when he earned a certain number of smiley faces for the day. When he found a hidden 5 smiley faces, he earned a reward.

Recently I decided it'd be fun to add seasonal/monthly behavior charts. They are basically the same, except they have seasonal emojis for each month. For example, February has heart face emojis, October has pumpkin faces, etc.
Hope these little charts help some of your students! :)