Thursday, August 18, 2016

Learning to Read - Creating Sentences!

We now have a new product called "Learning to Read: Creating Sentences".  
TpT Store:

Once children start to learn sight words it’s time to have them create sentences. This packet contains sight word cards and picture cards to start the process.

They will create sentences using the cards and depending on the level they can then write the sentence down.

This packet can be used from Pre-K to Second Grade.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Paper Plate Booklets

The cheap white paper plates have so many uses.  You can place lined paper in between two paper plates and staple one end to make a booklet.  Trim the lined paper to fit inside the paper plate booklet and it is ready for students to write inside.  Or students can trim the paper to fit inside and write their story before they attach it to the paper plate booklet.

  • All About Me
  • My Summer Vacation
  • Math Journal
  • Addition Facts
  • Our Field Trip to the Zoo
  • My Family
  • Word Book
  • Colors and Color Words
  • My Home
  • My Favorite Things
  • A Day In My Life (telling time)

The booklets can be stored in a crate in a center for students to read each others paper plate booklets.  Or you can let students check the books out to take home and read.

Another idea is for the teacher to program the books with basic skills for students to practice at school or to take home and practice.  Some ideas for this are:
  • Consonants and pictures of beginning sounds
  • Sight words
  • Contractions
  • Words with blends and digraphs
  • Phrases
  • Nouns, verbs, adjectives

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Creative Writing

Creative writing is creative thinking.  Students of all ages can write, whether they write it down themselves or dictate their writing to an older student or adult.  One of the best ways to motivate students to write is to do something with their writing.  There are many ways for students to share their writing.  Some examples are creating colorful books, artwork, and writing displays.  Work that sits in a portfolio is not very exciting and does little to motivate future writing.

Writing can be integrated into all subject areas such as math, science, social studies, reading, language arts and art.

Handle Book

Be creative by recycling gift bags and making them into books for the classroom that can be stored on hooks under the bulletin board or near a center.  You can use decorated bags or plain bags and as a matter of fact you can use holiday bags to make holiday books, or even a Happy Birthday bag to make a birthday big book for the classroom.

Holding the gift bag upright cut down one of the sides at the center-fold all the way down to the bottom of the bag.  Then cut out the bottom rectangular portion of the bag.  Staple some paper into the center of the book along the uncut folded side inside the book.  You may want to glue down the two flaps on either side of the book.

You can make big books out of these bags or use smaller bags for students to make individual books.  The title can be glued to the outside of the bag.  The Dollar Stores have inexpensive small bags that you can purchase or ask parents to send in gently used bags for recycling into books.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Splash - Primary Math Literature

Splash by Ann Jonas
A great book for the primary grades (Pre-K to 1) to teach addition and subtraction is Splash by Ann Jonas.  In this picture book a child is counting the animals in the pond.  At first it starts with counting the fish in the pond, and later the frogs, adding animals as they jump into the water.

Eventually, the animals start coming out of the pond as the child subtracts the animals.  In my classroom I would read the picture book and ask my children to add the animals using manipulatives.  The addition facts would continue until there were ten animals.  Then animals would climb out of the pond as my children subtracted their manipulatives.

It is a good way for children to visualize what is happening when you add or subtract. 

Other ways you can use the picture book is to:

  • Have children act out the story as you read it.
  • Create a flannel board story using pictures of fish, dogs, and frogs.
  • Change the number of animals being added or subtracted for more able students.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Writing and Reading Ideas

Whether you are having students write individually, or writing a group story on a chart it is always a good idea to demonstrate what you are looking for.

Before every piece of writing teach a lesson such as:
  • Indenting
  • Expanding a sentence
  • Using colorful language
  • Using a box of crayons for color words
  • Painting a picture with words
  • Using the senses
  • Using similes and metaphors
Brainstorm words that could be used with that topic.  Refer to word charts like the ones below for older students to use their senses in writing.





Let students add to the list when they are reading and they come across a word that would fit into one of these categories.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Spoon Center

Every summer I like to spend some of my time creating things to add to my centers in the fall.  Here is an idea to make a simple center that has a variety of uses. 

Materials Needed:
A box of plastic spoons
A permanent marker
Baggies for storing the spoons

Let’s say you want to make an alphabet center.  On the scoop section of each spoon you would write a letter.  Students would then put each spoon in ABC order.  You could then have them write the letters or words they made on a sheet of paper.  Here are other reading ideas for using spoons on multiple grade levels.


  • Match upper and lowercase letters
  • Make words from the word wall, sight words, or spelling words
  • Create words using word family endings on some spoons and beginning sounds on others
  • Create words using the first two letters on one spoon and an ending sound on other spoons
  • Create sentences with sight words, CVC words and CVCe words written on spoons


  • Laying number spoons out in numerical order
  • Separating odd and even
  •  Using spoons in addition or subtraction problems
  • Patterning
  • Match number of dots to numeral
  •  Place value- pull 3 spoons out of a bag and make the largest or smallest number possible.  This could be done with another student.  For older students you could have them pull out more spoons.
  • Multiplication
  • Greater than, less than with number spoons and symbols
  • Order of operations
  • Addition of greater numbers- each student pulls out two spoons that have 3 or 4 digit numbers on them and adds them on a piece of paper.
  •  Graphing –place spoons with different shapes drawn on the spoons.  Students will pull out a specified number of spoons and graph the number of each shape.
  • Math vocabulary- students will take turns pulling out a spoons and explaining what the math term means.  –addend, subtrahend, product, acute angle, etc.

I liked to use a variety of different color spoons to make the activities more fun for kids.  I had a box labeled “Spoon Centers” where I kept all the baggies of spoon centers.  The outside of the box had a list of all the spoon centers inside.  Each baggie had a label for easy retrieval when I wanted to add a specific center.

I have this as a FREEBIE on my TpT store.  The mats in the freebie are mostly for Pre-K through 2nd grade, but the activities can be done without the freebie mats for higher grade levels.

Have fun making spoon centers!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Creating a Newsletter

During the years that I taught grades K to 5 I created a parent newsletter that was outrageously successful.  Parents commented that they loved knowing what their children would be doing for the week.

Benefits to Parents

  •  Aware of upcoming events
  •  Ability to encourage their child on skills being covered
  • Parenting tips
  • All weekly information in one place

Benefits to Teacher

  • Ongoing communication with parents
  • Parents help in practicing skills with their child
  • Homework schedule in parents’ hands

My newsletters changed throughout the years depending on the skill level of the children and the grade level I was teaching.

I started with a template that included a title bar at the top with a picture, my name at the bottom of the title bar and a place to add the date weekly.  The rest of the boxes had different borders and subtitles that I could easily change when needed.

Some of the regular sections included:  Reading, Math, Homework, Spelling, Teacher Tip or Educational Quote, Special News, Social Studies, Science, and Student of the Week.

Every Sunday afternoon I would sit down at my computer with my plan book and fill in the template adding cute pictures where appropriate.  At the time I would copy the newsletter to be sent home every Monday, but now you could post it online for parents.  My newsletter was a two sided single sheet.

When my school had Open House I would explain to parents how the parent newsletter could help their child.  They would know:
  • Weekly homework
  • Spelling words
  • How they could help their child in reading and math
  • Their child’s activity schedule

It is a lot of work, but the benefits outweigh the time spent working on the newsletter.