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Word Work Ideas {with a freebie!}

Someday soon I'll write about my Daily Five journey. It's been a bit of a rocky road for me. I let some of my rebellious personality get the better of me and I spent a good part of the year doing it MY way instead of the RIGHT way. It wasn't a total disaster and my kids certainly didn't suffer because if it, but ever since I let go of some of my fears and just took the last step, I've been kicking myself that I didn't do it sooner. But that's a post for another day. 

So now that I've been actually doing it, I've been looking for word work activities that fit the bill instead of the center activities I've been trying to incorporate into the rotations. Change is hard, dangit! I've figured out other ways to use my existing center activities (because I have a bajillion of them) but for now, for word work, I've been really focusing on real word work, spelling,  and phonics activities. 

So along with Boggle, I tried this "write it, write it, write it" activity this week. I really thought my kids would blow through this, but I was shocked that it took them just about the entire 20 minutes! Shocked, I tell ya!


Anytime they get to use a highlighter, they get excited. And this was the very first time EVER that I let them use a *gasp* PEN! They were in heaven! Once I saw how excited they were about using a pen, I gathered up all the fun, colorful pens I had and put them in the center for next time. It's amazing what a motivator pens and highlighters are to second graders. #whateverworks


Now the words that you see them writing are NOT their spelling words. I gave them the choice of using their spelling words or the challenge words we have on the iphones. Those challenge words are practice for the big spelling bee they can take part in next year. My kids are a little obsessed with learning the "hard" words, so who am I to stop them? The iphone template is a freebie from Traci at Dragonflies in First and you can grab them here.
 
This is a simple little page, but it really was a big hit with my kids. 
If you'd like a copy, just click HERE.
So on my quest to stock my word work center I came across some great task cards. And they were mine! ha! I made these two summers ago and they got some use last year, but for some reason they never made it out of the archives this year. I plan on putting the cards and the supplies out for just 2 or 3 at a time. My kids are still getting used to working individually within a group, so having plenty of options is crucial. Click HERE to check them out on tpt.  The entire set of 52 task cards is just $3.75 and each card has detailed kid-friendly directions and an example of exactly what it should look like.

Have a great weekend, my friends and Happy Easter to all those celebrating!

How to use Boggle in Word Work

I've used Boggle in the classroom before, but it was mostly as an extra thing they could do if they finished early. But there's so much real learning potential in the game, that I recently switched it up to make it a bit more meaningful word work activity. Instead of putting up the letters on a Boggle Board on the wall, I made a printable that has the letters already in the board.



For one day's rotation of Daily Five, I just positioned myself at the Word work table so I could meet with each group as they tried Boggle as a part of word work. It was a good thing that I did that because a lot of the kids never really had the "extra" time before to do it and many of them didn't really understand the different ways they could use the board.

Now, I'm a bonafide word-nerd, so I grew up playing Boggle, but just in case you didn't and your kids aren't sure either - here are some tips. Words can be made by going across, up, down and diagonal, much like a word search. However, discourage your kids from actually drawing lines on the Boggle board because it gets all scribbled on fast and they need to use the same letters over and over in different variations.

Here you can see the simple words gas and with that were made just by reading across the line. In the second example, you can see how things get a little more tricky when they move around the board in more interesting ways.

So to get my kids to come up with better words than the most obvious, I started to give them clues.

For example, I saw the word gash. So first I said, "I see a word that means a deep cut".  In one group, one kid got it right away. In the other groups I needed to give some more clues. So I went on, "It starts with a G". Then clarified "It's the G in top row".  Someone in most of the groups got it by then, but I had to keep going for some. So I tried, "It rhymes with bash". I had one group who still couldn't get it and when I revealed the word, it turned out that they just didn't know the word. I made a big deal about how awesome it was that we learned a new word today!



For another word, I gave clues that went something like this:
1. It's a part of your body.
2. It's in the middle of your body.
3. It's the place where you wear a belt.
Most of them got waist at that point. So then I said, "Now, find a homophone for waist" because conveniently waste could also be made from the same w. 

We did this for a few words each time. For guest, I told them to look for a word the describes people who come over to your house. Then gave them a few more clues like, "it rhymes with best", etc. When they got guest, I asked them if they could make it plural to get an even bigger score - and what do you know? They could! Amazing how that happened ;0)

So with one little round of Boggle we practiced spelling, vocabulary, rhyming words, homophones, plurals, and more. Not too shabby! Plus it really renewed their interest in the game and they're begging me for it again. I took some care when making the board to be sure that there were some good words to find and use as a teaching opportunity.

You'll notice on the sheet I added a scoring section. This adds a nice little math component. Some started to write the number of points next to each word to make it easier to count when they were done. I offered the high score a free number on our class bingo chart as a reward. The seemed pretty stoked about that!

If you want a copy of the board, just click HERE to grab it from Dropbox.

Let me know what you think!



Go Noodle!



It's no secret I'm all about brain breaks. We have a great schedule for instruction, but not so great for little energetic bodies who need to move. A lot. We are in our room from 7:50-11:00, then we have lunch, back to the room until specials at 12:50, then after that we finally go to recess. Yes, that would be a whole whopping 15 minutes of recess right before they go home! So you can see that brain breaks are kind of a necessity in our parts.

I've been mainly using YouTube clips, which can really be hit or miss. Sometimes the video and sound are great quality, sometimes not so much. So when I heard some buzz about GoNoodle on Instagram and Facebook, I had to give it a try. And it's fantastic! And free! 

Once you register your class,  which takes just a minute, you can pick a champ. Then he shows up every time you sign in. He's a silly stinker. The kids get a kick out of his little words of wisdom.


Each time you complete a brain break, your champ-o-meter fills up a bit more (I totally just made that up, I'm not exactly sure what the meter is called). I don't want to ruin it for you, but big changes are in store for your champ the more you boogie.

Look at the impressive choice of videos. And this isn't even all of them!



I'm sure your kids will quickly develop their own favorites. Here are my little rockstars jammin out to their favorite boogie!

video



Sometimes the kids are amped up and you need to bring them back down a bit. GoNoodle has you covered there too. They've got a whole section of "calming" videos. See anything they might like? Maybe a little sing-a-long to everyone's favorite frozen friend?


There's lots more to explore. I just love that all of the brain breaks are in one safe place. I don't have to worry about weird ads popping up on YouTube or showing up in the sidebar. The videos are high quality, fun, and loved by the kids. It's fun and free. Can't beat that right? Click HERE to sign up and start enjoying GoNoodle!

An Upgrade for April

Hello my friends! Just popping in today to share the latest update to my April Printable Pack. Lots of you have this one (Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!) so I want to be sure you have all the new goodies. So, the first big change is the cover. I remember when I made it originally I thought the cover was so stinkin' good - it's amazing how much I keep learning along the way.

The title is also a big catchier, so be sure to look for April's Ready, Set, Print if you try to download it from your purchases to get the updated version. Click here to see it in my tpt store.

I've added quite a few things since last year. First is this cute comic strip that the kids can caption. Great for those reluctant writers! There's some new phonics and spelling practice with choosing ight or ite, and some synonym work. There's also a count and graph page. My kids love those! As always,  the applicable Common Core State Standards for grades 1-3 are printed right on the page.



I've also included everything you need for a great spring bulletin board. You'll find the words "Kites from Cool Countries!" in those blue polka-dotted letters ready to print, cut, and hang. My kids are working on the country report now, but I'll post a pic when they're done. Just print the words and cut around them in one piece. Send home the report form and BOOM - done!


We can't forget Earth Day on April 22nd. Even if you don't have time in your regular curriculum you can squeeze in a little something for homework, morning work, or your sub plans or a quickie word work center activity.

My kids need a lot of pre-writing activities and discussion before we actually write something we want to publish and display or add to our portfolios. In this pack you have a great pre-writing planning page that you can discuss together and even have kids work together to complete before writing their first draft. I've also included a page that they can use to proudly publish their work.


These are the rest of the original printables from the pack. Everything is seasonal for April, but I did stay away from dwelling strictly on Easter or Passover, because I know that in many schools we keep things kind of generic so that we don't seem to favor or alienate any certain culture or religion.



The calendar page has been updated to include accurate dates for this year. I work with the calendar a lot and it's amazing how some kids still get tripped up on this one. No worries, we'll just keep practicing! The Egg Hunt page is great practice with carefully reading and following directions. Then there's some problem solving with money and addition and subtraction with larger numbers.

And there's no way I can finish this post without sharing this awesomeness. We gave the kids the Math Chicks page as homework and look how this one came back!!  I was blown away by his creativity. So much detail, right down to the little curl on Superman's forehead!


This entire pack of April goodies including the bulletin board set, all of the CCSS aligned printables that you can use in so many different ways  and answer keys costs about as much as a trip to Starbucks. Not a bad deal, right?

Moving into Measurement!

I always love math this time of year. When we move into measurement, we get to do a lot of real hands on, moving around the room, projects and game type stuff. Of course we do that with other math units, but it seems even more so with measurement.

I'm always surprised how little experience my kids have using rulers to actually measure instead of drawing straight lines. We start with the standard speech about how rulers are tools for measurement and not little helicopter blades for your pencil, not little smacky weapons, not used to make annoying tapping sounds that drive your teacher crazy, etc...

After we're good with all that, we start to measure. We measure everything. We talk about inches and feet and they always pick that up pretty quick. To help them determine when to measure in inches and when to use feet, we play the Inch or Foot measuring game.


I like to group the kids in threes. One reads the cards and checks the answer while the other two play. Once a winner is chosen, they play again and the caller can play.  I found that I have a lot of games that call for the kids to have 10 of one color cube. I put them in these clear pencil cases from Dollar Tree so the kids can just grab one and not spend a ton of time counting out ten of one color from the big box.



Click on the picture below to download the game for freezies.

Then it's time for my favorite math project:


I've blogged about this one before. Check out this post for specific directions. You can get the patterns and printables in that post, or just click here.

We used our yard to measure alllll kinds of stuff. I didn't like what was in the book, so I made a little sheet for us to record some long things. We measured the length and width of the room:



We measured the carpet:


The door frame:


Their teacher:

Then we took on the task of measuring the entire hallway! We got our friends from next door to help us. Can you even handle the cuteness of these kids?? Those two girls at the front of the line are like that all.day.long. Just silly and excited and adorable...




At the end of the hallway, we had a great chance to estimate how many more feet it would take to fill the blank space. They were pretty much spot on!


We recorded all of our measurements on this little sheet I whipped up.


When we were using our diy yardsticks to measure, we only listed the yard measurements. Then when we went back to our seats we tried to figure out the equivalent measurements. They did a great job with the smaller numbers. They got the concept and could easily figure that 2 yards equal 6 feet which equals 72 inches. Some of my higher kids really enjoyed the challenge of figuring out the rest of them, but after a few minutes we pulled up the online calculator to finish them together.  Click here to download the sheet  we used to record our measurements.

I have a couple of other things you might like for measurement. You can see more by clicking on the images below:



TGIF, my friends! T.G.I.F.





Stress Free homework, Seat work, or morning work & free sample!

So, it's spring break in Florida and it's COLD! Well, cold by Florida standards. We're on vacation in Orlando and have a poolside cabana booked and everything...and it's pretty much just sitting there. Sixty degrees is way too cold for this girl to get in the pool. Sadsville. But we're making the best of it and just enjoying some downtime. Of course, I'm never far from my laptop, but I actually really love having uninterrupted time to create and blog. Today's post is about my newest obsession, different ways to use my monthly Homework Helpers pack.

One of the best things you can do for classroom management is have a consistent routine. That's why I like having something my kids can handle independently but is still a bit challenging and fun for them. This year, it's been my Homework Helper packs. I started out making them with first grade in mind, so I was surprised when I tried them with my own class and they really enjoyed them and actually needed the practice with the skills on each page.


Almost immediately after I posted the first pack for sale back in November, someone asked me to post a copy with the word homework removed so they could use it in class - brilliant idea! In the November through March packs I included two separate files, but for April I just removed the word homework altogether so that you can use the pages however you choose - homework, morning work, seat work, or even enrichment activities! Or mix them up - I've made them progressively harder to include new skills we learn as the year goes on so even though the format is familiar, you won't hear your kids claim that it's too easy, boring, or repetitive.


Each set has seasonal graphics and activities to keep the kids interested and teach them something new. I researched all kinds of different holidays and celebrations for each month so that besides the obvious, there are pages with topics like Golfer's Day, the first space shuttle launch, Children's Book Week, Poetry Month, and Scrabble Day. Making the Scrabble Day page was a serious nightmare labor of love, starting with making my own little baby Scrabble-like tiles. In fact, I have to share that page with you because after all that work I want it to be used by as many people as possible! Just click here to download that page along with my Poetry Month page for free. {Wait till you read my poem about parrots and carrots. I have no idea where this stuff comes from...}

One of the things I always, always, always think about when I'm creating is "Is this worth the copy?" I know that copy budgets are limited and I often find myself at Kinkos paying for copies myself. So I want to be sure that I pack each page with so much relevant, rigorous, meaningful work that the answer is always - yes. So with these sets the kids will spend time searching a book they're currently reading to find certain parts of speech, they'll read clues and use phonics and critical thinking to determine a word, they'll practice editing and grammar skills, they'll get some review and practice on a math concept or two and they'll write a sentence or explanation on a given topic. To me, that's definitely worthy of a copy. And removing the stress of finding appropriate homework, morning work, or seat work that will keep the kids engaged and excited is a huge weight lifted. I've been asked if I have a bundle of these for sale - not yet. But as soon as I create the sets for May, June, September and October I definitely will. However that's not likely to happen until the summer.

So be sure to download and try out the freebies here and let me know what you think! 

And just a couple of little updates - Ashley B was the winner of the Kindle Fire giveaway. Yay! I hope you all really loved the free resources as much as I did. I'll definitely be using more of them with my kids.

And finally, the printable companions have now been added to all of the writing task card sets for December, January, February, March, April, May, and June as well as
Bundle 2. Now I'm working on the rest to complete Bundle 1, which will be done way before we need them for next year.

Well, I'm going to get bundled up and find something fun to do today. Shouldn't be too hard - after all this is the happiest place on Earth, right?






Win a Kindle Fire!

So, let me start with a little personal story. When I was about 13 years old, one of my sisters was already married and living in a little house with three small children. One early morning, we got a frantic call that her house was on fire. By the time we raced over to her, the entire duplex was engulfed in flames. Nothing could be saved. I'll never forget the surreal feeling of seeing the appliances and furniture melted into unrecognizable twisted black objects. I can still picture the firemen shoveling debris out of my baby nephew's window and seeing part of his favorite My Buddy doll among the mess. Luckily my sister and her family made it out in time, but they lost everything they had.

Fast forward about 10 years to my other sister living in New Jersey. Another panicked phone call. Another house destroyed by a fire. This time due to a downstairs neighbor falling asleep with a cigarette. Another sister who lost everything, but thankfully wasn't home at the time.

I know it's hard to believe that both of my sisters' houses burned down, but it's true. And it's the reason why I am vigilant about fire safety in my own home. So as you can imagine, fire safety is a topic near and dear to my heart, so when I was approached to review these materials from FEMA and the National Fire Protection Association I immediately responded.

Although thinking about a fire in your home can be a scary prospect for a little kid, the videos produced by FEMA/NFPA do a great job of informing and teaching without bringing out that fear. Check out this first video called Little Rosalie. {You can also access it on You Tube or School Tube}



It's suggested for grades prek-1, but my second graders actually really liked it. Around the middle of the song when everyone is dancing outside, they asked if it was a brain break and if they could dance along!

This next video is called What's that Sound and it's aimed at grades 2-3. It features a rapper with some interesting bling who flies around on a smoke detector. And the kids loved it. They were up dancing and singing almost immediately. Be warned, the Beep Beep chorus will be stuck in your head for a while after watching! {You can also access it on You Tube or School Tube}



There is also a wealth of quality prek-third grade teaching resources available free to you at Sparky's Schoolhouse. I was especially impressed with the opinion writing activity - complete with great common core standard connections for second and third grade. It is really well thought out and includes printables, teaching ideas, assessment ideas and integration of the music videos.

Taking just a bit of time to incorporate these fun videos or lessons could literally save a life!

And as a thank you for watching the videos and checking out Sparky's Schoolhouse, they are giving away a Kindle Fire to one lucky blog reader! All you have to do is enter using the rafflecopter widget below. Good Luck, stay safe and check those batteries in your smoke detectors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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