Thursday, 9 August 2018

CVC Find-a-Word Puzzles!

Hello friends!  I'm stopping by really quickly tonight to share one of my favourite activities to use when kidlets have started to read CVC words - Find-a-Word puzzles!  Typically I'm not a worksheet kinda gal, but I love these because they're super engaging and they're easily differentiated. :)

The puzzles are organised by medial vowel, and each page has 6 words hidden in the puzzle.  Kidlets simply decode the word using the picture clue and then circle it in the grid below! I use these puzzles across all of my ability groups - those who still need support to decode words complete the activity as a group with teacher help (you could enlarge the page for this purpose if you like), those reading confidently work independently, and those who require a challenge move onto the 'Spell & Find' puzzles.  In these, students must write the beginning sound before finding the word.  

These puzzles are perfect as a small group word work activity (that's where I use them!), but they can also be copied into a 'Fast Finisher' booklet, or used as a homework task.  Each pack also includes colour options - simply laminate these and use a whiteboard marker to complete. :)

Each pack has 12 puzzles - two for each short vowel, and another two that have a mixture of medial vowel sounds.  Answer keys are also provided if you would like to have students correct their own work.  

Click on any of the images in this post to see these in my TpT store!


Monday, 6 August 2018

Teaching Adjectives with Monsters!

If you're looking for a fun way to help your kidlets practise using interesting adjectives, you might like to try this easy painting and writing activity.  Bonus: it makes a gorgeous classroom display!

As with most painting activities, it's best to do this part of the activity in small groups.  We all know how messy kids can get with paint when they're not closely supervised! :) To start, give each child a large piece of paper and have them fold it in half.  Near the crease on one side of the paper, place some blobs of paint.  I like using bright, neon colours but whatever you have is fine.  Have kidlets fold their paper again and use their hand to gently smooth and spread the paint as far as they can towards the edges.  Unfold and let dry!

Now for the best bit!  When their paintings are dry, give each child 2 eyes (I used paper circles, but you could use googly eyes if you have them on hand, or they could be drawn on with marker).  They should glue the eyes onto the page in a way that makes their picture look like a monster!  I cut around the edges of the paint to define them a bit more, but that's totally optional.

Spend some time talking about what each monster might be like.  Discuss their colours and features (do they have horns, polka dots or sharp teeth?) as well as what their personalities might be like.  From this discussion, each kidlet writes a sentence and uses an adjective to describe their monster.  Of course, you could extend this task and have them write a few sentences or a paragraph if that's more appropriate for your grade level.  You might also like to use this as an opportunity to work on the concept of symmetry, too.

I love this activity because it has everyone using their imagination and applying their knowledge of adjectives in a really engaging way.  If you put the monsters on display it's a talking point for anyone who comes into the room! I hope this is an idea that you can use with your learners soon!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Punctuation Clip Cards!

I'm not sure about you, but I find that teaching punctuation can sometimes be at bit, well... boring.  Particularly when you're working with little learners who prefer hands on activities.  It was this problem that led me to creating these punctuation clip cards!

The idea is easy peasy - read the sentence and clip the most appropriate ending punctuation!  Choices include a full stop (period), exclamation point or question mark.  The cards are perfect to use as a small group activity once you've done some whole class teaching around punctuation.  Make them self correcting by placing a sticker or marker dot behind the correct answer - children can clip their choice and flip the card to see if they are right!

This resource is designed for beginning readers - lots of high frequency words and others that can be read using simple phonics.  To save on ink, print two to a page to create smaller cards - that's what I did for the cards featured in these photos.

Click on any of the images to see this pack in my store!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Valentine's Day Made Simple!

Now that you've packed away all of your Christmas resources, it's time to bust out the hearts and candy covered Valentine's Day activities!  But don't forget that Easter is just around the corner - you'll need to be ready for that just after St. Patrick's Day! Doesn't it seem like there's always a holiday that we can theme our teaching to?  If you're anything like me, you really don't have time (or the money) to make sure your kidlets are completing tasks that link in with whatever celebration is coming up.  It is lots of fun, though, to throw in some crafts and games that tap into your student's excitement about the holidays - and aren't we always looking for our learners to be engaged?  Today I'm going to share some quick, easy and FUN Valentine's Day ideas for you to use during February.  I've also included some freebies to save you some cash to spend on your own roses and chocolates. :)

First up are some easy and super cute crafty ideas that make gorgeous classroom displays or parent gifts.  (The examples you'll see in the photos are ones I made with my girls at home, so you'll see photos of them with their dad.  In your classroom, including a photo would be optional!)  I've included a link to a free download with all the templates you'll need to make them!

Make this gorgeous 'I love you to pieces' picture by collaging pieces of coloured paper onto a heart shape.  Glue it on to the background when it's dry and you've trimmed the edges.  If you're only making a few of these, you can also use old jigsaw pieces instead of paper.

Have your kidlets either print their hands or feet inside a heart shape for this next idea.  At home we did  footprints, but obviously it's much easier to do hand prints when you're making a whole class worth!  Cut the heart out when the paint is dry and glue it on to the background.

If you're looking for some activities to include in your February maths and literacy small groups, you might like these!  Click on any of the images to check out the resources.

These number puzzles are FREE and are perfect as a 'Fast Finisher' task.  Just print, laminate and cut to play.

I love using 'Roll & Cover' games in maths groups!  Just add dice and you're good to go.  This resource includes roll & cover for number recognition, roll & add, and roll & subtract.  Just print the game board that best suits your learners.

Last of all is this easy rhyming memory match game.  This resource includes three super cute recording worksheets. :)

Hopefully you've found a few ideas that you can use in your classroom.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Handwriting Ideas for Little Learners!

When I first started teaching, handwriting was one area that I really struggled to plan lessons for.  There just didn't seem to be a way to make sitting up straight at a desk, painstakingly tracing or copying letters fun for little learners.  And of course... most of the time there isn't!  When I got my head around the concept that handwriting is based on the correct formation of letters, I began to think outside of the box and plan activities that were more than just pencil and paper!  Even though my kidlets were spending less time at their desks writing letters on a worksheet or workbook - when they did, their handwriting became much neater more quickly.  Handwriting lessons began in the first few days of the year when we were working on the basics of letter recognition, and even became something that I looked forward to planning.  

Today I'd like to share some of my favourite handwriting activity ideas - and hopefully there will be one or two that you can use with your little learners!

Whole body movement:  Lots of children remember things much more quickly when they can link their learning to physical movement.  When you are introducing letters, have your kidlets 'draw' the letter using their whole body.  If you can think of a way to link the movement to your phonics program, even better!  For example, the letter 'b' chant in the last program I used was "Bounce balloons, b, b, b."  Children would imagine they were a balloon.  To form the letter b we would stand up straight and float down to a crouch to make the top to bottom line.  Next we'd imagine that we gently bounced off the floor and around to create the round part of the letter b.  It's tricky to explain so I hope that makes some sense!  

Playdough:  Before children can correctly hold a pencil and have the stamina necessary to write for long periods of time, they need to have muscle strength and fine motor control.  Playdough is a great way to strengthen those little hand muscles and also work on letter formation.  You can set up this activity with either store bought or homemade playdough and flash cards that you already have, or you can make or buy playdough mats - laminate them and you can also use them with whiteboard markers if you like! 

Don't forget to include numbers when teaching handwriting - some mats (like the ones in this photo) combine numeral formation with counting practice. I've got some playdough mats in my store (including some in Queensland font) -  click here to check them out!  

Salt Trays:  
I love salt (or sand) trays as a sensory letter formation activity!  My first set of these were simply plastic takeaway containers filled with salt I'd dyed blue.  We'd use them with flash cards and children would use their finger to copy the letters.  These days there's all sorts of fancy ideas you can use!  At home we've been writing in coconut, pretending it's Elsa's snow!  (Our tray used to hold lacing cards from Kmart.)

You might like to try this ice cream themed tray from Modern Preschool:

Or this gorgeous fairy dust tray from The Imagination Tree:

Chalk: Grab some giant sidewalk chalk and you're all set for outdoor handwriting lessons!  All you need is a patch of concrete or brick wall.  Writing in the sunshine and fresh air is much more fun than sitting at a desk and the feeling of chalk on rough concrete adds a sensory element that lots of kidlets enjoy. 

Paintbrushes:  Now before you skip over this paragraph thinking "too messy" - you don't actually need paint to use a paintbrush!  (You can if you want to, of course!)  I like to use paintbrushes with water.  You can either have your kidlets paint their letters onto a concrete path, wall or chalkboard - or you can write first with chalk and have them paint over your letters.  This is especially helpful for little learners who need lots of help with their letter formation skills.  Use thick paintbrushes at the beginning of the year and move to thinner ones to encourage correct pencil grip as the year progresses.  If you live somewhere warm this is a great activity to do outside on a sunny day - kidlets will think it's magic when their letters painted in water disappear as they dry on the warm concrete path!

Novelty Stationery:  Scented markers, glitter pens, crayons, highlighters, rainbow pencils, whiteboard markers... instantly more fun than writing with a regular old pencil! :)

Write & Wipe:  This activity is handy because it's one that you can create once to use over and over again.  Using whiteboard markers on laminated cards is perfect for a small group task, morning fine motor work or 'Fast Finishers'.  I've got some Queensland print cards in my store - in both upper and lowercase.  Click the photo below to check them out!

Technology:  There's a few great apps around that help kidlets get the hang of correct letter formation.  Letter School is lots of fun - kidlets love the graphics and sound effects:

Eggy Alphabet is Aussie-friendly:

Of course, there will be times during the year when you will need your children to complete a worksheet or workbook page.  These 'Handwriting Workouts' are lots of fun for kidlets in the early stages of handwriting development - they combine simple tracing tasks with a handwriting warm up, work out and cool down! They're available in Queensland, Victorian or NSW print - click the pic below to check them out! :)

I hope you've found a fun idea that you can use when teaching handwriting to your little learners!  Leave me a comment if you've got a great activity to share. :)

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Easy Nativity Crafts!

Hello again friends!  Earlier this week I shared a post with a some ideas and resources for teaching the Nativity and promised to be back with some easy crafts that to fit right in with those activities.  Today I'm going to share four projects that your little learners will love!

If you read my last post you'll know that I teach the Nativity in a similar way every year, by focusing on four main 'events' from the story.  This craft fits in with our first set of lessons, when we talk about the angel visiting Mary.  To make these gorgeous angels, you'll need a paper plate, yellow paint, glitter, a paper circle and a piece of gold ribbon or pipecleaner.

To get started, paint the outer edge of the paper plate yellow (or your preferred colour!).  Most paper plates have a ribbed edge - telling kidlets to paint over that is the easiest way to make sure the whole plate isn't covered.  Use glitter and sparkles to decorate the painted area, either by sprinkling it on while the paint is still wet or using glue later.

To turn the plate into an angel you need to cut out a wedge shape.  I usually do this step for the kidlets, because it ensures the pieces are the right size and it's also much quicker!  If you wanted to have your class cut their own plates you certainly could.  You can see in my photo I've added star sparkles to the small piece - this is totally optional. It will become the angel's skirt.

Glue the wedge back onto the rest of the plate as in the photo - the large part becomes the wings and the small wedge is the angel's dress.  Draw a face onto the paper circle and glue it on top of the dress, with a piece of gold ribbon as a halo.  The finished angels will look something like this:

When we move onto the birth of Jesus, I love to make a Jesus in the manger tree ornament.  It looks tricky but really isn't!  You'll need 2 giant craft sticks per child, some brown paper (or white paper painted brown!), craft wood shavings and a paper circle.  Begin by gluing the craft sticks together in a 'V' shape.  Cut your brown paper into a triangle shape and glue it to the sticks.  You can see both a front and back view in the photo below:

Take some of the craft wood/straw and glue it along the top of the paper.  Draw a face on the paper circle and glue it on one side of the manger - this becomes Jesus lying in His bed. :)  Add a piece of ribbon or twine so the ornament can be hung on a Christmas tree.

Next up is my favourite craft - just because they always turn out so cute!  This paper plate sheep is made when we learn about the shepherds visiting Jesus.  You'll need a small paper plate (saucer sized), cotton wool, black card, googly eyes, 2 wooden pegs and a bit of black paint.  Cover the plate with cotton wool using glue.  Have your kidlets trace a circle onto their card and cut it out to make the face, but let them free draw 2 ear shapes - this is what makes each sheep look unique!  Glue the ears and eyes onto the face, and then onto the cotton covered plate.   When everything is dry, clip the pegs onto the bottom of the sheep's body so he can stand up by himself!

The last event we learn about during our Nativity lessons is the Wise Men following the star to  bring gifts to Jesus.  We make a hanging star ornament with a card star shape and some ribbon.  If you want to make these more sturdy you could buy wooden star shapes from a craft store and have your kidlets paint them a nice bright colour.  Make sure you have a look through your collage supplies before you go and buy new ribbon, too - if you're anything like me you'll have a tonne of spools with bits left over from previous projects!
To decorate the star, just wrap lots of different coloured and sized ribbons around the star shape.  If you've used card, a small piece of tape will secure the ends at the back.  For wooden shapes, you might need to use hot glue and complete this craft in small groups of kidlets.  Don't forget to add some ribbon for hanging! 

I hope one of these gorgeous projects will inspire you to do some crafting with your kidlets this Christmas season!  Don't forget that most crafts can be adapted so you can use whatever materials you have on hand (or can afford!).  Sending home a Nativity craft is a great way to encourage children to talk with their family about the true meaning of Christmas. :)

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Nativity - Teaching Ideas and Resources!

Can you believe it's almost Christmas again?  Today I'd like to give you an overview of how I like to help kidlets know and understand the Christmas story, as well as a peek into a new unit I've made that puts together some of my tried and tested activities and printables

Late November and December are my favourite time of the year by far - I love decorating for Christmas, shopping for gifts, spending time with family and eating good food!  The lead up to Christmas is also my favourite time in the classroom. :)  Here in Australia we only have a few more weeks of the school year left, usually assessment is all done and there's time in the schedule for a few fun activities and crafts.  Most of my teaching career has also been in a school where the focus of Christmas is the Nativity - and there's so many wonderful ways to teach this story!   (I've also got some great crafts to share, stay tuned for that post later in the week.)

I like to break the Christmas story up into 4 main 'events', teaching one each week with matching crafts and activities (usually on 3 days of the school week).  This gives kidlets an opportunity to really think about the story as they're learning about it, and it also means that you're not rushing through - because with end of the year concerts, parties and other things that need to be done we often have to reshuffle our planning as the weeks go on! :)  My Nativity resource includes a suggested teaching sequence, but you can take as little or as much time as you want (or have available!).

Before each lesson I like to go over the story in full - using a different Bible, storybook or video clip each time.  My favourite paraphrased Bible storybook is 'The Jesus Storybook Bible' - the language and illustrations are really engaging for little learners.

There's lots of clips on YouTube about the Nativity -  but be sure you watch them before you show them to your class to make sure they're accurate. :) Every year I use this one from 'The Beginners Bible'.  (This channel also has lots of other Bible stories presented in a really kid-friendly way.)

I also love this little video from St Pauls Arts and Media. It is just too cute!

Having Nativity scenes or puppets that children can retell the story with is also great - there's plenty of printables online but if you're after something a little more durable try searching Etsy for 'Nativity finger puppets'.  There are some seriously gorgeous sets you can buy!  If you have any Bible costumes, kidlets can also dress up and tell the story themselves.  This is a great opportunity for them to think a little more deeply about the story.  As children are becoming familiar with the Nativity story, we set up our word wall and use these sequencing posters during our whole class learning time. 

During week 1 of our Nativity learning, our focus is on the angel visiting Mary to tell her that she will be the mother of Jesus.  Taking this event and looking at it alone is a great opportunity for kidlets to think about Mary and the type of woman she might have been.  This leads perfectly into conversations about what personality traits we might have that let others know we are part of God's family (I like to link to the fruits of the Spirit).   This cut & paste worksheet lets kidlets choose adjectives they think might describe Mary.

Next up we learn about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  Now is the perfect time to teach your kidlets some traditional Christmas carols and songs!  'Little Donkey', 'Away in Manger' and 'Silent Night' are such beautiful songs that lots of children don't know.  Thinking about Jesus being born in such a humble place (even though He is a King) is a big focus of our discussions in this week.  There are so many gorgeous baby Jesus crafts to work on, too!  I'll have a post later in the week with the tree ornament we make, but I love this paper craft from Doodle Bugs that's available as a freebie! 

  We complete this 'Road to Bethlehem' maze and code cracker puzzle, too!

Our next focus event is the Shepherds!  I love talking about the Shepherds being chosen as the first to hear the Good News and go to visit Jesus, because it helps children understand that God doesn't care about what you look like, how much money you have or whether you have an fancy job!  We often talk about what a real Shepherd would smell like after living in the fields caring for their flock. :) Children complete a response worksheet after thinking about how they would feel after a chorus of angels visited them in the middle of the night, and a fun little 'Shepherd's Sheep Hop' counting maze.  We make a Christmas story booklet to take home and read to our family, too!

I think my favourite week of learning comes when we talk about the Wise Men and their gifts!  It's so interesting to see the links between the gold, frankincense and myrrh and Jesus' life.  Do yourself a favour and read up on this if you've never had the chance! (If you teach K you might like to enlarge this matching worksheet and complete it during whole class time - it might be a bit tricky for them to read alone.)

These 'My Gift for Jesus' flip flap pages make a gorgeous bulletin board display in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and you'll be amazed at the thoughtful responses you get from your kidlets!

This week we also make a cute Christmas story sequencing crown which is always lots of fun.  Wearable craft is the perfect way to spark discussion at home!  My Nativity pack includes the option to sequence pictures or sentences - but I find that using the pictures encourages children to retell the story in their own words.  

I usually leave the last week (or lessons) to go back and talk about any concepts that my class found either really interesting or difficult to understand.  Sometimes we have a worksheet or craft that we didn't have time for, too.  I've included a 'Find-a-Word', puzzle and question page to complete if you need them - but you might like to let your class lead you towards the activities they need to reflect on the story. :)

Enjoying the spirit of Christmas and reflecting on the birth of Jesus is such a great way to connect with your class!  Click on any of the images in this post to see my Nativity resource on TpT - and please leave me a comment if you have any other activities that you love to complete in your classroom.  I'll be back in a few days with a post all about Christmas crafts!