Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sight Word Sunday! Beach Ball Sight Words

Today's idea is a very simple one that's lots of fun - Beach Ball Sight Words!


All you'll need for this activity is a soft ball.  Inflatable beach balls work best because you can flatten them back out for storage, but if you can't find one any large ball will work.  Write your focus sight words right onto the ball using a permanent marker!

If you have outside space (and weather permits) have kidlets stand in a circle and throw the ball to each other.  It's best if the kidlet with the ball calls the name of the friend they're throwing to, so they're prepared to catch it!  When they do, they need to read the sight word facing them, before passing the ball on.

This game is best if played in small groups so that everyone gets lots of turns, but you can also play it with the whole class.  If you need to play inside, have kidlets sit in a circle and roll the ball to each other!


I hope this is an activity that your wriggly little learners will love!


Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sight Word Sunday! Sight Word Squirt

I love having kidlets up and moving, especially outside!  The change of scenery is often exciting and engaging for them, and a bit of sunshine and fresh air can help to clear their minds after time inside the classroom.  Today's sight word activity is one that you will definitely want to do outside. :)


'Sight Word Squirt' is the perfect summertime activity, although here in Queensland we can play it pretty much all year except in the middle of winter. :)  It's super easy to set up and lots of fun!


Simply write your focus sight words with chalk on a patch of concrete path.  Press kind of heavily because the words are going to get wet and you don't want them to wash off!  If you don't have a path outside your classroom, try writing on an outside wall or blu-tacking laminated words to a fence.  Now you'll need something to squirt water with - a water pistol or empty cleaning bottle are the best.  
Playing is easy! Words are called out by either the supervising adult or another kidlet.  The child/ren with the squirter shoot the word on the path!  You can give kidlets a turn one at a time, or make this a competitive game by having 2 players and seeing who can squirt the word first. :)  Depending on how much energy you want to burn, you could also have them run a short distance to get to the words, which also gives them a bit more time to think about which word they'll shoot.  

One tip - make sure you have access to water in case your water pistols or bottles become empty! You'll need a tap close by or some bottles to top up with.

I hope this is an idea that you can add to your sight word teaching bag of tricks!  


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sight Word Sunday! Sight Word Hide & Seek

Hello again! I'm stopping by today with another interactive sight word activity that you can (hopefully!) use in your classroom.  


This activity is one that is perfect to use during your whole class teaching time.  It's also a great time-filler if you ever have 5 extra minutes that haven't been planned for. :)  I call it Sight Word Hide & Seek!


As you can see I use my pocket chart to play this game - but you really don't need one!  Blu-tacking the words to a white board or wall is just as effective.  To prepare this activity you just need some cards with your focus words written on them.  I use the flash cards I already have - you've probably got some made up, too!  On the back of 4 cards you want to tack on some little characters for your kidlets to find.  I used monsters but you can use any images that fit your classroom or current theme.

The aim of the game is for all of the monsters (or whatever) to be found.  Kidlets take turns to ask the question "Is there a monster behind ____?"  Flip the card around to reveal if there is or not.   (This is a great time to create a bit of drama just for fun!)  When a monster is found everyone cheers and whoever asked the question basks in their 5 seconds of fame. :)  Keep playing until all of the monsters have been found!  Usually this game is nice and quick so you'll have a chance to play a few rounds at a time.  Just turn your board around (or have your class cover their eyes) to hide the monsters again. 

My class loves this simple game - I'm sure yours will too!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Sight Word Sunday! Tower of Power


Sight words are a super important part of the learning our kidlets do in their first year of school.  Due to their frequency in simple texts, and the fact that many can't be decoded by 'sounding out' the letters, it's so crucial that little learners have a bank of words they can recognise instantly when they're reading.  We need to work on sight words every day.  The only problem? Sometimes sight word activities can be a little *cough* boring.  Sometimes it's tricky to think of hands on, engaging tasks that our kidlets will be excited to try, and that also flash those important words in front of their eyes as many times as possible.  To help you out, I'm going to stop by on Sundays and share a simple idea that you can use to spice up your sight word teaching time each week!

First up, my all-time favourite sight word activity: Tower of Power!


All you need to play this game are a bunch of plastic cups with sight words written on them.  I use about 40 cups with 10 words per set - that way each word is seen and read multiple times.  Just give each group of kidlets the set that contains the words they need to practise.  The best way to store your cups is in empty Pringles tubes. :)  Writing words on cups is a great job to give parent helpers, too!

Tower of Power can be played in pairs, small groups, or individually. Kidlets take turns to choose a cup, read the word and add it to the tower.  If the tower falls, all the cups go back into the pile and the game starts again.  The aim is to have all the cups built into a tall tower!  I use this game as a literacy centre activity, then add it to 'Fast Finisher' tubs for the following weeks.

I hope you'll try playing Tower of Power in your classroom! Please let me know if your kidlets enjoy it. :)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Party Packs - birthday celebrations in the classroom!

Back to school is always such a busy time - there's literally a million things to do before you meet your new class, with a perfectly set up classroom all ready to go, of course! Today I'm stopping by to share an idea that will pay off for the whole school year, each time one of your kidlets celebrates a birthday!

Make up a 'Party Pack' to give out every time a birthday rolls around (which sometimes seems like every second day!).  I spent about $20 and made enough packs for a whole class - they include a crazy straw, novelty pencil, glowstick, party blower and balloon.  You could use anything festive that strikes your fancy! I tied them together with ribbon and display them in a labelled jar.

When one of my kidlets celebrates a birthday the class sits in a circle together.  The birthday boy or girl tells us all about their special day - how old they are turning, what presents they opened, if they had a party, what they will have for dinner etc. - before we sing Happy Birthday! Then they receive their 'Party Pack' - with specific instructions to go home and use the items to celebrate their day. :)

What do you do to celebrate birthdays in your classroom?


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Tried and Tested Christmas Crafts!


It's December! Time to bring out the glitter and get working on some cute Christmas crafts with your kidlets! If you're anything like me, there's been the occasional project you've attempted with your class that has been, how do I say this nicely... a disaster. :) Today I wanted to share with you some easy crafts that I've personally done (successfully!) with my own students.

First up is this simple wreath:


The base of the wreath is a paper plate with the centre cut out (I'd done this in advance for my kidlets).  Collage on some chopped up light and dark green paper (we used crepe paper but you could use whatever you have handy) and add red paper for holly berries. Colour in a bow (I googled to find the image, but you could draw one yourself) and you're done!


Next up - salt dough ornaments:


Salt dough is easy to make - just mix together 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of flour and 3/4 cup of water.  Knead it until it's smooth.  Then you can use it to create all sorts of ornaments.  Either give your kids creative license and let them make whatever Christmassy symbol they like, or use cookie cutters like I did.  Don't forget to poke a hole in the top to thread some ribbon through so they can be hung on a tree (you can also hot glue the ribbon to the back if you like). Bake in a slow (180 degrees C) oven until the ornaments have dried out - the time this takes will depend on how thick the dough is.  When it's cool, use paint and glitter to decorate.


Another easy tree ornament is this adorable craft stick snowman:



As you can see, the year we made the snowmen shown above I used coloured paper for the hat, nose and scarf (it must have been a last minute addition to our day!) - but your ornaments will turn out much nicer if you use felt.  You can buy felt from the dollar store, and I only needed 1 piece of each colour for my whole class.  Paint some extra large craft sticks white, and just glue all the bits on when dry!  Use a Sharpie to dot on the eyes and mouth and don't forget to add a ribbon to the back for hanging.


These paper plate baubles looked amazing when hung from the ceiling of my classroom:


This photo isn't mine, it's from craftymorning.com where I originally got the idea. :) Have your kidlets decorate a paper plate each - we collaged on brightly coloured crepe paper but you could use paint, glitter, crayons, Christmas wrapping paper or anything else you have handy.  Glue a black square of paper to the top and some ribbon as the hanging loop.  I threaded ours onto some tinsel which we then hung from the ceiling. 

Lastly, here's two Nativity crafts that you might like to do with your own children at home if you're not allowed to teach the Bible story at school:


More paper plates! I should invest in a factory. :) Paint the outside edge of each plate yellow (or really, any colour you like).  Sprinkle some glitter on while it's still wet. Cut out a wedge (about 1/4 of the plate) and glue it down to make a skirt.  Make sure the hem of the skirt is below the edge of the wings!  Draw an angel face onto a circle of paper or card, add some glitter, tinsel or sparkly pipe cleaner for a halo and glue it on to the top of the skirt piece.


These angels make a beautiful classroom display.

Finally, this Jesus in the manger artwork idea came from Doodlebugs - it's my all time favourite Christmas craft:


Kacey has a free download with the patterns for you to copy, but I only use the ones for the blanket and face shape.  The manger pieces I make by just slicing up some brown paper into about 2 inch strips.  Glue down the manger pieces first - the criss cross and then the top.  Collage on some yellow paper (you can use real hay if you're so inclined).  Kidlets draw the sleeping face of baby Jesus onto the circle and then glue it to his body.  Lay him in the manger and you're done!


Hopefully I've given you a few new ideas to make with your own class!  I'd love to hear if you try one out. :)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

5 Second Rule!

I love playing board games! Whether it's Scrabble with a glass of wine on a Friday night or Trouble with the kids on rainy afternoons, they're the perfect way to spend time together.  It's also no secret that I often use board games in the classroom, either to focus on math or literacy skills or just to facilitate friendly play (read this post to see what I mean!).  Today I'm here to review a new game called '5 Second Rule' that fits both of those situations perfectly.


As you can probably tell from it's name, the aim of '5 Second Rule' is to answer questions within the 5 second time limit.  When I read the questions this seemed like such an easy task!  Naming 3 things that start with R should be simple, right? Um, maybe not! The fun of this game comes with the pressure of time - answers either completely evade you, or you end up blurting out something ridiculous.  Cue lots of laughs!  When you're successful you move forward 1 space on the board.  If the question is too tricky you can use one of your 'Switch' or 'Pass On' cards to relieve the pressure.


We first played together with the girls and, unlike other board games, this one was perfect for them to join in with.  When it was our 3 year old's turn we didn't flip the timer and just let her answer in her own time.  I also hand picked questions for her to make sure she would have some ideas.  For example, one of her questions was 'Name 3 places you would wear shorts' and she said kindy, the beach and the shops. :) When our 6 year old had her turn, we let her have 3 flips of the timer to have 5 seconds for each answer (she didn't always need that extra time.)

A few days later we had a family lunch, and after we'd eaten I brought out the question cards and timer (we had too many people to use the board properly).  We enjoyed a glass of wine and a hilarious hour taking turns to answer the questions using the timer.

Setting up '5 Second Rule' is quick and easy.  Unfold the board and make sure the question cards are in the box and you're pretty much ready to go!  The timer makes a funny noise that the kids thought was great - it became a toy in itself!


If you're looking for a Christmas gift for your children (or any board game fiend!), '5 Second Rule' would be a great choice.  It would also be the perfect addition to the game shelf in your classroom if you teach in the older primary grades, too!