Free Theme

Valetnine-Book-Photo 2Valentines and Friendship Writing Project

During the month of February we focused on the importance of friendship and writing about it. I generally started with a patterned sentence where the students were required to add one or two of their own words. A sample of a patterned sentence is outlined below. However, I still encouraged students to write their own if they wished (this varied depending on skill level). If you are a member, the templates to complete this project are provided for you in the Valentines theme unit.


___________ is a _______________friend.




Preparing for Writing Success and Independence

Modeling any activity you wish your students to complete prior to assigning it, is the key to success. Together as a class we would brainstorm for ideas and I would model the writing process.  I would also model how I would plan what to draw.  We would also brainstorm for possible high frequency words that could be used and I would ensure these were readily available for the students as a reference.


Letter Formation and Picture Guide

In observing my students I also learned that that some needed a letter formation guide with a picture clue of what sound that letter makes.   If you are a member, login to your account and access this printing and sound guide from the link “Alphabet Program” and the “Alphabet Pictures”.


Working In Small Groups

I preferred to work in small groups to ensure the children were leaving spaces between words, assisting those children that still needed assistance with proper letter formation and sounding out words.  Sometimes I would swap guided reading small group for guided writing small group.




What Do The Other Students Do When Working With Small Groups?

A dilemma that every teacher faces is what to do with the other students when working in a small group setting.  I still see so much value in play activities that encourage fine-motor development and thinking. These activities are still very educational and require very little intervention and the students view them as fun!  I teach grade one currently and my students are allowed to engage in these activities when they have completed their work.  My favourite activities are outlined below:


1.  lego, duplo and other blocks



2.  pattern blocks

3.  playdough

4.  how to draw sheets and books

5.  colouring sheets

6.  squizs

7.  magformers


All individuals that post an activity that they use to engage their remaining students, while working with a small group, will receive a free theme of their choosing.  Just e-mail me that you posted a comment and I will reply with the information that I need from you.


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Most Effective Literacy Centers

Sight Word or Alphabet Sound Game

Sight Word or Alphabet Sound Game

Many times when I announce that Literacy Center time is over, I hear this groan of disappointment.  I always assumed this was coming from my keen students but my weaker students were secretly rejoicing.  The other day I experienced a very pleasant surprise when one of my weakest students demanded an explanation as to why we missed Literacy Centers that day (due to graduation photos and baking bread).  He was really upset about it and the other students started expressing their disappointment as well.  It was the kind of response you would expect when the class misses gym or outdoor recess.  Wow, was this ever a positive and uplifting surprise for me.  I asked what their favorite centers were and I have outlined a few of them below.


Hottest Literacy Center Now

I just introduced this new Center and it received unanimous approval.  I purchased one bubblegum machine and one gumball machine (looking at purchasing another one).  One machine had the penny insert capability disabled and on the other was enabled.  The students preferred the penny enabled activity.  I used this activity to review alphabet letter sounds but you could use it for sight word recognition.


Used for Sight Word Recognition – Lucky Rock Sight Word Game



I used decorative rocks in place of gumballs.  They work great but they are too small to print sight words on.  I would suggest placing a symbol on some rocks (star) and leave the other rocks blank.  If the student turns the gear wheel and a rock or rocks dispense that have a symbol on it (lucky rock), then they must say one of the sight words found on their printed gumball template (displayed on the photograph above) and place the lucky rock on it.  The object of the game is to see who can cover their gumball template with lucky rocks first.


Note:  The template above is found under the heading “Reading-Literacy-Centers” on the member site.  Inexpensive rocks can be purchased at numerous Dollar stores.


Used As Alphabet Sound Game

Alphabet letters would be printed on the decorative rocks.  This is a partner game but my students expressed that they wanted their own board, I made duplicate copies of each letter (no picture for x).  The students turn the gear wheel and place the correct letter that was dispensed on the picture that begins with that sound.




Note:  The alphabet board template is found under the heading “Reading-Literacy-Centers” on the member site.


Alphabet or Sight Word Board Games

The partner board games have also been very popular amongst my students.  Again, these can be used to practice alphabet/sounds or sight word recognition.  I allow my students to choose their partners.  Generally, they have been very competent at choosing a partner that is a good fit for them (weaker and stronger).


Alphabet Board Game

Students take a turn at rolling a die and moving their player accordingly along the picture board displayed in the photograph.  They must print the letter that represents that sound.  The object of the game is to see who can print all their alphabet letters first.




Note:  I should have prepared this game so it was circular.  My students think that they have won the game once they get to the end of the board (which is natural) so I had to train them to continue on until all the letters have been printed.  I hope to make a circular board game at some point.


Sight Word Board Game

This game is played in a similar fashion as the above, but the students must print a set amount of sight words that they land on.


CVC Game

CVC-GameThis is another game the students said they really enjoy.  However, I have had to modify this game for a couple of my weaker students.  My assistant is with them at this game, helping them break down the letter sounds.


Each CVC picture card is placed in a double organized garage container.  Once each student has made the word, the picture card is placed in the discarded container to indicate they have already made this word.  We generally, play these games for about 8-10 minutes.  I do not know where the alphabet letter plates came from as they were already in the classroom when I arrived.  The picture cards are found on the member site under “Reading-Literacy Centers”.


Rice or Sensory Tub Games

My students still love pulling objects out of the rice tub.  The tub is just a larger plastic container filled with rice.  We have quite an assortment of objects beginning with each letter of the alphabet, I have placed these in the tub for them to sort or print the correct letter.  Larger decorative rocks could be placed in the tub with the sight words printed on them (I have larger clear rocks that I found at the Dollar store that is used for this purpose).



Generally, I change the Literacy Centers each month.  I only have four Centers out at a time and we rotate.  My assistant, parent helper and I monitor these.  It is interesting to note that one of our Literacy Center activities are always computer games and my students never mentioned these as being a favorite.  I just have five clunky old computers so this might be part of the reason.  I have requested a few iPads for next year (wish list), I think these would be considered more fun.


These are the ones that they mentioned and are the most recent.  They have likely forgotten about all the others we played previously.


Let Me Know What Your Favorite Literacy Centers Are??  Love Hearing Your Suggestions!!

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Weekly Lesson Plan for November 26th to 29th

This plan outlines how the emergent reader “Iguana Ice Skates” can be used to introduce concepts and initiate discussion amongst the students.  They all like to talk about their experiences with snow (where I live we get plenty of that).  If you live in place that does not get snow, the children can just imagine what it is like.


8:28-9:00  Circle Time

Phonemic Awareness Warmup Activity – Mystery Word(s)

I have small little whiteboards that I print the letters that represent the phoneme. A child is assigned to each phoneme and holds the letter(s) that represents this sound.  We say each phoneme sound (usually review letters) several times as a review of the sound/letter and how it corresponds.  We talk about what makes the beginning, middle and end sound.  After, I place the students closer together and we blend the sounds together.  The students have to guess what the mystery word is.  I do this activity throughout the day as a review of letter sounds.

Example:  c – a – t


Morning Message

This morning we are going to talk about an animal called an iguana.  We are will be watching a video about the iguana.  Iguanas do not live here because it is too cold.  What do you think an iguana looks like?



Read the message to the students. Introduce what the letter “i” looks like.  Have students circle the letter “i” within the message and discuss the sound(s) heard.  Have the students predict what they think an iguana will looks like.


Iguana Video 

In the link below you will find the video I will be showing the students about the iguana.

Iguana Video


Shared Reading

Display the emergent reader on the Smart Board “Iguana Likes Ice Skating” .  If you do not have access to a Smart Board cut out the pictures and place the sentences beside them on a pocket chart.


Prior to Reading

Display the title page and read the title of the story.  Discuss who the author is (me) and who the illustrator is.  Discuss if the main character could be a real iguana or not.  Explain that the iguana passes by different winter scenes as he/she (the students can decide) is skating.  Have them predict what winter scenes could be.


Read the Story Together Modelling the Reading Process 

Possible Discussions and Concepts

1.  What season is it?

2.  How the children might be feeling that are building a snow igloo, fort, snowman and snow angel? Have the students refer to their own experiences doing these activities.

3.  Introduce the sound of “i” heard in the word “iguana” and “ice”.

4.  Discuss use of capitals and periods within the story.

5.  Introduce what a compound word is “snowman”

6.  Possible sight words:  likes, by and a


9:00 – 9:40 Play Centers
4-5 Students assigned to “Craft Center”.  My assistant works with them.

Students will make a snowman like the one referred to in the story “Iguana Ice Skates”.


Guided Reading With Emergent Reader “Iguana Ice Skates”
4-5 students will be reading the black and white emergent reader  “Iguana Ice Skates” with me.  The focus will be on tracking words, cutting and pasting the pictures that corresponds to the text. This integrates a comprehension component into reading.


Rest of Class at Play Center with Parent Volunteer

Each month we change the Play Centers.  I have outlined the changes below.  The rest of the students will be at the play centers while my assistant and I work with a small group.


1.  Sand remains dirt – Plastic animals have been placed in this center.  The students can dig winter homes for the animals.


2.  The “Housekeeping Center” has now become the “Big Dollhouse Center”.  We have a large dollhouse with furniture, boys and girls dress up dolls to go into the dollhouse.


3.  The “Big Blocks” has now become a “Winter Home Building”.  The students make winter homes for the stuffed animals located at this Center.


4.  Computers – I have downloaded the  Smart Board activities outlined in the Literacy Centers on individuals computers and the students can work on this.


5.  Paint Easel has stayed the same.


6. Playdough and Lego


7.  Creative Craft Center – Paper, cards, tape, scissors, glue, all types of decorations and odds and ends are placed here


8.  Water Table – Plastic animals have also been placed here with a styrofoam blocks used as icebergs


9.  Science Center – The students can feel the furs and other objects related to how animals protect themselves from the cold.


________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________9:40 – 10:15 Get Ready and Go to Gym


10:15 – 10:35   Bathroom Break and Snack 


10:35 – 11:20 Literacy Centers

Circle Time

Review the letter “Ii” sound.

Rolling Dice Game

Rolling Dice Game
This is a review of the letters “Gg, Dd and Ii”.  The students roll the die and move their players accordingly.  They must determine what letter corresponds to the picture they land on and mark this off on the game board chart.  The game board must be completed.  I play this game on the Smart Board first and the students play the game using the printable version at the center.

Letter Formation

Introduce the correct letter formation of “i”.  Students practice in the air, on each other’s backs and in the palm of their hand.


Literacy Center Time – Rotation System

Center 1 – Alphabet and Print Awareness Center – Parent Volunteer Monitoring

Many of my students do not know all the names of the alphabet letters so this Center will be devoted this.  I am going to start with seven letters to begin with (Aa – Gg).  This is a partner game.  The students must place the letter cards in the correct order using a model.  They must say the letters (sing the song if needed).  After, they try to place the letters in the correct order without using the model.


Center 2 – Phonemic Awareness Center – With Teacher

Rolling Dice Game

The students will be playing the rolling dice game as outlined above.


Center 3 –  Printing Center

Students will be practicing forming the letter “Ii”.  The students will be practicing printing the letter “Ii” on white boards.  They can also print the words cat, cut , quit, get, egg, dog and dig.  The next day, they will be completing their printing book.  The version I use is found in the link below:


11:20 – 11:55    Writing Workshop

Focus on writing about their pets.  Together we will generate possible spelling words “dog”, cat, etc. that the students will use as a reference point.  If they don’t have a pet, they can write about an experience that they have had with an animal.

Note:  Many of the students just draw pictures and scribble but they still share their stories.  I will be encouraging them to print the words we generated.


11:55 – 12:00  Bathroom Break 
12:00 – 12:25 Eat Lunch
12:25 – 1:00  Lunch Recess
1:00 – 1:10 Bathroom Break

1:00 – 1:20 Circle Time 

-Calendar, count days on calendar, count how many days they have been in school, add this many straws to the 10’s cup.

 -Share their writing

-Read the book “I Wanna Iguana” by Karen Kaufman to the students


Rhyming Activity

I place a picture of a dog on the Smart Board.  The students take turns coloring (scribbling out) the rhyming part of the picture I am talking about:

1.  I rhyme with toes, I am the dog’s (nose)

2.  I rhyme with beg, I am the dog’s (leg)

3.  I rhyme with hears, I am the dog’s (ears)

4.  I rhyme with pail,  I am the dog’s (tail)

5.  I rhyme with saw, I am the dog’s (paw)

6.  I rhyme with fly, I am the dog’s (eye)

6.  I rhyme with south, I am the dog’s (mouth)


Rhyming Smart Board Activity

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________1:20 -2:00  Play Center Time – Switch groups for craft and guided reading from this morning


2:00 – 2:35 Math Mini-Lesson and Practice

I have downloaded different patterning activities from the Smart Exchange.  We will do these together first.


Concept – Patterning

Students will continue to create patterns using two different attributes.  We have different math tubs that are used for this.


Note:  Math tubs used were mentioned in previous blog post.


2:45-3:10 Bathroom Break, Recess and Dismissal


3:10  Bus Students Leave


3:15  Walking Students Leave

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