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Saturday, December 19, 2015

YIPPEE!  That's all I have to say.  No...I actually have a little more. Can you guess what today is?Today is my first day of WINTER VACATION.  I didn't have to set the alarm clock, I could linger in my jammies, and I am finally finishing some of the projects for TPT that I've been working on as well as some of those around the house.  It is actually going to be a staycation for the hubs and I as our puppy is in need of some TLC in his geriatric years.  So gladly we are staying in town for the holidays.  I'm busy booking dates to see friends, have dinners out, check out some new movies, and the list goes on!

After being featured in the TPT newsletter last month, my store has blown up and I have a ton of new followers. I hope they are following here as well. (If you are a new follower, give a shout out below!) Anyway, I decided to create a freebie just for you, my followers and fans so you have a new, fun center for your emerging readers for your arrival back to school in the new year. (Shh....we are not going to rush it by any means!)

So this game is called Winter Time- Spin and Cover. All you have to do is print out the spinner board, the mitten board, and add a spinner along with a pile of snowballs (a.k.a. cotton balls). Students spin the spinner and cover the correct mitten with a snowball. The goal is to be the one to cover the board first.  This can be played individually, in pairs, in centers, at your reading table, for RtI work, and with parent volunteers or peer tutors.  VERY VERSATILE.

I hope your kiddos will enjoy this. I look forward to trying it out with my kids too as even mine haven't had their hands on this new item yet.  Give a shout out and let me know what your think and how it goes.

So I wish you the best and safest holiday ever.  And for those of you still in school for a few days, hang in there. It's a glorious feeling when it arrives so savor every moment. I look forward to creating many more great items for all of us to use in the new year.  And I look forward to hearing from you all on a regular basis....so come follow along for the fun.

Until Next Time,
Taryn's Unique Learning

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Happy Holidays Linky!

So I just got back from my weekly grocery shopping trip and I wore flip flops!  You may think that's not a big idea but I live in OHIO!  It's the weekend before Winter Break and it's close to 70 degrees outside.  Anyway, I got home to find a post for this linky and decided to participate.

 I thought this would be fun to do and in addition, you can find some new blogger buddies to follow, not to mention follow mine if you are new here!  So take a peek below and I will do my best to answer all the fun questions!

1.  My favorite holiday song...Jingle Bell Rock!
2. My favorite guilty pleasure food....Um...Potato Latkes!  I never have the fried smell in my house any other time of the year except in December when celebrating Hanukkah!
3.  Favorite Holiday Tradition...Sleeping in late on my break!
4.  Favorite Holiday Book...I love "The Magic Dreidel" and "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblin". So hard to choose just one.
5. Favorite Act of Kindness...shopping for items on our "Giving Tree" that is set up at school! I love fancy wrapping and have a wrapping station in my basement so it's always fun!
6.  Favorite Holiday Memory...Since Hanukkah lasts 8 nights, one night was designated for a different part of the family.  Hanukkah is truly a minor holiday and it always seemed we got pajamas one night and underwear another night!
7.  Favorite Holiday Childhood Gift-  I don't really remember anything specific.  That's awful!
8.  Favorite Holiday Craft-  We used to make menorahs out of Popsicle sticks.
9.  Favorite Holiday Movie- Home Alone
10. Favorite place to shop for holiday gifts-  I'm a fan of online shopping these days.  I think my neighbors might think I have a problem.
11. I hope Santa brings me...If Santa stops here, he has the wrong address!
12.  My favorite product... my new December Word Work!  While I have used this activity forever, I find it to be one of the most versatile activities in my store as far as usable in various grade levels and for differentiating in a single classroom.

December Word Work- Magnetic Letter Move Around

So best wishes to you and  yours for a wonderful holiday season and great 2016.  I hope to see more of you around here on my blog, on Instagram at taryns_unique_learning, on TPT (follow by clicking the green star at the top of the page!), on  Teachers Pay Teachers , and on Facebook at Taryn's Unique Learning- Facebook Page Facebook  !

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Belly Full....Leftovers Gone...Looking Ahead

Well Happy End of November.  Are you leftovers gone and has your dog found all the crumbs?  The end of November is always such a blur for me and the anticipation of the December rush is definitely in the air. The holiday muzak has definitely been playing for a few weeks in the stores, the holiday frenzy is in full swing with shopping, party planning, and thoughts of Winter Break. (I know you are thinking about it too!)

This winter is a Stay-cation for the hubs and myself.  Our 15 year old little wonder dog, Izzy has held his own since diagnosed with Bladder Cancer and Congestive Heart Failure back in February '15. The vet assumed he would last just a few months and here it is, December and my best holiday gift is that he is still with us, tail wagging, and still on his same dose of medications with room to increase. His tail wags each morning when he jumps off the bed and runs to his food bowl so all is good in our world.

This season has also brought about many new followers of "Taryn's Unique Learning" and for that I am extremely excited and grateful. Welcome to all of you and it's truly amazing to have you reading about my teaching happenings. Having had a TPT product featured in the newsletter has almost doubled my followers and my store is hopping more than ever.  It is thrilling to know that materials that I have created have been downloaded 14,000 times (holy moly) and being in used in classrooms across not only the country but the world.  I remember when teachers down the hall were the only ones using my materials so I'm truly amazed.  So a super big thank you for being here.

As you anticipate the upcoming holidays, I too have tried to provide you with some fabulous holiday items (AND A HANUKKAH FREEBIE!) to make learning extra fun and meaningful for your students.  Hanukkah/Chanukkah/ Chanukah, however you spell it is the holiday my family celebrates. In case you are wondering why you've seen it spelled so many ways...it is a transliteration from a Hebrew Word so it can be spelled in English multiple ways.  It is truly a holiday that gets tons of hype as it is timed closely to Christmas, although it's based on the Jewish calendar which accounts for the nonspecific date on which it falls each year. And it truly is a holiday for kids.

So here is a freebie for you this holiday season.  If you are teaching your students about various holidays and traditions, playing Dreidel is a tradition that Jewish Children all over the world play during Hanukkah.  I know I did as a child!  This is a fun way to incorporate a little math into your holiday season so I hope you and your students enjoy!

Also, here are a few more items that may be of interest to you. 

Christmas Number Bonds

Christmas Sight Word Search

Christmas Pattern/Shape Clip Cards

Christmas Nonsense/Real Word Sort

Hanukkah Pocket Chart Activity

And my first Hard Good...Printed, Laminated, Assembled and Shipped Directly to You:

Personalized Name Pennant

And a special thanks to my friends at Fabulous Freebies for Teachers who set up this Blog Hop! Having a group of "virtual friends" is amazing fun and it's been great to meet these fabulous educators and entrepreneurs!  Best wishes to them and you for a fabulous holiday season and amazing new year!

Until Next Time,
Taryn's Unique Learning

Thanks so much for following the Fabulous Freebies for Teachers Blog Hop.  We hope you found lots of goodies you can use and some new Sellers to Follow!  Remember you can follow us by clicking the star near the top of each seller's TPT page. And if you would like to take one more hop through...just click the link below!  Happy Holidays from your friends at FFFT!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

***SPARKLE*** Word Wall Fun

So one of my favorite parts of teaching emergent and early readers to read and write is using a word wall!  While I am no longer in a first grade classroom, I am working with many struggling readers in my intervention office and I still like to utilize a word wall.  It is just difficult as each group has a different set of words they are learning and no one set of words works for each of my eight groups I see throughout the day!

However, if you use a word wall and share that passion as I do, you may be looking for some fun activities to get your students looking at the word wall regularly.  While I did not create this first activity, it has certainly gone very far in my teaching career with countless groups of students.  The game is called ***SPARKLE***.  For some reason, I feel the need to put twinkly asterisks around it to make the word kind of sparkle. (OK....at least it is sparkling in my mind while I am writing this post! So humor me please!)

Here is how you play ***Sparkle***, if you don't already know.  And if you already know, skip down below as I am promising you a FREEBIE which I definitely authored and you don't know this one and if you do then you are psychic.  So back to  ***Sparkle***. Have all your students stand in a circle facing each other in close proximity of the word wall.  You want them to be able to peek at the wall so they can see how to spell the words properly but I love when they are trying to be really sly about looking. You give a word from the wall and start in one direction around the circle. Each student in sequence will spell a letter in the word.  So if I say "the", student #1 says "t", student #2 says "h", and student #3 says "e".  Student #4 says at the end of spelling the word ***sparkle*** and student #5 sits down.  The goal is to be the last one standing so often times luck is involved.  You cycle through the words on the word wall. And let this be a warning....it can get competitive even though luck is involved.  So be sure you set the scene for that!  No tears are necessary!

OK....game #2 doesn't really have a name.  Students do not need to be in a circle this time.  They can be facing the word wall and sitting down.  Whatever works best for the geography of your room is fine...as long as the students can see the words! All you need is a laser pointer and the words on the word wall. Also, you need to give a word of caution that only the teacher can use the laser pointer...no kid hands on it allowed!   I came up with this chant ages ago when I was trying to figure out another way to get my kids using the word wall.  It goes like this:

Laser, laser, 
Oh so bright. 
Tell me what word 
comes to sight.

Simply point the laser at a word and pick a student.  If the student reads the word correctly, he/she can have the privilege of picking the next student to read the sight word!  Sound easy?  Sound fun? If you answered yes to those questions, please stop by my TPT store and you can download a poster of this chant for FREE so you can use this activity with your students!  It of course, has to have a picture of my adorable mascot, my Westie, Izzy on it!

Click on this link:

Laser, Laser Poster Download....Get your free download here!

If you play this with your kiddos, please let me know on the blog how it goes.  Also, if you download this, leave me some love in my TPT store and you will earn credits towards future purchases!

Again, many thanks for your interest in my products and my blog. I'm thrilled to know that you are sharing my activities with your students! That's a pretty cool thing!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Whew! Have You Come Up for Air?

Whew!  Has anyone come up for air yet?  Here in the Midwest, our school year is starting earlier and earlier. When I was a kid, we never started school until after Labor Day.  But for now, this 28 year veteran teacher is feeling the aches and pains of walking on concrete floors all day.  We had two work days at the beginning of the week and three days with kids.  Just the simple things like getting back into the habit of setting the alarm, packing your lunch, coming home and making dinner seem to be a huge chore these days.  Are you with me? (Perhaps that is rhetorical!)

Anyway, I am adjusting to sharing my Intervention Room with Sweet Katie!  I will refer to her that way as she is truly one of the kindest people I've ever met.  Our school is busting at the seams with employees to support our growing Special Ed and ESOL populations so we are sharing my former large space.  She is ESOL and I am Intervention so we shuttle groups in and our during our Intervention Block so neither of us have our caseloads yet to determine how it will be with our groups in the room. But we are optimistic with the set up and the carpeting that we will not disturb each other or cramp each other's style! Plus she brought me a Skinny Vanilla Latte on Friday to celebrate the end of the week! L*O*V*E !!!

So last year I decided when I moved into my new space (the former computer lab) that I would utilize the window by the entry to the room to display a sight word each week so my kiddos could learn their sight words. I decided to use window paint markers. While I liked the look, it faded over time and I never redid it....I just lived with it. (Have you ever been so tired you "lived with it"?  Well in honor of  my mascot and the best dog ever, I decided if I used Izzy's cute image, it would just make me smile every time I walked in and out of the room, and the kiddos love him too!   So I decided to make a "Password Sign" where I could display the word with Izzy's face on it. My intention was to take it to the copy shop and make it poster sized until I found out the poster would be like $40ish dollars.  While I was tempted, I really thought that was too pricey.  So I took my print back to school and used the beast of a poster maker. It only prints in B&W! Bummer.  But I decided to use it anyway to save some cash.  I hung it in the window and am actually kind of liking how it came out.  I am using a set of sight word cards this year with sentences and they are colored so that adds a pop of color to the window along with the super cool magnetic borders. I am thinking about backing the poster with color to fill the entire window or another border around to frame it in  but I just can't decide.

Anyway, I started thinking about how I truly loved the poster, even in B&W but thought perhaps I could share it with you in case you were looking for a "Password Display" sign.  So here is the link to the upload in my TPT store. Please leave me some love in my TPT store should you choose to download this sweet face!  This is what your download will look like in color! Pretty stinkin' cute right?   Password Poster... click here

And in case you love the sight word cards, they are from another fabulous TPT seller, Mrs. Kadeen Teaches! You can check them out here!   Sight Word Posters

Well, Happy Back to School to everyone. I will be back for another post as soon as I come up for air. I know you understand!  Have a fabulous school year.

Until Next Time,

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Fun Sunday Project- Cheap Treat for Kids!

So like you, I have finally had a chance to get back into my classroom to prep for Back to School 2015.  We had new flooring put down in parts of our building so it was a "No Feet Zone" for the better part of the week and I was truly itching to get back into my space and start unpacking and getting organized. I am sharing my gargantuan space that I had all to myself last school year. It was a the former "Computer Lab" and since all computers are now on carts, there was no need to keep the room as the lab.  I made myself quite at home last year and now am working on cozying up in half of the space I had previously.

So, while I was in my room, I was cleaning out the pile of crayons from the last million years or so. I hate to throw them out but EVERYONE LOVES NEW CRAYONS RIGHT?  I had seen the project on Pinterest about chopping up the crayons into little pieces, melting them in molds to create rainbow crayons, and had been planning on trying it for ages. I have even had the silicone molds from IKEA for over a year and figured today was the day.  After all, a gal needs a fun project on a Sunday when the Hubs is a bit under the weather right?

So first I used my Xacto knife to make sure all wrappers were off of the crayons.  You would think they were all in little bits and pieces but they really weren't. Chop away! That was my goal!  I preheated my oven to 230 degrees.

After removing the wrappers, I found my junkiest knife in my drawer and began to chop them into bits.  The crayons had to be small since the molds were pretty small but I wanted to keep them large enough so the new crayons would have different flecks of color visible to the eye. I fit as many of the crayon bits into the molds as I could, providing a variety of color in each mold.  I set my two molds onto a cookie sheet and put them into the oven for 15 minutes.  At this point, keep an eye on them as your oven may vary. Pull them out when they look pretty melted and cool on the counter.  Some of my new crayons were a little murky, so I popped in a few colored bits into the hot wax last minute while still liquified to break up the brown! The silicone molds don't appear to clean up easily.  That's fine by me if they are color stained as this is the only thing I plan on doing with them.  So bakers beware!

Once completely cool, then they can be popped out of the molds and you are good to go. What a fun and CHEAP little treat for your kids.  I think my kids will love using these to write their sight words in a "RAINBOW STYLE"!   Happy creating!

Until Next Time,
Taryn's Unique Learning

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back to School....Already?

It is hard to believe that I am sitting at my desk in my home office, staring down the barrel at August. We are banned from school next week and I haven't been into my room/office yet at school and won't be allowed in until the week after next.  So what's a gal to do?  Just spend time making some great resources for you to use with your students I suppose.

I would love to be able to share some of those with you to help you get ready for your school year too. All the items here are from my "Back to School Line" and would be super to start off your year with to establish classroom routines.

The first item I want to share is brand new this summer. It is perfect for your emerging readers in K-1 and even for your struggling 2's or special ed students. This is a word sort of real and nonsense words.  The photos on the cards are colored back to school supplies.  They do not correspond with the pictures but are to enhance your Back to School theme.  These cards all include a CVC word, real or nonsense. The goal is for your students to be able to sort them into two categories....Real and Nonsense.  Two header cards are included to start off the sort.  I've also posted a monthly activity just like this for the entire school year.  And it will soon be bundled for cost savings to you.  But here is a sneak peek!

Oh...almost forgot to say that this could be a whole group activity with your kids sitting around the carpet with you, a small group activity at the reading table, a center activity, a super go to activity for that parent volunteer who needs something to do, or even for an older student tutoring your little people!  CAN YOU SAY VERSATILE?

                                                          Back to School Word Sort

Another super activity for Back to School is more versatile for a broader range of grade levels. I'm not kidding when I tell you I have done this activity with K-4 students, although it looks very different for each grade level.  This is part of my Making Words series, and depending on the grade level, depends on what the instructional focus is.  Take a peek:

                                            Back to School Making Words Activity

Five different lessons are included with this product.  All you need are your favorite magnetic letters. I prefer the red vowels and blue consonants and have included clip art magnetic letters to match.  I post those letters on the board and my students sit around me with this page on a clipboard and with a pencil. They manipulate the letters to create a word and then we all record that word on the clipboard. We all participate and we all get to move around too.  Depending on the grade level depends on what we work on while making words. K kids may focus on sight words, firsties may work on sight words and CVC words, 2's may work on blends/digraphs/endings, and 3's may work on multi-syllabic words.  This is hands down one of the most utilized activities in my classroom and once your kiddos know the drill, it is a perfect activity to leave for a sub. And if I tell you that they could go at it for 45 minutes, that would not be a lie! Trust me on this one. Plus your sub will love you.

My next activity isn't really a Back to School Item but it's a whole year long activity.  It is called "All But Seven".  It is a math game and included is the same game prepped for the whole year so I wanted you to have this right off the bat when school starts. It is a dice game and students roll two dice.  The goal is to cross off all the numbers before getting "7" seven times.  It is the most common roll of a pair of dice after all!  It's a fun go to activity that is easy/low prep and your students will be highly involved. It is perfect for whole group math in pairs and for centers too! The illustrations are just perfect for each month.  And September starts with of course, you guessed it, apples!  Take a peek if it sounds like something your kids can use!

                                                    All But Seven Math Activity

And just a bonus for checking out all the above. I have included a FREEBIE for you to use. And this can be used for any grade level. I have included again, my birthday coupons for you.  If you are looking for a cheap and easy "birthday gift" for your students, look no further.  You can copy the whole page, give students a choice of the three coupons, or use any other way you see fit!

So I hope you find some of these items useful for you this school year. I'm posting new products all the time and my store is growing by leaps and bounds. If you aren't following me, please follow my blog, Facebook page, and I'm not on Instagram too. And if you follow my TPT store, you will be one of the first to know when new items are posted.  So if you like what you see....come follow me there. You can really get a peek into my Intervention Office/Classroom by following me on Instagram.  My phone is always close by and I love to snap pictures so come find me there.   taryns_unique_learning

My best wish for you is to have a wonderful, stress free, and fulfilling school year.  Just continue to do what you do best.

Until Next Time,

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Can't We Just Enjoy Our Birthdays Anymore?

Do you recognize birthdays in your classroom? Some of you may know that I am no longer a classroom teacher. I am an intervention teacher, which obviously means that things are very different, especially in regards to how I celebrate birthdays.  But when I taught kindergarten and first grade, we certainly did celebrate birthdays and in a BIG way!  Here are some of the things we did to celebrate and of course, feel free to use any of them you like in your room.  (While I am not quite a hoarder, I have not kept all of these items in storage and have let some of them go. I will do my best to locate  them to show you pictures....because I love pictures! )

1.  I had a plastic "blow up" birthday cake.  We always called the birthday kiddo up to the front of our group time and sang a birthday song to him/her.  My favorite was "Happy Birthday" by Greg and Steve. I can't remember what volume of We All Live Together it was on but I loved it.  We even had motions to go with it!  And of course, we all loved saying "Happy Birthday" at the end when the kids all called it out to the birthday kiddo.  My favorite part was taking my hand and swiping at the candles when my student blew them out as if my hand could extinguish the fake flames!

2.  Right after that, I used an "Interactive Chart" that was shaped like a birthday cake.  It simply had the traditional birthday song on it and students would use sentence strips with names on it to interchange the names. But on a birthday, the birthday kiddo had his/her name on the chart and could use a cool pointer to demonstrate one to one correspondence, top to bottom, and left to right progression while we sang. These charts seem to have gone by the wayside, I've noticed in recent years but boy do I love them. I'm old school" that way...if it works, why not still use it?   I still have a ton of them in my basement for storage.  I even pull them out occasionally and take one or two to school. But as for the birthday chart, my friend Sandi, is also old school and she has my Birthday Chart so I can't show you what it looks like at this time. Sorry. However, here is a storage tidbit on how I store the charts and I did so in my classroom the same way!

3. Next, I had a "birthday box/gift".  It was simply a two piece box that was wrapped in birthday paper, soap opera style!  You know what I mean?  The lid was wrapped separately from the bottom so it could be opened again and again without truly unwrapping.  It was filled with trinkets and the students could pick one out of the box with his/her eyes closed!  (Baubles, bracelets, pencils, super balls, galore were in there for the picking!)

4.  Next a birthday read aloud was picked.  I had a ton of picture books that were based on a birthday theme.  The birthday kiddo could pick from the pile of birthday books for the morning read aloud and we all enjoyed the selection of the day.  Some of my favorites are pictured below but there are so many new ones that have come out since I was in the classroom.

Wow! I actually found them in my basement.  I'm very organized so I'm not really surprised.  However, I have so many books that are in shelves and in boxes that I am really glad I could find them for you.  I will post a bibliography too in case you are interested in gathering some for your school year too!  Check back soon.

5.  Finally, part of our daily work that day was to create a birthday book for the birthday kiddo.  The birthday kiddo's job was to create a cover for his her book, decorating it anyway he/she wanted to do so.  The other students would write a "friendly letter" following the proper format, with the date, salutation, body, closing, and signature.  I actually had a "friendly letter format" sheet on which the letters were written.The letters were all included in the book and were bound with the GBC comb binder for the birthday kiddo to take home at the end of the day.  And let me tell you, some of the letters said the sweetest things.  Also, you certainly could tell a huge difference in the quality of writing in a September Birthday Book versus a May Birthday Book.

This had me thinking about teaching in our "modern world".  We have cut so much of the "fun stuff" out of our daily routines due to the expected rigor and testing schedules.  But little people have enough time for "life" down the road and it's still important in my eyes to keep some of the fun and special moments from childhood in place.  Birthdays are one of them and every one of them is truly a gift and can never really be guaranteed.  I know...I'm getting a little mushy.  So my vote is to keep the special day, well....special!  No cupcakes, no food treats, and the likes for your allergic and/or diabetic kid.  They really aren't necessary. These ideas are not food related and are curriculum, they don't just take away from the curriculum. So my vote is to keep on celebrating the birthday!

In honor of my Birthday proclamation, I am including a link to a new FREEBIE that I just posted.  It is appropriate for any elementary birthday kiddo and I hope you like it and can use it.  The freebie is a sheet of three birthday coupons, Again, low prep, fun, and FREE! I hope you might consider using it in your classroom this year.  Simply print the black line version onto colorful paper. You can give your student an entire sheet or you can have him/her pick the coupon of his/her choice. That is up to you!   And of course, should you choose to accept this mission :)  I would greatly appreciate a rating and feedback in my TPT store.  I hope you enjoy!

FREEBIE ALERT! Download Birthday Coupons......CLICK HERE

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Top Ten Sing-A-Long Books....Helping your Students Make that Reading Connection

My last blog was about my "Ah Ha" moment when I realized the connection between singing and reading.  So I promised you my top ten list of books that are Sing-a-Longs, which turned out to not be an easy task. I did realize a few things along the way.

1.  I'm a classic kind of gal!  I love songs that have withstood the test of time.
2.  I like songs that remind me of my childhood.
3.  I use songs in the classroom that have worked every single year with my students, or pretty darn  close to it.
4.  I like a song that tells a story.
5.  I  like to use chants, jump rope chants, and movement along with books.
6.  I personally love music. My guilty pleasure is just about anything from the 70's. But I love many types of music. I often have music on in my classroom, while I'm creating, while I'm entertaining, and in my car. I have Pandora on my IPAD, XM/Sirius in the car and various songs running through my head often times.
7.  Certain songs remind me of certain friends, experiences, and stories.  I often times snap a picture of my dashboard radio display and text the song listed to the friend it reminds me of on a regular basis.  Sweet Home Alabama- Katie, Word Up- Amy, Oh What a Night....well  you get the idea!
8  So if I love music that much, why not take advantage of that?  Some of my students may be just as in tune to music as I am. Why wouldn't I incorporate music into my curriculum in any way possible?

So drum roll please...take a peek below and see if any of your favorites made the list.  But please do so at your own risk. If you are singing them in the produce department while grocery shopping, it's all on you!

Yes....just as I thought I had gone through my whole collection of sing-a-longs, I found a few more. So consider this a "Buy Ten, Get Three Free". And I truly could've kept going. But I will refrain!

So what is your favorite sing-a-long?  I would love to hear from you as I'm always looking to add more to my collection.  Please comment below with your favorites!

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Singing Reading Connection

Have you ever wondered how your kiddos can remember the lyrics to every song they ever heard but they have a difficult time remember sight words when reading?  I have always been amazed when kids sing songs on the radio, word by word, and it truly made me wonder.  Just how can I utilize this auditory skill and bring it into the visual world for my struggling readers?  This was definitely a big "ah ha" moment for me about eighteen years ago.

So how did I act on this revelation?  I began a new strategy and created an "I Can Read" Notebook for each of my students.  At the beginning of the school year when supply lists were published, I asked all of my parents to supply a large binder/loose leaf notebook.  I'm no longer in the classroom but think the request was for a two inch binder if memory serves me correctly. Of course, when teaching firsties, you have to instruct them on how to properly open and close the rings....because "OUCH".  I know you know what I mean.  This notebook became the source of my morning/wake up work, every single day.

Each morning when my students trickled into our classroom, they found their "morning work" on a stool, right near the door.  After hanging up their things, wishing friends good morning, that stool was the first stop of their academic day.  Students picked up their paper and headed to their seats to get started. This paper always consisted of poem, song we learned prior to front load the lyrics, a finger play, a nursery rhyme, some repeated lines from a book we read,or a jump rope chant typed up on it, using all different types and sizes of fonts so students would learn the fancy "a's and "g's". Often times, the poem/song also had to do with a skill or concept we were learning about at the time. (Below you can see two of our pages used during our map unit.) Each page always included the author's name and sometimes included a picture to color, or a blank space for students to illustrate what the poem was "mostly about".  By the end of the school year, students had 180 pages that could be read.  Besides just coloring the page, students were told to try to read it first, find sight words and circle them, look for word family words, rhyming words, blends/digraphs, or any other skill that was appropriate for my students at the time. Sometimes it was a directed request and sometimes student chose on their own based on what they wanted to work on that day. We always did a shared reading of that morning's selection, incorporating finger pointing to stress one to one correspondence and the left to right sweep. We often had a class word hunt to try to find certain word wall words, rhyming words, or whatever else we were working on before closing our notebooks for the day.  Also, during silent reading time, our notebooks were always an option to read for my students. At the time, I too kept a notebook with my masters organized with monthly dividers, which I suppose now a days, would be electronic. So how well do I think this strategy worked?  Well let me tell you!  Years later after my students were long gone, when often coming  back to visit, many students told me that they still had their "I Can Read Notebooks".  So I really feel as if I got a lot of bang for my buck and students cherished this activity.

In addition, to support my newest revelation, I went on a mad hunt to collect books that were published versions of songs for children. Over the years, I have collected quite a stash and many more have become available for purchase.  Each book could be "read" independently by emerging readers and did wonders to boost confidence in my students. And these are often the most beloved books by my students, which is obvious by the condition these books are in due to the hundreds of hands that have loved on the books.

My next blog entry will include my top ten FAVORITE sing a long books, so be sure to stop back to see if any of yours made the list!  Ten is going to definitely be a challenge!

Until Next Time,

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Little Poetry!

I think I have found the perfect way to incorporate a little more poetry into the curriculum!  Well, maybe not the perfect way but definitely a great way.  I've been doing this for about the last 23 years and it's very easy to do.  You just need a few supplies and you will be including poetry on a regular basis.

All you need are two half gallon milk cartons, uncooked rice, wrapping paper (seasonal), 6 poems printed, and some tape.  It's really quite simple.

This sneak peak will definitely tempt you to find out more.  For complete directions and details....download my FREE directions in my TPT store.  You will be amazed at how simple this is and how much your students will enjoy. 

Until Next Time,

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bossy R Activities

Well Good Morning!  I was having some technical difficulties but I think my blog is back in working order. And by technical difficulties, let me say I am tech challenged and I'm just getting used to this blogging world!  It's a three day weekend for most as it's Memorial Day Weekend. I find myself with all of my personal days left since I haven't been able to take them....so I am off all next week.  That should give me a good taste of summer. I'm sticking close to home with my pup but I have lots of lunch dates and spa treatments set up so I'm totally looking forward to it.  As an intervention teacher, I feel less guilty about taking the days as there are so many special events going on this time of year that it would be touch and go for seeing kiddos anyway.  Good thing I left a pile of laminating for my sub to cut out in my absence.

Anyway, I've just joined a group of fabulous bloggers and am involved in a Collaborative Blog called "Fabulous Freebies for Teachers".  We are a group of 20 bloggers and will be providing posts and products for you to read and see via a blog and Facebook.  And be sure to note the word FREEBIES.  Who doesn't love a great freebie right?

So this year I had the opportunity to be trained in Orton Gillingham phonics and have to say I love it.  I came out of college during the Whole Language movement and was never really trained in a formal Phonics approach. I surprised myself by loving what it did for some of my intervention kiddos who have been struggling for ages.  Orton is definitely a multi-sensory approach to learning.  And I have enjoyed supplementing it with many learning centers to reinforce the skills taught.  Below you read about my latest product which is free to you from my TPT store.  Here is the link!
Bossy R Spinner Game

There are two ways to play this activity.  The first is to simply spin the spinner and generate a word with the correct er, ir, or ur spelling. The first to fill either the er, ir, or ur column is the winner. The second way is to pick a card, read it, and record it in the correct column.  Either way, this is great practice in reading the Bossy r words.

If you are itching for more Bossy R activities, I also have an item in my store called "Poke and Peek".  You simply use a golf tee, pencil, or straw and poke through the hole of the correct spelling.  This is a fun format for the students, as you circle the back side of the correct hole and it is self checking for your students.  Here is the link for that product:
Bossy R Poke and Peek

So best wishes for a fabulous end of the school year and summer. I wish you lots of rest, relaxation, and tons of fun during your time off. We certainly deserve it.

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

And the Answer Is...How I Use Exit Tickets

So how do you make sure that your students have actually learned what you taught them during a given period of time?  As you may already know, I am an intervention teacher for students struggling and going through the RtI process.  This year I teach both reading and math and am working with first through third graders.  (That fluctuates depending on the year!)

One of my favorite parts of my day has to be when I see my firsties!  I was a first grade teacher and this just feels like "coming home" to me.  There is definitely something magical about the first grade year and in my opinion, it happens in small group work.  The firsties come to you in September and can't read and they leave reading and loving literature!

So one of my favorite ways to ensure they have learned a skill is to let them "show what they know" by means of an exit ticket.  I have created my first exit ticket product and I want to explain to you how this product came to be!

Remember walking across your college campus or through the uptown area?  For me that seems like eons ago!  I remember seeing telephone poles in highly traveled areas and seeing advertisements stapled to the poles, advertising roommates needed, couches for sale, or to come see a band at a particular bar.  These advertisements often had tabs that could be torn off for you to take a phone number or to serve as a reminder.  That right there was my inspiration for my new Short Vowel Exit Slips.

When working on a short vowel as a skill, in a group or in isolation, I decided that before my students leave the table, they can show what they know.  Using my exit tickets, they can choose a tab, read it, and tear it off.  Quite simply, with a group of five students at my table, it takes all of about a minute to throw this task into the mix.  It's a simple, fun way to evaluate if your kids "get it" and a great routine to get the kids into the habit of doing .  If you are anything like me, it's all about the routine! (The poor hubs!  He doesn't know what hit him!)

So if this sounds intriguing or like a routine that you would like to add into your mix, please stop by my store and take a peek!  The format is simple on purpose, not distracting, and my students love it!

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I'm a Little OCD....Is it a Teacher Thing?

Happy Mid-February to you.  I've been missing in action but am back for this evening. I've been spending so much time working on new products for my store and well...it's February.  That means tons and tons....and tons of testing for us. Plus, I've spent tons of time on paperwork and getting some of my intervention kiddoes through the RtI process. That conversation is definitely for a different day! 

So today I thought I would share one of my favorite topics for you, ORGANIZATION!  Perhaps you do the same thing, or you organize a bit differently.  As I mentioned earlier, I have moved into a gargantuan space this year from a previous closet...literally a closet.  Now I have this room and a huge closet. I spent much time trying to figure out how to best organize all of my materials so I can reach in, grab, and go.  I'm always on the run and have very little prep time so quick and easy is the name of my game.  Plus I must know where to get my hands on what I'm looking for very easily.  Sound familiar?  I'm sure!  :)

I purchased large shoe boxes, suitable for boots to store my materials.  I do not use the lids.  I simply label the side of the box with a cute label, describing the main skill that the materials cover.  Below you will see my "Sight Word Bin."  Here's a peek: