Taryn's Unique Learning Email Facebook Instagram Pinterest Bloglovin TPT Store Home About Me TPT Shop Freebies Contact

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

7 Engaging Ways to Practice CVC Words

If you teach kindergarten or first grade, I'm willing to bet you spend a lot of time working on CVC words. We all know how important it is for our kiddos to master CVC words, but do you ever feel like the teaching process can get a little monotonous? If you're raising your hand, this post is for YOU! Today I'm sharing 7 engaging ways to practice CVC words and keep your literacy lessons feeling fresh! 

Make practicing CVC words easy and fun with these exciting activities your students will love.

Why Do CVC Words Matter?

Learning CVC words will be the key to your student's overall success in reading for years to come.
So what's the deal with CVC words anyway? CVC words are one-syllable, three-letter words that use a consonant, vowel, consonant format. CVC words help children learn to break words apart into segments and understand that words have a beginning, middle, and end. This simple pattern is easy for students to decode and helps build confidence with phonics development. 

Now, why are they so important? Well, first off, they help to improve blending skills which ultimately leads to fluency. CVC words allow children to practice decoding words that use a combination of vowels and consonants. When students learn these patterns, they can begin to read more fluently - this is the end goal, right?! Not to mention, these simple words stack beautifully with sight words your students are practicing, allowing them to read short sentences and learn new vocabulary. All of these benefits are put together to make CVC words a concept worth teaching in depth to support our young, budding readers!

Finding Fun Ways to Practice CVC Words 

Now that we've reviewed what CVC words are and why they're important, let's chat about how to find fun ways to practice CVC words. We all know that topics that require repetition and constant practice are the biggest targets for getting a bit boring over time. If you're not careful to vary your teaching techniques and activities, your kiddos start to tune out. But you already know this! That's exactly why you're here, right? On that note - let's jump into 7 engaging ideas for practicing CVC words that will WOW your students! 

1. Blending Slides 

If you're looking for a way to help students learn to blend letters together to form CVC words in a way that makes sense, you're going to LOVE this first idea. These CVC Word Blending Slides use a hands-on learning format that kiddos absolutely adore! 

This blending slides activity is a great way to get students excited to practice CVC words this year.
To use, each student will get a metal cookie sheet, a blending mat, and a set of magnetic letters. You'll pull a card and they will name the picture on the card. Then, they will identify the letters in the word by segmenting the sounds. Next, they grab a magnetic letter for each sound and place it on the mat. Then, they read the sounds and blend them together to form the word. I remind students to do this with one big breath to help them naturally connect the sounds. 

I love using this visual for teaching new CVC words and modeling blending for my students. They catch on to the idea of blending so quickly with this activity, and actually enjoy practicing this skill on their own! You can prep this activity once and use it for years to come in your small groups or intervention classes. It's the perfect support for a structured phonics program that also aligns with the science of reading! 

2. Real and Nonsense Word Sort 

As your students are beginning to learn CVC words, have them try this real and nonsense words game.
The sound of laughter in the classroom is music to my ears. When students are actually learning and having fun at the same time, I consider it to be a personal victory as a teacher! If you're looking to claim this win in your classroom, I know you'll love this Real and Nonsense Word Sort. 

In this activity, students will pull a card, read it aloud, and determine if it is a real word or a nonsense word. As children read and come across a nonsense word, you'll hear the giggles explode! I love watching them segment, blend, and then ponder on the word. It's like you can see those wheels turning as they work through each card! 

This resource covers all short vowels, using words with a CVC pattern. You can introduce this game in small groups and then reuse it during centers. I like to pair kiddos up and have them sort words into the correct category using a pocket chart. 

3. CVC Word Inference Riddles 

Your students will love reading these fun CVC words inference riddles in small groups or with partners.
Have you ever tried using riddles to practice CVC words with your students? If not, I think you'll love these Inference Task Cards! In my room, I was always a big fan of wordplay and riddles because they make students perk up and listen. There's something about a rhyme or riddle that's just so appealing! 

These task cards are great for whole-group learning or your morning meeting. They're great for warm-ups as they really get those wheels turning! 

To use, you'll read the clues aloud and have students guess the CVC word that the riddle represents. After they give you the correct answer, have them say the sounds for each letter and spell the word aloud to take it a step further! Unfold the tab and your students will love this self checking feature. This is a fun activity that won't even seem like learning to your students. 

4. CVC Word Worksheets 

Incorporate worksheets like these in your CVC words activities for low prep options you and your students will love.
I know, I know - worksheets don't sound like a particularly engaging activity, but hear me out! These CVC Word Worksheets engage your students with multiple steps. First, they'll identify the picture and say the word aloud. Then, they tap for each sound and color in a circle for each sound. Next, they segment those sounds in sequence and write each letter individually. Last, they write the whole word as one. 

This activity provides an excellent visual for students to help them understand breaking apart words into sounds and then blending them together. I love using this activity as a follow-up when we learn new words. Plus, since it's low-prep, it's easy to sneak into just about any time block of the day. If you need a last-minute center or a meaningful time-filler, this activity will come to your rescue! 

5. CVC Word Stamp or Build 

Next up, this is another low-prep option that uses elements of hands-on learning to practice CVC words. These CVC Word Stamp or Build Pages will be a huge hit in your classroom. 

Get in some fine motor skills practice with these CVC words stamp or build activities.
There are two options included in this resource, one for stamps and one for magnetic letters/letter tiles. I loved having both of these options to continue practicing CVC words in new ways. 

To use the stamp version, kiddos will draw a card, say the word, and break apart the sounds. Then they stamp each letter in the box on their paper and finally blend them together to say the word once more. 

The magnetic letter version is the same except they place letters on the mat as they go. These are great to introduce in small groups, and then use again during centers. 

Once kiddos know how to use these pages, they can be fully independent as they practice! That means these pages can be used as centers throughout the school year.

6. Seasonal CVC Blending Mats 

Use these seasonal CVC words blending worksheets throughout the year to keep students engaged and excited about practicing CVC words.
There's something about seasonal and holiday resources that just make learning more fun, right? I think this is true for both students and teachers, which is why I was always mindful to include them in my lesson plans. I loved using these Spring Themed CVC Blending Mats during small groups. 

To use, students will identify the picture, and then lay down magnetic letters for each sound. Then, they will blend the sounds together and say the word again. There are also recording sheets included for students to write the final word. 

The mats come in two versions, with and without letters to support and differentiate as needed. I liked to laminate these mats and use them every year. I have also included black-and-white options for quick, no-prep practice as well. My kids loved the seasonal themes so much that I actually made a huge bundle of these resources so that we could use seasonal practice all year long! 

7. CVC Word Park and Spell

I've saved a student favorite for practicing CVC words for last! This CVC Word Park and Spell is going to be a huge hit for your students who love cars! 

This park and spell CVC words activity is not only a great way to get students excited to practice spelling CVC words, but will make it feel more like a game than practice.
In this activity, they will get to match up magnetic letters with their blending mat and then "drive" a car across the mat, from left to right, as they blend the letters together. If you've got reluctant readers, this is the activity for them!

I love saving this activity for use on a fun Friday. By the end of the week, everyone needs a little extra motivation to stay engaged. 

This activity will make it fun and easy to continue practicing CVC words and finish the week strong! Best of all, simply laminate these mats and then use them again and again all year long and for years to come. 

Even More Ways to Practice CVC Words 

Well, there you have it friends! Which of these 7 engaging ways to practice CVC words was your favorite? Hopefully, you found something fun and new to try in your classroom. Over the years I've found that variety really is key to keep learning fun and engaging! You can find all of these activities and many more to practice CVC words in my TPT Shop. Have fun with your students!

Save These Ideas to Practice CVC Words

Pin this post on your classroom Pinterest board to keep these ideas top of mind! 

Looking for fun and exciting ways to get your students excited about practicing CVC words this year? Grab these engaging activities to use in your classrooms as individual practice, small group work, or as a center activity. Your students will love the varying activities and will never get bored while practicing CVC words. #tarynsuniquelearning #cvcwords #cvcwordpractice #cvcwordactivities #cvcpractice

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Fun Ideas for Staff Appreciation Days

A school is filled with many important staff members who all play a vital role. While many of us initially think of teachers, there are so many other people who help make the school day run smoothly! If you're an administrator, principal, or member of your Sunshine Committee - this post will offer some fun and inspiring ideas for all of those upcoming Staff Appreciation Days! Best of all, these ideas get your students involved too! 

Use these fun ideas for staff appreciation days to show every staff member in your school how much you appreciate everything they do to keep your school running smoothly.

Celebrating Staff Appreciation Days 

School nurses, bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, support staff, cafeteria workers, and administrators are all important staff members in any school. In addition to the teachers, these people help make each day run smoothly and support our students. These staff members deserve recognition just as much as our dear teachers do! Luckily, each of these titles has its own appreciation day when we can let them know how much they are valued. 

You don't have to wait to celebrate staff appreciation days at the end of the year with these fun ideas.
And even if you don't want to stick with those specific days, you can choose any day to show staff members at your school that their hard work matters! This is especially fun when used as "bookends" to the beginning and end of the school year. During these crazy busy times, our school staff members are working hard and can benefit from a little boost! 

There are lots of ideas out there for teacher appreciation day, which is of course, so valuable! But what on earth do we do to celebrate the other staff members in our school? Come along to see how I helped make everyone in our school system feel valued during my time as the leader of our Sunshine Committee! 

Letters to Support Staff and Specials 

Aside from our primary teachers, the paraprofessionals and "specials" teachers play a huge role in the education and development of our students. Not to mention, they are a big support to teachers as well! Over the years, I've found that students tend to have a valued relationship with these people. The time spent with them is a little different than their time in the regular classroom, so they have an opportunity to create a unique bond. 

Use letter like these for support staff to celebrate staff appreciation days throughout the year.
My favorite way to show appreciation to these staff members is by having students write "Letters of Thanks". To do this, I had students each write a page detailing their favorite thing about each person. For example, they might write about their favorite thing about gym class, art class, intervention, library, speech, or music. 

Then, they illustrate their personalized letter in any way they like! This is the fun part because you'll see a huge variance in illustrations by grade level. Once you've collected all of your letters, bind them together into a book. I used a cute cover page that had a picture of the class or support staff environment. The covers all had titles that said something like "We Love Speech!" or "We Love P.E.!" I know your support staff members will LOVE looking through these cute appreciation books! 

School Nurse and Secretarial Staff Appreciation Days

Use a fun and creative worksheet like this to show your school secretary how much you appreciate them during their staff appreciation days.
These special days usually fall sometime in April and May, and they're a great opportunity to show your staff how much their time and care for students is valued! Both the school nurse and the school secretaries are invested in ensuring our kiddos are healthy, safe, and cared for on a daily basis. No visit by the office is complete without a wave to these important people! 

A signature frame was one of my favorite gifts for showing appreciation to our school nurse and our secretaries. To create this, I printed off a page with a fun phrase. Then, I had every student sign their name on the page. Finally, I placed these pages in a nice frame and presented them to the staff members on their specific day of appreciation. These look super cute displayed at their desks and were always a huge hit! Take a closer look at the resources I used for  School Nurse Appreciation Day and School Secretary Appreciation Day if you're looking for a unique gift for these staff members!

Use a word bank and letter template like these for staff appreciation days celebrating your school nurse.
I also have another option in both of these resources that has a page for students to write letters of appreciation to each staff member. If we had time, I really liked to have students work on both projects. There's just something so special about a personalized letter from a student, right?!

To make this easier to facilitate, I've even included a word bank that can be projected up on the board to inspire student learning. Some of the included words for the nurse are band-aids, cot, and thermometer. The word bank for the secretary includes desk, telephone, computer, and more.

These words help ensure the letters are personalized and relate to what that specific staff member does for our students! This can be especially helpful for younger children in K-2. The extra prompting and vocabulary help them think about what they'd like to include in their letters of appreciation. Once students write their letters, I bind each book together, add a cute cover, and gift them to the person.

Show Appreciation for the Custodial Staff

Where oh where would we be without our wonderful school custodians?! Schools are messy, germy places and they work hard to keep our rooms feeling fresh and clean. We all know this is such a big job, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that it's SO appreciated! 

Don't forget your school custodian with this creative signature page you and your students can use during staff appreciation days this year.
I think that these staff members are often the ones that are forgotten the most since they typically work after school day hours. I like to talk to students about these important people and how they "shine up" the school while we're at home every evening. 

Once explained, the children view this important task differently and begin to understand the magic they provide to our classrooms. It's a great way to make sure each and every one of your students understands why this special gift to our custodian is so necessary! 

I liked to have kiddos create a framed signature page just like the one we make for the nurse, except it says "The World's Best School Custodian!". The kids love helping to make this and it's always a fun gift to give. I also have options for writing letters if you'd like to present them with a book as well! 

Cafeteria Staff Appreciation Booklet 

Everyone loves lunchtime, and our cafeteria staff works hard every day to make sure there is plenty of food for everyone! In my school, our cafeteria workers seemed to know every child's name and their specific food allergies. I was so appreciative of this because their daily greeting to students made them all feel valued. 

Staff appreciation days include cafeteria staff as well, and fun gifts like these are sure to be appreciated by all cafeteria staff.
To show appreciation to these important people, I worked with students to create a cute booklet. For this activity, each child will fill out a cute "lunch tray" page that details some of their personal favorites. The prompts include things like favorite thing to eat, favorite thing about going through the line, and more. The responses will vary by grade level, so try and get a few from each one to mix it up! 

When you have them all collected, bind them into a book, add a nice cover, and present it to the cafeteria staff. I know they will love reading through it!

There are also letters of appreciation and student crowns they can wear to the cafeteria when you go to present them with appreciation gifts. I like to encourage the kids to use their very best work to decorate colorful crowns and pictures. The staff always light up when they see the kids walk into the cafeteria with their crowns on! Plus, it's really fun to get a picture of the staff and the kids in their crowns to hang in the cafeteria! 

Bus Driver Appreciation Day 

Our bus drivers help ensure that everyone gets to and from school safely and promptly. Show them a little love with one of the fun ideas in this resource! Inside you'll find:
Include bus drivers in your staff appreciation days with a meaningful certificate like this.
  • Bus Driver Awards 
  • Bus Driver Letter Booklet 
  • Bus Driver Appreciation Crowns 
I like to have students write a letter that details their favorite thing about riding on the bus. They can share a fun experience, or share a detail that they love about their driver. 

Then, bind these letters into a pretty booklet, wrap it up, and add the bus driver award to the top. Then, have your students create their appreciation crowns and wear them as they are getting on the bus. Present your bus driver with their gift and watch their surprise! Your students will be so excited to participate in this activity, and I know your driver will love it too! 


We can't forget about our tried and true leaders.  Our principals and assistant principals often get left out of the appreciation because they are busy planning it all. But. . . with a few simple steps, you can show your administrators just how awesome they are.  A bulletin board or hallway display declares to the world that you have the #BestPrincipalEver.  Surround that with words that describe the administrator and then let your students and teachers add notes to the display.  

Create an interactive hallway bulletin board to show your administrators that you appreciate them.

It's a great way for the entire school to work together to show appreciation for all that administrators do.

How to Use These Resources 

Depending on the size of your school, you might be wondering how to facilitate these activities. Here's my favorite suggestion - choose a few grade levels or classrooms for each person. For example, maybe K-2 will work on gifts for the bus drivers, cafeteria staff, and custodians. Then grades 3-5 can make gifts for the support staff, secretaries, and nurses. 

Get the whole school involved in writing letters, putting together booklets, and more with these staff appreciation days printable worksheets you can use all year long.
From here, you can assign specific classrooms to work on individual activities. For example, all of the bus riders in Ms. Jacob's classroom will make pages for the bus drivers, while the other students in the room will write letters for the school nurse or secretary. This will make sure you're assigning activities that are applicable to each student and allow for a nice mix of letters and notes among the grades. 

I recommend giving teachers plenty of time to plan for these activities and it's best if you can offer support to facilitate this as much as possible. Perhaps your Sunshine Committee or parent volunteers can come in to help students work on these projects during center time. Or maybe you can offer to lead the activity with a couple classrooms at a time in the multipurpose room. Whatever you choose, try to lighten the load for teachers and not add another thing to their plates! 

Get Started with Staff Appreciation Day Gifts! 

Love all of these ideas? If so, be sure to check out the Staff Appreciation Bundle! Inside you'll find all of the activities in one place, so you can make sure that everyone in your school gets the recognition they deserve! 

Grab this bundle to use all year long for staff appreciation days celebrations your whole school can get involved in.

As a bonus, you'll also find volunteer appreciation gift tags inside the bundle as well. These will come in really handy if you'd like to thank your school volunteers as well! Grab the bundle and use it year after year for fun and personalized gifts that your staff will absolutely love! 

Save This Post 

This post is jam-packed with fun ideas to show staff appreciation. Be sure to pin it on Pinterest to keep these ideas at your fingertips! 

Looking for ways to celebrate each of the unique and amazing staff members who help your school be the best it is each and every year? Use these fun ideas for staff appreciation days to celebrate custodians, cafeteria workers, the school nurse, and more throughout the whole school year. #tarynsuniquelearning #funideasforstaffappreciationdays #staffappreciationdays #staffappreciation