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Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten Sight Words

Are you looking for one a set of activities for your pre-kindergarten/kindergarten sight words? Everything you need is right here! FREE and in printable or google slide format. Each sight word has activities to help students learn to print and recognize the word. Lots of repetition should be used when teaching young learners how to recognize and read sight words. 

For over 50 sight words with multiple activities, check it out at worksheetplace.com

Teaching Your Kiddos About Germs Has Never Been More Important

Better late than never is what they say. I was a little behind in creating a few handwashing and germ prevention activities but I finally finished them and they're all free! K-3 activities that include some comprehension 3rd grade activities, handwashing steps, posters, cut and paste and much, much more. These free activities are available in google slides and in PDF. Great for homeschoolers, teachers, parents and distance learning.

Teaching Activities for Journalism for Google Apps

Are you teaching ELA with journalism activities? These teaching activities are for grades 7-10 and focus on journalism. The activities have been made for Google Apps and the Google Classroom. Your students will be engaged with this journalism and news unit designed with differentiation and inquiry teaching strategies. You will need Google Apps to use the activitiies.

If you prefer this unit in PDF, please check it out here and worksheetplace.com
Teaching information for ELA for journalism and news in the classroom
Background Information for the Learning Activities
What is the News Learning Activity

What is the News Poster

Learning About the News
Learning About Trending News
Analyze the News Trends
Compare and Contrast the News, Now and Then
Social News at a Glance Activity
What Makes News the News Activity
Learn to Analyze the News
Compare the New From 2 Sources
Pros and Cons of News Sources Teaching Activity for Google Apps
Televised versus Print News Activity

Conduct a News Survey

News Survey Results Predictions

Learning About Writing a News Lead
Learning About Writing a News Lead
Writing Good News Leads
Writing Great Leads in Journalism

Current Issues in News and Journalism Teaching Activity
The Inverted Pyramid Teaching Activity

Journals and Planners for Kids for Google Apps

These journal and planner activities are suitable for kids in the 2nd to 4th grades. The activities have been developed for Google apps. Have students complete the activities day by day or a week by week as a planner vs as a journal entry. Using planners and journals with kids in a classroom is a great way to get them to think about their goals for the week (social, emotional, academic) and help with accountability. Journals are a great way to foster reflection and thinking about learning.
PDF Versions of kids planners and journals here.
Planners and journals for kids in google apps
Make st Stick Planner for Google Apps
Free Planners and Journals for Kids in Google Apps
Stick to it Planner for Google Apps
Daily Reflections for Google Slides
Daily Reflections for Google Apps
A Week at a Glance Planner for Kids
Planners for Teens in Google Slides
Weekly Planner for Google Apps

Weekly Planners for Kids in Google Apps
My Awesome Week (Girl)
Planners for Kids in Google Slides
My Awesome Week (Boy)

Word Family and Sight Word Teaching Activities and Ideas

Are you looking for resources and activities to teach your students all about word families and sight words? 

This time saving set of activities here helps to supplement your language program for vocabulary development based on Common Core standards as well as many of the international standards. Instruction in spelling strengthens reading and writing. When children learn to spell with phonograms (letters that make the same sound in a word family) they easily learn to recognize more words that they can read and spell as they make the connections with the spelling patterns. Research has proven that learning the word families leads to enhanced success in the language program as it teaches students to recognize the common sound/symbol relationships. Students naturally look for patterns which is especially true in spelling with phonograms.

The approach can be integrated with the language program or in a specific block using a word study center approach. Regardless of approach, children need opportunity to work independently, with the teacher and in small groups. In addition to the activities here, the following suggestions are also great strategies to enhance your spelling/wordy study program:

1. Word Detectives: as you focus on a word family, encourage students to find examples of the word family all round them, in environmental print or stories read. You may wish to use a point system each time they find an example and give out a word detective sticker or certificate after receiving so many points.

2. Build the Word Families: Using magazines or newspapers, have student make collages with by cutting out the letters to words using a variety of fonts.

3. Shake a Word: Using letter cubes (hand made or purchased) shake the letters and form the word families.

4. Go Fish: Using the picture and word match cards, have students play go fish. OR, using the word math and picture cards, have students play the game of concentration.

5. Stamp It: Using a set of letter stamps and a stamping pad. Have students stamp out the word families currently being taught.

6. Morning Message: For each morning message, ensure there are many word family words in it. Ask students to form rhyming words from the words used in the message…...what would happen if the h was change to a l etc.

7. Nonsense or No Nonsense Words: Name a word family and have students take turns telling you what a nonsense word or not nonsense would be and how it is spelled. For instance, “Today our word is Had, what nonsense or no nonsense word can you tell me?”  “I say zad and it would be spelled z-a-d and it is a nonsense word.”  “I have mad and it would be spelled m-a-d and it is a no nonsense word. (This activity also works well in pairs).
8. Show Me: Have students use personal magnetic erase boards or sock and mini chalk boards (sock contains the chalk) or use scrap paper and markers. When you hold up the ending of a word family (at or ad or ug etc.) students quickly write down a word for that word family and hold it up. This way you can see immediately all the words from your students.

9. Guess What’s Missing:  Students make up a word game for their partner using a line for the missing letter. They switch and the partners fill in the missing letters.

10. Interactive Partners: Give half of your students the beginning letter and the other half of your students the ending letter (better if this involves several word 
         families) Then tell the students to find their partner. For instance, one partner will have ate, the other will have pl.

11. Rainbow Word Families: Printing the words can be boring at times yet it is helpful. Provide various methods for students to print their words, with different colors for each letter, with markers, with computer apps, with fingers and shaving cream, in a crayon resist activity. For extra challenges, ask them to print a letter with the right hand then print a letter with the left hand.

12. Chain Link Necklaces: Make chain link necklaces, each link has a word family word on it. Use for practice at home too.

What is Teaching all About? Relationships

Let me ask you one question: Why did you get in to teaching? 
Teaching is a job that involves working with people, and plenty of them. Teachers work with students, parents, colleagues, teaching assistants, resource specialists, consultants and of course administrators. Yet, when I got into teaching, it was because I wanted teach students and have them get excited about learning. Admittedly, I liked the school year and the fact that teachers can be off when their own children are off, that was a perk but certainly not the determining force behind my decision.  However, I never really thought about teaching being a job that was really all about having good relationships.  Perhaps the prerequisite to teaching should be - having the proven ability to build good relationships with both adults and kids. I know first hand, that it isn't possible to be a stellar teacher without having a strong ability to build and keep rapport with others, even under difficult circumstances.  Hence, I ask, why did you get in to teaching? If one answered this question, with: "I am very adept at getting along with and motivating others, I have this innate ability to build relationships even under difficult circumstances", I may say to you - you'll make a great teacher!

You can't motivate anyone to learn without having good relationships. You can't expect to win over any parents without establishing great rapport and trust which takes - having good relationship building skills.  Teaching is relationship building on an ongoing basis. It never stops.

If you are reflecting on your chosen career and wondering what it takes to make it better, consider truly delving into understanding what it takes to build rapport and ensure that all relationships you establish with your students, parents and paraprofessionals are genuine AND are in the best interest of others. Be the person that would want to be in your class, be the person that truly wants to share in what is best for each and every student. If this isn't within your range - perhaps it is time to re-evaluate why you got in to the teaching profession?

Our students of tomorrow, just like your own children deserve to have caring, passionate an inspiring teachers. Teaching is about relationships - if you're struggling, look to see how you can improve your relationship building skills.

Towards Positive Behaviors

One of the things I hear over and over again from newer teachers is how difficult it is to manage the plethora of behaviors in today's classroom. Totally understandable! The classroom is full of challenging behaviors because every child has their own unique needs. With 20-30 students in a classroom and only one teacher, the task can be a daunting one.  
Free Behavioral Resources
Think about the parent who throws a birthday party for their child. They may have 10-12 children attend and the party may last about 2 hours or so. Not to mention, that birthday parties are motivating and fun events, yet, that parent is completely exhausted from the two hour party that has far less individuals in attendance than what a  classroom has. AND, the classroom is a place to learn and unlike the birthday party, unfortunately, many children don't want to be there. 
What do you do? First of all, I can't emphasize enough that you need to make a personal connection with every student. Secondly, a student should NEVER feel that you don't like them. Find the time throughout the week to learn a bit about each student and have that little one to one with them. A child who perceives that you like them doesn't want to let you down.
When you encounter an undesirable behavior, look for the root cause. Who was around? What might have provoked it? Are there underlying conditions? Is there a misunderstanding?  Is there something going on at home that is causing stress? Jumping in too harshly will often lead to worse behaviors. Have a one to one with the child to learn as much as you can about the situation. Never confront in front of others when ever is possible.

I have created a variety of resources that should help you. Everything from behavior contracts, to reflective think sheets, race to 10 motivational behavior modification resources and much, much more to help you be successful.

Differentiated Learning = Groups

The buzzword for many years has been 'differentiated' approach in teaching and learning. Essentially that means meeting the needs of ALL learners. Not an easy task for any educator who has a classroom full of students of varying abilities. Regardless of the grade taught, there will usually be a range of ability that can span 5 or more years. Hence, in a typical 4th grade classroom, it won't be too unusual to have students reading many grades above and many grades below level. Hence, we differentiate. This starts with the teacher working with smaller groups of students while the others work on related activities.

How is it done? For those of you struggling with this notion, here are a few tips I learned over the years. The Sage on the stage approach rarely works. So teaching to everyone is not overly effective. But, to start teaching in small groups means that the rest of the students need to be engaged and the students need to follow your protocols or expectations regarding the noise level and routines you expect from them.

I can't say this enough, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. When you're working with a group of students, go over the routines and rules for your expectations. For those students you aren't currently working with:
  • How does a student get help? 
  • What does a student do when they are finished their work?
  • What do they do if a pencil needs to be sharpened or they need something else?
  • What do they do if they need to go to the washroom?
  • What do they do if somebody else is bothering them?
Your students need to fully understand the answers to the above questions. These routines need to be practiced and fully understood for your groups to be successful. 

When you begin working with your small groups, make sure the rest of the class/groups have something they can work on to consolidate a skill. Keep your small group with you rather short initially to enable the other students to learn how to work independently or in their groups. You can increase the length of time slowly as the other students learn how to work independently.
I have a series of free classroom management tips that will help you over at worksheetplace.com

Over time, you will find that this is a great first step to differentiated learning. Each day, increase the amount of time you teach to small groups and always prepare the others with work that helps them to consolidate a skill. The others in the class who are working independently or with independent groups should NOT be working on a new skill. Save that for their small group learning time with you.

Be sure to use my 'Understanding Poster' to let students cue you in a quiet way. A great way to demonstrate understanding quickly!

Reflective Teaching and The Lesson BOMB

Have you ever planned a great lesson, then become quite excited about doing it with your classroom only to find out later that although your intentions were admirable, it was somewhat of a flop? This is common! You are most certainly not alone on this one and the good news is, it is a powerful learning experience  IF you learn from it.  The learning from these types of lessons can only put you on the path of becoming a great teacher! In fact, a Super Teacher!! 

When we reflect, we are stretching our brains by analyzing, reasoning, problem solving and therefore eventually..... improving.  Sometimes, it is just something simple that needs to be changed. Let me share one of my own examples with you.

Back in one of my 7th and 8th grade classes, we were working on learning about energy. I loved teaching science and was the science teacher for 7th and 8th grade students. I used to tease a colleague who loved history and taught history to those same students I had, that science was far more enjoyable as 'it was happening' unlike history that has already happened. Well, on this particular day, I found a great documentary by Bill Nye to accompany my energy lesson. My unit had been planned out meticulously, or so I though, and was ready to go but I felt this video would be a great start to my unit as well as a good learning experience. 

One would think, with a great guy who is inspiring like Bill Nye, that all would be good, right? Not quite. My simple mistake and believe me, I never made that one again......I didn't set goals with the students about the purpose of the video. And, no different from when I was a student and passed notes back and forth (before cell phones) and whispered here and there because I could, after all, it was just a documentary the teacher asked us to watch.  AND, of course, I often missed the gist of the documentary. As did most of my students that day, due to my honest mistake. Like me, my students gleaned very little information during the viewing of that video. 

So, what did I learn? Establish purpose for everything, together! Each science video or documentary from that day forward, my students had either focus questions or response activities which were always given before the viewing.  Sometimes, it was a list of things to watch for, or questions to seek the answers to, or at times it would be followed up with a quiz which they were informed about before watching. 

Something so simple and I missed it! 
Reflective teaching helps us to become more adept at our jobs, remember to learn from those bombs and be the teacher of the class that you, yourself would like to be in.

By the way, speaking of science, I am growing the list of free teaching resources and worksheets for a variety of free science teaching ideas and much more over at worksheetplace.com for K-6.

Signs of Spring K-3

A great K-3 30 page freebie for teaching about spring!

Are you teaching your students all about the signs of spring?  Spring arrives on March 21st. The weather gets warmer, the hibernating animals awaken, the migrating birds fly north to their summer homes and the farmers plant their seeds. It is always motivating for students to learn about themes as they happen. This set of printables has something for the K-3 learner that links to signs of spring. 

This free set of printables includes petal patterns, mini I can read it booklets, spring cleaning fun, persuade Mother Nature activity, a venn to compare seasons, cloze activities and much, much more.

FREE printables right here!
A Free Set of Printables for Spring

Phonics is Important! 

What is phonics anyways?

Phonics is merely the sounds that letters or combinations of letters make. For instance - when I say the word church or touch, I want the child to understand that the ch makes that sound that we hear at the beginning and the end of church and at the end of touch. Alone, a c and an h make a very different sound. However, together they make the 'ch' sound. Or to give a simpler example, phonics is the sound from a 'b' in the word bed, ball, bank, or the ending sound of tub and club. Phonics is the sound that letters can make. However, it can be dangerous to let students know that certain letters sound like ___ when in fact, those letters can make a variety of sounds. We want our students to know the various sounds letters make. 

Research has proven that phonics is an essential teaching strategy for 5-7 years olds. Phonics needs to be taught beginning with the basic sounds and progressing to the more difficult sounds to be completely effective. This is the reason we begin with the basic word families first such as bat, hat, mat.....let, met, hop, pop. Use basic pictures and flash cards to help students understand the sounds that letters make. (See these free flash cards as well which don't have the letters with the pictures.)

Over the years we've heard that phonics isn't necessary or we've heard that whole language is the way to teach. The pendulum tends to go back and forth over the decades. However, don't you notice that the pendulum always hangs on to the strategies that work? Phonics is one of those strategies.