Category Archives: literacy

Tutoring Ideas: CARNIVAL theme

The past 5 months I have had the extreme pleasure to tutor a couple kids in reading and math. I had so much fun planning our hands on learning activities that I thought I would share them with you! Learning CAN be fun, after all!

I based our themes on the Read Naturally Story we were working on that day. The first post I am sharing is a carnival themed tutoring session. This was SO much fun!

Before I get into our activities, I do have to note that we had all of our tutoring sessions on the floor. Why? Simply because my student was tired of sitting at a desk all day. Listen to your students- sometimes they need a break from the typical classroom learning environment and will actually respond better in a different situation.  

CARNIVAL TUTORING DAY

-Use Clown gloves to demonstrate the trick when multiplying by 9s.


 The nice thing about this is that we could use the trick with the gloves on or off. I also wrote the numbers 1-10 on the fingertips to help with the counting. 

For those unfamiliar with this “hand”y trick (haha): First, look at the equation- particularly to the number that you are multiplying with 9.  Then hold up both hands. Starting on the left pinky, count that number of fingers over. When you land on that number, put the finger down. The number of fingers to the left of the finger that’s down represents the number of tens in the answer. The number of fingers to the right represents the number of ones in the answer. Put those together and you have the answer! 


For example, if my equation was 9 X 5, I would start by holding up both hands and count five fingers over starting at my left pinky. The number five would land on my  left thumb, which I would put down. To the left of my thumb I have four fingers, so I know that I have 4 tens in my answer. To the right of my thumb I have 5 fingers, so I know that I have 5 ones in my answer. 4 tens plus 5 ones equals 45! Easy peasy!

-Clown face ar/er/or words. 


I would read a word that had the ar/er/or r-controlled vowel sound. My student had to choose the clown face with the correct vowel, hold it up to her face, and then spell the word. 


And of course look absolutely adorable while doing it. 🙂

-Prefix and suffix balloons. This was by far my student’s favorite activity. Prior to our tutoring session, I placed a variety of prefixes and suffixes in balloons before blowing them up. 


During tutoring, I placed a word on the floor which we read together. My student used a bent paper clip as our popping tool and I instructed her to pop the balloon of her choice. She loved this! 


We both screamed when the balloon popped and then laughed so hard. Who knew learning prefixes and suffixes could be so fun? Once we calmed down a bit, we opened up the little piece of paper that was inside the balloon and read the affix. 


My student had to determine if it was a prefix or suffix and then place it at the beginning or ending of the word. We then read the “new” word and discussed the definition. 

-Multisyllabic words with popcorn bags.


 I LOVED doing this activity! I bought popcorn bags at the dollar tree (can I say that’s my favorite store ever?!). I put really long multisyllabic words that I knew would be tricky to read on the outside of the bags. I told my cute student that she was going to read those very long words today! We looked at the word on the outside of the bag first, opened up the popcorn bag, and dumped out the kernels. The kernels contained the word parts, broken into syllables, of the long word. My student placed the kernels in order- checking the word on the outside of the bag to make sure she got them in the correct order. 


We placed the kernels under these really cute touch lights I found at the dollar tree (of course!). 


As my student read the word parts, she would touch the lights. This was a great way to integrate some kinesthetic activity  into reading. After reading all the word parts, we blended the word and got excited that we could read it! 🙂


After awhile my cute student was able to look at some of the words and mentally break them into syllables without dumping out the kernels. It made my teacher heart so happy! 🙂

I hope these ideas help you to make learning more fun for your students. 

Happy TEACHing!

Book Buddy App: Must Have for Teachers and Librarians

I have been so excited to share an AMAZING iPhone/iPod/iPad app with you! It is called Book Buddy, but it may as well be called the Best Book Cataloging App Ever :). And no they didn’t pay me to say it- I truly just love it! In the digital age that we live in- and the easy access most of us to have technology- it just makes sense to have a digital database of all our books. It will make lesson planning easier as well as assisting you in trying to locate that one copy of a book you know you have SOMEWHERE.


Here are some of Book Buddy‘s great features….

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home screen of the Book Buddy app

1. You can easily add books to your library 3 ways: scanning the barcode, searching in an online database, or manually adding the books. You may think- why would I want to manually add books? Well, sometimes a book might not be in the database. OR you may want to add some of your classroom’s created books. Cute, right? It makes those homemade books feel more professional. 🙂

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2. While lots of books have pictures of the titles already stored in the database, there are exceptions. No worries though- YOU can take a picture of the book! This is another feature that you could use when adding those books made by your kiddos.

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3. After a book is added to your library that is in the database, there is a link to an online summary as well as reviews. This is also a great tool in getting additional background on the authors. There are also some links if you need to purchase more copies of the book.

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4. One of my favorite features of this app is the tagging system. You are able to easily add tags to each book that is in your Book Buddy library. You are able to sort and search books by tags. For example, after scanning “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” into my library, I added the following tags: “animals”, “breakfast”, “comical”, “level k”, “pigs”, “problem solving”, and “sequencing”. Now, when I am teaching a unit on pigs, I just look up all my books with the “pig” tag and this book and others will show up. No more searching through all the book tubs for titles! I just love this- especially when you have books that can be placed in various places in your classroom/home. Which bring me to the next reason I love this app….

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a few of the tags I added

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a look at some of the books listed under the tag “Pigs”

5. This is a great app to keep track of those leveled libraries! While it doesn’t look up the guided or lexile reading levels for you, if you know the level already simply add it as a tag. (I used a free app called Literacy Leveler to look up levels on some of my books). So if you are wanting to know all the level N books in your classroom, simply look up the tag. It will let you know all the titles despite the location (super useful if you have books everywhere- in baskets, themed tubs, bookshelves, etc) Which also brings me to the next reason I love this app….

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6.  You can sort your books into categories. Now you may wonder, how could I utilize this feature? Books that are scanned into this app are automatically placed in the “unfiled” section of your library and will remain there until you place them in a category. I have created categories for all the different locations where I may have books. Some of my categories are “Animal Tub”, “Biography Tub”, “Craft Room Bookshelf”, “Leveled Library”, and “Professional” (plus a TON more).  To add a book to a category, I go to my list of unfiled books, click on a book title, click on “move book” and then select the category. While this app does have the option of adding a physical location of each of your books, I found the categories much faster to add and it will be faster to edit the location- because lets face it, we are constantly moving books around. It is also easier to view all the titles in each of my tubs quickly while in the home screen of this app.

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a list of the unfiled books in my library

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7. You can sort your library by title, author, genre, rating, and more! A great way if you know you want a last minute author study of Eric Carle or want to see what historical fiction literature you can share with your students.

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8. If you have every spent hours at an expensive bookstore drooling over books with the intent to go home and find them for cheaper on Amazon (not that I have ever done that or anything) this will help you out! You can scan in books while at the store and add them to your wish list. Then the next time someone offers to get you a book for your library you can let them know specific titles right away. You can also printout a list of your wish list items to hand out to parents at conferences! 🙂 I LOVE it!!!!

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9. Book Buddy has a simple yet effective check out system. Just click on the title of the book, click edit, and then change the “loaned out” status from none to either an existing contact or create a new contact. There is no way to import a class list, but to be honest I didn’t have students checking out books to take home too often. You can view your list of loaned out books from the home screen, and you can also export a list of those books that are borrowed, upload it to dropbox, and print. Imagine how nice that would be to show parents at conferences- they would not only see what books their child needs to bring back but they could see what the book actually looks like- which might prove to be useful in locating it :). Which brings me to the final reason I love this app….

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10. You can back up your library. In this digital age of technology crashes- having a backup of data is a MUST. Especially if you have spent hours adding this data! You can also export and print your entire library- or just parts of the library. Like if I wanted a printout of all my Level M books so I could laminate it and place it next to my level M book tub, I would just go to settings, utilities, export, and then update the “My Books” section to the tag “Level M”. Click on export and there you go! If you have access to an airprinter you can print your wishlist, borrowed items, or an entire list of all books in your library. I think exporting them to Dropbox works better because you can export specific lists. And one thing I love about the lists is that there is a cute little thumbnail of the picture with information such as who it’s currently loaned out to, what category it’s in, and the different tags.

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There are so many other features too- you can recommend books in your library via twitter, facebook, or email. You can also keep track of books that you have borrowed from someone else. There is the ability to import files (haven’t tried this yet), mark books that are your favorites, add books to a series, and give books a rating (up to 5 stars). There is a free version, which I played around with until I felt comfortable paying for the upgrade- in my opinion the pro version is well worth the money!

Before I started scanning in 1500 books, I did my research. This app does everything I need and more- hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do!

Happy Teaching

Alphabet Book: Free Printable

A couple years ago I had a Book Themed Baby Shower for my sister in law. I have been getting a lot of people requesting the pdf of the ABC book I made (THANKS!) and thought I would share it with you all in a post.

This is a printable that you can use to make any type of alphabet book- its not just for baby showers! Imagine the possibilities- “The ABC’s of Our Family” with all family members picking a letter (or two) and writing a word that starts with that letter to describe their family. Wouldn’t that be such a fun family night activity? If you are a teacher you could use this pdf to make class books such as “Animal ABCs”, “ABCs of Reading (or Math, Science, any subject!)”, or “26 Reasons Our Class Shines- Our Classroom Alphabet Book”. Seriously the possibilities are endless!

Feel free to download our ABC pages– Enjoy and Happy Teaching!

Our Lego Day PLUS free Lego book template

A couple months ago my daughter and some fun playing and learning with Legos. I thought I would share with you some of our engaging educational activities!

1. Add with legos. Count the circles on top of two 2×2 lego bricks. The answer will fit on top of a flat 2×4 brick! Good hands on addition fun PLUS its easy for kids to visualize that there are multiple ways of getting one sum by just using different sizes of bricks.

2.Alphabatize lego blocks. I put little alphabet stickers on 26 legos and had my daughter make an ABC stick placing the blocks in alphabetical order.

3. Create with legos. We just had fun building dinosaur caves. This was strictly a play activity :).

4. Measure with legos! Make a “ruler” out of lego blocks and run around the house measuring in legos instead of inches.

5. And our last- and my personal favorite- activity was making our own Lego book. I scoured the web for a cute lego template and couldn’t find any. So I made my own :). And I have to say that I kinda like it!


Download the template for our printable book and have fun creating a lego book!

I hope this helps you have fun learning with legos! Happy Teaching!

10 Ways to Share Charlottes Web With Your Preschooler

My daughter LOVES animals and we are all about books at our house! So I wanted to find some great read alouds for her that would suit her interests.  A couple of years ago we tried reading Dr Dolittle to my Boo… we got about 6 chapters in but we just couldn’t finish. About a month ago I felt like we were ready to try the chapter book thing again. I found an old copy of Charlottes Web and I knew it would be a perfect fit for my daughter. Before we started reading I did a little bit of prep work. I scoured the internet looking for ways to share this book with a preschooler. I found lots of websites with vocabulary worksheets, upper elementary reading comprehension activities,… lots of things that I knew wouldn’t specifically work for my daughter. I thought that since Charlottes Web was on so many of those must-read lists for preschool age children that I would find more activities to go along with it! But nothing that seemed to meet my needs.
So I came up with my own plan.
It’s nothing fancy, but it worked. My daughter was captivated from start to finish. Maybe some of these ideas will inspire you as you read this classic with your young child.

1- Find a stuffed pig (or spider). We found this beauty at a local book store for $2.99. Having a little Wilbur to snuggle with while reading gave my daughter something tactile to hold while soaking in this classic piece of literature.

feeding Wilbur became a nightly job

2- Act it out! This is a great story with so many different scenes to reenact with your child… don’t wait until the end of the book to do it either- you can start acting a section or chapter at a time. After reading the first chapter, I told my daughter that daddy was outside on his way to kill a baby pig. At first she looked at me like I was from another planet, but then she caught on and was outside screaming at daddy to save the pig. Daddy then gave her a shoebox with the stuffed pig inside…. quoting lines from the story. It was a wonderful retelling activity. We had a great time acting out other scenes- like Lurvy chasing Wilbur to put him back into his pigpen.

3. During the first chapter you are introduced to the vocaublary word “runt”. After explaining it to my daughter, we went to the store and bought a box of Runts candy and talked about why they are called that (because they are super small fruit). During some of the chapters I would pull out the box of Runts and everytime I would read the word “Wilbur” (or another word) she would get to eat one candy. She had to hear me say the word though… it kept her listening!

4. Make stick puppets. I did a quick google search for barnyard animals and easily able to find pictures of the characters. During some of the chapters I would pull out the stick puppets. They came in handy during the barnyard scenes when there was a lot of character conversation.

5. Take advantage of Youtube! We were able to see little videos of baby pigs, spiders spinning webs and making egg sacs, baby spiders hatching… kind of gross but it strengthened our mental images of the story.

6. Crafts! There are so many different preschool craft ideas that would go perfectly with this book. (think pigs, spiders,…any farm craft!) My daughter prefers acting over making, so we didn’t make any crafts… we are sticking with her interests!

7. In one of the chapters the author tells us Wilbur’s schedule for the day. After reading about his schedule, my daughter and I sat down and wrote our schedule. From the pic you can probably tell where I got input from her. 🙂

8. Make snacks! There are plenty of farm-related treats out there that you can snack on while reading. Due to time constraints we opted out of doing this…but it would be a fun, yummy activity!

9. Go to the play or watch the movie. We were fortunate enough to go see a live performance of Charlottes Web by a local childrens theatre company. It was SPECTACULAR. On the way home we talked about our favorite parts of the play, and any differences we noticed between the play and the book.

10. Play it. Pull out your old Little People barn and let your child recreate the magic of Wilbur and Charlotte. This was an activity my daughter requested again and again. And you don’t have to stick to the script- have fun with the characters and try and predict how they would act in different scenarios.

I absolutely love this children’s classic. Take the time to read it to your little ones!
Happy Teaching!

Letter E Candy

Boo and I recently had a Silent E day! I introduced her to this crazy letter and we started our learning adventure with a hunt for CVC and CVCV words. This was also the perfect time to introduce the sight word “like”.  

I found these ADORABLE printables from Tales of a Teacherista.  We printed them on card stock but instead of using the cutout letter e to turn those short vowels into long vowels- I decided we should make our own e.

I scrambled around our kitchen looking for something to use when I saw our Peach Rings (we have way too much candy on hand at our house). They worked PERFECTLY.

To make the lowercase letter e, you simply break the circle apart and bring the top loose end inside to make the loop. Super easy!

Boo had a riot making her own sugar “e”s, and the best part was that after she read a list of words with her candy e she got to eat it! An educational tool and a treat! This also helped her with writing the lowercase letter e.

Happy Teaching!

Mommy & Me Book: Handprint ABCs

I am in LOVE with handprint art. It captures those sweet little hands in a way that simply melts my heart! Since I have become a Pinterest addict, I have pinned a ton of really cute handprint activities and about 9 months ago I thought I should start doing some of them. Yes people- the book that you are about to see took me 9 months to finish. Why? Well let’s just say it got lost in the never ending pile of things to do. 🙂

This is a simple run down: Boo chose the letter she wanted to work on and the object that she wanted to make that started with that letter. Sometimes we looked through my handprint art pinterest board, or websites like Red Ted Art (love her creative ideas!!!!). Other times my daughter came up with original ideas- like y is for yellow jackets. I bought a whole bunch of blank books from Bare Books awhile ago. They are very well made and sturdy, just like a real book. While having a prebound book had its problems (like having to leave the book open while the paint was drying) I am very happy with the final product.

Enjoy! Happy Teaching!!

Mommy & Me Book: "I Can Do Many Things"

I have been HORRIBLE about blogging. Just busy being a mom :). I thought I would share a quick and easy Mommy & Me homemade book that we did a while ago. It showcases some simple things that my daughter can do to keep up her sweet little confident self. It would be fun to take pics of your kiddo doing different activities, like “I can play soccer”, or “I can swim”, etc… I just thought it would be fun to make it more an activity/learning scrapbook this time- next we will try it with photos! I want my Boo to know how amazing I think she is!

Happy Teaching!

More “Don’t Be An Angry Bird” Printables

I have finished the newest “Don’t Be An Angry Bird: Lessons on Anger Management for Kids” printables. There are some new pages to be added to the original printable book. These are not intended to just be worksheets, but as a tool to discuss anger with your children. There are also new posters in black and white and color that I am adding to our wiki.

To download these free files, click HERE. You will be redirected to our site’s wiki where you can download any and all anger management for kids files!

sample page from our “Don’t Be An Angry Bird” printable book for kids

I am in AWE with how quickly this idea is spreading. Thanks so much for your sweet comments- I read every one and am so excited that so many of you are able to help your kiddos understand and deal with their anger.

As always- Happy TEACHing!

 

UPDATE:

Click HERE to download the Angry Bird PDF pages (much easier than using the WIKI!)

DIY Light Box and Teaching Ideas

Oh, the wonder and magic of playing with light! I have wanted to make a light box for awhile, and I finally set the goal and got it done. I had no idea that there was SO many different (and educational!) things you could do with light!

Light Box Materials:
Clear plastic under-the-bed Rubbermaid container
2 fluorescent lights

To make the light box, I just turned the Rubbermaid container upside down with the 2 lights inside. It isn’t anything fancy- but it was SO easy!!

Light Box Manipulatives:
Colored accent gems, transparencies (teaching manipulatives I used with an overhead projector), dry erase marker & sheet protector, geometry mirror, microscope slides & magnifying glass

There are tons of different ways to play with a light box. I am going to list some of our ideas- enjoy!

Science:
Pull out your old microscope slides! A light box is a perfect way to view ’em! It’s also a great way to view x-rays.

Looking at a fruit fly with a magnifying glass and our new light box

Math
We made lots of designs with pattern blocks. Boo and I also played and sorted money, made shapes with our geoboard, spun the colored spinner, and created symmetrical patterns with our geometry mirror. With the exception of the mirror, the rest of our math light box manipulatives are old overhead projector teaching materials. And since overhead projectors are on their way out in lots of schools, I bet you could snatch some of these up for a great price.

Geoboard designs and colorful spinners
Geometry mirrors- they are such a fun math manipulative! It’s a great tool for teaching symmetry!
Playing and sorting dollars and coins
Art
We used our pattern blocks to make colors. It was a fast way to show that yellow and blue make green! 
Literacy
I grabbed a dry erase marker and a sheet protector and Boo and I had fun reading words! We played a simple game where a predator was trying to get Boo’s stuffed animal and so we had to read the clues to figure out who he was and what he intended to do if he caught us. 
Reading and writing words
And of course, we did a LOT of free play.

Boo playing with 2 geometry mirrors and accent gems

A big source of light-play inspiration goes to Play at Home Mom– she has some “bright” ideas on her blog! 🙂
I would love to hear about your light play! Now to figure out how to make a “Lite-Brite” with our new box….
Happy Teaching!

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