Enter to Win A $50 TPT Gift Card

Cyber Monday is tomorrow, and that can mean only one thing!  A sale!!!!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having it's annual Cyber Monday Sale, and I will be discounting all my products for the two-day sale so that you save 25%!  Even better, I have a chance for you to win 1 of 3 $50 gift cards to use during the sale (or anytime). Don't forget to use the Promo Code CYBER17. 

It's the Great Canadian Cyber Monday Giveaway! Read on to find out how to enter.



I have many Christmas themed resources in my store that you might want to check out before the sale.  All of these resources were designed to make life easier in December.

First up, who doesn't need the occasional worksheet during this hectic month?  There are times that a worksheet is just the thing to fill that time - especially if you have a substitute and you need something quick and easy.

 


Next up is my Christmas Graphing Centers.  We have just started graphing and will be using these in the coming weeks.  What I love most about these is that you teach the format of the center once and they can use all 12 since they are all laid out in the same way.  I like to keep things simple and predictable in my first-grade classroom.


Do you do a poem of the week in your classroom or are you looking for some simple Christmas poems to teach your students?  My Christmas poetry and printables pack have six original poems that are short and sweet - perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade, pocket chart pieces and differentiated printables to practice the poem.


And finally, my favourite holiday resource:  Letters to the North Pole!  It is NOT just a letters to Santa package.  Keep your students writing all December with this resource.  I just wrote a blog post about it so if you are interested you can it out.

How to Get your Students Excited about Writing in December.  


Now for your chance to enter for a chance at 1 of 3 $50.00 gift cards.  Enter the rafflecopter below.  The giveaway is open for 1 day only - November 26th. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to get your Students Excited about Writing in December

The holidays are just around the corner, and your classroom is probably becoming a hectic place. How would you like to simplify your writing instruction, while at the same time noticing your kids interest in writing growing?  I am going to show you how I have done this the past few years and how much it has helped even my most reluctant writers soar. 


I live and work in a community where the main holiday celebration this time of year is Christmas.  For many years I have had a classful of children who celebrate Christmas, and all they can think about is Santa and the holidays and all the magic that is a part of this time of the year.  I really wanted to capitalize on that, so I created Letters to the North Pole. 

The best way to get kids to write is to give them real reasons to write! 


My students write to Santa every year and a class of Grade 8 students respond to their letters.  Writing a letter to Santa is the most authentic writing task you can give a child this time of year, and that authenticity is the buy-in.  Students write best when they have a real reason to write.  All of the conventions we have been working away at (with varying levels of success) come to the forefront.  Now my students really understand why they need to have finger spaces and the importance of using the word wall,  What if Santa can't read their letter?! 

They finally start to use conventions because they KNOW they need to! 


Get your students excited about writing in December with a Letter writing center that is Much More than just Santa letters.  It includes a detailed lesson to introduce letter writing, an anchor chart and pieces to create samples to refer to as well as writing paper.  It is guaranteed to keep your students writing all of December.


To start, I work through a lesson and introduce the Anchor chart with our success criteria for writing.  We look at the samples and build an anchor chart showing the parts each letter should include.  Providing this structure definitely helps students to be more successful. 

Get your students excited about writing in December with a Letter writing center that is Much More than just Santa letters.  It includes a detailed lesson to introduce letter writing, an anchor chart and pieces to create samples to refer to as well as writing paper.  It is guaranteed to keep your students writing all of December.


However, their all-time favourite part is using candy canes as their holiday "spacemen."  


Get your students excited about writing in December with a Letter writing center that is Much More than just Santa letters.  It includes a detailed lesson to introduce letter writing, an anchor chart and pieces to create samples to refer to as well as writing paper.  It is guaranteed to keep your students writing all of December.

You might be wondering... How is this going to keep my kids writing all of December?  

Well, Santa isn't the only one who lives at the North Pole!  There is Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, the other reindeer and the Elves.  Once they realize they can write to everyone, you should see their eyes light up.  The Writing Center is the place to be!  I have specific writing paper for each of these people/animals.

Get your students excited about writing in December with a Letter writing center that is Much More than just Santa letters.  It includes a detailed lesson to introduce letter writing, an anchor chart and pieces to create samples to refer to as well as writing paper.  It is guaranteed to keep your students writing all of December.


Get your students excited about writing in December with a Letter writing center that is Much More than just Santa letters.  It includes a detailed lesson to introduce letter writing, an anchor chart and pieces to create samples to refer to as well as writing paper.  It is guaranteed to keep your students writing all of December.

What do you do with all these letters?  

We have an Elf on the Shelf in our classroom.  The students write letters to him too.  He is also our delivery elf.  Each evening he checks the mailbox at the writing center and takes the letters to the North Pole.  When the kids return to school the next day and see their letters are gone, they are super excited to know that they were delivered to the North Pole. 

Do I need to respond to ALL.THE.LETTERS?  

Nope,  I don't have time to respond to all the letters that get "mailed" and believe me, there are many.  I do take time to answer several every week, and those letters magically appear on the writer's desks.  I am sure you can imagine what happens next.  You guessed it,  more interest in the Writing Center and more writing happening. 

How do I know this is going to make a difference for my reluctant writers?  

I know it does.  Every year I have students who either don't write more than a few words or have writing that lacks conventions.  Once I introduce our Santa letters and the Writing Center I slowly see these reluctant students blossom.  They WANT to write, and they WANT their writing to be understood, so they TRY to use conventions and include the details that have been lacking.  Often all these students need is the confidence and desire to write.  Every year it happens for a few of my students, and I feel strongly that it will work for your students too.  


If you are interested in trying this resource, you can find it by clicking on the cover image below. 


Get your students excited about writing in December with a Letter writing center that is Much More than just Santa letters.  It includes a detailed lesson to introduce letter writing, an anchor chart and pieces to create samples to refer to as well as writing paper.  It is guaranteed to keep your students writing all of December.

If you want to keep the letter writing going after the holidays be sure to check out my Thank You letters resource.  Students plan and write a thank you letter to someone for a gift they received.

Instill an attitude of gratitude in your students by teaching them how to plan and write a thank you letter for a Christmas gift they received.  This unit has everything you need from graphic organizers to writing paper.


Until next time! 

Why not try Good Morning Baskets instead of Morning Work!


How do you start the day in your classroom?  How you start the day often sets the tone for the rest of your day.  I have changed my thinking in recent years and have started to embrace a more relaxed start to the day.  This method has been called a few different things, a soft start or free flow.  Read on to find out what the beginning of the day looks like with my first graders.

Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets.

In my classroom, we are now starting most days with Good Morning Baskets.  I have Good Morning Baskets filled with either Literacy or Math related activities.  Many of these activities are totally open-ended while some have specific tasks to complete.  I found my students were coming in with lots of energy and wanted to talk, talk, talk.  My morning work and journal time weren't working because my students just wanted to be social.  I had read about this way of starting the school day and I admit I was skeptical.  I figured that it would lead to more unsettled kids by I was totally surprised when the opposite happened.  They were excited to find out who their partner was and to get to work on an activity.  There was still a buzz throughout the room but most of my students were focused and chatting and working and playing with their partner.  I was sold.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so instead of writing, I will share pictures of some of the things I have included in these baskets.  At the end, I will share more about how the routine works in my room.  

Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets filled with literacy and math activities.

Use pattern blocks for a variety of things.  I have these cards from a set purchased ages ago but your students will love building their own designs too.  Using plastic tweezers to pick up pom poms to cover letters is great fine motor practice and good for letter recognition and counting too.

Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets filled with literacy and math activities.

Building letters of the alphabet with snap cubes and pattern blocks.  This helps with manual dexterity and for copying a model.  Using the pattern blocks just as they are modeled is good for developing spatial awareness too.
Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets filled with literacy and math activities.

Playing with lego is fun so adding letters to the blocks adds an educational twist.  I have lots of stamp sets but do not like stamp pads at all (too messy!).  I started having students stamp in play-doh.  We usually use a placemat to work on so it doesn't stick to the table.

Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets filled with literacy and math activities.  Use these free patterning cards and your students can make patterns with any material.

My students love to pattern with everything.  I added these simple pattern cards to a few bins of materials and they do the rest.  Would you like a set for your own Good Morning Baskets or Math bins?  Just drop your name and email below.


Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets filled with literacy and math activities.

We start our year with a patterning unit so adding things to make patterns with to the Good Morning Baskets is always a big hit.

Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets filled with literacy and math activities. Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets filled with literacy and math activities.

Building pictures with Cuisinaire blocks and patterning with play-doh are super simple activities to add to your Good Morning baskets.

Try out a soft start in your Primary classroom with Good Morning Baskets filled with literacy and math activities.

I wrote the numbers to 100 on a set of plastic tiles that I had.  By happenstance, they fit perfectly on this set of 100 charts I already had. Instant morning center.  They love matching up the numbers.

Grab these free basket labels and word building case labels to use for your own Good Morning Baskets and centers.

These word building kits are a hit with my girls especially.  I hot glued the magnet strip into the case and added a sticker to the bottom (it is barely visible in the picture) so I knew what letters were supposed to be in the case.  Sometimes they grab some paper from the writing center and make a list of the words they built.

You can get both the labels I use and the label for the Word Building cases by dropping your name and email below.


My students are responsible for completing our morning routine before going to a Good Morning Basket.  Students work with partners and I did want to have a bit of control over this.  I also wanted to make sure that students were playing with lots of classmates and getting to know everyone.  I created a random group chooser file within my Smart Notebook software for my Smartboard.  Students check the smartboard and choose a basket and get to work.

Our Good Morning basket time lasts about 20 - 25 minutes.  It gives my stragglers time to get organized for the day.  Often those students end of missing out on this time but it is better this than my literacy lessons.

I use this time to quickly look through agendas and then I usually circulate and chat with kids as they are working and gauge the mood of some of my students who sometimes have a difficult start to the day.  This time is so valuable.

Pin this image so you can return to this post when you need inspiration.


I have included resources I have found on other sites.  Check out my Pinterest board to find those links.

Until next time,

How to Teach Word Families so they Stick


In my opinion, word walls are a must in a primary classroom BUT only if you teach kids how to use it.  Word families are an important part of word wall as well.  Teaching kids to read and spell words by learning patterns helps with retention and improves reading.  How do you get this information to stick?  Read on to see how I teach word families in a way that kids remember them and refer to them in the classroom.

Learn how to teach word family words so that they stick - kids will learn to read and spell word families words if they are engaged in the process of building charts to use as anchor posters in the classroom.


In previous posts, I have shared about how I get started with a word wall at the start of the school year and how I teach difficult to read and spell rule breaker words. In my last post, I shared some daily routines to do with your word wall to make the words stick and get your students invested in using the word wall.

You can find Part 1 here: Getting Started with a Word Wall.

You can find Part 2 here: Teaching Rule Breaker Words Using a Word Wall

You can find Part 3 here: Simple Ways to Practice Word Wall Words Daily


Monday is always the day I introduce all of the new words for the week (usually 5).   Tuesday is usually the day of the week we work with our new word family for the week.   We use that time to build a pocket chart with our word family together and then create an anchor poster that will stay up in the classroom.

When we are building the words in the pocket chart I add a kinesthetic component. Students hold their hands up, facing out and make a fist.  When we say the initial sound or sounds they push the right hand out and then the left hand for the word family. When we blend together the onset and rime we push our fists together.  I find getting them moving while we do this increases engagement.

After we complete the pocket chart we create a poster that stays up as a reminder of our word building for that word family.  Students come up and write a word in the word family on the poster and the posters are displayed close to the word wall and are used as a reference for students.

Learn how to teach word family words so that they stick - kids will learn to read and spell word families words if they are engaged in the process of building charts to use as anchor posters in the classroom.


I start the year with short vowel word families and then move to long vowel word families.  I do not teach every.single.one.  Instead, I choose word families that are most common and we spend our time on those.

So for instance, when I have finished focusing on all the Short A word families we have a wrap-up activity to highlight the spelling patterns we did not cover.  We do a partner write activity.  I place all the remaining blank word family posters around the room and we do a SCOOT activity to add words to them with students working in pairs to add one new word family word to each poster.

Learn how to teach word family words so that they stick - kids will learn to read and spell word families words if they are engaged in the process of building charts to use as anchor posters in the classroom.


You should notice that at every single stage of my word family instruction the students are involved in the process.  Most everything that is placed on the walls in my classroom is created with students or by students.  The only way to get kids invested in using the resources in the classroom is to involve them in creating them or explicitly teaching them how to use them.

If you are interested in the posters you can find two different versions here:

  



My word family instruction continues during my Daily 5 instruction during word work.  While I am focusing on Short A in my word family instruction I am also providing centers to practice spelling, reading, recognizing and building Short A words.  These centers are very popular with my kids.

Learn how to teach word family words so that they stick - kids will learn to read and spell word families words if they are engaged in the process of building charts to use as anchor posters in the classroom. Use centers to further their learning.


Until next time,


Back to Top