I Am Thankful For... Freebie!

Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect upon all the things that we are thankful and actively teach kids to be thankful. This brainstorming page provides a line for each letter of the alphabet for students to think of their personalized answers.

This is a great activity to use as a pre-writing activity or at home to do as a family together leading up to the special day.

Click on the image below to download this freebie!


Reading Strategies for Beginning Readers: A Parent Guide!

How can I help my child when they are stuck on a word?

Sound it out! When your child gets to a word that they do not know, the first strategy they usually try is to sound it out. You can support your child with sounding out the words by blending the sounds together. For example, if the word is man, you can first review the sounds in the word, "m...a...n." Then they can blend the sounds together, "mmmmmmaaaannnn." When the sounds are blended together, it is easier for your child to hear the word! 

Remember: Know the Sounds - Blend the Sounds - Read the Word

Sounding out does not always work! So I can use other strategies!

Skip it and move on: Your child can skip the unknown word, finish the sentence, and go back to see if they can figure the word out. This allows them to use context cues to solve the unknown word.

Does it make sense?: When your child attempts to read, and the word they chose does not make sense out loud, they should ask themselves this question. They will then have to try another strategy.

Look at the picture: Often the words your child is trying to read are in the picture! For example, if your child is stumbling upon a word that starts with d and there is a dog in the picture, they can make a "good guess" and predict that it is dog!

Does it look right?: If your child reads the word, and the letters do not correspond to the word they said, they should ask themselves this question. For example, the story says, "The boy went to school," and the child said, "The boy is at school." The letters in the word went do not look right when saying the word is.

Does it sound right?: If your child reads aloud a sentence and something is wrong, they can ask themselves this question. If it doesn't sound right, then it likely wasn't right! "The boy is many friends" does not sound quite right, so they need to go back and check.

Look for small words inside of bigger words: The word and is inside the word hand. This strategy also works well for compound words. The words snow and man are in the longer word snowman.

Look for word families or patterns we know: If a child knows the word it, then they can read sit, hit, nit, fit, etc.

Bossy E!: "Bossy E plays a game, it makes the vowel shout it's name!" When students see an e at the end of the word, the e makes the previous vowel say it's name. For example, car versus care. The a says its name in the word care. Another example is mine. The i is saying its name (i as in ice, not i as in it). Kids love reciting this poem when they see the Bossy E on the page!

 Use Consistent resources: 

I find it is important to have consistent visuals so that the images are familiar to your child. I like to use them in a variety of different ways. These ones I find to be valuable, especially since they can be easily printed and do not require a of ink! They can easily be posted at home, in a homeschool or even in a classroom!

1. Reading strategies posters can be found here.

2. Matching bookmarks to help parents and children with home reading and reading in the classroom can be found here.

3. TEACHERS: This Home Reading Book Log with matching strategies can be found here. I really like this home reading log as it provides an easy way for parents to communicate with teachers how their child is reading, each and every night!


10 Elementary Truths

I hope you enjoyed this humorous reminders some of the everyday joys of teaching in an elementary school!

If you want these images as a powerpoint to share with your staff, it is offered as a freebie by clicking here.

What is a Boomerang Lunch?

What is a boomerang lunch? Boomerang lunches are a school-wide initiative to help reduce the amount of waste we create at school by ensuring that everything that is brought to school is returned home at the end of the day.

How can I participate? If your school runs this program, they will request that you pack all lunches in a way that all the items to your house to be reused. If packaging is brought to school, it is then returned home.

The end result is that school is looking to educate the community at large, but especially students, about reducing their waste imprint in their day to day life. Schools also reinforce to students that by sending their food home, their parents know what they enjoy eating and what may be wasted so that parents can look for alternative foods, if needed.

Although a bit more inconvenient, it is much more cost effective to purchase items in bulk and bring food in containers. Labels easily help identify whose container is whose. It also encourages food items with less packaging (e.g. grapes can easily be stored in a container and brought to school throughout the whole week).

Who participates? All students and staff members of schools participate in preparing their lunches like this for the full year!

Why participate? Please consider the environment, especially as many schools are either an Eco-School or they want to be environmentally friendly. Our end goal is to help your child become aware of how they can make a positive impact in the small details throughout their everyday life! Usually schools who are eco-schools are audited by children who participate in an eco-team club at least once in a school year. Their goal is to try to encourage a decrease in waste in the school and educate their peers on how to consciously do small things that will reduce waste.

How can I prepare? Shop in bulk and buy things that can spread over many days! Look for reusable containers that have multiple storage spots in them. Stainless steel containers are perfect for helping to reduce your plastic imprint and are easily washed.


Quick Games to Support Learning Letters

Fridge Fun
Put the letter of the week or high frequency words (whichever level your child is at) on the fridge, and throughout the day have your child tell you what letter/word it is and/or what sound it makes. For instance, as you go to get a drink, ask your child, “What letter is this?”  Have them practise this on a regular basis so they realize that letters, sounds, and words are all around them!
X's & O's
Play X's and O's using the letters that your child is learning! Change the game's name to B's & T's to help your child learn their letters!
Use sight word flash cards (or alphabet cards for letter names or sounds) and three or more cards that say "ZAP!" on them. If your child reads the word correctly, they get to keep the card! If the "ZAP!" card is flipped over, the person who flipped it over loses all of their cards to the discard pile. The game continues until there are no more cards.This is a great game that siblings can play together!
Use sight word flash cards (or alphabet cards for letter names or sounds) and three or more cards that say "BANG!" on them. If your child reads the word correctly they get to keep the card! If the "BANG!" card is flipped over, the person who flipped it over gets to try to steal a card from another player by reading the word correctly. The game continues until there are no more cards.This is a great game that siblings can play together!

Rainbow writing is one of my favourite ways to learn how to draw letters. It is art, fine motor skills and personal creativity all packed into a fun literacy activity. Click here to see the rainbow activity I use with my kids. It is great for using manipulatives or writing tools!


Cheering To Learn Sight Words

Cheering letters is fun way to learn sight words. These are a variety of cheers that I have used in my classroom throughout the past 9 years. Many, of these cheers if not all of them, have been around for many more years I have been teaching for. I am sure that even though some of these cheers my students have “invented” in my classroom I highly doubt that they have invented something new and that it was the first time that it was used.

When we cheer our sight words we always do it three times in a row. First we call out all the letters with an action and then use a fun action when we call out the word. 

Differentiated learning at its best! Why does it work?
Actions – help support kinesthetic learners
Reading – helps support visual learners
Chanting – helps support auditory learners, through hearing themselves and others repeating the letters!

FYI: Generic cards are great for letting your kids pick their own actions (e.g., community helpers – get your student to pick what they will do to cheer the letters in the words!) Have fun with these actions and let your kids create their own favorites! Use these as a starting guide because when your students invent their own, they will quickly become the class favorites to use! Use the blank page provided to write down the ones your students create so you don’t forget them!

Click on this link or the image below to grab a freebie to help you teach sight words!

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