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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Playing Sight Word Games {with a Freebie}

Sight Words - While we all know it's important, learning sight words can be one of those boring, repetitive activities that kids hate. We can stand in front of the class and flip through card after card while half asleep students repeat the sight words. 
The good news is that learning sight words doesn't have to be boring! One of my favorite ways to make sight word review fun is by turning it into a game.

Here are just a few of my favorite sight word games.  They are all simple and require very little prep time.

 Sight Word Hide and Seek

During one of the times when my students are out of the room {art, library, etc.}, I like to hide our sight word flashcards around the room.  I make them pretty obvious because I want the students to find them today, not a year from now.

When the students return, I tell them that we are going to play Sight Word Hide and Seek.  I have them take turns finding a sight word card around the room.  Of course, when they find a card, they then have to show everyone else the word and read it out loud.  It's such a simple game, but my students have so much fun playing it.

Sight Word Around the World

I played this game a little different than regular around the world because I wanted all my students up and moving around a bit more.  I laid out all of our sight word flashcards in a big circle in the foyer of our school.  {First graders are so easy to please! Mine were excited just because we were doing something outside the classroom.}

Then I had them take turns walking around the flashcards.  As they walked, they had to read the words on the cards.  When they got stuck on a card, they had to wait at that card until their next turn.  I kept the game going until everyone had gotten a chance to make it all the way around.  Students that made it around early were allowed to read around again on their next turn.

Sight Word Memory

This game took a little more prep than the first two.  I cut up squares of construction paper and wrote pairs of sight words on them.  I did an orange set and a red set because I wanted to have two games going at the same time.  Both sets have the same sight words though.

I was a little surprised that a couple of my kiddos had never played memory before.  After explaining the rules, they started playing.  It was so fun to watch them turning over and reading the words on the cards.  I had to keep an eye on the ones that hadn't played memory before.  At one point, I realized they were putting the non-matching cards face down anywhere they wanted instead of where they picked them up from.  I explained that they were never going to be able to remember where the words were like that!

Sight Word Tic Tac Toe

Another game that's easy to play with sight words is tic tac toe.  Simply draw a tic tac toe board on your whiteboard and fill each square with a sight word.  {I like to choose some of the words my students are missing the most for this game.}

Then choose two students to come up to the board and play tic tac toe. The catch is that the students have to read the sight word before they can put their X or O in the box.  

This is a quick and fun way to review tricky sight words without any prep.  However, in case you want to let your students do this in pairs at their desks, I have made you a little tic tac toe freebie!

You can grab your freebie by clicking on either of the pictures above.  There is also a page of blank tic tac toe boards so that you can write in your own sight words.

I hope I have given you some fun ideas that you can use with your class.  What other fun ideas do you have for practicing sight words?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Five for Friday: September 25

I don't know about any of you, but my week has flown by.  We have been busy, busy, busy in my classroom.  So I'm linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching to share my Five for Friday. 

Five for Friday

 My students have been working hard to master simple addition.  We have been having tons of fun working on our addition number sentences.  You can read more about our addition fun in this post. {And my kiddos did great on our chapter test yesterday.  We had lots of 100s!}

My first graders played their first game of Scoot on Wednesday.  I thought the first day of Fall was the perfect day to pull out my Addition Facts Fall Themed Scoot Game.  I played some peppy music while they moved around the room.  Because it was their first time, I made sure they all had enough time to finish all the task cards.  I also had to put out manipulatives for my students to count because some of them still need that.  Luckily I had plenty of cute fall themed items to use.  But all in all, it went really well - especially for the first time!  They loved it!

I have the privilege of being the adviser for our school yearbook staff.  We had our first yearbook meeting on Wednesday complete with Oreos and soda. {Did I bribe some of them to join yearbook? Absolutely!}  Thankfully, it was a productive meeting, and I think our yearbook will be amazing this year as always.

We have been having so much fun practicing our sight words this week too.  I love finding new, fun ways to review these tricky words.  You can read more about our fun sight word games on the blog tomorrow!

I just wanted to leave you with one more cute picture.  My kiddos have been enjoying independent reading time.  I am so happy that they like looking at books even if they can't read all the words yet.  I caught this little friend climbing into my bookshelf to pick out a new book to look at, and I couldn't resist snapping a picture.

I hope your week was as fun and learning filled as mine was.  Stop by Doodlebugs Teaching to read about the weeks of some other amazing educators!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

4 Reasons ART is Important in the Classroom

We are so blessed to have a local artist come in and work with our students.  We have an hour long art class once a month where the students learn basic principles of art.  While it does take time out of our already busy days, I firmly believe that teaching art is important to our children.  Here are 4 reasons to add art into your classroom.

1. Art teaches observation.

In order to draw or paint a picture, a student must first observe the object or scene he is drawing.  They study the details of the object to understand how to add those details into the drawing. This same attention to detail can then be carried over into other areas - being careful on math problems, observing a science experiment, or taking notes on a subject.

2. Art encourages creativity.

We want our students to be creative.  We want them to figure out ways to solve a problem.  We push them to come up with interesting stories in writing class.  Art is just another way to feed that natural creativity and imagination found in children. Working with different medias like clay or paper force them to figure out ways to shape the paper or clay into the image they are thinking about. This is a great example of hands on problem solving.

3. Art provides an emotional outlet.

Many of our students come from backgrounds that are less than ideal.  They have struggles that we may know little about. Art gives them a chance to express how they feel about life in safe ways. They can put their struggles or worries into their paintings through color choice, facial expressions, or even the actual objects they choose to paint.

4. Art reinforces other subjects.

Whether or not your students realize it, art often includes other subject matter. They work with geometry when they draw lines, angles, and shapes. They act like scientists when they observe the world around them and then record it in the form of a picture. You can reinforce this even more by talking to them about math or science as they work.

There are many more reasons for including art instruction into your classroom. Even if you set aside time once a month to teach your students how to paint a still life or draw a self portrait, you will be helping your students more than you may even know.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Making Addition Fun

My first graders have been working hard at learning how to add over the past couple of weeks.  We are only working with sums to 6 in this unit, but we are putting lots of work into this concept.
And I have been working hard to make addition fun!

 Here are some easy ways to make learning addition pleasant for your students:

1. Use Toys 

I gave each student a box of fun objects to use as counters.  There were pictures of candy, shapes, toy animals, fuzzy pom-poms, popsicle sticks, and lots of other items.  I would tell them how many of each thing to get out, and then they would write the addition equation and answer on their paper.  {Of course, for the first day I was writing the problem and answer on the board as well.}  I had fun switching out the items in the boxes to make it a little new everyday.

2.  Use Clipboards

I don't know about your students, but my kiddos were so excited to use my clipboards for the first time!  I think that was their favorite part of school on this day.  I heard one of them tell a friend at recess, "We got to use those boards today!"  We were still just using objects to add and write addition sentences, but simply using the clipboards made it so much more fun!

3.  Tell Stories

Once my kiddos had grasped the concept of putting objects together to get a new number, I started telling stories as they got out the correct number of objects.  They still had to find the objects and write a number sentence, but now I was telling them a story first.  {This also introduces them to the idea of story problems.}
Once they understood that a story could be a math problem, I let them take turns telling their own story.  Their classmates had to listen for the two numbers and write the correct number sentence.  They loved getting to tell their own story problem. After all, what 1st grader doesn't love to tell stories?

My kiddos also colored, worked with Unifix cubes, and wrote number sentences on the white board.  I thought about using candy, but I think I might save that for subtraction.  {I can't use all my fun ideas in one unit, right?}  Do you have any other fun ideas for teaching addition or subtraction?  Leave me a message in the comments - I would love to hear them!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Five for Friday

Well, we have had a busy week, but it's been lots of fun too.  I am linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching to share my Five for Friday.

Five for Friday

We have been working on addition to 6 this week.  We've been using lots of toys to show our adding, and my kiddos love it.  Plus they are doing so well at writing number sentences!

While it doesn't always feel like it, Fall is almost here.  In my yard, some of the trees are already losing leaves.  So last Saturday, we raked the first leaf pile of the season, and my son had lots of fun jumping in it!

Our butterflies hatched this past week so we got to let them go.  The kiddos were very excited to watch them flutter out of the cage.

Sorry about the picture - it's hard to get a good picture through a net.  I will be blogging more about our butterflies later.

We had our field day yesterday - kickball games, Frisbee, sack races, three-legged races, and playground fun.  It was a blast!

I'm so thankful to teach at the same school as my son. {Although he's not in my class, or I might not be quite as thankful.}  I love that I get to see him during the day, and spend fun events like field day with him!

{Also please ignore the bags under my eyes - field day is tiring!}

Anyway, that was my week in a nutshell.  Make sure to stop by Doodlebugs Teaching to read some other fun blogs!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Currently September

I'm so glad I remembered to link up with Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade for her Currently linky!  We have been in school for a week now, and it is going great.  Busy, but fun!  So here is what is going on with me right now...

I am watching Netflix while writing this, but I really should be grading the papers I brought home today.  At least one of the perks of teaching first grade is that the math and phonics papers are pretty easy to figure out the answers to. No long division tonight!

I am really loving all the warm weather we are having.  That's one of the things I like most about fall - crisp mornings, but it's still nice and warm for recess!  I am hoping for a nice long fall and a short, easy winter.

I really need to start going to bed earlier on school nights.  Not tonight, I guess, but maybe tomorrow.  Which brings me to my 3 goals.

1. I'm realizing how much energy it takes to teach firsties all day long.  It's constant talking, singing, and reviewing sight words.  I'm going to try to keep up my energy every day for my students.
2. I also know that to have that energy, I will need to keep a balance in my life.  Blogging and creating TpT products is fun, but they take time too.  I have to remember to make time for family and sleep as well.
3. I am working to stay in touch with my students' parents even more this year.  I am sending home a weekly newsletter, and I am going to try to write positive notes home at least once a week.  After all, if the parents and I are working as a team to educate these students, then communication is key!

Remember to stop by Farley's linky and find out what other teachers are up to as the school year starts.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

3 Reasons to Take Your Class to the Fire Station

We took our Kindergarten and 1st grade students to the fire station today.  This is always such a fascinating trip for the students, and today was no exception.  We have such nice firefighters in our town, and they are always willing to show our students around their station.

The firemen also showed us all of the tools they carry on the trucks.  The students were also able to sit in one of the trucks and the back of the ambulance.  Of course, we also saw the huge uniform that the firemen have to wear.  The children were pretty amazed by how heavy the coat alone was.
I think one of the favorite activities of the trip was being allowed to squirt water from one of the hoses.  Of course it wasn't the huge hoses, but the rescue truck hoses were pretty awesome too!

I'm so thankful for these men that serve our community and help keep us safe.  And if you have never taken your class to the fire station or police station for a field trip, you should definitely consider it.  So here are three reasons why you should.

1. It's a short, free trip.  We spent an hour at the station and it was only five minutes from our school.
2. It's a great way to show your students that policemen and firemen are there to help them. 
3. And your students will love it!