13 Ways to Practice Sight Words


Sight words. Love them or hate them, your students have to learn them. Being able to instantly recognize high frequency words not only gives students more confidence in their reading, it also enables them to increasing their speed, fluency, and comprehension.

So what happens when those sight words just won't stick with your students? You provide them with as many opportunities as you can to work with the words. Students can easily become disinterested if a variety of activities are not introduced.


Halloween Classroom Decor

As October comes to a close, your students are probably excited about Halloween. Who doesn't love free candy? Create an inviting, spooktacular environment with these fun Halloween classroom decor ideas!

As October comes to a close, your students are probably excited about Halloween. Who doesn't love free candy? Create an inviting, spooktacular environment with these fun Halloween classroom decor ideas!

Teaching Fire Safety

The dates of fire prevention week vary each year, but it always occurs in October. This year, Fire Prevention Week is October 4-10.

"Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871." - National Fire Protection Association


Fall Giveaway


It's finally the first day of autumn... even if it doesn't feel like it where you are (it's still 90 degrees in Texas!) and we're ready to celebrate the season.

Books, Videos, and Resources for Teaching Apples

Ideas in education often seem to hang on a pendulum. What is embraced one year can be abandoned another, only to return a few years down the road. So some of you will be very familiar with my topic today while others of you may not ever tried it; thematic teaching. There are some things in elementary school that we automatically associate with particular months, like apples in September. Themes like apples work great in the classroom because you begin with something most children are familiar with and have some prior experience to draw from and build upon.


A thematic approach integrates content areas around a central concept. This allows students to more readily make connections as they learn and gives them immediate and meaningful opportunities to naturally apply what they have learned. It allows for authentic assessment of understanding.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Arrr your ready for Talk Like a Pirate Day? This fun international holiday was created by two friends back in 1995 - you can read more about that here. The story behind the holiday isn't super important, it really just comes down to "we've talked like pirates every Sept. 19, and we've encouraged our several friends to" (John Baur - co-founder of the holiday).



Now hundreds... thousands... (we'll never know!) of classrooms use this day to add some pirate-sized fun to their lessons.

Remembering September 11th

Patriot Day, commonly referred to as 9/11, is observed on September 11th in remembrance of those who were injured or died as a result of terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. None of us like to think about the horrific images we may have seen that day or the terrible fear and pain the events of that day caused.

Many early elementary teachers question what is appropriate to share with their students about the day and what its observance means. Read some tips that may help you in preparing for talking with your students. Download the free printable book list too!

Many early elementary teachers question what is appropriate to share with their students about the day and what its observance means. Here are some things that may help you in preparing for talking with your students:

Celebrating Grandparents in the Classroom

National Grandparents Day is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day each year in the United States. A presidential proclamation created and signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978 and Grandparents Day became an official holiday.


Grandparents Day was created to remind Americans that we need to honor and show respect to those that can before us and helped shape the world we live in. It also serves as an opportunity for older adults to share their wisdom, perspectives, and values with children.

Five Videos for Calendar Time

Songs and videos are a great way to get students engaged during calendar time. The songs may get stuck in your head... but that means they will also stick with your students!

Communicating Student Behavior

Behavior management is always a hot topic. There are some teachers that are strongly against clip charts while others would never dream of getting rid of theirs. Some schools or districts mandate what tool is used for behavior management. The bottom line is that as long as you are using something that works in your classroom that is great.
Behavior management is always a hot topic. I'm not here to convince you one method is better than another. I'm here to talk to you about the importance of communicating behaviors in the classroom to parents. Find out the easiest and most effective way I've found to communicate with parents DAILY.

I'm not here to convince you one method is better than another. I'm here to talk to you about the importance of communicating behaviors in the classroom to parents. I've found the easiest way to communicate daily with your parents about classroom behavior is to send home a behavior calendar. I know, I know... this is nothing new. But do you ever consider what your behavior calendar can do for you?

Community Circle Discussion Starters

Some classes participate in Community Circle weekly, while other teachers find it more valuable to make it part of their daily routine. Most teachers set aside 10-20 minutes per session. When starting out you should model, later you can choose students to lead. When you begin you might want to choose one word answer prompts to help encourage students who are nervous about sharing. This is also good when you have a schedule change that leaves you short on time; but the goal should be to move beyond that to answers that will help you learn more about each other and strengthen the sense of community in your classroom.


There are just a couple important rules to follow:

Crayon Storage Made Easy!

I don't know about your classroom, but I've always found crayons cause a lot of trouble! Someone broke their blue, someone lost their red, all the yellows disappeared from table one, etc. Then magically at the end of the day all those crayons end up on the floor!


One way I've found to combat the crayon complication is to have a central location where all the extra crayons are stored.

12 Items That Might Be Missing In Your Classroom

You’ve spent countless hours planning, organizing, and creating an inviting learning environment. You feel a sense of pride as you step back surveying your room while at the same time thinking to yourself “What did I forget?” It is kind of like packing for a trip, no matter how well you plan, you’re going to forget something and not realize it until the very moment you need it.

Four Reasons to Focus on Word Families

Word families, words with the same the same rime, are also known as phonograms. They are an important tool in helping emergent readers learn to decode words. They help children use patterns to recognize letters and sounds that work together in a systematic way to form words.



Here are four reasons to focus on word family instruction: 

Five Ways to Build Rapport with Parents

Parent communication can make or break your classroom. Begin building rapport with your students and their parents right from the start!


Three Books to Ease Student Anxiety

The first week of school can be tough for a lot students, especially kindergartners or first graders. Kids may be worried about making new friends or meeting a new teacher. They could also be nervous about entering a new grade level. Whatever the source of their anxiety, taking the time to validate their feelings will help your students feel at ease. These books are great for the first week of school because they address common feelings that your students may be having.

The first week of school can be tough for a lot students, especially kindergartners or first graders. Kids may be worried about making new friends or meeting a new teacher. They could also be nervous about entering a new grade level. Whatever the source of their anxiety, taking the time to validate their feelings will help your students feel at ease. These books are great for the first week of school because they address common feelings that your students may be having.

Five Icebreakers for the Beginning of the School Year

The first day of school can cause anxiety for many children. They often worry if they will know anyone or make friends. Ice breakers are quick, fun activities that help put students at ease and often help them realize commonalities among their classmates. Here are a few popular ones to try in your room.


Why You Should Prep for a New Student Now

A few years ago, my classroom resembled a revolving door.

I was hired two weeks into the school year... there was a surprising amount of kindergarten enrollment and they added an extra position at the last minute. I had three days from the time I was hired to get everything moved into my room, setup, and be ready to teach on Monday.

I started the year with 17 kindergarteners. It was awesome. However, after the first month of school, my kindergarteners were constantly welcoming a new friend or saying goodbye to a loved classmate. You see my principal had parents volunteer to move students to the new kindergarten classroom. Since most kids were finally getting settled in their classrooms, many of the parents that volunteered to switch classes knew they would not be staying long.

Throughout the year my number of students fluctuated between 16 and 25. One thing that I needed, but never had time to focus on was prepping materials to have on hand for when I welcomed a new student to our class.

Every time we had a new student, I was scrambling during lunch or planning time to find all the necessary forms and handouts to send home with the them. Each time I thought to myself "Get your act together! Make a few extra copies and get some packets ready for if another student comes." I never did though.

Not only was it stressful each time a new student came (filling in curriculum gaps, building connections quickly, restructuring groups, finding a new chair, etc.), it was also time consuming to gather all the materials.

Carnation Colors Experiment

If you're looking for a low-maintenance science experiment around Valentine's Day this year, try this fun carnation experiment.

Infusing Instruction with Movement

Most teachers will agree that adding movement to instruction helps to create a fun, more engaging learning environment; but did you know that it actually improves brain performance? When students are active it increases energy levels which provide their brains with oxygen-rich blood, vital for performing at optimum levels.

Movement is also effective because our brains are attracted to novelty. When you creatively incorporate movement into your instruction, the brains of your students are stimulated and stay connected longer. Longer connectivity in turn allows for greater understanding and retention.

Here are some simple movement activities that can be used to practice skills in your classroom:

video

Try this FREE variation of write the room… ADD the room!

A Closer Look at Close Reading

Close reading involves reading short pieces of text multiple times. As your students become more familiar with the text, they will begin to analyze the content and author's purpose through text based questions and discussion.

Groundhog Day Books + Freebie

Are you looking for some read aloud material for Groundhog Day? Check out these books:


Freeman, D. (2002). Gregory’s Shadow. 
Gregory always feels braver with his best friend (his shadow) but but the farmers will not be happy to see shadow so Gregory makes a plan.

Gibbons, G. (2007). Groundhog Day!
Learn about traditions that led to Groundhog’s Day along with facts about groundhogs.

Holub, J. (2013). Groundhog Weather School: Fun Facts About Weather and Groundhogs  
Professor groundhog holds class in attempt to improve the accuracy of predictions.

Korman, S. (2003). Groundhog at Evergreen Road – a Smithsonian’s Backyard Book.
A look at a typical groundhog's day and behavior through the adventures of a ten week old groundhog.

Miller, P. (2010). Substitute Groundhog
Groundhog comes down with the flu and must find a replacement.

Richardson, A. (2002). Groundhogs: Woodchucks, Marmots, and Whistle Pigs (The Wild World of Animals)
Basic facts about the physical attributes, habitat, and behavior of groundhogs.


After talking about the origin and reasoning for Groundhog Day, try conducting a poll with your students. Let each child make a prediction if the groundhog will see his shadow or not. Create a class graph and look at your data together.

This freebie from Creation Castle's Teachers Pay Teachers store has everything you need: student voting slips, graph headers, and a recording sheet. Click on the resource cover below to grab it.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Groundhog-Day-1678363


Downloading & Rating a Free Resource

Have you noticed a few changes to the Teachers Pay Teachers website recently. There is a fantastic tech team behind this innovative website that is constantly improving the way things work. One of the more recent changes is what happens when you download a free resource.

In the past when you downloaded a resource, you could leave feedback immediately. To encourage honest reviews of products, you now need to take an extra step to leave feedback.







Need some freebies to try it out with? Check out Resource Ranch's free items or Creation Castle's free items.


Over and Under the Snow

I always get excited about seasonal children’s books that offer lots of teaching opportunities and “Over and Under the Snow” is a great example. It is a lovely pairing of narrative and informative text describing the “secret kingdom” under the snow. As a young girl and her father cross-country ski over the snow, children will be introduced to twelve different animals who spend winters in their homes under the snow.

“Over and Under the Snow” has won many awards including Outstanding Science Trade Book for K-12 by NSTA/CBC and New York Times Notable Children’s Book. “Messner packs much information into the serene wintry landscape, beautifully captured in Neal’s Stunning retro-style illustrations. Calm, lovely, and richly informative. – New York Times

If you like this book you’ll want to add “Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt” also by Messner, to you spring reading list.

Messner, K. (2011). Over and Under the Snow. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books LLC



5 Tips for Returning to Routines


Returning to school routines after a holiday break can be difficult for students and exhausting for you. Here are a few tips to save you time and frustration as you help your students’ transition back to a fun but structured learning environment.