I have created many different themed sight word sets that focus on the 220 Dolch sight words. These sets have been a favorite choice for language centers over the years. Here are a few examples.
Learning sight words can be key to becoming a fluent reader. Games make learning these words more fun. The same words can be used in many different ways that engage children if games are played. There are many themes that can be used as visuals to complement the words as well.
I love to use games to engage children in learning. They are excited to play and they reinforce language while doing so. There are many different activities that can be done with sets of sight words.
I have created many different themed sight word sets that focus on the 220 Dolch sight words. These sets have been a favorite choice for language centers over the years. Here are a few examples.
Chinese New Year is a great theme for sight word games as each year it is new because the animal changes. This is a set of Dolch sight words for each of the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Both goat and sheep are included. These cards can also be used when studying animals or doing a unit on the farm as well.
These winter celebration games are great for Groundhog Day, Valentines Day, and Winter Sports. Bingo cards are also included that can be used with any of the themed sets. This allows for another level of game play.
We usually focus on the 220 Dolch sight words, but there are also Dolch nouns that are high frequency words as well. This is a spring themed set of these 95 nouns. It includes bingo cards as well.
For more themed sets, check out my TeachersPayTeachers store.
Christmas festivities are over and we have rung in the new year. Now it is time to get back to learning and the curriculum. This doesn't mean we have to take away the fun.
The New Year is a great time to incorporate winter celebrations into curriculum activities. There are so many different choices and events happening during the winter. There is Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, 100 Days of School, Valentines Day, and in some places in Canada, there is Family Day.
Kids enjoy games and activities that focus on celebrations and they are more likely to be engaged in the different activities. This translates into better focus on concepts and skills presented and therefore, hopefully better understanding and retention of them.
This sampler includes a few activities to get started with. You can find it as a preview here. There is an activity that can be used yearly around Chinese New Year to figure out ordinal numbers. There is also a hundred chart for using with different activities that require counting to 100 or looking for patterns when celebrating 100 Days at School.
Playing dice games is always fun to do, especially with holiday themed dice. Here is a probability page for keeping a tally of how many times different numbers are rolled.The worksheet has heart dice on it, but you can use regular dice to do the activity.
These are only some of the ideas that I have for math and winter. More math activities can be found in my Teacher Pay Teachers store. I also like to do language activities using sight word bingo, memory, language task card games, and phonics activities. There are several winter and holiday celebration activities in the literacy category or sight word category in my store.
Fall has returned for another season. It is the time of cooler days, changing colors, and special days. It is a great time to use fall themes for math activities.
When fall arrives, children begin thinking about Halloween. They get excited about costumes, trick-or-treating, and spooky activities. Here are some free activities to practice math skills while engaging them in Halloween fun. Click on the image above to get your free copies.
Thanksgiving is another special time in the fall. Here are some activities that use glyphs for graphing. They are fun because they involve creating pictures, but they are also very useful for classifying and comparing data. They can be checked out here.
Children love to play with dice. Here is a game of probability using fall and Halloween graphics to make it more interesting.
There are so many different ways to use fall themes to make math practice fun. How do you include fall themes in your math lessons?
Capturing the attention of students is key to engaging them in their learning. Escape rooms are becoming more and more popular as a means of practicing and reinforcing skills and concepts. They are fun to do and they can promote healthy teamwork and collaboration.
I have been tutoring some girls in French for awhile now and we have worked on a lot of vocabulary as well as grammar. I created several materials for them throughout this time. (Click here to view them.)
I also help out in a Grade 1/2 French Immersion classroom when I can. I work with small groups doing language activities and reading.
I noticed that many people were starting to use escape room activities, so I thought it might be fun to try to create one. The girls that I tutor in French worked on this project with me for a few weeks and I had the pleasure of seeing it in action in the Grade 1/2 French Immersion classroom a few days ago.
I thought it would be great in other classrooms as well, so I also created an English version.
The feedback from the children was very encouraging. They were proud of themselves for completing the tasks to earn the locks and they were excited to move on to each new category. They said that they liked working as a group and doing the activities together. I was impressed with how well they collaborated and discussed the choices of answers. They were also able to do most of the reading without help from the adults.
Actually receiving a lock to place on the hasp after each challenge was a major hit. They could hardly wait to get all the locks and then solve the mystery word.
Check out some pictures of them working together.
Feedback for teachers is important too. I discovered a few different things when watching it in action. I was able to make some small tweaks to improve the product for future use. Most of the changes are in how to prepare the materials. For example, it is not necessary to have the large colored pages of the categories unless the images are being projected. Smaller ones with 4 to a page will work just as well and save on ink. I discovered that when I printed out the small working sheets and clue pages, that they didn't match exactly. This has now been fixed as well.
The big thing I noticed, is that with the younger children, it is best to break the activities up into 2 or even 3 sessions so that all of the students can remained engaged the whole time. This is especially true when working in a second language. They get tired after about 2 or 3 activities. Also, the groups work best if they are of mixed ability. Some students are stronger at reading, writing, or drawing, so there is a role for everyone.
Note: We did this activity over 2 days because it takes a couple of hours to complete. It would have worked even better over 3 days with 2 activities for each day.
This product can be used for vocabulary review at the end of the year, or for a group activity review at the beginning of a new school year. It is also suitable for a late immersion class or for grades 3-5 if the more advanced math questions are used and if the students are required to write out the vocabulary with correct spelling.
I am excited about the results of this product and I hope to be able to create others in the future. I would love to hear about any experiences you might have had with escape rooms.
I like to use themes and games for teaching skills and concepts. Not only does this make learning fun, it is an effective way to teach reading and math.
Themes and games engage students and they are great springboards to link one subject area to another. Children can make connections and share thoughts and ideas when they are working with a familiar theme or topic.
I often choose themes and games to engage my students in learning. My current theme is winter/winter celebrations. I am excited to use this theme with the reading and math groups that I work with. I will use it as my focus for the next few weeks.
For reading, I start off with some vocabulary work. It is important that we have a common set of words and ideas when working together. I have created some vocabulary cards and games to use. This helps with work recognition and usage. Once the vocabulary is familiar to everyone, other activities can be more easily added and attempted.
Sight word activities also help provide a working vocabulary for reading. I enjoy using sight word memory games and bingo for learning sight words. I have created many different themes so that I have games available throughout the year that go with themes that I am using. In the winter time, I use my winter sports cards or if I want to choose a specific holiday or occasion, I also have cards for those themes. Click here to see some of the themes I have available.
For math, I like to use task cards and worksheets with designs or clipart that matches the theme. Then I introduce the skill or concept that we will be working on. I tend to use many different games and fun activities rather than worksheets, but once in awhile, a worksheet is given. (Today, I gave a worksheet and one of my students said, "We're doing math today." We do math everyday, but he didn't think it was math because we weren't writing things on a worksheet.)
I have created many different literacy and math products that can be used for small group work and classroom instruction. Click here to see what I have available for winter themed activities.
Multiplication is challenging for many children. Teaching multiplication strategies can help. It is important to make sure that the strategies make sense and that they are understood so that they can be applied to various situations. Just memorizing times tables is not the answer.
I tutor students that struggle with math concepts. They are overwhelmed with all the material presented to them at school. They need some simple, concrete strategies to do math so that they can be successful.
I decided to go back to the beginning and give them one or two multiplication strategies to work with. As they become more confident with those strategies, I add one or two more.
Making Connections Is Important
Children are sometimes amazed to learn that multiplication is really just a faster way to add things together. I love the book Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream by Cindy Neuschwander because it illustrates that concept so well. It's pictorial representation of learning to multiply instead of just adding is humorous, but also factual. After reading this book it is easier to explain why we need some multiplication strategies and why it helps to learn the times tables.
Understanding The Thinking Process
One of the important things to remember is not everyone learns the same way. We all process material differently. I share the analogy with my students of using a road map or route when going somewhere. We may all take a slightly different route to get to school, but we all arrive there eventually. Our thinking and processing are like the routes we take. It is important to be able to explain how we get an answer.
I often tell my students that our thinking and processing is more important that the correct answer. Of course, we want our answers to be correct, but if we are not following a road map that gets us to the correct destination, that doesn't help us.
Multiplication Strategies That Work
I created some strategy organizers to explain how the different strategies work. These are not exhaustive, but they do work with the struggling students that I work with. They include strategies for the multiplication facts up to 10 as well as how to multiply 2 digit numbers by 1 digit numbers.
Doubles, double doubles, skip counting, adding zeros, and using expanded notation are some of the strategies that help with number sense and make multiplication easier. Click the image below to find out more.
With these strategies and practice, the mystery disappears and children are able to move on to more difficult material.
It is so exciting to see the confidence develop as children begin to master these multiplication strategies. They no longer dread math class and they are eager to participate and share their thinking as well.
Many students find math concepts abstract and difficult to understand. Math manipulatives help to make the ideas concrete and easier to visualize. Hands on math manipulatives also connect the thinking with psychomotor activities. These connections help students to remember the concepts or skills practiced. Not only do they learn better, they have fun while learning.
How do math manipulatives help student learning?
Math manipulatives capture the attention of the kids. They like to touch and move things around. They get excited when they get to play games. They don't realize that they are practicing skills when they are playing. They will stay engaged longer and practice more when using math manipulatives instead of just working with paper and pencil activities.
Hands on math manipulatives engage the senses. They allow kids to see how things go together and they are fun to touch. They develop concrete thinking and understanding of the concepts before moving on to more abstract concepts.
In the picture above, there are several different math manipulatives. All of these manipulatives were used to help kids represent numbers in different ways. I made up games and activities with a group of students that needed to practice number recognition using these materials. They had lots of fun and before long they were able to recognize different numbers by shape, order, pattern, etc.
Get creative and use whatever you have available to help engage the kids to learn more about math.
How can you use math manipulatives effectively in the classroom?
Math manipulatives can be used effectively in large group situations, in centers, as partner activities, and as aids for individual work. Sometimes it is the size of the math manipulatives that determines how they are used. For example, if you are working with a large group, you would want the manipulatives to be large so that they are easily visible to everyone. If students are to work in centers or with partners, the math manipulatives would be smaller so that they don't occupy too much space. For individual work, the manipulatives don't need to be very big. (The ten frames in the picture above were designed with this in mind.)
It is important to show the students how to use the math manipulatives before handing them out. If they are not correctly used, they are not as effective. Kids need time to practice using the manipulatives so that they use them correctly. They will be engaged and participate when they understand what to do.
Make sure that you have enough math manipulatives for the tasks given. If they are doing partner work, each pair will need a set of manipulatives. Create multiple activities or centers that use different math manipulatives if you don't have enough manipulatives for everyone.
How do you store math manipulatives?
Math manipulatives can take up a lot of space. Using small tubs or reusing empty containers can help with organizing them. I used an old wipes container for my base ten math manipulatives. It had room for a smaller container as well that held the units so they didn't get mixed up in the main container (see in the image above).
The small rollaway carts with multiple drawers work well for holding many different types of math manipulatives all in one place.
In our school we have big carts that hold several tubs. Each tub has a different math manipulative in it. This makes it easy for doing group work or centers. Just grab whatever tub you need and take it to the area you are working at.
As the new school year approaches, I hope these tips help with making your math lessons enjoyable and engaging for your students. I would love to hear how you use math manipulatives in your classroom.
I love to create teaching materials, but since I retired, sometimes it is hard to come up with the ideas. I have found that the best way to get motivated, is to engage with children and find things that would be helpful for them and fun for them to do.
When I teach a concept, I like to have a practical application to go along with it. I tutor two girls, and right now we are learning about the kitchen and cooking. I decided that it would be fun to actually try following a French recipe to make some cookies. The girls really enjoyed making the cookies and they remember a lot of the vocabulary because they could make connections to the activity.
I created this booklet after we did the cooking. I took pictures as they were cooking and I put them into the booklet. They were excited to see the pictures and read the booklet. I followed up the lesson by looking at some French recipe books. We reviewed the vocabulary and then talked about doing another cooking lesson in the future.
The next lesson, we looked at the different items that can be found in the kitchen. We then did some games with the task cards.
They are going to do some more cooking when we have a longer session. The deal is that they need to be able to identify the different items in the kitchen and follow the instructions in French. They are very excited about this.
As is becoming a habit, I have made an English version for each of these products.
Stay tuned as I share more ideas that become activities and products from my experiences with kids.
I love working with small reading groups and interacting with the children. The other day, I did a group in my grandson's French Immersion class. He was actually in the group that day! We talked about losing teeth and they each got to share a story about losing their first tooth. It was fun to seen them engaging and making connections to the different stories.
After our discussion, we looked at a story I wrote about losing a tooth. We first did a picture walk and shared what we thought was happening on each page. Then we read the story and discussed how our predictions and the actual events were the same or different. We also made connections between the text and our personal stories.
After our discussion, each child wrote one or two sentences about losing a tooth and then added an illustration. It was too bad that we didn't have more time, because I could see that this could have been a great time for creating little booklets and personal stories.
I have also created the same story in English. I am hoping to use it with one of my English reading groups.
Everyone needs to find something that motivates them to create or perform activities and tasks.
What inspires you and give you motivation? For me, it is often my grandchildren or children that I work with at school. Last month, my grandson participated in his first out of town swim meet. He swam some events for the first time. I was so proud of him.
Here he is waiting for his event and having a quick snack. His sister and his dad were there to help cheer him on.
Last week I was in Victoria looking after my grandchildren. While there, I did the runaround between swimming and dancing. My younger grandson had swimming lessons. He just turned five, but he is already swimming the length of the pool without fear. Here he is practicing his streamlining and kicking.
Swimming has been an important sport for our family throughout the years. All of our children participated in the summer swimming club and one of my daughters was a swim coach for several years. The two boys in the pictures above are hers.
I am tutoring two girls right now, and one of them has swimming lessons before she comes to her lesson. This made me think about swimming and so during the lesson we created some swimming stories. It was a great way for them to use their language to make a connection with what they do. These are the little booklets that they are working on. They are creating their own illustrations. I also created a booklet that included both of them as the characters. It was fun to see them read and enjoy the booklets.
This gave me an idea for an emergent reader. I have found that most of my ideas lately have come from experiences with the kids. Here is the book that I created about learning to swim. I made it in French first, and then I made an English copy.
Stay tuned for some other resources that I am working on that are directly related to activities and situations that are happening now! Here are some I have just finished.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 8, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.
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