Here is a blog post I wrote a few years ago as a guest blog while I was still in the classroom. After I retired, I continued to volunteer in my school doing guided reading groups. I used these books with my groups and we also did some activities with the idiom cards that I created. It was almost as much fun as the first time we did this in my class.
Have you ever found an activity or unit that you try that just takes off on it's own path? I have many times. It always amazes me when an idea that starts out as a teachable moment or a small idea takes on a mind of its own and blossoms into a larger study.
Our current bloom is idioms. What started as an introduction to Amelia Bedelia for a couple of literal learners, has turned into a fantastic learning experience. It has become rich with language and writing opportunities. It has so engaged my students, that they are driving their families nuts by catching every idiom or figurative speech that is spoken. Sometimes I have to call for a time out so that we can actually focus on the topics being studied. Not that I mind, though. It is always rewarding to see the kids have fun with something that they are studying.
I teach a grade 2/3 class and I wanted to find some books that would capture their interest and be appropriate for reading groups. I scored with Amelia Bedelia. There are some I Can Read versions that are great for my struggling readers, some of the regular editions that are suitable for my stronger grade 2s and my weaker grade 3s, and now the new chapter books that work with my stronger readers.
Right now, everyone is reading about Amelia Bedelia. This is a first!
What I enjoy most about having the same characters, is that we can really look closely at them as we meet them in different stories. Everyone is familiar with Amelia Bedelia and Mr. and Mrs. Rogers.
Now they are meeting Amelia Bedelia's parents in the chapter books because they are stories about her when she was a little girl. They love making connections as they read about her adventures.
Herman Parish (nephew of Peggy Parish) has done a wonderful job with these books. He also has some new I Can Read books about Amelia Bedelia as a young child. They are sure to be a hit as well.
Resources for using idioms
I hope you enjoy sharing idioms and the adventures of Amelia Bedelia with your students as much I did. I would love to hear your stories as well.
I created this free activity to use with my students in my guided reading group. Click on the image to get your own copy.
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As we are about to begin a new year, it is a great time for a fresh start. This year we have all had many challenges and we need to find some renewed energy and hope. Sometimes that can be a breather just to take time with family, or maybe it could be changing things up from the regular routine.
I don't know about others, but I found it difficult to get motivated lately. Even though it is supposed to be a festive season, most days seemed to be the same and it was hard to find moments of anticipation and joy. So many of the things we look forward to at this time of the year were missing due to the pandemic.
For many of my teaching friends, the challenges of teaching during a pandemic have been daunting and they are rapidly burning out and feeling overwhelmed. I hope that the holiday break has given them some time to relax and recharge so they will be refreshed for the start of the new year.
This next season will probably be a mix of online and in person teaching and learning as we continue to get through the pandemic.
Here are some ideas for starting out the new year. Hopefully these will bring some laughter and smiles to your day and give you some joy as you return to teaching.
Do a photo booth. If you are teaching in person, you could add some New Year's hats and blowers, fancy glasses, etc. Have your students create fun poses and take photos of them and then have them write about their goals.
If you are teaching online, you could create some interesting picture frames and then take screenshots of your students and add them to the frames. If they have some fancy accessories at home, perhaps these could be added to their images.
If you are looking for materials to help you through the winter season, here are some that might work for you.
Sight word games and activities, word work, parts of speech silly sentences and other literacy games can be fun when they have a winter theme.
Here are some literacy items in French in case you need them.
Here are some free products that might help.
New Year's Goal Setting Templates
3 Stars and a Wish
Snowy Days Compound Words
Winter Sports Task Card Templates
Goal setting for the New Year
Goal setting is not only good for children, it is also good for us as teachers.
Think of some things that you are proud of and things you would like to work on
(3 stars and a wish)
Come up with a goal for home, school, and something personal. This is the same format that can be used with your students.
If you are looking for some novel studies that are good for the winter season, try these.
Creative writing ideas
Start a statement and see how many crazy ideas you can come up with.
(This could be done orally first, and then developed into a written story.)
I was so frozen my fingers were like popsicles but they didn't taste as good.
I was so frozen .........
It was so cold ........
When I woke up I couldn't believe my eyes..........
If you are looking for some winter math ideas, you can find them here.
I hope you find these suggestions and resources helpful as you return to teaching in January.
Thank you for all you do for your students.
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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.
Themed Sight Word Games
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 220 high frequency 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 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 high frequency sight words, but there are also common 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.
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 remain 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.
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 see 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.
I love using story books for springboards into teaching concepts. It is always fun to see where the ideas go. One of my favourite stories is Stone Soup. I have 2 versions that I usually share with the children.
I like to read the version by Marcia Brown. It is great to present it when studying about veterans because in the story the soldiers were returning from war. It is a good springboard for discussions.
It is interesting to see how the children react when the villagers hide the food. Just last week, when I read the story with my reading group, they kept commenting on how everyone was "lying". They also found it to be magical that stones could make soup for a king.
We also read the version by Ann McGovern. We then did a comparison of the two versions and how they had many similarities but they also had some differences.
I created some activities to further explore these ideas. Some of these activities can be used for single versions as well.
If I still had my own class, I would continue to investigate further and discuss how caring and sharing are inclusive and we can all be richer as a result. Sharing of the stone soup was not just about eating soup, but reconnecting with others and working together. As the villagers learned, because of the stone soup experience, they would never go hungry again.
As a culminating activity, I would make stone soup with my class. They were always amazed that the soup tasted so good. They really thought it was because of the stones!
I told my reading group that I usually did this with my class and they asked if they could be in my class. Unfortunately, I don't have my own class now and I don't have the opportunity to do things like make soup anymore. It warmed my heart to have them say that though.
What are some stories you have used to create discussions and do other activities with? I would love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.
I love teaching guided reading and I continue to do so even though I am retired. I volunteer a couple of mornings a week and I work with 6 different groups. Some groups are still working on sounds and cvc activities. Others are working on beginning chapter books and reading for deeper meaning and understanding. I enjoy being able to take them beyond the basic story and I often incorporate other activities.
Lately I have also been tutoring some children in French. I have found it to be very similar to teaching beginning reading. I have been busy creating activities and resources that introduce basic language and concepts using themes. I am thrilled to see how quickly they are grasping the ideas.
I went into my grandson's grade 1/2 class last week and I got to work with small groups using one of the themed task cards. It was so much fun. I also helped out with a reading group. Again, it was refreshing to see that the language didn't matter. The process was the same and the kids engaged in a similar manner. I am not certain why I didn't think about that sooner. I guess it is because I was so focused on teaching reading in my own class that I didn't think about how it worked in other situations.
Differentiation is important. I found that some groups were better able to do the activities than others as some of the children were reading and other were not quite there yet. I was able to make modifications to the games to allow for both groups to be successful. I look forward to going back again soon.
Once I finished creating simple emergent readers and the thematic visual task cards, I started to translate them into English. They will be fun to use with my guided reading groups as well. I am surprised that I didn't think of making them in English first, followed by a French translation. I guess it is because the inspiration came from a need for materials.
I am proud of my new products. If you are interested in checking them out, you can find them here. Just click on the images below.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.