How To Have Fun With Phonics

Phonics are an important part of early reading instruction, and therefore a big part of kindergarten and first grade classrooms. Making connections between written and spoken letters and sounds is absolutely necessary in learning to read, so phonics lessons are well worth the time! In order to teach young students most effectively, a broad range of activities are needed. Children love variety, and luckily there are plenty of ways to teach phonics! 

Learning the relationships between letters and sounds can be- well- a not so interesting topic. In order to keep kids excited and learning, teachers can incorporate fun activities. Phonics lessons can include a broad range of styles, so there are lots of options when choosing the best activities for your class. 

Here are some of my favorite activities for teaching phonics. 

One of the easiest, yet most effective strategies is to use songs! Jack Hartmann phonics songs are easily available on the web, and your students will love singing along while they are learning. 

Another fun activity is frog hop blending. Students can move a toy frog (or a finger) along individual sounds, then blend them together to make a word. 

Make and take books are a perfect option to practice phonics skills and word families at home. Students can create the books at school and practice reading the sounds at home. Throughout the year, you may choose to focus on different word families that the kids can read to their parents. 

As students become more skilled with phonics, you may want to try word building and sentence building activities. They can use familiar letter sounds to create new words, and eventually create entire sentences. 

Looking for a variety of phonics activities for daily use? I have you covered! Check out my Phonics Worksheets for Kindergarten and First Grade

phonics

This bundle includes an entire year’s worth of daily lessons. 

Here are just a few of the resources included: 

  • letter identification 
  • letter sounds
  • building words
  • word family work
  • building sentences
  • writing stories 
  • Sight word lists
  • ABC letter cards
  • Word family books
  • Phonics pocket phones

phonics

With one easy download you’ll be ready to tackle these lessons each day with time-tested strategies.

For more reading strategies, check out my post here! 

What are your favorite reading activities? Let me know in the comments!

phonics

 


 

How To Make Distance Learning Easy By Using Google Slides

As distance learning has become a “normal” part of most classrooms, teachers are finding and creating fantastic tools that are useful for all kinds of learning. (Check out my virtual escape rooms here!) Necessity has definitely influenced the invention of new uses of technology tools- and Google Slides are a prime example.

Google Slides are quickly gaining popularity, and it’s easy to see why! 

Teachers are using Google Slides in their virtual and in-person classrooms with great success. Although they are perfect for distance learning, Google Slides can easily be transitioned into the regular classroom or in hybrid models as well. Although they can be integrated into Google Classroom, they can be used on their own and don’t require students to be logged in to Classroom.

 Teachers can create ONE slide that can be updated daily with new information. Each time students access the link, they will see the new version. Slides can even be accessed with low or no internet when teachers make them available offline. Google Slides are useful for any kind of subject matter. By inserting text, audio clips, or video, teachers can tailor them for any grade level or topic. 

Students can also access quizzes, puzzles, Google Forms, or any other assignments directly from hyperlinks in the slides. Teachers can easily incorporate Google Slides into their plans to support any kind of learning!

Perhaps the most convenient part of Google Slides is that they can be purchased pre-made and ready to use!

Teachers can find slides that match their needs, then immediately use them in the classroom. 

One of my favorite sets for first and second grade classrooms is Google Classroom Reading Comprehension and Questions

google slides

This set includes twenty passages as well as questions for students to answer. Students can use their mouse to drag words and answer the questions, making this perfect for little hands. 

google slides

Another useful set is Digital Calendar Math for Google Classroom.

google slides

These slides are editable, helping teachers create engaging daily calendar math experiences for any age. You can even add video, audio, text, or images to further explain concepts during calendar time.

google slides

 

Hopefully, you’re ready to take advantage of this amazing tool and add it to your own classroom!

 

google slides


 

 

How to Celebrate Read Across America

Read Across America  (RAA) always falls on Theodor Geisel’s birthday without coincidence.  The goal was to create a day to motivate children to read and to celebrate the joys of reading. RAA has been linked to the classic Dr. Seuss books for years with schools dressing up as characters, sharing his work, and cooking green eggs and ham. Ever since Dr. Seuss has been linked to major criticism with allegations that The Cat in the Hat and other Seuss books are racist, the National Education Association let loose of Seuss.  They want all kids to see themselves in popular culture.  Now they are celebrating reading with diverse books during the event.

Even though a child who might bring in their favorite Dr. Seuss book to share with their classmates on their “Show and Tell” day should never be discouraged to share their love of a book, change can be good! This post is not to bash or support Dr. Seuss. Educators are trained professionals and should be trusted to use what is best for their students to promote reading with students. I personally used his work in the past to teach positive lessons about inclusion, social justice, and responsibility for years. However, I encourage you to look and listen to both viewpoints before you move forward with your reading week celebrations to form an intelligent conclusion about what types of books should be included in your week.

Read Across America Dress Up Day Ideas

Everyone loves to include dress-up days during the reading week.  Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Dress for Success
  • Rainbow Day (Reading is Colorful… Diverse books)
  • Hat Day
  • Camouflage Day (read books about animals)
  • Neon Day (Reading makes you BRIGHT… Science books)
  • Wacky Day (Wear clothes backward, mismatched, crazy hair)
  • Character Day (Dress up like your favorite book character)
  • Pajama Poem Day
  • Wax Museum Biography Dress Up Day

Magic School Bus

FRESH Read Across America Activities

My favorite reading celebration activity now is to have a Book Tasting!
This is where students get to read a little (a taste) of different book genres.  You can use any books you have access to from the library.  Students read them for a few minutes and then switch to a different genre.  This does require a little prep to set up the room to look like a restaurant, but this resource can help you out! It is a fun escape room with the book tasting! You can have it low key with the printed placemat or go all fancy with students dressing nice and you dressing up as a hostess or waiter.

Book Tasting Escape Room

Wacky Week Ideas

Do you love Wacky Wednesday? Why not do a whole WACKY week of reading activities?

For math, have wacky reading word problems to solve. Invite students to create a wacky animal with different animal parts.  Then, they can write about their animal with details. Using any rhyming book, have students create a wacky rhyme. Use mystery pictures of hidden objects that are out of place for students to find. Make a day of Where is Wacky Waldo and share those books. Mess your room up with an upside-down clock or socks sticking out of the tissue box, see if the kids even notice during the week.

Try a Wacky Digital Escape with your students! This one has riddles, puzzles, hidden pictures in art, and non-sense word activities. If you are virtual, let them wear their favorite wacky hat while they do the escape.

March Themed Activities

Finding reading resources that are March-themed can be used with any book during the week.  You can do a reading Write the Room activity with words like library, spine, characters, fiction, etc…  Rhyming words, nonsense words, St. Patrick’s Day-themed activities in any subject area can inspire reading across curricular.  Students can take a reading pledge and get certificates or bookmarks to encourage reading. March is a great time to introduce reading about hot air balloons.  The season for hot air balloon rides runs from April to October. Kids are fascinated with them!  Curious Gorge has a book about hot air balloons.  Others include The Great Balloon Hullaballoo, The Noon Balloon, The sky Above my Eyes, and My Hot Air Balloon.

Free Reading Pledge Printables

Some teachers use a circus theme in primary grades to promote reading during the week celebration.  Their activities included books about animals, popcorn, snacks during reading/writing time, animal and clown crafts, guest story readers, dress-up clown day, Write the Room activities where students look for book titles, and ended with a reading carnival with prizes and games.

elephant hatElephant Hat – Never Forget Reading Rocks

What’s the Point?

The purpose of having Read Across America is to get your students reading! Not just to read, but to enjoy it, love it, and want MORE! Whatever theme you choose, make sure you are sharing your joy of reading books with your students.  Then, watch them grow.

Grab a FREE Reading Pledge and bookmarks

Read more about using Theme Days to Teach in Elementary

Let us know what activities you will be doing to encourage reading!

 

Virtual Escape Room Ideas Students Will Love

Now that virtual learning is a much more common challenge for teachers and students, planning group lessons can be difficult. Great teachers know that students learn when they interact, stretch their thinking skills, and cooperate- but virtual classrooms can make that a little harder to plan. Fortunately, there are options that bring students together to accomplish tasks and solve problems while learning virtually! 

virtual escape rooms

One of the best ways to incorporate fun and learning online is with virtual escape rooms.

Like real-life escape rooms, these activities encourage collaboration and team building. Students work together to solve puzzles, figure out riddles, and complete other challenges. However, virtual escape rooms are designed to be conducted via Zoom or Google Meets. They can also be completed on a projector for in-person learning. 

As students complete various tasks they will unlock the “room” or solve a mystery. One caveat I like to share with teachers is that the virtual escape rooms are meant to be challenging for students. I recommend that teachers complete the challenge before introducing it to students so that they can help out if kids are stuck. 

Ready to try out some virtual escape rooms?

Visit this my shop to see my collection of escape rooms that will have your students having fun while using critical thinking skills! One of my favorites is the Wacky Wednesday Digital Escape Room. This activity includes practice with nonsense words and problem-solving. Kindergarten through second-grade students will love completing the fun tasks and unlocking the room.  It is a great activity to do during Read Across America Week also.

virtual escape rooms

virtual escape rooms

 

Many of the other escape rooms are perfect for seasonal activities.

There are options for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Winter Holidays, Valentine’s Day, and even the 100th Day of School! Your students will enjoy the opportunity to work together as they attack the challenges. Celebrate learning throughout the year with these exciting activities that are perfect for virtual classrooms. 

Escape Room SIGHT WORD MYSTERY is great any time of the year!

sight word digital

Are you using virtual escape rooms in your classroom yet? Let me know in the comments!

Read about an In-Person Sight Word Escape for Primary