Hawaii Heaven Classroom Decor

I haven’t posted lately because I was on my dream vacation in Hawaii!  It was everything I imagined and more.  The pictures don’t do it justice at all.  Although Waikiki and Honolulu were a bit more commercialized than I expected, I found one island just amazing!  My favorite island was Maui.  If you love tropical vacations, like I do, it is an experience of a life time.  I live in Florida, so I’m use to the beach life.  The Road to Hana, hidden waterfalls, legends, Poke Bowls, caves, rain forest, volcano, spectacular snorkel spots,  and friendly locals made a magical trip for my family.  The trip hit the wallet a little harder than I expected even with all the research I did prior to the trip, but it was well worth it. Now, I have so many ideas for a new classroom decor!

Every corner I found inspiration for new #TpT products.  I took a lot of pictures  to create a tropical classroom decor pack that I can’t wait to see come to life.  So far I have made a Hawaiian themed Color Word Posters and a Word Wall Banner Set.  These will become part of a Hawaiian Theme Classroom Decor BUNDLE… COMING SOON.  Go check them out though, if you are thinking about a beach classroom theme for your classroom. One of our favorite hidden lunch places that we just happened to stumble upon is called The Garden Terrace at Kula Lodge!  Eat outside while enjoying the spectacular entire west side of Maui view.  They have an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven that my kids still talk about today!  Mama’s Fish House Restaurant was our favorite place on the island for catching a view of Maui’s amazing sunsets.  The food is absolute terrific!  You can find some of the sunset pictures in the new calendar pack I’m in the process of making that will be part of the set.  I rarely post pictures of my family on my blog, but here is one showing the beautiful sunset.

Check back in the future for blogs on the new Hawaii Themed Decor Sets that I will have up in my Teacher’s Brain store soon.  As they say in Hawaii… Mahalo!!!!

I realize some of you are not on summer vacation yet.  You may want to check out the blog post about End of the School Year Activities.

Mastering Sight Words

Previously, when I taught kindergarten, 34 sight words were standard for students to master before they went into first grade.  So when the standard went from 34 to 86, I was stressed about how to teach these words to kids who continue to struggle with retention and application.  Sight words are important to being successful at reading.  The goal put a lot of pressure of me to find new ways to help my students learn these words.   Here are some strategies I tried successfully.  I put 5 to 10 sight words on the class Word Wall each week.  Students learned how to use them in sentences, practiced writing with them and are encouraged to use the Word Wall Words during all writing activities.  The most effective way I found to get them to remember sight words is to make the activities fun.  During centers, students use paint dabbers to create sight words, play sight word games and sing sight word songs found on You Tube.  The Sight Word Necklace has been a huge hit with motivating students to learn the words in class and at home.  Start the students sight-word-necklace-coverout with a few words on their necklace.  By the next week see what they know.  If they know it, they keep it.  If not, the word goes off the necklace and home for practice with the parents.  For every 20 they master, they get a special card that rewards them with a treasure box treat in our room (you can use anything… a certificate, a hug).  When they reach all the words they get to eat lunch with the teacher and a friend.  Another game they like is the Fly Swatter Game.  Two groups of students a picked, the teacher calls out a word and whoever swats the word on the word wall first get a point for the team.

You can get the Sight Word Necklace printable for ONLY $1.00 for 24 hours.  A group of teacher authors are also having a hashtag sale #2017DollarDeals .  Just type it into the Teachers Pay Teachers search box to find the deals.  Happy New YEAR!

flash-sale

Interactive WORD WALL – Dry Erase

Are you still displaying a dull word wall that just stays glued to the wall all year, adding words, and hoping the kids look at it during their literacy time?  Time to step up your game.  Students need to touch, feel and interact with a Word Wall.  This has been one of the best tools to teach reading and writing in my room since I changed my old way of using a Word Wall.  Just print, laminate and hang letter squares in an area that is easy to grab it from the wall, take it to their learning area, and then they can put it back on the wall.  Oh no, the words erased?  That’s okay!  If they do, ask a helper to put the words back on the board.  It may look a little messy, but it is in use, exciting, and empowering them to use those sight words.  I keep a small print out of the words next to the word wall for them to use, if they erase, so they can easily rewrite it correctly.  They could even ask a friend.   You can always fix it at the end of the week, if you worry about neatness.  Here are some tips for using an interactive Word Wall:

Mrs. Kaney using her Interactive Word Wall in First Grade
  •  I like to play games with the squares. Sometimes I mix the letters up, and see if the students catch the mix up. Then, I offer them a little award for being a good “Letter Detective.”
  • Another game I play is called, Swat the Sight Word. This is where I group students in two lines, give fly swatters and call out a word on the Word Wall. They both try to “Swat” the word and whoever gets there first wins a point for the team.
  • I highlight the vowels on the Word Wall, so dry erase word wall square coverstudents can easily identify them.
  • After laminating, make sure you leave a small portion around the paper when cutting to ensure moisture never gets into our paper.
  • Use Cardstock or glue to poster board to make it last longer.
  • We make up songs to go with each letter sound.  “A, /a/ /a/ /a/ Apple, B….
  • “Box Up” the words, by drawing lines to show (low, high and medium) letters.  We say the word.  Then spell it with body movement. (squat down for low letters (like g), hands by your sides for medium letters (like e), and hands up high for tall letters (like t).
  • Find word families.
  • Don’t stick just to sight words.  Students love to learn ROBUST VOCABULARY WORDS! (For example,  hysterical or words from their interest areas like Survival or Creeper.)  You will be surprised at how often they use them even in kindergarten!