Using Theme Days To Teach In Elementary

Theme days are an excellent way to organize and plan your instruction in the elementary classroom. Integrating lessons in every subject area around a particular topic, or theme, can improve student understanding.

Curiosity about the theme will help them learn more effectively, and more naturally. As they make connections between content areas they will gain even deeper understanding of the topics, and have fun at the same time! An exciting theme that engages students will motivate them to do their best work- making your job easier! 

Choosing which theme days you want to do for your instruction might seem daunting, but there is truly a theme to match every classroom and interest.

For example, seasons are an easy theme to integrate into subject areas. There are a multitude of ways to teach math concepts using seasonal ideas- such as candy in the fall or snowflake patterns in winter. Picture books with seasonal themes are perfect for reading instruction and writing examples.

Seasonal temperatures are an easy way to introduce data collection in science. With just a little imagination, you can create lessons for each season of the year. Other themes that are popular include oceans, springtime hatching, holidays, snow, deserts, and many more. You can easily adapt these themes to your students’ interests. 

If you are ready to start using theme days, but not sure where to begin, you can use one day themes.

A special day full of themed activities will get your students excited and motivated to learn. One of my favorite themed days is Spy Day.

theme days

Students complete many activities and challenges using spy skills, and will not even realize how much they are learning! This download includes all the plans you need and step-by-step instructions. 

Another favorite theme day is Superhero Day. This download includes superhero-themed reading, writing, math, and even craft activities. By the end of the day, your students will have gained new skills and have had a great time! 

theme days

With just a little planning, themes can get your students motivated and engaged in ways you never expected. They can gain deeper understandings of concepts while having fun- it’s a win-win!

theme days

 

For more fun theme day ideas, check out my resources here!

What are your favorite theme days? Let me know in the comments!

theme days

Homework Ideas For Kindergarten

Homework is a tricky topic in most schools, especially in the younger grades. Homework in kindergarten is sometimes completely forbidden by the school, left up to the teacher, or required for all students. In my experience, homework for kindergarten students can be beneficial. It can reinforce the skills learned in the classroom and get parents involved in the learning process. However, it must be developmentally appropriate for our youngest learners. 

In order for homework to be perfect for kindergarten, it must be short enough to maintain students’ attention.

Pages and pages of written work will frustrate kids, and busy parents do not want to complete more school work for hours each evening. Short, meaningful assignments will keep kids and parents engaged. They will also be more likely to positively influence learning. 

In addition to the amount of time assignments take, the content of the assignments is also important to consider for kindergarten students. Research has shown again and again that reading with a parent (and independently) for 15-20 minutes daily is extremely beneficial to young learners. So reading together is probably the most important part! 

Assignments should also reinforce basic skills with targeted practice. It is not the time for learning completely new concepts. Additionally, assignments with oral components are perfect for kindergarten students. As they interact and talk with their caregivers, they are learning important communication skills. They are also cementing their understanding of the concepts they’ve been learning at school. 

So- short, meaningful, targeted homework that involves parents seems to be the perfect recipe for kindergarten.

That’s a lot to think about when making assignments. If you don’t have the time to plan and prepare assignments that fit your needs for homework- my Kindergarten Homework Packets might be the answer! 

homework

This bundle includes homework packets for the entire year. They are editable, but can also be printed and used immediately. The homework packets are set up to go home every three weeks. You choose three books to send home with each packet, and your students will have everything they need for meaningful homework. 

homework

Sight words as well as Common Core standards for reading, writing, math, science, and social studies are all addressed throughout the year. Activities include written and oral activities that are perfect for school-home connections. Your students will enjoy their homework, and you can rest assured that it is appropriate and engaging. 

homework
For more kindergarten ideas, check out my morning work ideas here! 

What are your thoughts on homework in kindergarten? Let me know in the comments!


 

Reading Strategies With Phonemic Awareness

Phonics and phonemic awareness are two of the most important parts of reading instruction. They are  necessary as children learn how to make sense of letters, sounds, and words. But what exactly is the difference between the two?

Phonics is the relationship between letters and sounds. Phonemic awareness is the ability to HEAR, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in a word.

I like to remember the difference by saying that phonemic awareness can be done in the dark. It uses the ears rather than the eyes AND ears like phonics.

Phonemic awareness is critical in the early grades. It can powerfully affect reading and spelling development in students. The more opportunities students have to work with sounds in the classroom, the more confident they will become. Getting phonemic awareness practice in your schedule daily may seem daunting, but making it a routine can help!

The options for phonemic awareness activities are varied and easy to do with your students.

Blending boards are a simple, effective tool for helping students recognize sounds in words. You can also use flashcards to practice sound identification, and focus on different parts of words. Playing games with students is of course one of the best ways to get students engaged in learning about phonemes.

An easy way to have all the tools for effective daily practice is with the Phonemic Awareness Activities Systematic Curriculum.

phonemic awareness

The year-long bundle includes everything you need to help your students confidently identify and manipulate sounds. Blending boards, worksheets, and even videos are included.

phonemic awareness

The oral task cards are perhaps the best part of the curriculum, as they include practice with all the following skills:

  • Sound deletion
  • Sound addition
  • Blending
  • Substitution
  • Segmenting
  • Beginning, middle, and ending sound games
  • Syllables
  • Rhyming
  • Onset-rime
  • Nonsense Words
  • CVC Words

Using these task cards daily will greatly enrich your students’ understanding of sounds in words. There is also an assessment included so you can address their individual needs and see their growth.

Dive into the activities today and daily practice will no longer seem impossible!

 


 

Writing Prompts For Early Elementary Students

Do your early elementary students need help getting their creative writing juices flowing? Writing prompts can help!

When faced with a blank page, many kids can feel overwhelmed by writing assignments. They’re not sure where to start, and some students can even shut down when faced with writing activities. Other students might be comfortable with writing, but just don’t get excited about “boring” writing assignments in the classroom.

writing prompts

 Writing prompt journals are the answer for these challenges!

Journals filled with writing prompts give a clear assignment each and every day. Your students will know exactly what to write rather than spending time deciding about a topic.

With daily assignments students will approach their writing with more confidence. As they become more comfortable with responding to prompts they will lose their feelings of overwhelm. 

In addition, journals are a great way to monitor students’ growth in their writing skills. By keeping each month’s journals you will be able to see their content and conventions grow over time. You can also identify problem areas for particular students or the whole class and address those skills with specialized lessons.

As your students become more familiar with daily writing, they will take more chances with creativity. Writing as a daily routine will help you address all of these skills regularly without extra planning. You can even add in word banks with vocabulary words for them to use and teach them how to check their work with self check-offs.

If you’re ready to incorporate daily writing prompts in your classroom, my Writing Prompts with Word Banks Bundle is just the print-and-go material you need.

Simply print the pages out for the month, staple, and you’re ready!

writing prompts

Students will love the fun writing tasks as well as the word banks. They can easily spell words they may need in their writing and feel more confident in their ideas. There are also checklists at the bottom of each day’s prompt so students can check their own work for writing expectations. Each month includes a writing rubric you can use to assess students’ writing.

writing prompts

In addition to journals for all twelve months, I’ve also included silly writing prompts to really get your students excited! Reluctant writers will enjoy using their skills for a fun writing assignment. 

I hope these writing prompts get your students excited to use their creativity with writing!