Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sight Words: 5 Ways to Engage with Sight Words in the Classroom

I absolutely love working with sight words. Over the years I have tried to come up with new and engaging activities for sight words that I know my students would enjoy. Here are a few ! Hope you try them out. I know your kids will enjoy them too. There are lots of goodies and freebies in this post so be sure to read all the way through. 
Usually with sight words, I start out by first assessing my kids. Every child will come to you on a different level. It's important to know where they are and where you are planning to take them. I teach first grade so I know that some of my students are coming to me not knowing some of their kinder words.  I start with the kinder list of words first to get students at least caught up with their kinder words.
I test all my kids on the kinder words using these general assessment sheets placed in individual data folders that I prep over the summer. Use whatever kinder sheets your school or district uses. Note that as the year goes on some of your kids catch on to new words anyway through exposure within your classroom and so I never wait until the whole class is caught up on kinder words to start the first grade list.
After I finish assessing all the students on kinder words, it looks a bit like this. My copy here looks a bit messy but  remember it is a working tool because I am individualizing to get most to all my kids caught up. I check off what they know and put a little dash on the ones they don't know. Then whenever I have time, I will call over individual students to do a flash review with them. Of course you can make it cute and neater than what I have here but this is pretty much how I have done it just to get a preview of their gaps.
As the months go on and they learn the words that I have marked with a dash, I place the date beside the words to show when they actually got it right. It looks something like this. It starts to look better with fewer yellow marks and  fewer dashes which is what we want.
Doing an individualized sight word data folder enables me to  get to know each of my 
kiddos personally  in this area and work with them to effectively achieve their reading goals. For their flash review, I have their specific kinder words on little index cards or on large computer paper and run through them when I call them over.  These are examples of the flashcards I individualize for each student . I place them in their sight word folders that I created for each student. This helps me keep track of  exactly what words I am working on specifically for that child. 

I add the first grade list usually in the folder behind the kinder words. As a class we work on 5 first grade words a week. That ends up being about 20 a month. I assess at the end of the month for the first grade words. It has worked well this way for the years I have been doing it. I place the words each week on our sight word wall. Last year I didn't do the regular ABC order type word wall just because I want the wall to double as a center where they go and place different words in ABC order themselves. So last year our walls were in rows of 15-20. Kids would go over to the wall and place the words in ABC order or write sentences with some of the 20 words we have been working on all month. This was challenging yet engaging and it kept the words fresh in their mind. Here is what our sight word wall looked like at the beginning of the year.

Next, I record how many words they know on my master sight word record sheet. I must tell you, I am so glad I made these. They are a life saver. I  hate having to look multiple places for their sight word information and though I keep their sight word assessments in a folder, I am not gonna pick up those folders and bring them to data meetings with me. It's way too much. I created this MASTER SIGHT WORD CHECKLIST so I can have a quick and easy snapshot of all my kids at the same time. It is so helpful and easy to use. Did I mention that it is also free and editable. Download here:SIGHT WORD MASTER

Now here are a few ways we have fun while we are learning. 

This is one of my favorites and a sure motivator. So this took a lot of work but it was so worth it. When I explained what these were, all  my kiddos were pumped and excited to learn the words on their monthly sight word list. I did the hard work so you wouldn't have to :). This is completely editable by the way. Get them here: SIGHT WORD BANDS.

I prepped these in advance over the summer and placed them in little tubs by set. They are the Fry's first 100 words but it is editable so you can add your own district words or whatever you use. I added sets of 10 and sets of 20. We used the sets of 20. At the end of the month we have  a little award ceremony and my little friends get their sight word bands if they can say all the words correctly. I encouraged them to say them to teachers in the hallway and to their parents when they get home. They absolutely love this ! It gave them something to look forward to at the end of the month.

This is also on the list of favorites. You can use anything that is safe to hop on but I simply made this one out of Astrobright paper .  You can stick it down with some painter's tape. I only choose up to 17 words as review words from the 20 that we have for the month. You can also do this outside with chalk but it is so much fun in the classroom .

If you have a hard surface, it is easier to tape down than on the carpet. Laminate for durability.  Make this a sight word center. Be consistent and change out the words each month and watch their word count go up.

Just type the words you need in a powerpoint file. Get some fun colors and go for it.

When I came up with the idea for this comprehension and sight word combo, I had not idea what I was doing but I knew I wanted it to be a fun and meaningful activity. Sure your kiddos will learn the sight words in isolation but will they still be able to recognize it and apply it in context? This super fun activity helps with that problem. My kids loved the challenge when I introduced these. It became the highlight of our center rotations, especially with my higher students. They absolutely loved the challenge of cutting out multiple words and finding the pieces that fit perfectly in the puzzle. It became a good and meaningful challenge for them.
So first the kids pick a story that they want to read. These are seasonally themed so I pull out the different sets depending on the season. You can get them here : Sight Word Cut and Paste Passages (Seasons Bundle) They cut out the little pieces and start to read.Next, they paste the words into the right place and throw away the extra words. They read the story to themselves one time and then a second time.
There are three little pictures at the bottom for your kids to color each time they read the story.

After reading the story twice, we all play a little game as a class that I call MUSICAL SHARE. It's played similar to musical chairs except we don't move chairs. All the kids get up and stand behind their chair. I play some music and they move around the room dancing.

When the music stops, they have to find a partner to read the story to. It gets really fun and engaging. We do this a couple rounds so that they get more than one opportunity to read to a friend. I walk around to different groups to hear them read.
It's a great way to get them up and moving while practicing sight words.
There are different formats to these cut and paste passages but they are all fun readers and help the kiddos to retain the sight words they have learned. Get a few center bags ready where they can use multiple times at a station.

    These make easy  centers. Whenever they have choice centers, this is one of the most popular. 

I added velcro so they can stick the correct word in place for these comprehension centers.

They are stored in ziplock bags in my ELA tub for easy access. 

Center time is a blast with these.

You can purchase the entire yearly bundle here: 
They are on a discount price and you get all 11 months filled with informational passages appropriate for the months as well as stories.

They are easy to print and use in your centers in any way that you choose.

A lot of the times I will just place a few of these out at their center station and let them go at it.

Though these are sight word focused. There are ones that are grammar and phonics focused as well.

Get the entire SEASONS BUNDLE by clicking on the picture below.

This little game is so simple and fun. Place sight words on some index cards or colored construction paper. Hide them all around the room.

       Have students close their eyes until you hide the words.
They can only pick up one word so that each child in your class gets a chance. Play a round of music and let students find the words.

When the music stops, they freeze in their spot and and you call on them to call out their word and return the card to you.

I hid this one between two bins in our library. I hide them in trash cans if the trash is emptied. Hide them wherever and have fun with it.  You can do this for a couple rounds. This is a great little game to play if you are homeschooling also and looking for movement activities in learning sight words.

           Can you spot the sight words here?
      Well I have to let you know that my kiddos led the way on this one. I sent them to do something completely different and well...this was the end result. It's great to be able to use things you already have when having fun with sight words. Give students a list of words to make and let their creative powers roll. Add in a little sentence writing with each word for good measure :) 
Be sure to check out the sight word tools I mentioned here in my TPT store. If you are not yet following my store, click the follow button above when you enter my page. 
Check out this sight word free tool below. A lot of teachers have already downloaded and used it. 
Would love to hear from you in the comments about  what you do with sight words. 

Here's a little freebie to get you going. This is an editable sight word list with Fry's First 100 words. Use it however you choose.  Click on the picture to get it. Stay tuned for sight word engagement part two :)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Morning Work-Getting Started

Morning work is a topic near and dear to my heart. It's so important to establish a routine in the morning because it really does set the tone for the rest of the day.

Some teachers use morning work tubs or buckets as an alternative to the structured spiral review of concepts. These tubs sort of look like centers  and students are working on different things. They could be simply using pattern blocks, puzzles, letter tiles , making words with play-doh,
using cubes to build sight words or even using letters to build cvc words. 
Whatever the activity, these tub activities give students an opportunity to come in and settle into a routine. It gets them social and their brains flowing. While I love this idea as a rotation, I have some reservations about it for the beginning of the year especially. At the beginning of the year, we are establishing routines and procedures and setting the tone for the rest of the year. This method for me would work maybe toward the middle or end of the year when we are a bit more relaxed and I have gotten to know their personalities first. Jumping right into this type of morning work routine at the beginning of the year can be a bit tricky. 

Furthermore, there is little accountability from what I have experienced,  of what they are actually learning. I would prefer to use these strategies for center. If you have used morning work buckets or tubs, please do share  your experiences with it in the comments. 

Another thing you can do to warm-up in the mornings are warm-up videos. I like to use Jack Hartmann videos because they are fun and engaging and the kids love them. Check out this example: 

Again this is a bit tricky to use at the beginning of the year when you do not yet know your students. I use it mainly during our math warm-up time. There are many other fun videos on YouTube you can use in place of morning work. 

What has worked for me is a nice, quiet routine in the morning because it establishes a certain classroom environment where the students know what is acceptable and what is not. 

For example, if someone was to scream out in my classroom, everyone would turn around and look in shock just because it looks so out of place. It's not the norm in the environment. That's what setting the right tone at the beginning does. 

I would prefer to do tubs some other time during the day as free time. I could also see using tubs in a type of rotation where I swap the spiral review out in place of this for a few mornings. This will give them a break from doing the packets.

 It's definitely important to step back and examine what has worked best for you and start there. Think about which one would work best for the whole year or what would work at the beginning of the year as opposed to closer to the end of the year. 

This is an example of a  morning work page. This particular friend is still confusing counting back with counting forward. Note that this is a February month packet denoted by the little heart in the corner. We have been working on this skill and I am quickly able to tell what I may need to reteach and who still needs more help. Each packet is monthly and the clip-art is incorporated in a way to show the monthly theme.Every common core concept is covered but not all at once. It progressively increases and changes as the months go on.  This includes money, measurement, shapes, addition, subtraction, counting back and forward, adding three numbers, base 10, standard, word form, expanded form, verbs, nouns, reading comprehension, beginning sounds, adjectives, sight words, other grammar and reading topics. 

Check out these quick videos to see us in action during morning work time. Each page is numbered and tells if we are working on math that morning or reading. I walk around and help my kids. On this morning we were working on a math page. You can certainly use these for your enrichment kids. They are not limited to morning work. 

 I have always used a spiral review morning work for my students just because their little brains are active and ready in the morning and it's a great way to help them retain information they have learned throughout the week. Plus it gets them into a routine for learning so that when morning work time is done they are ready for our quick whole group and then small group. 
The spiral review packets that I use are common core aligned and integrate math and reading for each day. For the first month's packet, I usually do it all with them so that they can get in the routine and get familiar with the pattern and sequence. I usually start around the second week of school with introducing the morning work routine. The content progressively gets harder and changes minimally throughout the year and spirals through things students have learned already.
The first two months of morning work spiral through letters A-Z and numbers 1-20. It's kind of a review of kinder concepts. I let them attempt the skills on their own and then after about 15 minutes, I go over it quickly with them. At the beginning of the year, we only do one page per day but as we progress through the year, they get so use to the pattern that they are finished with the one page in like 2 minutes !  So I usually tell them to complete two or three pages for that morning. This is a good thing because it tells me that they are retaining the information that we have been learning and they are mastering concepts.

I store their morning work folders in these little magazine holders I got from Amazon. I use a lot of different folders in my class so I color code to make it easy for students. I once used the paper folders but now I use the plastic folders. They hold up a lot better.

The first grade morning work for the whole year is complete and the months from January to December are all included. You can check it out by clicking on the picture below. 

I just started a kinder morning work for students just getting ready for kindergarten. This morning work for kinder spirals through letter recognition, rhyming words and beginning sounds. 

Each packet comes with a cover page. The kids love the monthly themes. I copy my sets for the month and use folders to keep them in. That means for the whole month, I do not have to worry about prepping morning work. They are already prepped and placed in their folders for the month.I started out using the paper pronged folders but they didn't last throughout the year so I switched to  the plastic folders instead  just because they hold a lot better. I didn't have to change out folders for the whole year with the plastic ones.  My kiddos got creative and decorated all over their folders. 

You can also bind them each month if you are able to do that at your school. That would be a great way to send them home at the end of the month or use it as data to show student work. 

All else fails, just staple the monthly packets just like you see here and hope they don't rip them up before the month is over. 
After they complete a page, I usually just go around and sort of check it off to see students that are getting it and those that need more help. Then I go over it on our document camera and sometimes I allow them to check it off themselves if they get it right. 

My kids last year seemed to prefer the math pages rather than the reading pages for some reason. For topics that I did not teach as yet, I just tell them to skip or I do what I call  a "quick teach". A quick teach is when I quickly brush over the topic and show them what to do since they will see the same concepts over and over each day. By doing this, they know the basics of the particular skill even before I pull out my lesson plan on it and start to do a formal lesson. I do a lot of  "quick teach" especially using number sense puzzles, at the beginning of the year. I find that it helps them to retain information even through to the end of the year.

We all know that using our lesson plan one time to teach a skill does not help much. Usually by the middle of the year they have forgotten half of what you taught them in the beginning of the year. This is why I love spiral review so much . My goal is to help them master concepts so they can have a solid foundation.

I can say that using these morning work sets each month have helped tremendously with organization, structure and academics. The kids love them also. By the end of the year, they start telling me how easy it is for them. Check out the reviews on it from my store. A lot of teachers have used this morning work bundle and have told me how much they love and appreciate it. 

I seriously went back and forth about purchasing this product...now that I did and I downloaded and printed October...I really must say I do not regret the purchase! It is absolutely perfect pace for quick morning work or bell ringer. I am also using it in my special education resource room as a quick independent work for students. Perfect for homework too! Thank you Kadeen!


I just started morning work last month, and I am addicted! I love how my students start learning just a couple of steps inside my door in the morning! Thanks!

-Amanda B

One of the best resources I have purchased!!! THANKS!!!!

-Shannon B

Sample pages from different months.

Click the link below to get the mega all year bundle at a discounted price including free updates for whenever I update it. Please note that it has been completely updated recently.