Tag Archive | literacy centers

Literacy Ice Game


I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:

Don’t Break the Ice – Part 1 (Literacy)

For each of these variations on Don’t Break the Ice, put a label or a small piece of masking tape on each piece of “ice”. On each piece of masking tape, write a letter of the alphabet.

1. Make a Word – As students play Don’t Break the Ice, remind them that they point is to get the LEAST amount of ice to fall. As each person takes a turn tapping the ice, they will collect all the ice that falls after their tap. Once all the ice has fallen, the students should use as many of their letters as possible to make words.  After a designated set amount of time – 2 minutes is generally enough – stop the students and award one point for each letter used in an acceptable word.

2. What’s Your “A” Word – As students play Don’t Break the Ice, remind them that they point is to get the LEAST amount of ice to fall. As each person takes a turn tapping the ice, they will collect all the ice that falls after their tap.  For each letter they collect, they must come up with a word that begins with that letter.  For example, if a student collects two pieces of ice after their tap, one with an A on it and one with a F on it, they may say “A is for Alligator and F is for Frog.”

3. ABC Order – Front & Back – As students play Don’t Break the Ice, remind them that they point is to get the LEAST amount of ice to fall. As each person takes a turn tapping the ice, they will collect all the ice that falls after their tap. Once all the ice has fallen, the students should line the letters up in ABC order.  If students are already good at ABC order – try Reverse ABC order.

4. Sorting your Ice – As students play Don’t Break the Ice, remind them that they point is to get the LEAST amount of ice to fall. As each person takes a turn tapping the ice, they will collect all the ice that falls after their tap. Once all the ice has fallen, the students should sort their ice by given category (vowels vs. consonants, small, tall & fall letters, 1st half of the alphabet vs. 2nd half of the alphabet etc.)  For an extra challenge, allow students to sort without a given category.  After sorting, they will need to justify the category of their sort and why each of the letters belongs where it was placed.

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Don’t Break the Ice in a new, interesting way in your classrooms. Do you want other game suggestions for your classroom? Click HERE for some more suggestions on using games like Yahtzee, Chutes and Ladders and Battleship. Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

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Lots of Literacy Games!!!


If you’ve seen my Friday Game Night Posts, you know how much of a game-aholic I am! So for the next few weeks, I’m going to highlight just some of the games I love in my Top 10 posts. Last week, we looked at games to use in math.  This week, we’re going to look at the Top 10 Board Games to use in Grammar and Writing Lessons and Literacy Centers. Often, I will introduce a game in Small Group Writing or Guided Reading, as a way to get students interested in a topic, and then put the same game into Literacy Centers to reinforce the topic in a more independent setting.

 

10. Upwords – I love using Upwords when I am teaching word families or talking about vowel substitutions.  It’s such an easy way to show how changing one letter can change the whole word.

9. Chutes and LaddersThe game board on Chutes & Ladders is an inspiration to me!  There are so many cute “picture” stories on it.  I love to pull it out in guided reading when we are talking about inferences or guided writing when we are talking about describing and creating a picture with words.

8. BoggleBoggle is the ultimate word game!  I love seeing kids look at all those random letters and then see the words just start coming.  It’s a great, easy center.  As an extension, I like to have kids take the words they found and make a story out of them.

7. Very Silly Sentences – Whenever I’m ready to start talking about parts of speech, Very Silly Sentences is the go-to game.  The color coded cards are such an easy way to talk about where each part of speech goes in a sentence and why each sentence needs all these parts of speech.

6. Taboo – Do you get sick of hearing those same tired words in your student’s writing?  In order to show kids that they can say something, without saying those words, I love to pull out the game Taboo.  It gets students in the frame of mind, to say “Hey, I can say that in lots of different ways!”  After playing, we will make a list of words that are “Taboo” in our writing!

5.  Scategories Jr. – Whether you are teaching or reviewing beginning consonant sounds, Scategories Jr. is a great way to have fun doing it.  It’s easy to modify this game and play it with your whole class, or just that one group that needs a little more time!  Then, send it to centers for a good regular reinforcement.

4. Pictionary – I know it sounds counter-intuitive to put a game with no words into a Guided Writing lesson, but Pictionary is a great way to get kids thinking about what needs to go into a story.  If it’s in the picture that’s needed to describe the topic, then when we write, it should be in the words too!

3.  Apples to Apples – Students have the hardest time explaining their answers in reading and writing!  Apples to Apples gives them the chance to justify their answers, by explaining how it could be that volcanoes would fit into the category of “juicy things”.  Good for categories and persuasive writing.

 

2.  Rory’s Story Cubes – The easies brainstorming activity ever!  Rory’s Story Cubes stop the “I don’t know what to write about” complaints real quick.  Let your kids roll the dice and use the picture to get writing!

 

1.  You Gotta Be Kidding – I have the adult version of this too – Would You Rather – which I use with older kids.  You Gotta be Kidding is a great way to start talking about persuasive writing.  Kids get to persuade their friends why they should also believe that “it’d be better to eat worms than bettles” and other truly gross things!

 

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P.S. I write a Top 10 post every week. Here are some past Top 10 posts: Top 10 Board Games for MathTop 10 Toys I Steal From My Kids, Top 10 Educational Toys, Top 10 Educational Movies, and Top 10 Indoor Recess Ideas. Check back each Sunday or Monday for more Top 10 Lists.

Chutes and Ladders in Literacy


I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:

Chutes and Ladders – Part 2

Who doesn’t like Chutes and Ladders (also called Snakes and Ladders)? It’s a classic game that is a part of most primary classroom and home game collections. It’s also a great way to work on both math and literacy skills. Last week, I talked about how to use Chutes and Ladders to work on math skills.  This week, I have a list of ideas for using this game to work on literacy skills. Next week, we’ll take a look at how to use Yahtzee in different classrooms, but for now, how can we use Chutes and Ladders in the classroom?

1. Cause and Effect –   On the game board for Chutes and Ladders, there is a picture story going on.  For example, at the top of one of the “chutes” there is a little boy who has broken a mirror and at the bottom, there is the same boy pouring out the money from his piggy bank.  These pictures cues would be a great way to talk about how one part of a story (the cause) makes another part of the story (the effect) to happen. 

 

2. Write the Story – Another way to use the picture stories that are all over the Chutes and Ladders game board is to let the students create the stories that go with the pictures.  What really happened?  How did the mirror get broken?  This entire board could work as a variety of story starters!

 

3. Spelling Words – Place sight words or spelling words on index cards.  Have students draw a word and read or spell it before taking their turn in Chutes and Ladders.  Then, the students can move how ever many letters there are in the word.  Easy, simple review, with a game built in, and very little to create or manage!

 

4. Describe It! – Isn’t it funny how one person see something that can be so differently than another?  To illustrate this for students, and to help them work on adjectives and writing descriptively, assign each child one of the “stories” on the Chutes and Ladders board.  Have students write a description of their assigned story, using picture words, but no numbers.  Then, have students read their descriptions aloud (or with other students let them read each others’ descriptions) and see if the others can guess which story they were assigned.

 

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Chutes and Ladders in a new, interesting way in your classrooms. Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!

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My Kids’ New Favorite Center


At the beginning of the year, I created an Alphabet Book to use with my students.  I thought they would all come in knowing their ABC’s and that this would be a great way to review while we looked at different types of words.  I bookpreviewwas so excited about them that I had them copied and stapled before the school year began.  Then, I got my class, and more than half of them didn’t know all of their letters or letter sounds, and I put all of the Alphabet Books on the shelf indefinitely.100_6173

Fast forward 13 weeks, and all of my kids now know all of their letters and letter sounds!!!  In fact, most of my kids are now reading at a Reading A-Z level of C or higher (yeah!!!!!!).  So, I pulled out the Alphabet Books, and the kids are in love! 

The books are a super simple way for them to “collect” words from around the room, or in books.  After they have “collected” their words, it’s a good way to work on reading common words.  Each page is coordinated to my phonics posters, and has lines for students to write down words from our word wall.  (Did you hear that my word wall is exploding?  If not, check out this post from earlier this week.)  The kids have had a great time with this center, and we are beginning to use the books in reading time too.  Plus, it’s a low maintenance literacy center – which is really nice at this time of the year when my kids are a little crazier than normal!

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Learning About Charity


We are continuing to learn about Muslim stories and holidays in my room.  Last week, my students completed their Muslim Holiday Packets, which were a great success.  This week, my students will participate in what is called Zakat, or giving to charity.  On Eid al Adha, when a family sacrifices a sheep, it is expected that they will give 1/3 of their sheep to friends and family, and 1/3 of their sheep to charity.  Personally, I think this is an important tradition for my students to learn about, so we are going to do our own sharing with friends and charity, but on a smaller scale.  On Wednesday of this week, I will be making no bake cookies with my students.  We will give 1/3 of them to the other 1st grade class, and 1/3 of them to the orphanage near our school.  Because I teach at an expensive private school, many of my students are a little spoiled (or a lot spoiled), so I am looking forward to talking with them about the importance of helping others.  I know many people in the US are doing similar activities with Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives.  What do you do with your students to promote the idea of charity?

 

Here are some pictures of my kids work on their Muslim Holiday Centers:

 

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Muslim Holidays–With a Freebie!


I must start off with a big thank you for all the birthday wishes.  I hope you enjoyed your birthday presents.  In addition to all of the amazing birthday wishes, I also received some amazing feedback from all of you, which is sometimes the best present of all.  If you missed out on the big giveaway, check out my Facebook page to see what everyone received. 

journeytomoroccoFor those of you who are unaware, I currently live and work in Morocco.  Morocco is a Muslim country, and we just celebrated one of the biggest Muslim holidays, Eid al Adha.  You can read about my personal experiences with this holiday on my personal blog – Journey to Morocco.  (Warning, there are a few graphic pictures of sheep sacrifice, which is an important part of the holiday.)  Because of Eid I was off Monday and Tuesday, but we are in school Wednesday – Friday.  Also because of Eid, lots of kids did not come to school today, as they are still traveling with their families (6 in my class alone!).  I knew this would happen, so I did not want to do the classic weekly center packet that I do for my class.  Instead, I decided to get a jump start on our Social Studies topic for this month, which coincided nicely with the holiday – Muslim Stories & Holidays.  (We follow the AERO standards for Social Studies because we are an overseas school.)

celebratingramadanSo, I decided to make a Muslim Holidays center packet, which is what we are doing this week.  I started out the day by letting kids write about how they had celebrated Eid.  (Not all of my students are Muslim, but all experienced Eid in one way or another, even if it was just seeing all the sheep around the streets.)  Then, I read the book called Celebrating Ramadan.  It is a good book to talk about Muslim Holidays, especially Ramadan, but it is also a good overview of Islam overall.  We reviewed some of the topics we had touched on last week, the Quran, prayer etc.  We also talked about some new topics, like the lunar calendar, and traditions we have during the big 3 holidays: Ramadan, Eid al Iftr and Eid al Adha.  You can find a link to this book on my Shelfari profile.

Once we finished the read aloud (and specials), we began our center packets.  These muslimholidays2packets could be done in a few different ways, but since we have 3 days, I decided to do one section each day.  Today, we did the Ramadan section.  My kids decorated prayer rugs, made prayer rug patterns, wrote about waiting, drew pictures of common Ramadan words (sunrise, sunset, quran etc.)  and read a small paragraph about Ramadan and answered questions.  They did really well with it, and I was excited at what they could tell me at the end of the day (especially those who come form non-Muslim homes.)

Tomorrow, we will talk about Eid al Iftr, the celebration at the end of Ramadan by counting with crescents, drawing our Iftr feast, writing about charity, reading a recipe and talking about traditional Foods.  On Friday, we will talk about Eid al Adha muslimholidays3(the one we just celebrated) which is often called the Celebration of the Sacrifice, and commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for god.  Friday’s centers will be to subtract using sheep, to create a sheep, to write about sacrifice, to sort the long E words (for a sheep) and to read an abbreviated version of the Quran story. 

I know most of those who read this blog won’t be teaching about Muslim Holidays to satisfy your Social Studies curriculum.  However, if you would like to use this packet for a Word Celebrations day or to teach your students about other cultures, feel free to grab it HERE from my TPT Store for FREE.

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Primary Writing Journals


Well, it’s the 6th week of school, and my kids have just completed their 1st week in their writing journals.  LOL – so much for good planning!  I didn’t realize before I made the journals that my kids would have so little writing experience walking into first grade.  Anyways, I took a step back and punted as the saying goes and spent the first few weeks on the fact that people write for a reason, and that writing allows us to get ideas across, and that writing happens in sentences.  Now, they are ready for brainstorming and writing, most of them.

 

Here are some examples of what I got out of them for Week 1’s Narrative Writing Prompt:  What do you like to do on the weekends?

 

Brainstorming

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Drafting

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Conferencing   (I quickly figured out we are not ready for peer-conferencing, but will try again after a few weeks.)

 

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Scoring

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Now we are starting on Week 2 – What do you do when you get angry?  The kids had a variety of answers for brainstorming, from crying, to pouting, to throwing things.  I can’t wait to see the finished products on those!  If you want a copy of this Narrative Writing Journal, you can get it from my Raki’s Rad Resources store on TPT, just click HERE or on any of the images.

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