Tag Archive | literacy

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!




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.

Best Educational Movies

I recently received an email from my supervisor about the use of movies and parties in the classroom.  [It wasn’t geared just to me, it was one of those whole faculty emails that tells you that one person did something wrong, but everyone has to hear about it, just in case someone else is misbehaving and hasn’t gotten caught.]  The email talked about how movies and parties had no place in the classroom, unless they had some sort of curricular basis.  At first, I was a little put off by this email, because I show movies and have parties regularly.  However, after a step back, I realized that 99% of the movies I show have a direct curricular link, so I probably agree with the email, but just never took the time to think about it, as I don’t really have the time to show anything not related to my curriculum, due to all the standards to be covered.  I’d love to hear your take on the movies/parties in the classroom, so please feel free to leave me a comment.  In the meantime, here is a list of my Top 10 (curricular) Movies to show in your classroom, without getting in trouble from administration.  Smile


10.  Magic School Bus – Almost every science topic you cover can be touched on within a Magic School Bus video.  If you have a topic that doesn’t fit, Ms. Frizzle’s idea of “Get Messy, Ask Questions, Make Mistakes” can fit into just about any lesson on Scientific Discovery!

9.  Leapfrog Videos – I love using the phonics videos from Leapfrog to teach letter sounds and word formation, but they also have math videos for math basics!

8.  Planet Earth – Not only does this movie touch on tons of Biology topics, including animal characteristics, habitats, and animal adaptations, but it is so beautifully put together it will captivate your students.  With so many more of our students watching the Simpsons and Hannah Montana – exposure to Animal Planet is a good thing all around!

7.  Book based Movies – There are so many good kids books that now have a movie to go with them!  I like to have students do a Venn Diagram comparison or a persuasive writing on which is better after they have read the book and watched the movie.

6.  Sid the Science Kid – Here’s another great movie for the scientific process and science observations and journaling.  They also cover tons of common science topics such as: elasticity, simple machines, and change in states of matter.

5.  Little Einsteins – These fabulous movies use world famous music and art to investigate the natural world, and cover various science and social studies topics.

4.  Team Umizoomi – The characters in this movie use math problem solving to make them into superheros!  Every episode I’ve seen covers shapes, measurement, counting and logcial thinking.

3.  Super Why – More superheros!  Only these superheros are in reading.  In each episode, the characters jump into a story and use reading super powers (reading, spelling, etc.) to solve a problem they are having.  Can you say text to self connection?

2.  School House Rock – So many people grew up on School House Rock every Saturday morning.  Now, you can use those videos on DVD with your class.  “I’m Just a Bill on Capitol Hill” is one of my favorites when I teach government.

1.  Fetch with Ruff Ruffman – Reality show meets curriculum!  This show has fetchepisodes for almost every science and social studies topic I’ve ever taught.  It features real life kids and a cartoon dog who sends them on reality show challenges. 

As a mom of young children – I use lots of these with my own children too!  In fact, watching TV with them has spawned most of these suggestions!  Hope you can use some of them in your classroom.



P.S. I write a Top 10 post every week. Here are some past Top 10 posts: Top 10 Holiday Read Alouds, Top 10 Educational Toys, Top 10 Items for Your Winter Holiday Work Packet, and Top 10 Indoor Recess Ideas. Check back each Sunday or Monday for more Top 10 Lists.

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