Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Visual Discrimination

Hi there friends! 

What a week! Have you been crazy busy too!? I have been making quite a few 'visual discrimination' based activities lately. I think it is an area that we often neglect, and can help SO much in our students' journey learning to read. I like to use these as 'fast finisher' activities as well as in reading groups in the early weeks of school. 

Here is one you can try for FREE!

It has a mixture of pictures and lower case letters. Click on the image below to find it. 

When I first started teaching, I would treat these activities in a much different way than I do now. I just didn't 'get it'. After I did a little reading, and after I watched few more experienced teachers implement them, I finally understood how rich these activities are, and the potential they yield. After I changed the way I used them, I saw the positive difference in my students. 

It is very easy to hand out activity cards or a worksheet and simply say to the students 'find the ones that are different' or 'look at the letters and find the ones that are the same'.

Watch your students eyes dart all over the page, as they rush to be the first one to find the answers.

It will take a few seconds, or minutes if you are lucky, and the students will ask you what they can 'do next'. 

Let's rewind a little. Think about why you would be implementing these activities - to strengthen reading, essentially - that is the ultimate goal. So build this in to your instruction and the expectations you have for the students based on that. You want them to slow down, look left to right, and attend to what they are looking at. 

Let's look at the activity cards in 'Pair Up' below. Students have to find 2 pictures that are the same on each card. Some worksheets in this style will have students circle two identical pictures as they look over a row. 

Give your student a card. Tell them to look at the star on the left - this is the 'starting star' - and this is where you want them to look every time they do one of these activities (and when they read a book)!

Tell them to point to the first picture. Tell them not to look at anything else, just the first picture. Tell them to say the name of this picture. Tell them to look at the picture closely and really observe it.  Then move on, picture by picture, across the card. One at a time, pointing and saying. Once at the end, tell them to return to the first picture again, and this time, to 'sweep' their eyes across the card and find the two that match. They can then 'clip' them (or circle them if on a worksheet). 

This slow and deliberate routine of working across the card will help SO much in helping your students develop solid reading strategies. You may get one or two muffle groans as you encourage them to slow down and think more, but trust me, they will learn to love the process. 

I have also found that it helps my students in the early weeks of school, develop systematic thinking, and follow my instructions. It helps some of my 'busy' workers to slow down, and learn to follow a process to complete a task. 

I have challenged more-able students in this style of activity by extending them a little. After saying the name of each picture, they can go back and say the beginning sound of each picture - or even write them down on a piece of paper or find a letter tile to match each picture. 

After doing some 'picture' based visual discrimination activities, your students should move on to letter and word based visual discrimination. 

Letters of the alphabet.... 


Word Families... 

Tricky Sounds... 

I have made a bundle that has them all - and it's on sale!

If you love a worksheet, find my "Look, Say, Listen, Circle" worksheet at TpT also. 

I have an exciting post coming up very soon! On the weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting 6 other Australian bloggers! Woohoo!! It was SO much fun! We have been chatting away online for the last 2 years and have been trying to 'meet' for just as long. It FINALLY happened! 

Thanks so much for stopping by my friends, I will be back soon!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Sight Words Flip and Write

Hi there!

Today I want to show you a few of the resources from my '100 Sight Words' series. I have been busily revising and upgrading the resources in this collection over the last year, but have not had a chance to show you any of them in detail. I am planning on having the final few revised in the next month. 

The 'Flip and Write' cards are so much fun. All 100 words are included.

Once laminated, students read the word, then 'flip' it!

The look at the letter boxes and think back to the word they read.

They take a dry erase marker, and write in the word! These are fun and focus on the key skill - remembering these words by sight!

This was one of my very first 'write and wipe' activities, and I am so glad that it is now revised and looking all brand-new.

When you are introducing your 'focus' words - the 'First Day Worksheets' make a great activity for students. They combine some fine motor and tracing skills as well as providing a nice solid visual for your students. When you first introduce sight words, the focus will primarily be on 'reading' not 
writing - so these clear uncluttered sheets, with the large word as the focus, are perfect!

They can take this worksheet home, stick it on the fridge and practice reading it all week!

Your students can shade in the letters

and trace the handwriting-pattern lines. 

You can knock over a sight word AND handwriting lesson, even in the early stages of sight-word-learning!

I have revised my 'Sight Word Worksheets Mega Pack' as well. As well as refreshing the existing pages, I have added a new page design, so that there are now 3 different worksheets for each 3-word combination. There are 100 worksheets in total! 

These are great for when your students are ready to move on to sight words as a 'spelling' activity as well as for reading. 

All of these resources are also bundled up, so you can save AND receive all the new resources I add to the series. There are many more to come!

Find the Ultimate Bundle in my TpT store! 

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog - have a great day!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Apple Counting Play Dough Mats

Hi my friends! How is your week going? I am on a break from school for 2 weeks. I cannot believe we only have one quarter of the school year left for 2014. Eeek! 

I have found some time to finish a 'Number Play Dough Mats' resource I started quite a few months ago. I have also prepared an exclusive one just for you!

To find your exclusive freebie, just click on any of the image below. Your students will have fun saying the little rhyme, rolling red balls of play dough and making a stack of apples on the group to match the number on the tree. 

These will help with numeral identification and counting up to 10.

And you can find my 'Number Mats' resource at TpT HERE

These ones are not themed, and would make a great all-year-round number activity or center. 

Thanks so much for stopping by, I will see you again soon!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Early Subtraction - Small Group Plans

Hi friends! I am linking up with the amazing Mrs Wills again this week, with a 'peek' at a week of 'number' activities. 

This week, I have a week of subtraction activities for you. My term overview is included in the downloadable plans at the end of this post, if you would like to see how I have progressed through topics. I would plan LOTS of opportunities for students to play with manipulatives to model subtraction with real objects, as well as undertake formal lessons in subtraction. These activities are just the small-group component, and the time where I focus on the HOW the students are finding their answers. I use them as a time to teach specific strategies and help them progress to more challenging strategies. 

After a quick assessment of my students, I put them in 4 groups, and differentiate their activities. 

The first group of students, are still having difficulty with counting and ordering numbers, so I do not want to take them too far with subtraction. The two games I have chosen are the same as last week, but instead of 'one more' we are doing 'one less' - so a focus on the backward number sequence. 

Students will roll a die, count one back, and find the numeral. This is perfect for this lower group, as they are getting subitizing, numeral identification AND a bit of subtraction!

(Click on each of images below to find the resources)

In 'Bee Numbers' - just ask your students to write the 'one less' number.

The second group needs lots of practice, taking part of a group away to find out how many are left. These students need to be able to see and touch objects to subtract them. But we are moving them gradually to the point where they are able to do this subtraction without actually touching the objects. 

The first activity I have planned for them is 'Subtraction Carrots' and you can find it as a free download on this post HERE

The second activity I have chosen for them, will hopefully edge them closer to being less reliant on objects. They have the support of the 'dots' on the dice, which they can point to and cover up, should they need the visual support. It is a worksheet game in the "Bump & Jump Subtraction" packet that I made with my friend Deanna. 

Closely monitor this group, if they need more practice with manipulatives, change the activity, or give them counters/chips so they can 'act it out'. 

The third group of students are very confident with subtraction when they have objects, and are showing signs that they do not need to rely on them. These students are going to learn to 'count back'. A visual support of a number line, will help bridge the leap from concrete to abstract. 

My Snake Count-Back Cards will allow them to cross numbers off the snake, as they count backwards from the snake number. 

The worksheet included in this packet would also make a great whole-class activity this week.

I have also chosen a 'Bump & Jump' worksheet game for this group. It includes a number line on the base of the game board, and students can choose to use it if they need.  

The fourth group of students are more confident with 'counting back' and may also be experimenting with other strategies for subtraction.

They will be playing 'Swim School' 

and a 'Count Back' play-on-the-page worksheet!

And there you have it - plans for two 15 minute blocks of a Kinder/Grade 1 number program. 

And 'they' say we 'just play' in Kindergarten. Ha!

You can download my plans (in MS Powerpoint) HERE

Please note, to activate the links to the resources, make sure you view the Powerpoint as a slide show. 

Please head over to Mrs Wills' Kindergarten to find more plans for the week!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Reusing Marker Lids

Today, I want to share with you, a simple classroom idea. If you follow my blog, you know that I am mildly obsessed with educational games. This 'bright idea' will help you collect resources for your 'game collection'. 

I like to have a few packed shelves in my teaching cupboard, of ready-to-go items that make setting up game and small group rotations, easy. I like to call it my 'game collection' cause when things have a name, they are easier to organise. And put in a box. 

I also like a good variety of 'game collection thingamajigs, to make learning fun. Some of my special little friends need to play the same style of game over and over... and over. And maybe a little bit more. They need lots of practice and repetition, so 'mixing it up' with a variety of resources, makes a huge difference to motivating your students. Think seasonal counters, themed-dice, funny hats to wear when you are playing... 

I also have a small confession to make today. I almost cried when 'the men' came to take my classroom blackboard away. And I have never really recovered. I know I am in the minority here. I am not sure what it is. I accept that I am a traditionalist. I don't shy away from technology at all though, so I remain a little confused about why I feel so connected to the blackboard. 

It is what it is I suppose. My name is Mel and I think teaching is better with a blackboard. 

I don't understand the problem with the dust. Damp cloth, 10 second wipe at the end of the day. How is that so hard? I never had dust. People cry 'oh the dust'... whatever. 

Whiteboards just irritate me. They never look neat. I'm always looking for a pen that works. The 'dusters' never clean properly. My writing looks messy. Arghhhh. 

Each time I find a pen that does not work, I think about how this empty unwanted plastic cylinder is now going to landfill. And the millions of other pens that have finished their life today - they are going to clog up our environment somewhere too. 

And don't get me started on computers and Smartboards. 

I have this recurring dream, it is set 100 years from now. Some little kid, in a classroom somewhere,  is tired of waiting for the classroom computers to warm up. She finds a piece of paper and a pencil, or a stick of chalk and makes a mark on page. She realises the brilliance of something instant. "It is INSTANT" she exclaims - thinking its the greatest invention ever - and the world is never the same again. 

Anyhow, I know I think too much about weird things. Although, perhaps I would not need to, if I could just have a blackboard again, and get on with the important stuff. 

So, after the 100th marker I threw away this year, I got to thinking. How can I reuse these?

I am still working on the pen section, but the lid... the lid, I can work with. 

Just grab some craft foam shapes. 

And stick those little cuties on top. 

Voila! Instant game counters! These add an element of fun  to your classroom games, but also make it much easier to count spaces and see where each student is, on the game board. 

Start collecting my friends, I am telling you - 


Call me 'the ideas girl'. Or not. Whatever you are comfortable with. 

I invite you to take a look through this HUGE collection of blog posts from more 'ideas peoples'. 

I suppose that is one good thing about computers - all these wonderful global connections we are celebrating. 

It IS kind of wonderful. 

Thanks for stopping by friends!