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One Activity ALL K-2 Teachers Must Have for The New Year!

Get the Most out of this FUN 10 Minute Activity

As a second grade teacher with only so many minutes during the day to teach, I'm always looking for intelligent ways to streamline my instruction.  Within our language arts block alone, we are expected to teach the following: reading workshop, writing workshop, guided reading groups, handwriting, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, phonics, and more.  What about the other content areas?  With only so many minutes in the day and within the week, how does one "fit it all in?"  

A good friend of mine, Ginny Dowd, introduced me to her program a few years ago called The Phonics Dance.  I have used it each year not only because it has helped to close achievement gaps for reading and writing but because it is incredibly fun - the students love it.  You see, we don't sit in desks in rows as we code letter sounds, separate sounds in isolation, or try to explain the schwa sound to a room full of seven year olds.  Instead, we stand up, sing, dance, and hunk and chunk patterns within poetry.  We get our bodies moving and grooving!  This great academic activity also serves as a kinesthetic brain break to get our blood flowing the way it should as we learn important content and have proper levels of oxygen delivered to all the right areas of our body.  

Here's How It Works...

Each week, we introduce two new sounds.  Our grade level team has done our best to align these sounds to our spelling program.  Some weeks it doesn't align perfectly, and that is alright.  However, for the week we focused on "the long a sound", it worked nicely.  Each sound has a "hunks and chunks word wall card."  These cards get placed on our "Phonics Dance Bulletin Board" as they're introduced each week.  

As we introduce each sound, students learn the brief chant and motions.  (Teacher Tip: I ordered Ginny's C.D. so I could practice these in the car) After we have learned the new chant and motions, we start with the first one and quickly do the entire "Phonics Dance."  By the end of the year, it does take a bit longer since they're doing all of the sounds.  But this repetition pays off huge!  Then they get a poetry page to begin "hunking and chunking."  We know the brain seeks patterns, so we have students circle all the "hunks and chunks" they find within the poem.  If they see a previously learned hunk and chunk sound, it's fair game - they may circle it along with the new sounds they're learning.  They love hunting for these.  Honestly, it's like a game!  

*See Ginny's class fully explain The Phonics Dance <- video link!
(the dance part starts around 2:20)

When I pass out the poem that goes along with the sound, first I read it aloud to model the rhythm.  Then we read it choral style.  Finally I ask them to read it independently.  The fun begins after these three readings... hunking and chunking!  (this means they're simply circling the sounds they find - for example: ai, ay, wh, th, sh, ch...)

After everyone has "hunked and chunked" their poems, we frame the poem into stanzas.  In the beginning, students learn a stanza is like a paragraph... but for a poem.  Then we number each stanza.  This helps with management as we check our work.  I go through each stanza to verify quickly that each child has had the opportunity to locate all of the letter sound combinations.  They get so excited when they have found all of them.

We go to the title of the poem and start from the beginning to count the number of hunks and chunks we found in each stanza.  We jot this number down to the right of the stanza, in the margin.  

Students look for easy ways to quickly "snap numbers together" in order to make it easier to add.  They hunt for patterns to make 10 or doubles or doubles +1, etc... This encourages them to take several numbers and group them easily to enhance their mental math number sense.  We jot the total number up top by our name.  For some reason, they get really excited about this... almost as if it is the poem's score in some sort of sporting event.  I love it!

We typically introduce this poem and new sound on Monday.  On Wednesday, we introduce the new sound and poem.  We go through the same process of learning the chant, dance moves, hunking and chunking the poem, etc.  The only thing we add is that we take the two poem's scores and find the difference so we can see which poem won for the week.  Students naturally discover the many methods for calculating differences when they have an authentic reason for doing so.  It's been a pleasure watching them share these strategies (like counting up or bunny hopping) with one another before I've introduced them within our math lessons.

Each year I've seen my student's light up in guided reading groups when they come to a tricky word and have another strategy to attack sounding it out.  The Phonics Dance teaches students letter sounds from sh, ch, th, wh, to tion, sion, and ion.  What a range!  My second graders simply love it, and that is my reason for sharing... I'm not an affiliate and receive zero commission for spreading Phonics Dance love.  I have a second grader myself and have watched him struggle as a developing reader.  Seeing how this has helped him is my motivation for sharing with teachers everywhere.  


Teaching Compound Words with Compound Cool Penguins

Hey y'all! It's Leslie Ann from Life in First Grade and Life in Fifth Grade. Today I wanted to share a fun activity I always did around this time of year when I taught first grade. Teaching compound words is always fun, but sometimes it takes a little time for students to fully grasp the concept. I created this fun little craft/learning activity to help struggling students understand compound words better. The activity allows the student to visualize the two separate words coming together to make one new word. Plus, it's just fun! And with this coming week being the last week before Christmas break for many of y'all out there, we could use a little fun learning right now! :) You can find the free printables for the penguin craft below. :) 

Snowman Fine Motor Activity

Hi Blog Hoppers! This is Mel, From the Pond. I hope you are having a fantastic week. If you are anything like me, you are counting down the days until Christmas break! 

I have a fun little freebie for you today - get your students busy (and quiet) with 'pinning'! 

They will L-O-V-E it, and I know you will too. 

These projects look fantastic attached to the window when finished.

Simply copy the project onto white paper.

Staple it to a sheet of black card. 

And students can 'poke' their way around the design using a pin. Be sure to talk about safety and appropriate use of pins before you let your students touch the equipment!

You can download the free snowman sample page from our Pond Coloring Club!

If you would like more of these fun fine motor projects, head over to my TpT store to find lots of packets to keep you pinning through the year!

Thanks so much for stopping by our blog - have a wonderful day!

- Mel x

Revisiting the VIP Table

Hey everybody! It's Rachel from the tattooed teacher here to talk about a little thing called management!

Last school year I needed something new to encourage my kids to make better choices. My hubs and I were driving down the road (most likely to pick up McDonald's when the kids refused to eat anything else) and I was just talking through ideas. He's great to listen and even though he admittedly has no clue about teaching, he always comes up with crazy ideas that actually [sometimes] work and it's nice to get a new perspective! We were joking about putting red velvet ropes around kids who were on task, had shown stellar behavior, etc. and it just hit! Why not make a VIP area in my classroom!

I'm not one to mess around, so the next day I went in a little early and moved all the kids' desks who really give it their all throughout the day to one area. I didn't have room for an extra table, but I did have 3 groups of desks, so one "table group" became the VIP table. I moved a small rug beside it, switched out their chairs for the Sit Balls, and put out new pencils for them. Nothing huge mind you. But I made a huge deal out of it! And I moved kids to and from the table on day one! Right in the middle of I know not everyone can handle that, so don't feel you have to! But here's what we had day one.

At the end of the first day I shared the reasons I chose the students I did. We then made this chart that hung for the remainder of the year. This way there was no reading between the lines or guesswork!

As far as what to stock or add to make it magical? That's up to you! I use things I had around..which is like saying there is a Target Dollar Spot in my teacher closet. Cause there is! But if you need a few things, I've made this handy dandy list for you on Amazon! So Prime it up and get what you need super fast!

VIP Table Ideas

When the rest of the kids had to work at their seats, they could choose to work on their rug or around the room. They got to pack up and line up at dismissal first. The rest of the kids really wanted to sit there. That same day I shared a picture on my IG of our new setup, and got lots of questions! Since then I have seen all sorts of VIP Tables and great ideas. I wanted to share a few today! Of course, this idea can be as simple or elaborate as you make it! Or as you NEED it to be! I haven't even set one up this year  #notyetanyway...#godsmiledonmethisyear

And please feel free to tag your VIP Tables with #viptable or #studentviptable trust me when I say that searching through hashtag viptable is NOT something you want to do at any point with kids around! I do LOVE seeing how different people can adapt one idea! It's great!!
Thank you to Gingersnaps, Amanda Madden, Tara Eiken, Brittney Briggs, Mrs. B's First Grade, Create Teach Motivate, A Tale of Twin Teachers, Primarily Speaking, and Classroom Tested Resources for allowing me to steal your pictures and repost them!

Only 9 more days for me! Happy Monday!

this post contains affiliate links. when you purchase I get a small comission. this allows me to continue creating and sharing. it's a win-win!

Creative Clips Coloring Book Freebies and More!

Hey everyone! It's Krista from Creative Clips again! 

'Tis the Season for Creative Clips Freebies! 

Actually.....'Tis the Season for a lot of things and if you are like me, you are trying to do all 14,598 of them at once. "Trying" being the keyword there in my case. Whether you are shopping for holiday gifts, desperately squeezing some rigorous work out of those Christmas-crazed kiddos or trying to explain to yourself how eating a whole bag of Christmas M&M's is completely acceptable (which it is- and I'm talking about the large bag...), I'm sure you are feeling the holiday hustle and bustle! 

So here is where I insert a heart-felt, slow-your-life down and take time to breathe piece of advice. Seriously though, that is what is coming even it's a little cliche. Here's what happened today.....

I literally had to pause everything, or at least it felt like it. As many of you know, I create digital graphics full-time, so when I am not formatting graphics on my computer, I am answering emails on my computer.......or working on social media on my computer.....or checking feedback on my computer.....or designing paper goods for my Creative Paper Collection on my computer......or filling Etsy orders on my computer....okay, you get the idea. 

So when I tell you that my computer decided to COMPLETELY FREEZE after I attempted to do a software update, you will understand why I said a few choice words....

then experienced heart palpitations...

and thought maybe I should call and cry to my mom (even though I'm 28 years old and she doesn't know a thing about Mac computers). 

Holy moly. However, the one thing it forced me to do was "pause." Everything. 

I can tell you (in a much calmer state than earlier),  that my computer is now working, although it took about 4 hours for my computer to decide that it wanted to end my suffering and just restart. 

Good gracious. 

So what did I do when I was cut off from the world on my computer?.....I colored. haha Thankfully I had printed out some of the coloring pages from my new freebies before my computer had a hissy fit. If my computer had been working, there's no way I would have let myself sit down and color! 

Never. Too much to do. Clipart to be drawn. Presents to be purchased. M&M bags to eat. Not to mention I realized I'm missing a brown crayon and that just really messes up my color scheme in most pictures. 

So the "not-so-wise" words of wisdom that I have for you is to stop and take time to color. Now I could get really deep and say that coloring is a metaphor for all the things in your own life that get lost in the mix (and actually that sounds like a really good spin on it!) but I mean it literally! Take a minute, pour your beverage of choice, grab the whole bag of M&M's and color one of these pages from my two new freebies. Take time to breathe!

Check them out!

I also have a brand new Snowman Shape Book from a new line of Creative Clips Shape Books that I will be adding to my store for many seasons and holidays! This is a great time saver for those winter bulletin boards you might want to create with your students' work. 

Last, but not least- if you are looking for Christmas or Winter graphics to help you would with those holiday lessons plans- here are some of my favorites! Click on the pictures to get a link to my store!

That's it folks! Hope you all take a little time to color in the busy weeks to come!