Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Fun at School

Posted by Becca Ross on Oct 20, 2016 3:43:00 PM

This is a guest blog post by Becca Ross, who usually writes over at Love, Laughter, and Literacy. To read more from her, come back here for more posts from her or check out her blog!

Here in the Pacific Northwest, most of us begin school in September. With a good 4 weeks under our belts, things are finally settling in and we’re having some fun at school!

becca1.jpg

In my kindergarten classroom, kids spend time playing each day. They draw, write, paint, build, play cars, play house, create with Play-Doh, and much more.

becca2.jpg

 

One of the books published by Hameray Publishing is all about having fun at school.

 becca3.jpg

Fun at School is a book with repetitive text that shows kids doing fun activities in their classrooms.

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This is a great book for letting kids make connections to their own lives and building their schema! It is also a fabulous opportunity to talk about the important work of PLAY in the classroom. I want my students to know WHY they are doing certain activities each day. I want them to understand that the tools I put out for painting, manipulating Play-Doh, and picking up beans are not only fun, but they are also great at strengthening muscles in their hands... the same muscles we use every day when we are writing! I also want kids to know that I value story telling and that their stories at the dollhouse, cars, and puppets are important aspects of language development. There are so many lessons we teach each day in the classroom, while our kids think they are just going to have fun.

So, yes, we do have fun at school. But, like the book says, we are learning at school too!

becca5.jpg

Happy learning!

~~~

To learn more about Fun at School and the My World series, click on the image below and download an information sheet!

 My World Series Info Sheet

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, My World, Becca Ross

10 Fun Facts About Elephants for Kids in Kindergarten and First Grade

Posted by Nick Bennett on Apr 5, 2016 8:08:36 PM


This is the beginning of a new series of blog posts on fun, unique animals which many students are sure to love — we’ll be writing easy-to-read, quick and informative posts on animals from dolphins and lions, to panda bears, tigers, and penguins.

This is first post in this series. To read the next post in this series, please check back next week. As always, you can subscribe to our blog to get new posts in your inbox.

 

Each new post will go over a different, fun, unique animal, and explore the interesting traits and characteristics of the specific animal with 10 fun facts. The purpose of this series of posts is to help teachers share information on some of the world’s most interesting animals, and to get students in kindergarten and first grade excited about reading, exploring, and understanding more about these animals in class and at home.

fun-facts-about-elephants-for-kids.jpg


This week, we will be going over and discussing one of the largest animals in the wild — the elephant. There are several remarkable, fun facts about the elephant that are sure to fascinate young students. Following are just 10 facts that are sure to get your students excited to learn more and read more about elephants. You can use this information in units or lessons on elephants, or fun classroom activities around elephants.

     Fun Fact 1
  • Elephants are the largest mammals, and largest land animals, in the world. Some elephants weigh as much as 14,000 pounds, and are as tall as 13 feet.

     Fun Fact 2

  • Elephants are able live to be over seventy years old when living in the wild.

     Fun Fact 3

  • Elephants have a very highly developed brain; their brain is larger than the brains of all other land mammals.

     Fun Fact 4

  • Elephants are very social animals and have a well-developed system of communication.

     Fun Fact 5

  • Elephants like to eat plants, and they like to live next to bodies of water.

     Fun Fact 6

  • Elephants are like humans — they are either right-tusked, or left-tusked, like humans are either right-handed or left-handed.

     Fun Fact 7

  • Elephants one of only a few mammals which are unable to jump.

     Fun Fact 8

  • Elephants lack great vision, and have an average sense of sight. Elephants do, however, possess both a very good sense of smell and sense of hearing, as well as a great sense of touch.

     Fun Fact 9

  • Believe it or not, elephants are able to swim — they use their trunk to breathe, similar to a snorkel, when submerged in deep water.

     Fun Fact 10

  • Elephants are able to have an improved sense of smell by waving their trunks up in the air.



This is the end of the first post in this series of blog posts on
 fun facts about animals for kids in kindergarten and first grade. To read the next post in this series, please check back next week. As always, you can subscribe to our blog to get new posts in your inbox.


To view and learn more about titles from Hameray on the topic of elephants, please click the images below.

          ITW_NF_Elephant-1.jpg     ITW_F_BigElephant.jpg     ITW_W_PlayBall.jpg

~~~

To download an information sheet with key features about the Zoozoo Into the Wild series, which contains the books about elephants mentioned above, please click the image below.


New Call-to-Action 

 

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, Kindergarten, Zoozoo Into the Wild, Animals, First Grade

[New Post] Reading and Writing the Room—with FREE Download!

Posted by Kathy Crane on Feb 12, 2016 4:26:14 PM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, who will be contributing a series of posts over the next few months. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from here and click here to read her blog, Kindergarten Kiosk.

 

students-reading-and-writing-the-room.png

 

Students in my classroom have been writing and reading the room since the early '90s when I first heard of the concept at a conference, and I have yet to find a student who is not in love with the activity! To make these activities even better, both of these reading and writing activities are easy to set up and use.

Reading the Room involves providing students with a type of pointer and allowing them opportunity to read any printed matter that you have in your classroom. To prepare students for this opportunity, have name charts, posters, etc. in full view of the students and use the teacher pointer to model reading displayed activities on a daily basis. Have them look for snowflake cards with letters on them (found in the free activity below) or Letter Books that are hidden around the room. 

Writing the Room involves students searching throughout the room for assigned print such as letters, numbers, words, or even poems. You can supply students with clipboards, or you can have them glue the sheets in composition journals.

Below is a "free write the room" activity your students will love.

 

~~~

Kathy Crane holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading, is a published author of thirteen books, a freelance author and developer of teaching curriculum, has been a teacher of kindergarten for twenty-two years, and publishes the blog Kindergarten Kiosk

~~~ 

For more information about the Letter Buddies series, click HERE to return to our website or click the series highlight page below to download an information sheet.
 

 

Snowflake Write the Room Activity     New Call-to-Action 

 

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, K-2 Literacy, Reading Activities, Teaching Writing, Kathy Crane, Writing Activity

3 Ways to Get Boys Reading

Posted by Charity Preston on May 12, 2015 4:00:13 PM

This is a guest blog post by teacher blogger Charity Preston. If you like what you read here, check back for more of her guest blog posts, or visit her over on The Organized Classroom Blog!

We know that many students, boys or girls, aren’t intrinsically motivated to read. This can be for a variety of reasons, including not feeling confident about their reading skills, it not being encouraged as a regular practice at home, or perhaps he or she just isn’t interested in the material at hand.

For many boys, in particular, reading choice selections can play a huge part in the buy-in process. How about three ideas for keeping them engaged and interested?

Comic Books and Graphic Novels

I would rather have students reading comic books than not reading at all. There is a lot of vocabulary involved on the pages of comic books and lots of themes involved as well. Plots of hero versus villain and right versus wrong might prevail, but so can smaller takeaways such as lessons of friendship. Graphic novels are a great way to keep boys clued in that all reading doesn’t have to be dry. Pick up a few for your classroom to see if it encourages your students to get reading. Sometimes multi-genre books contain sequences with comic-style drawings interspersed with exciting nonfiction topics, like the Download series does.

013-4-SKATEBOARDING-18

Nonfiction Choices

Sports legends, snakes, and race cars are the stuff that nonfiction is made of. Use those key topics to your advantage. Nonfiction is full of text features you won’t find in your average chapter book. Filled with images and small, bite-sized chunks of information in captions and sidebars, nonfiction often captures boys' attention more. Plus, picking out topics of interest will not only increase vocabulary in those key subject areas, but it will keep students interested in learning more. You just might have to ask your boys to stop reading!

Snake_cover-PRINT-1    robinsonlg    motorcycleslg

Action Fiction Series

Many boys love a good action movie. Why not bring that movie to life in the books they read? For lots of students, it isn’t about quickly picking a book, but once he finds one in a series, he is suddenly hooked. Needing to read all the other adventures to find out what the main character is up to becomes an entire series of books. Perhaps an idea would be to do a “commercial” for several book series and use those to introduce the characters to your students. From that small teaser, your boys may be fighting over who gets the next chapter book!

robotlg zombieslg dayoflg

As adults, we typically don’t read too many items we aren’t particularly interested in - and your students are exactly the same! It is up to you to find varied materials with varied themes, characters, and formats. By providing a variety of literature, you are opening a whole world of language to your students and showing each that there is pleasure in reading just for fun!

~~~

Charity Preston, MA, is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. You can see all her projects at www.PENGroupOnline.com.

~~~

For more information on the Hameray Biography Series, Zoozoo Animal World, the Download series, or the Extraordinary Files, which were featured in this post, click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights and key features.

 Biography Series Highlights New Call-to-Action 

Download Series Highlights New Call-to-Action

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, Zoozoo Animal World, Biography Series, Download, Extraordinary Files, Charity Preston

Creating a Living Classroom Museum with Biographies

Posted by Charity Preston on Apr 7, 2015 3:38:52 PM

This is a guest blog post by teacher blogger Charity Preston. If you like what you read here, check back for more of her guest blog posts, or visit her over on The Organized Classroom Blog!

George_Washington_TG3-1-180What is more fun than hands-on learning? While subjects such as science and math allow for manipulatives or experiments to easily demonstrate the learning objectives, other subjects such as social studies are much harder. When you think of social studies or history, most tend to envision reading out loud from a textbook and hearing about people who are no longer living. Bringing to life the great individuals who have come before us is a wonderful way for students to be able to see, touch, and feel important historical figures today by creating a Living Classroom Museum.

Start by allowing each child to pick a historical figure and read a biography about that person. Then, ask students to dig a little deeper. What was the clothing like that his or her figure wore? How about hairstyles? Mannerisms? Speech patterns? Each student can become the person in the book.

Set up a “gallery” time at your school for another classroom, or for parents in the evening. Make sure all spectators know that the “displays” in the museum are not to be touched. As the guests enter the classroom, the students are spread out and each has a little pretend “activate” button. When a guest touches the button, the display comes to life. Students will take on the full role of their chosen historical figure—including costume, hair, and speech. Each actor can recite 3–5 facts about his or her life and then take a couple questions from the museum visitors before standing still again while waiting for the next person to come along and push the activate button.

This would be a wonderful parents’ night event—and one the students are sure to remember. Having at least two classes complete this project allows them to practice for each other the day before the evening event, and allows the students to be able to visit another room and get to learn about many historical figures, all while allowing the children to really bring history out of the textbooks and into the real world. In the end, that really is the best part of learning!

~~~

Charity Preston, MA, is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. You can see all her projects at www.PENGroupOnline.com.

~~~

For more information on the Hameray Biography Series, click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights and key features.

 Biography Series Highlights

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, Biography Series, Charity Preston

Working with Magnetic Letters—with FREE Download!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Mar 26, 2015 3:50:46 PM

This is the final post in a series of three posts on letter learning taken from the Letter Buddies teacher's guide by Libby Larrabee. You can read the earlier posts here and here!

magnetic-lettersMagnetic letters can be used on a daily basis to support young children’s development of letter-shape, letter-name, and letter–sound knowledge. This can be accomplished with sorting activities. As they practice sorting, children learn to categorize, recognize, and classify distinguishable features of letters. Their ability to distinguish one letter from another rapidly is a skill that is important for reading. Good readers sample just enough information in print (letters, word parts, and whole words) to maintain meaning while they are reading. This quick visual sampling means that letters must be recognized automatically.

This automatic recognition of letters develops over time. Initially, young children will need to examine the details of individual letters. Your conversations about letters and how they are formed will help this happen. Daily sorting of letters will also support the development of this automatic recognition. Once you have demonstrated how to sort, the activities can be placed in your ABC center. You can also have several different sorting activities available depending on the needs of your children. 

Materials Needed:

  • Several sets of Letter Buddies Magnetic Letters

  • Small baskets to hold letters for sorting activities

  • Letter Buddies Magnetic Whiteboards or any magnetic surface (upright and at child’s eye level)

Choosing Letter Features to Sort:

Initially choose categories where the differences are easy to see (e.g.: short and tall), and use only a few letters. As children become more proficient in sorting, put more letters of each category in the basket. Letter Buddies Foam Magnetic Letters come in three colors, which helps draw children’s attention to the different features of the letters.

Here are some categories of features for sorting letters:

  • Short and tall letters

  • Short and tall letters and letters that fall below the line

  • LB-ZLetters with open and closed curves

  • Tall letters with and without circles

  • Small letters with and without circles

  • Letters with and without hooks

  • Letters with one valley/two valleys (v, w, y)

  • Letters with one hump/two humps (n, h, m)

  • Letters that are crossed/not crossed (t, f, l, h, b)

  • Letters with tunnels/letters with holes (n, h, m, d, g, a, b, q, o, p)

  • Letters with sticks and curves/letters with just sticks (t, l, v, w, z, y, r, u, f, h, m, n)

  • b, d, p, q (done after many other sorts)

Also try using some of these categories to sort uppercase letters!

whiteboardDemonstrating Sorting (best done individually or in small groups):

  • Bring the basket of letters to the upright magnetic surface. Initially use only 6–8 letters.

  • Show children how to place the letters in a group on the magnetic surface just above their eye level.

  • Using both hands, slowly move the letters down into their appropriate groups. (It is important for children to use both hands and have the letters at eye level).

  • Return the letters back to the group and sort again. 

  • Initially (especially for very young children), it is not necessary to name the letters. The focus to begin with should be on the features of the letters.

  • As children become familiar with the task, their speed will increase.

  • When they have learned the corresponding letter names, ask them to name the letters while they sort. 

  • Remember to change your sorts every week or two weeks to keep the activities fresh and the children challenged.

A Note about Sorting:

Make sure to continue telling your students the purpose for sorting. It is brain work! They are exercising their brains so that reading will be easier!

Matching Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

Once your children can recognize the significant features of letters, use the Letter Buddies Magnetic Letters for matching uppercase and lowercase letters. Knowing both the uppercase and lowercase form of each letter is important. You may want to start out with only 6–8 letters to be matched. As time goes on, children will be able to match all the letters of the alphabet.

Learning Alphabetical Order

LB-C-QLetter Buddies Magnetic Letters can also be used to help children learn alphabetical order in both uppercase and lowercase. Prepare some strips for matching. You may want to break the alphabet up into smaller groupings before having the children alphabetize all the letters. For example:

  • a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i,
  • j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r,
  • s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z

After working with smaller groupings of letters, children can be challenged to alphabetize all the letters without the matching strip.

Advanced Activities

  • Place pictures of several objects in a basket with the corresponding magnetic letters for initial sounds. Have the children match the correct letter and picture.
  • Practice letter formation. Place a letter on the magnetic whiteboard. Have the children finger trace the foam letter, getting a feel for its shape. Once familiar, ask them to try writing the letter on the whiteboard, next to the magnetic letter, using dry-erase markers. 

For More Practice with Letter Learning...

Download our 12-page Letter Buddies Matching worksheets below, with tracing and initial-sound exercises for each letter of the alphabet.


Learn about our Letter Buddies line of letter-learning products for early childhood by clicking here to visit our website or clicking the image to the left below to download information sheet on Letter Buddies Letter Books for letter learning! To download the free worksheets, click the image to the right.

New Call-to-Action  Letter Buddies Initial Sounds Worksheets

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, Letter Buddies, Letter Learning

Classic Post: Letter-Learning Ideas

Posted by Tiffani Mugurussa on Aug 5, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This guest blog post is by Tiffani Mugurussa of Rohnert Park, CA. It was originally published in October 2013. If you like what you see here, Tiffani also writes a blog called Time 4 Kindergarten, in which she writes about phonemic awareness, classroom decor, numbers, letters, and more! 

Letter Learning with Books and Manipulatives

letter buddies books 250Hi, I’m Tiffani Mugurussa! So many of my students come to school with very little knowledge of the alphabet. For many, singing the ABC is their only connection to the alphabet. This is why so much of the beginning of my school year focuses on the alphabet. We are very busy learning the difference between letters and numbers, what each alphabet symbol represents, and the sound for each letter.

On the first day of school, I begin with the letter A and introduce a new letter each day until we reach the letter Z. This is just an introduction to the entire alphabet; once we have met all of the letters, we begin our letter of the week focus. This is a more in-depth concentration on each individual letter.

letter buddies interior 250To introduce each letter during my 26-day letter introduction, I use alphabet books, flash cards, and other alphabet materials. I have a very old set of alphabet books with cartoonish pictures that I have used for years. However, when I saw the Letter Buddies Letter Books, I knew I needed to use these. The books have beautiful, real photos. There is something about using real photos when teaching—the students really become enthralled with the pictures, and it makes the content you are teaching relevant.

To begin, I share the book with my class. We discuss each photo. Being that many of my students are learning English, these books are a great resource for building their vocabulary. I point to the beginning letter in each word in hopes that the students make the connection that the beginning letter is the beginning sound and the focus letter. Next we try to name some other items that begin with the letter.

I follow up the books and letter introduction with other letter activities during our daily center time.

Here are two of my students’ favorite centers:

Alphabet Manipulatives: Use Beads, Magnetic Letters, or Letter Tiles

Choose one of these manipulatives to place in a tub of rice. Students sift through the rice searching for the focus letter. I colored my rice to make it a little more fun.

colored letters rice 250 white letters rice 250

Shaving Cream: Spray a small amount of shaving cream on the table. Students can practice writing the focus letter in the cream. They will love this activity, and—best of all—it cleans up easy and makes your tables really clean.

shaving cream 250

When teaching the whole group, I like to use activities that get the students involved. Pocket-chart sorting is an activity that I use often with my whole class. Using a set of beginning sound picture cards that I have made, students take turns placing the cards under the correct letters.

pocket sorting 250

First, I pass the cards out to the students. I then have them come to the pocket chart one at a time. They must say the name of their picture, the beginning sound, and then what letter the picture begins with. This activity focuses on several skills at the same time, which are perfect for my for my English-language learners. My students are learning English vocabulary, first-sound fluency, and letter names.

tiffani mugurussa~~~

A little bit about me: my name is Tiffani Mugurussa, and I am an alphabet-singing, storybook-reading kindergarten teacher. I am also the author of Time 4 Kindergarten, a blog for kindergarten teachers. I have been a teacher for 23 years, teaching grades kindergarten through fifth. This is my ninth year as a kindergarten teacher. I'm a kindergartner at heart. I love being the foundation of a child's education. Knowing that I am responsible for their first school experiences warms my heart with love, pride, and joy.

~~~

Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

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Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Making Learning Fun, K-2 Literacy, Letter Buddies, Letter Learning, Tiffani Mugurussa

Working with Magnetic Letters—with FREE Download!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Apr 25, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is the final post in a series of three posts on letter learning taken from the Letter Buddies teacher's guide by Libby Larrabee. Check back later this week for the next post in this series! You can read the earlier posts here and here!

magnetic-lettersMagnetic letters can be used on a daily basis to support young children’s development of letter-shape, letter-name, and letter–sound knowledge. This can be accomplished with sorting activities. As they practice sorting, children learn to categorize, recognize, and classify distinguishable features of letters. Their ability to distinguish one letter from another rapidly is a skill that is important for reading. Good readers sample just enough information in print (letters, word parts, and whole words) to maintain meaning while they are reading. This quick visual sampling means that letters must be recognized automatically.

This automatic recognition of letters develops over time. Initially, young children will need to examine the details of individual letters. Your conversations about letters and how they are formed will help this happen. Daily sorting of letters will also support the development of this automatic recognition. Once you have demonstrated how to sort, the activities can be placed in your ABC center. You can also have several different sorting activities available depending on the needs of your children. 

Materials Needed:

  • Several sets of Letter Buddies Magnetic Letters

  • Small baskets to hold letters for sorting activities

  • Letter Buddies Magnetic Whiteboards or any magnetic surface (upright and at child’s eye level)

Choosing Letter Features to Sort:

Initially choose categories where the differences are easy to see (e.g.: short and tall), and use only a few letters. As children become more proficient in sorting, put more letters of each category in the basket. Letter Buddies Foam Magnetic Letters come in three colors, which helps draw children’s attention to the different features of the letters.

Here are some categories of features for sorting letters:

  • Short and tall letters

  • Short and tall letters and letters that fall below the line

  • LB-ZLetters with open and closed curves

  • Tall letters with and without circles

  • Small letters with and without circles

  • Letters with and without hooks

  • Letters with one valley/two valleys (v, w, y)

  • Letters with one hump/two humps (n, h, m)

  • Letters that are crossed/not crossed (t, f, l, h, b)

  • Letters with tunnels/letters with holes (n, h, m, d, g, a, b, q, o, p)

  • Letters with sticks and curves/letters with just sticks (t, l, v, w, z, y, r, u, f, h, m, n)

  • b, d, p, q (done after many other sorts)

Also try using some of these categories to sort uppercase letters!

whiteboardDemonstrating Sorting (best done individually or in small groups):

  • Bring the basket of letters to the upright magnetic surface. Initially use only 6–8 letters.

  • Show children how to place the letters in a group on the magnetic surface just above their eye level.

  • Using both hands, slowly move the letters down into their appropriate groups. (It is important for children to use both hands and have the letters at eye level).

  • Return the letters back to the group and sort again. 

  • Initially (especially for very young children), it is not necessary to name the letters. The focus to begin with should be on the features of the letters.

  • As children become familiar with the task, their speed will increase.

  • When they have learned the corresponding letter names, ask them to name the letters while they sort. 

  • Remember to change your sorts every week or two weeks to keep the activities fresh and the children challenged.

A Note about Sorting:

Make sure to continue telling your students the purpose for sorting. It is brain work! They are exercising their brains so that reading will be easier!

Matching Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

Once your children can recognize the significant features of letters, use the Letter Buddies Magnetic Letters for matching uppercase and lowercase letters. Knowing both the uppercase and lowercase form of each letter is important. You may want to start out with only 6–8 letters to be matched. As time goes on, children will be able to match all the letters of the alphabet.

Learning Alphabetical Order

LB-C-QLetter Buddies Magnetic Letters can also be used to help children learn alphabetical order in both uppercase and lowercase. Prepare some strips for matching. You may want to break the alphabet up into smaller groupings before having the children alphabetize all the letters. For example:

  • a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i,
  • j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r,
  • s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z

After working with smaller groupings of letters, children can be challenged to alphabetize all the letters without the matching strip.

Advanced Activities

  • Place pictures of several objects in a basket with the corresponding magnetic letters for initial sounds. Have the children match the correct letter and picture.
  • Practice letter formation. Place a letter on the magnetic whiteboard. Have the children finger trace the foam letter, getting a feel for its shape. Once familiar, ask them to try writing the letter on the whiteboard, next to the magnetic letter, using dry-erase markers. 

For More Practice with Letter Learning...

Download our 12-page Letter Buddies Matching worksheets below, with tracing and initial-sound exercises for each letter of the alphabet.


Learn about our Letter Buddies line of letter-learning products for early childhood by clicking here to visit our website or clicking the image to the left below to download information sheet on Letter Buddies Letter Books for letter learning! To download the free worksheets, click the image to the right.

New Call-to-Action  Letter Buddies Initial Sounds Worksheets

Read More

Topics: Making Learning Fun, Letter Buddies, Letter Learning

Teaching Math through Literature—with FREE Download!

Posted by Dana Lester on Feb 7, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Dana LesterThis is a guest blog post by Dana Lester, who writes a blog called Common to the Core, in which she writes about the Common Core State Standards, student reading skills, behavior management, books and products, and more. Dana is writing a series of guest posts; to see her other contributions, you can click here!

Teaching Math through Literature

Reading, listening, writing, and speaking are skills that cannot be limited to one specific discipline. They play a role in all areas—even math! The educational trend is toward integrated curriculum. The integration of math and reading makes math meaningful and creates real-world connections.

Research shows that incorporating children’s literature is a great way to open the lines of communication about math. Students become better critical thinkers and improve problem-solving skills when the two are combined. If you, as a teacher, look forward to teaching reading and language but dread math, try incorporating a book into your lesson. Or maybe you have a student who is into reading, but not so great with numbers—they can make the connection through books!

Shape Hunt 2Here are several ways to incorporate literature into mathematics:

  • Books can be used to pose a problem. Read a book that lends itself to numbers. Stop reading after you come across the character's problem and have the students solve it mathematically.
  • Create task cards with math problems to accompany specific books in your reading center.
  • Use a book to set the stage for a new math concept or to review a previously learned skill.
  • Use a book as the basis of your math lesson and let the students create equations that relate to the story.
  • Introduce certain manipulatives through literature. If you read a book about cookies, give the students paper (or real!) cookies to solve the problems.

Shape Hunt 3Any type of literature can be used for its mathematical instruction. The books you use do not have to be written specifically for one math skill. You can take a real world situation from any book and create a math task the students can relate to and solve. Hide math in the story! Math can be fun!

Take for example, Baseball Shapes by Jamie Duncan. Obviously, this book is intended to teach shapes, but it also incorporates real-world connections by using baseball to appeal to students. Most students can relate to baseball either through having seen it on television or through playing on a team or on the playground.

After reading this book, I would encourage my students to find more of the shapes named in the pictures, then around the room. I would even take them on a shape hunt around the building to identify these shapes in real life and to find shapes I had previously hidden. I have included the materials you need to go on a shape hunt of your own free for you to download. I hope you will share ways you incorporate literature into your math lessons in the comments below!

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Dana Lester received a B.S. and Master’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently teaching at Walter Hill School in Murfreesboro, TN. Dana is also a Common Core Coach with the Tennessee State Department of Education. She has 12 years of classroom experience and has just begun her role as Library Media Specialist. As a strong advocate of the Common Core Standards and Whole Brain Teaching strategies, she engages her students in hands-on, inquiry based learning and shares many ideas and activities on her blog, Common to the Core. She was named Teacher of the Year at Walter Hill in 2013.

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To download the Shape Hunt Word Cards, click the cover image below. To learn more about Kaleidoscope, you can click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image below to download an information sheet with key features.

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, Literature, Dana Lester, Math

An African Animal Lesson Using Informational Texts—with FREE Download!

Posted by Susanna Westby on Jan 31, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from Susanna Westby of Whimsy Workshop, and it includes a FREE download with worksheets! See the bottom of the post for the link to download, and check back frequently for more great classroom-tested ideas! If you'd like to see her other contributions to this blog, click here!

Hello again! I’m Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching, and today I’m sharing some examples of how I use the Into the Wild series of informational texts by Claire Vial and Graham Meadows to teach about animals.

The books we used for this lesson were Zebra, Lion, Elephant, Hippo, and Giraffe.

ITW booksMy key concepts for these lessons were African animal characteristics and habitats. We discussed these as we looked at the pictures. Our class theme for January is Africa, so students had some background knowledge already.

First, we used these books as a whole-class read-aloud, as I projected the images for the class. We studied the vocabulary and information on each page and compared the animals.

2We also used the books in small groups, and we took note of different animal characteristics, similarities, and differences.

3Students were encouraged to write down characteristics that were unique to their animal on the worksheet below. Working in small groups allowed me to guide and assist them with this task; we recorded information on the sheet.

4To really absorb the information from these books in a fun way, students created a book of riddles. They worked in small groups to generate clues or riddles for their animal, and then drew the animal on a small answer card.

5 After assembling the book, students could pull out the answer card to reveal the answer. We spent a whole afternoon testing each other with our “What Am I?” riddle books!

6I have included a simple template as a free download, so that you can try this with your own class. Simply fold a paper in half and glue edges at the top, then fold vertically like a greeting card. Once students get the idea, they will be able to create their own riddle books for any of the animals. I’ve also included the “My African Animal Study” recording sheet for writing animal characteristics. This can be used before making the riddle books, or just on its own!

I hope you enjoy them as much as my class did!

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I have been teaching primary grades for 20 years. My classroom is a place of hands-on, creative learning where students feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them! I live near Vancouver, BC Canada with my music-teacher husband and two teenage boys. More literacy ideas and graphics can be found on my blog, Whimsy Workshop Teaching.

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Download your free "My African Animal Study" and riddle book template by clicking the worksheet image below! For more information on the Zoozoo Into the Wild series, click here to visit our website, or click the image on the right to download a series information sheet with highlights and key features.

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, K-2 Literacy, Informational Text, Susanna Westby, Zoozoo Into the Wild, Animals

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