Name Cards As Inexpensive Teaching Tools!
I loved name cards when I taught Y5’s. They were perfect for a variety of things.
I laminated them so that they lasted longer, and because they were double, I had extra sets because I didn't stand them up as a tent card.
Being able to recognize their name was a report card standard and surprisingly many little ones came to me not knowing how to identify their name.
Besides placing them on the tables in the morning, so students knew where they sat for that day, and scattering them on the floor so they could “find themselves” as a fun identification game, I also rubber banded a set and put them in my library book crate.
When students brought their book back, they looked for their name card and stuck it in their book.
My 4-year-olds, often forgot which book they brought back by the time the end of the week rolled around and it was our turn to go to the library.
The long cards would stick out, so I simply flipped the book open to see who I needed to hand it to.
It was also another chance for them to reinforce identifying their name.
Because notebooks are offered as loss leaders in most major Office Supply Stores during the summer, I can pick up a “writing notebook” for my students to practice writing their name in for as little as 10 cents! I also tucked a name card in this notebook as well.
When The Dollar Store started carrying name cards, you can imagine my joy! I kept a pack by my rocking chair and used them as flashcards.
I'd flash a name for only a few seconds. If it was your name on the card you had so many seconds to raise your hand and claim it. I also used that pack as a fair way to choose students as my reading helpers. I'd fan them out face down and have students select cards and read who would get to do whatever.
I’ve seen the “informational” name cards that I revamped in the photo above, produced by a variety of companies, and thought I’d whip up my own version.
I made two lines so you can write your students’ names, but I also included another line, so you can use the cards for name writing practice.
That way, the cards will make a quick & easy way for you to whole-group assess writing standards (How students hold a writing utensil, if they make their letters top down, if students are right-handed etc.) without using paper. Simply have students use a dry erase marker, which my kiddo’s LOVED using!
I’ve also printed the cards, so that you can make copies, so you can fold them and use them as a tent with names on both sides, or with skip counting and 3-D shape information on the other side.
If you’re like me, and lay the cards flat, I’ve made an extra double-page set of the skip counting card, so you can use that as a practice tool if you want too.
You can also have students play “I Spy” the shape, letter or number and have students point to the various thing that you want to practice, as a quick and easy game or fill in, when you have a few minutes of time to kill.
I've also printed the vowels in green, so students can easily differentiate them from the consonants, for another teachable moment.
Click on the link to view/download Informational Name Cards
I hope you and yours, enjoy these as they brighten your day!
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“Success is the sum of small efforts-repeated day in and day out.” –Robert Collier
A popular saying with students is, “That rocks.” Not sure where it came from, but if you tell a child that they rock, it will definitely build their self-esteem, and letting them know that the new grade that they are now entering rocks too, will hopefully get them excited to be there.
I went a bit slap happy downloading a bunch of fonts one day, thinking of all the “way cool” things I could do with them. “JF Rock” was one of them I just “had to have!”
I designed a “rockin’’” trace and write alphabet as well as a counting numbers 0-10 booklet, with praise certificates, to reward your students with.
As a fun back to school treat, run off the “You Rock” bookmarks, include your students’ name at the end and lay them atop a package of Pop Rocks.
They sell them 3 packs for a buck at The Dollar Store, in 3 yummy flavors. You could also dump them in a basket and offer students a choice, as an incentive when they complete their first day of morning activities.
I’ve also made _________________ grade rocks, bookmarks as well. These can be colored with neon markers or crayons, for a quick and quiet activity, while you’re involved with whatever, on that busy first day.
Make these a bit more special and wrap them around a pencil with a fat eraser. All of the Office Supply Stores offer a kajillion super deals on packages of pencils and erasers in August.
Anyway….I hope your new bunch of kids really rocks your world, in a positive way, and that this is your best year yet!
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Click on the link to view/download the School Rocks Packet
"Education sows not seeds in you, but makes your seeds grow!"- Kahlil Gibran
A Is For Acorns and Apples!
A fun way to have your students work on upper and lowercase letters is to make mini ABC booklets.
I designed these with some free fonts that I found on the Internet.
I liked ABC booklets that had a simple sentence to go along with the letter, so that I could start my students along the paths of reading.
The words is and for are part of the Dolch word list, so via repetition, students will soon easily recognize them.
The picture clue will help children figure out the last word, so their self esteem will skyrocket when they can take a completed booklet home to share with their family.
Students trace and write the upper and lowercase letters. I printed 4-pages on one page, to save on paper and to make just-my-size mini booklets for students to cut apart and sequence.
This will make a nice number sequencing skill for them. I’ve also included a cover and a complete upper and lowercase alphabet set of letters, that they trace for the last page.
Students who complete their booklets early, can go back and color their favorite pages.
When everyone is done, read the booklet as a whole group, to reinforce concepts of print. This way, students will enjoy sharing their ABC easy reader, with their family, reinforcing lessons learned at school.
Click on the link to view/download A is for Acorn Alphabet Easy Reader.
Click on this link to view/download A is for Apple Alphabet Easy Reader.
Watch for more Alphabet Easy Readers in the future too!
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“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.” -Unknown
Timing How Fast A Student Can Write The Letters Of The Alphabet! Is That Important?
I recently stumbled across an interesting article that I think you might enjoy as well.
A research study from the University of Washington found that children who could recall and print letters of the alphabet (upper and lowercase-two separate tests) at 40 letters per minute, were all very successful with 1st grade reading and writing tasks. "...In fact, there were virtually no reading failures among such children."
I’m all for looking into something that will help students become better readers and writers. If challenging students to “Beat the clock!” and simply taking 60 seconds out of the day will encourage that, well I think it would be worth giving it a try.
It certainly has worked with math when we did “Mad-Minute Math” My students LOVED those timed tests no matter what grade I taught.
I think having fun timed activities prepares students for later timed tests and relieves anxiety in upper elementary grades, because they were introduced to these types of things early on, in a relaxed, game-like fashion.
The article states that students do enjoy these timed activities and specifically states not to give them to students who are not proficient, so as not to frustrate strugglers.
I designed an ABC Fluency packet that includes:
- The informative article with website link
- An ABC Fluency Timed Test Assessment Recording sheet +
- An ABC Fluency Timed Test sheet for students
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"More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." -Alfred, Lord Tennyson
ABC Come Teach With Me! Featuring A Letter and Number A Day In A Filmstrip!
Filmstrip Fun is another way to review letters and numbers with your students. It's that "something different" you may be looking for.
Print off and laminate the “Today’s Featured Letter” and “Number” posters. If you do a letter a day, make this part of your calendar routine and put these posters close by.
You can also display the complete upper and lowercase alphabet under their header cards, as well as the numbers.
I’ve provided upper and lowercase letters + numbers 0-10 for you to run off and laminate. To make things quick and easy, use Velcro dots to attach them.
Run off extra sets so that your students can play Memory Match Concentration games as well as “I Have; Who Has?”
Make copies of the upper and lowercase bookmarks for each student.
Have children “spy” the various letters with a filmstrip “spy glass”.
To make them, cut out the center rectangles on the filmstrips with an Exacto knife and then run the sheet through the laminator.
Cut the “spy glasses” out in sections of 2 so that the filmstrip on the bottom can be trimmed and used as a gluing tab. (See photo.)
I used a large glue dot to adhere the “window” to a Popsicle stick. Write students’ names on with a black permanent marker.
When students pass the various report card standards for letters and numbers reward them with an “I’ve Been Framed!” certificate.
Make a copy of your class composite and glue each student’s photo to the filmstrip mini-frame.
Write their name under the congratulations word and then sign and date the certificate.
I hope you enjoy Filmstrip Fun and having one more way to review letters and numbers with your sweeties!
Click on the link to view/download the Filmstrip Fun packet.
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“To praise is an investment in happiness!” -George M. Adams
Staying Organinzed and Saving Time With Absent Work File Folders
When I taught 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade, keeping track of who was missing what, when students were absent, then finding and collecting those papers for them to do, could be time consuming.
I learned early on that I needed a system to expedite things.
I designed cute “We missed you!” “Glad you’re back!” ABSENT file folders. After I took attendance, if a child was absent, I put a sticky note with their name and the date written on it and stuck it to the front of the Absent File Folder and laid it on the top of their desk.
Any time papers were handed out, the child who sat in front of the absent student, would make sure that they put a copy in the Absent Folder.
Since my students worked from workbooks each day and then ripped out their assignment to take home, I would open that child’s desk, rip out the workbook page and also include those in the folder.
That saved me from having to write out things like: Do workbook pages in such and such etc. Likewise, if I gave a spelling test, I’d include a blank copy with a make up date on it, that they’d use on that day.
If notes were put in folders, or cubbies, to go home in backpacks that day, I made sure they were put in the Absent Folder.
The folder would remain on the desk until the student came back.
If they were gone the next day, another date would be put on the sticky note and the papers from the day before would be paper clipped with a due date, and that day’s papers would then go on top.
This also made it easy for me, if a sibling came in to collect work for their brother or sister, or if the office called down that a parent was popping in to pick up work.
I’d simply take out the contents, add a Xeroxed “Get well note”, which I kept in a file, and hand it to their family member.
I absolutely LOVED this time saver and used it no matter what grade I taught.
Even tho' my Y5's and K's did not have to make up work, as did my upper el students, many parents still wanted work that they missed, so I kept folders out so I wouldn't have to hunt for things later.
Click on the link to view download my newest creation for absent work file folders with clip art from Laura Strickland.
Simply print off copies.; (I made 7) glue them to file folders, and then laminate the file folders.
Keep them on your counter with your attendance roster and make sure you add a note about them in your sub folder and explain the process to your students.
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"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." -Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
ABC: Come Teach With Me!
I’ve been taking one-on-one computer classes at the Apple store and loving it!
I’ve been focusing on learning lots of new things with Pages a software program for MAC’s, that my husband bought me to help make my documents “cooler” than what I can manage in Word.
Since a big part of learning to read and write revolves around the knowledge of the alphabet and since I themed everything I did in Young Five’s, I wanted to make alphabet cards for each month, that teachers can use in a variety of ways, to keep students interested in letter study.
This is especially important since all but a few states have now adopted Common Core Standards.
These cards will help you pass that all important English Language Arts Reading Standard: Concepts of Print: Foundational Skills: 1d: "Students will recognize all of the upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet."
For some students that takes an entire year; you need to make that interesting, fun and different. These cards will help add the necessary variety.
Let’s face it, things can get rather boring if you haul out the same graphics each day, but switch the pictures to match the month or theme you’re studying and the children seem to perk right up, simply because it’s “different”.
I’ve also included a tip list of a variety of things you can do with the cards, including games you can play.
One of the things I did was have a seasonal bulletin board with two huge bears. One was a girl, the other a boy. I dressed them in appropriate clothing that I changed for the 4 seasons.
I sprinkled my alphabet cards around the bears in order at first, so it wasn’t that difficult to figure out what letter was missing. Later, when my kiddo’s knew the alphabet, I’d mix up the letters so the game was a bit more difficult.
It was their job each morning to figure out what letter the bears had hidden. They LOVED this game, it only took a few minutes, and it really got them to examine the letters. Afterwards, run through the alphabet, or sing the ABC song as a quick way to review.
I’ve included a blank set of cards in case you also want to make number cards or even program your spelling list or student names.
The other thing you can do in the hallway, is put up a large oak tree with just branches.
This is easy enough to paint on bulletin board paper with brown paint. I’ve also seen them made by twisting brown tissue paper, or brown bags from the grocery story.
You can also buy a big tree, as a large fold out poste at most teacher stores for around $10.
Hang the apples up for September and then decorate the tree with the other alphabet shapes for the other months.
While students are waiting in the hall to go out to recess, lunch, or standing in line for bathroom/drink breaks etc. you can use it for “teachable moments” for all sorts of letter-question games.
I’ve made 11 sets of alphabet letters. There is a set for each month (September through May, + a set of leaves and a set of dinosaurs.)
I've included separate sets for uppercase letters as well as lowercase letters, so you can make Memory Match Concentration games, play "I Have; Who Has?" with them, or have students put them in sequential order, spell their names, spell words and do all kinds of other activities that you'll find on a a list that I've included in the packets.
Click on the link to go to my ABC Section (page 2) of the shopping cart.
Scroll down ‘til you see the first set: Alphabet Acorns and then click on which ever set you’d like to download. You'll have to click on page 3 to get the last set for spring Tulips.
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“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.” -Anonymous
Anchor Charts That Help Teach!
I LOVE making and using anchor charts!
A collection of similar ones make an instant bulletin board, single ones help decorate your room, and all of them give valuable information in a nutshell or remind students at a glance what to do, or how to do something.
They are also a wonderful teaching tool, as you can refer to them as a “checklist” before students begin their work, or remind them to refer to the charts before they ask you a question.
For example, a popular set of anchor charts is the Six Traits of Writing. As students begin their work, review the steps.
When they have completed their work, go through the posters again, asking the students the various questions. If they haven't answered "YES!" to all of them, then they aren't ready to hand in their paper.
Click on the link to view/download the Six Traits of Writing anchor charts
This collection also makes a great writing bulletin board. Simply place the posters on 6 rainbow-colored sheets of construction paper, laminate them and then staple them kittywhompus on a black background. Edge the board with a pencil border.
You can suspend some cut outs of pencils, pens, erasers, and paper from fishline, just above the board. Wahla! Instant b. board, that students can refer to all year long. If you don't have a bulletin board, simply put the black paper on a bare wall and frame it with the boarder.
"Said is dead; use these words instead!" has also been a very popular anchor chart. This too, could be part of your writing wall.
click on the link to view/download Said is Dead anchor chart.
I’ve spent the last week creating a variety of anchor charts that I think you’ll find helpful.
The above are about writing, but I also have ones for math as well as other subjects. A popular math set of anchor charts has been the addition and subtraction set.Click on the link to view/download addition-subtraction anchor charts.
I’ve also gotten permission from several new clip artists to use their work, so I think you’ll be delighted with the graphics as well.
I find that if one teacher needs it, there are lots more who will be happy someone asked!
When you pop back to see what’s new, to view all of the anchor charts and posters, click on the classroom management apple on my home page and then click on anchor charts.
To view the charts for today, click on this quick anchor chart link. Scroll down and choose whatever charts and posters you like. Enjoy.
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Do you have an anchor chart that you can’t live without? Post a comment and link here! We’d enjoy hearing from you.
"A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles." -Washington Irving
Time To Try A Little Tenderness
Teaching students to be kind is a nice activity for the beginning of the school year when you are explaining your rules and implementing student behavior programs and contracts.
The Kindness Packet includes:
- The Kindness booklet
- A bookmark
- A kindness reminder poster
- The kindness pledge
- A Sticks & Stones poster
- Tips and ideas for kindness, including activities that go along with reading the book Chrysanthemum
- Motivational “caring hearts” when students are caught being kind.
- Pictures of children crying to use as discussion and writing prompts.
- A “synonyms for sad” skill sheet, to build vocabulary, so students can express their feelings +
- 2 certificates of praise
Click on the link to view/download the kindness packet.
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"We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." -Franklin D. Roosevelt
School just ended and June is quickly flying by. Already teachers are downloading some of my back to school packets, so I decided to start designing some new items.
There were quite a few moments when I needed one-on-one time with my Y5’s, on those busy first days, so I was always on the look out for something they could do independently, so I could assign bus numbers, take a first day photo, check how students were holding a writing utensil etc.
I designed the easy reader My First Day Of ___________________. with that in mind. Students trace and write a few main words and then cut and glue the pictures to their matching numbered boxes.
If you read your completed model to the students a head of time, as an explanation, they should be good to go.
Some children will need one-on-one help writing what their favorite thing of the day was for the last page.
To help expedite this, brainstorm with your students about all of the things you accomplished and have them raise their hands and share what their favorite thing was.
Write their answers on the board, so they have something to copy. You could also jot preschoolers’ answers down on their papers, as they share them.
Students then draw a picture of that activity or thing.
This not only makes a nice keepsake, but also is a great assessment tool to show you student-ability levels in cutting, holding a writing utensil, tracing, writing, listening and following directions etc.
If you can print pictures from your digital camera at school, take their photo doing their favorite thing and include it, to make this even more of a keepsake.
When everyone has completed their booklet, read it together as a whole group, to review concepts of print, and so that students are able to share it with their families when they get home.
The kindergarten sample is pictured, but I've also included a page for preschool, Y5's, 1st grade + a blank page for you to program for whatever else you teach.
Click on the link to view/download My First Day of School booklet
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“Wisdom is knowing what to do next. Skill is knowing how to do it. Virtue is doing it.” –Thomas Jefferson