Magic Squares: Fun with Word Building

Building a firm foundation in letters & sounds will help with both reading and writing. Magic Squares help build words.
I have to say: I think these are fun!

Word Building isn't new...we all know students who can manipulate letters and sounds are building a solid foundation for reading and writing. Many students need the multi-sensory aspect of Magic Squares. The squares can connect many modalities.

Building a firm foundation in letters & sounds will help with both reading and writing. Magic Squares help build words.

At an early level, students are given a 9x9 square with a vowel or vowel team in the middle of the square. Students will make words words by connecting letters. Letters can touch side-to-side, top-to-bottom, or corner-to-corner.  I created sheets to help with this activity.  First, students are asked to create words to to match provided pictures. Then, students are encouraged to make more words with their square.
Building a firm foundation in letters & sounds will help with both reading and writing. Magic Squares help build words.


Students are encouraged to look for patterns and rimes, as well as, blends and digraphs.

If you would like a sample of these Magic Squares, please click the link and download the free file.

If you would like to see the full set, make sure to click the link to my TPT store for Magic Squares: Short Vowels, Magic Squares: Long Vowels and r-Controlled Vowels, and the Magic Squares BUNDLE.

I hope you enjoy this "new" word building activity. It could be a fun way to end the school year.
Magic Squares: Fun with Word Building


Stencils: The Easiest Writing Center of All Time

Stencils: The Easiest Center of All Time
Want a quick center with minimum input and maximum output? This is it. 
I found these stencils in a thrift store for $1.98. It's the best $1.98 I've ever spent.
Add $1 basket for paper and $1 basket for stencils and paper.

Here's a fabulous center for under $5.

And it will last all year.
Stencils: The Easiest Center of All Time

Step 1:
Students will take a piece of paper and a stencil from the basket. (If you have sentence starters, they can grab on of those, too.
Step 2:
Trace the stencil with a pencil. Early students are going to need practice holding the stencils and tracing, so pencils are your best bet.
Step 3:
Connect the lines left by the stencils. Depending on the stencils, they may have random broken lines, so they'll need to complete the drawing.
Step 4:
Add details to the stencil. Make sure your students add details to make a great illustration.
Step 5:
Write! Students will write with a focus on the stencil. 
Step 6:
Make it shine. Color your picture and enjoy the writing.

That's it. Now, go get thrifting!
Less than $5.

4 Square: Digital Writing

4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.

Who would have thought we'd be here? Teaching our youngest readers as much as we can through digital means wasn't in the college curriculum or in my backpack full of teaching tricks. BUT, we have to do it.
Do the Best We Can
Students can be successful writers in digital classrooms around the country. Making writing successful with this tried and true approach will make students want to write.
We have to do the best we can with what we have. My teachers have been scrambling to come with digital this and digital that...and we've been doing great things. We've discovered some great digital things that we never knew was out there. We've taken the tried and true and we've made it what we need because 

Necessity is the mother of invention, 

right?

Writing has been the hardest. We can find games and videos and slides and Boom Cards and so on to teach all things alphabet and reading, but writing needs to be writing. We need pencils in the hands of our kids and pencils meeting the paper. We need to look at pencil grip and letter formation and all that is writing. BUT, here we are. So, we take what we know.

Four Square

At its most basic, 4 square is a template for writing. It asks the student to move from topic (center box) to details (top to bottom, left to right). It can be differentiated and easily scaffolded. When moving 4 Square to digital, I had a few pains. I really, really want children to be writing with pencils. It seems no matter how many pencils and pieces of paper we send home, online students tend to never have these items in hand. That being said, we had to move forward.

Step 1

4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.



Just practice writing the title and their name. Students are not just writing and composing and copying, they are typing. It has its own set of problems, but we must try. 

Step 2

4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.


Choose where to start. Let's say they are kindergartners who have never written anything before and this is the first attempt. We'll have to take it slow. We'll have to make some concessions. We may have to have mom and dad help, if possible. We may have to figure it out as we go. BUT, we have to start. Students can use word wall phrases to get in the habit of writing sentences top to bottom and left to right. We'll choose simple sentences.

Step 3

4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.



Once the routine is established, shake it up. Change sentence beginning phrases. Don't let the sentences be predictable. If you are using sight word phrases, this step is an easy one. Students can use known phrases. 

Step 4

4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.


Differentiate. The name of game for success, is differentiate. Meet the student where he or she is to move them forward. For the students who are showing understanding in simple sentences and varying sentence structure, four square can be easily differentiated.  Students can write a topic sentence and use the squares for supporting details while adding "flair" to the story. They can also use the Student-made Templates. Students choose 4 items to add to their customizable four square. 

If you'd like a look, I have a 4 Square Digital Writing Sample available. Join the list at the end of the post for your copy.

If you'd be interested in the set, it's part of the 4 Square set. My theory is we won't always be doing this digitally, so I added to the Printable 4 Square sets.  Each set contains 40 Printable 4 Square Templates and 40 Digital 4 Square Templates. The Winter 4 Square Templates are ready, are you? Don't forget you can get 20% off the full-year set of 4 Square Print and Digital Templates, too.
4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.PRINT and DIGITAL 4 Square Templates for the Year

8 Easy Ways to Integrate Maps and Globe Studies

Integrating Maps and Globes into Your Day

I've told you in the past I am a Reading Specialist from a K-2 school. At my previous K-2 school, we had half-day kindergarten. That's right...3 hours to get it all done. "How?" you might ask. Well, we never taught one thing at a time, in isolation. It all had to be integrated. Here are eight examples of how we integrated the social studies standard of Maps and Globes into our day.

1. Integrating Maps and Globes into Read Alouds

Integrating Maps and Globes into Your Day
I am not going to lie...I love this activity. To take them around the world in through books was really fun. We had a map of all seven continents on the bulletin board and each day we read a book set in a different continent. We can look at the different environments through the books making special notice of the clothes, the weather, the animals, you get the idea. Here are my list of favorites
  • North America - Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse
  • South America - "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," said the Sloth by Eric Carle
  • Europe - Strena Nona by Tomie dePaola
  • Africa - Where Are You Going, Manyoni, by Catherine Stock
  • Asia - Daisy Comes Home, by Jan Brett
  • Oceania - Koala Lou, by Mem Fox
  • Antartica - Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice, by Steve Metzger

Fractions for Early Learners

Fractions at the earliest level is based on equal parts and fair shares. Students can be guided through anchor charts, whole group lessons, partner work, and independent activities.
As you know, math isn't my thing...but even I can do kindergarten math. Fractions at the kindergarten level area all about understanding equal parts and fair shares. We do not talk about numeral representations of fractions and we don't label fractions as 1/2 or 1/4. We only talk about fair shares.
Thankfully, all students know when something is a fair share...so use that to your advantage.

6 Steps for Success with Sequencing

Here are 6 Steps for Success with Sequencing. Students are led through a variety of activities ranging from teacher directed to student led.
I blogged about a sequencing center in 2015, but I'd like to talk about a six different steps for teaching sequence and creating success. Students can be directed through a variety of experiences moving experiences from teacher-led, teacher-directed to student-led, student-directed. As with any lesson teachers need to be direct and specific and give quick feedback. The success needs to be ensured, but the lesson needs to be interactive and practiced in a variety of ways. Here are six ways to help ensure your students succeed.
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