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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Alphabet Letter Associations

After several decades of teaching first grade, I became a Reading Recovery teacher. Best. Training. Ever!!!! And, oh so, humbling. It was through that training I came to realize some of the mistakes I had been making as a teacher of emerging readers. And, now, it's about time I share some of those revelations--

Chief among them is the realization that the traditional, alphabet letter associations are fraught with pitfalls, especially for reluctant readers. The first problem comes with the letter e. Common picture & letter associations are elephant and egg. Neither is representative of the letter sounds, despite the fact that they bear an initial e.  

As accomplished readers, we know that there is a short e sound of the beginning of elephant.  For emerging readers, however, it sounds for all the world as if the first sound is L.  
(Elephant was at the zoo.)

Similarly, egg sounds like it begins with a long a, at least here in the midwest. I am fortunate to have an easy solution for this "e dilemma;" my students learned to associate the letter e with Evans, my last name!  That will not likely work for you, however. 

So what's a teacher to do?  My kiddos have grown quite fond of these alternatives:

In RR, we let the child provide the association, which is most likely to be the long sound of vowels.  Of course, if s/he supplies elephant, envelope, egg, elbow, ear, or any of the other "confusing" words, it is just fine. As a classroom teacher, you may want to consider such potential confusions when you select your display posters.

Another consideration when choosing vowel associations, is to avoid r-controlled examples. In my experience, however, this is far less problematic for young learners than the above examples.

With regard to consonants, hard consonants are easier for building associations. Think cow vs. circus; game vs. giraffe. Similarly, consonant blends are less clear than simple, initial consonants. Think grapes vs. gorilla; ship vs. sun; chip vs. cap; three vs. tent. You get the idea.

Time is not measured by clocks, but by moments.

You may be interested in these alphabet posters:

Thursday, September 1, 2016


It's about time, teachers, for a LABOR DAY SALE!

I've done the labor so you can rest and relax. Shop my LABOR DAY SALE, 9/2/16 - 9/5/16. Everything in my store is marked down to just 99₵ (except bundles).  

With 270 products, you are sure to find something lots of things for your classroom. As the enrichment specialist for my building, I have developed curricula that stimulates critical thinking and requires stamina for all elementary grade levels. Much of my curricula integrates multiple subjects.  

Also trained in Reading Recovery and having worked as a literacy specialist for years, many of my products are focused on early reading skills and language arts in general. Again, the materials span all elementary grades.

Recently, I have discovered the joy of creating classroom decor. Nearly 60 products later, I am just getting started!  Forest Friends is my current favorite.

Take a few minutes to peruse my store. I think you'll like it.  Oh, and have a great, long weekend.

Time spent with family is worth every second.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


It's about time, teachers, to wish the National Park Service a happy birthday!  It's 100 years old today.

To celebrate, I'm offering this literacy center as a FLASH FREEBIE!  

As always, TPT feedback is appreciated.

The time is always right to do something right.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

5 Things to Do With Your Class While You Test Individuals

It's a common problem: what can I do with the other students while I test individuals, especially the first few weeks of school? You are still creating your class atmosphere; still figuring out the range of abilities; still learning their names! So what in the world can you do to keep them busy without using copious amounts of coloring sheets? Here are some suggestions --

1. Challenge their critical thinking with Autumn Square Puzzlers. There are 3 levels of difficulty; even the brightest students can be occupied for a very, long time.  No reading is required.

And if your students love square puzzlers as much as mine do, you can satisfy them with LOTS of the puzzles available here.

2. Give them Latin Squares. Like the square puzzlers, these challenges will take time and stamina to complete, but do not require reading. Monkey Squares are also differentiated, giving you lots of options.


3.  Provide tangram puzzles. They are great brain exercise, even for non-readers. My tangrams have multiple puzzle pages that students can share and swap.  And, they are differentiated.


4.  For students who can read, provide Triads. You will need to spend a little time introducing these critical thinking challenges. Then get back to testing as your students take off with Triads. Kiddos LOVE them. These critical thinking cards can be used in small groups for cooperative learning or given to individuals.


5. Combine word work with computation, individual effort with competition, when you engage your students with Scrattle. This FREE product initially challenges students to create words with a specific set of letters. Then they calculate the value of their words using Scrabble letter values and linear equations.  Finally, they engage a friend in a battle to see whose words are the most valuable. [Scrattle = Scrabble + Battle] This activity, too, is differentiated, providing recording sheets with equations that require only addition, to complex, multiple operations.


Time is more valuable than money.  You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.
--Jim Rohn

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Calling All Forest Friends, Classroom Campers, and Woodland Wanderers

Calling all forest friends...

If you are creating a forest/woodland/camping themed classroom, this set of alphabet and color posters is just what you need.


You may also like this companion product of number posters.


If you would like even more forest friends resources, click here.

Here's to a fun and furry school year!

Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to School Poetry Possibilities

If you follow me at all, you know that I'm passionate about poetry.
I want my students to share that passion, so I start teaching with poetry on day 1.  

All of those new school supplies are quite exciting!  So, we write concrete poetry about them.  For example:
Ask your students to choose one of their supplies or an object related to school.  Then instruct them to draw the object.  To make a concrete poem, they should write their thoughts about the subject around the shape or fill it with words and phrases pertaining to it.  If you work with young children, provide simple pictures of school related objects like these:

My concrete poem example with the glue bottle rhymes.  Depending on the ages and abilities of your students, you can decide whether or not to require rhymes.

This idea comes from 

Cheers to the new school year!

You may be interested in joining my collaborative board, 

If you'd like to join, follow the board, then leave your pinterest ID in a comment.  I'd love to add you!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Welcome Banner, Word Wall Headers, & More!

It's about time, teachers, to welcome your students to a new school year.  

Greet them with a lovely blue & green welcome banner.


You can find this welcome banner here and many more blue & green educational decor products here.

Best wishes for a wonderful year!

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