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Showing posts from February, 2013

Building Self Confidence and Combating Stress for Struggling Readers

Learning to read can be one of life's most stressful events for a child. For some children, picking up phonics and spelling seems like second nature. For others, the reading process sparks long-lasting low confidence and a chronic distaste for schoolwork. There are several critical issues that can block a child's reading, which we have written about, but an important one for most struggling readers is confidence and stress. Parents often find it difficult to know how to build up self-confidence in a child while also correcting their mistakes. Pairing praise and criticism is not an easy job, so we have a special rule that helps to keep the two in balance. We recommend something called The Rule of 5. The Rule of 5 states that for every one time you have to correct your child, you have to praise her five times. This formula comes from a simple idea that I'm sure every parent would acknowledge: even children with good self-worth take corrections as criticisms. For a struggling l…

Free Money Game Idea

Integrating games into academic lessons ignites the fun factor, makes instruction multisensory and grabs the attention of even the most discouraged learners.   I, too, enjoy the creative process and love pulling out my craft and scrapbook materials, so the new game of the week brings excitement and wonder into the classroom.  This week, I created the Fun House Money Game to help students develop their skills identifying and adding pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. 
Items needed:   1) small box   2) craft or scrapbook paper   3) glue   4) scissors   5) long table or a melamine shelf   6) marbles or shuffle board pieces (I purchased the shuffle board pieces on Amazon and included the link below.)   7) play money or real change in a small basket or plastic bin
Process:   1) Remove the bottom of the box with scissors.   2) Cover the box with colorful craft paper.   3) Cut four doorways/holes in the side as illustrated.   4) Label the doorways: pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.  You can also us…

Language Arts Letter Cubes: Fun Literacy Center Freebie

I love to use foam blocks for all sorts of language arts fun. Most recently, I created a game that my students adore. Here are the steps so you can create it too.

1) You can purchase colorful foam cubes on Amazon for a very reasonable price.  I included a link at the bottom of the post.

2) Select 12 cubes and with a permanent marker add the vowels and consonants as suggested in the table below.

3) Assign the point value on the bottom right hand corner.  This will also help the players to orient the letters.  For example, the letter M will look like the letter W when it is upside-down but as long as the number indicating the point value is in the bottom right hand corner, players can recognize that they need to rotate the letter to the proper orientation.  Also, using capital letters helps with letter confusion.

4) Other items needed to play:  

a timer a set of 12 colored cubes with the letters and point values for each player.
5) How to Play:  

Each player rolls a set of 12 colored cubes ont…

Learning Center Ideas: Free, Fun Phonics Activities

It’s wonderful when giggles of joy and excitement ring through the classroom as young students eagerly learn the skills needed to be proficient readers.   Learning centers or reading centers are often the place where this can happen, but the trick to tickling your students attention often lies in multisensory, interactive activities or games. 
Here is a fun phonemic awareness activity I designed that you can make with old recycled pill or vitamin containers and other common household goods.  It’s a wonderful learning center idea that will help students blend phonics sounds into words.
Materials and setup:

   1)Collect and clean old vitamin or pill containers. I like to use the clear, colorful ones.    2)Decide upon the playing pieces.  I use a 1 inch hole puncher with thick cardstock, large lima beans, or wooden craft discs.     3)Place consonants, blends, digraphs, word endings or more onto both sides of the playing pieces.  I like to color code the pieces to match the color of the contai…

10 Strategies that Transform Passive Learners into Active Learners

Students’ forearms prop heavy heads and eye lids become fatigued and weighty. Information fills the room, but the restless audience remains impervious as attention is stolen by fleeting thoughts and boredom.  If this is a common scene at your school, most likely the learning environment is passive.  Although a passive learning environment can accommodate large numbers of students, it is often an ineffective scholastic milieu.  In contrast, an active learning environment should have the opposite effect on students.  This way of teaching encourages creativity, self directed learning, mindfulness, interaction, discussion and multisensory ways of processing. 
So what can I do to nurture active learning?
  1)Help your students understand the difference between active and passive learning.     2)Encourage your students to complete the free Passive vs. Active Learning Profile offered free here.   3)Let your students brainstorm things they can do to become active learners.    4)Allow your students…