18 09, 2019

Teaching the Alphabet & a Freebie

By |2019-09-18T17:40:58-04:00September 18th, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

Many kindergartners come to school each year eager and ready to learn. Many students may come already knowing their alphabet letters and sounds, but many students also start without knowing most letters and sounds. As a former kindergarten teacher, I completely get how it can be challenging to get these students to master their alphabet while also trying to teach them how to read.


Often, many of these children that enter kindergarten without a firm foundation with letter recognition and beginning sounds just need to be taught their letters and sounds. Some students may not be developmentally ready. Others may have special learning needs. Whether the students just need someone to teach them or some of the students have special needs, it’s important to provide a variety of hands-on and engaging activities. Today, I am going to go over 14 ways to teach the alphabet. This will cover letter recognition, handwriting, and beginning sounds. I will also be sharing a nice size freebie with you that includes all these activities that I mention for the letter A.

Letter Recognition Activities

  1. Identifying the letter out of a group of many different letters is an important part of letter recognition. Find it activities are great for helping students to identify and discern between the different letters.

2. It’s important to use a variety of approaches of activities when teaching the alphabet to keep things interesting and engaging for students. Bubble activities are another way for students to discern between different letters.  Students enjoy using bingo daubers, so this makes it extra fun for them.

3.  When it comes to writing a sentence, students will need to know the uppercase version of their letters in order to use an uppercase letter at the beginning of a sentence. Matching up the capital with the lowercase letter helps students to learn pairs like capital A and lowercase a.

4. Sorting uses more higher-level thinking, so it is important to incorporate sorting with letter recognition. That way, students are thinking more deeply as they learn to recognize letters.

5. Children love to stamp, so definitely include stamping as a letter recognition activity. For differentiating, you can include all the alphabet letters for those breezing through letter recognition or just a handful for those who are struggling with mastery more.

6.  Students should also be recognizing how letters are part of words. By having students find the letter in a word, they will be making that connection.

Handwriting Activities

7. Coloring in the letters leads students to pay attention to the form of the letter. This help with recognition, and it helps prepare them for writing the letter.

8. Tracing is something you probably already have students do. It really helps to build up confidence for actually writing the letter and helps them to also pay attention to the form of the letter.

9. Of course, with handwriting practice, there should be actual writing of the letter. Adding a fun element like having their handwriting practice as part of an alphabet book increases engagement.

10. Students enjoy breaking out the crayons and markers. Having the students write the letters in rainbow colors just makes it more fun.

Beginning Sound Activities

11. Simple pictures that represent a beginning sound provide visuals for students, so they can distinguish between words that begin with the letter a and words that do not. Students can find and color pictures that begin with the targeted letter.

12. Like I mentioned before, sorting uses more higher-level thinking. Having students sort between pictures that begin with the targeted letter and those that do not is an important activity to use when teaching letter sounds.

13. Illustrating involves creativity. Creativity is also a higher-level thinking skill. Many students also enjoy drawing. By having students illustrate pictures with the targeted beginning sound, you will be activating their memories more.

#14 Making Alphabet Books

Alphabet books are a great way to reach your students that need to master their alphabet letters. Cutting is a process that takes time and helps develop fine motor skills. By having students cut out alphabet letters, students are processing how that letter is formed in a concrete way. They are learning letter recognition. They are developing their fine motor skills. They can also work on a variety of activities that help them to master letter recognition and sounds by making alphabet books that include these activities. Also, the act of publishing gives purpose to their learning activities. Students enjoy creating alphabet books to show to their family and friends. It’s a win across the board.

It is also very important to let them do the cutting of these, so they are receiving more out of this activity. The objective of making the alphabet books is not for them to have perfectly cut books. It is the process of making them that is important.

Follow the link here or click on the picture to learn more about my alphabet books resource.


You can learn more about how you can try out the Letter A Alphabet Book for free by clicking the picture or here.


Thanks for stopping by The Candy Class!

Candy Class for Teaching Resources and Ideas

Jolene Mathew from The Candy Class


2 09, 2019

Why Go Digital with Guided Reading?

By |2019-09-03T13:55:30-04:00September 2nd, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

If you are a primary teacher, I am sure you will not argue over my belief that guided reading is fundamental for teaching children how to read. It is common practice for primary teachers to mainly focus on having their students reading during this time. It is also common practice for kindergarten and first grade teachers to use brief reading strategy lessons and short word work activities to support reading development during this time too. While most of these activities are either printed materials or with some sort of manipulative like magnetic letters, tablets, iPads, and laptops are other tools that can be used for supporting reading development too. Today, I want to discuss the benefits of using technology during guided reading.

So Why Use Technology During a Guided Reading Lesson?

First off, when I say going digital, I do not mean go digital with everything during guided reading. The primary teacher in me does not feel like going completely digital is appropriate for young learners. What I am talking about here is swapping out parts of your guided reading lesson or activities with the use of tech tools to enhance your guided reading lessons. With the integration of tech during guided reading, you can smooth out some of the transitions with those short word work activities that often can steal from that short period of time that you have with your students. Going digital during guided reading can also save preparation time, so you won’t spend your family time prepping for the next day’s guided reading lesson. Digital guided reading activities are also engaging for students, and that is always a win when it comes to learning how to read.

Additionally, you can easily streamline things like the word work activities to keep things flowing smoothly. These can also still be very much hands-on too! Look how students can slide the digital magnetic letter to blend some CVC words below. It’s very similar to having actual magnetic letters and a word work mat to work on blending words together.

Another thing you can incorporate digitally during guided reading is the teaching of reading strategies. You can pull up digital anchor charts to teach a reading strategy right before students dive into reading or show the digital reading strategy poster to your students as you use a think-aloud activity from your guided reading lesson plans to model the strategy.

Maybe you want an easier way to organize your assessment materials like your performance assessment checklists and running records. That way you have the convenience of reviewing student data from a comfy chair or couch without lugging around a pile of papers and can skip the process of filing papers away in a cabinet somewhere. It makes student data so much more accessible and easy to manage.

Or maybe you need to mix things up in your classroom more to better reach your students. Adding a digital element will help with that! Students enjoy doing digital word work.

Should students be using regular readers and flipping those pages? Absolutely. Is it ok to incorporate some digital readers here and there. Of course. When going digital in guided reading, you get to find your happy medium of using digital and non-digital guided reading materials. Also, there is room to switch things up if you feel you need to make some changes to how you do your guided reading to maximize the time you have with your students and with teaching them how to read.

Integrating tech into your guided reading will enhance your guided reading lessons, no doubt. It also makes it easy for differentiating instruction to meet all your students’ learning needs.

That is why I created a guided reading bundle that is 100% digital and 100% printable. That way, teachers can pick and choose what to use digitally and what not to use to best fit their class. This massive size bundle is packed full with more than you need to teach guided reading for levels AA-D! That way, students don’t have to repeat the same word work activities. You will not run out with this bundle. It includes everything, but the books. That means lesson plans, reading strategy posters and anchor charts, word work activities, phonemic awareness activities, assessments, trackers, and so much more! You will even know when to move your students up with this resource very clearly. You can pick what to use digitally and what to not use digitally.

This resource follows best practices for guided reading too!

Click the picture or here for the Kindergarten Guided Reading Bundle.

Now, I know some of you stumbled on it being just for levels AA-D and are wondering about more levels. I do have plans to release a second bundle for the first grade levels sometime within the 2019-2020 frame. It is going to be a massive size bundle too. When it is released, I will be putting it on sale and will let my newsletter subscribers know. Make sure to subscribe to the free digital sampler below to receive updates when this is released. Plus, you will receive surprise freebies a week later when you sign-up too!

Going digital in guided reading will enhance your guided reading lessons, save you a ton of time in preparing for the lessons, and maximize time with transitioning between the activities.

You can test out a free digital guided reading sampler when you sign-up for my free newsletter. This sampler is packed with some goodies too! It includes a lesson plan,  reading strategy poster and anchor chart, word work activities, assessment, and more! Sign-up here.

Click here or the picture above to go to the landing page where you can sign-up for this digital freebie.

Thanks for visiting The Candy Class blog. Happy teaching!

Candy Class for Teaching Resources and Ideas

Jolene Mathew from The Candy Class

28 05, 2019

Engaging Digital Word Work Activities for Literacy Centers

By |2019-05-28T20:38:01-04:00May 28th, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

Today, I want to share some ideas for digital word work activities that you can use in your classroom. Digital activities are great for teachers because they save time and paper, but they still help our students learn all the important skills they need to know. The digital activities in this post will help you teach your students phonics, spelling, and sight words. Many of the activities can be used for either small groups or centers. Some can even be changed to use for whole group instruction.

Digital Word Work Activity #1

As a center, your students can build words with digital magnetic letters. Each student can build words at their appropriate learning level, even when working on the same phonics concept. For example, when working on the L blend, emerging students can choose from options like fl, bl, or gl to complete the word “flower.” Intermediate students can choose from a jumbled assortment of letters like h, k, l, t, and f to create the same word. When students are ready for more of a challenge, they can type a sentence for each new L blend word that they created.

Digital Word Work Activity #2

You can also use digital magnetic letter activities for small group instruction. You can have all the students work on the same blend, but each student can build a different word from that blend. For example, one might be working on the word “crab” while another works on “crow.” As the students create new words for the “cr” blend, you can make a running list on an anchor chart of these words. You can write “cr” in a different color if you’d like to make the blend stick out more for the students. At the end of your small group instruction time, you can have students practice reading the words on the chart aloud.

Digital Activity #3 with Spelling Words

In centers or small groups, students can refer to a list of spelling words and “graph” the words. This means they will type the words in columns based on their number of letters. Emerging students can type in columns for three, four, five, and six-letter words. Intermediate students can use these columns, plus added columns for words with seven and eight letters. Students that are ready for an even greater challenge can graph words with nine or ten letters!

Digital Activity #4 with Spelling Words

Your students can also practice parts of speech with their spelling words. Emerging students can type their spelling words under either the “noun” or “verb” category, while intermediate students can type the words under “noun,” “verb,” adjective,” or “adverb.”

Digital Activity #5 with Sight Words

With this word work activity, students can mix the word up in the soup bowl and fix it back up. Then they can read the word to a partner and move on to the next word.

Digital Activity #6 with Sight Words

Your students can also practice sight words by using the Kids Doodle app to write sight words on their tablets. Students can draw a word and read it to their classmate. Then their classmate writes the word. They could also type the words instead. You can give your students a sight word list or a digital alphabet chart to help them write the words correctly.

I hope my digital activity ideas will make your job easier by saving you time and paper, and I hope they will also help your students have fun while they do word work! All the digital word work activities I mentioned in this post can be found in my store, The Candy Class. My Digital Word Work Bundle includes 121 phonics activities! You can download it here.

I also have separate resources for the spelling and sight word activities in this post. You can find the spelling resource here and the sight word resource here.

If you are looking for more word work activity ideas that you can do in centers, read my article Word Work Activities: Hands-on Ideas for Literacy Centers. It has plenty of ideas!

Also, if you would like a simple system for setting-up technology use in your classroom next year, make sure to sign-up for my free tech course here. You will also gain access to my free resource library when you sign-up! 🙂

Happy teaching, and thanks for stopping by The Candy Class!

17 05, 2019

Help! The File is Not Downloading

By |2019-09-17T22:03:46-04:00May 17th, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

When it comes to downloading pdfs and zip files from online, there are various reasons that can cause issues with the download. This post will cover various reasons and fixes, so that you can access your downloadable files.


First off, sometimes glitches happen with the internet or the internet browser. Sometimes the fix is just to refresh the browser or try again later. However, sometimes there are other reasons at play too.


Possible Reason #1: Your internet connection is slow. Files come in different sizes. If your internet is not the fastest internet out there or for some reason is acting sluggish at the moment, it can make the downloading of files slow.

Fix for Reason #1: Give the file time to download. Also, you may want to reach out to your internet provider if that is an ongoing issue with things like sites being sluggish and files downloading very slowly. However, it could be that you need better equipment for the wireless to reach properly in your house too. My office is far from our modem, so we had to buy some wireless adapters to get things up to speed.


Possible Reason #2: You didn’t check your downloads folder.

Fix for Reason #2: Make sure you look in your downloads folder for the file. I know some files like a pdf will automatically open with some browsers, but a zip file will not. If the file you are downloading is a zip file, you will need to go to your downloads folder and properly open the zip file.


Possible Reason #3: Your pop-up blocker blocked it.

Fix for Reason #3: Make sure you don’t have a pop-up blocker that is blocking the downloading. The method for unblocking will vary by internet browser and computer type. I recommend doing a quick search on how to stop a pop-up blocker for whatever browser and computer you are using.


Possible Reason #4: Your school has restrictions on downloads.

Fix for Reason #4: Download it from home and send it to yourself another way.


If none of those things help, it can be do to other factors. If you are having an ongoing issue with downloading files, it could be something to do with your internet browser. A quick fix can be using a different internet browser, but if you want it resolved, here are some resources for the different browsers.



Internet Explorer


I hope that helps!



Candy Class for Teaching Resources and Ideas

Jolene Mathew from The Candy Class

13 05, 2019

Access My Free Teacher Resource Library

By |2019-05-13T10:39:56-04:00May 13th, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

Did you know I have a free resource library that is full of engaging activities? It’s my way of saying thank you to my customers and loyal followers. My resources save teachers time and energy, and I want to share them with you too! Sign up for my newsletter and get instant access. You’ll find resources in reading, writing, and math, and if you use Google classroom, there are some special digital resources for you as well. Join the fun here and keep reading to learn more about some of my freebies!


Here’s a Fun Way to Learn Multiplication

Can you SEE why students love this math game so much? It’s a great way for students to build conceptual understanding of multiplication by building arrays with googly eyes. Students record their answer as a repeated addition equation and as a multiplication equation.


The Fundamentals of Place Value

Keeping track of the days of school with a Place Value Pocket Chart is a simple, yet effective way to build students’ understanding of place value. Adding a straw for each day, bundling the tens, and then making a big bundle for the 100th day offers your students a concrete model of this essential math concept. And as a printable file, you can even send it home with students to they can create their own place value pocket charts at home.


To further develop place-value understanding, use place-value cards in your math centers. Students can use a variety of manipulatives to represent the number on each card. Check out my blog post here to see what I mean. I have a set of cards for numbers 10-100 and a set for 3- and 4-digit numbers.

Treat yourself to all four of these free math resources by signing up for my newsletter here.


Engage Your Guided Reading

Guided Reading Freebie

Every teacher knows how important guided reading is for improving students’ reading levels. And every teacher also knows how challenging it can be to create engaging guided reading lessons for each reading group every single day. Start your guided reading with a mini-lesson on a reading strategy, such as the Chunky Monkey Strategy, and have students practice it individually in their books. When you have to conduct one-on-one reading assessments, give the other students in your group grammar task card activities to work on (paper or digital) that reinforce Common Core standards. Guided reading is only successful if the rest of your class is actively engaged in literacy activities, allowing you to focus on your group without interruptions.


Reinforce Bossy R

Free Bossy R No Prep Printables

Create a literacy center that focuses on Bossy R to reinforce this tricky spelling pattern. To learn more about how I teach Bossy R, check out this post here.

Scoop Up Spelling Activities

Have students practice independent spelling activities with a customizable spelling list.


Get all of these guided reading activities and more when you sign up for my newsletter. Click here to join.


In addition to gaining access to my free resource library, you’ll also be the first to know about sales, teaching tips, courses, and other sweet deals I have in store for you. Sign up here for access to all these freebies and more.


Thank you for stopping by The Candy Class! Happy Teaching!

10 05, 2019

Improve Students’ Writing with These Grammar Ideas for Primary

By |2019-08-14T21:25:51-04:00May 10th, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

Grammar teaches us to look closer at the construction of a sentence. By understanding the frame of a sentence, we become more enabled to construct better sentences. It is like building a house. If someone handed you a hammer, some nails, and wood, you probably could build something, even if you were never taught how. It might be a leaky house with gaps in the walls that wobbles when you cough, but you probably could build something. Now, if someone showed you how to build a house and mentored you, you would be able to build an even better house. To really hone those carpentry skills, additional practice of what you were shown would let you master the art of building houses. The same goes with writing. While grammar and writing are interconnected, taking time to teach grammar helps your students build better sentences and stronger writing pieces. Extra practice helps them master the craft. Having a firm foundation of grammar also helps students write with confidence. I am going to share three grammar ideas that will help you improve students’ writing. I will also be sharing some free teaching resources to help you get started with using some of these ideas too!


Improve Students' Writing with These Grammar Ideas

These activities are meant for grammar practice. I do recommend these grammar concepts be taught via a mini-lesson, mentor sentences, or in some other way that models the grammar rule or concept. These activities will help you to diversify your teaching strategies to reach all learners. Research has long proven that to maximize your chances of reaching all students, a diversification of teaching methods is needed. Definitely, use integration strategies with your writing and reading lessons. But to reach all your students, make sure to include focused activities and grammar mini-lessons too. Through diversification, you will maximize learning in your classroom.

Activity #1 Fix the Sentences

Activities that involve students fixing sentences they did not write allows opportunity for them to move away from focusing on creating content and focus solely on the mechanics of a sentence. Not only are they getting extra grammar practice, but this also helps them to develop those much-needed editing skills.

fix it sentences for grammar activities

I think it is important for these sentence editing activities to be geared towards their grade range, so I will give some examples for different grade levels. The ideas I suggest connect to the Common Core grammar standards for each primary grade level, but you can always pull from these ideas if you follow different standards.

For kindergarten and the beginning part of first grade, editing sentences can include fixing capital letters at the beginning of sentences, the pronoun I, and the ending punctuation.

For first grade and the beginning part of second grade, you still want to reinforce those elements from editing a kindergarten sentence. However, you can also add the following components once they are familiar with these grammar concepts. Some ideas include editing subject-verb agreements, using articles correctly, capitalizing dates and names of people, using commas in a series, and correcting misspelled words with familiar spelling patterns such as cat or lake.



For second grade, you still want to reinforce the elements from editing kindergarten and first grade sentences. As you dive further into grammar, you may want to add more of the following components. These components can include proper use of irregular plural nouns and past tense verbs, adding commas to compound sentences, separating run-on sentences, capitalizing holidays or product names, using commas in a letter, proper use of apostrophes with contractions and possessive nouns, and correcting spelling errors in words with familiar spelling patterns such as crown and coat.

These sentence activities can come in different formats. The one shown below is in a task card format, but you can also have the sentences on a whiteboard, a worksheet, sentence strips, and more.

Activity #2 Grammar Task Cards

Task cards come in handy when teaching grammar. You can cover just about every grammar concept with a set of task cards. They can be used for playing a game of SCOOT with the entire class, you can pair them with a game board for extra fun, you can use them for exit tickets, give them to early finishers, just use as a set of task cards, and more. Sometimes, you can even add manipulatives, such as counters, to give it a hands-on twist. They are very flexible!


Students can play solo games like Splat or do a Space Race with a friend. I have another post that explains nine different games to use with task cards including these two, so I will link that at the bottom of the post.


Let’s look at the formatting of them too. I really think the format can be beneficial to some of your students with special needs. There is one problem on each task card, so the spacing of it makes it easier for students, who might become overwhelmed with too much on a page, to read and comprehend.

close up of reflexive pronoun task cards


Additionally, it is easy to differentiate to meet student needs by providing grammar task cards that focus on concepts they need to work on at that moment.

When using grammar task cards, I also like to consider the reading levels of the students. It’s important that students focus on the grammar concept without the actual reading of the grammar activity interfering. That way, you do not have to wait until the last half of the year to start teaching grammar. There are just too many grammar standards to cover in a year. You will teach them more efficiently by making sure the reading levels do not block the student’s ability to practice the grammar concept. Just because it is the beginning half of kindergarten, does not mean students are unable to learn about nouns and verbs. With the support of pictures, kindergartners can learn all about basic nouns, verbs, and more.

verb task cards for kindergarten


Later in the year, they can work with sentences that contain simple sight words, CVC words, and picture support.

ending punctuation task cards


First graders will be developing their reading skills throughout the year, but grammar can still be taught early in the year by making sure the sentences are basic enough for them to decode easily. Start with sentences with pre-primer and primer sight words, CVC words, CCVC words, and picture support to help students focus on learning the grammar concept. Later in the year, you can move up to using grammar activities with vowel teams, diphthongs, and higher-level sight words. The example below illustrates students finding indefinite pronouns in sentences geared just for first grade.

When it comes to teaching grammar, task cards make it easier to incorporate a variety of engaging activities by including rich content from the task cards, meeting the needs of some of your students with special needs, differentiating instruction, and making sure that reading levels are not interfering with the learning of grammar standards. Task cards are also easy to prep, and you can laminate them for reuse each year too.

irregular plural noun task cards

grammar task cards with games

Activity #3 Go Digital

Similar to using grammar task cards, digital resources can be used to reinforce grammar concepts too. Just like the task cards, digital grammar activities can also be used for things like a game of SCOOT, exit tickets, early finisher activities, and more. The only difference is you don’t need to prep the task cards. Instead, students will need to be assigned the file, or you can run them as a presentation and let them use a recording sheet, if you do not have an LMS or another system, to keep assignments organized. If you have Google Classroom, assignments are easy to do with a click of the button. Also, you can set-up folders in Microsoft OneDrive if using PowerPoint instead. Office 365 for education is actually free to those with a valid .edu email address. I will provide the link to that below.

An additional benefit of the digital grammar activities is that an anchor chart can be placed at the beginning to reteach the concept to students. For my kindergarten digital grammar activities, I included a video option, since the reading level would be a challenge. When a video is not desired because of a lack of access to headphones, the slide can easily be deleted.

complete sentences digital task cards

For my second grade grammar activities, a presentation plays instead.

adverb digital task cards

Digital grammar activities are easy to use in a literacy center or station, so you can squeeze in extra grammar practice. That way, your students can hone their writing skills and write with confidence!

ending punctuation digital task cards

You can always make these types of resources for your personal classroom use, but if you would like to save time, I do have all these grammar activities for sale too. I sell them individually and in bundles.

Here is the link for all my grammar activities. You can also click the picture below too.

grammar activities for primary grades


If you would like to filter by grade, you can check out my kindergarten grammar resources here, my first grade grammar resources here, and my second grade grammar resources here.

Here is the link for the grammar and language arts bundles here. It will filter out my other resources. You can also click the picture below.

grammar bundles for primary grades

If you are new to using these types of digital grammar activities, I have a free tech course that will help you get a simple three-step system in place. You can get more information and sign-up for that here.

Using technology in the primary classroom to reach more students a free course

If you are interested in Office 365 for Education and have a valid .edu email address, you can find information on that here. Please note, I am not affiliated, nor does Microsoft endorse anything written here today. I just want to inform you all of this handy resource.

I also have free grammar resources to share with you all today.

free noun task cards for grammar activities

Click here for the free kindergarten task cards. This one covers nouns in context. To keep these on a kindergarten reading level, the sentences include cvc words, common sight words taught in kindergarten, and picture clues.

Click here for the free first grade task cards. These target the CCSS language standard to spell frequently occurring words with irregular spelling patterns. These can easily be used in kindergarten too.

free verb tense task cards

Click here for the free second grade task cards. This one covers verb tenses. These can also be used in first grade with students with stronger reading skills.

Looking for more game ideas to use with the grammar task cards? Find nine game ideas and a free game here. Make sure to check out some of my other grammar posts too. I share many ideas here, here, and here.

I hope my ideas and tips were helpful to you all, and ultimately to your students! Thanks so much for stopping by The Candy Class! Happy teaching!

Sharing Teaching Ideas for K-2

Jolene Mathew


Pin for Improving Students' Writing with These Grammar Ideas


17 04, 2019

Nine Games to Use with Grammar Task Cards

By |2019-05-14T00:37:39-04:00April 17th, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

I’m excited to show you nine different games (including a freebie) that you can use to make your grammar task card activities more hands-on. Let’s face it. It can be a challenge to constantly teach rich content that is also engaging and fun for students. Task card games tap into children’s love and need for PLAY, which is the most powerful learning modality there is! Pairing games with task cards will help students to practice a variety of grammar skills and other content. While I will discuss using these with grammar task cards, these games will work for any task cards in any subject.

game ideas to use with task cards

It’s important for task card games to be simple and easy to remember, so that students can work independently. The game is not meant to overshadow the task cards, but to reward students with a playful action every time they complete one.

Game 1: Walk the Block

For Walk the Block, students complete a task card and move around a game board. The first person to go from start to finish wins. You can repurpose old game boards or make your own using cardstock and dot stickers. Students will eagerly draw task cards as they race to the finish line. In this activity, students can discern between complete and incomplete sentences. Once they complete the task, they can move a space.

Game 2: Splat

Splat is what happens when a bubblegum bubble pops and sticks to your face. In this one-player game, every time students complete a task card, they get to cover up a splat on the game board. You can use pink pencil cap erasers as the game markers to match the bubblegum theme. This activity is great for when a student needs to work solo.

Here students can fix up sentences by marking words that need a capital letter and adding ending punctuation. They then can cover up a splat on the game board.

splat task card game

Game 3: Speed Race

Speed Race is a multi-player game that students love. After completing a task card, students move one space on their race track. The game is over when all students make it to the finish line. Students can enjoy using small toy cars as game markers.

For example, students can complete a preposition task card and move a space.

speed race task card

Game 4: Chunk the Cookie

Chunk the Cookie is a simple but sweet game for one player. When students complete a task card, they add a chocolate chunk to their cookie. The goal is to make the cookie as chunky as possible! You can easily make this game using brown construction paper and black pony beads too.

In this example, students can mark the word that needs a capital letter and then add a piece of “candy” to the cookie.

chunk the cookie task card game

Game 5: Sprinkle the Cupcake

Sprinkle the Cupcake is similar to Chunk the Cookie, and students will be hungry to play this one! After completing a task card, students add a sprinkle to their cupcake. The more sprinkles there are, the more learning is taking place. When students complete all the task cards, they can pretend to eat their cupcake.

For example, students can identify a complete and incomplete sentence. Ten students can add a “sprinkle” to the cupcake.

sprinkle the cupcake task card game

Game 6: Treasure Hunt

Treasure Hunt is a multi-player game that takes students on a hunt for hidden treasure. When students complete a task card, they move one space on the gameboard. The game is over when all players reach the treasure. Shiny pennies can be used as game markers too.

This example shows how students can mark if the picture is plural or not. After that, they can move forward on their treasure hunt.

pirate task card game

Game 7: Space Race

For Space Race, students play with a partner. Each time students complete a task card, they cross off a number starting at ten and count backwards. Once they reach blast off, they win!

One example is students can sort one of the noun task cards with the appropriate category. Then they can take a turn moving their rocket forward.

space race game


Game 8: Space Launch

Space Launch is similar to Space Race, but this time it’s a one-person game. After completing a task card, students cross off a number on the blast off countdown starting at 20. Once the countdown is complete, their rocket can launch, and they win!

For example, students can add the correct ending punctuation and countdown.

space launch task card game

As you can see, these games are simple yet centered around things students love like race cars, cupcakes, and rocket ships. You can create games with seasonal themes or make games that match your social studies and science units too. You can also add costumes to the games such chef hats and aprons for Chunk the Cookie and Sprinkle the Cupcake and pirate eye patches for Treasure Hunt. With playful elements, students will want to play again and again, and thus develop concept mastery.

If you’d like to try adding games to grammar task cards, you can find my Kindergarten Grammar Task Cards bundle here. It’s Common Core aligned and includes all nine games I’ve shared with you today, plus 15 different grammar task card sets and anchor charts. The task cards can also be purchased separately. Each task card set contains a single player game and a partner game.

grammar task card bundle

Game 9: Tic-Tac-Toe

This is the classic Tic-Tac-Toe game with a task card twist. In this partner game, players take turns choosing task cards. After completing each task, players record an “X” or an “O” on the gameboard. After one player gets three in a row, students can start a new game of Tic-Tac-Toe. The game ends when students use up all the task cards.

If you’d like to try this Tic-Tac-Toe game for free, sign-up for my newsletter here. Please note, the task cards in the picture are not included. However, read on for how you can receive some free task cards too.

tic-tac-toe game

Once you sign-up for the newsletter, you’ll receive many other freebies, teaching ideas, sales announcements, and more. Click on the image or here to sign-up!

If you would like to read about more grammar ideas, make sure to check out my post here. It also gives information on how you can receive a free set of noun task cards for kindergarten, a set of verb task cards for first grade, and a set of verb tense task cards for second grade.

Thanks for stopping by The Candy Class! Happy teaching!

16 04, 2019

Ideas for Teaching with Phonics Posters

By |2019-04-16T17:59:35-04:00April 16th, 2019|Reading|2 Comments

Today I’m going to share with you nine teaching ideas to use with your phonics posters. As you all know, an alphabet, displayed horizontally across a wall, is a standard feature in most elementary school classrooms. But have you ever asked yourself what purpose is it serving? How are my students (and I) using it, if at all? Is it contributing to student success and independence? Let’s remember, wall space is precious real estate in our classrooms.

Ideas for teaching with phonics posters

One way to make your standard alphabet wall more meaningful is to add long vowel sounds, digraphs, and blends. You can even rename it “The Sound Wall.” After all, sounds are the foundation of reading and writing.

Consider this: A preschooler who only knows the 26 letter names, knows just that. But a kindergartener who knows just six letter sounds (s, a, t, i, p, n) and how to blend them can read over 30 words!

As students learn more and more word patterns and phonetic rules, you can reflect their learning on your ever-growing sound wall with phonics posters. This is just one way to make your wall space interactive and meaningful. Keep reading for even more ideas to support your early readers using phonics posters.

Idea #1: Daily Review

Choose the phonics posters you want to focus on for the day and lead the class through a review of the sounds. This is a great morning meeting routine and can help wake up sleepy brains and bodies. Reinforcement can be done with a chant. For example, when I point to a poster, together we can say, “Adventurous anteater a-a-a, busy beaver b-b-b, cut the cake c-c-c.”


Idea #2 Kinesthetic Review

If you want to add a kinesthetic component, you and your class can create a hand motion or body movement to go with each sound. For example, for “Kk” when students chant “kind kangaroo k-k-k,” they can jump up and down three times while saying the /k/ sound.


Turning Phonics Posters into Phonics Cards

Did you know you can easily turn your phonics wall posters into smaller cards that can be used for a variety of literacy activities? There are a few ways to do this depending on the size and format of your posters.

If your posters are in digital format:

You can reduce the size of each poster and print multiple posters to a single page by adjusting the settings in the print dialog box. If you are printing as a PDF, under “Preview” select “Layout.” Then click “Pages per Sheet” and choose between 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 16. When I first learned about this print option, I was so excited and printed in every size possible!

If your posters are store bought:

You can make smaller cards using the copy machine. Simply put the poster on the glass of the machine, reduce the size, and make a copy.

While it takes some extra effort up front, it will be worth it in the long run because consistency is so important when learning phonics. When students can take what they’ve learned in the whole group (through the phonics posters) and reinforce it at a literacy center (through card games), they are engaging in practice that is meaningful and connected.

If you posters are too large:

You can take individual photos of each one, upload them onto your computer, resize them, and print out smaller cards.

No matter which method you use, I highly recommend that you keep a master copy, laminate your cards for longevity, and make a few extras so you can maintain complete sets of cards year after year.


Idea #3: Using them in Guided Reading

Remember when I said I printed my phonics posters in every size possible? Well, here’s what I discovered.

Printing four to a page is a nice size for laminating, hole-punching, and putting on a metal ring for easy whole class review. This size also works great for guided reading when you want to introduce a certain vowel pattern or digraph in the text as a pre-reading activity.


Idea #4 Write the Room Activities

Printing six to a page is a great size for Write the Room activities. To set this up, hang up a selection of phonics cards around the room. You don’t want to hide them, but you also don’t want to tell students where they are. It’s like a scavenger hunt.

For example, you could hang up the long vowel cards for “ai, ee, ie, oa, and ue.” With a record sheet, a pencil, and a clipboard, students walk around the room, find each card, and complete a task such as drawing a picture, writing a word, or writing a sentence that matches the card.


Idea # 5 Use Phonics Posters as Game Cards

Printing nine to a page creates cards that are perfect for games like Go Fish and Memory.


Idea #6 Take-home Flashcards

With the nine-per-a-page size, you can also give students an alphabet set to practice with at home as flashcards. On just three pages, you can print the full alphabet.

I encourage my students to cut them out, and then tape them around their house. I teach them how to play “sound/letter” tag with their families. When a parent calls out a sound or letter, the student has to run to the poster, tag it and say the sound, and run back to the parent for the next one. It’s great exercise and a fun way to practice at home!


Idea # 7 Word Wall Headers

Phonics posters printed as a smaller size can also be used as word wall headers. If you include digraph headers in your word wall, such as “th,” your students will have a much easier time finding those tricky words like “there,” “they,” and “the.”


Idea #8: Matching Puzzles

Another fun use for phonics cards is to create matching puzzles. Simply cut each card in two. One piece is the letter and the other is the image.

I recommend introducing the puzzle as a whole class activity. With a class of 24 students, you can start this game after you’ve introduced 12 sounds. Cut the cards cut apart, mix them up, and put them in a box. Invite each student to draw out a card, no peeking!

On your signal, students mingle and find their correct match. Once students have made the match, go around the room and have each pair of students say the sound for the class.

You can also use this matching game as a literacy center. Just put 8-12 phonics card pairs in a bag and you’re all set. You can rotate cards in and out as you introduce new sounds.


Idea #9: Phonics Poster Collage

You can take a constructivist approach and make phonics posters with your class. Take a large piece of chart paper and either write the sound you are working on in the middle of it or glue on a phonics card. Tell your students their mission is to fill up the chart with pictures and words that have the designated sound.

Provide your students with the weekly advertisements from grocery stores, pharmacies, toy stores, etc. I pick up a few whenever I’m in a store and save them for projects like this. I prefer these over magazines because the store ads are picture heavy and have big and bold fonts, which is perfect for young learners. You can also provide your students with sticky notes, so they can draw and write their own pictures and words to add to the poster.

If you do a phonics college every time you introduce a letter, you will quickly run out of wall space! Therefore, I like to take a picture of each collage and print it out on an 8.5×11 piece of paper. You can laminate it, hole punch it, and bind it with metal rings to create an expandable class phonics book. Students will love looking at this book with each other. It becomes another form of “I Spy” as they try to find the picture or word they add on each page.


Using your phonics posters in interactive ways will engage your students and provide a solid foundation for reading.

You can find my comprehensive set of Phonics Posters and Chants here.

phonics posters with chants


And if you’re looking for more hands-on activities for teaching long vowel teams, check out my post here.

Lastly, I’d like to invite you to sign-up for my free newsletter. Not only will you get a free set of my Blends Phonics Posters once you join, you will also receive many other freebies, teaching ideas, sales announcements, and more. Get the free blend posters here.

I hope you find these teaching ideas helpful. I’d love to hear the creative ways that you use phonics posters in your classroom. Please share and comment below.

Thank you for stopping by The Candy Class!

Written by a Guest Teacher

16 04, 2019

End of the Year Writing Prompts

By |2019-05-07T10:26:01-04:00April 16th, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

Every teacher needs engaging activities to do with his or her students at the end of the year. If we don’t give them things to keep them busy, the little darlings might drive us crazy because they are so excited for the summer! However, we don’t just want to give them busy work. We want to give them quality assignments that will help reinforce what they have learned throughout the year, and possibly even be something they want to save to look back on one day.

That’s why I love using memory book writing prompts at the end of the year! They are fun and quality activities that keep my students engaged and working. Plus, the students really enjoy looking back on memories from their year. I have created a free resource with these types of writing prompts to help you get started. This post will also provide you with several more ideas for memory book writing prompts that you can use in your classroom.

End of the year writing prompts


#1 Good Citizen Moment

One activity your students can do is write about a “Good Citizen Moment” they had this year. Students will reflect on something nice they did for someone else, like helping a classmate with an assignment without being asked or playing with a new student on the playground. They should give details about what happened and explain how they felt during this moment.

end of year good citizen pic


#2 Funny Moment

The students can write about a funny moment they remember from class this year. They will include details about what was said or details about the events that took place that made them laugh. You can tell them their goal is to give the reader enough detail to make them laugh too!

#3 Favorite Field Trip

The students can write about their favorite field trip from the past year. They will tell when and where it took place, as well as details about things they saw and did there. They should also explain what they found interesting there or why it was their favorite field trip.

#4 Favorite Book

You could ask the students to write about their favorite book that they read this year. It could be a book that they read personally, a book from an assignment, or a book you read to them aloud. They should include the book’s title, author’s name, and explain what they liked about the book. Additional things they could do with this topic is write a summary of the book and include key details from it, or they could write about the book’s story elements such as its main character, setting, problem, and solution.

#5 Favorite Subject

Students can write about their favorite subject from your class. They should explain why it is their favorite, as well as give examples of the things they enjoyed learning in this subject. To be more specific, they could tell a story about their favorite lesson and what they learned from it. For example, they could write about a science experiment that they really enjoyed.


#6 Biggest Challenge

You could have your students think about the biggest challenge they faced this year and how they overcame it. It could be an academic challenge, such as struggling with a particular concept in math, or it could be a challenge in another area of their life. Maybe they overcame a behavioral, social, or emotional challenge. This assignment is great for helping them feel proud of their accomplishments!


#7 Summer Activities

Your students can write about things they plan to do in the coming summer. They should provide details about where they are going, who they will be with, and what they will be doing. They can also describe the feelings they are experiencing about whatever they plan to do, like being excited or nervous to go on a cruise, for example.

#8 Advice for a Future Class

The students can think about what it was like to be in your class this year. They should use their experiences to give good and helpful advice to your next class so they will have a successful year too. Examples of tips they might write are “Always tell Mrs. Smith the truth!” or “Make sure you read for 30 minutes every night.”

I hope these ideas will help you have plenty of engaging writing prompts for the end of the year, so your students will stay busy with something they will really enjoy!

To make it easier, I have created a ready-made End of the Year Memory Book resource that you can download here. It includes all of the ideas I mentioned in this post as well as many others. You can use the pages in the End of the Year Memory Book resource as separate activities, or you can put them together as a memory book that the students can take home at the end of the year.

end of the year memory book

After your students complete the memory books, they could even use the books to create keepsake videos for their parents. Find out how in my End of the Year Memory Video article.

I also have some free end of the year writing prompt pages that you can access by signing up for my free newsletter. You can download them as printables, or you can use the digital option that is in PowerPoint format. You can also easily upload the digital version to Google Classroom.

end of the year memory book freebie

Click on the picture or here to sign-up for the free memory book!

Also, I have a free tech course that will help you get a simple three-step system in place with using either Microsoft for Education or Google Classroom. You can find out information and sign-up for that here.

Using technology in the primary classroom to reach more students a free course


Thanks for stopping by The Candy Class! Happy teaching!


13 04, 2019

Spring Activities that Integrate Science & Literacy

By |2019-05-13T11:16:23-04:00April 13th, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

Spring has sprung! With warmer weather and brighter days, now is the perfect time to integrate science and literacy into your spring activities. However, with so many cute spring themes to choose from (just ask Pinterest), it can be tempting to let academic rigor fall by the wayside in favor of adorable spring crafts and projects.

Well, the good news is you can actually have the best of both worlds—fun and engaging spring activities that also meet Common Core standards—by incorporating science and literacy into your thoughtfully chosen spring themes. In this post, I’m going to show you my recipe for spring success and also hook you up with access to my free resource library at the end!


When planning your spring activities, stick to a simple format:

  1. Read aloud
  2. Reading response
  3. Extension activity

With this formula, you’ll save time, meet standards, and make learning hands-on, while also celebrating spring in meaningful and memorable ways. Some of my favorite spring activities that also lend themselves well to science and literacy integration are ants, bees, earthworms, the life cycle of a butterfly, the life cycle of a frog, the water cycle, the life cycle of a flower, and types of clouds.

Here are the details for planning each component.


Once you have chosen your spring theme, look for nonfiction read-alouds that support your topic. A great nonfiction read-aloud will use simple language and will introduce and define key terms. It may also contain some sight words and decodable words that match your students’ independent or instructional reading levels.



Most importantly, your great read-aloud will have excellent color photographs that will captivate students’ attention and demonstrate important aspects of the topic. Your students will enjoy pouring over every inch of high-quality photographs such as the inside of an anthill or a pollen-dusted bee flying from flower to flower.

If your nonfiction book is in digital format, you can easily print multiple pages to a single page and create mini-books for your students. You can use them in guided reading or whole class lessons, and students may enjoy highlighting sight words or vocabulary words in their own copies as a literacy center activity.

Pre-teach Vocabulary

Nonfiction books often have new vocabulary words that require explicit instruction for students to understand. Before starting a read aloud, you can introduce key vocabulary words on index cards along with a matching picture. For example, if you’re reading about the water cycle, you can introduce words such as evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Afterwards, post the vocabulary words in your writing center for students to use and reference.

To help solidify the new vocabulary words, teach a hand motion to accompany each new word. This is especially helpful for English language learners and is a kinesthetic way to commit science words to memory.

For example, for the water cycle, you can wiggle your fingers and move them up for evaporation, swirl your hands together above your head in the shape of clouds for condensation, move your wiggling fingers back down for rain, and join your hands together in a circle for collection.

Nonfiction Reading Tips

Reading a nonfiction book as a read-aloud is different than reading a traditional story. Think of it as being on an educational road trip with your students and plan on taking lots of stops along the way. You’ll want to pause frequently, sometimes after every page, to make sure students are understanding key concepts, are able to ask questions and make connections, and are noticing nonfiction text features such as diagrams, labels, and photographs.

You may even want to read the book multiple times to ensure students are grasping the new ideas and vocabulary. On a second or third reading, you can start reading a sentence aloud and then pause before saying the last word to see if students can identify it.

For example, you might read, “At 12 weeks, the tail is shrinking and is only a stub. It is a _____?” Students can raise their hands and say “froglet.”

Reading Response

After the read-aloud, your students can create a reading response craft to reinforce the new concepts. This is a great way to integrate literacy, science, and art into your spring theme. There are many options for nonfiction reading response craftivities including labeling a diagram, recording facts and observations, and creating a life cycle.



If you use interactive notebooks, you can have students complete the projects in their notebooks and display them at Open House. Or, the reading responses can be stand-alone crafts that can be used to create a cheerful bulletin-board display. Either way, students will be proud to share their work with their parents and the school community.


Diagrams with Labels

After discussing diagrams as a special nonfiction text feature during your read-aloud, you can have students create their own. Spring themes that work well for diagrams are the body parts of an ant, the parts of a flower, the water cycle, and types of clouds. With all four of these, you could create an amazing bulletin board with ants and flowers on the ground, and water and clouds in the sky.


With this ant diagram, students will label the parts of an ant. They cant attach this in a notebook or they can attach it to a sheet of paper.

Writing Response

Writing craftivities are another great way to supplement a read aloud and celebrate spring. You can do these craftivities as a whole class or put the materials and a sample in a center for students to complete on their own.


After reading about bees, you and your class can do a shared writing activity and create a list of bee facts on chart paper. Students can then work independently to make their own craftivity full of their favorite facts about bees. Worms are another small creature that students love learning about. Students can record their worm observations and create a simple accordion book.

For learning about flowers, students can create a book with a colorful flower as the cover. On the inside, students can describe the life cycle of a flower. Adding a writing-response component to your spring theme is a great way to integrate writing and science and demonstrate student learning.


Create a Life Cycle

After reading about the amazing transformations of frogs and butterflies, students can create their own interactive life cycles.

For the butterfly life cycle, students can cut and paste the four stages of a butterfly and hide them behind flaps on the butterfly’s wings. Using flaps can also serve as an assessment tool. Students will enjoy testing each other and their parents on the butterfly life cycle and revealing the correct answer. They will become butterfly experts!

For the frog life cycle, students can use a lily pad spinner to reveal each life stage. Matching up each picture with the correct description will be a worthwhile challenge for students and they may need to consult the book for help.


Extension Activities

There are many fun extension activities that you can do to celebrate spring and extend the learning for your students. If you are studying ants, buy an ant farm. If you are learning about worms, start a worm-composting bin in your room. Learning about clouds? Simply go outside, lay on the grass, and identify the different types of clouds in the sky. Of course, the most well-known spring extension activity is raising caterpillars and watching them transform into butterflies. If you time it right, you can release them during the last week of school or even during your graduation ceremony.



If you are looking for a comprehensive resource for spring, check out my Spring Activities Bundle here. It includes 8 nonfiction read-alouds that use high quality, professional photographs, and 9 reading-response crafts that can be used on their own or in an interactive notebook.


Also, how would you like free access to a teacher resource library full of quality freebies? Gain access when you sign-up for my free newsletter here.

For more tips on how to integrate science and literacy into your classroom check out these two blog posts, Fitting Science into Your Primary Class here and End of the Year Writing Prompts here.

I hope this spring success guide helps you make your spring activities interactive, artful, and academically challenging for your students. Science and literacy can easily be integrated into any spring theme, and by following these three steps your spring topics will never be the same!

Thank you so much for stopping by The Candy Class! Happy Spring!