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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!

11 04, 2019

Fun and Simple Activities for Bossy R & a Freebie

By |2019-04-11T18:25:38-04:00April 11th, 2019|Reading|0 Comments

I have some fun and simple activities I want to share to help you teach Bossy R. My ideas can be changed and used to teach other phonemes as well. With so many phonics concepts to teach, it’s hard to find time to create quality resources for all of them, so I like to use things that are pre-made. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just as much work to prepare other people’s resources as it would be to make my own! That’s why I love finding activities that don’t require much preparation either.

Fun & Simple Activities with Bossy R

In this post, I will share several examples of activities that will make teaching phonics much easier for you because they will require little prep, but will still be fun and effective in teaching phonemes like Bossy R. These activities will build students’ identification, blending, comprehension, and higher order thinking skills. Many of the activities I will discuss can be found in my Bossy R No Prep Free Sampler, which you can download here for free.

Free Bossy R No Prep Printables

The skill I usually start teaching phonics with is identifying the phoneme.

Identifying Activity #1 For a quick and simple activity to help students distinguish between words that contain r-controlled vowels and words that do not, you can call out different words that contain the letter R. When they have the r-controlled vowel sound, students can point their bossy finger!

Identifying Activity #2 Students can find and color pictures that contain the Bossy R sound. You can give students a reference sheet at the end so they can check their work.

The next skill I work on after my students identify and isolate a phoneme is how to blend it.

Blending Activity #1

You can write different Bossy R words on index cards and let the students practice blending the words. This can be used as an activity for individuals, small groups, or as a center activity.

Blending Activity #2

Students can show they know how to blend by completing activities that ask them to connect words to pictures. You can give students a reference sheet again to check their work.

Identifying R Controlled Vowels

Moving Beyond Blending

Towards the end of the unit, students can start demonstrating mastery of Bossy R by completing comprehension activities. These will help them practice reading Bossy R words in context in sentences, passages, or books.

Comprehension Activity #1

You can give students sentences to correct that contain words with the r-controlled phoneme. This not only helps them read Bossy R words, but it also helps them practice correct grammar.

Comprehension Activity #2

Students can identify Bossy R in passages they read by underlining them when they find them.

R Controlled Vowel Reading Comprehension Passage

Incorporating Higher-Order Thinking

After students have mastered a skill, I like to challenge them and give them activities that require higher-order thinking. An example of an activity that can help with this is for them to create their own short, silly stories using Bossy R words.

writing with Bossy R

I hope the ideas in this post will make teaching phonics easier. You won’t have to take out a lot of time to prepare or create materials, but you will still have fun and effective activities to teach phonemes like Bossy R.

If you want teaching ideas for other skills like segmenting and spelling with Bossy R, check out my other post Building Up with Bossy R here. It goes into more depth by talking about other focused skills such as isolating Bossy R, segmenting Bossy R, subbing Bossy R, and more. Additionally, you can find all these skills covered in my Bossy R No Prep Printables pack found in my TPT store. It includes 85 no prep printables covering everything from identifying to writing with Bossy R. Link here to learn more.

Bossy R Worksheets Packet for R Controlled Vowels

Click here or the picture to link to the Bossy R No Prep Resource on TPT

Also, you can receive many of the activities I discussed from my Bossy R No Prep Free Sampler when you sign-up for my free newsletter here.

Free bossy r worksheets

Thanks for visiting The Candy Class! Happy teaching!


8 03, 2019

How to Teach Guided Reading: Prereading to Word Work Extensions

By |2019-09-03T14:45:22-04:00March 8th, 2019|Guided Reading, Reading, Reading Strategies|0 Comments

Planning how to teach guided reading can be an intimidating task in the beginning. My first year of teaching, I was extremely nervous that I was going to fail. I had never taught a child how to read. Would I be able to do it? While I was far from perfect and had lots to learn, I ended up finding joy watching students take flight while reading.

Without a doubt, guided reading is my favorite thing to teach, so I am going to share today how to teach guided reading.  I will also include some tips and ideas that can be helpful to those looking for ways to improve their guided reading teaching skills too.

How to Teach Guided Reading


Before I jump in, I want to mention that I am a firm believer that students should read for the majority of guided reading. Other activities are to support their reading growth, and those should be short and sweet.

To show you how to teach guided reading, I am going to show you the framework by going over each component of a guided reading lesson, with tips and resources for each.

Prereading Activities

Before you begin to plan, keep in mind that prereading activities should be kept to a minimum of 5-7 minutes. The goals of prereading activities are to get students engaged with the text, teach new words, and review or introduce sight words that will help support them during reading.

introducing new sight words

Whenever there is new sight words to introduce from a book, this is the time to do that.

mix and fix it word work activity

If you are retargeting sight words from a previous guided reading lesson, you can review those sight words during this time as well. That will allow students to notice the words you just reviewed as they read. One way to review sight words is to have students mix up the letters of a word in a soup bowl and put them back together.

Missing Letters Sight Word Activities

Another activity is to have them look for the missing letters. It is also helpful to have the students write the sight word.

Additionally, it is a good idea to introduce new vocabulary during this time too, but remember to get to the reading. Don’t plan to do all these activities in one lesson. Completing one prereading activity will do, so keep the words you review to a minimum to stay on track with the time.

You also want students to get acquainted with the book. Asking students about the topic, taking a picture walk, or having students make a prediction about the book based on the cover are some ways to introduce the book.

If students will be reading the book again later, ask reading comprehension questions, such as questions about the characters, to pique the student’s interest in the story.

Teach a Reading Strategy

While I have heard some teachers say to teach the reading strategy after students read, I believe it makes sense to teach it before they read. This gives students the opportunity to apply it while it is still fresh in their mind. Would you remember to apply a newly taught skill the next day? Probably not. Teaching the reading strategy first means they will have a chance to apply it meaningfully. Being able to apply a concept immediately always encourages successful retention.

Reading strategy explanations should only take about three minutes. You want to introduce the strategy, model it, then have the students practice it quickly.

An example of how to teach a reading strategy:

We are going to hop through part of the book. I am going to read the sentence. (Read a sentence from the book but make a mistake on purpose that makes the sentence wrong.) Now that does not make sense. I am going to hop back and reread because I might have made a mistake. (Reread the sentence correctly.) Now that makes sense. I used the Hop Back Rabbit reading strategy. (Show the anchor chart or poster and discuss it.) When something does not make sense while we are reading or we realize we made a mistake, we can always hop back to reread. (Have students practice the strategy by choral reading a sentence from the book. Then pause and say, “Let’s hop back rabbit.” Have students read the sentence again.)

As you can see, teaching the reading strategy does not need to consume the lesson. The key is to hop back and review that reading strategy every now and then to reinforce it. Pun intended.

The best way to provide a visual to support the reading strategy is to use a poster or anchor chart. Posters can display the reading strategy as you teach it. These are also good for reference while reviewing strategies.


Guided Reading Strategy Posters

An anchor chart can ask a question to get students thinking, and their responses can be recorded too if desired.

This activity with the anchor chart is great for introducing reading strategies for the first time.

Guided Reading Anchor Chart for Reading Strategies

Prompting Strategies During Reading

You can reinforce reading strategies with the feedback you give to students as they read independently. When a student makes a mistake and keeps on reading, you could say a prompt. An example is to say, “Hop back rabbit to reread it.”

It is handy to have some prompts on hand for reading strategies, so you know just what to say to quickly guide students to apply that strategy. Remember, don’t take over their independent reading with a lecture. A quick prompt is all that is needed to redirect.

Performance Assessment During Reading

Performance assessments during guided reading are to simply observe students as they read and record it. Checklists and running records are the two assessment tools to use for this. Performance assessments will let you evaluate students and their reading levels, saving you a ton of valuable guided reading time. They also tell you when your student is ready to move on to the next reading level.

Level A Mastery Checklist

Now sadly, sometimes schools want us to apply several formal assessments that don’t always provide much value in actually guiding our instruction on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, we must do what we are told because, at the end of the day, we still have to make a living.

You can’t minimize the time spent on those required formal assessments. However, performance assessments will minimize your need to opt out of guided reading due to time constraints. Since performance assessments are quick, they allow you to get the information that you need daily to guide your day to day instruction.

Assessments for Guided Reading

Though sight words, phonics skills, and more can be assessed through observing students as they read, some other assessments will need to be done to evaluate skills that may not be measured by performance assessments. For example, you might still need to do an assessment for things like letter sound mastery, but you can do them less often if you are completing performance assessments. Minimizing your assessment time will help you get more guided reading lessons completed throughout the year. More guided reading lessons mean your students have more time to grow their reading skills.

After the Book

After students have completed independent reading, it’s time to zone in on reading comprehension. This can be done with a prompt or by simply asking students to tell you about the book in their own words. You only need a few minutes dedicated to this part of the lesson to make sure that they understood the story.

Extensions that Support Guided Reading

About ten minutes, give or take, should be used towards activities that support reading growth. These activities should include guided writing, word work, or phonemic awareness activities. You don’t have to include all three components with each lesson, but it is good to include two if time allows. You can also make a schedule, alternating between activities, to make sure you are covering them all on a regular basis.

Guided Writing Dictated Sentence

Guided writing is not the same as writing workshop. It should consist of a dictated sentence that incorporates sight words and graphemes that students are currently working on at their reading level. On the first day, students can build the dictated sentence. The next day, students can write the sentence with support. You can also have students write the sentence without support if you think they need more challenge.

Dictated Sentences for Guided Writing

Phonemic awareness activities play an important role in supporting reading growth.

Beginning Middle and Ending Sounds

If students have not mastered their alphabet, this is the time to work on that with them. Alphabet charts are a quick and easy tool that can be used to reinforce letter recognition and sounds. Alphabet books are another great resource. You can make it tactile by having students trace the letters with their fingers. During alphabet activities, you simply focus on a letter or two at a time. It is always best to start with the letters in a student’s name if they don’t already know them.

Sorting Letters by Characteristic

Other phonemic awareness activities should include rhyming and syllable activities. Asking students to identify words that rhyme by putting their thumbs up is a quick activity that can be done in a minute or two. Another effective activity is to have students clap out syllables.

Phonemic Awareness Activities

Word work tasks are also an important extension to support students with understanding phonics concepts. As a tip, I like the concept of using mats because they don’t involve prepping and managing a million pieces. They are easy to whip out quickly and to put away too! Plus, they are still hands-on and engaging.

Blending Words Activity

Some examples of word work activities include subbing sounds. This word munch activity has students spinning for a letter, covering up the first letter in the word, and substituting the sound with it.

guided reading letter subbing activity for word work

Another activity is to have students sort pictures by sound. You do need picture cards for this activity, so it does involve a little prep. If you laminate them, you can reuse the pictures cards for sorting every year.

Sorting by Beginning Sound

Word building is also a good activity to use for word work. You can actually use this activity to practice sight words too.

Building Sight Words

guided reading word building activity


Word work can be having students swap out letters for other letters to create a different word. I like to call this Extreme Word Make-Over. For example, sad gets changed to bad. Then bad gets changed to pad. Pad then gets changed to pat. Then pat gets changed to bat. This reinforces the concepts of beginning, middle, and ending sounds.

guided reading swapping letters activity for word work

These activities will help students strengthen their word decoding and word recognition skills. It helps students extend the guided reading lesson with guided writing, word work, and phonemic awareness activities.

Knowing When to Move Students Up a Level

Having a mastery checklist for each reading level will easily guide you when it comes to pairing students with the right reading level.

Guided Reading Level Mastery Checklist

Between occasional assessments and performance assessments, you can check off what students have mastered using this mastery checklist. Simply bump students up when they have sufficiently mastered that reading level.

Being Successful with Teaching Guided Reading

Keeping routine and consistency with these practices each day will allow students to grow their reading abilities. It’s important to constantly monitor progress and regroup as needed to best support student learning and growth.

Guided Reading Mega Bundle with Lesson Plans and Activities

Click to link to the guided reading bundle

To better support teachers, I put together a resource that includes all the activities and tools needed for guided reading levels AA-D in one large mega bundle. It includes everything, but the books! Literally, it is full of over 1,700 pages. There are many activities in a one page mat format. I tried to keep it as low prep as possible without compromising on the quality of the activities. Click here or the bundle picture to follow the link to the resource.

It is my hope that this bundle will help support teachers through planning and teaching guided reading to their students. It was created with a lot of love.


Guided Reading Freebie

Click to link

If you would like to test drive my guided reading bundle, I have a decent size guided reading freebie that you can receive for free when you sign-up for my free newsletter. You can do that here. Make sure to check your downloads folder for it. Click here to sign-up!

Also, make sure to check out some of my other guided reading posts here, here, and here.

Now before I close out, I also want to let you know about my free tech course. This free course shows you a simple three-step system for setting up the use of technology in your classroom. With the abundance of tech options out there, it can get overwhelming in the primary grades. The key is to wisely pick just a small amount of tools and add on from there later on if desired. This course will help you get a system in place, includes some free tech resources to utilize with the system, and even includes short student tutorials to get your class on board. Find more information about it here.

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

Thanks for stopping by The Candy Class. Be blessed!

Candy Class for Teaching Resources and Ideas

Jolene Mathew from The Candy Class







30 08, 2018

Use Tech Creatively in K-2: A Simple 3-Step System

By |2020-03-15T17:23:20-04:00August 30th, 2018|Free Five-Day Tech in Primary Course, Google Classroom Use, Technology in the Classroom|0 Comments

A free tech course to get it all up and running smoothly in your primary classroom without losing a bunch of class time.

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

Does most of the professional development for using tech in the primary classroom seem unrelatable to you when it comes to using some of these suggestions in your primary classroom?

Are you confused on where to even start beyond just downloading some free app where you see zero data on actual student work?

Do you want to use technology to incorporate more creativity? What about including tech with activities that involve more higher-order thinking?

Would you like to maximize the use of tech in your classroom, so you can better meet student needs?

Then you came to the right place for help. I have something for you that is going to help you become a rock star at using tech in your class! And it is all FREE…even the tech tools I am recommending! 

What is it?

It is a free mini-course that includes a clear three-step system that is going to help you and your primary students get set-up with using tech in your primary classroom…with activities that involve higher levels of thinking. It shows you how to get either use PowerPoint or Google Slides in conjunction with an app that allows students to draw. That way, students can turn in writing masterpieces and other creative pieces of work that utilize illustrations. Then it breaks down how you can easily share files back and forth.

It is all broke down in a clear three-step system, so you can easily implement it easily with your students. This three-step system is meant to minimize the use of time teaching tech, so you can maximize the use of class time for actual learning. It also offers hacks and methods to make accessing and using the apps as simple as possible for young students.

These tools I recommend flow together, and they can be used for a multitude of activities. You can incorporate content-rich activities if you choose. Students can create all sorts of types of projects.

Not only that, but this system has options that make it versatile whether you are using Google Classroom, Microsoft Office 365 with Teams, other learning management systems, or even if your school does not have you set-up with a learning management system. Yes, I have tools to recommend and will even show you how to use those, but I will be including options to make this work for just about any primary teacher.

Don’t worry, I am going to make it clear what options will work best for your scenario too! I’ve done the geeky tech specs configuring out for you, so you can run with it!

So what is this system? Well, it is going take more than a short blog post to really share it all. Instead, I have broken it into five lessons.

Also, would you like student tutorials to help you teach your students to use these tech tools in your class? Yes!?! Great! I actually will include many free student tutorials with it too. Instead, I will be giving you practical teaching ideas throughout, be sharing a three-step system for you to get students using these tech tools in your class, and even a free resource that you can use to introduce the tools in your class.

How do I sign-up?

This course is a free gift to those who sign-up for The Candy Class newsletter. Then after that, you will receive my newsletter with more teaching ideas to use with the tech tools, freebies, resource information, and more! I will even give you access to my free resource library. Get access to the free mini-course by filling out the form below.

Use Tech to Reach More Students in K-2

 Reserve your spot.

You will receive access to the free course, my free resource library and my free newsletter by signing up.



using technology in the primary classroom to reach more students

Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!

Sharing Teaching Ideas for K-2

Jolene Mathew 🙂



9 08, 2018

Activities for Teaching Long Vowel Teams in the Primary Classroom

By |2019-03-12T21:05:58-04:00August 9th, 2018|phonics, Vowel Teams|0 Comments

When it comes to teaching long vowel teams in the primary classroom, incorporating many different engaging activities is a must! If you are looking for some ideas and teaching strategies for teaching long vowel pairs, you have come to the right place!

Ideas for teaching vowel teams in the K-2 classroom


First, let’s talk about introducing the vowel teams to students. First, it is important to put the main focus on the five long vowel sounds. This will lead them to tap into prior knowledge, so that they can grasp the concept that ai and ay make a long A sound.  Besides introducing the graphemes to students that make each long vowel sound, it is also important to introduce new vocabulary too. There probably will be many familiar words when it comes to working with vowel teams, but there will probably be some new words too. Using pictures help a bunch with that!

long vowel team vocabulary cards

Modeling is an effective way to introduce these long vowel teams. Interactive anchor charts are a good tool for the job.  Incorporating sorting can make this interactive and will be more engaging for students than just telling them. That way, you can involve students by having them come up and put a word on the chart.

long vowel team anchor chart

Once students are familiar with many words containing vowel teams, one activity idea is to have them sort with some vocabulary cards. It is important to have visual representation at this point when working with young readers who are just learning their vowel teams. The focus at this time is really getting them to discern between the long vowel sounds and to become familiar with the different graphemes. Later as students master this aspect, they can go on to sort between ai and ay words to challenge them more and build up their spelling skills too.

Sorting long vowel teams

Another activity involves students identifying where the long vowel sound is in the word. Is it in the beginning, middle, or end? Students can use those vocabulary cards again, a fun party food tray, and some erasers to show the location of the sound. Students can use this activity in a center with a partner or on their own, or you can also have them work with you or an assistant in a small group with this also.

long vowel teams phonemic awareness activity

For whole instruction, you can also do an activity where students identify where the long vowel sound are located in the word. Simply say a word. Then ask if it is in the beginning. Students stay quiet if the answer is no or clap if the answer is yes. You repeat the question for both middle and end too. If you want to add an element of fun, you can let students use some clappers or even some cymbals instead.

clap for long vowel teams

Another activity is to use a phonics interactive notebook. This is a way for them to journal about the vowel teams, and it offers a way for them to revisit the concepts later. Students can sort between long o and not long o.

long o vowel team interactive notebook sorting activity

They can also avoid a shark “ai”tack by sorting long ai and not long ai.

long a vowel team activity with shark sorting

Students can also do some sorting on paper too.

sorting long u

Additionally, they can also play fun dice games to distinguish between long and short vowel sounds.

long vowel team games

Incorporating part or all of these activities should have students firmly familiar with the long vowel teams and the long vowel sound that each one makes.

Moving on to More Depth with Vowel Teams:

Once students show mastery of distinguishing between different long vowel sounds, they are ready to start word building. This is when you switch focus to the different vowel teams such as ai and ay. It is important that they know that ai makes a long a sound and ey makes a long e sound. That helps them with their decoding skills during reading tremendously! Also, at this point, they will also start to discern more between whether beach is spelled b-ea-ch or b-ee-ch.

There are many different activities they can do to help them learn the vowel teams. While no prep printables can be helpful, make sure to incorporate lots of fun games, hands-on activities, and even some technology.

Here are some ideas for hands-on activities for teaching vowel teams:

Students can do word building. It is a good idea when first getting started that they have some visual cues to help them out. Laminated word work cards are very helpful, and you can always mix them up. One day, they can use magnetic letters, another day they can use tiles, and another day they can use dry erase markers. They can also use the vocabulary cards to check their work with these.

ways to use vowel team word work cards

Puzzles are another activity they can do. Not only does that offer a way to have a visual cue, but it is also self-correcting.

long vowel team puzzles

Students can also use that interactive anchor chart as a center activity.

long vowel teams anchor chart

Games are another fun way for students to practice vowel teams.  They can spin and graph.

spin and graph vowel team activity

You can also involve some printables that include hands-on activities too. Worksheets do not have to be boring! Students can pull out some bingo daubers to select the vowel team.

long vowel teams bingo dauber activity

They can also practice reading words with spinning and sorting activities that have them pairing words next to pictures to show that they are reading those words!

long vowel teams spinning activity

matching words and pictures for vowel teams

Once they are showing some mastery, they can build full words. This involves a little bit more critical thinking, but it also involves some hands-on action!

building words with vowel teams

If you take some ice cream wooden sticks and index cards and write the vowel teams and alphabet letters on them, students can use these for building words and reading them.

vowel team ice cream stick activity

vowel pair matching game

For those with some computers, tablets, or iPads, you can also have them do some digital word building. If you want some accountability, simply use some recording sheets.

long vowel digital word work

Click here for the digital word building activity for vowel teams.


You can always create things with these ideas for your personal classroom use if you are into DIY. However, I do have many of these activities in a bundle and sold in individual sets in my store if you would like to save a huge amount of time.

long vowel team bundle

You can find the bundle by clicking here or on the picture. If you are interested in one of the individual sets, you can either click on one of the images above or link to it from the bundle. Please note that the vowel teams bundle does not include the digital word building resource. You can find that separately by clicking here.

I hope these teaching suggestions and activity ideas help you out in your classroom! If you would like more teaching ideas sent to your email, make sure to sign up. You will also receive a free set of long vowel and short vowel task cards for signing up! Click here to sign-up for those free task cards! 

activities for teaching long vowel teams


Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!

Candy Class for Teaching Resources and Ideas

Jolene 🙂







21 06, 2016

Those Diphthongs

By |2019-03-12T21:06:02-04:00June 21st, 2016|Phonemic Awareness, phonics, Word Work|1 Comment

If you have read the sister post on my r-controlled vowels here, you would have heard my spill about how I like to set foundations and build up when it comes to mastering phonics skills. I have these levels I like to use. First is identification, then isolation, blending, segmenting, addition (adding sounds together), and substitution. Once students get those foundations set, then they are well prepared to spell the words, read the words, and write with the words. Now if you are saying, say what to all that, I actually have broken down each area below and put some suggested activities with each. With many of the areas, some phonemic awareness activities can be used during carpet time or in small groups. However, I have included some actual phonics ideas with each area too.

1. Identify Diphthongs. Here students are learning to identify words that contain those diphthongs. This typically involves distinguishing between words that contain a diphthong and those that don’t.

Identifying Diphthongs Activity #1: For a phonemic awareness activity, you can simply name words. Than students can do one of the following reactions below as a response to the word. Of course, for the diphthongs that sound alike, you can choose between one of the pairs to decrease confusion. I just wanted to throw some options out there for you to choose. 😉

Students can put on a frown for words with the “ow” sound.

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Students can hold their ears like it is loud for “ou”.

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They can make crab claws for “aw”.

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They can launch when they hear “au” by putting their hands together and making a rocket go through the air.

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Students can give “the look” for words with “oo”  as in look. (Haha, I love this one…isn’t she so precious! And having a class giving the look…hysterical!)

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They can reach for the moon for “oo”.

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They can point for “oi”.

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They can shake their head with joy for “oy”.

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Identifying Diphthong Activity #2: Sort words for Phonics Activity. Students can sort words that have the diphthong, and those that do not.

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2. Isolate Diphthongs. Here students isolate or locate where the diphthong sound is in the word.

Isolating Activity #1: Where it is. You can place out just about anything for this activity, counters, traditional box frame, and TOYS!!! You say a word and students tap if the diphthong is in the beginning, middle, or end of the word.

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Isolating Activity #2: Students show the isolated sounds by writing the grapheme where it belongs.

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3. Blend Diphthongs. Here students take the individual sounds and put it all together. Getting students to blend the words fluently for reading is the goal.

Blending Activity #1: Say each phoneme separately and have students blend them together. Example: Say h-oo-p, and Students say hoop.

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Blending Activity #2: Blend the letters. You can write some words on some index cards and let students practice blending the words in small groups or as a center activity.

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Blending Activity #3: Show your blending. Let them show you their blending on paper with activities that require them to connect words to pictures.

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4. Segment Diphthongs. Here students break apart words that contain diphthongs. An example is the word boot. B-oo-t. This is different from isolating the sounds because here students are dealing with each sound in the word, instead of only isolating where the diphthong is located.

Segmenting Activity #1: Toy stomp the sounds. For a phonemic awareness activity, students use a toy to stomp out the phonemes in the word. Example: Stomp Book. B-oo-k.

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Segmenting Activity #2: Segmenting in the box. You can actually do a simple phonemic activity with this. Say a word. Students point to each box as they say each segmented sound.

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Segmenting  Activity #3: Segmenting in the boxes (phonics style). Students segment the sounds by writing the phonemes in the boxes.

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Click here to get to this resource. 


5. Add the phonemes (or graphemes) together. Here additional phonemes (or graphemes) are added.

Adding Activity #1: When aws become paws. Say some words and have students add an additional phoneme. Example: What word would you have if you added “p” to aw? Paw. What word would you have if you added “t” to oy? Toy. What word would you have if you added “h” to owl? Howl. (Isn’t the kitten sooooo adorable?)

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Adding Activity #2: Word adding. If you have some dice with graphemes on them, students can do some word adding to form words.

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6. Sub Diphthongs. Here students play around with the words by subbing phonemes in the word for other phonemes.

Subbing  Activity #1: Turning books into cooks. Say some words and have students sub one of the phonemes for another phoneme. Example: If you take the word, book, and change “b” to “c,” what do you get? Cook. If I take the word, down, and change “d” to “cl,” what do I get? Clown.

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Subbing  Activity #2: Word Claws. Give some word cards to students and a toy claw . Have students pinch off the phoneme and add a different letter on top to form a new word.

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Subbing Activity #3: Students can sub the beginning grapheme for another sound and illustrate the new word.

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7. Moving Up to Spelling with Diphthongs. I like to incorporate spelling too. I think it important students have time to develop some phonemic awareness and phonics skills with the words before they are expected to memorize a bunch of spelling words though. Just makes spelling much more easier!

Spelling Activity #1: Build the words. Students can use letter manipulatives to build the words.

Spelling  Activity #2: Crossword Puzzles. I love using crossword puzzles for spelling practice because students are practicing their spelling, and they don’t even realize it!

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8. Comprehending Words with Diphthongs. It’s important that students read words with diphthongs within context.

Comprehending Words Activity: Students can identify words they see with the diphthongs in books or passages they read.

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Click here to get to this resource.

9. Incorporating Higher-Order Thinking with Diphthongs. I believe it is important to push the boundaries of simple identification and application to synthesis and creativity. Ok, say what? It’s important to push them up on that Bloom’s Taxonomy with higher order thinking aka use their brains!

Higher-order thinking  Activity: Have students use a list of diphthong words to write a fun, short story.

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Some organization inspiration. Now that I shared many activity ideas, I would like to share how I organize my no prep printables. I have these broken into different sections with the section dividers I created and include in the resource. It is so nice to have them all pulled together like this, and the levels build up from identifying to writing.

Click here to get the no prep diphthong printable pack. 

I hope I inspired you with many ideas for teaching those diphthongs! Make sure to get on my email list for some more inspiring ideas right to your box! I’m not into spamming, I promise!

Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!

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Jolene 🙂

18 05, 2016

Ideas for Not Teaching a Boring Adjective Lesson

By |2019-03-12T21:06:02-04:00May 18th, 2016|Grammar|1 Comment


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Hi everyone! I wanted to share with you several ideas for teaching adjectives, so you never have a boring adjective lesson again! (And sorry about the stinky skunk pic. Made me laugh, so I could not resist. Hopefully, some of you will get a giggle from it. 😉 The stinky skunk is my adjective mascot for teaching adjectives.)

Idea #1: Create an Adjective Monster- If you got a smudge of art talent or you just don’t care about art perfection on anchor charts like me, you can have each student use one adjective and a noun to describe what the monster will look like. You then either draw or add the monster parts as you go along. Don’t forget to write those amazing adjectives around your monster!

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Idea #2: Lots of Feet- Students can look around at the feet in the classroom to generate a list of adjectives. Don’t forget to encourage the adjectives for which feet? Those feet.

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Idea #3: Brainstorming Adjectives- Make three anchor charts each.
Put these questions on each one:
•What kind?
•How many?
•Which one?
Give each student a marker. Divide the class in groups. You may want to have some groups sit out while three groups work on the posters at the time to tame the chaos and make room for everybody. Each group will write as many adjectives as they can think of to answer those questions. After a minute, you rotate the groups. Alternatively, you can have charts up for smell, taste, looks, quantity, etc.
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Idea #4: Sprinkle Adjectives in Your Writing- Have many adjectives written on paper that is shaped and colored like sprinkles. Students can use these as reference to sprinkle adjectives in their writing as they edit. It’s good to remind them to look for nouns that have no sprinkles.
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 Now actually, the cupcake was just added in the picture for fun. Just having the “sprinkles” handy is all that is needed for the activity, but I could not resist adding a cupcake to it, lol! Cupcakes are always optional though ;). You can actually write the words on color paper and just cut them out in this shape. I recommend laminating them.
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Idea #5: Word Hunt in a Book- Students can keep a handy writing pad to record adjectives they find as they read. I’ve used these printables, but you can totally put it in a notebook too.
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Idea #6: Word Hunt Sorting- This goes with the idea above about finding adjectives as they read, except they take it a step further by sorting the word into a category. The categories can be either the questions, What kind? How many? Which one? Alternatively, the categories can be smell, look, taste, quantity, touch, etc.

Idea #7: What’s in the Box? This can be done a few different ways. You can place something in a box and describe it to the classroom with adjectives. Students will have to guess what is in the box. Alternatively, you can have numbered boxes (or bags) with objects inside with a card in front that describes the object inside it. Students will have to write down their answers as they rotate from box to box (or bag to bag). At the end, students share their answers as a class. You then reveal what was inside each box (or bag).

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Idea #8: Build a Sentence Together: You start with a bland sentence like, “My dog ate.” Students each take turns adding an adjective to the sentence. You can add some more nouns in there if needed, of course. Together, you build a descriptive sentence as a class.


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Idea #9: Adjective Round Up: This is an adjective game you play with the class. Students are given a few minutes to list as many adjectives as they can on a sheet of paper (you could even have them lists adjectives to describe a noun of your choice). After time is up, they pair up with a student to compare the lists. They must mark off any adjectives that are the same. They then switch to another partner to compare lists. Once again, they mark off any adjective that is the same. You can have them switch as much as you like. At the end, the person with the most adjectives remaining wins.

Idea #10: Empty Noun Hunt: As students are reading, they look for nouns with no descriptions. They rewrite the sentence with some adjectives.

Idea #11: Describe a Picture: Students describe what’s in the picture with adjectives. You can do this as a whole group instruction and record their answers on a board if you like. I like the idea of using something whimsical like this picture below.
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Idea #12: Adjective Eyes: You share some sentences with the classroom. Students look for the adjectives in the sentence. Alternatively, task cards with sentences can be used in a center. You can make these fun by adding some fun glasses for looking or use a pointer with big eyeballs.
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Find these task cards here. I also have them in my Everything You Need to Teach Adjectives unit.
Idea #13: Adjective Games: I like to use games in centers for students to have more hands-on time with adjectives. For students who need a bit more help, I like a game of memory, cover up activities, and graphing activities. Once they get the hang of identifying adjectives, I definitely want to move them up with their critical thinking, so I incorporate using adjectives in sentences too. I’ve even figured out a way to have them use adjectives in a game of bingo! I don’t have a picture here, but I have a race with sentence making that goes with the spinners too. There is three different spinners, and I have seven activities I use with those three spinners. I am all about repurposing a game board for another activity. 😉 Of course, you can always put some adjectives on some index cards and make some memory and gold fish games.
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Find the spinner games here. I also have them in my Everything You Need to Teach Adjectives unit.
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Find these game cards here. I also have them in my Everything You Need to Teach Adjectives unit.
Idea #14: Printables are OK. Sometimes, you just need a printable. I totally get that. I like to use no prep printables that still incorporate some fun like dabbing, and I like printables that have students applying things too. I also like to integrate reading comprehension.
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Find these no prep printables and many other resources by clicking here.
Idea #15: Integrate Writing: For me, the main reason a student should know about adjectives is not so they can diagram a sentence, but so they can use those adjectives! Sure diagraming a sentence is important, but that is not the ultimate goal. I think it is important for students to tap those higher thinking skills too, so incorporating a writing activity with the integration of adjectives is a great way for students to use those more creative thinking skills to synthesize what they know into something new as they use those adjectives.
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Find this writing activity that incorporates higher order thinking and many other resources in my Everything You Need to Teach Adjectives unit by clicking here.

Idea #16: Journal It: I like the idea of students keeping a journal because students can revisit their journals. There are multiple ways to keep a journal.

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Find the interactive notebook entry, journal entry, and many other resources in my Everything You Need to Teach Adjectives unit by clicking here.

I hope you enjoyed these ideas! I have many other grammar and vocabulary posts in the work, so make sure to subscribe for email to get more ideas!
Thank you so much for stopping by the Candy Class!
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Jolene 🙂


15 05, 2016

End of the Year Memory Video

By |2019-03-12T21:06:02-04:00May 15th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments


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Hi everyone! I had an idea several months ago. What if students read through some or all of their memory books on video, and the video was shared with parents as a keepsake gift? Then I had to go make things complicated thinking it involved some app and possibly even screen shots to use that app. So I placed the idea on the shelf until recently when it occurred to me that the already existing “camcorder” on a phone or tablet was really all that was needed after all.

After you film the video, it can be uploaded to email and sent out to parents as an end of the year gift. Of course, some of you will want to be all fancy and edit the video…if you know how to do all that and got lots of hours of time…go for it, lol! However, that is not all needed to make it special. With the child sharing a special memory from school on video and something they learned, its enough to make any parent’s heart go pitter-patter and be thankful to have that moment in time of their child to look back on many years from now. And you can still tie it all into learning with some of those speaking and listening standards. 😉 Personally, I like the idea of using the video with a memory book that they hold up.
Of course, you don’t have to hide the child’s face like I did in my video. They can stand in front of the camera and present with their memory book in hand. You can find a ton of end of year memory books on TPT. I have one in my store too. It has a lot of page options to choose from and you can simply select the pages you want to use. These actually come in black and white. I might be adding the color pages as an option though.
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I had a lot of fun coming up with page ideas for this book, and this page is my absolute favorite because of how it encourages and inspires children that good can come from any struggles they go through.

Oh, and I actually printed the photos on regular paper and attached them on the pages. However, students can totally draw there instead too.
Happy video recording!


Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!


Jolene 🙂


1 02, 2016

Blending those Blends & Free Blend Posters

By |2019-03-12T21:06:04-04:00February 1st, 2016|Freebies, phonics|10 Comments

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Hi everyone! I wanted to share some ideas for teaching blends in the classroom and a freebie to be able to do just that!
Idea #1: Incorporate phonemic awareness in the morning through fun chants.
These posters I’ve included below each have a chant at the bottom. It’s a simple chant, where I say, fluttering fly fl-fl-fl, plucking plums pl-pl-pl, clustering clouds cl-cl-cl. Chants have been something that have been a part of my classroom since my first day teaching, but I started off with a different chant format that I have improved over the years. I think it also has been a great way to get me to wake-up in the morning, lol! If you got a projector, you can actually project the pdf on the board instead of holding up the posters!
Idea #2: Play a quick game of memory with the blend cards during guided reading.

While these are the size of a full page, did you know that you can actually adjust your pdf printer settings to print 4 to a page? Yes, you can! I’ve included directions to do this. This means you can use these for a quick game of memory during guided reading. Easy, peasy.

          Idea #3: Have a “What Begins With….” literacy center.

These can be set-up in a center, and students can write words on a blank sheet of paper that begin with the letter.

Idea #4: Blend up words with the class.
While either projecting the pdf of these on the board or using the blends poster, you can have students write a word on a sticky note that begins with the blend and bring it up to the classroom.

Another idea, you can record words on the board that students blend-up.

Idea #5:  Introduce new blend words during guided reading.

During guided reading, you can use the posters (or mini-posters) to introduce any new words that start with the blend.
Idea #6: Ring it up.
You can print 4 to a page, put them on a ring, and have students use them as a writing reference in a writing center/station or for review.

Idea #7: Go on a blend hunt.

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Students can use the a mini-version of the blends poster as a reference tool while they are reading. They can then record any newly discovered blend words in a journal or on a piece of paper.

Not only do these activities work great for blends, but they work great for short vowels, long vowels, ending blends, digraphs, and other graphemes!

 sound charts gold

Here is the freebie! It includes several L blend posters! I hope it helps your students to master those blends!

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Click on the Image to Link

I am also linking up with many other AWESOME teacher-authors who have tons of great tips and freebies! Make sure to check them all out!

Thank you so much for stopping by The Candy Class!
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Jolene 🙂
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