Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sight Word "Go Fish"

Recently I had the sweetest student teacher in my class. It was a thought provoking experience- it certainly makes you aware of your own little idiocyncrasies and question why yourself about your teaching and learning program.

It also means that for a block of time (in this case, one week), you have a student teacher in full control of your class. So all of a sudden you have time to GET THINGS DONE (of course I was still busy supporting them in their new role etc, but it is nowhere as full on as fulltime teaching).

It was a bit of a shock to the system initially. There are so many things to get done that I didn't quite know where to start. However, after 5 minutes the shock wore off and my hands and mind were racing.

I have been meaning to create some more learning activities for my two dyslexic students, and here was the perfect opportunity. First stop- Adrian Bruce. Adrian runs an amazing website dedicated to free, printable learning games and activities. If you haven't already been there, call into for a plethora of awesome activities.

In particular, I made this sight word game (link at the end of this post). It is based on the more common card game "Go Fish", but instead of finding pairs of digits, the students are finding matching words from the sight word lists. I followed Adrian's lists, but with a few adaptations in the actual making. He suggests printing and laminating the cards, but I made them up on cardboard cut into large playing card sized squares. I think that this is easier to use/ hold, a bit more durable and easier to make and replace. Its also pretty darn cost effective.

I also used a blue permanent marker to highlight blends/ digraphs etc, as this is currently a learning focus for us. As I made up multiple sets all in one go, I made a small mark on the back of each card to distinguish between the sets. Usually I would put a matching stickers on the back of each set, but just gave up this time. Each set is stored in a little zip lock bag, and popped into their reading group box.

The students absolutely love the game. They naturally adapted it to a sight word memory game after a while, and alternate between the two games as desired. It is a popular request as they get to pick someone from another (higher) reading group to play with.... and will often win! Thank you Adrian Bruce and thank you student teacher!

Link to Sight Word Go Fish:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sitting Pretty

We don't have a couch in our class this year. When I moved into the new (but oh so very old) classroom at the start of the year, there was no couch available. And I am yet to source one myself (still looking).

I miss the couch, its a lovely place for the children to snuggle with a book, to rest if feeling unwell or to perch on as a privilege. In the past I would have a quick lie down on our class couch before a late night meeting or in an odd lunch break if feeling unwell.

Classroom couches are often saggy baggy and wrinkly (much like me), and usually have ripped covers and horrific stains (seriously.... where did those off putting marks come from?)

Last year I managed to pick up some throw cushions for our class couch for the bargain price of $1 each from Habitat for Humanity. They were quite big, nice and comfy and an uninspiring beige color. A run through the washing machine with half a bottle of disinfectant and they were good to go.... but really really boring.

Of course, there is only ONE solution possible... new covers. Now it just so happens that every year I support the Canteen bandana campaign and buy at least one brightly colored bandana. I had 6 sitting still in their wrappers at the bottom of a drawer... ready to become instant cushion covers! I had also purchased the non-adhesive type of Velcro one day by mistake, so that was also on hand.

These covers are truly easy to make. Just sew the Velcro onto two bandanas, then stitch the bandanas together on the remaining sides. Voila! Instant cushion cover that looks divine.

I took these cushions with me when I moved into my new (but oh so very old) classroom this year. They are kept in the library corner for the children to curl up on.

The cushion with the black side on it has names written all over it as part of the design. The children particularly love reading the names and finding the names of their friends and family. These cushions are the cheapest way that I can reproduce the magic of the classroom couch... and are much more space-friendly.