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I always try and have students practice phonics skills in context.  Practicing skills in isolation make it much hard for students to transfer what they are learning.  These are some of my favorite ways for extra phonics practice in context.

Read the Room
I love using "Read the Room" at a workstation.  Students can use clipboards and practice finding words  hidden around the room based on the skills they are learning.  I use all sorts of "Read the Room" cards to practice a variety of phonics skills.  Here is a freebie to see what my read the rooms are like!


Build it!  Write it!  Draw it!
My students love these!  These can also be easily differentiated based on student need.  My intervention groups like using them on "Wacky Wordy Wednesday" where we learn new word patterns.   I've also used them at a word work work station.  This bundle contains short vowel, long vowel, blends, and digraphs! 


Phonics Task Cards
I've also used phonics task cards at a word work work station.  In addition, they make a great warm-up during guided reading.  Here is a freebie to try!  You can click on the picture below to see my bundle of task cards.  My bundle includes short vowel, long vowel, vowel teams, blends, and digraphs.


Decodable Books (A to Z)
I love how Reading A to Z has decodable books.  I like having decodable books available that are in a workstation based on the skills I have been teaching.  They are really easy to differentiate and can reinforce phonics skills.  I am very fortunate that my PTO purchased my license!  It is well worth it :)




I'm learned over the years that I'm kind of a control freak, but more importantly, I want my students to be successful.  

Fidgets are a great way for students to receive sensory input in a way that doesn't distract others.  I have found that it is very helpful to go over the rules and expectations for fidgets.  You can download my free fidget rules chart here!

The important thing about using fidgets in the classroom is to use them in a way that is helpful to the student and not distracting to everyone else. 
The great thing about fidgets are all the different tactile options.  My favorite fidget is a pink squishy ball, that feels soft, but you have to work to squeeze it.  Some of my students like fidgets they can squeeze and stretch, while others like ones they can twist and wrap around their fingers.  

My principal has purchased fidgets for our classrooms from the Therapy Shop. Below are my two favorite fidgets from them!   I've also had really good luck at Target...especially in their dollar spot!



I finally found the perfect container for my task cards! They come with 6 holders and a keeper box to keep them all together!  They are the perfect size and sets of 6 work perfect for differentiating work stations.  They are about $8 on Amazon for the set!  It is a great deal!

You can download these free editable labels in my store.  


Try out some of my free task cards and I also have task cards available in a bundle to save you money!




I love using Sight Word Mats!  They are a great work station for kindergarten.  I can easily change out the manipulatives and the students get practice with the sight words they need in a tactile way.  They are also an easy to differentiate work station!


I like using small Sterilite containers with snap lids to store manipulatives.  They are easy to store and stack!

Some other popular ideas are:
gems
play doh
wikki stix
unifix cubes
noodles



Last summer I made some posters for a friend and myself with a distressed wood look.  This summer she asked if I would make her some labels and banners that coordinated.  

Here are some photos of the farmhouse decor pack in use!  The baskets and book holders are from Big Lots.  The baskets come 3 in a pack and they come with a lid! The book holders are the best ones I have been able to find!  I love how tall and sturdy they are!  They are a big step up from my crates!


You can download the freebie #WORK banner here!




My family has always loved board games.  The past couple of years, we have branched out from traditional board games and I have been buying games that are more STEM related.  Here are some of our favorite games that I've brought into the classroom!

In the classroom, it is really easy to add a Thinking Games or Problem Solving Games work station during math time.

Gravity Maze is a favorite.  Students love solving the puzzles and it challenges their thinking.

Suspend is another favorite.  It is a balancing game that will challenge students and help them learn about engineering and science!  It is also the one game that I have to remind students of their voice level!


My son loves, loves, loves building with Gobbi construction pieces!  It involves problem solving, science, and engineering.   I'm a little obsessive compulsive with the magnetic balls...I don't want them to get lost.

My newest game is Laser Maze.  It has been a hit!  Students use lights and mirrors to go through a maze they build.  




I remember how excited I was when I began teaching 12 years ago!  I had my dream job and I knew was going to make a difference.  Twelve years later, I still work in the same school district, and I still work in a school that has about 85% students coming from a low-income home.   I still have the same excitement and feel the same way- that I am making a difference!

Not everyday is perfect and some days are harder than others.  You'll meet lots of people that have lost their "teaching spark" but don't let them bring you down!!!

I'm a big picture gal, and I know that what I'm doing is going to change these children's lives and help break the cycle of poverty!  I've been collecting the wisdom of experienced teachers from one year to thirty years experience!  I wanted to share with you some ideas that will help you survive your first year, help maintain your sanity, and keep you energized and excited!

Teaching Procedures
Jennifer from the Practical Primary Teacher and Carla from Comprehension Connection both focuses on classroom routines and procedures.  Jennifer says that it may seem like overkill to model and have kids do certain things over and over until they get it correct, but it will be worth it when they can do it automatically. It will save you from chaos and from wasting valuable instruction time. Remember...wasted seconds and minutes each day can add up to wasted hours and even DAYS over the period of a school year! Some examples of things to perfect: Coming to meeting area, lining up, leaving meeting area, drink and bathroom procedures, getting supplies, turning things in, going to centers/stations, cleaning up centers/stations, meeting at small group area.

Carla reminds new teachers to think about about the traffic flow- (least amount of wandering possible)! If you decide to change things up in your room, try to make just one change at a time and polish it before making another. Too many changes at once leads to a stressed teachers and confused kids.

Here is a checklist you can use to ensure you have taught all the procedures that you feel are most important to your classroom.  

Collaborate
The most frequent advice I was given was to use your fellow grade level teachers as a resource for questions, guidance, anything you need!  

Darcy from Ms. D's Literacy Lab reminds new teachers to become good friends with your literacy coach and reading teacher. They will be your greatest supports with ideas, websites, knowledge of your school's literacy closet, understand the language arts curriculum at all grade levels, and know your students' already !  

I love this great suggestion from Janiel Wagstaff:  One way to boost your skills is to observe expert teachers in your own building. Your literacy coach or admin can facilitate this.


Build Relationships
When it comes to students, Miranda J. reminds new teachers to create a bond with your students, relationships are everything. They will work and try hard for those they know care and believe in them.


Take Care of You!
Finally, Shelly T. reminds teachers to get plenty of sleep!!!  You’ll need it!  The first few weeks (or more) are going to be very overwhelming and your "to do" list is going to probably cause you lots of anxiety.  Make sure you take time to relax and do something that is not school related!  You can't pour from an empty cup, so please make sure to fill your cup!




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