Thursday, November 4, 2021

     Word Walls  
Building and Maintaining Vocabulary Throughout the School Year

Vocabulary is critical to building knowledge. The more words a person knows and understands, the better speaker, reader, and writer she becomes. 

However, teaching vocabulary is not an easy task for teachers. What words should we teach?  How many? How often? How exactly do we teach these words? Will students remember all the words and their meanings that are taught? Will students use these words in their speech and writing?

To answer all of those questions would take quite a bit of time and additional blog posts!  For now, I will share a few ideas to assist your students in maintaining and growing their knowledge of the words being taught.

I have found a Word Wall to be extremely useful. After selecting a set of 4-6 words from stories and articles in basal anthologies or 2-3 words per chapter from novel study books, I create word cards with large, bold print. Also, on each card is an illustration or photo to help students understand the word's meaning. These cards are laminated for durability. On the back of the cards is magnetic tape. I use a white magnetic wall board for display.  

Next, I introduce the words via an interactive slideshow.  For each word, its part of speech and definition are provided as well as example sentences using the word. The illustration on the Word Wall cards is also on the slide. There are two slides per word. 

Once the words are introduced, the Word Wall cards are placed on the magnetic board. I like to classify the words by parts of speech. Other ways to categorize are by story title or if reading a novel, by chapter titles or numbers.

Now, here's the key to success. Multiple interactions with these words is required if students are going to own them. Having a Word Wall allows you to direct your students' attention to a particular WW word at any time of the day. Below are some ways you can engage your students with these words.

Sample #1:  Refer to the WW cards throughout the day making connections with the words. Let's say one of your vocabulary words is announced, and the school intercom comes on. Your principal states, "Due to the storm, the school will be on a "rainy day schedule." After the moans and groans from your students, ask them what Word Wall word describes what the principal just did. Once the word is identified, have students brainstorm other situations in which the principal might have news to announce

Sample #2: Divide your class into small groups. Choose one member of each group to select a word from the Word Wall but only share it with his group. Spread the groups apart and have them create a brief demonstration or a very short play about their word. They can pantomime or use dialogue, but the WW word they selected cannot be mentioned. When the groups are ready, each presents their play, and the audience has to figure out which WW word is demonstrated. Students love creating and presenting these skits!

Sample #3:  Gather your students by the Word Wall. They will need pencil and paper or individual whiteboard and marker. Have them number their papers #1-#5. Inform them that they will be detectives trying to figure out the Mystery Word based on the five clues you will provide. Clue #1 is always used -- "The Mystery Word is a word on our Word Wall."  Each student will select a word and write it on their paper or whiteboard. For each clue you give, they must choose a word and write it down. If their word choice for Clue #1 fits the word choice for Clue #2, they write that word again. If their first word does not match the second clue, they must choose a word that does match. Each clue becomes more specific thus leading the students to the Mystery Word

Check out the sample below which is part of a resource for teaching the roots man- and ped-:

(Mystery Word activity is based on Patricia Cunningham's game, Be a Mind Reader from her book, Month-by-Month Phonics For Third Grade.)

Sample #4:  Choose a Word Wall word and announce this word as the Word of the DayFor example, you select the word, notice and its forms. Encourage students to use the word in their speech and in their writing throughout the day. Also, inform the class that for every correct use of the word, you will mark a tally on the board. Set a goal for the number of correct uses of the selected word. If your class meets the goal, reward them in some way. 

Here's how Word of the Day works. 

Soon after your announcement of notice as the Word of the Day, a student is helping a classmate edit his book summary. The editor says, "Marty, I notice that you have a couple of misspelled words. May I help you correct them?" Later during today's science lesson, your students write an observation of today's weather. One student has written: "Today I noticed a group of cumulus clouds. One in particular looked like a horse galloping across the sky." You, too, should use the Word of the Day when possible. For example, "I have noticed that many of you are getting antsy. Let's stand and do a little dancing!"

Friday, October 8, 2021

Pumpkins, Veterans, Thanksgiving FREEBIES!

 Happy Fall Season, me hearties! 

Where did the time go? One day it is summer, hot and humid! Then all of a sudden, the air is cool, and over night the leaves have turned into red and gold gems!

Speaking of gems, you have come to the right spot! I have some autumn treasure for you.

First, let's visit the pumpkin patch. 

This FREE product is a sample of an engaging and challenging Place Value Task Card practice set designed for a range of students. Use these task cards to differentiate for advanced second graders, to provide practice for third grade students, or to review with fourth graders at the beginning of the school year. There are 8 task cards. Each card contains a riddle involving two-digit and/or three-digit numbers.

If you want more task cards like the one above, check out the much larger set of cards. In the resource below, there are seven sets for a total of 42 cards!

For additional challenge, have students create their own task cards and trade with other students to solve. Also provided are blank riddle cards, recording sheet, and answer key sheet.

Our next treasure celebrates our country's veterans.

Schools are closed on Veterans Day to honor veterans, but what do our students really know about this holiday? To help my students become more aware of veterans and their service to our homeland, I created a resource that explains Veterans Day and connects students to veterans.

Your students will celebrate family members or friends who are veterans by creating a Veterans Wall of Honor. For each family/friend veteran, students will complete a Veteran Information Form that identifies the veteran, the branch of service, the veteran’s rank, years of service, and type of service. These forms along with veteran photos, if available, and blue or gold stars are displayed on a wall in your classroom or hallway.

Also included are:

• Parent Letter

• Veterans Day Book and Website Lists

• Veterans Day Circle Map and KWL Chart

• Veterans Day Cloze Activity

• Blue and Gold Stars/White Stars

• Veterans Wall of Honor Banner

Here is one more treasure for the Fall season. This creative  resource is focused on Thanksgiving. There are two writing activities. Activity 1 gives students the opportunity to reflect on what they are thankful for. It also walks them through the process of writing a paragraph.  Activity 2 is a couplet activity based 

on the picture book, THANKFUL, by Eileen Spinelli.  

Included are:

  • Graphic organizers
  • Paragraph sample
  • Revision checklist
  • Editing checklist
  • Final copy sheets
  • Teaching Tips

Thank you for visiting with me. I hope you found a treasure or two for you and your students. 

Have a wonderful Fall season!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Reading Fluency Fun

Reading fluency is the ability to read with accuracy and automaticity. When orally read, words come out effortlessly and sound natural. There is expression in the reader’s voice. Fluent readers recognize words quickly and group words into phrases. Because they do not have to decode words, fluent readers are able to put their focus on what these words mean. In other words, they comprehend what they are reading.

Nonfluent readers do not read with accuracy and automaticity. They struggle with recognizing words. As a result, they do not comprehend what they are reading.

Dr. Jan Hasbrouck, Ph.D. of Gibson Hasbrouck & Associates is an educational consultant, trainer, and researcher. She suggests that we think of fluency as a bridge connecting word identification to meaning. Without a fluency bridge, there is no comprehension.

Fluency develops over time. Some children acquire it easily while others do not. One way to assist struggling readers is through the use of repeated oral reading. The oral reading routine that I am recommending is based on the work of Dr. Timothy Rasinski, Ph.D., professor of literacy education at Kent State University.

Dr. Rasinski’s recommendation is to designate fifteen to twenty minutes a day on repeated oral reading. However, the time frame is dependent on the length of the selected reading material. As a result, up to thirty minutes might be needed. 

Repeated oral reading five days a week may sound like a boring activity to children and their teachers, too. However, Dr. Rasinski believes that an end-of-the- week performance by students motivates repeated reading.

Reading poetry, singing songs, giving speeches, performing dialogues/monologues, and staging readers’ theater inspire students to practice repeatedly which will lead to fluent readers. 

The fifth day performance should be a special event to celebrate reading fluency. Inviting relatives and staff members will motivate students to do their best oral reading.   

I have created a "FREE" resource that will help teachers set up a five day a week fluency program. 

                                                                                Included are directions and activities for each day of the school week as well as song lyrics to read or sing   
for the first three weeks. 

Also, there is a list of  links to lyrics and poetry for children. A Four Square Word Boxes recording sheet is provided for unfamiliar words found in the songs and poems. Not only will students improve their fluency but will build vocabulary, too.
Starting a program such as this can be challenging. Finding volunteers to assist on a regular basis is very difficult. However, teachers are creative, and they also believe "where there's a will, there is a way!"

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you are interested in a reading fluency program in your classroom, click on either of the Reading Fluency Fun pictures which will connect you to the resource. 

Have a wonderful school year! Please sail back for more teaching treasures!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Language Arts Sorting Activities + FREEBIES

TpT Back-to-School Sale 


 Welcome back, Teacher Pirates!  So glad you stopped by. Today I will share with you Sorting Activities for Language Arts!

As we all know, sorting is our way to categorize. For example, before throwing clothes into the washing machine, we sort the laundry into groups that can be washed together. We might categorize laundry by color, fabric material, or required temperature. 

Pull open the flatware drawer in the kitchen, and you see utensils placed together by their shape, size, and/or purpose.

Think about spoons for a moment.  There are soup spoons, dessert spoons, serving spoons, measuring spoons, cooking spoons, and more! 

Also, we don't just classify objects. What about events? There are sporting events - World Series, Super Bowl, World Cup, Wimbledon, etc.  Then there are holiday events - July 4th, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving, and so on.  Don't forget family events - birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, and more. Basically categorizing helps us organize and understand things, events, and ideas.


Now, apply categorizing to the content we teach in our classrooms. For instance, a science unit about animals will probably require students to classify animals: Vertebrates and Invertebrates; Warm-blooded and Cold-blooded; Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish. 

If your students are learning about U.S. Government, they will need to know about the branches of government- Executive, Legislative, Judiciary as well as the duties of each branch. During math we teach classification of geometric shapes, monetary units, and types of measurement (linear, capacity/volume, time). Throughout the academic year, our students are classifying and sorting in order to gain knowledge and to understand their world.


I discovered sorting activities when my principal introduced our staff to Words Their Way by Donald Bear, Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, and Francine Johnston. WTW is a word study program for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction, and Word Sort activities are the "heart" of the program. While using Word Sorts in my classroom, I discovered that not only were my students enjoying these hands-on and game-like activities, they were learning, too! 


After using WTW Sorts, I decided to create other types of sorting activities. One of my first was "Kinds of Sentences Sorting Activity" (statement/declarative, question/interrogative, command/imperative, exclamation/exclamatory).  At the time, baseball season was heading to the World Series, and my students and I were reading Lou Gehrig, The Luckiest Man by David Adler so I used a baseball theme. 

Included in this resource are four sets of sentences about baseball history facts to sort as well as a worksheet for students to write their own sentences based on their favorite sport. 

After writing their sentences,
students exchange them with a classmate and sort each other's set of sentences. When completed, students review each other's sort. If there are disagreements, they must explain to each other and their teacher how they made their choices. Requiring students to explain their sorting decisions provides teachers with insights into their students' understanding or misunderstanding of the concept.

I have also published a FREE "Kinds of Sentences" sorting activity if you want to try it out.


Another sentence related sort activity I created requires students to categorize fragments, run-ons, and sentences.  Since my students were studying weather during science, I gave this resource a weather theme.  (I am a believer in connecting content areas!)

Included are 30 task cards to sort. I recommend dividing the cards into three sets of ten or two sets of fifteen.  After completing the sort, have students select two fragments and two run-ons to rewrite as sentences.  A worksheet for the revision is provided. 

This Sort Activity can be purchased separately or as part of a bundle that includes a slideshow, three more engaging practice activities, and a two-part assessment.  

Here is the bundle link:


Homophones are great for sorting.  So far, I have designed three homophone sorts: 
Each sort is sold separately, and each is available as a PDF and a Digital product.  These sort activities are also included in bundles. However, only the PDF resource is  part of  each homophone set bundle. 

Included in each sort activity are sentence cards in which the homophone has been left out. Students must choose the missing homophone and explain to their teacher the reason for their choice.  Also each sort has its own theme/topic: Statue of Liberty, carnivorous plants, and cats.


Let's shift to figurative language which I so enjoy teaching. After creating a slideshow to introduce six types of figurative language and a board game for practice, I decided to provide my buyers a FREE sort. The focus is on similes and metaphors which are usually the first types of figurative language that are taught in the classroom.

In this sort there are twenty simile/metaphor cards. I recommend dividing the cards into two sets of ten. After completing each sort set, there is a critical activity that requires students to name the two compared items and to explain their similarity. A photo of the sort can be seen in the title box at the top of the blog page. 

If you are interested in this resource as well as the slideshow and game, below is a link to a past blog post when I first introduced these three resources.


Also, take a look at this more recent blog about how to vary the beginning of sentences. You will find additional FREE Sort resources.

I appreciate your visit with me, and I hope you found helpful teaching ideas and resources!  On the horizon are school start-ups so please sail to my teaching store for more resourceful teaching jewels and gems!




Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Language Arts Boardgames


Ahoy teaching pirates! Welcome back!  In my last post, I shared ideas for games using a traditional deck of cards to reinforce math skills.  Today's focus will be on language arts, particularly grammar skills.

Oh, I can hear the groans now!  Who loves grammar, right?  However, there are numerous grammar skills and rules that we, teachers, are required to teach.  Although when you think about it, knowing grammar concepts does improve our students' speaking and writing skills.  

To learn and conquer any type of skill, students must practice and review.  But honestly, when it comes to worksheet versus game, we all know which one our students would rather do.  Games are fun and engaging.  In fact, students often are not aware that they're learning and practicing a skill while they are playing a game!  

I must confess I love board games!  A lot of my childhood time was spent playing Monopoly, Clue, Game of Life, Scrabble, and so many others.


Click on either game to find a list of popular family board games.

Of course as a parent, I was always searching for fun learning games for our daughter who has become more of a board game fanatic than her mother!  As a teacher, I bought and made all sorts of games to share with my students.       

To help my students learn the requirements for regular and irregular nouns, I created a board game titled Plural Noun Land.  In English most nouns end with an "-s" to show plurality, but there are some nouns that require an "-es" instead.  Which nouns are these?  That is what our students must learn.  Do we add "-es" if a noun ends with "x"?  How about when a noun ends with "-o"?,  "-y"?, "-f"?  Then there are nouns that refuse "-s" and "-es" such as child, man, deer!  Very confusing, right?  

Click on the picture to view the game in my TpT store.

In this game the goal is to reach Plural Noun Land before your opponents, but along the way, students must correctly spell the plural form of various nouns.  (A stack of noun cards is provided.)  If the plural version is spelled correctly, then the player rolls the dice and moves closer to Plural Noun Land.  However, if the word is not spelled correctly, the player cannot move.  In addition, students may run into situations that will give them an extra turn or take away their next turn.  The game is a FREE resource.

The game is also included in the resource, Plural Nouns Bundle, which consists of a slideshow, sorting activities (another engaging type of practice), assessment, and a plural rules chart.  Here be some treasure, mateys!  


Another FUN and FREE grammar resource game your students will enjoy is Prepositional Phrases Race to the Finish game.  

Designed for two or three players, Race to the Finish is a board game that provides practice regarding prepositional phrases. There are four types of question cards that vary in degree of difficulty.

  • identify prepositional phrases in sentences 
  • identify prepositions and objects of prepositions 
  • count the number of prepositional phrases that are in a sentence 
  • name the noun or pronoun or verb that is modified by a prepositional phrase

 This game is also available in a resource   bundle that includes three additional   practice activities which offer a variety of   learning modes. Students act out   prepositional phrases in a charade type   game. They also illustrate prepositional   phrases in an art activity and write   captions containing prepositional phrases for a variety of photos.  

One more game treasure I'll bring to your attention is Figurative Language Adventure.

This fun board game will provide students with practice identifying six types of figurative language: simile, metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia, idiom, and personification.

The object of the game is to be the first to reach the Writer’s Toolbox which contains a variety of tools, or techniques, to help you write in a sensory and colorful way.  When students land on a colored box, they must take a card with the same color.  After reading the sentence on the card, they identify the type of figurative language being used. There are also picture boxes that move players ahead or send them back to start!

You can read more about this game and other Figurative Language resources on one of my earlier blogs.

As teachers, tutors, and parents, we all know how much children enjoy games.  So why not use games to reinforce learning?!  

Thanks for visiting, me hearties! I wish you a wonderful summer!  Be sure to play some games!  Yo! Ho!

Follow me on Facebook!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Fun with Learning Games


Welcome aboard, me hearties! The school year is finally coming to a close.  Even though it has been a difficult voyage to boot, end your school year with some fun!  Of course, we want our wee pirates to continue their learning so let's find some learning games to play!

However, I'm not suggesting online games, but if your classroom is still online, you probably have no other choice.  For those of you who are in-person with your students, I suggest card games.  My main reason for recommending these types of games is that they are social.  Students interact with each other and learn from each other when playing hands-on games.  Also, keep in mind that for most of the school year teaching was online with little opportunity for students to engage with their classmates.  

Now, you may be thinking that you have no card games in your classroom.  If you don't, how about a traditional deck of playing cards.  You probably have some at home and so may your students' families.  

Once you collect some card decks, consider teaching a few of the classic card games such as Crazy Eights, Go Fish, and Rummy.  "Why?", you may ask.  The answer is these are strategy games which help to develop and sharpen our brains.  

Here's a link with a list of 12 classic card games: story/1d153893aee53908749c1377c588928c

These cards can also be used to develop and review math skills.  For example, each student is given two cards.  They add the numbers on their cards.  The student with the highest sum collects all the face-up cards.  For a more challenging game include aces with the value of 1 and jacks, queens, kings valuing 11-13. The joker can be valued as 14 or 0.  In addition, increase the number of cards to be passed out to three, four, and five cards for students depending on the needs of your students. Of course, other operations can be used as well.  

Another math concept that can be practiced is place value.  First, determine the place value your students will work with- 10's, 100's, 1000's and so one.  If students are working with 10's, then each student draws two cards.  Next, students make the largest number they can with their two cards.  The player who has the largest number keeps all the played cards.  These games can be used with decimals and fractions as well.

The link below will provide you with more math games using a traditional deck of cards:

If you are in need of a resource that provides a higher range of games and practice for place value skills, please check out my product shown below.

Seven Games Included

Place Value Fever! games provide fun, engagement, and practice in reading, writing, and comparing multi-digit numbers from the thousands to the hundred millions as well as multi-digit numbers to the thousandths.  Designed mainly for 4th and 5th grades, this resource may also benefit 3rd graders who require a challenge or 6th graders who need to review place value concepts.

Thank you for visiting my blog!  I hope you found it useful!  Be sure to sail here again for more teaching treasures.  Yo! Ho!

Keep your eyes on the horizon!