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!

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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:  

https://www.kidspot.com.au/things-to-do/kids-games/indoor-play/snap-12-classic-card-games-to-teach-the-kids/news 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!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

How To Begin Sentences/Part 2

Ahoy Mateys,  and welcome back!  Before we begin, please keep in mind that there are FREE resources available to you today! 

I am excited to share with you ideas and resources to help you teach your students additional ways to begin sentences. In February, 2018, I wrote a blog post about one of the Six Traits of Writing. My focus was on the Sentence Fluency Trait and more specifically on using a variety of sentence beginnings.

As I wrote then, one reason for varying the start of sentences is to prevent the repeated use of sentences starting with a subject followed by a predicate which becomes boring after a bit.

Those variant start ups I discussed in that much earlier post are: 

If your students haven't worked with these sentence starters, you may want to read the February, 2018 post or visit my TpT store to take a look at the resource, Sentence Fluency: How To Begin Sentences Part 1/Grades 3-6/Distance Learning.

Today, I am adding on three more categories which are more sophisticated and more difficult to comprehend.  However, when your students master these beginnings, they will be strong and interesting writers!

First is the Infinitive Phrase, "to" + verb.

In the example sentence above, the phrase, "to battle fierce fires", tells the reader why firefighters use great quantities of water.   Although the writer could have begun the sentence with its subject, "firefighters", isn't it more exciting to begin with a phrase that implies that dealing with fire is a battle?

Next is the Participial Phrase, verb + "-ing"

Using the strong verb, "battle" plus "-ing", the writer explains how firefighters conquer the fire.  Again, the sentence could have started with "the firefighters", but "battling" grabs the reader's attention.

Finally, there is the Dependent Clause, also known as the Subordinate Clause.

Before students are able to use Dependent Clauses as a sentence starter, they must understand what a clause is as well as what the difference is between a Dependent Clause and an Independent Clause.  Also, they will need to know about Subordinating Conjunctions.   

Independent Clause
Dependent Clause
More About Dependent Clauses

Subordinating Conjunctions

The example pictures above are part of a PowerPoint I created to teach these more difficult ways to start a sentence.  The slideshow is engaging and interactive.  Also, content appears in small pieces. Below you'll see the Independent Clause slide as it first appears to viewers.  After the presenter reads the information at the beginning of the slide, she then clicks the mouse to reveal what is behind the first green box.  Revealing pieces of information one at a time helps to keep students focused.

Clicking the picture will take you to this resource in my TpT store. 

Along with the PowerPoint, I have provided practice sheets for students to write sentences beginning with these three starters I have shared with you.

Also, I have a FREE Sorting Activity resource in which students sort sentence task cards into the three starter categories: Infinitive Phrase, Participial Phrase, and Dependent Clause. (Click on the picture below to see the product in my store.)

In addition, there is another FREE Sorting Activity for the first four sentence starters: Adjectives, "-ly" Adverbs, When Phrases, and Where Phrases.  (Click on the picture below to see the product in my store.)

Thank you for docking at my blog pier.  Writing for all pirate teachers sailing the many seas of education is a pleasure, and I hope you found this post helpful.

Happy Sailing!


Monday, March 1, 2021

Folktales and Vocabulary

Storytelling is a part of 
every culture. 
  Before the printing press, before films and videos, stories were shared orally.  People    gathered around an outdoor firepit or inside by the hearth to hear tales and myths told by the storyteller.  As a result, these stories passed along the traditions and values of a culture from one generation to another.  Consider the following fables.  The Ant and the Grasshopper, teaches the listener to be responsible while The Boy Who Cried Wolf warns that telling lies can lead to danger.  Also, ancient folklore attempted to explain the mysteries of nature. Why does the moon change shape?  Why does the mountain spew fire?  Why do mosquitoes buzz in people's ears? 

One of my favorite language arts units to teach is folktales.  At the end of our study, each student selects a folktale, fable, legend, or myth, to tell to their classmates.   They are encouraged to wear costumes and use one or two props that help bring their story to life.  These presentations are spread throughout the week.  Before the story time, we push desks and chairs up against the walls in order to sit on the floor in a circle.  We make a fake fire using construction paper and place a flashlight in the center of the paper flames.  When the classroom lights are turned off , the stories begin.  At the end of each storytelling, we take a few minutes to talk about the moral of the story or what the story is teaching us or what the story is explaining.  What fun we have!

Below are vocabulary resources I have created for the folktales that are part of the anthology used in my classroom.  Students must interact with words in a variety of ways numerous times in order to understand their meanings.  However, I find that most basal programs do not provide enough interaction and practice of vocabulary words. As a result, I have designed these products to introduce words and their definitions with an interactive slideshow which can be used repeatedly for review as well. In addition, there are word and definition cards to be used as a game and review. There are three challenging practice worksheets that require students to process word meanings in a variety of ways. Finally, an assessment is provided in which students must use the meaning of the words to understand the context in which they are used.

Also included are:
• Student Objectives
• Common Core Connections
• Suggestions for reinforcing vocabulary meaning throughout the year
• Word list and definitions that can be copied for students to keep in vocabulary notebooks
• Answer keys

Here are a few websites about Oral Storytelling and Folktales that you may find useful.

Thanks for docking your ship for a while to read my blog!  If you have any questions or would like to share some ideas, please leave your comments below.  

Happy Sailing!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Digital Homophone Treasure


Welcome to the Pirate Queen's blog, me hearties!  As you see by this post's title, my focus is on homophones.  Yes, those irritating words that sound the same but have different meanings and different spellings!  As teachers we all have our little tricks to help our students understand the meanings and learn the spellings of these rascally words.  For example, do you define "there" as a word that indicates a place?  In addition, do you point out the word, here, embedded in the word, there?  Of course you do!  And I'm certain that you point out that the word, here, also indicates a place. If your students know that here is a place and there is a place, and if they can spell here, then they can spell there.  Right?!  Unless they confuse here and hear!  Oh yeah, then we point out that ear is embedded in hear and we use our ears to hear!  Sorry, I got carried away their!  Oops! I meant there!  See how easy it is to select the wrong word.

It's not that students can't spell homophones or they don't know the meanings or uses of homophones.  The problem is that when students are busy writing, they are focused on what they are thinking.  As teachers, that's wear, I mean where, we want their focus to be.  After their thoughts are completed, that's when the focus turns to the spelling of the words they have used.  But do students always go back and examine their writing looking for errors with spelling or incorrect use of words, such as homophones?  Of course not! 

Then what are teachers to do to help their students?  Here's an editing suggestion that was shared during a writing workshop I attended.  First, have students circle words they know and/or think have been misspelled. More than likely, those circled words will not be homophones. After students correct the circled words, have them underline all homophones they used.  Next, they read each sentence containing a homophone.   For example:  

                  Too study for tomorrow's science test, George went to his room 
                     so no one could bother him.  

If you have covered or reviewed frequently used homophones, your students will know that "too" is a synonym for "also" or is used to show excessiveness as in "too sick to play outside".  They will also be aware that "to" is often followed by an action as in "to play" or used to express motion or direction as in "went to his room".

The key here is to review homophones with your students periodically and provide them with engaging practice.  When reviewing, create with your students a reference chart that can be posted in the classroom.  Ask students in small groups of 2-3 to define "homophones".  After sharing their definitions, have them assist you in determining the best definition to write on the chart.  Next, ask students to brainstorm homophone families such as there, their, they're.  You may want to add these families to the reference chart.  Then assign groups specific homophone families to investigate. Have them determine the meaning of each word in their assigned homophone family.  Once they have defined their words, they should also write a sentence for each word. Provide each group with poster paper to create a chart for their homophone family.  These charts can be posted in your room for students to use as references when they are editing their own writing.

I also recommend homophone sorting and editing activities which are available in my teaching treasure chest!  Below is a sorting sample for homophones: there, their, they're.  The homophone cards are to be placed on the floor or table.  For each sentence, students must determine which homophone fills the blank.  Then the sentence is placed below the appropriate homophone card.  Students can complete this activity individually or with a partner.  When all sentences have been placed below the cards, students may check their sort with the Answer Key.  

Here is a sample of the editing activity.

Students read the paragraph looking for the homophones.  When they come upon one, they stop and check to see if it is used properly.  If it is the correct homophone, then students continue reading until they come to another homophone.  However, if an incorrect word has been used, the student draws a line through the wrong homophone and then writes the correct word above the incorrect one.  (In the above picture, there appear to be underlined words along the left margin.  However, that is not the case in the PDF format.) 

Both the sorting and editing activities are available as PDFs as well as TpT Digital Activities.

If you are looking for resources to introduce or review Homophone Families, my treasure chest has three slideshows you might find useful:

  • There, Their, They're
  • To, Too, Two
  • Its, It's   

Thanks for sailing to my blog during your very busy day.  I hope you discovered some valuable treasure for your classroom.  Please visit again.  In the meantime, happy sailing!



Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Digital Vocabulary Treasure


Ahoy, Matey!  Just like you, the Pirate Queen has been on lock- down for a while 
and still attempting to adjust to the "New Normal"!  Of course pirates are resourceful and resilient so I'm confident that I'll be able to weather this COVID-19 storm.
As you may know, Teachers Pay Teachers has made it possible for sellers to add an interactive layer to their already published PDF resources to create digital activities that students can use on their electronic devices.  For schools that are starting online, these digital resources will save teachers valuable time.  So today I would like to share with you some of my vocabulary products which have been revised with digital activities.  
Designed for Intermediate grades, "Prefix Hunt" and "On the Hunt for Prefixes" focus on twelve commonly used prefixes.  Each resource provides two to three sets of prefixed words for students to work with.  Below are the activities for each set of words:
  • matching games
  • drawing activities
  • practice worksheets available as digital documents
  • assessment available as digital documents


Also available with digital activities are "Root Hunt: audi/dict" and "Root Hunt: man/ped".  These resources can be used with grades 4th - 8th and provide engaging activities to reinforce the meaning of these roots and to apply those meanings to unknown words.

For each root, students focus on four words sharing that particular root. These words are introduced in a brief narrative, and students are required to use context clues to determine their meanings. Once meanings are verified, students engage with these words by writing definitions, drawing pictures, completing sentence stems, and listing related words and phrases.

More practice is provided with games. There are two matching games. One matches words to definitions. The other matches words to sentences. In addition, there is a board game in which players attempt to be the first to reach the Root Word Forest by correctly selecting one of four words to complete a sentence in order to move along the path that leads to the forest.  Although the games are not digital, the game cards for the board game are available as a multiple choice digital activity.

Additional word lists are provided along with “Word Parts Activity”, a strategy for identifying word parts such as prefixes, roots, and suffixes.  This activity is also available as a digital document.

Thanks for docking your ship at my blog post!  I hope you will sail back here when you need more teaching treasure.  In the meantime, sail safely!