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!

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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: 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!