Sometimes, introducing a new phonics sound can feel like getting a square peg in a round hole...amirite?

And getting first graders to apply those newly taught sounds in their writing is....yeah, the headache of Winter time in first grade!

So, anytime I can attach phonics rules to an engaging story is a win for me!  For many years, I've used stories I've heard, retold and made up to attach to phonics sounds.  It gives those letters life and helps my first graders tune in to my mini-lesson on our focus sound and remember those sounds when it comes to writing.

Recently, I started adding emojis to my sound stories with my tutoring kiddos and it's been a HUGE hit!  I've already blogged about my daily and weekly phonics routine, but today let's peek into how I introduce new phonics sounds with emoji cards!

Get It Ready

Before I started using Emoji Sound Stories, I prepped all of my materials.  Honestly, the prep is super easy and takes SO much less time than making anchor charts from scratch every year like I used to do!

The Emoji Sound Charts for students are ready to print and laminate.  I print one for each student to keep in their book boxes for independent reading time.

Then, I print the Emoji Anchor Charts and the sound stories.  I glue the sound story to the back of each anchor chart.  This makes it easy for me when I introduce the new sound--the story is right there for me to refer to as I hold up the chart for the kids to see!

I also print an extra set of sound stories to keep on a ring at my Guided Reading table.

Mini-Lesson

Once I'm prepped, I'm ready to teach--and I'll never have to prep again! #hallelujahchorus

When it's time to introduce our new sound, I just pull the anchor chart from my storage box and tell the story.

This is a VERY short lesson, especially since I embed this into my Interactive Phonics Lessons.  Instead of using the youtube video link to intro the sound, we use our Emoji Sound Story.  After I read the story, we read the 3 sample words on the anchor chart with the focus sound.  Then, we brainstorm other words that have our focus sound and write them together.

Independent Practice

There is more that we do with our sounds together during our Interactive Phonics Lesson and you can read about that here.  But our Emoji Sound Stories get used again during our independent reading time.

Students warm up with the Emoji Sound Charts before reading some familiar reading in their book boxes.

If we use our Emoji Sound Charts as a warm up before Guided Reading, I like to pass out mirrors while we practice our new focus sounds so that kids can watch their mouths try to match the Emoji faces!

You can find all the materials for Emoji Sound Stories here!  And if you are interested in my Interactive Phonics Units, you can find the year long bundle here!
   

Do you know any preschoolers that struggle with obedience?

I'm raising two hands and two feet on that one...LOL!

Okay, okay, so maybe that's not the best question to ask!  Obedience is an important lesson for kids of all ages.  In Sunday School, we tackled the idea of Biblical obedience.  We took a look at what the Bible says about obeying and HOW the Bible teaches us to obey!
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Here's an overview of our unit with our unit Bible verse (you can read about our Bible verse routines here) and our anchor chart.  I love having unit anchor charts that are interactive for preschoolers.  It's perfect for reviewing each week because we can add and readd the color pictures each week.  Plus, since it's interactive, it keeps my 3 and 4 year olds engaged during storytime! #winning

Exploration Stations

The other thing I love about the anchor charts being interactive is that they can double as an exploration station at the beginning of our class time!  My sweeties love matching the pictures and talking about the stories!

Exploration stations our just what they sound like: A time for my preschoolers to come in before Bible Storytime and explore games and activities that reinforce our big ideas for our unit and lesson.  Here are a few of the stations we used to reinforce Biblical obedience.

Anything with velcro is a win for my guys!  Each of our Bible Story lessons were on color cards.  Each week, my sweeties had more cards to look at, remember the story and sort to tell whether the Bible character showed obedience or disobedience.

Blocks are always popular with my almost all-boy crew!  At obey and build, kids used the instruction booklet from these magnetiles (affiliate link) to practice obeying directions to build a design.

Obedience Games

Many times after our Bible lesson, we take time to play a game to review the story we learned.  This was our favorite from the unit...Who Swallowed Jonah!  I started out running the game, and then my kids starting asking to take charge!  So fun!

To prep this game, I simply cut out 3 whales and Jonah and then taped Jonah to the back of one of the whales!  Super easy and super fun!

You can find all of these activities, plus detailed lessons, masters, and tons more here!


Earlier, I blogged about my routines for Sentence Puzzles in my first grade classroom.

This week, let's talk about my favorite thing: organization.  How do we organize all those puzzles? What's the best way to prep the puzzles so that we can keep track of them (and the kids can too!)?

How Can I Easily Prep My Sentence Puzzles?

Obviously, the first thing I need to do is print the sentence puzzle masters.  I keep the masters organized so I can go back and copy again if we lose any (hello, it's gonna happen!).  I also printed out the reading level cover pages to help organize the master copies in a sentence puzzle binder.  I just keep the answer keys in the front pocket so I can get to it easily.



I printed the resource cover and the spine label to use as my notebook binder cover.

After I got my master copies organized in a binder, I copied the puzzle masters on colored cardstock.  I have the suggested color I use in the top right of each master.  I just simply sorted all of the reds together, oranges together, etc...and then copied each color together.

Once they are copied, then I cut apart each puzzle (what a great job for a parent volunteer!) and put each puzzle in its own snack size ziploc bag.

Why Do I Need To Color Code Sentence Puzzles?

Because, when I first started sentence puzzles years ago, I did all of the puzzles for one level on the same color of cardstock.  You know, so I could say, "Johnny, you and your partner will work on a blue puzzle today."  Make sense, right?

Nope.  Fail.  Major fail.  Because, guess what happened when Johnny and his partner got into the tub of blue sentence puzzles to put them together?  Yep.  They got mixed up.  Big time.  And then it took FOREVER times 300 to get them sorted back correctly.

So these puzzles are set up with the independent reading level on each word card so students can easily find their level in their labeled tubs.  But because each puzzle for a reading level is a different color, kids can easily see if a puzzle piece is in the wrong bag.

How Do I Keep the Puzzles Organized?

Once I'm done copying, laminating, cutting and bagging the puzzles, then I'm ready to go.  And seriously, if you have a good parent volunteer, all of this can be done by the volunteer in about 2-3 hours! #doit #parentvolunteersforthewin

I have two different ways I organize my sentences depending on how I am going to use them.  As we talked about in my routines post, if I'm using them for a carousel group activity or for guided reading warmups, then I keep them all in one shoe box tub.  I use index card dividers in the tub to separate each level of puzzles and then put the puzzle bags behind each level divider.

Then, I'm ready to just pull a puzzle for guided reading warmups or pull a few for our carousel activity!

If I'm going to use them for literacy stations and centers, then I get tubs for each level I will need.  (I don't put out every level, only the levels for which I have kids reading independently.)  Then, I just toss the puzzle bags into the appropriate tub!


Find the whole set of sentence puzzles here!

I often get asked how I get my preschoolers to learn their Bible verses during our Bible units.  Can 3 and 4 year olds really learn Bible verses and remember them?

YES!  Of course they can!  And it's so important that we teach them early that hiding God's word in our hearts helps us make good choices and shine our lights for Jesus!

If you follow this blog, you've already read about my schedule for preschool Sunday School.  Our Bible verse time is the last 5 minutes our our morning!  Here's a look at those 5 minutes of powerful Bible verse learning! :)

Read the Verse with Motions

Yes, I'm aware that most preschoolers cannot read.  But a few do read early.  And the majority who can't will only learn through exposure to print and words.  I set up our Bible verse white cards in our pocket chart.

I always tell my preschoolers, "Let's read our Bible verse," as I point and we read it together.  No, most aren't reading like adults would expect them to.  They are simply saying the words as I read them.  But they FEEL like readers because I've told them that we are reading!  And they are practicing tracking print with my finger and their eyes.  They are learning to read from left to right.  And they are learning what a word and sentence looks like!

These are all HUGE skills for emerging readers.  And THAT's why we "read" the verse together.

As we are reading, I have them do motions for the verse.  They don't have to do motions for every word, but I try to have at least 3 motions for every verse.  The motions help the kids attach the verse to movement which helps them remember the verse more easily!  I have suggestions for motions for each unit verse in my Bible unit curriculum!

Match the Color Word Cards

After we read the verse once, I show one color word card at a time.  We read the word and then I give the color card to a kiddo who comes to find it's word match.  They put the color card in front of the white matching card.

This helps my emergent readers attend to print and focus on the shape of the letters and words.  For my youngest readers, I cover up all but the first word on the color card and have them look for that beginning letter to add even more support.

After each kid puts a word match in, we re-read the verse with the motions.  So, not only are we working on print features, but we are repeating the verse and committing it to memory in a fun and engaging way!

TPR Reading

Once we have all of the words matched, we read with Total Physical Response (TPR).  This is my preschoolers' favorite part!  We do some motion on each of the words.  The first one we do is, "Let's clap on each word."  Then, we say the verse and clap on each word.

This is important because it helps kids hear the difference in words and syllables and words and sentences.  It's so good for building that phonemic awareness in our littlest readers.

Depending on time, we usually do about 5-7 repetitions of this with different actions each time.  The actions we've used are....
Clap
Snap
Pat Your Leg
Touch Your Nose and Whisper
Bear Claws on the Ground and Growl
Stomp Your Feet

Independent Matching

This last part of the routine is only done on the last day of the unit.  The other weeks, we just read, match, and TPR read.  The last week, we only do independent matching.

Each kid gets a color paper with the Bible Verse on it.  We "read" it together.  I say, "Show me your reading finger," and they point and read.  No, they may not all point accurately, but they are getting a chance to independently practice moving from left to write and pointing and reading word by word.

After we read it, we go through a similar routine as the word matching in other weeks, just doing it independently!  I read the first word and they find their cut out white word card.  I cut out their words for them to save time since I only have them for 45 minutes and I don't want this to take the whole time! :)  But if you have longer, cutting would be great practice for those little guys!

Once they find the matching word, they glue it down.  Then, we move to the next word.  For older kids or kindergartners, they can easily match them on their own without needing to go word by word with teacher support!

These routines are quick, easy and an engaging and effective way to help young learners hide God's Word in their hearts!  You can find all of these routines and materials in each of my Bible Units!

I love good science experiments that leave my first graders SHOCKED!  And these two oldies, but goodies never disappoint!

Light Exploration Stations

During the second week of our Next Gen Light Unit, we learn how different materials affect light.  We spend one day exploring a range of materials with light sources to describe how the materials affect the light.  My first graders are super engaged with almost anything that is set up as stations they get to rotate through!  Add some high level scientific exploration and it's a win for everyone!

I set up 8 light stations around the room.  In my light unit, I have given to response sheet options with the light stations I use or a blank template for you to use your own materials.

At each station, students use the material listed and a light source to explore what happens with the light when the material interacts with it.  I give them some guiding questions to explore like...

(1) How does the light change?
(2) What makes the light change or stay the same?
(3) What would happen to the light if I move it closer/farther?

Then they get about 2 minutes to explore!  That doesn't sound very long, but it really is once you are in the middle of it.  And you don't want to give too much time or else kids get off task... :)

Transparent, Translucent and Opaque Experiment

I love this experiment because it's super easy to do, it requires very little materials, it's super fast, and most importantly, it's super effective!

First, we use our recording sheet to write our prediction about what how much light we will see when we shine the light through the cling wrap.  Then we test our predictions.  This can easily be done whole group or in small groups as long as you can trust your groups not to test before they predict.  And I would definitely recommend doing it step by step together if you choose to do it as small groups! #learnfrommymistakes

Then, we repeat our predictions and testing for wax paper.  And with each material, we write a conclusion together where I tell give them the words transparent, translucent and opaque as describing words for materials.


Finally, we test the cardstock!

If you have older kids or just want to extend this experiment, have kids brainstorm with their table groups other materials that could be opaque, transparent or translucent as you test and write conclusions about each material.  This helps guide your kids to that application level of higher order thinking skills.  Cooper and I did that with our opaque material so you can see what the conclusions look like both ways!


Find these experiments and more in this Next Gen Light Unit!


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