I LOVE a good anchor chart.  If you've spent any time in this little space, you know that!  I especially love making anchor charts stand out for kids so they can easily find what they need.

I love adding more visuals, and using unusual shapes, colors, or designs to help my littles find them in the room and actually use them!

Reading anchor charts are different for me because I have some that are whole group charts and some that I make as "mini" anchor charts and store in my guided reading folder for that group and just get out for that group during small group instruction.

Here's a look at some of my favorite reading anchor charts.

Building Great Readers

At the beginning of the year, it's important to set the expectations for read to self time and how readers will "behave" in our classrooms during the year!

I love talking about our reading stamina!  This takes up the first few weeks of our reading time as we are practicing learning to read to ourselves quietly.  We use this chart to not only talk about appropriate reading behavior, but also to set a beginning of the year goal for read to self time.

You can see on this chart that we were only up to 5 minutes of read to self time at this point.  I usually start with 1 or 2 minutes depending on my class and we increase 1-2 minutes each day.  I set my timer and they read.  If I see any "stamina breakers," we stop, come to the carpet, talk about it, and return to our reading spots to try again.  We get two tries to be able to color in our stamina chart and meet our minutes goal for the day!  They love this challenge and it's super easy to refer to throughout the year!

This anchor chart sits in our classroom library and is one we make at the beginning of the year as we learn how to take care of our books!

Phonics Anchor Charts

I love making our own anchor charts for some of our tricky phonics sounds.  This is an example of our soft c anchor chart.  We sing (and dance!) the Mexican Hat Dance song with this sound, so that's why I have a hat shaped chart! (Ex: ce, ci, cy, /s/ /s/, ce, ci, cy, /s/ /s/, ce, ci, cy, /s/ /s/, ce, ci, cy, /s/ /s/)

Ee and ea are the smile sounds in my classroom, so I made smiley faces for these sounds and we sorted some of our sight word cards under them and wrote our own new words underneath!

And when I just don't have enough time to make an anchor chart from scratch, these emoji phonics charts are easy to print and use!

Fiction Anchor Charts

This chart is an oldie, but goodie.  I make it every year and we use it all. year. long.  I love drawing it with my kids, but you can get it premade here!

Later in the year, we talk about character feelings and how they change.  And we talk about all of the ways characters change throughout a story.  You can read more about how we use this anchor chart in our lesson with the book, When Sophie Gets Angry, here in this post.

Fiction stories are also great places to look for adjectives in the books.  We use this chart when we are beginning to talk about character traits and describing characters in stories!  Of course, this chart is also helpful in writing...as many of these reading charts eventually are, but it's a great one to start with in reading! You can find a template for this chart here.

Non-Fiction Anchor Charts

My favorite non-fiction reading charts are our shared research charts. These are so fun to make and I love them because we use them in reading, in science/social studies, and then in writing!  In reading, we use these charts to record facts about the person or topic we are learning about.  I love making these charts into fun shapes that help the kids remember who or what the chart was about!  You can read more about this lesson here.

During the second half of the year, we start talking about facts and opinions and read non-fiction books to look for how authors write both opinion and fact sentences in their non-fiction books sometimes!

Soon, we talk more about the kinds of facts authors include and chart interesting and important facts.  As we read our texts, we recall facts and decide if they are important (must include) or interesting (fun to include) and list those together.  Read more about this activity in this post.

What are some of your go-to reading anchor charts?
Do you play "making words" during word work in your primary classroom?  It's one of my favorite ways to practice spelling and decoding skills with kinders and firsties!  But what I DON'T love about making words are all of the letter cards to pass out and keep up with.  It always took me more time to pass out cards than to do the actual lesson!  So when we finally started doing making words digitally, it was SO much better!

Today we'll be talking about our routines for making words, how to use DIGITAL making words mats, and I'll walk you through an entire sample lesson!

Types of Making Words Mats

After I gave up on passing out letter cards, I used two different kinds of mats: dry erase boards and digital.  I love both types for different reasons!

Let's talk about the dry erase mats first!  I've used just plain dry erase boards had kids spell words with me as I give the clues.  But just a blank dry erase board isn't quite structured enough for the little kids.  It's hard for them to easily see where the new letters go. 

Laminated dry erase mats are a much better option!  Just pass out the laminated mats and dry erase markers and they use these just like a dry erase board.  I like to use the mats with the Elkonin boxes to help give the kids structure for where to write their words.  This resource has 4 options of mats though with and without letters and Elkonin boxes.

If you're ready to go all digital with your making words, or want to continue making words with distance learning or Google classroom, digital mats are perfect!

You can manipulate the letters by clicking and dragging so it makes a great alternative to the traditional letter cards.  Digital mats can also be used on iPads or in Google classroom.  They can also be used on your interactive white board if you just want to do the activity all together!

Making Words Routines

This routine is quick and predictable in our classroom.  Just like my Super Phonics lessons, each lesson is basically the same with different content or word.  So the kids pick up the routine quickly and it just gets smoother and quicker as the year goes on!

There is at least one making words lesson for each of my first grade Super Phonics units.  I try to work these in as a whole group lesson a couple times a week at the beginning of the year when we need more whole group activities and then as the year goes on, we do less of this as a whole class, and more of it in small group interventions.

Here is the basic routine (and it's outlined in detail in the video below):

  • Go over the letter names and sounds of each letter in the lesson
  • Build a starting word
  • You give them the new word and the kids have to figure out the letter or letters to substitute to build that word
  • You give them the letters to substitute and the kids have to figure out what the word is
  • Guess my word: You give students clues about a longer (usually 2-syllable) word to spell with the feature sound
You can watch my full explanation and model of a blends and digraphs lesson in this video.

You can find a free sample of these lessons here and the bundle for an entire year of these lessons here.

I love finding games we can play over and over in Sunday School!  Because we only have a short 45 minutes together each week, it's nice to have the same game to play each week during a unit so we don't have to spend time learning a new game each week!

Cross bean bag toss was perfect for Easter season!

Materials You Need

I love this game because it's so simple and easy to do with what you have on hand.  All you need is paper and a bean bag.

You can print out the cross pages from my Easter unit, or write your own "sins" on colored paper to make your own cross.  You just need 6 pages.

You'll also need a bean bag.  If you're like me and don't have a store bought bean bag, you can easily make one to use together to play.  Just simply put beans in a bag, but use packaging tape to tape over the opening to reinforce the bag closure! And just like that you have a "free" bean bag!

How To Play

Set up the 6 "sin" cards in a cross formation.  Tape a line about 4 feet behind the bottom of the cross.

First, kids name the sin they are going to try to hit.  Once they name the sin, say, "Did Jesus die for people who ____? YES!  While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us!"

Then, kids stand behind the taped line and toss the bean bag.  They toss the bag to try and hit the sin they called out.

You can keep score, or just play for fun!  Reinforce the idea that we all our sinners and God loved us so much that he gave Jesus to die for our sins--ALL of our sins!

You can find this game and much more in this kindergarten Easter Unit.
Stained glass has always been a favorite of mine!  So this year, we made stained glass crosses for Easter to hang on our refrigerator at home.  This is a simple activity that kids and adults can enjoy!

I printed out the stained glass cross from this Easter unit.  Then, I just colored in the pieces using lots of bright colors.

Side note...do you have a favorite "strategy" for coloring in stained glass?  Between this activity and the sidewalk chalk activity we did recently, I've learned that I like to color one color at a time.  I use a crayon to color in two pieces and then move on to the next color.

But my seven year old colors one piece at a time, switching as he goes!  It's fun to watch and see how each one of us color differently!

Okay... back on track!

After we color, we cut out the cross on the dotted lines to leave the Bible verse around the edge of the cross.

At this point, we backed ours on colored paper to hang on the fridge for lots of bright, Spring color!

But you can also back it on cardstock (or print the cross out on white cardstock) and punch a hole and tie a string through the top to make an ornament!

You can find this activity plus lots more in this "Jesus Died for Me" Easter Unit.

I love finding time during the Easter season to do crafts with my preschool Sunday School kids!  This one was new to us this year and we loved it!

We did not have Easter services at church this year because of CoVid-19, but my 7 year old and I did this craft at home anyway!

What You'll Need

The wonderful thing about this craft is you can pretty much do it with things you have around the house.  You'll need...

Make Your Own

Once you have your materials ready, it's time to get started!  Print out the bible verse and tomb printables from this Easter unit.  I printed the bible verse printable on blue paper and the tomb on white cardstock.

Use a half sheet of green paper to glue to the bottom as the "grass."

Then, paint your hand yellow and put the handprint just an inch or two above the green paper so that the handprint will fit in between the "grass" and the verse.  You may need to use a smaller amount of green paper and that's totally fine!

Next, glue the tomb on top of the grass and handprint sunrise.

Last, fill the stone tomb with lima bean stones.  Use liquid glue, not a glue stick for this! :)

When it's finished, it will look something like this...

I hope you enjoy making these as much as we did!  You can find this activity and many more in my Easter Unit for year 3 preschoolers.

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