May Hands-on-Learning

May Hands-on-learning


Looking for creative ways to practice spelling and making words this month? Check out these quick and easy projects.

Pool Noodles


A friend of mine tagged me on this interactive learning post from Planning Playtime.   I loved the creativity of this project and I decided to give it a try. This craft was sure easy to adapt to my preschool, kindergarten and 2nd grade learners.  For my oldest, who is working with common word endings, I wrote her suffixes on a green pool noodle, vowels on pink and consonants on blue. She then used my equalizer sports bars to organize and spell her words. My middle girl, spelled words with blue (consonants) and pink (vowels) noodles and our youngest matched uppercase with lowercase letters.

My Takeaways:

  • Quick, easy and inexpensive to make
  • Find the pool noodles at Walmart or your local $ store
  • Use larger noodles; smaller ones tend to tear easy.
  • For ease of cutting noodles, use a serrated bread knife.
  • Only keep the letters out needed for your lesson. To many letters were scattered about and my kids struggled to stay on task.
  • Could use to string to form a giant word necklaceimg_6295

Another project I created was using large Duplex Legos to form words.  My oldest matched root words to suffixes.  Additionally these legos could be used for CVC or larger word blends.

My Notes:

  • Use an Expo or vis-a-vis to write words/letters
  • smaller Legos could be for patterns or additional word making activities
Clothes Pins


Another matching activity, that my oldest loved, was pinning the suffix on the root word.

  • Use masking tape to write letters onto clothespins so they can be reused.
  • Use cardstock or notecards, something with a bit more weight, to write the words. This will help the clothespins hold.

Learning on Holiday


This weekend, for my 40th birthday, our family is headed on a grand adventure to Hawaii. The last couple weeks have been spent gathering teaching material and creating fun projects for my 3, 5 and 7 year old children.  In order to make the most of space, I’ve tried to come up with projects that don’t require a lot of storage but still spark creativity. During our trip, I plan to blog about our family learning adventures.  We hope to travel and learn on the go creating a classroom without walls. We are excited about the learning possibilities and adventures we will have with our kids!  Here are some of the projects I’ve created, so far.

Travel Journals 

With the different age levels in mind, I created personalized journals.  Designed not to be to labor intensive, I want the children to be excited and enjoy writing in their logs. For my preschool child, he can circle the type of activity & weather and rate the day.  Then he can draw a simple picture while I write down one sentence about his drawing. For my kindergartener she can also circle the type of activity, weather and rate the date. Additionally there is a space for a picture and sentence prompts for details about each day. For my 2nd grade child, I have the same as the 5 year old but with words rather then emoticons to rate the day.

This year, I bound each of their journals into a fun personal book.  First, I added a blank page to each side of the book.  I then hauled out my sewing machine and stitched one side of the book for a spine. Using a sticky back foam pages, I attached it one to the front and the second to the back to create the cover.  Using patterned duct tape, I reinforced around the outside cover for a finished look. Originally I was just going to tape the spine, however the sticky foam continued have edges that popped up and I figured this would make it easy for children to take the book apart.  So, I ended up taping around each side.

Learning Modules

The teachers are sending home some of the material they are covering in class but this holiday gives me the opportunity come up with create projects and writing prompts for my students. So with that in mind, I created different modules for three children.

1st up is my preschooler.  Found on Mrs. D’s Corner, I absolutely love her morning work binder.  I purchased, downloaded and modified to fit my little one’s needs.  In this binder, I have practice for learning to spell his name, his street address, phone number and understanding weather.  To add to this idea, I designed suitcases that I laminated for all my kids to practice packing according the season, putting the months and days in order and housing their personal information for the velcro sheets.  Towards the back of the binder, I also found some fantastic clip art story boards to use with dry erase markers.

Each of the girls have a binder/folder filled with projects and activities. There is music and movement, a Hawaii Glyph, a short play, reading comprehension for the older and following directions for the younger.  I’ve also included a variety of working with words and language development for each girls designed for their level.  Each girl has a daily activity that I used a few years ago while teaching in Colorado. This one page is chalk filled with daily math uses.  There is number of the day with ten frames, hundred charts, calendar, patters, temperature, clock, analogies and either sentence editing or site word practice.  Then, there is my favorite section, writing lessons.

Writing Projects

During our time away, I have created a variety of writing prompts themed for our time on the island.  There is a prompt for creative stories, procedural writing and comic.  I also created a movie strip from a suitcase to design a picture story.  Each prompt can be used for a variety of levels by offering more or less help when writing stories.  I am also taking a few blank books for when inspiration hits or to save brochures and pictures from the island.


Our evening routine is not complete without story-time.  With that in mind, I looked for island themed books.  Here are some of the Hawaii books we found. Some are on kindle with others are paperback.



Quick and Easy Spelling and Sight Words Practice

Quick and Easy Spelling and Sight Word Pratice


Looking for a simple way to incorporate spelling and sight words into every day fun?  Find items around the house that your child gravitates towards.  Choose 10-20 words and write them on that/those objects.  Don’t want a permanent fixture, use an Expo marker.  In our case, we used the basket of oranges.  Our middle ones LOVEs it. This has prompted her to read and master more of her words.  She reads then transfers them to a new basket.  The ones she is confidant she knows, she eats.  A short but sweet treat for our little kindergartener.  Other items around the house we have used: mirrors, refrigerator, drinking cups and of course my ever favorite sticky notes.

Primary Grades

For our oldest, I again used the chalk board table runner, drew a slew of stars then wrote her spelling root words.  I had her look make her words plural and identify patterns she saw.  She then erased the words I wrote and filled it in herself.  Again, a quick but fun way to practice her words.

Meaningful Spelling-Comic Time!

Today, the girls are going to use this blank comic strip template  I created to practice writing their spelling/sight words in a meaningful way.  All three of my children are huge into superheros and what better way to add a little fun with this quick, creative activity.


Sight Word Adventures!


Created with WordSwag

During Christmas vacation, my 5 year old was motivated to practice reading. However, for her, isolated words are a struggle. In order to make the sight words more meaningful, I tried a variety of ways to help encourage her learning.

Meaning in Print


I LOVE the Target dollar bins. There are all sorts goodies you can find for teaching.  Often this section has an empty book bundle in sets of 8.  These books can be used for all sorts of projects.  Here is how we used them recently:

Family Book: My mom and sister gets credit for this genius.  For a Christmas present my Mom came up with the idea of personal story starters.  My children love coming up with stories from these adorable pictures.  So, the other night, we played a family game.  We took turns drawing a card and writing part of a story.  In one of the blank books, I scripted the adventure as the family spun the tale.  We were all in a fit of giggles as the saga unfolded.  After the story was complete, we highlighted sight words in the book and let the three kids decorate.  They have now re-read the story many time and added extra details and shared with friends.  Thank you Mom and Auntie B. for creating such a wonderful Christmas gift!


We also used these blank books to create personal site words books.  Choosing two or three of the words per book, my 5 year old helped write her story. Then I”boxed” the “missing” sight-word.  There are a variety of ways to make this project fun but for this round, I secured an envelope inside the front cover (to hold the words or tools).  Next I taped the covered the words written with packing tape.  Now as she reads the sentences, she can write in missing words with an expo, fill in the words with a missing card or use a “star” sick to read her sight-words.  Not only does this add meaning to the site words but it offers a chance for her to practice reading in a fun way.

Personal Game

Another Christmas gift,  a chalk board table runner, was sent to us from our good friends. I LOVE this present! It’s reusable, fun and interactive!  Over the whole runner, I drew chalk flies & bumble bees and filled each in with sight-words.  Next I placed the same words on paper and added a little spider inside the mix. Then I gave them each a mini fly swatter. The rules were as follows:

  • Pick a card from the box, read, find and swat the insect.  You have 20 seconds.
  • Pick the spider, create a sentence from one of the words on the board.
  • Continue until all the words are swatted.
Treasure Hunts

Also from the Target dollar bin, I found individual chalk boards.  To make our road trip (over 20 hours) more fun, I gave them each a word (or letter for the three year old) of the day.  They had to locate and find their personal word in bulletin boards, street signs or a different stops along the way. Every time they got in and out of the card they also read their word.

Yesterday, my oldest created and designed a treasure hunt sight-word game!  She wrote clues on note cards but left a spot blank for a sight word.  On the back of the card were three sight words as choices to fill in the blank.  Once the sight word was filled in, it told us where to go next. About 10 cards were created in total.  S. took us on a fun sight-word scavenger hunt!! Impressive my little 7 year old, I’m proud of you!


Going through my teaching materials, I came across an old tape recorder.  I literally had to tape the pieces together to make it work, but it was so worth it!  The three kids have enjoyed recording their reading and listening to old tapes.  Although they did say it took forever to rewind the tape, which totally cracked me up!


 Popcorn Words from Learning Resources

As an early Christmas gift, we ordered the game of Popcorn Words for our kids to play and practice sight word reading.  They insisted we take this fun game with us on vacation so they could play with family.  Now words are “popping” in books for our littles.


Sight Word Apps

Looking for practice on the go?  Check out the Mystery Word App.  My kids enjoy playing this interactive game.  Word lists can be generated to personalize the game for each child. The cost is $3.99 for this app.

Another Free Sight Word App for flashcards is My Sight Word Lists.  Personal lists can be created, then flagged for still struggling words.  Lists can also be emailed to parents or teachers.

I hope these ideas have sparked a fun way to practice sight words with your students!  Enjoy and happy reading!



Fall in Love with Spelling


November is here and with it, a new set of creative spelling ideas.  This 7 day guide gives creative suggestions to fall in love with spelling practice!  Click here to download a copy for use in your classroom.


Each leaf has a creative choice that will tap into a variety of learning styles.  There is art for those who prefer to craft.  For children who enjoy nature, there is a trip outdoors listed. Kiddos that love to write will find a fun project designed with them in mind.  For students that adore technology, an engaging choice is also available. There is a family activity for kids that request to play games and crave quality time. Pratice in Motion is also available for kids who must stay active. Or, perhaps choose one activity a day to keep spelling practice fresh and fun!