Friday, July 6, 2012

Trying out a New Look & Wondering about Word Work- Part Two - Center Time

Well, I have a button now, at least.  And I played for HOURS with photo editors trying to do something, ANYTHING!  And this is pretty much where I ended up for now.  I am trying to make the pic to the right my own tiled background, but I'm having an epic fail of it. Every time I try it says cannot upload because of internal combustion- or whatever.  Something like that.  If anyone wants to tell me what the heck to do, I would appreciate it.  And the header, it would be nice to figure out how to make it long with out stretching everything out like Jabba the Hut. *sigh*  Those are the basic colors in my room scheme I'm going for next year though.  What do you think?  Foresty enough?  Yet still cupcake accessible?  I would eat a cupcake in a forest if I had the opportunity.  I would eat a cupcake anywhere.  And I would certainly eat a cupcake during Word Work time, if it wouldn't completely derail the kids' work.

So, let's get to the fun part.Word Work Centers.  The time consuming part at first will be putting them all together- but my hopes are to pick items that can be used long-term (I'm hoping YEARS), adaptable to other parts of my curriculum, and don't need constant changing.  I also want to try to make the activities kinesthetic when possible, and also a place to practice fine motor skills. My school doesn't have a specific handwriting program, but I did have three kids this past year that really needed to work on it.  And I'm pretty sure it came down to fine motor skills.  I know in the first grade rooms now they have fine motor activity time- but I don't have time in my day to make that separate.  So I'm going to incorporate that into the word work practice.

Ever watch Baby First TV?  I watch it on Netflix.  They have this one show called Art and Music, and I use it to help my Babyzilla fall asleep (although I have to say, I'm getting a lot of drawing tips from it myself).  Anyway, there's this segment on the program called Arty Party.  And two hands work on different simple drawings covering them up with little toothpicks, and shells, and pompoms, and seeds and what not.  So I was staring at this thinking "Why not have the kids do that with sentence strips and their words?"  Same idea as the wikki sticks or playdoh, right?  

So I make up the words from the word lists on sentence strips, laminate for long-term use, store in envelopes marked with either the sight word level or spelling feature so they can be found later, maybe even color code them somehow so the kids know which words to pull.  But then the kid takes the strips for the words they have that week, and work using tweezers or even just fingers to cover up the letters with these different materials. For one) the words change every week, so that keeps it somewhat fresh, and two) the dollar store is ripe with these sorts of baubles and they change up seasonally.  So I can have a change of materials from time to time as well, but nothing that really kills me to get out and ready.  I figure I could store them in little travel soap dish boxes.  If I want to work math into it, after they've covered their word with hair bands or rocks, they lay them out side by side and then measure how long that word is.  Nonstandard units and then with a ruler.  

Time-Saver ALERT! ( from me? how unconventional! ) Ms. Jessica at A Turn to Learn has a super-awesome-inspiring-world-changing tutorial on how to print onto sentence strips.  I can choose the perfect font for this center, type in all my words, and let my printer handle it without me making any "Gadzooks, my big toe itches!" or "Oh, look! A duck!" sort of handwriting mistakes.  Am I the only one that happens to?

fine motor skills
I was also looking at this sight called PreKinders for fine motor activities and saw this picture:  and I thought "How easy would it be to punch holes for the list words so they can sew them?"  Yes, it would require some prep work- but if done on nice heavy card, and laminated- I think this would be a good one. -Time saver thought- (another one?  What was in YOUR watermelon lemonade this morning?) Plastic canvas.  This stuff was the golden craft of the 80's.  Rarely hear about it anymore, but I still see it in the craft aisles.  I could use a Sharpie to write the words large on the canvas, and then the kids could sew over that or use a pipe cleaner even.  Then I'm not punching holes or laminating for hours. I'd just buy the kind that had the largest spaces.

3rd Grade Thoughts has three different word work stations related to math that I really like- scrabble tile adding, word worth money, and place value word work.  And those are three that would be easy to do, long term, but also put out at different times of year as I progress through the math curriculum.  Scrabble early on, money next, and then place value (because you can end up with some quite big numbers).... She has this available in her TpT store as a trio bundle for $3.50 and folks, I believe it will be worth every cent.  I have not yet bought anything for actual dollars yet at TpT, but this will be the first come August.  She deserves the support for this level of genius-ness.

Over in Mrs. Bushong's Second Grade, she made up a very cool homophone activity with puzzle pieces, that I thought was super groovy.  This is easily adaptable to ANYTHING.  I was thinking they could match sight words, math facts, I could even do Window of Inquiry questions I suppose...  Of course, I went out and bought puzzles.  Now, my memory, if it ever were like an elephant's, would be like a geriatric elephant with dementia. Sooooo I got the kind that don't have a board behind them.  Dork dork dork.  I shall win in the end though- I have decided that I will put the puzzle together, lay it on a piece of tag board, trace the lines of the puzzle, add my questions, answers on the pieces, LAMINATE, and then put on a cookie sheet.    Then I just have to put a little snip of magnet on each puzzle piece and VOILA, I've feeeeeexed it.  After hours of work, I am sure.  But isn't this the glory of how I roll?

ok- and hey hey hey, also thinking about how, since I'm tracing and all, I could trace a basic puzzle pattern and let the kids design some?  Am I breaking a law there, by tracing a puzzle pattern?  I'm not sure...

Now here's a gem at Make, Take and Teach, Bowling for Sight Words.  My big score is that I found a never used plastic bowling set in my son's room.  Along with a lot of other cool goodies that I am plundering, emancipating, setting free, granting independence, pardoning, etc.  He's not using them, so it's time that I got my money's worth out of it, dang it! I like this idea activity for it's kinesthetic appeal, and also the boys will eat it up.  And, handy handy handy- can be adapted for ANYTHING.  I could even put Window of Inquiry QUESTIONS on the pins, they bowl, whatever they knock over they have to ANSWER the question correctly to get the point. Genius, I say! Huzzah for the Moose!

I admit that I think a lot about my boys.  Being a girl (yep, that's what the birth certificate says), I can easily pick froo-froo stuff for the girls.  But then I feel bad having the boys decorating with lace and what not.  So I ran across these two beauties on Pinterest:
The nuts and bolts is from Michelles Charm World.  I like this idea because there are tons of these dodads in different shapes and sizes FOR CHEAPS at the hardware store.  I also don't think girl's would be opposed to using them.  AND they've got that fine motor thing going on with the twisting.  The kids could easily "race" to see who could twirl their word the fastest.  And I could add in math and have them measure the length and what not, or see how heavy it is on the balance scale.

The second picture is of rubber worms for fishing bait from Teach 123.  Same idea as wikki stix, just a different medium.  She also has word mats available for sale in TpT.  I like the creative use of other materials.  I have never been to a fishing store, but I am imagining that besides worms, there might indeed be any other number of interesting finds that could also be used to cover up words with the Arty Party idea I have swimming around. (ooo, punny!)  I do not know if my girls would go for it, but that's ok for the boys to have something that is THEIRS.

Two kinesthetic winners here:

Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas has used a Twister game board for sight word practice.  The gold here folks, is that you can adapt this to any part of the curriculum.  And, if you don't have a Twister board handy, it's easy enough to get a Dollar Store shower curtain and put the circles on yourself.  I am concerned a little over the noise level on this one, so it might be something that I save for an indoor recess, or game day, or even make available for outside time.  Because I have control issues, yo.  And also, I really have volume issues in general because I happen to be a loud person.  Shocking, I know.  But your room volume and tone is set by your volume and tone- soooo yeah.  I need to get a muzzle or something.

The gals over at Kindergarten Rocks had a cute version of a slap-it game for sight words.  I have seen slap-it games before, and even played them myself, but I liked how they themed it up with bugs on the shower curtain.  It is similar to the Twister idea, but no feats of freakish contortion are necessary.  Just a quick SLAP.  Which can come in handy for the ladies later in life, right? Heh heh heh.  Anyhow- I like it.  It gives me ideas.  Again, Dollar Tree, ripe for the pickins!  Get some curtains, get some Sharpies, I could make these for the sight word lists and keep them for a loooooong time.  Kids just have to get out which list they are working on. I've differentiated, and still kept it interesting. And is it not adaptable to other areas?  Math facts, and trivia.  Win win win!

There are tons more ideas, but I'll stop here for today.  I collect them on my Pinterest Board if you want to take a gander.  

Have a lovely weekend, everybody!


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! You have a lot of great ideas!
    Fun in 1st Grade

  2. And thank you for stopping by mine! Loved your post on the apps today. I'm looking into that stick pick one...

  3. Great ideas! Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a footprint!
    Where Seconds Count

  4. I love, love, love reading your blog. You remind me of myself so many times. The "Dork, dork, dork" is something I would say of myself. It reminds me of the time I was pulling my little rolly cart (that's what I call those things on wheels) and tho't I'd save about 15 steps by pulling the darn thing up over the curb (1/2" high, no more), only to spin around and plop down on my butt! At that moment in time, I knew why God created me...Yep! You got it~I'm His comic relief! Just watch'll get a good laugh!


    Stapler’s Strategies for Sizzlin' Second Graders!

  5. I have awarded you! Come to my blog to check it out!
    Teaching in Valley

  6. Some great ideas here!
    I may have to watch the Baby First TV myself even though I don't have kids. I need drawing help. I'm sucking at Draw Something!

    I'm a new follower!

    Strive to Sparkle