Teaching Sight Words the Fun Way!

Teaching Sight Words the Fun Way!

Did you know it takes 50 repetitions of a sight word in order to commit it to memory? BUT… through play this number can be reduced dramatically – by more than half!

We have been inspired by this concept to bring you a selection of activities that through play, immerse your children in non-threatening, engaging activities which will ignite their senses, develop fine motor skills, encourage verbal language and problem solving and most importantly, help your child recognise, at a glance, a sight word.

So where do you begin? How do you introduce sight words?
It is important to incorporate actions/rhymes/simple sentences, including the focus sight word, to help children remember them.
For example, when introducing the word ‘and’, you may show the word card and say ‘it is this and that’, placing emphasis on the ‘and’ as you say it. As you say the sentence, place one hand out at a time indicating the ‘this’ and the ‘that’. You will be amazed at how quickly your students will remember their sight words when you couple them with simple actions and repetitive sentences!

Then when your children are practising sight words:
Repetition is the key!
Don’t limit the teaching of sight words to just one part of your teaching day. Introducing a new sight word or two on a particular day may take no longer than 5 minutes. Here are some ways you can use sight words regularly during your day:
– Remind students of the sight word as you are reading to them.
– Randomly ask them during the day to read the sight word card you have left on the board.
– Have a secret password for students to read as they leave the classroom for playtime, etc. The secret password would be the sight word for the day. You can find a free template for this in our Free Resource Library.

– Have students see if they can find the sight word in books they are ‘reading’. You may like to give your students special ‘sight word glasses’ as they are looking through books for the sight word of the day. Or you may like to complete a ‘Sight Word Snapshot Camera’ and then have your students use these to take ‘photos’ of the sight words they find in the books they read.

Learning through play.
Learning sight words should be multi-sensory. Don’t limit your students to paper and pencil activities. Make sure you provide sensory play opportunities for your students to engage with the words using their whole body. Play, and in particular sensory play, will increase your student’s ability to remember their sight words. You may like to explore some of our Sight Word Play Packs for simple themed sight word activities that you can implement in your classroom straight away!

Sight Word Activity Sheets
Allowing your students the opportunity to interact with their sight words in a more ‘traditional way’ should not be avoided as this may be the preferred learning style for some of your students. However, like all things, moderation is the key.

Students like these activity sheets because they are predictable. Each sheet has the same activities so once they know how to complete one sheet, they will be able to confidently and independently complete the others. The use of the sheets then gives the students a confidence with the words they are interacting with.

To make the activity sheets less ‘dull’ for your more reluctant learners, you might like to slide the sheet under a protector pocket so they can use whiteboard markers to complete the sheet. Laminating the pages would also achieve this same result. Giving a variety of coloured whiteboard markers might also add a little extra spark to the activity.

It is important your little learner’s feel comfortable when working with new sight words. Never force them into saying a word or sounding out a word they are not confident with. Feel free to help them. With practise, and reassurance, they will begin to remember the words in their own time.

Remember, each learner is on their own journey. Through repetition and play you can support your little learners to success as they are ready.

10 Ways to Use Picture Books in the Classroom

10 Ways to Use Picture Books in the Classroom

By Melina Dahms (Galarious Goods)

I love picture books. I love their weight in my hands, the promise held in a few pages. I love that you have to hold them up to really share them with others, inviting your audience to stop and look. And I love all the ways they can be brought to life in classrooms!

1. Use them to start the day (or the session)

While not all picture books are short, there are plenty of short and sweet picture books out there. Why not try starting your day (or session) with a picture book? A short text allows students a connecting activity, something to let them settle into the routine of the day. It gives time for late students to make their way into the classroom. It can be tied to the theme of the day or touch on a behaviour you’d like to improve. In older classes, students can even take turns to be the reader, allowing you the time to mark the roll or get beginning of the day jobs done. And by starting the day with a book, you’re showing your students that you prioritise literature and stories.

2. Use them to explore vocabulary

Picture books can be surprisingly rich in vocabulary. Authors have limited space to bring their world to life, and they tend to choose their words carefully. Students can search for unfamiliar words in picture books, create word wall displays from them, try to use them in their own writing. As students grow older they can explore how the author uses different words together and how the text might be different if the author used different words.

3. Use them as mentor texts

Picture books are ideal for students to explore text features – from how sentences are constructed to how punctuation is used to how an author describes characters, settings or actions. This is particularly good for guided reading or reading centres when a group of students can explore one text together. 

4. Use them to explore different genres

The world of picture books is a rich one. Students can explore fantasy, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, wordless picture books, memoirs and biographies, poetry – even books with significant scientific, history or maths content! This makes them great introductions into new genres, but they can also be used for comparisons or as examples for students writing these genres themselves.

5. Use them to explore different subjects

Just as picture books cover many different genres, they also cover many different subjects. Learning about bushfire? There’s a picture book for that! (Try the beautiful The House on the Mountain by Ella Holcombe)  Learning about war? There’s a picture book for that! (I still love Gary Crew’s Memorial) Learning about the 1967 referendum? There’s a picture book for that! (Say Yes by Jennifer Castles)

Picture books are a great way to introduce a new subject, to introduce new vocabulary and ideas and to build background knowledge for students. It also allows you to ensure that literacy is a priority across the curriculum.

6. Use them to build writing skills

Picture books are wonderful prompts for writing. Students of all ages can ask what might happen next – or what might have happened if something was changed in the book. Students can put themselves into the shoes of the characters to write first person narratives like diary entries or letters. The events of a story can make for a wonderful newspaper report. 

One series of picture books with many, many writing opportunities is the Pig the Pug series by Aaron Blabey. You can find more writing ideas for that series in this blog post – along with a free download!

7. Use them to explore visual literacy

Picture books tell so much of their stories through their illustrations, whether it’s the intricate details of a Shaun Tan book, the beautiful realism of Freya Blackwood’s illustrations, or what Mothball the wombat is really up to in Bruce Whatley’s Diary of a Wombat illustrations. In a world which increasingly requires visual literacy, exploring the illustrations of picture books is a great way to improve our students’ skills.

8. Use them to explore reading aloud 

The length of picture books – and the complete stories within them – make them perfect for students to build their reading aloud skills. Students can reflect on how they might use their voices to bring the stories to life – should they read faster or slower, louder or softer? Should they try an accent or different voices for different characters? (I like making Lion in The Very Cranky Bear very posh).

9. Use them with other media

Have you ever sung the song from Wombat Stew? Or watched the fabulous movies of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child? Picture books can be brought alive in a range of different media from songs to movies to museum and art gallery displays. You can introduce these different types of media based on picture books to students and explore how they enhance, change or build on the books. You can also challenge your students to create their own work based on a picture book you are exploring in the classroom.

10. Use them for enjoyment

It is okay to just have fun with picture books. To have a collection in your classroom which students can explore in their own time. To read them aloud when you have 5 or 10 minutes of spare time. To take them outside under a tree to share with your students. To examine old favourites. To admire the artwork and the way the author put the words together. To invite other teachers and staff and parents to share a picture book with the class.

When we give ourselves permission to enjoy texts in the classroom, we show our students that reading is fun – that picture books are fun – whether we’re new preppies or experienced Year 6 students or teachers or parents. And we show them that reading is something we can carry with us all of our lives. Isn’t that a great thing to share!

About me

I’m passionate about education, reading, Australian authors and illustrators, fitting the right book to the right students and more! I create picture book studies for my Galarious Goods TpT store and blog about books and more at galariousgoods.com 

Using Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum

Using Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum

There is a key element that can unite all areas of the Australian Curriculum whether it be content areas, cross curriculum priorities or general capabilities. Let us explore this key – Picture Books.

Research has long shown the correlation between higher academic achievement and children who read daily for pleasure. However, the benefits of engaging regularly with quality literature extends well beyond academic achievement. It has also long been recognised that literature can be a powerful tool for developing children’s social and emotional well-being.

Literature can provide role models for children as well as a context for discussing morals and values. Children’s literature can also be used to extend children’s knowledge and understanding of themselves and those who may be different culturally, socially or historically.

With this examined briefly, we can begin to see how a well selected collection of children’s literature, coupled with sound practice, has the potential to provide a strong linking thread across the Australian Curriculum.

Encouraging Response

When working with picture books it is important to consider how the listeners or readers are responding to the text. It is important to let go of any notions of control to direct the responses and input of children. But rather let the discussion free flow so that children are given the opportunity to develop their oral language skills in a non-threatening environment.

Building a Picture Book Collection

Choosing age-appropriate material is vital to the success of language and literacy development in your students.

I have taken the hard work out of finding such books, by creating a list of book recommendations that are suitable for each Primary School grade listed in the Australian Curriculum. I have even linked each book to their most relevant curriculum areas although you will quickly see that many of the books address multiple curriculum requirements.

You can find these lists here:
Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum: Foundation Year
Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum: Year 1
Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum: Year 2
Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum: Year 3
Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum: Year 4
Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum: Year 5
Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum: Year 6

Well selected and used picture books can be powerful tools for educators. The magic of literature includes elements such as: helping children view others as equal members of society, promoting a more positive sense of self, helping children learn about the world, helping to cope with stress, providing insights into problems, and the list could go on.

When these elements are viewed in line with the Australian Curriculum it is clear to see that well selected and carefully used children’s picture books can and should be a vital key used by educators to unlock the Australian Curriculum, making the content more manageable for teachers and students alike.

Do you use picture books in the classroom? If so, I’d love to know some of your favourites for the grade you teach! Feel free to tell me by leaving a comment below.

Happy Teaching!!

Fishpond

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Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum: Foundation Year

Picture Books to Support the Australian Curriculum: Foundation Year

Every teacher can testify to the engagement received by their students when offered to be read a story. Whether it be from a picture book or novel, stories bring so much enjoyment to children’s lives. The added bonus is that they can also be great tools for linking various content areas of the Australian Curriculum.

I have gathered a list of books that I highly recommend for Foundation Teachers to use as they are teaching to the Australian Curriculum throughout the year. I have sorted these books into curriculum content areas but you will quickly notice that most of the books link to other content areas making them great tools for the time-poor Australian Teacher. (please note the following list contains affiliate links)

English

Language
ABC Animal Jamboree
Alison Lester’s ABC
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
Hooray for Fish!
Kangaroos Hop
Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books
Ten Scared Fish
We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey Through Tanzania

Literacy
Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks!: The Story of the Three Bears as Told by Baby Bear (Other Side of the Story (Library))
Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!: The Story of Little Red Riding Hood as Told by the Wolf (Other Side of the Story (Library))
Seriously, Cinderella Is So Annoying!: The Story of Cinderella as Told by the Wicked Stepmother (Other Side of the Story (Library))
Trust Me, Jack’s Beanstalk Stinks!:: The Story of Jack and the Beanstalk as Told by the Giant (Other Side of the Story (Library))

Literature
Fairytales Gone Wrong: Blow Your Nose, Big Bad Wolf!: A Story about Spreading Germs (Fairytales Gone Wrong)
Bonnie and Ben Rhyme Again (Bonnie and Ben)
Don’t Pick Your Nose, Pinocchio!
My Village: Rhymes From Around the World
What Rhymes With Sneeze?
Yummy: My Favourite Nursery Stories

Maths

Measurement and Geography
Comparing with Cats (Animaths)
Measuring with Monkeys (Animaths)
Perfect Square
The Shape of Things
Today Is Monday

Number and Algebra
Counting Chickens
Everybunny Count!
Joey Counts to Ten
Line Up, Please!
None the Number (The Hueys) (The Hueys)
Out in the Ocean
Splosh! (Splosh!)
Ten Blue Wrens: And What a Lot of Wattle!
Red Car, Red Bus
TIP TAP Went the Crab
Spots: Counting Creatures from Sky to Sea

Science

Biological Sciences
Jeremy
That’S Not a Daffodil!
We’re Getting a Cat!
First Lift-the-Flap First Q&A: How Do Flowers Grow? (Lift the Flap) [Board book]

Chemical Sciences
The Three Little Pigs (Picture Books)
Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing

Earth and Space Sciences
The ABC Book of Seasons (The ABC Book Of …)
George Flies South
Hold on Tight
Penelope the Mountain Pigmy Possum
The Rainy Day (Picture Books)
Thunderstorm Dancing
A Year on Our Farm [Paperback]

HASS

Alma and How She Got Her Name
The Family Book
Family Forest
Fancy Nancy’s Marvelous Mother’s Day Brunch
Grandad’s Magic
Grandpa Green
Hello From Nowhere
Important Things
Just the Way We Are
Me and My Family Tree
Me and You
More People to Love Me
My Dad Thinks He’s Funny
Nanna’s Button Tin
Remembering Lionsville: My Family Story
Sam and His Dad
Shoes from Grandpa (Shoes from Grandpa)
The Treasure Box
Who’s In My Family?: All About Our Families
Why I Love Summer

Health

How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tim Rath
The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland
The Very Brave Bear by Nick Bland
The Very Hungry Bear by Nick Bland
The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Let me know if you have any other suggestions to add to this list by commenting below. I’d love to hear from you!!

Happy teaching!

Fishpond

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Transitions in the Early Years Classroom

Transitions in the Early Years Classroom

It has been absolutely delightful watching Lucy completely embrace her Kindy experience this year. Every day it seems she comes home a little wiser and with a little bit more understanding about the world around her. Our world is fascinating and it is delightful to see her getting excited about all the new things she is experiencing each day at Kindy.

The other day she came home and was singing one of the songs her teacher uses to settle the children into circle time where they have to listen to the teacher and to one another. Through a simple song (which Lucy adores), she is being trained to settle down and sit quietly. She is learning what to do with her body while listening to someone else speak.

As she was singing this song, memories came flooding back of songs that I used to use when I taught in Early Primary. And yes, even though my resources are strongly Upper Primary, my University training majored in Early Years Education.

The songs that I used in this environment, were usually for transitional purposes (moving from one activity to the next) or like in Lucy’s case, for the purpose of behaviour management. I was so excited to hear her singing her little song that it prompted me to write some of my transition songs down. A copy of these songs can be found at the end of this article.

What are transitions?

But firstly, let’s quickly chat about what transitions are and their purpose in an Early Years classroom.

Transitions are what happen from one activity to another. For example from free play to lunch, lunchtime to story time, a maths activity to handwriting lesson, etc. Transitions happen frequently in the early years as children’s attention spans are less which means there is a frequent change in activity as well. Transitions can form a large part of the day and are a large part of the learning environment and process.

How well your day flows in the classroom depends on how well transitions are handled and allows children to feel safe and secure in the learning environment. Research states that planning for and supporting transitions is beneficial and assists with children’s engagement in a task and motivation.

It is best to manage transitions with care as they are periods when students can become quite disruptive. Transitions keep students engaged and helps students become independent and responsible workers. Carefully managed transitions involve both time management and behaviour management. Successful transitions between lessons or activities are fast moving and have clear beginnings and ends, reducing the amount of ‘down time’ between activities.

The Key to Successful Transitions

Chaotic transitions can occur because students are unsure of what to expect during the day. To avoid this and to ensure that transitions are an effective teaching strategy in Early Childhood classrooms, teachers must give consistent visual or auditory signals and verbal cues to alert students that a period of transition is coming. This should be done in advance so that students have enough notice to finish up what they are working on and prepare for the next activity.

Once students have been given the cue or signal that it is time to make a transition (such as a bell ringing, an alarm going off, clapping hands, etc), teachers should provide enough “wait time” for students to follow through so that they are ready for the next activity or set of instructions. Teachers may find it useful to circulate among students during transition times, to attend to individual student’s needs and questions and help them prepare for the next task.

When to Use Transition Songs

Moving Students

This can be the most chaotic time of the day when students need to move from one activity to another. But it doesn’t have to be. Here is a simple song I used to use after our morning circle time:

Where is Linda?
(tune: Frere Jacques)
A morning song of for circle time

Teacher: Where is Linda? Where is Linda?
Linda: Here I am. Here I am.
Teacher: How are you this morning?
Linda: Very well, I thank you.
Teacher: Hop away. Hop away. (Linda hops away to the activity)
Repeat using other children. Also vary the final action: walk, skip, or jump away, etc.

Quiet and Sitting Still

Little people probably find this the hardest of all instructions to do. Sit and listen quietly. While it will take time for some of your little ones to perfect this skill (and let’s be honest, even some adults have difficulty sitting still and listening), there are some fun ways you can remind yours students of your expectations during these times by using songs. Here is one example:

Hands
The words describe the actions

My hands upon my head I’ll place.
upon my shoulders, on my face,
At my waist and by my side,
Then behind me they will hide.
Then I’ll raise them way up high,
And let my fingers fly, fly, fly,
Then clap, clap, clap them–
One – Two – Three!
Now see how quiet they can be.

Clean Up Time

Motivating little ones to stop what they are doing and clean up can be tricky at times but with the help of transition songs, you can get them cleaning up and helping you in now time. Here is one example:

Let’s Clean Up
(Tune: Farmer in the Dell)

Let’s clean up today
Let’s clean up today
We’ve had our fund
Our day is done.
So, let’s clean up today.

For more of these songs please visit our Free Resource Library to get your copy of some more simple songs to help manage the little people in your classroom effectively.

I hope you have found this useful! Please share any other songs that you use frequently in the comments below. Let’s help one another manage our classroom more effectively.

If you found this article interesting you may be interested in exploring these resources further:

Simple Father’s Day Craft Ideas

Simple Father’s Day Craft Ideas

Looking for some simple Father’s day craft ideas for your classroom this year? Well have I got some simple ideas for you!

1. Meet Dad’s Chip Clip:

A simple template that you can find here. Simply print, colour, cut and glue onto the back of a peg. Give to dad on Father’s day with a packet of chips. He can continue using his chip clip whenever he doesn’t finish a full packet of chips!

Or you could try…

2. Dad’s notes craft

Another simple template that you can find here. Once again, simply print, colour and cut the template. Cover a thick piece of card from a cardboard box to your desired size with coloured paper. Glue a pad of sticky notes and the Dad’s Notes label on top of the covered cardboard. Include a pen and give to dad on Father’s day to keep his important notes and reminders on. Done!!

Two simple ideas for your classroom Father’s Day craft this year.