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Guided Reading Routine - Part 1 - Sight Words

My guided reading time is my FAVORITE time in my classroom with the exception of the time I spend with my students doing poetry. I only have a quick 25 minutes twice a day. I needed to ensure I kept to a very tight schedule to meet the needs of the differing levels in my classroom.

I've decided to break it down into parts because it will take SO long to do more that one part at a time. So here is Part One - Sight Words.

We have a VERY specific list of sight words that we must use in my school. So you will see that this list is NOT Fry or Dolch. Not to worry! This entire portion of this post is to help meet the needs of YOUR students. This is a completely editable product that you can customize with your sight words word list.

I am MUCH better at talking then taking pictures, so I did an Instagram Live and saved it so you could HEAR me show you how it works for me. (Scroll to the very bottom of this post) Pictures are all well and good, but video is much better. * Disclaimer - this is not edited yet - so it isn't polished, but I am not a polished person so I am ok with it! :)
This sight word tracking is EDITABLE. You pop in the words that your school needs. You can have a list of 3, 4, or 5 columns. 
Each time a student spells the word correctly, they get a check. After 3 consecutive checks, you cross off the word and date it. Instant tracking over time without any additional work on your part! 

I hope you find this helpful!! :)

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Classroom Items to Invest in NOW

We love to buy stuff for our classrooms. It's in our blood. We just can't help it. I have ever marker, pen, target spot item you can think of. There may be some stuff you haven't thought to buy. You may be a new teacher and don't know what to buy. You may be student teaching and want to buy things as you are in school.

These are things that I wish I had from day one OR things I had from day one that I happened to be smart lucky enough to get. Lots of articles will tell you NOT to buy things before you are hired at a school. Some people will tell you don't spend on your classroom. (Likely, they are skipping this post, too - and that is ok)

Here is the thing: YOU'RE EXCITED. You are GOING to spend money on your classroom (at least I bet you are if you are reading this). If you are going to spend your hard earned money - I can at least help you spend it wisely!

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. This allows me to keep my teeny little blog up and running. 

Years ago, more years than I care to admit - I started buying. ALL. THE. THINGS. for my classroom. I KNEW I would teach third grade. (that is what grade I did my student teaching in) I thought third grade is it. I will NEVER teach a different grade. So during student teaching, I bought every single chapter book I could find. I went to garage sales, found other teachers giving away books etc. Guess what? I taught kindergarten the next year. Then first grade. All those books sat in a bin until two years ago, when I gave them away to a new fourth grade teacher. What a waste of time and money.

Here is my advice on the top 10 things to invest in that will more than pay for themselves through your teaching career. I try to only buy things with my money, that no matter what grade I'm moved to - I can use it and it won't go into storage.

1. Containers.  I should have stock with sterilite. My first year teaching I bought 5 of the grey bins below. You can grab them by clicking here or on the picture below. They are amazing. They are solid gray plastic and match EVERYTHING.  I suggest sticking with black, grey, or blue. White does start to show kicks and dirt. I have gone from 6 bins to 12. When I want a theme change, I switch the sign (They are held on by velcro dots)

The far left blue are lock and latch boxes. You can find them here
The middle are six drawer bins. You can find them here
The end is a mailbox is from here. Now, I know this is expensive, but it is solid wood and will last forever! 

I also invested in these white containers. They were a dollar each back then. I think the people of sterilite have caught on that teachers like them because they increased the price a bit but so worth it. They have a flippable lip to stack them SUPER easy. Find those here.  I bought 30 of them. It has been 10 years and they still look like new. Not ONE has broke. Last year, I tossed them into my dishwasher and they look BRAND NEW!  If I change themes - I pop on a new themed label rather than tossing containers for new ones.  You can find these labels by clicking the picture or here.

Latch bins are KEY to hold supplies. Look at this mess under my sink before - now look how great they look. I have an index and can find anything!  Find those labels here or click the picture above.

I also use them to house recess supplies! Find the labels here.

2. You will ALWAYS have a library as a primary classroom teacher, so spend the money on QUALITY bins. You can find these here from Steps to Literacy. You can buy at dollar tree, but this is not going to be a long term use. If you have tough kiddos, a lot will break. I invested in both and my dollar tree ones have been long gone. But, these ones have stood the test of time. You can find my editable labels here

3. A paper cutter.  A good one - you can find this one here.  Yes, your school likely has one - but when was the blade last changed? Did you know that - they need changed yearly due to all of the use? If you buy your own, you can go a good 5-7 years without needing a change. Our cutter is a mile away and I want to cut when I want to cut. I have one at school and one at home.  You can find this sight word game here.

4. a laminator. I have 4. Don't you dare judge me - I used to have five but gave away one to a friend. hahahah
I have two at school and two at home. You never know if one will break and then you are stuck. Plus, I send one home on the weekends for parents to help me cut out center stuff. See the volunteer forms that I use with it here.  I also use lamination sheets from here. I use the thinner ones now because I love using this cardstock - especially for printing center materials.

5. A teacher tool box. I KNOW, I KNOW - You don't think you will use it. I don't know what I would do without mine - seriously. I use it DAILY. My most used by me: velcro. Most used by my co-workers - change. hahaha   I got it here.

6. Lanyards - It may seem like something silly on this list of big items, but these are my FAVORITE!  I refuse to tie shoes in my classroom, and I will not untangle yarn knots!! I only threw away two or three after five years.  I used yarn for years and it made me mental. You can easily clean the lanyards year to year by hanging them in oxyclean for a bit and then soak in water and air dry. I got the lanyards here.  You can find the editable lanyard tags by clicking the picture or here.

7. A Lost and Found Bin - this has seriously saved my sanity! If one more student interrupted me with a staple or glue cap, I was going to jump out a window.  This bin is big. Like can hold 2 back packs big. I have had students put in jackets, lids, pencils, crayons - you name it. My students know not to bug me if they find something. If they loose something, they go look in the bin before they talk to me about it. At the end of the week, one kid empties it. You can find the label for this here. I got the bin from Big Lots for $7.

8. Read Aloud books. I don't care if you are a first grade teacher or a fifth grade teacher - kids LOVE read aloud books. I get more excited than my students to hear a new one, so buy them, but don't get too crazy. (Not yet anyway) I tried to buy a couple seasonal ones, a few for the start of the year. You never know what grade you will be in, but for the most part - read aloud books will last you forever! I buy hardcover used books from Amazon.
Here is where you can find the comprehension companions to go with the stories.

9. Magnetic Letters and trays - this is worth the investment in your classroom if you are a primary teacher! You can read all about where I bought my letters, and how I use them  here or click below.

10. Student Mailbox Center - this is another thing I wish I had purchased from year one. This isn't something you will move often so it will stay sturdy and your students will be organized. You can find the 1' binder clip labels here.

I know not all teachers have the money to buy these things all at once. You can save where you can, ask for donations, write a donors choose proposal or sell some of the things you no longer use. Your area may have a teachers facebook sell site and you could be buying new things in no time!

Did I leave anything off the list? Is there anything that I need that I don't have? I am ready to shop and buy more things.  (just kidding - sort of)
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Word Work in the Primary Classroom

Hey all!
Does your guided reading time fly by? Mine sure does! I only have twenty five minutes, twice a day.
When I have my kiddos transition to their centers, and my others hop over to the guided reading table, I need to ensure everyone is working on activities that are appropriate for their independent levels.
So today, I thought I would share one of the activities that I have students work on during centers times for my word work station.

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. This allows me to keep my teeny little blog up and running. 

I use these magnetic boards in my classroom for EVERYTHING. 

I use them in my guided reading groups, and for students that are in the work on words center. 

This new activity may end up becoming my favorite!!!

Word Work Task Cards start with level A-1 and go up through level C-3. Each card has five words. Set one starts with only substituting the ending sound. Set two substitutes either the first sound or ending sound, while each word only changes one letter at a time. Set three can substitute any sound in the word, still only changing one letter each line. Each set has 45 words - with 135 cvc words in the entire pack! 
The task cards have two sized recording sheets if you want your students to have written reinforcement. One is a full size recording sheet that can be made into a booklet for easy storage. The small size is one that you can glue into word work journals. I will have my parent volunteers take these home and create my booklets so that I can keep them all together and glued into their notebooks!

I have also included letters to use in case you don't have magnetic letters. These will fit easily into the task boxes. The boxes are called Iris Photo boxes. You can click the picture below to find the photo boxes that I use. 

I also have this set available in black and white to save you color ink. I will say that I think they really stand out in the astrobrights color paper. I would print each set starting with the color red. I keep everything in rainbow order. Set one is red. Set two is orange. Set three yellow. (coming soon will be set four green, set five blue, set six purple, set seven pink) I do this so that students know what set they are in and start at. Everything in my room goes with the rainbow. They know the order of the colors and know always to start with red and end with pink. The sets also have numbers on them so that students can double check where they are.

The recording sheets either have the words with a space to write after or the picture and the space next to it to record, depending on your child's ability level. 
I used the rings to keep my cards together. These small rings make it so that they fit easily into the task box containers. You can find the rings here.

 These tiles below are also able to be used. They are small 
and skinny enough that you can use them inside the boxes as well. You can find the tiles by clicking here

These letters are also easy to use and fit inside. I of course like them because they are so colorful. You can find these colorful letters by clicking here. It says that you can get at least 3 full sets a-z out of one bucket. I will find out and update this as I pull them into sets. 

You can also use the banana gram or scrabble tiles for students to make these words. Click here for the link to the tiles. 

The great thing about this set is that it goes right along with Lucy Calkins Next Step in Guided Reading. So you know that if you are using this set, you are following right along with what you should be taught at each level. 

You can find the items I use in my guided reading and word work area by clicking on the pictures below:
These are the boards that you can use in your room as well. Click the photo above to find these boards. 

I use this shelving system to house all of my boards(click on either photo to grab the shelving!)

 Here are the magnetic letters that I use. You can get a full board covered with five letters left over per box. So if you want five boards, you will need five of these sets of letters.
Finally the template below that I place on top of the boards is scaled down to 87% so that it fits on these colorful boards. You can click the photo below to purchase the magnetic letter template. This allows students to EASILY return their letters and organize them. They will spend more time working on their activity and less time figuring out where their letters are. 

I hope you find this pack useful! These word work task cards are PERFECT for an organized and efficient word work time. Click below to grab these task cards for your primary classroom. They would be a perfect addition to your pre-k, kindergarten, first grade, or sped classrooms! 

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Magnetic Letter Organization!

Hi friends
I have had so many friends ask me to share my Magnetic Letter Organization with you!

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. 

Do you use magnetic letters in your classroom? I use magnetic letters in my class A LOT. I mean, a lot.  I use them during morning work for some students. I have some students use them during center time or stations. I have my students use them daily during guided reading time. Magnetic letters are something that are used multiple times a day - EVERYDAY in my classroom.

One of the downfalls with magnetic letters, is returning them. The younger the kiddos, the harder this is. (Well, I suppose there are still third graders that don't put them back correctly)

I noticed that my students spent a lot of time figuring out where to put the letters when they are done. Or, they just throw them back in a bucket and spend a ton of time looking for the letters they need for the activity. This slows them WAY down and cuts the amount of time working in half. It was getting so bad, that during guided reading, I was taking letters out of kids' hands and putting them back because it was MAKING.ME.NUTS. I needed a solution!!!!

I thought, ok what can I do to make this more effective? Well, here is my solution! Magnetic letter return sheets!
Click the picture below to go to my TPT store to see the sheets.

I use these during guided reading group times. My students each grab a board that has the letters already on it.  When I do my lesson plan, I spend about 4 minutes with them building words. 4 minutes out of 20-25 minute lesson. That is not a ton of time. What's worse - when it takes students 5 minutes to return the letters. This makes that part of my lesson take up almost 10 minutes. I either had to give them all of the letters I wanted them to use, or I needed a way for them to find the letters they needed and return them FAST!

If you click HERE it will take you to where I got the clear picture frames to my reading strategy posters. If you click on the picture below - it will take you to the Reading Strategy Posters pictured. 

This letter return board has saved SO much time. My kids are actually getting better at letter identification, AND they are getting FAST at it. With special needs students, pre-k and kinder babies - this is HUGE! 

During my guided reading time, I use this pack. It tells the students what letters to grab. Then, we build between 4-7 words. It is based on their guided reading (or DRA) level. You can click on the picture to check out the pack. 

If you click on the image below, it is going to take you to where you can get the magnetic boards that they go on.  These boards are double sided dry erase and magnetic. The best part is that they are PRIME on amazon, so you don't need to wait weeks to get them, like I did! 

I have had SO many people ask where I got my letters for the boards. I got my letters from Lakeshore Learning, and they took about two weeks to get to my school. I found these letters from Amazon, and bonus again THEY ARE PRIME! Can you tell how much I love Amazon? You can get an entire tray completed with one container, with a few left over. They end up being the same price as the Lakeshore ones, but they are prime, so two days, folks, two days!
Click the picture below to find the letters on Amazon.

I have had many people ask, what else do I use these letters for to make the purchase of boards and letters worth it? 
I use them for interactive sight word stations in my classroom. Students scan the QR code and then they watch, listen and learn. They build their sight words with me interactively. They need magnetic letters for it. I have students do this activity during morning work time and centers. 
Click the picture to see all the different interactive sight word stations that you can use these letters with. 

I also use these magnetic letters for students to build word families. Students have four cards. One is to put together a puzzle, then read the card, write the word, then build the word. 
Click on the picture below to see my word family task cards. 

My students also play puzzler. This is another sight word game. Students pick a picture card, then, they look at the chart for the secret letter (they really can be confusing), then they have a bunch of mixed up letters. They must fix them to become a new word. 
Click below to see my differentiated puzzler sight word game. 
Some people have used cookie trays to put their magnetic letters on. I can't share where to find exact ones that are magnetic. I have heard some people have used the dollar tree. My dollar tree didn't have the right size, and they weren't magnetic. Other people found perfect ones at their dollar tree! Check them out!
Stuck on teaching found hers at the dollar tree! 
I kept my boards on this holder at first. It works well, and I liked it. You can click the picture to grab it. 

There was something about this sleek, white, pull out tray that just makes my heart skip a beat. You can click any of the pictures to grab it. I LOVE that it comes literally the SAME DAY with Amazon!!!! I don't have the patience to wait ten business days for Ikea. The nearest IKEA is not close, so going to get it is an all day trip. So, thanks amazon for selling this for me! 
Isn't it just beautiful!? The trays slide in and out. It only has four trays, but there is enough room to put one on the bottom. It works perfect for me. 
Plus, it fits the boards exactly. It also fits into my cube organizer! TEACHER HEART HAPPY.

So again, here is a recap of what I use with my magnetic letters.
Tray to hold them.
Magnetic letters (1 box per board)
Magnetic boards. 
I promise  you will NOT regret buying the magnetic letters, the magnetic boards, the tray holder and my magnetic return sheet! It will make your life so much easier. 
I am going to give away 1 magnetic board, 1 set of letters, my magnetic return sheet and my Set 1 Primer Interactive Sight Words to try! 
All you have to do is leave a comment on my Facebook post on how YOU would use the letters, boards, and letter sheet. I would also love you forever if you shared the post on your facebook page! :)

I will pick a winner on Sunday January 8th at 9pm

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