It feels like almost everything I want to share with teachers, parents, and administrators is about the importance of Word Study.  There are many different ways to approach word study in the classroom.  During this new series of blog posts, I'm hoping to share many techniques I implemented and used successfully with students in the past.  I hope you'll tune in on Wednesdays...
Font: KG Fonts, Digital Paper: Sassy Designs
Word Games are an effective method to encourage students to "play" with words.  If you play word games often, you may be surprised at the level of discourse students use when discussing their words.  As you hit the thrift shops and yard sales preparing for your classroom, keep your eyes open for a few of these games.  I always do a bit of word work as we begin our Guided Reading group, and when I don't have a particular skill they need to work on that session, we'll play a word game for a few minutes.  Read on, and I'll tell you how I *always* teach my kiddos how to play...
I bought this Boogle game at a yard sale...
Boggle.  Hands-down.  If you can't find anything else, find this game.  I bought mine at a yard sale for 50 cents, 'cause that's how I roll...  :)  Here's how I teach students in grades 1-5 how to play Boggle in a small group.
Boggle = awesomeness
  • Explain how the letters must be connected.  I show them a "practice" round of Boggle, like the picture above.  (Point out the "difficult letters," like H and E - which could be mistaken for I and M, respectively.)  You can make HOG.  You can't make FROG, because the F is not connected to the other letters.  You can also spell WATER (use the W in the bottom left corner to begin).  Letters should be "connected" either up-down, side-side, or diagonally.
  • Pass out dry erase boards and markers.  ***Explain that they may not cover their work.***  We are doing this to work on words, not to win a ton of points, so we will not be keeping score.  
  • Each student writes down the words they find on their whiteboard.  They do not talk to others while they look for words - we will have time to share our words after time is up. They can write down words you see on a neighbor's board IF 1) you can find it on the Boggle board and 2) your partner spelled the word correctly.  (Right now, many of you are indignantly asking if I allow them to cheat... trust me.  It's a crutch many of them will not need for very long!)    
  • You participate, also.  Grab a whiteboard and look for words.  Make sure not to cover your board, either.  (They love this part!)  See my example board below...
  • After a couple of minutes, or a student begins to get antsy, say, "Time is up. Caps on markers.  Markers down."  Go around the group and allow each student to tell a word they found.  Have them point at the letters so the group can see the word.  Be sure to share one word you found, too.  Then erase and play again or move on to something else.  Total time spent = 5 minutes.
This is what my board might look like:  (Please note - I'm sure I missed quite a few words.  That's the fun of the game.  You don't spend all day on it - just a few minutes.  And you get to play with use dry erase markers, which is extra special.)  Want a way for students to record their Boggle words?  Click on the picture below for a little freebie you can use in the classroom.
Click to download from Google Drive

Scrabble.  Another great one for the yard sales and thrift store.  Once they hit 2nd grade, they can handle Scrabble using the "Classroom Rules."  Here's how I teach the kiddos how to study words using this game:

  • Explain that each word must connect to an existing word.  For example:  if "hat" is on the board, you can build using the H, the A, or the T, or you can add on to the word and turn "hat" into "that," "hats," or "hate."
  • Because they are playing this to work on words, not their addition skills, I have them ignore the numbers and keep score by the length of the word they made.  Using the example from above, player 1 would get 3 points for the word "hat" since it has 3 letters.  If player 2 turned "hat" into "hated" their score would be 5 because hated has 5 letters.  This is just for the sake of simplicity, since we are only spending 5 minutes playing this game, and I don't want to spend the 5 minutes teaching about triple word scores, etc.  We move on...
  • Students keep track of their score on their white board.  When time is called (ie - about 5 minutes or until someone gets antsy!) the person with the largest score is the winner.  We clean up, and we move on to something else. 
Word Family Card Games.  These are games that I created ages ago.  (Note the clip art that needs an update!)  I use these for about 5 minutes at the beginning of a Guided Reading lesson, played similarly to the card game, Uno.  Click on the pictures for more information.

Magic e long vowel word family game

Short and long vowels word family games bundle

Next Wednesday - Easy and cheap manipulatives and resources for Working With Words!  See you then!  :)  Questions, comments, or issues you want me to cover, let me know!  Thanks!!
I don't know about y'all, but I am super duper jealous of the blogger meet ups that have been happening over the summer.  If you teach in Central NC and want to join us, email me or comment below so I can send out invites.  No blogging experience necessary - all teachers are welcome to join us as we chat about teacher things.  Not sure what teacher things are?  Here are a few examples:
Cheap school supplies; 
Teachers Pay Teachers; 
Beginning a new school year;
Wedding plans (since a couple of attendees are getting married very soon!)
How lovely it is to spend more than 4 minutes eating a meal, (with an adult beverage, too!) - As a teacher, I train for nine months to become a competitive eater. I can finish a meal in 3.2 seconds flat! 25 minute lunch my arse!
Interested?  We will be going to a restaurant at White Oak Crossing in Garner, NC if you want to Google Map it.  Hope to see you August 24!!  :)  Here's a link to the event on Facebook.
Summer is in full swing, so it's back to school time at our house.  (Remember, I've been teaching at a year round school!)  Except, I'm on sabbatical - er, I mean, unemployed self-employed.  OK, here's the truth -  I'm only on sabbatical in my head.  On paper, I'm unemployed; the state of NC does not allow teachers to take unpaid leave unless we're serving our country or taking care of someone who is ill.  After 14 years in the classroom, I need a change of pace for the sake of my health.  I love teaching, and will return (one day!)  For now, I'm kind of reveling in the idea that back to school means my own kiddos go.  It's been over 10 years since I've had a quiet house, and I'm loving it!
Since I am not currently employed, I decided to spend more time creating and tweaking the teaching resources I've been working on for years.  Here's the most recent creation (over 6 months in the making!)  Comprehension Strategy Sheets for Informational Text Standards (Grades 3-5):
Click to view on TpT!
Click to view on TN!
Click to view on TpT!
Click to View on TN!

 What teachers are saying:
"Very thorough! Great documents!"
"Awesome organizers for the standards! Thanks!"
"I love your RL pack so I am thrilled to have this one too!"

OK - enough infomercial there - I was beginning to envision an announcer saying, "But wait... call now!"  Ick.  On to more interesting topics... Organized lunches!  Really.  As a mommy with very little time, I find this fascinating.  Put in a bit of prep time on Sunday afternoon, and lunches go smoothly all week.  (In theory, at least!)

I wish I had thought of this last year when I was so rushed every morning between my kiddos and getting to the assortment of morning meetings before school.  Do you think this would work for your house?  Are you out of school?  For how long? 

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