Monday, October 20, 2014

Letter Sticks – A Simple Literacy Manipulative

My youngest son is working on letter recognition and letter sounds, so I made him these easy letter sticks today.

 Craft stick literacy center - write letters on craft stick and then let kids use them to spell words, learn alphabetical order, and more.  Ideas from Raki's Rad Resources

The sticks are super simple – they are just craft sticks that I wrote letters on.  I do uppercase on one side and lowercase on the other, and always write on the front and the back, so there’s no way for kiddos to get confused.  I also make sure that I make at least two for each letter, sometimes more for those Wheel of Fortune letters (R S T L N E).

After I made these, I started thinking of all the ways that these could be used in word work and literacy centers.  So, I thought I’d share a few ideas with you:

 

1.)  Flash the letter – What’s the name?  What’s the sound?  Just like letter cards, this gives you an easy way to check where students are.  In fact, they can check themselves, and put the ones they know into one cup and the ones they don’t into another.

 

2.)  Matching uppercase and lowercase – As long as you have at least two of each letter, students can match the uppercase version with the lowercase version easily and increase their understanding of different forms of a letter.

Craft stick literacy center - write letters on craft stick and then let kids use them to spell words, learn alphabetical order, and more.  Ideas from Raki's Rad Resources

3.)  Write out their name – Being able to spell their own name is an important pre-reading skill.  Help kids to spell out their own name by having name cards available to them, and then slowly remove the name cards from the center.

 

4.)  Spell simple words – First copying words from word wall cards and then creating words of their own, students can use this simple manipulative to build words.  Older kids can use these manipulatives to practice spelling sight words and spelling words.

Craft stick literacy center - write letters on craft stick and then let kids use them to spell words, learn alphabetical order, and more.  Ideas from Raki's Rad Resources

5.)  Quickly change out word family words – Have students create the word family and change out the beginning.  Or have students use these in place of letter cards when playing the Making Words Word Family Centers available at our Teachers Pay Teachers store.

 

6.)  Work on alphabetical order – Let the kids put the sticks in order from A to Z.  Now can they do it from Z to A?

Craft stick literacy center - write letters on craft stick and then let kids use them to spell words, learn alphabetical order, and more.  Ideas from Raki's Rad Resources

How could you use this simple literacy manipulative?

 

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Technology Should Be MORE Than a Substitute

 When new technology arrives, the first things teachers do is to try and take the things they have been doing and substitute them with technology.  These things make our prep time less, but give kids essentially the same learning experience.  Examples of this would include:

- Using a fact fact website in place of flash cards.

- Using an iPad app in places of a file folder game.

- Using a word processing program to type up a published essay in place or writing it in neat hand writing.

- Looking up the definition for a word in an online dictionary instead of a book dictionary.

- Reading a book online instead of in a paper format.

 Technology can and should do more than substitute what we could already do with pen and paper.  An opinion from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

While all of these are good ways to use technology, technology use SHOULD NOT stop there.  Technology provides us with the opportunity to do things we weren’t able to do before.  This should be the focus of our technology instruction and technology integration.  Some examples of using technology to take students to the next level would be:

- Creating videos to explain to others the tricks to memorizing math facts. (Consider using this video planning sheet.)

- Creating a collaborative document (using a program like Google Documents) with students from a different class (maybe even in a different country) to compile information.

- Using a website like Storybird to create an online storybook using the provided pictures as inspiration, and then publishing the story to your classmates so that they can leave you comments on the website.

- Reading a book online and using the embedded dictionary function to learn new vocabulary words.  And then creating an online book report with a link that can be shared with family around the world.

- Comparing information on verified and un-verified sources when conducting internet research.

- Publishing in-class writing assignments on your blog to share with students around the world.

 

As teachers, we should be spending at least half of our technology time using technology to do something that we couldn’t do without technology.  Technology helps students to collaborate, to create, to find large quantities of information and to connect with students all over the world.

How do you use technology in your classroom?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources