What does explicit instruction look like in small groups?

Sunday, January 23, 2022
Teaching small reading groups can be daunting...especially for a new teacher or if you changed grade levels  and don't have the experience teaching reading.

Well...I've taught small reading groups for 25 years mostly in first/second grades.

One of the important things you need to know is that reading begins with hearing!  Many of  my literacy students say early in the year...Mrs. Moore we don't read books when we come here.  LOL Yep, that's about right!  I work with struggling readers as a literacy specialist - intervention teacher.

What I've learned is:  when kids can't read yet you don't want them to get into bad habits and use strategies that AREN'T helpful to them.  Strategies that  ( insert GASP here ) have been taught to teachers for year.  If I have a non reader - throwing a leveled book in front of them and having them just look at pictures and guess or get the first letter and then guess is NOT going to help them.  I REPEAT not HELPFUL! As you teach phonetic skills decodable books are going to give you the best bang for your buck with reinforcing what you are teaching and giving your students confidence.  When you see your students looking at the WORDS and not the PICTURES you know you are doing something right. 👏

 I kind of imagine having a baby - I'm not going to give it adult food right away...I need to  make sure she knows how to use her mouth properly, chew etc. I start with mashed up , easy to swallow baby food first.

I've definitely stepped up my instruction game after completing a course on LETRS and TTT ~ which are based on the Science of Reading and truly amazing.  These courses have transformed the way I teach reading and it's been a game changer!

I could go into the use of mirrors ( explicitly teaching them the way their mouth looks, is the sound voiced/unvoiced etc. ) and sound walls that I use on the daily in my groups too but wanted to start with some tips that can get you started that don't involve a book...yet!

A multisensory approach is extremely important and helpful.  Research tells us that up to 20% of our students are dyslexic and probably not even diagnosed.  The best way to teach these kiddos is to make it multisensory.

I use mats and manipulatives in my small groups everyday.  Back in the day manipulatives were just for math....well not anymore my friends!

phonemic awareness

I like to use elkonin boxes that change with the seasons and then for the manipulatives I cut spiders off of plastic Halloween rings, find mini erasers, etc. to make it even more fun.  You can grab the mats here.

segmenting mats phonemic  awareness

This pack includes mats for all seasons and themes...once you move the manipulative up ( like the cars on this photo )  there's a spot to write each sound in the box under the road - phoneme/ grapheme matching.  

This next pack is just for working on HEARING the sounds - without the grapheme piece.  You can grab it here.

phonemic awareness mats

I've included practice for 2, 3 and 4 phonemes with ideas on how to use it, word lists to get you started on substituting phonemes and picture cards too.  These are all great practices to incorporate into your small group time.
You can read more about how the use of manipulatives and manipulating phonemes is important on my insta post here.

If you have further questions I will be posting a more indept look at teaching small groups but if you have time these are a few great books to get you started.

Equipped for Reading Success by David Kilpatrick

Speech to Print by Louisa Moates

Uncovering The Logic of English by Denise Eide

Keep learning and when you know better, do better...talk  soon.
Happy Teaching!

Have you heard of TWOs day?!?!

Sunday, January 9, 2022
I LOVE celebrating fun days at school...whether they be dress up days: ( former student council advisor here 🙋 ), or 100th day activities or CORE lit days etc.

Well...there's another reason to celebrate teacher friends ( insert happy 💗 here )
This year:  2022 there is a very FUN day that falls on either 2/2/22 OR 2/22/22!  It has  officially been named TWOs day and let's be honest it's just another day to make  learning SUPER fun and engaging....am I wrong?

In deciding what day to celebrate I would personally choose the day that is further away from when the 100th day falls this year.  Only because I wouldn't want to celebrate 2 math days in a row, I'd prefer to have them spread out.

BUT, 2/22/22 does fall on a Tuesday which would make it even more fun calling it TWO's day.  It's up to you how and when you want to celebrate.  In my pack that is only $2.22 and will remain that price ( see what I did there ? )  I have included BOTH day options so there are activities that include working with 2 and working with 22.  I've also included pairs, doubles and lots of other fun options to make the day extra special.

CLICK here to find out more:

Twos day  2/2/22 2/22/22 - 2's day

Hope you enjoy - tag me on instagram if you celebrate and use my pack!

New Year Ideas to start your year off right

Friday, December 31, 2021
Let's face it...heading back to school after the holidays can be a bit bittersweet.
Sure, it will be great to see your students but the hot coffees, snuggling under the covers on a rainy day and peeing whenever you want really can't be beat.😅😆

But here we are....many of us heading back in just a few days after the ball drops.

If you are in need of some ( low key ) ideas to ring in the new year I got you!

Let's start with a DARLING yeti to ring in the new year....he would look darling so stinkin' cute hanging in your hallway for the month of January ( or longer...let's be honest about how soon that board will come down 😆 )

Yeti for a new year writing craft

I've also got some cute crowns /headbands and bracelets that your student can write their goals  on and wear home proudly.

New Year goal bracelets

New Year Crowns

Or a New Years activity pack 

New Year Activity Pack

I'm heading back on the 3rd and students come the 4th so I'm right there with you!  Have a great year my friends!

Second Language Learners

Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Vocabulary is such an important part of everyday life...especially as a precursor to reading for a plethora of reasons.  For one, building oral language and vocabulary as a young child helps beginning readers.  They must use the words they hear orally to  make sense of the words they see in print.  Building background knowledge - schema helps readers understand the text and make connections which is a great way to strengthen their comprehension as well.

This is especially imporant for our second language learners as they are trying to navigate our world and make meaning of things they see and hear.  I spent about 2 days in France when I was 21 and was completely overwhelmed because I knew just 2 phrases in French.  I felt completely helpless and my frustration level was through the roof when I was trying to communicate with others.

This trip led to a week and 1/2 stay in Barcelona, Spain...guess what!?! I immediately felt confident and self reliant because I knew a TON of vocabulary in Spanish and could hold a conversation with some patience on the other end of course. 😂  My point is I was able to ask directions, get confirmation on questions and navigate around the city because I had enough vocabulary in my word bank to assist me through daily challenges that came my way.  

I imagine that's how kiddos feel when they come into our classroom with limited vocabulary and the classroom buzz all around them is going at a break speed pace.  It must feel so overwhelming for them!

Building their vocabulary is one of the fastest ways to get them to become more confident in your class.  Having them engage in conversations, listen, observe, watch interactions is key to their success.  Not only are they trying to understand the vocabulary and language but also social cues and any cultural differences that may pop up.

I have used these vocabulary cards with my students and have even had peers work with kids.  I have found that these vocabulary cards interactions are not just great for my second language learners but for the peer buddies as well.  It develops a sense of understanding, empathy, patience and much more in them.

If you'd like to get a closer look, you can check them out here.  

Second language learner vocabulary cards

This is an easy, low prep way to be sure they are getting some extra needed vocab practice in your classroom without devoting too much of your time as you are managing 20+ kids.

As always,
Happy Teaching,

Crafts and Writing

Monday, November 22, 2021
Growing up in the 70's as an elementary school student there wasn't much accountability in grade school in comparison to what we face as teacher's today.
That's good and bad in some ways.  Although I do enjoy the PLC model  ( to a certain degree ) one aspect I love is that  our grade level teams are on the same page and collaborate and share their best practices with one another.

I can remember the very first time a principal said to our staff, " absolutely no art unless writing is tied to it " at first I was mad and speechless.

WHY can't kids just have fun, what does EVERYTHING have to be tied to a standard?!?!
😡😠  I made a snowy scene with a snowman without any writing attached and I turned out just fine. 😂
But times have certainly changed and with balance it's not all bad.

So....with all this in mind I wanted to find a solution for you when you just wanted to make a really cute art project....but had to include writing.

Introducing my BRAND new product line which has just been launched called 
My little pals!!  This product line includes the darling art projects with writing - some of them have the writing as part of the art, others have it attached as a separate paper.  But it's all together to make your life a little bit easier.  

The first 3 have been included in my store this past weekend and the rest are in the works.

Introducing My little Polar Bear

Polar Bear Craft and Writing

Polar  Bear craft and writing

Polar  Bear craft and writing

This little guy is sitting on a block of ice which of course is the writing part.  In this one I've included a brainstorm page, a couple writing options and pin art as well as all the pieces needed to complete the art project.

You can find it here.

Introducing My Little Penguin

Penguin craft and writing

This little guy is popping out of her egg which of course is the writing part.  In this one I've included a brainstorm page, a couple writing options and pin art as well as all the pieces needed to complete the art project.

Penguin craft and writing

You can grab it here.

YETI craft, writing and headband

YETI craft and writing

This adorable YETI is just hanging out over the paper they will be writing on or the headband they can wear.  This one can be used in January at the start of a NEW YEAR or at the beginning of the school year August/September.  In this one I've included a brainstorm page, a couple writing options and pin art as well as all the pieces needed to complete the art project as well as a headband to wear home AND bulletin board pieces to create a bulletin board.

You can find it here.

I will be adding to this series all the time, so if you don't find what you need message me and tell me what you are looking for but it may already be on my to do list as well.

Enjoy and happy teaching!

Social Emotional Learning Play Doh Mats

Thursday, November 11, 2021
Let's face it our kids need more emotional support than ever right now...post pandemic kids have felt isolated, missed school and are relearning how to get along and work things out with their peers.

I've seen my students struggle in many areas with behavior and I knew these emotion/feeling mats would come in handy.

Basically you print out the mat that has the emotion on it that you are working on and the skin tone that would be appropriate for the child you are working with...
have playdoh available and let them build the face that matches how they are feeling.  While they are busy building you can use that time to talk to them about their emotions.  I have also included blank ones so you can create your own emotion.

SEL feeling playdoh mats

SEL playdoh feeling mats

SEL feeling playdoh mats

You can find the mats = here

As you can see there are a TON of options in these playdoh mats, some have words, others allow you to add words, some are bald - students can use playdoh to create their hairstyle.  Maybe they just want to create the emotion they are feeling and not the hair so I've also included hair options.
I hope these emotion SEL mats serve your students well and allow you to have an engaging, meaningful activity to do with them  as they are calming down or working through some tough emotions.

Let me know on Instagram how they work out for you.

Easy Phonemic Awareness Activities

Saturday, November 6, 2021
Phonemic Awareness Activities that are easy to implement!!

I wanted to share two ideas that you can implement right away that won't take too much prep on your end...yep!  👏🙌🥳

The first one are my segmenting sound mats ~ I've made them seasonal so you can use them all year long!  My literacy students are LOVING these and every month they can't wait to see what mat I'm bringing out to use and even more fun what manipulatives.

You can easily find mini erasers at the Target Dollar Spot, Oriental Trading Co , Dollar Tree or Amazon to use with these mats.
It's great fun and very engaging to have your students use these and even better they are formatted so they can use the encoding piece as well. 

 Have them segment the sounds they hear first by moving each manipulative up into the box and then have them say/write/spell the word making sound/symbol matching relationships.

  We all know how important this skill is for your young readers and writers!  Click the picture below to get a closer look.

Blending mats for segmenting

Here are some examples of how fun they are for your students:

segmenting and blending mats

blending segmenting mats


Another fun idea are vowel tents...have you heard of them???  I don't know if Orton Gillingham were the first to come up with them but I do know they endorse them.  
Vowel tents are just that - little vowel tents that you print out ( on sturdy cardstock ) and give to your students.  

You then say short vowel words and have your students hold up the correct vowel that goes with the word.  Short vowels are tricky for your young learners and being able to distinguish between the sounds is an important skill they need to master. Click the picture below to get a closer look.

vowel tents - short vowel work

I've included teacher directions in this pack to explain it to you as well.  Basically each child will have the 5 vowels tents in front of them ( done whole class or small groups ) and you say a word.  They can tap out the word and then hold up the correct tent that matches it.  You can easily and quickly see who is struggling with hearing the short vowel ( medial ) sounds in words.

I've also included a handy CVC word list for each vowel so you don't even have to come up with words...it's all been done for you and ready to go for an engaging lesson for your students.

Are your students ready for more...
I also have vowel tents for long and short vowels available.  One side has a long vowel letter/picture and the other side has a short vowel one.  Be sure they are understanding long and short vowels with these fun tents.  Click the picture to learn more about it.

Long and Short vowel tents

Long and Short vowel tents

I know it's easy to get stuck in a rut with small groups.  These ideas will definitely make your small group time more engaging and meaningful.  I always say every minute counts in small groups - our time with them is targeted, explicit and done with urgency.

Use your time wisely and try these out, let me know what you think of them.

As always....happy teaching my friends!