Sensory Bins

Thursday, February 6, 2020

I have ALWAYS wanted to teach kindergarten!  In fact, when I wrote my final paper for my credential it was all about my 'dream job' of being a kindergarten teacher.  25 years in, guess what!?!  I have NEVER taught kindergarten.  

I think I was so drawn to it because before I started my credential program and after college I had a preschool job teaching 4 year olds.  Oh my goodness y'all they were the most precious things ever!  It was that job that made this girl - BA in Psychology turn to teaching and go after her credential and masters in education.

My new position has me teaching 20 ish minutes of intervention for  kindergartners 3x's a week and I LOVE it!  I mean, ok, ok, let's be real.  I have ummm 6 kids in a small group in the hallway.  I don't have 20+ something kids that I have to corral and teach and do all the things with so I'm not really even close to the same playing field as my hard working, dedicated k teachers.  BUT, I still LOVE my time with them so much.  It's the highlight of my day for real.

sensory bin options

I have discovered sensory bins and bags and lots and lots of hands on stuff that I have fallen in love with and use all time.  It certainly helps that this little intervention group is super appreciative of anything I bring and begs for more time with me.  But the creative side of me is dying with happiness to work with them and create fun, engaging things for them to do.

I wanted to share some ideas you can do to create sight word bins AND they don't have to be #pinterestperfect ~ ~ I promise you will still get #allthelove.

I started with large containers - and large tupperware pieces to create my bins.   As I started to create multiple bins and running out of space I came to the realization that you can use just about anything with 5 year olds.  In fact - today I used my daughter's shoe box!  Yep, and they didn't even notice or care that it wasn't anything fancier.  So, save some money and save old shoe boxes.  If possible save shoe boxes, label them and keep the same monthly pieces in them so you can just pull them out next year and not have to move, re create or re do any.  #ideal

Also here's a list I created of all the things you can easily include in a sensory bin that you may or may not already have available in your home.

sensory bin winter ideas

sensory bin winter ideas

Valentines sight word sensory bin

*tissue paper for gift bags cut up
* rice ( even better if you dye it with vinegar and food coloring )
* beans
* cut up straws
* Easter grass
* gift filler ( shredded paper )
* beads
* buttons
* popcorn kernels
* pom poms
* cotton balls
* pasta
* styro foam shapes
* birdseed
* pet store fish rocks
* buttons
* water beads 
* craft beads
* split peas
* cornmeal
* coffee grinds
* oats ( which can actually be dyed )
* marbles
* leaves
* shells
* feathers
* packing peanuts
* chickpeas ( can be dyed )
* shredded coconut ( can by dyed )

*** WARNING ***  Many of these items are considered choking hazards.  Please keep your child or students supervised at all times if setting up a sensory bin.

Just add in some sight word flash cards, letters on seasonal shapes to spell out sight words or even cvc words you want them to read/blend.

I have had great success with using several of these items to create engaging bins that they dig through, or use tongs with etc. to hunt for letters or sight words.  Just remember if it's tactile and engaging A) they will  be more motivated to participate
B) often times engaging multiple senses will help things 'stick' for those kids that need to use multiple modalities when learning and exploring.

Have fun trying out new items and if I missed one that you love to use drop it in the comments below so we can all benefit from it.
Happy teaching... 

Small Group Engagement Made Easy

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Engaging ALL of your small group students - ALL of the time.  Sounds a bit daunting right?!?!  Especially if you are herding cats working with kindergartners - I mean.
Well I have found there are ways to keep all your students engaged even if you are playing a game and it's not their turn.  Yep, it's possible friends and the conversations that were happening at my small group table throughout the game made my heart so happy!  Things like:  "I remember how to spell that word without even looking at the fly it was a spelling word last week."  OR 
" Wait, I know that first part it's an 'h' brother. " etc.  I love when they recognize word patterns, chunks, etc. in their reading or spelling.

student engagement with sight words

We started out by playing our fly swat the sight word game.  
At first glance, kids have to take turns swatting sight words with a swatter and reading them.  
What are the other kids doing?!?!  Well,  when we play this game first we roll the die!  I know, I know it sounds strange - it's not a board game but for real.  
Child A - rolls the die.  They swat words in front of them on a plaid placemat of course that many times as they read them aloud.  Next, that child spells the word(s) out with their magnetic letters and then they write the word(s) on their white board.  Not only does this take #allthetime until their next turn but it gives them a multisensory experience with their sight words : 
visually~ seeing them, 
auditory ~ saying/hearing them, kinesthetic ~ spelling them out with magnetic letters OR you can use my squishy bags or salt boxes even.  Then lastly writing them...see the secret here, all this takes a while.  They are staying engaged by doing these, focusing on the sight words they read and while they are waiting for their turn they are so BUSY doing the other things their turn comes up again quite quickly.  

sight word game ideas

sight word game ideas

If you don't have a die like this you can also use a sand timer and see how many they can swat and say before the sand timer runs out.  Also I like the die because with the write on numbers I can control the numbers on there.  If I stick to smaller numbers it's not as overwhelming as it would be if they had to swat, say, build and or write 5 or 6 words as they would on a regular set of dice. 

sight word game ideas

We do it with several of our sight word games/activities.  Here they are picking snowflakes out of a winter sensory bin and after they pull one out and say it I had them write it 3 times.  They are proud to say and write it, it reinforces the word and again it takes time so they are engaged and before they know it - it's their turn again. 

sight word game ideas

I love these sight word sensory bins because they also put a focus on fine motor skills.  I was surprised at how much trouble some of my students had with working the tongs to grab a sight word snowflake. This activity is working so many things at once developmentally for them. 

sight word sensory bin

I hope these ideas can be used in your classroom, just a write on die ( from Dollar Tree ) some tongs, a sand timer, white board and magnetic letters can make your time more efficient and engaging for your littles with games you may already have in your classroom!

Happy teaching!

Multi sensory Bags

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

I'm always trying to think of ways to reach kiddos ( like all of you I'm sure ) otherwise you wouldn't even be reading this right now.  So since I'm now a literacy specialist and working with K - 3 on all things literacy I've tried to think outside the box on what might be beneficial to my youngest learners.

multi sensory bags

I work with kinders on letters, sounds and sight words and know that many of them benefit from a multi sensory approach.  So with that being said, I decided to make some squishy bags that honestly could double as a  calm down kit activity.
This is how I made them, super easy and you probably have most of the items right in your cabinet as I write this.
ziplock sandwich baggies or gallon size bags
food coloring
hair gel

I squirted about 1/3 cup of hair gel into the baggies, added approx. 4 drops of food coloring and several pinches of glitter.  Whala: you just created a bit of magic to a 5 year old.
I just spread all the ingredients around in the baggie and that's it.
For extra precaution you could add duct tape.  I did go over the ziplock top with duct tape to better secure the bags.   You never know when you are going to come across an over zealous kidddo that squeezes just a tad too hard.

squishy bag for multisensory learning

So, it's that easy and cheap...most of these materials you may even have at home or school.  My littles ask all the time if they can use these bags to write their sight words.  It's a great motivator for those reluctant kiddos you have and can double as a calm down activity.  #winning

Let me know if you try this out. Happy teaching my friends!

5 Sight Word Games to Try Right Away

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sight words....they can be so, well....boring!  Drill & Kill can drive anyone CRAZY!!!  I've always tried ( very hard ) to think outside the box when it comes to sight words and making learning them #moreengaging.  I've included some sight word game ideas I've used over the years that have been popular and engaging for my students that I hope you can find easily implementable --- haha I made up a word there just for you!  Actually it's a legit word #gofigure
Crocodile Chomp
One super fun, super engaging beloved activity involves a toy that runs under $10 - for reals people.  Well worth the investment I'd say.
It's the crocodile toy that looks like this:
click here for link:
alligator sight word game
(amazon affiliate link included)
This toy is soo much fun for the kids - here's how it works, parent helpers show a small group sight words - when a child gets the word correct they push down on a tooth, continue until a child pushes down on a tooth the alligator CHOMPS down on their finger.  It doesn't hurt - the kids laugh and laugh!
I'll have a side of McFries with that!

sight word french fries

This activity gets the kids all silly and hungry.  It costs almost nothing to make:  yellow sponges: $1 Dollar Tree, tongs: $1 Dollar Tree, red construction paper + 10 year old origami kid on you tube = perfect french fry holder for center.
  Have students take turns picking a fry out of the container with tongs ( doubles as fine motor practice ) , then they need to read the sight word and write it down on their white boards.

** NOTE** I used a large piece of red construction paper to create a bigger box to hold more sight word french fries. **
Hulk/Hammer fist pound
This is an all time favorite and my students ask and ask if they can use the hammer or hulk fist.  I've shared this idea before but it bears sharing again for any who missed it.  I purchased this fist on amazon - it was a great investment but if you don't want to pay that much the hammers are a much better deal:

fist pound sight words
(amazon affiliate link included)

hulk fist: 
Pack of 12 hammers:

There are several variations of this game...
a)  spread out flash cards word facing up and have them take turns punching the word of their choice/saying it at the same time.  They collect the word they say.
b) spread out flashcards facing down they fist punch any word, flip it over and if they can read it quick as a snap they can keep the card.
c) set a sand timer and have them fist punch or hit with hammer any and all while saying them before sand timer runs out.  They can compete with themselves or timer to see how many they get and try to beat the number next time.  Below is a sample with the inflatable hammers, you can use letter recognition, sight words, etc. for this idea.

hammer out sight words

Vroom, Vroom
sight word race cars
It's time to dig through your little brother's old box of matchbox cars from the 80's/90's or your own child's box in the garage.  They can be put to good use with this game!
 I came across this game first on you tube from my friend  Susan but I have modified it just a tad.  You can use matchbox cars for this - trucks work best for the first game and any race car will work for the 2nd game.  
1st game:  place a unifex cube in a truck with a sight word on it, have child load up the 'cargo' and say the word.  Then they will drive around the truck to the matching sight word and take out the cargo and place it on top of the sight word to match it.  You can also do this with math problems ( answer on 'cargo' number sentence on map ) etc.
2nd game:  have child choose a car and flip the sand timer over.  They have to zoom around the track as fast as they can.  When they go over a sight word they need to say it quick as a snap.  Say as many and drive over as many as you can before the sand timer runs out. 

Flip it, Swat it

flip it, swat it sight words
( amazon affiliate )

Optional Talking Fly Swatter: Says things like "Gotcha!", "We got it!" "Smack that!" etc.  This just adds an element to the fun.

Regular Fly Swatters: 10 for $6.93

This game is an oldie but a goodie, I'm sure most of you have seen this game floating around pinterest for years.  There are a couple variations I'd like to share with you to spice it up a bit.
1) spread out the flies or eggs and flip over a sand timer.  See how many the kids can swat or flip and SAY in that time before it runs out.  They race the clock and have fun with this.
2) Use a cube or spinner - I have one here:
and have them say the words in the voice that they land on: for instance read the words like a pirate, or a cowboy, etc.  This gets them super motivated as well.
ALSO:  It's more fun to put the eggs on a cookie sheet and the flies on what looks like picnic place mats to make it more fun for them. I purchased red plaid tissue paper from CVS and put them in sheet protectors but you could cut up a vinyl table cloth or use place mats too.

Another fun game I came across on Instagram - gotta love the gram.  I tweaked it just a bit only because I didn't have the wind up toy. That's what I love about these games they can be easily tweaked and still work.
I didn't have a wind up toy so I just used a squishy toy and the kids tossed the toy across the 'sea' of sight words written on paper pumpkins.  They read the word or letter it landed on.

sight word game

You could use a wind up snowman: 
Spread out sight words on snowflakes and twist the wind up toy to walk across the snowflakes whichever one it lands on the student has to read that sight word.  
Chattering teeth would be fun too:

Hope you enjoy these ideas, for more fun ideas follow me on instagram

Pumpkin Fun with Grade 1

Sunday, October 20, 2019

My favorite season is Fall...not because I like pumpkin spice {gag} -- sorry to all my psl fans.  But I love when it gets cooler and the leaves change color.  I love when the wind picks up and I can pull out scarves and boots.  I love decorating for Fall and seeing all the cute pumpkin decorations.  Mostly, I love when the weather cools down after a long, hot summer.
Any season though is a great time for student I right?!?  I love looking at pumpkin cut outs and witch hat finger puppets - there always seems to be something I can do with those things.
Here are a few fun ideas that I'm using this month to keep my students engaged and having fun while learning.
I found these beautiful, bright pumpkins on line as a FREE printable.  Once I printed them out and cut them out ( they have yet to be laminated....busy much!?! ) I added letters and words to them.  I added both for a couple of reasons.  I teach reading all day and have a variety of levels in those groups.  I offer free tutoring on Friday mornings for a small group of kiddos that are still struggling with letter recognition and sounds...although they do know some sight words.  

pumpkin sight word game

I got this idea from a teacher that Jen Jones was visiting on one of her trips.  She used a mummy wind up toy - HOW SMART is she?!?!  I just happened to have one of those squishy light up toys handy so I used that instead.  I let the children take turns tossing the alien.  They had to tell me if what they landed on was a word or a letter.  Then based on that they had to tell me the letter name and sound(s) or read the sight word to me.  We had so much fun playing and the time flew by!

pumpkin sight word game

This little guy did his own differentiation.  He is proficient on his letters and sounds so he was sure to hit a sight word, love that about him!
pumpkin alien toss game

Another fun thing I have planned for a read aloud with engagement on Halloween is this:
I will be reading a Halloween picture book that rhymes and whenever the students hear a rhyme they will hold up their witch  hat pointer.  I just printed out witch hats and hot glued them to pipe cleaner, you could also glue them to a straw.  Thanks for the fun idea: Leigh @ The Applicious Teacher

Halloween ideas for student engagement

Hoping this is the last week I see 93 degrees on my phone - ready for some of that cool Fall weather.
Happy teaching friends,

Colored Salt Trays

Saturday, October 5, 2019
We've all read, seen or heard the research over the need to use several modalities while learning.  I know I'm a visual person so I tend to like to see things modeled and watch a how to video.  I have had students over the years that need to touch, move, manipulate numbers, disks, beads, counters etc.  

using salt boxes in the primary classroom

In my new role as a literacy specialist I have been working with a group of kiddos on the alphabet: recognition, sounds, letter formation etc.  I started thinking about creating salt boxes but in my typical 'vicky' way I wanted it to be a bit different for my students.  So I started researching colored salt....on Amazon one of my favorite images popped up  - a margarita.  HAHAHA
So, the salt rim on the glasses you get a restaurants...well that salt is sold on Amazon and it's COLORFUL!  I thought how fun for my students in this small group to pick out the colored salt box they wanted to use I mean why not.  I am such a proponent of making even the little things at school fun. #letthemstaylittle
So, I purchased a bag of bluish/turquoise ( to  match my room of course ) salt.  I will say :  It's NOT cheap.  I also purchased a huge box of regular salt which was $8.86 for a 4 lb box.  The colored margarita salt was $16.95 for a 16 oz bag. ( insert big eyed emoji here )  
Now, if you have time you might want to visit Ana's blog, she explains how to save a TON of money by making your own colored salt here on this post:

I know sometimes you are doing #allthethings, especially if you are a mom of young ones so it's just easier to drop the cash.  But, you can make the colored salt as well, OR even better print out the directions from Ana's blog and leave it for a parent helper! #winning
Now another thing to take into consideration is your little friends that have sensory issues.  This works best with their finger tracing the letters in the salt but you could give your student(s) an object - like a colored pencil or thin pointer to use.  One of my students has sensory issues and didn't want to use their finger directly on the salt as the texture felt strange to them.  
I just used the Michael's storage boxes that look like this:

salt box storage

This is what our time looked like, they asked if they could use the salt boxes at our next session!  That's a win I'd say.


colored salt boxes for alphabet tracing and writing


salt boxes in the classroom

I hope this idea is something you can use in your classroom with your littles to help make them more successful future readers.  If you have any questions email  me and don't forget you can find lots of fun ideas if you follow me:

instagram: teachingmore

fb: Teaching and Much Moore

{ Happy teaching }

Halloween Book Character Costume Ideas for Teachers

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Book Character Day/Parade - for some it brings excitement...others anxiety!  I love dressing up, just give me a reason and I'm there. I wanted to share some ideas I've worn over the years.

book character costume ideas

You can easily adapt these ideas if you are looking for ideas for your child for the parade at school.  Most of these costumes I've made so the cost was minimal.

book character costume ideas
The Rainbow Fish was fun BUT I suggest you watch a You Tube video to add make up scales to your face and definitely carry the book with you - many people called me a mermaid when I wasn't holding the book. 

book character costume ideas

book character costume ideas

Here you see me walking in the Book Character Day/Halloween parade.  I love how the kids want to give everyone high 5's.  It's always so fun to see how creative everyone is each year.

Look how cute my friend is as Ms. Frizzle!! This is my friend and amazing teacher Adriana you can find her on instagram @adeletoon

book character day costume ideas

book character day costume ideas
Oh my goodness my friend couldn't be any cuter if she tried!!!  I love her as Pinkalicious.  You can find more fun ideas from her on instagram @kinderisbetterinpink perfect name right?!?!

This grade level team dressed up as characters from Arnie the cute!  Thanks to Raquel on instagram:  @raquel41489

book character day costume ideas

book character costume ideas

It's always fun to dress up with your grade level team in matching book characters/ ( Charlotte and Fern )  Charlotte's Web.

Of course for more ideas just type in book character costume ideas into Pinterest and you'll come up with tons more.  I just wanted to share a few of my favorites that I've worn over the years.
Halloween is just around the corner...I'm already researching a fresh new idea for this year...can't wait to share it with you.  
You can find me on instagram : @teachingmore to see what I come up with this year.
Happy teaching my friends!