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!