Sound Boxes

Hi everyone! Can you tell my kids are at their grandparent's house these past couple days based on the fact that I'm actually blogging? Ha! I have an actual folder called "to finish soon." It is quite full and some files have been there for years. Well, today I finally finished one that I'm really excited about. I've blogged about sound boxes before (here and here) and I have them included in several of my phonics packs, but I wanted to make a big pack with all of them together.

Sound boxes can be used with or without letters. When I'm working on phonemic awareness with my students, I just focus on the sounds and not the letters. As my students begin phonics and learning to read and spell, I add in the corresponding letters. Sound boxes can strengthen both phonemic awareness skills and phonics skills. 

Here is how you use them:

There are three formatting options. Two of them are in color. You can print out the color and keep it full page, like in the picture below. Then, stick it in a plastic sleeve and use a dry erase marker to write and then wipe off to use again. If you use this option, you could put them together in a binder or a three-pronged folder so they are all ready to use. 


Another option is print the same page as above, but then cut each box individually and laminate to use as individual sound boxes. In the picture below, I also cut out the little visual helper as well. I also added a ring to it so I could keep all of that phonics skill together. You can use these as just an oral segmenting activity with manipulatives or you could also use a dry erase marker to write the corresponding letters. 

 The third option is a printable black-and-white page. This can be used as individual worksheets or can be bound into a workbook.
This pack includes 60 pages, each page with 6 sound boxes, totally over 300 sound boxes! The phonics skills included are:

You can find this pack HERE.

Vowel Helpers

Hi everyone! Today I have a little resource to share with you that I use on a daily basis. It was previously found in my Printable Intervention packs and Hands-on Short Vowel packs, but I decided I needed to share it all on its own. That's how much I use it!

Vowels can be so hard to remember, especially since some really sound similar. For our beginning readers and struggling readers, it can be especially difficult to distinguish between and remember these sounds. From the beginning, I introduce this visual and I model how to use it. I learned this from a dyslexia specialist and it is SO helpful.

When we are beginning to sound out words, I tell my students to first determine the vowel sound by singing a little chant that matches the picture. For example, for a short a word, I'll say, "apple, apple, /a/ /a/ /a/."  Then, I'll sound out the word. If students get in the habit of doing this early on, they are more likely to read the words accurately and master their vowel sounds. As they progress and begin reading sentences, we obviously don't do that for every word. However, they still do that chant when they are stuck on a word or if they don't remember the vowel sound. I also have them "check their vowel" when I hear them read a word using the incorrect vowel sound. Here is a video of my son using this bookmark in action.

If this video isn't working, you can also click HERE to view it. 

I also made one for long vowels. 

You can download these FREE Vowel Bookmarks HERE.

Another resource I use is this set of flashcards for vowel pairs and diphthongs.

I put them on a ring and slowly add new cards on as I introduce the vowel skills. As a warm-up, my students flip through making the sounds. You can also use them as a resource while spelling words. Students can flip through to find the correct vowel pair. You can find this HERE

I hope you enjoy these resources! :)


Managing Centers

Hi everyone! Happy summer! I know I've been a pretty absent blogger this school year, but I hope to get some good posts in this summer. I've been taking classes to finally finish my reading endorsement and, at the same time, I'm trying to get my dyslexia certification. Soooo.... there goes most of my blogging time!

When I started teaching first grade, there was no TPT and very few bloggers (at least I didn't follow any at this time,) so I was sort of drowning during my reading workshop time. I was constantly looking for new centers and changing them out and I felt like all of my time was spent on centers. I knew I needed to figure something else out that would work for me. So sometime in the middle of my first year, I started making these monthly literacy menus. I felt more organized and they provided me with a little direction. Now in the beginning, I had little access to clip art and fonts, so they were not cute at all! Ha! Over the last decade, I've updated, tweaked, added, modified, "cute-sified," you name it. These centers have definitely evolved, but the format has stayed the same and it's the format and easy management that saved me as a first grade teacher. Here is how they work...

  • Students keep track of centers completed with this menu.
  • Menu sets up organizational system for the monthly centers. 
  • Categories are consistent from month to month so students are familiar.
  • A variety Common Core standards are hit with these centers. Standards are ON the menu, too. 
  • Spend the first month teaching routines and expectations, then enjoy the next 8 months!

My first criteria: SPACE! I had a tiny classroom so I needed something that would fit in a small space. Those four "folder holders" fit my entire month's worth of centers! 

Each center fits in the folder. Students take their folder to a place in the room. Keep contents of center together in the folder. Easy clean-up!

The entire year of centers fit into my closet on one shelf! 

Want to learn more?

THIS post goes into a little more detail about how I roll it all out.

In THIS post, you can find a video explanation, too. 

Want to see the centers themselves?
I have these centers for kindergarten, first, and second grade!

One last thing! This freebie is in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I use it to grade my centers. This rubric could work with any centers, not just mine. Enjoy! Click HERE to get these.