Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Spelling Hints: Making Memorization Easier

Our youngest son struggles with spelling. He's finally figured out the b and d, but frequently still writes words with random capital letters. This year has been a struggle. Some of the typical memorization games I designed for our oldest son haven't seemed to improve the outcome of his weekly tests. It just wasn't sticking.

No two kids are alike. 

To make it easier, I've been giving him tricks - sometimes visualizations, sometimes jingles, and sometimes a silly sentence. Guess what? Test scores are rising!

Here's a few examples of what we've done the last few weeks.

My son kept leaving the u out of young. I told him to remember: U are young!

I knew this was going to be a gargantuan challenge. I divided the list. Once I had all the -ee words, I made a sentence for him to remember: "Free wheel for sheep that sneeze between their teeth." To make it more memorable, we sang it. Any other words he's tested that are not in this sentence are -ea words. This trick helped him during our first few nights practicing. Eventually, he didn't have to sing the jingle sentence. He had memorized which words were -ea (beach, eat, teach, reason, etc.) and which were -ee!

Every time my son spelled birthday, he said the second letter was an a. I told him to look at the word. Do you see the birthday candle in the word? YES! This visualization really did the trick (pun intended)!

There's no z in raisin, but try telling that to my son two weeks ago. I told him to remember, "snakes (drawing an s with my hand) like raisins."

That c sure sounds like an s, doesn't it? To help my son remember, we came up with the hint: Do you "c" fences?

Sometimes I point out words within words to help my son. When he spelled train initially, he left out the r. I showed him train is really t-rain. BOOM! No more missing letter!

A few hints, a simple song, or a silly sentence have made all the difference for us. I hope some of these tips help you and your kids!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A-MAZE-ING Spelling Practice

Our 2nd grade son has been doing activities I made for our now 12-year-old son. It's been fun to rediscover so many of the activities I created years ago. Since our two boys are very different, it's still fun to create customized activities for him. And since he loves mazes and needs to practice spelling, this is one such activity.

I made four mazes. One for a 7-letter word, 6-letter word, 5-letter word, and 4-letter word.

Imagine the bottom boxes filled in with the letters in your child's spelling word. Follow the lines up to the shape above and add the respective letters there. Download a PDF of the four mazes from Google Drive here (remember, teachers, to use your personal email address if you need to request access as your school probably limits messages from outside their domain). 

This is quick, simple, and fun. Spelling practice doesn't have to be boring. Just make it a-MAZE-ing!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Addition Math Fact Dash {printable board game}

It's no secret. I hate flash cards. They're so ... not fun. To give my 1st grade son a little practice with simple addition and turn repetition into memorization (hopefully), I made a simple board game.

What You Need
Free two-page download of game board and spinner (download here)
Two pieces heavyweight cardstock
Printer & ink
Brad (to make the spinner spin)
Small game pieces (different for each player)

How to Play
Game pieces are placed on the start square. The youngest player spins first. He/she solves the addition problem and moves their game piece to the nearest square with the answer. Turns alternate between players until a player gets the math problem where the answer is 5, the final square on the board.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Number Grid Puzzles (free printable)

Our youngest son had a "fill in the missing numbers in the number grid" math assignment. I thought it would be a snap for him, but as he sometimes transposes numbers, it became a source of major frustration. Oy!

To familiarize him a little more with number grids and some of the quick addition and subtraction you can do with them, I made a few activities. These were inspired by Playdough to Plato's peek-a-boo chart and Mrs. T's First Grade Class number puzzles.

You can download this 100 number grid activity for free from Google Drive here. It's a 3-page PDF. 

NOTE: If you are a teacher, use your personal gmail account if it requires you to request permission. Most school districts restrict emails from outside their domain, and therefore I can't grant access and let you know it's available.

Activity #1: 10 more, 10 less, 1 more, 1 less
I printed the number grid on white card stock. I printed page two of the free printable PDF on colored card stock. I cut the center plus-sign out. Then I added white gift wrap tissue squares to the plus signs "arms" making those squares translucent (vellum would work well too), and left the center empty. For the sake of durability, I ran this sheet through my laminator.

With the 10 more, 10 less, 1 more, 1 less page laminated, I wrote some simple math problems on it in the blank area (e.g. 13+10= , 47-10=, 91+1=, 74+1=) with a dry-erase marker. My son placed the laminated page over the number grid so the first number in the equation was in the center. Then he could easily see in the translucent squares which was his answer (i.e. 10 less was directly above, 10 more directly below, 1 more to the right, and 1 less to the left). This made solving the math problems easy!

Activity #2: Number Grid Puzzles
Now I printed the number grid on colored card stock and printed an empty grid on white card stock. I cut the colored grid apart into a variety of puzzles that were about 10-11 squares each. 

Once done, I cut the number squares apart and handed him a few piles of puzzles. He arranged them wherever on the blank grid, remembering 10 less is above, 10 more is below, 1 more is on the right, 1 less is on the left. When he completed this puzzle, he moved on to the next. You can make approximately 7-8 puzzles per grid.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Telling Time by the Hour (Simple Printable Game)

One of the most important aspects of telling time is understanding which hand tells you the hour, and which tells you the minutes. To help my son practice telling time by the hour, and beginning to memorize which hand does just that, I made him this fun and simple game.

What You Need
My 2-page PDF (download it for free from Google Drive here)
Heavyweight card stock
Unconventional hole punch (optional)
12 game pieces for each player (we used the flattened glass marbles)

Print one handless clock game board for each player. Print the clock spinner on heavyweight card stock. Fold over the paper at the bottom to double the thickness of the spinner. Glue the folded paper down and cut the spinner and clock out. 

Either poke a hole with a nail through the center of the clock and spinner (or use an unconventional hole punch). Thread the brad through the hour hand and clock, separating the prongs at the back of the clock.

The youngest player starts first and flicks the hour hand on the spinner. Wherever it lands, they must read the clock and tell the time. Then they will take one of their game pieces and put it over that number on their clock game board (e.g. if a player flicks the hour hand and it points to seven, they say "It's seven o'clock" and put the game piece over the seven on their game board clock). 

The next player does the same. If you already have a number covered that you spin, your turn is over. The next player uses the spinner.

The first player to get all the numbers (aka o'clocks) covered on their game board is the winner.

We read three books with this activity.