Friday, September 30, 2011

Roll & Write (with a DIY Dry-Erase Die)

It’s happening – homework! Soon after my son began first grade, he started toting home a list of five words each week. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what to do with them. After all, my son could read them without any difficulty and so I just tossed the lists in our mail/bills/household paperwork pile (please tell me we’re not the only family with one of those).

Then a friend whose boy is my son’s best friend enlightened me. Just because my son could read those word-wall words, doesn’t mean he could spell them. Yikes! After mentally beating myself up for a few days, I came up with this little “reusable” activity so those weekly words could get practiced.

First, I made a dry-erase die. To do this, I created a template with squares the same width (2 inches) as Scotch brand packaging tape. I printed it on sticker paper. Then I used post-it notes to mask off the flaps where I’d be gluing the little box together (I didn't think the glue would stay adhered to the slick tape). I added the packaging tape and anywhere that the tape overlapped a sticky note, I carefully lifted the edge of the note and cut along the edge with an Exacto knife.

Afterwards, I peeled the sticker paper's backing off, and stuck the template to the brown side of an empty cereal box I used for sturdiness. Then I cut the whole template out with that same Exacto knife, using a ruler as a straight edge and a cutting board underneath to protect my work surface. 

Once it was cut out, I turned it over and used a ruler and the backside of a butter knife to score the cardboard wherever folding was necessary. Lastly I used my hot glue gun to glue the flaps one or two at a time and folded the box together until the template became a cube. Voila! The tape makes a perfect dry-erase surface!

Next, I used Microsoft Publisher to create a worksheet that has a grid where my son would record the words he rolled.

When my son got home from school, I wrote the words from the list plus one more (die have six sides and I only had 5 words) with a fine-tip dry-erase marker on the die. I also added the words across the top of the worksheet. 

Now all that was left to do was hand it over to my son.

Every time he rolled a word, he wrote it in the appropriate column. When any one column was completely full, he was done. Surprisingly the dry-erase words held up well, without much smearing.  

Download the die template and Roll & Write worksheet here.

My son had loads of fun with this and enjoyed predicting which word he would roll the most times. Whew! Now I can look his teacher in the eye!


  1. Good morning and Happy October!

    I’ve nominated you/your blog for The Versatile Blogger Award! :) Share seven things about yourself and pass the award along to the most versatile blogs you follow. Follow the link below for details.

    Thanks for blogging!! Your blog makes me a better teacher and learner!


  2. This is a great idea to keep spelling fun! And no, you're not alone...I have piles too :) Thanks for linking up to the AfterSchool party.

  3. This is a brilliant idea, thanks for sharing.

  4. What a great idea, this would be great for my daughter as she is beginning to read and write words!

  5. Great idea! I'm going to use it for my daughter who is beginning reader

  6. Oh my goodness, what a fantastic idea!!! Thanks!!

  7. I love your self-made Education Cube. Too funny that you didn't know what to do with those words :) I hope you can join Afterschool linky this week as well, it will be hosted here -

  8. I don't know why I am so late reading this one. My son will be having these cards coming home in the next month (found out Thurs night) and I was trying to think of different things. Love this one!

  9. So nice to see a parent coming up with such a great idea. Even though your son knew the words you thught of another way to challenge him. Love your thinking!

  10. An easier way to make a cube is to use one of the students milk cartons they get with their lunches or snacks. Just wash it out and fold the little top down. Then cover it with your sticky paper words, letters, numbers, photos for rhyming words, etc... It is a great way to recycle too. I love your ideas for making spelling fun!

  11. I Love your blog, I love your creativity. You have one VERY happy and, I'm sure brilliant child! God Bless you!

  12. Thank you!! I was looking for a way to teach adjectives - your game is super!! Thank you so much!!!