It is a NEW YEAR and that time of year when we are assessing sight words in our classroom or practicing even harder at home.  You thought kiddo knew their words, but something happened over winter break...the words have disappeared and you find that your kiddos may need more practice on certain words...don't remember this post from a while ago and then you see it has been updated with even more ideas than before and you JUMP FOR JOY and realize this IS the answer you have been waiting for...but may have forgotten!! YOU WILL LOVE THIS!
It is a NEW YEAR or maybe just the end of a report period and that time of year when we are assessing sight words in our classrooms or at home.

We have done this many times before, but it is now the second semester...the scenario might go like this.

⭐We check the first set of words that our Kinders or Firsties and maybe even second graders should know or you thought they knew and you find out that the words have disappeared into thin air after winter break..."Where did they go?" you ask yourself and perhaps panic sets in and you realize that maybe some of your kiddos need a bit more practice on certain words or EVERY WORD...don't remember this post from a while ago and then you see it has been updated with even more ideas than before and you JUMP FOR JOY and realize this IS the answer you have been waiting for...!! AHHHHH YES...more ideas to try!

Calmness sets in and you sit down with a cup of JOE and read the post feeling totally saved and ready to go!

I remember when my daughter was in 1st and 2nd grade the teacher would send home spelling words and/or flashcards to review to learn the words that were expected for those grade levels.

I also remember how much my daughter hated to use these flashcards and/or review the spelling words. 

I remember her bouncing, jumping and walking around the room or house as we practiced these words.

We even wrote them with colored soap crayons in the tub!! Now that was an experience worth seeing, but she did learn those spelling words!!

However, I, on the other hand was racking my brain to come up with ideas so I did not pull out my hair practicing these word with her!!

That was about 26 years ago and before I taught full time as a first and second grade teacher. 

I had taught part time, but not everyday.  It was my daughter's reaction to practicing these words that I decided to come up with a list of ways to practice spelling and/or sight words with your child.

When I became a full time teacher, I gave this list to parents to use in place of flashcards.

They also had fun coming up with their own ideas as well, which were so creative!

In fact I even challenged parent's to be creative and share ideas that they used to practice words.

In today's world with early age sports, video games, pre-school cheerleaders, tablets, i-phones and such, it is even more important to devise ways to practice words in a hands on or kinesthetic way.

Of course there are many spelling and sight word programs that can be used on electrical devices, but not all children learn tethered to a device.

Let's remember Howard Gardner and his Multiple Intelligences.

So, I thought I would share with you some ideas I have created, over the years,  to practice words whether they are spelling words, vocabulary words or sight words or even names.

I would be crazy to think that you have never heard of these ideas and I am actually positive that you may already be using or have seen some of these posted elsewhere, but I can assure you that some of us have been recommending these strategies for years!!!

Some are not new, but, then again, some may be new to you and worth a try!

I don't know if you are like me, but I can always use a little refresher course on pretty much everything because I usually see some ideas that I completely forgot about!

Above are some ideas that can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop in the packet entitled :

Sight Word, Spelling Word Work Fun Bundle for K, first and is an "oldie but a goodie!"

Along with these ideas are also worksheets to practice spelling and sight words.

Here is also a list of other tried and true ideas you might want to use:

  • Write words in shaving cream on a cookie for everyone!
  • Form words using Play-doh.  
  • Form the words using pipe cleaners or Wiki Sticks. 
    • Spell words using letter beads on pipe cleaners or using sticker letters on paper.

    Here my Grandkids are spelling their names with sticky letters
    • Put copies of the words around the floor and ask the child to jump onto a certain word and spell it without looking( feet covering the word).
    • Use an Etch-a-Sketch and write the words.
    • Write words on the  i-pad or computer.
    • Paint the words on an easel.
    • Type the words in different fonts on the computer.  The        to      have    from   like
    • Write the words in sand in a tray or right on the beach with a shell if it is summer time.
    • Cheer the words...vowels arms up, consonants arms down...this was a favorite with my class! You can even buy or make pom-poms for spelling words or have a Brain Breaks and spell the words! if the word is  T might look like this:

    It gets more fun as the words get longer and longer. For a Brain Break you can write words on the board...sight words....spelling words or even vocabulary words and have a blast cheering and spelling those words.

    • Spell the word using different voices...For example:  mouse voice, Elvis voice, old person voice, robot voice, opera voice, cowboy voice, baby voice or any other voice you can think of to use that might be a little silly. I even have some great Silly Voice Sight Word Games on TpT for the fist 100 Fry Words that would be super to play at home or school or even Homeschool and also for the second set of Fry Words: Here you go!
    • Spell the words in Cheerios, Fruit Loops, M and M's, Skittles...if the word is spelled or read correctly, eat the word!( or switch to beads or buttons and give a piece of candy as a reward so a sugar high is not created!)  I have also put copies of the word in muffin tins and kiddos toss a small candy into the tin and then read the word.  If it is correct, you get to eat the candy. If not leave it there and when you do know it the reward is more!

    • Sky write the words saying each letter as the word is written in the "sky".  We have been known to imagine and visualize that our favorite color is spraying out of our pencils or fingers when writing the word...great for handwriting practice as well!!!
    • Form the words using pasta or broken spaghetti.

    • Form the words using Unifix blocks or Legos.

    • Write Letters with sidewalk chalk.

    • Have you tried writing sight words in the SNOW? We have...this is with a mat underneath, but if you now it will be snowing, get out there and have some fun with your child's sight words...if you are a homeschooler...what a fun way to learn your words!!!

    • Circle or find your words in books, magazines and newspaper or online and write them in a notebook.

    • Hide the words around the house and then have your child find them and read them.
    • Stamp your words with alphabet stamps.
    • Cut letters that you need to spell your words from Magazines or type up the letters, cut them a apart and scramble them and then spell them...Look for my new Scrambled Egg Sight Word Game coming SOON!!!
    • Use letter tiles and baggies.  Put tiles in the bag to spell a word and unscramble it to spell it correctly.
    • Use a paintbrush with water and "paint" them on the sidewalk.  better be sure to read the words before the sun dries it up!!
    • Put magnetic letters for each word in a bucket filled with water and have children pull the letters out and spell the word correctly....or no water!!! A variation is that you pass the bucket and everyone chooses, without looking 3 letters and the letters accumulate see if children can make words with the letters! 
    • Use packing peanuts and put the letters or whole words into a basket with the packing foam peanuts and pull them out and read or spell the words.
    • Give each child a letter or a baggie of letters to a group of students and have them form a HUMAN Word with their letters.  
    • Snowball Fight...this is a great way to bring some winter fun into the classroom.  Write a certain number of sight words on blank white paper. So if you have 16 kiddos in your class, (wishful thinking!) you will write 16 different words on the paper. Then crumple each up into a ball or pretend snowball.  
    Give explicit rules about throwing and playing. I have been known to say the following: Toss carefully so the ball aims at knees or below, toss lightly so we are safe, and stay within this area.

    Then each child gets a "snowball" and the "fight" begins with everyone tossing for a few minutes 1 or 2 is plenty.

    Then ring your chime and everyone carefully picks up a snowball and sits on the rug. Each child reads their word as you go around the circle...then repeat as many times as needed to get a break and learn the words!  PS My kiddos LOVED this!!!

      New Ideas from Readers:
      • Here is an idea from Margo Gentile! She commented that it is a good idea to write the words you would like your children to know in places that they will see the words frequently. For example, Use lipstick and write the on the bathroom mirror...thanks for sharing this awesome idea!!

      I hope this brings a little sunshine your way on this cold winter day( if you live in a place where it is snowing or cold today)!  Please let me know if any of these strategies helped your students or children spell or learn their words!  Also comment with your tried and true ideas and link up your SIGHT WORD resources below!!!

      You might also be interested in Variations of the game BANG!

      As teachers we spent much of our time building positive classroom communities so our students feel welcome...but what about the teachers in your building? Here are 4 ways to build a positive school Community for Staff...I know you will LOVE...with a capital L number 2!

      As teachers we spent much of our time building positive classroom communities so our students feel welcome, connected and respected by their peers...but what about the teachers in your building? Many are so busy with teaching and focusing on how to support student outcomes that nurturing a positive school community for staff, where all members feel valued and respected for their ideas and involvement, is left by the wayside. I feel strongly that when a positive school community is in place, everyone benefits. If staff is motivated, then, in my opinion, it will have a positive effect on student achievement. Let's face it...if teachers feel included and respected, then they are happy teachers and happy teachers enjoy teaching!!! Am I right?  Let's hear a BIG...YES! Who doesn't want to feel included...does anyone like to be alone? Well...maybe when you have something that needs to be done...then you close your door, turn off the lights and crouch in a corner so everyone thinks you have left for the day...but you get the point!

      So here are some ideas to promote a positive school community without breaking the bank or adding more work for want to hear "Oh Yes, that's a great idea!" Not..."Oh, NO, do we have to do that?"

      1. Membership or Making Staff Feel a Part of the Whole:  At the start of the school year,  it might be a great idea to give staff something that will build community...perhaps a water bottle, school lanyard or teacher bag with a positive quote or school logo...I know a Louis Vuitton or Kate Spade would be a whole lot better, this small gesture makes a statement of community and membership because everyone in the school has the item chosen.  Another way to foster membership and a sense of community is to have a Spirit Day where all staff including the student body and administrators wear the school spirit colors...and maybe jeans? This could be school-wide or even district wide day. it would be a great idea for the first day of school and everyone including students feel the connection.

      2. Influence and Have an Active say in Community Building Activities: How can this be done you ask? Committees, committees, committees for just about everything that goes on in the building. A school recently had a Veteran’s Day celebration and there was a committee for that. A STEM Day celebration... another committee and recently many schools are starting Twitter Committees because there is a new push for schools in districts to use Twitter.  Committees allow for teachers to be involved in the decision-making process and also give teachers an active say it what is going on within the group. All of these committees are voluntary and staff members should not  be “forced” to be on any committee. We all have enough to do and some have more than others on the "plate of life." I also feel that these committees could meet through social media on closed Facebook groups or group texts...I know many times my colleagues and I texted plans for various ideas and someone always took the lead...that would be me...and made it happen!  This allows you to choose what you want to be involved with and have a say in what you are interested. This is a great way for teachers to have a voice and influence within the school and community.
       This idea to dress up for the
      100th Day of School was set up during a Snow Day through texting...Easy Peasy!

      3. Reinforcement or Making others Feel Special and Important: (I LOVE this IDEA!)  My daughter's school has “Coop Cares”.  At the first faculty meeting of the school year, her principal introduced “Coop Cares” notes and encouraged all staff to write a least one note to someone thanking them for something they’ve done for us or write encouraging words to staff members to ensure support when in need or "just because"... "Just becauses" or the Warm and Fuzzy notes are the best notes to receive.  It makes you feel..well...special!  Paper is kept in the office to make it easy to write a quick note to a colleague.  This is one way to show positivity to colleagues and remind each other that even during the toughest of times, we are all in it together or yes...I do notice what you are doing.

      I have known principals who write daily morning e-mails to give encouraging words or quotes to reinforce activities or celebrations happening within the school and...YES...some  have even handwritten thank you notes to staff after a difficult IEP meeting or at the end of the me that says it all...your hard work is appreciated!  These forms of community building can keep teachers going in a positive direction because they know they have a strong team working with them and for them...GO TEAM!!

      4. Opportunities to Connect other than Professional Development, Professional Learning Communities (PLC) or Weekly Team Meetings:
      It is also important for teachers and staff to interact socially. After spend more time with the people you work with than your family. An easy idea that many schools do, to promote support and emotional connections with staff, is each month a grade level team hosts a breakfast or lunch in the faculty room. It is a great way for teachers to relax and interact with each other. However, when these are during school hours, it can be a bit rushed, but it is a great way to build community even if it is just for 30 minutes!!

      Another idea might be a“Secret Snowman”. This is a fun way to celebrate the holidays. Each person is assigned another person in the building. They leave them little gifts throughout the holiday weeks and then at the end there is a holiday party to reveal the “Secret Snowman” friend. In my district we did this monthly throughout the school year and had the reveal at the end of the was easy and fun!

      Have a Bowling Night for your "school family", some Skiing Weekends (We used to do this and it was fun with a capital F), Painting with a Twist (You know where y'all get together...those who have never painted in their lives and try to paint a picture that looks half decent to hang or toss in the trash...mine went in the trash even though my grandson thought it was the best painting he ever saw...he is trained well..., Walk for a Cause, Get togethers to watch the Rose Ceremony for the Bachelor...(yes we did this), School Family Picnics or Amusement Park get togethers, swimming parties, hikes, before and after school Yoga or Zumba classes (we did this, too)...any fun activity to build community with your colleagues will work. You just need someone or some group to take the lead and get it going!
      Light the Night Walk for Leukemia....staff, family, friends and even babies came to walk!!!
       These are just a few ways to build community, establish an emotional connection with your colleagues and encourage a positive school environment where everyone is a valued member of your school.  So what are you waiting for?  Let's get started and be sure to let me know what your school does to build community among staff members!