Build Better Writers by Coloring on the Floor

What?!  Yes, you can build better handwriting skills by coloring on the floor!  I was just reminded of this by the Occupational Therapist at my school!
Blog post Teach Magically Writing for gross motor
A few of my students keep their hands and wrist off the table when writing which causes poor control of shapes and weak pencil lines.  It seems so difficult to correct for some students!
Blog post Teach Magically Writing for gross motor

 Can you see the difference between the two wrists in the picture above while pointing?

Blog post Teach Magically Writing for gross motor
 We have to place our hand/wrist on the table for good pencil control, but many students can not do this!

  SO what do you do?

Blog post Teach Magically Writing for gross motor
Lay on the floor, of course!  While working on our number sense "Spill the Bean" activity, we colored on the floor and sat up to spill the beans.  There are so many opportunities to build this muscle strength by changing the position of the worker!
Blog post Teach Magically Writing for gross motor

 Provide many opportunities for laying on the floor!

Parents can also encourage this position during TV time.  The child only sits up while the show plays  and lays down during commercials or visa versa depending on the child's strength!
Blog post Teach Magically Writing for gross motor
 If you have students falling off chairs, it may be because of this lack of strength!
Blog post Teach Magically Writing for gross motor

"Push up and Hold" can build the strength needed to write!

"Push up and Hold" is a fun game that can be used for any skill!  We push up and hold from 1-10 and then rest from 11-20.  Once we can all count, we will practice "Push up and Hold" as we count to 100 by 5"s or 10's.  It's the holding that counts, make a plank for older students!  Think yoga and how much it hurts! :) It builds muscle core strength!
Blog post Teach Magically Writing for gross motor

Writing on a Vertical Surface

Use clip boards or small chalk boards and make the students hold them vertically to write.  It should cause the wrist and arm to rest in the correct position.
Blog post Teach Magically Writing for gross motor
I'm so lucky to have a real chalk board in my room!  It is a vertical plane which helps with building strength but it also has a rough surface that provides resistance which helps with memory!

Be sure to build the muscle strength in the chest and arms to help with writing skills!

Struggling Readers Need Phonological Awareness

Do you have struggling readers? It may be lack of phonological awareness skills!

Phonological Awareness is the understanding that oral language can be divided into smaller parts that can be manipulated. Understanding phonological awareness prepares students for later reading instruction which includes phonics, word analysis and spelling.  It is the great umbrella that incorporates many skills.
Blog about phonological awareness Teach Magicallt
Phonological Awareness follows a continuum from easier to harder but the learning doesn't follow it in order.  Each task is difficult in its own way and the learning flows at different rates for each learner! Check out the skills in order from easiest to hardest on my phonological awareness skills page.

The less complex activities of Word Awareness includes tracking words in sentences and enjoying rhyming and alliteration through stories and poems.

The Syllable Awareness  involves tapping, counting, blending, or segmentation a word into syllables.

Onset-rime Awareness is the ability to produce a rhyming word that depends on the understanding that rhyming words have the same rime (ending sound).  Being able to tell if words rhyme or not (thumbs up if cat and hat rhyme or sound the same at the end)  is much easier that producing a rhyme (Tell me other words that rhyme with cat, hat, ________).

The most sophisticated level of Phonological Awareness is Phonemic Awareness, the understanding that words are made up of individual sounds or phonemes. Manipulating these phonemes by blending, segmenting, or changing individual phonemes within words to create new words is extremely difficult. There are many fun activities to help with Phonemic Awareness.

Phonemic Awareness is more highly related to learning to read than are tests of general intelligence, reading readiness, and listening comprehension (Stanovich, 1993).

You can learn more information about the order of these skills and ideas on this PA Page. (click)

Be sure to check these skills if reading seems difficult!
Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners! And you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. Here’s where you can find me:
Make everyday magical,
Debora from Teach Magically

Classroom Gross Motor Skills

Do you have students that slump in chairs, fall over nothing, or even fall out of chairs? The problem could be gross motor skills! Say what?!?

teachmagically grossmotor

What are gross Motor Skills?

•Major muscle co-ordination
Body awareness –posture and control
Balance –ability to adjust the body symmetrically
Spatial orientation –awareness of how their body is positioned in space and in relation to other objects or people
Crossing of the midline –opposite from one side of the body to the other

Laterality –awareness of the left and right sides of the body

I do a few fun things during transitions and practice to help build gross motor skills because there is not enough time at recess and physical education classes.
teachmagically grossmotor

We lay on the belly on the floor when watching videos, playing games, working on computers, or hearing books. Check out this post about Brain Research.

It is very difficult for some students.

 Watch to see who sits up first!

teachmagically grossmotor
We crab walk or bear crawl around the room. Just be sure to have small groups go at one time. Everyone at once can be a mess!
teachmagically grossmotor
Any practice that we do we push up and hold, just like planks! Who doesn't love a plank! You can practice counting, spelling words, math facts, names of planets, etc. Give it a try! How long until the burn when you say the ABC's in a plank? I start to shake at about e! Check out the movement we use to say the alphabet. Fun Ways to Teach Letters and Sounds.
teachmagically grossmotor
Write or color in kneeling position. No sitting back on the legs. This really can be difficult because of the stabilization; students think it's fun!

 But don't forget about recess! Climbing, running, and jumping are great ways to build gross motor skills!

teachmagically grossmotor

teachmagically grossmotor

What do you do to build gross motor skills in the classroom?

Word Work with Word Families

Do you teach word families?

Then we create an anchor chart to write word family words as a group. Click here to see how we share with parents.
Teach Magically Blog with Word Families
It takes a week for this to happen!  We create the list and practice reading it each day.  One day the students chorally read the word. One day I say the rhyme chunks, and the students have to find the word.  One day, I segment the word.../c/  /a/  /t/...the students have to say the word...cat!  Then someone finds it! So we focus on phonemic awareness and phonics! I pick one of these things to do each day, and have fun!

Teach Magically Word Family Anchor Chart
Once we have 2 charts, we are ready to sort some words!
Teach Magically Word Family Worksheets

We focus on the -at and -an chucks!  Cut and paste to sort the words and practice reading.
Teach Magically Word Family WorksheetsTeach Magically Word Family Worksheets
Then we add more sorts! Check out the student below that is writing his own words for a challenge!

Teach Magically Word Family Worksheets
This is the resource I used to help the students look through the word and focus on the word families.  It has really helped my students!  Hope it helps yours! Word Family Word Work!
Word Family worksheets from TeachMagically

Check out the sequence below to help you plan (included)!
The Same Vowel
Short A families:
vAT -AN (Start with 2 families.)
vAP -AT (Add another and review one.)
v –AT, -AG, -AP (Try 3, but include a familiar one for review.)
vAT, -AG, -AN (blends for differentiation)
vAT, -AN, -AP
v–AD, -AN, -AP
v-AN, -AD, -AP, -ACK (Try 4, with some familiar ones.)
Short I families:
v –IT, -IP
v –IT, -IN
v IG, -IP, –IT
vIN, -ID, -ILL, -ICK ( Be ready to pick up the pace.)
Short O families: 7. –OT, -OG, -OP, -OCK
Short E Families: 8. –ET, -EN, -ED, -ELL

Short U families: 9. -UT, -UG, -UCK, -UMP
Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners! And you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. 
Here’s where you can find me:Teachers Pay TeachersFacebookInstagramPinterest

Make everyday magical,
Debora from Teach Magically

Segmenting for Reading Success

Segmenting for Reading Success Teach Magically

Research has shown that segmenting it the biggest indicator of reading success and Elkonin boxes can help. They build phonological awareness skills by segmenting words into individual sounds, or phonemes. 

SO a cool activity helps develop this important skill! Elkonin Boxes!

Students used a bingo dabber to count the syllables!  To use Elkonin boxes, a child listens to a word and dab a box for each sound or phoneme. They thought dabbing was the best part!  
They then wrote the sounds heard in the dots!
Segmenting Picture Teach Magically reading boxesSegmenting Picture Teach Magically reading boxesThe students were so excited to write the entire words at the bottom! The they blended the sounds together to read the word. Check out how I blend at Blending Made Easy.

It was so much fun to watch this process happen!  The students were so confident in their skills!

Many students like to use one color to dab and other like to use multiple colors!

Some of the students needed to write the letters for the sounds over the dots and then transfer the word to the bottom!

Other students could look at the picture, check the dots, and then write the word at the bottom using successive blending! Check out my post using snowmen to understand Successive Blending.
Segmenting Picture Teach Magically reading boxes
It was amazing to watch the students count the sounds!  SOOOO this activity also used Math!  WHOO HOO!!  I love to include math whenever I can!
Math also played a big roll when we got the words with different number of sounds! We discussed how many more, which word had the bigger number, etc.

Clicking on the picture below for the resource:
Segmenting Picture Teach Magically reading boxes 
Check out Snowmen Segmenting Fun for a fun teaching resource or literacy center game. 
Teach Magically Segmenting for Reading Success Snowmen

Other resources to help work segmenting! Click to get the resources!

Segmenting for Reading Success Teach MagicallySegmenting for Reading Success Teach Magically                                                                 Segmenting for Reading Success Teach Magically

Morning Meeting + Reading = Learning FUN!

Trying to fit everything into a day is near impossible!  Ask any teacher! So I love when I can combine 2 things into 1 lesson!  More bang for the buck as my dad would say!

I LOVE to combine Morning Meeting with Reading!

I have the student pick a card to stretch, blend, then read (some old timers call this sounding it out)!  The student then has to tape the card on his/her shirt. Click here for Cvc Games that will help develop fluency.
Blog of great practice for reading Teach Magically
Each student then walks around the room to find a partner. Each partner must do some type of class greeting; we love to shake hands!!  We will change the greeting to make it fun each week!

The partner team has to take turns reading the other friends shirt!  Sometimes friends have to help each other!  Click here to see how we blend CvC wordsPartners then change and keep reading!  We work until we have greeted each friend or time is up!
This great practice has us talking and speaking to each other to start the day... and we practice reading!  I LOVE when we combine 2+ things!

Click to find other cvc resources we use to work on cvc words.
I hope you teach magically daily!

Valentine's Day All Month Long!

Love February!! A month about all things hearts! and Valentine's Day!

It starts with streamers on the door to welcome the new month!  

Happy February!

February Fun TeachMagically
 We love making hearts!  We begin by talking about "line of symmetry' and how it helps makes hearts!  Then we practice cutting folded paper to make hearts!  It makes it extra special to use "paper shapers" scissors!
Teach Magically Fine Motor Symmetry HeartsMath Symmetry Number Sense TeachMagicallyTeach Magically Fine Motor Symmetry Hearts
Some students even tried to cut around the lined heart to make a double heart!  So fun!  The students are so excited and are talking about making their own cards now! 

We love card exchanges!  Yes, we do a card exchange on Valentine's Day!  It is a great way to work on writing names!  I am always amazed at the number of students that want to try and spell the names of friends!

We love math!  We are working on number sense by doing number talks but then we record if the shape is on our heart! 
Teach Magically Number Sense
It really helps with focus when there is a task to do!  We will keep practicing this so the students will be independent on Valentine's Day! Oh Yeah! (I love the hearts on the wings of the birds!)
February Birds Number Sense TeachMagically
Click picture to see product.
We love poems!  We will be practicing reading our February poem!  Then on Valentine's Day each student will write about what they love! Click on picture to get your free, easy poem to celebrate LOVE!
Love Poem Teach Magically
Free poem link
We love to write words!  We use hearts to segment and blend words! It is a must to help beginning readers work with words!  All students are becoming proficient at reading cvc words in and out of context!
Click picture to see product.
 Check back often to see other fun things we LOVE!

Segmenting Snowmen Fun

It is winter and time for segmenting, snow, and snowmen! 

Segmenting Blog Post TeachMagically
Yeah, anything with a snow theme is fun!
Since segmenting is such an important skill in Phonological Awareness, we used snowmen cards and pictures to match the snowflake letters to the picture on the snowman's belly. You can see the way all students stay involved at Snowmen Segmenting with Phonics. There is a free resource there, too! The picture will take you to the bundle.

segmenting snowmen teachmagically
Snowman Bundle
We also used cotton balls to segment the sounds with movement and then wrote the words on a snowball. You can find out exactly how at Snowmen Segmenting.
This Easy Segmenting Activity is so much fun for students and it actually helps learners look through words which improves reading skills.

Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners and you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. Here’s where you can find me:Teachers Pay TeachersFacebookInstagram, or Pinterest

Brain Research for Learning

What can we do to help students learn more and better? You need to know how the brain works!  Information on this page is taken from workshops conducted by Dr. BethAnn Pratte at the Penn State York Literacy Institute and the book Brain Rules by John Medina. 
teachmagically brainresearch brain learning

Learning-What do children need to learn?

  • A child's attention span = Age in Years (i.e. a 5 year old will have about a 5 minute attention span)
    • Attention spans can be lengthened by incorporating movement or exercise
  • The brain seeks connections to past memories (background knowledge) and learning as well as patterns.
  • Children learn through talking.
  • The brain can learn difficult concepts more easily through music. 
  • Check out Best Songs for Learning Letters and Sounds.

Sleep-Can it help with learning?

  • Why is sleep important?
    • Neurons are highly active during sleep, replaying what you learned that day.
  • Recommended Amounts of Sleep
    • Elementary- 10 hours
    • Middle School- 9.5-10 hours
    • High School- 9 hours
  • Results of Lack of Sleep
    • Loss of facts and knowledge- declarative knowledge is programmed into the brain during the last 2 hours of sleep
    • Symptoms of ADHD- hyperactivity, difficulty focusing and/or concentrating, lack of attention
    • Irritability
    • Increases appetite
    • Increases chance of Type II Diabetes
    • Impacts logical reasoning and motor dexterity

Nutrition-Does it help with learning?

  • Limit carbohydrates, particularly white, refined flours. Go for whole wheat, whole grains as much as possible.
  • Limit/avoid all processed foods/sugars.
  • Increase intake of fatty acids (fish, almonds, walnuts, avocados).
  • Eat lean proteins.
  • Increase intake of fresh/frozen vegetables and fruits. Variety is key.

Hydration-Why is water important?

  • Water is a natural conductor of electricity. Neurons in the brain need water to communicate. 
  • Properly hydrated students learn 20% more information than those who are not properly hydrated.
  • Lack of water is the main cause of daytime fatigue and can also cause issues with short-term memory, basic math, and difficulty focusing.

teachmagically movementforlearning learning

Exercise-How does exercise help with learning?

  • Exercisers outperform sedentary people in every mental test. Check out Gross Motor in the classroom.
  • Gets blood to your brain, bringing more energy and oxygen ( allows brain to rid body of toxins and stimulates the neural connections)
  • Exercise while learning new information allows you to learn quicker and retain more.
  • Helps with concentration, impulse control, problem solving, and memory. Check out Active Listening.

Modeling-Why should you show to help learning?

  • The brain has "mirror neurons" which allows us to learn through watching others.
  • Modeling is practice without actually doing the activity.
  • Visualization and self talk can increase chance of success.
  • Mirror neurons are the reason children do as we do, and not as we say.

I hope you’ve found this information about how the brain works helpful. If you have any additional tips that might help a teacher, 
please share it with us! Make sure to go check out my store, Debora Marines TeachMagically for more resources for  learners!
And you can follow Debora Marines TeachMagically for new products, discounts, updates, and freebies. 
Here’s where you can find me:Teachers Pay TeachersFacebookInstagramPinterest
Make everyday magical,
Debora from Teach Magically