Category: Teaching Idea

Snowball Technique – A Teaching Strategy

Free Printables to Practice using the Snowball Technique in Your ClassroomWhat is the Snowball Technique?

This teaching method is a way for students to teach each other important concepts and information. Students begin by working alone. Next they collaborate with a partner. Partners form groups of four. Groups of four join together to form groups of eight. This snowballing effect continues until the entire class is working together as one large group. Continue reading

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ACE – A Writing Strategy

What is the ACE Writing Strategy?

Help students organize their writing by using the ACE Writing Strategy. This teaching device helps organize the answers to short answer/constructive response questions. It prevents students from guessing the answers by providing a structured response to the question. The acronym stands for…

A – Answer all parts of the question in complete sentences.

C – Cite evidence from the text.

E – Explain how your evidence proves or supports your answer. Continue reading

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Quick and Easy to Make Pocket Chart

Pocket Charts

 

Quick and Easy Pocket Chart - Read how to make this simple pocket chart from materials you have around the house.Creating pocket charts from wrapping paper and cardboard is quick and easy. Make individual pocket charts for students, a series of matching charts for a bulletin board, or even a large one to hang on the wall. Be sure to check out the bottom of this post to see some ideas for using these pocket charts. 

Instructions for Making the Pocket Charts

Pocket charts can be made in many sizes depending on how you plan to use them. These instructions show how to create a small pocket chart that holds twelve index cards. I used a department store shirt box that has the lid connected to the bottom along one side. When the box is closed flat, it is double in thickness making it sturdy. The flattened box is 11 ½ by 15 inches. This is the perfect size to wrap in standard sized wrapping paper. Corrugated cardboard also works well. Cut it to whatever size you need.

Quick and Easy Pocket Chart - Read how to make this simple pocket chart from materials you have around the house.Step #1 – Cut the wrapping paper approximately twice as long as the cardboard and several inches wider. For the 11 ½ by 15 inch box, I cut the wrapping paper 30 inches tall by 15 inches wide.

Quick and Easy Pocket Chart - Read how to make this simple pocket chart from materials you have around the house.

Step #2 – On the back of the wrapping paper, draw folding lines using a pencil. Note: Some wrapping paper is lined on the back making this step easy. Begin approximately four inches from the top of the wrapping paper and draw a horizontal line. Measure down one inch and draw a second horizontal second. Continue to draw horizontal lines alternating between intervals of three inches and one inch. For a 30-inch piece of wrapping paper, you should have twelve horizontal lines.

Quick and Easy Pocket Chart - Read how to make this simple pocket chart from materials you have around the house.Step #3 – Accordion fold the paper on the lines you have drawn. 

Quick and Easy Pocket Chart - Read how to make this simple pocket chart from materials you have around the house.Step #4 – Place your cardboard in the center of the wrapping paper. You may wish to flip the cardboard and wrapping paper over to make sure you have the paper aligned. This example has a 2 ½ inch margin from the top of the first pocket to the top of the pocket chart and a 1 ½ margin from the top of the last pocket to the bottom of the pocket chart. Wrap the paper around to the back of the cardboard and tape it into place as if you were wrapping a present.

Quick and Easy Pocket Chart - Read how to make this simple pocket chart from materials you have around the house.Step #5 – Staple a ribbon to the center top of the pocket chart so you can hang it up.

Quick and Easy Pocket Chart - Read how to make this simple pocket chart from materials you have around the house.

Quick and Easy Pocket Chart - Read how to make this simple pocket chart from materials you have around the house.

Ideas for Using the Pocket Charts

Quick and Easy Pocket Chart - Read how to make this simple pocket chart from materials you have around the house.

  • Sorting Activities

Example #1 – Create eight matching pocket charts and place them on a bulletin board. Write labels above each chart for the eight parts of speech. On index cards write words that can easily be classified by their parts of speech. Have students sort the cards onto the correct pocket chart.

Example #2 – This sorting activity is free in my The One and Only Ivan blog post. Cards can be sorted into four pocket charts in place of the four interactive notebook pockets. This would allow students to be able to read the cards after they have been sorted.

Sorting Activity

  • Matching Activities

Example – To receive the maximum score for teacher evaluations, teachers in our school must create word walls that change from unit to unit. Using pocket charts makes this a super easy process. Create a bulletin like the one illustrated above. Title the board by the name of the book your class is reading. Label the pockets by chapters instead of parts of speech. Write vocabulary words on index cards and place them in the pockets. Assign each student a vocabulary word. The student must create a definition card. Early finishers can match words to definitions.

Gay Miller

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Silhouette Characterization – A Teaching Strategy

Silhouette Characterization

 

This post will illustrate how to teach character traits using silhouettes. This simple no prep method is both engaging and fun for students. 

Instructions

Click here to download the printable. 

  1. Option 1 – Print the silhouettes found on page 8 on heavyweight paper. Cut out the patterns. Students trace the character onto a piece of ordinary paper.
  2. Option 2 – Show students the ‘Bean Character Clipart.’ found on pages 9 and 10. Students then draw their own silhouette people in a similar fashion.
  3. Option 3 – Print the sample organizers found on pages 3-7.

This post will illustrate how to teach character traits using silhouettes. This simple no prep method is both engaging and fun for students. Activity #1 – Students draw a silhouette figure in the center of their page. Out from the silhouette, students draw rays. In each shape formed by the rays, students write facts about the character.

This post will illustrate how to teach character traits using silhouettes. This simple no prep method is both engaging and fun for students.

Activity #2 – Students choose one character from the book or story they are reading. They draw the character as a silhouette covering the entire piece of paper. On the body of the character, students describe the character. On the arms and legs, students list four actions.

This post will illustrate how to teach character traits using silhouettes. This simple no prep method is both engaging and fun for students. Activity #3 – Students copy the boy or the girl silhouette in the center of the page. Students then write a paragraph describing the character’s physical features. This includes coloring – hair, eyes, etc.; size – tall, short,  thin, muscular, etc.; and distinguishing features – mustache, curly hair, etc. on the left side of the figure. On the opposite side of the character, students describe inner character traits. This could be in the form of a paragraph or a list of adjectives such as absent-minded, disrespectful, humorous, immature, etc. 

This post will illustrate how to teach character traits using silhouettes. This simple no prep method is both engaging and fun for students. Activity #4 – Students create two overlapping character shapes to form a Venn Diagram. Students then compare and contrast the two characters by telling how they are different and alike.

This post will illustrate how to teach character traits using silhouettes. This simple no prep method is both engaging and fun for students. Activity #5 – Students draw a simple house structure. The house needs six windows. In each window, students answer Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? to explain how a specific character handled one situation in the story.

This post will illustrate how to teach character traits using silhouettes. This simple no prep method is both engaging and fun for students.

Gay Miller

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Suffix Teaching Activities and Ideas

Suffixes

Be sure to check out last week’s post “Prefix Teaching Activities and Ideas.” The prefix post contains some ideas and free printables for teaching suffixes. 

Activity #1 – Activity for Google Slides

Activities and Ideas for Teaching SuffixesThis activity for Google Slides helps students practice using suffixes that change the part of speech in words. This is a “View Only” file. You must save a copy on your computer before you can edit the file. Here is a one minute YouTube video that will show you how to save the copy.

Activity #2 – Three Anchor Chart Ideas

Anchor charts are a great way to teach skills. Use them as a reference, as an interactive activity, or to model information that should be written on a foldable organizer. This section show examples of all three of these. Be sure to click on either the last illustration or the link in the paragraph below it to receive the free printable organizer.

Anchor Chart Idea #1 (Reference)

Activities and Ideas for Teaching Suffixes

Anchor Chart Idea #2 (Interactive)

Activities and Ideas for Teaching Suffixes

  1. Using large flip chart paper, draw three to four vertical lines to form columns.
  2. Label each column with one suffix.
  3. On sticky notes, write base or root words that form real words when added to one of the suffixes listed on top of the anchor chart. Note: When completing this activity for the first time, using base words that form only one real word works best. For example, piano only forms a real word when the suffix -ist is added. Pianoible, pianoion, and pianor are not real words.
  4. Students place the sticky notes onto the anchor chart in the column that forms a real word when the suffix is added to the word on the sticky note.

This activity may be completed in small groups, as part of a learning center, or as an early finisher project.

Anchor Chart Idea #3
(Pair Anchor Charts with a Foldable Organizer
for Interactive Notebooks)Activities and Ideas for Teaching Suffixes

Click here to download this free foldable organizer that goes over six rules for spelling words with suffixes correctly.

Activity #3 – Free PowerPoints

Click on the images to download these two free PowerPoints.

 

PowerPoint #1 Activities and Ideas for Teaching Suffixes

Activities and Ideas for Teaching Suffixes

This editable PowerPoint makes a quick easy review. Each of the ten slides asks a single question. Students must determine which prefix or suffix to add to the base word to answer the question. The teacher then clicks to reveal the answer. The slides include five prefixes and five suffixes. You can add, delete, or change the slides to fit the needs of your students. You can also easily change the prefixes and suffixes to the ones you are teaching.

PowerPoint #2

Activities and Ideas for Teaching Suffixes

A Real World Example PowerPoint – This short PowerPoint was created as a hook activity for a lesson. It starts with a note Mom leaves about what snack you, the reader, are allowed to have. It contains just five question slides. Students must understand the meanings of the prefixes and suffixes to answer the questions. Again, this editable PowerPoint can be easily adapted or expanded to fit the needs of your students. 
Gay Miller

 

 

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Prefix Teaching Activities and Ideas

Prefixes

The English Language

English is a mix of several languages including French, Italian, Greek and Latin, Vietnamese and so on. This makes the number of words linguists estimate the English language to have extremely large —- approximately one million words. About 170,000 of these words are in current use. The average adult English speaker has a vocabulary between 20,000 to 35,000 words. Ninety-five percent of everyday writing and speech in newspapers, most books, movies, etc. use only about 3,000 words. So…how do we prepare our students for college entrance exams when everyday life exposes them to so such a narrow list of vocabulary words? —- We teach students prefixes, suffixes, and Greek and Latin roots.

This post includes several activities and ideas you might wish to try when teaching prefixes.

Activity #1 – Flip Books

Activities and Ideas for Teaching Prefixes - includes free printables

  1. Cut paper into approximately 1 by 5 inch strips.
  2. Cut an additional piece of paper 1 by 7 inches long.
  3. Stack the pages together with the 7 inch piece on the bottom.
  4. Line all the pages evenly at one end and staple them together to form a book with turning pages.
  5. Students write the prefix on the 7 inch piece of paper. On each page of the stack, they write an additional word  (base word) that can be used with the prefix.
  6. The book flips where each word can be read and discussed. Our books contained 8 pages; however, you can make them with more or fewer pages.

Activity #2 – Online Practice

Activities and Ideas to Teach Prefixes - includes free printables

Websites such as Scholastic, BBC, Hartcourt School, and Houghton Mifflin offer free online games for students to practice skills. This webpage contains links to fourteen online games which practice prefixes, suffixes, and/or root words.

Activity #3 – Interactive Anchor Charts

Ideas and Activities for Teaching Prefixes - Includes free printables

  1. Using large flip chart paper, draw three to four vertical lines to form columns.
  2. Label each column with one prefix.
  3. On sticky notes, write base or root words that form real words when added to one of the prefixes listed on top of the anchor chart. Note: When completing this activity for the first time, using base words that only form one real word works best. For example, turn only forms a real word when the prefix re- is added. Nonturn, unturn, and disturn are not real words.
  4. Students place the sticky notes onto the anchor chart in the column that forms a real word.

This activity may be completed in small groups, as part of a learning center, or as an early finisher project.

Activity #4 – Foldable Graphic Organizers

Ideas and Activities for Teaching Prefixes - includes free printablesIdeas and Activities for Teaching Prefixes - includes free printables
Three versions of this organizer are available from the links below.

Blank Prefix and Suffix Organizer


Containing Words Prefix and Suffix Organizer



Answer Key for Prefix and Suffix Organizer

Activity #5 – Prefixes that Express the Negative Booklet

Ideas and Activities for Teaching Prefixes - includes free printables

 

Students will enjoy creating this 12-page mini-booklet. Students practice with 10 prefixes that mean ‘not’ or ‘the opposite’  by completing charts.  On the charts, students list words beginning with the designated prefix, create a simple drawing of the word, and write the word’s definition.

 Activity #6 – Prefix Spinner Game

Free Prefix Spinner GameStudents play this free Prefix Spinner Game like BINGO. Students take turns spinning a spinner. (A collection of 5 spinners increasing in difficulty are provided.) After the spinner lands, the player must think of a word that contains the prefix s/he has landed upon. [Optional: Students must tell the meaning of the prefix, tell a word that begins with the prefix, and define the word named.] If the group feels the player has answered correctly, s/he may color in the box on his/her game board with the same prefix. The first player to have a vertical, horizontal or diagonal row colored is the winner. This game may easily be adapted for your grade level by using fewer spinners and cutting off unneeded columns on the game board.
Gay Miller

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Four Cipher Codes to use when creating Secret Messages

Cipher Codes

Using cipher codes is a great way to get reluctant students writing. Present one or more of these cipher codes. Build up the suspense by discussing how spies carried secret assault plans through enemy lines using various codes. Be sure to grab the printable at the bottom of the post.

Caesar Cipher

Sending coded messages during times of war has been around for centuries. In Julius Caesar’s code, you shift the letters of the alphabet. In this example, the letters shift three spaces to the left.

Grab these free printables containing four different activities using cipher codes. These are great fun for upper elementary students.The shifts can change to the right or to the left. Also, the number of spaces the alphabet shifts can also be changed. This keeps the enemy from easily deciphering the message.

Morse Code

Morse Code was invented by Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail. It uses a series of long and short pulses. A dot equals one short pulse (x) called a dit. The dashes called dahs are equal in length to three dots (3x). The space between each letter is equal to a dash (3x). The space between words is equal to seven dots (7x).

Grab these free printables containing four different activities using cipher codes. These are great fun for upper elementary students.

Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail developed the code for the telegraph machine. A telegraph operator would sit at the machine and tap out long and short taps to represent the letters in the message he was sending.

Vigenère Cipher

The Vigenère Cipher was invented by Giovan Battista Bellaso in 1553. It uses a table consisting of 26 alphabetized letters across and 27 letters down. To use this code, you must first know the secret phrase. During the American Civil War the secret phrases included:

  • Manchester Bluff
  • Complete Victory
  • Come Retribution

Grab these free printables containing four different activities using cipher codes. These are great fun for upper elementary students.Using the phrase “Manchester Bluff,” this is how you would code the word “Jackson.”

You would first put your pointer finger of your right hand on the M in the top row of letters because Manchester Bluff begins with ‘M.’

Next, you would then put your pointer finger from your left hand on the letter J in the first column of letters because Jackson begins with the letter ‘J.’

Slide your fingers together staying on the row and column. Where you fingers meet, is the letter you would write down in your secret message. For ‘J’ the letter is ‘V.’

By following this process, the word “Jackson” would read as “VAPMZSF.”

Rosicrucian Cipher

 

The Rosicrucian (also known as the Pigpen Cipher) was first published in 1531 by both the Rosicrucian brotherhood and the Freemasons.

The cipher uses a geometric simple substitution. First draw two grids (tic tac toe style) and two X’s. Write each letter of the alphabet in the blank spaces as shown. Add dots to the second grid and X to distinguish the two.

Grab these free printables containing four different activities using cipher codes. These are great fun for upper elementary students.

To use the code, swap out the shape the letter sits in for the letter. The chart below shows the shapes of the letters.

Grab these free printables containing four different activities using cipher codes. These are great fun for upper elementary students.

Handout

 

Grab these free printables containing four different activities using cipher codes. These are great fun for upper elementary students.

Click here to download the handout containing the cipher activities. I hope your students have fun with these.Gay Miller

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