No Prep, Interactive, Smart Phonics

Do your kids need lots of practice with phonics?  Mine do and they don't like it.  They pretty much hate anything that requires lots of writing so I decided to figure out a way for them to practice the skills in a meaningful way that they would enjoy.  I am blessed that I teach in a tech 1:1 school so all of my kids have an iPad assigned to them.  I went to my tech coach and asked her if she could purchase the SMARTboard app for my class.  She did so I started creating tons of files for my kids.  For short vowels, I have created 7 different activities for them to do using the SMART app.

1.  Build it.  Students use the letter tiles to build the word.There is a box for each phoneme. 
All of the letters are cloned, so students simply touch the letter they need and drag it to the boxes at the top.

This activity looks a little different when students are working with blends.  Some words are short vowels and students are expected to build the entire word.  For words that are more difficult, students are expected to identify the blend and build the blend.  Here's a could of screenshots.

Since students haven't learned vowel pairs, -ue is given.  Students only need to build the blend.

This word is "self."  Students can sound out and spell the entire word.  I know what you're thinking, "How in the world are my kids going to know what word matches that picture?!  I don't have time to pre-teach them all of these words!"  You don't have to, and the students will NOT interrupt you either.  See that yellow star?  When students touch the star, it will say the word for them.  Every picture in the blends files have a yellow star!

2  Build it. Write it.  Students slide the letter tiles down to the first line to build the word. Then they use one of the pens from the Smartboard app to write the word on the handwriting lines.

For blends, I grouped together the silent or difficult sounds.  This is the word "globe."  The "be" are grouped together.  Students can pull down the letters to spell globe and write it on the lines.

 3.  Circle it.  Students use the pen to circle the word that matches the picture. The words are similar so students must read each word carefully.
Here's a sample from the blends file.  As you can see, students are only identifying the blends.  Some words have initial blends others have final blends.  When students touch the star, it will say the word for them.  Every picture in the blends files have a yellow star!

4.  Letterboxes  Students write the word in the letterboxes
Again, the blends file is modified so students are only writing short vowel words (skip) or writing in the blends (sn for snore.) When students touch the star, it will say the word for them.  Every picture in the blends files have a yellow star!

5.  Read it.  Trace it.  Draw it.  Students read the word. Then, they use the pen to trace the word and draw a picture of the word.

For the blends file, I will have my students only do the short vowel words or use it for my higher students who are ready for a challenge.

6.  Spell it.   Students use the pen to circle the beginning,middle, and ending sounds in the word. Then they write the word on the line.   I didn't include this activity for the blends file.
 7.  Write it.  Students write the word that matches the picture.
 For blends, students only write the blend.  As you can see in the picture below, desk has a red line at the end of the word and spoon has a red line at the beginning of the word.  This is a hint for the students as to where the blend is.  They would write "sk" for desk and "sp" for spoon. When students touch the star, it will say the word for them.  Every picture in the blends files have a yellow star!

I am so excited about using this with my students this upcoming school year!  I am working on adding digraphs, long vowels, diphthongs, and more!  You can check out my long vowels bundle.  I have a free sample so you can try it before you buy it!  


And the winners are....

Gay is the winner of the $25 Olive Garden card.  Bryn is the winner of the $15 Applebees card.  Wendy is the winner of the $15 Subway card.  Please email me at and leave me your mailing address.  Congratulations!!


Hoop Glider

Today's challenge:  Create a hoop glider that will fly the greatest distance.

Materials: 1 index card cut into 3 equal parts
1 straw

Students were given the following directions:
1.  Take one strip from the index card and create a circle and tape it.
2.  Using the other 2 strips, tape them together to create a larger circle.  (I made these two circles so my kids knew what they should look like.)
3.  Tape the circles to the straw to create a glider.  (I did not give any visuals or hints here.)
4.  Test your glider.
5. Make modifications and test again!

Here's what most of the kids end up making.  This model will fly across the room.  They were super impressed that it actually flew and it flew so far.

After a few attempts, some of my kids started getting creative.  Here's one modification:

 Here's another modification.  The student quickly realized that this model would not fly.  3 hoops were just too much for the glider.

We tested all gliders to see which glider would fly the greatest distance.  Then, we had some time for target practice.

The kids had a great time!


Summer Countdown Bloghop and a Parachute STEM Challenge

As we approach the end of the year, things get beyond crazy.  With all of the special events, there are no "normal" days.  To make the best of the crazy schedule and short attention spans, I use a LOT of STEM activities.  STEM activities keep kids focused on academics, but they don't realize they are working and learning.   It's also a good way to use up a lot of the "junk" we collect throughout the year because we are hoarders like to recycle.

Today's challenge:  Help Jack escape from the giant.  He must jump from the top of the beanstalk and land safely on the ground.

Meet Jack

Students were allowed to choose 2 things from my table and 1 piece of yarn.  I gave them the choice of shopping bags, paper napkins, large and small coffee filters, and gallon sized baggies.  (This is where you get to recycle materials that have been cluttering up your storage area!)

 Students were originally given 15 minutes to create their parachute, but that just wasn't enough time for my kids.  They were working in a team of 3 and they were ALL working together.  I heard conversations of, "Let's try ..... because that is too heavy."  "That's a good idea, but what if we tried ..."  It was amazing to listen to them working together.

Here are the parachutes my students created.

Team 1

Team 2

Team 3

Team 4

Team 5

Team 6

Now, the fun part!  We took our parachutes to the stairwell to test them.  Each team was allowed to drop their parachute 3 times so each team member had the opportunity to test it.  Each drop was timed to see how long it took to reach the floor.

We recorded each drop.  It took Team 2's parachute over 4 seconds to reach the floor, so they were the big winners.  Team 3 came in close behind at just over 4 seconds.

To make this even more academic, students can graph the results of each drop.  They can average the 3 times for their team.  You can even let the teams take their parachutes back to the drawing board to make adjustments to see if they can slow Jack down even more.

Want some more end of the year ideas?  Head over to Kelsea's blog, Teacher Gems.  Make sure to enter my giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tower of Terror! Stem Challenge

Today's challenge:  Create the tallest, freestanding tower possible.

Supplies: 20 mini marshmallows
6 large marshmallows
unlimited toothpicks

Some students jumped right in and started creating a 4 sided structure.

Others focused on making the tower tall.  They later realized that it was also important to create a base.

Some had no idea what to do, so they began by randomly sticking marshmallows together.  Then they started looking around the room and borrowed a few ideas from their friends.

A four sided structure getting taller.

Another team working on their 4 sided structure.

Time's up!  Time to measure.

This team was unable to create a base for their tower.  If they had, they would have won the challenge.

Random marshmallow/toothpick structure took shape and became this tower.

This was most definitely the strongest tower.  We left all of the towers over night and this was the only tower still standing the following day.

This team struggled with the challenged.  They continued sticking marshmallows randomly with toothpicks.  But, they did not give up.

This team finally figured out how to connect the rows together, but they ran out of time.

This was another strong tower.  One team member was really focused on making the tower tall, but the other member was focused on sticking as many toothpicks as possible into the marshmallows.  He was finally able to convince his partner to listen and they were able to build a fairly tall tower.

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