Friday, June 27, 2014

Parent Letter ~ How to help a child learn to write his/her name

A child's name is one of the first and most important words he/she will learn to read and write.  Here's a simple parent letter sharing some ideas for helping a child learn to write his/her name.  

It was created in Word and is fully editable, so you can switch it up as you'd like.  You can download this for free on Google docs by clicking here.  You can also find it at my Teachers pay Teachers shop by clicking on the picture.   

If you have any trouble downloading the file, email me at and I'll be happy to send it directly to you. 

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you find this handy!  
:) Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Free Sight Word Riddles

Hi,  It's Spring break here in Upstate New York.  The weather was beautiful the first couple days ~ I got to enjoy the sunshine and go hiking with my family!  But, now we have snow again.  (What?)

On the bright side, it was a great day to create some Sight Word Riddles . . . 

Quite a few of my 1st grade RTI students need more practice reading the following sight words: 

In the classrooms, I notice that many students who are able to read these words still need practice writing them. 

So ~ I just created a set of Sight Word Riddles for these words.  They can be used for Scoot games, for partner work and for individual work.  Here are some images from the file:

If you'd like to try them out, you can download the file for free at my Teachers pay Teachers shop.  Click here or on any of the pictures.  

If you have any trouble accessing this file, send me an email at and I will be happy to send it directly to you. 

Hope your Spring break brings plenty of sunshine!  It looks like the weather will be improving here soon, so we'll be back out on the trails. 

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Anne Gardner  (NBCT, Literacy)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review 3D Shapes and Give Kids a Quick Brain Break ~ All in Less than Two Minutes

Hi,  Thanks for stopping by!  I wanted to share my favorite way to review 3D shapes and also give kids a quick brain break ~ all in less than 2 minutes. 

This video features images of dancing people created from 3D blocks. Kids absolutely love to watch and chorally whisper the name of each shape as it appears while the people are being composed.

For a quick brain break, they can then mimic the calming dance movements of their favorite character for about 30 seconds. 

Finally, the blocks are sorted by shape.  We quickly point at each set and name the shape once again.  So simple ~ and relaxing.  I love that combination!  

Hope your kids enjoy this.   :) Anne

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Should we be teaching fact families with 8 facts?

Hi,  Did you ever have an idea you just had to throw out there and see what people think? 

I have been noticing that it is really hard for kids to complete equations such as: 

8 = 12 - ___.

To complete these equations, they really have to understand the equal sign. 

Then, I got to thinking ~ what do we usually teach them regarding fact families and/or related facts? 
Four basic facts, such as:

2 + 3 = 5
3 + 2 = 5
5 - 3 = 2
5 - 2 + 3

Is it time to introduce a new fact family? A family with 8 facts? Here's what I'm thinking: 

I'm thinking of creating a series of activities based on this idea and thought I'd ask what you think of it first.

I know I'd have to build in lots of support to get kids started. If you have a moment, I'd really love to hear your thoughts . . . . 

Many thanks for stopping by!  :) Anne Gardner 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Reading Comprehension Passages for Guided Reading Level D ~ Paper version and iPad app

Hi, Many thanks for stopping by!

Last year, I created a set of Reading Comprehension Passages with Multiple Choice Questions to help kids develop comprehension skills early in the process of learning to read. They are also handy for helping students prepare for end of year assessments. I listed them on Teachers pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook. (These passages are currently available for Guided Reading Levels C, D, E, F, G/H and I/J.)

Not long after, Jordy Koski (Founder of Tapfun) contacted me about turning these passages iPad apps. It sounded like a great idea, and we started working together. The first level, Guided Reading Level C, was published on the iPad App Store at the end of December. The second level, Guided Reading Level D, was just released today. Here's a screenshot from the Level D app.

iPad Screenshot 3
The first passage of each app is free. Click here to check out the free version of the Level D app. (If you download this free version, would you be so kind as to share your thoughts with us? We're very open to your ideas! You can rate the app through the App Store, leave feedback on this blog post and/or send your thoughts to

If you'd like to take a closer look at the paper version, click here to download the free sample passages and questions shown below (clip art for the paper version courtesy of My Cute Graphics).   

Thanks so much for stopping by ~ I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Sincerely, Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy)

P.S. - I am currently in the process of creating a full listing of all the passages in this series.  This will be available very soon. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

True of False Equations

Hi, Determining whether an equation is true or false (CCSS 1.OA.D.7) has recently become one of my favorite math standards. Kids who are not fluent with basic facts often tire of many types of practice, but are loving sorting equation cards by whether they are true or false. In working with these materials, they are becoming more fluent with basic facts while also developing problem solving skills.

Today, I'd like to share a freebie with you. It's a set of 48 true or false equation cards for addition within ten. These cards can be used for 2 different levels of Scoot games ~ everything you need is included. If you have't played Scoot with your kids yet, here's a great chance to try it out! (These equation cards are also handy for partner work and sorting activities.) 

To grab this free item, click here.

Here are some photos:

        I am also offering a product which includes ten levels of True/False equation cards and activities on my Teachers Notebook and Teachers pay Teachers shops.  The levels are:
  • Addition within 10
  • Subtraction within 10
  • Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 10
  • Addition within 20
  • Subtraction within 20
  • Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 20
  • Addition Problems within 10 such as 5 + 1 = 4 + 3
  • Subtraction  Problems within 10 such as 8 - 1 =  9 - 2
  • Mixed +/- Problems within 10 such as 8 + 1 =  10 - 1
  • Mixed +/- Problems within 20 such as 18 - 9 =  7 + 2
Here's my very favorite part of all this: My son, Keith, took an interest in this product. He's 19 years old and is studying Computer Science at Binghamton University. He decided to make an app out of it. We've been having a blast working together and the app is now available for iPad on the Apple App Store. Here are a couple screen shots of this app. 

iPad Screenshot 1

iPad Screenshot 2

If you want to take a look at this app, you can check it out here

If you have comments or feedback, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below or email me at

** Added 1/19/42014 -  I really want to help my son get started.  If you decide to buy the iPad app for $1.99 and share your feedback with us, I'll be thrilled to send you a complimentary copy of the full 10 level set of Scoot games. Just send me an email at so I have your email address to send it out to.

Many thanks for stopping by!
Anne Gardner (NBCT)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Building and Reading Simple Sentences

Even while kids are still working on letter identification, I love to get them involved in building and reading simple sentences.  

I start with a simple alphabet book or emergent text. Alphabet books from Lakeshore are pictured. If I didn't have books with the sentence structure I'm looking for, I'd create an anchor chart and work from there. 

I prepare by putting the magnetic letters kids will need to form a sentence in a little cup.  For alphabet-based sentences, I add an item that starts with the letter. Each child gets a sentence strip to build on. They shake the cup and use the book (or anchor chart) as a resource to build the sentence.

As kids work, we talk about leaving spaces between words and about a sentence being a group of words that makes sense together. We also pay attention to the period at the end of the sentence.  

I find that I can work with 3 or 4 kids at a time, so this is a great activity for guided reading groups or intervention groups. 

After each child has built and read his/her sentence, we put the letters back in the cups together.  I give directions such as: "Pick up the letter H. Put it in your cup. Find the word is. Hold the word is in your hand. Spell is with me. Pick up the word for. Let's spell for together. . . . "

Once everything is back in the cup, kids pass the cup to the person beside them and they each spill and build again. It's fun to see how much quicker they get as the lesson goes on!

I've also created a set of sight word sentences for very early readers. Ever see a child read a full page when he/she only knows 1 word? Check out this sight word sentence page for the word I. 
Because of the high level of picture support, kids can successfully read this page when they know the word I. (We provide support as needed to help them use initial sounds to check their reading on the other words.)  

This series builds just one word at a time. Here's the order of the first few words: I, like, my, see, can, the, go. Within the first seven lessons using this program, kids are proudly reading the sheet pictured below. 
After reading these sheets at school, kids bring them home to share with their families. Repeated reading is very important at this stage, so I have a child color one star in each time he/she reads the sheet. When all the stars are filled in, they bring it back to show me. (We celebrate and they earn a tiny treat.)

If you'd like to take a closer look at these sheets, you can download the samples shown above by clicking here. 

If you decide you'd like to use these with your students, you can get the set at my Teachers pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook shop. 

Thanks so much for stopping by and taking a look!

:) Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy)