Sunday, 26 July 2015

My "Must Have" Supplies for Back To School: Sentence Strips

Pencils, crayons and glue… we all know these basic supplies that teachers need for back to school!  Through the years I have discovered some additional "must have" supplies that I also stock up on. I started off this post last week with the intention of making a simple list and ended up writing entirely about Binder Clips!  Click HERE to read that post.  I decided this might work better as a bit of a series….  These supplies are my "must haves" because they are so versatile and can be used in lots of different ways in your classroom

Sentence Strips

I love my pocket charts and use them constantly in my teaching.  Sentence strips are definitely a necessity!   Here are a few ways I use sentence strips in my pocket charts.

Poems: I use a lot of poems in my class.  We have a poetry booklet that we add a new poem to weekly. We have poems for learning sight words, poems about dental health, poems about counting by 10, poems for the holidays…. lots & lots of poems.  Some of them I write out on chart paper but mostly I use sentence strips.  It is easy to slip the sentences into the pocket chart to introduce each poem.  I also like to have separate cards with pictures that can be matched with each line of the poem.  
Afterwards these poems can then be easily turned into a center.  Clip each individual poem together with the picture cards and students can order the sentence strips, match the picture cards and read the poems, independently.  Save the sentence strip poems and use them again year after year. 
All my sentence strip poems clipped together and stored.
Scrambled Sentences:  This is a great activity to do with students when introducing the concept of a sentence. I usually start with these basics:
  • Sentences begin with an uppercase letter.  
  • Sentences end with punctuation.  
  • Sentences make sense.  
For this activity I write a simple sentence on a sentence strip and cut it up into individual words.  I mix up the words and place in my pocket chart. I do this activity together as a class several times before it becomes a center.

My lesson would look something like this:
I read the mixed up sentence aloud and ask them if it makes sense.  It is usually quite silly and everyone will answer with a resounding "NO!". 
"It is not a sentence yet so how do we begin a sentence?"
I have someone come up and find the word starting with the uppercase letter and put it as the beginning of the sentence.  We will read it again.
"Does it make sense?"
"Ok, how do we end sentence?"
I have someone come up and find the word that ends with a punctuation mark and put it it at the end of the sentence.
"Does it make sense?"
At this point students will come up and try to move around the middle words until it makes sense. This was a very popular activity with my students and once they became familiar with it made a great independent activity for literacy centers.  

Display Objectives:  Many of us are required to display our daily learning objectives in our classroom.  Having a pocket chart in your classroom specifically for this purpose is an easy way to switch them out easily from day to day.  You can write them all up and have them ready to go for the entire year.

This wasn't a requirement at my school but we were encouraged to provide "I Can" statements for students as we were teaching.  I always did this for my math lessons.  I had a blank wipe-off sentence strip at the top of my pocket chart where I taught my lessons.  Each day we would review the "I Can" statement before we got started.  Often I would change it as part of my lesson… "Look!  Yesterday we were learning how to count to 10 forwards.  Let me change this.  Today it will say "I Can count backwards from 10."  This really helped the kids and me stay focused on our objective.

Not only do I use sentence strips for activities in my pocket chart but they are great for student activities too!  Students are always super motivated to use supplies they perceive to be "teacher" supplies. 

Sequencing:  Sentence strips are great for sequencing activities.  When I taught kindergarten we did a lot of learning with nursery rhymes.  A favourite activity was to order pictures from a nursery rhyme and glue them onto a sentence strip.  Students would then retell it to a teacher, friend or their family.  

ABC order, number order, making patterns, story sequencing…. any of these activities work great on a sentence strip.

Headbands, Hats or Crowns:  Using headbands/hats/crowns to celebrate special occasions or show learning is an instant hit with students.  These are easily created using a sentence strip as the band and adding on from there.  They can be student created or check out TPT HERE for a variety of related products.    

Display Learning:  Students love to write on sentence strips and this is great way to show learning at the end of an unit.  For example, after learning about bears I would pair students up and have them write a sentence about one thing they learned.  I would display the sentence strips on a bulletin board usually surrounded by a matching craft.  A great way to end a unit: having students reflect, write and share their learning.  
Not only are there a lot of different ways to use sentence strips in your classroom there are a lot of different sentence strips to chose from.  The more sturdy tagboard sentence strips are great for activities in your pocket chart.  Especially, poems and center activities you might be saving from year to year.  The thinner paperweight sentence strips are less expensive and a great option for student activities. Dry-erase sentence strips are a great re-usable option.
In addition there are different colors and options such as inter-lined, single lined and plain.  

Once you have all these sentence strips you need somewhere to store them! These storage boxes from Really Good Stuff are my favourite.
Thanks for dropping by!  Stay tuned for more of my "must have" supplies for back to school.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

My "Must Have" Supplies for Back To School: Binder Clips

It is that time of year again.  Time for back to school shopping!  As a mother to two daughters I will be heading to our local office supply store soon, list in hand to buy the supplies they will need for their up coming school year.  This got me thinking about, as a teacher, what my “must have” school supplies were.  I have made a list of supplies that I like to stock up on for the beginning of the year. 

Binder Clips
This may seem like an odd first choice.  But binder clips are my thing…  My paper clips are now relegated to unjamming the pencil sharpener and for my unit on non-standard measurement.  Binder clips are just so amazing at holding papers together and as teachers we have more papers than we know what to do with.  With binder clips the papers don’t slide out, get stabbed by sharp edges and they can hold together a lot more papers than the average paperclip.  Ok… I know, not really a necessity but as my collection grew I started to find other uses for them.

Use binder clips to hold the page in student notebooks.  Left to their own devices students will do their work on any old random page in their notebook.  Even with explicit directions to go to the next empty page there are some kids who are all over the place.   To make this a non-issue I simply started clipping their notebook to the next empty page.   Some years I have done this for only the kids that needed it and other years did it for the whole group (believe me they will all want a clip!).  This also works great for centers where students will be working in their notebook independently. 

Use binder clips to hold cards together in centers.  During my kindergarten intervention group one year I had these little number cards held together with binder clips.  After working with the cards I clipped most of them back together myself but I had a few kids who wanted to do it themselves.  They oh so neatly stacked those cards together and worked their little finger muscles getting those clips open and maneuvered around the pile of cards.  Not one of them asked for help and were so determined to do it by themselves.   After that I started clipping all my center cards together (I had them loose in baggies before this) and teaching the kids how to stack the cards neatly and clip them together.   It was a total win-win situation.  My kids were getting “real life” fine motor control practice and my centers were neater than ever before.

Use a binder clip to hold your computer cord.  I found this little tip on pinterest and it totally works.  My computer cord would never stay put on my desk.  I even bought a fancy little cord holder that would just fall behind my desk with my cord in it!  Now I just stick a binder clip on my desk organizer and thread my cord through it.  No more crawling around with the dust bunnies under my desk to find my computer cord!
Use a binder clip in place of a safety pins.    A little more “safe” than a pin, a clip works in a pinch if a student loses a button on their pants, their pants are too big and keep falling down (yes this happens more frequently than you would think!) or the seam comes out on your skirt etc… 

The fun thing about binder clips is that they come in all sizes, colors and patterns. And the plain old black ones can be dressed up with some simple labels.  Click below to download my free binder clip labels.


Wow!  I did not know I had so much to say about binder clips!  This post was originally going to be a list of all my favourite back to school classroom supplies but it looks like it is going to turn into a bit of a series.  Next week: Sentence Strips!!