Critical Thinking Activity #2 for Kids

Critical thinking activity #2 helps to get kids THINKING.

Problem solving and critical thinking refers to the ability to use knowledge, facts, and data to effectively solve problems. Teaching kids to THINK is important in school and in life.  Kids need opportunities to think about things to make them “make sense”.  Check out critical thinking #2 below to challenge your child.

Critical thinking activity #2 is perfect for a challenge activity, time filler, brain start, reward or extra credit. Once your student figures out the answer, challenge them to create their own example that can be solved in the same way.

WHEN DID IT HAPPEN?

Directions:  Read each statement and decide if it happened in the past, present, or future. HINT: Look for the clues that make the sentence “make sense”. Extension Activity:  Can you reword the sentence to change the meaning to be a different time? Time is divided into 3 categories: past, present and the future.

  • The past is time gone by.
  • The present is this moment in time.
  • The future is time that has not yet happened.
  1. He is on first base and it is the ninth inning.
  2. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.
  3. Declan got out of bed.
  4. Will you go dancing with me?
  5. The lake froze last night.
  6. My sister is at the store getting a new cellphone.
  7. Dinosaurs became extinct because the earth’s temperature cooled.
  8. I am wrapping the gift now.
  9. I washed the dishes after breakfast.
  10. We are going on vacation after school is over.
  11. My birthday party invitations went sent out yesterday.
  12. I hear the dog barking inside the house.

Answers

  1. Present
  2. Past
  3. Past
  4. Future
  5. Past
  6. Present
  7. Past
  8. Present
  9. Past
  10. Future
  11. Past
  12. Present

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Best ELA Apps & Websites


Best ELA Apps & Websites

High School students need to develop analytical skills in all subject areas. In the ELA classroom students need to learn to be independent thinkers, encourage appreciation for literature and express their opinions through writing and discussion. Finding resources to get your secondary students excited about English is important.  But, when it also makes your life easier, it is a goldmine!

6 Best ELA apps and websites

  1. New York Times – NYT and Verizon have teamed up to offer every high school student in the U.S. free access to the New York Times. Students can educate themselves to better understand the pandemic and other events going on in the world. Resources are up to date and available in all subject areas.
  2. Newsela – Newsela is an online news-as-literacy platform that features high-interest articles on everything from current events to myths and legends and from literature to science. Users can choose a free account (which just features news and current events) or paid subscriptions that include daily news story updates and subject-specific products for ELA, social studies, science, and SEL.
  3. CommonLit – CommonLit is a free digital library of leveled texts: news articles, poems, short stories, and historical documents. Articles can be filtered by collections by grade level, Lexile level, theme, genre, literary device, even Common Core State Standards. There are over 2,000 high-quality free reading passages for grades 3-12 that also include aligned assessments.  
  4. Teaching Tolerance – Teaching Tolerance is “a place where educators who care about diversity, equity and justice can find news, suggestions, conversation and support.” This is a great resource to include social awareness. 
  5. Purdue OWL – Great site for clarification in grammar, style, or proper citations to develop good writers. Includes printable and online practice.  It was my “go to” site for my dissertation. 
  6. UNC Writing Center – Handouts and videos for many writing issues. Extensive resources that are easy to use and ready to start today.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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Lesson Filler Activities

Lesson filler activities can be FUN!

Lesson filler activities are great learning opportunities whether a lesson finishes early or our students just need a Brain Break.  Finding ones that engage students that require little little or no preparation is great.  But finding ones that are FUN…. even better!  Check out these ideas:

10 Lesson Filler Activities

Mystery BoxHave a shoebox ready with some items that can be put in for students to guess what is inside.  Limit the number of questions that students can ask and be sure that the questions can only be answered with a “yes” or “no”. Encourage them to use all their senses. Once they figure out what the item is, open the box and let them see it.

Sticky NotesCreate sticky note “pairs” by writing pairs of words (opposites, compound words, vocabulary word and meaning, math problems) on post its. Distribute a post-it to each child and have students find their “match”.  An alternative activity is to distribute the post-its around the room and have one student match all the pairs.  Add a timer to add to the challenge.  

Current Events – Read a headline aloud and ask the child what they think the story was about.  Adaptations is reading the headline independently and/or working with a partner to discuss the story possibilities.

Sign Language – Kids love learning sign language.  Show kids some basic signs and have them practice with each other.  Need link

Follow the Directions – Create a list of 3-5 step directions.  Read a set of directions aloud and then ask children to do the activities in order.  Ex. Stand up, say Happy Birthday, touch your head, turn around, sit down.  Be sure that you write the directions down because they are easy to forget! 

I have a Number – Prepare a setof cards from 1 to 50 with math problems and 50 different answers.  Examples:   I have a 5, who has this number plus 10.  The child with 15 says, I have 15.  Who has my number minus 12?  I have 3.  Who has my number plus 25?  I have 28.  Who has my number minus 2?  I have 26.  Who has my number plus 20? 

The Price is RightHave them play the popular game show by guessing how much an item costs.  Show them a flyer with items and cover the cost. For younger students you may have to give them a range that it could cost until they understand prices.

What’s My Number?  Write a number on a piece of paper and tell students you are thinking of a number between ____ and _______.  For younger students, using a number line to add their guesses will help them understand greater than and less than.

Give me FiveChallenge students to name five things that are alike.  Choose a student to answer and if they get the 5 items, they can call on the next person to try another challenge.  For students playing alone, set a timer to see how fast they can do it.

__Things Found on a ____Name a place that students are familiar and ask them to name things they would find there.  Ex:  Things on a boat, on a farm, at the zoo, in the kitchen etc.

Next Month: 10 more lesson filler activities

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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First Grade Reading Overview

First Grade Reading

First grade reading and writing curricula looks different in different states, countries, and classrooms.  However, there are some basic expectations and ideas that can be used to support learning.

Building reading skills is an essential part of a first grader’s learning process and academic success down the road. Even when students are not specifically learning “reading,” they are constantly using this skill to learn other subjects—which is why it is crucial for your child’s success in all subjects. As first graders develop their reading comprehension, they will talk more about certain topics and gain a deeper understanding of what they read. 

14 Skills for First Grade Reading

  1. Knows the difference between fiction and non-fiction.
  2. Compares different characters, events, or texts.
  3. Discusses books with an understanding of plot, characters, and important ideas.
  4. Identifies sentence features (i.e. punctuation, capitalization).
  5. Recognizes the spelling and sound of two letters that represent one sound, such as thchwh (these are also known as digraphs).
  6. Can read sight words in isolation and in text.
  7. Reads regularly spelled one-syllable words.
  8. Understands how an “e” at the end of a word changes a vowel within the word.
  9. Talks about and answers questions about the text they read.
  10. Reads texts aloud at an appropriate speed and with expression. This is called fluency.
  11. Breaks up longer words into syllables to read them.
  12. Grade-level words with “irregular” spellings are included in their reading vocabulary.
  13. Understands the purpose of and uses common features in a book, such as headings, tables of contents, and glossaries.
  14. Begins to read grade-appropriate poetry and identifies words and phrases that relate to emotions and the senses.

First Grade Reading Activities

Poetry Recitals: Read small and simple poems together and talk about the feelings they convey. Allow, your first grader to try writing their own poems about people, places, or things. Allow their creativity to shine.

Put on a Show: Encouraging your child to read a favorite story or poem using different voices for characters is both beneficial and fun. Do not be surprised that you might have some “actors in your classroom.”

Create A Personal Dictionary: Keep track of your child’s new words in their own notebook.  They can write the word, add an illustration and the meaning.  They can also add a sentence using the word.  Each of these additions can be added to the dictionary at different times.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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First Grade Learning Standards

First Grade Learning Standards

This resource consolidates all New York State first grade learning standards into one document (2019). It was intended to be used as a reference tool by teachers, specialists, and administrators responsible for designing programs for second grade students. However, during the current COVID-19 crisis, it is helpful for homeschooling families and parents supporting remote learning.

The Learning Standards are end of year expectations rather than a curriculum, assessment, or a set of teaching strategies. The resource provides a uniform format for learning standards in all content areas to make it easier for users to read and understand. Users that are looking for a higher level of detail can find it at New York State Education Department’s website. The site provides additional background information and shows learning progressions across grades.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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First Grade Writing Overview

First Grade Writing

Reading and writing curricula look different in different states, countries, and classrooms.  However, there are some basic expectations and ideas in first grade writing that can be used to support learning.

Once first graders master writing their letter and some basic words; it is time to watch the writing begin! First grade writers write longer pieces and try out new spelling words in a variety of subjects. This Septembers, remote learning settings will give first graders more opportunities to use technology rather than handwriting. This may help develop great writers who would otherwise be hesitant to write because of the extra work involved in handwriting. In first grade, students will be using their writing skills in all subject areas.

First Grade Writing Skills

  1. Writes with structure, including an introductory sentence, supporting or accurate details, and some sense of closure.
  2. Writes a variety of texts including, narratives, informational pieces, how to’s and opinion pieces.
  3. Contributes to a group writing with teacher help. 

First Grade Writing Activities

Write, Write, Write:  Find opportunities to allow your child to write.  Using their skills to label items, write directions, or draw a picture and write a sentence to explain their drawing are all great ways to practice writing.   Encourage them to read their writing to family and friends.  Practice, practice, practice.

Answer a Question: It is time to put your child to work to find the answers to their questions.  When a question comes up, encourage them to research the answer using a book or the computer.  They can share their answers verbally, draw a poster, or write a story.

Make Books:  Fold and cut 8.5 X 11 pages into halves and staple the pages together. Staple the left side of pages (3 staples: top, middle bottom) so that the pages can turn like a standard book.  4 full pages makes a book with a cover and back page and 14 pages to use for writing and/or illustrations. Add or delete pages as your child needs.  

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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Grade 2 Writing Overview

Grade 2 Writing

Reading and writing curricula look different in different states, countries, and classrooms.  However, there are some basic expectations and ideas that can be used to support learning.

Second Grade Writers

Second graders write texts that are longer and include details which helps to refine their writing. They often use technology to publish their writing. Like reading, writing occurs throughout the day as students use it for a variety of subjects. 

4 Ways to Build Grade 2 Writing Skills

  1. Writes a variety of types of texts including:
    • Informative/Explanatory Pieces: Students introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a conclusion.
    • Opinion Pieces: Students state their opinions and provide reasons to support them, closing with a conclusion.
    • Narrative Pieces: Students write about an event, describing actions, thoughts, and feelings, and provide a conclusion.
  2. Research topics for individual writings or shared writing projects.
  3. Encourage revisions and edits to improve writing.
  4. Uses digital tools, with adult support, to publish writing.

Second Grade Writing Activities

Keep a Journal: Ask your child to write about their daily events.  Something special that happened, hopes, dreams, activities; anything that gets them writing.  Allow them to illustrate their entries. It sometimes reminds them of more details. On days where writing is difficult, they might try expanding one of their previous entries.

Give Your Opinion: Allow your child to express their opinions. Discuss with your child a topic and ask them their thoughts.  Explore their reasoning behind their thoughts and ask them to write their opinion.

Provide an Audience:  Who does not like to have an audience?  Ask your child to read their opinion piece out loud to an audience and take questions.  Of course, family members are perfect for being a “friendly audience. ”

 Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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Grade 2 Reading Overview

Second grade reading and writing curricula looks different in different states, countries, and classrooms.  However, there are some basic expectations and ideas that can be used to support learning.

Grade 2 Reading

Second Grade Readers  

Second graders continue to develop their literacy skills as they learn more complex words and longer passages in different genres. Students can expand their reading comprehension skills by talking about what they read.  This helps them develop more advanced ideas around those topics. Kids get lots of reading opportunities throughout the school day by practicing their reading skills when learning other subjects.

11 Ways to Build Second Grade Reading Skills

  1. Self-corrects mistakes and re-reads when necessary
  2. Reads more complex words, such as two-syllable words.
  3. Begins to make connections within and between texts.
  4. Reads words with common prefixes and suffixes, for example: pre-re-un-, –able, –ad, and –er.
  5. Reads grade-appropriate, irregularly spelled words (consult your child’s teacher for a specific list of these words).
  6. Reads a variety of texts including fables, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
  7. Understands the structure of a story, specifically the purpose of beginnings (introducing the text) and endings (concluding the text).
  8. Understands the most important details of a text—its main purpose and the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.” (see activity below)
  9. Talks about characters’ responses, main events, lessons learned, and important ideas or concepts.
  10. Compares at least two different versions of the same story, such as two versions of a classic fairy tale.
  11. Reads at grade level with correct accuracy, pace, expression, and comprehension.

3 Grade 2 Reading Activities

Give Attention to Prefixes and Suffixes: When your child uses a word with a prefix or suffix, occasionally stop to talk about it. Break down the word and say what the prefix or suffix and root word mean when they are put together, and brainstorm other words that have the same suffix or prefix. 

Make a “W” Chart: While you and your child read books together, make a “W” chart. Fill out the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” of the book as your child discovers them.

Make Up Your Own Version of a Story: After your child reads a story, encourage new versions that your child may think make the story different. Perhaps they want to change the character, the setting or even the ending.  They may even want to use themselves or a family member be the main character. This activity helps them understand story structure and make comparisons.

 Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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Second Grade Standards for Learning

Second grade standards

This resource consolidates all New York State second-grade learning standards into one document (2019). It was intended to be used as a reference tool by teachers, specialists, and administrators responsible for designing programs for second grade students. However, during the current COVID-19 crisis, it is helpful for homeschooling families and parents supporting remote learning.

The Learning Standards are end of year expectations rather than a curriculum, assessment, or a set of teaching strategies. The resource provides a uniform format for learning standards in all content areas to make it easier for users to read and understand. Users that are looking for a higher level of detail can find it at New York State Education Department’s website. The site provides additional background information and shows learning progressions across grades.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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Sight Word Practice at Home & School

Sight word practice can help kids learn sight words.

8 Ways to Practice Sight Words

Sight Word Search – Let the child select a handful of sight word cards at random and ask them to find them around the house or classroom. (magazines, newspapers, books etc.)

Hide- and-Seek Sight Words – Hide ten-word card and let your child find them and read them to you.

What is on my Back? –  Trace a word on your child’s back and see if they know what it is.  Take turns with different words.

What is my Color – Have your child write their new sight words using different types of writing tools.  They might also want to try writing the letters in different colors.

Cupboard Search – Let your child explore the cupboard or pantry boxes to find sight words.  Often the item descriptions, and not the item name, are filled with sight words. 

Sing a Song of Sight Words – Practice sight words my replacing them into familiar songs.  Familiar songs can include but not be limited to Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Twinkle, Twinkle.

Spill a Sight Word – Put some of the cut-up words into a cup and spill the cup and ask your child to read the words spilled.  Extension activity is to use the word in a sentence.  

Find the Letter – Place scrabble letters on top of the letters in the sight words.  Ask child to say the word, say the letters and restate the word. Ex: Best is spelled B-E-S-T the word is best.  Extension activity is to use the word in a sentence.

The more sight words children know, the better readers they become. 

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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Critical Thinking Activities for Kids

Critical thinking and problem solving activities gets kids THINKING.

Problem solving and critical thinking refers to the ability to use knowledge, facts, and data to effectively solve problems. Teaching kids to THINK is important in school and in life.  Kids need critical thinking activities to make them THINK about “what makes sense”. 

The following thinking activity is perfect for a challenge activity, time filler, brain start, reward or extra credit. Once your student figures out the answer, challenge them to create their own example that can be solved in the same way. 

ONE LETTER CHALLENGE

Directions: Change one letter in each underlined word so that the sentence makes sense. Example: Ten take away one is none (the o should be an I so the answer is nine.

  1. Murphy, the dog, bowls at the moon.  
  2. A house ate the cheese.
  3. I caught the dish in the lake.
  4. I love refried beams.
  5. Is it a frog or a told?
  6. Glue is a color in the rainbow.
  7. I write that letter yesterday.
  8. The loon is the king of the beasts.
  9. Six plum three makes nine.
  10. She has a bad rough.

Answers

  1. Howls
  2. Mouse
  3. Fish
  4. Beans
  5. Toad
  6. Blue
  7. Wrote
  8. Lion
  9. Plus
  10. cough

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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COVID-19 Learning Resources

 New COVID-19 FREE Resources
Learning Resources to help during COVID-19 home learning

COVID-19 Learning Resources

Who would think I would still be posting COVID-19 Learning resources 5 months later than my first COVID-19 post? But we are here, once again, with schools closed, delayed or virtual and millions of families impacted. Parents are stepping up to “homeschool” their children and are using home packets and online resources. For many, this is still unfamiliar territory and an added element to their already full plates.

For those parents scouring the internet to find additional activities or to support schoolwork, here are some websites to get you started. Keep checking back for additional posts.

KnowitAll.org

A FREE online collection of educational resources designed specifically for classroom use. The site includes nearly 9,000 multimedia resources to include mobile-friendly videos, audio resources, photo galleries, and interactives.

LeaningWhy.org

FREE K-12 Project-Based and One-to-One lessons vetted and editable to meet your needs.

PBS LearningMedia

FREE standards-aligned videos, interactives, lesson plans aligned to PBS

Early Elementary

Find elementary resources and lessons.  Videos, games and activities aligned to state and national standards.

PBS KIDS Learn

Multiple resources to help support learning at home.

PBS Parents

Sign up for a FREE for a free weekday newsletter with activities and tips to help kids play and learn at home.

PBS KIDS Games

Wide collection of games that are searchable by subject area.

PBS KIDS Apps

Searchable by skills and age level.

 Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

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August Trivia Questions for Kids & Adults

 July Trivia questions can help your memory.

August Trivia questions can help your memory.

Trivia questions can be fun for kids and adults.  We’ve looked at questions in the General Knowledge category, movies and World and US History. Time to move onto August Trivia: World Geography. Check them out and have some fun!

Warm Up (Easy) Questions

  1. How many US states begin with the letter A?
  2. What is the name of the largest river to flow through Paris?
  3. What is the most recent state to be added to the USA?
  4. The southern tip of South America has what name?
  5. In which US state would you find Fort Knox?
  6. Alberta is a province of which country?

Warm Up (Easy) Answers

  1. 4 -:Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, Arizona
  2. The Seine
  3. Hawaii (1959)
  4. Cape Horn
  5. Kentucky
  6. Canada

August Trivia: Challenge Questions

  1. The Strait of Gibraltar separates the Iberian Peninsular from which African country?
  2. Which is the only vowel not used as the first letter in a US State?
  3. Mount Vesuvius overlooks which present-day Italian city?
  4. Dracula famously lived in the historical region of Transylvania – but in what country would you now find his castle?
  5. What is the capital of New Zealand?
  6. The African country with the largest population is?
  7. What country has the longest coastline in the world?
  8. What country is Beirut the capital of?
  9. The city of Ceylon changed its name to _______in 1972?
  10. The smallest country in the world us ?
  11. Which Central American country has a name which translates to English as “The Saviour”?
  12. What is the largest desert in the world?

August Trivia: Challenge Answers

  1. Morocco
  2. E
  3. Naples
  4. Romania
  5. Wellington
  6. Nigeria
  7. Canada
  8. Lebanon
  9. Sri Lanka
  10. Vatican City
  11. El Salvador
  12. Antarctica

If you enjoyed these trivia questions, be sure to check out next month’s questions and answers on U.S. FLAGS

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September Learning Activities

September learning activities gives relevance to historical dates.

For kids in school, knowing historical dates helps them relate to history and builds their general knowledge. Knowing these dates can help parents and teachers engage students in valuable learning activities. Check out September learning activities.

Read a New Book Month

Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15-Oct. 15

Sept. 2        Birthday of K. Macmillion (inventor of the first bicycle with pedals)

STEAM Activity: Draw a picture of a bicycle

Sept. 4        Henry Hudson discovered the island of Manhattan, New York (1609)

Art/Geography Activity: Draw a picture of the Hudson River or visit the Hudson River

Sept. 5        Voyager 1 launched a grand tour of the Solar System, 1977

Art/Science Activity: Draw and label a picture of the Solar System

Sept. 6        Read a Book Day

Literacy/Art Activity: Write a book report on your favorite book or draw a picture to describe your favorite part.

Sept. 8        International Literacy Day

Literacy/Art Activity: Write a book report on your favorite book or draw a picture to describe your favorite part.

Sept. 9        California became a state, 1850

Geography Activity: On US map: find California, name capital, state flower.

Sept. 10      Elias Howe patented his sewing machine, 1846.

Science Activity: Find 5 things in your house that were sewn or try to use a sewing machine.

Sept. 12      Mid-autumn Festival, China

Science/Art Activity: Make a leaf rubbing

Sept. 13      Grandparents Day

Art Activity: Make a card for your grandparent or a favorite person in your life.

Sept. 15      International Day of Peace

Art Activity:  Make a dove, a symbol of peace

Sept. 15      Make a Hat Day

Art Activity:  Make a hat that you like

Sept. 17      Constitution Day (US)

History Activity: Ask someone about the Constitution

Sept. 21      World Gratitude Day

Literacy/Art Activity: Write about or draw something you are thankful for

Sept. 25      Birthday of Shel Silverstein (1930)

Literacy Activity: Read a silly poem

Sept. 26    Johnny Appleseed born (1774)

Literacy Activity: Read about Johnny Appleseed

Sept. 28      National Family Day

Literacy/Art Activity: Write about your family or draw a picture of your family.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

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Sight Words: Good Start for New Readers

Kids that know sight words are better readers.

Did you know that there is a list of 200+ sight words that are seen LOTS OF TIMES in reading and writing? Kids that know these words can become better readers.   Including them in games and everyday activities can make learning fun for kids. 

These words are high-frequency words and kids that know these words are more fluent readers.  When kids know these words they use them more often in  reading and writing.  This also results in a child having more time to focus on other words in their reading.

6 Steps to Teaching Sight Words Guidelines

  1. Introduce the word, saying and spelling it.
  2. Read the word in a sentence.  Reading it from a book you are reading with the child is perfect
  3. Write the word on paper or chalkboard, say it, spell it again and underline it. 
  4. Talk about the word and invite kids to see the differences in the word (e.g. tall letters, round shapes, double letters, camel humps)
  5. Have children practice writing the word in journals, in the air, with letters etc.
  6. Add the word to your word collection.  This could be a card on the refrigerator, a jar, a twist tie or a hook, zip lock bag or taped to a wall.  The best location is one that be seen and practiced. For families on the go- make an extra set of cards or take photos of cards and use your phone’s photo gallery to practice.

While teaching, keep in mind that many of these words are irregular.  Irregular words do not follow the phonics rules that kids may be learning (e.g. with, where, were, when, the, them this). 

Sight Word Lists

Different lists are available in school, but a commonly used list is the Dolch list. The list of 200+ sight words was developed by Dr. Edward William Dolch in the 1930’s-40’s Yes, a long time ago but the list is still used in many classrooms today.  The list can be used in its entirety or by grade levels.  There is even a special list of nouns.

  • Dolch Sight Words (complete list)                                                                                          
  • Pre-K Dolch Sight Words (40 words)                                                                                 a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you                                                                   
  • Kindergarten Dolch Sight Words (52 words)

    all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, but, came, did, do, eat, four, get, good, have, he, into, like, must, new, no, now, on, our, out, please, pretty, ran, ride, saw, say, she, so, soon, that, there, they, this, too, under, want, was, well, went, what, white, who, will, with, yes

  • First Grade Sight Words (41 words)after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, going, had, has, her, him, his, how, just, know, let, live, may, of, old, once, open, over, put, round, some, stop, take, thank, them, then, think, walk, were, when

  • Second Grade Sight Words (46 words)

    always, around, because, been, before, best, both, buy, call, cold, does, don’t, fast, first, five, found, gave, goes, green, its, made, many, off, or, pull, read, right, sing, sit, sleep, tell, their, these, those, upon, us, use, very, wash, which, why, wish, work, would, write, your

  • Third Grade Sight Words (41 words)

    about, better, bring, carry, clean, cut, done, draw, drink, eight, fall, far, full, got, grow, hold, hot, hurt, if, keep, kind, laugh, light, long, much, myself, never, only, own, pick, seven, shall, show, six, small, start, ten, today, together, try, warm

  • Noun Dolch Sigh Words (95 words)

    apple, baby, back, ball, bear, bed, bell, bird, birthday, boat, box, boy, bread, brother, cake, car, cat, chair, chicken, children, Christmas, coat, corn, cow, day, dog, doll, door, duck, egg, eye, farm, farmer, father, feet, fire, fish, floor, flower, game, garden, girl, goodbye, grass, ground, hand, head, hill, home, horse, house, kitty, leg, letter, man, men, milk, money, morning, mother, name, nest, night, paper, party, picture, pig, rabbit, rain, ring, robin, Santa Claus, school, seed, sheep, shoe, sister, snow, song, squirrel, stick, street, sun, table, thing, time, top, toy, tree, watch, water, way, wind, window, wood

Reinforcing sight words and celebrating the many new words your child’s learning is key to reading success.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

9 Sight Words Games for Kids

Happy 2020 School Year Resources

School year resources!

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “It takes a good home and a good school to prepare young people for citizenship in a democracy.”  In these past few months, more than any other time in history, families have worked with schools in teaching and learning.  We have been living through a time where many questions go unanswered and the questions seem endless. 

Over the last 2 years, I have posted many resources for parents, teachers, and student teacher to support student learning.  However, for the past few months, I have taken a hiatus from blogging because I have been at a loss for answers on the best way to proceed in this education crisis.  I have been watching and listening to parents and teachers as they have tried to meet kids needs in our new remote learning world. Is it the best way of learning?  No.  Is it what we have right now?  Yes. 

Over the last few months, I have watched my blog readership grow, and I believe it is a result of many more parents and teachers searching for resources for kids.  Although I have not posted I have been continuously writing on education topics and I am starting to post again.   Upcoming posts will focus on topics and areas that are most relevant to my family and student teacher needs.  No philosophical opinions (maybe, a few) but mostly basic resources.

As we begin the new school, we seem to be once again in a state of “suspended animation” with many local schools starting the yearly virtually.  Childcare, working at home, relocation, and homeschooling are all family discussion decisions. So many changes with so many possibilities that are stress factors for parents and kids.  Bottom line folks is that we will make decisions on the information we have and do the best we can.  Flexibility and optimism will be key in getting through the beginning of the school year. So, here’s to a new school year of Parent, Teacher and Student Power! 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Handedness: Left or Right? Can you Tell?

If you’re curious about which hand your young child prefers, be sure to watch closely and take notes. Identifying hand preference can be difficult. A parent will have to use good observation skills and patience.

Good observations and skills will help you determine your child's handedness.
Good observations and skills will help you determine your child’s handedness.

The discussion of left vs. right handedness has been a conversation in by household since my oldest child was a toddler.  With 2 right handed parents, my oldest son is a lefty.  This perplexed our family until we learned from my parents that until I entered school, I was a lefty.  In those days, it was quite common to “unlearn” left handedness in school to be considered “normal”. Today, educators are more aware that it’s genetics and the brain that leads to a child’s dominant hand. Changing a child’s dominant hand is no longer an accepted practice and left handedness is, indeed, normal.  

The left/right hand conversation continues in our house today but has moved to understanding the handedness of my grandchildren.  With a left-handed son and daughter in law it would be my guess that at least one of their 3 children would be left handed.  However, so far, we have 2 righty’s and 1 not yet determined.  My daughter and son in law, both right handed, have confused us by having 3 left handed children.  My youngest son and daughter in law, both right handed have 1 right handed daughter and 1 not yet determined. So, with all these unexplained handedness questions in our family, I’m on a search for answers.

What is Hand Dominance or Handedness?

Simply, hand dominance or handedness is the hand that is most used in performing tasks.  This hand is the most nimble and rapid in performance. When young children start to consistently favor one hand over the other, they are showing that they are a “righty” or “lefty”.

Interesting Facts About Lefties and Righties

  • Hand preference is usually hereditary.
  • Boys are more likely than girls to be left-handed.
  • No matter what your child’s preference is experts advise against pressuring your child to choose one hand over the other or rushing the process.
  • Roughly 90 percent of us are right-handed.
  • You won’t be able to completely identify if your child is right or left-handed until the beginning of elementary school.

11 Things to Observe When Discovering Handedness

The list below contains some generally considered reliable indicators of hand preference.

  • Observe which foot is used to regain balance when a child loses balance.  
  • See which ear your child uses for speaking and listening on a phone.  
  • Which eye does he use when he looks through a hole in a piece of paper or looks through a telescope or kaleidoscope?
  • Ask your child to cross their legs and watch which leg they place on top.
  • When reaching for an item placed directly in front of him, what hand does he reach with?
  • If your child stirs things counter-clockwise, he/she is most likely left handed.
  • Which hand does he hold a toothbrush, silverware, comb?
  • Opening a door, a left-handed person will generally open it towards the right and a right-handed person towards the left.
  • Watch how your child twists a lid off a jar.  A left handed will try to twist to the left A right handed will try to open it to the right.
  • What hand does your child tend to use when blowing his or her nose?
  • Watch closely what foot and hand your child uses when participating in sports activities.

5 Activities to Reinforce Left and Right

So how do we learn our left and right? Although the exact process is not totally understood, the concept can be taught and reinforced both in preschool and at home.   

  • Sing songs such as the Hokey Pokey to both teach and reinforce left/right.
  • Left, Right, Center (LRC) game – Start with 3 tokens and 3 dice that have a L, R, or C on each one.  After rolling the 3 dice, you pass one of your tokens to each of the directions rolled.  The C is for the middle.  Dots mean you keep your tokens.     
  • Be sure to stand next to the child (not opposite) when demonstrating left/right to avoid confusion.  
  • Use the terms left and right in everyday activities –Show me your left foot, raise your right hand etc.
  • Dressing – When helping your child to dress always begin with their dominant side “step in with your right foot, slide your right arm through the sleeve”.

Quick Trick: Have children place their hands palm down in front of them with the thumbs touching. The left hand looks like the letter L.  Explain that this will remind them which hand is the Left.

If you’re curious about which hand your young child prefers, be sure to watch closely and take notes. Identifying hand preference can be difficult.  A parent will have to use good observation skills and patience.  

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

ThreeRingsConnections.org April Posts

 April Posts from ThreeRingsConnections.org
April Posts from ThreeRingsConnections.org

Each day we spend with kids is an opportunity to teach a piece of ourselves.

What a month! My 2019 Blog resolution was to be sure that I posted a newsletter on time each month. Today, living through a pandemic, my 2019 goal certainly seems trivial. It was so important to me to get my posts out in a systematic, timely fashion – and I celebrated that my goal was met. In 2020, I deliberated on whether to continue blogging. I thought perhaps my efforts would be better placed spending more time with my college students or grant writing. After much thought, I decided to continue balancing the three efforts. Once again it was an internal struggle that today, a short 4 months later, seems trivial. Today’s health crisis certainly puts everything into perspective. It seems that I hear daily from friends, family members and readers of the many struggles they are facing in this health crisis. I am inspired by their resilience “to make it work”.

Parents have taken the helm to be their child’s teachers and kids are learning. Yes, it may not be the same as in school, but learning is happening. As parents continue their teaching challenge, I’m hoping that my posts can be helpful. I’ve changed the frequency and topics to provide resources and ideas to support parents in their new teaching role.

So, as we move into the month of May I hope that your day-to-day teaching becomes more manageable. Parents are and will always be their child’s #1 Teacher. For the past few months, it’s been 24/7. I hope you enjoy this time with your children and continue to find learning opportunities all around you. Stay safe and be well.

April’s Posts

April’s Most Popular Posts

My Favorite April Posts

I choose my favorites each month for different reasons. Sometimes it’s timeliness, a hot education topic, student teacher needs or as a family and friends resource. Sometimes, it’s just, BECAUSE. Enjoy!

2020 Archives

2019 Archives

2018 Archives

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?
Check out some topics coming next month
  • Mother’s Day
  • Reading Buddies
  • COVID-19 Activities

Creative Thinking Tools

Creative thinking tools enable kids to think creatively.
Creative thinking tools enable kids to think creatively.

When I was a teacher in the TAG (Talented and Gifted) program I had to administer a creativity test to all 3rd grade students in the district as part of admission into program.  That test, along with achievement and cognitive tests, were equal components in the program admission.

I loved administering the creativity test and so did the kids!  The test asked students to draw a series of pictures using only partial shapes; adding details and identifying what they drew.  Every year, there were always a few students who asked if they could do the test again.  They just knew they could do it better!  This realization showed us that teaching kids to think creatively was not only important for learning but could also be fun. Working with classroom teachers, my partner and I created lessons and programs that allowed students to be creative.

We started by teaching kids the tools needed to be creative thinkers. Creative thinking builds on the concept that a single question can have multiple answers. It doesn’t focus on right or wrong answers but on the importance of giving students the opportunity to express their ideas. This idea was especially liberating for our student with special needs, quiet, anxious and ELL students.  Being allowed to give non-ordinary responses, especially in a group activity, allows ALL students to participate.

How to Teach Creative Thinking

Once the TAG admission tests were completed, we used a similar Creativity activity to show kids the “tricks” or “creative thinking tools” to be creative.  We taught them 5 creative thinking tools; the SAME 5 components of good writing: fluency, flexibility, originality, elaboration and evaluation.  

  • Fluency – Being able to think of lots of responses to a single question or response.
  • Flexibility – Being able to shift thinking from one way of thinking to another. 
  • Originality – Trying to come up with answers that are clever and unique.
  • Elaboration – Adding details to a basic idea to make it more interesting and complete.
  • Evaluation –Teaching kids how to weigh alternative ideas.  This was especially important when kids were working on team projects.   

Once the kids understood the basic components of creative thinking the LEARNING really began. 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

COVID – 19 Tip: ABC’s of Active Reading

Active Reading starts with the ABCs of questions
Active Reading starts with the ABCs of questions

Many parents are helping their children with schoolwork during the COVID-19 pandemic.  What I’m hearing from them is that they don’t know what to ask their child after he/she has completing the home assignments.  A good strategy to use that if often used in schools is to steer the conversations around the ABC’s of active reading. This method will engage your child through Asking questions, Building vocabulary and Connecting with the world.  This strategy helps to keep both you and your child focused and on track.

Check out the common questions listed below to get your started.  All of them can be adjusted to meet your needs. 

Ask questions

  • What happened in the story?
  • Can you tell the events in order from the beginning to the end?
  • How does the main character feel in the beginning of the story?
  • What does the character do or say to make you think this way?
  • How does the author organize the book and why was it organized this way?

Build Vocabulary

  • Identify the words that were familiar?
  • What part of the text helped you to figure out what the word meant?
  • Besides the words the author uses, what are other words you can use to describe the character’s actions for feelings?
  • Why did you choose these words?

Connect with the world

  • Write about how this problem exists in the real world and how it is solved or is trying to be solved?
  • What is the big problem that is at the heart of this story?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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