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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Place Value Hundreds Blocks Centers

I hope that everyone has been having a fantastic year so far. Recently, I created 3 math centers focused on place value.  Before, I was teaching first grade and so my place value centers were a little lower, concentrating on tens and ones.  These new centers are a step up, using hundreds blocks, so they would be a good complement for the previous ones and would allow teachers to differentiate, but use the same type of center.

I am also giving away a free place value math center:

Place Value Matching Center

Here are the other two centers that use hundreds blocks:

Place Value Addition Task Cards

If you are interested in these centers, you can find them here:

I Have Who Has Place Value Counting Hundreds, Tens, and Ones--Set of 28


Happy Almost Spring!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Facebook Flash Freebie: Long Vowel Picture Sort Centers

Hey Everyone!

I am so excited to be featured on Teachers Pay Teachers Facebook!

Check out my Long Vowel Picture Sorts  Flash Freebie

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, August 16, 2015

How to Organize Your Picture Sorts

Having 72 sets of picture sorts and 6 copies of each, I thought long and hard about how I would organize them.  If you are wondering why I would have so many, my last blog post , "Why You Need Picture Sorts" may be of interest to you.  Once I identify my students' particular phonological needs, I create groups or pull them individually for RTI activities.  Picture sorts are not only a great way to introduce and practice sounds, but they also can be an important intervention in which teachers can target student’s specific letter or sound weaknesses.  

How Pinteresting!
Organizing picture sorts was vital because they have become such an integral part of my teaching and interventions.  One day I was casually Pinteresting (I know that's not a word, but we seem to be adding -ing to everything now, ie: googling), and I found my solution!  I saw a picture in which duct tape was put on the bottom of freezer bags and holes punched through them.  Perfect!  I copy each sort on 6 different colors (so kids don’t mix their set up when I am pulling a small group to work on the same skill), put them in a freezer bag, and bind them in a binder.  I have four binders: Consonants, blends and digraphs, short vowels and long vowels. It was a lot of time creating my own picture sorts, copying, and cutting.  You can see why I wanted to have a permanent system. Once the system is set up you are good for years to come.

In each bag, I have six sorts on six different colors.  That way, when I am working with a small group, each student knows which picture goes with which set.  

But that wasn't enough!
In case a picture turned up in the lost and found, I wanted to know what set it was missing from.  So I created my own sorts that were double-sided and had the title of the set it was from.  Then I printed all of the sorts out double sided and voila!: The perfect system that I don't have to recreate for years to come.  I even used the duct tape to label the outside of the binder for a cutesy-matching the duct tape inside.  


If I wanted (which I don't, but some people might), I could create a self checking center by highlighting the answer on the back.

If you are interested in obtaining picture sorts, you can download some free samples here:

If you are interested in purchasing 72 sets of picture sorts that cover all of the levels, you can find them here: 

We have already begun our year and it is off to a good start.  I wish you the best in your beginning of the year as well!  Thanks for stopping by!

Anna Sanders

Why You Need Picture Sorts

Picture sorts are a valuable tool in teaching beginning reading.  To start with, students are actively engaged in manipulating pictures during which, they are thinking about sounds and feeling for them in their mouths.  The more students become fluent in identifying how and where the sound is made in their mouth, the more fluent their knowledge of letters and sounds becomes. Picture sorts can be a valuable tool in whole group instruction (introduction), small group instruction (reinforcement/remediation), and individual instruction that targets a specific sound based on assessment.

Which Picture Sorts to Use
When introducing sounds, you can simply find a picture sort that matches the sound you are teaching.  However, picture sorts are not only a great way to introduce and practice sounds, but they also can be an important intervention in which teachers can target student’s specific letter or sound weaknesses.   Look at the assessment below.

The test is a 25 word list that has a variety of short vowels, beginning and ending blends and digraphs.  This test comes from Kathy Ganske's Word Journeys.  You can make your own test, just have a variety of words with these features. 

In the example, you can see that each time the student is asked to spell the sound of short u, he/she writes an o (drum, bump, much, mud) and also the opposite, when asked to spell the sound of o, writes u (chop).  In one word, the student uses both (rub).   This student clearly needs to become fluent in listening and identifying short o vs. short u.   That is when you pull out your O vs. U picture sorts and have the students work on this.   

What else could this student work on?  How about sorting pictures with /s/ vs. /sl/?  or /d/ vs. /dr/?  Also, when spelling grab, the student used an o.  Perhaps that gr blend was difficult and the student reverted back to an old confusion and could use some practice with that vowel combination. 

Drive-by PD
I created this poster to hang in the workroom of our school, so that teachers could see how to notice and use picture sorts.  I call it my Drive-by PD, because teachers just look at it in the workroom while they make copies.  Just like kids learn from pretty anchor charts, adults can too.  I wish all the PD's I had to attend were nothing but attractive anchor charts! 

The Assessments
You can use Kathy Ganske's assessments found in Word Journeys, which has a 25 word test for each stage of spelling, or I have made my own assessments with a variety of short vowels, blends and digraphs.  I also made an ending blend assessment for certain students who, every time they were presented with a word that contained a difficult ending blend, they would revert back to their short vowel mistakes that they had mastered in easier words! This informed me that they needed more practice solidifying their knowledge of certain short vowels and practice feeling for the short vowel in the presence of blends and digraphs.  This is why speech is related so much to beginning reading. 

If you are interested in obtaining picture sorts, you can download some free samples here:

Beginning Consonant Picture Sort
Consonant Blends Picture Sort

Short Vowel Picture Sort
Long Vowel Picture Sort

Download them here:

If you are interested in purchasing 72 sets of picture sorts that cover all of the levels, you can find them here: 

Thanks for stopping by!

Anna Sanders

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Interactive Phonics Notebook: Word Families and Stinging Nettle Tea

Summer Learning

Another year is about to begin.  I wish I could say that I have been creating all kinds of lessons and materials this summer, but I have been learning in a different way.  I have been reading about herbs and health, and genetic mutations.  Someday I hope to understand at least some of it, but for now, I am starting with a stinging nettle tea infusion drink each day, and an occasional adrenal cocktail (not the fun kind of cocktail) at night.  We teachers have a lot of stress on our plates and I am hoping these two things will help me feel wonderful everyday.  If you are interested in learning more about either of these two things, I will include some more information at the bottom of this post.  

Interactive Phonics Notebook: Word Families

I did finish up a few projects that I started in the beginning of the summer, and this is one of them.  It turned out fabulous, if I do say so myself, and I was able to use it with my niece who is entering kindergarten this year.  She had a lot of fun cutting, gluing, spinning, writing, highlighting and reading.  It is so nice when a kid can have fun and learn at the same time.

The first lesson, is a flip book.  I kept it simple for the beginning readers, only including consonants for the onsets on the main page, but I wanted to have blends and digraphs as an option, so I included cutouts for those in the back of the book.

The second lesson is a picture sort of course! Picture sorts will always be my first love because they teach so much!  If you really want your students to progress more rapidly in reading, using picture sorts will help to accomplish this.  The more students are fluent in listening and identifying sounds, the more they free up working memory to concentrate on putting those sounds together during reading.  So naturally, including a picture sort where students concentrate on whether the word has the rime or not, was important to include to help with developing their phonemic awareness.  

The third lesson is an onset-rime practice game.  Students use a pencil and a paperclip.  They put the pencil through one end of the paperclip, place the tip of the pencil on the dot in the middle of the hexagon, spin the paperclip, and add the onset they land on to the rime.  They do this until they have landed on all the different onsets (I tell them they have to spin again if they already used that onset) and written 6 different words. 

The final lesson is a page that has words containing the word family in which students read and highlight the family.  Then, they practice reading the words in context by reading sentences containing words with the word family.  Rebus pictures and included and all sentences were created using the 25 kindergarten sight words.

Here is a 4-lesson sample:  

Free Interactive Phonics Notebook Word Families 1 week/ 4 lessons Sample

The full set of 30 weeks can be found here:

Interactive Phonics Notebook Word Families 30 Weeks/120 Lessons

Stinging Nettle Infusion and Adrenal Cocktail

Anyone who is interested in obtaining a ton of vitamins and minerals as well as energy, from nature, rather than a supplement, should read more about stinging nettle here:
Susun Weed and here: Stinging Nettle Infusion.  An infusion is unlike a tea, because you brew it for about 8 hours (overnight is great) in order to extract all of the nutrients.  I add a little organic cucumber watermelon lemonade (Costco) to help with the taste.

The adrenal cocktail is also perfect for the everyday stress as a teacher.  It is 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan Salt, 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar, and 1/2 cup orange juice.   When I started taking it my stress was lessened a lot and I felt it right away within two days of adding it to my regimen.  
You can find more information here: Adrenal Cocktail

Thanks for stopping by!



Monday, May 25, 2015

Hot Cheese Dip with Cracker Crust and Hot Pepper Jelly

Okay, I know this is not a recipe blog. However, every time I serve this dip, I am hunted down for the recipe so I thought I would share this with you.

I am making it for a Memorial Day party today.

Here is the recipe.


1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 8oz block of cream cheese 4 green onions chopped (I use 5-6 because I love onions)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers or generic
1/2 or 1 stick of butter, melted
Hot Pepper Jelly (I have made it with red or green, but recently I bought a yellow one at the farmer's market)

 Directions: Mix cheddar, cream cheese, chopped onion, and mayonnaise. Put in 9x9 square glass baking dish or similar. Crush crackers and add melted butter, mix. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and spread hot pepper jelly on the top and return to oven for 5-10 minutes. (I usually put the hot pepper jelly in a bowl and smash it with a spoon so it is easier to spread.) Serve with crackers. I use pita crackers or something that is not Ritz crackers. 

Here is a link to my last blog post that has links to 2 free phonics powerpoints and interactive activities to go with them: 

Have a wonderful Memorial Day!!!


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Training Students to See Long Vowel Patterns: 2 Free Phonics PowerPoints with Interactive Activities

 Welcome to my annual blog post!  Just kidding.........Here are my latest freebies, products, and thoughts....

   I am always looking for ways to move students from the sound level to the pattern level and to REALLY understand the difference.  I don't know if any of you are torn between "discovery" during word study and "direct" teaching.  I certainly know that I am.  Since I am not the regular classroom teacher, I sometimes feel I can't afford the luxury of guiding students to be independently noticing things.   I am the quick in and out teacher who is supposed to come up with something fabulous.  I do know that there is nothing more powerful than a student coming up with a "rule" because they own it when they do that.  But there have been times that I am not sure I can lead them to discovering things in such a short time.   I go back and forth. 

    Because I push in to do a quick word study lesson, I designed the following long vowel PowerPoints to do several things.

First, I wanted to train students to distinguish between long and short vowels.  So, the first PowerPoint is solely designed to do this.  Pictures fly in and the students hold up signs that read "Short" and "Long" before the answer is revealed.

However,  if it seems like too much work to hot glue short and long onto sticks  (I actually ended up using tongue depressors), then you can use them as "pinch" cards.  Students have a piece of paper in front of them and they pinch the answer.   I just knew I would be using them for each vowel and they were bright and pretty and probably more fun for kids to feel like they were voting. On a different day, I would have picked the easier way.

In the second PowerPoint, students are given a sheet with patterns in columns.  As the picture flies in, they predict which pattern the picture will have by pointing at the column.  Then, the pattern flies in and the student writes the word under the correct column.  Then the rest of the word flies in and students check the whole word.  This continues for 30 pictures.

Anna Sanders

I lead them to understand that if they hear a short sound, they use one vowel.  If they hear a long sound, they pick a pattern.  Here is the anchor chart I use:

Long Vowel Anchor Chart Tchrgrl

(You can get this anchor chart in the sample file, which is a FULL Long A set, including 2 PPTs, the writing sort and the Long A story.)  

Finally,  I got creative.  I wanted to connect the spelling to reading.  I wanted to emphasize to students that spelling can help them in reading and to have them practice looking for the patterns in their reading.  So each long vowel PowerPoint has a story connected to it.  Here is the long A story.  It is rather difficult to make up a story using spelling words.  I remember the agony we used to go through when one of my son's teachers required this weekly.  So I did it one last time!
Anna Sanders Tchrgrl

The kids have so much fun using highlighters!  It is amazing to see kids get so excited to do this reading activity! 

To get the FULL Long A set click here:

Free Phonics PowerPoints Short A vs. Long A

To get the Long Vowel PowerPoint Bundle, click here:

Long Vowel Phonics PowerPoint Bundle

Anna Sanders Tchrgrl

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great rest of the year!


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