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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Color Safari {Free Color Recognition Activity for Preschoolers}
Are you looking for a fun, FREE activity to help your little ones recognize colors and color words?   With this Color Safari activity little ones will be able to get up and explore their surroundings while searching for the hidden Color Safari Creatures.  The recording sheet is has a black and white version of each creature just waiting to be colored.  Once they find an animal, they color their recording sheet to match.  Under each animal the color word is written to help young readers begin to recognize the printed color word.  For added excitement, make your own colorful binoculars for the safari. 

What you will need:

 Bright paper cut into strips
Empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls
ribbon or string
Packing tape or hot glue to connect binoculars
 tape to hang your colorful creatures around the room (I like to use painters tape for easy removal)


My preschooler loved having binoculars for his safari.  Not only were they fun during the activity, but we turned creating them into a learning activity.  He wanted his binoculars to be the colors of the rainbow, in order.  As he wrapped the colored strips around his binoculars he sang the colors of the rainbow song to help him keep the correct order.  We also discussed repeating patterns as we got to purple and still needed to add more to cover the cardboard roll.  

You can make your binoculars colorful in many ways.  We chose to cut colored strips of Astrobrights and wrap the glued strips around the tubes.  I think this is a great opportunity to teach patterns or the order of the rainbow.   After securing the paper strips I used packing tape to add the ribbon and stick the tubes together.  Hot glue would probably also work for this.

 Setting up the safari:

Once you have created your binoculars, you are ready to set up your safari.  Hang the creature cards throughout the room for your little ones to find.  You can choose the difficulty of your hiding places.  I like to keep them all visible, but at varying heights and on different pieces of furniture.  Then print out the number of recording sheets you will need.  Each explorer will need their own recording sheet.  This activity works in a classroom with many kids or at home with only 1 explorer. 

 During the activity:

You can scaffold for increased learning throughout the safari by asking questions.  For example:  for a child who is just learning to identify colors you can ask them to tell you the color of the animal they found.  For a little one who knows all of their colors, you can ask them to read the printed color words.

 I hope you have loved your freebie! 
For more color games and activities check out my Colors resource. Click the picture for more details.

Want more FREE color activities?  Click the links below to check them out.

Color Word Match It! // The Primary Post
Color Puzzles // A Dab of Glue Will Do
Coloring Sheets // Playdough to Plato
Color Safari // Literacy with the Littles
Color Hunt Around the Room // Mrs. Jones' Creation Station
Walking Water Rainbow // The STEM Laboratory
Color Games // Fairy Poppins
Add, Color and Build Flowers // Happy Days in First Grade
Rainbow Train Color Graphing Game // Stay at Home Educator
Color Matching Fish // Teach Me Mommy
Matching Colors and Numbers // Liz's Early Learning Spot
Color Sorting Mats // Sweet Sounds of Kindergarten
Learning Colors Memory Game // Sara J Creations

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What Does the Fox Say?
How many of your little ones love this song?  I know mine does.  He wants to listen to it on repeat.  Well one thing I have noticed as a mom and teacher, is that kids are much more willing to read if it is something that interests them.  My little guy is getting ready for Kindergarten and learning to read.  He LOVES games and he also LOVES this song.  So I created a game that I knew he would beg to play over and over again.   These CVC words are perfect for giving beginning readers decoding practice and confidence in their reading abilities.  

How to play:
Place all of the talking fox cards in a pile face down.  Each player takes a turn drawing, and reading a card.  They get to move the number of spaces indicated in the corner.  First player to the finish wins.

I hope you love it as much as we do.  Click here to check it out.

Friday, April 6, 2018

STEM Starters

Do you have STEM activity bins or morning tubs in your classroom?  

I love letting children learn through play and exploration.  These little STEM Starters were designed to spark ideas and encourage creativity.  No more- "I don't know what to make." Put these task cards on a ring and toss them into your STEM activity bins.  Students will have 60 choices to help give their big imaginations a boost.  These are not patterns, just ideas to get those wheels turning. 

They can be used with so many things.  Here are a few that I suggest trying them with: LEGOS, Magformers, Bunchems, PlayDoh, pattern blocks, geoboards, and building blocks. 

So many possibilities.
With large picture clues and simple text these are appropriate for Preschool to 3rd grade.  They are naturally differentiated, because the student can make the design more simple or complex depending on their individual level.  Two students can choose the same task card and have completely different designs.  
I think these would be wonderful for morning tubs as students arrive in the morning.  They would also make an engaging early finisher activity.  
You have the option of printing them in full color or in ink-saving black and white.  I chose to use the ink-saving black and white and print on bright card stock.  I recommend laminating them for durability.
Click the photos to shop. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Funny Bunny Freebie

Need an engaging and festive literacy activity?  This "Funny Bunny" activity works on nonsense words, word building, decoding, and blending.  Just grab some plastic eggs and write different onset and rime combinations on the eggs and let the fun begin.  There is a recording sheet and sorting mats FREEBIE in my TpT shop.  Click the picture to snag it.
This activity is so easy to differentiate for different reading abilities.  For your beginning readers it can be CVC words such as sat, pin, bug, etc.  To make the activity more difficult you can add blends, digraphs, or long vowel word families. 

It is also fun to add to a sensory bin.  I added mine to colored rice.  It would also work great in Easter basket grass.  For more activity ideas be sure to follow @literacywiththelittles on Instagram.

To make the colored rice:

For each cup of rice: add a teaspoon of vinegar and a few drops of food coloring. (Tip: food coloring gel makes them even more vibrant) Shake it up in a food storage container until the rice is evenly colored.  I spread the rice out on tin foil overnight to dry.  Repeat the process for as many colors as you would like to add to your sensory bin. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Flattening and Securing PDF's

This post is for other teacher authors, or anyone who sells PDFs online.  So first off let's talk about what flattening is.  Basically, it makes each page a solid image, instead of layers of moveable pieces.  This keeps your work from being altered or stolen.  A lot of clip and font artists require this in their terms of use.  I will be honest, I thought that simply saving my creations as a PDF protected them and all of the components I used.  With lots of online research, reading seller forums, and blog posts I realized I needed to find a way to secure my teaching products.  

These were the most common methods I found.

Method one:  Adobe Pro.  While I hear this product is amazing.  I couldn't justify spending the large amount of money, simply for the one feature I needed: to flatten and secure my PDFs.  

Method two:  Saving each page as an image (JPEG or PNG) then reinserting EACH PAGE individually into a new PowerPoint document.  I love that this method is free, but some of my products are hundreds of pages long.  I needed something that was quick and effective.  I don't want to spend hours after my product is created to make it secure.  Can't there just be a button I can press that automatically flattens and secures my entire product?  

Good news!!!  I found the one click solution!
Bearwood Labs Flat Pack on TpT was the answer I was looking for.  I was literally able to download the file, read the instructions and flatten and secure a product in less than 5 minutes.  Now that it is installed into PowerPoint I just use that tab to save, flatten, and secure in one simple click.  Are you as amazed as I am?!  I read through the reviews on TpT just to make sure it wasn't too good to be true.  The reviews were all fantastic.  They raved about the simplicity, effectiveness, and how their images stayed crisp using this product.  
Another perk to this product is if you are creating editable PDFs it allows you to select parts of the page to allow edits.  I have not tried this feature, but I am really excited that it leaves me the option to use it in future creations.  
I was concerned with keeping my products clear and crisp.  If this is you, just simply adjust the image quality setting in preferences to "maximum".  I could barely tell the difference between my regular PDF and the secure PDF when I used the maximum setting.  
There are tutorials and videos provided to give assistance as needed.  The creator of the Flat Pack is also willing to answer any individual questions through email.  So far, it has been self explanatory for the purpose I needed it for.  But I am happy to know that if a question arises in the future, there is great customer support available.  
This product only works with PC right now, and you need to have PowerPoint installed. 
Bearwood Labs creates other products to help TpT sellers.  For example:  if I want to provide links to related products in my product description.  There is a free link generator on the website, that is super easy to use.  You can check out the website by clicking this link.

* I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review after testing it. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ultimate Short Vowels CVC Bundle

CVC words are perfect for beginning readers.  They only have short vowel sounds, and 3 letters are more simple to sound out and blend.  Successfully reading the words gives young readers the confidence and excitement that motivates them to keep attempting to read more.  This set has over 400 pages of hands on CVC games and activities.  They are designed to work well in literacy centers, small groups, and with parent volunteers.  The word family booklets can also be used during whole group instruction.  The entire set comes in full color or ink-saving black and white.
Clip Cards
My preschooler absolutely loves these clip cards.  Not only is it an engaging reading activity.  It also promotes fine motor development with the clipping.  Fine motor skills are crucial for writing.  The clip cards also make it easy to assess a child's blending ability.  You can quickly see if a child is correctly reading the word.  These are an easy center.  They fit perfectly into those darling rainbow photo storage containers.  I keep each vowel's set in their own container along with a few clips.  That way they are easy grab and go activities.  

CVC Word Builders/Sound Boxes
These are also referred to as Elkonin Boxes.  These can be used in a variety of ways.  You can use letter manipulatives like these magnet letters to build the words.  You can laminate and use dry erase markers to have children write in the letters.  They are also an excellent way to practice phoneme segmentation and blending.  You can place a small manipulative (like mini erasers) in each box.  Then as the student says each sound, they remove one of the manipulatives.  Food is a motivator for a lot of people.  {I know it is for me} So putting a little treat like a Cheerio or Lucky Charm in each spot can give them extra motivation.  As they correctly say each sound they can take the treat and put it into their treat pile.  To differentiate this activity for those who are struggling, you can write in two of the 3 letters.  Then you can have them identify the missing sound instead of all 3.

 Small Group Games
These have been one of the biggest hits in the set.  They have simple instructions but are tons of fun.  I have had teachers tell me that their students BEG to play them.  Each vowel has their own unique word reading game.  Each has its own silly theme and special cards, but the main objective in all of them is simply to decode and read the words.  For an example, the short a set comes with the game "Oh, Rats!"  Most of the cards simply have a short a CVC word for the player to read and keep in their pile.  If a player draws the "Oh, Rats!" card, then they have to put all of their cards back.  The player at the end of the game with the most cards wins.
 Word Family Booklets
These age appropriate booklets allow students to brainstorm and write their word families.  Each word family has 2 picture clues to get them started.  There is also a sentence writing page in the back.  Word families help students recognize chunks in words and associate spelling patterns.  

Word Family and Word-Picture Matching Puzzles
Not Pictured.  The sets also come with word family and word matching puzzles.  They can be used in centers, small groups, or even as an early finisher activity.

Scoot Games
Not Pictured.  There is a Scoot game for each short vowel.  These bright pictures can be placed on desks and students can "scoot" from one picture to the next writing the words on their recording sheets.  You can also use this as a read and write the room and hang the pictures around the classroom.

Get the Ultimate Short Vowels CVC Bundle here

You can also buy the sets for each vowel separately.

The clip cards & sound boxes fit really well in these rainbow photo storage containers.  This is a huge resource and I love how organized it keeps everything.  It makes it really easy to grab & go. I bought mine at Michaels craft store.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Magical March

I love all of the adorable leprechaun activities in March.  When I was in the classroom, and now at home with my kiddos, I love to have the leprechauns come visit and leave their trail for the morning of St. Patricks Day.  They usually cause a little chaos, leaving green footprints and gold glitter along the way.  Sometimes they even leave little notes to some hidden treasure.  Other times they turn the milk green or leave some leprechaun lemonade.  How do you like to celebrate?  
Get the Pre-Primer Dolch version here for just $1

For a little twist this year, I wanted to add in a rainbow and unicorn activity to make March even more magical.  So I created this little sight word game called Chasing Rainbows.  It is available in the Dolch word lists from Pre-Primer up to 3rd grade.  You can also get them all for a big discount by buying the bundle.  I like having the same game in different levels so that I can easily differentiate between groups, without any of the kids feeling like they missed the exciting new game that they just saw their friend playing.  
How to play:  This game is played just like Sight Word Slap.  You place the unicorns on the fly swatters.  Then you lay out all of the rainbow sight words face up.  Then you read a word out loud.  The first player to swat (aka catch) that rainbow gets to keep it in their pile.  The player with the most rainbows at the end of the game wins.  This game is a great reward at the end of reading groups.  It can also be played with a parent volunteer or as an indoor recess activity.  It is played with 2-6 players. 

I have added a few March freebies to my shop.  I hope you love them!  I feel so lucky that amazing teachers like you are choosing to use my resources to help keep learning fun!

Click the pictures to download.