January 7, 2020

4 Sight Word Centers That Help Fine Motor Skills (FREEBIE Inside!)

Do you use centers in your classroom? We use them during guided reading time. I use no prep/easy prep centers for my students to complete while I pull small groups. The most important thing I think about when it comes to centers is - Can students complete them without any help? I want high engaging centers that will truly benefit my students, but I do not want to have to help them since I would rather focus on my guided reading group.

4 Sight Word Centers That Help Fine Motor Skills (FREEBIE Inside!)

I also decided that these centers would need to be dual focused. They need to help students learn their sight words and help with their fine motor skills. With this in mind, here are 4 Sight Word Centers That Help Fine Motor Skills.
Disclaimer: This blog posts contain affiliate links. Clicking on them will not cost you anything but may earn me a small commission if you make a purchase.

4 Sight Word Centers That Help Fine Motor Skills

Magnetic Letters 

Materials Needed: magnetic letters, cookie sheet (from the dollar store), jewelry organizer

What to Do: Students find the letters to create the words on the cookie sheet. The jewelry organizer neatly keeps all the letters in order making them easy for students to find. As a bonus, it hangs up out of the way when you aren't using it.

Play Dough 

What to Do: For years, I have thought third graders were too old for play dough. This past summer, after a lot of reflection, I realized how badly my students needed to use it in school. Playing with play dough helps students with their fine motor skills (which I noticed are more and more lacking as the years have gone on).

Now I give my students the sight word cards and play dough and let them practice their words.

Alphabet Beads/Pipe Cleaners 

Materials Needed: alphabet beads, pipe cleaners (cut in half), small container (for storage)

What to Do: Students have to spell their sight words using the alphabet beads and sliding them onto the pipe cleaners. It's a tight fit so the students really have to work their fine motor skills.

Sight Word Activity Pages 

Materials Needed: Sight Word Activity Pages

What to Do: Sometimes, you need to give students a worksheet. You need the grades! This is not just an ordinary worksheet however. Each page focuses on one sight word word. Students have to color the word, cut out/glue letters, write the word, and more for each page. This gives students the opportunity to practice the words in different ways.

Sight Words Bundle - Fry Words: 1-500 - Primary Version                 Sight Words Bundle - Fry Words: 1-500 - Older Student Version     

One Last Note About Sight Word Centers

No matter what you decide to use for your sight word centers, keep it simple for you. You don't want a ton of extra management to worry about, extra grading, or extra prep to complete ahead of time. You want these students to benefit your students without overwhelming you. You also want to focus your resources on your guided reading group! What would you add to sight word centers? Feel free to email me your ideas or comment below!

Planning for reading centers can be overwhelming! It's also difficult to fit EVERYTHING into the school day! This post will help teachers plan simple centers that focus students  Bonus!!! There are freebies included! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher {Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders}

By the way, if you missed the freebies above, here they are again...

August 13, 2019

16 Read Aloud Books Perfect for Back to School

16 Read Aloud Books Perfect for Back to School

My original plan was to create a list of 10 Books Perfect for Back to School! As I began to compile this list, it started to grow and grow! Before I knew it, I was at 16 books! What can I say? I'm OBSESSED with books and reading. So here it goes (in no particular order)...16 Books Perfect for Back to School!

1. First Day Jitters

I know that this book is on a lot of Back to School lists! Luckily, no one reads this one in K-2 in my district. I ALWAYS read this book the first day of school. Watching my students as I read this book, especially on the last page (there's a HUGE plot twist), lets me have a really informal way of assessing my students' comprehension skills. It's surprisingly accurate as too which students are going to need extra help during the school year!

2. Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind

I have a bunch of Miss Malarkey books in my classroom library! I LOVE how this teacher makes sure to find a book that encourages all of her students to get interested in reading. I let my students know that I am like Miss Malarkey. I love reading so much and want my students to develop that same love. We will find a book that they will love!

3. If You Take a Mouse to School

This is a simplistic book but works well as an easy introduction for problem/solution. This book is full of both! For every solution that is created, a new problem occurs. Using literature to teach skills makes understanding those skills easier for students.

4. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books!

This is another simplistic book to use in your classroom. This time, focus on sequencing. The old lady swallows items in a particular order. There is a lot of repetition in this story to reinforce the sequence of events.

5. Too Much Glue

Have you noticed that your students struggle with gluing? I think this skill has gotten worse over the years. I use this book as a humorous way to introduce how I want them to glue. I actually take the time to practice this skill with my students after reading this book.

6. The Juice Box Bully

I love how this book is not a traditional book about bullies. Instead, the students in this book stand up to the bully and show students how they can too. It teaches students that there is a zero tolerance policy on bullying when everyone gets involved!

7. Mouth is a Volcano!

During the beginning of the school year, students tend to forget that they shouldn't shout out whenever they feel like it. This book gives a great visual on how students may feel like shouting out but need help with self-control.

8. The Recess Queen

The Recess Queen is another book involving a bully. This one has a different approach to deal with the bully. In this book, a new kid stands up to the bully by becoming a friend. 

9. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

I tend to read a lot of books in this series. I love the concept of filling a bucket by using kind words. I have a little bucket that I keep by our Morning Meeting area as a reminder during the year. This book helps my students develop a common language to use when talking about how words make us feel.

10. Do Unto Otters

This a cute book to help your students review manners. The focus is on the Golden Rule. Love the cuteness of this one!

11. What if Everybody Did That?

I normally read this one in April for Earth Day, but it's a great one at the beginning of the school year too! It's a book full of questions for the students to ponder. Just because everyone else does something, doesn't mean they should do it too!

12. The Book With No Pictures

This book works well as a model to teach students how to read fluently. Normally students are focused on the pictures. Since there are no pictures, students can really focus on the words. It also helps that this is a hilarious one! My students always crack up when reading it!

13. Third Grade Angels

I try to read a chapter book within the first couple of weeks of school. Since I teach third grade, this is a perfect one. I just like this story. It's a nice one of encouraging students to be kind to each other. 

Please note, there is a sequel to this book called Fourth Grade Rats. I must say that I do NOT like this one at all. I was disappointed in it. I would suggest you take the time to read it first before reading it to your students.

14. Fish in a Tree

I cannot express how much I LOVE this book! This story is about a sixth grade girl that really struggles with reading. During the story, she learns she has dyslexia. I feel like it has such a positive message about working hard and accepting yourself. 

The only warning I have with this book is that it is a longer one. Depending on your group of students, you may want to wait until the attention span is a bit longer.

15. Wonder

This is another book that raises a LOT of great conversations with students. If you are unfamiliar with this story, it focuses on a little boy born with facial abnormalities. After being home schooled his whole life, he finally begins school. This brings so many issues for him and his family. 

This is another longer book, so if your students do not have a strong attention span, I would wait for this one!

16. Any Magic Treehouse Book


I love the Magic Treehouse series! When I read one of these books at the start of the school year, it's actually the fourth book in the series, Pirates Past Noon. I have a pirate themed classroom, so this book is perfect. Magic Treehouse books are fun ones for early chapter book readers. Any book in this series would help encourage even your most reluctant readers!

What do you like to read with your students for Back to School?

Finding the perfect story to read aloud to your students at the beginning of the school year can be difficult. This blog post shares 16 books (both picture and chapter) to encourage students to become interested in reading. The recommendations also help teachers use trade literature to teach comprehension skills like sequencing and problem/solution as well as social/emotional skills. #confessionsofafrazzledteacher #teachers #backtoschool {Kindergarten, First, Second, and Third Graders}

August 6, 2019

7 Must Have Back to School Supplies

7 Must Have Back to School Supplies

Throughout my years of teaching, it feels like I have bought out entire stores! Luckily, I have also been lucky enough to be given items from generous people to supplement my classroom needs. Throughout this time, I have come to rely on some items that I cannot live without! 

*Disclaimer - This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on them will not cost you any money but may earn me a small commission if you make a purchase.

7 - Toolkit

This may seem like something that is frivolous and not necessary, but let me explain! My toolkit comes in handy for day to day tasks like using pliers to pull a too short pencil from the pencil sharpener, using a screwdriver to fix a loose screw on a student's desk, measuring anything with the tape measure, or creating level bulletin boards with the level.

My toolkit has also come in handy in an emergency! At the end of the school day, a teacher was returning to her classroom to find the lock stuck. Since it was the end of the day, our regular maintenance guy was gone for the day. Instead, there were two cleaning ladies, our dean, and our principal all trying to open the door without success because they couldn't find the right tools. My trusty toolkit saved the day, opening the door to let everyone get their supplies to go home! 

I've now had my toolkit for about 5 years! I can't go back to not having it around! It's a must have!

6 - Pencil Sharpener

I am a bit of a snob when it comes to pencil sharpeners. The one pictured above is the ONLY one I use! I have one for home and school. When the school one finally dies, I bring my rarely used one from home and get myself a new at home sharpener. I find that I only have to get a new sharpener every 1 and a 1/2 to 2 years. 

I know that some teachers do not let students use their pencil sharpeners. I don't have the time or energy to sharpen my students' pencils. Instead, I teach my students how to properly use this sharpener. When a pencil is sharpened, the sharpener makes a quieter sound. We all listen for this sound and then I have my students practice using it correctly. It's actually very rare to have issues with this sharpener (at least in my opinion).

5 - Popsicle Sticks

I use Popsicle sticks for all sorts of things in my room. I use them to write all my students' names and pull sticks for grouping students or when I need an answer to a question.

Popsicle sticks are also great for creating cheap Kaboom games. Kaboom is a fun game that can be used in centers, small groups, or 1:1. Click HERE to see how to make a Kaboom game

4 - A Great Pair of Scissors

This seems like a silly thing to include on my list. When you are making bulletin board displays or need to cut anything out, you want a quality pair. It's amazing how much time and energy I have wasted on a horrible pair of scissors. Now I have a couple of pairs of great scissors in different areas of my classroom. They are ready to go anytime I need them.

3 - Fun Pens

Pens are another item that may seem frivolous. Think about how much time you are going to spend grading papers. That is a thankless, tedious job! Having a favorite pen to use for grading helps to make this a little more palatable. 

Since my favorite color is purple, I ONLY use purple pens when grading. I have also jumped on the flair pen bandwagon. I find that flair pens tend to be smoother when writing. They are also nice and dark when I use my ELMO (it shows any paper and writing in real time). Other pens tend to fade and not get seen on the board.

2 - BLUE Sticky Tack

Sticky Tack is used in lieu of tape to stick posters to the wall. Notice, I said that the Sticky Tack has to be blue (the other colors do not work as well). I have found that this sticky tack is the only thing that will really hold my posters up all school year. You use small amounts, roll it in a ball, and stick it all over the back of a poster. You may need to use a lot to keep it up, but once you invest in this, it will last for years. 

At the end of the school year, when removing posters, collect all the sticky tack and keep it in a sealed container. You can reuse this the following year. You may need to roll around the sticky tack in order for it to be tacky again. It really lasts!

1 - Books


I am OBSESSED with books. Right now, my classroom has over 3,000 books! Is it enough? No way! I currently have boxes of books at home that I have to get ready for my classroom library. My only problem is finding room to store all of these books. I wish my classroom were larger so then I could add thousands more!

I don't expect everyone to be as crazy about books as me. However, I think that every classroom needs books. It isn't always cheap but it's worth it. Here are some quick ways to get books into your classroom: ask family/friends for donations, go to garage sales/thrift stores, use Scholastic, and create a Donors Choose project (Click HERE to see my post on How to Get Your Donors Choose Project Funded!).

If you liked this post and want even more resources, freebies, and more, then sign up for my email HERE!

What are your Must Have Back to School Supplies?

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Every classroom needs basic supplies like glue, pencils, and crayons. What about other necessary supplies? This blog post shares 7 Must-Have items in your classroom! These supplies are designed to make your teacher life run more smoothly! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher #teachers #schoolsupplies {Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Educators}