Excellent FREE Online Reading and Math Sites – My favorites!

By C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Are you looking for a place to find great quality FREE online stories / books that fit your child’s or students’ reading levels? What about instructional math videos just right for explaining math concepts, and virtual math manipulatives (especially if students don’t have any at home)?  I have 4 I highly recommend and will highlight below.

  1. https://www.readworks.org/  Readworks.org is a very high quality non-profit site which can be used with individual children or the whole class.  You will find articles, ebooks, and a library. Search by grade level, lexile level, genre, skill, etc. Most articles have an audio function and can be presented digitally or printed. The text selections really help build background knowledge that a lot of students are missing. Be sure to check out their “Article a Day” program.  As a teacher or parent, you can create a class and make assignments.  Comprehension questions and free response questions are included. ALL of it is FREE.  They have webinars available to learn about all of the features. Well worth your time!
  2. https://www.wilbooks.com/wilbooks-free-resources  If you are looking for leveled books for PreK-3rd grade students, then Wilbooks may definitely meet your needs.  There is a good selection of fiction and non-fiction leveled by grade level or guided reading levels A-M.  Levels A and B have around 30 titles each. Not all of the levels have that many, as it varies. The back cover of each book tells the grade level, guided reading level and word count in case you want to do a running record. If you want access to their entire collection, the price is VERY reasonable. I haven’t purchased it myself YET, but it states $1.99 for a monthly individual account. I have been using these books and the students like them!
  3. https://learnzillion.com/p/  This is a really good site for math instructional videos and lessons.  Learn Zillion used to be totally free, but like others you now have to purchase a subscription to get everything they have to offer.  BUT, by creating a free account you still get access to about 1000 videos. You can search by grade level, standard, key word, etc. The instructional videos are done very well and are easy to follow (at least the one’s I have viewed).  And they are short and concise.  These would be great to use with a zoom lesson in your class or as a parent who is searching for the right way to explain a strategy.  The objectives are clearly stated, videos are often also available in a slide format so you can explain it yourself, and you have the option to make assignments as well.
  4. https://www.mathlearningcenter.org/resources/apps  I cannot speak highly enough about this FREE site. Math Learning Center apps cover just about any manipulative you need, but don’t have physical access to:  base ten, pattern blocks, coins, clocks, ten frames, geoboards / area grids, number lines, Rekenrek counters, etc.  These are interactive and can be used as a website or app. The directions are clear (look for the little “i” in the corner of each screen). These are FUN to use!  Here is a link for more information about this great resource that I posted last year:  Virtual Math Manipulatives

So there you have it, 4 great websites well worth your investigation!!  Do you have some to recommend? Just respond by clicking the little speech bubble.

P.S.  If you are interested in any of the following to meet your professional or personal needs, please go to the bottom of my “About Me” page for more details (black bar at top of this blog).

  • Professional devlopment – private, job-embedded, workshop, or webinar
  • Working as an online tutor
  • Referring a student for online tutoring

Back to school stories

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

WELCOME BACK!!

Whether you are participating in an online or traditional classroom setting, building classroom community is still important. As part of building a classroom community, you likely will have many discussions about diversity, friendship, and showing respect in various ways.  Here are some great resources for literature that might emphasize the point you are trying to make.

Weareteachers.com 14 books with great follow-up ideas.

  • This site is one of the best because it doesn’t just give a summary of the story, but it provides very practical follow up ideas include a get-to-know-you bingo, anchor charts, self-portrait, writing, posters, brainstorming, drawing, etc.
  • For the above book, “Dear Teacher,” she suggests writing a postcard to a friend or family member telling them about the first week of school.
  • For the book, “Name Jar,” the article suggests brainstorming and creating a poster showing different ways to greet a new student.  

5 Back to School Books for 3rd Grade (Pinterest from notsowimpyteacher.com):

  • There might be some new titles here that kids haven’t heard in previous years.

Back to school books for upper elementary (teachingtoinspire.com).

  • This teacher provides some printables to accompany the books she recommends. These deal with more advanced issues such as kindness, diversity, perseverance, homework and writing.
  • One of the books she features is “The Important Book” by Margaret Wise Brown. It’s been around for awhile (for a good reason). A perfect book for getting kids to write details around one topic. Text in this book follows a pattern similar to this: “The important thing about a crayon, is that you can color with it. They come in many colors. They make your pictures come alive. They can be big or small. But the important thing about a crayon is that you can color with it.” This can actually be used any time of year – not just the beginning. Send me a message and I will send you more information about this book and its link to writing possibilities! Or, of course, I can help you do a lesson using these any time of the year.

In the next post, I will share some ways to do number talks via an online format.  Stay tuned!  Let me know how you are doing!

Also, feel free to share my blog with parents who might be working with their children at home. My articles focus on reading and math strategies (with modeling of the steps involved when necessary) from KG through upper elementary.

Literacy center resources (free)

by Cindy Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

What is the purpose of having literacy work stations in your classroom? If you answered, “To provide meaningful, engaging, rigorous, differentiated opportunities for students to learn” then you are on the right track!! Aside from the task of deciding on the literacy station procedures and routines you want for your classroom is the problem of actually providing and organizing those quality activities.

I know most of you regularly visit the TPT store and Pinterest for ideas.  There are a TON of great things out there. However, not everyone has a color printer or has the means to drain their bank account to pay for these items.

So, here is a FREE resource I think you will like. It does not require a color printer, and it addresses pretty much every literacy skill you need to teach and/or provide practice for (KG-5th grade). It is the Florida Center for Reading Research (www.fcrr.org). Click on this link: Student center activities which takes you directly to the K-5 reading center activities page.  The following are available — all for FREE!!

  • Sections clearly labeled Phonological Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency, and Comprehension — with multiple activities for each sub-skill
  • One page overview for each activity (objective, materials list, and directions with illustration showing the activity in use)
  • Flexibility options to use materials as a teaching tool and/or as a practice or review activity

These are some of the types of activities:

  • Tons of letter, picture, and word cards for sorting, matching, pocket charts, concentration, rhyming, word work, etc.
  • Game boards
  • Fluency practice items (from common syllables to phrases)
  • Recording sheets – to record results of activities when appropriate
  • Graphic organizers which can be used with any book – especially for grades 3 and up.

A teacher’s guide is also available with more detailed directions, background information, and literacy station organizational ideas.

I also bookmarked this site in my Resources section (top of the blog in the black band) should you need to refer to this site often. Enjoy!!! Let us know about your favorite FCRR activity or how you are using them in your classroom! Just click on the comment speech bubble.

Sight Words Part 2: Activities and Resources

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This post contains some of my favorite sight word activities and resources to help your students practice those sight words and high frequency words.  If you haven’t read part 1, be sure to do that as it contains information about research based teaching strategies. Here goes!!

  1. Sight word tic-tac-toe:
    • Played with partners or teacher vs. students
    • Materials needed:  tic-tac-toe template on a small whiteboard or on a laminated page
    • Two-color counters so each student can mark their spot
    • Select 9 sight words you would like to review.  Have students write them in randomly in the 9 tic-tac-toe spaces
    • Each player selects a word to read.  If read correctly, they can put their counter on the space.  You may also require students to use the word in a sentence.
    • 3 in a row wins the game. Then play again!
    • You may choose to give corrective feedback regarding missed words:  Example:  “No, this word is ________. You say it.”
  2. Sight word sentence cards:

    from thisreadingmama.com

    • Using the words in sentences (or phrases) helps students put the word into context.
    • Try these sight word cards from a blogger I follow (www.thisreadingmama.com).  If you subscribe to her blog, you will find these and dozens of other good reading resources for free. Check out: Sight Word Cards with Sentences (Link to free resources)
  3. Sight word teaching routine:
    • Please take a look at this KG teacher’s routine for teaching and practicing sight words.  It is called “Sight Word 60” because through this routine, students get a chance to hear and use the word 60 times during the week. Sight Word 60 by Greg Smedly-WarrenLook for videos for each day, plus center and celebration activities. This routine can also be followed in 1st and 2nd grade classes or small groups.  Especially good for use with tutors, paraprofessionals, or volunteers!
  4. Sight word path game:
    • This simple path game scenario is well-researched. You are likely to find several versions available. Here is mine (also pictured below): Reading Race Track for Sight Words CE   In part 1 (last post), I linked one from another popular blogger (Playdough to Plato). Here is another editable one from Iowa Reading Research: Reading Race Track (editable).
    • Teacher fills in the words being practiced (5-7 words repeated 4x each placed randomly).
    • The track can be used by students for practice (they can roll a die, move to the space, pronounce the word, and perhaps use it in a sentence).
    • The track can be used by teachers and students for timed practice after they have been introduced. A recording sheet is included with my version as well as the Iowa version.

      Page 2 of Reading Race Track by C.E.

  5. Sight words in context:
    • Of course students benefit from practicing sight words in context.  In your guided reading group, allow students to use mini magnifying glasses (check the dollar stores) or those fancy finger nails that slip over a finger to locate sight words you call out.
    • My favorite way to practice sight words in context is through short, fun poetry. Here is a great resource (sorry, it’s not free) full of poems which target specific sight words. I’m sure there are others out there – let us know of ones you have found! Sight Word Poems for Shared Reading $4 TPT
  6. SWAT!
      • Find some new flyswatters.  If you are working with a small group, you just need 2.
      • Lay out 4-8 sight words you are working on (table top or floor). You could also write them on the board. Teacher calls out a word.
      • The object is for the students to locate and hold their swatter on the word you call out.
      • The student who found it first will have their swatter under the second student’s swatter — proof of who found it first.
      • This is also great for other vocabulary practice or math facts!!

    Find the word “said”

  7. Memory / Concentration:
    • Make 2 copies of each sight word on index size cards. You might limit to 8 cards for KG students and 12 cards for 1st or 2nd.
    • Arrange the cards in a rectangular array.
    • First player selects 2 cards to turn over and read. If they are a match, they can keep them.
    • STRESS to students to just turn the cards over and leave them down — don’t pick them up. This is because the other students are trying to remember where these are located – and they need to be able to see them and their location. It’s a brain thing!!

Notice all of these methods, the students need to read and/or recognize the word (and perhaps use it in a sentence). Have FUN!!!

Graphic Organizers for Literacy

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

I highly recommend the use of graphic organizers. The purpose is to help students organize information with regard to different text structures:  

  • Compare and contrast
  • Cause and effect
  • Details / Descriptive
  • Problem and solution
  • Sequence

Graphic organizers are also helpful with standards such as:

  • Main idea
  • Summarizing
  • Character analysis
  • Story elements

Graphic organizers help organize the student’s thinking, and assist with note-taking. The visual pictures created help the student “see” the text structure, recall details, state the main idea, and summarize the selection.

Here are links to some sites I think provide good quality graphic organizers which can be utilized with a variety of situations:

  1. This one is more primary oriented: https://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer/
  2. This one is oriented more for 3rd and above: http://www.educationoasis.com/printables/graphic-organizers/
  3. This one is a FREE resource at TPT (as pictured above) that supports each of the 5 text structures: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Non-Fiction-Text-Structures-Flip-Flap-and-Graphic-Organizers-Freebie-1777102

I have also linked these in “Instructional Resources” and in the categories list on my blog.  Enjoy!!

New reading resource

I added this new resource in the literacy section of the resources in my blog.  See the black band at the top of my home page – click on “Resources.”

Go to “This Reading Mama” by clicking on this link:  https://thisreadingmama.com/

Look for “Free Printables.”  She has one of the best selections I’ve seen for reading (especially in the primary grades). You will find sight words with sentences cards, word families, color the chunk, phonics, spelling folders, abc books, etc. — all for FREE!

Enjoy!  C. Elkins — OK Math and Reading Lady

Early Childhood Resource

Here is a resource I think early childhood educators will love. Click on the link and it will take you there. If you subscribe to this sight,  you will have access to dozens of free activities. Looking for activities dealing with letter sounds, blends, digraphs, cvc words, sight words? This is where you will find them. They are perfect for small group instruction, individual, or centers. I will also add this link to my reading resources.

http://www.playdoughtoplato.com/