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Great Game for Spelling

February 2, 2009 · Filed Under Uncategorized · Comment 

Have fun and practice spelling at the same time!~  Try Bookworm right on your browser or do a free download. 

Bookworm plays much like the commercial game of Boggle-a grid of letters to search for words with consecutive letters that spell words.  The longer words that you can make, the higher your score will go.  It’s great practice with phonics because you can look for spelling patterns like -ought and -ight, as well as sensible blends and digraphs like ’sh’ and ‘cr.’  Give it a try!


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Build Halloween Vocabulary with Word Games

October 15, 2008 · Filed Under Holidays, Reading, Writing · Comment 

Holidays are wonderful motivators for learning and one of the best is Halloween.  A lot of natural excitement surrounds the celebration, and you can tap into this by trying some descriptive writing and word games.  Here are related activity ideas for a variety of age groups.


Young Students (K-2)


Try some seasonal alliterations.  See how long of phrases or sentences your students can build, orally or in writing, that are related to Halloween.  Alliterative phrases and sentences have the same beginning sound on most or even all of the words.  Hold a contest with awards for longest, most syllables, most creative, and so forth.  Need an example to get you started?  Six spooky spirits sip sassparilla!


Play a memory game.  Start the group off with a simple subject-verb sentence like “The cat sat.”  Now, have players take turns adding a word or phrase and saying the entire sentence.  In our example, steps might include:

            The black cat sat.

            The skinny black cat sat.

            The skinny black cat sat on the fence.

            The witch’s skinny black cat sat on the fence.

How long will it get?


Middle Elementary Students (gr. 3-4)


Do a seasonal fill-in game.  Choose a Halloween story and underline every third to tenth word.  Make a list of the parts of speech (noun, verb, etc.) and any inflective endings (-ed, -ing, -es, etc.).  Have players choose fill in words based on the parts of speech guide without knowing the story.  Substitute their answers for the original underlined words.


Create some holiday riddles.  Have your students choose a common Halloween item and write four to six clues to help someone else guess it.  Arrange the clues from toughest to easiest, then have a friend try the puzzle.  Here’s an example: I am long and thin.  I am wooden.  I have a prickly end.  I belong to the witch.  I fly.  (a broom).  For an extra challenge, see if the clues can rhyme, like a poem.


Upper Elementary Students (gr. 5-6)


Finish a Halloween story.  Have each student write a seasonal story starter with at least ten sentences.  Trade with a partner, then finish the story with at least twenty more sentences.


Make a Halloween dictionary.  Generate at least fifty words related to the season.  Alphabetize them and write definitions.  Illustrate at least twenty of the entries.


Middle and High School (gr. 7-12)


Make a Halloween crossword puzzle.  Think of at least 25 Halloween words.  Come up with a unique clue for each one.  Use graph paper to place the words into interlocking positions.  Number each box containing the first letter of a word.  Number the clues to match the box number where the word begins.  Trace the boxes onto blank graph paper and write the numbers and clues.


Write a description for Halloween.  You can use a Halloween scene as a prompt or have students create from scratch.  Challenge them to write a descriptive essay with at least five paragraphs.  Remind them to appeal to all five senses, helping the reader see, hear, touch, taste and smell the scene.


Halloween can be controversial.  Have your students write a persuasive essay politely expressing their opinion about the holiday and its practices.  Insist that statements of opinion be supported by factual reasons, and that personal opinions be clearly identified as such.



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Writing Corner for July 13, 2008

July 14, 2008 · Filed Under Uncategorized · Comment 

Today, how about trying a paper bag story?  Get a bag that you can’t see through, and put five to ten small household items inside.  These can be nearly anything that’s not dangerous to handle or pick up without looking, like packages, paper clips, pencils, books, calculators, apples, or socks.  Players will all need something to write with.  Start a story off on a piece of paper with some scene-setting:  You know, give the characters names and maybe set up a problem for them to solve.  Now, pass the bag to the first player.  He or she draws an object out and must work it into the story.  You might want to set a certain number of sentences or words that need to be added by each person.  Pass the bag along and let the next player choose an object to work into the story, and keep going until the bag is empty and your story draws to a close with a sensible resolution.

Here’s a sample to try if you need some help getting started:

In the bag, put a paper clip, a spoon, a piece of soap, a piece of fruit, a playing card, a small ball, a checker, a piece of string, a tissue, and a ribbon.  Start with this story:

Jerry was bored.  He looked around his room, but he couldn’t see anything interesting to do.  He decided to take a walk around the block to see what his friends were up to.  Jerry grabbed his jacket and headed out.  Next door, his neighbor, Mr. Townsend, stopped him.  He said, “I’ve lost my …..” 

Now pull an item from the bag and begin the game!


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Write On!

July 5, 2008 · Filed Under Parents' Corner, Tutors' Corner, Writing · Comment 

Keep those kids writing!  Next to reading every day, this has to be one of the most important things you can do to help your child succeed in school.  Written expression skills form the basis for many large projects in school, and if your child can write comfortably, he or she will have the tools to get the grades you desire.

Practice makes perfect with writing.  Encourage your child to write each and every day.  Write letters, write stories, write opinions.  Request permission for outings or get-togethers in writing.  Hold “Five-Sentence-Days” at your house (have everyone drop what they are doing and write five sentences about the topic you throw out).  Write directions and sequences of events. 

The more writing you have the kids do, the better.  Writing fluency and the ability to put pen to paper productively will improve with practice.  Timed free writing, where you require writers to keep a pencil moving for one to twenty minutes without stopping, can be a fun way to write, as well.  See who can get the most words on paper in the given time can add a fun twist for competitive spirits.

No matter which activities you choose, get those pencils moving!


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© 2008 Sandra Fleming