Fun Free Sight Word Memory Game!

Students can play a fun game and work on sight words!

Do you remember playing a card game where you placed the cards face down, and then picked two cards to see if they matched? If the cards didn’t match, you turned the two cards back face down. The goal was to remember where the cards were when face down, and then match two cards to make a pair. Once you made a pair, you got to keep them and take another turn. (I think that is how it was played!)

You can play this game using sight words!

I have included a free download for beginning sight words (print or copy twice). You can also easily make your own using index cards or a computer. Be sure to have the kids read the words when they play, and help students until they recognize the word by sight.

Download here/2 pages: Sight Word Flash Cards

Sight Word Flash Cards-1

Reading Fluency Target Levels

gif_2726-Elementary-School-Design-Books-And-Apple (1)Fluency in reading refers to one’s pace and accuracy. As a student matures in his/her reading level, fluency should also increase.

Here are some approximate guidelines for fluency rates for the end of the year:

1st Grade: 70-90 CWPM

2nd Grade: 80-100 CWMP

3rd Grade: 100-120 CWPM

4th Grade: 110-130 CWPM

5th Grade: 120-140 CWPM

(CWPM- correct words per minute.) This is based on grade level texts.

Checking Reading Levels

It is testing time! Fall, winter, and spring are great times to check reading progress.

In the fall, we get a baseline (where the student is functioning) for the beginning of the school year.

gif_snowflake001_bwIn winter, we get to see if all that great teaching we are doing is working and the kids are making good progress! If insufficient progress is being made, we need to reevaluate our teaching strategies, look to increase support, and possibly add a supplemental program.

In the spring, we get a snapshot of the year’s growth.

I have had some questions lately about frustration, instructional, and independent reading levels. Here is a guide to understanding the levels:

  • Independent: 95% success (no more than 1 in 20 words difficult)
  • Instructional: 90% success (1 in 10 words difficult)
  • Frustration: <90% success (more than 1 in 10 words difficult)

Teach at the instructional level, but have students pick books from the library at the independent level. (See my post on Lexile numbers for picking the right level.)

Parents, if you do not know your child’s reading level, get this from his/her teacher!

The Importance of Pre-teaching Vocabulary

In order to be independent readers, students must understand 98% of what they are reading. When introducing a next text or concept, it is important to pre-teach key vocabulary.

I made up an example to illustrate. Read the sentence below and see how much you understand.

Emma sought a quiet phrontistery in the abaft. She felt a sense of the acatalepsy regarding the situation in which she found herself.


So… How did you do? Were you able to use context to understand the vocabulary? I am guessing context would not be enough, even if these sentences are embedded in a larger paragraph.

We put our students in the same situation. We encourage them to use the pictures and the context (great strategies), but often, they also need to be taught the words.

Here is the translation using a simpler vocabulary:

Emma sought a quiet place to think at the back of the ship. She felt a sense of uncertainty regarding the situation in which she found herself.

I hope this illustration helps to convey the importance of pre-teaching vocabulary!

Free Worksheet on Making Predictions!

Why make predictions about a story?

Making predictions is a great way to assess and teach reading comprehension, as well as engage students in a story. Either read aloud to your students/children or have students read the beginning portion of a story. Be sure to go over the story title, beginning chapter titles, pictures, key vocabulary, etc.

After reading/doing the above, have students make predictions about the story–based on what they have already heard, read, or seen. The predictions do not need to be correct, but they should be logical. Any prediction based on the story should be affirmed as a great prediction!

As always, guide students through for the first few times when introducing a new concept. I recommend doing this as a whole class together or in small guided groups. For the worksheet below, choose the amount of pages you or the student reads that is right for the size of the book–enough to get to a point where you can make a prediction.

(I also ask students to write complete sentences as kids really need a lot of practice with this. You can give them beginning sentence ideas such as, “I predict,”  “I think,” or “My prediction is” to help guide them in writing complete sentences.)

Click here to download: Making Predictions Freebie

Making Predictions Freebie-1


Summer Practice

I can’t believe there are only a few weeks left in the school year! (Can’t wait!)

While summer is a great time to relax, there are a few key academic items you can focus on to help your child/students:

  • Work on a few sight words a week–master reading and spelling them.
  • Continue to have your child read at least 15 minutes a day–you can take turns reading aloud.
  • Work on improving fluency with math facts–this is foundational and will help your child overall in math.
  • Work on writing–can be a good sentence a day, a paragraph, or journal writing–mix it up.

Doing these will help your child transition back into school in the fall, and will help retain those good skills learned during the previous school year. They can also be done without all the normal pressures of a school year. Try to make it fun!

Spelling Practice Sheets

My spelling practice worksheets were getting a little shabby (having been photocopied repeatedly), so I decided to make some new ones.

These are designed for 15 words or less. The packet includes one page for: writing each word three times, putting words in ABC order, using the words to write sentences, a pre-test, and a test page.

While these practice sheets can be helpful, what really matters is that you review the spelling patterns. Also, if there are new vocabulary words, the best way to help your child/students learn those is by using the words in context.

Free download: Spelling Practice Worksheets



R-Controlled Vowels

Most of us know about teaching short and long vowel sounds, but what about r-controlled vowels?

A r-controlled vowel is a vowel followed by the letter r,  and the vowel does not make a short or a long vowel sound.

When you have a student who is decoding based on phonics, you quickly learn that these words are tricky, and need to be taught.

Some examples of this vowel pattern are:

/ar/:  arm, barn, car, smart, shark, park

/ir/:  bird, fir, girl, skirt, sir, stir

/or/:  born, for, inform, north, short, order

/ur/:  curve, hurt, nurse, surf, turn, purple

Teach students about r-controlled vowels, and the influence the r has on the vowel. This can be done through teaching spelling patterns and word lists.

Establishing Baselines when Teaching

General and special educators both use baselines to measure growth.

What is a baseline? A baseline is the current level the student is at before any new teaching or intervention has begun. Baselines can be used for any subject and also to monitor behavior.

It makes sense that in order to show growth and to target areas of need, one would need to know a student’s current levels. For reading, baselines are typically taken in the fall and then again in the spring. For students on an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the baselines are measured before writing new goals, and then measured periodically throughout the year and again at the next year’s IEP.

An example of a baseline for a kindergarten student is: Susie knows 5 of her 26 letters sounds (letters: b, f, h, j, q, and z). That is Susie’s baseline. A typical goal for a kindergarten student would be for Susie to know all 26 letter sounds by the end of the school year.