Back to School!

I don’t think anyone has ever been as excited as I am to be back to school.  I just LOVE the start of the year.  I love seeing the kids again, I love the school supplies and the little lunchboxes all lined up in a row.  I especially love being back to teaching English and getting to put into practice all the new ideas that I’ve gathered over the course of the summer!

This summer I have discovered gold-tone spray paint.  Did you know that when you spray-paint lima beans, they look EXACTLY like little gold nuggets?  I love it!  We will be using our “nuggets” for everything from counting to Bingo this year, and I can’t wait!

I’ve also been using white spray paint on my bottle caps to give me a writeable surface.  Last year I tried painting each one with acrylic paint (talk about time-consuming!!) but the acrylic paint quickly peeled off (I just HATE spending all that time for nothing, don’t you?).  This year I just set the bottle caps out and sprayed lightly over them.  If nothing else, it was at least faster….we’ll see if it’s any more durable!

I use my bottlecaps as a hands-on way to practice forming syllables and words.

Can I just say again how excited I am to be back in school?  It’s great!

Personalized Sight Words List

Another thing I’ve been up to now that winter break has started is creating a personalized sight word list for my two classes.

As any teacher will tell you, the order of the Dolch word list, which has easy-peasy CVC words like “cut” and “got” in the 3rd grade list, and tricksy words like “please,” “pretty,” and “there” in the primer list, doesn’t always make a lot of sense.

Usually any article I find online about using sight words, especially about using them for EFL, start with some variation of the phrase “First, re-order the list in a way that makes sense for your situation.”

So I did.  It was twice as challenging because I’m not just teaching them how to recognize words they already know; I’m teaching the meaning of the words at the same time.  One of the ways to make that a little easier is to try to pick words that work well together, so that we can practice several words in the same sentence.

I’m not 100% happy with my list yet.  There are some words that I’ll definitely move around, others I’ll probably delete (I can’t teach them all, and I’ve already left off about six words because they’re just TOO HARD to explain/translate for me and my kids!).  I’ll probably move some up the list as I make up exercises and think, Hey, you know what would work really well here?  This word!!

Hopefull by next year I’ll have something I can set in stone (or at least in wet cement) and be more thorough about incorporating into my every day routine.  But for now, it’s a total learning process for both me and them, and I figure every word they know at the end of the year is one word more than they would have known otherwise!

Winter Break and a fun activity

Winter break has finally arrived here in Peru: two glorious weeks to sleep late, clean the house, and just generally catch up on life.

But of course, being on “vacation” and not actually teaching just means more time for planning and preparing all those great ideas we want to use once we get our kids back!

I found an absolutely darling idea for sticky note targets here.  Although the post refers to using them for sight words, the template is completely editable; you could use them for CVC words, CVCe words, CCVC words, CVCC words, CCVCC words…hahaha, you get the picture!

Bottle Caps

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Do you ever have one of those moments where you get a breakthrough…..and then you wonder why you hadn’t thought of that before?  I’ve been collecting bottle caps for phonics games (These sight word caterpillars from This Reading Mama are a personal favorite!), but I threw away several bottle caps (the caps from my yogurt bottles, in particular….here in Peru, you don’t  eat yogurt, you drink it!  And we drink a lot of yogurt) because they were either too dark to write on, or because they had so much writing on top that you couldn’t really see the letters once they were written.

I threw them away.

Oh, my word.

Some days you really just wonder if you actually have a brain up there, or maybe you’re just faking it?  Anyway, this morning I got the brilliant idea (it’s brilliant, really, it is) of using white acrilyc paint to – drumroll, please – paint the top of the bottle caps.  It took me all of two minutes (and that includes the time to open the paint, cover the bottle caps, and wash the brush afterwards!) so it doesn’t really matter if the paint chips a little with use; I can just do it again.  And voilà!  I can now write the letters on the white background and have them show up just  fine.

I wonder if we’ve taken out the garbage yet…..