Saturday, October 31, 2015

Vocabulary Card Games

Every subject in school has academic vocabulary that students are going to need to learn, so why not make it fun?  In this post I’ll show you 3 common games I’ve adapted to making learning new vocabulary engaging for almost any subject area or grade level.

To start with, when you teach a new unit of study there is usually a set of academic vocabulary that goes along with it that students need to know to help them understand the content.  When you’re planning a unit, make a list of the most important vocabulary words along with their definitions, sentences, and a picture if possible, to help students understand the word.  This is especially helpful for ELL students. 

Once you have your list made, write all your vocabulary words on a set of index cards with the word (and picture if you can) on one side and the definition on the other.  Once you do this you’ll be ready to play any of these games. 

In my class I made all of my vocabulary cards look like tradingcards to increase the engagement with my students.  I’ve made these trading cards for over 80 topics and you can check them out in my TPTstore.

This is a Kagan cooperative learning game that many teachers use with task cards and it works perfectly for sets of vocabulary words with definitions.  The object of the game is for students to quiz each other by giving the definition of the word or using it correctly in a sentence.  Here’s how to play:
1.Give each student a vocabulary card.
2.Have your students pair up.
3.Partner A tells Partner B the vocabulary word on the card.  Partner B tells Partner A the definition or uses the word in a sentence (or admits they don’t know it).  Partner A then acknowledges the correct definition or gives it if needed.  Partner A can also give Partner B a clue if needed by showing them the picture on the front of their card.
4.Partners then switch roles with Partner B sharing their vocabulary word.
5.After both partners have had a turn, they switch cards, find a new partner and play again.

This game will especially appeal to your visual learners!  Here’s how to play:
Split your students into 2 (or more) teams and place a set of the vocabulary cards face down in the front of the room.
Have a student from Team A come up to the white board (or SMART board), take a card from the bottom of the deck and read it silently, and try drawing it.
Students from both teams guess the vocabulary word being drawn and whichever team guesses correctly first gets a point.
Then a player from Team B comes up and the process starts over. 
Whichever team has the most points when all of the cards have been used wins.

This game will especially appeal to your kinesthetic learners!  Follow the same steps as above for the Drawing Game but instead of having students draw the picture on the card have them act it out while teams guess what word they are acting!

It takes a bit of time to make a set of vocabulary cards for a subject, but once they’re made you can use them for these games year after year.  If you’d like to save yourself some time check out the trading cards in my TPTstore.  I’ve already gone through the trouble of picking out the key vocabulary for almost 80 different topics, and finding pictures, definitions, sentences, and more to go with them.  The trading cards come in sheets of 8 that just need to be printed out, cut up and they’re ready to go.

I hope you enjoy using these games in your classroom.   If you want to find out more ways to use trading cards in your classroom check out my site  You can also connect with me on my blog at .

Friday, October 30, 2015

Math Challenges - Keep It Simple!

Hi everyone,

It is Teresa here from Games 4 Learning!

I am really excited to be back here blogging on Who's Who and Who's New! 

This time I would like to share with you two of my favorite math challenges. 

Actually they are two of the favorites of my extension math group that I take each week! These are the ones that they beg for! 

The children love them because they are a great challenge and I love them because they are so easy to prepare! The first one is one that I can Can You Make It?

Can You Make It?

Need: 3 sets of small number cards with the digits from 0 – 9, 20 larger cards with 2 digit or 3 digit numbers (Choose 2 digit numbers or 3 digit numbers according to the ability of the players.)

Lay out the number cards face down on the table. Each player will need a pencil and paper.

Play this game with the 2 digit numbers to begin. If children are ready for a more advanced version, try playing with the 3 digit numbers.

One person chooses 6 of the small number cards and displays them for the others to see. They then choose one large card with a 2 digit or 3 digit number. 

Players are now given a set amount of time to create an equation that equals the 2 or 3 digit number. Players can only use the digits on the small number cards and can only use each of these digits once unless 2 or more of the same digit have been chosen.

It is as simple as that!

Here are a few of their attempts.

The next one is a game that I call 3 Rolls to Make 100!

3 Rolls to Make 100

This is a dice challenge that can be adapted to suit different ability levels!

Need: 2 dice, pencil and paper for each player

In this version, players attempt to create 3 numbers that will add to 100 or as close as possible to 100.

To Play: The teacher or a player rolls the dice and tells the two numbers that are rolled.

Players make a 2 digit number from these 2 numbers, e.g. roll 3 and 5 and students can record 35 or 53. Once the number is recorded, it can’t be changed.

Repeat twice so that players have recorded three 2 digit numbers.

Player add these three numbers together and the player who is closest to 100 is the winner.

Play several rounds.

Students use lots of different skills as they choose their numbers and add them. Sometimes working out who is closest to 100 creates a great discussion with more skills required to calculate this. 

Variations of 3 Rolls to Make 100

Addition Games
•5 Rolls to Make 200: Roll 2 dice three times to create three, 2 digit numbers. Add them together. Aim to get as close as possible to 200.

•3 Rolls to Make 1000: Roll 3 dice three times to create three, 3 digit numbers. Add them together. Aim to get as close as possible to 1000.

•2 Rolls to Make 7000: Roll 4 dice two times to create two, 4 digit numbers. Add them together and aim to get as close as possible to 7000.

Multiplication Games
•Roll 3 and Make 200: Roll 3 dice and arrange the numbers in a multiplication equation of 2 digits x 1 digit. Aim to get as close as possible to 200.

•2 Rolls to Make 1000: Roll 2 dice two times to create two, 2 digit numbers. Multiply them together and aim to get as close as possible to 1000.

Want more?

I have more math game ideas in 5 Fantastic Math Games available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store at

And there are loads more great math game ideas at my blog at Fun Games 4 Learning

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Guided Reading ~ 3 Tools to add to your Student's Toolkit

Hello again,  It's Christina from Hanging Around In Primary.  I am honoured to be blogging once again here at Who's Who and Who's New.  This time I want to share with you 3 tools that I put in the hands of my students to increase engagement during my Guided Reading sessions.

1.  Reading Phone/Whisper Phones

Many years ago I was introduced to these phones at a reading workshop at our board office.  I was hooked on them from the moment I saw how they worked.   When I was teaching my small group of firsties this is what I would hear every..single..lesson!: "he is reading to loud!"  "I can't hear myself"  "can you read quieter!"

Enter the reading phones - you can't read with a loud voice into them because you will hurt your ears. Students immediately lower their voices and use a whisper voice.  Now everyone can sit at the same table and read to themselves without complaint.  Yeah!  The only thing I need to say now is not to lick the phone or put your mouth on it ....ewww!  Thank goodness for lysol wipes.

2.  Finger lights

I LOVE finger lights for tracking text.  They are a 4 for a $1.00 at the Dollar Store and worth every penny.  When students are reading they slip on a finger light to track the text.  They can light up each word so they know exactly where they are on the page.  These lights have worked wonders for my students who are still struggling with word awareness.

 3.  Whiteboards

If you have been to my blog before you will know about my fondness for whiteboards.  I use them all.the.time. During Guided Reading we would use them for pre and post reading activities. I love that they allow me to save paper.  There is way too much paper floating around the classroom as it is. I often snap a photo of a response I want to save and place it in their digital portfolio on Seesaw.

I hope you will consider adding these things to your student's tool kits for Guided Reading.  You WILL notice an increase in engagement and it will make your job a lot easier!

Share this post with your friends ~ Pin the image below to refer to later.

Are you interested in learning more about how I teach Guided Reading and what's in my Teacher Tool Kit?  Head over to my blog to find a companion post to this one.  Click below to head over to my blog.  See you there!

Until next time,

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ten Alternative Book Projects to Engage Your Readers

Hey!  It's Nicole from Learning Lab again. I'm going to blog about turing your boring book reports into fun, alternative book projects!  

Last year was my first year teaching Read180 in a few years.  I love Read180 and what I have seen it do for my kiddos so I was excited to get a chance to implement it again.  But...the book projects included with the program are B-O-R-I-N-G!  Sure, some of them are pretty good, but the directions can be questionable and I find myself using the same two projects over and over with my class.  

My students started to get frustrated (beyond frustrated) with the repetition so I promised them that one of my summer tasks would be to create new book projects, just for them.  

I mean, who doesn't just LOVE working on school stuff during summer break?  You know we all do it!

These book project ideas are a break from the traditional book report and can be used with any book!  So far, they are loving the new book projects!  I see a lot more effort being put into their work.  

Here are some ideas:

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  The students can write a letter to the author.  Depending on whether the author is alive or not, you students could actually mail their letter out!  Wouldn't it be wonderful if they got a reply?!?

All kids watch a lot of movies.  They're exposed to movie posters every time they set foot in a mall or theater.  The creativity you will see when they create a movie poster for the book they just read can be amazing!

What kid doesn't love Diary of a Wimpy Kid or any other graphic novel?  They're going to love creating their own comic strip using details from the book they just read even more!
This is their chance to be honest about the book they just read.  They can even give it a 5-star rating if they totally loved it!

Timelines help kids practice sequencing and retelling.  Timelines also have less writing and are more visual which is perfect for some of your kiddos!

Your artistic kids will love redesigning the book cover.  The catch is that they also have to rewrite the short summary on the back of the book too!

Here is another visual project that will pull some of your readers right in!  Imagine being able to see all of the places from your book on a map!   

Every book has a juicy part fit for the front page of a newspaper.  Here is a chance for your kids to write an article retelling a specific event.  

Your kids will get a kick out of "interviewing" their favorite character.  First, they will need to come up with some questions and then they'll need to answer them from the character's point of view.

I find that when you add technology to just about anything, kids will gravitate towards it.  I am sure they will love putting together a PowerPoint presentation all about the book they just read.

What other book projects do you like to use with your students?  I would love to hear your ideas!

If you want to try alternative book projects in your classroom, I have expanded on these ideas and created directions sheets for each project for my students.  

Each project includes the task and the plan with detailed directions including "must haves" and "may haves".  There is also a Do Not Forget section that give little reminders to keep your kids on track. 

I have also included two versions of a log to keep track of which projects your students have completed.  The first one gives them choice and they just log their choice.  The second one lists each project and the student has to complete each project once before repeating a choice.  

Do you use interactive notebooks in your classroom?  No worries!  I have reduced the size of each page so that it fits right into an interactive notebook!

Thanks for stopping by!  If you want to read more about how I use interactive notebooks with Read180 and pick up a freebie, you should check out this blog post.  

I would love to see you again soon.  You can find me on my blog, in my TpT store (Learning Lab), or on Instagram (@Learning_Lab).  Instagram is my favorite way to connect with teachers.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Graphing with Dot Plots

This is Krista from The Knitted Apple and I’m excited to be back with another post on Who’s Who.  Today I’m going to talk about one of my favorite math concepts to teach- graphing.   

I find graphing fun to teach because it is often one of the most interactive math concepts.  Students love to participate in class graphs as well as create their own.  

One type of graph I teach my third graders about is a dot plot graph.  Students use data gathered (or given) to plot and interpret information using dots or X’s.  This type of graph is often new for them and adds a little excitement after several years of pictographs and bar graphs.

A perfect way to introduce dot plot graphing is with a class graph drawn on chart paper or on plain paper and displayed on a screen.  I like to survey the class first by asking a question and marking the results using tallies.  Then we use that information to create the dot plot graph together.  

One survey question that students always enjoy is favorite school subject.  Here is the completed frequency table/tally chart:

After gathering the data, we create a dot plot to show the data in a way that is easier to read and interpret. Students can use dots or X’s when placing the data on the graph. I find that X’s are much easier than dots for students to space evenly. 

You can download the examples and blank student survey and graphing pages by clicking the image shown below.

 If you’re looking for additional dot plot practice for your students, I have a Dot Plot Dice Roll resource that is perfect for math stations.  Just click the image below to download it from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I hope your students enjoy these fun graphing activities!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween in the Classroom – It’s more than just fun!

Hi, it's Sandra from teaching Treks and just in time for Halloween!

Halloween is a topic that is guaranteed to engage student interest! If you live in a part of the world that celebrates Halloween, and your school district approves its inclusion in the classroom, then incorporating Halloween in your learning program is a must!

When we use topics that are of high interest to our students, the benefits are amazing... and what are kids more fascinated by than strange creatures, free candy and all things spooky?

Halloween based activities can be easily incorporated into so many areas of the curriculum, from creative writing to art and craft and math problem solving. Simply applying the skills students are learning, like decoding text or counting, in a spooky context can generate huge growth in motivation and engagement levels.


Like many other teachers, when I find something the kids love, I work hard to capitalize on their enthusiasm! Whether it be a special day, a great novel or a topic like dinosaurs, I put in a lot of time and effort to incorporate it in a meaningful way across the curriculum.

Teachers and parents know about the high levels of motivation that occur when learning focuses on children’s interests. How often have we seen this motivation lead to increased engagement and so many opportunities for deeper learning?

Perhaps the part I like best is the natural flow on effect that helps to build a positive classroom environment and make behavior management a breeze! When kids are on task and keen to complete their work, there really is no down side!

Here are some freebies to help you bring a few Halloween celebrations into your classroom.


Finally, and most importantly in my opinion, there are the creative and critical thinking opportunities afforded by a topic of great interest to students. Providing kids with a range of high interest, open-ended activities, and the opportunity to make choices in their responses to these tasks, empowers kids to take control of their own learning. The task cards below, from my TPT store, are my attempt to meet this end.

                   Happy Halloween in your classroom – it’s more than just fun!