Sunday, November 04, 2012

Playing in the Leaves (A Tale of Sight Word Practice)

I love fall.
I love the leaves as they change colors and fill the landscapes in beautiful reds, yellows, browns, oranges, and all the shades in-between.
These beautiful colors also make an awesome backdrop for family pictures like this:

Nothing makes it better than having some of my kids there with me. I mean, who can resist a HUGE leaf pile. It even gives me a sudden urge to run and jump, and I don't do much running or jumping any more!

Oh how I love my babies! (Three not pictured here)

As we were playing in the leaves this year, I got to thinking about how to better help the first graders that my 6th grade class works with each week. I have already been making and using my Sight Word Mystery Pictures sets. In fact, I even made a mystery picture WITH leaves! ha ha.

These have been well received by our buddies who are now asking when they will get the next set of pictures.. ha ha. I guess that is a good thing! Don't get my wrong. I love my coloring pages, they are great and have helped many first graders REALLY know and consistently review their words.

Now that I had them identifying the words, I wanted an activity that would get them to SAY the words out loud and be accountable for that aspect of reading. This got me thinking again to when I was younger.

I remember raking leaves as a child. I would get a HUGE pile raked up and ready to play in (or bag if my dad got tired of me making a mess in the yard) and then as sure as not, the WIND would come and blow the pile all over the place. Sometimes I had a FRIEND around to help fight the breeze and keep the leaves in place. That was truly a  blessing.

The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea of combining my love of fall and leaves with the need to help our buddies practice their sight words. Hence the game LEAF PiLE was born. I knew I wanted to start with just Fry's 100 first words. These are the words our buddies are most struggling with. I knew I could make LEAF PiLE 2 later with more advanced words...ha ha.

So, I searched my clipart and found that I had EXACTLY what I wanted. LEAVES in lots of colors. WAHOO! I started typing the words onto the leaf cards and found that I needed to somehow identify which word was from which list. Went back and added that for easy sorting, and thought I was done.

I printed, laminated, cut out the pieces and had my own kids play the games. I quickly found that I had a few issues. I had to change a few "rules", added a "The Leaf Pile" sheet for the pile to be placed on, and create "My Leaf Pile" cards for students to have a place to create their leaf piles. (Thanks for pointing out these problems children.) To keep it challenging, I added four WIND CARDS, and four FRIEND CARDS which are used in various ways allowing for several versions of the game to be played. This will keep it fresh for repeated game play.

After tweaking it, I had my own kids play it again. Here is their session:

They LOVED it. I asked if they would play it again and all four (ages 5-12) gave me a resounding "YES!". And just so we are clear, there have been several games that I have created and tested with them that they clearly told me NOT TO SELL! So, they are a tough group to get ideas by- which is good news for everyone else!

In fact, my 5 year old has asked to play it several time since last night. He can't read a lot of the words, but the older kids let him play by just reading the letters correctly, and then they SAY the word to him. I feel this is totally worth it just for that part. He is seeing AND hearing the word. So even emergent readers can have fun and benefit from this game. Here are my two sons playing outside today while waiting for the BBQ chicken to finish:

I hope that you have enjoyed reading the story behind my latest creation. I truly want our reading buddies to read and feel success. I think that Leaf Pile is going to be a HUGE hit this week- with both the 6th graders AND the 1st graders.

If you want to create a leaf pile or two in your room, check out the details by clicking on the picture below or by clicking HERE.

I hope you get a chance to rake a pile of leaves and jump in it this fall! Let your inner kid out! :) Go ahead- JUMP!

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