Dr. Warren’s blogger articles on language arts.

Literary Devices: Free Handout and Link to New Publication

What’s the Confusion all About?
the years, my students have come to sessions seeking help with literary
devices.  They have expressed
confusion over the terms: literary devices, literary terms, literary elements
and figurative language, and they also struggle with the many definitions. 
What are Literary Devices, Literary Terms, Literary Elements and Figurative Language?
  • Literary Devices are creative writing
    strategies used by an author to convey his or her message(s).  When used
    well, literary devices help readers to visualize, interpret and analyze
    literary texts.  There are two
    kinds: literary techniques (which includes figurative language) and literary
  • Literary Techniques are words or phrases in texts of literature that writers use to achieve artistic or creative
    expression.  Literary techniques
    also help readers to visualize, understand and appreciate literature.  
  • Literary Elements are components or pieces that make up a story or
    literary work. 
  • Figurative Language is the creative use of words and phrases that offers a hidden meaning beyond any literal

How Can Students Understand the Global Concept?
I created an image to help students
“see” the big picture as well as understand the individual components.  Although I have not included all possible literary devices, I have included what I believe to be the most common ones.  I hope you agree. 

Click Here to download a free copy of
this image.
Additional Resources:
If you are also interested in a
comprehensive publication that also offers students additional printables, a
multisensory activity and a game, Click Here
Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com, www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Word Collages and Wriggle Writing Make Writing Fun and Engaging

Bringing creative ideas and images into the writing process
can make class work and home work assignments fun and memorable for
students.  I love teaching my
students how to create word collages in the shape of an image.  In addition, I find that my students
love wriggle writing, too, which allows them to write their stories and poems in
a nonlinear fashion.

The Process of
Creating a Word Collage:
By Erica Warren Copyright 2013

Provide your students a theme, such as their favorite
animal, a friend, a self portrait, an event, a concept and so forth.  

Share with them that they will be creating a
word collage using phrases, sentences and/or words that they can type, write or cut
out of magazines.
Indicate that they can place their words,
phrases and sentences randomly, or they can organize them within a traced image
on a piece of poster board.  Then, show them some examples.
As an added option, students can be encouraged to add small
objects and designs.  

* The image to the right was done about the concept of learning.

The Process of
Creating Wriggle Writing:
Provide your students a topic, such as a description

By Erica Warren Copyright 2013

themselves, their favorite animal, a friend, an event, and so
forth.  This can be written as prose or as a poem.

Share with them that they will be taking a short
writing piece or poem and rewriting it on the outline of an image, on a
squiggle, inside a maze and so forth.
Share that they can trace an image or design on
a piece of poster board and then write their story or poem on the outside of
the image.  Then, show them some examples.

 * The image to the right illustrates wriggle writing on a squiggle.

Two Websites Make Word
Collages and Wriggle Writing a Breeze
If time is an issue, you can let your students use one of
these internet sites to help them create their word collage or wriggle writing
The online site, Tagxedo, makes wonderful word collages from
your own file, a website, a blog and more.  It allows you to pick a shape, the color combinations and it
will generate the image for you!  Your students can also get their creations placed on a T-shirts, mugs, bags and more. 
 * The image to the right one that I did about my dog Butter:
The online site, Festisite, allows you to paste your text
into a text box and it will create a PDF file of your written work into a
spiral, a heart, a wave pattern, or a maze. 
If you pull the PDF image into a word document you can then change the page background, and then take a screen shot to add color. 
 * The image to the right is one I did from a poem I wrote:
If you decide to use these fun methods, I would love to hear
your thoughts!
Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Main Ideas and Supporting Details Instruction, Activities and Games

Many students struggle with main ideas
and supporting details.  What’s
more, they often find the instruction and activities associated with these
abstract concepts to be boring.  I
have just finished a new, main idea and supporting details product that offers
engaging, multisensory, and mindful lessons, handouts, activities and
games.  A charming, cartoon-like
character, Main I-deer, will walk your students through the process in a fun
and memorable way.  To top it off,
I have included two card games (beginners and intermediate) that can be used
for group work, learning centers or individual remediation.  
Come check out a free image as well as
a preview document.
Cheers, Erica 

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Sight Word Jewelry

As the saying goes, “Out of sight out of mind.”  Well, now tricky sight words can remain “in sight” and tailored to each individual student’s needs.

Kids love to make and wear their own jewelry.  So, here is a fun project that your students will be sure to enjoy that will also help them to master difficult sight words.    Links can be added or subtracted as they come across new, challenging words and master others.

Here is the process:


  • contact paper
  • permanent markers
  • paper clips
Step one: Cut the contact paper into small strips.
Step two: Write the difficult sight words onto the contact paper.
Step three: Peal of the backing and wrap the contact paper around one of the paper clips.
Step four: Link another paper clip onto the first and then wrap your next sight word onto the new link.
Step five: Continue the process until it is long enough for a bracelet or necklace. 
I hope you enjoy this project.
I would love to hear your thoughts!!
Cheers, Erica

Language Arts Letter Cubes: Fun Literacy Center Freebie

I love to use foam blocks for all sorts of language arts fun. Most recently, I created a game that my students adore. Here are the steps so you can create it too.

1) You can purchase colorful foam cubes on Amazon for a very reasonable price.  I included a link at the bottom of the post.

2) Select 12 cubes and with a permanent marker add the vowels and consonants as suggested in the table below.

3) Assign the point value on the bottom right hand corner.  This will also help the players to orient the letters.  For example, the letter M will look like the letter W when it is upside-down but as long as the number indicating the point value is in the bottom right hand corner, players can recognize that they need to rotate the letter to the proper orientation.  Also, using capital letters helps with letter confusion.

4) Other items needed to play:  

  • a timer 
  • a set of 12 colored cubes with the letters and point values for each player.

5) How to Play:  

  • Each player rolls a set of 12 colored cubes onto his or her playing area (players can not change the orientation of the cubes but must use the letters rolled).  
  • Set and begin the timer for 2-5 minutes.  You can decide on the amount of time you prefer.
  • Words must crisscross or join like a scrabble game, and players must try to use as many cubes as they can.  Like Scrabble, proper names and abbreviations can not be used.
  • When the timer goes off, the round ends and players add up their points as indicated on the cubes for each word created.
  • Bonuses are granted as follows:
    • 4 points for a 6 letter word
    • 5 points for a 7 letter word
    • 6 points for a 8 letter word
    • 5 points for using all 12 cubes
  • The winner is the player with the highest score after 5 rounds
If you would like to learn about some of my other popular reading games, go to: http://goodsensorylearning.com/reading-games.html  There, you can even download another fun, free game for learning the short vowels! 
If you like this or have any other ideas, please share your thoughts!!

   Enjoy, Erica

Learning Center Ideas: Free, Fun Phonics Activities

It’s wonderful when giggles of joy and excitement ring
through the classroom as young students eagerly learn the skills needed to be
proficient readers.   Learning
centers or reading centers are often the place where this can happen, but the
trick to tickling your students attention often lies in multisensory,
interactive activities or games. 

Here is a fun phonemic awareness activity I designed that
you can make with old recycled pill or vitamin containers and other common
household goods.  It’s a wonderful
learning center idea that will help students blend phonics sounds into words.

Collect and clean old vitamin or pill
containers. I like to use the clear, colorful ones.
Decide upon the playing pieces.  I use a 1 inch hole puncher with thick
cardstock, large lima beans, or wooden craft discs. 
Place consonants, blends, digraphs, word endings
or more onto both sides of the playing pieces.  I like to color code the pieces to match the color of the
container so that clean up is quick and easy.
Label the containers as illustrated or as you
     How to play (2-4
The object of the game is for players to select “a pill”
from each container and try to make a word by blending the sounds.  If a player can make one word or more,
they write down the biggest word on a score sheet and collect one point for
every letter used in their word. 
After each round, the playing pieces are returned to the appropriate
container.  Players shake the
bottles and then select new pieces.  After ten rounds, the winner is the player with the highest

If you like this game, you will love my newest Reading Games 2 publication.  Come check it out! There, you can also download a full, freebie sample board game! http://goodsensorylearning.com/reading-games.html

Cheers, Erica

5 Fun Ways to Teach the Vowel Combinations or Vowel Teams

Place the vowel combinations on a balloon with a
permanent marker, or have the students do it themselves.  Pass the balloon from student to
student.  They will then say the
first vowel combination they see and then they share the sound that it
makes.  In a more advanced version,
they can share a word that uses that vowel combination.
If you are looking for something more durable
than a balloon, you can purchase playground balls and write the vowel
combinations on them.
Use old scrabble tiles.  Place two tiles together to make a
vowel combination and then let the students come up with as many words as they can
by adding additional tiles.  Write
all the words down that are created into a list for all the students to see.  For added fun, they can add up all the
numbers on the tiles to gain points. 
If you don’t have scrabble tiles, you can purchase
small kitchen or bathroom tiles and write the letters on them with permanent
markers.  If you get the small,
rectangular tiles, they can fit both vowel team letters on one tile.
Give the students a newspaper or magazine
article and a highlighter.  Have
them highlight all the vowel combinations they can find.  Then have them write all the words and
as a group read the words aloud and discuss what sound the vowel combination
makes in each word.
If you are looking for more fun ways to teach the vowel
combinations.  Come check out my
downloadable workbook, Vowel Combinations Made Easy.  You can even get a free sampling of the publication!  Click Here 
Cheers, Erica

5 Strategies that Make Learning the Alphabet a lot of Fun

Learning the letters can be a lot of fun! Here are 5 Strategies that your children will be sure to love.  

1) Fill a tray with a light coating of sand, ground
coffee, flour, or rice.  Make sure
that the tray is a contrasting color so that when the kids make the letters,
they can see the surface of the tray underneath.
2) Form the individual letters out of food that
starts with that letter.  For
example, make the letter B out of sliced bananas, carve the letter O in the
rind of an orange, or make the letter M out of mustard.
3) Have the children find the letters in the
environment.  For example, they
might see that two intersecting branches make the letter T, a portion of a
ladder makes the letter H, or an Allen wrench or hex key makes the letter L.
4) Boil spaghetti and cool it.  While it is still pliable let the
children form the different letters. 
Then let the letters dry and paint them. 
5) Take pictures of the letters that the children
made in the prior activities. 
Print them out and let them spell simple words with the letters or even make
their own name.

If you try these activities, I’d love to hear your thoughts!  

Inference Activities Ideas, Freebie and Workbook Link

Inferences are often tricky to teach and challenging for
students to learn.  They are
abstract notions or concepts that are implied through language or images.  Therefore, concrete ways of learning
have to be placed aside and students have to learn to uncover hidden
messages.  Personally, I like to
use advertisements for my lessons.
Here are a number of strategies that can help you to teach
this skill:
Magazine advertisements often have hidden
messages to help entice buyers. 
Look at magazine ads and discuss the inferences.  Consider the colors, backgrounds,
expressions, layouts and more.
Likewise, billboards offer inferences.   Look at all the details in the
image and discuss what the billboards are trying to sell and what in the images
makes you want to buy that product. 
Similarly, television commercials can offer some
wonderful opportunities for students to practice their inference skills.  Again, ask yourself what they are
wanting you to buy and what strategies they use to tempt possible customers.
If you would like to purchase a product that has already
compiled images for you as well as other inference activities and a game, you
can come learn more about my product, Making Inferences: The Fun and Easy
Way.  You can even download a
freebie sampling of the activities!  http://goodsensorylearning.com/making-inferences.html

Alphabetizing Exercises Help to Develop Memory and Organizational Skills

Alphabetizing is an important skill to master.  It helps develop organizational skills, executive functioning abilities and it even improves memory.  Furthermore, if we sequence materials that we are encoding into our brains, it makes it easier to access at a later date.  In addition, when we apply these principles to everyday life, it can help us to access our personal materials quicker and more efficiently.  Moreover, it is a skill that is needed in many employment positions.  The problem is that most alphabetizing activities are dull and boring.  Alphabet Roundup is my newest product, and it makes the process both fun and memorable.  Four different decks from beginners to advanced can be sorted and also played in a card game.  Amusing images and names will keep all the players chuckling.

Come Check it out!!