Dr. Warren’s blogger articles that offer freebies.

Free Money Game Idea

games into academic lessons ignites the fun factor, makes instruction
multisensory and grabs the attention of even the most discouraged learners.   I, too, enjoy the creative process
and love pulling out my craft and scrapbook materials, so the new game of the
week brings excitement and wonder into the classroom.  This week, I created the Fun House
Money Game
to help students develop their skills identifying and adding
pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. 
Items needed:
  1) small box
  2) craft or scrapbook paper
  3) glue
  4) scissors
  5) long table or a melamine shelf
  6) marbles or shuffle board
pieces (I purchased the shuffle
board pieces on Amazon and included the link below.)
  7) play money or real change in a small basket or plastic bin
  1) Remove the bottom of the box with
  2) Cover the box with colorful craft
  3) Cut four doorways/holes in the side
as illustrated.
  4) Label the doorways: pennies,
nickels, dimes and quarters.  You
can also use this same game for fractions, or other numerical denominations.
How to play:
the colorful box at the end of a table or melamine shelf.  Then, give each player twelve marbles
or shuffle board pieces.  Next, decide
who goes first, and take turns trying to get the marbles/shuffle board pieces
into the doorways of the box.  When
a marble enters the box, have that player select the correct change from the
change basket. Once one of the players has rolled all their marbles into the
box the game is over and all the players add up their change.   The winner is the player with the
highest total.  

I hope you enjoy this idea!  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.com  www.dyslexiamaterials.com and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

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

Alphabet Cookies – Practical and Delicious

Now you can take your favorite cookie recipe and cut the dough into the alphabet!  You can use it for learning the letters, spelling names, and even making words and sentences.  If you don’t want to use them for cookies, you could use it to cut up a pan of jello!  Finally, if you want to make it into something that is not edible, you could use the cutters to make the letters out of clay or play-dough   See below for a link where you can buy them!

Have fun!

Amazon.com Widgets

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!  

Freebie Game for any Orton Gillingham or Phonics Based Reading Program

Come get a free copy!!  Kids don’t have to learn and practice new knowledge by plugging through long lists of words or completing worksheets.  I am a firm believer that the repetition they need can be achieved through fun and engaging games!  Puppy Party is one of my reading games that makes my students squeal with delight.  Kids travel around the game board collecting puppies while learning the short vowel  sounds.  The winner is the player with the most puppies. It is great for small groups, learning centers, or individual remediation.  It also works seamlessly with any phonics or Orton Gillingham based reading program.  

You can get a free copy of Puppy Party and learn about my other fun reading games by clicking here: http://goodsensorylearning.com/reading-games.html

Help for Struggling Readers: Creating Your Own Color Overlays

You can create
your own overlays by using whole sheets or cutting strips of transparent,
colored report covers, dividers or overhead projector film. 

Step one: Buy a
variety of colorful transparent sheets. 
You can use –
  • color,
    transparency film
  • color, transparent
    report covers (plastic)
  • color, transparent
    dividers (plastic)
All of these options can be found at office supply stores.
Step two:  Everyone is different.  Let your students try out the different
colors and see which one they like the best.
Step three:  For some students, keep whole sheets so
that students have the option of changing the background color of the entire
page of text.  Other students might
like a thin strip of color, as it can help with tracking from one line to the
next.  I make them a variety of
lengths and widths, and often let students decide for themselves.  Note: The strips also make wonderful
book marks. 
Step four
(optional):  Place a plain sticker
on the end of
the overlay strip or the bottom of a whole sheet so that 
can write their name on it. 
Students can also pick out a sticker of an image too.  Just make sure to keep all stickers on
one end of the color overlay strip or the bottom of the overlay page.
Step five (optional): For those students that get overwhelmed by to many words on a page,
you can place duct tape around the edge of the overlay to block out competing
lines of text. 
At the end of the
activity, even if a few of your students don’t find color overlays helpful,
they will still have a useful book mark.  

For more great reading remediation ideas, check out my reading games!  You can even get a free sample game!!