I have always been the biggest fan of using what I have to make learning fun. Several years ago I started turning worksheets into centers because hands-on learning gets me the engagement and mastery I’m hoping for.
This is the easiest way to make centers with things you already have!
Let me show you how I took one of my turkey worksheets and made it a fun sensory bin letter matching activity!
1. I made a few extra copies of the worksheet on colorful cardstock. I picked yellow, orange, and red for fall colors.
2. Cut out the items from the colorful pages. Leave the original page for a matching mat.
3. Add to a fun sensory bin! I like to use simple reusable sensory bin materials that are not messy. Fabric decor leaves work great for Fall!
Now, you have a matching game with fun colors and materials that keeps kids more engaged and giving them more practice than just a worksheet. You can even give them the worksheet as a closing activity to use what they practiced in the center.
I left the instructions on this worksheet so you can see how this page was intended to be used. I turned it into a numbers matching. You could even color the correct number of feathers on each of the pieces you cut out to add that counting skill in there.
I hope this gives you an easy idea to try in your own classroom!
I recently saw a kinder teacher asking how to teach kindergarten in a new way by using games to teach letters. That, of course, is EXACTLY how I teach letters and sounds. And, it works better than any other method I’ve seen!
The engagement is high for each student. Having a playful purpose makes kids want to practice their letter formation and their letter sounds. I have never seen kids so excited to participate, and I have never seen my most struggling learners catch on as quickly as they do with these programs and activities.
Here is a quick guide how I teach letters and sounds through play and games.
This has a fun story for each letter sound. Students remember the stories, making them remember the sound so much easier. We add motions to match the sounds for even more memorable playful learning.
This also has a fun story for letter formation where students are helping our letter animal by completing the picture with letters as parts of a shape. Again, I have never seen kids more excited and willing to practice writing letters. With regular practice pages, it’s like pulling teeth. But, not with this set!
You can see some activities from this set in action in this video.
This Phonics Safari can also be used as a letter a week or a letter every two days depending on what your students need. In a normal year, we could easily cover a letter a day and have students retain the letters and sounds. However, this year we are seeing more struggling with learning letters and sounds, so we moved it to a letter ever 2 days.
2. Letter ID and Sound Games
I use games as a whole group cumulative letter ID and sound practice and review. This is where I see real progress with my students. I play these games once or twice a day. It’s always our closing activity for the day, but we play when we have a spare few minutes throughout the day and before we go to centers. I also make this game one of our Literacy centers. The kids know how to play it really well from our whole group plays, so they can play with a small group independently.
You can grab my Cat and Buttons Centers/Games set here:
Some other games we play as whole group, small group, and centers is:
If you have followed my teaching journey for long, you know how much I LOVE a good learning game for my lessons and centers! I hope this helps you get some ideas for making your literacy block more playful, fun, and engaging.