Wednesday, March 20, 2013

long and short vowel posters

If you are a parent or teacher to a young child, you know the joys and challenges of teaching a child to read. If you, like me, are a teacher (at a small school with limited resources), you are exceptionally familiar with the challenges.  I teach Kindergarten at a school that does not have a literacy program or curriculum.  Instead, all of the teachers are left to build their own.  Which, sometimes, is a blessing.  I have taught at a school with scripted curriclums and that is awful.  But building a literacy program is tough (especially when it's your first year teaching this grade!).  I am using the Daily 5 program and loooove it.  It's amazing.  I would highly recommend it to everyone.  I had some doubts about how it would work for Kinders, but I am finding that it's adaptable and wonderful and the kids are gaining so many skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking--but also how to work independently and take ownership of their learning).

I've taught Pre-K (2 years), 1st grade (1 year) and Kinder (this year) and find that young readers struggle with the differences between the short vowel sound and the long vowel sound.  We talk a lot about how short vowels make a sound (the short sound) but sometimes they also say their name (long vowel sounds).  I teach lots of silly rules about when to use the long vowel sound (when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking/bossy "e"/etc).  My students needed concrete visuals for reminders of the differences between the two sounds...So I made posters!  They have a permanent spot on a wall in my room and students frequently look to them.  They are great visual anchors for activities.  Here are two examples for long a and short a.   (Disclaimer: I do not own the photos, I am not selling the photos, they are simply a learning tool).

You can download the entire vowel set here.  Let me know if you have any problems accessing the pdf file.    

A is and angel
E is for...elephant and equal (love when you can combine math with literacy!)
I is for...igloo and ice cream
O is for...octopus and ocean
U is for...umbrella and unicorn

If you have any requests for a different picture to go with the vowel, let me know.  I know angel might not work for all teachers but I am blessed to work at a Catholic school where that kind of thing is embraced :)  I didn't write the words on the posters because these are meant to be purely visual sound clues and I don't want to the spelling of some of the trickier words (i.e. ocean) to throw them off!  

Here are a couple of ideas of how you could use them with your class:

  • Make picture sorts (provide the pictures or find in a magazine and sort by beginning, middle or ending sound)
  • Brainstorm word lists with the sounds, have students write them down
  • Go on scavenger hunts around the room for items that have a certain sound (i.e. look for an object around the room that has the short a sound)

Teaching children to read is no easy task, especially for struggling readers.  My struggling readers really thrive with visuals, so hopefully you will find this helpful!  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

diy wedding photo booth props


I know photo booths at weddings are no longer a big surprise or something “different”…everyone has them.  In fact, we attended three weddings last year, and each wedding had some variation of a photo booth.  But I really wanted one-I love them.  They catch candid funny photos of guests that a photographer simply does not have time to catch (and there’s something about the concealed photo booth that brings out the crazy in people).  As I mentioned in my last post, I am cheap frugal. And after doing lots of pricing, I realized I could not justify paying full price for photo booth services.  But about a year before the wedding, we found a Groupon for half off photo booth services.  One of our best purchases, we booked the photo booth for half price.

I was lucky that this photo booth company are great.  I wanted to customize everything, and they were all for it.  I asked if I could make a backdrop, they said of course!  I wanted to make my own props, they were all for it!  Come the actual day of the wedding, when our allotted time was up and there was still a line of family and friends who wanted to take some photos—he kindly obliged and stayed past the time.  If you’re in the Denver metro area, I would HIGHLY recommend them  (Visit their Facebook page here, see our album here).

I made our backdrop by dying coffee filters.  I folded them into fourths and cut out hearts.  I made various patterns and attached them to hangers.  Which I never really thought about—because you can see the hangers in some of the photos, but oh well.  If I would have thought about it, I would have painted them black to match the backdrop.  But it was my first time making a backdrop for a photo booth, so let’s hope someone else can learn from my mistake :)  I liked the variety and now actually have them hanging up in my Kindergarten classroom, which the kids love.


I wanted fun props.  Are you, too, a little over the mustaches, glasses, gigantic neon colored sunglasses, and feather boa wedding props?  Wanting something different?  Something that represents you and your husband a little better?  Me too. We decided on a few of our favorite things… Superheroes (Hubster is a big nerd), Top Gun and Blues Brothers (iconic movies from the decade we were born), and Bride & Groom.  We also picked these themes because they were easy to shop for.   We had these posters displayed by the props at the props table…

photobooth printoutsintro

photobooth printouts2

We made a fake bouquet of flowers, bought a cheap-o veil from Hobby Lobby for the bride and made a (really funny) beard for the groom.

photobooth printouts1

Enter a talented friend. We made the props on poster board with paint, sharpies and utility knives…

IMG_0489photobooth printouts

For the Blues Brothers we bought knock off Raybans and Fedoras and Walmart and made the quote “I’m on a mission from God”.  For Top Gun we found knock off aviators at Walmart and I borrowed leather jackets from friends with the quotes “I feel the need…the need for speed!”


We arranged the items in boxes to be displayed at the wedding. They did not stay organized for very long, but that didn’t matter.



And here are some of the gems from the night…


















As you can tell…Austin had a lot of fun at the Tequila bar.  More on that later.

Places we find inspiration.



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