Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so it’s time to add some extra special touches to your small group reading plans. Integrating the holidays into your literacy lessons is a great way to increase engagement and motivation. Today, I’m going to share some quick and EASY ways to add Valentine’s Day fun to your small reading groups! I also have some special FREEBIES to share with you! Before we get to those, let’s talk about some very simple ways to add Valentine’s Day sweetness to your small groups. As primary teachers, we know that a little novelty can go a LONG way with our kiddos. Here are a few suggestions:
5 Simple Ways to Add Valentine’s Day Fun to Small Groups
- Use red finger lights to track text while reading. Emerging readers can point to each word with their light. (Fluency Finger Lights)
- Ditch the whiteboards during word work to switch things up! Pass out plain paper and use pink, red, and purple crayons or markers.
- Glue candy hearts to the ends of craft sticks, Popsicle sticks, or dowel rods to use as pointers for the week!
- Write your sight words for the week on die-cut hearts. On a couple of the hearts, place a sticker or draw a happy face. Place your “heart flash cards” face down in a pile. Students take turns drawing and reading sight words on the hearts. If they draw a heart that has a happy face or sticker on it, they have to put all of their hearts back. The player with the most hearts at the end of the game, wins!
- Print out a large heart template such as one found here . Fold it in half. Use it as a graphic organizer for comprehension as you read your guided reading book. Students will draw or write on each side of the heart based on the skill you choose. For example, on the left side of the heart, the student writes the problem, and on the right side of the heart, the student writes down the solution in the story. Some other ideas include: cause/effect, central idea/detail, main idea/detail, compare/contrast, question/answer, schema & evidence/inference, prediction/confirmation, character/setting
Word Work Freebie for Small Groups
Building words and having the opportunity to physically manipulate letters and sounds is an important skill for young readers. In addition, children need to be skilled at deciphering between real words and nonsense words. This understanding is connected to their vocabulary. As a child’s vocabulary grows, he or she will get better and better at identifying which words are nonsense words and which words are real. The activity below contains photographs of my Word Builder Freebie pack for February. The pack includes five printable word builder pages.
The child will cut out the letter cards at the bottom of the page and use the cards to build words using just those letters. The child will also make a list of all the words he or she made. Then, the child must unscramble the letter cards to reveal the “secret word,” which uses ALL of the letters to make. My students have a lot of fun trying to see how many words they can make with their letter cards.
Click here to download this resource in my TpT store –> February Word Builders Freebie Pack (Or, click the cover picture below.)
Play a Word Work Game: Valentine’s Day Tic Tac Toe!
We LOVE phonics and decoding games that are quick, easy, and FUN! They are ideal for the small group table because we always want to make sure that we spend the bulk of our time reading our text for the day. I whipped up this little twist on Tic Tac Toe so that you can simply print it and play it with your students at the small group table! I used leftover Valentine’s Day erasers that I had found at Target for our “x’s and o’s.” If you don’t have Valentine’s erasers, you could use candy hearts (each partner picks one color candy heart to play with), math cubes, counter chips, counting bears, or anything else you might have laying around the classroom. (Keep reading for the free download link for these games.)
The free download includes three different versions of the Tic Tac Toe game, so you can choose the level or phonics skill your small group needs the most practice with. The game works exactly like Tic Tac Toe, only instead of drawing x’s and o’s on the board, the students will place counters on top of the words. Students must first READ the word before they can place a counter on top of the word to “claim” it. The first player to get three in a row, wins! There are two different versions of each game. I suggest having partner groups switch game boards so that they can play the game multiple times in a row.
Tic, Tac, CVC Edition:
Tic, Tac, Sneaky E Edition:
Tic, Tac, Vowel Teams Edition:
I hope you enjoy this little small group word work game. You can access the file for free by clicking on the image below:
I know Valentine’s week can be BUSY and exhausting, so I’d love to share some print-and-go activities with you for the small group table. When my students arrive at the small group table, they know to self-start. This means they grab their fluency basket and start rereading, or they practice their sight words using my sight word spinners. (You can read all about how my students self-start in a blog post I wrote called: Small Group Warm-Ups to Maximize Time at the Table) For Valentine’s Day week, I like to spice it up a bit. We use my Phonics Spinners from my February Just Print Fluency pack when we arrive at the table. Simply print the spinner pages and add a pencil and a paperclip. These are a big hit with my students!
The pack also comes with partner plays, songs for fluency practice, and beginning passages with picture cues and repeated readings for fluency.
The photograph below is a picture of one of the songs that are included in my Just Print February Fluency pack. If you’d like to sing this song with your students this week, I’ve included the words to the song below the photograph:
Tune: My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean It’s Valentine’s Day in the classroom. It’s Valentine’s Day in our school. We have lots of friends at our party. Oh Valentine’s Day is so cool! Friendship, Friendship, kindness and sharing and laughter, too! Friendship, Friendship, I’m happy to be friends with you!
The Valentine’s Day Mix-Up: Read and Infer Activity
One of my favorite (and most difficult) reading strategies to teach is inference. To help make inference FUN in my classroom, I created a new series this year call The Lunch Bunch Club: Read and Infer. Each monthly pack features the same eight characters. In every resource pack, there is a big mix-up that takes place in their school, Kind Elementary School. In February’s edition, the Lunch Bunch Club kids all forgot to attach their Valentine’s Day cards to the goodie bags they brought for the class party. Now, the bags are all mixed up! Your students will put their close reading skills to the test as they read each Valentine’s Day card and use their inference skills to figure out which goodie bag each member of the Lunch Bunch Club brought to school.
The pack comes with differentiated recording sheets for students in grades kindergarten through second grade. You can choose the recording sheets that work best for your students’ skill levels. There are pictorial recording sheets, labeling, and various writing sheets included.
The resource also comes with a set of bonus inference riddle cards. The cards all have a Valentine’s Day theme to them.
A writing extension activity is included, as well. The students will write their own clues about what they would bring to the Valentine’s Day party at school. Students will love walking around the room to read and making inferences about what each of their classmates brought to the party.
I hope you LOVE the freebies and literacy resources that were shared in this post today. I also hope that you are have loads of fun during small groups this week! Adding some Valentine’s Day touches to your plans can boost your students’ momentum, motivation, and overall engagement. (Plus, YOU will have fun, too!)
Below are the covers to three of my favorite Valentine’s Day resources. You can click on each image to learn more.
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