Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Teaching Letter Sounds to Kindergarten and First Grade Kids

Teaching letter sounds to kindergarten and first grade kids is such a fun topic! You can even introduce it to preschoolers and they "get it" because it's something that's all around them. :)

Kids love it because alphabet letters are everywhere and, most importantly, once they have letter and sound recognition - they can start to READ! So exciting!

Teaching Letter Sounds 

I am going to share my favorite ideas for teaching beginning sounds with you and how you can make it so fun and engaging, whether you're teaching your own child at home or to a classroom full of students.

Teaching Letter Sound Correspondence

The first thing you're going to do is simply to tell your child how each letter makes its own sound.

Pick the first letter you're going to learn and tell them its sound. I love the idea of starting with either A or a sound with a very obvious sound like T or C. 

Letter C Activities for Kindergarten perfect for teaching letter sounds and recognition in fun ways

If you teach your alphabet letters in order, then A is a perfectly fine example. Apple, alligator, animal, am, at. Stretch it out when you say the "a" sound at the beginning so you're emphasizing the beginning sound.

In this example, I used C because the sound is harsh so it is really emphasizing the initial sound when saying the word. Cow, car, cat, cake. Hear how obvious that first sound is?

Go through each picture word card together while looking at the picture and saying the word for them, then hand them the card to look at. This is such a great way to introduce any letter.

Then, you can come up with words for that sound together and notice them during the day. For C, they may come up with K words and you can simply say how C and K make the same sound so now they already know 2 letter sounds! :)

Once they've learned a few letters, you can do a sort of 2 sounds. Have them sort the pictures as to whether the word starts with C or P. For example, the P side may look like this: 

Letter P activities for preschool or kindergarten that are awesome alphabet picture cards with fun words that kids love to "read" and sort. There are so many games you can play with these!

Put the header for "Starts with P" and the header for "Starts with C" on a table. Have them put the correct pictures under each header.

Such a quick and easy activity! Encourage them to also emphasize the first sound when saying the word. P-opcorn, p-enguin, p-encil. I also love the letter P because of how much it POPS when you say it :)

There are a lot of ways you can match this to the level of your child/class.

A quick way to differentiate is whether you leave the word on the bottom of the card (for support) or if you cut it off. I always print/make 2 sets: one with words and ones where I've clipped them off.

Here are some example levels of ways you can use these for SORTS while teaching a "focus letter" (the alphabet letter you're focusing on at the time):

- Super easy sort: With the words still attached, take a handful of the cards with your focus letter and random cards from other letters and do a "C" and "not C" sort (for this & any levels below, make it harder by simply cutting the words off the bottom)

- Another super easy one: 2 letters at a time - take a letter you've already learned (for example: T) and have them sort if the card is a M word or T word

- Slightly harder: 2 letters at a time - using focus sound (M) and a sound you've never learned before

- A little harder: 3 sounds at once (adjust difficulty by which letters you choose) so they sort words starting with M, P, or R for example, under the correct "Starts with" header

- Hard: Sorting 4 sounds at once. If you're sorting this many, I recommend doing it in a pocket chart or on the floor so they can spread out.

Alphabet sorting activities kids love because the pictures are so fun and are words they actually know

If you have really advanced students (be sure to read my How to Keep Gifted Kids Engaged and Learning Post if you do!), then here are some ways to make it challenging for them while still having them practice the same content as the rest of your class...

For all the word cards for your focus letter, have them:

- Have them put all the words from a particular letter in alphabetical order (explain how you start on the 2nd letter and sing the alphabet to figure out which letter comes next... if two words have the same 2nd letter, you look at the 3rd letter and sing the alphabet to figure out which comes next - this is a pretty advanced skill but an advanced student can pick it up quickly if you explain it well)

- Have them sort the words by how many syllables they have (teach them how to clap the word if you haven't taught syllables yet - advanced kids will pick that up super quick even if you haven't learned it)

- Have them sort them by the number of letters in the word and put in piles by how many

There are so many ways to differentiate when learning alphabet letters... or anything, really! If you read my articles, you know I love finding 20 levels of the same activity - I consider it a challenge... and find it fun. :)


You can also use these cards for easier activities!

If you have magnet letters, you can set out some cards that start with different letters (and have the words clipped off the bottom... or not) and have them put the letter the picture starts with on top of the picture. Only do a few at a time, as many as they can handle without feeling overwhelmed and keeping it fun.

You can also have them build the entire word with alphabet magnets next to the card. That's fun and you can say each letter of the word with them after if you want, or have them tell them to you as a review. It's great alphabet practice since they have to look at each letter in the word and find the magnet for it. It also reinforces the idea that words are made up of individual letters.


Another fun game I like is to pick 2 easy words from each letter from about 8 letters. Since you have 2 cards that each start with the same letter, you'll have 16 cards total. Arrange them upside down in a 4 x 4 grid. Take turns flipping over 2 at a time - if they make the same sound at the beginning, you get to keep them!

Make this game easier/harder by how many cards you put down in a grid. Also by whether or not you keep the word at the bottom or cut if off. You may think it's giving the answer to keep the word on the bottom but it's still awesome for them to see the letter and associate it with the sound, so as long as they're saying the word out loud, it is still awesome practice. Plus, it gives them picture support and confidence if they need a little.

I have these cards for the entire alphabet. You can grab them here if you want them: Alphabet Cards Beginning Sounds Pocket Chart Centers

For even more ideas for how to use them, you can check out my Short A Activities post where I showed a lot of the ways I use the Short A cards! It has a lot of fun teaching ideas including stamping words, building them in a pocket chart, writing them in sand, and a lot more ways that you could use for these too. :)


Recognizing Letters in the Environment

Constantly point out words you use and see in their environment! Learning is so much more meaningful when they see that what they're learning is all around them.

When you introduce D, for example, point it out everywhere!

"Oh, look at our cute dog! Hey, that's a D word. D-og, dog!"
"Hey, look at your book about dinosaurs. That starts with a D! D-inosaurs!"
"I wonder if your Uncle Dan knows his name starts with a D. D-an, Dan!"

(Say the sound D makes, not its letter name, when you say "D-og" to point out the sound. Try to say "duh" without the "uh" if you can. A sharp "duh" with as little "uh" as possible to emphasize the D sound. I hope that makes sense!)

"Time for dinner! Hey, that's a D word! D-inner, dinner!"

I know it sounds cheesy, but pointing it out everywhere really helps them to realize the alphabet is all around them and in all the words they already use.

Especially point it out if it's in their name! You can even ask that each time you introduce a new one - is it in your name? This is a great opportunity to have their first and last name written down somewhere and to reference it constantly. I recommend you write it somewhere in bold letters so it has nice letter formation for each letter and is easy to read. If they can look at it each time and decide if that letter is in their name, it's a great quick name recognition activity each time too!

Point out your focus letter if you see it on magazines, books, street signs, signs at the grocery store, signs of store names, names of T.V. shows if it displays the name, on movie covers, on food packaging. When they point it out to you in their environment, make a big deal about it and act enthusiastically excited that they found another one! :)

You can also do a little search around the house/classroom together to look for items.

If your child/class is competitive, you can also make it a race! Say, "Let's look for objects in the room that start with _" and see who can find it first. If you're a parent at home, run through the house and race them. Have them bring it to you if they find something and you do the same and make a pile together. You can do it multiple times too!

If you're in a classroom, they're racing each other while you stand at the front of the room. When someone brings something to you... say loudly, "Oooh, Jax found a Pencil. P-encil, pencil! What else can we find?" "Sophie found a Paper! P-aper, paper!" so they can hear you while you search. Then, when you're all done looking, have them sit on the carpet and go over all the objects you found, saying them out loud so they can hear each word. I also recommend writing the words down together so they can see them too.


Pick a Memory Word for Each Letter Sound

I love this trick! Have a specific word/picture that you ALWAYS use to remind them of a certain letter's sound. If it's always the same one, I personally believe that they're more likely to remember it.

"M says mmmm like monkey, remember?" or simply "mmmm monkey"
"C says "k" like cat" or simply "'k' cat"

For many kids, it's easier to say only the sound and word. Saying the letter name too may confuse them so if that's the case, do the 2nd options above.

Associating each letter with an animal is probably easiest. :) Pick animals they know/love. ONLY 1 for each and this is the one you'll always use when they need a quick reminder.

A = alligator
B = bunny, bird, beaver, bear (pick 1 & always use the same one)
C = cat (don't pick ones like crocodile, crab. You can but technically that's consonant blend CR and sounds slightly different. You want a vowel to be the 2nd letter to ensure it's not a blend.)
D = dog, dolphin, donkey, duck, deer

and so on! If you want me to make a list for all the letters, let me know below and I can add that for you :)

You could also grab that word card from the set above with that animal for that letter and have a master set of just those cards to have a visual reminder. You could even punch a hole in the corner and put them on a ring. You could also hang them in order on the wall in a line so they can "review" it each day. They can point to it and say: "'a' alligator, 'b' bear, 'c' cat" to say their alphabet each morning. OR you can have it hung up so, when they are trying to blend words together later and come across a letter they forgot the sound for, they can look up at the wall.

By the way, if you see letters between " symbols, I am referring to the sound for the letter instead of the letter name. I figured it was the easiest way to show that. If you think another way is easier, please let me know and I'll consider it because I realize it may look confusing. If I say A then I mean the letter name, pronounced AY. If I say "a" then I mean "aaah" (the sound you'd make if you were holding out your tongue at the dentist).


Have visuals everywhere

I recommend having visuals everywhere and referring to them often. My favorite to display are these Alphabet Charts for each letter!

Alphabet Charts for each letter for so much reading practice! These are so nice to have when teaching kids beginning sounds so you have a lot of great word and picture examples all on one sheet!

If you have a writing center, these are awesome to hang up each week. You could also print a couple and put them in sheet protectors on the table. If you have access to a laminator, that's another great option to make these last a long time if a lot of kids are going to be handling them.

I also recommend keeping one at your small groups table. They're just SO nice to have when teaching beginning sounds because you have a bunch of great picture examples all on one page.

If you're using these to homeschool, keep one wherever you teach.

You could also print it poster sized to display it huge - simply select "Poster" in your print settings when printing! Did you know you can do that?? It's an awesome trick for printing a single page poster sized! (For more printing tricks, check out my "Tech Tips for Teachers" post)


Another really fun idea for how to use these is to cut them up!

You can do this with any alphabet charts you already have too! Put them to use! :)

Cut a page of words into the little squares... or even have them cut them out if you think they can! That's great fine motor practice and they're straight lines so it's possible :) If they don't have scissors skills, though, I recommend doing it quickly yourself.

These come in black and white versions as well so you could have them color the pictures then cut them out to play with.

You could also use them for a sorting activity!

Pick 2 letters and have them cut the pictures out (or you do it - it would take me approximately 2 minutes to cut 2 pages of words out so it's quick for you to prep ahead of time for them if you want them to not see the "answers"). Then give them 2 pieces of paper to sort the words. Cut the tops off where it says "Letter C" and use those as headers. You could even open a notebook so it shows 2 pages at once and have them sort it on either side of the notebook ring. :) Such an easy and fun activity!

You could also cut them into strips of 4 words and use it as a bookmark in their notebook or books you're reading. :)

Or make them into drill strips. Randomly pull out a drill strip of 4 words and have them "read" each picture, pointing to each picture as they say the word. Congratulate them on what a great reader they are! Quick and easy way to pull out words with the letter you're learning, practice the sound, and build their reading confidence!

If you're using these in a classroom, I recommend laminating the sheets before cutting them out. Then you have drill strips you can use in small groups over and over. If you use it as a sorting activity, having them laminated is AWESOME because then you can put all the pieces into a bag for each letter (buy a box of small little sandwich size bags and write the letter on the front with a permanent marker for easy organization and storage). Then you can use these year after year!

If you have a bunch of laminated little word boxes cut out, you can also use them for reading practice in small groups, as well as games! There are so many games you could make up using them. (I recommend leaving the words at the bottom.)

You can also do a bazillion different sorts with them. C or R. C or T. C or M. C or J or M.... seemingly infinite! You can also pull them out again when you do vowels.... A or E. A or I. You name it!

The black and white versions can also make a great reading notebook activity like I said above, by having them color and sort words by the letter they start with on either page of a notebook and glue them down.

These make great little books they can take home and "read" all their words to their families!


Practicing Writing Words that Start with Each Letter

Speaking of books, I LOVE little books for phonics! I have them for all the different phonics sounds but I also made one for each alphabet letter!

Alphabet books to practice letter recognition and writing words that start with each! These are SO cute and perfect to use each week in kindergarten or preschool for kids to take home and "read" to their families!

This Alphabet Books Little Books Bundle has a little book for each week!

Each book has 10 words for each letter that kids can color then write on the lines. You can easily match it to their level by having them simply write the word once, write the word 3 times (once on each line), OR - to really challenge them - have them use the word in a sentence. If they're only ready to color each picture right now, have them do that. They can come back to it later. :)

Letter P book to practice words that begin with that sound in a super fun and visual way! Kids can write it on each line OR even use it in a sentence if you want to challenge them! Check out these super awesome alphabet ideas!

Here's a peek inside!

It uses primary writing lines to encourage good handwriting. All you do is print these and fold them to make them so they're quick and easy prep. I personally staple them too so they stay together because they are a lot of fun for kids to take home and read to their families... or anyone who comes in the room because they're so proud :)

If you're using these with your child at home, you could have them present them by reading them to the dog, cat, a stuffed animal, a family member.


Review Often with Learning Games

Once they've learned them all, you can play so many games to review! Matching games are one of my favorites, such as these Alphabet Beginning Sounds Puzzles!

Beginning Sounds Puzzles that make learning alphabet letter sounds so much fun for kids! They're great practice with highly engaging pictures to match to both lowercase and uppercase (it comes in 2 versions) so you can have a lot of review! Perfect for preschoolers, kindergarten literacy centers, homeschooling, or to supplement at home.

I LOVE puzzles for learning. If you read my post all about learning numbers and building number sense, you know what I mean... I use them constantly! I think at least 5 of the number activities I show in that article are puzzles... I love them! Kids love them so it just makes learning feel like a game.

They come in both a lowercase and uppercase version so you can play them both ways to maximize practice and knowledge. I chose the cutest pictures I could to make them highly engaging :) I try to use the same pictures throughout my resources for consistency. Consistency is SO helpful for emerging readers.


Beginning Sounds Worksheets

I recommend moving to worksheet based activities to have them practice what they've learned in a more independent seeming way. Activities that involve cutting and gluing down the correct answers are a great way to accomplish this. They'll still have pieces to manipulate but get to sort them into the correct locations so you can assess how well they're absorbing the skills.

If you want paper practice, these Beginning Sounds Worksheets are one of my favorites!

Beginning Sounds Worksheets Kindergarten or Preschool that are great review in these cute little picture sorts!


These are really simple, easy, and fun practice. A great way to assess as well!

Sorting by sound is actually a pretty important and sometimes difficult skill, so you may have to help them hear the sounds. This is such crucial knowledge to know if they're struggling with this, though! If they struggle with this doing this sort, you know you need to work more on hearing the sounds in a word without seeing letters. Have them close their eyes and listen to you say a word emphasizing the beginning sound. Ask them to tell you what sound they hear at the beginning. "What letter makes that sound?" This is a great listening activity to do regularly anyway. :)



If you really want to challenge your little learner, these Starts With or Ends With Worksheets are a fun challenge!

They start out with a worksheet page like this:

Beginning and Ending Sounds Activities where kids sort pictures! This is an amazing consolidation for the learning you've done on letters!


You say the first word with them ssssooooCK (stretch the word then say the CK abruptly). "Do you hear K at the beginning of this word? ssss-ock?" "No" "Or is it at the end of the word?" "sssssooooCK" "Yes!" so you put it on the "Ends with K" side.

Go through the rest of the pictures with them until all of the pictures are sorted. This is also a great independent consolidation activity for all the work you've done so far! You can also use it as an assessment to figure out whether they are truly hearing the sound in the word. Excellent practice either way!

Beginning and Ending Sounds Worksheets that are perfect consolidation activities to practice, review, and assess all the alphabet letter knowledge you've learned so far! I absolutely love these for independent work too. They're great for so many things and the fun pictures keep kids super engaged


They are awesome for figuring out if the word starts with P (pig) or ends with P (mop), for example. This is a great way to explain how you can find P at the end of words too and sets them up for beginning to read words.

Once they can hear the sounds in words and where they are, they can begin spelling words out. SO EXCITING.

I hope this has given you some fun ideas for teaching letter sounds that you can use with your child or your students! These activities can be used for preschoolers to kindergarten to reviewing in first grade and above. Because I offer a lot of picture support in the resources I create, these can be used for so many ages so if you have an older child at home or that you tutor, try these ideas with them too! Because I show a lot of pictures, you can also start these skills in early preschool too! I hope I gave ideas for reaching all of these levels but if you have any questions, please let me know so I can try to help make this more inclusive for all learners. :) Thank you so much for reading!



If you want ALL of the activities I showed you in this post, they're all in my Alphabet ULTIMATE BUNDLE which is absolutely packed with fun activities!

Every activity I've talked about here is in this bundle if you want all of them!



I have so many more fun ideas posts if you want to see more ideas! This page has them organized for you for super easy browsing:
Miss Giraffe Organized List of Blog Posts by Topic

A few of my most recent from this month are:
Short Vowel Word Family Games (these actually combine beginning sounds & reading!)
Fun CVC Word Family Games

I'd like to take another moment to thank you again for stopping by and reading! I appreciate you taking the time to visit! I absolutely love sharing teaching ideas and hope you found some great ones. Go to the top of this page and look on the right to find ways you can follow me on social media if you want to keep in touch. Also feel free to email me with any questions you have as well, I am happy to help! :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Tech Tips for Teachers

Want to learn a few of the best tech tips for teachers in 2021? I've got you covered! I use so many little tricks to get things done faster that I am SO excited to share with you!

I have a lot of amazing shortcuts for you that will help you save so much time planning, prepping, and even when you're simply reading or playing on the computer.

I am going to organize this article (you know me, I love to organize!) into sections so you can save this as a reference and easily find the hacks again if you forget any of them. 

Best Teacher Tech Tips of 2021 will have 4 jam-packed sections:
- PDF Tricks
- Super Helpful Keyboard Shortcuts
- Browser Tricks
- Printing Ideas

Okay, first up!

PDF Tricks

If you find teaching resources online (who doesn't?!), you probably have A LOT of PDFs. But did you know there are so many ways you can use them?

Viewing all of the pages at once

One of my FAVORITE things I can't believe I didn't know for so long is how you can see ALL the pages in a PDF very easily (as big or small as you want) by simply clicking the arrow to the left of the page you're on then clicking on the 2 stacked pages.

This will show you ALL of the pages in the PDF at once and you can use the little slide bar to zoom in and out! You can't even imagine how excited I was when I discovered this.

Simply click the 2 stacked pages again to go back to the normal page view.

You know what this makes very easy? PRINTING!

Have you ever scrolled through a big PDF, one page at a time, writing down page numbers to print? That takes so much time! There is such an easier way.

Printing multiple pages in this view

After clicking on the pages stack to see all the pages at once, click on the first page you want to print. This will highlight it. Use CTRL + P to bring up the print box and hit enter. Done!

Want to print a bunch of pages from the same document? This is where it really saves you time.
- Hold down the "Ctrl" button on your keyboard when you click on one of the pages, keep holding it down while you click on more pages. This will keep highlighting the pages to save them as selected. 

Extra tip: You can let go of it and it'll save the ones you've selected as you scroll through. 

Just make sure you hold Ctrl down again before you click anywhere or use an arrow to go down. If you do that by accident, it will deselect the pages you've picked. I typically press Ctrl only when selecting a page then I scroll with my mouse. If you don't have a mouse that scrolls, you can drag the bar on the right side to scroll and it'll save your pages :)

This is SUCH a quick way to print a big document! So let's say you have one of my giant first grade math units open and want to print just 1 activity but not all of the pages of that activity. You want the kid directions, teacher directions, ONLY the challenge level puzzles, and ONLY the challenge level recording sheets. You could look at all the thumbnails visually to quickly find that center, hold down Ctrl while you pick just those pages out, go to File > Print, and it will have those pages already filled in the print box for you! Woohoo!

Seriously don't ever waste time writing pages down to print on a little note! 

I love being able to see all the pages, too - it helps me plan in my head :)

The Home button

I LOVE the "Home" button on my keyboard. Did you know that it will bring you back to the very 1st page if you click on it? This saves me sooo much time - I actually used to scroll all the way back up to the top of giant files. Ahh!

An example of a way this would be super helpful is if, let's say, you were using my Sight Word Sentences Center Cards and you wanted to print the new sight words for the week.

Well, it's a HUGE document because it has over 220 sight words cards included. They're listed in a big table of contents that you can click on from the 2nd page to immediately take you to the page that word is on. (The preview pictures of this resource on TpT will show you the word list so you know what I mean: Sight Word Bottle Cap Centers - look at the 2nd picture)

This sounds super convenient, right? But what about after you click on a word?

If you clicked on "these" to print it, now you're all the way on page 115 but want to go back to the table of contents to pick the next word to print because you learn 5 new sight words every week...

Click the "Home" button!

This will take you to the 1st page immediately! Looooove this trick.

The table of contents is on the 2nd page so you'd click Home then the down arrow once and you're back to the table of contents! So easy!

This is one of the big reasons why I love to include a table of contents page as one of the first few pages in big resources... because I personally use them this way! It's so much easier than using the bar or scrolling/clicking to get back to the top.

(If it doesn't work when you try it, click in the gray margin just off to the side of the page to make sure your mouse isn't clicked on a specific part of the page)

Also, if you want to get to the bottom of a PDF really quickly, the "End" key on your keyboard will take you to the last page of the document instantly. :)

Bonus tip: This works on websites too! Click Home to go back to the top of a page you're reading.

Super Helpful Keyboard Shortcuts

I am obsessed with keyboard shortcuts. O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D.

I use them constantly when I am on the computer. I use them so often that it's completely natural for me to use my keyboard to do pretty much everything for me while I'm working. I honestly hardly use my mouse because I have so many of them memorized.

If you use them enough, they become just as intuitive as typing. So I am going to share a few of my absolutely favorites with you! 

I've already mentioned a few of them (Ctrl + P to print, the Home button) and there will probably more throughout this article in other sections since I use them so frequently.

To use them, you hold down a button then press the next one. For example, to copy a sentence from this article, you already know that you highlight the text then you would hold down Ctrl and press C to copy the text. Then, you'd go where you want to paste it, and hold down Ctrl while you press V to paste it. The way I'm going to present them is Ctrl + C. This would mean you hold down Ctrl then press C. Okay, let's get started!

Key that looks like 4 boxes + L to lock your screen quickly

This one is super handy for teachers in case you want to lock the computers back to the screen that makes you log in. It will lock your screen when you press it. For me, it takes me to a picture where I have to type in a password to log back into my screen. I set this up on my computer so I can quickly password protect my computer when I'm not using it. Being able to press this in literally 1 second so I can jump up and off the computer quickly, while locking my computer so no one else can use it, is awesome!

Alt + Tab to switch between screens

I use this one so often that I forget that it even exists. I use it all day, every day... seriously.

Let's say you're working with 2 different programs but you want both of them to be full screen. Do not waste time using your mouse to click back and forth. 

When you're on one of them, simply hold down Alt then press Tab and let go. This will immediately take you to the other one. Do it again to go back. You can hop back and forth between the 2 windows so quickly and easily this way. 

Like I said, I do this ALL day without even thinking about it, to the point that I almost didn't include it in this list because I forget that it's not something everyone does constantly. 

Another fun fact: When you press Alt + Tab but don't let go of Alt, you will see all the windows you have open on your computer. If you continue holding down Alt and press Tab but DON'T let go of Alt, it will let you press Tab as many times as you want to go to each window to pick the one you want. I also use this all the time.

Ctrl + A to select all

This works in so many places. For example, me typing this right now... if I want to select everything I've written so far, I could hold down Ctrl and press A and it would select all of it.

If I'm inside a folder of files, if I press that, it highlights all the files. I use this a lot for renaming all the files in a folder quickly which brings me to...


F2 to rename a file

I rename files all the time so this saves me a lot of time. If you click on a file in a folder then press F2, it lets you immediately rename the file. Then press Enter when you're done typing to officially rename it. You can use the left and right arrows to go to the next file to rename it.

Let's say you just uploaded pictures of your kids doing my place value ice cream cones activity and you want to name all the new photos you just uploaded to something that describes that.

You can rename them ALL at the same time by pressing Ctrl + A that we just learned to select all the pictures in the folder THEN, press F2. Type in the image title you want (for example: Place Value Game) and press enter. 

This will rename ALL of your pictures Place Value Game (1), Place Value Game (2), and so on!

(Extra bonus: Ctrl + Z can undo renaming a file, moving a file, deleting a file... if you click it right after doing so)

Sooo much better than having 50 pictures named something like IMG_1004, IMG_1005... It makes it so much easier when you want to find a specific picture on your computer to be able to search by the name. (& I don't want you to waste time renaming each picture individually - oh my goodness the amount of time that would take to do!)

Which leads me to the next one...


Ctrl + F to find anything!

You can press Ctrl then F to find words. This works on websites. This works in anything you're typing into.... It works in a lot of places! It even works within the folders on your computer. I use it all the time to find files. 


Shift to select a specific row of files in a folder

Remember how I told you about Ctrl + A to select ALL the files in a folder? Well, you can also select just a row of them, or rows of them, with a simple keyboard trick.

Ready for it......?? In the folder, you click on the first picture/file in the series that you want THEN hold down Shift and click on the last picture in the row that you want. 

This will select all the pictures from the first one you click to the last one you click. Can you believe that?? It also works in other places! Use it right now to select words in this paragraph! Click the word "Use" then hold down Shift and click on paragraph! Did it just select that chunk for you? Isn't that cool? I've always clicked and dragged! I don't really use it for selecting text but I use it for selecting images all the time now that I know it exists.

My husband actually just recently shared this gem with me and I was equal parts excited to have discovered it & equal parts angry that he never told me it existed haha. Sometimes he randomly drops those little tech tip gems on me and I'm like, "Thank you so much... but WHY have you never told me that button existed?! But thank you!" :) 

You can use this tool to simply select a row of 5 pictures, let's say, without having to click on them all individually... or 5 rows of pictures where you know you want from the file to this file.

Bonus: You can also use the holding down Ctrl while clicking individual pictures/files to select the exact ones you want like I explained in the PDF section. This works for files in a folder too :)

Advanced tip: You can combine those 2 tricks too! Let's say you have a giant folder of pictures and you want to select a bunch of random ones. Click on the first one and hold down shift then click the last one in a series.... then hold down Ctrl to individually select another one you like... or hold down Ctrl AND shift to keep all the ones you already have selected but do the Shift trick again. I hope that makes sense! This will allow you to select multiple chunks of pictures and individual pictures while skipping the ones you don't want to select.

Okay, another bonus (I told you I love my keyboard!): One thing I do a lot is sometimes I want to select all but a couple pictures in a file, I'll hit Ctrl + A to select them all... then I'll hold down Ctrl (so they all stay selected) then click on the ones I DON'T want to deselect them.


Ctrl + W

Now please don't do it on this window because I just rambled a bunch in the previous section :) but you can click out of a lot of things by using Ctrl + W! 

If you have a folder of files open, this will close it for you.

It doesn't work with all programs but it does work with some. I use it to close a lot to close things. Most often I use it for closing tabs I'm done reading.

Please don't do that right now, though, I have so much more to share with you! :) Especially if you like this one because browser hacks to save you time while online is next!


Browser Tricks

These are all my favorite browser hacks I use! They may be different on your browser but this is how they work on mine!


Ctrl + T

So I just told you about Ctrl + W to close the current tab you're on. Well, Ctrl + T will open a brand new tab for you. I use this one constantly. If I'm reading on a website and want to search something really quick, I press Ctrl then T to open up a new tab instantly.

I am one of those people who has a million tabs open all the time, by the way... which I have solutions for you for that as well! 

Ctrl + N

This does the same thing except it opens the new tab in a brand new window.

I use this one a lot too if I want to start a new group of tabs.

Ctrl + Shift + T

This is probably my favorite of all of them....

Do you ever click out of a tab you're reading by accident? Hold down Ctrl then keep holding it down while you also hold down Shift then press T then let go.

This will re-open the most recent tab you've closed!

I. love. this.

Like I said, I have so many tabs open and sometimes I click out of them by accident. Or, more often, I click out of it then change my mind and want to reference it again really quick so I use this keyboard shortcut to reopen it.

You can also repeat this over and over to keep opening your most recent tabs you've closed until you find the one you're looking for.

Ctrl + R

I'm sure you already know this one but this will reload the page you're on. Saves you a few seconds rather than having to find the little button with your mouse. :)

Ctrl + clicking on a link to open it in a new tab

I pretty much open every link in a new tab while I'm reading so it doesn't leave the page I'm reading.

A quick way I do this is you hover over the link, hold down Ctrl, THEN click the link. This automatically opens it in a new tab while not leaving the one you're currently on. :) 

Let's say you're reading this article and I mention my Fact Fluency in First Grade post and it's linked in the text you're reading like that... and you really want to read it, but later... right now, you want to finish what you're currently reading... but you don't want to forget about that link. Well, you can simply hover over that link, hold down Ctrl, then click it to open it in a new tab, so you have it ready for you for when you're done reading this.

I hope that makes sense - it's how I always read websites! I don't like to get distracted while I'm reading a page I am interested in, but I often want to save something they mention for reading later, so I do that to put it in a new tab so that, when I click out of the one I am on, it's ready for me to read next.

This is also why I end up with a ton of tabs open, haha :)


Browser Extensions for Managing the 9389437543 tabs you have open

If you're like me and open a lot of tabs while you're reading/planning, you may want to look at a browser extension that will save them all for you. 

I use one where I click the little button and it saves all the tabs I have open in a list of links for me. I can go back to that list any time to find that link again. I can name the group of tabs I saved, too, or use Ctrl + F to quickly find an article I saved in my groups of lists if I remember what it was about. 

Sometimes I'm reading and open a lot of new tabs but then I want to get off the computer before I've read them all, so I'll use my extension to save them all in my list to read later.

Check out this list for helpful extensions including a tab management one:


Setting up the Row at the Top with Websites you go to often

I go to the same websites constantly - my email inbox, my store on TpT, the list I have of all my blog posts (to grab links), my favorite websites to read, and so on.

So I have all the ones I go to frequently saved in my row, so all I have to do when I open my browser, is click on the icons in that top row to go straight there.

If you find yourself going to the same websites constantly, don't waste time typing them into the URL bar. Make a little button for them.

If you use the same browser I do, clicking Ctrl + Shift + B (hold down Ctrl AND shift then press B) will hide and unhide your row. 

If you see it bouncing in and out of view while you press that, woohoo you have a row you can use! If not, you may be using a different browser than I do.

To add a website to your row, go to the website exactly where you want it to go - all the clicks to get directly to your inbox while logged in, for example. 
- Then, do Ctrl + D to bring up the save box
- Rename it to something simple like "Mail" so it doesn't take up a ton of space in your row
- Under "Folder" make sure it is putting it in your bar
- Hit enter

This adds it to the row across the top so you can click on it any time to go straight to that page. I do this a lot for specific pages that take multiple clicks to get to, so it goes straight there!

Use Ctrl + Shift + B to hide your bar if you don't want to see it & the same thing to display it if you do! I always leave mine up typically because I use it so often. I have so many in mine, though, that I've started naming them like Mail, FB, IG, P, Blog, TpT so that they're super short and I can save more in there.

Moving tabs

Since I mentioned I often have a lot of tabs open, sometimes I don't want to see them all. So I'll click on the tab (literally, the tab for the tab) and drag pulling down so it takes it out of the group of tabs into a new window. Quick little tip! You can click and hold and drag down to put it back into a group too :) 

You can also hold down Ctrl to select multiple tabs then drag down to move them all out of the group of tabs at the same time.

You can also use the shift trick I taught you to quickly select multiple tabs in a row by clicking on the first tab, holding down shift, then the last tab you want to select a row of tabs. A lot of these tricks I'm telling you (like holding down Ctrl to select multiple items) work in a lot of places so, once you know them, you can use them for a lot of things! For example, Ctrl + S is the "save" button for so many different programs. I click it constantly when working on almost anything to save as I work without having to stop and click. It's a habit by now. :)


F11 to make a website take up the full screen

This one is so helpful for when setting up activities on the computer for kids where you don't want them to have the ability to go to another website or click on something in the bar. Plus it looks less distracting for them. If you press F11, it'll get rid of the top part so it makes just the website full screen. Pressing F11 again will bring it back to the normal view. 

Bonus: If they want to go "back" on the website they're on, they can press Alt + left arrow. It's easy for them to remember because they know the left arrow means go back if they play any computer or video games. Kids learn these sorts of things ridiculously fast which, much like with my husband, I go, "Wait, how did you do that just now??" :)

Okay, I honestly have even more than what I've shared that I use but I feel as though I've written a ton in this section so let's move on to....


Printing Tricks for Teachers

There are a lot of fancy things you can do with a little tech help with your printer!

Some of the things I've already mentioned involved printing, but here are some more:


Making Your Own Bulletin Board Letters

Firstly, you don't have to spend a penny on bulletin board letters. They are SO easy to make and print yourself!

Plus, when you make them yourself, you can choose the exact font, size, color, style that you want.

I wrote this incredibly easy guide for making your own a few years ago:
DIY Bulletin Board Letters

It's super easy! So many teachers have shown me the absolutely adorable letters and bulletin boards they've made using my guide which is so cool to see. Please tag me @missgiraffesclass if you share pictures of yours - I love seeing them! :)


Printing Posters Half the Size

Do you have classroom posters you've bought? You can probably use them in more ways than just posters!

Maybe you want to make them half page posters so they fit easier in your room?

For example, I absolutely LOVE my Long Vowel Word Families Posters but if I were to hang them all up full page sized, they'd take up a lot of space.

So I print them 2 to a page so they are half the size!

All I do is Ctrl + P to print then click on "Multiple" and where it says "Pages per sheet:" I put 2.

This will put 2 pages on the sheet. In the "Pages" box I put the exact posters' page numbers I want if it doesn't automatically select them. You can also use the PDF page selecting trick I taught you for picking the exact posters to print :) See what I mean about how I use the same ones over and over?

I love this because I can make posters half the size if I want to.


Making Full Page Posters into Little Cards for Teaching

I ALSO make them into little teaching cards!

This is a great way to take posters you've bought and double them as center activities too!

To do this, select the posters you want and do the exact same thing but for "Pages per sheet:" put 6. You can also do 9 if you want them even smaller.

There's actually a lot of ways you can use these! Here are some fun examples:
- Make them into little playing cards (use 6 or 9 to a page) where kids can hold them up and quiz each other
- Use them yourself as little cards for reviewing at your small groups table
- If they're posters for a particular skill like my Prefixes Posters, for example, tape the little cards around the room and let kids find and read them or write them down as a center activity.
- Numbers posters and Shapes Posters you may already have bought can also be doubled as a super easy center this way too! They can put the number posters in number order, put little tiny card versions of Alphabet Posters in ABC order... there are all kinds of ways you can make them into games! They can build the number with cubes or blocks next to the little number poster.
- Send them home as study cards (this is a really useful way to use them, especially Phonics Posters!)
- Laminate them, punch a hole in the corner, and put them on a ring so kids can use them as reference

I always like to get a lot of uses out of anything I buy so I figured these tips may be helpful for you if you already have posters you've bought over the years. You can reuse them in fun ways by simply printing them smaller! I put links to some of the sets I have to give you visual examples of what I mean, but I encourage you to look at the posters you already have and see if you can reuse them!

I know I have a ton of posters sets and so many of them can be repurposed into centers, study cards, small group reviewing cards, and so on!


Using the Same "Multiple" Feature to Create Picture Sheets of PDFs
You can also use this feature to print the pages in a PDF all on one sheet by selecting 16 "Pages per sheet:" so that it prints all the pages of the PDF on a single page (multiple pages if it's a big one) as little pictures.

This lets you see 16 pages of the PDF all at once! So visual and awesome for finding specific worksheets when you want them.

I actually do this when I print giant PDF resources sometimes so I have a little reference sheet of all the pages included. It helps me quickly find the page I'm looking for.

I actually print a page like this for ALL my big PDFs and keep them in a binder for each subject, organized by concept, so I can quickly find worksheets I want visually. For example, in my math binder, I have a reference sheet for each of my graphing PDFs all next to each other so I can flip to the little graphing section, visually look at all the pages within each unit and find the exact center or worksheet I'm looking for on my computer in minutes.

I hope this is making sense! It's just an extra way I like to organize my binders sometimes. If you read my Phonics Sounds Binders post, you know I love my binders! :)


Another example of how to use the printing 16 pages to a page idea:

Let's say you have my big teaching coins and money math unit but you also have several other PDFs of money worksheets and activities from other bloggers... print each one of the PDFs with the pages set to 16 to a page then slip those into a binder or in your "Money and Coins" file folder in your cabinet, so that when you need to find and print one of the worksheets or activities, you can use your little reference sheets to know the exact pack it's in to find it and print it.

You can also JUST take home those little reference sheets if you do planning at home, rather than your entire folder of coin activities.

This saves me a lot of time looking for worksheets! I even sometimes will print that page and clip it to all the pages I've printed from that pack, like I said, so I can just look at ONE page in my files to see if it's little picture is on there since it's on top of the papers it's clipped to. Super helpful for if I have a ton of printed pages for the same topic.

Bonus Tip: Did you know you can also print pictures in this way? If you have a folder of pictures on your computer: Select all the ones you want on the page. Use the right button on your mouse to click one of them then select print and then tell it how many you want on a page. It's a fun and easy way to print a little sheet of pictures straight from your folder :)


Okay I still have so many more but now I really feel like I've probably overwhelmed you with ideas! Or at least I hope you got a lot of new ideas! :)


Please let me know below if you learned any new tricks!! If you tried one and it didn't work for you, please ask so I can help clarify! These are all such huge time savers for teachers that I want to make sure you have all of them in your toolbox :)

There is A LOT of information here - I highly recommend you save it to reference later! 
How to do that: Hover over this picture & click "Save" or click here to go to the pin directly to save this to your boards so you can come back to it if you forget any of the keyboard shortcuts.

Tech Tips for Teachers - amazing list!!

If you think you'll use a lot of these ideas and to save this to your row we talked about, that's also a quick way to get back to this page when you need it!

I absolutely love sharing these sorts of ideas so if you loved this, you may also enjoy:

and really any of my blog posts! I sprinkle fun ideas to make things more fun and save you time throughout my posts :) You can see a big organized list of all of them here:

Miss Giraffe Favorite Blog Posts List
(You could also save this list into your row to come back to it :) Just saying! ha)

I also post lots of ideas as pins & on social media so you can go to the top of my sidebar to the right (click Home to go straight to the top!) ------>
to follow me where you hang out the most :) I do post different ideas on different platforms, though, so if you use more than one, I recommend following in more than 1 place so you don't miss anything. I also recommend following me on TpT so you see when I post new resources if you teach the primary grades. I love making resources and filling them with fun ideas too :)

Anyway, I'd love to hear from you below! Let me know if it was helpful or if you want to let me know more tech tips you want to hear about! You can also fill out this quick form (please make sure to check the box) to join Miss Giraffe's Class to receive fun emails from me so we can keep in touch! :)


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Must Have Short Vowel Word Family Games

I absolutely love playing games to learn each short vowel word family to make reading a breeze!

If you are looking for a way to make your kids EXCITED to sound out words, this is for you!

This center game is one of my favorites because each word is a mystery.... and kids love to be detectives!

Short vowel word family games


Secret Words!

I've been talking about how I love these for years, but these are extra exciting to me because they can be used for even the youngest of readers. Both homeschooling parents and teachers tell me how much their kids love these and don't even realize they're reading, which I absolutely love to hear. 

The way they work is...

A kid takes card and looks at the first picture and figures out its beginning sound. For example, if it's a picture of a butterfly, they know it's the /b/ sound so it starts with a letter B! So they put a b on their card. They do this for each picture to figure out the secret word!

Secret Words activity where kids look at the beginning sound for each picture to figure out the letter and reveal the mystery! These are specifically for short vowels but they come for a ton of phonics skills!


So, not only is it A LOT of reading and blending words, but it also gets in a ton of beginning sounds practice. Even up to first grade, I think it's important to constantly be enforcing the beginning sounds of words to create strong readers.

I specifically made these to practice each word family so I have MANY cards!

You can only practice VC and CVC words if you want to keep it super easy for really early readers...

an word family activity that she shows for all the short vowel families! Such fun and engaging games for learning to read!


... or you can also throw in some CCVC words to challenge your reader! 

ap word family reading practice that looks like a game! Perfect for kindergarten, first grade, and even preschool kids to build their fluency skills by being detectives! The beginning sound for each picture will reveal each letter to solve the mystery!


See how they are still practicing the -ap family but with a consonant blend (clap) at the beginning? This is a fun way to challenge students that are ready.

You can also start with the easier ones then build up to the harder ones and do them later. I wanted to provide a lot of options so you could use these with any age.


Short A Word Families

Each vowel is its own set and has sets within it!

For example, I included 7 families in the short A set:
-ab, -ad, -ag, -am, -an, -ap, -at

I made TEN words from each family
so there are 70 word cards total... and that's just for A!

I just absolutely love having so many cards for each so that you can do an entire center of JUST -am words. You can put the 10 -am cards in a bag or bucket and that's an entire center!

am word family centers activities and so many more amazing teaching short vowel ideas


You could do that for each of the families to create 7 separate centers just for short A. That is SO. MUCH. READING. PRACTICE. eeee! I love it! 

It's such a confidence boost for a kid to be able to sit down and read TEN words with ease because they all sound similar. Doing this with each of the 7 sets would build a ton of reading fluency and confidence that is simply priceless. Keeping that love for reading is so important to me and I think making it fun and easy-seeming is such a big key to that!

If you want these, all of the short A cards are in the:

There's a bundle of all the sets I am going to show you here:
If you know you want them all - every single thing I show in this article will be in that bundle :)

Normally I wait until the end-ish of an article to tell you where you can get the examples I use because my focus is on sharing my ideas, but I know people are SO busy right now trying to figure out the school year, so I wanted to let you be able to stop here if you don't want to listen to me continue to ramble and show pictures. If you follow along, you know I love to ramble and show a ridiculous amount of picture examples in my posts. I'm a visual person so I feel like it helps me express my ideas. :)

I do have some fun teaching ideas to share for these, though, so if you do get them, I recommend coming back and at least scroll the pictures to find some more fun ways to use them!


One fun idea I'll share with you really quick is - using a magnetic cooking tray of some kind to build the words on!

Word building activities kindergarten kids absolutely love because they are a mystery! Student look at the beginning sound for each picture to determine the letter and solve the secret! Fun!


If you have any magnetic cooking trays in your kitchen, you can have kids build the words on them! I've shown this with the small rectangular ones I have before, but the cool thing about a round bowl shaped one is you can put the word cards AND magnet letters inside the bowl for storage too!

Then, kids can simply grab the bowl with all the center contents in it already, take it to their seat, and flip it over to use it as a little table to build the words on. If you have multiple bowls, each filled with different center cards, you have a bunch of centers prepped and ready to be used at any time. How cute is that??


Tricky Short E Centers

The short E sound is one of the toughest sounds for young learners! It sounds a lot like the Short I sound to some kids... and the words simply aren't as exciting to kids for some reason. I personally think E should be taught after O and I, but that is up to you!

That's why I think it's so important to have fun centers for it like these secret words activities and the CVC Word Family Rolls I blogged about last week. Fun and bright practice materials are key!

CVC words kindergarten

Seeing that cute little whale and putting a W under it all of a sudden makes reading Short E words a lot more engaging.

The list of Short E word families included is:
-ed, -eg, -en, -et

There aren't as many short E words that kids can read and illustrative pictures exist for, so there are only 30 words in this set but that is still a ton of practice. & Honestly, once you get to E, they are so much better at blending since you've probably already done a lot of short A, I, and O words before starting on E so I think it's more important to have a lot more word examples for those 3 first.

All of these are in the bundle and in a smaller pack here:
SECRET WORDS Short E Word Families Centers


Word Families: Short I

List of short I word families:
-ib, -id, -ig, -im, -in, -ip, -it

Each set in the SECRET WORDS Short I Word Families Centers has 10 words except -ib that has 4 since there aren't as many :) That makes for 64 different words in that set!

I love short I! For some reason, these words seem to click with kids. Maybe because they've already done a lot of blending practice with A and the /i/ sound just seems easier to say for some reason. The CVC words seem "sharp" if that makes sense (zip, fin, kid) so kids seem to read them more confidently than other sounds.

Short i word families games and activities


See what I mean? tip zip sip... they're simply fun to say for kids :)

The fact that they are doing these cards BY family will really help build their confidence in reading and blending the words. Since the words technically rhyme, they find it way easier to determine the mystery when the word sounds so similar to the one they just read.

Here's a great example of how you can use these to stretch a reader into blending harder words:

Short i activities kindergarten students can do! These even practice beginning sounds for a ton of reading practice! Kids look at each picture to determine what alphabet letter it starts with, then continue to reveal the mystery!


In this example, they've already read "sit" and "pit" and now they are reading "spit" which is so similar. Normally, it would appear to be a much more difficult consonant blend. However, since they had the scaffolding of the first 2 words, the word actually seems easy now! The beauty of word families :)


Short O Word Families

List of short O word families:
-ob, -og, -op, -ot

Each word family in the SECRET WORDS Short O Word Families Centers pack has 10 words, except -ot which has 11! This allows you to make each word family its own center if you want!

Short O word families are so much fun with these Secret Word games where kids look at each beginning sound to solve the mystery phonics puzzle!

How cute is that little otter? :)


and, of course, Short U word family games!

Short u word families fun! Check out these adorable activities where kids look at the beginning sound of each picture to figure out the mystery CVC!

Short U is a fun one. By the time you get to U, they've had a lot of blending practice so it seems to be a lot easier.

This is a fun time to mix the sets to create a review that is all the U sound. I actually recommend doing that for all of the vowels after you do all of the sets for that vowel. For example, once you do each of the 7 short A sets, grab 10-15 of them from the sets to mix into a Short A review center. Since there are so many cards, you could even do 3 or 4 rounds of review if you wanted to.

Short u activities to practice and review CVC words in such a fun way!

You can also make 3-4 mixed sets and put them in buckets or bags that kids can grab any time to review. This makes an amazing early finisher activity for kids who finish their work early and are looking for something fun to do.

I recommend doing that for any center you have, even if you're a parent teaching at home. You'd be surprised how kids will grab a game they've already done to work on during their "play time"! Especially if it's been awhile since they've done it.

I suspect it's also fun for them to go back and do a short A review set after they've done e, i, o and see how easy the A words seem now :)

So excited to share these with you!
SECRET WORDS Short U Word Families Centers


If you want ALL of the Short Vowel Word Family cards (including all the ones I showed here), you can grab them in the SECRET WORDS BIG BUNDLE of Short Vowels Word Families Centers!




I hope you enjoyed this post! 

If you enjoyed this, check out my Big Organized List of Miss Giraffe Blog Posts and look around! I always try to share fun ideas with lots of pictures. I have a lot more CVC and short vowel ideas (my giant Teaching Short A post, for example, as well as fun math and classroom management ideas!)

Thank you for reading! Definitely come back if you want to see more of these activities as I add to this post. You can also fill out this quick form (please make sure to check the box) to join Miss Giraffe's Class to receive fun emails from me so we can keep in touch! :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Fun CVC Word Families Games

Fun CVC Word Families Games make learning to read CVC words so much more fun!

Especially when they include rolling dice :)

I am excited to show you the phonics games I love for teaching kids how to read simple short vowel words and work on blending words in SUCH a fun way!

Fun CVC Words games to practice reading and blending word families

I made these because people really loved my CVC Words Roll game and told me how much their kids loved it.

I originally designed that first set thinking it would be a REVIEW of CVC Words for first graders after learning all of the short vowels.

Then, I started noticing that SO MANY kindergarten teachers were telling me that their kids loved it...

BUT - the kindergarten teachers were mostly saying how it was a perfect review for midway through the year and at the end of the year.

Since so many K teachers seemed to be using it, I tried to think of how I could make it a bit easier so their kids could play the games sooner in the year. I had only intended it to be a first grade activity, but so many K teachers were using it...

So I created Short Vowel Word Family Rolls!

Word families short a games and ideas

Each set comes with a student friendly directions sheet so you can lay it out and they know what to do.

I was SO excited about these because, not only were they perfect for kindergarten (I've even had preschool teachers use them!), but they're also SO nice for first grade students who need that extra word family support.

ug and ut word family practice (and a bunch more short vowel word families too!)

For example, the picture above practices only TWO short U word families at a time: the -ug word family and the -ut word family. Some of the pictures on this sheet even repeat so that they get extra reading practice with those words. They only get to color/cover it once per roll so the fact that they can roll the same word twice gives them extra fluency practice and confidence, which I love.

Kids learn the word families SO quick because they really want to cover their picture (or color their picture, depending on which kind you're using) and because it's a game!

Also, they are only rolling TWO dice, instead of 3 like in the CVC Words Review Roll, so that helps it be a lot easier for blending.

Just like with the CVC Words Review Roll, each set of game boards and dice comes with a "Color" version and a "Cover" version. For the "Color" version, they get to color in the picture on their sheet:

Short E Word Families Games


One thing I was also really excited about is that some of the game boards have 12 pictures and some have 20.

For the game sets that practice ONLY TWO word families at a time, the game boards have 12 pictures.

Each short vowel's pack has a REVIEW set for that short vowels' word families. Those come with the standard 5 game boards with 12 pictures…. Then I also included 5 game boards with TWENTY pictures each for those ones for an even bigger, more fun challenge!

For example, this is the ALL word families set for Short U families in the “Cover” version:

Short U word families game that is super fun!

There are 5 versions of the game boards in each set where they cover 12 pictures.

Then there is also a “Color” version of all 5 of the game boards if they would rather color the pictures than cover them:

Roll and color short U words game for kids


But if you really want to challenge your little learners, give them the same activity using the same dice but with the 20 picture board:

Word families short u words game!


There are 5 of those as well as 5 in the coloring version as well:

Short U CVC words game and so many cute word rolls!


I think it’s so nice to have a lot of options so you can meet the child you’re working with at their level - that’s what makes it not only fun but efficient for learning!

Plus, you can also start easy and work your way up to the harder levels for a ton of practice!

For the color version, they color the picture they rolled. For the cover version, they cover it with an object. Pretty much any small object works!

Short i word families games

Each center has multiple sets and each set includes 5 different game boards. This makes it so easy to play as a small group game or partner game. It also makes it super easy to play multiple times with different games boards by simply switching who has which one.

If you're playing with just one student, then woahh, you have A TON of games and game boards to play so many times. :)

You can also play these over and over anyway because the fact that they roll words makes every game different so they are truly an endless center. My favorite kind!

This is only some of them I laid out as an example:

Short vowel word family games to practice reading CVC words!


Also, I don’t have a picture of it currently because I didn’t print them out but I also included UK spelling versions of all the sets for those of you who need “Roll and Colour” versions :)

There are A BUNCH of games so I tried to make them super easy to prep by writing what color to print the dice ON the paper, as you can see in this picture:


As you can also see, I have a furry teaching assistant who likes to help me cut out centers :) You may have seen him on this blog or on my IG before - he's quite the character and we had fun making them together. Do you have a little pup or kitty friend who supervises your center prep? Tell me below! :)


I hope this was helpful for looking at how to use my word roll games for word families! They are a lot of fun and make reading a game so I love them.

If you want them, they are here:
Short A CVC Words Roll
Short E CVC Words Roll
Short I CVC Words Roll
Short O CVC Words Roll
Short U CVC Words Roll

I also have a big bundle of them if you know you want them all!
CVC Words Roll BUNDLE

They're also included in the Phonics Word Rolls MEGA Bundle if you want even more of them. That bundle is huge and also includes long vowel word families and more! That's for the suuuuper fan of these :)


CVC words games


If you liked this post, you may also like:
Bottle Cap CVC Word Building Centers
CVC Word Rolls (to see the original one!)
Sight Word Sentences Fun Ideas and Centers

Thank you so much for reading!! :)

If you haven't already and enjoy reading my ideas, you can join Miss Giraffe's Class by filling out this quick form to get on my email list. I'd love to have you! :)