Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Focus Windows...and a Halloween freebie

After each chapter of Henry and Mudge, the final activity in my students' reading workbooks is a sight word search using sentences from the chapter. As you can see above, they look for each word (in this case, they were told to look for 'and,' 'a,' and 'to') and highlight it.

Sight words for my kiddos are a novel thing. "You just read a word!" is the source of much joy for them (even though they have "just" matched the word on the page to the written word flashcard, or remembered which word they need to say when we point to the highlighted word)! I love it.

My students' needs are such that they can't focus on all that text at once. So, you know the drill I'm sure - we staff do the whole cover half the paper with another paper, make a window for the words with our hands, etc. Sliding around four separate pieces of paper to cover all but a few words, which is what most of my students need, is cumbersome and awkward. Not sure why I had never considered this before (and it's certainly not a new concept), but...
Enter Focus Windows! I whipped out a few of these babies tonight and I just know my kids are going to be so much more successful with them...and my staff are going to love them, too! These couldn't be easier to make:

 Cut a piece of dark colored construction paper (to ensure no "see throughs") to 8 1/2x11 size (to fit in a laminator). Decide what size window you want and cut it out (I chose 5" by 1" for my students).

Laminate the whole thing, then cut out the window to either decrease glare and/or allow students to work in the space provided - I used an exacto knife and cutting board - and voila, you have your Focus Window! You could make these any size that works for you...an entire line of text, a small box to just show one math problem...anything! Instant differentiation without having to change the original printed version of a given activity. I can't wait to try these out!

Switching gears, I mentioned in my October Currently that my favorite fall book in the classroom is The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. I also mentioned Melonheadz Illustrating's new Build a Scarecrow bundle. I couldn't resist creating a fun activity using this awesome clip art to go with this wonderful book!

(It drives me nuts when I can't rotate a photo on Blogger. I swear I used to be able to and it was simple! Anyone care to remind me how?!)

This is a roll or spin a scarecrow activity...roll a dice or spin a spinner to add the scarecrow's body parts! I have both a large version (pictured above) that fits on a poster, or a small/individual version which fits on a standard piece of paper. Also, each dice or spinner page is in your choice of image/color or text/black and white. For our group center activity, I made the above version by laminating the pieces and velcroing to the poster. We will do this in math centers the week of Halloween. You can grab the activity for free here:


  1. Thanks. I bought the same clip art. Just haven't gotten around to creating anything yet. I always love roll and crate games.

  2. I have the same problem with rotating pictures. I had edited and uploaded certain pictures SO many times, and nothing! Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't! Frustrating for sure.

    And I love the focus windows! I find myself doing the 4 sheets of paper a lot or cutting paper to fit whatever we are working on...

  3. Love the game you created with the clipart. I bet your students will have a lot of fun with it.

  4. Hey! I was blog hopping and found your blog. I always love finding other SPED teachers to swap ideas with, so I'm your newest follower! I teach K-2 in a self-contained room. I love teaching kids to highlight sight words and recognize them in print. We did a very similar activity today. I'm in the middle of my blog post with pics of my version right now. You should check in out later when it's ready.

    The Lower Elementary Cottage

  5. The only way to rotate pictures on Blogger anymore is to go to Picasa Web Album at picasaweb.google.com. All the pics from your blogs are mysteriously there. You can find the picture you want and rotate it, save it, and then when you go back to Blogger, it will appear the correct way! Sometimes you also have to make it a little smaller because for some reason if a pic is two small it appears sideways. I hope that helps! I love your window and your scarecrow game. I used to play a very similar game with preschoolers, but it was a jack-o-lantern.

    1. Angel, thank you so much! That worked!!!

  6. I just boo'd you!
    Let me know what unit you would like from my tpt store!


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