In this post, I am excited to tell you about a new idea I have been trying recently: word building with sticky notes! Did you know that you can print right on sticky notes with most printers? I was able to print the entire alphabet and all of the Sounds Fun digraphs and vowel pairs on the tiny sticky notes fairly easily. Sticky notes are much cheaper than purchasing magnetic letters and trays, too, which would be the logical alternative.
I LOVE word building with sticky notes because the extra letters stay put in alphabetical order, and the children don’t have to spend so much time searching for the letters that they need. If they can’t find the one they want, they just sing the alphabet song until they find it. It works out great! We have just added this “Sticky Note Sort” file to our Sounds Fun Word Building Kit, but the price is the same ($5!) If you would like to purchase it, click here. If you already purchased it, email our office at [email protected] to get an update.
Another thing that works well with the sticky notes is that you can glue the base sheet that they are printed on down onto a file folder to keep each child’s notes all in one little compact space. I was able to get SIX children PLUS MYSELF around a kidney shaped reading table and have us all build words at the same time, without a problem. You would NEVER be able to do that if the kids were just using little flash cards for the letters- they would get terribly mixed up!
I have been using this with my intervention group of struggling second grade readers. It turned out to be a VERY efficient use of time! We built lots and lots of words in a short amount of time, and spent hardly any time searching for letters, etc. They just have to remember to put the letter back down in the space that they took it from, of course! There were a few kids who couldn’t find a certain letter because they put a letter E down where the M should go, for example. I was surprised that most of my second graders didn’t even notice that the letters were in alphabetical order. I suppose that is probably normal for children that struggle with language arts!
How Long Will They Last?
So the biggest question is how long these sticky notes will remain sticky! And the answer is… I really don’t know, because I just started doing this a couple of weeks ago! But I do have an Elmer’s glue stick with repositionable adhesive, and this has been helping revive the notes when they lose their stickiness.
I know that they won’t last forever, but I also know that I can certainly just take out a marker and write a new letter on a new sticky note. Right? 😉
One thing that does seem to help them remain sticky is to make sure that the table you are building words on is clean and free of dust and other small particles that might stick to the adhesive. Also, any dirt and grime on the children’s hands that gets on the adhesive makes a difference as well.
How to Print on Sticky Notes
Printing on sticky notes is not hard, but it takes a little experimenting to figure out which way to insert the paper. And of course, the more sticky notes on a page, the longer it will take you to place the notes on the paper. Here’s what you do:
1. Print out the base paper that the notes will go on.
2. Lay the sticky notes down on top of the spaces where you want them to print. (Laying down one page of sticky notes took me about five minutes.)
3. Reinsert the paper with the notes on it face down into your printer, making sure that you know whether the top of the paper goes in first or last! (I HIGHLY recommend a little experimentation with just ONE sticky note on a paper before you insert a paper with many notes, just to make sure you are inserting the paper the correct direction and that the sticky notes will not jam your printer.)
4. Print! I had no trouble at all printing on the sticky notes when using my new HP Envy 5741 printer with Instant Ink. However, my rather old printer did not like the sticky notes at ALL, and it got totally jammed up. So be careful!
5. If you are using my template to print on the sticky notes, you will probably want to trim the notes down to leave a little space between each note so that the children can more easily grab them. I hadn’t intended to trim them, but in the end, I decided that I really wanted them to be perfect, so I did it. (Trimming one page of notes down took me about ten minutes.)
Here’s a quick video I posted on Instagram with these same steps!
Possible Lesson Applications
Given that I’ve been using this with the intervention group, I’ve been trying to pull in as much of the music and multi-sensory activities as I possibly can. I know that these kids have not learned well through traditional methods in the past, so I’m trying to give them something new! So I’ve been singing the Sounds Fun songs with them, and then having them spell words with those sound chunks in them.
I love the fact that the Sounds Fun Word Building Kit images make the letters POP right out so that they are front and center on the notes, rather than the pictures that go with the songs. (I made the Sounds Fun Word Building Kit to be a bridge between the Sounds Fun Phonics program and traditional reading and spelling.
We have also been singing some of the spelling songs and then building them with the letters, as well as some other words that may be spelled similarly. For example, we learned the “small” song from Sing and Spell Vol. 2, and then spelled ball, tall, fall, etc. We did the same thing with the “down” spelling song! Then, to practice our inflectional endings, we added endings such as -s, -es, -ed, -ing, etc. I think it is great practice!
I hope that this gives you a new idea to use! Enjoy the holiday season!
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