DIY Projects

DIY Blending Boards

Blending Board pic for blog

As soon as your students begin to learn letters and sounds, it’s important that they begin to blend those sounds into words.  Blending boards are ideal for teaching the concept of blending during small group instruction.  Just click HERE and you’ll be able to download the step-by-step directions for making your own table-top blending boards as well as the FREE alphabet cards!

DIY Word Building Mats

Word BuildingMat Word building is a very important component of our phonics instruction.  Although word building activities should be a part of whole group instruction, differentiated activities need to also be incorporated into small group instruction.  Although you can purchase word building mats commercially, it’s super easy to make your own.  Be sure to stop by the DIY Word Building Mats Blog Post for step-by-step directions.  You can also download the FREE word building letter cards.


Phonics Phones

Phonics Phones

Phonics phones are a must-have item for your small group intervention area.  These phones amplify sound making it easier for students to hear the difference between similar sounds phonemes.  Many teachers choose to make a phone for each student in the class as they are also ideal for use when students are either reading aloud to themselves or reading with a partner.  If can purchase phonics phones commercially, but that would almost break your yearly budget.  You can make a classroom set for under $20 using PVC pipe and decorative duct tape.  Just click HERE for the shopping list and directions for making the phones.

Bead Slide


I’m not sure which tool I love most for small group intervention- the phonics phones or the bead slides.  These bead slides are another must-have item for your kindergarten or first grade small group intervention area.  This tool is used when teaching the skill of phoneme segmentation.  To use this tool, provide each student with a bead slide and then say a word.  The students are to move one bead for each sound heard in the word.  I’ve created a video with step-by-step assembly directions as well as directions on how to use the tool during instruction.  You can also download a FREE 2-, 3- and 4- phoneme handout!  Click HERE.

Privacy Screens

privacy screens2b You can purchase privacy screens through a catalog, but why would you do that when you can make your very own classroom set quickly and easily by simply using mailing boxes?  Okay, they may not look pretty, but they are very durable and stack easily.  They certainly do the trick when you want to ensure that your students are working without distractions.  There’s a bit of a trick- you have to purchase the correct size so that the students can have their space yet be able to see you above the box.  Click HERE for the step-by-step directions for making privacy screens.  You are absolutely going to love them!

Vowel Sticks

Vowel Sticks Revised The self-checking feature of these vowel sticks makes this activity ideal for use within your classroom literacy centers.  All you’ll need to make your own set are large craft sticks, a clothespin, black and red Sharpie markers and the free downloadable short vowel pictures.  To assemble this activity, simply print the pictures on cardstock, cut them out and glue them on the end of a large craft stick.  Then, using your black marker, write vowels along the stick.  On the back side of the stick, place a red dot behind the correct vowel.  Students choose the correct vowel by clipping the clothespin over it.  They then turn the stick over and if it’s covering the dot, the answer is correct.  Brilliant!   Just click HERE for the directions and the free printable!

Flip Chute

PicMonkey FlipChuterev The flip chute is an awesome little tool for use in your centers.  It can be used for almost any skill and for a variety of age ranges.  I’ve created a video that tells you exactly what you’ll need to make your own flip chute and well as the step-by-step directions for assembly.  You can also download free cards for practicing nouns and verbs.  What the student will do is answer the question on the front of the card and then place the card in the upper slot.  The correct answer comes out the bottom!  Just think of all the skills that can be practiced with this tools–math, state capitals…just an endless list!  Click HERE to access the video and to download your cards!

Cereal Box Puzzles


I love cereal box puzzles!  What a way to recycle too!  Again, this is another  activity that can be used with almost any skill.  They’re perfect for centers as there is a built-in self checking feature.  There’s a little bit of a trick to assembling the puzzle so you’ll want to be sure to watch the instructional video.  Just click HERE.

Dry Erase Slant Boards

Dry-Erase-Slant-Blogpicnewsl Our Occupational Therapists often recommend the use of slant boards to help develop correct writing posture.  You can certainly purchase slant boards through a catalog, but it is so easy to make your own with materials that you can find in your local department store.  Come on over to the DIY Dry Erase Slant Board blog post for the step-by-step directions.

Tactile Letters

DIY Tactile Letters Our little learners benefit so much from a multi-sensory approach to teaching.  With just a quick trip to Michaels Craft Store and your local Home Depot, you can easily make these tactile letters.  Visit the DIY Tactile Letters blog post for directions.

Wax Covered Yarn

bnl Keeping with the multi-sensory theme, Wikki Stix or Bendaroos are a must-have item for your small group instruction.  They are basically wax covered yarn which can be bent into any shape.  You can purchase Wikki Stix through educational catalogs (so expensive), Bendaroos at Walmart (better option) or you can make your own.  Click the following link for the directions  DIY Wax Covered Yarn.

Hot Dots

Hot-Dot-closeweb Hot Dots are absolutely AWESOME!  You can adapt nearly any activity using the Hot Dots and the Hot Dots pen.  Come on over to the Making Your Own Activities with Hot Dots blog post.  I have a video showing just how they work!

Word Family Sliders

wordsliderscf2 Working with word families helps students see patterns in words.  These colorful word family sliders are perfect for either your small group instruction or as an activity within your literacy centers.  You can create these sliders by printing the pdf on a full sized Avery label and placing each word family on a paint chip.  For directions just visit the DIY Word Families blog post.  Just click HERE for the printable.

Vowel Sticks

Vowel Sticksblogpic Learning short vowel sounds can be so tricky for our young readers.  These vowels sticks can be a very helpful tool in helping students hear the difference between the sounds.  Be sure to visit the Teaching Short Vowel Sounds: Perfect Practice Makes Perfect blog post for ideas on how to teach short vowels.  Just click the following link for the printable and directions for making your own set of vowel sticks Vowel Sticks