Eggcellent Alphabet Practice

It’s spring time again (though once again the weather doesn’t seem to know it), and once again the stores are flooded with plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies, and lots of flowers. This time of year always gets me thinking about the various activities I do with plastic eggs, such as Coin Eggs, Scrambled Words, and

Contraction Eggs. But those activities are all for students who already know the basics. What about our early learners (both in age and linguistic proficiency)? If you’re looking for a new and fun way to practice the alphabet that involves plastic eggs and egg cartons (these all involve the larger size cartons—the ones that you get with 30+ eggs in them), read on because I have two of them for you!

Upper- and Lower-Case Eggs

Last April I saw a video on Twinkl ESL’s Facebook page about using paper eggs and a large egg carton to practice matching upper- and lower-case letters. The basic idea is to cut egg shapes out of colored paper and write a lower-case letter on each. In each cup of the egg carton, you write an upper-case letter. Students then match the two by placing the egg into the cup with the corresponding upper-case letter. It looked like a lot of fun!

The video got me thinking though. Rather than making paper eggs for the lower-case letters, what if you used plastic eggs? On the larger half, use a Sharpie marker to write an upper-case letter. On the smaller half, write the corresponding lower-case letter. Separate the halves and mix them all up together in a box or basket. Place the basket in the center and students can work together to match the egg halves. They can then place the eggs in alphabetical order in the carton. Now students are getting practice matching upper- and lower-case letters and putting the alphabet in the correct order.

Egg Carton Letter Formation

One of the countries I’ve had the privilege of traveling and doing teacher training in is China. While visiting Nanao Primary School in Guangdong, China, I saw this fun artwork displayed in a classroom. I loved how colorful it was and how the student had used painted cups cut from one egg carton, arranged in a

second egg carton, to make a cool picture. As I looked at it, my teacher-brain started whirling and I thought, “Why can’t we do something similar to practice letter formation?”

The basic idea is this: give students a large egg carton (or two, or three…) and some type of material to place in the cups. I used lids from various jugs and bottles for my example, but you could use marbles, small balls, erasers, just about anything. The student then places the object in the cups to form the target letter. You could do this as a center activity, an art activity, or

even hold races to see who can be the first to make the letter the teacher calls out. I’ll admit that some letters are easier than others to make (and I found upper-case easier than lower-case), but it was still a lot of fun to try. It’s also great motor skills practice for our younger learners!


It’s not too often I get to teach the alphabet anymore, most of my students (even the beginning level proficiency students from languages with a different grapheme system) already know it, but every once in awhile I need to review it with a student or two. These activities are good ways to practice that aren’t quite as “babyish” as others, but they are still simple enough for my colleagues who teach preschool and kindergarten to use. Give them a try and see how they go in your classroom. Happy teaching, everyone!

Sliding Sorts

Sometime early in 2022, I saw this video on Facebook of a child using a squeeze bottle to push numbered lids into matching numbered toilet paper rolls with slots cut out of them. The activity looked fun and perfect for young children. It not only allowed them to practice number recognition/matching, but an important fine motor skill as well. I do not teach small children, but the game looked so fun I saved the video and stuck the basic idea in the back of my head to contemplate how I might

use it. After some time rattling around in the back of my head, a general answer popped into the forefront: a sorting activity! Students could use empty dish detergent bottles to create air currents that would cause milk jug lids to slide across the table until they fell off the edge into a box waiting on a chair. In this way, they could sort words into various categories such as countable/uncountable noun, nouns that are proceeded by a/an, regular/irregular past verb, pronunciation of -ed or -s endings, etc. Now that I had a general idea of what the game would be, I just needed to make it a reality and test it out on my students.

Making Sliding Sorts

Since I was going to be teaching two level one classes in the next semester, I decided to make my first version of sliding sorts countable vs. uncountable nouns, a skill my students always want practice with and I’ve long wanted another practice game for. First, I needed to gather the materials. Milk jug lids have been on my list of Toys, Trash, or Teaching Treasures for quite awhile, but this game would take quite a few lids (15-20 of each

color, one color per student/team), so I asked all of my local friends to start saving them for me. Thankfully, my friends are used to such strange requests and my supply quickly increased. Next, it only took a few moments in my basement to come up with a couple of shoeboxes to place on chairs as lid catchers. The final “trash” item I needed was a bit harder to come by, empty dish detergent bottles. Thankfully, my family and friends came through for me again and I was able to obtain four of them, allowing me to avoid having to purchase condiment bottles.

My non-trash supplies were easy and cheap to obtain. First, I needed signs to attach to the back of the chairs so students would know which box to slide lids into. When I first started designing my own games, Microsoft Publisher was the easiest program to work with for designs involving a lot of shapes and layers. Since then, PowerPoint and other programs have changed and added features which allow such design work to be quite easy, but I still tend toward Publisher when making things for my classroom. It only took me a minute or two to make two half page signs and I simply printed them on cardstock and then laminated for durability. Second, I needed labels for my milk jug lids. I chose to use Avery round labels, 1.5 inch diameter. These were very slightly larger than the milk jug lids, which wasn’t a problem as they bent down nicely, but I think I’ll get 1 inch diameter labels in the future. Again, I used Publisher to create my labels, simply printing one word per circle and telling my printer to print multiple pages per sheet. It was the fact that the labels came 20 to a sheet that caused me to choose 20 as my number of nouns to be sorted. The labels were quick to print and easy to stick to the tops of the lids.

Playing Sliding Sorts

Setting up the game is easy. Simply assign one table per two students/teams. Place two chairs, each with a shoebox on the seat, on one side of the table and affix a sign to the top of each chair. The chairs in my current classroom weren’t cooperating so I used magnets to hold the signs to sheet pans (the same ones I use for Magnetic Spelling) that I stood up in the shoe boxes. This had the added advantage of covering up the hold in the back of the chair and helping direct the lids into the box. Students are each given a set of lids and a bottle to create an air current with (theoretically students could use their mouths to blow the lids, but that would simply spread germs around the classroom and no one needs that). Once start is called, students dump their lids onto the table and begin sliding them across the surface and into the correct boxes. Lids will run into one another and sometimes be blown off course but that’s all part of the fun. The first student to finish is awarded five points. Students are then awarded one point for each lid that was correctly sorted. The student with the most points is the winner. Here’s a brief video of one lid being blown into a box:

The game can be played as a relay by dividing students into teams (I suggest 3-4 students per team) and setting the table up a short distance away from the teams. The students then run to the table, slide a single lid into a box, and run back to pass the bottle off to the next student. This has the advantage of not needing as many sets of lids and tables for larger classes but can get a little crazy if you have several teams all playing at the same time.


I’ll be honest, the entire time I was thinking about the game and creating it, I was worried about how my adult students would react. They generally love the games we play, but this one is a bit more out there than most. I worried right up until we started playing (relay style). As soon as I saw the looks on their faces, and how engaged they were, my worries melted away. My adult students loved this game! My decades of middle school teaching experience tells me that age group would as well (especially the team version), and I suspect it would be a success with elementary and high school students, too. I’m slowly creating all of the versions of the game mentioned in the introduction, it’s just taking time to build up my lid collection after making each new version. Start collecting lids and try the game out on your students, then let me know how it goes. Happy teaching, everyone!

Here is a download of the game pieces I created, as well as links to some other countable/uncountable noun practice games:

Have some extra milk jug lids and want another version of the game? This one practices distinguishing between when to use a vs. an with nouns. Each lid has a picture of a food item on it, so students also get practice with food vocabulary! I included some links for more a/an practice, as well as some other food vocabulary practice activities.

And, just in case you really have a lot of milk jug lids, here are the game pieces for another Sliding Sort: pronunciation of the -s/-es ending of plural nouns, along with some other pronunciation and plural noun games.

Hot off the presses this week (May 2023), we have the game pieces for Sliding Sorts: Pronunciation of -d/-ed endings! I made this game with the smaller 1″ labels, which worked very well. And, of course, I included a few extra pronunciation games (or check out my blog post on the subject).

Using Children’s Literature to Teach U.S. Money

As most, if not all, of us know, March is National Reading Month in the United States. Of course every day is reading day in our classrooms, but this month we get to put an extra bit of emphasis on the skill. Anyone who’s been around my site much knows that I love to be as cross-curricular as possible and always strive to include multiple skills in my lessons. This year I’d like to put a special spotlight on how I combine reading practice with money vocabulary and skills.

It used to be obvious, if someone moves to a new country, that person will need to learn the currency of that country as quickly as possible. The fact that we use credit/debit cards for virtually everything these days may have lessened the urgency of acquiring this skill, but it is still an important one to master. We do a lot of different activities to practice the names and values of different U.S.A. coins and bills (such as Eggcellent Activities: Coin Eggs), but today I’d like to specifically focus in on some of our favorite pieces of literature about the subject. The first two books were part of my post entitled Picture Books…In Math? but are so good they deserve a second look. The last, a Shel Silverstein poem, is a nice quick activity that can be slotted in when you have an extra few minutes.

Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday

The Alexander books by Judith Voirst are some of my all-time favorites! When we work with this book, I usually read straight through it, showing the pictures, and allowing students to simply enjoy the story the first time. After that, we do various activities including using play money to follow along with Alexander’s adventures, keeping a running total as we read, and even writing our own word problems based on the story.

The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money

The Berenstain Bears is a classic series I remember my parents reading me as a child. Stan and Jan Berenstain’s stories always impart good lessons in a fun way. When using children’s literature with my older learners, especially my adults, I always encourage them to learn from the book themselves but also to go home and read the books to their children as well. It empowers my students to be part of their children’s English education, which is important as many of my students feel guilty about not being able to help their children in this way. This particular book doesn’t have specific amounts of money to follow along with, so I use it for general comprehension and discussion of idioms and common phrases related to money.

“Smart” from Where the Sidewalk Ends

Who doesn’t love a good Shel Silverstein poem? My students love them, they even make the final exam in pronunciation class a little more fun! This particular poem is another good opportunity to practice the names and values of different U.S.A. coins and keep a running total as you read. It’s also a great way to compare and contrast, seeing how a larger number of coins doesn’t necessarily result in a larger value of coins. The text is short enough that we can complete the activity in just a few minutes, making it a perfect way to start or end a larger lesson on the topic.

One thing I try to always do when using literature to teach anything is make sure every student has his/her own copy of the book/text. I do use my document camera to display it on the screen, but I like students being able to hold the book themselves. Sometimes it’s not possible to have enough copies for every student, but I strive to have no fewer than one copy for every two students. I find this enhances the lessons and makes it easier for students to complete activities. Happy teaching, everyone!

Here are some of our favorite U.S.A Coin practice activities that don’t involve specific texts:

Or you can save by purchasing a bundle of resources:

Fishing for Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation

It’s winter in Michigan (and a lot of other places), and normally that would mean our lakes would be dotted with ice fishing shelters. This year the weather’s been on the warm side and anglers have to go pretty far north to find safe enough ice to fish. Thankfully, there’s no ice (or sitting outside in the cold) required to play Fishing For Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation.

Fishing For… Games

Fishing For… is a toned down version of my original idea (which you can read about in Fishing for Contractions). It’s a very simple game to put together and play. To make my “fishing ponds,” I spray paint empty oatmeal or similarly-sized containers blue and then add in fish, sand, and other elements. I freely admit I my painting abilities are far from award-winning, but my students seem to enjoy the novelty of the containers and it does add a fun element to the game.

To make the skill-specific game components (I have five different versions thus far: contractions, irregular past tense verbs, plural nouns, short/long vowels, and regular past tense verb pronunciation), I print my target word(s) on cards with various fish on them. I originally printed the words on the fish themselves, but found they took far too long to cut out. I often also add in Shark Cards (available as a free download below the image), which cause the player to lose all of his/her fish when drawn. Sometimes, especially when I am running short on time or we are tired of using sort cards or task cards the traditional way, I’ll toss task or sort cards into the canisters instead (as described in Sort Cards: Alternative Uses).

To play Fishing For…, I divide my class into groups of two to six people (I find three or four works best). Each group gets a “fishing pond” with the cards already mixed up in it. The lid to the pond becomes the discard area, making it easy for students to know which cards are out of the game. Students take turns drawing a card and performing the required action. In the case of Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation, students have to state the correct pronunciation of the -ed ending (/t/, /d/, /Id/). If correct, the student adds the “fish” to his/her catch pile. If incorrect, the fish is discarded or said to “have gotten away” and returned to the pond. If the student draws a shark card, he/she places the shark card, and all of his/her catch, into the discard pile. Once all of the cards have been drawn, or time is up, the student with the most fish in his/her catch pile is the winner.

Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation

Unless I am teaching our pronunciation course I don’t often spend a lot of time on specific pronunciation skills. I prefer to focus on vocabulary acquisition and grammar, and allow students to work on pronunciation in a more natural manner. Throughout the years though, I have found that students appreciate it greatly when I spend at least part of a class or two on the pronunciation of the -ed ending. It’s a tricky one, and one that my students are conscious of their frequent mispronunciations. My first game for practicing this skill, Regular Past Tense Pronunciation Packing, was a huge success. My students love the game, and it made both the Top Free Blog Downloads and Top Free TPT Downloads lists for 2022. It was my students’ many requests for more games to practice this skill that lead to the creation of Fishing For Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation, and eventually Regular Past Tense -d/-ed Ending Pronunciation Spoons (if you’re not familiar with the game Spoons, check out this blog post for details).

I combine these games with a lot of discussion, a few videos, and other resources, but the games are always the big hit of our lessons. If I’m being totally honest, I rather enjoy the game as well and don’t always get the answers right when playing Fishing For Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation.


If you’re looking for a fun game, give Fishing For… a try. If you’re looking for some pronunciation practice, all of my regular past tense verb pronunciation games are free. You can download them from my TPT store via the various links in the post or the buttons below. For those who prefer a direct download, I’ll provide a download here as well. Happy teaching, everyone!

Phrasal Verb Jeopardy

Phrasal Verb Jeopardy PowerPoint

Among the many things that terrify my students is the topic of phrasal verbs. They always want more resources and practice activities related to them. Last year I shared a post with a free download of a phrasal verb reference chart my advanced students have come to absolutely love. Today, I’d like to tell you a little about one of their favorite practice games: Phrasal Verb Jeopardy.

What class doesn’t love a good game of Jeopardy? One I developed a good template, they became very easy to make. As a result, I have quite a few different versions to practice articles, context clues, commonly confused words, idioms, U.S.A. coins, integers, and more. Most of them include five-six categories and five-six questions or prompts per category. Some have a Double Jeopardy round, some do not. Only a few have a Final Jeopardy round.

I prefer to play the game in PowerPoint because the links can be set to change color after being clicked, but I have found some tricks for playing in Google Slides that don’t take too much extra work. The template that you can download from this post is for PowerPoint and already has the links set up for Jeopardy, Double Jeopardy, and Final Jeopardy. The game board table is there and each point value is linked to a slide with a text box for the prompt and a second text box for the answer. Each prompt slide has a button to return to the game board and each round’s game board has a button to go to the next round. All you need to do is add your prompts and answers.

Phrasal Verb Jeopardy
Google Slides

Phrasal Verb Jeopardy has two rounds. The Jeopardy round categories are verbs (break, go, get, look, put). After teams choose a point value, the prompt gives them a particle to add to the verb. Students’ task is to define the phrasal verb. If the phrasal verb has multiple definitions, I tried to include several of them. If students give a definition that is not listed, I judge if it is a valid one or not.

In the Double Jeopardy round, students again choose a point value and a verb (come, be, make, have, do). The prompt gives a definition for the phrasal verb and lists the verb and a blank for the particle. The team must then give the complete phrasal verb (verb + particle) in order to gain their points.

Students are often very nervous when I first explain the game. Often they’ll tell me they’re only willing to try because it’s a game and doesn’t count for their grade. They quickly realize just how much they already know about phrasal verbs and their confidence soars as we play. Since there are two rounds to the game, with a total of 60 prompts, it can take an entire two hour class period to play if we do every prompt. Often I will figure out how much time we have to dedicate to the game and divide it in half, moving to Double Jeopardy when necessary.

Whether you choose to use my free template (download it above) and make your own game, or purchase one of my premade versions, I hope you’ll give Phrasal Verb Jeopardy a try with your high intermediate and/or advanced students. Happy teaching, everyone!

One reference tool and game is NOT enough for phrasal verbs. Here are some others my students enjoy:

The Great Sentence Race

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series started this past Sunday. Personally, I don’t watch many (or any) of the races, but I do know quite a few people, and have had quite a few students, who enjoy the sport very much. In an effort to engage my students (especially my middle school and older male students) in practicing distinguishing between fragments, run-ons, and sentences, I themed the exercises in this activity around car racing. It seems to have worked!

Sentence Types Training Game–Digital
Sentence Types Training Game–Paper

It was two years ago that I first shared about an activity and a game my students and I enjoy doing and playing to practice the four types of sentences. You can get all of the details about Types of Sentences Mobile Project (free!) and Sentence Types Training Cover Up Game in the original blog post. While both of these activities are great and serve a needed purpose, my students had a tendency to write with a lot of fragments and run-on sentences. We discussed the differences, did practice exercises to identify and correct them, and had editing sessions dedicated to their elimination. All of these efforts helped, but it was still a problem for my students. I knew we needed yet another practice activity, but that activity had to be something fun and engaging because we were all tired of the normal options. So, I did what I always do, I created a game.

The original game uses a basic game board and regular game pieces (for a fun alternative, try these car erasers). On a player’s turn, he/she will draw a card, read the sentence aloud, and state whether it is a complete sentence, fragment, or run-on. The player then moves his/her piece as follows:

  • complete sentence = forward 2 spaces
  • fragment = forward 1 space
  • run-on = backward 1 space
  • incorrect answer = backward 2 spaces

The game board also includes spaces that help or hinder the players’ races such as:

  • Flat Tire – Back 2 Spaces
  • Move Ahead 4 Spaces
  • No Gas – Back 2 Spaces

Play continues in this manner until one player reaches the end for a photo finish.

After Covid hit, my students still needed practice with this skill, so I made a digital version of the game. As with almost all of my digital board games, this game makes us of the “Game Play” script my husband wrote for me. The script adds an extra menu item to the top of Google Slides entitled Game Play. Within the standard version of this menu are options for “drawing” a card and “rolling” the dice. This particular version only includes “draw a card,” because students move their pieces as described above.

Both versions of the game have been a success with my students. The last time I played it with my college students I had more than one group ask for more time after I called for everyone to put the pieces away! Most importantly, it provided students with another opportunity to practice an important skill. Happy teaching, everyone.

Top Free TPT Downloads of 2022

Continuing in the theme of Top 10 Lists, I’d like to conclude with the most popular free Teachers Pay Teachers downloads of 2022. I’ll provide you with a direct link to the resource on TPT, as well as to any relevant blog posts, so get ready for a lot of links! If you missed the lists for most popular blog posts, underdog blog posts, or most downloaded free blog resources, you can use the previous links to catch up.

10. Modal Verbs Four in a Row Board Game

Four in a Row games are popular in my classes and we use them to practice quite a few different skills besides modal verbs (including context clues, verb tenses, infinitives, adverbs of manner, and vowel sounds). You can get the modal verb version for free from TPT, or a general game board from the Task Cards: Five Alternative Uses post. More options for practicing modal verbs are described in the Modal Verb Practice post.

9. Playing with Homophones

Homophones require a lot of practice! This card set includes 44 pairs of homophones and two Old Maid cards. Directions for playing three different games are also included in the download. For practice with specific homophone/homonym sets, check out these blog posts: your/you’re, they’re/there/their, two/too/to, are/our/hour.

8. Escape! Games

Moving up from number 10 in 2021, are my Escape! games. There are several varieties, including irregular past tense verbs, question words, irregular plural nouns, and infinitives (and they’re all free!). There are even digital versions of the game for question words and irregular past tense verbs (still free!). You can read more about the irregular verb version in the blog post from October of 2021.

7. Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation Packing

Last summer I taught a class that was 100% focused on pronunciation for the first time. It was a big step out of my comfort zone but ended up being a lot of fun (I’m teaching it again this summer!). This game was one of the products of that class, and I guess a lot of other teachers needed to practice the same skill. You can get all the details in this blog post. If you need more free games to practice the pronunciation of the -d/-ed ending, try Spoons and Fishing. I even have a Spoons and an Uno-like game (both free!) for the pronunciation of final -s/-es. If you’re not familiar with my Fishing For… games, check out this post from July of 2021. For more details about how to play Spoons, give this post from April 2021 a read.

6. Operations with Integers Foldable Notes

Another repeat from 2021, and moving up a spot on the list, is this set of foldable notes. Teaching math was a challenge I reluctantly (and with a lot of help from more mathematically gifted colleagues) tackled. These notes were just as big a help to me as my students! I also have a poster/anchor chart we also referenced as well as a partner match up activity and several games. Integer Fishing (nothing like my Fishing for… games, use the link to read about how to make your own physical game or get the Google Sheets digital version in my store) was probably our favorite, though Integer Jeopardy ran a close second. We also played Integer Slap and War, as well as worked on task cards and a digital mystery picture. As an aside, you can learn how to create your own digital mystery pictures in this post.

5. Inferring Dialogue

This activity also made my list of top free blog downloads, though only at number ten. It was only posted in October of 2022, so it became very popular very fast. The download includes both a PDF and a PowerPoint (uploads to Google Slides well) version. You can get all of the details in the original post. I tend to start inference lessons by discussing the difference between an inference and an observation. We then use a set of pictures to practice making both (the pictures were a top blog download last year from this post). From there, I’ll use a variety of activities chosen based on the proficiency of my students and their other needs at the time. Another good inference practice activity that also includes writing practice is Ambivalent Inferences (a Google Slides version is available as well and both versions are free). If you need an activity to practice making inferences with lower proficiency students, I highly recommend Inference Picture Challenge.

4. Compound Word Guessing Activity

Yet another activity improving its top ten standing by one is Compound Word Guessing Activity. You can get all the details about this activity from the May 2021 post. Compound words being another activity I practice a lot with my students, I have quite a few different activities we utilize, from cards for our Match Up Boards to Spoons, to flashcards, and even things specifically focused on open compounds. I have tried to gather them into a single bundle so they can be quickly obtained (and at a discount).

3. Solving Equations Poster/Anchor Chart

Activity number four making a repeat appearance from 2021, and also moving up a spot, is this poster/anchor chart. The steps for solving one and two-step equations got reviewed a lot in my classes! This poster/anchor chart had a permanent home on my math bulletin board as part of my decorations with a purpose philosophy. It, along with a writing expressions scoot activity and a St. Patrick’s Day themed task card set (check out this post for alternative uses of task cards), is in my equations bundle.

2. Lesson Plan/Outline Sets

Maintaining it’s spot on nearly every top ten list (free TPT downloads of 2021, free blog downloads of 2021, top blog posts of 2021, free blog downloads of 2022, and top blog posts of 2022), these lesson plan/outline sets are in very high demand! I’ll link to the various blog posts, where you can find links to TPT and/or direct downloads from the blog. Once again, the available curriculums are: National Geographic Inside (middle school), National Geographic Pathways Reading & Writing (high school and adult), National Geographic Pathways Listening & Speaking (high school and adult), Reading and Writing for Academic Purposes (mostly LLI teal system and Reading A-Z). Also available are bundles of resources to go with levels A & B of Inside and Pathways (all eight books or separate sets for listening/speaking and reading/writing).

1. Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (original blog post)

And taking the number one spot are the resources from the 10th most popular blog post of this year and the 8th most popular TPT download of 2021: CER posters, graphic organizers, news investigation activity, and an advertisement investigation activity–all free! For even more practice with claim, evidence, and reasoning, see the recently expanded board game! You can also get everything in one easy download via the CER Bundle.

While you’re in my TPT store, be sure to check out the other free resources available, there are nearly 90 of them! If you missed any of the other Top 10 posts from the past month, you can use the following links to catch up on the most viewed blog posts, underdog posts, and top free blog downloads. Happy teaching, everyone!

Top Free Blog Downloads of 2022

We are looking back at the best of 2022. We’ve already listed the most popular posts, and the posts that probably should have gotten a bit more attention, so now it’s time to look at everyone’s favorite: free resources! This week we’ll look at the most popular free downloads from my blog and next week we’ll take a look at the most popular free downloads from my TPT store. Besides naming the various resources and linking the original posts, I’ll also provide direct links for most of them under the post images. Many of the posts contain links for other related resources and posts, so don’t skip checking them out just because you were able to download the one specific file.

10. Speech Bubbles Quotes Activity

Though only number ten on this list, this activity makes it to number five on next week’s free TPT downloads list. From the October Inferring Dialogue post, this version of the activity ended up being more popular than its sister version, Writing Dialogue. I provided links to the PowerPoint version of both activities for you under the picture and I encourage you to check out the original post for all the details and the PDF versions.

9. Was/Were Slap Game

Slap! is one of my students’ all time favorite games to play. Though the post this game appeared in wasn’t overly popular, this download was. The original post includes a description of how Slap! works and a bonus noun reference sheets download.

8. Grid Conquest Game Board

This download was actually included with two different posts in 2022, perhaps giving it a bit of an advantage of some others. It first appeared in Grid Conquest, where I described the game in full and explained some of the ways I use it. The download then reappeared a couple of weeks later in Task Cards: Five Alternative Uses. Even if it did have a bit of an advantage of other files, I think it earned its place on the list because it’s a very fun game and has become quite popular amongst my students. I encourage you to give it a try with yours as well.

7. Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation Chart

You’ll see the game I made this chart to use with next week on the Top Free TPT Downloads of 2022, though you can get it now in the original post for the chart download. I don’t spend a lot of time on pronunciation in my classes (except the class specifically dedicated to the skill), but the correct pronunciation of the -d/-ed ending is something we practice a fair amount. . If you need more free games to practice the pronunciation of the -d/-ed ending, try Spoons and Fishing.

6. Vocabulary Word Wall Cards

Dropping from their number 2 spot last year, these word wall cards I made for the vocabulary in National Geographic’s Inside (levels A & B) series continue to be popular. The original post describes how I organize our word wall and some ways we use it. For another fun (and free) use of your classroom word wall, check out Word Wall Spinner Challenge!

5. Phrasal Verb Chart

Ah, phrasal verbs! My students use them regularly but still get looks of confusion on their faces when I bring them up. Thankfully it doesn’t take much to wipe those looks from their faces, and I have a lot of activities for practicing phrasal verbs. This chart is one that my students find reassuring to have around though, so it usually gets shared every semester. Be sure to read the details in the original post for some teacher-specific information about the chart.

4. Lesson Plans and Supplemental Materials

These downloads occur on nearly every top ten list (free TPT downloads of 2021, free blog downloads of 2021, top blog posts of 2021, free blog downloads of 2022, and top blog posts of 2022)! There are more files involved than I want to take space for here, but you can get them from the original posts: National Geographic Inside (middle school), National Geographic Pathways Reading & Writing (high school and adult), National Geographic Pathways Listening & Speaking (high school and adult), Reading and Writing for Academic Purposes (mostly LLI teal system and Reading A-Z). Also available are bundles of resources to go with levels A & B of Inside and Pathways (all eight books or separate sets for listening/speaking and reading/writing).

3. 6 Quick and 2 Important Accommodations

Another frequent flier post, Accommodating ELLs was number two on the most popular list for both 2021 and 2022. This year I found and added the handout I used when giving this particular professional development session and I’m happy to say many of you have chosen to download (and hopefully use) it!

2. WIDA Common Core Alignment

The only surprise for me here is that this resource dropped to number two on the list. The file was number one on 2021’s top free blog download list, the original post was number five for views in 2021 and number six in 2022. In the post I talk about how students who are not yet proficient in English can still show mastery of state standards, including the Common Core. I also include this alignment of the old WIDA I Can Statements and the K-8 ELA CCSS.

1. Student Resources

And the top free blog downloads of 2022 were first offered on Helpful Student Resources, the number one most popular post for 2022. They are two PDFs that list ten different helpful free resources for students and eight free websites and apps to practice English. These lists are something I give students every semester and they are always very appreciative of them. I hope they are helpful for your students as well!

Thus ends my next to last Top 10 list for 2022. If you missed the Top 10 Blog Posts or Underdog Posts, you can still catch up. Don’t forget to come back next week for the final list, Top 10 Free TPT Downloads. Happy teaching, everyone.

Underdog Posts of 2022

We live extremely busy lives as teachers and that means we sometimes forget about things that are actually very interesting to us, especially blog posts. Hey, I get it! I’m guilty of it myself. I get an email or see a post I want to read, don’t have time to do it immediately, and by the time I do have a free moment I’ve forgotten about it. Well, consider this your reminder for these ten posts! All of them had low views in 2022, but I think they deserved a lot more attention. So, in no particular order, I would like to remind you to take a look at these posts you may have missed last year.

Task Cards: Five Alternative Uses

This one really surprised me, especially since it’s sister post, Sort Cards: Alternative Uses, came very close to making the top 10 list for 2022. If you didn’t read this post because you thought it would be the same ideas as the sort card post, you were wrong. The five ideas in this post are quite different from the eight previously shared. The post also contains a couple of free downloads of game boards that can be used with any set of task or sort cards.

Connected Vocabulary

This post has actually been getting a little more play since the start of 2023, so possibly it was a victim of timing, but I’m not sure. In the post you’ll find links and downloads for two free vocabulary graphic organizers (not the most exciting activities, I know), a digital vocabulary glossary template, labels to create CD spinners for a word wall game, and links to five other vocabulary practice activity ideas.

What to Wear?

This post may have also been a victim of timing as it too was released right about the time school restarted for the year. It contains the directions and cards for Outfit on a Budget Challenge (free!). This is a speaking or writing activity that is especially popular with female students, though most of my male students enjoy it as well. The activity doesn’t require purchasing any special materials and can even include some cross-curricular practice with percentages (another low view post from 2022).

Getting Perspective

The low number of views on this post really surprised me. It was shared right at the beginning of the school year, which probably had something to do with it, but it includes a free downloadable resource to practice writing from different perspectives and was reshared several times. Usually posts that include free activities (especially writing and speaking activities) and are reshared multiple times end up on or close to my top ten views list, but this one didn’t for some reason. I can’t explain it, but if you missed it the first time around, here’s your reminder!

Alphabet Pizza Pan

I suspect this DIY post didn’t get the attention it deserves because it didn’t get shared until the middle of December. Talk about bad timing, but something has to get written and shared then, and this one just happened to draw the short stick. The post talks about a fun activity you can make and use with students to practice matching lower and uppercase letters. Another teacher on Facebook did have the idea of using a label maker to create very small labels and use the basic idea to practice irregular verbs. I don’t own a label maker as yet, but I might have to buy one just to try this idea out!

Where do I need to go?

This is a fun activity that allows students to practice following and giving directions around town. Students use maps and brochures I get for free from the tourist information center or city maps from the local Chamber of Commerce and business cards from around town. I combine these with whatever game board and pieces I have available at the time and it is the perfect way to get in some unscripted speaking practice as well as good review of community place vocabulary and prepositions of place.

World Poetry Day: Shel Silverstein

OK, so a lot of us may not know about World Poetry Day, but how does the name Shel Silverstein get missed? He is easily my favorite children’s poet, and I suspect many of you feel the same way. I’ll never forget growing up on poems out of Where The Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, and A Light in the Attic. Then there are all the great stand alone books such as The Missing Piece, A Giraffe and a Half, and The Giving Tree. Please don’t ask me to choose a favorite, because I can’t, and neither can my students–even my adult students love when I bring one of his books to class!

Eggcellent Activities

I’m cheating again with this one and including two posts. I use plastic eggs (the kind you find in stores around Easter) for quite a few different activities. In 2021, I shared about how I use them to practice contractions. In 2022, it was Scrambled Words (spelling/vocabulary) and Coin Eggs (USA coins). Fair warning, another eggcellent activity is coming in 2023, this one focused on the alphabet.

Match Up Boards

Another DIY post, these boards my dad designed and built for me have a lot of uses! The building plans are absolutely free and the cards are easy to design, print, and use. I probably use mine to practice question words the most, but I also have sets to practice academic vocabulary, parts of speech, occupations, USA coins, compound words, etc. They’d also be great for practicing math facts!

Advice for Future Educators

If I had a quarter for every time I have seen a social media post along the lines of, “What’s your best piece of advice for a new teacher?” I could retire! Since this question can’t realistically be answered in a quick Facebook reply, I wrote this post. It’s the five things I wish someone had told me (although if I’m being honest, someone probably did tell me) when I was first starting out.

If you missed it, last week I shared the exact opposite of these posts, Top 10 Blog Posts of 2022. Stay tuned the next couple of weeks for The Top Free Blog Downloads and Top Free TPT Downloads of 2022! Happy teaching, everyone.

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2022

Last January I shared four posts listing out the most viewed blog posts, the most popular free blog downloads, the most downloaded free Teachers Pay Teachers products, and the ten posts I felt didn’t get quite as much attention as they deserved for 2021. This year I’d like to do the same thing, beginning with the most viewed blog posts of 2022.

10. Morning Bell Work

This post described the morning bell work routine I followed when I taught a self-contained middle school class for beginning English language learners. In it I also included links to the various books, programs, and other resources from which I sourced the activities.

9. CER: Claim, Evidence, Reasoning

I’ve used the claim, evidence, reasoning strategy when teaching every subject from science to math and writing to speaking. It’s a great way to help students organize and communicate their thinking and understanding of any topic. Besides briefly describing the strategy, the post also has links to posters, graphic organizers, a couple of activities for practicing the use of it (one of which was a top free TPT download last year), and a board game I use regularly. The paper version of the board game has recently been expanded to include topic card sets for elementary, middle school, high school, and adult students.

8. Vocabulary Word Wall

Coming in at number 8 for the second year in a row, this post is obviously very popular. Our class word wall is one of the most used features of my classroom and so I agree that it deserves a lot of attention. The free vocabulary cards available in the post were among the top five free blog downloads of 2021 and came in number six for 2022.

7. Classroom Supplies

I chose to award this spot to two posts that are similar in focus and finished neck and neck in the rankings: New Teacher Classroom Purchases & Setup (which was #1 in 2021) and Out of the Blue Favorite Classroom “Supplies”. In the post for new teachers, I answer the often asked question, “What are the must haves for my new classroom?” In the second post, I share some of the classroom items that I and my students have particularly enjoyed and I continue to have (and replace as needed) in my classroom.

6. ELLs Can Common Core

Dropping only one spot from the 2021 rankings, this post covers a topic that is very close to this ESOL teacher’s heart. In it I talk about how students who are not yet proficient in English can still show mastery of state standards, including the Common Core. I also include what was the number one free blog download of 2021 (and the number two free download of 2022), an alignment of the old WIDA I Can Statements and the K-8 ELA CCSS.

5. Speaking Practice with a Side of Reading Comprehension

This post surprised me, not because of the topic (I know we all need more speaking activities), but because it didn’t hit the blog until December and it still gained enough views to land in the top five most viewed posts of the year. The post shares seven games my students and I enjoy that elicit less scripted speaking practice.

4. Lesson Plans

I again cheated a bit on my list and awarded this spot to multiple posts. I’ve had four different posts that introduce and offer links to download my teaching outlines for various curriculum I use and like. All of them made the top views list and the lists for top free blog downloads and top free TPT products. The available curriculums are: National Geographic Inside (middle school), National Geographic Pathways Reading & Writing (high school and adult), National Geographic Pathways Listening & Speaking (high school and adult), Reading and Writing for Academic Purposes (mostly LLI teal system and Reading A-Z).

3. Back to School Activities–Ice Breaker Alternatives

I know I’m not alone in my hatred of ice breakers. I also know we teachers are always in search of some fun new way to start off the school year. This post addresses both of these with five fun activities you can use to start off a new year or semester. The best thing is that they’re not specific to any season or time of the year, so they are also great activities for easing into a break or back into routine after a break!

2. Accommodating ELLs

Holding it’s position from 2021, the number two post goes over some quick accommodations classroom teachers can use with their ELL students that are actually reasonable to implement and benefit all students, not just ELLs. This one will also show up again on the top free blog downloads list as I found and added the handout I used when I presented this professional development session.

1. Helpful Resources for Students

Coming in number one on both this list and the top free blog downloads, this post has two PDFs that list ten different helpful free resources for students and eight free websites and apps to practice English. These lists are something I give students every semester and they are always very appreciative of them. I hope they are helpful for your students as well!

Stay tuned for more Top 10 lists this month, including underdog blog posts, free blog downloads, and free TPT products. Happy teaching, everyone!