Small Group Tool: Batons

If there's one teaching "tool" that I can't pass up at Bullseyes's Playground every season, it's the light up batons! I've been collecting them since 2018 and have certainly become a small group must have for my kiddos and here's why...

  • They bring that extra layer of engagement and movement to the teacher table.
  • They make phonics fluency and warm-ups feel like a GAME. 
  • They're so adaptable, you can truly "smash" anything... picture cards, mats, index cards, flash cards and I'm sure so much more.
  • They help offer variety to our normal routine of magnetic letters or matching cards. 
                                                                                                               Phonics, Crab SMASH

I've used the batons in a variety of ways for word work and letter practice at the small group table. The most low-prep and efficient way that I've found is... in a game mat format & giving oral directions like saying, find the picture that starts with the /m/ sound. Another easy-breezy way, that requires NO cutting, is using those coveted magnetic letters. Hold it up, slap it to a cookie sheet and you're good to go on making its sound and smashing the answer. 

Sight word review AKA sight word RACING... We generally learn 2-3 sight words per week, so I like to combine 2 weeks worth of words for a small group warm up. Prior to scattering, the kids and I spell and read the words. Then, I'll just randomly call a word that's part of the assortment and the kids race trying to be the first to smash it. 

Letter fun! I feel this particular mat gets used the most often and in a variety of ways. Again, I'm all about low-prep, so I like to mix it up with showing magnetic letters for upper/lowercase matching, saying letter names, making the sounds, or using picture cards to practice initial sounds. No matter which way, my kiddos know to find the letter and smash it.

No batons, wands? No problem, have your kiddos flip over an unsharpened pencil and use the eraser or pencil topper part.  Then, TEST IT OUT with this VOWEL freebie mat.

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