Sight Word Sticker Books!

This year, I had the usual amount of "reluctant writers" that really didn't want to risk trying to write anything new for fear of making a mistake.  So I tried to come up with some new ways to motivate them to write sentences with the sight words that they needed to work on, and also include some words that they would have to sound out and spell phonetically. 

One of these motivational techniques that I came up with was to have the children make books using stickers as the pictures!  Most kids just LOVE stickers, so I assumed that this would be a good activity for my kids.  We did this last February or March, as I recall.

Last year, a teacher retired and left a big box of stickers in the teacher lounge up for grabs.  Guess who took it????

This was the activity:

1.  I made an example of what a Sight Word Sticker Book might look like.
2.  I gave the children blank books that I prepared ahead of time, all stapled together and ready to go.
3.  I spread a bunch of stickers out on the table, and gave everyone a pencil.
4.  I read my example book to the children.
5.  I gave the children the directions, which were:
  a.  They must stick to the sentence pattern that I had set, such as
"This is a ______."

This little guy got "a little" carried away with the stickers, LOL!

b.  They could not choose to write the same thing over and over, such as "This is a cat," on every single page, so they should not choose the same type of sticker every time.

One student tried to write, "This is a flower."

c.  They would not get a new sticker until they finished writing about the previous sticker.  So, in order to get a second sticker, then the first sentence must be complete.

This all worked great, except that our schedule got a little bit off, and my substitute wound up beginning this activity for me, and then I picked up where she left off and finished it with my class the next day.  She was either unable to get some of the kids to follow the directions, or didn't understand them herself, because when I got back the next day, many of the children simply filled the book with stickers and barely wrote a thing!  :(  And of course, I had to try to get them to finish, ANYWAY, and they went right back to their same old routine of dragging their feet!

Sooooo, I decided to give it a go and try it again, and this time do it myself.  And it worked- just like I thought it would!  The kids caught on right away, and they were totally motivated to write about the new words that they found in the stickers.  They also were using the sight words that I asked them to use, and as usual there was a lot of singing of the sight word songs while they were writing!  That always makes me smile!  I had given them a six page book to work on, and some of them finished the whole thing in one day and asked to do another!  Other children only finished a few pages and needed to finish the next day.

BUT... next time I do it, I am going to really limit the types of stickers that I put out, and try to get them to stick to certain themes that we are studying, such as sea animals or zoo animals, etc.  AND, I am going to keep all of the stickers in my lap so that they have to ask ME for the stickers each time they think that they are ready for them!  Once they were in the habit of helping themselves to the stickers, it was mighty hard to break them of that habit, LOL!  So with some of the groups, I had to remove the stickers from the middle of the table and make them show me their finished page and ask me for another.  In addition, some of the children probably would have been happier with a four page book than a six page book, so I probably would differentiate instruction a bit by changing the amount of pages that I give each child, or simply let each child do as many pages as time permits and then staple them together when the time is up.

One really fun element of this activity was that when the children finished a book, I tried to find the time to grab my iPad and video tape them reading it to me!  Then the children would get to watch themselves reading it.  I zoomed in on the book so that we would be able to see the text well in the video, and asked the children to point at the words as they read them.  Some of the children really worked hard to get their reading just right for their videos, asking to re-read their books two or three times!  So we would delete the previous video and we would try again.  When we ran out of time to videotape someone's book, I let them do it at playtime.

It looked a bit like a sticker bomb exploded in my classroom!

I tried to teach one of my high students to videotape the others, and he pretty much got it- but they really wanted to read it just for ME!!!  Plus, he wasn't able to hold the iPad very steady and kept cutting off half of the page!  So that didn't work so well.  I think that if I set up the iPad ahead of time and mounted it on something so that it was positioned just right, though, it would have worked better for those that were willing to read the book without me present.  (Is there such a thing as a tripod for an iPad???)  Overall, watching themselves read the book was a GREAT exercise in fluency for them and highly motivational, and I highly recommend it!

If you know of any other activities to motivate reluctant writers, I would love to hear them!  Please let me a comment below.


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Camille said…
I love your sight word booklet idea! I will definitely use it next year!!! Also, yes there is an iPad tripod. Just google "ipad tripod" and you will find several. I don't have one, but a friend does.
Enjoy your time in Vegas!! I am not going, but will see you in San Jose at the kinder conference here next year.
An Open Door
beth said…
I love this idea! My kiddos would love this! I love having them finish a page before they get a new sticker. I will be at I teach K! I will be at all your sessions on wed! Will you be attending sessions on other days?
HeidiSongs said…
Thanks, Camille and Beth!
And Beth- Wow! You're going to be at ALL of my sessions! That's amazing! A true fan! :)
I will be attending other sessions on Monday afternoon (we will arrive at about lunch time) and also on Tuesday. I am not sure about Thursday morning, because we are driving home that morning, but I might get to attend the first one or two. I'm hoping to collect lots of great ideas to share!
I hope that I will also get to USE some of these new ideas! We have so many required programs these days that there is less and less time for us to be creative, which is sad.
beth said…
I feel the same about having so many required programs! When I read other blogs I wonder if all states have so many required programs or is it a California thing? N
HeidiSongs said…
To Beth:
I don't know if it is mostly a CA thing or not, but I do know that many of the conference planners are starting to avoid California because the teachers are saying that their principals won't allow them to use any of the new ideas anyway, so attendance at the conferences is poor. It's possible that the same thing is happening elsewhere, but we just don't know about it, though. And also, it probably also really depends on your school and your principal.
Great idea, I pinned it to my writing board! Stickers are such a big motivator for this age group. I'll see you in Vegas!
Lor Riley said…
I love how you include what happened when you do an idea so I know what to watch for and try!! Love the ipad idea too. I wish I was attending the conference. Hope to catch one soon. You're the best!
Leigh Anne said…
It's funny, I did a similar activity with stickers but to motivate the kids with subtraction at the end of the year. I had tons of bits and pieces and my one rule was they had to use all the same kind of sticker for one sticker story. It worked beautifully! I am going to pin this idea. At my school, we start our early with writing with the "I see" sentences. I can see this blooming into, "I see a star." (!) Great idea with a simple concept.
Freckleteacher said…
Hi Heidi! I too use stickers for quick pictures. It is a great technique I learned in reading recovery training. I love your post because it shows how we all have to modify lessons as we go since kids don't always follow our program. Love the iPad idea for recording!

I can't wait to see you in Vegas on Tuesday night! I really enjoyed spending time with you at the N cal conference last January. Good luck in your workshops. I am only there 2 days and I am mostly taking RTI and interventation stuff. Not ver exciting, but sadly necessary.
Unknown said…

My assistant found a website called "Face in the Hole" and she first asked the kids some questions and did a few samples---we have one boy who is all about Spiderman and she put his face into a superhero---he LOVED it! One girl wanted to be Puss in Boots, another wanted to be a princess and she loved that. In the end each child chose something and it became a writing assignment then, they had to write something to go with their picture. We posted them in the office and got a ton of comments. Our principal saw immediately that maybe even higher grades would be motivated by this....go check it out and see what you think. I've done the sticker thing like you with identical results. One thing that helps is that I have a document camera and let them share their work under that---but they must have writing, can't just share a picture.

Jacque Verrall
Oh, I love those complete sentence sight word books! :)

I am attending some of your sessions this week! :). So excited! See you there!

Cher Gerard (Harrison)
HeidiSongs said…
Hi, Cher!!!
Hooray, another friend at the conference!!! See you SOON!
Amanda said…
Catching up on some blog reading. My students LOVED stickers, so thanks for a great writing idea to incorporate them! I look forward to seeing you today!

Carol said…
Anything involving stickers will engage my kids. Thanks for all the super tips. Thank you for sharing so much good stuff. I awarded you The Versatile Blogger Award. Head on over to my blog to get it.
Mrs. Cobb's Kinder Sprouts
I love this idea of using the stickers for sight word books AND of recording it on the iPad. I just got one and I'm realizing quickly that one of it's best strengths is the motivation that is involved for kids!
Hollie Fumero said…

I just want to say "thank you" for your constant inspiration to make learning fun. My students love your songs and I am looking forward to incorporating more of your music and videos into my teaching next year.
HeidiSongs said…
To Hollie,
That's a very nice thing to say! I do appreciate it!
I'm glad you and your students enjoyed the songs, and benefited from them!

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