I’ve been teaching young learners – preschool and then first grade – for a couple of years now. After teaching middle and high school students for 7 years, it’s quite a change, but I’ve found that I enjoy it. Because I majored in Secondary English in college, I’ve had to learn how to teach letter sounds, basic reading and basic writing; thankfully, I’ve found so many great (often free!) resources for me and for my students. Here are my 5 favorite places to get these resources and my favorite resources from each shop. (NOTE: Most of these resources should be laminated.)

1 You Clever Monkey

   you clever monkey

This is my absolute favorite resource shop for young learners. Nichole Halliday, the creator of You Clever Monkey, is an early childhood teacher in Australia. Her resources are creative and very professionally done. There aren’t too many freebies here because it’s a smaller shop, but her products are well-priced. This shop also has math resources and classroom labels and signs. You can join her email list in order to receive occasional freebies (these are also in her shop) and see what’s new.

Here are my favorite resources from You Clever Monkey:

*Alphabet Letter Wheels

Initial Sounds Circles plus Matching Upper and Lower Case Letters

These circles allow children to match lowercase and uppercase letters. This activity also allows children to work on their fine motor skills. I especially love the bright colors of the letter circles. (Free)

*Alphabet Sound Mazes (Color)

Alphabet Sound Mazes

This activity introduces mazes to children who have never done them before with pictures that are cute and bright. All that’s required to complete the mazes are some clear counters to mark the way through. ($4)

*CVC Word Frame Cards

CVC Word Frame Cards

These cards allow children to spell CVC words using magnetic letters (vowels are one color, consonants another color). These cards are a little more difficult than other CVC activities because the child must spell the word by himself. I love the level of independence these cards allow. ($2)

2 This Reading Mama

This blog has so many — so many! — great resources, a lot of which are free. Becky Spence, the creator of This Reading Mama, was a classroom teacher who is now homeschooling her four children. Most of the resources in this shop are literacy activities and there are a lot of posts for teachers and parents about teaching reading and writing. This Reading Mama also has math, science and social studies resources. You definitely want to join her email list to receive the subscriber freebies — they’re fantastic!

Here are my favorite resources from This Reading Mama:

*Just Swap 1 Short Vowel Game Boards

Like You Clever Monkey’s CVC Word Frame Cards, this CVC word activity allows children to spell CVC words on their own, though it provides scaffolding through the use of words that are only one letter different from the words after and before. It also allows children to use letter tiles/magnetic letters or to write the words. ($3)

*Digraph Puzzles

FREE Printable Digraph Puzzles - This Reading Mama

CH, SH and TH are included in these digraph puzzles. The child first has to identify the picture, which can allow him to learn new words, and then must decide whether that word includes CH, SH or TH. Then the child has to fit the piece into the puzzle, so he’s working on a lot here! The best part about these digraph puzzles? They’re free!

*Self-Checking Vowel Team Clip Cards

Clip cards are a common early learner literacy activity and can be used for almost anything! I really like these vowel team clip cards because the pictures are cute and the font is simple and clear. They also allow for self-checking. If you’d rather get some free vowel team clip cards (they don’t have the stars on the back for self-checking), you can find them here. ($4)

3 The Measured Mom

Like This Reading Mama, The Measured Mom has a ton of really good resources, a lot of which are free. And like Becky Spence, Anna Geiger was a classroom teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom. Much of her blog is literacy-focused and she has a lot of information and tips for teaching reading and writing (I think she and Becky Spence might be best friends!). The Measured Mom has a lot of math resources, including Preschool Math at Home, which I recommend. Subscribe to her email list to get a lot of great freebies!

Here are my favorite resources from The Measured Mom:

*15 Free Memory Games for Short A Word Families

matching games

My students love this game that not only gives them the chance to read CVCs and match them to pictures but also to remember where certain cards are. It also teaches them how to take turns and play fairly. If you subscribe to The Measured Mom’s emails, you can get games for short E, short I, short O and short U as well, for free! (Free)

*Simple Rhyming Bingo

The reason you can’t click on the link above? This simple rhyming Bingo is a subscriber freebie — I’m telling you, you need to subscribe! This simple rhyming Bingo is a no-pressure way for young learners to learn to listen for rhyme. The Measured Mom has a more advanced rhyming Bingo here, which is free.

*How to Teach Letters and Their Sounds

As I mentioned before, my qualification and experience are in secondary grades, so this guidebook, as well as How to Teach Phonological and Phonemic Awareness, have been really helpful to me. They’re written simply and contain essential information. ($3 each)

4 Playdough to Plato

Playdough to Plato has lots of great literacy, math and science resources for preschool, kindergarten and first grade, many of which are free. Malia Hollowell, the creator of Playdough to Plato, was a classroom teacher who now stays home with her kids. This blog is different from my other favorites in that it has A LOT of science activities. Subscribe to her emails to see what’s new.

Here are my favorite resources from Playdough to Plato:

*Middle Vowel Cards

Medial Vowels CVC Mats - Playdough To Plato

This CVC word activity gives children the opportunity to determine which vowel goes in the middle of the words, making them look at the picture, say the word, isolate the vowel and pronounce it. Including the first and third letters provides scaffolding for students who are working on individual sounds. I like that children can easily move the vowels around to correct any mistakes and how this activity shows them how similar CVC words can be to one another. I also like that the vowels are different colors. (Free)

*Cookie Word Work Game

My first grade girls especially enjoy this editable sight word game. Sight words are an important part of learning how to read and there’s no better way to practice them than through games. Playdough to Plato has quite a few sight word games that are similar to this one, including a dinosaur one I also like. (Free)

*Differentiated Writing Paper with Rubrics

Writing Paper

These are perfect for beginning writers. I love that there are 4 different choices with rubrics ranging from very basic to a little more complex. I also like the 1, 2 and 3 because students can easily understand this method of evaluation. (Free)

5 The Kindergarten Connection

The Kindergarten Connection has lots of free resources for preschool, kindergarten and first grade. Its founder, Alex, is a kindergarten teacher. The Kindergarten Connection seems to be equally focused on literacy and math. Join the email list for freebies!

Here are my favorite resources from The Kindergarten Connection:

*ABC Order Cut and Paste

I did this with my first graders at the beginning of the year and of course they loved it because these are cookies, which they definitely enjoyed coloring! I like this activity because it involves cutting and gluing — both good for fine motor practice. (Free)

*CVC Rhyming Words Matching Game

CVC Rhyming Words matching games are a great way to introduce word families to new readers! These picture supported cards are perfect for introducing CVC Words.

Another matching game, but one that incorporates rhyme? I like it! I like the large font, the scaffolding the words provide, and the simple, bright pictures. (Free)

*Rhyming Puzzles

There can never be too much rhyme practice with young learners. These are simple, two-piece puzzles with words and large pictures. (Free)

I cannot even imagine how teachers taught before the internet and am so grateful for so many fantastic resources — so many free resources! — that are just at our fingertips. Do you have any favorite resources for young learners? I’d love to find out all about them so leave a message in the comments.

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