A teacher friend of ours has created a Twister game with the Stevenson Layer Cake. You can easily imagine your own version, but here is how she did it:
Our friend had an old art projector, and she used a cake illustration from one of the many found in her Stevenson books. She projected onto a cheap shower curtain, and used sharpies to create the outline. If you do not have an art projector, it would not be too hard to make the cake freehand. It is a fairly simple drawing. You could also ask for the art teacher’s help, or that teacher could even turn this activity into an art class project. The dry erase markers our friend used to write the words weren’t erasing very easily so she put a clear plastic liner from a dollar store over it. Our friend had a spinner, but it didn’t work well so she ended up using index cards with a direction drawn on each one – Examples: Right foot, crunchy filling; left hand, layer of cake etc., with a little sketch of the cake part on the card. (See the attached pdf file for an example.)
The cards worked fine. She shuffles them and draws one out at a time, or lets a student draw the cards . She lets the students select layer cake words themselves from the reading book or workbook pages, and then they decide together which one to write on the cake using a dry erase marker. They change the word before each game. The teacher has the students say the sound (except efrosting) as they land a foot or hand on a cake part. She also puts a sticker on the students’ right foot and hand since they often struggle with knowing right from left. The last pupil standing has to say the whole word to win. This game is now very popular with her students, and they ask to do it all the time. You can easily imagine using the same strategy with sandwich words as well. You can play this version of Twister when the students first encounter the sandwich and cake words and then return to it when you cover the thick pieces of bread and thick layers of cake. Of course, this activity would not necesssarily work well with some groups of extremely hyperactive students with behavior issues, or with students who have certain physical handicaps. However, it is a great example of how instruction in the Stevenson Program can be both fun and effective!
Whether you call it organizing or juggling, allocating your time to different kinds of instruction is a huge challenge. If you have limited time with students who are already struggling, you need flexibility. At the same time, you are under a great deal of pressure to meet dozens of specified standards. While the Stevenson Program does require you to follow a special sequence, there are numerous ways to adjust your instruction time to make the most of it.
One simple fun activity is playing Word Detective. This game is nothing more than asking your students to find particular kinds of words in particular (non-Stevenson) sources. Select the kinds of words according to what you feel your students need to practice most. For example, you might say, “Find me as many words as you can with the twin e’s in them,” or you might suggest all the peanut butter and jelly words they have had so far. Selecting source material depends on the kinds of students you have. You could use newspapers and magazines for some students, but for most young students that print would be too small and the vocabulary could be too complicated. You can select any of the (non-Stevenson) reading books you have in your room or select a textbook of some kind.
When playing the Word Detective game, do not ask pupils to try to read all of the material they encounter (which would be overwhelming). They should just search for the kinds of words you specified, and they should read those words out loud to you. Be flexible. If they find a word like head and assume it is a peanut butter and jelly word (it is not, the short sound of ea is covered much later in the program), accept it. Explain that English is tricky, that some of the words that look like peanut butter and jelly words are not, and students will learn about these later. Perhaps a student looking for words with the twin ee’s might find the word street. The student has found a peanut butter and jelly word, but you cannot expect him or her to decode the triple blend str at this point. In such a case, you can congratulate the student, but you, not the pupil, will have to read the word aloud. You can reward students for finding words anyway you choose. Some pupils will be more successful than others simply because they had source material that contained the right words. Do not let any child feel bad about their efforts. Word Detective is an excellent way for students to get used to different kinds of reading material, different typefaces, font sizes and layouts. It also gives them the sense that eventually they can read all the material they are using.
We created some word lists that can be used as a very simple assessment for students in the Overlapping Strategy. The assessment is very easy to administer, and it will help you determine the decoding skills of the students before they begin the Overlapping Strategy, and after they have completed the Basic Blue Level. (You can also re-administer the test during the process if you choose.) The tests are not standardized, nor are they intended to be a complete inventory of phonics skills. However, they can serve as a useful tool in guiding your instruction and in demonstrating your students’ progress. Open the pdf file below, and you will find suggestions on the first four pages and the word lists on the last two.
Check out this one page pdf file: