Cheryl Sigmon’s Four-Blocks Literacy

Four-Blocks is a balanced literacy framework  where the main focus  is on reading but includes all of the language arts. It is for teachers; it shows “the HOW not the WHAT”.

One of the two guiding principles behind Four Blocks is that there is not just one way to teach children to read.

“Although Four Blocks was originally created for first grade, teachers have learned to modify it appropriately to improve instruction at many grade levels. Generally, grades 1-3 adhere to the same basic formats with greater modifications necessary for upper grades, 4-8.

At kindergarten, a framework called Building Blocks provides the developmentally appropriate foundation for language, print and literacy.”

I use two of the Four Blocks concepts –the Laptop Laptop and Snap-n-Clap– as spelling activities.

I hope you find one of the many printables and handouts on the 4Blocks Literacy site useful in your classroom.


Lesson Plan: Guide Word Game


  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Students play a timed game to locate guide words in a dictionary.



  • define the term “guide words”.
  • locate guide words on specific dictionary pages.
  • work together in cooperative groups.


dictionary, guide words, game, timed

Materials Needed

dictionaries (one per pair of students), paper, pens or pencils, dry erase markers, dry erase board or laminate/sheet protector, teacher-made work sheets that list words beginning with different letters of the alphabet, answer key, timer or clock with second hand.

Lesson Plan

  • Ask students to describe the term guide words and give examples.
  • Organize students into pairs. Give each group one dictionary and a teacher-made work sheet that has a list of words beginning with different letters of the alphabet.
  • Tell students to look up each word on the list. Tell students they have X minutes to locate and write down the guide words that appear at the top of the page for each word and the page numbers the guide words fall on. (Vary time limit according to students’ ages and abilities.)

***One variation of this game that my students love is as follows: Form students into groups. Give each group one dry erase board, sheet protector or laminated sheet of paper and a dry earase marker. Turn the board/sheet landscape. Draw four lines equally spaced from top to bottom of the board/sheet. Write the following column headers: word, guide word1, guide word2, page number. Or create a printed sheet especially for this activity. To play, the teacher writes one word on the board. Set a timer. Tell students they have x-amount of time (seconds or minutes depending on skill level) to look up each word and write down the guide words and page number. Each group has to write their answer on the dry erase.  Assign everyone in the group a job. Possible jobs are recorder/reporter, researchers, and announcer. The recorder/reporter writes down the information. The researchers look for the information as a group. The announcer yells out “got it!” or something like that.  Use the assessment below or make this game a competition between teams. Another assessment option is to have teams compete against their own performance. Write down how much time it took the group to find the correct information. Have them try to beat their own time. Continue playing the game until groups find all of the words. I use the job titles as a method of reinforcing the “er” suffix; this suffix means “the one who”. So, researcher means, the one who researches; recorder means the one who records, etc.


At the end of the time limit, give students the answers from the answer key and have them check their own work. Evaluate students’ responses and abilities to work together in cooperative groups.

via Education World ® Lesson Planning: Guide Word Game.

Education World® Spelling Game

Activity 1: Alpha-Time Spelling

Provide each student with 10 slips of paper (one slip for each spelling word of the week). Have students practice writing their spelling words, one word per slip. Then instruct students to turn over the slips. Give students 15 seconds to slide around the slips on their desks until the slips are all mixed up. At your signal, students turn over the slips and arrange them in alphabetical order. When they finish alphabetizing the words, students stand by their desks. (That way, they are not able to move the slips if they spot an error.) Keep track of the order in which students stand up. When all students are standing, check the work of the first student who stood up. If the order is correct, that person is the winner.

You might repeat this activity several times. Students should finish more quickly each time. This activity also is good for recycling scrap copy paper; cut slips out of those spare copies you will never use.

via Education World® Five Spelling Games.

Comma in a Series

Nice activities for teaching a fun way to teach commas in a series. Can use worksheet for more/guided practice. Worksheets are for grade 4 but the site also has the same activities for grades 1 thru 5.

Capitalization Rules

Here is a list of rules for capitalization. Use it to make miniposters and other cute stuff for your students. There is also a worksheet to print out. Remember to laminate/sheet protect for durability and re-usability!

Compound Words-Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Compound words lesson plan (link)

compound words worksheet easy (pdf)

More worksheets (link)

list of common compound words (Ilink)

Hink Pinks

Education World
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Five Language Arts ‘Sponges’ by La Donna Ourada


This activity is called “Hink Pink” or “Hinky Pinky” or “Hinkety Pinkety” or “Hitinkety Pitinkety.” The explanation of the different names is part of the game.

Hink pinks are one-syllable words that rhyme. You write down the “definition” and the kids come up with the hink pinks. For example, if the clue is “a large feline,” the hink pink is “fat cat.”

Hinky Pinkies are two-syllable words that rhyme. For example, “the salve given to Jason by Medea to protect him from the bulls” is a “lotion potion.”

Hinkety Pinketies have three syllables (e.g., “when military boats have a race” = “armada regatta”), and Hitinkety Pitinketys have four syllables.

This activity is fun to use as a vocabulary builder, especially with many syllables, or as content review. Kids will also enjoy coming up with the clues and trying to fool you or others.

Following are some sample Hink Pinks:

  • a party at a convent = nun fun
  • a married rodent = mouse spouse
  • an earthquake on a Sunday morning = church lurch
  • a “hip” monster = cool ghoul
  • what lawyers feel when they lose = brief grief

How about some Hinky Pinkies?

  • a bull who sings ballads has a = mellow bellow
  • theft of prime cut beef = sirloin purloin
  • sibling of a skin blemish = sister blister
  • the highest plastic container = upper tupper
  • a magical grasshopper = hocus locust
  • a magical woman who milks cows = dairy fairy
  • an airplane at greater elevation than the others = higher flier
  • a rabbit with a sense of humor = funny bunny
  • a young cat in love = smitten kitten
  • why the child was scared of the storm = frightening lightning
  • a fruit that needs a shave = hairy berry
  • an anxious snake = hyper viper
  • a tired flower = lazy daisy
  • a big hill that spits out water = fountain mountain
  • a more intelligent boxer = brighter fighter

Ready for some Hinkety Pinketies?

  • a place where the national leader lives = president’s residence
  • a disturbance during a church service = devotion commotion
  • history of spectacles = monocle chronicle
  • two drums conversing with each other at a jazz concert = percussion discussion
  • a pizza delivery man who needs a shave = hairier carrier
  • stripping paint with snakes = serpentine turpentine
  • attacking someone with false praise = flattery battery
  • a fuzzy UPS man = furrier courier
  • race of sea-faring craft = armada regatta
  • ships crewed by apes = gorilla flotilla

Teaching Contractions

Here is a cute lesson plan that uses “surgery” to teach contractions. Use worksheets and game for practice. Laminate or put in sheet protector for durability and so materials can be used by future students.

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