Be a Literacy Genius in Just 30 minutes per Day

Why Hello There Teacher Extraordinaire!

By now you are back in full swing as you teach those little energy nuggets all kinds of academic and life lessons. But, where on Earth does all that time go? Before you know it, it’s the end of the day, you’re exhausted, and you just hope and pray they learned at least something. I totally get it. So what if you could guarantee an information packed classroom meeting/calendar routine/whateveryoucallit in the morning? Wouldn’t you just feel so productive? That’s what I’m here to share!

Beefing Up Your Calendar Routine with Word of the Day

I’m sure you’ve heard this term, “word of the day,” in some context before. It’s used with your literacy centers, morning work, etc. It’s kind of a fun way to create a vocabulary focus, right? Here’s the kicker, though. You can do so much more with “word of the day” in your calendar routine than you ever realized. Pam uses our Daily Concept Builders™ Calendars to introduce her word of the day for a number of reasons:

  • Vocabulary that’s relevant to the students
  • Pattern on the calendar pieces
  • Vocabulary words organized into themes of the week
  • Student calendars for hands-on follow up

Okay I have to stop right here and share one of Pam’s favorite stories about using these calendar words in her class:

“I was so excited about what the ELL teacher told me today about what one of my ELL students said to her in group time with her! She came to me and asked, “Pam, what in the  world did you say to Juan!” “He told me that he wanted to be “positive” Juan in the “New Year” and have a good “attitude.”  I was thrilled to tell her he was using words from our January Calendar. Now the cool part about all of this is Juan has been crying a lot and having a bad attitude.

I did some role play about being negative and crying, saying things like,”I don’t want to do that, It is too hard, I don’t like it.” Then I showed them being positive, “I am going to do my best, I can do this.” I told them that it also helped their friends when they were positive to them: like smiling at them and encouraging them when they were having a difficult time.
I was happy to see my students starting to apply what they learned!”

Isn’t that amazing! The power of words!

You can check out our January Calendar by clicking the image below or get it for free by signing up for our email list:

Get My Calendar!

You can create one yourself by simply adding words to the bottom of your calendar pieces.  Which brings me to your first 15 min…Calendar Time!:

Step 1: Introduce the Word

Begin your calendar routine by introducing your word of the day and ask your students to clap the syllables. Write the word on the board and ask your students to pick out blends, endings, vowel sounds, “small words,” etc. Pam likes to tell her students they are being word detectives and they love it! Use different notation systems for each answer so the students can see each piece clearly. You can use different colors or different symbols like: circling, underlining, squiggly lines, boxes. Once your students have identified all the pieces of the word, show them how to fit these pieces together to sound out the word.  See an example below:

Example from our September words

If you have Kindergarten students: You may have to hold their hands through this the first few times, but the more you do it, the more they’ll learn. Remember repetition every day is key. For example, take the word manners: Show your students the word “man” and tell them it’s a “little word.” Ask them what a man is. You can even draw a stick figure man underneath the “little word.” Notate the ending “er” and tell the students what sound it makes. You might even come up with a symbol for word endings so every time they see the symbol, they know it’s an ending. You can do the same for blends, little words, and word families. If you’re feeling brave, join the phonics terms with movements. Anywhere you can incorporate multiple modalities is great!

If you have second grade or older students: Do the word study part first and see if one of your students can guess the word.

Define the Word

Ask your students what they think the meaning of the word is. If no one can offer a meaning, see if someone can give an example. Equipping your students to make personal connections to the vocabulary will help them to better understand and apply it. Once you’ve begun this routine, ask your students to make connections between this word of the day and words they’ve learned before.

Apply the Word

Invite students to offer sentences that include the word of the day. For younger friends, they can draw a picture. For older friends, see if they can use more than one of the target words in a sentence.

Add Sight Words

We suggest that you actually have two words each day. One is a concrete word that is relevant to students. Think of it as a word you can draw a picture of. The other is a sight word, word wall word, whatever you call it. You introduce both words and see if your students can create a sentence using both. Once again, combining these more abstract words with something concrete will help your students better understand them.

Sing and Read

Pam uses our Daily Concept Builders™ books  because they include the same words as the calendar. You can also choose songs and books to match your theme. Get a copy your students can write on and you can have them highlight their word of the day words, or even sight words! This is another great opportunity to be “word detectives”. This addition to your calendar routine is so much fun and helps the vocabulary really stick.

Pam encourages her students to  use these words for writing. She says it gives them confidence and the words help keep them on topic.

Here are a couple of writing samples:

Ready for the last 15 minutes??

Cut and paste sheets! These are some of the few NO PREP sheets we have because we think tactile engagement is so so important for your students.  There are three different styles of worksheet that emphasize:

  • Word order
  • Spelling
  • Phonics skills

What makes these even better is that each sheet has a bonus question to encourage deeper thinking.  Remember those sight words I was talking about earlier? Well each sheet has a sight word and calendar word for each day!  This is how to really step it up to a whole new level.  Your students will be using sight words along with their calendar words that are also in their books.  I know CRAZY.  Click the image below to see more:

Have your students do one of these each day to reinforce what you are learning during your class meeting time.  Once the students are comfortable, they can complete these in about 10-15 minutes independently.  It is perfect for centers!

Want More Ideas?

Join our FREE workshop to receive an even more detailed outline of how you can not only use your calendar routine, but also center and other small group time to build those vocabulary skills! We will be talking about how you can incorporate reading and writing skills with math, science, and social studies. Just for signing up you will get our FREE vocabulary checklist for word of the day, and we will be offering you some fun things in the webinar as well. Click below to grab a seat!

webinar pinterest


Alright you fabulous educational specimen, have an awesome week!

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