Teacher’s Creatures Play Well With Others

Sometimes the curriculum you want to use differs from the curriculum you are required to use, but it doesn’t always have to be one or the other. First grade teacher Lisa Cavanaugh writes about using The Monaco Method in conjunction with Fundations

Teacher’s Creatures Play Well With Others by Lisa Cavanaugh

I am a first grade teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. I used the Monaco Method last school year with great success: I loved it, my students loved it and, most importantly, my students learned a tremendous amount.

This year, Baltimore City decided that all schools in the district would use Fundations (Wilson Language Basics) in grade K-3.

I waited until our professional development to find out more about the program. After that, I spoke to the Literacy Representative at my school and asked if it was okay for me to use the Monaco Method in conjunction with Fundations. She gave me her blessing and I was relieved!

I began brainstorming right away as I familiarized myself with Fundations. I needed to follow Fundations with fidelity because it was a district-wide requirement. But I also needed to figure out how to incorporate the Monaco Method and Teacher’s Creatures Phonics Puppets!

It has been 3 weeks and it’s gone smoothly so far. My students’ eyes light up each day when they see the agenda includes a new puppet. (It’s also when the puppet gets to turn around and face OUT!)

When Fundations calls for me to introduce a letter, I do so with the puppet, the puppet’s story and the puppet’s letter bag. I also review the puppet’s handwriting instructions. Then I move forward with Fundations instruction that includes Sound/Letter Echoing, Vowel Extension, Sky Writing and Letter Formation.

Fundations has Letter/Sound cards. The card for the letter T, for example, has the upper and lowercase T as well as a picture of a top. We’re to say “T, top, /t/” and the students repeat.

Instead of using the Fundations Letter/Sound cards, I hold a tongue depressor with the Teacher’s Creatures puppet above its upper and lower case letter. I say “T, Tiger, /t/” and the students repeat. The tongue depressor is then attached to my Teacher’s Creatures Board with Velcro, which is where the puppets live when I’m not working with them!

Lastly, Fundations instruction includes a Vowel Extension exercise every day in order to emphasize the sound each short vowel makes.

To keep things simple for my students, I created a vowel extension image that uses the Teacher’s Creatures short vowel puppets (Antoinette the Alligator, Evelyn the Elephant, Iggy the Iguana, Oliver the Octopus and Upton the Umbrellabird) as opposed to the Fundations poster that has different images.

We start on the letter and students stre-e-e-etch out the vowel sound until we reach the image of the puppet. It sounds like this: “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmbrellabird!”

Once we get through all consonants and short vowels, I know my students will be excited to help build the short vowel houses. Teacher’s Creatures are playing very well with another program!

Teacher's Creatures A-ZEcho Vowel Extension


Thesaurus Thursday

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More Math Monday

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Venturing Out

At the beginning of the year, when you’re introducing letters and numbers, mix things up by taking your class on a stroll to read license plates (identify letters and numbers). Back inside, have them design their own on a rectangular sheet of paper using seven characters. You could make your own, or use mine. It’s a California plate, of course! Looking for different states? Have fun and be safe out there!


Meet Frank

This is Frank. He’s not quite symmetrical, but it’s the best I could do! Frank is our human body model for a unit on health education. For the surface anatomy portion of the unit, we are focusing on visible (external) body parts. We examined our faces in a mirror, made a graph about eye color, read Hairs/Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros, and drew head-only self portraits that are posted on a bulletin board next to each student’s photograph and name. We’re off to a good start!