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A Phonics and Math Focus Wall– A Routine Designed with You and Your Students in Mind

Are you looking for a way to build muscle memory and fluency in your students' phonics and math skills? I was too! I wanted something I could do quickly in the mornings with my students to practice sight word fluency, letters and sounds, and number sense with my Kindergarten students. However, I was getting overwhelmed with all the planning for my core lessons, differentiating in small groups, center rotations, and more! Sound familiar?

Let’s be real… teachers are wearers of many hats and it is overwhelming to try and come up with one more thing. I wanted to incorporate a daily reteach of the foundational skills for phonics and math instruction, and after reflecting, I came up with this focus wall that is a perfect way to do just that with Pre-K, Kindergarten, and First Grade students!

After using this focus wall for an entire year, I can confidently say that I saw a DRASTIC change in my students’ reading and math skills. They were more than ready for first grade, and I was so proud of them for applying these skills to their work and end of year assessments. Sometimes all it takes is good ole’ fashioned repetition and practice in basic skills!

I can’t wait to share with you everything that is included and how I used it as a Kindergarten teacher. Let’s jump in!

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Focus Wall Banner and Headings for your Bulletin Board

No matter the space in your classroom, this focus wall is versatile to fit anywhere in your classroom. When I was a Kindergarten teacher, I had an enormous amount of white board space in my classroom. This focus wall was very simple to set up in a section next to my smart board. All I did, was order some magnetic tape from amazon and cut them into small strips. It made for a very easy set up, and if I needed to change something it was very easy to move around!

If you have a bulletin board in your classroom, this focus wall will be perfect to use there as well, as you see pictured above. One of my favorite parts about being a teacher was making use of the space I had. Get creative with this! :)

This resource includes two focus wall banner options. The banner comes in two color palettes. The first one is bright and bold rainbow colors as you see in the photo, and the other is pastel colors as you see throughout the headings. It all depends on the look you want to go for!

When I was brainstorming different headings to use for this focus wall, I was reflecting on different skills that my students needed more practice with at the time. A large portion of these foundational skills are the building blocks for their success in their reading and math skills, and they needed the extra practice. I was also thinking about the benchmark assessments they had to take throughout the year and how it asked them to answer the questions or show their mastery of each skill. That is how I came up with these 10 focus wall headings:

  • Sight Words

  • Letters

  • Number

  • Count It

  • Ten Frame

  • Tally Marks

  • More/Less

  • Addition

  • Subtraction

  • Shapes

I am going to go into more detail about each heading, and everything that is included for you to use for each one as you read on.

Sight Word & Letter and Sounds Fluency Practice

As your students are learning their sight words, it is important for them to not just understand the “why” behind each part of the word, but for them to begin building on their fluency and automaticity. The same goes for reviewing previously taught letters and sounds. I found that the best way to achieve this is to practice, practice, practice this daily! This resource includes 102 sight word cards for you to use for this focus wall, but you could of course use these for a word wall, small group instruction, a sight word game, flash cards, and more.

There are also letter cards for all 26 letters of the alphabet with 3 pictures included for each letter. In the bottom right hand corner of each picture, I wrote down what each picture was in small font. You could use any of these for whole/small group instruction in a pocket chart as well.

Daily Number Sense Routine (A game changer for my class!!!)

I must say, this part of our daily focus wall routine was monumental in building my students’ math skills and muscle memory. In past years, a large majority of my students by the end of the year still couldn’t represent numbers in many different ways. This is something I really honed in on as I reflected on my teaching skills. I asked myself… what are the most common ways to represent numbers that I have seen in math activities, benchmark assessments, and end of the year assessments that I could incorporate in a daily routine where my students would be seeing that modeled for them every day?

Here is the order that I would do my “number of the day” routine:

  • Number

  • Count It (heading included in this resource)

  • Ten frame

  • Tally marks

  • More/Less

  • Addition/Subtraction (ways to make that number)

  • Shapes

This resource includes number cards for numbers 1-20. As you see pictured above, I have included a single ten frame and double ten frame for teen numbers in this resource as well. This is something that you could easily print, cut, and laminate. What I love about laminating my ten frames, especially on a bulletin board like this, is I can write on it with an expo marker and clean it off so it’s good as new. You could also use these dry erase pockets from Amazon and put the ten frame in the pocket to easily write on and erase.

One thing that I used as well are these magnetic ten frames from lakeshore. Since my space in my class had mostly white boards, it made the most sense for me to use magnetic ten frames for my focus wall. I used these for my whole group and small group instruction almost every day as well. Use what works best for you!

One More One Less and Tally Marks Practice

Every day we would practice representing the number with tally marks. This is a concept that was very challenging for my students. Each day as we practiced, they got more and more comfortable with doing it, and it helped them learn skip counting by 5’s. There are six boxes included in this resource for you to print, cut, and laminate to write on. You could also buy the dry erase pockets mentioned above and put the boxes inside of those to use as well.

One more one less is another huge skill that my students in past years needed to work on. I tried many different methods to practice this, and they just didn’t seem to grasp it. It wasn’t until we practiced this every day during our number sense routine that I saw them begin grasping it more and more each day! When we did this portion of the focus wall, I used this magnetic hundreds chart that I purposely put next to it so that I could model for my students how to find the number, find the number that was one less and the number that was one more. I have also included a “ten less ten more” sheet for first grade for an opportunity to enrich if one more/one less becomes too easy.

Addition and Subtraction Fact Fluency Practice and Identifying 2D Shape Names

Finally, I would close out our number of the day routine with some addition and subtraction fact fluency practice. In Kindergarten, we didn’t usually start teaching addition and subtraction until later in the year, so this is something you could add when your students are ready. It’s also a great opportunity to challenge any students who might be ready for this. I would ask, “Friends, who can tell me a number sentence/equation (great vocabulary practice!) to make _____?” I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun my students had with this! There were hands up all over the room with eager students ready to share their answer. This is a great way to do a quick assessment to see who might need some more support in small groups with this concept as well.

To end the focus wall routine, we would practice saying our 2D shape names. This is a standard that was heavily hit at the beginning of the year, but I was surprised as the year went on at how many of my students forgot the names of the shapes. It is a great daily refresher of this basic concept! Depending on ability levels, this would be a great time to practice describing each shape, especially for your English Language Learners.

I hope this in-depth explanation of this resource was helpful, and that you will be able to use it with your own class! Thank you so much for stopping by and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out in the “contact me” tab on my website. I hope you have a fabulous year!

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