Here a Floe, There a Floe, Everywhere an Ice Floe.

Print Lesson


Students will be able to recognize and read high frequency words with increasing automaticity.

Big Idea

Students play games to boost sight word recognition which will help develop reading skills.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I ask them to stand in a circle and join hands. We swing our arms and do some actions to the song Earth, by Betsy Q.

After the song is finished I have the students sit back down on their spots on the rug. Spot on Dot Song


45 minutes

“The book for today is about an animal that really needs us to take care of the Earth because our actions are affecting their habitat. The title is The Polar Bears Home. The book is written by Lara Bergen and illustrated by Vincent Nguyen.”


During reading we discuss any new vocabulary words we come across, such as: green house gas, toxins, pollution, etc.

We also discuss how the cubs might be feeling without their mother and how she might be feeling having lost them. This discussion helps introduce the students to inferencing.

“How do you think the cubs are feeling sitting all alone on the ice floe?”

“Why do you think they are sad, lonely and scared?”

“How do you think the mother polar bear is feeling?”

“Why would she be worried?” 

After we have finished reading the book I have the students take a seat around the edge of the rug

While the students are getting situated around the edge of the rug, I open up a blank screen on the SMARTBoard.

Once everyone is seated and focused back on me I tell them, “Today at one of the stations you will be writing about one way you can help the Earth which in turn helps the polar bears. Your sentence starter will say, “One thing I can do to help the Earth is…” Can anyone give me an example of an action I can take to help the Earth?”

I use the fair sticks to help me select a student. 

“Great idea Carson; I can recycle old newspapers. Watch closely as I write the sentence.”

Now I write the sentence on the SMARTBoard, but I intentionally leave the sight words out of the sentence. It looks like this:

_____     thing     _____    _____     ______     _____     _____     _____     Earth     _____     recycle old newspapers.

N.B. The word “old” is a sight word but I choose to put it in the sentence at this time because I only want the students to focus on the sentence starter words.   Why sight words? 

I turn back around to my audience and say, “There. That looks good right?”

Most of the students call out, “No!”

“No? Well what’s wrong?”

I use the fair sticks to help me select a student.

“Oh… Now that I look at the sentence, I think you are right Rachel; there are some words missing. Can anyone tell me what words are missing?”

I use the fair sticks to help me select a student.

“Yes Justin; sight words are missing. Can anyone give me a sight word that would make sense in my sentence?”

I use the fair sticks to help me select a student and he/she can give me one word to fill in the blanks. At this point you could play this like a game of Hangman – it would depend on your time limits, etc.

“Yes Louise, the word “I” is in our sentence.” I write the word where it goes and using a tracking finger, I reread the words I have so far. I hum when I hit a blank space, “Hmm thing I hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm Earth hmm recycle old newspapers.”

We continue on this way until all of the sight words have been filled in and the sentence is complete.

We read it all together, “One thing I can do to help the Earth is recycle old newspapers.”

“Can everyone see how important knowing your sight words is?”

“Great. Well at one of the stations today you will be playing a game where you are a polar bear trying to get back to your cubs. You will have to hop from ice floe to ice floe to get back to your cubs. Here is the tricky part. Each ice floe has a sight word on it. You will roll the dice and hop your polar bear that many ice floes. Once you land on the number you rolled, you must be able to read the word on the floe. You can use the sight word wall to help you, you can use a friend to help you, but if you cannot figure out the word, you have to drop back one ice floe. When you get back to that floe, you have to try and read that word. Guess how many ice floes you have to go back if you cannot figure out that word?”

“That’s right – one.”

“Now remember it is a game, so everyone has to take turns and help each other out.”  

“Does anyone have any questions?”

“Okay. When you get to this station you will find all the things you need to play; the game board, enough polar bears for everyone to have one and a die.”

I took the basic idea and pieces from the website Making Learning Fun and morphed it to the game I wanted it to be.

Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some polar bear fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 

The game board     Students playing the game 1     Students playing the game 2     Students playing the game 3     Students playing the game 4


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me the sight word that I hold up for them. I let the students know that each student will get their very own sight word. They are to wait for their turn and not call out another person’s sight word unless they ask you for help.

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students. I do have set words for students so that each student will hopefully meet with success. For example I will have a set of easier words for my lower performing students, on grade level words for my middle group and above grade or challenging words for my high flyers.  

Once a student has told me his/her sight word they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on a sight word together.


10 minutes

I will call each student over during a time which fits into my classroom schedule. I usually call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).

I explain to the students that I would like them to use the “Magic Window” to go down the list of sight words reading each word to me. If they do not know a word they can ask me and I will tell them the word. There is no time restriction on this assignment however I will make a note of the time that it took the students to complete the task. As I continue to assess students I should see an improvement in their time as they begin to recall sight words with more automaticity.

Sight Words Assessment 1     Sight Word Assessment 2



Write about one way we can help the Earth which in turn helps the polar bears environment.

Students working on writing prompt     One thing I can do to help the Earth


Make a polar bear picture using oatmeal to provide texture. Black beans are used for the eyes and nose. We discuss how the eyes are black like wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes from the polar sun’s rays, and the nose is black due to the polar bears black skin to absorb heat. 

Students making oatmeal polar bears


Play the math game Polar Racing Bears. Students race their bears using a 1,2,3 dot die as we discuss how many spaces they have moved; how many spaces they have left to go, and what number they need to win.


Later in the day we read the book The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca and illustrated by Rosa M. Curto. This book reinforces the message of the book from the morning’s focus lesson and gives the students more information on actions they can take to help the Earth; gives them a feeling of being empowered to make a change. 


We watch the music the video made by Harry Kindergarten, Going Green, which reinforces the message of both of the books we have read today. I also allow the students to get up and free dance to the music if they wish.