abcteach blog

Stepping Up Your Game

June 4th, 2014

Children_playing_video_gamesIt’s easy to see video games as an enemy. They compete viciously for free time, often coexisting on the same computer we powered on with the best of intentions. Everyone from CEOs to teachers to students to my dear own mother seems to have their time waylaid by video games now and again. Clearly, something that sponges so much time your students could be dedicating to their studies seems like an adversary.

But video games obviously aren’t going anywhere. The $93 billion video game industry long ago eclipsed Hollywood in terms of revenue. Many of the kids who grew up playing Super Mario Bros. now have children of their own.

While video games can be colossal time wasters, the concepts they utilize can also be our allies in education. The same creative, social, and deductive skills we seek to instill also exist at the core of gaming’s appeal. The sense of progress, the desire for competency, and the plain fun of gaming can be harnessed and put to great use in the classroom. And these traits are not unique to the video end of games.

“Gamifying” otherwise tedious or difficult tasks is nothing new: fitness trainers, foreign language courses, and the military have integrated gamification for ages. In fact, most teachers use some form of gaming in their classroom. But many teachers use gaming as a Friday reward, a catharsis, or simple test prep, instead of utilizing the entire bag of tricks neatly delivered to us by the digital age.

Classroom games can pit students in direct competition with one another, but this sometimes comes with social and developmental pitfalls. While there’s nothing wrong with healthy competition, here are some other other perspectives on gamification:

The Institute of Play is a nonprofit organization looking to “make learning irresistible” through integrating game design of all sorts with education. Here is an extensive and wonderful list of resources about learning, gaming, and children, from the folks at the Institute of Play.

Beyond making learning fun and fascinating, gamifying unpleasant tasks can actually help people overcome significant personal hurdles. This is a TED talk from Jane McGonigal, a game designer whose passion arises from conquering personal tragedy through gaming. (It is worth its entire duration.)

If you’re looking for something quick or easy to integrate, please take advantage of this selection of games from

For those of you with interactive whiteboards, abcteach offers a host of interactive games and activities. We offer puzzles and games for SMART Notebook and Promethean ActivInspire. In fact, we have a whole section dedicated to interactive activities. You don’t need an interactive whiteboard to take advantage of our great interactive offerings, either. If you’re new to interactive software, or just need a reminder, click here for our “Getting Started” guide.

In the mood for something more literary? The reemerging art form of Interactive Fiction is proving a delight to readers of all ages once again, and technology has bolstered the experience. What’s more, many of the tools this new community uses are geared toward education. There are many such tools, but “inklewriter” is our current favorite. With a very brief tutorial, inklewriter allows you and your students to create text adventures (technically video games!) about anything.

As teachers, we’ll do anything to spark a lifelong passion for learning in our students. There’s never been a better time to harness the enthusiasm your students have for gaming. We hope you enjoy the above resources!

Posted by Greg Teachout, abcteach Team


How boring is spelling homework? Well, ask any grade school student to rate spelling homework on a scale of 1-10 and you may see an average in the negative numbers. As a parent, I understand that spelling homework is a good skill builder. As an educator, I know the importance of homework, despite some redundancy.

But as an adult with ADHD, I have deep empathy for any child who has to take out their spelling book and write again spelling words over and over! I remember how much trouble I would get in by not focusing and completing this kind of work in a timely manner. The dreaded spelling list!

This is why I propose learning two skills at one time.  Why not teach the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet, aka “fingerspelling,”  to help promote better spelling?!

Here is how it works:

First, teach the 26 manual alphabet letters. You can find them on abcteach

Next, give a list of spelling words to the child, with instructions to do the following:

1.   Write the word one time using a fun instrument, like a marker or crayon.

2.   Sign the word twice.

3.   Say the word aloud while spelling it in sign language again.

4.   Sign the word and say it aloud.

5.   Write it in a sentence, if able.

These steps are one example of something known as a multimodal method of learning.  Multimodal learning utilizes multiple techniques (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.) to obtain and achieve a skill.

Hint: Sometimes it is best to practice fingerspelling before introducing the homework assignments. Start with two or three-word combinations, then proceed to four.  Once the student can master four-word combinations, move on to the teacher-generated list.

Reinforce spelling by playing SCRABBLE, HANGMAN and other letter/word /sentence building games in sign language!  Once the child gets hold of the ASL alphabet, move on to vocabulary words and numbers. (This can help with math concepts, too!)

Sign language can clearly benefit the hearing child as a learning method. But it can also allow him/her to make friends with those in the school or community who are using ASL as their primary or secondary language!

For more information about the benefits of sign language please visit SIGNING FAMILIES.   


About the author:  Louise Sattler is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Educational trainer and consultant and, the owner of SIGNING FAMILIES

Earth Day

April 17th, 2014







Think Green – Earth Day is April 22nd.

Abcteach has a section titled Think Green, Teach Green  that includes fun materials to supplement your lessons for Earth Day.  We have a variety of reading comprehensions and fun activities. Including, games, bookmarks, posters and more.


– Make sure to check out our kid-friendly Earth Day clip art, made exclusively for abcteach.


Ways to use less paper and still enjoy abcteach.

– PowerPoint Presentations

– Videos

– Interactives

– Display PDF’s on a monitor

– Work in groups and use one print-out per group

– Print on both sides of the paper

– View on your Tablets and iPads

– Recycle paper


Related Materials:

Spring materials

April materials

Reading RaceReading Awareness Month is beginning and abcteach is here to help! Our graphic organizers and templates are a wonderful resource (most of which are FREE!) to use with any of your lesson plans. They help students to organize thoughts, comprehend ideas, and understand the authors’ purpose. Whether you are reading individually or as a class, use these printables to visualize and hypothesize the meaning of each story. It is very important to read and keep your students motivated throughout this month. Therefore, we have organized a few resources that should be helpful in your classroom curriculum and achievement goals.


 Research/Report Forms-

Main Character – Choose one character from a fictional book and answer the questions about appearance, personality and role; also requires a personal opinion response.  Book Report: Main Character 

Reading an Informational Text – This nine page writing prompt asks questions upon reading any informational text. Requires written response regarding main idea, interesting facts, and purpose of the story. Correlated to the Common Core standards: RI.1.1-3   Shapebook: Informational Text

Characterization Chart – Answer targeted questions about how the author builds character appearance, actions, thoughts, speech, etc. 

Story Summary – This simple story map asks questions after reading about setting, characters, conflict, and conclusion. 


Comparison Templates-

Venn Diagrams are a great way to compare and contrast ideas, concepts, and character traits. Can also be used as a pre-writing activity.

Double Venn Diagram

Triple Venn Diagram

Column Chart

Don’t limit yourself to just books; we have a wide variety of Venn Diagrams for all sorts of themes and you can find them here:

Venn Diagrams 


Reading Comprehension-

KWL and KWHL – Use these charts to organize Know, Want to know, How I will learn, and Learned material, in each story. These charts are great to use when introducing a new concept.

KWL Chart

KWHL Chart

Fact or Opinion Form – This blank organizational chart is for writing facts and opinions on any topic.

Flowchart – This template was created in Word, which is ready for you to type your own text. Includes 5 fields in a downward flow.

Web Organizer – Brainstorm Vocabulary and Ideas

Graphic Organizer – 5 W’s :  – Who, What, Where, Why and When. This graphic organizer is apart of our Clip Art and ready for you to add to any of your own lessons or worksheets.


Reading Strategies-

Reading Strategies Form – A set of three graphic organizers that outline each of the three reading strategies: making connections, predicting and visualizing.

Literature Circles – These are excellent resources to use in groups or as apart of the classroom. Look for important words during a reading that may be difficult, confusing or unfamiliar. Write them down on this organizer and look up afterwards in the dictionary. Great vocabulary-building tool!

Here are a few more literature circles on abcteach that assign students a job during each reading; such as discussion director, connector, summarizer, and illustrator.

Enjoy !

Posted by Laura Bida, abcteach Team

Sochi Winter Olympics 2014

February 4th, 2014

The 2014 Winter Olympics are about to begin! We would like to share some popular and educational materials to help your students learn about this year’s host city, Sochi and the winter games.  The following activities and worksheets can be used throughout these Olympic games. Enjoy!


landmarks_sochi_ssReading Comprehension: 2014 Winter Olympics – Landmarks of Sochi

Member Document – This reading comprehension includes six pages of interesting facts about Sochi, Russia. It is a great way to learn about this year’s host city.  It has basic background information, fun facts, and historic landmarks of Sochi. Did you know that the Friendship Tree was a part of an experiment that started in 1934? It symbolizes international unity and friendship. Find out more by becoming an abcteach member.




mascots_ssInteractive: Notebook: 2014 Winter Olympics – Mascots

Member Document – In the Smart Notebook section, you’ll find an Olympic theme unit that includes engaging and interactive materials for this year’s Olympic games. Discover interesting facts about each mascot and report your findings. This year there are five mascots; Ray of Light, Snowflake, Polar Bear, Leopard and Hare. Learn more information about each character with this simple interactive template. This is great for group discussion, classroom research or as individual assignments.



Here are more member interactive materials:

Decipher the Olympiads

Countries of the Olympiad 

Olympic Word Searches

Olympic Crossword Puzzles 

Barefoot Olympics



Report Form: Olympic Rings

This report form can be used with any Olympic activity. It requires some research and has students answer questions about the Olympic Rings and what each color represents and symbolizes. Complete the worksheet by coloring the rings correctly. Try it out today!





Certificate: Olympics

Get students involved by holding your own Winter Olympic Games! Reward them with printable certificates and place them on a bulletin board of Olympic Achievement. There are so many creative resources for you to use, so don’t hesitate to explore and have fun.



chart_ssChart: 2014 Winter Olympics – Medal Stat Sheet

Who is your favorite athlete this year and what sport do they play? This ten-page medal stat sheet can be used to keep track of the medal winners in each winter sporting event. Print two pages of each to represent male and female athletes. Keep track using tally marks or writing in event titles in order to complete each chart.



You can find more Olympic materials here:


Written By:  Laura Bida,  abcteach team

National Soup Month

January 16th, 2014

This month is National Soup month, and I would like to share a hearty soup recipe to celebrate. Vegetable based soups are healthy and packed with vitamins.  The best part about most soup recipes is once you add the majority of the ingredients; the pot does the rest of the cooking.  You don’t have to be a master chef to make good food.  Cooking is always fun, educational, and I encourage you to try it.

Cooking is just like life, in that there is always something new to learn.  We all have trouble finding time to cook, but make time once a week to cook a meal with a friend or family member.  Cooking involves so many subject matters, including; Math, science, nutrition, organization, reading, culinary arts, all of which are good for our mind and body.  The best way to make cooking fun, is to choose recipes that you like, and that you can execute easily.  Try out this butternut squash soup recipe. Abcteach has more fun recipes in our functional text reading comprehension section.


Butternut Squash Soup – “Real, Easy, Healthy”


–       Two packages of already chopped butternut squash.

–       Two sweet potatoes peeled and cubed.

–       One medium white onion.

–       3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

–       Celery (4 stalks, cubed)

–       Bag of carrots

–       16 oz. chicken stock

–       Dash of salt, pepper, and sugar.

–       2 tablespoons olive oil or butter.

–       Teaspoon rosemary (optional)

–       Garnishes (Fresh parmesan or toasted pine nuts)


In a deep pot, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for a minute.  Add sweet potatoes, squash, celery, and carrots.  Stir all the ingredients and continue to sauté for a few minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring the pot to a boil.  Once the pot has reached a boil, turn the temperature to a low or simmer.  Cook vegetables for 20 – 30 minutes or until tender.  After the vegetables are cooked, take an emersion blender or anything that will breakdown the vegetables to gain texture in the soup.  The soup will become creamy and delicious without any salt, pepper or sugar added.  I suggest that you add a dash of each just to give it a little seasoning, a little sugar works well to bring out the natural sugars in the squash and potatoes.  Serve with crusty bread for dipping.



















Enjoy !

Posted by David Kemsley


Happy Holidays from abcteach

December 13th, 2013

Happy Holidays from abcteach

Happy Holidays from abcteach. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. Enjoy your traditions and making new memories. We are looking forward to the new year with new ideas and materials to meet your teaching needs. If there’s something you’d like to see on abcteach, we welcome you to leave your comments and suggestions below.

Thank you for using abcteach!

Sandy Kemsley and the abcteach team

As you’ve been hearing about the last of couple weeks, abcteach’s Foreign Language Section has a diverse, comprehensive supply of materials for learning and reinforcing new languages. The first Eye on Curriculum article explored our Spanish resources in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. We then went to the French section and toured the many subcategories to help students learn about French language, history, and cultural traditions.

Today, we are delving into two beautiful European languages: German and Italian. Similar to our other sections, these categories are filled with an abundance of creative materials to make learning (and teaching) both fun and easy. Take a look below to find a sampling of free and member-site links for everything from grammar, to conjugation, numbers, vocabulary, and other linguistic expressions.


german Free

• German Crosswords – themes include animals, time, seasons, sports, the body, and others
• German Picture Sentences – topics include colors, food, seasons/holidays, and family
• Das Essen / Foods – basic foods, the food pyramid, and food pairs
• Der Sport/ Sports – sports word walls, flashcards, and picture sentences
• Klassenzimmer/ Classroom – word games, classroom items, bookmarks, and matching
• Zahlen/ Numbers – word games, addition, flashcards, and board games


• German Color and Write Prompts – topics include pets, birds, buildings, chores, and the body
• German Glyphs – themes include holidays, months, animals, the family, and shapes
• German Picture Sentences – topics include animals, food, holidays, clothing, and music
• German PowerPoint – interactive reading games
• German Reading Comprehension – themes include houses, the weather, food, seasons, and professions
• Das Haus/ The House – bookmarks, glyphs, crosswords, games, and picture sentences
• Das Wetter/ Weather – matching, flashcards, word games, and word walls
• Der Mensch/ The Person – bookmarks, card games, word searches, and reading comps
• Die Emotionen/ Emotions – picture sentences, word games, flashcards, and coloring pages
• Die Familie/ The Family – glyphs, word walls, flashcards, board games, and crosswords
• Die Kleidung/ Clothing – cloze sentences, matching, color and writes, flashcards, and word games
• Die Musik/ Music – bookmards, crosswords, flashcards, matching, and more
• Die Zeit und die Jahreszeit/ Time and Seasons – seasonal word scrambles, flashcards, crosswords, bookmarks, and charts

Did you know that October is Italian Heritage Month? Here are themed materials to help you celebrate!



• Italian Coloring Pages – topics include pets, wild animals, birds, and insects
• Italian Flashcards – themes include colors, professions, animals, and parts of the body
• Italian PowerPoint – interactive vocabulary games
• Corpo humano/ Human Body – includes hands, the head, legs, the mouth, and other body features
• Numeri/Numbers – vocabulary exercises for learning numbers 1-20


• Italian Color by Number – fun coloring games for beginning speakers
• Italian Grammar – includes verbs, tenses, and conjugation
• Italian PowerPoints – topics include colors, the house, conversational speaking, and more
• Cibo/Food – word games, matching, writings prompts, and more
• Colori/ Colors – posters, color forms, word searches, and interactives
• Ora/Time – telling time puzzle
• Professioni/Professions – types of professions and careers
• Scuola/School – flashcards, posters, school items, and games

We hope you enjoy these materials and find them to be a helpful (and fun!) addition to your foreign language curriculum. If you don’t find something that you need, please let us know. We’re here to help!

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Eye on Curriculum: French

September 19th, 2013

franceWelcome to another edition of the Eye on Curriculum blog series. Last week we toured our Spanish section, highlighting key topics and categories for learning the language and various aspects of Hispanic culture.

This week’s Eye is focusing on another foreign language section: French. As with its Spanish counterpart, our French Language Section is an abundance of worksheets, games, activities, and interactives that help students of all ages to learn French, French history, and cultural traditions of francophone countries.

The following is a handful of sections from our free and member sites. You will find materials in both French and English, in varying degrees of difficulty. As with all of our language materials, they’re adaptable for any learning environment and fitting for students of all ages!


• Elementary (K-5) – games and learning activities for students in grades K-5
• French Culture – biographies, bookmarks, holidays, landmarks, and traditions
• French Grammar – verbs (-ar, -ir, -er), tenses, posters, pronouns, possessives
• French Idiomatic Expressions – bookmarks, illustrations, posters, and common phrases
• French Reading Comprehension – holidays, facts, fictional stories
• French Vocabulary – colors, fruits and vegetables, parts of the body, prepositions, verbs, etc.

(Did you know that our member site provides over 12 additional French categories? Expand your teaching materials today!)

• Elementary (K-5) – an extensive listing of games and learning activities for students grades K-5
• French Audio – interactive games with audio
• French Flashcards – single and double-sided; topics include animals, food, school supplies, vacations, parts of the body, and more
• French Interactives – interactives for social studies, grammar, reading, science, and vocabulary
• French Holiday/Seasonal – includes months, seasons, holidays, back to school, and end of year
• French Phonetics/Pronunciation – posters, homophones, vowel writing, phonetic cards
• French Picture Sentences – topics include at home, holidays, seasons, sports, clothes
• French Rebus – topics include seasons, weather, animals, school, special places, and more
• French Teaching Extras – categories include bookmarks, bulletin boards, calendars, newsletters, rewards, and more
• French Word puzzles – categories include charades, crosswords, themes, word searches, puzzles, and more.

abcteach’s French materials support all levels of your language curriculum – and add a little fun to the learning, as well! Whether they’re new to the subject or continuing their studies, our activities help engage and provide students with a variety of resources to understand and enjoy the French language. Bonne chance!

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team


Eye on Curriculum: Languages

September 11th, 2013

worldSeptember is fully underway, which means our Eye on Curriculum blog series has switched focus to another featured section: Foreign Language. With our classrooms becoming more diverse, there has never been a more opportune time to incorporate new languages and cultural traditions into your lesson plans.

abcteach is proud to provide you teaching materials for five unique languages: American Sign Language (ASL), French, German, Italian, and Spanish. We also have a comprehensive section for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers and students. Within each section, you’ll find a diverse array of resources, including posters, worksheets, activities, interactive games, and more, for learning the language as well as cultural traditions. Our materials range from beginner level to more advanced, are adaptable to all school settings, and can be used with any student age group (including adult learners!).

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month starting shortly, our first featured language is Spanish. Take a peek below to find a sampling of the categories found on our free and member sites. The topics covered include everything from conjugation to cultural traditions, and can be used in conjunction with your classroom curriculum or for practice at home.


• Basic Grammar – pronunciation, verbs, tenses, and spelling
• Culture – holidays and daily life
• Flashcards – seasons, days of the week, animals, and sports
• Math/Numbers – Spanish number words, addition, simple problems, and flash cards
• Reading Comprehension – topics include American history, science, geography, and more for multiple age groups
• Vocabulary – weather, sports, Montessori, interactives, senses, colors, and more.

(Did you know that our member site provides over 20 additional Spanish categories? Check them all out today!)

• Booklets
• Children’s Stories
• Diaries/Journals
• Elementary Level (K – 5)
• Geography
• Glyphs
• Algebra
• Rebus
• Spanish 2
• Writing

Learning new languages opens the door for new experiences, relationships, and seeing the world from a different perspective. In the next couple weeks, we will journey through our other language sections, bringing you special highlights to share with your students and colleagues… and maybe even your family at home!

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team


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