When working with students, I work to add in activities that are multisensory to keep everyone's attention on the lesson. I know that I get bored when I keep doing the same things over and over again, so I change things up to keep it interesting for myself as well as my students.
One way I do that, is by incorporating physical activity into lessons, especially when we are practicing blending sounds together in the beginning. For many struggling readers, blending sounds together takes a lot of energy. When you have to do something that is hard, what do you want afterwards? I want a reward of some kind.
In order to give a simple, but effective, reward for blending words together, I create laminated zipper pages. These are simply a piece of colored paper that has been laminated with boxes for sounds on the top and a zipper glued in the middle.
I have my student touch each square and say the sounds of the word. When they blend the sounds together, they get to zip the zipper! My students LOVE getting to zip the zipper. Many times we also will say the word loudly, as they are excited that they got it right.
As my students become more confident, we only use the zipper pages for new concepts we are zipping together, or when they are having a rougher day. Even my middle school kids like having the zipper pages to use when they are working with big words. Occasionally, they'll even use it to unzip a word when are working with prefixes, suffixes, and Greek and Latin roots.
What activities do you use to keep lessons and learning fun and engaging?