Zip Strips – Engaging, Fun & Effective for Reading and Math Work

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By Valerie Schuetta, M.Ed.

As a first grade teacher and Reading Specialist, I am always on the lookout for resources that will not only advance my students learning, but are engaging, easy to use, and fun. Zip-Strips do all the above and much more.

I had the opportunity to review the Phonics Pocket Sliders with Vocabulary and Spelling Zip Strips, grades 1 through 5, and the Phonics Pocket Slider with Phonics-Spelling for grades 1 through 3. This was great because last year I taught grade 5, so not only can I share this valuable teaching tool with my new first grade team, I am also excited to introduce it to my fifth grade team from last year. In fact, I am planning on sharing this valuable tool with all the grade levels at my school.

I also was able to review the Math Zip Strips for Multiplication and Division facts through 15, which includes place value, fractions, greater than/less than, decimals, rounding, and adding and subtracting time and money. The Addition and Subtraction through 20 includes other math skills as well.

The Phonics Pocket Sliders are amazing! Each parent set includes 2 pocket sliders, and it is suggested for the student to keep one at school and one at home for practice. I like this idea because the teacher does not have to worry about sending the pocket slider home and getting it back to school.  The teacher has her own master set of Zip Strips and the parents have a copy in their parent set. This is a wonderful example of the teacher and parent becoming partners in the student’s education. I really like the fact that the parents are aware of the learning tools we use at school by doing the same activity at home. The Zip-Strips are also great for reading interventions. A student may be in 5th grade, but he/she may have “holes” in their learning that need to be filled. They may have to start with a beginning Zip-Strip and work their way up.

The phonics Zip Strips are categorized by long vowel, words that break rules, “r” controlled vowels, compound words, homophones, contractions, plurals, abbreviations, and mixed lists to practice.

Each set includes two easy-to-assemble pocket sliders. All that needs to be done is to reproduce the selected picture/word page. It is folded in half and inserted into the pocket so only the first word is visible. The student reads the word and only then pulls the strip up to self-check and make sure the picture matches. This is a great activity to use for literacy centers or one-on-one with a teacher or an aide. Students can also practice with a partner. The phonics Zip Strips are also a great tool for English Language Learners. As a former ELL teacher, I know how valuable visuals can be for ELL students.

The Math Zip-Strips are a fantastic resource for struggling students, or just to reinforce math skills. I recommend using them after whole group instruction at a Math C  enter. They can also be used with a small group that may be struggling with any math concepts such as multiplication, fractions, or division. Because they are self-checking, struggling students soon begin to feel successful. Another great feature of the Math Zip-Strips is the fact that one side can be used for practice, and another side can be used for assessment. I plan on giving my students star stickers to put on the front of their pocket sliders for every concept they master.

Whether you are a teacher or a homeschooling parent, I am sure your children will love the Phonics Pocket Sliders, Zip-Strips, as well as the Math Zip Strips. They are small enough for children to manipulate and very hands-on. Most educators realize that almost all children are tactile learners. The Strips also differentiate learning and cover many of the different learning modalities, such as visual, kinesthetic, and tactile in a fun and engaging way! V.S.

Author: Michael Leppert

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