Skip to main content

My First Grade Classroom Essentials - An Inside Look at RAFT Activity Kits

By Ashley Estes, First Grade Teacher, St. Elizabeth Seton

The school year is in full swing and I cannot believe I have started my fourth year a 1st grade teacher. Over the past few years I have been involved with RAFT and have been lucky enough to have taken classes and have had the opportunity to use many of their Activity Kits. RAFT has such an abundance of kits and idea sheets to choose from I have decided to tell you about some of my favorite kits. I have used these kits in my classroom for years and I would love to explain and show how I apply the kits to the first grade curriculum.

Add It Up kit

The Add It Up kit is a great math tool for my first graders. This kit includes a game board, two different types of dice, and game markers. Students roll two dice and they add the two numbers together. Once they figured out the sum, they use a game marker and place it on the number on the board. For example, if the student rolls a two and a four, they place a marker on the six on the board. This is a great tool to help with number sense and addition. I have used it in math centers and early finishers love to play this on their own. The best features of this kit are students can work in groups or independently and it can be differentiated. The game board has two different sides, one goes up to twelve, the other side goes to twenty-four. It is definitely an essential kit that enhances my student’s learning and it offers an interactive way to practice these math skills.

Alphabet Mix

Another essential kit that I could not teach without is the Alphabet Mix kit. This kit comes with bottle caps with consonant letters stickers on top and a die/cube that has all the vowel letters stickers on it. I enjoy this kit so much because there are countless ways you can use it. To coincide with my Phonics curriculum, I have the students roll the vowel die and then they use the bottle caps to make words using that vowel sound and sometime I just give them the vowel I want them to work on. I have also given them a certain spelling pattern, such at –ed words, and then the students have to make words using that specific spelling patterns. I also use this kit by having students spell sight words for me or to relieve spelling test anxiety, I have the students use the bottle caps to spell the spelling words and then they record it on their own.

Take it from me, these kits are a must have in your classroom and I would highly recommend these amazing kits. These kits have improved my students’ understanding and they thoroughly enjoy the hands-on experience these kits offer. I hope this has given you some inspiration for your own classroom and how to adjust RAFT kits to your specific teaching needs and make sure to check out these kits next time you are at RAFT!


  1. I will need to be in soon, that math game looks perfect for my first graders! Best yet, I teach in immersion and it looks like I wouldn't need to translate anything for them to play.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Are you ready for Pi?

Time to get ready fer Pi Day at RAFT me hearties!  Set yer compasses an’ sails fer FREE Pi Day activities on March 8thbetween 3:30 to 5:30 on th’ main poop deck (aye-aye in th’ “Kit Area”) at SJ RAFT!
RAFT’s very own notorious wench, Jeanne Lazzarini (RAFT Math Master Educator), prepared a boatload of Pi Day activities to share with yer classes fer Pi Day (celebrated on March 14th every year)! Pi, (also written as π; th’ ratio of th’ circumference of a circle to its diameter) be an irrational number that goes on forever without any repeating digits, starting with 3.14159… π is illustriously celebrated over land an’ high seas March 14th (get it? On 3.14…!).    Discover great “make-an’-take” Pi day activities that prepare ye fer real Pi day!  Here’s a RAFT idea sheet fer Pi Day you can use now: Pi Day Pin. Make sure X marks th’ spot on ye calendars this March 8th, or walk th’ plank me scallywags!   Shiver me timbers an’ yo-ho-ho!  ‘Tis a RAFTy life fer me, Bucko!!!  Arrrgggghhhhh!

CUSD Shares Possible STEAM Projects by Grade

Twelve STEAM Innovation Leaders from the Campbell Unified School District (CUSD) came to RAFT earlier this month to create new motivational activities for the start of the school year!  They met in grade-level teams with our RAFT Education staff to generate new ideas using RAFT materials that will motivate, challenge, and inspire their students. Each team was given a RAFT Makerspace-in-a-Box containing a wide variety of upcycled materials. They were asked to create a Design Challenge that directed students to solve the instructor’s challenge with the materials from the box. The Design Challenges addressed an engineering standard appropriate for each grade level and could include standards from other subjects. Here are some of their exciting back-to-school ideas:
************************************************************************************* Grades TK – 2 Engineering Standard: K-2-ETS1-1:  Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to chan…

Use the Winter Olympics to engage your students

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics are right around the corner!
This worldwide event offers excellent opportunities to use the Olympics to inspire your students to learn about many mathematical concepts such as slope. How can the Olympics help students understand slope? Think of ski slopes! Ask students to watch the Olympics this year on TV and to look for sports that use steep paths (e.g., snowboarding, downhill skiing, alpine skiing, bobsleighing, etc.)! Back in class, have students recreate replica “ski slopes” using sections of white foam board. Place one end of a foam board against a wall with the opposite end touching the floor at an angle so that it forms the hypotenuse of a right triangle (the right angle is between the wall and the floor). Refer to the vertical distance (“rise”) from the floor to where the top edge of the board touches the wall as the y-intercept. Refer to the horizontal distance (“run”) starting at the wall and to the bottom of the board farthest away from t…