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

¡Olé! Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

¡Olémis amigos! Holy Guacamole! It’s once again time to celebrate Cinco De Mayo—the 5th of May! Instead of all the controversy around Mexico in the past year, this may be an excellent opportunity to educate your students and allow them to ask questions about what they hear on the news. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day from Spain (which is September 16th)! “¡Ay, caramba!”as Bart Simpson would say….

This is “la verdad” (the truth): when the French invaded Mexico in 1862, Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza’s force of 4,000 soldiers defeated 8,000 French soldiers in the Battle of Puebla on May 5th. The Mexicans’ courage inspired Mexican Americans (Chicanos) to celebrate the victory even though the French occupation continued four more years. Later in the 1960’s and 70’s, Chicanos involved in the civil rights movement associated Cinco de Mayo with their quest for respect in the U.S. They identified with the Native Mexican and Mestizo (people of mixed Native Mexican and European de…

Why I Chose a Career in Education

There are many moments where I am reminded why I chose a career in education. These moments arise when I am engaged in conversation with other teachers, conducting professional development workshops, developing new lessons, or simply reading about changes and latest developments in the field. Education is a dynamic field, and it has provided me with many opportunities to positively impact the lives of young learners as well as provide inspiration and support to new teachers. One such occasion occurred in mid-April when I was invited by Dr. Rosalinda Quintanar to conduct a presentation to students in a class entitled Meeting the Needs of Second-Language Learners (EDTE 162), a course within San Jose State University’s Teacher Education Department and a credential requirement. The class consisted of approximately 30 credential candidates, and its primary focus is applying theory and practical classroom techniques for providing equitable access to content for English language learners.

National Arbor Day is Coming… Hug A Tree!

“The cultivation of flowers and trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man, and for one, I wish to see this culture become universal.”
Those words, from J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day, got me thinking about how caring for trees and respecting all living things greatly impact future generations. National Arbor Day (held this year on April 27th) is an annual observance celebrating the role of trees in our lives and promoting tree planting and care. This holiday was first observed in 1872, in Nebraska, but tree planting festivals are as old as civilization. Trees have appeared throughout history as the symbol of life and hope. As teachers, we can encourage students to appreciate trees, nature, and all living things for future generations to enjoy! Here are a few STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) ideas to help you spread agricultural information and enthusiasm for trees on Arbor Day with your students: SCIENCE: Explore t…