Printable Fun for Kids – A Positive Spin on Mixed Up Words

It’s free printable time again. Let the kids have a little fun unscrambling these positive, mixed up words.


As I was thinking of a theme for this mixed up word list, my first thought was to focus the theme around an upcoming holiday. Then I remembered a trend I’ve noticed lately. More and more readers who join my newsletter are from all different corners of the globe. I love that! My heart expands a little more each time.


I welcome you all! AND I realize that not everyone who joins me will benefit from learning-powered printables based upon popular American holidays.


So… new plan.



Since my threshold for negativity in the news lately happens to have reached its tipping point, I decided to focus my attention on something uplifting instead.


Please enjoy this mixed up word list of positive, uplifting, “feel good” words. It certainly won’t eliminate the bad news of the world, but it’s another simple way to expand hearts – mine, yours, and most importantly, the kids’.


I adapted an upcoming auditory memory activity of mine called I Heard a Mixed Up Word to create Unscramble the Mixed Up “Feel Good” Words. You’ll learn more about that one soon.


That said, you won’t find any auditory memory component required in today’s activity. Just pure and simple fun for kids as they decode a list of mixed up words.


Now, before you run off to print this activity (I appreciate your enthusiasm, by the way), please check to see that your child is familiar with the words on this list. If kids have never seen some of these words before they certainly won’t have any fun attempting to unscramble them.


10 Words on the Mixed UP “Feel Good” Words List

  • fun
  • happy
  • great
  • joy
  • laugh
  • give
  • help
  • hug
  • share
  • dance


What’s Included

Your printable pdf includes 3 pages:

  • The Unscramble Me Worksheet – 10 mixed up words on the left. Spaces for 10 real words on the right.
  • Answer Key
  • A blank template in case you wish to customize a mixed up word list of your own. From American holidays, to French, Russian, or Australian holidays, to spelling lists, you name it. No limits here!


Once you sign in to The Free Printables Collection you’ll have a choice between the color version or black and white. Feel free to download them both if you like.


Not a subscriber yet? Come join us! Receive access to an ever growing list of free printable activities for kids when you sign up below.



And before you go, here’s a special message just for you:

nhkta uyo!


Visual Tracking Activities for Kids – A Fun Brain Boosting Roundup

Visual tracking activities for kids are some of my most popular downloads in The Free Printables Collection.


In the past I’ve compiled a number of roundup posts that gather specific skill-building activities all in one place. Skills like auditory memory, visual memory, and spatial awareness, for instance. I thought now might be a good time to roundup some fun visual tracking activities as well.


This list of fun free printables for kids to help improve visual tracking skills can go a long way to improve children's ease of reading.


You can read more about visual tracking in How to Help Children Strengthen Visual Tracking Skills, and Why.


Or, take a look at just a few signs your child may struggle with visual tracking:

  • skipping words or lines while reading
  • reading words out of order, even inserting random words from lines above or below
  • reversing letters and/or words, for example, saw = was or ten = net


Even if your child doesn’t show any signs of struggle, it never hurts to have some fun AND strengthen important learning skills at the same time.


Find These Visual Tracking Activities in The Free Printables Collection


Track and Color the PencilsSolving this pencil themed grid maze requires more concentration than you might think. Help children improve visual tracking, visual discrimination, and visual figure ground skills with this free printable.

A more advanced version of some of the others.







Hearts Grid MazeKids crack the code to reveal a secret Valentine’s Day message as they make their way through this printable grid maze. Shhh! You’re secretly helping them build visual discrimination skills, visual figure ground skills and even more learning skills in the process. Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.

Includes Secret Message.

Great for Valentine’s Day.





St. Patrick's Day visual tracking printableTrack the Four Leaf Clovers

Includes Crack the Secret Code.

Great for St. Patrick’s Day.



Independence Day Visual Tracking PrintableTrack the Red Stars

Includes Crack the Secret Code.

Great for Independence Day.



Spider Picture MazeSpooky Spider Picture Maze

Great for Halloween.




Snowman Grid MazeSnowman Grid Maze

Great for any winter holiday.




Christmas Gifts Grid MazeChristmas Gifts Grid Maze





Visual Tracking Printable for Kids: Track the Smiley FacesTrack the Smiley Faces

Includes Crack the Secret Code.





Find These Visual Tracking Activities in My Store

Building Visual Tracking Skills, The Book

Find five different visual tracking skill builders for kids in Building Visual Tracking Skills, The Book.

Or check out each activity separately:

Line Tracking
Grid Mazes
Image Tracking
Letter Tracking


For access to all of the tracking activities in The Free Printables Collection, please sign in (current subscribers) or sign up below!



My Struggling Reader Needs Me to Become a WHAT?

The good news is that no, you do not need to become a neuroscientist in order to help your struggling reader. But consider this. Parents and educators, especially those of us trying to improve the lives of children with learning difficulties, may not wish to dismiss the brain and nervous system as something that only OTHER people study.


In "My Struggling Reader Needs Me to Become a WHAT?" learn not who or what you need to become but how to learn what's REALLY holding back your child with learning difficulties.


If we decide that neuroscience is beyond our grasp or is strictly important for researchers to pay attention to, we may miss out on tremendous opportunities to make a real difference in our children’s ability to learn.


Neurologist and educator Judy Willis, M.D., M. Ed. makes a thoughtful case for merging neuroscience with education. With regard to the training that our modern day teachers receive, she states:


To become a teacher without understanding the implications of brain-changing neuroplasticity is a great loss to teachers and their future students.


I might argue that this applies to classroom teachers as well as homeschool teachers, educational specialists, tutors, and parents who are simply trying to fill their children’s learning gaps at home.


Neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to create new neuronal pathways no matter what age we are, is just one aspect of brain research that is changing what we understand about learning.


These days, researchers utilize fMRI technology, or functional magnetic resonance imaging, to take pictures of what is really happening inside those previously quite mysterious noggins of ours. Though interpretations of the research may not be foolproof, they do provide more information about learning and the brain.


Neuroscience and Dyslexia

For instance, dyslexia was once thought to be a visual disorder. Though visual processing deficits may occur, they are not considered to be the cause of dyslexia (Olulade et al). Now dyslexia is considered by some to be a language processing disorder, especially when it comes to phonological processing (Shaywitz et al).


More specifically, dyslexia is primarily an auditory disorder arising from an inability to respond to speech sounds consistently (Hornickle & Kraus). This problem with perception of speech sounds, then, affects the brain development that enables students to link a speech sound to the written letter (Finn et al).


Translation for intervention? One encouraging finding is that the ability to respond to speech sounds consistently can be improved with auditory training (Hornickle et al).


Neuroscience, Stress and Learning

Let’s take stress as another example of what we’re learning about learning. We nonscientists may have a general understanding that stress interferes with our ability to learn.


Neuroscience explains just how the amygdala activates a chemical stress response, which helps us understand why our children may behave the way they do, zoning out, not retaining information, or even not being able to respond to our questions at all.


When [teachers] understand that the brain responses in the high-stress state are neither voluntary student choices nor reflective of a student’s academic potential, knowledgeable teachers recognize that their interventions can reduce stress, return students’ voluntary control of their behavior, and promote successful memory construction and cognitive processing in the PFC (prefrontal cortex).

Judy Willis, M.D., M. Ed.


So, dear educators of all kinds, we certainly don’t all need to become full-fledged neuroscientists. I do encourage you, though, to keep up with the learning centered research whenever possible.


From time to time I plan to share with you my own take on whatever interesting findings I discover. To read what I’ve landed on so far, check out these research based musings of mine:


Why Can’t We Blame the Teachers?

Tell Your ADHD Children to Keep on Squirming


The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau

Review: In this award winning children's book by Michelle Markel, artist Henri Rousseau teaches kids how to let their passion live within, despite what others may say.The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel is not just a beautiful, award winning children’s story about an artist. It’s an example of how a healthy dose of passion, persistence and determination can lead to a life full of joy and wonder.


The Story

Henri Rousseau is a 40 year old toll collector who wants to be an artist. Is he talented? Not according to, well, anyone. Nonetheless, this self-taught artist will not be swayed. Year after year he displays his work at art exhibits. Year after year the art critics mock him mercilessly.


Another man might choose to give up, but Henri’s passion for art and nature guides him forward.


…when he strolls through the parks of Paris, it’s like the flowers open their hearts, the trees spread their arms, and the sun is a blushing ruby, all for him.

– Michelle Markel from The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau


What I Love About This Children’s Book

As you might have noticed from some of my other Children’s Book Finds, I’m a sucker for fabulous children’s book art and illustrations. And when stunning artwork is paired with an inspiring story about a true artist, there’s no doubt I’m going to share it with you.


Henri doesn’t let anything dissuade him from pursuing his passion. Not a lack of funds for art lessons. Not critics who say mean things. Once thought of as a laughing stock, Henri Rousseau eventually becomes known as one of the “most gifted self-taught artists in history.”


Do you love art or history? Do you want to reinforce the lesson of never giving up on your dreams? Then The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau will be a real treat. The final pages offer a brief history lesson on the life of Rousseau plus a note from the talented illustrator, Amanda Hall.


Recommended for ages 5-9, though I, of course, recommend it for everyone.


Printable Grid Maze for Kids: Track and Color the Pencils

Improving children’s visual processing skills doesn’t have to feel like hard work. This pencil themed grid maze is more challenging than some of the other grid mazes you’ll find in The Free Printable Collection, but it’s just as fun.


In fact, I added a few extra steps in this one to keep it interesting.


Solving this pencil themed grid maze requires more concentration than you might think. Help children improve visual tracking, visual discrimination, spatial awareness, and visual figure ground skills with this free printable.


This activity includes a grid full of pencils that point every which way. First, children locate all of the pencils that point either left, right, up, or down, then color the pencils their assigned colors.


Next, kids count the number of pencils in each group. You may check the answers at the bottom of the page to make sure they stay on track.


Finally, children complete the maze. Instead of tracking all of the pencils that look exactly alike, children must follow the pencils through the maze in the direction that they point. This is trickier than it looks!


Your free Grid Maze: Track and Color the Pencils not only challenges kids’ concentration, it helps strengthen visual tracking skills, visual discrimination skills, spatial awareness, and visual figure ground (the ability to differentiate between foreground and background).


As you might guess, all of these skills help children improve their ability to learn with ease and confidence.


Ready to download your free printable Grid Maze: Track and Color the Pencils?


Subscribers, sign in. Not subscribed? No problem.

Step 1) Sign up below.

Step 2) Confirm your subscription.

Step 3) Enjoy the ever-growing Free Printables Collection that awaits you!



Once you’re there, scroll down to find even more grid mazes (simpler ones) like these:

Grid Maze: Hearts with Secret Message

Grid Maze: Christmas Gifts

Grid Maze: Snowman


And if your children STILL can’t get enough of all that fun, find plenty more grid mazes in my TPT store!


Grid Art for Kids Improves Auditory Memory

Earlier I provided a free sample of Building Auditory Memory Skills with Grid Art: Geometric Animals. I hope the kids really enjoyed creating their fun geometric style fox. Most importantly, I hope you enjoyed covertly helping kids strengthen auditory memory and listening skills in the process.


In case you missed the freebie, learn more about it out here.


So why even bother with auditory memory activities? Take a look at a few clues that auditory memory deficiencies might be holding back your child’s learning.


Whether children need to improve auditory memory and listening skills or not, Grid Art: Geometric Animals offers a fun, sneaky way to strengthen this important learning skill.

Signs of Auditory Memory Difficulties

Does your child struggle with any of the following?

  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary
  • phonics
  • following directions
  • taking notes while listening
  • completing assignments
  • losing train of thought mid-conversation


Do you often tell your kids to find their socks and shoes and join you for breakfast, for example, only to find them 15 minutes later forgetting what you asked them to do?


Does your child consistently forget to turn in homework assignments in class, especially the assignments provided verbally?


While these signs by themselves may or may not point to challenges with auditory memory, they could be part of the learning difficulty puzzle.


Building Auditory Memory Skills with Grid Art

We might think of Building Auditory Memory Skills with Grid Art: Geometric Animals like a very sophisticated form of dot to dot. Children listen to instructions, find coordinates, remember coordinates, and remember which dots must connect to each other.


In the end they create a geometric style animal they can feel proud of. Have your children check their work against the answer key, then color their creations (or save the coloring for later).


Grid Art is versatile and well suited for grades 2 through upper elementary, though you may simplify the challenge for younger children and increase the challenge for older children.


Additional Skills Strengthened

Not only will you help children strengthen auditory memory and listening skills, you’ll help develop these important skills as well:

  • Working Memory
  • Auditory Discrimination
  • Spatial Awareness
  • Fine Motor
  • Attention


Ideally use Grid Art in one-to-one or small group settings so that you can closely monitor children’s progress. It’s a perfect tool for educational therapy, speech therapy, after school activities and homeschool. However, if you’d like to add this to a listening station in class, I’ve included suggestions how to do so.


Ready to help your child learn with ease and confidence? Click the link to find Building Auditory Memory Skills with Grid Art: Geometric Animals ($4) in my TPT store today!


Teaching Math for Mastery: The Case for Spiral Review

We don’t talk about math much around here, so if you are looking for fun, effective, easy to use resources to help kids master math, you’re going to want to check out the adorable Kiki’s Classroom.  First, learn a little about how this Teachers Pay Teachers author solved an all too common classroom problem.  Her solution, by the way, also had the happy consequence of helping her struggling students.


Flashback: January, 1996. I was a first year teacher facing the looming, state-required, standardized test (known simply as “The Test” to the veterans on my third grade team). Stories were told, eyes were rolled, hands were wrung, and mountains of math review packets were copied, stapled, and delivered with a thud to my already crowded desk. Use these, I was told. This is what we do, I was told.


What is spiral review and how can it turn the dreaded practice of test prep into fun, effective strategies for math master in elementary/primary grades?

And so, dutifully, throughout the months of January and February, my students and I worked our way through those review packets. We practiced, corrected, discussed, and reviewed. And then we reviewed some more. Lather, rinse, repeat, for the six or eight weeks that preceded the dreaded Test.


Three times each week, part of our instructional time was given over to test prep. That’s right: instructional time. By the end of February, we had lost countless hours to test prep, and I knew I had to change something.


That spring, I made a promise to myself and to my future students that we wouldn’t suffer through two months of intense review again. I knew there had to be a better way—a way that honored all that I knew about teaching, and that brought about authentic learning. I wanted long-term retention and true mastery of third grade skills and concepts.


It happened to be the year that my school district was considering adoption of a new and somewhat controversial math program, one that introduced the notion of “spiral curriculum” to many veteran teachers, who were quite comfortable teaching math the way they always had, thank you very much.   Though “spiral review” was a new term to many teachers, it was hard to argue with the logic of daily work that reinforced and supported our regular practice over the course of the year.


Not coincidentally, that summer, my daily math review was born. It’s taken on many forms and formats through the years, but the foundation has always remained the same: every day, my students and I would spend the first ten to fifteen minutes of the day going over previously taught third grade math skills and concepts. It served as my “morning work,” a way to focus kids’ attention when they entered the classroom each morning while I took care of routine tasks like attendance and collecting notes from home.


But the magic…well, the magic happened when we came together as a class to go over students’ work. I’d project a page on the pull-down screen (this was 1996, after all…I used my overhead projector all day long!) and student volunteers would come to the overhead and “be the teacher” for one of the five problems presented that morning.


Suddenly, I had gained instructional time, because in the few minutes it took us each day to go over their work, we could share our thinking, discuss our strategies, and identify concepts that needed further review. It was the perfect opportunity to model, teach, reteach, and preview concepts in a quick, daily dose. Areas that needed reteaching were identified early, and I could implement interventions for my struggling learners when those skills and concepts arose again. It was efficient, and it was effective.


Fast forward: January, 1997. The (same) math review packets arrived once again, landing expectantly on my desk. Thud. Faced with a choice but confident in my kids, I chose to stash the packets away in a cabinet, and elected not to use them at all. We carried on, and faced The Test with confidence.


We not only survived but we thrived. My kids’ performance confirmed what I knew—and all of us know—that the best, most authentic “test prep” comes from authentic teaching and authentic learning. That doesn’t happen when we cram it all in two months before the test. It happens when we prepare our kids all year long, with seamless “test prep” that isn’t test prep at all…it’s just a part of our daily teaching.


For easy, effective, and quite frankly, adorable math activities for grades 2-4, check out Kiki's Classroom. You can't help but love her resources, especially if you want to take the headache out of test prep.


Krista creates standards-based resources for the elementary classroom, with an emphasis on grades 2 through 4. You can find her thoughtfully designed resources, including her Morning Math packs, in Kiki’s Classroom on Teachers Pay Teachers.