Wikki Stix and Finger Lights

I love finding materials (even if they're a little "gadgety") that help young readers make sense of print.  For years now, I've been using Wikki Stix and Finger Lights with K/1 kids in small reading groups.  The Wikki Stix are nothing more than colorful waxy strips that can be easily cut, bent, pinched, rolled, applied to paper (and removed, and applied, and removed, and applied...) without needing to be thrown out.  It lasts forever.  (And, it's priced as if it lasts forever.  If you'd like a less expensive version, try "Bend-a-Roos."  You can find them where toys or craft supplies are sold.)  I use them with children when I want to bring their attention to a certain word, word part, or print feature in text.  Not only are they great to use with children during guided reading groups, but you can keep them handy for big books, poems, and songs during shared reading, too.  The other day, I used two different colors with Matthew to help him notice word endings when rereading his book on plants. Because they don't fall off until I peel them off, I can leave them in Matthew's book until he returns it.  This way, each time he opens the book to reread it, the supports are there if he needs them.

Matthew stretched out the red piece a little bit while the book was at home.  It was originally just under the -es ending.

A pack of "Wikki Stix" comes in a variety of colors.
One pack will last a long time.

Another discovery I made came after a dinner with my family at a Japanese steak house.  My daughter couldn't finish her meal, so the waiter wrapped it up in aluminum foil for her.  She requested a swan, so while he was twisting the long piece of foil into the swan's neck, it dawned on me how sturdy, bendable, and tactile the foil was.  I remember thinking, "This is something kids could use to make letters." That year, we had quite a few kids who were struggling to form letters correctly and, in some cases, just to identify them.  We had used pipe cleaners, but there was the sharp metal piece at each end (which is sometimes a safety hazard, depending on the kid) and they never stayed in place, always springing back out of form.  The foil worked great!  

{Take a sheet of foil, roll it, twist it... now it's ready to be shaped!}

Things got even better when I found something called "Finger Lights" in the dairy section of my grocery store.  (No... I have no idea why they were by the milk, but they're very fun and the kids love them!)  They're colorful LED lights that slide onto your finger with a soft elastic strap. Turn them on and voila, little flashlights!  I use them during guided reading to encourage beginning readers who need a tactile and visual reminder to track print by pointing or sliding their finger beneath the text.  We also use them to "shine a light" on certain words in the text, like sight words, words that rhyme with a certain word, words that start with a certain sound, words that have a given meaning, etc.  And we use them to trace our foil letters while saying the chant for that letter.

Something neat about the foil letters is that one twisted piece of foil will last a child a long time and can be reshaped over and over without ripping or breaking.  In the sample below, Haley is using one piece of foil to learn how small changes can be made to form the d, b, p, q, and g (not pictured).  I also placed a piece of Wikki Stix on her desk so she could start visualizing the difference between letters that sit on the line and letters that drop below the line.


  1. I need those finger lights! I have a child who is still struggling to track print and it's March!

    My Kinder-Garden

  2. Hi Crystal,

    It looks like Party City has a 3-count of them for $1.99.

    Have a great weekend!
    Andrea :)

  3. I purchased 40 finger lights for $7.99 at Amazon. This price included shipping. The kiddos love them!!!
    I found your blog through Zoom Zoom's newish primary grade blogger list.
    First Grade Enigmas

    1. Donna,
      That's a great deal! I'll have to check that out... much better! :)

  4. I found your blog through a TPT thread!!! What an amazing idea. This prevents them from sticking together...I've never seen the finger lights-I will definitely get them.

    1. The kids LOVE the finger lights. I only use them when reading to help kids who need to track, but won't. Most kids don't need them for that purpose, so they end up being more of a distraction than a help for those children. They still want to use them, though, so I let them use the finger lights when we're DONE reading and I prompt them with challenges like, "Shine the light on a word that begins with a vowel," or "Shine the light on the word that means sleepy," or "Shine the light on a word from our word wall." This way, they still get to use the finger lights, but it doesn't interfere with their reading. {You could use them in math, also.}

      I hope your kids like them, too.
      Have a great week!
      Andrea :)

  5. Those lights look awesome! I guess I need to check the milk section to see if I can find some HAHA =)


  6. Good morning,

    My name is LaKendra Chalmers and I am a first year Kindergarten teacher in Memphis, TN. I have been following your blog for a while now, even while in school i would pin some of your activities for future use. Now that I am in the classroom, some of the activities and strategies I have been using are not as strong as I would like them to be, guided reading and writing would be the two. I have followed a few of your posts and have gotten some great strategies for teaching reading and working with my groups. I do have a few questions about your daily routine and groups.

    1. Do you meet with each group every day?
    2. What are the other groups working on while you're working with your guided reading group?
    3. During your word study/phonics block, are you meeting with groups as well or is this a whole group activity?

    I have been struggling to make guided reading and writing groups work for me and it seems that they are coming together but I know I could have them structured a little better.

    Thank you so much for any advice!

    LaKendra Chalmers


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