Friday, October 24, 2014

Five for Friday: Halloween activities and Comprehension goodies

I'm linking up again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another Five for Friday! I had a wonderful week. One of those weeks where the kids were so engaged and we just had fun together. I love my job! Here are just a few of the things I did with my first, second, or third grader groups. I tried to pick one activity from each grade level to keep it interesting.  :) 

1.  Sight Word Practice

For my first graders who are trying to learn new sight words, this is a favorite! They build simple sentences with sight words and one card that has a picture cue. Each time they build a sentence, they have to figure out if the sentence makes sense and sounds right. They also end up reading the sight words over and over as they work on building their sentence. Repetition? Check. Using picture cues? Check. Using syntax and meaning? check. One to one correspondence? Check. 

You can find this in my Build a Sentence pack. 

We also did more from this sight word spin. I have one that works for 1st graders and also one for my 2nd graders. 

2. Halloween Phonics: 
I love making CVC word building extra fun by making it seasonal. :) We talked about how the web should remind us what sound e makes.  

The next day, we did this CVC word building activity:

I store these two centers together like this:

These can be found in my Hands on Halloween Pack. 

On Thursday, we did this activity: 

My third graders are working on bossy r. They had fun with this activity. 

My first graders and some second graders are using these story cards. They look forward to them every day! They love using the white board markers on them. They are so interactive! Click on the picture to see more about these.

After reading several times, they get to read their card to the group. They are now experts at using a "character voice" and a "narrator voice". We often go through and highlight punctuation too, which helps them to pause at all the right places. I need to start working on a  winter set! When I run out of the fall ones (which will be soon), we will work on our super hero set!  

4. Comprehension Activities:
I've talked about my beloved before. I love these books! This week one of my groups read this book: 

We made this anchor chart to organize the important details in the book. 

To make sure everyone was engaged, I had them use these highlighter strips to find the answer. In some cases, the author came out and told us. In other cases, we needed to infer. 

I read this cute little story with my 3rd grade group:

We are mostly working on comprehension, so I try to think of questions that really make them think. Sometimes it's the question itself that stumps them. I've learned that helping our students develop tools to understand the question is a comprehension strategy in itself. 
For the 1st chapter, we did this:

The following chapters all had great comprehension opportunities too! 
For chapter 2, we practiced sequencing. We sequenced the events in that chapter (which were basically the steps he took to plant the pumpkin).
For chapter 3, we identified the problem and solution. We also did some visualizing for a tricky part in the chapter. 

After reading, we did a character analysis for Landon. There are a few different words you could pick to describe him. Of course you have to find evidence in the text to back it up though! In case you missed my post about character analysis, you can find it here. It's one of my favorite posts so far!

I have a treat for you today! 

5. A Fun Wedding
I love weddings. Well, truly I love receptions. Ha! I went to the most beautiful wedding at Lake Tahoe last weekend. It was perfect. John and I got away for the weekend and my kids got showered with treats during a weekend my dad. Win, win for everyone.  Here's a picture from the wedding:

I hope you all had a great week too!

Head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see some other Five for Friday posts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween Handwriting App

Spooky Letters handwriting app. The kids loved this!

What seasonal app do you like? Links please!

Go visit my friend Christina for more Wordless Wednesday posts!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sight Word Spin in Action

Just a quick post from me today! Sight words instruction and practice is so important! Today I'm going to show you ONE way that we practice in reading groups.

These sight word spins can be used as centers or as a partner activity. Here is how you could use them in a small group to practice sight word fluency:


You can find this in my Guided Reading Hands-on Fall pack and another set in my Super Reader Pack.

You could also make your own! Use dice or a spinner and write words in each box to go along with each number of the dice. It's a great way to practice sight words! The whisper phones keep it quiet. Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Teaching Character Analysis in the Primary Grades

I have always loved to dive deep into picture books. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful books at our fingertips! Practically every picture book has a great comprehension lesson waiting to happen. Between school and reading to my own kids, I'm doing a fair amount of reading! Usually when I read a picture book, a bunch of teaching thoughts jump into my head. Occupational hazard? I have to jot down some notes on a sticky afterward, so I often have random notes around my house. Ha! A couple years ago, I blogged about character analysis. I decided it was time to add a little. 

For our younger kids, I basically focus on describing a character and then finding evidence to support  our reasoning. This goes along with the close reading philosophy. We read the book. We ask the question. We reread to find evidence to support our answer. 

I usually introduce the concept by showing students a list of words to describe people or characters. Then I ask my class to describe me. After making a small list (maybe 2 or 3 words), I ask them to prove it. Together, we think of evidence to prove that actually I am how they described me. 

Now, we move on to picture books. I put together a list of some books I've been reading lately that lend themselves to a character analysis lesson. The first set is fall-themed and the second set are for any ol' time. 

This first book is a great book to start with because the author is pretty explicit about the characters' feelings. Create a graphic organizer like this one using chart paper. Before reading, ask your students to think about how the main character is feeling throughout the story. After reading, show students your graphic organizer and reread to complete it. 

Create a simple graphic organizer like these using chart paper to describe two characters from a book:

Sometimes you'll have a character showing lots of evidence of one main character trait like in this story:

Character Feelings
A chart like this one shows how the characters felt. With this book you could also go into how the characters' feelings affected their actions. 

 How a character changes in a story:

How a character's feelings influence actions:

Predicting character traits:

Since fall doesn't last forever, I made a short list of books that would work at any point in the school year. 

One character, multiple books, more evidence! 

I shared this a few years ago, but I figured it's been long enough that maybe I should repost it! 
Here's a list of character traits.

I shared a few graphic organizers a few years ago. I updated them a bit and I'm sharing them with you again today! 


You can use these task cards with these books (or any other books) when you are teaching character analysis. These are just a few questions I find myself asking my students to get them thinking about characters. 

I'm working on a very small mini-pack for character analysis that includes all of the graphic organizers I showed above and task cards for every season. I finished fall and I hope to get that done soon. :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Super Reader Pack: Fluency, Phonics, and Sight Word Activities for Beginning Readers

Who doesn't love a superhero? Well, I'm sure there are plenty of people but we're going to just focus on those of us who DO love a good superhero. My kids love anything superhero themed. I've been slowly making superhero activities for the past year and I finally decided to just get my act together and put together a whole set of activities. There is some cah-ute clip art out there so that makes it easier. I didn't use real superheroes like Superman and Batman for this pack because I wasn't sure about copyright stuff. 

This is one of my favorite activities: 

I used a Gluedot to attach the little superheroes with the onset or word ending. They I clipped them to building. I included a few different combinations. 

Here is a picture of two different activities, both word fillers activities. For one, they match a mask to a superhero. It's all about digraphs and consonant blends. The other is strictly a vowel fill. I can't get enough of this! Vowels can be so tricky and I want them solid with their vowel sounds!

Changing words from short to long vowels.

I have other products with this same set up (remember the little groundhog and bunny from last year?) I always have one of these boards hung up on my magnetic white board. The letters are always up. The vowel is filled in with a white board marker (also can use vowel pairs or bossy r). The character matches the board. So of course I had to make a superhero version of this! Kids love to soar through the words. 

My students are always asking for games! 

These are super simple sight word sentences. All the pre-primer dolch words are included.

My son loves to search for sight words. These are laminated so I can erase and use again.

Another game:

I know what you are thinking. Sarah, this is just like from your Fall and Spring pack! Yes, but I LOVE these sight word spin activities. They are SO easy to use and it really helps them learn their sight words. I can't help it, I have to have seasonal spins and now a superhero themed spin. That way, it's always "new" to the kids. New clip art, new theme and all of sudden it's not the same old activity. But it is. Ha! 

I shrunk my strategy cards a while back to make a book mark. I stuck a little superhero on a clip to help my students practice using their strategies. I use this with my beginning readers so I can get them in the habit of using different strategies when they get stuck on a word. I model, model, model and this little clip gets them so excited. 

I made several new story task cards. LOVE to use these. I do these every day with my reading groups. I use them for fluency, comprehension at a very basic level, and to learn/practice using strategies. 

I made a little quick check assessment page for these too! Just a simple check, plus or minus for fluency, comprehension and decoding skills.  

There are two different spinners because there are two different types of cards. 

This assessment quick check has more of a focus on fluency. Punctuation, expression, rate, accuracy, comprehension and decoding are assessed with this page. 

This is on sale today!

PS. Just for fun, you might want to see my son's superhero birthday last year. If you do, click here. It was my first birthday party and I got a little excited...