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...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Freebie Update

It's that time of year again! Pumpkins galore. Pumpkin patch, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice lattes... I even have pumpkin candles all around my house. I was doing a little pumpkin writing activity this week, so that got me in the mood to look over my old pumpkin goodies.  I updated my little set of pumpkin freebies. Click on the picture below to pick up these freebies!

There are two writing activities: one narrative and one expository. 

There is one short story with comprehension questions. This is from my Ready to Go Fall Literacy Pack.

I used to use this when I did measurement with our class pumpkins: 

I used this after reading some informational books about pumpkins:

And... I added one more page thanks to this cute set of clip art I bought from Educlips:

If you like these activities, check out my Ready to Go Fall Literacy Pack:

Here's a quick preview of this pack:

Happy fall my friends!