Sunday, July 20, 2014

Insect Fun at Home

As you know, I've been having some fun at home doing "summer school" with my son. Its's not at all structured or intense, just some extra learning with mom. :) One thing he really wanted to learn more about was bugs. He was all about the bugs! I narrowed it down to insects, telling him that spiders were left out of this club. That got his attention! Of course he wanted to know why, so that led to our big question, "What is an insect?" 

Of course we went to the library and got some insect books. 
I also made this simple little card:



I had these plastic insects for him to use (but you could also use pictures of insects. He looked at each bug and counted the legs and looked for 3 body parts and antennae. To add a little more hands on fun, he used "puff balls" too. He filled in the circle with the pom-pons when he found the characteristics of an insect (sort of like a checkmark). When he got to the spider, centipede and scorpion, he realized that they were not insects because they did not get to use most of the pom-poms.   


If I were in the classroom, I'd put kids in small groups to do this activity, or I would do it whole group and put insects under the doc cam one at a time while all the kids used pom-pons at their desks with this sheet.  

Be still my heart! He thought of this next part! He wanted to group them so we made circles using pipe cleaners. He loved that. It's the little things my friends. :) 


To really help us remember what makes an insect an insect, we created one using play dough. He had to include antennae, wings, 6 legs and 3 body parts. 

I would definitely do this in the classroom with kindergarten or first graders. Kids love when you bust out the play dough and it could be a quick authentic assessment too. 

He ended up making a few...


Then used the dot marker to make another.  


The teacher in me couldn't resist... I made a little chart to review the things we learned. I actually had this chart made and read it to him with the blanks not filled in. Then we came back to it after reading/learning about insects. He used his special pointer (uh popsicle stick with a pom-pom glued on the tip) to reread it. In class, I would use this as an interactive reading/writing activity. This would be my visual aide that I always refer back to. I would make it fancier with a diagram too. :)

Then he filled in the blanks (with some help). 

We went on many many bug hunts over the past week! 

When he found a bug, he loved getting out that magnifying glass to count the legs. 


A lot of these ideas I could bring to my classroom if I ever do an insect unit. Simple, but fun!

This all spurred on a little dragonfly close reading set. I've been studying close reading a lot this summer, practiced it during the past school year, and went to a couple of trainings. I learn best by doing, so I created this just as much to help myself along the process. I'm practicing it on Shawn and can't wait to go use it in the classroom with my students! I hope to work out all the kinks before showing you all. ;) 






Saturday, July 19, 2014

Teaching Ingredients Linky

I'm linking up today with my sweet friend Christina from Sugar and Spice. I have loved her blog forever and I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time with her in Vegas. She is obviously an amazing teacher! I've always loved the name of her blog, but after reading her most recent post, I love it even more! (She blogged about why she chose her blog name.) She's having a great linky right now that's all about our "teaching ingredients". Love this! 

I sort of want to print and frame it in my classroom! 



Head over and read about Christina's teaching ingredients and link up to tell us all what your teaching ingredients are! I'd love to learn more about what kind of teacher YOU are in the classroom. If you don't link up, please leave a comment telling me about your ingredients! :)



Friday, July 18, 2014

A Fun, Easy Way to Practice Reading

I recently updated my Read, Think, Match pack. For those of you who bought it way back when, let me just say... sorry! I think I've updated this thing once or twice already. I'm not trying to drive you crazy with all these updates. Let me just explain for just a sec. :) First of all, clip art is just amazing these days. It just keeps getting better and better my friends. When new clip art comes out, I get inspired! Secondly, I learn something new every time I use a product. I am always wanting to make it better. Sooo... this update has SEVERAL new pages and some old pages with new clipart and some old pages that are just the same. :) For those of you who don't know about this yet, let me give you a little preview:

It's pretty basic. You cut, you read, you match, you paste. Boom! Mind blown, I'm sure. :) 

Seems simple, but it's been such a great resource for me. I started making these during my first year as a first grade teacher circa 2006. Oohh, I will not show you a sample of those. Not pretty my friends. The format and the idea was same, but I did not have it going on back then. Not that I think I do now, but let's just say, I've learned a few things. I created these originally because I was trying to get my kids to think about the text. Originally, these were inferencing activities. I would give clues like, "I am made of snow and can melt when it's hot. Who am I?" It evolved into a mixture of those inferential matches and just plain match a sentence to a picture (still using decoding skills and strategies to match to the picture for our beginning readers though!) 

Here is a picture of a more basic version (for your beginning readers):

Here's a sample of a slightly more challenging page with some opportunities to make inferences:

Why do I love these?








I also added the updates to my Reading Skills Bundle, which includes this pack, my sequencing pack, and my visualizing pack. 



I'd love your input for a kinder version!  I thought of having just a word to match to a picture to get them used to the first strategies of beginning reading: using the pictures and looking at the first letter in the word. Then I thought I'd include another with some simple sentences. What do you think? I know that for most, at the beginning of the year, this would be difficult...I'd love to hear your thoughts! :)Thanks!

 





Thursday, July 17, 2014

Text Evidence for New Readers, a Simple Game, and a Freebie

I've always been a big fan of requiring our students to find evidence in the text to support their thinking. I am new to close reading. This is NOT a post about close reading. BUT I have been quietly practicing and studying close reading because I really think it is so powerful! The reason I bring up close reading is because a big part of it is using text evidence. I think I've got that part down, but I still need to learn so much more! For today, I'm just going to focus on how we can help our beginning readers to refer back to the text.  

You can do this even with the simplest of texts. I love to empower my students to read something on their own, with some scaffolding. I want to give them opportunities to practice their reading skills and fluency, while working on comprehension skills. (Side note: These simple passages or stories do not work for true close reading because the text and vocabulary are not complex enough. However, you can always find ways to make your students go back to the text to "prove" an answer.)


Wait a minute! Is that kid shirtless? Yep, that's right. We did some crazy slip-n-sliding then took a break to do some "summer school". 


I've always felt like I was meant to be a teacher. Then I had kids and thought, "Man, this is even better." Well, let me tell you what is the best of the best. Teaching your own kid! I am LOVING it. I'm so spoiled with Shawn. He humors me and totally goes along with the summer school thing. Although, I think he thinks that every 5 year old has to do summer school with their mom. Shhh! 



On this morning, he woke up and wanted to do his "homework" right away. (I know, not. normal.) Isn't he adorable in those slippers with his tiny little legs. Hilarious. These pages I made are all very simple passages for beginning readers. They have a sight word search to begin each page. He loves that part! My goal with these pages is to get him ready for the rigor of close reading. These passages do not have the text difficulty or vocabulary required for true close reading, but I'm hoping to get him used to going back to the text to find answers. 

Here is our process:
1. Sight word search (and additional activities if we need to master those sight words)
2. Read through the text (using knowledge of sight words, picture clues, context, and phonics skills)
3. Questions: Each question requires students to go back and find the answer in the text. These are such basic texts and questions but it is so empowering for them to be able to read it independently (mostly) and go back and search for that answer. 
4. Throw in a game (see below Guess What I'm Thinking): I want to get my students used to thinking while they read. This is a learned skill for most! To teach them how to think while they read, I want to show them how I think while I read. 




All you need for this is a few sticky notes and a fun pointer. I did not have a fun pointer so I just took a popsicle stick and glued a triangle button to the top. Anything to make it special to point to a sticky note. If you want to get them moving more, you could put circles (or sit spots) on the ground and have them hop to the answer.

If you want to try this out, you can download this passage for free. Click on the picture to download!



If you want more like it, you might want to check out my 


Disclaimer: My blog is a place for me to "work things out" in my head. I'm always learning new things, trying out new ideas, and then I reflect on that process. So don't quote me on anything here! Ha! My goal is always to find ways to teach, inspire, and support my students. I'm so glad you are here to cheer me on along the way! I love how we are all here to support each other in our mission to touch the lives of our kids. Just thought I'd throw that out there! :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sequencing Practice in Kindergarten and First Grade

Do your students need practice with sequencing? As you know, this is such an important comprehension skill. In addition to practicing sequencing while reading books together, we do a little activity that we call, "Read and Sequence". I know, not very original. ;) I started making these years ago to go along with my literacy centers. Last year, I bundled all of my Read and Sequence pages into a year-long pack. It was targeted toward first grade but also worked well for 2nd. Most recently, I modified the pack to work for kindergarten. The kindergarten version has picture clues for every sentence. There are also fewer words used. I tried to use mostly sight words, sound-out words, or words that were content-related. 



Here is a list of the topics. 


Most have a 4 step option and a 6 step option.

 



You can get this by clicking on the picture below.





You can take a look at the 1st grade version by clicking this picture below:

Since the content is the same for both packs (but the level of difficulty is different), I made a COMBO pack in case you wanted both. The combo is only $5, but each pack is $3.50. 

You can get the COMBO here:
Right now with my store on sale, you can get this combo for only $4! That's practically the price of just one!

For those of you who already own one of them, but wish you could've had the combo, please email me. We'll figure something out. :)


Right now I'm giving away a copy of the combo over at A Classy Collaboration. Head on over for a chance to win!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Reading Toolkit

This year I wanted to make a summer packet for my students that they couldn't ignore! It's not so much about what's inside for some of these kids, but how you present it.  If they are excited to open it and show their parents, I'm hoping they are motivated to dig in and actually do it. (If anything, I hope parents are guilted/pressured inspired to motive their kids to do it.)

We've been dabbling in close reading this year, so I wanted to incorporate that into their summer packs. 

They really love sticky notes and highlighters, so I had to include those two things! The magnifying glass was more of a prop that they really enjoyed. We'd read the first time to "get the gist", then pick up our magnifying glasses to show we were ready to read closely. Sometimes they'd put their magnifying glass around the words that gave text evidence to one of my questions too. Here is a picture of what I put in their packets:

You can find some free summer-themed bookmarks here.

You can download my summer toolkit covers here.

     


If you are looking for something to put inside these envelopes, I have two summer packets (for kinder and first) that you can find here. 
   



This is a picture of my dining room table during the last week of school. I would finish one project and then another project would take the place on that table. It was not clean all week! I thought you all would appreciate that. :)



Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer Literacy Packs and TWO Summer Freebies

I am SO close to summer! This is my last week at school with students. It's always a little bittersweet for me. On one hand, it's hard to say goodbye to students. On the other hand, summertime means no stress and fun with my boys. This wins out for sure! As excited as I am to start making summer plans, I need to give all my attention to school for one more week. On the last day of school, I'll be giving my students a little summer packet that (I'm hoping) they will work on to keep their skills sharp. I'll also be giving them these bookmarks. For some reason, bookmarks can be extra special to some kids. My son is all about the bookmarks. I made a few options and a black and white option.





A couple years ago I blogged about this:

 I made this little "summer suggestions" sheet that I sent home on the last day of school. I had my students fill out one and I filled out one. I chose one or two things that I felt that student really needs to focus on this summer (handwriting, reading fluency, long vowels, etc.) You can download this freebie here.




Now onto the summer packets. I just finished this pack for my kinder students (and for my own son):

There are over 30 reading passages with text dependent questions:


A variety of phonics practice sheets:


Some other reading activities like 
Read, Visualize, Draw 
Read, Think, Match
Picture to word/sentence Matching
and Read and Sequence.


Writing Pages (narrative and opinion prompts)
and sentence writing pages:


Sight word practice:



Last year, I made this pack for 1st grade students going into 2nd grade:








I recently added a couple of reading passages to this set too! 

You can find these packs by clicking on the pictures below: