Thursday, May 28, 2015

Frog and Toad Character Analysis

Just a quick post from me tonight. Last week, we read Frog and Toad, one of my personal favorites. I love how the text is simple so first graders can successfully read it. At the same time, the stories are give you a good laugh and kids really enjoy them! After we read The Garden, I asked my reading group what words would describe Toad. 
(Don't be distracted by my poor attempt at drawing. We all have our gifts... or lack their of.)

They came up with silly, coo-coo, and funny. Next I told them that they had to prove it. They then had to reread the story to show examples of Toad being silly, coo-coo, or funny. 

I'm finding that with my older students (2nd/3rd), they can retell a story, answer basic questions, and sequence a story. They can dig a little deeper than that, but what is stumping them is having to find the "evidence"  in the text to back up their thinking. They are getting confused with how to use the text to back up their answers. That's a good reminder that in the younger grades (k/1), we need to get them used to doing it so that when it does get much more complex, they will have that skill. I actually LOVE this part of common core. Kids of all ages can do this, but they need practice and modeling and more practice. "The text says this... so that makes me think this...." After we completed the graphic organizer, we practiced using this language to talk about the book and the characters. If you're looking for an easy lesson for these last few weeks of school, get out your Frog and Toad books and have your students start talking about those characters! :)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Summer Literacy Packet for Kindergarten (Getting ready for 1st Grade)

I am on the home stretch now. Summer is SO close! Many of you have already packed up your classrooms. As much as I love summer, I always worry about the big summer slide with some of our students. Many of our students would be fine even if they did a little backward slide. Unfortunately, many of our students can't afford even the smallest step back. We've all worked so hard to make progress all year long, then we send our students out for the two or three month break and wish for the best. Last year I created a summer packet for incoming first graders. I made it with my struggling readers in mind. These are the kids that need to be practicing this summer. These are the students that are not as likely to be reading for pleasure this summer. They are on that cusp of becoming readers so many of the books at the library are still too hard for them. Some of these parents are looking for guidance and are willing to help their kids but are not sure how. Hopefully, this packet can help! I've updated it with more direction for parents. 



I added a letter to parents that can go on the first page after the cover. 

I also added these pages that elaborate a little more on each section. I printed them in bright colors and placed them between each section of the packet. 

I know my parents are often looking for more guidance, so I added some ideas for what to do if their child is struggling with certain parts of this packet. I also described how they can help their child with each section. 


There are five sections. 
Reading Passages:

Phonics Activities:


Reading Activities: 

Writing Activities:

Sight Word Spin




Here are a few pictures I have from last summer:







This is one of my favorites from last summer. Shirt off, taking a break from the water, coloring the real words. 



I also added a few extra pages. These are activities that I've been doing with own son and with my students in class throughout the year. 
Sentence spin is a huge hit. I have these in other packs in a non-printable format (laminated activity). This is a printable version. It allows for repeated practice. There are three different pages. 


This simple game can be played over and over.






Last year I posted these free bookmarks. Click here to download. :) 




PS. My packet is 20% off today and tomorrow!




Monday, May 18, 2015

Character Analysis for Spring

A few months ago, I blogged about teaching character analysis. It's one of my favorite reading comprehension skills to teach. I think it's one of the easiest ways to get our kids to dig deeper and start thinking about the character. Usually kids don't have a hard time making a judgement about a character. It's only natural, right? That boy was mean or He was nice to his mom, etc. The harder part is making them prove their statements about characters. I like to believe that there isn't just one right answer when we are analyzing characters. I tell my students as long as you can back up your opinion, I'll take it! We are SO lucky to be surrounded by amazing literature to teach this concept. Pick up any good book and you can usually find something to model this concept. But let's face it, sometimes you want more practice that is a little more accessible to a group of students and a little quicker than a long story. (Don't get me wrong, NOTHING can replace a good book when teaching comprehension. This is just a follow-up/extension of that.) I made some short stories for winter that focused character analysis skills. I meant to make fall and spring right after that, but it took me a while... :) 


This pack includes 24 short stories written in two different formats, and each with two levels of reading difficulty. You can choose the story card format:


Or printable version:


Here is how you use the cards:


There is also a spinner and task cards to use with these cards or ANY book that you are reading as a class, during guided reading groups, or for a partner activity.



I also included graphic organizers that you can use for a read aloud or guided reading groups. 


There is so much you can do with character analysis and each graphic organizer takes a different angle. (I'll be blogging again about just using the graphic organizers.) 



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Sale: Teacher Must-Haves


Here are some products to pick up during this big sale! These are a few "must-haves" in my classroom. 



Yep, sometimes you just need some ready-to-go printables. These are engaging printables to use for seat work, reinforcing concepts and skills, extra practice, sub tub, and homework. Plenty of activities!


My literacy centers are my babies. I know, that sounds so silly. But I loooove these and literally developed these over maaaaany years. You reap the benefits of my mistakes and trial and error over the years. I finally got it right and cannot live without these. So yes, they are my babies. :)

Want to get your grading more consistent and clear? Yep, you need rubrics my friend. 


The top three are reading passages. Seriously 400 pages worth of reading passages for the entire year. Graphic organizers to with each story. Varying levels. You will get plenty of use of that! The top right is my writing pack for the year. The year. Yep, the year. TONS of activities with rubrics and graphic organizers. The bottom sets are all printable but super interactive. Making inferences, visualizing,  and sequences practice. 


Look no further for phonics practice. Tons of phonics activities! These are packed with hands-on AND printable activities. 


















I'm linking up with some of my favorite bloggers! Click on the picture below to see some of their amazing products for sale AND to get tons of links to other teachers with sales going on. 






Monday, May 4, 2015

Super Sentence Mega Pack

One of the first literacy centers that I made when I started teaching first grade was the Super Sentence  center. It was not so cute back then though. I think I used a small extra piece of poster board I had laying around to make the board. I drew rectangles in different colors to go with the comic sans-typed   phrases glued onto colored contraction paper. Did I mention that the cutting wasn't straight at all? I should look through my old pictures to show you the beauty. :) It's the perfect example of me just keeping it real. Don't you love to see classroom that aren't perfect- far from it? You would love my Super Sentence circa 2006 then. Ha! Well, I've learned a thing or two since then. This has been part of my literacy center menus but I really needed to update each with clip art and consistence box sizes. I was asked a looong time ago to make a pack filled with just Super Sentences and I meant to get this done way back then. I'm really happy to have this done now! :) I added a bunch that are not in the monthly literacy menus. 


Here's how it works:


(There are a few more that aren't pictured here too!)


For each set, there are adjectives, subjects, "where" cards, "when" cards, and verb/action cards. Students match the colors to make sentences. 


Some boards have the adverb cards like the one above. Others have the "when" cards like the one below. There are also boards with just the subject, verb, and "where" cards. 



Each set has a student sheet:


Here are the different sets that are included:



I store these using snack size zip lock plastic bags and plastic page  protectors. 






These are perfect for literacy centers, word work, and small group or partner activities.