Common Core Aligned Sunny Literacy

At the end of the school year, I started to make a summer literacy packet. But... I never finished it. I came close, but I just couldn't finish it up in time. I was going to just leave it for next year but then I realized they could work for the beginning of second grade too. They are perfect for morning work, skill review,  homework, writing assignments, and even intervention time or guided reading. I had the common core standards for first grade on each page. I went back and looked at the common core standards for second grade. Most pages aligned. For the pages that didn't align, I made some other pages in their place. I split up this packet into two sections. The first section has the pages with the common core standards for first grade on them. The second section has the 2nd grade common core standards on them. The pages are mostly the same, except a few that only fit for each grade level. There is a lot of overlap with the standards and the beginning of the year tends to be a lot of review anyway. 

 Let me be clear: this is in no way meant to be your instruction for the first few weeks of second grade. It is simply another supplement.  In no way do I think worksheets are the key to student success. However, I do find times when they are appropriate. It's not meant to be the instruction, just another way to practice what was learned. 
And if you're a first grade teacher, this is perfect for the end of the year!



Coming VERY soon:
Back to school literacy mini-pack for first grade!

My first Sunday Smorgasbord

This is my first Sunday Smorgasbord. It really is random today!

First off, I have to brag about who I got to meet on Thursday. I had lunch with the sweet and adorable Kelley from Teacher Idea Factory! She is one of my favorite bloggers so I was pretty excited to meet up with her. I had the best time! We  chatted for about two hours  and I could've stayed for two more. If you don't already follow her blog, you MUST go visit her right now. She has great ideas, fabulous units, and best of all, she is hilarious. You know how we're always trying to teach our kids to write with "voice"? She's got it! My favorite blogs are usually the ones where you can just "hear" someone's personality coming out in each post. That's definitely Kelley. She's even cooler in person, which is saying A LOT!

One of my favorite things about summer is ice cream. Yum. I can go months without ice cream... but not during summertime. Clearly my kids feel the same way. We were getting away with not getting our little man his own cone. Not anymore! (Don't worry, we didn't let him eat that ginormous scoop by himself.)  

Big Brother is helping him out.

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary. I'm pretty much the luckiest girl ever...

Not the best shot around, but I had to share. Do you all remember the slip-n-slide? SO. MUCH. FUN! My husband was convinced we needed one. He was right. Truly he and I used it way more than our kids. Here's a tip: Don't wear sun glasses on the slip-n-slide. You can see here how they are very close to flying off... If you are hot, bored, and looking for something to do, you should go buy yourself a big ol' slipnslide. Won't regret it. 

I have two new units coming along:

This is a small pack of activities for first graders going back to school. 

 And this pack is a long story. Well, not really long but there is a short story. I made this pack (mostly) at the end of the school year. I could not get my act together to finish it though! I kept getting distracted by other projects, emails, posts, you name it! It just didn't get done. So I was going to just hold on to it until next year. But then I realized it could be used for the beginning of second grade too. It's perfect for the end of first or beginning of second. So... I decided to finish it up. I just need to get it edited and it'll be ready to go!


I have a sweet bloggy buddy editing my Back to School pack. Anyone out there want to edit this one? It's a big one... 

Throwback Thursday- Kids as Authors

I'm back for another Throwback Thursday. This is one of my favorite old posts. I hope you all enjoy it!

This was originallly posted on June 27, 2012. You can click here to see the original post. 

Kids as Authors

I just had the best day with my friend's two sweet girls. One of them is going into kindergarten in the fall. She is going to be the BEST student. She's so excited to learn how to read and write, which of course made me excited to get back and teach! Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying my summer break! I am not trying to rush back or anything, but she just got me in the teaching mood and reminded me why I  l.o.v.e teaching.

Thanks to Gracie, I've made another freebie for you all! I am busy working on my September literacy menu (finally) and one of the centers is Be an Author. I made another Be an Author book for Gracie today and she did a fabulous job! Since I teach first grade, this is the first time I've done this activity with a kindergartener. She blew me away! She had so many great ideas for what to write and she was so excited to be an author of her very own book. (This is also often  a favorite among my students.)

Her book was about the zoo. There was a picture of monkey so she added the words,The monkey eats bananas. Then she drew the little banana to go with her words.

 Here's a picture of her hippo page. She drew the hippo wading in water and wroteHippos like water.
Isn't she a doll! And now she is officially an author too! :) 

It's pretty basic, but kids love it! They get a book with some illustrations and blank lines. They get to be the author by filling in the words on each page. They also add to the illustration to go with their words. This particular book has a different zoo animal on each page for your kiddos to write about.

clipart by KPM doodles

Like I said, it's basic but you can get some great writing practice out of it. Click on the picture to download. If you'd like to hear my long explanation of how I teach it, you can continue reading this post (I also included it in the download). 

I introduce this activity at the beginning of the year because I include it in some of my center menus. I want to set my expectations so they can be the best little authors they can be! I do it again later on in the year when they are getting to be better writers because my expectations are higher. Here is how I teach it at the beginning of the year. I use a version of the optimal learning model: Modeling writing (Demonstrating), Shared writing (shared demonstration), Guided Practice, Independent Practice

I'm sorry I don't have any actual teaching pictures, but since I'm on summer vacation I don't have any. Hopefully I'll get some pictures when I go back in the fall and I can repost this with some real action shots with student writing! 

Fan Freebies

Come by our Facebook Page and become a fan...

and click on the Fans Only tab. Trust me, you won't want to miss this:)

Individual Behavior Chart Freebies

Hi everyone! We all love our summers and in July, it's hard to think about school because I really just want to be enjoying my summer. I should be turning it off. I should NOT be in school mode. Ha! Aren't we always a little bit thinking about school? This summer I promised myself I would not think about school during the month of July. We go back late August, so it's not too much to ask to just have July, right? Since I can't completely turn it off, I compromise with myself. I don't plan for my upcoming year specifically. Instead I'm finishing up units and packs that  I've started and not finished. Seriously, there are about 10 things that fall in this category. Really! I have so many unfinished units or packs that I've been meaning to get done and post. I need summertime just to catch up! While looking through my "partially done/ need to post/ random idea folder, I came across this group. Over the years, I've used all sorts of behavior charts. Try this, try that. Whatever works? I thought I'd share them with you today. 

This one is for those sweeties that just need a little extra motivation or attention to stay on track. I've listed specific skills they need to work on. Discuss with the parents what each number or smile means and what the reward or consequence (if any) is for each. You all know, it totally depends on the student and the situation. 

This next one is similar, but with a few different categories that focus on respect and self control:

I had a student, who I adored, that LOVED bears. I made him a chart like this: 

He was such a great kid who just needed a little boost to complete his work.  If he got right to work and tried his best, he'd color three for that subject. (He didn't need to finish, just work toward that.) 

Here's a chat chart for those talkers :) I made a soccer ball page (not pictures) and this basketball chart. Two years ago, I had a student who loved soccer and she chose to have soccer balls on her sheet. For whatever reason, coloring in those soccer balls meant a lot to her. The chatting died down. Before giving the sheet, we discussed how she would get one or soccer balls. For example, she would need to talk at appropriate times (not whisper talking to her neighbor while I was teaching), raise her hand to speak (instead of blurting out), and stay on task to finish assignments (instead of socializing).

You can download this sheet  (below)  there. 

Throwback Thursday: Think-Alouds

I'm linking up for another Throwback Thursday with Cara Carroll. I just love this easy linky party! Roll out of bed and find an old post that (hopefully) is worth reposting. I've been doing a lot of posts about new products and sales, so I thought I'd post something totally organic and unrelated to selling anything! I promise when the school year returns I will get back to more of these posts. :)  

Today's post was originally posted on November 12, 2012. You can see it here. 

The goal of guided reading is to give your students the tools to become independent readers. The main way you do this is by teaching them strategies. Strategies are the key to guided reading! These strategies will help them when they get to a word they don't know and when they've read a word incorrectly. I think of those as accuracy strategies. There are also strategies to improve comprehension. There have been numerous posts about strategies by other bloggers. There are so many great resources out there! I will post another day about strategies I use, along with how I introduce and model them.

When I introduce a strategy, I tell them about the strategy, then I model how to apply it. I do this using Think-Alouds.  At the beginning of the year, I mostly use Think-Alouds to teach those accuracy strategies (like chunking words, skipping and going back, thinking about what makes sense). As the year goes on, I'll continue to do this as needed, but I start to use them more to model comprehension strategies.

I went back and forth about which post to do first, but then I realized that Think-Alouds are such a big part of how I teach so I opted to go with this first.

What is it?
Usually your comprehension of a text and decoding words happens in your head. When doing a Think-Aloud, you are vocalizing these thoughts and explaining your thinking process. The teacher is using words, that the students will understand, to communicate strategies good readers use while reading. I think this is one of the most important things a teacher can do. To do this, read aloud from a text and stop frequently to make predictions, make connections, clarify meaning (I also call this a "check in"), ask a question, summarize and decode words (use those accuracy strategies).

How do I use them?
To guide students in this process, there are questions and phrases you can teach them.

  • Decoding/Accuracy:
    • "That didn't make sense. I better go back and reread."
    • "I'm not sure what that word is. I'm going to cover this part of the word and read a small chunk first. s-p...sp. Now I'm going to read the rest of the word, i-ll..ill. sp-ill...spill."
    • "I've tried sounding out and chunking that word, so I'm going to skip it, read the rest of the sentence and go back. (model this) 
  • Connecting:
    • "This reminds me of..."
    • "That was like the time when..."
  • Predicting:
    • "On the next page, I think..."
    • "I predict that..."
    • "I think I know what might happen next"
    • "This page makes me think that _______ will happen next"
  • Visualizing:
    • "I can picture..."
    • "I like the way the author described that. I'm going to stop and try to picture that in my head. I see..."
  • Questioning:
    • "I wonder..."
    • "Why did..."
    • "I don't understand why..."
    • "How did..."
    • "Is this because..."
    • "Where was..."
    • "Could this mean..."
  • Check in/Clarify:
    • "I'm confused about..."
    • "I'm not sure about..."
    • "I think this happened because..."
    • "I think this character did _______ because ________"
    • "I'll keep reading and check back to see if..."
    • "I'll reread this to make sure I understand"
    • "I didn't expect..."
  • Summarize/retell:
    • "Right now the character is..."
    • "So far..."
    • "On this page.."
    • "What just happened here..."
    • "I think this is mainly about..."
    • "The big idea is..."

To encourage your students, you could stop while reading and say/hold up one of those prompts from above and have them finish your sentence. You could have them finish your sentence in reader response journals or whisper to the person next to them.

When I am planning my guided reading instruction, I often look for good opportunities for students to apply this strategy. For example, if there is a page where I know my kiddos can all make a connection, I put a sticky note there and make a point to guide my students to stop and make that connection.

Being able to monitor their thinking and articulate these thoughts is a pretty advanced skill, but that is what we want our kiddos to be able to do.

Here is a graphic organizer that your students can use:

frame by:
clip art by scrappindoodles

I was thinking it would be cute to put the title on the book of this sheet.

The second one just includes two extra strategies (inference and check). I haven't taught inferences yet, so I wanted to make a separate sheet with that one for later in the year. 

Using this Graphic Organizer

To use this sheet, first make sure you've taught all the strategies that are included. Choose your text. For extra scaffolding, find a part in the text that would lend itself to using one or more of these strategies. Have your students read, then stop them to do their Think-Aloud. You decide how much support you want to give them. At first, you may want to choose the strategy for them and start them out by using one of the prompts listed above. As they get better, you can let them choose which strategy they want to use. Kids love to share ideas, so they may do better if they get a chance to share their Think Aloud first, before filling out this sheet.

You could also use this sheet each time you teach a new strategy. You could then put all the sheets together to make a little book of all their Think Alouds.

Remember, using the Think Aloud strategy isn't something that is taught once or twice. It is on-going and it is used to introduce/model/practice ALL the other strategies (accuracy and comprehesion strategies).

Phew, that took a lot longer than I anticipated! Thank goodness I have such a sweet, supportive husband to take my kids out to play in the puddles for the past hour! I'd love to hear from you!! Comments are what keeps me blogging, so don't be shy! :)


Check out the other Throwback posts by clicking on the picture below:

Have a great day everyone! 

My First Bundle!

Good morning! I just made my first bundle! Since I just updated these three packs and they all seem to fit nicely together, I decided to bundle them. This pack is 237 pages total. You'll get reading activities for the entire year. Visualize, sequence and match (inferencing skills) all in one pack! It's on sale today 20% off. 

PS. I added to my Read and Sequence Pack just now (and to this bundle). It has more "beginning reader" type pages. :) 


I'll be back later with a new rainforest unit and two kindergarten menus that I've promised you kinder teachers (and good for first grade review). You gotta love summer. Time to finish units I've been working on forever AND time to throw some sales just for fun. The sunshine makes me happy:)

A New Blog (with a freebie of course!)

I would  love for you all to come by and visit a new collaborative blog that I am a part of. I was so excited to be invited by Brenda at Primary Inspired to be a part of this. I just love collaborative blogs!

We are just starting out, but we have some great bloggers and I know there will be great tips, ideas and freebies to come. :)

I just did my first post there tonight. There is a little freebie waiting for you there too! 

Just in case you missed it earlier today, I'm having a quickie sale for my Read, Visualize, Draw pack. I just updated it!  You can see that post here. 

Read, Visualize, Draw Flash Sale

For a while, I've been slowly updating my Read, Visualize, Draw pack. It's like my Read & Sequence and Read, Think Match Pack  in that it is a combination of all of Read, Visualize, Draw pages from various other packs (like my monthly centers and seasonal packs). If you already own those, you won't need this. But if you don't own those, this is the perfect pack for you!

I added a few pages, but mostly I just worked on differentiating it a bit more. I added more "levels" to each page to meet the needs of a more diverse group.
Here's a picture to give you a better idea:

Here are some student samples:

Here are the Read, Visualize, Draw themes:
  • Apples: 4 levels
  • Fall #1:  3 levels
  • Fall #2: 3 levels
  • Christmas tree: 3 levels
  • Gift: 3 levels
  • snowy scene: 2 levels
  • Snowman: 3 levels
  • Valentine Gift: 2 levels
  • Valentine Cupcakes: 2 levels
  • St. Patrick's Day: 2 levels
  • Rainbow: 2 levels 
  • Easter Bunny: 2 levels
  • Eggs: 3 levels
  • At the pond: 4 levels
  • Rainforest: 2 levels
  • Going on a bug hunt: 1 level
  • Under the sea: 2 levels
  • On the Farm: 3 levels (add easy)
  • Bear: 2 levels
  • Rainy Day: 2 levels
  • Bike Ride: 1 level
  • Birthday cake: 2 levels
  • Tooth fairy: 2 levels
  • My house: 3 levels

There are 24 total, most with varying levels. The pack itself is 66 pages.

You can get these at either of my shops:

It's on sale for only $2 right now!!

If you already own it, make sure you download it again to get the additional pages. 

Kindergarten Writing Rubrics

I made some rubrics specifically for kindergarteners. There are 27 rubrics total. 

Here are some samples:

You can get them at my stores:


Thanks to Desiree at Kinders on the Block for motivating me to get these done and giving me some great feedback to make these super kinder friendly! Check out her blog here. 

Throwback Thursday- Questioning as a Comprehension Strategy

Happy 4th of July! I hope you are all barbecuing and getting those fire works ready.

I'm linking up again for another Throwback Thursday with the fabulous Cara Carroll.  I love this linky because I don't actually have to do anything! I just go back and find an old post that is (hopefully) worth reposting. Enjoy!

This was originally posted on May 22, 2012.
You can see the original post here. 

Teaching the questioning strategy for comprehension is always a tricky one. This year, I came up with a little game to motivate my students to use this strategy.

First, I introduced the strategy with this anchor chart (minus the sticky notes):

(that's supposed to be a track on the question mark...)

I modeled the strategy with "think alouds" as I read a story. After modeling the types of questions you could ask while reading (and how this helped my comprehension), I introduced the game. I called it Guess my Question. This got my more competitive kids paying attention! I read a book aloud, then stopped at certain places and said, "Guess my question." I would call on kids until they came up with a question that would make sense for that part in the story. This game got kids to really think about potential questions to ask while reading.

I made this for my students to record questions they had while reading. Click here or on the picture to download this freebie.

click on the picture to download (3 choices of borders included by fancydogstudios 3am teacher and kpm doodles)

I chose the speech bubbles because they matched my sticky notes on my anchor chart.

You could use this as an independent activity for students, or you could use a more guided approach by using this with another read aloud. You could stop at places in the story, and have students write a possible question for that part (similar to the game, "Guess my Question"). This could also be used as an assessment to see how well your students are grasping this strategy.

I used this with my guided reading groups today. We read a book from readinga-z called The Cinnamon Bun Mystery. I stopped them occasionally and we brainstormed possible questions we may have. I encouraged them to find the answers to the questions we asked by reading on. For example, there is a place in the story where the main character gets to the bakery and a lady had just bought all of the cinnamon buns. Possible questions we came up with were: why would she buy all of them? who bought all of them? I wonder if she's going to eat all of them herself? After reading on, we found the answer to all of those questions. I reminded students that by questioning we kept our comprehension on track!

I hope you enjoyed this "throwback" post! Happy 4th of July everyone!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Read and Sequence (unit makeover and a lemonade freebie)

I have been meaning to update my Read and Sequence pack for a while now. 

This pack is a combination of all of my Read and Sequence pages from various other packs (literacy menus, holiday packs, seasonal packs, fairy tale pack, etc.) So if you own those packs, you don't have much use for this. Otherwise, you should definitely check this out. :) It's packed! I also updated this by adding some new clip art to some of the pages that needed it.  If you already own this unit, make sure you download it again to get the updated pack. 

Here's what's included:
~Getting Ready for School
~Apple picking (two levels)
~How to Go Trick or Treating (2 levels)
~Pumpkin to Pumpkin pie (2 levels)
~Apples to Applesauce (2 levels)
~Seed to Pumpkin (2 levels)
~Raking leaves
~The 1st Thanksgiving (2 levels)
~How to wrap a gift
~Decorating a Christmas tree (2 levels)
~Making Gingerbread cookies
~Polar Express
~Santa's Visit
~building a snow fort
~Making hot cocoa
~How to build a snowman
~Making cupcakes
~How to send a valentine
~How to brush your teeth
~Planting flowers
~Catching a Leprechaun
~Egg Hunt
~Decorating Easter Eggs
~Playing in the rain
~A Bee's Day
~Butterfly's Life Cycle (2)
~Frog's Life Cycle (2)
~A trip to the park
~Making an ice cream sundae
~Fun in the Sun
~How to make lemonade (two levels)
~Making Hot dogs
~A Day at camp (two levels)
~The MItten
~The Hat
~Goldilocks and the Three Bears
~Jack and the Beanstalk
~The 3 little pigs
~Little Red Riding Hood

You can pick this up for $3.50 at my stores: 


Now for your freebie from the pack!

Since Krista Wallden made this adorable lemonade stand clip art, I just had to use it! 
Click on the picture to get your freebie. 

This picture does not do the clip art justice. Check out her clip art here.

If you're wondering why I'm in the mood to share this particular Read and Sequence sheet...
this should answer that question. :)