Sunday, March 22, 2015

Favorite Book this Week

Rufus Goes To Sea 
Written by Kim T. Griswell

Bumper Sticker for Book:  Never give up!  Reading takes you on many adventures.

About the Book:

 In Rufus Goes to Sea, Rufus shows up at school one day excited to read and write but finds the school doors locked! So Rufus decides to go on an imaginary adventure-seeking pirate ship. We can infer from the illustrations that Rufus knows a lot about pirates because he is always reading pirate books! In Kim Griswell’s first book, Rufus encounters a few problems and he turns to reading to save the day!! I blogged about Rufus Goes to School here.

I think the topic of both books is of high interest for both students and teachers.

Teachers love a book that connects a purpose and love of reading to the main character.  Rufus is a loveable pig, and children can’t help but root for him.

Rufus Goes to Sea is a must buy book for teachers.

Comments from Kindergarten Children:

My students LOVED this story! They immediately connected the ending of her first book to the start of her second. A child immediately yelled out, “Her ending is a sign of what to come!” We think her next story will be about Rufus going to space.

My students noticed that Rufus had the same items the backpack, a lunchbox, and the SAME blanket! They loved the fact that he had that blanket!!! “Oh my gosh, he has the blanket.”

Ideas in the Classroom:

  • Look at the cover of the story and make predictions of what you will think will happen based on the first story.
  • Kim structures this book in an interesting way. Look closely at both books and you will see similar text structures. 
  • Older children could write a story using her text structure.
  • Create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two stories comparing similarities and differences.
  • Rufus Goes to Sea is a perfect book for story mapping.
  • Create a web listing adjectives about Rufus (story main character).
  • Record how Rufus’s feelings change throughout the story. 
  • Use this book to talk about the BIG Idea in this story.
  • We get a strong image of her characters because she uses proper nouns such as Leroy Williams the III, Captain Wibblyshins and Pirate Booty (paints a picture in our mind).
  • Kids love the humor in this story; both of her books are excellent examples of text that is written with voice and a lot of word repetition.
  • Both of her books Rufus Goes to School and Rufus Goes to Sea are an excellent mentor text for story beginnings and endings.

I hope Kim plans to write another book about Rufus!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Word Work Wednesday

This week I have two simple games to add to your word workstations.


{Working on OP, OT, OG, OCK}

Step One

Read the key card together.

This little poster is on the table to help anyone who may need a picture clue to help them with the word chunk.

Step Two
Everyone gets the same board.

Step Three
Face the letter cards down.

Step Four
Take turns going around the circle and taking a letter card. Can you make a word on your board with the card you got?

Step Five
When someone gets three in a row they win!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chapter 5 Book Study

I am linking up with Michelle at Fabulous in First Grade for Chapter 5 in the book Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites by Marcia L. Tate.

This chapter focuses on Graphic Organizers, Semantic Maps and Word Webs. If you read my blog, you know that  I use Thinking Maps in my classroom.  I was lucky to have worked in a school system that offered training on using Thinking Maps.

These are the different Thinking Maps above. 

 Although I love Thinking Maps,  I also use other kinds of mapping as well. It is important for students to learn different ways to organize their thinking. In the next few years, students in MA will be taking the PARCC exam, and they are expected to use various types of mapping/organizers on this assessment.

This post will share some Thinking Maps and other graphic organizers I use in my classroom.

What the expert say
Having students create a mind or concept map is a meaningful strategy for helping them make sense of and learn vast amounts of new concepts. (Budd, 2004)


I love the Circle Map for brainstorming. I use this map in all subject areas.  I like that student's know immediately that when I draw this Circle Map we are going to brainstorm.

{comparing two people}
This map is called the Double Bubble. 

A Venn Diagram is just like a Double Bubble Map. I think it is important for students to know that these maps look different, but they gather the same information.


When graphic organizers are used to change words into images, both left-and right-brain learners can use those images to see the big picture. (Gregory& Parry, 2006)

This Flow map is an example of  retelling  a story. This chapter gave excellent examples of story retelling maps you can use in the classroom. 

Popplet is a great app that makes maps for you! 

This chapter reminded me that I needed to have kids show their thinking independently. I am going to try to give my students more open-ended response sheets. You can download the one I made below.

Happy Thinking! 

Follow Joyful Learning in KC's board Thinking Maps and Venn Diagrams on Pinterest.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Study Chapter 4

I am linking up with Kate from Queen of the First Grade Jungle, taking part in the book study group Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites by Marcia L. Tate. This chapter is about playing games! 

At the beginning of this chapter Marcia write:

When students are engrossed in game playing, the stress is lessened, and memory for content is increased! 

Begin this game by placing the cards facing down. Take turns turning over two cards at a time. The object of the game is to get a match with a domino card and an equation. This game focuses on doubles. 

Have students fill in the chart below with numbers 0-10. Every box needs to have a number in it. The numbers can be in any order. The first person flips a card. The number cards are in the download. 

Owen: Flips the number five he has to find the number on the board that will make ten

Owen finds the number five and colors it in. 

Owen's partner Finn takes a card; he gets a three. He needs to find the number seven on the board and color it in. 

The object of the game is to get four in a row. 


I blogged about this here. The students play charades using our vivid verb cards. Students make illustrations to go with the vocabulary words.


In this fun game, two players put a card on their foreheads (the teacher hands them the card). The audience shouts out the SUM. The two players need to look at the other persons card to figure out what card in on their head. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Poems for Shared Reading Time

I am ready to add spring poems to our poetry notebooks. I just can't take the winter any longer! 
Poems to add to our notebooks this month!

Make a Hello Spring Book!
Hello Rainbow!

Hello butterflies! 

Hello birds! 

Here is some other post that share spring poems!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Double Trouble and Brace Maps

It is Thinking Maps Thursday and this post will be sharing a few different lessons that have to do with doubles! 


I have kids play with a partner. You could use the cards below or make a die that they roll and double. The kids LOVE playing this game!


Draw a picture on the left side and double it on the right! This is a lesson is from Think Math.


My goal for these Brace Maps is for the student to have the same amount on the top and bottom. For students (which was a few) who needed more support, they could use the Rekenrek or counters.

These Brace Maps can be challenging for some students!

{4, 6, 8,10,12,14,16,18,20}


Monday, March 2, 2015

Addition Number Designs

Happy March! I hope it starts to get warmer soon.  I can't take this cold weather any longer.Today's Monday math post will be focusing on the math game called Number Designs. 

For this math game, students will be making number arrangements using colored titles. Students should be encouraged to make as many number designs as they can. I think it helps to have them use the same color tile. 

Above the student were making number arrangements using the number 8. You can assign students different numbers according to their needs. 

Quick Reflection 

For years,  I taught this math game called Six Tiles that is Number Arrangements using six tiles.  I knew we were creating designs using colored tiles and having students make arrangements with sides having to touch (no corners): but I didn't know why we taught this lesson. The math manual didn't  get into the why. The students were not encouraged to make number sentences. 

I recently took a workshop focusing on Kathy Richardson's math assessments/games, and we had a great conversation about this game. 

We played the game and talked about how this game is about subitizing. This game gives the student practice in creating and describing the parts of a number. Student's also used symbols to label the parts. Now when I teach this game, I start with the rug, creating some number arrangements together. The only rule is that the tiles have to touch in any way. 

As a group, we talk about the different number combinations we saw. The first part of creating and talking about each design was very much like a Quick Image(without flashing an image). Below you, can we labeled the combination 5+8 but some kids saw 2+2+4. It was important to let the children share their thinking before they worked independently. 

The last step is recording the arrangements.
Below you can find a book for your students to record their work. 
My students recorded their tile combinations and labeled with a number sentence. 

{little hands like little things}
click here for Number Design Book 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Study Group

This Saturday I am linking up with the book study group reading Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites.
Marcia L. Tate offers the reader 20 strategies to use in their classroom. Each strategy is loaded with effective and research-based ideas.

I believe the big message of this book is for kids to be active participants in learning. And yet, worksheets are used all the time to teach students.  In my opinion, the best learning that happens in my class doesn't happen in a cute art project, or in a worksheet.

It is the intangible stuff.

When students get older and look back at kindergarten, they don't remember the worksheets they remember situations that made them feel good. They remember relationships with their friends and teacher. They remember feeling safe and being accepted. They remember the special times such as the 100th day of school,  the day the squirrel got in the bird feeder or  the day they lost a tooth.

My children have been bringing home worksheets for the last two-year.
When those sheets go out of the backpack, they go right in the trash.

If the worksheet is a cutting and pasting one, it goes in the barrel with a BIG groan because I know that sheet took my kid FOREVER to do!

And my favorite thing about the cutting and pasting sheets is that I usually can't figure out what the learning objective is.

What was the teacher trying to teach?

Don’t get me wrong, I know children need experiences cutting, but I think we can find better ways.

This week study group is focusing on the first two strategies in her book:

Brainstorming and Discussions
Drawing and Artwork

Here are some of my Favorite Things I learned


Right away, I can’t help but think that the Circle Map is a tool that any teacher can use in their classroom to brainstorm. When I often begin a brainstorming lesson using a Circle Map I often use one color on the circle for what we think we know. After learning new information, we often return to the Circle Map with a different color marker for what we learned.


To give students a purpose for reading, have students brainstorm a list of questions to be answered as the unit or story is being read. This was one of my favorite ideas from the book! Look it all the questions we came up with before reading the book Amazing Sharks.


I think lots of teachers use the think, pair, and share technique.

Ask a question, allow time for your student to think and pair up with a partner to share and return to the group. Linda Hoyt’s book Revisit Reflect Retell shares an effective lesson called My Partner Said

Before teaching your students, My Partner Said

Try this in your class have students think, pair and when they raise their hands to share, tell them that they have to share what their partner said…you will see lots of hands drop down.  I find this to be a great piece of information. How many hands went down because the didn’t listen to their partner


After students Think, Pair, Share have them report back to the group by using the stem, “My Partner Said…” Students are encouraged to use their partner’s name during the sharing session. Once students learn that they have to report back what their partner says they do a much better job of listening.

Children often forget to use their partner's name, and I will often jump in and model...My Partner Mary said..


When students come into class, provide some butcher paper for students to record information from yesterday’s learning. I have never done this before, but I plan to.

Have students design a poster that illustrates the significant details of a concept or unit of study.

reading response in kindergartn

After learning new information or having a class discussion, students record their thoughts on a Post-it. I find the Post-it is the perfect amount of space for a child to share their thinking.


Showing our thinking is a big part of my math program. The author suggests  having students draw a series of pictures illustrating their understanding of what is happening in each step of the problem. I love this suggestion.

Marcia suggests having student make drawings that illustrate vocabulary being taught.  I sometimes forget to have students illustrate math vocabulary, this is something I could easily add to my math stations.

math vocabulary in kindergarten
This is a great math pack I bought on TPT by Kim Adsit.

What strategies have you used in your classroom that connect with brainstorming, discussion, and drawing/artwork?

Check out some other amazing Blog Post 
 Blogger Book Study Posts
Happy Learning!

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