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!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dr. Seuss Word Families Thinking Maps

I am keeping to my Dr. Seuss theme this week and next week. Today for Thinking Map Thursday I am going to share a book I made with my classroom focusing on word families from the Dr. Seuss book Hop On Pop.

thinking maps
word family

D. Seuss Book
Word families
{ay, ill, at, ing, ent, ight, ong, ed}

You can check out my classroom made book here.
I had students work with a partner. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Word Family Games for Dr. Seuss

Today's post is going to share a few simple games to add to your word work time.

Read the book Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss.

Illustrate Game Cards

Have the students make illustrations to match the word on the game card. I think it is much more beautiful when we use children's art word rather than clipart.

Match The Rhyme

Working with a small group of children I start with the cards facing up. I would pick a card and the students would have to find the card that rhymes.

Find the Rhymes

Working independently, students find words that rhyme and put them together. They could record them in their word study journals.

Memory Game

Play a game of memory. The object of the game would be to flip over a card and find a match.


The cards can be played for a game of ZOOSE! In the past, I have shared a game called Moose but instead of Moose we will use a silly word ZOOSE.  You take a card and if you read it you get to keep it. If you pick the ZOOSE card all of your cards go back in the deck. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dr. Seuss Story Problems

Have students create Dr. Seuss story problems this week!
I have two versions in this download there  is a 
regular paper size and an 11x18.
I have students works with a partner when they do the EXTRA big pieces of paper. 

There was 5 yellow fish swimming and 15 blue
fish chatting. How many fish were there?

Five mad fish.  Five sad fish.
Five fish turned happy. How many fish?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Being A Super Reader

Do you know what it takes to be a SUPERHERO? 
What about a SUPER READER?
There are so many teaching possibilities with this book.

reading workshop

reading workshop in kindergarten

This chart of interactive writing took us many weeks to complete.
Now my class wants to make... Ten Rules Of Being A Super Writer!

Some of the Anchor Charts From Our Unit Of Study

reading workshop

reading workshop

What did we work on a reading workshop time today?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What I Learned From a Teacher College Reading Workshop


Over the summer, my colleague, Genie and I attended the Institute for the Teaching of Reading run
by the Teacher College Reading and Writing Project. I thought the workshop was exhilarating; I couldn’t wait to get back into the classroom to teach my kids everything I had learned.
My colleague, was deathly ill; recovering from pneumonia, but didn’t want to miss this great institute, filled with new ideas for us.

 We carpooled together and each day, I couldn’t stop talking about the class while she was dying slowly in my car.

Reading Workshop 
For the past few years, I implemented the structure of the Daily Five in my kindergarten classroom. I loved using the Daily Five, there are still parts of the Daily Five that I miss: but I left this workshop excited to try a different approach to structuring my reading time.

Could I like this structure better or would I want to go back to using Daily Five?

As teachers, I think it is always important to see what works in our classroom. Each year brings a different learning experience.  We learn new things and try doing things in a new way. Over the course of the three-day workshop the instructor Christine talked about the components of a balanced literacy program; reading workshop, writing workshop, read aloud, word study and shared reading.

Today’s blog post is going to share what I learned about the structure of the reading workshop time using the Teacher College approach.

Unit of Study

Every few weeks the students engage in a unit of study that focuses on reading; this approach is similar to the writing workshop model. For example in the month of October the unit of study focuses on reading and talking about emergent storybooks.  All of my lessons that I teach my students will connect to how reading and talking about books will help us grow as readers. The anchor charts we create in the classroom will connect to our unit of study. The studies last for 3-5 weeks.   A resource called A Curricular Plan for The Reading Workshop by Lucy Calkins and the Reading and Writing Project gives you an outline of units to teach each month, an essential to have this book!

The unit of studies gives me a strong roadmap to where I need to take my students. There are times when modifications need to be made, but that is just part of good teaching. Another must have resource is Kathy Collins Growing Reader (Kathy is coming out with a new book soon).

reading workshop units of study

reading workshop units of study
Unit of Study: Readers Study Patterns in Big and Little Books 
To Help Us Read and Talk About Books

The Mini-Lesson (7-12min)

Each workshop begins with a mini-lesson. The mini-lesson teaches the class about what we will be working on at reading workshop time. The Mini-lesson has four parts: the connection, the TEACH, active involvement (turn to your partner and try) and the link.  If you use Lucy’s Calkins writing books, you will notice that all of her lessons are in that format.

Private Reading Time (15-30)

Each day students have assigned spots and begin Reading Time.  Reading time is similar to Daily five- READ TO SELF; one difference is that students sit next to their Reading Partner. They may sit side-by-side or back-to-back. Once the bell has rung, students turn to their partner for partner reading. In the fall, kindergarten students are reading from book buckets on each table. The books can be from shared reading or star books. Students eventually move into book baggies with 'just-right' books. T
his year, I started everyone with book baggies at the same time.

During Daily Five-time, the students do not always have to start with Read to Self.  The Daily Five structure lets student pick their reading partner too.

Partner Reading Time (10-15min)

Students are partnered with a child at the same reading level. Another surprising suggestion was to have the students have the same partner all year long. The thought is that the more students work together, the deeper their relationship/thinking will grow.

I would never have thought of keeping partnerships all year, but I understand the reasoning behind it. During the large group mini-lesson, the students are sitting next to their partner. In my class this year, I have changed partners a few times.  I have found that although students are at the same reading level, their personalities may not be an excellent match.

Teaching Share (5min)

The class gathers on the rug and shares something they worked on as readers. At this time, I may ask kids to share things they noticed during the workshop. For example, if the mini-lesson focused on taking a picture walk before reading, a child could demonstrate to the class how they did that.

Teachers Job

What is the teacher doing during Reading Workshop time?

The teacher is...

  • Conferring
  • Small group guided reading
  • Small group strategy lesson

Quick Reflection 

I believe the primary goal of reading workshop time in kindergarten is to develop confidence and love of reading.  The reading workshop in September will look different then the workshop time in the spring. We want to provide various books for student to read: book bags, writing workshop books, poetry binders/notebooks, classroom made big books, and favorite song charts, the list is limitless!!

No matter what time of year it is; students are at different places in their literacy journey; it is our job to help them grow.

My next blog post will go in-depth about the structure of the mini-lesson what I love about it and what I find challenging.

Comments Today

I would love to hear comments from you...what kind of structure do you use for reading workshop? What do love about it and what do you find challenging?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dr. Seuss Activities

I am on school vacation this week and have been trying to plan for the weeks ahead. Dr. Seuss's birthday is on Monday, so this post will share with you some of my favorite ideas to celebrate his birthday in the kindergarten classroom. 

1. At Literacy and Laughter, Amy had her students bring in their favorite Dr. Seuss book from home.
I think it is beautiful how she lines them up in her kid's cubbies.

2. Each year Brittney from Tied
Up with String, picks one book to celebrate Dr. Suess. In this post, she let each student bring in a show and tell item that was their 
favorite color. Can you guess what book her class was celebrating?

3. Michelle at Apples and ABC's does a great lesson about taking care of our world using the book The Lorax. I think this would be a great introduction to persuasive writing. Her students made little Lorax puppets to retell the story. I love the idea of making colorful truffle trees for a bulletin board too. I don't think you need a tree template... Let students make their trees in different shapes and sizes!

4. If you want to spend weeks on Dr. Seuss go to the blog,  A Place Called Kindergarten! Joelle shares a calendar that celebrates a different book each day. On If I Ran the Zoo day, the students bring in a favorite animal picture from home. When Joelle reads My Many Colored Day, she has students wear their favorite color to school.

5. April at Chalk Talk  shares, a classroom  slideshow of all of the Dr. Seuss adventures her classroom takes part in...this is what kindergarten is all about!!! I love how April takes part in all the dress up activities! 

6. In Joyful Learning In KC, I share some of the stations my students took part in on Dr. Seuss day! I think my favorite activity was creating the big book Cat in the Hat, Cat in the Hat What Do you See? My class loved making the creatures.

7. Laura at Lalymom created Seuss sticks for dominos and math manipulatives...For the kindergarten classroom, I think these popsicle sticks would make great spacers for writing workshop time! 

8. I love Shared Reading time and Kristen at Imagine. Inspire. Innovate. shares the perfect poem/book to put in your pocket chart called I Can Read
 I love that she used  A Seuss font; you can find it right here. Kristen gives you three different sizes to download (make sure you click on the box in the corner).  A follow-up to this lesson would be to have your class write a book called We Can Read______.

9. I think everyone loves the Dr. Seuss book ABC an Amazing Alphabet book. Did you know that you can sing this book to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? Kristen at Little Miss Glamour Goes to Kindergarten shares a Thinking Map in which she has each student make a page to this book. I love how beautiful her bulletin board looks! 

10. Deeanna at Golden Gang Kindergarten has lots of great math ideas to do with her class. I love to read all of her creative ideas. I can't wait to teach my class 10 Fish Addition. A nice follow-up to this game would be to have students create a math fish story problem.

11. Nicole at Mrs. Riccas Kindergarten has a great science lesson connected to the book Bartholomew and the Oobleck.   Making Oobleck would not be on my list of things to do, but I know little kids love it.  I think incorporating a sink and float activity into making Oobleck is a fantastic idea... I am doing this lesson next week!

12. The fish at Deep Space Sparkle are magnificent! Everything on Patty's Art blog is beautiful. 

13. Mrs. Karen's Preschool has lots of great ideas for the preschool classroom. I love that her students used different shades of the color in their Many Colored day pictures... the book Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger would be the perfect follow-up book! 

Here is a Thinglink of Dr. Seuss Videos and Songs
{Make sure you watch a video first before showing it to your class}


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Vivid Verbs

Should we teach kindergarteners about verbs?
I think we should!

What the expert say:

“Young writers need to learn that verbs are the engine of the sentences. Carefully chosen verbs make descriptions sparkle and enhance reader comprehension.” Linda Hoyt Crafting Nonfiction 

“Verb are the engines of sentences. The more specific the verb, the more energy and specificity the sentence will have. “  Georgia Heard The Revision Toolbox

A few weeks ago,  my class started writing How To stories. Because we were learning about procedural writing, we talked about using verbs in our writing and what a verb is.  We read some of the book Verbs by Kate Digg and Nouns and Verbs Have a Field Day by Robin Pulver.

The big takeaway for my five and six-year-olds is that a verb is an action word.

We watched an excellent video by Melissa Stewart where she talks about vivid verbs and how writers are on the look out for using precise words for the reader. At the end of the video Melissa shares, sentences with the verb missing. The students had to pick the best verb. The students LOVED doing that! I think it is powerful to students to see real authors talk about their writing. Melissa has a great blog here, and she recently published an AMAZING book for teachers called Perfect Pairs. I recently shared it with a friend of mine and one quick look and she said, "Your right, I have to buy this book!"

My class read lots of books that have verbs. We started to collect TERRIFIC VERBS on a chart. I typed this words up to have students illustrate them.

After students had illustrated their verb, we played charades with another classroom. The students LOVED acting out their word.

We posted our verbs in the classroom, and I put them on a ring. I plan to have students play this game during transition times.

I blogged about a similar lesson here using Steven Jenkins book MOVE.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Making List Valentine Poems

This post will share a simple valentine lesson I am doing this week with my class.

We began by brainstorming words we could use in our valentine day poems.

Next, I showed my students how we could take words and phrases and make a list poem. I demonstrated writing words and phrases down the middle of the paper. In my example to the class I did not use any rhyming words and I repeated some words.

One child raised her hand and told me that I made a mistake because I wrote the same word twice. Another child quickly raised his hand and told her that poets do that on purpose. 

go to the pool
buys toys 

Students practiced reading their poems with expression.

I LOVE  these stamps I found at Michael's craft store. The students could decorate their poems with stamps or pictures.

Charts this Week!
{Download Below}

Winter Poems click here

Valentine Poems click here

Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine Day Song and Word Game

Yes, it is another snow day in Massachusetts!! 
We could get up to two feet of snow...YIKES!
Will it ever stop snowing? It does not feel like it.

I hope to get to school tomorrow to 
share this Shared Reading Lesson below.

{Books this Week}

Shared Reading 
(Tune: Mary Had A Little Lamb)

Song for Poetry Notebooks

Word Work

Build a Word

I saw this idea on Pinterest  from Kindergarten Holding hands
and just LOVED it!! Each child gets a card and had to find the person with the missing half. You can double side the cards and have the word on the back. 

Click Here for Make a Word 

(the words come from the poem above)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...