Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Alphabet Countdown!!

The Alphabet Countdown does not begin for me until the middle of May, but I am trying to be  super organized!Every year it sneaks up on me. For this post, I plan to list the different ideas I have for counting down the last 26 days of school.  This year, I plan to tie in some books to the theme each day.  If you have any suggestion for a letter, please share! 

Do what works for you!

Let's Begin

Bring a stuffed animal to school. 
Activity: Make a classroom graph of the animals. 
Read: Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
Art Day 
Activity: Make a special art activity. 
Read: The ART Lesson  by Tomie dePaola

Activity: Make a Birdhouse.
Read: Riki's Birdhouse by Monica Wellington
Activity: Look for bugs.  
Read: I Love Bugs by Emma Dodd 

Card games and Counting   
Activity: Learn a new card game and have some counting investigations at math time.
Read: Ten Times Ten  by Herve Tullet or Counting in the Garden by Kim Parker
 Dot Day  
Activity: Make a Dot.
Read: The Dot  by Peter Reynolds 
Dance, Drawing and Dot Day  
Activity: Dance 
Read: Dance  by Elisha Cooper
Earth Day and Exercise 
Activity: GO NOODLE!
Read: Things I Can Do To Help My World   by Melanie Walsh

Bring your favorite book to school and Fairy Tales 
Activity: Share our favorite books.  
Read: Yummy by Lucy Cousins 

It's Game Day 
Activity: Bring a Game from home or have students make a game.
Read: Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

It's Hat Day 
Activity: Wear a hat to school. 
Read: Do You Have a Hat?  by Eileen Spinelli

Let's learn about insects today! 
Activity: Drawing and looking for insects.
Read:  Insect Detective  by Steven Voake

Activity: Let's make an I Spy book or posters.
Read:   I Spy In the Sky  by Edward Gibbs or I Spy by Jean Marzollo

Joke Day 
Activity: Bring in your best joke to share.
Read: The Everything Kids Joke Book  by Michael Dahl

Kite Day 
Activity: Fly a kite. Students can bring in a kite from home. You could make paper kites.
Read: Stuck  by Oliver Jeffers or Kite Flying by Grace Lin

Listening Day 
Activity: Go on a listening walk. 
Read: The Listening Walk  by Paul Showers 

Lego Day  
Activity: Create something with Legos.   

Math Games 
Activity: Teach a new math game. 
Read: Fish Eyes  by Lois Ehlert or any favorite math book.

Nature Day, Pick a new name (It sounds silly, but the kids LOVE making up a new name)
Activity: Write a poem about nature. 
Read: Outside Your Window A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies or Nature Projects for Every Season Spring by Phillis S. Busch 

Name Day 
Activity: Pick a new name. I know this sounds silly, but the kids love it. Have the students wear name tags.   
Read: The Name Jar   by Liz Boyd

Outside day and let's get organized  
Activity: Do some learning outside and organize the classroom.   
Read: Inside Outside  by Liz Boyd

It is Poem in your pocket day!   
Activity: Bring a  poem from home and put it in your pocket. This poem could be written by you or someone else. 
Read: You Read To Me,  I'll Read To You  by Mary Ann Hoberman 

Pajama Day  
Activity: Wear pajamas to school!
Read: Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber

Quilt Day 
Activity: Let's make a memory quilt of the year.   
Read: The Quilt Makers Gift   by Jeff Brumbeau or The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

Rock Day 
Activity: Let's go rock hunting today!    
Read: If You Find a Rock by Liz Boyd or Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor

Science Day  
Activity: Do a fun science activity. 
Read: One Small Square Backyard by Liz Boyd or What is Science? by Rebecca KaiDotlich

Treasure Tell Day 
Activity: Bring in an object from home that has a special memory.  
Read: Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge  by Mem Fox 

Uplifting day- students will give compliments to each other  
Activity: Give each other compliments.    
Read: Have You Filled A Bucket Today?  by Carol McCloud

Video Day 
Activity: Make a book trailer today of VIP books or watch an educational video.
Read: VERY funny books  

Wonder Question: How do you catch the wind?  
Activity: Go out and catch the wind (read the book below).
Read: I Face the Wind by Vicki Cobb 

 Wacky Wednesday (even if it is not Wednesday)
Activity: Wear something wacky to school.
Read: Wacky Wednesday  by Dr. Seuss 

X-tra long recess!

Your choice today! 

Zip off to summer! 

Below is the sheet I send home.

I usually add the dates on the 
sheet above
before I send it home.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Word Family Books

This post will share you some word family books 
you can illustrate and read during word study time.

I recently shared some word family books focusing on the short a vowel and chunks.
This post will focus on word families with the short e chunk.

{Word Families ET, ED, EN, ELL,  and EST}

Read a book to the class
talk about the rhyming words from the story.
{book suggestions below}

Build words using letter cards or magnetic letters. 

Make a list of the word families.

Have students work on individual books.

Books To Read 

I think Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems are excellent too! 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Reading Workshop Mini-Lesson Part Two

This week I am going to talk about the architecture of an effective reading workshop mini-lesson. Part one of this blog post is right here.

When I attended the Teacher College Institute, the instructor did not spend a great deal of time going into the nitty gritty of the mini-lesson, but used this framework throughout the training.

Christine would quickly grab books and zoom right in with a captivating story (The Connection) and be explicit about what she wanted us to do by demonstrating with a book (Teach). She seamlessly had us actively engaged in what she was teaching (Active Engagement) and left us with a clear picture of what we just learned and how we can apply to our teaching (link).

Teaching using these steps is second nature to her. Christine shared with us the important of using this structure because

•    It helps kids learn
•    Kids love repetition
•    Students will gain confidence by anticipating what will come next

A personal goal of mine this year has been to use this mini-lesson format each day. Since using this structure of teaching, I feel like it has helped me organize my teaching lessons and be more explicit in what I am teaching.

Here is an example of what a mini-lesson would look like in kindergarten

The Mini-Lesson (10-15 minutes)

Today’s Lesson

Readers solve words by thinking about what looks right, sounds right, and makes sense.

1. Connection (Tell a Quick story)

Boys and girls yesterday during reading workshop, Bobby did a great thing I want to share with you. He was reading this book in his book bag called Pup-Pup-Puppies. When he came to the part of the book (holding the book and showing the page to the class), he read
“Puppies cooddle up to sleep.  Bobby stopped and said,
“Hey wait a minute that doesn’t sound right.”
Bobby put his finger under the word that didn’t sound right while thinking.

Bobby went back to the beginning of the sentence and reread the whole sentence again. Now he read,  “Puppies cuddle up to sleep.”

2.   Teach 

 Readers, today I want to teach you how to make your reading sound right.  I am going to read this big book to you. When I read this book to you, it should sound the way a person would talk. If when I am reading I notice it doesn’t sound right, I am going to go back and reread it again.

Read a sentence and use a word incorrectly. Then think aloud about how the word you chose does not make sense in the sentence.

I chose a word with the same initial letter, like dig for dog.
Then go back and reread the sentence correctly. 
Do this on a few pages reading aloud and thinking aloud.

The words you are reading should sound the way a person would talk. If when you are reading, you notice that it does not sound right, go back and read it again ask yourself did I leave a word out? Did I say the words? Does it sound right?

Tip: You should name the teaching point many times throughout the whole lesson.

Helpful Language: Watch me as I...

4. Active Engagement

Readers, we are going to try this strategy together using the book Wilma and The Pig.

I am going to read a page.

At the end of my sentence have a thumb up if the words in my sentence sound right. Have thumbs down if the words in my sentence do not sound right.

If the sentence did not make sense, turn and talk to your neighbor about what word should be there to make it sound right!

5. Link
What we did together today you can always do when you are reading.

You can reread when you get to a tricky part and check what you read, asking yourself, Does it sound right? Does it make sense? Does it look right?

Tip: Connect the learning to independence


Today readers, I taught you that when you’re reading it is important that you ask yourself if what you are reading sound right. If it doesn’t sound right, you need to fix up the mix-up! Owen could you share with the class what happened when you were reading today.


The second thing I learned at the workshop was how to organize shopping for books.

1. Each child is assigned a day to go shopping for books.

2. The books will stay in the child's book baggie for one week.

3. Each child is assigned a colored dot for selecting books(leveled   by me).

3. Books students receive during guided reading will stay in this bag too.

4. For example, if Owens’s shopping day is on Monday, he will take all of his books out (on Monday) and replace them with 6-10 new ones.

5. When trading books from their baggie students put the guided reading books from the teacher in one bin, and the dot books get put in another.

6. Students should have roughly 10-13 books in their bin. 

7. If a child is reading longer text, they have 4-5 books.

8. Students can also put in LOOK BOOKS. 

9. Students can also read their Poetry/Song Notebooks during Read To Self and Read To Someone.

10. Students go shopping for books at the beginning of the workshop.

11. Students begin shopping for books when they are in a level C/D.

On Fridays we have what we call FRIDAY FAVORITES, the students are allowed to sign up to share something they have worked on during reading workshop time. They just put a Post-It on the board with their name on it. 

Shopping for books is written in Kathy Collin's book Growing Readers 

They can share anything!

My class this year loves to read/sing songs from their Poetry/Song Notebooks. Nellie Edge has some wonderful suggestions for poetry notebooks.

My class still share songs from October. Students are allowed to share with anyone in the class.  Sometimes we perform for the class across the hall, and my students LOVE that! 

I am always surprised by the partnerships when I let students decide who to share with. 

Lucy Calkins is supposed to be coming out with a book this spring on mini-lessons for the K-2 classroom!

If you are using the mini-lesson format, I would love to hear what you like about it and what you may find challenging.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Three-Dimensional Shapes

Over the last few weeks, my kindergarteners have been learning about Three-Dimensional shapeHere are some of our favorite stations.

Making a Town Using Three-Dimensional Shapes
My students LOVED working with a friend and creating a part of the town. At large group time, we brainstormed what we needed to have in our town.

Students made little signs and will soon be making maps of the town. We will also learn about creating and giving directions. I hope to have my students create an anchor chart of meaningful words we can use. We will continue to add to this!

Guess My Secret Rule (Silent Math)
During this lesson, the teacher begins to sort shapes into a pile. 
It is called Silent Math Time because no one can talk, including the teacher! 

Students will be called on silently.  If a shape belongs it stays in the pile, but if the shape does not belong, the teacher will move it out.  When the game is over, the teacher will talk. 

"Okay class, who can tell me what the secret rule is?"

Shape Shadows
What kind of shadow will a cylinder make?
It was a little tricky to use a flashlight to see the shadows of the figures. But 
a colleague suggested we put it in the natural sunlight. The kids were amazed!!

Guess My Shape
One child is IT and takes an object out of the first bag and puts it in the second bag.
We started the game with a cylinder, cone, sphere and the cube.

The person who is IT gives two clues about the shape.

I have a circle face.
I have a point.
What shape am I?

The children playing the game,
circle (on the recording sheet below) what shape they think it is.
The sheet allows them to play four rounds.

 We first started playing this game with four shapes and added two more.
After playing this game many times, the person who is IT can record their clues.

Which Is Taller?
Students compared different 3-D objects in the classroom focusing on <, > symbols.
Anchor Chart
During interactive writing time, we recorded our observations about the 
 three dimension shapes. 
We made illustrations of real world objects.
Vocabulary Chart
I saw this chart in Debbie Diller's Math Work Station book and I love it!
This chart is  a very helpful tool for my students.

Shape Hunt
We went on a shape hunt looking for three-dimensional shapes in our environment. We took photos with our class I PADs and made a slideshow with Haiku Deck.

3 Dimensional Shapes - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Sources: Think Math
              Debbie Diller Math Work Stations

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!

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