Sunday, September 28, 2014

And Now I Know My ABCs! Freebie too!


Teaching ABCs to students

My kinder kids are singing songs, sorting letters, digging in rice, and in general having lots of fun trying to learn their letters and sounds!  Might sound easy and it IS easy for some to pick up this learning.  Not so much for others.  So we do all kinds of different activities in an effort to make it fun and to get those letters to stick!  Get ready for picture overload!  I am a visual person, so I thought if you see pictures rather than just descriptions it would help you to see what we do to learn our letters!

I Am A Letter Expert!  ABC Activity

One activity my kids cannot wait for their turn to do is the Letter Expert!  It does something for their little egos to be called the expert at something.  I put the letters of their name in a bucket, plus a few extra.  Other students take their turn drawing out a letter while the expert sits up by the easel in a special chair.  The child drawing out a letter tells the "Letter Expert" the name of the letter and the "Letter Expert" gets to tell them if they are correct or help them with the right letter name if they are not.  Then the letters are sorted as to whether they are in the Letter Expert's name or not.

Letter Arc Activity

Another good ABC activity is the Letter Arc.  Read ABC books and students come up to find the letter on the arc.  You can do it by matching the letter or finding the capital or lower case letter match.

ABC Magnetic iPad app

During small group reading time at the tables, you can use ABC Magnetic app to review letters you have taught.  Line the letters across the top.  Students pull down a letter as you call it out.  You can have the student say the name of the letter as they pull it down or the sound it makes.  Then they do the same as they put the letter back up at the top.


This is an ABC Letter freebie for you!  


I have used these letter cards to do letter races!  I place a few on the wipe off easel and call out a letter.  The student who's turn it is gets to race up to the easel and see how quickly they can find the correct letter.  Great way to get rid of the wiggles too!  Click here or on the picture to grab it!  You can also tape the cards to your door frame so students must read a letter as they enter or exit your classroom. 


Cookie sheets and rice boxes are just too much fun!  The kids love, love getting to do these center activities!  They have done a great job not scattering the rice too much too.  I have found that putting the rice box on an unused cookie sheet helps to contain the rice.  Here capitals were matched to capitals.


This one shows how you can dig out capitals to match to the lower case.  I have students of all different levels, so it is important for me to have differentiation of my activities to match where each of my students are.  If I am giving them an activity that is too hard they get frustrated.  And if it is too easy then they are not moving forward with their learning.


Highlighters and magnifying glasses are the highlights of this activity.  Kids think that is just pretty special!!  For some of my students just keeping them engaged in different ways is the key to getting them to be able to learn those letters.


Once students learn their letters pretty solidly, they are ready to build some fluency with them.  Pointers, glasses, and microphones help students stay interested and having fun!


I really like having my students work on building ABC order with their letters.  These small letter strips and recording sheets do just that.






Just click any of the pictures to see my Rice Box and Cookie Sheet ABC Letter Center Pack!  


These letter puzzles are another way to learn capitals and lower case matches.  I have 2 different kinds to differentiate for the students.  One has matching picture cues to help them match up the letters if they need that extra help.


The letter puzzles are included in this Learning My ABCs pack.  Click here to see it.


This activity-Spin, Say & Write- has also been a big help this year!  And the whole key to that is teaching students that they MUST say the letter or picture EVERY single time they spin.  It won't help if they just write it down without knowing what they are writing.  

I hope these activities help you if you were needing more ideas for teaching your little ones their ABCs!



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Interactive Notebook Organization & Management

How to organize and manage interactive notebook materials

Do you use Interactive Notebooks with your students?  I use them with my reading groups and LOVE them.  With using them came needing to find a way to organize the materials and manage these materials in an efficient and easy way.

How to organize and manage interactive notebook materials

After putting the notebooks together, I would find other comprehension pages that I wanted to include or we would need more copies of what was already in it.  The easiest way for me is to have extra copies on hand in this plastic file box.  It's already for hanging file folders.  Just label and file!  I got the plastic file box from Walmart.

How to organize and manage interactive notebook materials

We use a lot of the blank framed pages so I keep extra copies.  As students use their pages and need more, they can get them out of the file box.  That part they can manage themselves!

How to organize and manage interactive notebook materials

I like to use the different colored hanging file folders.  

How to organize and manage interactive notebook materials

The copies are inside.  You can mark the very last one with a sticky note labeled Master copy.  Or even just placing that sticky note on that last copy lets students know not to use it.

How to organize and manage interactive notebook materials

I also like to keep our notebooks in baskets on a shelf.  Helps keep them looking a bit nicer and the pages from being torn out.  

I hope this tip on organization and management of interactive reader's notebooks will help you manage your notebooks too!  It is a part of our monthly Bright Ideas!  


If you have enjoyed this Bright Idea, please follow me on Bloglovin, TpT, or Instagram!

For more Bright Ideas, take a look at the link-up below.  I am sure you will find lots more great ways to help you out in your classroom!  



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Metacognition & Reading Salad


Reading Salad...the kids were intrigued.  That sounds weird.  Are we going to cook something?  Are we going to eat salad?  


If you have read Comprehension Connections then you are familiar with Reading Salad.  It is a great visual way of demonstrating to students that we need to be thinking as we read and how to do it.  For some students, this is a totally new idea!  Some have no idea that reading is not just calling out the words; that we need to be thinking about those words and ideas as we go.  

I made some visuals- books with the word text on them and a thinking face with the word thinking.  These made up our lettuce and tomatoes for the "salad".  



Then I read When I Was Young in the Mountains.  It is a great book that has a lot of places where we could stop and think about the text. I demonstrated this by reading a section and dropping in my salad bowl a red text card.  Then I would think about that section and drop in a green thinking card.  After a bit of demonstrating, I would read another section and a student would drop in a card.  If a student wanted to share their thinking they did and then got to drop in a thinking card.  We learned that thinking about the text was really a natural thing to do:  we wondered what a johnny house was, why the kids chose to swim in the pond with the snake, thought about what the grandma in the story cooked was like what our grandma cooked, etc...


Then on the next day, I reread a section to the students where the kids in the story draped a dead snake across their shoulders for a picture.  They wrote about that, sketched it, and then wrote about their thinking.  I love this one!  He made a judgement about the kids in the story that they must be rednecks to do something like that!


I agreed with this little student- why would anyone do something like put a snake on their shoulders????  One student even wrote that they thought the kids must be crazy to do that!  I agreed with that one too!


I found this thinking interesting...several of my students that day were wondering if the kids would get bitten by the snake even though the text clearly stated the snake was dead.  I guess when you fear snakes it doesn't matter if it is dead or not because they still think it can bite!

If you would like to have the Reading Salad that I used just click here to download it!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Visual Lesson Plans & Letter Learning

reading plans for kindergarten through second grade

It's going to be a busy week!  Lots to do and learn!  These are my reading lesson plans for the week instead of my RtI visual lesson plans.  I will be posting my RtI lesson plans once our first cycle begins, which is in a couple of weeks.  These are just a few of the things I have planned for the week for kindergarten through second grade.

I can't wait for my group to read the Fly Guy book!  My kids love Fly Guy so I ordered some sets at the end of the year.  I know they are going to have a blast with him.  Who knew a book about a fly would be so fun??

fun way to learn the ABCs with Spin, Say & Write

This week some of my kindergartners will be spinning their way to learning some of the letters in their name.  I still have a few that haven't gotten a few letters to stick.  So they will get the letter they are having difficulty with to spin, say (it is important that they don't skip this step) and then write their letter.  

Fun way to learn letters by spinning a paperclip to see which letter will win!

If the student lands on the picture, they will just say the picture and then spin again.  This will help them to associate the letter with the picture and later to learn the sound for that letter.  

an organized way to keep student learning in a reader's notebook

My first graders and second graders (older grades used this notebook in the past too) keep their work in this interactive notebook.  They will use it for their word work this week and for comprehension also.  It is a great way to keep their learning organized and to be able to see the progression of their work since it stays in the notebook.

If you download the picture of the lesson plans at the top, you will have the links to all the resources that I will be using this week.  There are 2 freebies in this week's lessons- the syllable sort and the apple short vowel sort.  These are not my freebies, but I wanted to share them with you!

Link up with Deedee with your plans for the week!





Sunday, August 31, 2014

Classroom Library Organization & Management


Classroom libraries are a wonderful thing!  Children can't wait to get to the books and discover new and exciting worlds in the pages.  But managing all those books and who has them can be a challenge!


I have used this system now for several years and it works really well for me.  Each student has a pocket in the Check Out chart.  


Inside the pockets are what makes the system work!  My students' reading levels are all over the range of A-Z using the Fountas and Pinnell leveling system.  I needed a way to make choosing a just right book a bit easier and more manageable for the students.  


Each student gets a blue construction paper card listing the basket levels from which they can choose books.  I give them a range of baskets to choose from and these basket levels change over the year as their independent reading levels change and improve.  The blue card stays in the pocket.  An index card with the name and level of the book also goes into the pocket after the student checks out the book by writing their name and date on the front.


On the front of each book, we have a sticker listing the level so students know what basket it goes into.


Each book gets a library pocket (or envelope cut in half) glued into the back of the book.  An index card with the title and level of the book listed on the front is placed into the pocket in the back of the book.  


After the book is read and enjoyed at home, students bring it back, remove the check out card from their pocket, put the card back into the book and then the book goes back into the correct basket.  I train the students at the beginning of the year how to do this.  It is quite easy for them and makes it easy for me to see who has a book out just by glancing at the Check Out chart.  

I use Fountas & Pinnell leveling because I have found that it tends to be accurate for my needs.  They have a book out to help you level books and you can also use Book Wizard on Scholastic.com to look up books.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Classroom Reveal: Blue, Teal & Lime Green

teacher desk decoration

I'm a bit behind some of you with my classroom reveal.  I finally got pictures taken of my classroom.  This front and back shot of my desk may be the only time it's this clean!  Small secret- I put some paperwork in my desk drawer for the photo!


I keep my book sets in baskets on this shelf for my small group reading.  The sets are leveled according to Fountas and Pinnell.  Some of the books I use for read alouds are in the baskets underneath.


My computer area.  I was finally able to get rid of my unbelievably slow desktop this year.  See my AirLiner?  Love using that for my Smartboard!


I bought new baskets this year from Dollar Tree for my classroom library and printed new basket tags.


More books and some supplies.  Some of the baskets are empty for now.  I am sure I will quickly find a way to fill them!


Just a wider shot of our classroom library and meeting area.  We meet her when I read to the groups and when I introduce a new comprehension skill.  I was reading I Like Myself this day and we were practicing Turn & Talk with your partner about what we like about ourselves.


This is my classroom library check out system.  I will be posting later about how I use this and how I have a large number of students checking out books.


This small shelf holds our Interactive Reader's Notebooks.  Love, love using these notebooks for students to organize their learning.  Great way to show parents what students are learning and how their learning is progressing through out the year.  


One of our reading areas.  Students cannot get enough of these rocking, blue chairs!


My Focus Wall....this is where we do a lot of quick analyzing of our texts and I post a reminder of what our comprehension focus is that week with the comprehension posters.  Having this Focus Wall really does help us get these quick focus points in each week.  Great way to manage these skills!

classroom set up

Our small group reading area.  A lot of reading and deep thinking goes on here!  These are my wipe off tables that so many of you have asked about that students can mark on with dry erase markers.  Our iPads stay at the top of the table ready to be used for each group.  We use them almost every single day.

classroom reveal

Just a little decoration hanging from the ceiling.  

I hope you enjoyed having a small peek into my room this year!