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Game Night for Family Literacy

Family Literacy Game Night

Candy Land Game Night!  This was the theme of our recent Family Literacy Night.  I think Game Night has been one of my favorite themes that we have done!  The Candy Land colors were great for spring time and our families had a lot of fun.

Family Literacy Game Night

There was a lot of prepping to do before that night.  We like to give away a book to every student who comes to our Family Nights.  Scholastic was having their $1 sale so I ordered a lot of books at that time to save some money.  Love when new books come in!

Family Literacy Game Night

We get bags and fill them with goodies for the students.  This year we put in a book, 1 colorful pencil, a piece of candy, and a game of course to go along with our theme!  One of the game stations was dominoes (for math) and one was Boggle (for literacy).  I found these cute little packs of miniature dominoes and Boggle games at Oriental Trading that went right along with our game stations. We also ordered paddle balls.  As families walked into the gym, they signed in and received their bags of goodies!

Family Literacy Game Night

This was our entrance to our Candy Land Game Night.  So festive and spring looking!

Family Literacy Game Night

We also have a table to display the items we are giving away to parents and students.  We purchase books from the Scholastic Book Fair to giveaway.  Our superintendent also purchased some Kindle Fires, a couple of drones and a couple of scooters.  This is a popular table!

Family Literacy Game Night

We tried to have a mix of games for both younger and older students.  Tables or stations were set up in different areas with plenty of chairs around them to accommodate the players.  

Family Literacy Game Night

Besides Candy Land and Hedbanz, we had Uno, Boggle, a Minute to Win It game, dominoes, number Bingo, and games on the iPads too.  There was so much laughing and playing going on that night!  I enjoyed seeing the families come and just enjoy being with each other!

Scavenger Hunts are another fun thing to do on a Family Literacy Night!  Families can come and go and complete the Hunt as they wish.  

Family Literacy Night Scavenger Hunt

This Scavenger Hunt has a reading quote and students find letters hidden around the school to complete the quote.

Family Literacy Night Scavenger Hunt

This fun, pirate themed scavenger hunt has a pirate quote for students to solve after finding all the missing letters.

Family Literacy Night Scavenger Hunt

Students love to find the hidden letters while they solve the mystery quote!

Family Literacy Game Night Scavenger Hunt

The Pirate Scavenger Hunt also includes a banner!  You can click here and here to see the hunts or you can click the pictures.  





Book Tasting

How to set up a Book Tasting Party

Have you been to or hosted a book tasting party?  They are a lot of fun and a great way to build up enthusiasm and engagement with all kinds of different books!

How to set up a Book Tasting Party

My second graders were starting informational books, so I used non-fiction books for this Book Tasting party.  But you can use all different genres of books.  Most do use a variety of books after having introduced the different genres with students.

How to set up a Book Tasting Party

Set the Scene!
Change up your room and decorate!  Not only were my second grade students excited when they peeked in my door that day, all the other students wanted to know what was going on in there!  It didn't cost much to do it.  
  • Plastic tablecloths that can be used again. 
  • Placemats to designate spots for students to "taste" the books
  • Flowers and flameless candles to set the atmosphere
  • Snacks to munch as the students look through books


How to set up a Book Tasting Party

At each placemat, I set a different informational book.  I used books of different levels that might appeal to my different readers.  Each place also got a colored pencil for recording their thoughts and opinions.  Each "taster" had a book menu and their own bag of snacks.  I chose a snack that wouldn't be too messy and wouldn't ruin books (no chocolate or candy coatings that would melt).  My students know this is special as usually we do not have food around our books at all.  I wrote their names on the bags so there wouldn't be any mix ups!

How to set up a Book Tasting Party

Students wrote the name of the book and genre.  They then read a page to determine if the book was a good fit for them or not.  Then they decided if this was a book they would like to read or not.  Students had to explain why they thought they would like the book or what made them think they would not.  Last, they rated the book by coloring in stars.  This student really wanted to read Weird Sea Creatures- they colored in all four stars and then added another one just to be sure I knew this is one they liked!  They explained that they enjoyed reading about crazy things.  I would say Weird Sea Creatures are definitely crazy things!

How to set up a Book Tasting Party

This student obviously did not find Weird Sea Creatures as fascinating as the other student.  She only gave it two stars and said the pictures scared her!  That's a valid reason for not wanting to read a book.  No need to give anyone nightmares!

Students moved from place to place until all 6 books had been tasted.  I set a timer for each time and set some fun music to play for a festive mood.  After all the books had been reviewed, I went through to find their favorite book for them to read that week.  Students learned new vocabulary and wrote summaries using key words.  It was a lot of fun!

If you would like a copy of a book tasting menu be sure to sign up for our newsletter by clicking the envelope below.  Those of you who have already signed up will get this freebie in a newsletter coming out this week!



Do The Chunky Monkey Chop!

Using Reading Strategies to Break Words Chunky Monkey

We've been doing the Chunky Monkey Chop a lot recently during guided reading.  It's catchy and easy for the kids to remember!  This reading strategy helps my little readers break apart words as they are reading.

Using Reading Strategies to Break Words Chunky Monkey Anchor Chart

We started with a blank chart and students gave me different ways they would  use Chunky Monkey to break a word.  Name the strategy and give an example of it on your chart.

We've used the strategy Chunky Monkey for quite awhile.  They know to break apart the words and not stretch them if they are longer words.  Now my students are working on using this strategy quickly and efficiently.  

Using Reading Strategies to Break Words Chunky Monkey Anchor Chart


I want them to be able to break the word and also to be able to link it to which specific Chunky Monkey Chop helped them.  Being able to link to the specific chop helps strengthen the skill for the students.  They love to write their words on Post Its and place them on the chart.  If you use Post Its, you can use the same chart again on different days or for different groups.  

If your students need help with breaking words, let them do The Chunky Monkey Chop!

Breaking Words Apart Activities

Build your own Chunky Monkey Chart

Breaking Words Apart Activities

Students sort words that are already "chopped" to provide scaffolding when learning to break words apart.

Activities for Breaking Words Apart

Words that are not "chopped" can be used in literacy centers with recording sheets.

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Brain Warm Ups and Key Word Summaries

Brain Warm Ups for Guided Reading

It's time for guided reading groups.  The students come to the table, find their seats and get ready to begin.  It's time for a warm up.  A brain warm up!

Brain Warm Ups for Guided Reading

We get settled in and warm up our brains to get ourselves ready to read.  A quick review helps get us focused and is a great way to review a few skills.

Brain Warm Up Cards for Guided Reading

My youngest students might use read an ABC chart or other linking chart.   One of my first grade groups is working hard to nail down those short vowel sounds.  Those vowels can be tricky for us sometimes!  

Brain Warm Up Cards for Guided Reading


 Another way to we do brain warm ups besides linking charts is chunks and word parts.  You can print them on colored paper and put them on a ring.  Then run threw the word parts quickly with your group.


Short Vowel Phonics Posters
I also keep a notebook with posters in it for the students to read to warm up before reading.  These are especially good for RTI groups too.

Long Vowel Phonics Posters

Whichever way you choose to do a warm up, be sure it is quick.  One to two minutes.  You just want to get them ready for the work they are about to do.  Warm ups can be a good way to cycle back over different phonics skills to be sure they haven't been forgotten also.  Then on to the guided reading lesson!


Using Key Words to Write a Summary

Second grade has been learning how to write summaries using key words from the text.  This was a bit hard at first for my readers but we are quickly getting good at this!

Using Key Words to Write a Summary

First we practiced during guided reading by completing the beginning and middle of the story together.  

Using Key Words to Write a Summary

Then the students finished reading the story and completed summarizing the end in their Reader's Notebooks.  They wrote their key words on the side as they read and then wrote their paragraphs.


Using Key Words to Write a Summary

Another second grade group practiced summarizing a non-fiction book- Ants.  We took it section by section as natural breaking parts to the text.  We did this part together during a read aloud.


Using Key Words to Write a Summary

Seahorses was another book we read and summarized.  This time students jotted down key words on their marker boards and then used the key words to write summaries on pieces of colored chart paper.  Chart paper is very exciting to use!

Learning to pick out the important words helps students to summarize, learn important vocabulary, and then write about the text in their own words rather than copying out of the book.  This is one of the easiest ways for students to practice this important but difficult skill in an easy and fun way.

This week, students are going to choose their own non-fiction book to read and summarize.  I am going to do a Book Tasting event with them to help them choose a book!  They are going to love it!  They've each been promised their own chart paper to use and then display the summaries.  It is fun to see their excitement about our next project!




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Getting Sight Words To Stick!

Sight Word Activities that work!


We all know how important knowing sight words is to our students and their reading success.  Getting those sight words to become automatic and stick with them in their little brains can take a bit of work sometimes!  

I use a multi-sensory  sight word approach during our guided reading time coupled with a sense of urgency that keeps the activities quick.   You don't want to eat up too many minutes of your guided reading time to do them.  And by keeping the activities quick, you are hopefully building in automaticity with your students.

Sight Word Activities that work!

The routine I use during guided reading comes from Jan Richardson and her book The Next Step in Guided Reading.  I do not use this for all groups and as always, I tweak it to fit me and my students.

1.  Play What's Missing

Sight Word Activities that work!

For the groups that need it, we write 3 sight words quickly at the beginning of guided reading.  This should be quick and automatic as it is to be sure they remember words they have learned.  After reading we play What's Missing with a new sight word.  Because it is quick for me, I grab an iPad and use that for this activity.

I show the students the new sight word, we read it and then talk about "What Do You Notice".  I want to build their visual memory of the letters and what the word looks like. For the word look, I would want them to notice the ook chunk, double oo in the middle, begins and ends with tall consonants, looks like the word book, etc....  And I don't use capital letters- for some reason that is the picture I had!

After quickly discussing the features of the word, I turn the iPad to me and take away a letter or chunks of sound depending on the student's needs that I will be calling on to tell me what's missing?  This little game is a HUGE hit with my students.  They always say they LOVE this game!  ha!

2.  Build It

Sight Word Activities that work!


Next, we each build the word with magnetic letters and run our finger under the word to do a slow check for accuracy.  If they have made a mistake, I want THEM to learn to find it, not rely on me.  Then we will Mix and Fix- just mix up the letters and build it again quickly and slow check.  

3.  Table Writing

Third, we write the sight word on the table using only our fingers.  You have to teach the students that it is important that their eyes be on their fingers so their brains can "see" the paths or lines their fingers make.  This is hard for some of them.  Not because they can't remember the letters, but some just want to look everywhere but at their finger!  We spell the word too as we write it.

4.  Write It

Now we grab our markers and erasers and quickly as we can write the word and slow check it.  

All 4 steps must be accomplished quickly otherwise you will lose a lot of time.  I quietly count down from 5 and expect them to have each part completed by the time I get to 1.  They like to try to beat me!

5.  Parental Help

ESGI to make assessments easier


Another way to helps students learn those sight words is to keep track of which they don't know using ESGI software.  Once you test the students, you can print off flashcards for each individual student to take home and practice.  Sight words are usually something manageable for parents to help their child with and they usually like to help with that.  Click the picture above to check out ESGI!

Using ESGI software to learn sight words

6.  Sight Word Pockets

Sight word activities sight word pockets

Sight Word Pockets have been AMAZING for my students!  I really like the 4 steps to learn sight words from Jan Richardson, but some of my students need more practice.  I need my students to be able to practice more than 3 words a day and to be able to cycle back to old words and run through their lists more often.  So during other times, I have the students take out their sight word pockets and do a quick run through Notice a theme of urgency?  Having my students for a very limited amount of time, everything becomes urgent!

Sight word activities sight word pockets

Students only use the words in the baggie on the left side.  As they become proficient with those words, I add from the right side.  Once a list has become mastered, I can add a new list printed on a different color.  That way, students can always cycle back to review old words.  My students need this!  Plus, this system is differentiated to every single student.  They get the word list and word cards that THEY need; the lists are not the same for everyone.  Take them where they are and move them forward.

I know some of you are getting snow!  We have not had much yet this year at all.  Here are some fun snowmen to brighten your student's day as they practice!

Snowman ABC Letter identification and matching

Snowmen capital letter matching to lower case letters and beginning sounds mittens!


Snowman CVC word building

Snowmen CVC word building with snowballs!

Snowman Blends and Digraphs Word Building

Snowmen Blends and Digraphs word building with snowballs!



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