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A Closer Look At Characters

Character Trait Changes and Development Anchor Chart

I don't know about your students, but mine seem fascinated by the changes characters can go through in a story!  We have been having some great discussions about this.  I use that roller coaster visual to help them "see" the changes and it really helps.

Books for Character Trait Changes and Development

We started off with Finklehopper Frog- great story about a frog wanting to fit in with his friends, but he gets made fun of and feels left out.  I always love those moments when my students react the way they do when a character is mistreated in a story.  They are so empathetic and look as if it almost hurts THEM when the character gets their feelings hurt.  LOVE that!  

Word Choice Anchor Chart Dollar Words

We stop part way through the story and brainstorm some character trait words.  I do a lot of talking about Dollar Words and Penny Words in my classes.  I teach the students to be mindful of word choices.  Again, the visuals truly help- dollar vs penny.

Word Choice Anchor Chart Penny Words

It is funny how quickly the students realize when they use a penny word and want to switch it out for a dollar word!  They also like coming up with new dollar words that we haven't used.  Great for their writing and vocabulary development too!

Books for Character Trait Changes and Development

After we constructed our character changes anchor chart together, we were ready to do a little more independent work on our own.  Chrysanthemum follows the same pattern of character changes that Finklehopper Frog does, so we tackled this one next.

Character Trait Changes and Development Activity

I had the students fill in the visual roller coaster first.  Then they went back and used that visual chart to help them prove the evidence.  Being able to provide evidence is a huge step!  The students inferring and deeper understanding is amazing.  They surprised me at how some of the understood that when Chrysanthemum went home, her parents tried to push her up the coaster hill with their encouraging words and actions, but each time she went back to school and was made fun of, Chrysanthemum would slide back down into that valley.  They totally understood that back and forth until there was a change at school with the other characters' behavior! 

Character Trait Changes and Development Activity

You can grab a chart like these by clicking here or on either of the two above pictures if you are also working on character changes.  Hope your kids love it like mine have!

Story Retelling Puzzles

Story Retelling Puzzles-Includes recording sheets


Alternative Seating & RTI Interventions

Alternative Seating Hokki Stools

I've got some wiggly little ones.  I bet you do too!  Several of my students have a hard time keeping their pockets down on the chair and not moving all over the place.  After a lot of research into alternative seating, I decided to give it a try and see if it helps my distracted students.

Alternative Seating Hokki Stools

These are Hokki stools and so far I am loving them.  They are curved on the bottom, which allows for some movement while sitting.  I will say the very first day my most wiggliest students were moving on these stools like crazy.  I wasn't sure that I had made a good decision.  I wanted to help my distracted students, not make the distractions worse!  Now as the new is wearing off, I think it is going to be a good fit.  Everyone but the most wiggly is doing well with them.  For those that just cannot sit still and want to spin, guidelines will have to be set.  These seats are going to give students more room at my table, help them to sit tall and not lean on the table, and provide an appropriate way for them to still get in some movement while staying in their area and continuing to learn!

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

Our new alternative seating will be getting a good work out during RTI.  A new resource for RTI time is this Blends & Digraphs Intervention Binder.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

I love to use sounds linking charts with my students, whether it is an ABC chart, cvc charts or this blends & digraphs chart.  We read it forwards, backwards, row by row, I call out a sound, etc...  Readers who have difficulty often need to go over these sounds daily for them to become automatic.


Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

My goal is to move students from individual sounds to chunks of sounds.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

I want the students to put the sounds together in chunks and for some that takes practice.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

During RTI, some students need to practice these sounds everyday.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

Moving students from practicing words right into sentence reading is important.  I want them reading in context.

Blends and Digraphs Intervention Binder for RTI

Then students can get in some practice with their fluency and comprehension.  

CVC Interventions Binder for RTI

The Blends and Digraphs Interventions Binder is a companion to this CVC Intervention Binder.  Just click the pictures or colored words to be taken to see them.  


Feeling Groovy on Family Literacy Night!

Family Literacy and Math Night Ideas

We were Feeling Groovy for our Family Literacy and Math Night!  Our Family Night is the same night as Scholastic book fair so we used the same theme they were using for our school literacy night- Feeling Groovy!

Family Literacy and Math Night Ideas

One of the really great things about our Family Night is our prize drawing table.  We had scooters, Kindles, a Chromebook, 2 drones, gas gift cards and of course books to give away!  

Family Literacy and Math Night Ideas

We set the scooters up ahead of time so the students could see them and get excited about coming that night to enter the drawing.

Family Literacy and Math Night Ideas

We had a drawing bucket set up for the student drawings and one set up for the parents.  There was a lot of buzz around this table!

Family Literacy and Math Night Ideas

I did the Bingo For Books for my activity again this year.  This is a student and parent favorite!

Family Literacy and Math Night Ideas

I like to have all the cards and Bingo chips already out at the tables so families and just sit down and start playing, even in the middle of an existing game.  If they had to wait for cards and chips they might not be as eager to just jump right in.  Families come and go from this table all night.

Family Literacy and Math Night Ideas

We didn't clear our cards between Bingos.  I let them just keep playing.  This night was all about getting books in to families hands to take home.

Family Literacy and Math Night Ideas

There was a groovy van for our photo booth and groovy table decorations too!


We also had math games and activities going this night too.  It is so much fun to see our families come out for this night.  They get a free meal for the whole family, get to play Bingo where everyone can win a book to take home, play math games and visit the book fair!  


activities for beginning sounds

Back in the classroom, students are working had on those sounds and being able to link them to the correct letter.  Sounds Task Cards really come in handy for RTI, literacy centers, small group times, etc...  I use sound boxes for scaffolding all the time with my students and these are on the cards too.  You can use beginning sound task cards.

activities for end sounds


activities for hearing middle sounds


activities for hearing blends and digraphs

And blends/digraphs.  They are also available in a bundle for less!

Sight Word Games for Active Learners


My sight word activities this year have included a lot more movement for my active learners.   Learning our sight words has been a bit more of a challenge for some of my kindergartners.  A few are struggling to learn and keep those sight words learned.  This group is also a very active and mobile bunch so I have switched things up to accommodate their learning style.  They are loving it!

One of their favorite sight word games to play and that they ask for is Pass the Plates.  I write the sight words they are working to learn onto paper plates.  The newest word or the word they are struggling with the most to learn gets a sticker.    The students stand in a circle with the plates face down, one plate per student (or you can do less if you like).  Play some music or set a timer for a few seconds.  The students pass the plates in a circle.  When the timer goes off, they turn over their plate and read their word.  The child that has the plate with the sticker is out.  Continue playing until you have one winner, taking out plates as you lose students.  You can have several small circles going at once if desired.  The kids really do like this game and they get to read their words over and over.


My friend, Tammy at Forever in First, gave me this idea of sight words on labels.  You can stick them on the students heads or backs so they can't see their word. 


They have a list of their friends' names.  Then they walk around reading and writing the sight words from their friends beside the correct name.  I have everyone read their list so they can figure out which word is on their own back or head.  


This idea came from another bloggy friend, Barb at Grade ONEderful.  I write sight words on the board.  The kids walk or dance around to the music.  When I stop the music, I call out a sight word from the board.  They write it on their clipboards and then it all starts up again. 


After we have all the words called out, I call out the words and the students check them off of their clipboard list.  I'm sure you know just getting to use clipboards raises the engagement level right there!


Another fun one is Sight Word Races.  Two students stand with their backs to the easel where I have written sight words.  I call out a word and the students turn to see who can find the word  and get it erased first.   You can have a student call out words so more students are involved at a time.


One last active sight word game is our Sight Word Walk.  All I did was write the sight words on bright index cards and scatter them around the room in a circle.  I added fun cards like move ahead two, switch with a friend, go back one, etc...  


I rolled big dice and everyone moved that many cards forward and read the word they landed on for that number.  Roll again, count and move forward and read again.  

These sight word games have all been a lot of fun and get the students up, moving and learning!



Strategies for Improving Fluency

using phrases to improve fluency

We do a lot of work during RTI to strengthen and improve reading fluency in our students.  For students who struggle with reading, fluency can be a major block for them.  I have made it a goal to work on improving fluency in both RTI groups and my guided reading groups.  

One way to help this problem is working with phrases.  You can find fluency phrases or you can make your own.  One of the best ways is to take passages from your students' reading and use phrases right from there!  No hunting in other places needed- you've already got what you need- so just use that!

Write some of the phrases you find naturally in the passages on to sentence strips.  Then draw an arrow underneath each phrase.  Have student practice reading as they slide their finger across the arrow to remind them to keep reading without pausing until they get to the end.  Students can practice this way (instead of word by word reading) until they are ready to remove the finger sweeping across and replace that with just their eyes sweeping across the strip. Read it without stopping.  

using phrases to improve reading fluency

Another effective way to improve fluency is highlighting the phrases inside the passages.  I have found that some students can almost naturally find where they need to pause for a phrase.  It also teaches them to pay attention to the punctuation.  But for some students, they just don't hear where to naturally pause.  So we highlight together for a while.  Then I turn the highlighters over to them and with guidance they highlight the phrases themselves.  Always trying to work towards not needing the highlighting because ultimately they will not have the highlighting on tests.  They must work towards independence.

Fluency Strategies and Activities

I refer to this speech bubble all the time in my class when we talk about fluency- Reading sounds like talking!

no prep just print cvc intervention binder for RTI

When you practice fluency at lower levels, add in some colorful pointers to up the engagement!

RTI Lesson Plans and Resources

We've got a short week this week for RTI due to having this Friday off.  We will be working on our fluency strategies along with these other activities too.  Just click the links to see the resources:










Bridging the Way Back Into RTI Tier I

bridging the way back into Tier I in RTI

On this RTI journey, we have learned a lot of things.  We meet as a committee after each cycle to decide whether students have made enough progress to move back into the classroom for Tier I instruction.  Sometimes that decision is clear and an easy one to make...sometimes not so much.  

If the student has made good progress in Tier II, scored well on the our reading assessment (DRA 2), and is performing in the classroom we want them to go back into Tier I.  But sometimes our committee has difficulty removing RTI supports from students because they do not want them to slide back into needing more help.  

This year, we have begun a program I call Bridge Kids.  Bridge Kids provides a "bridge" back into the classroom, but still continuing some of the supports of RTI.  A few times a week during RTI, the classroom teacher provides instruction for the bridge kids in the areas they are working to improve.  For example fluency.  Then once a month, instead of the Tier II and III once a week, I provide an assessment for the Bridge Kids to take to monitor their progress.  I try to provide as much as I can to lessen the load of the classroom teacher, but still provide the student with SOME support.  As Bridge Kids improve, they will be moved on to the next skill.  If they are not improving, I will meet with the teacher to decide what we need to make adjustments in...different teaching methods, change the intervention, increase the time, etc...  This is going to really help our students that were on the bubble of being able to handle having less support!

How to organize and graph RTI data


fun sight word activity

We've been having fun with our sight words!  You may remember seeing this game in the past with hiding a monster.  This month we played Where Are the Hearts?  Hearts or whatever monthly picture you want to use are hidden behind sight word cards.  Students choose a word they can read & lift the card to see if the hidden heart is behind it.  They love this game!


RTI Reading Intervention Lesson Plans and Resources

Both of my RTI groups are off to a good start.  We are a week into it and showing progress.  Here are the resources pictured above.  Click on the pictures to be taken to the resources.

CVC word work intervention binder for RTI

blends and digraphs activities

open syllable multisyllabic word activities