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My Seed Book

Seed book for collecting story ideas for writer's workshop

Seed books... No, not for planting in the garden.  But for planting seeds of thought for writing during writer's workshop.

We've all had that student that cannot think of a thing to write about during writing time, but they come in almost every morning with some huge story they MUST tell you right away.  Like how they were playing outside last night and saw this cool snake and chased it away or on the way to school that morning their baby sister got sick and threw up all in the car and Mom was NOT happy!

Well, this is a great way to help those students and all our students to collect those story ideas for later so they don't forget them.  

Seed book for collecting story ideas

Whenever your students come in with this great exciting tale, ask them to jot a few key words (after modeling this in a lesson first of course) in their seed book.  Then they can get the seed books out when they feel like they don't have anything to write about that day.  This boy's key words were Florida, swim, and ocean for one idea.  His other idea on this page was wrestling guys. These two ideas have great promise to make a couple of wonderful stories!

Seed book for collecting writing ideas

This girl loves her kitty, but he runs away.  This would make a great story about feelings. 

The booklet I used for the seed book and the pencils are all from Palomino Pencils.  I was able to try out some of their products and I must say they really are great!  The pencils sharpen well without breaking and have really good erasers that actually erase without leaving those black smudges.  The colored pencils were smooth and they even have fancy pencils for rewarding students.  You need to check them out!

R-E-A-D Monday Made It

painted and scrapbook wooden letters

I teach reading, so of course, my room is all about the word "READ".  I decided to add these letters to my decor this year.  My room is in blues, greens, and a bit of pink.  I kept this theme when making these letters, except I used purple instead of pink. 

scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, acrylic paint, paint brushes

These are the materials that I used.  I bought scrapbook paper, acrylic paint, Mod Podge, and brushes.  It was really very simple- which is just what I like!

wooden letters that I painted and added scrapbook paper to using Mod Podge.

I bought the letters at Hobby Lobby.  Some people use wooden letters.  These are more like layers of thick cardboard put together.  It makes them lighter than the wooden letters.  I have a hard time getting things to stick on our walls at school.  Maybe the type of paint?  Anyway, I think I will be more successful getting these letters to stay on the wall than the wooden ones.

I painted both sides and all edges of the letters.  You want them painted in case when you cut the paper you have an edge that doesn't quite cover everything.  They look nice just having them painted, even without the paper on them!

Wooden letters that I painted.

After the paint dries, turn the letters over and trace them on the back of the paper you have picked out.  Cut out the paper letters.  Then apply a layer of Mod Podge on the wooden letters and carefully place your cut out paper letters on top and smooth out.  Allow them to dry and then apply a layer of Mod Podge on the top on the paper.  If you have any edges where the paper hangs over, you can trim them off using a small Exacto knife.  

My kids are going to love this colorful reminder to what my room is all about! I can't wait for them to see them on the wall in my room.

I want to thank Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for letting me join in again on her Monday Made It!  I have gotten a late start on this fun, but I have really enjoyed it!

Comprehension Cubes and Beach Balls

I use comprehension cubes and balls to build comprehension skills.

We all know that kids like to throw things, right?  I have even written a post about how we throw beach balls around in my classroom (click on here to read about this fun idea if you missed it before).

How about throwing or rolling balls and cubes to build comprehension skills?  These really are great to use!  The comprehension balls go with fictional stories and most of the cubes go along with informational books.

Comprehension balls that students toss to practice comprehension skills.

Of course, you can't see all the spaces in a picture.  But these comprehension balls have questions that go along with the common core for reading literature.  Some of the questions are:

What is the title and who is the author?             My favorite part was ...
Who are the main characters?                                The setting was ...
What is the setting?                                                     The main characters were ...
What happened in the story?                                  In the beginning ...
How did it end?                                                              In the middle ...
What is your favorite part?                                    At the end ...

But my favorite are the comprehension cubes!  They are great for addressing some of the common core on reading informational text.

Using comprehension cubes with informational text to build comprehension skills.

There are too many questions on the cubes to write them all for you but some of the questions that I like are:

Tell about the words you learned.
Tell why you liked or disliked this story.
What would I like to know more about from this book?
What topic did the author write about?
Where could I go to learn more information?
From the photos and illustrations, I learned ...

These cubes and balls can be used in a whole group setting after reading a book or they can be used in small groups.  You could even use them in literacy centers.  They are just another way to get in comprehension practice, but in a different way than normal.  I like to mix things up a bit and keep it interesting for the students!  I'm pretty sure they like it anytime they get to throw gently toss things in class!

Twitter Linky

Do you use Twitter to connect with other professionals?  Twitter is another great way to connect with other teachers.

I have been on Twitter for a while now.  But I must admit, I am still learning about it!  I send out "tweets", but I know I am not using it like I could be.  

So I thought I should join this Twitter Linky and learn!  Isn't that what teachers do?  We know we want to do something better so we learn from the people who can teach us!

Join in the linky with me!  If you haven't signed up on Twitter, why not start now?  Then join up and learn with the rest of us!  

You  join up with the linky and post your Twitter link so we can all follow each other.  Read all the great tips that are being posted so you can learn more about Twitter and how it can best help you to connect!

Come follow me and some of the great people I follow! 

Twitter Linky

I Love To Read Frame

I love to read frame to take pictures of students in

I have been seeing these cute 1st day of ... frames, but I am not super creative.  Have you seen some of those Nailed It! pictures where people try to make something they have seen on Pinterest that is oh so cute and lovely?  Then they try to make it and it turns out messy, looking like a 2 year old made it and all horrible- like a train wreck?

Well, that is what I am always afraid will happen when I try to make something!  But my friend, Tammy over at Forever in First, sparked an idea for me that I thought I just might, maybe be able to do.  She made a 1st Day of School frame and you can see this cute creativity here.  

I teach reading, so I don't have students on the first day.  But I like those frames!  So I made one, but made it to fit my situation and need.  

I will be using this frame to take pictures of my students.  I will have them hold up the frame and get their picture looking through it.  I can't wait to see my students' sweet little faces looking back at me through a frame that says they like to read!!

Then the pictures will go up on the wall or bulletin board attached to their work that is being displayed.  I find that pictures of students with their work creates more interest in the bulletin board.  

When I get pictures taken and  put up with the students' work, I will have to take more pictures of that to show you!  But for now, I am going to just enjoy that my frame turned out okay and hopefully isn't going to make it into one of those Nailed It! pictures!  :)

Tara at 4th Grade Frolicks has Monday Made It and I am joining in on the fun!  See the other great crafts made by clicking on her button below.  Not a Nailed It it the whole bunch!  

Back to School Assessments

Binders holding all my kindergarten data in one place

We are already back to school!  Which for me means lots of assessing to do to find out where students are so we can get them moving forward.  I do the kindergarten and first grade beginning of the year assessments.  For kindergarten, I will be assessing them on letter identification and sounds, print concepts and phonemic awareness.  

I have put together a binder this year to keep all that data together in one place for each class. 

Each binder will have data organized by whole class so that I can see in one snapshot what the entire class might be low on.  

Also, I will include scores for each individual student to help the classroom teacher and myself differentiate to reach students in their low areas.  Click on the picture below to see the new sheets I am using the year.

Keeping all the assessment data in one place

I cannot wait to use this new system.  It is going to save me so much time having all my data together.  I will assess the students at the beginning, middle, and end of the year to see the progression.  

I also bound my letters this time for students to flip through as I assess them.  The letters will not get lost or out of order now.

letter identification and identifying sounds

It was actually a lot of fun putting these binders together.  And this is what made it fun- my new binding machine from My Binding!  Tarragon contacted me and asked about sending me something for my class to try out.  That was a definite yes from me!!

comb binder

I was so excited when these two boxes showed up on my front porch!  We have a binder in our school, but it is down 2 l-o-n-g hallways and not always in its place.  I knew I could put this one to work!

This binder was so easy to use!  I got my assessment binder copied, placed a few pages in the binder at a time, and pushed down on the handle.  So simple!  

comb binder

This binder is light, but sturdy and not at all big and clunky like our old binder.  It even has a way to lock the comb open while you add your papers.  That was a very handy feature!  There are white combs and clear combs instead of just plain black.  It will be great having my own binder and combs in my room to use whenever I need one!  You need to check out their products. Among many other items, they have 3-ring binders, comb binders, laminators, shredders, etc... Click here and it will take you right to their website.

You Know It's Back To School

How You Know It's Back to School linky party

Jeannie from Kindergarten Lifestyle is hosting a fun linky party about how we can tell it is back to school time!  

Many of us are already back to school and many are preparing for this.  At my school, students began on Thursday.  I love the look of shiny floors and sweet little faces searching for their new classrooms!

New Crayola Crayon smell and rainbow of colors

There is nothing like a new box of Crayola Crayons at the beginning of the year!  I remember getting them as a kid and loving those crayons all lined up and sharpened so neatly.  I am a bit of a neat freak, so I loved the uniformness (is that a word??) of all the crayons being in perfect lines and the tops all sharpened the same and matching in length.  Each year the colors were just so beautiful.  Almost made me want to keep them that way and not use them!

having to wear shoes going back to school

First thing I do when I come home is kick off my shoes.  I like to be barefoot in the house.  So I go a lot of the summer time with out shoes, just slipping some on as I go out the door.  Come school time I have to get used to having my shoes on all day long again!  

We would love to know how you know it's back to school too!  Here is how: grab the graphic at the top of my post. Save it and open in Word or PowerPoint. Then insert a text box and write how you would finish it.... then save as a jpeg!...... Do you own brief post on your blog.  You can link up on Jeannie's blog by clicking here or on her blog button below.

Alphabet Arcs

using abc arc to match letters in book

Alphabet arcs...The alphabet written or placed in an arc shape to help students learn their abcs.  You can find printed abc arcs to use individually for students at their desks.  Or you can use magnetic letters on your easel for a literacy center.  I like to use the arcs with books since I try to tie everything I teach into real reading activities.  

There are many different ways to use the arc with abc books.

-  match capitals in book to capitals in arc
-  match capitals in book to lower case in arc
-  find letter in book on arc and name the letter that comes before it
-  find letter in book on arc and name the letter that comes after it
-  place some of the letters on the arc (a, l, z) and students fill in the other 
    letters in the correct abc order

These are some of our favorite ABC books besides the favorite go-to abc book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. 

abc books to use in classroom

What ways do you use abc arcs?  Do your students have a favorite abc book that they love?  I am always looking for new books! 

Where Did Summer Go & It's Sale Time!!

Conversations in Literacy Store

Sunday and Monday are Back to School sale days at TeacherspayTeachers!!  And just in time as I head back this week.  What timing!  I have orientation on   Monday evening, teacher work days on Tuesday and Wednesday and students start on Thursday.  Wow!  Where did my summer go?  

I had all these plans of things that I wanted to accomplish this summer:

*  read professional books -Read parts of two- does that count?

*  make lots of things for my room - I did get several of those completed

*  organize my office closet- I went through and got rid of old clothes in my                                       bedroom closet, so one closet got done :)

*  work on my RtI files that I lugged home from school- almost have that completed

*  take a trip with my family- Yay, accomplished that one!  We went to South Dakota and had a great time and saw some beautiful scenery!  Who knew South Dakota could be so pretty?

Our trip to South Dakota

Now, I guess it's time to get back in school mode (do we ever really leave it?).  Be sure to visit my store for reading and writing and other fun stuff for your classroom!   Be sure you use the code from the button at the top for 28% savings!  And enjoy what is left of your summer!  :)

Conversations in Literacy store

Classroom Set Up- It's Done!

Classroom organization and Set up

Whether we are ready at my school or not, it is all about to begin!  I finished up my room and just in time as orientation for parents and students is on Monday.  I chose a theme of pink, blue, and green this year.  I usually include some shade of blue since that is my favorite color.  

First, one thing I needed to deal with was a mess that I had to leave during summer school.  I "inherited" a bunch of book bags and materials, but I didn't have anywhere to put them.  So I had to just put them up out of the janitor's way and deal with it later.  So disorganized and I HATE mess and disorganization!!

Not sure yet what I will even do with all of this, plus there is MORE not in this picture.  But until I have time to sort it all and decide what to do with it, I bought some containers to hide hold it for now. 

classroom organization

The tubs even matched my color scheme!  I like the fact that they are not clear.  Now all the stuff cannot be seen.  Now I have a neat, organized shelf and more room!  So much better!  :)

On to set up and decorating...  I wanted a reading focus wall this year.  I really like being able to put all the important reading focus in one area where students can see what skills are going to be learned that day.  

Reading Focus wall for classroom

Love word walls!  

Teacherspayteachers word wall item

Thought I had a great brainstorm...I had seen all these tutorials for making tissue pompoms.  I was going to do that, but then decided I would just buy them pre-made at Party City and save some time.  This is as far as I got as I found I do not have the patience for slowly and gently pulling up fragile tissue paper, one thin layer at a time!  I sat that back for my paraprofessional who has the patience of Job.

classroom decorating

Thankfully, I had also bought some cute circle fans and those were a piece of cake!  Yay!  I used some ceiling clips and they couldn't have been easier!

decorating in the classroom

I also added a welcome banner and wah lah!  I am done!

close up of welcome banner

TeacherspayTeachers classroom decorating set

If you are using pink, blue and green this year, this classroom set might be something you need!

TeacherspayTeachers classroom decorating set

How is your classroom set up coming along?  I would love to see pictures.  If you love to see pictures of classrooms click the picture below for a before/after linky party at Miss Nelson's Got the Camera!

classroom set up

Time for Kindergartnen is having a blog hop for classroom set ups.  Be sure to join!

Problem Solved!

Long and Short Vowels

I had a love hate relationship with word sorts!  I was introduced to word sorts some years ago and I love them.  They are a valuable tool to use in class for teaching vowel sounds, syllables,and prefixes and suffixes.  And they are very versatile.  They can be used for so many different subjects.  The hate part came when I couldn't find just what I needed.  I would look and look at the catalogs and in the stores, but I couldn't find the kind of sorts that were "just" right.  

Well, I have finally solved that problem, thankfully!  I have made my own!    And that is an empowering feeling to be able to solve that problem.  I can't wait for my class to be able to begin using them.  :)

If you have never taught with words sorts, this is how to use them.  I use words sorts using vowel sounds and chunks.  It is so important for reading that students be able to see patterns in words like cvc, silent e, and chunks in words.  So that is what we sort for.  

You can choose whether to have students do an open sort or a closed sort.  Meaning you can have them discover the rules for sorting or  you can give them the rule for how to sort that day's words.  You may want to give younger students the rule for the first few times.  

Long and Short Vowels

Students then either individually or in groups cut apart the word boxes and glue them on the word sort page.  They must also write in the rule they are using for the sort.  The last part is the transfer step and it is SO important.  The teacher would say a word out loud, but not showing how to write it, that fits in one of the groups.  The students then use what they know about the words in groups to figure out where this new word goes and how to spell it.  It is all about the transfer step in learning!!  I also like for students to write a sentence with several of the words from the sort in it.  The sentence can be silly but must make sense.

Update:  The student word sort pages have been updated for with a fresh, engaging new look!

long and short vowel word sorts

long and short vowel word sorts

long and short vowel word sorts

Long and Short Vowels

You can have students highlight the chunks so that the chunks stand out more to them visually.  I like to have my students write the words in the boxes rather than glue them.  I have them use a colored pencil for the vowels or silent e.  

Short and Long Vowels

In this packet that I made, I have included short vowels with chunks, progressing to sorting by short vowel sounds rather than chunks.  Then the sorts move to long vowel silent e words, with finally having short vowel words mixed with long vowel words to short.  And each lesson has the important transfer words!  I will be making the next step in these type of lessons- vowel teams.  

Below is a preview of my packet.  Included are 8 different themed word sort main pages, 24 word sort lessons, each different and increasing in difficulty, and all of it is common core aligned!  If this word sort packet can solve your problem too, like it did mine, click on the picture and it will take you to my TpT store.  :)

Short and Long Vowel Word Sort Activities

Word sorts with long and short vowels at TeacherspayTeachers

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Linky Party

Join Joy of Teaching in her Common Core Linky where you can find all kinds of great common core ideas!

Free Resources