Saturday, February 25, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Activity Booklets

A couple of years ago I made a point to purchase books for St. Patrick's Day. The kiddos love this holiday, in part because of the magical feeling of wearing green (as if we're all part of a secret club!) and the whimsical mischief of leprechauns and rainbows.

A popular (and free!) resource I've been using for years is my Clever Tom and the Leprechaun Cause and Effect activity. 

Over the last few weeks I've been working on more activities for my St. Patrick's Day books. I decided to create a cover page for each book and post them as "activity booklets." Of course, the pages can be used individually, but I plan on making small booklets using the pages (all things we've done in class) as a review during our small-group reading the week of March 13. 

I love the way I can differentiate the booklets for each child, so after reading the story aloud my students can work independently on whatever skill I feel they need some review with. Here are the ones I've created so far:

And then to kick the month off I'll be sending home this awesome Create a Leprechaun Trap project home for students to complete. The Book How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace is a perfect read to introduce this. On Friday (March 17) we'll test out the traps. I created a brainstorming page in which students must plan 2 traps, create a pros/cons list for each, then determine the best way to succeed before building. Nothing like a little engineering thrown in for good measure!

A few other ideas I'm planning for March include keeping a class record of the leprechaun-themed books we read and graphing if they're good/neutral/mischievous creatures. I also plan to do a ton of writing this month (it always amazes me to see how far they come from August as far as writing goes) and since it's Reading Month our school will be participating in D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read). We also have a few surprise readers coming (including a police officer and our school secretary!) which I know will thrill the kids. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Learning Carpet Vocabulary

I'm not sure if I've blogged about this before, but I have the most amazing Learning Carpet in my classroom. It doesn't sound fancy- a 100 square floor mat, but it's been an integral part of my classroom this year. My principal purchased the alphabet and number cards to go along with it and we use it for both reading and math. During Daily 5, a couple of kids will use the cards to make their spelling word lists. At the beginning of the year, I have a couple kids at a time make a 100s chart with it so I can get an idea of their number sense. This past week, our reading story was about bees and some of my early-finishers asked if they could make their robust vocabulary words on the carpet. (Yes, they asked. I'm in teacher heaven!)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Read-Aloud

In anticipation of the new movie coming out in March, I've been reading Beauty and the Beast to my students. My school-bestie picked this up for me from the book fair a few weeks ago (I don't know how I could've possibly over-looked it!) and I actually had no intention of sharing it with them, but one of my kiddos noticed it on my desk and asked if that would be our next read aloud. Scholastic recommended Grades 3-7 (ages 8-12), but since I'm reading it to them and there was a high-interest level (we voted), I decided to go for it.

Here are my thoughts on reading a higher-level book to younger readers:

1. Because of their age level in regards to the book, we watched the classic Disney cartoon on the Friday afternoon before we started the read-aloud. We discussed "painting a picture in your head" as we read, and I wanted my students to have a good idea of what was happening.

2. We also talked about how a movie plot sometimes diverge's from a book's storyline, so we make a point to stop every time that happens and discuss the differences. (For example, in the book Maurice makes music boxes, in the movie he was an inventor.)

3. I'm reading the book slow and steady. Usually I try to read a novel in a week, but since this is a 16-chapter somewhat heavy-reader, we are taking our time and reading one chapter a day.

4. We vote and make charts quite frequently in my classroom, so it was no surprise to them that each day I pose a question (sometimes from the story, sometimes a 'what would you do?', etc.) for each child to give their thoughts on. Below is an example of a picture graph we created yesterday. I think it's important that kids feel connected to the text, and if they know I'll be asking questions they'll have an even better reason to listen along.