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Summer Book Study: Goals 3 and 4

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Happy Friday! As I'm writing this, I'm reflecting on goals three and four of The Reading Strategies Book while listening to a thunderstorm. Something about reading a book you love while listening to rain just makes me so happy!

As I make my way rereading this book, I keep changing my mind on which goal is my favorite!  For today, I'll say that goal three is my favorite, but I'll probably change my mind by next week! :)  Goal three is Supporting Print Work and Serravallo talks about how children must learn to "juggle" three sources of information, which are meaning, syntax, and visual.   Just like juggling anything, it takes a lot of practice!

So many of the strategies for goal three are so effective with the students I'm used to teaching, who are at levels A-D.  Even though I had learned about several of the strategies Serravallo mentions in this section, it's always so helpful to read about them again and remind myself the why behind what the strategy is intended to teach.  Serravallo's lesson language and prompts are really helpful, too!

Here are a few of my favorite strategies:

Strategy 3.1: Check the Picture for Help

I feel like one of my most-used phrases as a kindergarten teacher during guided reading has always been, "Check the picture."  It seems like such a simple thing, but it's essential for young readers to understand that the pictures really are there to help them!  I think a huge part of forming young readers is helping them realize that the texts we choose for them are designed to help them, and one of the biggest ways is that we choose texts with strong picture support.  When I created these sight word mini books for my daughter, I knew that they would only be effective if they featured images that matched the text.  When we use these books, we work on looking at the picture even before putting a finger down to the first word.  

Strategy 3.18: Cover and Slide

This is a strategy for slightly more independent readers (levels E-Z+) and it helps them when they're reading an unfamiliar word part by part.  It helps them to cover up the word and then slide their finger or hand across the word.  They'll focus on the first part, then slowly slide across to focus on the parts individually.  Finally, they'll put it all together.  This strategy is a great reason to teach blends and word chunks!

Strategy 3.20: Skip and Return

This is a strategy that I've been able to use with some of my more advanced kindergarteners.  When a child is really stuck on a word, it can be relieving to him or her to know that it's okay to skip it and come back!  Reading the rest of the sentence gives us more meaning that we can use to help decode the tricky word.  

When I was in college, I feel like fluency was difficult for me to understand.  It wasn't until I student taught with 2nd and 4th graders that I really began to understand the importance and idea of fluency. Here are a few of my favorite strategies for fluency:

Strategy 4.6: Punctuation at the End of a Sentence

This strategy reminds students to pay attention to the ending punctuation.  I've always loved working with my students on punctuation because of the way they raise their voices when they read a question!  

Strategy 4.11: Make Your Voice Match the Feeling

With this strategy, encourage your students to think about how the character is feeling.  This is a great strategy to model first during a read aloud.  One of my favorite book series is the Pigeon series by Mo Willems, and I think that any of those books would be great for modeling this!  

Fluency Phone for Feedback

If you use fluency phones, then you know how much students love them!  I love that they are great for allowing the student to really focus on how their voice sounds when they read.  During guided reading, I always have my students whisper read and these help them not get so distracted by everyone else's reading.  You can use some of the prompts Serravallo suggests, such as, "Really try to hear yourself." (Pg. 119, The Reading Strategies Book)  The first few times they use the phones it might seem silly, but if you use prompts and help your students really focus, they can be very effective!  I have these Toobaloo phones, but you can find tutorials online for making them out of PVC piping!

Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to read my thoughts and favorite strategies!  Be sure to check out the other blogs that have linked up with Teaching Little Miracles!

On My Own! {Mini Math Activities for Kindergarten - Set 1}

I'm SO excited to announce a brand-new resource that I just added to my store!

I love creating activities for kids to do during those times when they are working independently at school.  My morning work tub activities have been so much fun to create because I know kids enjoy doing them and they help ensure your students are engaged with meaningful tasks.  

My newest creation is a new series called "On My Own!".  They are designed to be used by students independently, such as during math center time or as an early-finisher task.  Within the series, each set will have 16 activities that cover four kindergarten math skill areas.  So, there are four games per skill.   They are extremely versatile!  

*They are non-thematic and can be used at any point in the school year.  
*You can use just the activity portion (i.e. don't print the label/instruction cards) as guided math activities, partner activities, or activities to send home for reinforcement!

Although I taught half-day kindergarten, I started my career as a kindergarten special education teacher.  I wish I had this resource back then!  Special education teachers need activities like these that don't have a lot of "fluff" (such as distracting thematic clip art) and are highly focused on one particular skill.  For special education teachers, math intervention teachers, and math specialists, these are perfect to grab for quick skill practice or assessment!

I'm on the plastic photo case bandwagon (who isn't?!) and I designed these so that they fit into those photo cases. Please note that you do not have to buy a photo case to use these activities!  :)  I feel very strongly that although we love neat organizational tools, you shouldn't feel pressured to buy something pricey to make an activity possible in your classroom!  These also fit into pencil boxes or pouches, zipper baggies or envelopes, or plastic shoe boxes and bins.  

Within the resource on TpT, I go into more detail about how to prepare the activities.  Basically, for each activity, there's a label card, an instruction card, the activity itself, and either a recording page or a practice page.  Some of the activities require a recording page, but others do not.  For activities that work without a recording page, I included practice pages just in case you need an evidence of learning tool.  

If you're using the plastic photo boxes or a pencil box, you can laminate and cut out everything.  Then, I used these hook-and-loop sticky-back dots to stick the label on the front of the lid and the instruction card on the back of the lid.  If you do this, you can change out the activities as often as you like!  You can just buy one of the photo cases and store the activities in baggies or envelopes when not in use.

These activities don't require very many materials, but here is a list of materials needed and recommended.  (If you want links to materials, they are at the bottom of the post!)

This specific set includes activities that cover the following four skill areas:

1. Numbers to 10

2. Numbers 11-20

3. Writing Numbers to 10

4. Writing Numbers 11-20

Finally, I've had a few questions about what other activities I'm planning to make and whether there will be a growing bundle available.  I can tell you that yes, I'm going to make a growing bundle of the activities.  My current plan is to make five sets, each with 16 activities.  Set 1 is completed, and I'm working on a calendar of when the remaining sets will be completed.  Depending on the feedback I receive and what additional skills you tell me you need, I am open to creating sets beyond those five.  I will make an announcement when the growing bundle is available!  

Just a side note:  If you want to purchase Set 1 to get a head start on preparation, but want to purchase the growing bundle when it's available, you can contact TpT for a refund for your purchase of Set 1 once you buy the growing bundle. :)

I am SO excited to share these activities with you and your students.  I hope they are helpful!  You can click on the image below for more information.

Here are affiliate links to specific items so you can see what I used:  Plastic spinnersColor-sided diceRed & Yellow double-sided countershook-and-loop sticky dotscolorful cardstockPlastic photo case

Unicorn Letter Tracing Cards Freebie

Happy Monday!  I am just popping in quickly to share a fun freebie with you today!

My daughters (ages 2 and 5) are really into anything magical right now.  I found this ADORABLE unicorn clip art by Creating4 the Classroom and wanted to create some magic for my girls!

I mixed white sand and white glitter (both from Hobby Lobby) and put it into a plastic container.    Then, I made these letter cards and printed them on cardstock.

The container worked great for my five year-old.  I put the sand/glitter mixture on a paper plate for my two year-old so she would have more room.

Although I'm using these at home with my own kids this summer, these would work great at school as a center activity, early finisher activity, or morning work tub addition. 

Grab these letter cards for FREE!  Just click on the image below. Enjoy!

Summer Book Study: Goals 1 and 2

It's week two of our book study of The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo!  I'm excited to share my thoughts on goals one and two.  Goal one is about supporting pre-emergent and emergent readers, and goal two is about teaching reading engagement.

As a former kindergarten teacher, I am always excited to read about ways we can support our very youngest readers.  In Goal One, Serravallo addresses what research says about when we should begin focusing on decoding words and working toward conventional reading.  Although our standards are tougher than ever before, Serravallo reminds us that early childhood research asserts that although we can get many children reading earlier than ever before, that may not be best for every child.  We have the responsibility of meeting children where they are.  Furthermore, there are many meaningful activities we can and should do with children before they are ready for conventional reading.  Establishing a child's engagement and desire for reading is critical at this young age!

I've chosen three strategies from Goal 1 to share with you today!

Strategy 1.1: Finding Treasures in Books

I picked this strategy because it's PERFECT for the beginning of the school year!  I think it would be a perfect activity for the first week of formal guided reading groups.  To use this strategy, you'll compile a variety of books.  Then, your students will explore the books and find treasures that interest them!  For kindergarten, these treasures might be an interesting picture, a word they know, or even a letter from their name.  Your students can keep track of their treasures by writing or drawing them on a mini whiteboard or piece of paper.  I created a template you can use for this activity, and it's available for free in this download.

Strategy 1.4: Pictures as Stepping Stones

I LOVE this activity because it helps reinforce that a) pictures have meaning and b) the pictures in a book connect to the text and can help us as readers.  Emergent readers will be reading books with strong picture support, so I love using this strategy to reinforce that knowledge.  Serravallo explains that the pictures in a book connect to make a story in a similar way as the text does.  You can use the pictures as "stepping stones" to tell a story.  This works great for a book a student has already read, or you could use an unfamiliar text to try to be a storyteller!

This strategy would be a fun partner activity in kindergarten.  You could pair students who read the same text or different texts, or you could let each student try it out with a new book.  It gives students a great opportunity to work on their communication and speaking skills, so it would be a good activity for any time of the school year, but especially the beginning!

Strategy 1.5: Word Treasure Hunt

Here's another treasure-themed activity!  This activity is great for reinforcing that words have meaning and that it's our job as a reader to find the meaning.  It's also perfect for reinforcing concepts about print.  To use this strategy, students first read the pictures and then they go back and hunt for any words or letters they know.  Then, you can put the words or letters on a chart.

Serravallo provides great teaching prompts for this strategy that work great for young readers.  Students will be excited to think of words and letters they know as treasures!

As I said before, you can write the letters and words on a chart.  Students may also want to write them on their own.  I made a quick treasure-themed page you could use for this, and it's a freebie in this download.

In Goal 2, which is about teaching reading engagement, Serravallo reminds us that "engagement is everything" (pg. 44, The Reading Strategies Book).  Children must have meaningful and positive experiences with books from a young age.  They must have opportunities to interact with text in an on-task, strategic, and social manner on many occasions.

Strategy 2.1: A Perfect Reading Spot

This is another great strategy to keep in mind for back-to-school time.  With this strategy, you will lead a conversation about what makes the perfect reading spot for each of your students.  Is your perfect reading spot quiet or loud? Bright or dim? In your chair or on a pillow?  You can create a chart or a drawing of your classroom and talk about the characteristics of each possible reading spot. Then, you could provide each student with a sticky note with their name on it and let them stick their note on a spot on the drawing that would be their ideal reading spot.  

This strategy is pretty simple, but it's important to remind children that finding a spot that helps them focus while reading is a good idea.  Also, remind your students that their spot is flexible and might change based on the amount of other children reading in one area, etc.

Strategy 2.7: Prime Yourself with Prior Knowledge

This strategy caught my eye because it's one I tried to use frequently in kindergarten.  I believe that establishing prior knowledge at the beginning of a lesson can make a huge difference in students' engagement.  It can be done in whole-group, small-group, or individual settings, and can take just a minute.  Especially for reluctant readers, this strategy can help set students up for success with whatever you're teaching!

Strategy 2.9: Most Desirable/Least Desirable

If you're familiar with The Daily 5™, you probably know a lot about this strategy already!  Use this strategy as a way to show students what it looks like to be a disengaged reader vs. an engaged reader.  This is another essential strategy for the beginning of the year!

With my kindergarteners, I could always guarantee they would laugh when I showed them what I looked like as a disengaged reader.  I would sit sideways in my chair, look bored and tired, and act really distracted.  Even children with little experience with reading knew that I was not in a good position for reading.  They were very eager to show me what it looks like when we're focused on reading.  What does our body look like?  Where are our eyes?  Are we talking or silent?  Then, we practiced this skill over and over again by going to a reading spot and practicing what good reading looks like.  I find this strategy to be highly effective!

Next week we will discuss goals three and four.  It's not too late to hop on board with us!  If you don't already have the book, click here to buy it from Amazon.  You can even rent it from Amazon!  

 If you need to go back and read last week's post about the Getting Started part of the book, here's the link:

Are you already reading along?  Leave a comment telling me your favorite strategy from goals one and two!

Check out the other blog posts about these goals!  Thanks to Teaching Little Miracles for hosting!

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