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"How to Survive as a Firefly" FREE Book Activities!

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Earlier this month, I received a copy of the new book How to Survive as a Firefly, written by Kristen Foote and illustrated by Erica Salcedo.  This book teaches about the life cycle of a firefly in an engaging and humorous fashion.  I even learned a lot of new and interesting facts about fireflies!

I created a few activities for grades K-1 that are a perfect companion for this book.  If you teach about life cycles, the firefly life cycle is an interesting life cycle to teach.  Even if you don't have a life cycles unit, children are captivated by fireflies and this book is an enjoyable read.

The free activity pack includes a life cycle crown, a life cycle spinner book, a practice page, and vocabulary cards.  You can download your copy by clicking on the image below!

Be sure to grab your copy of How to Survive as a Firefly!

Mini Cookie Sheet Activity - First Sound Cover-Up

Hello there!  I came up with a fun little activity that my kindergartener loves!  I think it would be perfect for literacy centers or as a small group activity.

I love these mini magnetic cookie sheets and I use them for many of my morning work tub activities.  I wanted to branch out from just using magnetic letters, so I found these colorful circle magnets on Amazon and made this activity!

This activity includes ten pages of first sound isolation practice.  Basically, you'll put one activity page on a mini cookie sheet and provide magnets that match the colors in the code at the top (i.e. Q=green, etc.).  Students will use the correct color magnet to cover up all of the pictures that start with each letter.  Some of the pages have two letters and some have three.

What if you have magnets to use but they don't match mine? That's okay, because the colors are editable!  This activity is a Powerpoint file so you must open it in Powerpoint to change the colors.

Click on the picture below for more information!  

Summer Book Study: Goal 13

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It's hard to believe that we're done with our book study!  I hope you have enjoyed reading and discussing The Reading Strategies Book this summer and that you've picked up a new idea or two!

Last summer, I also wrote up some thoughts on Goal 13 and I'm going to re-share many of the same thoughts today.  I also have a few freebies over on Dropbox that work with the strategies!

"Teaching children to write well about their reading is about teaching them that their thinking about books matters.  It matters enough to take the time to write it down." 
- Jennifer Serravallo, The Reading Strategies Book

Serravallo points out that many of the strategies she discusses are aimed at upper elementary-aged readers and beyond.  It's more important for younger readers (especially in kindergarten and first grade) to read often and practice "print work, fluency, and comprehension" (pg. 351).

Strategy 13.1 - Sketch a Memory

This strategy would be perfect for the beginning of the year!  With this strategy, students are asked to recall a positive reading memory.  Then, they will draw a sketch showing details of the memory and tell what made the experience so positive.  Finally, they will write a plan for how they can have more positive reading memories.

I love this strategy because it helps students think about reading in a new way.  We think about what we read and we do comprehension activities, but how often to we think about how reading makes us feel, or replay a positive reading memory in our minds?  I love this strategy so much!

You could have students complete this strategy in a notebook or just on a piece of paper.  I also created a free and simple template for using this strategy.  I also included a half-sheet template for conferencing.  If you use this strategy, you'll want to take time to meet with each of your students so they can share their positive memory and so you can help them make their plan.  Click here to download the template!

Strategy 13.2 - Quick Stops Using Symbols

I love this strategy for so many reasons, and it uses sticky notes, which we all love!  With this strategy, readers make quick stops while reading and jot down a symbol to represent their thinking.  For example, if a student thinks a certain part is funny, they write "LOL" on a sticky note and then continue reading.

When introducing this strategy, you could focus on one symbol at a time.  You could also prepare the sticky notes with symbols ahead of time for students to use.

It's important to make sure you and your readers revisit their quick stops after reading.  Serravallo includes some great prompts you can use with your students while they read and while you are revisiting their stops.  

I made a free bookmark that can help your students remember which symbols they might want to use when they make a quick stop.  Click here to download it!

Strategy 13.6 - What Can I Do With a Sticky Note?

Here's another great strategy that uses sticky notes!  Sticky notes can be used as a tool to help us think as we read, like with the quick stops strategy.  They can help us remember what we've read, and they can help us write about what we've read after we are finished reading.  

Serravallo points out that this strategy is great for readers who are overusing sticky notes, or for a reader who is struggling to begin using sticky notes.  This strategy helps readers understand their purpose for writing on a sticky note.

To teach this strategy, you can teach a lesson about things you can do with a sticky note.  Serravallo includes a great visual on page 361 that you could use to make an anchor chart or provide as another visual tool.  For example, we can use sticky notes to write what we're thinking about as we read, or write about something we would like to talk about.  We can also draw quick pictures on sticky notes.  

This strategy goes hand-in-hand with the next strategy in the book, which is for helping students decide which of their sticky notes are worth keeping.  

I love the way you can empower your students with these strategies!  Children can really take reading into their own hands.  When readers learn the purpose for incorporating writing into the reading process, they learn that their thoughts and opinions on what they read really matter.  

I've only scratched the surface on strategies for teaching our students how to write about their reading!  I highly encourage you to read Jennifer's book for yourself and see how it can truly strengthen your reading instruction!  

I hope you've enjoyed reading about this strategy and all of the other reading strategies in this book! Be sure to check out the other bloggers who linked up with Teaching Little Miracles!  You can find the links below.

Summer Book Study: Goals 11 and 12

Hi there!  I hope you've had a good week!  Today, I'm sharing a few of my favorite strategies from goals 11 and 12 from The Reading Strategies Book.   If you've had time to keep up with our book study, that's awesome!  If not, grab the book and skim it when you have time - I guarantee it's one you'll be reaching for all year!

Goal 11 teaches strategies for improving comprehension in fiction and non-fiction texts, particularly vocabulary and figurative language.  Goal 12 teaches strategies for improving our students' conversations about comprehension.  Since my experience is in kindergarten, I'll share how I would implement these strategies in my kindergarten classroom!

"Vocabulary is the glue that holds stories, ideas, and content together...making comprehension accessible for children."
(Rupley, Logan, and Nichols 1998/99)

Serravallo reminds us that "vocabulary knowledge helps students access background knowledge, express ideas, communicate effectively, and learn about new concepts" (pg. 296, The Reading Strategies Book).  In kindergarten, the majority of new vocabulary acquisition will come from students listening to read-alouds. One of my favorite teaching moments is when I discussed the the word "scrumptious" with my students when it appeared in a read-aloud.  I told them that when they had dinner that night, they should tell their family that dinner was scrumptious.  During parent/teacher conferences a few weeks later, I had several parents say that their child was using the word "scrumptious" at dinnertime quite frequently!  It was so rewarding to see that concrete evidence of learning!

Strategy 11.3 - Insert a Synonym

In this strategy, when faced with an unfamiliar word, students are taught to insert a word they know would fit the sentence.  This strategy would be so effective in a read-aloud situation! When you come across a great new vocabulary word, read the sentence and then stop and wonder out loud, "Hmm, I wonder what that word means!"  Reread the sentence and work together to think of another word that would make sense.  I love using strategies like this one because it models to our students that it's perfectly okay to not know a word and, furthermore, how to respond to that situation.  It could be very empowering for them as they begin to read more difficult texts!

Strategy 11.6 - Look to Text Features

This strategy fits hand-in-hand with goal 10 from last week.  In the context of improving vocabulary, text features can play a valuable role.  When we're reading a non-fiction text aloud to our students, it's important to point out diagrams and photos to our students.  Then we can use them to model how to figure out the meaning of a new word.

Even our youngest students have opportunities to talk about a story they heard or read, but how often do we take the time to teach them how to have engaging, fruitful conversations?   Serravallo has lots of wonderful strategies and here a few of my favorites:

Strategy 12.1 - Listen with Your Whole Body

Showing our students what they look like when they're a good listener can make for a really fun lesson!  When showing my kindergarteners what good listening and not-so-good listening looks like, believe me, there were giggles galore when I showed them the not-so-good listening.  When you're five, seeing your teacher sitting lazily, facing the wrong way, and being totally distracted is basically hilarity at its finest!  Having them practice how their whole body looks is the way to show them that listening doesn't just involve our ears!

Strategy 12.4 - Say Back What You Heard

 This strategy teaches students to listen to what their partner/another student says. Then, they paraphrase it back and add their own thought onto the end.  For younger students, you may even leave off adding their own thought, at least at first!

Strategy 12.7 - Keep the Book in the Book Talk

I wanted to end with this strategy because I love how Serravallo discusses the importance of making text-to-self connections!  She mentions the criticism that text-to-self connections have received in recent years.  She states that a reader's personal connections and reactions to a book are critical for constructing meaning.  As long as we are bringing the text-to-self connection back to the book, this strategy can be really meaningful for readers.  As a kindergarten teacher, it's sometimes hard to stop students from sharing "personal connections" to text once they get started and sometimes, they veer off-track a little.  By being diligent and helping them connect their thoughts back to the book, we are increasing their understanding of the text.  And along with that, I believe we are increasing their desire and motivation for reading!  If our youngest students realize that they can find familiar characters and situations within text, what a powerful motivator that can be want to learn how to read!!

Thanks so much for taking a little time out of your day to read my thoughts!  I could talk about this book all day!  Next week is our last week of the book study, so be sure to check out goal 13!  Be sure to check out all of the other fabulous bloggers who linked up with Teaching Little Miracles, too!

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