Sharing my LOVE of Literacy!

If you can read this, thank a teacher !!

December 31, 2010

Happy 2011 !!

Here's to a happy,
healthy and prosperous
new year !

December 29, 2010

Snowmen Everywhere !!

I was at Barnes and Nobles today browsing the holiday books at 50% off and was THRILLED to find this book!

I have Snowmen at Night which I blogged about on January 7th
. Click here to read that post.

Snowmen All Year tells the tale of a boy wishing his snowman was magical. He wishes he could take him to the zoo, camping, to see fireworks, out on Halloween night and to other fun seasonal events.

The text is short and could be written on chart paper for a variety of reading aloud or cloze activities. Certain text could be covered up and a new story could be written. Then students could each have a line to illustrate for a class book.

This story also makes me want to cut out white circles for the students to make their own snowman. Then draw a snowman in a different seasons doing something fun (that is not in the book). I would love to see a snowman in a Hawaiian shirt or on a surfboard.

Here's to another great January read aloud for a snow theme!

Happy Reading!

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas !

I hope everyone is having a wonderful
Christmas !!!

Enjoy your day and
your time away from
you students!

December 19, 2010

Winter Writing

I saw this idea on The :

Unique holiday celebrations unfold when students spotlight their families’ favorite traditions. Have each child copy “Oh, what fun it is to…” near the top of plain white paper and illustrate a favorite holiday tradition in the remaining space. Then, on a sheet of writing paper, describe the tradition. Next, folds a piece of colorful construction paper in half. Keeping the fold at the top, glues the illustration on the front cover. Then, glue the written work inside it. Provide time for students to embellish their work with markers, crayons, and decorations. For added sparkle, have each child squeeze a thin trail of glitter glue around the oval on the front of her work.

The holiday song lyrics mentioned above sparked my brain for more winter writing ideas for January:

"Walking in a Winter Wonderland." - You could take your students on a winter walk and then write about it when they return.

"Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" - Have student write what they do on a snowy day!

For those middle school English Teachers, I found some winter themed songs as well!

Song for a winter's night - Sarah McLachlan
Long December - Counting Crows
Winter - Tori Amos
Hazy Shade of Winter - The Bangles
Early Winter - Gwen Stefani
California Dreaming - Mamas and the Poppas

There are lots of great lyrics from these songs. With those older students, teachers can print up or play these songs. Use visualization and connections with the lyrics. Then have the students choose one line to use as their title for some beautiful, creative writing!

Happy Writing !

December 18, 2010

The COUNTDOWN Begins !!!

One more week until Christmas!!

Four More Days with my Students !!

The Countdown Begins !

December 4, 2010

Christmas Countdown

Here is an activity I used last year. Here is the post from last year:

Christmas Countdown Activity

This year I have been teaching my students the "magic e" pattern and some of them are just not getting the concept. I am doing the counting with a lot of magic e word patterns!

Here are two pictures I took last year that I forgot to post:

This year I am counting down the days of school until winter break. There will be a few less ornaments on the tree, but the kids still like the activity.

Happy Reading !

December 1, 2010

Happy December Reading !

Here are my favorite December books from last year. Just click below:

December Read Alouds

Hanukkah Books

Jan Brett's Christmas Reindeer

Santa Read Aloud

Happy Reading!!

November 28, 2010

Two Great Blogs !!

I love reading blogs. Click below to read two wonderful first grade blogs, I discovered this weekend:

First Grade Parade

First Grader at Last

Happy Reading !

November 25, 2010



Enjoy your long weekend!
I am blessed with so many wonderful things!

Happy Reading!!

November 22, 2010

Funnies !

Some cute comics I have seen lately. Enjoy:

Happy Reading !

November 21, 2010

Story Elements

Here is another great idea from my weekly newsletter from Mailbox Magazine (Click if you want to see the website):

Understanding Story Elements

Set up three small baskets—one labeled “characters,” one labeled “setting,” and one labeled “events.” Cut out slips of paper and list a different element from the particular story you’ll be reading on each one. Then place all the slips in an envelope.

After reading the story, students draw a slip of paper. Read to the class what the slip says and talk about whether it describes the story’s characters, setting, or events. Have the child place the slip in the corresponding bin.

These baskets could then be moved to a writing center. When kids are struggling with writing, they can go to the basket and pull a slip for an idea to add to their story!

Happy Reading!

November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Read Alouds

Bring on the Turkey !!

I love this Thanksgiving book:

When Amelia Bedelia helps out with the school Thanksgiving play, she causes quite a scene. Let's all give thanks for another funny new Amelia Bedelia story!

If you like this here are a few other Thanksgiving read alouds:

Thanksgiving Read Aloud

Another Read Aloud

Happy Reading !

November 7, 2010

Turkey Tale

The letter T is coming up in my Kindergarten lessons. This is just perfect because I have a cute story and some Thanksgiving activities that fit perfect with the letter T.

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston is a counting story.

I will read aloud this book to the students and talk about the words that start with T from the story.

I will ask each student which turkey was their favorite from the story and why. Then, the K kids will make a foam turkey.

There is also a rhyming pattern. During a second read aloud, the K kids will be asked to listen for the rhyming words as part of a rhyming lesson.

Happy Reading

November 1, 2010

Role Reversal

Here is another fun idea from!

Would your students like a chance to switch roles with you? Sure they would! Try this fun role reversal.

Give each student a homework worksheet with answers, many of them incorrect. Ask that each youngster find and correct the errors on his/her page. It's surprising how excited students can get about filling your shoes.

I see so many possibilities for this idea. This activity can be done with sight word spelling practice at the primary level. A cloze activity where the "answers" are all mixed up which makes the sentences sound funny! A grammar page where the nouns are suppose to be underlined, but the verbs or adjectives are instead! This is a great way to teach students to read with detail!

I have done this in a variety of grades. I find that if you have younger students, tell them how many mistakes are on the page. I noticed with a lot of my students when they are given an editing paper with errors, they tend to over correct! For example, tell them “There are 4 spelling mistakes and three missing end marks!”

Have Fun and Happy Reading!!

October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween !

The Mouse was a hit!
Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween!!

Happy Reading!

October 29, 2010

Happy Friday !


I will be dressing up as a mouse from the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

I hope everyone has a fun filled day at school!
Good luck with all those little ghost and goblins... or as in our school's case.. storybook characters!

October 19, 2010

I Love This Book!

Scaredy-Cat, Splat!
by: Rob Scotton

First graders love this cat! I love they way they giggle when Splat is a scaredy cat! Here is another clever story about Splat! He wants to be the scariest cat on Halloween, but when the teacher tells a ghost story in the dark, Splat isn't so brave.

We are teaching text to self connections right now. This books lends itself well to talking about what scares kids. It also gets them talking about Halloween and their costumes.
I also think this book would be a great way to talk about what it means to be brave.

Happy Reading!

October 16, 2010

Halloween Read Aloud

Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler is a cute story!

A skeleton is bothered by hiccups and his friend Ghost tries to help him get rid of them.

One way I use this book with my students is to go on a word hunt because there are a lot of sight words in this book.

In first grade, we have been making text to self connections, so this story fits right in with that reading strategy. How many kids have had the hiccups? We make connections to what Mom or Dad does at home to "cure those pesky hiccups."

I write the text on chart paper, but use post it notes to cover up certain, repetitive text. After reading the book two days in a row to the students, we look at the chart paper on the third day and see if we can "guess the missing word." We also add new words to the text to rewrite the story.

A writing activity for students is to write a new recipe to cure a skeleton's hiccups. It is interesting for kids to think what kind of medicine a skeleton would take to cure hiccups. Hang these on a bulletin board called "Halloween Hiccup Cures" until November 1st and then turn them into a class book .

Happy Reading!

October 14, 2010

Halloween Read Aloud

It's that time again.. when children's questions turn to "What are you going to be for Halloween?" I always tell my kids, " It's a surprise!"

It is also the time for my favorite Halloween books!!!

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson is a cute story about some helpful animals who find "room on the broom" of a generous witch. This clever story has rhyme, repetitive text, the theme of cooperation, and beautiful illustrations.

There are a lot of fun teachable ideas that arise from this story. With first or second graders, you could write a class version choosing different animals who take a ride on the broom.

I love writing the story's pattern on chart paper, but leaving blanks to make new versions. The kids love changing the words to make the story silly or funny!

This is also a great story to turn into a Reader's Theater or make puppets for a retell.

Click below for a few more Halloween read alouds:

October 2009 Halloween Posts

Happy Reading!

October 8, 2010

Friday Funny !

I was teaching a lesson today to one of my first grade classrooms. I had just finished reading a book about Christopher Columbus. I aksed the class to tell me what new facts they were adding to their schema.

A boy said " Columbus met Indians in the new world."

I asked, " How did Columbus know they were Indians?"

He replied " They were dressed like Indians."

I could not help but crack up! The text of the book has said "Columbus thought he was in the Indies, so he called the people he met in the new land Indians." LOL !

Happy Reading!

September 26, 2010

Reading is Thinking !

This is one of my FAVORITE books to read aloud! The teacher in a first grade classroom is doing a theme about friendship. She had this book as one of the choices she asked me to read aloud. I just had to choose it! I read the story over two days.

We are practicing "Reading is Thinking" in the classroom. I finished the story on Friday and stopped a few times to check for understanding. Then I asked the students to go back to their seats and show me what they were thinking about the book. The kidos drew pictures of their thinking. I walked around and whispered "What are you thinking?" I wrote their thoughts on their papers.

We then shared our thinking! Without any prompts some studnets shared their text to self connections or their favroite parts of the story. It was great to see how different their thoughts and pictures were. Here is one example:
It just goes to show this reading teacher: First Graders are THINKING during reading! (Even when they are wiggle worms!)

Happy Reading !

September 13, 2010

Making Predictions

In first grade, there is always a wide range of ability levels. One way to have all students participate in literacy responses is through pictures.

Today I introduced the concept of predictions to my first graders. I talked about how a prediction is a guess about what will happen next in a story. I introduced the concept of a "Picture Prediction"

I read aloud the first half of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. I stopped at the part where Lilly is mad at her teacher for taking her prized possessions away. Lilly is drawing a picture of her teacher.

This is where I asked the students to think about what kind of picture Lilly was drawing when she was so mad. I modelled my own picture prediction and then I asked the students to make their own picture predictions. Their pictures were so cute. Some students put horns on the teacher and other students colored him red to show how the teacher was mad at Lilly. A few students who are writing added " Mr. Mean Teacher" to their picture.

Tomorrow we will share our pictures and talk about how close our predictions were to the story.

September 9, 2010

How to Listen to a Story

In the first grade, there is a lot to teach those little ones about reading. I taught a lesson yesterday that related to a reading procedure. Because there is such a wide range of abilities, I knew I had to use pictures for my lesson. I talked with the students about "How to Listen to a Story." We talked about the right way to listen to a story and the wrong way. Here is a picture of the poster I made for the first graders.

My favorite picture is of the boy with a zipper over his lips. LOL

Today when we reread the poster, I pointed to my eyes, my ears, and zipped my own lips with the students. Then I opened my book to read. When ever I noticed my students were not following one of the "rules" I used the hand signal, for the visual reminder for the kido to listen and refocus on the story. This worked great because it did not interrupt my flow of reading aloud!

What kind of procedures do you teach your students for reading?

Happy Reading!

September 8, 2010

In Honor Teachers

Something to remember as you go through your school day. This was in an e-mail from one of my favorite websites: (Click away for the homepage).

The ABC's of Teaching

•Actor. You prepare for each class as if it were a command performance.
•Builder. You build in the wonder and the fascination to inspire tomorrow's teachers, politicians, and parents.
•Caretaker and caregiver. Many students excel because a special person helped them along the way: a teacher.
•Director. You're in charge of your classroom.
•Enforcer. You enforce the classroom rules.
•Fighter. Sometimes you have to take a stand for what you believe is best for a child.
•Giver. You give of your time and of yourself—in and out of the classroom.
•Helper. Perhaps the most important help you give is helping students learn to help themselves.
•Instructor. Truly, this is the heart of teaching.
•Joiner. You need a support network, so you reach out to colleagues.
•Keeper. You keep track of attendance, grades, permission slips, line leaders, library books, mittens, and much more!
•Listener. Every day you listen to your students to find out what their interests are. Then you build these into your lessons.
•Magician. As you teach students to read, write, calculate, and investigate, you unlock the magic for them.
•Nurturer. You care for your students like you would care for blooming flowers.
•Optimist. You see the good things happening in schools.
•Psychologist. You're a keen observer of kids.
•Questioner. You ask your students thought-provoking questions; then you guide them in searching out the answer.
•Role model. You let your students know that you care and that you believe in them.
•Strategist. A well-planned lesson helps you get your students' attention—and keep it.
•Tutor. You give your students individual attention whenever you can. You also find times when they can tutor each other.
•Umpire. You're fair, firm, and consistent.
•Victor. You celebrate your teaching victories, and you congratulate your colleagues on their successes too.
•Writer. When you have an activity or a project that works well, you write it up and submit it to a teaching magazine!
•Xerox specialist. Who else can unjam paper?
•Yourself. Your students know and love you as a person.
•Zealot. You do your job with enthusiasm and energy—it's the most important job in the world!

Happy Reading!

September 7, 2010

Happy First Day !

Back to School!

August 28, 2010

Primary Writing Assessment

Here is a quick way to assess what your first and second students know about writing and spelling.

Give your students a blank piece of paper with two blank lines at the bottom. Tell them you are going to set a timer and give them about 4-5 minutes to write all the words they know how to spell. Tell them to make the words as neat as possible with spaces between them. Remind the students good writers do not squish words together.

*** Tell the student to leave the lines on the bottom of the page blank for the second part of this writing activity. ***

Walk around as the students do this to make quick assessments about your kidos. You can see who leaves their paper blank and who has a long list of words. I suggest if you see a kido who has a blank paper, to lean over and give them hints to look around to room for words he/she may know and to copy them.

After the timer goes off, tell the students to stop!

Next, ask the students to use some of their favorite words from their list to write a sentence on the blank lines. This will show you who remembers to capitalize the first letter in the sentence and who uses punctuation!

Now.. you have an idea what your first mini-lesson for writing should be and which kidos may need some extra support during writing!

Happy Writing!

August 22, 2010

Compare Contrast

Here is great way to kick off the school year with two fun books!

I have always loved Amelia Bedelia and how she misunderstands directions. A new book published last year has a young Amelia on her first day of school. I guess at a young age, she had trouble with misunderstanding the English language.

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School
by Herman Parish

Make a list of all the ways Amelia confused directions on the first day of school. Save this list for tomorrow's part two of this lesson.

Amelia Bedelia Goes Back to School
by: Herman Parish

Compare the cover before the read aloud to yesterday's book. Predict what kinds of things Amelia (the adult) may misunderstand. After the read aloud make a new list.

Have students take a blank piece of paper and fold it in half. Ask them to draw a child Amelia and an adult Amelia. Have them use their favorite example of the book and write a compare contrast about their pictures. They could also describe a new misunderstanding related to school if they are in an upper grade!

These books are also a great way to teach mulitple meanings!

Happy Reading !

August 16, 2010

A Blog Giveaway...

No, it is not from me... LOL.

Below is the link for some back to school giveaways. Good luck! I will be entering a few a the giveaways myself!

Click on the link below:

Teaching Heart Mom

Happy Reading !

August 15, 2010

Preparing for a Substitute Teacher

I worked as a substitute teacher for a few years. It is a challenging job! Here a a few ways to prepare your classroom for a substitute.

I read this on my favorite website and thought it was a great way to help your students prepare. Thank you for the great advice.

Planning for a Substitute Teacher

• To begin, have students share feelings about substitutes.
• Have them imagine their day with the substitute.
• Help students imagine being a substitute.
• Guide students to brainstorm hands-on ways to help the substitute.
• Finally, lead students to plan how they'll implement their ideas.

I would make a few charts to keep posted in the classroom. When you know you are going to be out, pull those chart papers out and post them back on the chalkboard as a reminder to students when they enter the room!

More Helpful Tips:

Have a "Sub Tub" for those emergency sick days! I have two or three read alouds in mine with comprehension questions and a graphic organizer for the students to complete.

Have a silent reading passage for students to complete.

Provide a photo with the students name. I use those extra classroom stickers we are given from picture day. It is great for a seating chart as well as for little notes about students that may have allergies or pull outs.

A list of the students' favorite games with directions.

An extra schedule

A list of phone numbers for the office, the nurse, your team mates!

Here is a great website that offers more tips: Substitute Teacher Ideas

Thank you TeachingHeart!

Here's to all those substitute teachers! Hope you have a wonderful year!

As always........... Happy Reading !

August 6, 2010

Back to School Read Alouds !

It is that time again! Some teachers are already back in the classroom! I hope their first day was FABULOUS! Other teachers are planning away!

Here are some first week read alouds, I have used in the past. Give them a try!

The Teacher from the Black Lagoon by: Mike Thaler
In 4th grade I read this to my students and we discussed how anxious the main character was to meet his new teacher. We made a chart of character traits that described the teacher. I used this chart as a jumping point for the students to write their own version of story.

In first grade, after reading this story make a T-chart. On one side put Mrs. Green and on the other side put your name ( or the name of the kindergarten teachers from last year ). Have the students tell you the similarities and differences of each teacher.

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
A great book for kindergarten and first grade. After reading the book, talk about how she worries about school. Have each student draw a picture of what they were worried about before school started. Have them write a sentence to go with the picture. If you are in a class of kidos who need help just write the sentence on the bottom of the page. Then have the pages displays on a bulletin board or make it into a class book!

Here are two more fun books. I have never read these, but they seem like great read alouds with a lot of great themes!

This is a great book for 2nd and 3rd graders!
Tiffani did not do anything exciting during summer vacation. She had a boring summer and is not looking forward to going back to school. When her teacher calls on her to talk about summer, she begins to tell a tall tale.

This is a great read aloud for 5th and 6th graders!
Thirteen-year-old Jackie wants to write a novel the summer before he starts high school. There's just one problem - he can't get past the first sentence. His friends are no help! Before the summer is over, everything Jackie has counted on to stay the same has changed!

Also take a look at these favorites I posted last year by clicking on the link:

More Back to School Read Alouds

Happy Back to School Reading !!

August 1, 2010

Happy August !

Some teachers are heading back to school in a few weeks. I have one more month of summer vacation and I plan to enjoy all those free moments! For those teachers who are planning for their return to classrooms, I found a nice writing activity for back to school from my favorite website The Mailbox Magazine ! I hope it is helpful!

From The Mailbox Weekly Newsletter:

What Did You Read This Summer?

Ask each student to choose one book that he or she read this summer. Print or photocopy the cover to fill the left half of a sheet of paper. Have the student summarize the story on the right half of the paper without giving away any surprises or the ending. Then direct the reader to rate the book by applying one to five colorful star stickers. Post the reports on a bulletin board titled “Books Rated by Us!” Then encourage students to try out some of the books recommended by their classmates. If a child does indeed read a classmate’s book, have him add his name and his own rating to the book’s report.

I think this idea can be adapted to all grades, too! If the teacher wants to model her favorite summer picture book with a response the kidos can write their own during the first few weeks of school. This could also be used with the primary students if a teacher creates her own fill in the blank book review. The possibilities are endless for a fun September writing lesson.

Happy Reading & Writing!

July 29, 2010

Favorite Fourth Grade Read Alouds

I am not ignoring all those wonderful 2nd or 3rd grade teachers, it is just that I am writing about 4th grade because I spent four years teaching there.

I loved it and there are so many wonderful books to read aloud. I taught 5th grade for two years and I just know 5th graders would love some of these books, too!

Sideways Stories from WaySide School by Louis Sachar

Each chapter is a story about a different student in this school! My 4th graders loved the silly tales of each book so much, I would read the next two in the series.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

There are two stories going on in this book. This story is has a mystery, with a friendship theme, and a story about family. My students are hooked every year and always surprised by the ending! I have used this in book club book in grade five and six!

Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech

This book is similar to Walk Two Moons. There are some characters in this book from Walk Two Moons, too, but it is a completely different story.

*** Please note there is some delicate material in Chaos that I skip over when I read it aloud. ***

Happy Reading !

July 24, 2010

Favorite First Grade Read Alouds!

I love picture books. I have a slight addiction to children's books. I have been resisting the urge to buy them! In honor of another blog I read (It's Not All Flowers and Sausages), I am posting a few of my favorite read alouds that I have used in first grade.

Stellaluna by Janelle Cannon

This is such a sweet story about a baby bat. It teaches us about friendship and family! This illustrations are just as beautiful as the story.

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

A great first day or first week of school read aloud! It's a story of friendship and sharing. I have used this book in 4th grade on the first day of school with a poetry writing activity.

Click, Clack, MOO: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

A funny story about cows who go on strike with a surprise ending. The first graders just love it because of the repetitive text and the funny ending!

Lilly's Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Lilly loves everything about school until her most prized possession is taken by her teacher. This is a cute book that teaches some valuable lessons.

Happy Reading!

July 17, 2010

Favorite Websites

Summer gives me time to browse my favorite teacher websites. Here are a few of my favorites (Click on the name to open a new window):

Mrs. Newingham Website

Mrs. Madden's Website

Mrs. Cowan's Website

Busy Teacher's Cafe

Take a look around. Some of these websites have more than just reading ideas!

Happy Reading !

July 13, 2010

Summer Reading

Arthur's Family Vacation by March Brown
A perfect book to read during the summer time because goes on a vacation with his family. He turns a rainy vacation in to different daily field trips for the whole family to enjoy!

Here are some fun activities to do with this book:

  • There are sample postcards on page 20 of this book. Write postcards from different points of view of the characters. Use the illustrations in the book to make the cover of your postcard.

  • Make a T-chart and compare what Arthur does on his vacation to what types of activities you have done on your summer vacation.

  • Make a book called "______________ summer/family vacation" Take some pictures of fun places you visit and add them to your book.

  • There are several compound words in this book. Go on a word hunt for compound words.

Happy Reading !

July 11, 2010

Poetry Possibilites !

On Friday I attended a workshop about using poetry can in the classroom. Here is the blog of the the teacher/presenter:

Five "big ideas" I came away with regarding poetry in a classroom are:

1. Read poetry to your students as a part of a daily ritual in your schedule.

2. Revisit poems over and over. Each time a poem is heard or read, it has a new meaning.

3. Create a poetry center and change it up a lot! Make it a place to read poems, illustrate poems, write poems, find favorite poems or even a favorite line from a poem.... a place to foster a love of poetry!

4. Keep your own poetry journal and when your students write and read poetry, do the same... be a poetry loving role model!

The most meaniful lesson for me was when the presenter said:

5. "Remember words stay with you... always!" She suggested that everyone should find words they love, words that bring comfort. As teachers, we should teach our students to do the same with poetry!

Happy Reading !

July 8, 2010

Poetry Books for Teachers

Poetry is part of my weekly tutoring. As I have said before it is great for increasing fluency and word recognition. I also use poems for looking at word patterns.

Here are a few of my favorite books I use for poetry:

Phonics Through Poetry
by B. Hajdusiewicz
These poems are wonderful. I pull from this book when I am looking for a specific theme or holiday poem. There is also a lot of word patterns withing these poems!

Scholastic's 70 Wonderful Word Family Poems
*** Even though this books has the grades K-2 on the corner, I have used it with my 4th graders as part of their weekly spelling units.

Scholastic's 40 Wonderful Blend & Digraph Poems *** Great for first and second graders! I have used this with the kido I tutor when we work on a specific blend. It makes a nice bi-weekly change from those phonics worksheets.

Happy Reading !