Sharing my LOVE of Literacy!

If you can read this, thank a teacher !!

January 31, 2010

Picture Prompt Writing

Pictures are a perfect writing prompt. Here are a few of my favorite "pictures."

1. Artwork ( I loved using Van Gogh and Picasso with my upper kids for fantasy writing). We would make a list of descriptive words and then the student would write and share their stories.

2. Children's books: A few of my favorites are Chris Van Allsburg and David Wiesner. I love choosing one unique picture and having a class discussion about possible story ideas.

3. Cartoon pictures without the words. Even the lower grades can come up with some funny messages for those conversation bubbles!

Happy Writing!

January 27, 2010

Descriptive writing

One of my favorite writing lessons with my kids is descriptive writing. I have to teach grammar, so my adjectives unit is always around this time. This lesson works great with introducing adjectives.

One of the first activities I do is making a chart of Examples and Non-examples of adjectives. Each student would receive an index card with a word and have to place it in the correct category. We would then have a discussion about adjectives and how that make writing more descriptive.

Next, I hand out small slips of paper with an adjective written on them for the students. These words come from a poster I just love " How Am I Feeling Today?"

I also have tracers I made of the face for the class to decorate after they are done writing.

The kidos use a thesaurus and look up synonyms for their adjective. They then write a descriptive poem with their word as the title. I often give my students a format to follow with this poem because I model a sample.

The kids love this writing activity! I keep them up for the rest of the year, so if they are every need a descriptive word or adjective, they can use these poems!

Happy Writing!

January 23, 2010

More Poetry Please !!

Here is my other great find from last week. It is a wonderful book of fun poems that children will just love!

Silly Street by Jeff Foxworthy has 28 poems about hats, magic, butterflies, and other fun places a child might visit.

There are rhyming patterns, sensory images, similes, and metaphors in these poems. Some of these poems would be wonderful to teach the reading comprehension strategy of visualization. These poems are great read alouds for a grade 2 or 3 class. I could also see myself teaching my poetry unit with this book to my 4th or 5th graders.

I cannot wait to plan some reading lessons with these poems for the child I tutor!

Happy Reading !

January 22, 2010

Amazing Literacy Website !

I was using google to find some blend lessons for a child I tutor. I found this gem of a website that has so many wonderful literacy resources!

Carls Corner

I highly recommend it to anyone who teaches reading at the elementary level. Enjoy poking around. I sure did and I printed some gems for tutoring!

Happy Reading !

January 21, 2010

My Favorite Caldecott Books

I promised to share my favorite picture books that won a Caldecott. Here are three of my favorites.

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young.
The pictures are so vivid! I used the book every year in 4th grade when I taught my fairy tales unit. The class always did a compare/contrast with this book.

Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire (Yes this is from 1940).
I clearly remember my 3rd grade teacher reading this book to me. It is one of those childhood memories that sticks out in my head! I loved the story and the old fashioned pictures.

The Three Pigs by David Wiesner
This is such a clever book! I love how the pigs jump out of the story frames and visit other fairy tales. This is a great story to teach inferences and point of view. I just love how creative the story & illustrations are in this book!

Well, there you have it! What are your favorite picture books and why?
Happy Reading!

January 19, 2010

Award Winners !

The announcement came for the Children's 2010 Book Awards. I stopped by Barnes and Nobles to look at these books and the clerk in the children's department said they sold out yesterday. LOL

Here are the winners:

Newbery 2010 Winner: When You Reach Me.
A science fiction novel by Rebecca Stead. The book revolves around a 12-year-old named Miranda, her single mom, and their life in a Manhattan apartment building in 1979.

Caldecott 2010 Winner: The Lion and The Mouse. A fable illustrated by Jerry Pinkney who said he had long been moved by the tale of a mouse who helps the lion, a story of how the underdog can prove as mighty as a king.

Seeing these books got me to thinking to my favorite award winners. I have so many picture books I love, so I think I will save that post for another day! But, here are some of my favorite Newbery books.

As a child I loved the book: From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. I just loved the idea of sleeping in a museum, in NYC.

As a teacher, I have read with my students the following Newbery winners, Dear Mr. Henshaw, Walk Two Moons, and Bridge to Terabitha. Wonderful class discussions and lessons come from these books!

What are your favorite books? What are you favorite Newbery books?

Happy Reading !!

January 18, 2010

Read Aloud

I went to a book store this weekend that is closing. I found three beautiful hard covered children's books for the price of one. Teachers (especially ME) LOVE a great DEAL! Here is one of my great finds!!!

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson was one of my fabulous finds! Beautiful illustrations and a fun story! It is a cold snowy night and various animals find their way into Bear's den. They begin to share food and a potluck begins. Then the bear wakes up to find their was a party without him. He begins to cry because he was sleeping though it! But don't worry, bear joins the fun!

Teaching Ideas

1. This is a great book for a reader's theater!

2. Great for cause and effect lessons.

3. The text has a rhyming pattern.

4. The language also has examples of onomatopoeia.

5. There is also two great websites with more ideas to use with this book.



Happy Reading!!

January 15, 2010

Tutoring Tip - Word Recoginition

Sight word flash cards are one great way to increase word recognition with struggling readers. It is something I do when I tutor one on one.

There always come a point when the speed word list becomes a task too easy for the child. This can also increase boredom, which is something a reading teacher like myself never wants!!

At this point in word recognition practice, I move on to more challenge flash cards. I begin with Fry's Most Read 100 Phrases. This can be found here:

Fry's Phrases

I write the phrases on larger index cards. I introduce them by reading them once and then have the child repeat them. We go through the list a few times. I begin with 8-10 phrases. During each tutoring session the child reads them aloud to me.

I have always called this "SPEED READ" because the kidos just love to increase their reading rate. Once these phrases are mastered, I add new phrases. ( Usually every other week!)

Happy Reading!

January 11, 2010

Winter Writing Wonderland !

Are your kids distracted by the snow? Do they keeping asking you if they can go outside to make a snowman?

Well, take their indoor idleness and turn it into a poetry writing lesson that encourages your kidos to use sensory images and alliteration to the fullest!

Have your class come up with a list of all the wonder things about winter. ( you know, the snowflakes, the snowman making, the snowball fights, the sledding, the skiing, the hot cocoa and soup, the toasty blanket in front of a fireplace)

Model for your students a 5 to 8 lined poem using sensory images and/or alliteration examples. I usually draw a large snow cap on chart paper and write the poem inside. I title my poem "Chilly Choices."


Chilly Choices
by: Literacy Teacher

Snowy Saturday
Sledding with speed
Down a slippery snow covered hill
Winter wind whips across my cheery red cheeks
Snowballs whiz above my head
Silly me topples over a snowdrift....
Time to try again.

Have your kids edit and rewrite poems on their own winter hats! Then read aloud to the class, and place them around the room or on a bulletin board.

January 9, 2010

Spelling Matters

My kidos want to know why spelling is so important. I often try to give them concrete examples. Plus, I tell them how I am a terrible speller, but the dictionary and spell check are my best friends.

Well, a friend sent this to me in an e-mail. Another example for my students that I know share with you! Imagine seeing the above sign outside a place that promotes teaching reading. Yikes!

I know everyone makes spelling mistakes because I do!

But I ask you this: Wh0 was the supervisor that approved this text?

Remember to check your spelling!

January 7, 2010

A Fun SNOWMAN Book !

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

First of all, I must say that the illustrations are beautiful in this book!Second of all, the story is so clever! There are even hidden pictures in the snow! Kids will just love it!!

Story: What happens at night with snowmen? Where do they go? What do they do? Well, this story will tell you how the snowmen play at night with their friends and family.

Lesson Ideas:

1. There is a rhyming pattern in this book, so there are a lot of clever ways to have kids listen for or find the rhymes. Have your kids make snowmen on sticks and while reading aloud the story a second time have them raise their snowmen when they hear two words rhyme.

2. This story is so imaginative. Discuss other activities snowmen could do at night. Make a class story and have each child illustrate a page for a class book.

3. Older kidos could write their own snowmen story at night!

4. There is also a lot of cause and effect in this book. Retype the story and cut apart the cause and effect sentences. Have the students put them in the correct category and check their answers with a partner.

Happpy Reading!

January 5, 2010

Snow Books and Activities

Ahhh.... January....

The perfect time for books about snow, mittens, & penguins. Today I will begin with a few books & ideas about snow !

Amy Loves the Snow by Julia Hoban

Grade Level: K-1

Story: Amy goes out to play in the snow with her Dad and they makes a snowman. This is a simple text with one or two sentences. This book works great with a short lesson and then centers related to the story and ..... SNOW!!

Lesson: Read aloud the story first for enjoyment and then next for a mini lesson. There are several patterns in the story. During the second reading I have the kidos listen for patterns. The text has several patterns: color patterns, sound patterns, and opposites. Use a T-chart to show the patterns and discuss them with the class.

Centers/Work Stations:

Writing:Have the students change the patterns in the story to create a new story. For example: The story says, "I have red mittens and a red scarf. Daddy has blue mittens and a blue scarf." Kidos can rewrite this as "I have purple mittens and a purple hat. Daddy has orange mittens and an orange hat." Next, have the kids re-write their stories and illustrate them.

Sequence: This book follows a predictable pattern. Type up the text and then cut the text apart. Have the kidos reassemble the story, read to a partner, and then illustrate their favorite part.

Art: Have students assemble a paper or cotton ball snowman. They can add a carrot nose just like Amy or even other snowman parts. I have also used coffee filters for a snowman body! Decorate and hang.

There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by: Lucille Colandro

Grade Levels: 2-4
Story: Follows the pattern of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" with a surprise ending!

Sequence: With little ones, use cut out pictures and have the students glue them in order on a sequence paper. With older kidos, use both pictures and a sentence to create a sequence chart.

1. Make a list of other winter/snow words on chart paper after a read aloud of the story.

2. Have students create their own " There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A ---------------- " story. You could even do this with partners!

3.. Publish (I love using the computer to publish!) Share stories in your author's chair. Or better yet, go read these stories to a kindergarten or 1st grade classroom.

A Very Special Snowflake by Don Hoffmann

Grade 2-4

Story: Jeff and Veronica go outside to play with their white dog, Snowflake. They lose "Snowflake" and begin to ask everyone in the neighborhood if they see snowflake. Of course, the neighbors think the children are talking about the snow around them. A clever story with a cute ending.

Lesson: When reading this story have children find the puppy in the pictures. They love doing this! This is a wonderful story to use with the concept of multiple meanings. I write the sentences from the story on sentence strips and talk about how the characters are confused. After a discussion, then, place five sentences on chart paper that illustrate multiple meanings. Next, have the students work with partners using a list of words provided by you to make more sentences to try an stump their peers. To continue with the snow theme have the students write the sentences on snowflakes and place on a bulletin board.

Snow Sounds: An Onomatopoeic Story by: David A Johnson

Grade Level: 3-6

Story: Sweep, crunch, swoosh, and scrape are some of the snow sounds heard all night long as the snow falls. Early in the morning a snowplow drives its way through the drifts along the state highway. Then, a smaller plow cuts through the snowfall along the county road. A boy lies in his bed and listens to his father break out the snow blower. A little boy bundles up and shovels the sidewalk. Finally, the sound of a school bus can be heard as it arrives in time to take the boy off to school.

Lesson: This is the perfect book to introduce onomatopoeia to students. Discuss how this poetic device works in poetry and texts. I pass out index cards with examples and non-examples. Then the kidos get up and place them on a T-Chart with the labels "examples" and "non-examples" We discuss the chart and then I have students write short sentences or poems using this device. Place them on snowy scenes illustrated by the students or snowflakes on a bulletin board entitled "Snowy Sounds"

Happy Wintery Reading!!