Sharing my love of literacy

December 29, 2010

December Book Break!

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 LOVE!!

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 read aloud for a snow theme!

Happy Reading!

November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Read Alouds

Two Fun Books!

Bring on turkey this month! 

HaWhen 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!
10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston is a counting story.

Happy Reading! 

October 30, 2010

Halloween Party Day

Happy Halloween !
Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a fun filled day at school!
Good luck with all those little ghost and goblins... or as in our school's case.. storybook characters!
Here I am: 

The Mouse was a hit! 

October 16, 2010

Halloween Read Alouds

It is that time of year for my favorite Halloween books!!! 

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.

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.

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.

Happy Reading! 

September 7, 2010

Back to School!

Happy First Day !

Something to remember as you go through your school day.

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!

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!

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. 

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. 

Tiffany's Weird. Totally True Summer Vacation 
Tiffany 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.

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School
by Herman Parish

Amelia confuses a lot of directions on the first day of school. This is a funny story on a favorite character. Make a list after reading this book and 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 add to the chart paper from yesterday. 

How I Survived My Summer Vacation 

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!

Happy Back to School Reading !!

July 20, 2010

Favorite Read Alouds

I spent five years in 4th grade and two years in 5th grade. These wee some of my favorites!

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 sensitive material in Chaos that I skip over when I read it aloud. ***

I love picture books, too!

I have a slight addiction and I have been resisting the urge to buy them! Here are a few of my favorites I use in the classroom. 

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 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 !

June 30, 2010

Summer Slide

Most teachers know there is summer slide for kids because their brain is not working as hard as it does during the school year. Here are some daily activities I do with the student I tutor to keep her brain in work mode all summer long:
1. Read aloud to me and then retell the story.

2. Weekly spelling words. Daily writing of the words on a white board. We also go outside and write them with chalk on the sidewalk.

3. We play scrabble, sight word bingo, sight word memory, and the game "Magic Word Bucket" which I blogged about here

4. Weekly poetry activities. I made a poetry notebook for my kido and I give her two new poems a week that we choral read together.

5.Write and illustrate her own books.

6. Play educational computer games.

7. Write a grocery list for her parents and then organize that grocery list by food categories.

8. Assemble a puzzle.

9. Participate in a reading program at the local library. I also have used the summer reading rewards from my local Barnes and Nobles.

10. Write to family and friends using email, letters, and postcards.

11. Read the newspaper to learn about special summer events. We also read the comics to practice fluency.

The beat part of all these activities I do with kidos is I suggest the parents do it with their child, too!
Happy Reading !

June 10, 2010

End f the Year Read Alouds

Here are a few of my favorite books I have shared with students during the last week of school. I hope those teachers still working can find something they want to share!


I Can Be Anything by Jerry Spinelli
The boy sees himself as a “puddle stomper, or a apple chomper. He sees himself as a mixing-bowl licker and a tin-can kicker,” among numerous other “professions." It is a nice story to read to any elementary classroom!

Who doesn's love Dr. Seuss at the end of the year??
Oh, the Places You'll Go! is a fun book that I use to read to my 5th graders before they left school and headed off to middle school. I read it on the last day every year and it always made me feel a little teary!

Arthur Goes to Camp by Marc Brown
This is a cute story about my favorite aardvark who is homesick at summer camp until a mystery arrives. My first graders love this lovable character and it is a nice way to kick off the summer and share camping stories!

Summer Beat by Betty Franco
The sounds of summer sizzle and pop in this bouncing,swinging tribute to the best sound of every child's favorite season. There is a lot of fun words in here that students just love. This book works well in any K to grade 3 class!

Happy Reading! Summer is just around the corner !!

May 18, 2010

Using Technology in Reading

MAY 18, 2010

I am teaching my 5th graders about character traits. 

I learned about a fun website at a school workshop that the kidos are now using to publish their list of character traits. They just love it! Here is the link: 

Here is a sample (Thank you Charlotte's Web!) and the link below:Happy Reading and Writing!

May 10, 2010

Make a List.... Write a Poem

Make a List..... Turn it into a Poem

It is that time of year when school and the students get a little crazy!

Here is a fun and easy poetry activity! I recently taught this to my first graders and they loved it!

1. Choose a topic. I chose "students" to model my brainstorming and poem writing!
2. Have each student tell you one word to describe the topic. I put them all on chart paper.
3. Because I was working with first graders, I circled my favorite six words.
4. I write and model the format of my poem:

by: Literacy Teacher

Make friends
Play math games
Have fun!

5. I ask the students to tell me their topic as they go back to their desks.

The students enjoy writing and sharing their poems with their peers!
Happy Writing !

My Favorite Graphic Organizer

There is a graphic organizer that I love. When I taught 4th grade I used it across the curriculum. It was my favorite! Every year around March my students would beg, "Please NO MORE !! "

It just has SO MANY possibilities, that I always use it again and again! 

It is the T-Chart!

I have used the T-chart to introduce part of speech. I pass out index card of examples and non-examples. Then we discuss or correct the chart as a class. The T-chart works great for pros and cons in ANY subject. It is a perfect way to get kids to think about various points of view. Compare and contrast is another way to use a T-chart.

I have used a T-chart to teach my students visualization strategies, to write poetry, to take notes during a listening comprehension activity, to compare two characters, books, and settings! Do you have a favorite organizer? 

Happy Reading!!

May 9, 2010

Reading Ideas and Book Finds

What's in a Name? 

I love books! As a reading  teacher, I love it even more when a student surprises me with an astute observation!

I am reading Winn Dixie with my 5th graders. The students were reading independently and a new character was introduced. The character's name is "Gloria Dump." One of my students said to me, "Wow, look at this character's name. The words don't belong together, but they really describe the character." 
I actually did a double take as my book geek teacher-self yelled "YES! " inside my head! We had a great discussion about the character, her personality, and how they relate to her name! 

So Many Books.... So Little Time !

The Pout Pout Fish 
By: Deborah Diesen

A cute, rhyming picture book about a gloomy fish who discovers that being glum isn't really his destiny. I love the beautiful, engaging illustrations in this book!

I love this book as a read aloud! Of course there are many teachable attributes. There are rhyming patterns, the ocean habitat, or the theme of friendship. There is also a variety of emotions on the other sea creatures in the story.

A Poetry Read Aloud

Here is a fun story written by Andrew Clements. I fell in love with this book when I saw it at my school book fair last week!

Dogku has a haiku on every page, but is also a clever little story about a stray dog who finds a home. I can read it to my first graders and then have them write their own little dog stories. I can read it to my 5th graders and then have them write their own haiku books. The text also lends itself to making inferences.

One of my followers mentioned she loves finding new books for teaching the comprehension strategy of making inferences.
I struggled with this concept year after year. When I started using picture books to introduce inferences, it started to click more for me and the kidos!

Here are a few of my favorite books to teach inference:
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
The Three Pigs by David Wiesner
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Big Al by Andrew Clements
                                                 Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague

To teach inference I sometimes cover up the text of a picture book and making inferences about the pictures. I then go back to read the story. We compare our visual interpretations with the text. We also talk about how we may have made predictions instead of inferences. 

Happy Reading!

April 25, 2010

Poetry Fun!

Poems are a wonderful resource for literacy instruction. I introduce two new poems a week with the students I tutor.
One fun activity students  love is what I call "The Mixed Up Poem"

During my introduction of the poem, I use a form of choral reading. I read a line and I have the student repeat the same line while tracking each word with a pointer. Then I read the poem a second time so the student can stop me when he/she hears any rhyming words. During the rest of the week, we reread the poem and work on "The Mixed Up Poem" Activity.

I provide the student with a bag full of words. The student works to reassemble the mixed up poem. I have even timed the student, so each day he/she can play "Beat the Clock" when reassembling the poem. It is possible to even make this a center or activity with a timer so students can track their own progress.

As the year progresses and the students improve, I give longer poems! I make sure to use this activity every other week, so students look forward to it and it never becomes boring for them!

Happy Reading!

April 21, 2010

Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day !

EartDay is April 22 !! I love to be green everyday. Here is a fun book to share with any elementary classroom!

The Earth Book by Todd Parr
A story of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly picture book. I love that this book has a circular die-cut Earth on the cover, and is printed entirely with recycled materials and nontoxic soy inks. The book includes lots of easy, smart ideas on how we can all work together to make the Earth feel good by planting a tree, using both sides of the paper, and reusing old things in new ways

April 3, 2010

Happy April

April... So Many Possibilities !

Two of my favorite things about April:

Poetry Month!! Take some time and have a random "Poetry Break" in your classroom. Read aloud some funny Shel Silverstein poems or spend some time writing and publishing a poem! One of my favorite website for funny poems is Giggle Poetry

D.E.A.R. Day on April 12! Take some time to drop everything and read on this day! This can be a classroom activity, a reading buddy activity, or even a school wide event!

Happy Reading!!

March 28, 2010

The 2.00 Summary

I took a workshop last week and one of the ideas presented was so neat. It can be adapted in many different ways! I plan to use it in my book clubs in the upcoming weeks!

The $2.00 Summary:
A way to retell a lesson or write a summary in a quick and short manner using words and a little math. You have to use specific details because each word is worth money. You cannot go over $2.00!

Each word is worth 5 cents!
Free words: the, and, of, is, a, an

Example:Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny used to live in a boxcar, but now they live with their grandfather. He takes them on a cruise in the Caribbean and suddenly a mystery begins. The children work together to solve the mystery.

The total summary is $1.60.

This can be used in a lot of classes! In reading, children could write after reading a short story or various chapters in a book. Have partners write one together the first few times!

Happy Reading and Writing!

February 22, 2010

Bears! Bears! Bears! A Read Aloud

I blogged about this author once before (here). Since then I have been searching for more of Karma Wilson's books.

Bear Wants More (2003)
Bear wakes up in spring hungry as can be, so he searches for food while meeting friends on the way. This story has a cute twist and a funny ending!

Teaching Ideas:

1. There is rhyming text which lends itself to a lesson about how words can rhyme without being spelled with the same patterns.

2. Themes of friendship, helping one another, bears, springtime, sharing.

3. There are wonderful illustrations to use for making inferences. Cover up the words and discuss what could possibly be happening in those pictures. Make a class chart or have kids write their own inferences before reading the book. Then read the story and discuss if the inferences
were correct.

4. There are great descriptive verbs in this book: waddles, nibbles, scampers, tromp, shuffles,romps, gobbles, snuggles. Go on a verb hunt and then talk about how these words help you visualize the story.

Happy reading!

February 2, 2010

Friendship Books

I read online somewhere that February is the month to celebrate friendship. With that in mind here are a few books to read and use to discuss friendship.

Day one: Make a list of character traits on chart paper that describe a good friend. Read aloud The Rainbow Fish and discuss how Rainbow Fish became a good friend.
Day two: I have students trace a huge heart and write their name in the middle. We then pass them around the classroom and each student writes a positive comment on the heart about why that person is a great friend. I have kids write on both sides and we hang them around the room for all to read.
*** I have only done this in 4th grade, so you may have to modify this idea for young kids! Maybe choose a student a day and write the comments on chart paper.
Day Three: Poetry Writing. Discuss what friends do together and make a huge list. Keep in the back of your mind the ideas and words that begin with the letters for your acrostic poem. Then, have students write an acrostic poem using the word 'friends' or 'friendship.' In the past I have put these poems on paper with a Rainbow Fish for the students to decorate.
More books to read and discuss:

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!!