Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring Is Here Poetry Hop

Welcome!  You've arrived at the Spring Is Here! blog hop. Several of my reading specialists friends have teamed up to offer you free poetry resources in honor of National Poetry Month.  


One of my favorite things about April teaching is poetry.  Have you ever used the book Dogku when teaching Haiku?  It's a tale of stray dog and his journey to find a family, written in Haiku.  

Dogku by Andrew Clements

After reading the story to your class, revisit the text and examine it from a poetry point of view.  
  • Does the poem have a 5-7-5 syllable pattern?
  • Is the poem about nature, seasons, or animals?
  • Does the author use the senses to convey the message?
Model writing a Haiku poem.  Make it interactive by asking students to help. Then have students write their own Haiku poems about a pet, a Petku!


The freebie I'm sharing with you today is a pet Haiku class book.  It includes a cover page, title page, and several pet pages.

My students love creating class books.  It's a great way to publish their work and recognize them as authors. 

Each student is responsible for writing and illustrating one page of the poetry book. The pages are collected, assembled with the cover page, and bound together as a collaborative book.  The book can be read to the class and placed in your classroom library.  

Click the link below to download, Petku.


Hop to THe NEXT Stop

Hop on over to see my friend, Bex, at the Reading and Writing Redhead for another poetry freebie. :)

Happy Spring!

A special thanks to Hello Literacy, EduClips, and Epiphanous Owl for the fonts and graphics used in this post.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

St. Patty's Day Picks

Saint Patrick's Day is right around the corner, and I'm here to share a few of my favorite books and activities.

Graphics by Krista WalldenAshley Hughes, KG Fonts

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover by Lucille Colandro

The Old Lady is back at it! She's eating a variety of items to make a rainbow and hide a pot of gold.

The Night Before St. Patrick's Day by Natasha Wing

Tim and Maureen stay up late to catch a leprechaun, but what will happen when they catch one?

The Luckiest Day Ever by Ethan Long

Leprechauns gather to celebrate the holiday with music, dancing, and a parade.

Graphics by Krista WalldenAshley Hughes, KG Fonts

Luck of the Irish Flip Flap Book by Simply Skilled in Second

Creative writing, making words, and a book summary are all part of this cute flip-flap book.

Lucky for Literacy Center Activities by Jessica Travis

Practice contractions, compound words, pronouns, prepositions and more with these March themed literacy activities.

Worth More Than Gold Writing Craft by The Teacher Wife

Students write about who or what is more important to them than gold.

You can download these free activities by clicking the hyperlinks above.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter Wonders Blog Hop & Giveaway

Welcome!   One year ago today, a group of teacher-bloggers launched the website Adventures in Literacy Land to share tips and tools for effective literacy instruction.  

In honor of reaching our first full year of blogging together we are hosting a Winter Wonders Blog Hop and Birthday Celebration.  Join us, if you will, to read a short post by each author, download a free literacy resource, and enter a raffle for a chance to win a Barnes and Noble gift certificate. 

What I'm Wonder ing about this Winter: Close Reading with Emergent Readers

One of the instructional goals our elementary school has chosen this year focuses on close reading and answering text dependent questions.  This is an achievable goal for our intermediate students, but how do we implement that in the primary grades--especially with our emergent readers?

At a conference I attended recently, we discussed using the shared reading block as an opportunity to model and practice close reading strategies.  We watched a video of a kindergarten teacher doing a close reading activity using The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Students were seated on a large carpet in front of the big book.  They were discussing vocabulary with partners; responding to questions by finding a part in the book that proved their answers; and comparing the book to others they had read.  What a great way to introduce close reading early on!

My "ah-ha moment" was realizing that using modeling and a gradual release of responsibility is an effective way to introduce students to close reading.  Emergent readers can be successful with thinking deeply about a text and locating evidence to support their answers if we provide the scaffolding.


Studying penguins is a winter favorite of my students. The freebie I have prepared for you is a book study for The Emperor's Egg by Martin Jenkins and Penguins! by Gail Gibbons.  This mini-pack contains vocabulary cards, a KWL chart, guiding questions, and more.  It will be available on January 6, 2015 only.  Click on the image to download. :)

This Freebie has expired.

Next Stop

The next stop along the hop is Comprehension Connection.  Visit my friend, Carla, to learn more about close reading and pick up her wonderful Partner Scripts freebie.  You'll be glad you did!

At the final stop of the hop, Adventures in Literacy Land, you will have an opportunity to enter a raffle to win one of four $25 Barnes and Noble gift certificates.  Best of luck!  

Happy 1st Birthday, Adventures in Literacy Land!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gift of Reading Blog Hop

Welcome!  You've arrived at the Gift of Reading Blog Hop.  Several of my reading specialist friends have teamed up to offer you free literacy resources just in time for the holidays.

Class Books

My students have always loved creating class books.  Each student is responsible for writing and illustrating one page of a book.  The pages are collected, assembled with a cover page, and bound together as a collaborative book.  Students take turns reading their page of the book to the class and then the book is placed in our classroom library.

Creating class books is a fun way for students to practice reading and writing skills.  The books can be completed as a whole group activity or at a literacy station.  


The freebie I'm sharing with you today is Letters to Santa.  It is one of seven books in my Class Books {December Volume}.  It comes with a cover page (color and BW), a writing organizer, and a final draft page.


I would love for you to win a copy of Class Books {December Volume} for your classroom. Here's a little peek at the titles that are included.

Enter to win your own copy of Class Books {December Volume}.  

Don't stop here...there's so much more!  Hop on over to Reading Toward the Stars for Andrea's gift.  

                         Reading Toward the Stars

If you have already been through the entire hop, Congratulations for reaching the last stop!  I hope you enjoy your Gifts of Reading!

A very special thank you goes out to Scrappin' DoodlesLovin' Lit, and KG Fonts for the the graphics used for this hop.  Please check them out!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Harvest of Freebies Blog Hop

Welcome!  You've arrived at the Harvest of Freebies Blog Hop.  I'm thrilled to be hosting this hop with several talented literacy teachers and reading specialists.

Some of the activities posted will be "forever freebies", while others will only be available during the dates of the Harvest Hop.  Be sure to grab them before it's too late.  :)

So let's get started, shall we...

One of my favorite storybook characters is the Old Lady from There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.  She's a quirky over-eater who always has a surprise in store for readers.  There are many variations on this classic story song, including a fall version, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves.  I get a kick out of these books!

You can count on the stories in this collection to offer a predictable pattern, rhyming words, and a surprise at the end.

Suggested Activities for There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves:
  • Sequencing - What did the Old Lady swallow first, next, then, last?
  • Compare and Contrast - Read The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.  Then find the similarities and differences between the two books.
  • Making Connections - The Old Lady in the story swallowed leaves.  What have you done with leaves?  Possible responses include: collecting leaves, leaf rubbings, raking into piles, jumping or hiding in leaves, or making crafts with them.  

For my freebie, I created an Old Lady take-home reader to go with the book.  Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  I hope you'll stop back again soon!

Don't stop here...there's so much more!  Click the link to visit Stacy from Teacher's Take Out. You'll be glad you did. ;)


Happy Fall!

A very special thank you goes out to Scrappin' Doodles, Lovin' Lit, and KG Fonts for the the graphics used for this hop.  
Check them out!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Guess Who? Bulletin Board & Freebie

I'm popping in today to share a bulletin board I created for the start of school.  During our back-to-school inservice days I took pictures of our faculty members peeking out from behind books. Teachers were so creative...some chose their favorite children's book, some chose the books they were currently reading, others chose newspapers, magazines, e-readers, and even menus from their favorite restaurants.

It's fun to see the kids gather around the display and discuss who's who.  I snuck a few tricky pictures into the mix...for example, our school nurse (reading a book about infectious diseases) and our superintendent (reading "Leading with Soul").  

Here's a close up of a framed picture.  I printed the frames on colored paper and laminated them. Once I trimmed the lamination, I cut open the corners with an Exacto knife and slid the photos into place.  The frames took a little bit of time, but I plan to reuse them for another project later in the year.

I used this picture from Pinterest as my inspiration.  However, it wasn't linked properly. So if this is your bulletin board, please let me know.  I'd love to give you credit. :)

Click {here} grab a copy of this bulletin board freebie for yourself.  There is a full color and a black and white version provided for ink friendly printing.

I'd love for you to share a picture of your bulletin board on my Facebook page, if you use it.
Enjoy!  :)

I shared more interactive bulletin board ideas over at Adventures in Literacy Land.  I'd love for you to visit me there.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blasting Off A Great Year

A few of my literacy blogger friends and I joined up to host a blog hop with high-flying literacy ideas to blast off your new year.

Launch A New Year With Interactive Literacy Notebooks

Interactive Notebooks are a great tool for students to use to document their learning.  The notebooks become a personal text book for students to reference as they need.  If you are wondering how to get started, then this post is for you.  I'll be sharing 10 Tips and a FREEBIE to help you launch your own literacy notebooks.

Interactive Notebook Supplies

Select the Notebook

Decide if you prefer for students to use a composition book, binder, or spiral notebook.  I use composition books because of their overall durability and because the pages are less likely to be torn out.

Choose the Glue

Decide what glue will best meet your needs: bottled glue, glue dabbers, or glue sticks.  I am a firm believer in Elmer's Glue.  While some teachers may be horrified at the idea of using "wet" glue, it is the only glue that stays glued for the long-term.  When I have tried other options, the items eventually became unglued from the notebooks.

Using white glue requires a mini-lesson, teacher modeling, and lots of practice.  I demonstrate making tiny dots with the glue, and students practice on a strip of paper until they get it right.

Cover Page

Author Page

Make It Personal 

This is one of my favorite steps to setting up the notebooks.  Students add a cover  design and author page.  The notebook pictured above is open to a sample author page.  The student will write down titles of books she enjoyed reading.  Taking time to personalize the notebooks builds enthusiasm, a sense of ownership, and pride in the overall appearance.  I never skip this step.

Include a Table of Contents

There are two ways to do this and both are equally effective in my opinion. You can save three pages at the very beginning of the notebook for a table of contents. Or, another option is to use each section's divider page to list the contents of that section. I prefer the second option for my students.

Divider Page with Tabs: A Table of Contents will be written here.

Add Tabs

Think about the sections you might want to have in your notebook. Our literacy notebooks have a section for Reading Strategies & Skills, Vocabulary, and Written Responses. 

Number the Pages

I have students number the bottom corner of each page at the beginning of the year. However, some teachers prefer to do this throughout the year, in case a page is messed up and needs to be removed. Since I use composition books, I do not like students to tear pages out. The books start to fall apart if too many pages are torn out.  So we number them at the beginning of the year.

Add a Storage Pocket

Attach an envelope or ziplock baggie to the inside cover of the book to store pieces that have not been glued into the books yet.

It may be a good idea refrain from using trash cans until the very end of the lesson to prevent the chance of pieces being thrown away by mistake.

Composition Book Storage Pocket

Model, Model, Model

During the lesson, create a teacher example in your own notebook.  This is a great visual for students and will be especially helpful when a student is absent.  

If you teach multiple classes, create a new book with each class. 

In the photo above, you can see the clever plastic cover I purchased for my teacher book.  It has a plastic zipper pouch.  I use the pouch to store lost pieces and materials for absentees. 

Use Book Marks or Cut the Corners

One tip that has been a real time-saver is book marking our place in the notebook so that we can flip right to the next fresh page.  This can be done by using hot glue or duct tape to secure a ribbon to the back cover.  Another method that works really well, especially if you have multiple tabs, is to cut the top corner of completed pages as you go.  Read more about this trick here.

Use a Rubber Band to Hold It All Together 

As the books grow in size, a file-size rubber band can be used to hold them together.  Using the rubber band helps to prevent things from falling out of the book or getting crumpled.  A mini-lesson on the appropriate use of rubber bands is always a good idea. ;)

Time Savers...

Cutting, coloring, and gluing take time.  Here are a few ideas to streamline that process...

  • Cut out as much as possible ahead of time.  Enlist the help of parents, substitutes, aides, and student helpers whenever possible to get the cutting done. 
  • Take advantage of morning arrival time, snack time, indoor recess, and transitions to have students cut and color.  Pre-cut items can be stored in the notebook pockets.
  • Set a time limit.  If you create a sense of urgency, students will usually work more quickly.  Early finishers can help other students cut and paste.  Students that work slowly can finish on their own time.

Grab Your Freebie Here!

Here's a little Back-to School treat just for you.  It will be available as a FREEBIE until the hop ends.  Enjoy! :)

Don't stop reading here.  ;)  Melissa has another awesome Back-to-School tip for you at Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late.  Click on the rocket and blast on over to her blog.

Wishing you a wonderful school year!

Fonts and graphics used in this post were courtesy of Creative Clips, Scrappin' Doodles, Library Au Lait, and Dots of Fun.