Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Best Practices For Vocabulary Instruction

Yesterday I talked about using vocabulary tiers to select words for instruction. As I continue to review the research on effective vocabulary instruction, I am reflecting on my own practices as an intervention teacher.

I am hoping that the tips and suggestions that I have found as I refresh my memory are helpful to you!

What are the best practices for vocabulary instruction for young children?
  • The best sources of vocabulary are books that teachers read aloud rather than those that children read themselves. Why?  I am thinking that it is because the teacher can instruct and help students to interact with unfamiliar words in real-time.  However, that is not to say that incidental vocabulary learning is not important. Quite the opposite.  Children do learn many new words from their independent reading by using context and picture clues to make meaning.
  •  Some researchers suggest that teachers instruct vocabulary after the story has been read.  Why?  For one, the teacher can briefly explain the word during the read-aloud at the point where it is needed.  Second, the context of the story provides a rich example of the word's use and meaning.
  • Students need twelve (12) encounters with a word to fully comprehend and to be able to apply knowledge.
  • There should be some direct teaching of vocabulary during a read-aloud.
  • Vocabulary discussion should be interactive for students.  Small groups are optimal so that all students can contribute.
  • Rereading of the texts can maximize learning and offer multiple exposures to the target vocabulary.
  • The National Reading Panel (2000) recommends teaching vocabulary directly and indirectly and to use multiple methods of instruction.
  • Create a learning environment that fosters word consciousness and incidental learning.
  • Use read-aloud books to encourage wide reading, model an interest in learning new words, use word play, and technology.

Of course, this is just an overview and not a definitive list.  It is just a good reminder for me as I get ready to start a new school year and think about how I want to change my vocabulary instruction.  Each week, my students have vocabulary words for their readings in our Treasures series.  My job is to reinforce the vocabulary and offer multiple attempts for working with the words.


 My students enjoy playing vocabulary charades.  A students draws a word card out of a box and acts out the word without speaking.  The rest of the group has to infer/guess what the word is.  They have a blast with this game!

 I am going to work on creating a new vocabulary organizer for students to use as we explore words and work with them in a variety of ways.  And yes, I will share that with you when it is finished!




 Donavan's Word Jar by Monalisa DeGross is a wonderful chapter book to read aloud to first graders (and maybe even kindergartners!) to get them excited about words and to see just how important words are.  Click on the pic below to check out the book on Amazon.  This is a super book and you and your class can make your own word jar!


 Donavan's Word Jar (Trophy Chapter Book)

Lastly, using a Word Wizard chart or bulletin board can really excite students to search for their vocabulary words outside of class.  Every time they see or hear a word used in a book, newspaper, on TV, at home, at the store, at the movies, they complete a word wizard card and bring in to share with the classThey can complete a word wizard card like this to post on a bulletin board or display:

Graphics by www.scrappindoodles.com







Students write the vocabulary word on the card and then write or draw where they saw or heard the word used.  For instance, they may draw their parents at the dinner table if they heard one of them use the word.  They bring the word card to school and get to share where they heard/saw the word.  Then, they post it on the bulletin board,chart/display.  Some teachers give "word wizard" points and reward those with the highest amount for the week.  Great for word consciousness!


I also made this mini-poster to be used as a bulletin board/chart header.  Click here to grab your copy and a copy of the word cards.


Graphics by www.scrappindoodles.com





Ok, I'm off to work on my new vocabulary graphic organizer! 


Sources: 

"Choosing Words to Teach" from  Bringing Words to Life:  Robust Vocabulary Instruction. Isabel Beck, McKeown, and Kucan.  2002.

Promoting Vocabulary Development:  Components of Effective Vocabulary Instruction.  Texas Reading Initiative.  2002 

Integrated Vocabulary Instruction:  Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners in Grades K-5.  Camille L.Z. Blachowicz, Peter J. Fisher, and Susan Watts-Taffe.  2005

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vocabulary Tiers

Two summers ago, I took a vocabulary development on-line course and learned so much!  If you have never taken an on-line course, I highly recommend them especially if you have young children.  This summer, I do not need to take classes, but I have been revisiting previous classes to reflect upon how I can improve my teaching.

When I first started teaching middle school ELA back in the 1980's, it was not uncommon for teachers to assign 15-20 vocabulary words for a short story. Often these words were obscure with students having little to no schema, and many were overwhelmed with the sheer number of words.  The dictionary and glossary were the primary sources for defining words. My county was just starting to use vocabulary graphic organizers and multiple ways to interact with words. However, most of the time, vocabulary instruction was dry, to say the least.


One of the major concepts of the course I took was vocabulary tiers and how to effectively teach vocabulary.  What are tiers?  The tiers represent different levels of utility, the frequency and purpose of words.  That is, words are categorized by teachers into three different tiers to help prioritize which words are to be taught.

Tier One: These are basic words like happy, clock.  They are simple words, some of which are sight words, that are familiar and well known to mature readers.  However, ELL and struggling readers may need additional support and instruction.

Tier Two-:  These are high frequency words for mature readers as they are likely to appear frequently in a wide variety of texts and across various domains. They are also words that are crucial to understanding the main idea of the given text.  Furthermore, they are words that can be worked with in a variety of ways. 

The word clock, a Tier 1 word, does not meet the last criterion.You cannot do much with the word since it is a very simple and basic word.  But, take the word trudged; it does meet the criterion! You can work with the word in various ways by exploring word parts (suffix, base word), synonym, antonym, examples, non-examples, the word occurs frequently in various texts, and young students would be capable of understanding the general concept .  

So,with Tier 2 words, students must be able to understand the general concept of the word using words already in their vocabulary.  If the word is too complex for them to understand, then it would be classified as as Tier 3 word.  Tier 2 words should be interesting, useful, and students should be able to apply the words to their everyday lives.



Tier ThreeThese are very specialized words often found in content reading.  Their frequency of use is limited and low.  The words nocturnal and isosceles are examples.  


Selecting which vocabulary words to instruct does require teachers to make a judgement call.  Researchers suggest selecting Tier Two words for instruction to capitalize on maximum, efficient learning. A few tips to consider when selecting words:

  • Limit the number of words so students will have the opportunity to learn the words well. 
  • Researchers suggest selecting 7-10 Tier 2 words.
  • When choosing words, think about which words will be the most useful in helping students to comprehend the reading.
  • Words should appear frequently in the written language.  These are words that students will encounter often in their reading.
  • The words can be worked with in a variety of ways.
  • Students are able to understand the general concept of the words. Teachers should be able to explain the words in simple language.

Here is an example of a few of the Tier Two vocabulary words I selected for the book Ready, Set, School by Jacquelyn Mitchard for kindergarten and first graders:




    
Graphics:  www.scrappindoodles.com


All the above words can be worked with in a variety of ways.  I can discuss base words, suffixes, synonyms, antonyms, examples, non-examples, and the words will appear frequently in their reading this school year.  Now, the word kits could possibly be considered a Tier 3 word because it is a specialized science word.  However, this is where a teacher's judgement comes into play.  I felt that it was important for students to understand the various meanings of this word and how it is used in the story (a baby raccoon), thus using context clues. The fact that the main character is a young raccoon is important to understanding the central idea and some of the cause-effect relationships in the story.


Next time, I will offer some additional tips I learned from my course and my own experience with vocabulary instruction.  One strategy that many of us do is to have students draw/illustrate the meaning of the word,  This is more complex than one might think.  It requires the student to apply knowledge by having a working, understandable definition of the word.  This is a graphic organizer that I made for students to interact with Mitchard's adorable picture book:




Do you have any additional tips for selecting and using Tier 2 words?  Please share!




Sources: 

"Choosing Words to Teach" from  Bringing Words to Life:  Robust Vocabulary Instruction. Isabel Beck, McKeown, and Kucan.  2002.

Promoting Vocabulary Development:  Components of Effective Vocabulary Instruction.  Texas Reading Initiative.  2002

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ready, Set, School! Perfect Picture Book for Back to School

"New things can be scary, but when you try them, most of the time they're fun!"

We can all relate to feeling anxious about new adventures, and this is especially true for some little ones starting a new school year.  In the adorable picture book, Ready, Set, School by Jacquelyn Mitchard, Rory the raccoon's father tries to reassure him when he worries about attending a sleepover at his cousins' house.  Then his anxiety builds as he thinks of the first day of school that is rapidly approaching.

I bought this cute, entertaining, and thoughtful book last year in a Scholastic book order.  You can check out the book on Amazon by clicking the picture below.

 Ready, Set, School!


Immediately, I knew it would make for the perfect read aloud for kindergarten and first grade students who are often afraid of starting a new school year and/or being away from home. Some of my students worry about whether they will be able to keep up with the rest of the class and have little confidence with reading and writing.

Not only are the illustrations adorable with the raccoon characters (it would make for a wonderful integration to nocturnal animals),  but the message is inspiring and encouraging.  If we just try, we may find out that what scared us is really fun after all!

The literacy unit I designed for this packet started out small and then just grew and grew!  I decided to add components to it to help me launch my small group instruction with sight words, reading strategies, writing, vocabulary, and listening comprehension. All pages are decorated with a raccoon/forest/camping theme and many of the items (posters, sight words) can be used throughout the year! Thus, a constant reminder of the lesson we learned from Rory the raccoon!

Built around students' listening comprehension, I include a ten page story journal for students to interact with the text before, during and after my read-aloud.  Pages are done in black and white so students can color (and save you ink!).




Because the students I work with are at varying levels, I included ALL the DOLCH sight words on flash cards for the pre-primer, primer, and first grade levels.

But there's more!  I included:
  •  vocabulary
  • a variety of writing and drawing activities
  • graphic organizers
  • sorting mats
  • 14 mini-posters for parts of speech and reading strategies such as predicting, inferring, setting, author, illustrator
  •  a mini-book for students to make after reading as a writing extension.  Check out the cover page below that my soon-to-be kinder son decorated!



An alternative to the wildly popular First Day Jitters, Ready, Set, School is sure to be a hit with your students and with you!

You can check out my packet at my Teacher's Pay Teacher's store.



Finally, here is a FREEBIE for you!  Click the pics below to grab two of the mini-posters included in this unit!  Adorable graphics by Scrappin Doodles.








 Have a fabulous weekend, and as always, thank you so much for reading!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Merry! Merry! It's A Sale!

Merry Christmas in July
SALE!!!

Christmas Clip Art




Visit my Teacher's Notebook Shop for 25% off ALL items!




Stock up now for back-to-school literacy and speech therapy products!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Make A Paper Bag Book!

Christopher's book for words with a /k/ sound

 "Making A Paper Bag Book” is an idea inspired by the work of Dr. Jean Feldman. While at one of her conferences, she explained how to make a backpack out of a paper bag/lunch sack.  I took this idea and changed it up a little bit to create an activity for kids to use in speech therapy and/or at home for practice of the /k/ sound.

My son, who is in speech therapy, helped me to make this little book.  It is so very easy and it can be used in a variety of ways and not just for speech! 

We took a plain brown lunch bag. You could use white ones as well. We used a small bag, but you could use the larger size too.

Materials you will need:
  • Lunch bag
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Word cards, picture cards, blank paper, etc. to place inside 

Procedure:

  1. Take a lunch bag and fold down to about 2" from the bottom


2.  Hole punch the top, about an inch or so from the right and left sides. You will later thread the pipe cleaner through the top to create a handle and to attach the pages inside the book.
3.  Allow students to decorate the front.  I created a small cover page- see the top, left square with the "K book".  My son then used some stickers and construction paper to add his own creative flair.
3.  Decide what kind of cards/pages you will place inside. All the cards for this book had pictures and words that have a /k/ sound.
  
4.  Hole punch the top of the cards and thread onto the pipe cleaner.  Then, attach the pipe cleaner to the holes in the brown bag.

Tip:  I placed the pipe cleaner through the bottom holes of the bag first, then through the word cards, and then threaded the pipe cleaner through the top holes of the bag. You can do this in a variety of different ways.  You could thread the pipe cleaner and just use as a handle (see the top picture).  Then, you could staple the pages inside the book instead of attaching to the pipe cleaner.
Kids like to carry these with the nifty little pipe cleaner handle!  To read, they open the book and flip through the pages.  I had Christopher say each word and use in a sentence.  I included his target words for this week.  This offers versatility because as gets new words, we will add new cards.


This school year, I plan to have my students make a sight word book that they can take home to practice and then bring back to add more words as they learn and master them.


Other ideas for the paper bag book: counting/numbers, the alphabet, vowels, shapes, retelling a story with pictures, writing/drawing an original story, spelling words/vocabulary words and illustrations, parts of speech, phonics, story elements, word families, and lots more! 

You can take any concept/skill/strategy and use this handy little book to showcase learning.  Blank books could be placed in a writing center.

Click the link below to see my listing for my speech book that also includes additional activities.





 I just love how simple, practical, and inexpensive this idea is!  Thank you, Dr. Jean, for your inspiration!

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The "Write" Stuff! A Product Review

When TPT seller, Martha Moore, contacted me to review her latest writing product, I gladly accepted!  Teaching writing to students of any age can be difficult, but it can be even trickier with the little ones.  Martha makes it so easy with her new packet 15 Writing Lessons for Primary Grades 

 



This mega packet contains fifteen separate writing lessons, each a week long, complete with clear teacher directions, a variety of writing prompts, and modelsReviewing her product was not only fun, but I cannot wait to use these lessons with my kindergarten and first grade students this year!

My Review

Product Length: Total pages186 pages.  There are (15) separate writing lessons with detailed instructions for each day of instruction.  Lessons can stand alone and you can use throughout the year as your curriculum dictates. With (15) lessons, this offers three months of writing instruction!

Age Level:  Kindergarten, first, and second grades

Organization:  This is critical in a huge packet, and Martha does this brilliantly!  At the beginning of the packet, she has clear and concise teacher directions, an overview, and a table of contents with hyperlinks.  This is so useful because you do not have to scroll down 100+ pages to find what you are looking for.  In addition, each lesson is formatted in the same manner with specific directions and then items for each step of the writing process.  This creates unity within the entire unit, making it easy to navigate and implement.

Visually Appealing:  Well, let's put it this way.  When I asked my two sons, ages 5 and 6, to select a writing activity they wanted to try out, they were so excited with the graphics and clip art used!  They loved the aliens and pets.  Martha creates her own creative and unique clip art!  Some of the clip art she uses in the samples/models are hand drawn to look like a child's drawing.  The entire package is colorful, crisp, and clean.  Graphic organizers and writing paper are in black and white for optimal printing. However, the sample graphic organizers contain appealing clip art and yes, are very visually appealing.




Practicality/Usefulness: All components of the packet are extremely practical and generic enough to implement into any classroom.  Each of the 15 writing units gives an overview and a day-by-day plan to use.  My six year old son selected the "My Robot" writing.  There were two pre-writing organizers:  one for drawing his ideas and a four-square organizer for writing notes about his robot.  Each unit follows the writing process from brainstorming to final draft.  Sample organizers with cute clip art and kid-friendly examples are included to use for modeling.  Very appropriate for k-2.  The writing topics will appeal to students and the organizers are large enough for drawing and writing.  The author even includes two different sets of lined paper for drafting and final copy, one with small and one with larger lines.

Overall Quality:  I found all the printables to be very well done and professionally written.  Formatting is efficient, neat, and the font is very appropriate for little eyes.




Thoroughness:  The unit is very detailed and not only includes 15 different writing lessons, but the topics are varied (pets, seasonal, families) and represent a variety of writing purposes (write to inform, opinion, how-to, narrative, autobiography).  Extra resources are included: Three different portfolio cover pages with different designs, a "Considerate Compliments" handout with prompts for students to praise each other's work, and a "Gracious Guidance" handout to teach students how to offer positive, constructive criticism. Extra graphic organizers are included at the end.





In closing, this packet is well worth the price.  Priced at just $14.00, you receive each lesson for less than a dollar in addition to many other resources.  As I was experimenting with the packet with my two sons (rising kindergartener and first grader), I appreciated that two different types of pre-writing were offered since the youngest needs to draw first to think through his ideas.

Click on the pic below to visit Martha's store!  She has over 160 incredible products!




Thank you, Martha, for giving me this opportunity!

Happy Writing! 

If you would like me to review one of your preschool to grade 5 literacy products, I would be very pleased to do so. If interested, send a message to me at teachermomof3@comcast.net



Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Bloggers Blog Hop!

Are you a new blogger?  If so, come join the newbie bloggers blog hop and meet lots of new friends!

Grade Three is the Place for Me is hosting!  Click the button below to visit her blog and join in on the fun!



Link up and share a little about yourself!

 1. what state you are in

 2. your current teaching position
 3. your teaching experience
 4. when you started blogging
 5. share a blogging tip / blogging resource



1.  I live in PA, but teach in MD.  I live almost on the Mason-Dixon line!
2.  My current position is a reading specialist and literacy coach for preschool to grade 5 in a Christian school.
3.  I am about to start my 24th year of teaching!
4.  I started blogging on May 24, 2012- on my mother's birthday!  :-)
5.  Blogging tip:  If you see an established blog author or an author whose blog you're interested in, looking for guest bloggers, be sure to contact the author.  I have guest blogged several times and it was a great opportunity to meet new friends, learn from others, and let others know a little about me.

Make sure you link up!  I am enjoying meeting new bloggers just like me!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cloudette: A Must-Read Pic Book!

My position at my school is two-fold:  I am an elementary reading specialist and a literacy coach for preschool to grade 5.  Although most of my day is spent working with students, I do work with teachers, modeling lessons and helping to implement new techniques, programs, and strategies.  I love both aspects of my job, and the only complaint I have is one you all can relate to: I need more time!

When I work with students, I usually have a 30-45 minute time slot for a pull-out or a push-in. My position may be a little different than at your school.  Last year I used the program Corrective Reading for three students for 40 minutes a day, but other than that, I have created my own program for literacy enrichment and interventionThe program changes each year as I adapt it to students' needs.  Depending on the students, my program is carefully blended and crafted to include Guided Reading, elements of Reading Recovery, Reciprocal teaching, and Daily 5/CAFEThrow in some differentiated instruction, Universal Design for Learning, technology, and CCSS, and there you have it!


All of this is my long-winded way of saying, that when I create units/packets/activities, they cannot be too large because I do not have a large literacy block.  Plus, my purpose is different than that of a classroom teacher.  I entered teaching in the late 1980s, the peak of whole language and thematic teaching.  So, it is natural for me, it's in my blood, to want to create huge, thematic, integrated, units, especially when the text is very, very good.  But, I just cannot do so with my current position.  So, what I mostly create is designed for small group intervention, remediation, and enrichment.

 My new literacy activity unit/packet that I just listed is based on my new favorite book, Cloudette, by Tom Lichtenheld.  I read this sweet little picture book last spring and bought it as gift for the three 2nd graders I worked with.  What a wonderful story to teach students how very important they are and that they have the propensity to do great things!  An added bonus is that you can integrate it with a weather unit!  Click on the pic below to see the listing.



The focus of the packet is working with words: vocabulary, compound words, and contractions.  I included a thinking journal for students to interact with the text and to develop their comprehension.  Some active reading strategies I included are:  predicting, visualizing, cause-effect, inferring, and more!


I bought my copies from a Scholastic book order last year for just a few dollars.



You can grab the FREE weather thinking map I used in the packet by clicking on the pic below.  This is designed to use before, during, and after reading to activate prior knowledge, document learning, and for assessment after reading.


Graphics by KPM Doodles 

I cannot wait to use this with my students at the beginning of the school year. Many of my students struggle with self-confidence and feeling "smaller" than their peers. The packet is designed for first and second grades, but my 5 year old loved the story as well, and it can be used with kindergarten students with modifications. My very selective and particular 6 year old who claims not to like anything "cute" thought it was a hoot!! Driving in the car today he said, "Look!  That little cloud looks just like Cloudette!  I wonder what she will do?"


Take time today to admire nature's beauty and yes, the cuteness of clouds!  If you have not read this picture book yet, make sure you a grab a copy!


Happy Weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thank You, Primary Reading Party!

Cindy, author Primary Reading Party, surprised me this week by awarding me the Liebster Award!  Thank you so very, very much! Be sure to join the party and check out Cindy's blog!



Blogging is still so new to me, and I am very thankful and appreciative for all of my followers. Back in May, I began this adventure to connect with teachers and specialists, to share, and to learn.  WOW! I have learned so much from all of my new bloggy friendsYou have inspired and supported me, and for that I say thank you!

This award is named for the German word "Liebster," which translates to "beloved" or "favorite", and it is given to "new, up and coming bloggers."
 
The rules:
1. Link back to the person who gave it to you.
2. Post the award to your blog.
3. Give the award to at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.

Here are the blogs I have awarded the Liebster Blog to:
  
Congratulations, ladies!!!  Be sure to show them some bloggy love and check out their blogs.  You'll be glad you did!
Stay cool, relax, and don't work too hard!

 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Would You Like A New Custom-Made Blog??

Have you checked out Design by Christi?  A week or so ago, I contacted her about creating a custom-made blog for my classroom that I will use in the fall to communicate with parents, document my professional learning goals, and showcase student accomplishments.  She was incredible:  talented, creative, professional, and kept in constant contact with me.  Oh, and did I mention that she completed my blog in two (yes, you read that correctly!)  TWO days!

Take a peek at my classroom blog hereChristi took my vision and brought it to life!  I am so excited to share this with my students and parents when school begins!

Now, that I have my classroom blog ready to launch, I have been dreaming about a new design for this blog.  Hmmm... I'm thinking of having it coordinate with my classroom design.  I want to keep the owl theme, but have it be a bit more polished and professional.  I'd like to add pages at the top and streamline it since I do not like clutter on a website... it is too distracting for me.  Now, clutter, in my office, that is another story!


Head on over to Christi's to help her celebrate her one month anniversary of her design blog!! She is having a giveaway:  a total, custom-made blog design that is loaded with options!  Click her button below to enter!  This is a $45 value!



Design by Christi 
 
 
Don't forget to look at her portfolio!  You will be amazed at what she has accomplished in just a month!

FLASH Sale!





The heat has finally gotten to me, I'm about to melt, and I must have lost my mind because my brand new little shop is 30% off!!!!!

Hurry, because as soon as I cool down and come to my senses the sale will be gone.... well, you know.... in a FLASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Beyond Excited!

YIPPEE!!!  YAY!!!!  WOOT!!!!

Can you hear my excitement all over bloggy land??  What has caused this glee, you may ask?  Did I reach 1000 followers over night?  Did I sell oodles of products over night? Did my oldest son receive a full scholarship to his college? Did I win a vacay to Hawaii?

Well, the answer to all of the above is no (but there is still hope, and I have faith!).  Yesterday was a stellar day, however!  My son did receive notice that he ROCKED his AP history exam, I spent a relaxing day at the pool, AND I received a message from Lori at Teaching With Love and Laughter  that I was a winner in her giveaway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  

Yes!  I am beyond excited that I won the HearALL Assessment recorder from Learning Resources!!! I have been trying to win the EasiSpeak Microphone or this HearALL recorder for months now.  

How will I use this?  Oh, let me count the ways!  First, this will make a great tool for my youngest son who has Selective Mutism and will not speak out loud at school or to his speech therapist.  He will only whisper to them, which is an improvement from being completely mute, but still makes it rather difficult for the teachers/therapist to assess himI can record him practicing his speech therapy, reading sight words, or a book, and upload a file and send to the teachers for assessment!

In the classroom, I will use it to record students' reading and discussion during our small group intervention time.  Then, I can send the file to the classroom teachers along with my weekly data/anecdotal records reports.  In addition, I can upload the files to my classroom blog for parents to listen as we sing songs, read poems, plays, etc.

Thank you so much, Lori, for this opportunity!  Please make sure you visit Lori's blog!  She is my new bloggy friend and I just adore her blog and learn so much from her!


Teaching With Love and Laughter

Monday, July 16, 2012

Favorite Books Linky Party!

Photobucket
 


Oh, this is so, so fun!  I'm linking up with Lindsey from The Teacher Wife for a linky party to share our favorite picture books!  How in the world will I choose?  I cannot say that these are my favorites because I have about a million favs.  But, I can say that these books are my new favorite picture books!

  1. I Knew You CouldA Book for All the Stops in Your Life  by Craig Dorfman.  My very second blog post back in May was about this book and how much I love it!  The book's sweet, encouraging theme picks up where The Little Engine That Could Leaves off. I bought each of my first grade intervention students a copy as an end of the year gift.  I even bought one as a high school graduation gift for my oldest son! You can read my review here.





2.  Cloudette  by Tom Lichtenheld.  Here's another touching and humorous story about a little cloud who wonders if she has anything important to contribute. She finds her silver lining and discovers what a big difference a little cloud can make!

Cloudette



3.  Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord.  This hilarious, predictable, rhyming story was a favorite with my students for take-home reading.  Join little hamster as he visits a junkyard and builds his race car for the "Hot Rod Race".  Who will win the race?

Hot Rod Hamster


 Speaking of Hot Rod Hamster, I have a literacy packet in my TPT store that I created for my intervention group.  The packet features adorable, custom made clip art by Charlotte's Clips from TPT.

4Alphabet Rescue by Audrey Wood.  My two sons who know their alphabet quite well adore this book and never tire of rereading!  Of course, they love the firetruck theme and how the lowercase letters come to the rescue.  This is kind of like a sophisticated Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!
Alphabet Rescue



5.  ... and my final choice is... Curious George Tadpole Trouble by H.A. Rey.  This hysterical and informative book about the lifestyle of a frog is a must-have if you study frogs!  My boys love it especially since we have three tadpoles of our own, and they can make many text-self connections with George's antics!


Curious George Tadpole Trouble (CGTV 8x8)


I am going to stop myself here and check out all of the picture book recommendations at The Teacher WifeHead on over to her blog and join the fun!

Happy Reading!

Smiley Faces and Noodles!

Hmmm... what do speech therapy, smiley faces, and a pool noodle have in common?  Well, keep reading and you will find out!


Although I am not a speech language pathologist, I do have a great interest in speech development, therapy, and articulation problems.  My youngest son has a speech delay and articulation difficulties.  To complicate matters, he also has Selective Mutism, a childhood anxiety disorder, that I have written about before.  You can read these posts here , here, and here.


Just mentioning speech therapy causes him to stress.  He goes weekly, and although he has been seeing the same therapist for a year, he will not talk out loud to her; he will only whisper.  So, I have had to get creative to make practicing his sounds and homework fun for him.  As he's practicing his sounds, he gets very anxious and anticipates having to see his therapist and talk out loud.


To make practicing fun, I will take the target words, sounds, and sentences and make a game out of them.  I have a few in my TPT store; all are articulation games.

Using the noodle to hold word cards
The noodle also works well as a card holder when playing Uno!



Now today, I had an idea using that pool noodle that I told you about a few weeks ago.


This is what I came up:




This is what I did:
  • Used the pool noodle piece I had cut earlier (I cut a 9" piece off the noodle)
  • I used a box cutter to slice a small slit in the top, going left to right to make a card holder
  • I took my son's sentences for the target sound of /g/, typed them, adding smiley faces under each word and a matching picture.
  • I placed the sentence strips in the pool noodle.
Using the noodles makes practicing much more kinesthetic and interesting than the worksheet.  One tip: place a marker or chunky pencil behind the noodle so it doesn't wobble or fall backwards.


Because my son is getting ready for kindergarten and is learning to read, I added the smiley faces to work on Concepts About Print, specifically 1-1 matching.  He can touch the smiley faces as he reads the sentences to and with me.  I can also sneak in a little "lightning word" practice as well!





Click on the pic above to grab a free copy of the sentence strips I made.  Hopefully they will be of use to someone who is a speech therapist or they can be used with reading.


If you have any fun ways for kids to practice target sounds, specifically /k/ and /g/ please share!  I'd love to read them!


Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lightning Words!

Oh, snap! (does anyone besides me still say that?) Saturday was not the "pool day" my two youngest and I had hoped for.  So, we took our time getting our of our pj's, ran to the library, and just goofed around.

As I was fooling with a new game board design, my five and six year old sons came over to check out my work.  They offered suggestions and designed a new game board for the DOLCH pre-primer sight words.

I call sight words "lightning words" because a good reader needs to know them lightning fast so he/she can use their smart brain energy on the tricky words.  When students come to me for intervention, I introduce them to this terminology and we make lightning bolts in the air super fast as we read and learn words.  They think it is fun and so do I!

Now, this is not what I had planned to work on today.  I actually wanted to work on two literacy packets for two picture books I will be using at the beginning of the year. But, alas, my boys were so interested and the 5 year old needs to work on his pre-primer words, and I can use this game with my intervention groups. (can you say RUN ON sentence? LOL)

The design of the game would not have been my first choice. It is not really my style.  However, my boys love it, and I figured if they like it, then other kids may too. It's not about me, anyway!

So here is it is:

 The game includes *40* word cards from the Dolch pre-primer list.  Just add a die and game markers! 

Noah and Christopher think other kids would love this game, so click on the pic to grab a copy for FREE!

Enjoy your day... may you have rest, peace, and refreshment!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lessons From A Turtle






 Earlier this summer, my husband added a garden pond to a small flower garden in our backyard. Although the garden is tiny, we have bird feeders, a bird bath, a small fountain, and now a small pond.  The backyard is humming and buzzing with activity as my two youngest boys play and as our outdoor friends come to visit.  A perk is that I can see it from my office window and it offers a pleasant brain break for me as I'm working throughout the day!


Not long after my husband installed the pond, he took a trip to a pet store and came back with a red-eared slider aquatic turtle.  Now we have two!  I have never been much of a turtle fan, but I have grown to love these little reptiles!





 I have made a few observations of Yertle and Timmy over the last few weeks:
  • They stick together often sunning themselves on the rocks.  Timmy, the smaller of the two, will often lay his head on Yertle!
  • They spend lots of time under water, away from the noise and distraction of the backyard.  What are they thinking?  Plotting a scheme to escape?
  • Their aquatic home is small, yet they are quite content
  •  For the most part, they live in peace with 5 fish, 2 tadpoles, and an algae eater.  Well, now the tadpoles are gone, so it was not so peaceful!
  • They are cautious... always aware of their surroundings... their sense of smell and sight is much stronger than their hearing
  • They are quiet and don't make a sound.
  • They are careful observers.


That's Yertle on the right!

One can learn much from a turtle...

I don't have any turtle products- yet.  But in honor of my new tadpoles (who are in a the barrel fountain and away from Yertle and Timmy) growing tiny legs, here's a Froggy FREEBIE for you!



 If you know of any turtle picture books (besides Dr. Seuss) that my kinder and firstie sons would enjoy, please leave a comment!


Have a super-good weekend!!
 
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