Saturday, June 30, 2012

Daily 5-Chapter 3

A Meeting Place

picture of students reading Dr. Seuss books
The carpet area was always our meeting place.

A gathering place.  The students knew where they could read, and we gathered together to talk about the books we read.  During Seuss week, we had a lot of fun counting how many books we read!

Book Bags!

The bags were to store five books--students are ready to read!
I love using these bags--for about everything.  They are big enough to hold large picture books. They have places for the children's names.  Easy!!!!

Just-Right Book

picture of brown bear book by Bill Martin
Just-right book for my girl.

My E Girl finding all the words to Brown Bear!

She could find every word!

     Finding the just right book is hard!  I have worked really hard with my kids find books they would love and read.  Luckily, they all love to read!
     For my oldest, I went to Fountas and Pinnell's index from Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children, and requested books from the library within his level.  He would then choose out books  from the ten I brought home to read together.  I remember how frustrated he was one night with a book about hot air balloons.  He was clearly not going to read it when the book was too hard.
     For my second child, I had to find non-fiction books.  We bought quite a few, but again each company (not trade books) levels their books quite differently.  We found many he did enjoy.  Once he was able to read chapter books, he loved reading books about animals.  He loved Pee Wee's Tale, by Johanna Hurwitz.  He is now reading the Humphrey series.  
     For my daughter, I needed to find books that were repetitive in nature with simple illustrations.  I learned quickly that she did not like Fancy Nancy or Jan Brett books because the illustrations were too detailed.  I knew she loved Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin.  So I started with Brown Bear book, and used those to teach her to read at age three.  I typed up all the words to Brown Bear, cut out the words and sorted them page by page.  Then page by page she would pick out all the words and line them up.  By the end of the session, she could read the book.  Then we moved on to the other Bill Martin books, Eric Carl books, and Frank Asch books.  I also found, although out of print, Scary Larry and the Very Hairy Tarantula, by Bob Reese.  He wrote many well-written books meant to teach top-down reading model. .  It worked for my daughter because she has an amazing visual memory.  I could read her a word three or four times, and then she could read the word.  It is so much more the 5-finger rule.  It is knowing a child like a mother might know a child, and steering the child in the right direction.

A Signal

Music is a great signal!

I love Susan Salidor. This is a wonderful CD filled with music for circle time.  I would play Come and Make a Circle for the kids to clean up their books and join in the gathering place.

Correct Model/Incorrect Model

What does it look like when you read?
What does it sound like when you read?
What does it feel like when you read?

Ask these questions and as stated: routines, routines, routines!!!!

My conclusion:  if the routines are well established, then the teacher can focus on the difficult portion: teaching the children to read!

Chapter 3 is being hosted by Jana from Reading and Thinking Out Loud and Melissa from Mrs. Freshwater's Class.

Suzuki Saturday #2: Twinkle Rhythms

I like to think of myself as a "Creative Suzuki Mom"and not a "Tiger Mom", so I try to be a creative with piano practice. Our teacher uses these four phrases for our twinkle rhythms: Mississippi Hop Frog, Ice Cream Cone,  Run Pony Run Pony, and  Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

First I made a spinning game:
Twinkle Rhythm Game

I quickly found out that my daughter doesn't really like spinner games.  
I hope it works better for you than it did for me!

Then, I found some of these great Post-it notes at Target.

Perfect for Twinkle Rhythms

Star post-it notes

On each star I wrote new words for the twinkles.  My little E Girl loves Harry Potter--so we made some Harry Potter themed twinkle words:

Twinkle #1: Harry rides a broomstick
Twinkle #2: Dumbledore
Twinkle #3: Ron Weasley, Ron Weasley
Twinkle #4 (Theme): 

Hagrd's Hut is big and round.
By the forest it is found.
With a garden on the side.
Giant pumpkins it supplied.
Hagrid's Hut is big and round.
By the forest it is found.

Of course, you can do it with anything: travel, food, friends, and of course other common known twinkle rhythm words.  When I concentrated on the twinkles, I found that her technique on all songs improved.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Outings

feeding the kids
Feeding the kids at Farmer's Museum.
My boys just spent four days at their grandparents' house with five of their cousins.  It was called "Grandma's Camp."  They had a great time.  As a way to document their trip, I asked:  "What did you like?  What did you wish was different?  and What did you dislike?"

Here is what they came up with:

We loved:
  • going to Gilbert Lake.
  • feeding the animals at Farmers Museum.
  • going on the carousel.
  • eating New York pizza.
  • going to grandpa's lake.
  • feeding the kids (baby goats).
  • having grandma camp.
  • going to the Butterfly Conservatory.
  • seeing 5 red-eyed tree frogs.
  • skipping stones.
We wished:
  • it was longer.
  • we had more pizza.
  • we did boat races and other games with the boats.
  • had hard taco shells.
We disliked:
  • going home.
  • missing our parents.
So if you want to document any activity: camps, zoo trips, field trips, or rainy day activities you can grab the loved-wished-disliked chart.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What do authors do? What do illustrators do?

When I worked in a kindergarten classroom, the question was always asked, "What does the illustrator of a book do?"  It never seem to stick in their heads that the author wrote the words and the illustrator drew the pictures.  As a way to teach the difference, I wrote this little song.  

Sung to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

The author writes the words we read.
words we read,
words we read,
The author writes the words we read,
In every kind of book.

The illustrator draws and paints
draws and paints
draws and paints
The illustrator draws and paints
Inside a picture book.

For older kids, I might focus more on the process of writing and illustrating, not just the definition.  These books may help: 

This is a charming chapter book about the process of writing.  I think it would be a fun read aloud for students in second, third, and fourth grade.

Eileen Christelow, who wrote and illustrated the Five Little Monkeys series, also wrote What Do Authors Do? and What Do Illustrators Do?  They are both written as a graphic novels.  They show the process of writing and illustrating, and are a wonderful way to introduce the writing process and spark the imagination.

Now for older and younger students: books that are only illustrations are wonderful for the imagination and language development.

Here are two that I have enjoyed:

Free Fall, by David Wienser 
The Lion & the Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney

Finally, I must give a shout out to my favorite illustrator. Well if I had a favorite, he would be it.  

Eric Carle.

I love his website.   On his website, he shows how he makes his collages.  It is absolutely wonderful to watch.  
I love collage art.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Suzuki Saturday #1: Learning a new Song

Lightly Row or Hey There Mouse

After Em completed her first concert, we started working on Lightly Row. Her teacher suggested that I use different color beads to represent the different sections of the song.  A red bead for 5-3-3 and blue bead for 4-2-2.  It worked really well, except I couldn't remember from one practice to another practice which bead represented which section of the song.  Sometimes even during the same practice, I couldn't remember which bead represented which section of the song.  So I devised a plan--instead of beads what I really needed-- pictures.  I wanted pictures to go with each section of the song.  Luckily, our teacher gave us fun words for the song.  Once I had the pictures--the real fun began.  We put the pictures in plastic Easter eggs, hide them under puzzle pieces, or put magnets on the pictures and go fishing for different parts of the song.  It made piano a fun game, rather than a chore!

Hey there mouse.
In your house.

Better stay inside your house.

For the rest of the song go here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Daily 5-Chapter 1

I really enjoyed the first chapter because it helps me understand the wonderful possibilities of today's classroom.  As a great lover of children's literature, I want all students to come away from the classroom with the same love.  I believe that the Daily 5 offers a structure to accomplish that goal.  I hope after reading the book, that my first classroom would represent the values of Daily 5 where all the activities had a purpose and meaning, rather than just a way to fill a twenty minute block of time.

In addition, I felt the activities had purpose and meaning.  Reading and writing is a powerful tool when students do it with a purpose.  I love the idea of building stamina in children.  This coupled with modeling and purposeful work are powerful teaching tools.

One of the ways I feel that Daily 5 sets itself apart from other reading programs is each component is done daily.  Everyday the students know they are going to do the five components of reading.  They also will choose and take ownership of their learning.  Choice is a powerful tool!  I also believe it gives teachers a framework of how to incorporate writers and readers workshop in a succinct manner.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Important Book--A Giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed.

I love this book.  I ought to purchase the book, rather than deprive the library of its copy for months on end.  The illustrations are wonderful, and the writing is superb.  Margaret Wise Brown, in my opinion, is the one of the best prose-poetry writers in literature.  I use the Brown's prose-poetry structure  in many ways: cross-curriculum, expanding my daughter's language, and just to have fun!

Here is an example of how it can be used in a unit on money:

The important thing about a penny is that it is worth one cent.  It is true that it has Lincoln on the front, and his monument is on the back.  It is also true that it takes one hundred pennies to make a dollar.  But the important thing about a penny is that it is worth one cent.

My little Em loves this book.  She was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder,  and I love using it to expand her language.  Because she understands the structure so well, she can just plug in her words into the structure and create paragraphs quickly.  (I just love scaffolding!)

The Important Book 4-Square:

The Important Book 4-Square Template

Now drum roll please.

The important thing about this post is that it is my first giveaway. It includes a rubric for making an important book.  It asks that you post the giveaway on facebook, twitter, or your blog.  You can become a follower of my blog for more entries.  It is true you can write "important comments" for additional entries. It is also true you will receive a copy of book if you win. But the important thing about this post is that it is my first giveaway.

To win The Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown you must enter the giveaway.

To enter the giveaway:
1. Become a follower of my blog.  

Additional Entries:
1. Post the giveaway on facebook, twitter, or your own blog.

Bonus entries:  
1. Write an Important thing about summer is . . . . . .  and then add your important paragraph in comment section.
2. Have your children/students write an important thing about summer is . . . .    and add it in the comment section.

(Each comment will be an entry--so have each child/student's paragraph be a separate comment.)
The giveaway is open until midnight, Saturday, June 30.  A winner will be selected randomly, but I will post the writing entries!

(Make sure to leave an email address if you are a no-reply blogger so I can contact you if you win!)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Citrus Roll

How far can I roll the lime?

Not as far as the grapefruit or the orange.

This time it got a little farther.

Let's add up the points.

This is so awesome!

Next time let's make an "angry fruit" game--but one rule, we can't throw the fruit.

I love this activity because it involves math, physics, and of course, creativity.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Writing Wednesday


Ideas: Where does a writer get ideas?  Byrd Baylor found her ideas in nature, and so can everyone!

After you read the book, go for a nature walk with your children.  The children can either draw or write about nature.  You may want to give them the "just right" amount of natural objects to draw.  For some children that may be one, for other they may be five.  

Then you can write invitations for a celebration of nature.  To give writing a purpose, make the invitation a real event.  (Writing is always better if their is a real purpose!) The child chooses their celebration, but you can choose the date and time.

In the classroom, you can invite: parents, reading buddies, the principal, lunchroom aids, or custodians.

At home, you can invite: relatives, friends, or neighbors.  

I would love to hear how your celebrations turned out!

Here are some of our invitations:

You are invited to the first time I saw a bug.  It felt creepy to me!

You are invited to a celebration called Go Outside Day.  You will go outside and admire the beauty of outside.

You are invited to a special celebration called Pokey Day.  It hurt when I kept on getting poked.  Join me on the prairie.

Today, you are invited to a celebration called prickly things day.  Today was the first time I discovered prickly things,  come join me!

So find the book, enjoy nature, and plan a celebration!

You can always fold the paper, hamburger style twice to create an inviation.  But if you would rather, grab a rubric and make copies for your students.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's All About Comprehension

Two years ago, I went to the International Reading Association in Chicago, Illinois.  I loved it, and learned a great deal. A passionate Sharon Taberski declared, "Reading is all about comprehension." Ever since then, I have tried to guide my teaching with comprehension in mind. I started to look through my old notes from Reading Methods.  I found a real gem: THINGS TO NOTE ABOUT MODELING TEXT-TO SELF, TEXT-TO-TEXT, AND TEXT-TO-WORLD CONNECTIONS.

There were eighteen bullets, but I am going to narrow it down to ten.

  • Demonstrate how good readers think by thinking aloud.
  • Model text-to-self, text-to-text, text-to world connections separately.
  • Use a variety of books.
  • Think about where to pause and think aloud before modeling.
  • Demonstrate how to read different kinds of text structure (e.g., nonfiction is often read more slowly and with more rereading than fiction).  
  • Demonstrate how to learn what is needed before reading when background knowledge is inadequate for understanding.
  • Conduct short (10 or 15 minute) mini-lessons modeling with different books for a sustained period of time (e.g., text-to-text connections for a couple of weeks).
  • Model first, delay inviting children to participate until they understand the concept being modeled.
  • During individual conferences, have children think aloud in their independent reading.
  • Make classroom charts of text-to-text connections:
    • Start with a book being read.
    • List the title of a text with which it connects.
    • Have children initial their contributions.

The Literacy Map, J. Richard Gentry, 2000

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Summer Reading List

First, I gathered my professional books, and piled them high.

Then, I narrowed it down to seven books.

Finally, I narrowed it down to two books.  As part of my blog, I plan to create lesson plans and packets based on the teachings of these two books.  When that is done, I gather, pile and start it all over again.

If you take a teacher out of the classroom, she will only search for ways to make her classroom better.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Books, Books, and more Books

I love reading books, especially well-written books.  I continue to look for those well-written books, luckily they are in abundance.  I highly recommend these sites to find well-written books.

Living in Illinois, I am partial to their awards.  The Illinois School Library Media Association has several awards, but the Monarch Award is by far my favorite.  It focuses on picture books, and the nominees (as well as the winners) are marvelous!

The Geisel Award is given annually by the American Library Association for beginner books.  The award is named after Dr. Seuss who said, "Children want the same things we want: to laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted."  These books will definitely do that for both the teacher and the child.  The ALA has other awards for different age groups and categories.  Many of us grew up reading Newbery Award Winners.

The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District created grade level summer reading lists.   My son's teacher sent home the Fourth Grade List.  I was so thankful for additional reading suggestions.  They also include links to other award-winning books.

Finally, I love these suggestions put together by Not only is it organized by grade level, but also by category.  I have read most of the books for the primary grades, and they are wonderful!

First Grade
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade

Please share any of your resources for finding well-written books.  I know I haven't read them all . . . .yet.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Penguins . . . . . . . .

Penguins can slide on their bellies. 

Penguins have flippers.

Penguins are birds.

Penguins are super cute.

Penguins are mommies and daddies.

After our field trip, we filled out a graphic organizer.  Emily came up with all the answers.  I was amazed that she remembered how the penguins build rock nests.

So go ahead and grab a Can-Have-Are-Chart  and then waddle, swim, and hop your way to becoming penguins.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A CHEEZ-IT for a Song

Just another fun way to review Suzuki Book 1 songs.
This time we reviewed with CHEEZ-ITs.  I organized the songs by their starting note (or letter).  Emily would pull a CHEEZ-It out of the pre-sorted letters--and choose a song.  She had fun eating the CHEEZ-ITs and teasing me by starting the song on the wrong note several times!

It was hard to find enough Gs in the box, it seemed like there was an abundance of Qs. Which I guess is a pretty popular letter in scrabble, but not so useful when learning the piano!

Just grab the Book 1 songs worksheet, buy some crackers and play away!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

We Are Going on a Bear Hunt

Love, Love, Love this book!

After we read the book, we went through each page, and created the grass, river, mud, forest, snow storm, and cave.  It was a fun way to work on retelling the story.  

My daughter is making the snowstorm.  She knew it was the wind that was blowing the snow around, and drew the wind in all sorts of directions.  

Finally, we went on a walk.  Our lawn became the grass, the driveway the river, a tree the forest.  When we found the "bear" we ran back into the house and hid under the covers.  We made a great literary connection!