Sunday, January 3, 2016

Teaching Story Elements with Kevin Henkes Books

I just love Kevin Henkes' books. Every. Single. One of them. Not only are they creative stories, but they also have great life lessons to teach my students as well. Another reason I love his books is they have the most incredible characters; and they really lend themselves as great resources to use while teaching story elements and reading comprehension!

A class favorite that I always read every year is Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. It's a great story, especially for the beginning of the year when you are introducing rules and procedures in the classroom!



In this book, Lilly brings all sorts of fun little trinkets to school and she is excited to share them with the class - a little TOO excited. She interrupts the teacher multiple times until, finally, the teacher takes her prized possessions away and she gets just a little upset. Various shenanigans occur throughout the story until she finally realizes that she shouldn't have acted the way she did. The book is great for a character study on the main character, Lilly, because she changes so often throughout the story and goes through a myriad of emotions. So I used the book for a little study on identifying character traits and describing how the main character changed throughout the story from beginning to end. We created a little anchor chart together and these are all of the words my students came up with to describe Lilly - they did a great job!



You can see from the web words how much the main character changed throughout the story and it was a great discussion to have with my kids to help them understand how to describe her!

The next day, we read the story again and my focus was to have them work on retelling the story by sequencing events. We used the picture retelling cards from the wonderful Guiding Readers K-1 pack by Deanna Jump and Deedee Wills. I put my students into small groups and gave them each a set of retelling cards. They then had to work together with their groups to try and retell the story by putting their pictures in order from beginning to end. It was awesome for me to walk around and hear them all collaborating together on why a certain picture should be moved; or put in this spot; and why, etc. It really helped them think more deeply about the events of the book.



After they put their pictures in order, we came back together as a class and I put the pictures in the correct order so they could check their work. They were SO excited when they got a picture in the correct sequence! Having my students talk with each other and use visuals to retell the story really helped them have a more in depth understanding of what happened in the book, rather than just hearing me stand up there and talk about it as they listened.

Once we finished our group work, my students then got a smaller version of the retell pictures and had to sequence the pictures again on their own. This was a great check for understanding for me on who really understood the sequence of events and what little friends still needed a bit of support on it!
(The small retell pictures are also from the ladies' Guiding Readers pack)!


On the third day, we read the story again, this time by listening to this version on Youtube, just to change it up a little bit so that it didn't get too stale for them:


I liked this version because it is read by a teacher and she stops and asks little comprehension questions here and there! After hearing the story, we focused on story elements: characters, setting, plot, problem, and solution. Mind you, even though our activity on the third day focused on story elements, we had been talking about story elements and learning about them long before this day, so they had a little background knowledge. To make it fun, we made a little book in the shape of a purse: Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse Story Elements! The kids did SUCH an awesome job writing and illustrating these details about the story. They absolutely loved that they had their own little plastic purse at the end, too! It was the perfect culminating activity for this story.







Another Kevin Henkes book that I love reading to my students is Kitten's First Full Moon. It's a simple book, but a great beginning book for teaching students how to retell and summarize a story.


First, I read the story aloud and, as we go through the story, I'll stop periodically and ask my students what the kitten did using order words such as first, next, then, after that... this helps them recall the order that events occurred in the story because they've got that vocabulary to guide them. After discussing the main events in the story, I modeled how to summarize the story in their own words. I told my kids excitedly that they would get to tell the story with the words that THEY wanted, as if they were going to be the author. They were so into it! I whipped up this little writing craftivity to put with their summaries and they turned out so great! In the story, the kitten sees the moon and is attempting to get to it because he thinks it is a bowl of milk. In the craftivity, he is peeking over the edge to try and get to the moon, which is popping off the page 3D style!



Here are some student samples of the Kitten's First Full Moon story summary craftivity:





If you're interested in adding this story summary/reading comprehension craftivity to your Kevin Henkes' study, you can grab it from my TPT store by clicking the picture below! There are multiple differentiated writing template options available in the pack to help you best fit the needs of your students!

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I could go on and on about all of his books... they are all wonderful options for teaching story elements and reading comprehension skills! What are some of your favorite Kevin Henkes books?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Top Wishlisted Products!

If you haven't heard, the annual TPT Cyber Monday Sale begins November 30th! I have been flooding my personal TPT Wishlist with tons of items I've had my eye on, and I'm sure you have too! 


I'm linking up with Jen over at Teaching in the Tongass for Top Wishlisted Items! These are the top 3 products in my store that people have put on their wish lists. There is also some customer feedback attached from teachers that personally used each one!



Shapes Galore for the Common Core is not only my top wishlisted item, it's also the top selling product in my store! This pack includes fun activities and resources for teaching 2D and 3D shapes. In this unit, you'll find classroom resources, decor, games, printables, and more to help you teach these geometry standards. Click here to get a closer look at all that is included!


My Kindergarten Journeys Interactive Notebooks for Leveled Readers are made to go along with the Journeys curriculum and are a great supplement to add to your teaching resources. There are differentiated, leveled interactive notebook activities that go with all of the leveled readers in Unit 1. As I was using the leveled readers with my own students, I found that I really wanted something concrete that they could work on all of the reading concepts and skills that I could show their families as a record of their progress... and this is what I came up with! My kids really enjoyed using them and creating them in their own reader's notebooks. I also have sets for units 2-6 as well! Click here to see pictures of the notebooks in action!


Counting Tools for Back to School is a comprehensive teaching resource that can be used to help you teach all of the Counting and Cardinality standards in a fun, engaging way! There are classroom anchor charts, assessments, math stations, games, number sense printables, teaching resources, and more! You can use these activities all year long! Click here to check it out!

Hopefully you found a few great items that you can add to your wishlist for the big sale! You can find other great items by heading on over to Teaching in the Tongass to see what other top items TPT sellers have in their shops - and even link up yourself, if you like! Happy shopping!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Spider Study!

For the past week and a half, we have been up to our ears studying everything we can about spiders! I've never had the time to do a spider study before, so I was so excited to gather up as many spider-related resources as I could in reading, science, and math. I truly feel that cross-curricular studies are the most meaningful ones for students.

First, I began by collecting as many non-fiction books as I could find about spiders. Here are some options if you are looking for some great ones to use with your K-2 spider study.



I am blessed to have a smartboard in my classroom, so instead of using a bunch of chart paper to make various anchor charts and posters, I decided to streamline it and keep them all in digital form. It ended up working out SO nicely! We could easily go back and refer to our schema chart and add new notes pages for each topic we were learning about. Not to mention, I didn't have to worry about finding a place to hang up a million posters/anchor charts. Here's a few of our digital anchor charts we made:




Even if you don't have a smartboard in your room, you could easily create every single one of these anchor charts on big paper, powerpoint, etc.! We ended up making a separate page for each topic that we learned and studied about spiders.

I also got by with a little help from my TPT friends! I used A Year of Many Firsts' AMAZING non-fiction spider unit, which you can find here! She has gorgeous pictures and so many creative resources to use. We ended up referring to her spiders digital fact book, printable student readers, and spider fact book to record all of the facts we found. 


Lyndsey included 3 differentiated student read aloud books. I chose the middle leveled one for my first graders and we spent time reading and highlighting important details we found in the text.


Then we used the books to write our own facts in their student fact books, which we used all week to record facts about spiders.



Each book page had a different topic to write and draw about. My students loved filling it all out; and their writing turned out amazing! I'm so glad that there are amazing TPT sellers that help me teach wonderful units in my classroom! Thanks, Lyndsey!

Here are a few other fact-finding activities we did:

Parts of a Spider Labeling Anchor Chart

Then we used the anchor chart to label it using another resource from A Year of Many Firsts' spider unit. 


I also implemented many spider themed activities for whole group math, reading, and literacy centers. It's amazing what a little themed activity will do to increase my students' excitement and engagement in a learning activity. Since they were loving learning about spiders, they were all in on these fun activities! 

For our ELA time, I create this little Smartboard interactive Spider Sentence sort. The students had to move the spider's legs to the side of the body that it belonged to (sentence or not a sentence).



My students absolutely loved reading the Spider poem from Deedee Wills' October Poetry Unit. I gave them a giant plastic spider to act out the poem with each other's names and they couldn't even get over it! We'll be adding the poem to our reading interactive notebooks later this week and my kids will partner read it to practice fluency.


I also implemented our spider theme into many math activities we did last week. We've been working on addition concepts for the last few weeks, including decomposing numbers, so this adorable little freebie craftivity from Wild About Firsties was the perfect activity!

You can download the freebie here!

I hung them all up on a bulletin board in my classroom for some festive student decor!


We also did a little graphing activity: Do You Think Spiders are Cool or Creepy? Needless to say, I did NOT agree with the majority of my kids! Ha!


One of my teammates came up with this little data analysis sheet and we compared our results!


In math tubs, we've been working on fun themed activities like my Spidery Roll and Cover:


...Which can be found here along with other Halloween math tubs in my Trick or Treat! Math is Sweet! Math Stations Pack (click on the picture below to find out more!)

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To add a little fun to literacy centers, I made this little Spider Digraph Spinner game that my students loved! They spun the spinner, and based on whatever digraph they landed on (ch, th, sh), they had to find a word that began or ended with the digraph and color it by the color code till they filled up the entire spider web!



You can download this game for FREE by clicking on the picture below!

 photo spider preview 1_zpscssc015v.png

So, with all the fun we had learning about spiders, I must admit I am sad to see it go! However, that will be short-lived because this week we are going to begin our BAT unit... always one of my faves!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Five for Friday 10.16.15


Hey everyone! This has been a super odd week for me with a day off of school, parent teacher conferences, and two half days... but it didn't mean that we weren't just as busy in first grade! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share some of the fun I had this week.


We've been doing a big spider study for the last week and a half and my kids are SO into it. At conferences this week, so many parents were asking about our spider unit because their kids have been going home and telling them all they've learned. I love that! We kicked it off with a little spider graph that asked, "Do you think spiders are cool or creepy?" Note: I did not agree with the majority of my class. ;)




In keeping with our spider theme, we made this super cute Spider Sums to 8 craftivity from Wild About Firsties. We brainstormed all the ways to make 8 as a class and then each student picked one number sense they wanted to represent with their spider legs. 



I guest posted on my lovely friend Mrs. 3rd Grade's blog the other night as part of her 30 Amazing Teachers series and shared about a cute little Halloween gift I'm giving my first grade teammates this week! Click here to see how I put it all together (there's a link to the free gift tag I used from Eighteen25)!



Now that I'm teaching first grade, I'm teaching a lot of sounds, digraphs, vowel teams, etc. that I never had to teach in kindergarten before, so I was lacking a lot of resources to go with those phonics skills and struggling to find any printables that worked for my students. So, I did what any good teacher blogger does... I made my own! Included in this pack are 5 no-prep printables to go with the  -ck ending sound digraph (-ack, -eck, -ick, -ock, -uck). Students will read the words to practice fluency, highlight them in each word family, write and label pictures, read sentences, and write/illustrate their own sentences using -ck words. I tested these activity sheets out with my students and it really helped them with their spelling and fluency because they were interacting with the words in so many different ways. I just uploaded it to my TPT store... click on the picture to find out more!

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One of my favorite things about fall is... hockey starts! Hockey is my absolute favorite sport and I root hard for my Coyotes! I got to go to the home opener earlier in the week and had a blast!


I'm so glad Friday has arrived! I am ready for a weekend! Hope you'll link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun!