Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Journey Through HM Journeys for Kindergarten...

So this is my first year with a new reading curriculum; and my kinder team and I have been roughing our way through Houghton Mifflin Journeys as we figure out what works, what doesn't, and what we need to make to supplement our curriculum. While we were thrilled to finally get a curriculum that fit with the Common Core Standards, no reading curriculum is ever really one-size fits all. By and large, we do really like the stories that came with this edition, but there really isn't anything that came with it to use as a reading comprehension piece. Now, the good thing is, we have been making and creating our own resources for YEARS, so this is nothing new for us! My team has been collaborating all year as we all try to create things to kind of boost what are, um... shall we say... less than stellar "workbook" activities the curriculum comes with. I thought I'd share a few of those activities that we've come up with in case any of you were in the same boat with needing a few ideas and resources to make it a little more exciting!

A few weeks ago, we read the story "Dear Mr. Blueberry" by Simon James. This actually was one of my students' favorite books that we've read this year. It's a story about a girl who imagines she has a whale in her pond and proceeds to write letters to her teacher asking questions about whales. Her teacher writes back to her with answers and facts about whales.

After we read the story, I had each table group get together and decide on one question they wanted to ask about whales. I gave them a bit of discussion time and these are the questions that each table came up with:

Since the story is in letter format, I had each student write their table's question in friendly letter format using a little template I created.

Every year my kindergarten students seem to love all things non-fiction, so they ended up with some really great questions! I got out my stash of books about whales to see if we could use informational text to find out the answers.

We were able to find most of the answers to our questions in the books, but I wanted to present facts about whales visually too. I used one of my favorite animal non-fiction resources, the National Geographic Kids website!

Their "Creature Feature" section has tons of animals to choose from and every one I have gone to has had a video, fact pages, photos, and even sound bytes. The kids loved being able to watch a real whale in action. After we found the answers to our questions, the kids filled out another little page to show what they had learned, like this:

Then we put those two items, along with a super easy whale craft, to create the finished product to show what we had learned about whales!

I absolutely love how they turned out and I can't even tell you how much my students enjoyed this activity as well! Love it when a new idea turns out well... cause as every teacher knows, they don't always! Haha!

Fast forward to this week, where we read a story called "Atlantic", which was about the Atlantic Ocean. One of the comprehension focuses for the week was identifying Author's Purpose, which isn't always the easiest thing for my little kinder kids to understand. Throughout reading, we continually discussed what information the author was telling us, and used the big word "WHY" to think about why he would be telling us about such things. I wanted just a quick little activity for my students to show their thinking after reading the story, so I quickly made up these little labels for their interactive notebooks that helped them write and illustrate about the author's purpose.

As for sight words... hoo boy, there are a lot of words for them to learn in this program. As of last week, my students are now expected to learn 6 different sight words a week... SIX! It's hard to dive in and help the kids master them when we have a flurry of words all of a sudden, so I've had to come up with some new and creative ways for my kids to practice their new words. Some of them are tough for them to remember, too, like "who, what, with, how, where"... since they are all so similar. Back in December, I started putting together monthly sight word sentence activity packs to help them practice reading the words, writing the words, and building sentences in a fun way. I've since released a January/Winter pack and now have recently put my newest one for February, "Sweetheart Sentences", in my TPT store! It's been great to see my students using them and building their confidence with reading the sight words and putting mixed-up sentences together. Here's a sample of one of my January mixed-up sentence stations:

In my February pack, there are three different sets of these mixed-up sentences and two different sets of predictable sentence activities, all with various recording sheets! I've also included 22 different Read It, Write It, Build It, Draw It! printables that review every sentence used in the pack.

To make these sight word sentence building packs, I am following the sight word list from Journeys. However, you do NOT have to have Journeys to use these! All of these words are from regular Dolch lists as well, so you can use them however you can to best fit your needs. Click on the picture below to check it out in my little shop!

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  1. Yay! I work in the Reading Room at my school and we are using Jourbeys for the first time. I'm excited to try out some if your sight word activities!

    1. That's great! I just put my new March sight word pack up too if you want to check it out! :)