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Sally Hosokawa

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Maps and the Common Core

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Feb 23, 2017 3:19:00 PM


One of the ten Common Core Anchor Standards for Reading is to “integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.R.7). In addition to illustrations and diagrams, reading maps will fulfill this Common Core State Standard. Not only does map-reading further a students’ comprehension of nonfiction informational texts, this skill is also helpful for social studies and history lessons.

All maps provide information, but their specific function within a book depends on the textual context. Understanding these different functions will allow you, as an educator, to effectively discuss why an author decided to include a map and how a map brings important information to the text.  

Maps support an argument.

Wolves in the Wild, a nonfiction book from the Story World Real World series, argues that hunters threaten the future of wolves (7). This textual claim is supported by a map showing where “wolves used to live” (red) and where “wolves live” today (green). This visual evidence allows students to immediately understand that the wolf habitat is shrinking. Thus, the map strengthens an argument that is made through the text. 5337 Wolves in the Wild_Inside_FINAL (dragged).jpgMaps express diversity.

Breakfast Around the World opens with a two-page world map. The map is labeled with different breakfasts explained in the book. By pinpointing each breakfast on the same map, students can understand that these dishes really come from different corners of the world. A world map also encourage students to locate themselves and understand their geographic position relative to the children features in this book.

Maps explain history.

Anne Frank from the Hameray Biography series features a map of Germany and its surrounding countries (12). The map provides a visual aid for understanding that the Nazis crossed a border to invade the Netherlands, where Anne Frank lived with her family.

Maps provide information on different scales.

Nelson Mandela’s biography contains multiple maps. First, a map of Africa explains South Africa’s location within the continent (4). Then, a second map zooms in to focus on the country of South Africa and its major cities (13). Although both maps include South Africa, the first map provides a global context while the second focuses on the cities within the nation. Emphasize to your students that each map carries a certain perspective and scale.


Exposing your students to different maps is the key to honing the map-reading skills. Maps don’t just serve a purpose for geography and history lessons—they fulfill Common Core Reading Standards, too!


Click the left image below to learn more about Story World Real World, which contains Wolves in the Wild and Breakfast Around the World. Click the middle image to download a Teacher's Guide for Anne Frank. Click the right image to download a Teacher's Guide for Nelson Mandela.

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Topics: Common Core, Real World, Biography Series, Social Studies, Maps

Recognizing and Respecting Differences

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Feb 16, 2017 4:16:00 PM


February is Black History Month, which means that your students are reading about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., and other black historical figures. Although it is important for your students to learn about important people who fought for racial equality, their stories can sometimes appear as isolated legends with the beliefs and actions frozen in time. Reading narrative books about individual differenes helps students understand that diversity is still relevant and valued today.

The Kaleidoscope Collection focuses on representing different cultural background and teaching social themes. Kit and Henry Like Different Things, leveled at Guided Reading Level D, follows two brothers that have different hobbies. They like different sports, food, toys, and indoor activities.

For each page, conduct an informal poll to see which students have similar hobbies to Kit and which have similar hobbies to Henry. For example, on page 3, ask students to raise their hand if they prefer riding a bike or a skateboard:


Conducting a poll will allow students to visually understand that not all people have the same preferences. Does this fact mean that we can't be friends with people that are different from us? No! "Kit and Henry like different htings. But Kit and Henry like each other" (8).

The Friendship Shell, leveled at Guided Reading Level K, is suitable for upper-elementary school students. Its illustrations feature ethnicallly diverse characters, which can help you relate the discussion back to Black History Month.

Focus on page 4: "'A shell is just a shell,' I said, 'see one and you've seen them all.'" Ask your students if they agree with the narrator's claim. Then, discuss how the narrator's views have transformed by the end of the book. How did the narrator learn to recognize and respect his classmates' differences?
Friendship Shell.Hi-Res-625596-edited.jpg

Both Kit and Henry Like Different Things and The Friendship Shell do not explicitly discuss issues of diversity, but they carry strong messages that value indivdiual differences in hobbies, personalities, and ethnicity. Use these titles to supplement your Black History Month readings!


Click the images below to learn more about Kaleidoscope Collection, which contains the books featured in this post.

Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet

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Topics: Narrative Text, Kaleidoscope Collection, Diversity

Writing a Wishy-Washy Valentine

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Feb 9, 2017 3:29:00 PM


Valentine’s Day is just around the corner—this year, celebrate the day of love with Mrs. Wishy-Washy

In Wishy-Washy Card from the Joy Cowley Early Birds series, the animals on the farm decide to make a Valentine’s Day card for Mrs. Wishy-Washy. By reading this narrative text that is topical to the real world, your students will realize that reading is relevant and important to their lives, not just an isolated action that takes place at school.

In addition to its seasonal pertinence, Wishy-Washy Card also allows students to familiarize themselves with onomatopoeia (7) and high-frequency words such as “then,” the,” “she,” and “big” (3).


Use this opportunity to introduce card writing into your classroom. For your students to become strong and confident writers, they must learn to recognize and write in a variety of genres. Although the Common Core stresses opinion writing (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.1), explanatory texts (W.2), and narrative texts (W.3), we use many other kinds of writing in our everyday lives. By writing Valentine’s Day cards, students can directly experience the purpose of writing for interpersonal connection and communication.

Use page 8 in Wishy-Washy Card as a guide for card writing. Have the children replace “Mrs. Wishy-Washy” with the name of the recipient. Encourage your students to decorate their card with hearts, glitter, or other craft supplies. Just like the cow made a “big heart” (3) and the pig made a “little heart” (4), each student will be able to make their unique mark on their Valentine’s Day card! 

By using writing to express their emotions, students will learn that writing is an important tool. Help them spread the love!



Click the images below to learn more about Joy Cowley Early Birds, which contains the book featured in this post.

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Topics: Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley Early Birds, Holiday

Groundhog Day Science!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Feb 2, 2017 3:12:00 PM

Happy Groundhog Day! Punxtsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, which means that we still have six more weeks of winter...or do we?

Groundhog Day is always filled with anticipation, so children are always disappointed when they learn that the custom has no concrete meteorological reasoning. Although the groundhog’s shadow might not accurately predict the arrival of spring, you can teach students that we can actually shadows on the ground to tell the time!


What’s The Time? from the Story World Real World series explains different ways in which humans can measure time. Before reading, discuss that shadows occur when an object blocks light. If your students have already learned about opaque and transparent objects, this discussion will review the concept that only opaque objects create shadows.

SWRW_WHAT'S THE TIME__INSIDE (dragged).jpgp. 4:

  • Read about the relationship between the sun and a shadow. When a groundhog sees its shadow, where is the light coming from? (The sun.)
  • If you have a portable projector or another movable source of light in your classroom, use it to demonstrate that when the light source moves, the shadow moves, too. 
p. 5:
  • What is a sundial? Ask students to point to the shadow in the image. This exercise teaches that images illustrate and support key ideas in the text (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.1.6).
  • How does a sundial look similar to the clocks you see today? How is it different?
p. 6–7:
  • If it’s sunny outside, make a class sundial as shown in the book. All you need are stones or chalk and a tall stick. You can make a sundial with snow on the ground, too, as long as the sun is in the sky!


Groundhog Day itself doesn’t have scientific credibility, but you can teach real science lessons about shadows and time instead. Students will be thrilled to turn off the classroom lights and watch shadows move! Make sure to read the rest of What’s The Time? to learn about egg timers, hourglasses, and other clocks that don’t use shadows.



Click the images below to learn more about Story World Real World, which contains the book featured in this post.

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Topics: Real World, Informational Text, Holiday, Science

Rhyme Time with the Meanies!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Jan 24, 2017 3:51:00 PM

We all love Joy Cowley—her stories feature engaging characters, funny plots, and timeless illustrations. Best of all, Joy’s books are specially written to help your students read! 

Those Yucky Meanies! from the Joy Cowley Collection, leveled at Guided Reading Level H, contains rhyming words throughout the book. Rhyming always leads to a rhythmical read-aloud experience, and it also strengthens a student’s sound-symbol correspondence as they realize that certain sounds are represented by a certain string of letters. A familiarity with rhymes also allows young writers to spell by analogy. For example, if a child wants to write “shape,” recognizing that the word rhymes with “cape” will lead the child to the correct spelling.



While reading aloud, pause after the penultimate word of the sentence to encourage students to chime in with the rhyming word. For example, on page 6, read: “It will smell. It will make you feel... [together] unwell.”

The rhyming words in Those Yucky Meanies! are listed include the following:

  • mucky and yucky
  • lunch and crunch
  • smell and well
  • grimy and slimy
  • run and fun
  • lands and hands
  • swamp and chomp
  • nose and clothes

The last two rhyming pairs sound the same, but are spelled differently. (You might even argue, depending on which English dialect you speak, that “swamp” and “chomp” are slant rhymes, but this term isn’t necessary to teach in lower elementary grades.)

Point out to your students that rhyming words don’t need to be spelled the same way—sometimes the same sound it spelled differently, like “nose” and “clothes.” Note that this definition doesn’t apply for rime (not rhyme) chunks, which require the words to have identical spellings.

Discussing rhyming words will help your students become better readers and writers. Reading Joy Cowley isn’t just fun—it brings learning into the classroom, too!


Click the images below to learn more about The Meanies and the Joy Cowley Collection.

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Meanies, Rhyme

Inauguration Day: Compare and Contrast

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Jan 19, 2017 2:27:00 PM

Tomorrow, January 20th, is America’s 58th Presidential Inauguration. Students are sure to have heard about it from their family or the media; your school district may even encourage watching the event on TV during the school day. Acknowledge your students’ curiosities and provide them with basic inauguration facts by comparing and contrasting the past

First, ask your students for basic information about this year’s inauguration:

  • When will it take place?
  • Where will it take place?
  • Who is the next president?

Students can also visit kids.gov, a federal government website designed specifically for kids, to find information about the inauguration. Visiting this website will fulfill the Common Core State Standard to “integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.9

Next, tell the students that you will be examining American life in 1789, when George Washington became the first President of the United States. George Washington from the Hameray Biography Series describes Washington’s inauguration on p. 30:


george_washington_180.jpgBIO_GEORGE WASHINGTON_INSIDE (dragged)-2.jpg


Ask students to compare and contrast George Washington’s inauguration to tomorrow’s inauguration. You may want to create a Venn diagram to record the similarities and differences.

Use the rest of George Washington’s biography to get a glimpse into American life in the late 1700s. How was the late 1700s different from your life today?

  • p. 6: the calendric system
  • p. 9: American schools
  • p. 17: Fashion
  • p. 19: The political status of colonies
  • p. 30: The U.S. capital

By using the Hameray Biography Series to compare and contrast, your students will learn real-world knowledge while fulfilling Common Core State Standards!


Click the images below to download the Hameray Biography Series Teacher's Guides for George Washington.

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Topics: Common Core, Biography Series, Social Studies, Compare and Contrast, Election

Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Jan 17, 2017 3:47:00 PM

Yesterday, many schools across America observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While teachers and students both enjoy the extended weekend, we must never forget that this day serves to remember Dr. King’s achievements and dreams of racial equality. With Black History Month only two weeks away, now is the ideal time to introduce African-American biographies into your classroom!


The Hameray Biography Series features the life stories of famous African-Americans: Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet TubmanMuhammad Ali,Barack Obama, and Jackie Robinson. Although his work was based in South Africa, Nelson Mandela’s fight to end apartheid is also a relevant and inspirational account during Black History Month. Providing a diversity of historical topics, from the Civil War to Major League Baseball, your students will be sure to find a biography that piques their interests. 

At Guided Reading Level M–S, each biography is written as a Hi-Lo text for reluctant readers. Our Hameray Biography Series Teacher’s Guides provide ideas for you to build social studies and literacy knowledge at the same time! Each Teacher’s Guide is specifically tailored to one biography, saving you plenty of time when you create lesson plans. 

You can download the Hameray Biography Series Teacher’s Guide for FREE by visiting our website or clicking on the images below. Extend your student’s knowledge of black historical figures and their passionate work towards social equality!


Click the images below to download the Hameray Biography Series Teacher's Guides.

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Topics: Biography Series, Reluctant Readers, Martin Luther King Jr., Social Studies, Black History Month

Reading About Reading

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Jan 12, 2017 3:23:00 PM

Your students are exposed to a multitude of texts every day—fairy tales, animal books, classroom signs, and more. Do your students ever read about reading? This “meta-reading” initially might not appear particularly helpful, but it can actually boost a reluctant reader’s confidence. When they read aloud, “I can read,” the textual content reinforces their accomplishment of reading that sentence. Sharing the following two books with a reluctant reader can also help you, as an educator, to identify ways to boost your student’s motivation.

The My World series focuses on providing emerging readers with real-world knowledge. Part of the Having Fun Theme, Reading is Fun explores the exciting world of reading.


Leveled at Guided Reading Level E, the book repeats two sentence structures: “Reading is fun” and “You can read ___.” The word “books” is also repeated seven times throughout the text. With this structured style, your student will gain confidence to read on his or her own.

After reading:

  • What is your favorite book? Use Reading is Fun as a guide to identify if the book is a story, a fact book, a cookbook, a scary book, an exciting book, a funny book, or a songbook. Can it be more than one of these things?

Where Can I Read? from the Kaleidoscope Collection also offers an opportunity for students to read about reading. Leveled at Guided Reading Level D, the text also utilizes a repetitive sentence structure.


After reading:

  • Why can’t we read in the shower? You can use this opportunity to conduct a science experiment examining which objects are resistant to water. Are plastics, crayons, and cotton balls resistant to water? Have them record their observations in a journal.
  • Ask the student where they enjoy reading the most. What do you like about that place? Is it cozy or quiet? Listen closely to the student’s answer so you can replicate this ideal reading environment in the classroom. For example, if your student likes reading at home because she can lie down on the couch, add some pillows to a corner of the classroom where she can read comfortably. A change in environment can greatly boost the motivation to read!

Reading about reading is beneficial for both the student and the teacher. Add a “meta-reading” title to your classroom library today!


Click the images below to learn more about My World and the Kaleidoscope Collection, which include the books featured in this post.

My World Series Info Sheet    Kaleidoscope Collection Info Sheet


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Topics: Kaleidoscope Collection, My World, Struggling Readers, Reluctant Readers, Reading

Language Assessment Using Wordless Books

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Jan 10, 2017 3:07:00 PM

 January presents a great opportunity to authentically assess your students’ literacy skills. After a few weeks of vacation, how many literacy tools have your students retained? By conducting assessments, you’ll get a clear picture of which lessons students remember from last semester and which concepts still need reinforcement. 

English Language Learners have most likely spent their winter vacation with their families, speaking little to no English. An assessment of their language skills will help you tailor your future literacy lessons.

The Oral Language Development Series Teacher’s Guide states, “Listening to students talk is one of the most powerful formative assessments you can use. Capturing and analyzing brief snippets of students’ oral language is a crucial component of supporting their language development. Teachers should listen to, record, and analyze student interactions in a variety of settings: whole group, small group, one-on-one, between peers or with a teacher” (8).

If you don’t have much time to individually assess each student, the wordless books in the Oral Language Development Series will help you quickly and easily analyze language skills. Each wordless book contains relatable photographs that will stimulate any student’s creativity.


What is happening on this page?

The following passage from the Teacher’s Guide explains how to prompt students and record their language skills: ‘“Tell me what’s happening on this page.’ Record exactly what the child says for each page. Once you have a sampling of the child’s output, you can analyze it to see what structure that child holds independently... You can use any wordless book to assess a student’s language structure. The key issue is to have a natural conversation about the topic and see what language the child generates” (8).


Remember, oral language skills go hand-in-hand with reading and writing skills. To access the assesment rubric and learn more about the importance of oral language, download our Teacher’s Guide for free at the bottom of this post!


Click the image below to download the Oral Language Development Series Teacher's Guide for FREE!

Oral Language Development Series Free Teachers Guide  

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Topics: Oral Language Development, ELL

Building Argumentative and Reasoning Skills

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Jan 5, 2017 3:26:00 PM


Happy New Year! As your students return from the winter vacation, they will surely be excite dot share stories about hteir holiday adventures. While their memories and schema for different places are still fresh, why not read a book about exploration?

Where Would You Like to Live?, an informational text from the Story World Real World series, examines different houses that the reader can live inside. For each location, the author presents an argument for and against living in that house. This structure helps students understand and "describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text" (CCSS.ELA-LlTERACY.RI.2.8). Although the book is leveled at guided reading level I, the book can be utilized for any grade—the content is relevant and intriguing for higher ages too!

Before reading:

  • Read the book title. If necessary, review the function of a question mark.
  • Explain that the book will present different possible answers to the question "Where Would You Like to Live?"

Page 4:

  • Has anyone been to a lighthouse before? If so, what was it like? If you're lucky, one of your students will have visited one over the break and will be able to provide details for other students.

Page 5:

  • Read the paragrah titled "Yes!" What is another reason why living in a lighthouse is a good idea? Write down your students' ideas on the left side of the board.
  • Next, read the paragraph titled "But..." What is another reason why living in a lighthouse is a bad idea? Write down these ideas on the right side of the board.
  • Hold a class vote. Would you like to live in a lighthouse? Ask students to raise their hands if their answer is "yes."


Page 6 to 12:

  • Repeat the discussion for the remaining houses. Encourage students to come up with as many reasons as possible for each location, and allow them to answer "yes" to more than one house.

Page 14:

  • Why is it a bad idea to live in a dollhouse?

After reading:

  • Have a whole-class "debate" to decide which house is the best place to live: a lighthouse, tree house, motorhome, igloo, or houseboat. 
  • Encourage students to provide both supporting reasons for their opinions and counterarguments to other students' claims.
  • At the end of the discussion, hold a class vote answering, "Where would you like to live?" This time, students can only vote once!

Where would you like to live?


Click the image below to download an informational sheet about the Story World Real World Series, which includes the books featured in this blog post.

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Topics: Real World, Informational Text, Reasoning

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