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Using Predictable Sentences with Your Favorite Wishy-Washy Tales

Posted by Amanda Ross on Jul 21, 2015 4:30:33 PM

Ross-biopicThis is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, First Grade Garden, for more of her writing.  

Hi there! This is Amanda from First Grade Garden back today to talk to you about one of my students’ favorite characters: Mrs. Wishy-Washy! We love all the books featuring her. I especially love that there is a whole series of early readers featuring her. The books are simple enough for my first graders to read independently.

Today I’m going to share with you an activity for kindergarten or first grade that goes with the original Mrs. Wishy-Washy book, but can be adapted to any of your favorite stories!

wishy-washy-activity-400Predictable sentences are short, simple sentences that follow a pattern. You can write predictable sentences together on chart paper by filling in the blank of a simple sentence frame such as “I like ____.” or “I can ____.” This is a great activity for practicing sight words, 1:1 correspondence, and fluency.

The activity I did with my class was to simplify the story of Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s farm by using simple, predictable sentences that mostly follow the same pattern. I printed the cards out on cardstock and stuck them in a pocket chart, but you could write them on chart paper or sentence strips!

When you use predictable sentences with a favorite book, it is a great way to practice retelling! You can even cut apart all the words of the sentences and have students recreate the story themselves in the pocket chart as a literacy center!

In the download below, I have included the cards for the predictable story chart. Try it out with your own class!

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Amanda Ross is a first grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade, and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but she will be heading back to first grade in September. You can find her over at her teaching blog, First Grade Garden.

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To learn more about Joy Cowley Early Birds, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image to the left below to download information sheets with key featuresTo download the freebie, click the image to the right.

 New Call-to-Action Wishy-Washy Predictable Sentences Packet CTA

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Topics: Joy Cowley Collection, Joy Cowley Early Birds, K-2 Literacy, Amanda Ross

10 Tips for Running a Successful Home Reading Program

Posted by Amanda Ross on Jun 2, 2015 4:35:45 PM

Ross-biopicThis is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, First Grade Garden, for more of her writing.  

Hi there! This is Amanda from First Grade Garden here again to talk with you about home reading. If you teach in the elementary grades, you probably run some sort of home reading program in your classroom. We all know the benefits that come with children reading at least 20 minutes every day, but sometimes it can be a struggle to get our students to do that. Some teachers find running these programs to be a hassle and some parents just don’t have time for it. I’m here to offer a few tips to make your home reading program successful!

  1. Choose “just right” books. If students are taking home books that are too difficult for them to read independently, home reading can become a struggle. Parents have a hard time getting the students to read and both the students and parents start to dread reading time, instead of it being an enjoyable experience. I always have my students take home books that are one reading level below the level we are working on in our guided reading group. I find that the books in the Joy Cowley Early Bird Collection are perfect for first-grade home reading! This collection has an amazing assortment of books from levels C–G with familiar characters, such as Mrs. Wishy-Washy, that students just love!
  1. children_reading_exciting_16243594_Hvaldez-300Give choice. Let students choose the books they take home to read. They are more likely to read it if it is something that looks interesting to them! I organize my home reading books by level, so I just tell students which levelled tub they can choose from.
  1. Make it simple. Don’t over complicate things with tons of paperwork and homework activities to complete for every book. The goal of the program is to get students to read every day with their families. I send home a log that has them record the date, the title of the book, and if the book was too easy/just right/too hard. (This helps me decide if students should start taking books from a different levelled tub!)
  1. Set goals. I have done this three different ways--set individual goals, classroom goals, and school-wide goals. Individual goals are set in our data folders. Students can decide how many books they want to read in a month or even just make a goal to read more books than the previous month. Our classroom or school-wide goals are usually just a number we pick and we keep track of how many books we’ve read all together, using tally marks or ten frames. (Great math connection too!)
  1. Offer incentives. In the past I have had a treasure box that students got to pick from after every ten books they’ve read. You could also do sticker charts or even classroom tickets. Use your existing classroom management system to help with this. 
  1. child_reading_smiling_25446769_Petrenko_Andriy-300Make it routine. Changing our home reading books is a daily part of our morning routine. Every morning students know what is expected of them and it just becomes a habit to come in, hand in their agenda, and change their home reading book. 
  1. Be organized. When you are organized yourself, it makes your program run a lot smoother. Have all of your home reading books organized by level and have all of your handouts/reading logs prepped and organized.
  1. Praise, praise, praise! A kind word can go a long way. Praise students for meeting their goal. Praise students for remembering to bring their home reading back. Praise students for reading ten books in a month. Other students might overhear your praise and it can motivate them to work harder too!
  1. In-school options. Do you have students who just can’t get their reading done at home? It doesn’t matter the reason; everybody’s home life is different. But we still want all students to have the opportunity to read every day. My school has a morning reading program where students can go and read with an Educational Assistant. If your school doesn’t have a program like this, you can recruit some parent volunteers or even some older students who are looking for some volunteer time to read with students who cannot complete their reading at home!
  1. Celebrate! Have a big kick off to your program! The first year I taught grade one, my teammates and I put on a big “Home Reading Kick Off” evening for students and families. It wasn’t anything elaborate, but we made a big deal out of it! We gave a little spiel about the importance of home reading and how our program worked. Then we officially gave students their home reading bag with their first book in it. They also got a little treat too! It definitely got them excited about reading at home and they couldn’t wait to tell me about their book the next day!

I hope some of these tips help you. See you next time!

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Amanda Ross is a first grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade, and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but she will be heading back to first grade in September. You can find her over at her teaching blog, First Grade Garden.

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To learn more about Joy Cowley Early Birds, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image to the left below to download information sheets with key featuresTo download the freebie, click the image to the right.

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Topics: Joy Cowley Early Birds, K-2 Literacy, Amanda Ross, Home Reading

Comparing Literature to Informational Text—with FREE Download!

Posted by Amanda Ross on May 19, 2015 3:30:00 PM

Ross-biopicThis is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, First Grade Garden, for more of her writing.  

It's me again—Amanda from First Grade Garden. I am back today to share with you an idea for comparing literature to informational text.

I love to compare fiction and non-fiction texts with my students. It really gets them looking closer at the texts. We dig deeper into the books to look at specific text features and elements. When I discovered the Story World Real World series, I was so excited! They match up ten common fairy tales with companion non-fiction books. There are three different non-fiction titles to match each fairy tale. I used the books Three Little Pigs and All About Pigs for this activity with my students.

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The first day, we read Three Little Pigs, one of my favorite fairy tales! After reading, we discuss the story elements—characters, setting, problem, and solution. We also practice retelling it, sometimes by acting it out or by using finger puppets. 

The next day we read the companion non-fiction book All About Pigs. Before reading, I have the students look closely at the covers of the two books and tell me what they notice. What is similar or different about the two books? While we read the All About Pigs book, we look at all the features as we come across them: table of contents, bold words, labels, index, etc. We discuss the reason for each feature and then discuss whether we noticed it in the Three Little Pigs book or not. Sometimes we go back and check, because that is what good readers do! 

Once we have read and discussed both books, we complete a Venn diagram to compare and contrast them. The students come up with some great ideas! Sometimes I have to prompt them with questions such as “What did you notice about the pictures in both books?” or “Who wrote these books?” Usually, after I ask one question, it sparks a lot of other discussions and observations about the books.

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You could do this activity with any fairy tale and non-fiction book. In the download below, I have included the headings for the “Three Little Pigs” Venn diagram or just generic “Fiction” and “Non-fiction” headings that can be used with any book! There is also a student recording sheet.

Try this activity out with your favorite fairy tale from the Story World Real World series!

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Amanda Ross is a first grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade, and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but she will be heading back to first grade in September. You can find her over at her teaching blog, First Grade Garden.

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To learn more about Story World Real World, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image to the left below to download information sheets with key featuresTo download the freebie, click the image to the right.

New Call-to-Action  Comparing Literature Freebie Packet CTA

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Literature, Story World, Real World, Narrative Text, Informational Text, Fairy Tales, Amanda Ross

Fun Ideas for Guided Reading Tools—with FREE Download!

Posted by Amanda Ross on Mar 31, 2015 3:30:00 PM

Ross-biopicThis is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, First Grade Garden, for more of her writing.  

I’m back again! It’s Amanda from First Grade Garden. I’m here today to share with you a look into my guided-reading tool basket! I will show you a few activities that we do during reading and after reading, using some books from the Joy Cowley Early Birds series. These books are perfect for guided reading, because they have stories that appeal to young readers, they are leveled, and they cover a variety of phonics skills!

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In first grade, there are still many readers who struggle with one-to-one correspondence. To help practice this skill, we use a variety of fun tools to help students concentrate on matching their reading to the words in the story. Here are a few of our favorite tools (all of them are dollar-store finds!):

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Magnetic letters are an essential tool in any classroom! I don’t think it matters what type you use. I have a variety of different sizes and styles. We use letters to make and break sight words, practice word families, sound out CVC words, and more.

Cat and Rat is a story that lead to a great mini lesson on the -at word family. By using magnetic letters, we could easily change out the beginning letter to make new words. I love my sound-box cards too. They are double sided with three boxes on one side and four boxes on the other, for practicing blends. They are laminated so we can use magnetic letters, letter tiles, or dry erase markers. You can download them for free at the end of this post.

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Each of my students has a guided reading notebook. It is just a cute cover on colored paper with blank, white paper bound together. The blank pages make it easy to do any activity—cut apart sentences, writing and drawing, and word work activities. After we read a new book, we usually do a word-work or writing activity in our notebook.

After reading the book Zoo Book, we noticed that both words in the title had double o’s but they made two different sounds. So using another of my favorite tools (colored sticky dots), we made a T-chart of words that had the same /oo/ sound as zoo or book. Colored dot stickers can also be used to spell sight words or CVC words.

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And the last tool to share with you (something we use ALL THE TIME) is sticky notes! Fun shapes, fun colors, repositionable—what’s not to love? We use them for writing notes in our books, for finding things in our book (such as a punctuation scavenger hunt), or for writing and word-work activities. In this example, we created a beginning/middle/end story map for the book Cat and Rat.

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I hope I’ve given you a few ideas to try with your guided-reading groups. Come over to my blog to see some more guided reading tools and lesson ideas! You can download some guided reading freebies below. In the file, you will find a guided-reading notebook cover and the 3- and 4-letter sound boxes.

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Amanda Ross is a first grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade, and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but she will be heading back to first grade in September. You can find her over at her teaching blog, First Grade Garden.

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To learn more about Joy Cowley Early Birds, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image to the left below to download information sheets with key featuresTo download the freebie, click the image to the right.

New Call-to-Action  Guided Reading Freebie Packet CTA

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Topics: Joy Cowley Early Birds, K-2 Literacy, Guided Reading, Amanda Ross

7 Ways to Use Wordless Picture Books in Your Classroom

Posted by Amanda Ross on Feb 25, 2015 12:00:00 PM

This is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, First Grade Garden, for more of her writing.  

Ross-biopic

Hi there, my name is Amanda Ross. I am usually blogging over at First Grade Garden, but today I am visiting to share some ideas on how I use wordless picture books in my class. I have quite a few wordless picture books, and I was excited to add a couple books from the Zoozoo Into the Wild Wordless series into my collection.

Here are a few ways that I like to use wordless picture books in my classroom:

1. Writing Prompt: Choose a page from the wordless picture book and write your own story based on what is happening in the picture.

ITW-wordless-Giraffe-2002. Oral Storytelling: Students can work with partners to practice telling a story orally. They can take turns describing each page. I like to give each set of partners a different wordless picture book and have the partners practice their oral story a few times. Then they can tell the story to the rest of the class. I love hearing their imaginative stories! This is also a great activity to remind students that if you can TELL a story, you can WRITE a story. I always tell my students to say what they want to write out loud before they start putting pencil to paper.

3. Sequencing: Photocopy three or four pages from a wordless picture book and practice sequencing the events. Have students describe what is happening in each picture and explain why the pictures go in a particular order.

ITW-wordless-Frog-2004. Speech Bubbles: Use speech bubble sticky notes or print out a page of speech bubbles that students can cut out. Have students stick the speech bubbles on a page or two in the wordless picture book and have them write what they think the characters are saying.

5. Predictions: Wordless picture books are perfect for making predictions. Starting with the cover, students can predict what they think the story is about. As you “read” the story together, students can confirm or change their predictions based on information from the pictures.

6. Daily 5 Lesson: One of the lessons in Daily 5 is about the three ways to read a book: read the words, read the pictures, or retell the story. A wordless picture book is a great mentor text to model reading the pictures. Use the pictures to tell the story.

7. Easy Reader: Do you have a struggling reading group that isn’t ready to read level-A books yet? Use a wordless picture book to model concepts of print—without print! Practice identifying the cover and author, reading from front to back, and holding the book properly. They can tell the story themselves by looking at the pictures, which is another important reading strategy they can practice with a wordless picture book! 

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Amanda Ross is a first grade teacher in Canada. She has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade, and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but she will be heading back to first grade in September. You can find her over at her teaching blog, First Grade Garden.

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To learn more about Zoozoo Into the Wild, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image below to download information sheets with key features.

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Teaching Writing, Zoozoo Into the Wild, Wordless Books, Amanda Ross

5 Ideas For Using Nonfiction Books In Writing—with FREE download!

Posted by Amanda Ross on Jan 27, 2015 8:00:00 AM

 

Ross-biopic

This is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross. If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog, First Grade Garden, for more of her writing.  

 Hi there, my name is Amanda Ross. This is my first guest post here at the Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog and I am so excited to be here with you! Today, I’m going to share with you a few ideas for using nonfiction books in writing. I used a few books from the Zoozoo Animal World Series, which are perfect for using with kindergarten or first grade!


1) Nonfiction books usually have amazing photographs and the Zoozoo Animal World books are no exception. Use these photographs as a stem for some descriptive writing! Have the students choose one specific page in a book and practice looking very closely at all the details in the photograph. Have the students create a bubble map and in each bubble write some adjectives or descriptive words/phrases that describe the photograph. The bubble map can be used as a starting point for writing a descriptive paragraph.

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2) If you use the six traits of writing in your classroom, one of the traits is "voice". A fun way to get students writing in a different voice is to have them imagine they are the animal from a book. At the end of Polar Bear by Lee Waters, the polar bear is lounging on the ice. Ask your students to think like the polar bear… What is he doing? What is he thinking? What will he do next? Have your students write a fictional story about the polar bear!

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3)  The Zoozoo Animal World books follow simple sentence patterns, which is great for weaker writers, especially since they can mimic it in their own writing. In the book Arctic Fox by Lee Waters, every page has the words “The arctic fox is…” Students can write their own sentences about the arctic fox using the same sentence pattern.

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4)  After reading a nonfiction animal book, students can use a T-chart to record information that they learned about the animal on the left side. On the right side they record any questions about the animal that they may still have. They can use this as a starting point for a research project on the animal!

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5)  The Zoozoo Animal World series has books about animals from different habitats and there are a few different animal books for each habitat. For instance, the "Arctic" habitat has books about arctic fox, polar bear, killer whale, puffin, and walrus. After reading a few books about animals from the same habitat, students can write an informational paragraph about that habitat! They can use the photographs in the books to describe the habitat and also list what type of animals live in it!

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Amanda Ross is a first grade teacher in Canada and has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but will be heading back to first grade in September. You can read more from her her at her teaching blog First Grade Garden.

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To learn more about Zoozoo Animal World, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image below to download information sheets with key features. To get today's free activity download, click the image to the right below!

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Teaching Writing, Zoozoo Animal World, Writing Activity, Nonfiction, Amanda Ross

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