Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Using Level A Books to Teach Children How to Read, Part 2

Posted by Paula Dugger on Apr 11, 2017 3:28:00 PM

describe the imageThis post is the second in a series that documents guest blogger Paula Dugger's experience of teaching her grandson how to read with Level A books. To read the first post, click here

In my previous post, I prepared my grandson, Carter, with literacy exercises in preparation for his first Level A book. After using the Letter Buddies Magnetic Letters to teach Carter about the words “me” and “my,” it was time for me to introduce the Guided Reading Level A book, Cowboy. 

3) I explained that both the words “me” and “my” are used in the book. I asked Carter to show me the word “my” on the first six pages of text and “me” on the last page. We also went back and looked at the pictures to see if he could tell me what he saw in each of those photos. This exercise encouraged him to use the pictures for textual meaning.

 

4) Now, it was time to model reading the book. Using my fingers, I matched each printed word with the word I said aloud to show one-to-one matching (“My hat,” ”My boots,” etc.). Next, I asked Carter to help me by pointing to the words while we read together. Finally, I asked him to read the book by himself, making sure he was matching one-to-one by pointing. The first six pages of text are patterned, but the text changes on page 8 and there are two lines (“Me! I am a cowboy”). Cowboy_v4 (dragged).jpg

In the following days, I asked Carter to read the book, but he sometimes would not use his finger to match one-to-one and would insert words that weren’t in the text. I repeated many of the steps listed on the first day to provide support, eventually dropping some of the activities until Carter was able to pick up the book and read independently.

The scaffolding and procedures set up on the first day can be used to introduce any book. A great follow up book to Cowboy is another level A book in the Kaleidoscope Collection called My Birthday. It is also structured and patterned much like Cowboy. The first two pages are “My friends” and “My present.” I would introduce the book and ask, “What would you have at your birthday party?” and then have the child look at the pictures and tell me what s/he sees to confirm meaning. Then I would say that there is a word on the pages that he (Carter) already knows from his last book, Cowboy. I would ask him to find it by framing it with his fingers or sliding his finger under it and reading it slowly. The word “my” should be a known anchor word that can be recognized and read, which provides confidence when reading a new book.

Some very important things to remember when teaching a child to read include the following:

  • Reading is a skill that takes time to develop.
  • A child should spend a minimum of 20 minutes a day reading or having books read to them.
  • Allow the reader to read the same books over and over to increase fluency and quick recognition of familiar words. Re-reading also provides confidence.

Hameray Publishing provides a wide variety of titles written for the beginning reader, many of which are found in their Kaleidoscope Collection. Thirty new titles have recently been added at levels A and B, providing a great selection of titles for aspiring readers!

~~~

Paula Dugger has a B.S, M.Ed. and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. A former first grade teacher, reading coordinator and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, Paula has served as an adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University and Dallas Baptist University teaching reading classes for current and future teachers. She also does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC, in addition to writing blogs and early literacy books for Hameray. She can be contacted at pdugger11@gmail.com 

Paula and her husband Neil have two married daughters and are grandparents to Carter, Blake, and Faye. She raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. Her longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing group, titled Longhorns. She has authored six additional titles in the Kaleidoscope Collection—Ben & Ruby, Buttons, Cowboy, Dinner, Going Up & Down, and Round, Not Round.

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For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which features many Guided Reading Level A books, click hte image below.

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Using Level A Books to Teach Children How to Read, Part 1

Posted by Paula Dugger on Apr 4, 2017 3:28:00 PM

describe the imageThis is a guest blog post series authored by Paula Dugger, M. Ed. Paul is an educational consultant who has previously served as a Reading Recovery Teacher/Teacher Leader, first grade teacher, Title I and high school reading teacher, and a Reading Coordinator. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend six days with my four year-old grandson, Carter. I thought that it was a great time for him to learn how to read. I was especially excited, as I had a copy of a brand new Guided Reading Level A book, Cowboy, that I recently wrote for the Hameray Kaleidoscope Collection. Best of all, this book features Carter on the cover and throughout the book.

 Choosing the appropriate leveled book is critical when introducing a child to reading. Guided Reading Leveled books A -C (Intervention Levels 1-3) are called early emergent readers. They are perfect for children who are learning the basic concepts of books and print awareness. Books at these levels contain the following features:
  • Controlled and limited text per page
  • Repetitive patterned vocabulary and text
  • Strong picture support for meaning
  • Familiar language and concepts
  • Large print and wide spacing

cowboy.jpgBefore I outline my teaching procedures, let me provide some information about Carter’s literacy background. His parents, who appreciate the importance of reading, have read to Carter almost every day since birth, and he has an ever-expanding library of books. He attends a preschool and has learned letter names and most corresponding sounds. He is also aware that his cool name contains the words car, cart, and art. All of the books read and re-read to him have helped build his speech, language and listening skills while expanding vocabulary, imagination, curiosity, and background knowledge. Carter is often seen picking up a book and “reading” based on what he has heard and remembers from being read to.

 

I felt that Carter was now ready for the next step in learning how to read. Here is how we first prepared to read Cowboy:

 

 

1). I began by using magnetic letters from Letter Buddies to display the words me and my. I took my finger and slid under each word and said slowly “me and then “my pointing out that they both started with the same sound and letter but ended with a different letter and sound. After my modeling, we did the task together and then Carter did this independently. I mixed up the letters and had him make each of the words, telling me what they said.

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2) Next, I had Carter write the two words, using the model that the magnetic letters provided. Afterwards, I asked him to read the two words, sliding his fingers under each to make sure he was looking at all the letters and making the correct sounds.

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Now, we were ready to start reading CowboyNext Tuesday, I'll share how to model reading with a Guided Reading Level A book. Make sure to subcribe to the Hameray blog in the right-hand bar to receive my next post in your inbox!

~~~

Paula Dugger has a B.S, M.Ed., and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. A former first grade teacher, reading coordinator and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader, Paula has served as an adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University and Dallas Baptist University teaching reading classes for current and future teachers. She also does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC, in addition to writing blogs and early literacy books for Hameray. She can be contacted at pdugger11@gmail.com

 

Paula and her husband Neil have two married daughters and are grandparents to Carter, Blake, and Faye. She raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. Her longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing group, Longhorns. She has authored six additional titles in the Kaleidoscope Collection—Ben & Ruby, Buttons, Cowboy, Dinner, Going Up and Down, and Round, Not Round.

 ~~~

For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection, which features many Guided Reading Level A books, click hte image below.

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Topics: Early Childhood, Leveled Readers, Kaleidoscope Collection, Paula Dugger

Halloween Pretend Play

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Oct 13, 2016 3:44:00 PM

Halloween is only 18 days away! Children love this spooky holiday for its Jack-O’-Lantern carving and candy-filled surprises. However, arguably the most exciting aspect of Halloween is dressing up in costumes. Are your students already buzzing about which costume they’ll be wearing on Halloween? 

Holidays provide ample opportunity to tie seasonal events into literacy lessons. For emergent readers, however, incorporating seasonal books can pose a challenge—“Jack-O’-Lantern,” “werewolf,” and even “Halloween” will stump early readers. Pretending from the My World Series solves this problem by discussing the fun of dressing up in language that all your students can access!

 Although leveled at Guided Reading Level E, Pretending maintains an identical sentence structure throughout most of the book: “We can ____.” The repetitive structure will help your emergent reader gain confidence with each page. In a shared reading setting, encourage your students to help you read “We can” on each page. Real-world photographs also accompany each sentence in the book, allowing students to use pictorial clues to understand the text (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.7).

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The sentence structure only breaks on the last page where the text asks two questions. With the confidence that your students have built in the first eleven pages, they will be ready and willing to tackle this new sentence structure. 

During the lesson, ask your students the following questions:

Before reading:

  • Has anyone already decided on a costume for Halloween? Start a list on the board of costumes of your students’ costumes.
  • What does "pretending" mean? How do you pretend? How is dressing up on Halloween a type of pretending?

During reading:

  • Add the different pretending ideas presented in the book to your list (cooks, shoppers, dancers, etc.)

After reading:

  • What other dress-up ideas can we add to this list? Many children may have already decided on their costume, but this list may provide inspiration for those who haven’t chosen their costume yet.

 

When discussing Halloween costumes, make sure to stay mindful that not all students’ families can afford to purchase a costume. Simple dress-up ideas such as a farmer, a teacher, or a cat can easily be put together with clothing at home. If you have any economically-friendly costume ideas for students and teachers alike, share them in the comments below!

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Learn more about Pretending at this product page--it's not too late to order now and receive your books before Halloween! Click the image below to download a informational sheet about the My World Series, which includes the book featured in this article. 

My World Series Info Sheet

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Topics: Early Childhood, Leveled Readers, My World, Halloween

Encouraging Parental Involvement in Children's Reading and Writing Growth

Posted by Geraldine Haggard on May 28, 2015 4:08:22 PM

GHaggardbiopicThis is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.

Home involvement can facilitate a child's growth in reading and writing. The purpose of this blog post is to help teachers encourage this involvement. This post will present ideas for beginning of the school year, during the year, and the end of the school year.

EARLY IN THE YEAR

mother_child_reading_6079652_Monkey_Business_Images-250Many schools have open houses the first week of the year. This can give you, the teacher, an opportunity to meet the parents and help them understand that you are friendly and available. If there is a formal presentation of the year and some questioning time, you can assure the parents that some early screening will be done and that you can share the results at the first formal conference. This is not the time to conduct private conversations.

Your positive attitude can assure those who are new to the school or come with concerns about the child's strengths or needs. You can introduce the parents to your class library with books on various levels visibly present. You can also share and explain the role of the school library. Encourage parents to continue reading to their children. Explain the integration of reading, writing, and the content area and make parents aware of the emphasis on this. The fact that you use reading and writing in the content areas can assure the parents who feel each area should have a special time block.

DURING THE YEAR

If your school schedules individual conferences with parents, here are some reminders of some the important characteristics of successful conferences:

  • father_son_reading_15608314_Barbara_Reddoch-250Provide your personal summary of the child's strengths and explain special positive goals for the child as he or she progresses. Emphasize the child's strengths and explain how the child can use them. Share with the parents the next goal(s) in reading and writing that you have set for your involvement with the child. Share only one or two major goals. Explain why each goal is important, how you plan to help the child achieve it, and how the parents can help you.
  • Look at the parents as you speak to them in a friendly, positive way. You want them to leave knowing that you care and value the contacts that you have with their child and them.
  • Explain your plan for the child to read and write at home. Explain how books are selected for home reading, the importance of rereading some books, and the purpose of the independent reading levels. The instructional level is for school use. Share the fact that some of the books in the take-home bag have been used in guided reading but need to be reread.
  • story_mother_child_15159721_Monkey_Business_Images-250-1The family modeling of reading and writing at home can help the child see that what they are receiving at school is also important to the parents. One way to do this is to have a special time each day when everyone in the family reads. The boys need to see a man reading and enjoying the newspaper, or a book.

AN EXAMPLE OF ONE SCHOOL'S PARENT WORKSHOP

I helped one principal of a Title I school and her teachers share ideas with parents. They invited parents to be at school at dismissal time and to bring a snack for their children. While the children ate their snacks, a teacher used a student as an example and spent fifteen minutes demonstrating how to help a child as they read their take-home book.

Session topics included how to introduce the book, emphasis on not giving child an unknown word without modeling how to approach the unknown word, the importance of fluency and how to encourage fluency, introducing an unknown vocabulary word, how to help child develop a core of sight words that he can read quickly, and how to use known parts of a word to unlock an unknown word. Each session was based on one of these topics. Teachers floated and helped parents who needed help as they worked with their child. This was another fifteen-minute block of time.

Your school librarian might have a thirty-minute open house in the library. She and teachers can take small groups of parents and children and demonstrate how to decide if a library book is appropriate for the child to read. The parents can be encouraged to read to the child above the child's independent reading level.

Reading Recovery teachers with whom I worked recorded the child reading orally several times during the year. The date of the reading was shared before the child read. The parents got to hear the growth over a period of time and the changed instructional levels and in fluency.

PARENTAL GUIDANCE AT THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR

family_laughing_reading_52550302_Marina_Dyakonova-250A letter thanking parents for sharing their child with you can also include ideas for helping the child to continue to read and write during the summer. The following ideas could be included:

  • Children who do not read and write during summer can lose up to three months of their growth during the school year.
  • Many public libraries have summer programs for children. The participating child may be asked to keep a record of the books read during the summer. The parents can continue to read to their children.
  • Summer provides opportunities for the child to write thank-you notes, diaries of a trip, letters to school friends that they may not see during the summer, and to keep summer memories in a scrapbook with pictures, maps, and other items from trips or other activities.
  • Parents can make books available while the family is traveling by car or flying.
  • Thank parents for their support during the school year. Work samples from the year can become treasured family history.

Parents can become partners in the task of helping every child become a good reader and writer. Share your special ideas with your principal and consider special guidelines for parental support in your district.

~~~

Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection Series. For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection Series click HERE to return to our website or click the series highlight page below.  

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Topics: Early Childhood, Kaleidoscope Collection, Family Literacy, Parental Involvement, Geraldine Haggard

Building Blocks of Literacy: Helping Infants and Toddlers Develop Language Skills

Posted by Geraldine Haggard on May 14, 2015 4:30:00 PM

GHaggardbiopicThis is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.

There are joys that come with the presence of a tiny child in the home. There are also important responsibilities placed on the caregivers. One of these is modeling beginning language skills that serve as the foundation of learning to read.

How can caregivers communicate with an infant? That very small person's first attempt to communicate is crying, telling someone that he has a need. Listening parents learn to identify reasons for the crying. An adult can respond, meet the need, and speak in sentences of three words. "Are you wet?" etc.

Even before the age of six months, the baby begins to babble using vowels and consonant sounds that compose his home language. From birth on, singing and listening to nursery rhymes provide modeling for the sounds and words we want the child to produce.

mother_child_reading_14089697_OtnaydurHolding the baby and sharing books for a short period of time is recommended. The infant may not listen to a complete story, but names of pictures and actions can be modeled. The baby may want to pat or play with the book. Read the same book many times. As the child begins to say simple words, repeat words from the story.

Make books available with his toys. My great-granddaughters go to a low shelf in their room and select a book they want to hear before bed each night. Some of their first spoken words were from these stories. 

The ability to repeat nursery rhymes and sing simple songs is recognized as a great predictor of later success in reading. An infant needs to hear the rhymes many times. Essential skills for early reading success come from the child's exposure to books, rhymes, and songs.  He learns to listen and to respond. The ability to hear words and sounds within words is beginning to develop.  The child's ability to predict language and story happenings are facilitated.

The young child, who has had heard many stories read, develops two vocabularies. One is the receptive vocabulary that contains words that he hears, but that are not yet in his speech.  The second vocabulary is the expressive vocabulary, which includes words that he uses in speech. The many books the child has heard read and the complete sentences used by the older family members around him help the young child use correct sentence structure.

child_reading_books_14715389_Otnaydur-300At about the age of two, a child begins to string two words together.  A favorite is "What's that?' The answers given to him or her, in short sentences, will help that child enlarge his or her speaking vocabulary. Between 12 and 24 months of age the infant triples the number of words in his speaking vocabulary. The adults in the infant's world may not understand all of these words. Speaking is like walking. The first attempts are not always successful. The one who is listening can keep modeling the new words and let the novice speaker know that he is pleasing an important person in his life.

Four pages of ideas for encouraging language and benchmarks for various ages can be found on Iowa State University website, in the article Understanding Children: Language Development.

A parent who is concerned that a pre-school child is not developing the language skills for his age can contact the Special Education Department of the local school district and ask for a language screening by a certified speech pathologist. There are several reasons why language development might be difficult for the child. The child may have an acuity problem. He may have difficulty discriminating between sounds. The child with articulation problems may need help with this last auditory skill. Frequent earaches and/or the placement of tubes in the ear may result in these discrimination problems. Other learning problems can be identified.

Enjoy your small one and communicate with him or her. 

~~~

Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection Series. For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection Series click HERE to return to our website or click the series highlight page below.  

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The Power of the Cut-Up Sentence

Posted by Paula Dugger on Feb 10, 2015 8:00:00 AM

describe the imageThis is a guest blog post. It's authored by special guest blogger Paula Dugger, who is an educational consultant with a rich-literacy background that includes serving as a Reading Recovery Teacher/Teacher Leader, first grade teacher, Title I and high school reading teacher, as well as a Reading Coordinator. Hameray is thrilled to be able to share with you Paula's classroom-tested ideas and experience in helping young learners achieve their early literacy goals.

As a Reading Recovery teacher, I was always amazed at the interest by regular classroom teachers concerning the cut-up sentence activity seen in a Reading Recovery lesson.  Whenever an opportunity permitted, classroom teachers would be invited to observe their Reading Recovery student(s) during a lesson.  After each lesson, I would ask the teachers if they noticed any behaviors the student was exhibiting in the lesson but not in their classroom.  I would also ask if there was anything in the lesson they would like more information on or like to incorporate within their class or small groups. 

Almost without exception, the cut-up sentence was always brought up. The sequencing of words to create a meaningful thought along with searching for visual information is powerful for such a simple activity.  I also used the cut-up to work on phrasing and fluency.  Many teachers found this to be a great way to explicitly teach phrasing and fluent reading.

 

So how does this activity work?

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During the writing portion of the Reading Recovery lesson, the child is asked to compose a story (one or two sentences).  The teacher will assist the child as needed.

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 The teacher then writes the sentence on a piece of tag board while child watches.

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Next, the teacher would cut the sentence up(usually word by word) while the child watches.

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After the teacher scrambles the words, the child reassembles the sentence.  

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The sentence is then placed in an envelope with the sentence written (by the teacher) on the outside.

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The student can then take the sentence home to reassemble the sentence for practice and to rewrite in order to accumulate more words into their writing vocabulary.  The envelope with the sentence written on the outside serves as a way for the child or parent to check after the sentence has been reassembled.

 The cut-up sentence allows the teacher an opportunity to teach and the child to practice:

  • one-to-one correspondence between the printed and spoken word
  • thinking about the sounds in words
  • sequencing words using structure so that they make a meaningful sentence
  • searching and checking for information by rereading
  • using capitalization, punctuation, and spacing
  • phrasing and fluent reading
  • physically manipulating words
  • self--correcting

 

As the child moves up into more complex reading levels, the sentences will also become more complex.   The teacher can also prompt the student to reassemble the sentence into phrases to explicitly teach how to read phrased and fluently.

In a small group setting the teacher and students can compose a sentence together.  Instead of sending the sentence home, the sentences be saved in a place for the group to use over and over by the students.

It is important that the teacher carefully model the assignment and guide the student.  Once the child has demonstrated an understanding of the task, putting the sentence back together can easily be an independent activity in the classroom as well as a shared activity with parents at home.

 

~~~

Paula Dugger has a B.S., M.Ed., and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. Paula does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC and can be contacted at np.dugger@att.net

Paula and her husband Neil are parents to two wonderful daughters, Alicean and Ashley, two sons-in-law Kevin and Patrick, and grandparents Carter and Blake. She also raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. The longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing Group, titled Longhorns.

 

For more blogs by Paula click HERE.

 

 

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Using Formulas To Give Powerful Book Introductions

Posted by Paula Dugger on Jan 22, 2015 8:00:00 AM

describe the imageThis is a guest blog post. It's authored by special guest blogger Paula Dugger, who is an educational consultant with a rich-literacy background that includes serving as a Reading Recovery Teacher/Teacher Leader, first grade teacher, Title I and high school reading teacher, as well as a Reading Coordinator. Hameray is thrilled to be able to share with you Paula's classroom-tested ideas and experience in helping young learners achieve their early literacy goals.

A well-planned book introduction that considers the strengths and weaknesses of the reader(s) will help ensure a good first reading of a new text by the reader(s). However, no one-book introduction “fits all” and the teacher should plan each introduction carefully to meet the needs of the reader(s).

 
I use the simple formula of M(eaning) S(tructure) V(isual) to help design a book introduction for each group of students or individual student I am working with.

Using meaning, structure and visual information in the introduction of an appropriately leveled and selected text will help ensure a good first reading by the child.

 

  • M-meaning (give an overview of the story). The reader needs to know what the story is about before reading. Adults only choose books after recommendations or reading a review of the book.
  • S-structure (review any difficult or predicted trouble spot with the student).  The beginning and emergent reader does not have command of all the various sentence structures in their oral language and will need help in developing various language structures. This element of the book introduction is also vital in helping second language learners.
  • V-visual (have the student locate 1 or 2 known or unknown words prior to reading) Helping a reader locate an unknown word throughout a new text as an anchor often helps in confidence building in tackling a new text.  The same is true when asking the reader to locate a new word based on visual information.

Below is a sample book introduction using Joy Cowley’s

Wishy-Washy Garden 

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“Today we are going to read Wishy-Washy Garden by Joy Cowley.  In this story, the animals want to help Mrs. Wishy-Washy, so they clean her garden.”

 

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Texts with patterned phrases can be addressed through structure.  To highlight or plant a specific phrase structure into the child’s mind, the teacher might say while pointing to the pictures, “Let’s look at the pictures to see who will help. The (cow) will help. The (pig) will help, etc.

 

 

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The predicable text pattern changes on the last page. The teacher might say, “Mrs. Wishy-Washy cried, ‘Where is my garden?’  Can you say ‘Where is my garden?’  Say it again like you think she would say that.”

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To help students use visual information on a potential unknown word, the teacher could say, “On page 2 it says the cow ‘will help clean the garden’. What do you think clean would start with?  Can you find a word that starts with that letter (or letters) on this page and frame it so that I can see that you found it?”

“Now can you find the word clean on page 6?  On page 7? When you read the story you will now be able to read the word clean because it begins with the and makes sense in the story.”

 

 

 

After the book introduction using MSV have the reader(s) attempt a first reading on their own with the teacher silent. If needed the teacher can read with the students in a choral reading for a second reading.

 

Hameray books often have a brief introduction on the back of the book.

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The inside back cover also contains ideas for before, during and after reading.

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~~~

Paula Dugger has a B.S., M.Ed., and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. Paula does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC and can be contacted at np.dugger@att.net

Paula and her husband Neil are parents to two wonderful daughters, Alicean and Ashley, two sons-in-law Kevin and Patrick, and grandparents to Carter. She also raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. The longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing Group, titled Longhorns.

 

For more information on Joy Cowley Early Birds books cick the image below

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Topics: Joy Cowley Early Birds, Early Childhood, Paula Dugger, Guest Blog

Classic Post: Using Wordless Informational Texts to Support Early Writing

Posted by Susan Bennett-Armistead on Jul 31, 2014 12:00:36 PM

describe the imageThis guest post by Susan Bennett-Armistead, author of our My World informational texts, is part of an ongoing series in which she discusses informational text and its benefits and uses. It was originally published in October of 2013. Click here to read her other posts.

Working with Wordless: Using Wordless Informational Text to Support Early Writing

I confess. I love using wordless picture books with children. I love to hear them make up stories from the information provided in illustrations. I love hearing them use storybook language when they structure their unique telling of the story. I love how they let me in on their thinking, their vocabulary, and their creativity, as they make something out of nothing. There are so many marvelous wordless storybooks available that it’s easy to unleash their storytelling creativity.

What I love even more, though, is challenging children with a wordess informational text and inviting them to “tell me all about __________.” Children who have been exposed to informational/explanatory text are able to quickly adjust from the “Once upon a time” structure of stories to the general informative style of an informational text, “Some insects are big. Some insects live in a tree. Some insects live in the ground,” simply by looking at the photo provided and sharing something the photo is conveying about the topic.

In addition to inviting your children to tell you stories, you can assist them in becoming skillful in telling/writing informational text by trying the following ideas:

1. Include informational text in your read aloud before introducing the wordless books. Children who have been exposed to the structures and format of informational text have a leg up in being able to produce it. Talk about the features as you read the text so children know what you’re noticing about the text. Compare the structure with stories that are structured differently.

 

2. Include wordless informational text in your library. This is tricky because there aren’t a lot of these on the market. In addition to books in Hameray’s My World, you might also include Ermanno Cristini’s out of print but still available books, In the Woods, In the Pond, and In My Garden.

 

3. When using wordless books with children, invite them to “read” the book to you as if it were telling you all about the topic. Try using prompts such as, “I know you know a lot about animals that live in the woods. Read me this book all about animals that live in the woods.” Take dictation from the child as she reads the book to you so you can read her informational text back to her. Ask her if there’s anything she’d like to add or change.

 

4. Make your own informational wordless books. Invite your children to look through magazines and find pictures all about a topic of their choice. After gathering the pictures, have them glue the pictures to a piece of construction paper (one picture per page). Slip the pictures into page protectors in a binder and have the child read you the book as if it were a published text. Again, take dictation to capture the child’s text.

 

5. Create a class book on a topic. A dear friend used an “alphabet letter of the week” approach in her kindergarten classroom. She had the children brainstorm all the words they could think of that started with the focal letter. Each small group then selected one word to create a wordless book about. One group, during F week, selected “fire,” another chose “fall,” and still another selected “friends”. After creating pictures that depicted their focal word, the teacher invited each child in the group to tell about their picture:

- "Friends don’t be mean to each other."

- "Friends play together."

- "Don’t hit or push or bite."

- "Friends share stuff."

- "Me and Heather swing together."

The children then read their previously wordless book to the class.

 

Common Core State Standards bring growing attention to informational and explanatory text. By offering wordless books in the preprimary setting, we’re setting children up to be familiar with the features of that type of text. Additionally, wordless books are marvelous to use with children, since they’re so open-ended that they encourage children to take risks. There are no words to get wrong, and looking at pictures for ideas is what children do all the time when viewing text. With just a little support from us, they can stretch this risk-taking into increasingly rich and detailed writing—something every child needs!

~~~

Susan Bennett-Armistead, PhD, is an associate professor of literacy education, the Correll Professor of Early Literacy, and the coordinator of literacy doctoral study at the University of Maine. Prior to doctoral study, Dr. Bennett-Armistead was a preschool teacher and administrator for 14 years in a variety of settings, including a brief but delightful stint in the Alaskan bush.

~~~

For more information on the My World series by this author, you can click here to visit the series page on our website or click the left image below to download an information sheet.

New Call-to-Action

To see some other wordless books available from Hameray, see Zoozoo Into the Wild (flip through a sample below!) which combines realistic photos with illustration to tell a story, and Oral Language Development series, which features children in everyday settings and can be used as a writing prompt as well as to assess oral language.

 


 

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Topics: Informational Text, Early Childhood, Susan Bennett-Armistead, Preschool

What Goes On in a Content-Rich Preschool Classroom? Find Out!

Posted by Susan Bennett-Armistead on Nov 15, 2013 8:00:00 AM

susan bennett-armisteadThis guest post by Susan Bennett-Armistead, author of our My World informational texts, is part of an ongoing series in which she discusses informational text and its benefits and uses, and gives tips on teaching in a preschool and early elementary setting. Check back regularly to catch her next post—you can also read her earlier work here!


A Day in the Life of a Content-Rich Preschool Classroom

In recent posts I’ve talked about how to incorporate information and informational texts into your early childhood classroom. Some readers have asked me to talk about what that might look like in a daily lesson format. Here is a one day plan with a focus on learning about Plants.

Focal Terms

Plant

Leaf

Stem

Grow

FROM SEEDS 1Seed

Soil

Concepts of the Day

Some plants grow from seeds.

Each seed produces a different kind of plant.

Plants need soil, light, and water to grow.

Some plants are used for food.

Plants are composed of parts that include a stem and leaves. Some plants also have flowers.

Entry Activities (table activities as children come in)

Exploration of plant material such as bark, corn stalks, and flowers using magnifying glasses.

Book basket including books on plants.

Puzzles and table games.

Large-Group Activity - Language Experience

Brainstorming Plants: Make a list of plants that children know about. You’ll need to give them a definition of a plant and some examples to get the ball rolling. Feel free to add to the list throughout the day and the week. Post this list in the writing area.

Plants coverChoice-Time Choices

Sensory Table: Field corn on the cob, loose corn, balance scale, scoops, the book Corn.

Book Corner: variety of books about plants.

Block Area: Blocks, blocks made from slices of trees, trucks, books on building houses and homes.

Art Area: Fruit and vegetable stamping—using cross sections of apples, potatoes, celery, oranges, green pepper, and onion, have the children dip the vegetables in thin paint to create prints of the vegetables. Talk about the parts of the vegetables and fruits you are working with: seeds, skin, veins, stalk, stem, etc. Talk about how the children made that print they made: “Which vegetable made this print? How about this one?”

Dress-up Area: Campout—tent, pretend fire, sleeping bags, backpacks, cooking pans, maps, posters of plants of your state, plant guidebooks, clipboard for documenting plants they find, pretend cameras, binoculars.

Science Corner: Have a display of various plants and seeds for the children to explore, magnifying glasses, and information books on plants and plant structures.

Thinking Area: Use puzzles, games, and a seed-sorting activity: a variety of seeds to be sorted from smallest to largest—make sure you have a coconut!

Writing Center: With paper, markers, pencils made from tree twigs, and booklets in the shape of trees, prompt children to write something about what they know about trees; take dictation as necessary)

Small-Group Work (small groups are called to work with the teacher during choice time)

Each group will read Lois Ehlert’s Growing Vegetable Soup. We’ll talk about what the seeds needed to grow and what we would need to do to create our own gardens.

We’ll then plant our own seeds using a procedural text spread out by stations at a table: 1) Get a cup. Write your name on it. 2) Put dirt in the cup. 3) Choose a seed to plant. [There will be a variety of seeds to choose from, each having been mentioned in our book.] 4) Water your seed. 5) Place your seed on the window sill.

Large Group Activity II

Song: Everything Grows by Raffi—chart it out for children to follow along.

K-W-L on plants: What do we think we know about plants? What do we wonder about plants? Save the "what have we learned" section for after you’ve studied about plants. Use the children’s wonderings to help plan the rest of the unit. Make sure you select texts that answer their questions.                  

Snack Time

Snack will be cucumber slices, crackers, and juice. We’ll talk about how some of our items came from plants and what parts of the plants were used.

—transition to outside time—

children climb playground 13982185 Felix MizioznikovOutside Time

Book Basket: We bring out a book basket on the theme for outside reading each day. (If you live in a snowy climate, plastic bath books or the new “Indestructables” series work well for this.)

Nature Spot: Each child is given a string to create a circle around an area of the playground that they can stake out to observe what is going on in that spot across the year. With clipboards, children will document what is going on in their spots today and label the spot with their names. With today’s focus on plants, talk about what plants they can see in their nature spot.

Access to Climbers: Children may choose to play with outside equipment.

—dismiss from outside—

Make sure to post the focal words and concepts around the room so that adults incorporate the words and concepts into play with the children throughout the day. The richness of the language and interaction with text will assist children in making the concepts their own. You can extend the classroom experience by including information about the topic in your newsletter so your families can talk about the same concepts at home. Sending home book bags with books on plants will let families use read aloud to build concepts as well. Ultimately, wrapping your children in content will build their knowledge and their confidence in themselves as learners.

~~~

Susan Bennett-Armistead, PhD, is an associate professor of literacy education, the Correll Professor of Early Literacy, and the coordinator of literacy doctoral study at the University of Maine. Prior to doctoral study, Dr. Bennett-Armistead was a preschool teacher and administrator for 14 years in a variety of settings, including a brief but delightful stint in the Alaskan bush.

~~~

For more information on the My World series by this author, you can click here to visit the series page on our website or click the left image below to download an information sheet.

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Topics: Informational Text, Early Childhood, Susan Bennett-Armistead, Preschool

Using Wordless Informational Texts to Support Early Writing

Posted by Susan Bennett-Armistead on Oct 23, 2013 8:00:00 AM

describe the imageThis guest post by Susan Bennett-Armistead, author of our My World informational texts, is part of an ongoing series in which she discusses informational text and its benefits and uses. Check back regularly to catch her next post!

Working with Wordless: Using Wordless Informational Text to Support Early Writing

I confess. I love using wordless picture books with children. I love to hear them make up stories from the information provided in illustrations. I love hearing them use storybook language when they structure their unique telling of the story. I love how they let me in on their thinking, their vocabulary, and their creativity, as they make something out of nothing. There are so many marvelous wordless storybooks available that it’s easy to unleash their storytelling creativity.

What I love even more, though, is challenging children with a wordess informational text and inviting them to “tell me all about __________.” Children who have been exposed to informational/explanatory text are able to quickly adjust from the “Once upon a time” structure of stories to the general informative style of an informational text, “Some insects are big. Some insects live in a tree. Some insects live in the ground,” simply by looking at the photo provided and sharing something the photo is conveying about the topic.

In addition to inviting your children to tell you stories, you can assist them in becoming skillful in telling/writing informational text by trying the following ideas:

1. Include informational text in your read aloud before introducing the wordless books. Children who have been exposed to the structures and format of informational text have a leg up in being able to produce it. Talk about the features as you read the text so children know what you’re noticing about the text. Compare the structure with stories that are structured differently.

 

2. Include wordless informational text in your library. This is tricky because there aren’t a lot of these on the market. In addition to books in Hameray’s My World, you might also include Ermanno Cristini’s out of print but still available books, In the Woods, In the Pond, and In My Garden.


3. When using wordless books with children, invite them to “read” the book to you as if it were telling you all about the topic. Try using prompts such as, “I know you know a lot about animals that live in the woods. Read me this book all about animals that live in the woods.” Take dictation from the child as she reads the book to you so you can read her informational text back to her. Ask her if there’s anything she’d like to add or change.

 

4. Make your own informational wordless books. Invite your children to look through magazines and find pictures all about a topic of their choice. After gathering the pictures, have them glue the pictures to a piece of construction paper (one picture per page). Slip the pictures into page protectors in a binder and have the child read you the book as if it were a published text. Again, take dictation to capture the child’s text.

 

5. Create a class book on a topic. A dear friend used an “alphabet letter of the week” approach in her kindergarten classroom. She had the children brainstorm all the words they could think of that started with the focal letter. Each small group then selected one word to create a wordless book about. One group, during F week, selected “fire,” another chose “fall,” and still another selected “friends”. After creating pictures that depicted their focal word, the teacher invited each child in the group to tell about their picture:

- "Friends don’t be mean to each other."

- "Friends play together."

- "Don’t hit or push or bite."

- "Friends share stuff."

- "Me and Heather swing together."

The children then read their previously wordless book to the class.

 

Common Core State Standards bring growing attention to informational and explanatory text. By offering wordless books in the preprimary setting, we’re setting children up to be familiar with the features of that type of text. Additionally, wordless books are marvelous to use with children, since they’re so open-ended that they encourage children to take risks. There are no words to get wrong, and looking at pictures for ideas is what children do all the time when viewing text. With just a little support from us, they can stretch this risk-taking into increasingly rich and detailed writing—something every child needs!

~~~

Susan Bennett-Armistead, PhD, is an associate professor of literacy education, the Correll Professor of Early Literacy, and the coordinator of literacy doctoral study at the University of Maine. Prior to doctoral study, Dr. Bennett-Armistead was a preschool teacher and administrator for 14 years in a variety of settings, including a brief but delightful stint in the Alaskan bush.

~~~

For more information on the My World series by this author, you can click here to visit the series page on our website or click the left image below to download an information sheet.

New Call-to-Action

To see some other wordless books available from Hameray, see Zoozoo Into the Wild (flip through a sample below!) which combines realistic photos with illustration to tell a story, and Oral Language Development series, which features children in everyday settings and can be used as a writing prompt as well as to assess oral language.

 


 

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Topics: Informational Text, Early Childhood, Susan Bennett-Armistead, Preschool

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