Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Teaching the Alphabet through Connections

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jul 1, 2016 10:01:16 AM

Teaching the Alphabet through Connections - Kathy Crane

One of our frequent guest bloggers, Kathy Crane over at Kindergarten Kiosk, wrote this neat post on teaching the alphabet through connections. She uses lots of strategies: animal buddies, letter books, anchor charts, and an object tub, among other things. Here is an excerpt from her post:

One of the most important skills that young children need to conquer quickly, is to crack the code of the alphabetic principle! This is not an easy task for most children. In fact, the skill is most easily acquired if it is taught in a strategic manner that is purposeful, and makes sense. 

This group of animal friends allows for such strategic teaching! As I introduce a letter a day for the first 26 or so days of school using multisensory cues, I have found that most students learn the majority of letters and sounds in a very short time.

Click here to read the rest of her post, and if you're interested in the Letter Buddies Letter Books she uses in her approach, there are a few ways you can get a better look at them:

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Topics: Letter Buddies, Letter Learning, Kathy Crane

[New Post] Reading and Writing the Room—with FREE Download!

Posted by Kathy Crane on Feb 12, 2016 4:26:14 PM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, who will be contributing a series of posts over the next few months. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from here and click here to read her blog, Kindergarten Kiosk.

 

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Students in my classroom have been writing and reading the room since the early '90s when I first heard of the concept at a conference, and I have yet to find a student who is not in love with the activity! To make these activities even better, both of these reading and writing activities are easy to set up and use.

Reading the Room involves providing students with a type of pointer and allowing them opportunity to read any printed matter that you have in your classroom. To prepare students for this opportunity, have name charts, posters, etc. in full view of the students and use the teacher pointer to model reading displayed activities on a daily basis. Have them look for snowflake cards with letters on them (found in the free activity below) or Letter Books that are hidden around the room. 

Writing the Room involves students searching throughout the room for assigned print such as letters, numbers, words, or even poems. You can supply students with clipboards, or you can have them glue the sheets in composition journals.

Below is a "free write the room" activity your students will love.

 

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Kathy Crane holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading, is a published author of thirteen books, a freelance author and developer of teaching curriculum, has been a teacher of kindergarten for twenty-two years, and publishes the blog Kindergarten Kiosk

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For more information about the Letter Buddies series, click HERE to return to our website or click the series highlight page below to download an information sheet.
 

 

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Topics: Making Learning Fun, K-2 Literacy, Reading Activities, Teaching Writing, Kathy Crane, Writing Activity

Mrs. Wishy-Washy and the Importance of Dramatic Play

Posted by Kathy Crane on Sep 29, 2015 3:30:00 PM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, one of our occasional guest bloggers. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from her and click here to read her blog.

Times have changed since I first used Mrs. Wishy-Washy in my kindergarten classroom in 1991. The demands of the kindergarten teacher have moved into the world of academia, and kindergarten has become the new first grade.

With this great push of academics, there has been a tendency for early childhood educators to deliver academic content using teaching methods that are only appropriate for older learners and ignoring proven early childhood practices.

One such practice is that of dramatic play. I am saddened at the lack of dramatic play opportunities that are being provided young learners. When I asked a teacher why she didn't include it, she said, "With curriculum demands I simply don't have time for it." While I can see her concern, I maintain that I don't have time to leave out dramatic play!

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Play has so many benefits for young children and it is becoming the lost art of childhood. I can't imagine my program without it! So, flash forward 24 years! I am still using Mrs. Wishy-Washy in the classroom. Perhaps with more sophisticated knowledge and strategic purpose, but kids love it just the same!

You will find that bringing dramatic play into your classroom will build students' comprehension and fluency skills, deepen understanding of story elements, and provide Just Plain Fun. Acting out quality big books such as those written by Joy Cowley are timeless!

 ~~~

Kathy Crane holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading, is a published author of thirteen books, a freelance author and developer of teaching curriculum, has been a teacher of kindergarten for twenty-two years, and publishes the blog Kindergarten Kiosk

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For additional information on Mrs. Wishy-Washy books, click here to visit our website, or click the images below to download series highlights sheets with key features. 

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Topics: Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Kindergarten, Big Books, Kathy Crane

Using Letter Buddies to Build Vocabulary

Posted by Kathy Crane on Jul 7, 2015 2:05:00 PM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, one of our occasional guest bloggers. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from her and click here to read her blog.

Crane-Letter-BuddiesAbout a year ago, I told you about my two-year-old grandson who quickly learned all of his alphabet letters and sounds using the Letter Buddies books. Now let me tell you about his little sister: G. has taken to these fun readers just as eagerly as her big brother. While her big brother learned all of his letters early from the books, she took a different trajectory.

The Letter Buddies books have taught her to love books and, by eighteen months, she was quietly sitting, book in hand, making up stories. Because both children love the books so much and have learned from them in uniquely different ways, I was curious to see what else I could do with these little wonders.

While I was spending a few days with the kiddos, I was thinking about how these books could be used to teach vocabulary. I picked up a book and began pointing at each picture one by one, and, to my surprise, G. could name each picture in every single volume. Not only had she learned to love books and learn some letters, she had gleaned the vocabulary from each book. Although I believe the books alone are great, don’t forget the companion app. It is a great educational substitute for busy moms. You can check it out on YouTube here!

 ~~~

Kathy Crane holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading, is a published author of thirteen books, a freelance author and developer of teaching curriculum, has been a teacher of kindergarten for twenty-two years, and publishes the blog Kindergarten Kiosk
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For additional information on the Letter Buddies books shown in this post, click here to visit our website, or click the image below to download a series highlights sheet with key features. 
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Topics: Letter Buddies, Vocabulary, Kathy Crane

Guided Reading: Building Strategies Through Scaffolding

Posted by Kathy Crane on Dec 30, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, one of our regular guest bloggers. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from her and click here to read her blog.
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After building the background and preparing the students to read, it is time to introduce the book. It is most advantageous to take a “Picture Walk.” The picture walk is a time for students to discuss pictures, make predictions, front-load vocabulary, and fill conceptual gaps. 

To begin the picture walk, the teacher holds one copy for students to view. 
As she turns the pages one-by-one, she asks questions such as “What is this a picture of?” “What is happening in this picture?” “What clues about the story do you think this picture is giving us?” “What word(s) can you use to describe this picture?” “What picture do you think will be on the next page?”

During the picture walk the teacher should implant vocabulary that is found in the book. For example, if a page contains the word brown, the teacher might say on that particular page, “Yes. It is a bear. He looks like a brown bear to me.” If the word snout is found on the page, the teacher might say, “I think the bear on this page has a huge snout!” “Do you know what a snout is?”crane-9-300-2

Following the picture walk, the teacher passes each student a copy of the guided reading book and invites students to point at each word as she reads the story. During this reading, the teacher models good reading behaviors such as tracking print, phrasing, inflection, etc. as students follow or read along.

Next, the group turns back to the cover and reads together as a group (choral reading). During this time, the teacher guides, observes and supports the students. Following this reading, the students re-read independently as the teacher focuses on one student at a time. Next, the students should re-read the book at least one more time. One way to accomplish this is to have a basket of book-buddies (stuffed animal pets) available for the students to read the story to in the classroom library, at another table, or other location in the room, and then return back to the reading table when that task is completed. This will allow the teacher to keep one or two students at the table that may need additional scaffolding.

 ~~~

Kathy Crane holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading, is a published author of thirteen books, a freelance author and developer of teaching curriculum, has been a teacher of kindergarten for twenty-two years, and publishes the blog Kindergarten Kiosk
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For more information on the the previous post about Introducing Guided Reading by Kathy Crane, click here.
For additional information on the Zoozoo Animal World series that includes the book shown in this lesson, click here to visit our website, or click the image to the left below to download a series highlights sheet with key features. 
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Topics: Guided Reading, Kathy Crane, Scaffolding

Activating Background Knowledge for Guided Reading—with FREE Download!

Posted by Kathy Crane on Dec 9, 2014 8:09:00 AM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, one of our regular guest bloggers. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from her and click here to read her blog

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After the mini-lesson portion of a guided reading lesson, it is time to activate student’s prior background knowledge. For example, since Thanksgiving recently passed, it will be fresh in their minds, and makes good background knowledge. 

Another example would be if the book is about turkeys, ask students what they already know about turkeys (you can simply accept responses and make it an oral conversation, or you may want to record responses and make a list or a spider graph such as the one included below—you can download it at the bottom of the page). Next, make connections from their responses that will draw their interest toward the text that is about to be read. 

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You may wish to follow student responses with a personal experience that you have had with the subject. My students always love to hear my story as a young child growing up on a farm that not only had cows, horses, pigs, and sheep, but thousands of turkeys! I show them a old clip of when my brother put me in the pen with the turkeys and they chased me everywhere I went as I ran away from them. Next, I show them a turkey feather that I kept from my childhood days on that farm.

The kids are now ready! They want to know more about those fascinating birds! Now it is time to show the students one book and take a "picture walk" (an important tool which builds confidence and support for the reading strategy of using pictures as context clues). To do this, turn through the book page by page calling attention to the pictures. Ask questions such as “What do you see on this page?”; “What do you think is happening on this page?” and “Do you know what this is a picture of?”

Before you turn the last page, allow students to predict what picture might be on the last page to represent the ending of the story. Remember to guide this activity with great care and thought. Implanting important vocabulary words.

~~~
Kathy Crane holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading, is a published author of thirteen books, a freelance author and developer of teaching curriculum, has been a teacher of kindergarten for twenty-two years, and publishes the blog Kindergarten Kiosk
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For more information on the book used in this blog post, click here to visit our website, or click the image to the left below to download a series highlights sheet with key features. To download the background knowledge guided reading spider worksheet, click the image to the right.
 
               
          
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Topics: Kaleidoscope Collection, Guided Reading, Kathy Crane, Background Knowledge

Introducing Guided Reading with a Brief Mini-Lesson

Posted by Kathy Crane on Dec 4, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, one of our regular guest bloggers. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from her and click here to read her blog.

A guided reading lesson usually opens with a brief mini-lesson. The objective of the lesson is generally something that will help students read the text to be presented. Most of the time it will look different for each guided reading group. For example, if you are going to read the book Brown Bear by Lee Waters you could choose from limitless mini-lessons. Below are a few suggestions.

Tracking Printkrane-7-minilesson

The strategy of tracking print can be practiced by printing the word cards below and doing the following:

Place the word cards in a row to construct a sentence. “Think Aloud” as you place the cards: talk about the word itself, and drawing attention to the space between words.

“Okay, I now have a sentence. I will take my finger and point under each word that my voice is saying.”

Point at each word one by one in a slightly exaggerated fashion. Ask students to read the sentence one by one pointing at each word as the word is spoken. After the activity, remind students that when you read today’s book, remember to point at each word as it is read. *Note: For lower level groups, use objects rather than words and allow students to practice naming an object only when their finger is pointing at it.

Sight Words: in, the, will

To practice the words in, the and will, first show the students each word in flash-card style. Next, pull out a small deck of cards (about three or four of each word) with the words in, the, and will printed on them.

“We are going to play Hot-Potato-Word! To play, I will draw the top card and read it. I will then pass it to ____ (the person at my left), and then he/she will read it and pass it and we will read and pass until it gets back to me. I will then put the card in a container to cool it down.”

After playing, remind students to look for the words in, the, and will as they read the day’s book.guidedreadingmaterialspicture_copy_copy-1

Using Picture Clues

To practice this skill, use the cards provided.

“We are going to read words by using picture clues.” First show card #1. “Who can read this word?” (Probably the majority of students will be unable to read the card.

Next show card #2. “Who can read the word now”? (Most students will now be able to read the card.

“Why was it easier to read the word on the second card than the first?” (Let students respond). “It was easier because you were able to use a picture clue to help you read the word.”

Continue with the remaining cards. "As we read our book today, I want you to pay close attention to picture clues as we read."

~~~
Kathy Crane holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading, is a published author of thirteen books, a freelance author and developer of teaching curriculum, has been a teacher of kindergarten for twenty-two years, and publishes the blog Kindergarten Kiosk
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For more information on the Zoozoo Animal World series that includes the book shown in this lesson, click here to visit our website, or click the image to the left below to download a series highlights sheet with key features. To see Kathy's entire Bear Thematic Unit on her TPT page, click here.
 
                 
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Topics: Zoozoo Animal World, Guided Reading, Kathy Crane

Guided Reading As a Bridge Between Shared and Independent Reading—with FREE Download!

Posted by Kathy Crane on Nov 13, 2014 10:47:31 AM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, who will be contributing a series of posts over the next few months. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from here and click here to read her blog, Kindergarten Kiosk.

Guided reading is the bridge between shared reading and independent reading. It is an instructional strategy that helps students become better readers. It can be used in many different grades, but it is most common in kindergarten, first, and second.

Crane-6-1Guided reading provides the opportunity to apply reading strategies in a supportive environment. With the teacher’s guidance, students can better use new skills such as recognizing sight words, decoding words, using context clues, looking at word structure, and deciding if a word or sentence makes sense. During these times guided of reading, the teacher is able to scaffold students to a higher level of performance in a risk-free setting.

Among the books that I love to read with my students at the guided reading table are any of the “Hairy Bear books from the Joy Cowley Collection. At this time of the year in kindergarten, I am very concerned that students learn to track print. It is my utmost objective during each lesson. I call this strategy “point at the word your voice is saying.”

After reading the “real” books, I like to use
 “paper” books to provide a take-home hands-on opportunity with text. The book “The Family” is a great example of a paper book that awards opportunity to provide strategic practice with text. To make this book, download the strategic practice packet at the bottom of this page, then simply copy pages 1/2 and 3/4 on the back of each other, cut in half, and collate. Copy page 8 and cut in half to make the last page of the book and a blank outside cover.

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For more information about Joy Cowley's books, click here to visit our website or click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights. Click the image to the right to download the strategic practice packet with "The Family."

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Topics: Joy Cowley, Guided Reading, Kathy Crane

Shared Reading and the Common Core

Posted by Kathy Crane on Oct 23, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, who will be contributing a series of posts over the next few months. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from here and click here to read her blog, Kindergarten Kiosk.

Teaching the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts – Reading: Literature can seem daunting at first glance, but when you look at the standards closely, everything listed can easily be taught using proven “Big Book” teaching methods.

Here are a few examples:

Little_Dan-coverKey Ideas and details:

  1. After the first reading of a big book, move through the book page by page while making a list of the key details. For example. What is happening on this page? How do we know the character felt this way? Let’s reread the page to see how the picture reflects the words in the story. (You can expand this by adding sticky notes on strategic places to document findings or by creating a large chart.)
  2. Big books can easily be retold to enhance student understanding concerning details of text. These retellings, as well as the listing of characters, settings, and events can be accomplished in a number of ways such as: story mapping, spidergraphs, story paths, dramatization, puppets, art, writing, story hand, etc.

Craft and Structure:

1. Make a dictionary or bulletin board to compile unknown words. One example is “Fancy Nancy’s Words.” After a few readings, go through the text, list and define “fancy” or unknown words. Write the words on a strip or piece of paper, and ask a student to illustrate the word(s). Add to your bulletin board or dictionary.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity! This one is easy, as it is already the purpose of teacher big books and shared reading! Our goal is to “actively engage (students) in group reading activities with purpose and understanding. Shared reading allows students opportunity to be engaged in text and vocabulary well above their independent reading level and, therefore, accomplishes this goal every day!

So if you are worried about teaching the Reading: Literature portion of the Common Core Standards, worry no more! Stock your room with great quality big books. If you don’t know where to start, here is one of my student’s favorites! If you love Joy Cowley’s character Dan The Flying Man, you will love to see how he first acquired his flying suit in her book Little Dan

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For more information about Joy Cowley's books, click here to visit our website or click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights. 

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Topics: Joy Cowley, Common Core, Shared Reading, Kathy Crane

Letter Buddies and Young Children—with FREE download!

Posted by Kathy Crane on Oct 7, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest post by Kathy Crane, who will be contributing a series of posts over the next few months. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from here and click here to read her blog, Kindergarten Kiosk.

Crane_4-1-300I received these twenty-three letter books at the very end of the school year. They were cute, but I was ready for summer. Instead of putting them into a box for summer, however, I sent them to my daughter’s house for her soon-to-be-kindergarten son to enjoy.

When I visited just a few short weeks later, to my surprise, her twenty-eight-month-old son pulled out the Letter Buddies books and proceeded to “read” them to me. He got the first letter right. Lucky guess, I thought. But much to my surprise he knew all twenty-six letters of the alphabet and yes, you guessed it, all of the alphabet sounds too.

The small size of these books are perfect for little hands. To top it off, I found the great companion app! You can view it on Youtube here. With this companion piece, now I wonder if the one-year-old will know all of the letters and sounds on my next visit!

At the bottom of this page is a great alphabet game to play. Enjoy!

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Kathy Crane holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading, is a published author of thirteen books, a freelance author and developer of teaching curriculum, has been a teacher of kindergarten for twenty-two years, and publishes the blog Kindergarten Kiosk

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For more information about the Letter Buddies Letter Books, click here to visit our website or click the image to the left below to download an information sheet with series highlights. To download the Circus Time Alphabet Match Up, click the image to the right below.

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Topics: Letter Buddies, Mobile Apps, Kathy Crane, Young Children

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