Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

30 New Kaleidoscope Books!

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Mar 28, 2017 2:17:00 PM

 If you’re a frequent reader of our blog, you’ll be familiar with Hameray Publishing’s Kaleidoscope Collection. As our largest series, the Kaleidoscope Collection features both narrative and informational texts between Guided Reading Levels A – K. With its commitment to diverse representation, students have a kaleidoscope of options to choose a book that appeals to them.

We’ve just introduced 30 new titles into the Kaleidoscope Collection, which focuses on low-leveled readers at Guided Reading Level A–C. Books like My Birthday! and What Is a Pet? are sure to peak the interest of your beginning reader.

Many of the new books are complementary in topic or sentence structure, making them ideal for students to reinforce their reading skills. For example, students can familiarize themselves with the sight words “I” and “can” by reading I Can Read. Then, they can apply their knowledge to a new book, I Can Write. Using multiple books to reinforce a reading concept is crucial for developing confidence and fluency.

 i-can-read-book-preview.jpg

i-can-write-book-preview.jpg

Other complementary titles from the new Kaleidoscope additions include the following:

You can browse all of our new Kaleidoscope titles at our website. Remember, a portion of the Kaleidoscope Collection’s profits goes to the Reading Recovery Council of North America. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

 

~~~

Click the image below to download a series highlights about the newly-expanded Kaleidoscope Collection. 

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Topics: Kaleidoscope Collection, Kindergarten, Preschool

Nurturing Science Skills in the Early Childhood Classroom

Posted by Lily Erlic on Jul 26, 2016 3:30:00 PM

This is a guest blog post by Lily Erlic, a preschool and daycare teacher. Today, she shares creative classroom activities to bridge literacy and science in early childhood.

For preschool and kindergarten teachers, teaching science in the early childhood goes hand-in-hand with developing students’ reading skills. Using From Seeds and Farmers Grow Food from the My World: Growing Things series, I will share my ideas for teaching science in the early childhood classroom.

Book One: FROM SEEDS

From Seeds provides photos of seeds and what grows from them. For example, the first page says, “From these seeds, carrots grow”. From page to page, it shows children the marvel of the seed and what it can produce.

Encourage the children to answer this question:

  • What kinds of seeds were in this book?

For a supplemental activity, provide a tray of different seeds with labels on them. Tape the seeds to the tray so they do not move around. Show the children pictures or provide the vegetables for the children to touch and feel. Ask them if they have tried all the vegetables. Ask: What is your favorite vegetable? 

MyWorld_FromSeeds.jpg

 

Book Two: FARMERS GROW FOOD

Farmers Grow Food depicts what happens on a farm to grow food. The first page reads, “Farmers grow food. Farmers plow fields.” It is a thorough and vivid account of what farmers do for us. The “Suggestions for Teachers and Parents” section also gives helpful tips for classroom use.

Ask the students this guiding question:

  • Where do you think our food comes from?

For a supplemental activity, create an activity sheet with vegetable drawings. Ask the children to color it with crayons. Ask them to write their own names on the paper. Display the sheets on a bulletin board and label the board, “FARMERS GROW FOOD.” 

MyWorld_FarmersGrowFood.jpg

Extended Activities:

  • Draw vegetables on the board and ask the children to identify the vegetables. You can also paste photos from books onto the whiteboard or from books. Ask them if they have eaten any of them for meals.
  • Provide the children with an activity sheet that states, “My favorite vegetable is _____________.” Print the word for each child and ask him or her to draw it.
  • Action Rhymes: Children like to participate in creative movement. They can learn about food while having fun, too! Finger Rhymes for Manners by Teaching and Learning Company includes food rhymes that would supplement the two books above. Another book, Finger Rhymes Content-Connected Rhymes for Science, Math and Social Studies, also lists food action rhymes under the fruit section.

I would recommend From Seeds and Farmers Grow Foodwith their colorful photos, they are great for teaching preschool and kindergarten students about science!

~~~

Lily Erlic is a preschool and daycare teacher in Victoria, BC. She is an author of many books like Blue Bear Makes Blueberry Pie, Finger Rhymes for Manners and more. Her recent e-book is a science fiction book called The Golden Sphere.

~~~

To learn more about the titles mentioned in this post and browse more titles with the Growing Things theme, click the image below and download an information sheet about the My World series.

My World Series Info Sheet 

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Topics: Leveled Readers, Reading Activities, Kindergarten, Preschool, My World, Science

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.

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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

How Do You Decide What to Teach? Choosing Units of Study in Preschool

Posted by Susan Bennett-Armistead on Oct 11, 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!

“How do you decide what to teach?”

Because I have the privilege of visiting many programs around the country and the opportunity to meet with many skilled teachers, I get asked that question a lot. One of the wonderful things about teaching in preprimary classrooms is we often have more freedom to select our topics of study than our friends in K–12 education do. At the same time, that can be a bit daunting. Coming up with units of study, whether you’re following the children’s lead with a Reggio Emilia approach or working from a theme-based perspective, means that you need to think carefully about several important things:

1) Know your learners.

This may seem obvious, but you need to be very aware of what your children know and can do as well as knowing what gaps they may have in knowledge. The whole idea of assessment-led instruction has often been misunderstood to mean that we have to formally assess children’s knowledge before we can instruct them. As you know, many schools spend entire weeks assessing children’s knowledge. That’s not the only, or even the best, way to gain an understanding about what children know. Through informal assessments such as visiting with children, observing their play, and investigating their interests, you can gain a great deal of information about what children know. Simply playing games such as Candyland with them can tell you who knows the names of the colors and who does not. Developing a record keeping system, such as an anecdotal record log that you peruse from time to time can help you decide what content you should be building on.

6068 Pg01 ultralight plane 13375863 Artur Mercik2) Move from the known to the new.

Children (and adults) learn best when information is repeated, relevant to them, and real. One of the best ways to make learning relevant to children is to link it to something they already know about. For example, I used to teach in the Alaskan bush for a couple of years. The way most of us got around was by small planes. There were no children in my group who had not been on an airplane. If I was doing a unit on transportation and decided to set up a vehicle in my dress up area, it would have to be a plane or a boat since that’s what the children were most familiar with. I now live in rural Maine. Very few children here have flown in planes. A unit on transportation here would not start off with an airplane in the dress-up area; it might have a school bus instead. I could eventually turn my school bus into an airplane, but I’d need to bridge it for my children to help them understand that planes and buses have some similarities, as well as important differences.

3) Start with the child.

When I was teaching preschool, like many teachers, I started with the same themes each year. Using the principle above, I moved from what the children knew best—themselves—and gradually expanded their world. Here are some examples of my themes, in chronological order:

- Marvelous Me

- My Family

- Friends at School (about making friends and the community of school)

- My Neighborhood

- Community Heroes

- Healthy Humans

- Sensing the World Around Us (a two-week unit on senses)

- Trees (living in the north, we needed to talk about changes in the trees)

- Feelings (usually timed for Halloween so we could talk about things that scare us)

MAMMALSBy this point in the year, I knew children’s interests and issues well so I could start building themes built on their content knowledge and passions. Additional themes have included:

- Under the Sea

- Dinosaurs

- Animals in Winter

- Rocks and Minerals

- Mammals

- Amphibians

- Insects

- Birds All Around Us

- Everything Grows

- Art and Artists

- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

- Once Upon a Time (genre study of fairytales)

- Friends Forever (focusing on promoting social problem-solving)

- Life in the Forest

- Life in the Desert

- Space

- Change (addressing the changes expected with the end of school and children's moving on)

By approaching my year in this way, I started with the child and ended as far from the child as possible (in space!), which helped their world and their knowledge to grow over time.

4) Designing the Content-rich Classroom.

You may have noticed that none of my themes were the letter or color of the week, nor is there anything on this list about teddy bears. Theme selection has to be rich enough that the children can learn about something for a week or more; I generally did units for about 2 weeks. There have to be facts to learn, literature to link the facts to, and enough age-appropriate content for children to sink their teeth into. Science- or social-studies–focused themes tend to offer more depth to talk about than doing a unit on, say, The Gingerbread Man. To plan this way, you have to first decide:

a.     What are the facts I want children to know about this topic?

b.     What do children already know about this topic?

c.     What vocabulary should children gain to master this topic?

d.     What experiences can I provide for children to gain this knowledge?

My World Teacher%27s Guide Final highres 1The My World series is theme-based, and the teacher’s guide, available here, offers some examples of theme planning for the five themes in the series. Additional resources you might try are Teaching Young Children Using Themes and Themes Teachers Use, both by Kostelnik et al.

After generating the answers to the questions, planning for all areas of development falls into place using whatever planning format you’ve been using. The trick though, is that as the teacher, you have to ask the most important questions of all: What do I need to know about this topic to effectively teach it? What resources do I need to investigate to make sure my content knowledge is accurate?

My greatest fear is teaching misinformation out of my own ignorance! I once sat in on a class where the teacher told the children that the moon was the closest planet to the earth. To make sure I don’t do something like that, I often read up on a topic using informational children’s books to make sure my content knowledge is accurate and up to date, as well as framed in a way that young children can understand it.

As mentioned in previous posts, building children’s knowledge of their world benefits them now, as they’re developing their own understandings of the world around them, but also later when they’re trying to make sense of material they’re reading about. Planning your classroom and your year around building that knowledge can enrich them with a lifetime of curiosity and learning.

~~~

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 image below to download an information sheet.

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

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