Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Love of Reading

As teachers, we are obsessed with instilling a love of reading in our students. We have both been around though all the newest, latest gimmicks for the best way to teach children to read.  We started with phonics, moved into the whole language phase, back to phonics and who knows what is next?!?! What we want to do is PUT A BOOK IN OUR CHILDRENS' HANDS AND LET THEM READ! We are going to share some of our favorite ways that we promote reading in our classrooms.

Each morning, as soon as the children unpack, each child gets to "check out" books from the class library after returning the books from the previous day. We have themes like SPACE, CATS, WEATHER, LOVE, FAIRY TALES, TEETH, WHALES, etc.  They are allowed 5-7 books of their choice in their bag, and of course they can keep a favorite in their bag for a few days, but no hoarding books allowed. Too long and it becomes like an old friend you can't let go, or a competition to see how long they can get away with keeping it from the others. It's a FIRST GRADE THING.  HA! Some of the books are on their level and some have to be read to them, however we always encourage them to choose JUST RIGHT BOOKS. We want them to FEEL LIKE  and BE successful readers.Let's face it, if they think they can't read, they won't.  Sooooo, we have to build in success to get the old ball rolling.  By Friday morning, students must choose a book they enjoyed reading and prepare a sheet for Book Share Fridays. The students pick a sheet up from the class library after getting their new books for the day, and begin their book report.  To introduce this, I play an old antique READING RAINBOW VHS (Yes, we still have VCR's in our room too). At the end of every episode, children always did a book share that I really loved.   They simply tell us about the book, which makes you want to check it out right away. They may also bring in a prop to go along with the book share, and it's always exciting when a parent makes a food item to go with the book!!

Through the years, our school has adopted  D.E.A.R. (drop everything and read) and we used it for years.  Our school set  times and we all 
The whole school participated. Even the principal! After a couple of years, schedule problems and TESTING all the darn time, we had to set times individually.  At times, it was a bit of a problem getting first graders to sit still and actually read during the time the school wanted us to read.  BUT...after reading Daily Five, we learned that we have to teach the kids to sit and read, as well as all the different ways to read a book, even if you don't know all the words, build stamina, and give them a choice of what to read. We also have to SHOW them what reading looks like. Teachers have to sit down, be quite, and read too.   

Every November, during National Children's Book Week, we have a READ-IN. The kids bring sleeping bags, pillows, wear pajamas, and we READ all day long!  We schedule different things through out the day to get them up and moving.  They enjoy it, but can't wait to get back to reading!  We have guest readers every 45 minutes. We ask police officers, high school football players, the principle, the district superintendent, firemen, etc to come in and read one book, but also to tell us why reading is important to them. We also set 30 minutes for parents to come in, get on the floor, and read with the kids.  We serve milk and muffins in the morning.  Then we have bookworms (gummy worms) in the afternoon!!   FUN, FUN day!


On the first Friday in January, we have another day that we do nothing but READ!  The kids wear their pajamas again, bring sleeping bags, and we read. We do not invite guest readers from outside the school this time. Instead, we ask our special teachers (PE, Office Aide, custodian, lunch room staff, etc.) to come in.  We serve hot chocolate and mini donuts for snack!  We do more cuddling and reading with our own students on this day. Right after lunch, we get settled in our sleeping bags and watch THE SNOWMAN.  They love this!

BUDDY READ (with another grade)
One day, every other week we get together with our 5th grade buddies and read! This is a win-win for all of us.  The 5th graders are like movie stars in our eyes! When we see them in the hallway, or at an assembly, you would think they'd seen someone straight off of Nick Jr. They are our reading role models. We can hardly wait to see them each week. We take turns staying in our room or going UPSTAIRS to their room. You should see the wonderment in their eyes when we go upstairs to the room with the giant chairs and giant desks! 

Each day we read to our students.  It doesn't matter when you read, they just need to hear you read.  We choose right after lunch (when the schedule permits).  It's a good time to calm down, lay on the floor if you want, and listen.  We choose different chapter books depending on the season and interests at the time. Honesty, sometimes I think this is where all our comprehension is learned.  They will listen and get so involved in the story, characters, and predicting what's to come, that it is the PERFECT opportunity for teaching all of your comprehension skills.  They like to draw and write summaries about what you read as well.  Another win, win activity.

We give our students time to socialize with books!  Right after we read to them, we send them off to BUDDY READ.  We alternate days between BUDDY READING and READ TO SELF.  They learn the rules of both.  They know what I expect. Talking is okay during Buddy Reading if it is about the book. During Buddy Reading, the teacher can move around group to group and listen.

Okay...this is the coolest ever!  We read "The Garden" from Frog and Toad Together.  Remember when Toad thought the seeds were afraid to grow, so he read them a story?  Well, out behind our classroom we have a wooded area. The trees have no leaves...yet!  In the spring we go out and each child adopts a tree.  A few times a week, we go out and read to the trees. Miraculously leaves begin to appear!

Every Friday in May, we have a READ-OUT!  We take books and beach towels outside, find a shaded area, and read for about an hour!  Teachers enjoy the sunshine and the kids have a blast!  And they are READING!  

We think listening to books is just as important as reading them. The children may not be decoding or working on fluency, but they are gaining vocabulary, hearing what good reading sounds like, gaining new information, picking up on intonation and so much more.  

Of course we teach a little too!  HA!  We have to give the students the skills and strategies to make learning to read easier for them.  If they can't do it, they won't like it.  It's our job to assure every child that they can do it and give them every way possible to get there. Below are some of our tools we use to help our students love reading and understand what they have read.  

We have a boxed reading program in our district.  Until this year, we were asked to use it.  And most of the time, well, some of the time, okay a few days a week, we used it.  We knew what the kids needed to learn to read. This year we've been given more freedom to teach the way we know our kids learn best. We have recently added our Book Extensions to our TPT store that focus on the books our kids love!  Remember, we want them to LOVE TO READ, while learning!  The easiest way to see each individual extension is to click on the Book Extension link to the right, under CHECK IT OUT.  

We compiled a set of Comprehension Strategies that can be used with ANY book in your classroom tomorrow!  These activities are so helpful when trying to teach comprehension to your students, and can be used after read-alouds, in groups, with a partner, in a center, for homework, or for pre-writing about the text. If they aren't comprehending what they are reading, they aren't reading. 

We ♥ Reading, Do You?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Year! New Look! New Us!

    We are proud to reveal our brand new look!  We would like to give a huge thanks to Designs by Kassie for helping us make this happen!  We it!
    Please check us out on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Teachers Pay Teachers!  Just click on the flags to the right and FOLLOW US!  We are always posting new products, having sales, and sharing little snip-its of our life in Alabama! You don’t want to miss out!   
    We have been very lax about blogging in the past, but that's   about to change.  We plan to do much better.  We are excited about sharing our classroom, our ideas, and our products with you!   Hopefully we'll post something that will be of interest to you and your students! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Polar Opposites - Book Extension

Have you seen Polar Opposites by Eric Brooks?  LOVE IT!  It's simple, but so cute!  The story is about a polar bear named Alex and a tiny penguin named Zina.  The story tells all the different ways that they are opposites, but still the best of friends. Perfect for January! 

You've got to have this book extension.  I'm telling you, it is the cutest book and these activities are perfect to go along with it!  There are anchor charts for the genre fiction-fantasy and purpose. There are also many engaging activities for reading such as comprehension involving rereading to match opposite words, labeling, letter writing activities, coloring page to practice our artistic ability and work on fine motor skills. 

You also get a bonus! 

We included the Game of I Have Who Has - Opposites.  It also sell separately.  Check out the links below!

Click here for the extension!

The game of I Have Who Has is such a GREAT way to assess your students on High Frequency Words and in this case, they will also be practicing OPPOSITES! In this game the students must read the cards to find out who has the opposite of their word.  It requires listening AND reading. Our students love to play!  If you would like your own, you can click here to purchase it from our store!  Did I mention it's only $1!  What a deal!

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Mitten - Book Extension

Who doesn't love Jan Brett?  It is so easy to foster a love for reading when you immerse the kids in her books!  They are amazed by the illustrations.  THE MITTEN is an all time favorite with us!    The story is about a little boy, his grandmother, a mitten, and lots of forest animals that squeeze inside the mitten to stay warm.  It's a great time to introduce the students to the lost art of knitting!

We compiled our favorite activities into a book extension.  Included are also many engaging activities for reading such as comprehension involving rereading for details. There are activities for putting the story in the correct sequence, writing and labeling activities, a mitten shape book to make, and much more. Your students will be making connections and comparisons with their own experiences with mittens keeping warm in winter. 

Click here to see this extension in our store.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Snowmen at Night - Book Extension

We don't know about you, but we are hoping for some major snow this year!!  We have a lot of snowy favorites! Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner is a fun story about what snowmen REALLY do at night. The kids love it and the illustrations are beautiful!

We have put together some of our favorite activities in a book extension for Snowmen at Night. It is perfect for 1st and 2nd graders!  There are also many engaging activities for reading such as making predictions, and vocabulary, writing activities such as making lists and writing about a snowman scene, language activities with opposites and similes, and a math game of roll, add, and cover with a snowman theme. 
We included a "Snowman Games" section!  The snowmen in the story got to play games, so why shouldn't we!?!?!  Included are Pin the Nose on the Snowman, Spin to Color, Roll and Cover, Spin to Build, and Bingo!  Divide your kids into rotating groups and let the fun begin!

You can get the extension by clicking here.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Melted Snowman Labels FREEBIE

These Melted Snowman labels will wrap perfectly around a water bottle that will make it a perfect drink for a Christmas or winter party. They print perfectly on to Avery 8164, or 5264 shipping labels that are 3 1/2 x 4 inches. Who doesn't need to drink more water? Or snowman? 
Click here for this FREEBIE!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!!

Wow!  Did this break go by fast or what?  As I sit down to think about the first day back with the kiddos, I immediately think about Squirrel's New Year's Resolution by Pat Miller.  I love this book because it explains resolutions in a simple way that 6 years old understand.  We've always talked about goals at the beginning of the year.  It's time to revisit our goals and set new ones.

We compiled some of our favorite New Years activities into this book extension.  Some relate to the book, but most can be done with or without the book.  (Of course, the story is on You Tube so if you don't have the book, you're still set to go.)  Either way, the extension is everything you'll need for a full week of celebrating!  Check out the preview and just what all is included!! You probably won't get it all done, but you'll have plenty to choose from!
Click here to check it out!