Letters and Sounds With a Fall Theme

Just wanted to share some of the fun Fall themed activities we have been using here in small group to help reinforce the letters and sounds!

A current favorite is the Pumpkin Letter Identification pack!  
This pack includes
~  2 sets of small pumpkins, one with upper and the other with lower case letters
~ 2 sets of larger pumpkins, again one with upper and the other with lower case letters. 
~  1 upper and 1 lower case pumpkin alphabet chart (for students to color as they reinforce their letter/sound identification) 

My Monster Love Identification pack includes very similar activities, but I incorporated some not so spooky monsters!  
(Want to know a secret??  I use this pack now and even again around Valentine's Day because of the hearts and "love" theme!) 
This pack includes: 
~ 2 sets of letter cards: 1 set of upper case letters and 1 set of lower case letters
~ 1 page of game cards to play simple letter and sound identification game
~ 1 upper and 1 lower case alphabet chart with hearts (for students to color as they reinforce their letter/sound identification) 

Fun activities you could do with either of these packs, include:
~  Practice pointing to and reciting the alphabet with one of the alphabet charts!
~  Match upper to upper, lower to lower, upper to lower, lower to upper case letters by putting the targeted cards into a festive container and having your students select them one at a time and then coloring the matching letter on the alphabet chart!
~  Practice naming letters and/or sounds by putting the targeted cards into a festive container and having your students select them one at a time and name the letter and/or the sound!

For some fun finding cute and matching cute candy corn and pumpkin letters, try my Fall Letter Finds and Mix Ups!
You will find both upper and lower case versions of candy corn and pumpkin:
~  Letter Finds (letters are listed in alphabetical order)
~  Letter Mix-Ups (letters are mixed up on the page)
~  Some suggestions for use at each level, that include using candy corn, candy pumpkins, bingo dotters, and bingo markers!

Finally, my Daisy Scouts had lots of fun creating their snack this week by making a peanut-free spider and mummy juice box!!
Didn't they come out great?

Using Bags to Find the Main Idea and Details-UPDATE

I recently updated a fun activity that was originally put together for my 3rd and 4th graders who were having a difficult time finding the Main Idea back in 2011.  It was definitely in need of an update!
My kiddos were having such a difficult time, so I really wanted to pull them away from the text for a bit, but still address Main Idea.  So I decided to have bags full of items that go together.  As the items are pulled out, the students think about how they are related to one another and ultimately what the main idea would be of all the items together.  In most cases, one item is the key item that really ties everything together, the detail to best support the main idea.  It worked really well and the kids loved it!

I simply went to the dollar store and bought some tote bags and put the items inside.  As I slowly pull the items out of the bag, we discuss how they go together and make predictions about what the main idea of the bag could be.  Each time I pull something out, I remind the students how we don’t know for sure what the bag is for, because we haven’t seen all of the items.  There should be one item (generally the last, but it does not have to be) that ties them all together.  This is the detail that best supports the main idea.  By making this the last item, it helps to show students that, just like reading a paragraph, they must read through the entire paragraph.

What is included in the download:
~  lesson plan to be used with any bag
~  worksheets/graphic organizers for bags 
containing 3, 4, 5, and 6 different items
~  item suggestions for three different bags, (including the order of presentation for items)
~  reminder sheet for the students, "When thinking about Main Idea, don't forget to..."

So if you've already purchased this item, make sure you head over to download the updated version!  If you want to check out my original post, you can do so by going here.

Plastic Book Boxes-GIVEAWAY!!

Want some help organizing your classroom?  I have a great product to share with you that will help do just that AND make it look great!
Steps to Literacy has asked me to review their wonderful plastic book boxes!   

I just love them!

I use them to organize my collection of picture books used for read alouds.  Instead of being lined up on the shelf, as you see here (to the left).

They are now in these great looking plastic book boxes, grouped by topic!  I just created and printed out some labels that match my room and stuck them right on the front of the plastic book boxes.  The bins are nice and sturdy and each one can hold many books!

In addition to storing books and making your classroom look great, these plastic book boxes can also be used to store other things as well!!
So guess what?!  Steps to Literacy has not one, but 
two sets  for me to giveaway!!  
Each set is comprised of 8 plastic book boxesan orange, lime green, purple, bright blue, red, yellow, green, and blue box!  
2 winners will be randomly selected!!  If you want to win a set of your own, enter below:
Thank you Steps to Literacy for contacting me to review these plastic book boxes and to share them with my readers!

Letter and Sound Assessment

I like to take an inventory of the letters and sounds my students know at the beginning of the school year.  To do this, I use my Letter and Sound Assessment!  
I use this as a means to assess and then monitor the progress throughout the year. 

I begin by showing the students the upper case letters.  I ask them to tell me the name of each letter and what sound it makes.  I then move on to the lower case letters.  Although this isn't a "timed" test, I only give the child credit if they are able to name the letter or sound automatically (within 3 seconds).  They do not get credit if they need to employ some type of strategy in order to recall the letter name or sound (i.e., they have to recite the alphabet, spell their name, etc...).

Because I use this informal assessment multiple times throughout the school year, I make sure to mark the letters and sounds in a different way and with a different color each time I assess.  There is a space to assess the child three times on one form (6 times total if you print front-to-back).

There is also a box to write notes each time the child is assessed.  (I tend to take a lot of notes on my students, do you?)  I like to keep track of what letters/sounds they did not know, especially if they demonstrate inconsistencies between assessment periods.  Another thing I like to note is if the letter or sound seems to be emerging and I note the strategy the student is using to identify it (i.e., they had to spell their name, recite the alphabet, state the letter-keyword-sound in order to produce the sound).  Here is a picture of the assessment with one of my students for some of the year:
I do suggest that you print pages 2-3 front-to-back.  Then you are able to see the child's growth and have the data for six different assessment periods on one sheet of paper!

Thanks for stopping by!!

StickerUSA Activity Book Giveaway!

Today I get to share the fun we had with the 
This book is jam-packed with information about the states!  My little one loved to learn about the different states.  Each state has their own page and reviews the state name, nickname, capital, flag, flower, state bird, and abbreviation.  I love how each state page has a map that shows where the state is located within the United States. On the back of each page there is room to write notes about each state.  All of the pages are very clear and are in black and white, so they will be easily reproducible.  There are also tear-out flashcards for each state that lists all of this information, plus a neat fact about the state!  

Here are just a few samples of some of the pages we completed.  
We began by learning about our home state.
Since we just made our first trip to Walt Disney World, we learned about the Sunshine State.
Would you like to win one of your own?  Please enter below!!
Good luck!

Thank you Barker Creek for contacting me to review this great book!  Please make sure you visit their website to see all of the great teaching materials they have!

Emergent Student Readers Set 1 & 2 UPDATE

I have been busy updating and revamping my Emergent Student Readers!  
This has been something I have been meaning to do for quite awhile now.  I wasn't really pleased with the order they were listed in, because they weren't listed in the order I teach them to my own students.  So I went ahead and fixed that.  Now they are listed in order of difficulty.  Each reader builds upon the previous reader as the sight words are reviewed and new words are slowly introduced.  The sentence patterns change slightly from line to line, to ensure the students focus on the text and do not just memorize a patter that is repeated over and over again.

Set 1 now consists of 7 Emergent Student Readers.  Each reader includes a copy for the student to read in class and also a Home Reader to take home.  
Also included are sight word flash cards and pocket chart picture cards to go along with each reader.
The following sight words are reviewed in Set 1:
I, see, a, my
I, see, a, the
I, see, a, and, the
I, see, a, and, the, my
I, see, my, the, can, go, you
I, see, my, the, can, go, you, is, in
I, see, a, my, can, is, it, no

In addition to introducing sight words, this set is geared to help students develop their concept of word.  I have placed dots under each word in the first five readers to remind students where to point with their finger as they read.  I also use this set to introduce the reading strategies of looking at the pictures for a clue and also using beginning sounds to determine unknown words. Rhyming pairs can be reinforced with the 1st, 2nd,  and 4th readers in this set. 

You will find 6 different readers in Set 2, which continues to build upon Set 1.  
The following sight words are reviewed in Set 2:
I, see, my, the, can, is, no, in, on, me, like, look, it
I, see, the, can, you, is, on, me, like, little, we
I, see, the, can, you, is, in, on, look, it, at
I, the, my, is, me, look, at, this, that, am
a, is, this, that, he, she, has, have, do, or
a, my, the, you, is, on, this, that, he, she, do

In addition to introducing sight words, this set is geared to help students develop and apply additional reading strategies. I generally reinforce the following with this set:  checking the pictures for a clue, using beginning sound knowledge, thinking about all of the sounds to decode simple words, and making sure what they are reading makes sense.

If you want to learn more about how I use these Emergent Student Readers in my classroom, please click here.

Also, stay tuned because Set 3 is currently in the works!  

High-Frequency Magnetic Words and Magnetic Kidboards

I am so excited to share my thoughts with you about two of great products:  High-Frequency Magnetic Words and Magnetic Kidboards 
There are a total of 205 learning magnets that included nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, word endings, punctuation marks, etc...  The best thing is that they are color-coded!!  My daughter couldn't wait to open the packages to try them out.  So we opened them up, I sorted the magnets by color and placed the Kidboards right on the tabletop.  It was the perfect size! 

What a wonderful, hands-on and engaging way to provide instruction on sight word identification, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, complete sentences, rhyming, fluency, etc...  I explained what each color meant and my little one jumped right in, building sentences.

Here are some great teachable moments that happened in just a few moments with the learning magnets:
Concept of Word:  I reminded her, "What comes in between each word?"
Capitalization:  Sometimes the word she used at the beginning of her sentence did not start with a capital letter, I would ask her, "What happens to the first letter of the sentence?" or  Which letter should be capitalized? Why?"
Punctuation:  "What comes at the end of the sentence?"
Sight Word Identification and Fluency:  I made sentences for her to read aloud to me.
Grammar:  As she built her sentence, there were times she would say, "Do we have the word ___?"  I could answer by saying, "Yes, that is a verb.  Go ahead and try to find it in the red pile."

I can't wait to use them with my students!!
Guess what?!  Great news is that you can win a set of your own!
Just enter via the Rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway (Please be sure to read the Terms and Conditions!!  You must be a U.S. resident!)
And to have a little fun, make sure you leave me a comment telling me what word is hidden under my daughter's hand below!
Thank you Barker Creek for contacting me to review these items!
Click on the pictures below to learn more about each of these amazing products!
And if you haven't visited Barker Creek's website, click on the picture below to see all of their great teaching resources and supplies!
Good luck!

Learning Surveys for Parents and Students-FREEBIE!

The new school year is about to begin!  This means there will be new kiddos coming through our doorway.  What do you do to learn about each and every one of them as learners?  Look through their portfolios from their previous grade(s)?  Speak to their previous teacher? 

In addition to those things, I like to send home the following 
Parent/Guardian Reading and Learning Survey
This basic survey is completed by the parent/guardian of the student.  It asks about what the child likes to do, what they are good at, what may be difficult for them, etc...  It also allows the parent to share any important information that will help me support and motivate their child as a reader.

I found a great two-page student survey from 
The Teacher Organizer right on TPT called
Things That Interest Me!
I have used this with both first and second graders.

For older students, I have them complete the following 
Student Learning Survey:
This two-page survey helps me learn about their interests at school, at home, and when reading.  It also helps me learn about my students' thinking during reading, writing, and more!

What are some means that you use to help better understand and learn about your new students?

End of Year Lollipop Holders EDITABLE FREEBIE

A few years ago I shared a picture of the lollipops and holders that I created for my students to send them off for the summer, telling them, 
"Have a sweet summer!  Love, Mrs. McKown"
Just recently, "The Mailbox" shared it on their Facebook page.  Ever since I have been receiving emails, requesting a copy of the flowers.  I hadn't shared the file before because I had listed my name right on the flower, but I just recreated the file to say, 
"Have a sweet summer!  Love, Your Teacher" 
You can choose to print them out as is.  Or since I left the file as editable, you can change the text so that it includes your name or your own clever saying!

Once printed, simply cut the flowers out, stick whatever brand of lollipop you choose in the center of the flower, and hand them out to your little sweeties!

In the picture of the final product, you can see that I used the "DUM DUM" brand of lollipops.  By reading comments posted through social media, I learned that a few people found this brand to be somewhat offensive.  To be quite honest, I never even thought of them that way before I read the comments and they are just great little lollipops to me!  I have used this brand of lollipops a lot, both at home and at school, and the kiddos really enjoy them and do not think twice about the name of them.

Summer Early Literacy Calendar FREEBIE

Oh my is June!!  I just can not believe how fast these last few months have gone!

I still have a few more weeks, but soon the school year will be ending.  As I think back to the beginning of the year, I am so proud of the amazing progress my Kinderkids have made!  Now I start to worry about regression over the summer.  

My little ones truly need daily practice and reinforcement in order to maintain what they have learned.  Knowing that routines will soon be changing at home once school gets out, I want to provide my parents with some fast and fun early literacy activities they could easily slide into their daily routine.  So as I have in the past, I created a calendar for the summer months.  Each weekday, I listed a simple activity that could be done almost anywhere.  I tried to keep them somewhat quick so that parents can combine a day or two together in case they need to skip a day.
  The activities are pretty much the same as listed on the calendar I created last year.  They include reinforcement of:
~  rhyming
~  syllable segmentation
~  alphabetic knowledge
~  phoneme isolation (beginning, ending, and middle sounds)
~  sight words
~  early reading

Knowing that school districts across the country have different beginning and ending dates, I made two sets of calendars.  One for June-July of 2014 and the other for July-August of 2014.  The activities are the same for both sets.

I also wanted to add that since at the end of each school year, I send home all of the Student Readers the student has read.  There is an activity listed on the calendar that says, "Read your pack of student readers".  If you do not have these Student Readers, you could always supplement with a bunch of reading at the student's current reading level!  

As always, I would love to hear ways that you try to prevent the summer slide!!