A is for Musk Ox and a few other good books…

Since I love children’s books – and it’s also the holidays – I can’t help but share a few now.  If you wait until the last minute to shop (like me!), maybe you still need a few gifts for the children in your life.  But even if you’re finished shopping, these books are still ones to consider buying or at least borrowing from the library to use in your classroom (or to read at home).

A is for Musk Ox

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This is my new favorite read aloud and if I hadn’t already finished shopping, I would buy it for my own children.  (Maybe I still will!).  It’s not only an alphabet book, but the story of two characters: a zebra and a musk ox that don’t get along.  The book is humorous, silly and also filled with good tidbits of information about musk oxen, such as:

Did you know that they form a ring around their calves to protect them from predators? And their fur is sometimes called a skirt?

Grab the book today to learn more about musk oxen and also for a few good laughs!

Teaching Idea/Home Connection: After you’re done reading, have your students choose their favorite letter to create their own alphabet page.  See the example here from a first grade classroom:

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

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A teacher told me about this book before but I never read it cover to cover until the other day.  I had goosebumps at the end!  It’s the story of a boy who falls in love with books at an early age. If you want to promote a love of reading in your classroom (or at home), read this book to your students! Also, it inspired a short film that won an Oscar.  Need I say more?

The UnBEElievables

Love insects?  Or great poetry?  Informational texts? Beautiful illustrations? This poetry book is a combination of all these features and more.  Each page has a different poem about bees, along with a short informational paragraph that further explains the content explored in each one.  For example, what is a worker bee, a drone, etc.

This is a great way to expose your students to poetry and informational texts, in a fun, engaging way. It’s also fun to read and like all poetry, can be read in short doses.  For example, keep it out and read a poem or two whenever you have a couple minutes to spare.  And if you haven’t seen any of Douglas Florian’s work before, his illustrations are original paintings.  It’s worth the money just for that!

John, Paul, George & Ben

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Do you teach the American Revolution? Are you a history buff?  Then you HAVE to get this book.  It’s written by Lane Smith, author of Math Curse and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, among others.

This book tells the story of John Hancock, Revere, George Washington and Ben Franklin, in a humorous and engaging way.  I laughed out loud several times.  Trust me, you will too!

Measuring Penny

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A great way to provide context and real life examples of how we measure (and use math) on a daily basis.  This book is the story of a girl, her dog (Penny) and the multiple ways that she measures Penny. Not just in height and weight, like you would think but also in time (how much time does she spend taking care of Penny?), money (how much money does she spend on dog food, etc.) and even volume (how much water does Penny drink?).  As you can see, this illustrates multiple math concepts and can therefore be read and re-read several times throughout the year.

A is for Angry

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Are you looking to improve your students’ vocabulary?

It’s obvious that this book can be used in K and 1st grade classrooms for alphabet recognition, letter sounds, etc.  But what I like about this book is that it also leaves room for vocabulary development.  Alphabet books aren’t just for emergent readers and this book is a great example of that. Could a third grade teacher use this as a way to show examples of more sophisticated language that students can then use in their writing? Absolutely! This book is filled with rich vocabulary like:

T is for tangled

O is for Outraged

Z is for Zany

You could even use it as a springboard to have your students write their own alphabet books.  The possibilities are endless and it’s also fun to read…

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So start your shopping list and grab one (or two or three) of these today!

Happy reading and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Lisa

 

Word Wall (Sight Word) Center Activities

My students need extra practice with our word wall words,” is a common theme with many teachers that I know.  It’s also something that my own son needs extra practice with at home and was a frequent need in my own classroom.

Here are some engaging activities that you can integrate into your literacy centers, another portion of your word study block or even at home (for parents).

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Note: for additional information on word walls, read this post: https://literacywithlisa.com/category/word-walls/

  1. Rainbow writing: students write the words, a different color for each letter.
  2. Word wall hunt: students search for word wall words in their independent reading books, big books, class charts, poems, etc. They can record the words in their notebooks or on a designated recording sheet.
  3. Partner read/spell: Students work in pairs.  One partner reads a word from the word wall while the other person spells the word (without looking).  First person checks and then they switch roles. IMG_1128
  4. The Wheel: Just like the Wheel of Fortune, one person will play “Vanna.” This student will choose a word from the word wall (without telling anyone else) and then write a blank for each letter in the word on a sheet of paper.  Students in the group take turns guessing letters until the word is spelled.
  5. Bingo: print a reproducible sheet here:  http://www.bingocardprinter.com/pdf/blank.pdf  One student will read the words while the other students play.
  6. Word Wall Memory: Materials needed – word wall cards written on index cards, two for each word. Students turn all the words over.  They then take turns turning two cards over at a time, reading each word aloud.  If the two cards match, he/she takes the card.  If not, play continues with the next person. Player with the most cards at the end of the game wins.     IMG_1127
  7. Syllables: Have the students write two columns on their paper like this:           Word                 Number of Syllables  The they choose words and record the number of syllables for each.
  8. Word wall sort: Materials: set of cards with word wall and non-word wall words written on index cards. Students sort the words into two categories.

What other games/activities do you use in your own classroom to reinforce sight words? Please share them here!

 

Give the Gift of Poetry

It’s the end of December and you’re still plugging away, counting down the days until winter break and some must needed R & R. Are you looking for some engaging – yet literacy based, authentic and meaningful – activities to round out the end of 2015?  Turn to poems and look no further!

 

Poetic Presents: Creative, Festive and Fun

There are many ways to integrate poetry into your classroom.  (See https://literacywithlisa.com/category/poetry/ for more ideas).

But one of my favorites is to have students give poems as gifts to someone special for the holidays.  There are two ways to do this: the student writes an original poem or the student chooses a favorite poem to share as a gift.

Option One: Student writes an original poem

If you’ve written any other poetry this year, allow your students time to reflect on their work and choose a poem that speaks to them.  Or, they can create a new poem just for this occasion.

List poems are a great place to start because they are just like they sound – a list!  Have a class discussion of different topics/words that relate to the season and create a chart.  Then let the students choose one that interests them.

They can create bookmarks:

 

Or just copy the poem onto paper, glue onto construction paper and illustrate.

Another idea is to make cards and place the poem inside.

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Option Two: Student shares a favorite poem from another author

How special is it to receive a piece of writing that someone chose just for you?  Give your students time to read poems and find one that reminds them of someone special. (Or just a poem that they really love!).  Then, like the example above, they can copy the poem over, illustrate it and give as a gift (on construction paper or inside a card).

Option Three: What other ideas do YOU have?

Be creative and share them below in the comments section.

And for more ways to get started with poetry in your own classroom, read this:  5 Easy Ways to Get Your Class Excited About Poetry. Then choose one idea and get started today.

You’ll be glad that you did.

Happy holidays,

Lisa

P.S. Parents – read the connection below! Continue reading