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Celebrating Reading

The NEA's Read Across America Day is coming March 2nd.  Every year we celebrate big the whole week! We celebrate with theme days, buddy reading, author visits,  contests and more.  Below are some ideas from years past.  

This will be sent home tomorrow.
Last year, students guessed the number of bookworms to win one of these two awesome reading baskets.  We had a primary and intermediate basket. This year we'll be guess goldfish for the book "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish".  

Students will also be caught all week reading.  Students caught reading will be reported each afternoon and one lucky winner will be chosen to win a 10 dollar Barnes and Nobel gift card. 
We also have a very creepy Cat in the Hat suit that our sweet counselor wears to greet the kids. 
 These are some fun activities we've completed during the week. 
Lorax Writing.
Truffala Tree Snacks.
Turtle stacking after reading Yertle the Turtle.
 Oobleck Experiments.
Wacky Wednesday 
Buddy Reading 
 And we'll also have a visit this year from Steve Harpster. He's one of our favorite authors and illustrators.  If you you haven't had Steve visit, you should. Not only do the kids love him, but he gives 30% of the proceeds of his book sales back to your school.   He's pretty incredible.  


Get Your Groundhog

One of my favorite people in the whole wide world was born on Groundhog's Day, so the day has always been special to me, but more because it's my sweet mommy's birthday.  My first grade team was looking for a new unit and I just happened to recently purchase Groundhog's Runaway Shadow, so here it is. A week of groundhog happenings.

I love reading nonfiction writing from sweet little people.  This activity includes a cute little craft. Check out the adorable first grade sweetie below. She was so proud of her work.  

In addition to this weeklong reading unit, here are some other fun groundhog resources.
Here is a great informational video:

Check out his adorable groundhog snack from Life is a Lullaby.

And here are some great shadow activities from Schooling a Monkey.

Here's to hoping the groundhog doesn't see his shadow and I'll see my flip flops a little sooner. 


Love is in the Air!

February can be kind of gloomy, but that doesn't mean we don't have a blast in the classroom.  There are so many fun ways we celebrate in February. Not only do we celebrate the 100th Day of School, but we also learn about economics, read tons of great books and my students do some of my all time favorite centers during the month of February.  

First, I needed a way to teach littles about economics and that absolutely ate it up when we turned our classroom into a store.  So much fun and they thoroughly understood economics after this unit. 
This Valentine Economics unit is so much fun and the only way I could make it all make sense for such little people. 

 Students also absolutely loved these Burning Love Centers and they are some of my favorites! 

You can also grab these activities free on my Facebook page. They were a fun way to practice past tense verbs. 
 My kiddos also absolutely loved learning about opossums after reading about Gilbert in Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink. I paired our fiction and nonfiction learning with this fun little unit.  

You can also find all kinds of cute Valentine ideas here: 


Assessing just got easier!

This year we were asked to use an online assessment tool that shall remain nameless. It's a great tool if you teach grade 2-high school.  We were given time to add assessments to this online program and I tried, y'all. I tried so hard to make it work for me in my little Reading Specialist job, but it just made no sense.  In fact, our K-1 teachers were struggling to make it work and make sense for them as well. When looking for an alternative that actually helped save time and had assessments that made sense, I found ESGI.  And y'all, it's the absolute best!

I don't believe in using technology, just to use technology.  If it doesn't save me time and make more sense then using paper and pencil, then I just don't see the point.  While we use lots of assessments like DRA's and Aimsweb, I also wanted a quick way to assess letter identifications, sounds, sight words, phonics knowledge, etc. ESGI makes assessing these items, so much easier than ever before. Check it out.

As the reading specialists I have many groups of students with varying needs and objectives.  The great thing about ESGI, is that they already have tons of preloaded assessments to choose from, or you can easily create your own.  It's the simplest process, but if you get stuck, there are tons of how-to videos here: https://www.youtube.com/user/esgisoftwarevideo

 Sorry for the blurry picture, but the best part of testing is that after students have been tested once, you can assess them again and choose to assess all items or just the items missed previously.
 Once you've tested the student, any unknown items can be easily generated and printed on flashcards. Also available immediately after testing is a parent letter. I love this part! As the reading teacher, I can grab a kindergarten student, test them, have flashcards of unknown letters and parent communication on what they need to work on, as well as what they've mastered, in a matter of 5 minutes.
 The purpose of assessing for me, the majority of the time is to focus my instruction in the future.  I love that ESGI provides graphs of what I still need to teach for each of my groups.  No more sitting with assessments all over my table, trying to decide which letters, sight words, or sounds, still aren't mastered. ESGI does this for me. 
 And the classroom management tool, does just as it says. It manages all your classroom needs. It creates lists, lets you know what forms have or have not been turned in, creates templates, and makes all the administrative tasks so much easier.

If you want to make your life and assessments easier than I highly recommend ESGI.  You can grab ESGI for 40 dollars off for the first year $159 (regular pricing -$199) by clicking the link below.

or try it for free for 60 days by clicking below.


Holiday Homophones

Several years ago I created a little unit to help my first grade kiddos learn all about homophones. I knew just telling them was not going to be good enough, so I came up with a fun little "homophone hunt" activity to help build interest and excitement.  The first think we did was read this book:

It's a great way to introduce homophones. After reading, my students were challenged with the task of finding homophone cards around the classroom.  

When all cards were found, students came back to our carpet area to find their homophone match.  After finding their pair, student completed this cute little activity sheet to be put in our class book. 
Then students were challenge to apply their new learning by creating their very own homophone book.  
I also made this cute little homophone memory game available to my kiddos when they had some free time, so they could practice this new knowledge. This became one of their favorite games to play during indoor recess. 
I just added this not so little guy to the unit as well. Meet our moose. His belly is full of homophones.

If you still need to teach homophones and want to have some holiday fun, you can grab this Merry Christmoose Homophone unit below. 

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