Exemplar Read Aloud Texts for Common Core

Reading Aloud to children, even after they know how to read, is such a valuable experience for many reasons!  Here are a few:
Common Core
  1. Reading aloud promotes a positive attitude toward reading and books.
  2. Reading aloud helps to promote a longer attention span.  
  3. Reading aloud exposes children to complex language, which will help the children in all areas of their development, especially their reading development.  
  4. Reading aloud to children enhances a child's oral vocabulary.  A strong oral vocabulary is essential to reading comprehension.
  5. Reading aloud teaches children about the world.  It promotes lots of conversations about what is like in different parts of the world, for people who are different from themselves.  They learn about the elderly, the rich, the disadvantaged.  They travel to faraway lands and they travel through time.  
  6. Reading aloud models reading fluency and good reading habits.
  7. Reading aloud models good reading strategies.  Most teachers "think aloud" while reading, modeling the types of thoughts readers have.  ("I wonder what happens next." or "I think he's going to..." are great conversation starters with children!)
  8. Reading aloud helps children learn how stories are structured.  They learn how stories typically begin by introducing the characters and setting, then things develop, a conflict arises, then a solution.
  9. Reading aloud helps children recognize and explore feelings through the characters in the stories read to them.  They develop empathy and compassion.
  10. Read alouds encourage thinking.
  11. Read alouds encourage imagination!
  12. Read alouds encourage children to express themselves more clearly and more confidently.
  13. Reading to children is fun for all involved.  What could be better than that?
It just so happens that even the Common Core Standards themselves encourage reading aloud to children.  In fact, they have a whole list of Exemplar Texts!  The authors of the Common Core looked for books and stories with complexity and quality.

These are the Common Core Suggestions for Read Aloud Stories for Grades 2 and 3:


I'm only familiar with a couple of these, but I'm very excited to see some of the new ones.  If you click each picture, it links to Amazon for a description of the story.

These are the suggested Read Aloud Poetry collections for Grades 2 and 3:
Song of the Jellicles

Your World
by Georgia Douglas Johnson

These are the Common Core suggested Read Alouds for Informational Text for Grades 2 and 3:

After looking at all these books on Amazon, I'm aching to buy them all and read them to my kids!  They represent a variety of cultures, people, places, and topics that will inspire any child!  I can't wait to hear the conversations!

For lists of Exemplar Texts for other grades click HERE.

Finally, a freebie.  It's impossible for teachers to fill all the need for "read aloud" and do all the other things we need to do.  Therefore, I encourage parents to read to the children as well.  In fact, whenever a parent asks how they can help their child, my answer is always the same:  read to them. Many are surprised to hear that children who can read will still benefit from listening to stories.  Here's the message I give parents about reading aloud to their children.  Click the image for the freebie!
Tips for Reading with children

Almost October? Time for Some Freebies!

Almost October? Time for some freebies: Here are 5 different freebies with an October theme, including brain breaks, task cards, counting, phonics, and informational text!
Can it really be almost October already? October just happens to be one of my favorite months! And it just so happens I have lots of freebies for you!

Brain Breaks are an important part of the day! Here are 12 with an October theme. Click the image for this freebie!

October is Fire Safety month! I've found these "Fire Safety What ifs" can really get the children talking about some fire problem solving! Click the image to download these!

And of course, it's football season! Be sure to click the image for a football themed game that practices numbers through 1,000!

Isn't Halloween one of the biggest holidays of the year? Here's one more freebie to keep your students interested in classwork during the Halloween Days!

Even if you can't celebrate Halloween, you can certainly celebrate bats! Click the image to download this freebie!

Isn't October fantastic? I love this time of year!

Starting the Year With Number Sense!

I've been in kind of an unusual place this year for math instruction and I'm liking it!

My district is in the process of lining up teachers to pilot some new math programs that are more aligned with the Common Core State Standards than our present math program.

This means we've had a few weeks to fill before our training to pilot the new programs.

We've been instructed to go through the first unit of the old program in the meantime.  That didn't take me long, so I've found some delightful ways to make use of this extra time in Math!

I recently read this book on Number Sense Routines, and I was quite anxious to start the year with a lots of opportunities to build Number Sense in my students.  Here are some of the things I've done:

  1. I've let the children get to know this Number Grid.  We've had lots of practice using it to skip count, add, subtract, and generally get to know numbers.  The colors help the children keep track of what row they're on.
  2. We've used Cuisenaire Rods to make addition facts and number families.  (See THIS blog post for more information on the Cuisenaire Rods!)
  3. We've used the base ten blocks to write numbers in expanded notation.  We've also used them to help us add larger numbers.
  4. We've reviewed first grade math standards with games like THIS game I designed based on the first grade CCSS.  (They loved it!)
  5. We've done calendar math to develop number sense and have fun with the day's numbers.  
  6. We've told math stories and made plus signs with our arms if the story told about sets being joined together.  We made minus signs with our arms if the stories told about sets being taken apart. 
  7. We've played lots of games to practice and review those skills they learned in first grade and need to strengthen such as telling time, counting money, and addition and subtraction.
I wish every year started with time at the beginning of the year to review and build good strategies and number sense.  These kids are going to have the best math year ever!

What would you teach if you had time in math?

7 Ways to Celebrate Columbus Day

7 Ways to Celebrate Columbus Day! This blog post has seven different ideas for teaching primary aged children about Christopher Columbus.
Looking for some ways to celebrate Columbus Day in your classroom?  Here are a few of my favorites:

1.  Work with Maps and Globes - Columbus Day is such a great opportunity to get the children acquainted with the globe. I think it's important that children can identify where they live on the globe. Our location is easy for the children to find. I have the children locate Cape Cod along the east coast of North America. We're not far north of that, and it's easy to locate. (I tell them to look for a flexed arm... they love to flex their own arms!) I usually use the globe to show how Columbus got from Italy to Spain, to San Salvador, and how he was actually trying to get to the East Indies, and "accidentally bumped into America". They get such a kick out of that!

2.  Books -  Speaking of the Columbus story, if you haven't seen the book, Encounter by Jane Yolen, you really need to check it out!  It's the story of the arrival of Columbus from a young native's point of view. The illustrations are beautiful, and it really makes the "other side" of the story quite clear.  Click the image to go to Amazon for more information about this amazing book!

3.  Videos - This Youtube video is a bit corny and dated, but it tells the basic story in a kid friendly way. HERE is a more up to date video from the History Channel.

4. Illustrate the story - Illustrating is a great way for children to deepen their understanding. I wrote this summary of the basic Columbus story for my students to illustrate. Click the image or click HERE for the link to Teachers Pay Teachers.

5.  Craftivities - Looking for craft ideas? Just go to Pinterest and do a search for Columbus Day Crafts! I've seen some very cute crafts to celebrate the day including making the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria out of egg cartons and making telescopes out of paper towel rolls.

6.  Guided imagery - I like to do lots of guided imagery activities with my students. I'll tell the story, while the students go through the movements. I tell about the men saying goodbye to their families and getting on the ships, the long ride on the ship (including the bland food, storms at sea, and lack of clean water) finally sighting land, and getting off the ship, thinking they were in India. The kids love this, and brain research shows involving movement and gestures helps the memory!

7.  One more idea - Looking for one more way to celebrate Columbus Day? Take the day off!
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