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How NOT to Read Fluently

Today, my students spent some of our reading time practicing fluency. Especially at this time of year, I go out of my way to make it fun. (Brain research shows us that "fun" is a big motivator, but I think teachers knew that before the research was done!)

How NOT To Read Fluently: This blog post tells about an activity that can be repeated numerous times, that the kids love, and that gets them thinking about fluency. (Plus a freebie!)




There are 4 important parts to fluency:


  1. automaticity in word recognition 
  2. accurate word recognition
  3. rate (speed) of reading
  4. prosody, or expression
We started today with a demonstration of what NOT to do when reading. I demonstrated reading too fast, not stopping for punctuation, mispronouncing words without going back to fix it, and using a monotone- no expression at all. 

There were lots of giggles.

Then I modeled the proper way to read. I read smoothly and accurately. I kept an appropriate pace, and I gave it meaning as I read it. This time, instead of giggles, I got applause! (I admit, I have my class well trained!)

I thought this activity would be perfect to put into my emergency sub plans. It's got limited materials (just books for kids, which I'm sure you have!) and is a skill that needs to be practiced frequently. This is the type of activity that can be repeated several times during the year. I've typed up the directions for you to download and put into your own emergency plans. Just see here or the image below. How NOT to Read Fluently

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/How-NOT-to-Read-Fluently-4840789?utm_source=70b&utm_campaign=how%20NOT%20to%20read%20fluently

For more ideas for substitute activities, see THIS POST

For more information about fluency, see THIS POST.


 Enjoy!
This blog post tells about an activity that can be repeated numerous times, that the kids love, and that gets them thinking about fluency.



Hanukkah Game Board

Looking for a little something to help your kids celebrate Hanukkah. This game can be used in many ways in the classroom!

Hanukkah Game Board Freebie: Want to bring a bit of Hanukkah into your classroom? Download this freebie, which can be used to practice any skill!

Brain research tells us that frequent repetition helps bring information from the short term memory to the long term memory. (Rather than "Practice Makes Perfect", I prefer "Practice Makes Permanent"!)  

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1t5NXX3hqyClqbHUfe9IkyVyzceiYT-Zl/view?usp=sharing

I use board games like this to practice sight words, math facts, sentence fluency, task cards, or any skill that needs practicing! The children just roll one die, but before they can move their place marker that many spaces, they have to perform a task. I sometimes have a selection of cards the children can choose from, and sometimes I have a specific skill for them to practice. Here are some ideas for practice cards: Practice Card Bundle, Word Work Bundle, or Reading Celebration Game.

Just click this link to download your Hanukkah Game Board Freebie!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Hanukkah-Two-Syllable-Nonsense-Word-Game-428155?utm_source=hanukkah%20blog%20post&utm_campaign=Hanukkah%20Two%20syllable%20nonsense%20words


Hanukkah Game Board Freebie: Want to bring a bit of Hanukkah into your classroom? Download this freebie, which can be used to practice any skill!

Illustrating to Build Reading Skills

Illustrating is a great way to build reading skills!


Illustrating to Build Reading Skills: Visualization is an important skill for reading and illustrating is one of the best ways I know to encourage visualization. This post has several suggestions for connecting reading skills with illustrating.

I often have my students do some illustrating when I want to make sure they really "get" a concept.  

It forces them to visualize what they're learning.  
Brain research tells us that visualizing helps the memory and deepens understanding. 
Brain research also tells us that adding an element of fun helps them remember as well... and don't kids love to draw? 

Add some classical music in the background, and the brain is more activated! 
Want to add a little more assurance that the kids are learning?  
Let them talk about what they're drawing and why!



I have several resources I use with my students that get the kiddos illustrating.

Figurative Language can be very tricky for little ones to learn! It takes a lot of conversation before they are ready to illustrate, but it's important that they "get" these confusing phrases. Once the instruction happens, the illustration really helps them to GET it!



There's this Mini-book about Healthy Habits.  
This resource is the result of much research on health and children. It has 10 pages written in child friendly language.

My own students have been working on this one this week, and have come up with some incredible ideas!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Healthy-Habits-Informational-Text-for-Students-to-Visualize-and-Illustrate-434931?utm_source=blog%20post%20illustrating%20to%20build%20reading&utm_campaign=Healthy%20habits
I also have a set of homophones for the children to illustrate.  These can be tricky for most kids, but in order to draw the different meanings, they have to deeply understand the different meanings.  

That involves a lot of conversation as well as thinking, but once they've got it, they've GOT it!  

As children are "social animals", they tend to remember not only their own pair of homophones, but the homophones their friends did as well!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Homophones-for-Visualization-and-Illustration-173878?utm_source=illustrate%20reading%20skills%20blog%20post&utm_campaign=homophones


I've got another set of word pairs for illustrating as well... these are homographs!  Just like the homophones, these are tricky, but once they've got them, they've GOT them!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Homographs-for-Visualization-and-Illustration-222689?utm_source=illustrate%20reading%20skills%20blog%20post&utm_campaign=homographs


Another advantage to these individual sheets that the children illustrate... they make great visual displays for bulletin boards!  I've had many compliments on the work of my students on these!

They also make awesome class books!


Another advantage?  These are great for the sub tub!  Just run off the set and leave it in the emergency sub folder!  Plus, they work for a variety of ages and levels.  (Fifth graders are NOT too old to draw, they love it!)


Of course, any illustrating is enhanced by music. May I suggest this one?  (Click image for a link to Amazon!)


 

Illustrating to Build Reading Skills: Visualization is an important skill for reading and illustrating is one of the best ways I know to encourage visualization. This post has several suggestions for connecting reading skills with illustrating.

Acts of Kindness Holiday Countdown

Ever notice that wonderful feeling that comes from doing something for others?  I suspect you know it well, since that's what teaching is all about!

Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!


I decided, instead of just a "Countdown to Christmas", I wanted to do a more special countdown.


I made this Acts of Kindness Holiday Countdown Set, which is a paper chain countdown with a twist - each link of the chain is an act of kindness to be done by the child, each day between now and Christmas!


Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!
First, the children will choose a "topper".  There's a star, a tree, and a Christmas Bear.  The topper is mounted on a piece of construction paper or tagboard, and a slit is cut near the bottom to hold the first link.  Personally, I think this guy is going to need some glitter, and a big red bow at the top to tie him to a special countdown spot!

Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!
The "How Many Days" poem goes on the back.  I think this needs glitter, too!


Next, the children can put the individual strips into a chain, putting just the right amount so that one can be removed per day until Christmas.




Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!
I have to admit, I'm excited about my new product, and can't wait to put them together with the kids!


Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!

Acts of Kindness Countdown:Here is a freebie and directions on making a different kind of countdown for the holidays!





My Favorite Holiday Activity

Ever have one of those activities that's a win-win?  It's something that works so well, you keep bringing it back year after year. 




That's how I feel about this Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.  I've done this activity with secondgraders for about 15 years now. 
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Nutcracker-Story-for-Visualization-Summarizing-and-Illustration-170834?utm_source=blog%20post%20my%20favorite%20holiday%20activity&utm_campaign=Nutcracker

I've always loved the music from The Nutcracker. When my daughter was 5, I figured she was old enough to go into Boston to see the Boston Ballet perform the classic. We read a few versions of the story so she'd know what to expect, put on our very best holiday dresses, and drove into the city.



Since I knew the story so well, I brought the CD into school, and shared the story with my students. I wrote this summary of the classic story, and played the music while the children visualized what it must look like, then illustrated the different parts of the story.



Every year, the children loved the activity, and it practiced some valuable skills: visualizing, summarizing, and sequencing. Plus, it gives them some exposure to classic holiday literature and classical music. Of course, you can't miss when the setting is called, The Kingdom of Sweets!



A couple of years after seeing the production in Boston, my daughter had the opportunity to audition for a production of The Nutcracker. She was in the youngest group, and the little ones had a very small part, but it was priceless. She went on to perform in the Nutcracker 3 years in a row before life just got too busy with other performances.  However, the story of The Nutcracker will always be near and dear to my heart.



Enjoy this freebie: The Nutcracker story for Visualizing, Summarizing, and Illustration! It's one of my favorites!


My Favorite Holiday Activity: Ever have one of those activities that are a "win-win"? It's fun, it's easy, and it's also educational? This is my favorite freebie

Don't Be a Turkey!

Second graders are expected to add and subtract within 20 fluently. This is no easy task, but this game helps them master the 9s trick!

Don't be a turkey! My students LOVE this turkey themed game for practicing the +9 trick! There's a freebie so you can try it out!


I find, once the kids catch onto the tens trick, the nines trick is easy! I first use a number grid like THIS ONE to show them how easy it is to do "ten more". From there, it's pretty easy to figure out "nine more". 


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Color-Coded-Number-Grid-to-120-5154764?utm_source=66b&utm_campaign=color%20coded%20Number%20grid


Once they have a good understanding of the 9 more trick, they're ready to play Turkey Nines!  It works like "Old Maid", so they pair off all the addends and sums with nines, and one of your little turkeys will end up being the "Thanksgiving Turkey".
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Turkey-Adding-Nines-Freebie-409094?utm_source=Don't%20be%20a%20turkey%20blog%20post&utm_campaign=Turkey%20NInes%20Freebie


This is one of those games that "even the losers are winners" because there's something about cooking a turkey that makes the little ones giggle.  Plus, they're getting better at that mental math!

When they've mastered the plus nines up through 20, there's a more challenging version of the game to work on this standard: Turkey Nines:


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Dont-be-a-Turkey-Game-for-Adding-9s-409160?utm_source=Don't%20be%20a%20turkey%20blog%20post&utm_campaign=Turkey%20NInes

Have fun practicing mental math, and don't be a turkey!  (At least, don't be a cooked turkey!) 

Here's a little movie about how the game works:



Don't be a turkey! My students LOVE this turkey themed game for practicing the +9 trick! There's a freebie so you can try it out!



A Couple of Freebies for Veterans Day

Somehow Halloween is over, we have Veterans Day in less than a week!  
A Couple of Freebies for Veterans Day! You'll find a writing paper freebie as well as a freebie to help children keep track of the different patriotic holidays!

I've rounded up a couple of freebies to share with you!


Here's a collection of paper for writing thank you letters to veterans!  After a lesson or two on what veterans are and how they help us, I find letter writing to be a nice way to culminate the activities.


I've noticed my little second graders often confuse the different patriotic holidays, so I made this freebie to help them keep track of President's Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Constitution Day, and Veterans Day. It's really helped them keep track of which holiday is which!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Patriotic-Holidays-A-Freebie-248327?utm_source=blog%20post&utm_campaign=Patriotic%20holidays


Hope your students end up with a good understanding of Veterans Day!

A Couple of Freebies for Veterans Day! You'll find a writing paper freebie as well as a freebie to help children keep track of the different patriotic holidays!


Seven Ways to Brain Fitness for Kids!


The Brain is the most important organ in the body, isn't it?
I've been fascinated by the brain. 
I read all I can about how the brain learns, and how to take care of your brain. 

Seven Ways to Brain Fitness for Kids! Keeping the brain in good shape is essential, and here are seven ways to do just that!

Of course I share information about the brain with my students!

Here are some ways I teach the kids to keep their brains fit:

Seven Ways to Brain Fitness for Kids! Keeping the brain in good shape is essential, and here are seven ways to do just that!
1. Exercise!  Get the oxygen to the brain! We often do exercises and brain breaks in the classroom. (I'm sure you've heard of Go Noodle! If not, go straight to this link for FREE brain breaks that the kiddos LOVE!)

 2. Eat Brain Food!  I bring in some healthy snacks for the kids. My school encourages healthy snacks, but once in a while I'll bring in my own! (Usually not fish or spinach, but often some carrots and berries!)

 
3. Ease stress!  These kids certainly understand what stress it! We sometimes do some Yoga moves and breathing exercises, and sometimes they just have quiet time where they think about nothing! Research proves we need to give them time to clear the brain in order for the brain to take in new information. Plus, the children absolutely love Yoga!

4. Listen to Music!  I've got a wide variety of music to play in the classroom, from "party" music, to mellow music for concentration. It doesn't have to be classical music! Find something appropriate for the occasion.


5. Laugh! I recently posted Laughter is Truly the Best Medicine, and  listed some of the benefits of humor in the classroom. I have a whole box of joke books that I often bring out on April Fool's day, although they are good any time of year. I'm a big believer in making sure people get their daily dose of "Vitamin L!"

6. Drink water!  Water is essential for brain function! I can't emphasize this enough. (It's important for the rest of the body, too!)
 

7. Keep challenging your brain!  I'll have a variety of puzzles and riddles for the children to choose from. I'm a big fan of Sudoku, so I often have a few of those for the kids. I also found a couple of cool websites: ABCya Tangram Puzzles has tangrams that can be done at the computer.  Puzzle Choice has tons of puzzles for kids and adults- go to Kid's Choice for lots of possibilities for printing as well as puzzles for the computer.  

How do you keep your students exercising their brains?

Seven Ways to Brain Fitness for Kids! Keeping the brain in good shape is essential, and here are seven ways to do just that!

Opinion Writing Organization


 Kids have opinions, and they're actually pretty good at sharing these opinions, giving reasons for their opinions, and sometimes even getting their way! 
Opinion Writing Organization: Kids have plenty of opinions! This blog post suggests a few ways to help children share their opinions with evidence. Plus, it has an organizational freebie!

They need help getting these opinions written down in an organized manner. I have this freebie to help them out with this!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Opinion-Writing-Planning-Sheet-and-Examples-3918356?utm_source=63b&utm_campaign=Opinion%20Writing%20freebie

I made up this graphic organizer, along with a couple of samples.  There are a million topics they can use to share their opinions, such as "favorite color, brothers: good or bad, favorite after school activity, to name a few. See this freebie here: Opinion Writing Organization

I always believe that children need to talk before they write, so I'd share my samples, and enhance each time to make the story more interesting.

Quite often, before they even start to organize their story, I have them practice orally with each other what they'll be writing. It truly does help the writing flow more smoothly!


Opinion Writing Organization: Kids have plenty of opinions! This blog post suggests a few ways to help children share their opinions with evidence. Plus, it has an organizational freebie!

Golfing for Tens

Thursday I had 3 doctor's appointments.  Not 1, not 2, but 3. (I'm fine, just happened to schedule them on the same day!) I also went to the dentist on Tuesday and had my flu shot on Wednesday, so I should be all set for a while!

Since 2 of the 3 doctors are a half hour away, I was looking to fill time between appointments, so I went into the local dollar store.

I'm always looking for cute ideas for school in the dollar store. I'm either looking for organizational ideas or game ideas.  As I was browsing through the toy section, I saw the perfect game for my sports themed classroom:  golf sets!
I was planning the math game I was going to make while standing in line to make my purchase. (Do all teachers do this sort of thing when they take a day for doctors appointments?)

We've been working with addition of single digit numbers in our new math pilot program:  enVisions. The math part was so easy, I wanted to bump it up to adding tens. I figured they could work in teams, working on adding tens. I set up 3 lines, each a foot apart, and decided they could and take a few shots from different level.

As you might have guessed, the kids loved it! They were even good about working quietly while the other groups did their "sitting down" work, which is not easy for adults, never mind second graders! However, they knew they'd lose the privilege, so they worked hard to golf quietly!

The only problem? Those plastic golf balls were so light, the kids had trouble aiming them. Therefore, hardly any balls went into the cup, so they didn't get much practicing adding up points. I'm going to bring in real golf balls tomorrow, and I'm sure the extra weight will help them have more real "adding tens" practice. In the meantime, it was a great lesson in adding zeroes, and the kids really enjoyed it!

See the picture for your "golfing for tens" freebie.  I'm sure they have the golf sets in the toy section of most dollar stores!  

 Enjoy your golfing!


 


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