Wednesday, December 21, 2016

1 Informational Text at a Time: Winter Bundle #2

 We just love using National Geographic kids informational texts in our classrooms and decided to  pick three great titles for this bundle. 'Polar Bears' by Laura Marsh was a perfect choice from their selection. We started our four day lessons for this book by looking at the key ideas and details about polar bears. For day two we dove into the point the author was making and located evidence that supported the author's point throughout the text. Finally, students used what they learned to write a nonfiction flip book and compliment it with a cute polar bear craftivity. 

For our next selection we picked 'Penguins!' by Anne Schreiber. Your students will love the cute and playful photographs of penguins in this text. We started this close read by asking and answering questions about penguins. We included an option where students can write their own questions about penguins or use the questions we provided. The second lesson had students focus on what information they learned from the photographs. Students wrote the information they learned from the text and compared it to the information they learned from the pictures. For the last day, students used all of their new knowledge to write three facts about penguins on the adorable penguin craftivity. 

Our final selection for this pack was 'Wolves' by Laura Marsh. Thanks to familiar fairy tales, students are naturally drawn to these scary but intriguing creatures and will definitely enjoy learning more about them. We began the first lesson by categorizing key details about wolves on a graphic organizer. During the next lessons, students returned to their organizers to write additional facts they learned about wolves as they revisited the text.  In the second lesson, the class made connections between the text  and the text features to help distinguish between the sounds humans hear wolves make and what wolves are actually communicating to one another. For the third lesson, students wrote an informational booklet on wolves. These lessons were finalized as students painted a howling wolf art piece.

We hope you and your students enjoy these informational texts as much as we do! You can purchase each of these lesson plans separately or in a bundle by visiting our TpT store
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

K-1 December Read Aloud Selections

Here are some of our favorite books to read to kindergarten and first grade students during the month of December...

This first story is one of our very favorites (and the students love it too!) Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh and J. otto Seibold is a clever tale about Olive the dog, who mistakenly sings the wrong words to the classic tune, "All of the other reindeer..." and believes she must be a reindeer too. She quickly heads to the North Pole to assist Santa on his busy trip around the world. Luckily, her dog skills are just what the team needs to overcome the troubles they encounter along the way. After our initial reading of the book, we will discuss the problems and adventures presented throughout the story and look closely at how Olive helped to correct each problem. In our next lesson, we will revisit some of the words and phrases that elicit feelings, define what they mean, and discuss what type of feeling each word or phrase represents. During the third lesson, we will compare and contrast Olive's and Santa's character traits by finding evidence in the text and illustrations that demonstrates what each character says, does, thinks, and feels throughout the story. To complete our lessons, the students will write their opinions about other animals that might be able to help Santa pull the sleigh and will also complete a cute craftivity to display their writing.

 When we spotted Ninjabread by C. J. Leigh, illustrated by Chris Gall at our school's Scholastic Book Fair, we knew we had to include it in our December lesson plans.  This adorable spin on the classic Gingerbread Man will definitely be a hit with our students.  We thought our kids would enjoy making connections with the original tale, so we chose a classic version by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Barbara Mclintock for this comparison.  To begin, we will read the Gingerbread Man and ask our students text dependent questions.  We will discuss story elements and our students will complete a basic story map.  The next lesson, we will read Ninjabread Man and discuss the same story elements, using the same graphic organizer.  The Ninjabread Man has some fun vocabulary, so we planned a simple vocabulary lesson in which the kids will illustrate the meaning of some of the unfamiliar words from the story.  The last lesson, students will be ready to compare and contrast the Ninjabread Man with the Gingerbread Man.  We decided to create two differentiated versions to cover this skill.  One option will be a Similarities and Differences Chart, the other a Character Comparison.  As a culminating activity, students will have the opportunity to create their own version of a  _______bread Man. 

We can't resist any of the Snowmen books by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner.  Snowmen at Christmas is no exception.  This magical story depicts the imagination of a sleeping boy on Christmas Eve.  As he dozes off, he wonders how snowmen celebrate Christmas. The rhyming story and beautiful illustrations will surely enchant our kids as they learn about the various ways the snowmen celebrate the holiday.  After our first read, we will have students complete a simple snowman graphic organizer to recall key ideas and details from the story.  After revisiting the story in the second lesson, we will use a "what it is, what it is not" sheet to define and dive into some difficult vocabulary words.  For the third lesson, we thought it would be fun to have students compare and contrast the way snowmen celebrate Christmas with the way they celebrate Christmas.  Students will create a snowmen scene as a fun art project that represents the story.    
Our last pick is an old favorite from the Julie Sykes Santa collection. 'Hurry, Santa!' is an enjoyable read. When Santa's alarm doesn't go off on Christmas eve, it's just the start of his problems. He trips over his pants, can't find his reindeer because they are off playing in the snow, and he crashes his sleigh. Students will enjoy brainstorming and writing about the things that cause Santa to be late after reading the story the first day. The second day lesson plans will guide students to look at what the text is saying compared to what the illustrations are showing. To finish up with this story students will write a letter to Santa and tell him what they would get him if they were to buy him a present and complete a cute craftivity. We also included an optional compare and contrast activity so students can compare late Santa to the traditional Santa. 

You can purchase each of these read-alouds from our Teachers Pay Teachers store. Your students will love these read-alouds and you will love meeting so many Reading Literature Core Standards. Download our free scope and sequence to see what standards are being taught in each read-aloud.

You can also purchase these in a bundle to save money. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

K-1 Read-Alouds for November

Here are the titles and a brief overview of our November K-1 read-alouds:

Bear Says Thanks
We can't seem to resist any Bear books by Karma Wilson. Our students love the repetitive phrases, familiar characters, and lively illustrations by Jane Chapman. The first day, we will target key ideas and details by having students complete a cut and paste to sequence the "who, what, and what Bear said." The next day we will dive into vocabulary. "Bear Says Thanks" is packed full of rich tier II vocabulary words that merit time and attention.  We pulled out our favorite vocabulary activity for this lesson. We will revisit pages with the vocabulary words, reread the sentence with the word, then model how to figure out the meaning.  We will talk about how to use the text, illustration, or another resource to define it.  After defining a couple of words as a class,we will give students the opportunity to try it on their own worksheet. They will gather on the rug with clipboards as we define a few more words.  The third day, we will discuss how Bear's feelings change throughout the story.  We designed a few differentiated graphic organizers to meet our student's needs for this concept. The last day, we will make retelling puppets.  Kids will weave a construction paper quilt for the setting. We will use our "Bear Says Thanks" puppets in our retelling station during literacy stations. 

A Tree Grows Up and Little Tree
 After reading many different books this month and trying to decide on the perfect texts to use, we came across "A Tree Grows Up" and "Little Tree." After reading both texts we realized they would work perfectly as a fiction and nonfiction compare/contrast lesson. The first day students answer text dependent questions around facts learned in "A Tree Grows Up." After learning about the changes trees go through during each season, the students will draw and write about the trees in each season. The second lesson will guide students as they answer text dependent questions about "Little Tree." The students will draw and write how Little Tree's friends changed through the seasons as well as how Little Tree changed once he was no longer afraid to drop his leaves in the fall. The third lesson compares the nonfiction text to the fictional story. Students will write (or complete the cut and paste option) to find the similarities and differences in both texts. The lessons end as students complete the fun tree craft which uses shredded paper as leaves. 

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
 This clever tale by Dav Pilkey puts a holiday spin on the classic poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Students will be thrilled as we read about eight children who take a field trip to Farmer Mack Nuggett's farm in, "'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving." The first lesson addresses key ideas and details as students retell and sequence the beginning, middle, and end of the story. The second lesson will focus on the text's craft and structure. By returning to specific pages in the text, we will reread what the text says specifically and then look closely at the illustrations to understand what the author meant. Then we will give students time to quote what the author said and draw what the illustration showed on a graphic organizer. For the third lesson, we will hold a class discussion so students can share their opinions on whether they should save the turkeys like the children did in the story, or whether they should eat the turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. Then students will have time to write down their opinions and a reason to support their thinking. Afterward, they will turn their writing page into a cute craft that will help to further demonstrate their opinion. In a fourth lesson, we will target the Integration of Knowledge and Ideas standards. After reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to students, we will use the descriptions and illustrations to compare and contrast St. Nicholas with Farmer Mack Nuggett. Students will record their comparisons by drawing the characters' similarities and differences on a graphic organizer.  

You can purchase each of these read-alouds from our Teachers Pay Teachers store. Your students will love these read-alouds and you will love meeting so many Reading Literature and Informational Text Core Standards. Download our free scope and sequence to see what standards are being taught in each read-aloud. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Teaching the Core, 1 Informational Text at a Time

Teaching the Core, 1 Read Aloud at a Time is a huge success, and we thank YOU for your support! We are so excited to know that students all over the country are diving deeper into literature stories and gaining important reading skills at the same time.

Of course, we also understand that our students need to sharpen their ability to read complex informational text. For this reason, we are proud to introduce a new read aloud line-

To learn more about the benefits of reading informational texts with young students, please visit scholastic's article found here

Our "Teaching the Core, 1 Informational Text at a Time" lesson plans are created to support students as they read informative text on a variety of topics. Each lesson plan is organized to cover Reading Informational Text standards and spans across 3-5 days.

During these lessons, the informational text is read out loud to the class while students answer text dependent questions.  Students are guided to gather and record the text's key ideas and details. The class revisits the text again to focus on the author's craft and structure as students explore vocabulary words and phrases, examine information from text features, and consider the author's purpose. Students integrate their knowledge and ideas as they look closely at images and search for evidence to support an author's point. Finally, students participate in a culminating writing task to synthesize the information they have learned.

Bats by Elizabeth Carney 

We love National Geographic Kids Readers for teaching nonfiction.  They are full of interesting information, vivid photographs, and many text features.  "Bats" is no exception.  Students will love diving into this high interest topic with this close read. We included one of our favorite strategies with this book, "Drawing to Retell."  Students will draw a bat before and after reading the text and write about the changes they made to their illustrations. Students will also collect key ideas and details on either a web, or note-taking sheet.  To address craft and structure, they will analyze text features to find more information.  Finally, students will synthesize all the information they have learned to write bat facts on a darling bat craftivity.

Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson

"Pumpkin Circle" is a informational text which teaches kids about the full life cycle of a pumpkin. The book is written in rhyme and has great photographs of the pumpkin life cycle. Our 4 day lesson plans will help deepen students' understanding of informational text structures as well as the pumpkin life cycle. Students will love sequencing the pumpkin life cycle after reading the text the first time. After a second read of the text, students answer text dependent questions, then show even deeper understanding by adding information to the sequencing page from the first lesson. Finally, students will write about the pumpkin circle and make a cute pumpkin life cycle craft.

Spinning Spiders by Melvin Berger

"Spinning Spiders" is part of the wonderful- Let's Read and Find Out Science series. Students always love learning about spiders and we love the realistic illustrations in this story which help young ones access the text. To begin these lesson plans, students will compare key details from the text and sort facts into two categories- spider vs. insect. Next, students will focus on spider vocabulary from the text and define words using examples and non-examples. To culminate their learning, students will create informational, spider writing booklets. We also offer instructions to have students create an accurate three dimensional spider art piece which provides an additional, hands-on way to demonstrate understanding about spiders.

To save money on our informational text read-alouds, you can purchase them in a bundle.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

K-1 Read-Alouds for October

We are excited to announce the beginning of a new product line. We've had so much success with our 1st and 2nd grade read-alouds in our school and have received great feedback from teachers all over the country, so we decided to create a whole new set. This set will be geared towards the kindergarten and first grade standards. 

Our students fall in love with these stories because we dive deeply into them. Instead of reading the story once, we take time to understand key ideas and details, analyze craft and structure by examining dialogue, typography, word choice, etc., and focus on integration of knowledge idea by searching for information that comes from the illustrations. Students love answering the rigorous text dependent questions and finding evidence from the text to deepen their understanding of the stories. The read-alouds also include graphic organizers and writing in response to text activities to incorporate writing standards. Each one also incorporates a craftivity to compliment the story and a bulletin board heading to display the work. We are thrilled to be including some non-fiction titles in this new set. 

These stories are complex, lending themselves to span across 3-5 days  of close reading. While teaching each title, we cover many Common Core Literature and Informational Text Standards, while also giving ourselves time to respond to the text with writing and art. Each day we read the book for a different purpose and students complete a different activity. 

Here are the titles and a brief overview of our October K-1 read-alouds:

Turkey Trick or Treat

We couldn't pass up the chance to use Wendi Silvano's "Turkey Trick or Treat." Our students loved Turkey Trouble and Turkey Claus so we know this will be another hit. This delightful tale is sure to make your students giggle as Turkey tries on different Halloween costumes in hopes that he can trick the farmers and get some candy for him and his farm friends. He tries various costumes so the farmers won't be able to identify him when he knocks on their doors. To address key ideas and details, students will sequence the events of the story. "Turkey Trick or Treat" is filled with clever word-play, which is perfect for teaching words and phrases from the craft and structure standards. Students will determine the meaning of silly phrases from the story. As a culminating activity, students will dress their Turkey in a costume of their choice and and write an opinion piece on why their costume is a good choice. 


We are excited to include our first nonfiction read-aloud in this pack. As we taught the reading literature read-alouds through out the year we realized adding some nonfiction titles would benefit our students. We chose "National Geographic Kids Halloween" because the information was complex enough for kindergartners and first graders. This series also has great text features. We addressed the main idea and details by having students use evidence from the text to write things people do during Halloween. We also dove into the Halloween vocabulary and used some of the text features (such as the glossary, photographs with captions, etc.) to help define the unknown words. As a fun way to finish this read-aloud, students will write their favorite thing about Halloween and complete a fun craft. 

Ghost in the House

"Ghost in the House" is a cumulative counting story full of fun rhythm and rhyme.  When a little ghost explores a creepy haunted house, he encounters many spooky creatures. At first, the ghost and his friends are worried about who they will meet around the next corner, but smile when they encounter each other.  Kids love the surprise ending, when the creatures meet the scariest creature in the house.
This book is perfect for retelling the story in order. Students will sequence the story and color puppets to practice retelling. We also thought it would be fun for students to match dialogue to the creatures because of the book's lively sound words. As a culminating writing activity, students will create their own creature.   


Owl Babies

"Owl Babies" by Martin Waddell is one of those stories that we can read over and over again.  Three baby owls wake up one night to find their mother is missing.  At first they are brave, but as the dark night goes on, they talk themselves into being scared. This is a wonderful book to discuss feelings because the illustrations and dialogue tell so much of the story.

To capture key ideas and details, we will have students sequence the story, then complete a story elements graphic organizer.  Then, we will analyze illustrations and dialogue to dive into how the characters' feelings change throughout the story.  Finally, we will have students relate to the baby owls by writing about something that scares them.

Skeleton Meets the Mummy

 "Skeleton Meets the Mummy" by Steve Metzger is a cute, must-have Halloween story. To go trick-or-treating, Sammy the skeleton walks through the dark, scary woods. Along the way he discovers that he is being followed by a mummy. Students are relieved when they find out who the harmless mummy really is.  Students will respond to the text by sequencing the scary story events in order while using ordinal words. We know our students will really enjoy creating a reader's theater of the story's scary sounds as they focus on the craft and structure of the book. Finally, students will extend their thinking as they write about something else that could scare the skeleton in the woods. 


Our K-1 read-aloud set just wouldn't be complete without "Crankenstein" by Samantha Berger. This charming story introduces a seemingly ordinary boy who transforms into a cranky Crankenstein as rotten events happen to him. The illustrations tell much of the story and students can't help relating to this cranky green character. The key ideas and details standards are addressed as students recall events that cause the boy to be cranky. They will better understand Crankenstein's feelings as they act out and record the character's dialogue. Then students will look closely at the illustrations, making text and illustration connections, to truly understand what is causing the boy's crankiness. As a writing activity, students will relate to Crankenstein by sharing what makes them feel cranky.

We have written detailed lesson plans for each of these books that can be found in our Teachers-Pay-Teachers store. You can purchase each read aloud separately our October Bundle