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Monday, October 15, 2018

5 Easy Ways to Retell Stories

I remember when I first became a teacher we had Objectives instead of Standards. One of our Objectives read: "The student will retell a story." We don't have a standard that says that, so is retelling still important?
First, we must look at exactly what retelling is. Retelling is an accounting of a story's key points told in sequence. A retelling usually includes characters, settings, problems, and solution or the main idea of the text.
Does that mean it is important or not? YES, it is important! Often retelling is the first question asked when we are checking for understanding, "Can you tell me what happened?" Retelling allows a child to monitor their understanding. By retelling a story, a child has shown evidence of comprehension.

There are many ways to provide retelling experiences for your kids. Here are a few of our favorites.
Cup Stacking
Cup stacking is a fun way to sequence the characters or the settings in the story. Invite the children to use the book to sequence the characters and place the cups in a line. Then, as the child retells the story, they stack one cup on top of the other.
We then let our kids make this easy retelling strip so they would have one to take home to retell their parents.
Story Necklaces
Necklaces are another great way to sequence characters, settings, or events from a story. Invite the children to cut out the animals and punch a hole in each one. Next, use the book to place the animal in order and lay them in a line. As the child retells the story, they lace the animals, separated by pasta, onto a piece of  yarn. Tie the ends together and wear the story necklace!!
Paper Bag Stories
Paper bags provide an amazing retelling tool because they provide the kids with a place to store the pieces when they aren't in use.  For this story, "There Was an Old Monster", we glued a monster picture to the front of a large paper bag and cut a slit for the mouth. After I read the story, we sequenced the characters into the pocket chart. Next, we retold the story as we fed the monster each character.
Then, the kids made their own retelling prop using a lunch sized paper sack. After making the retelling props, we add them to our bag of books for repeated retelling during read to self and read to others. After a few weeks, we take them home.
To retell Ten Timid Ghosts, we used a paper bag to make a haunted house. The children add the characters to the bag as they retell the story.
We also used a paper bag in "Bear Snores On". We used the large bag to create a cave and used paint to add some details. After reading the story, we once again sequenced the characters into the pocket chart, always referring back to the text. Then, as we retold the story, we added the animals to the cave.
The kids each made their own caves using the lunch sized bags.
Retelling Headbands
Retelling headbands provide a great way to keep parents informed with the things that we are doing at school. How many times do kids bring their book-bags back to school with EVERYTHING you sent home still INSIDE? Did the parents check? By wearing the headbands home, the parents SEE it and ask, "What is that on your head?". Now the kids have the opportunity to retell the story again!
We made headbands for both "Big Pumpkin" and "Where's My Mummy?".
Popsicle Stick Puppets
Who doesn't have a supply of Popsicle sticks? Stick puppets have been around FOREVER! To make this fun retelling for "The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything", we glued the events from the story to popsicle sticks. The kids store the puppets inside their baskets to retell again and again.
We also made stick puppets for retelling "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". As the children turned the pages in their books, the characters interact with the picture.
All of the pieces, patterns, and props are included in this unit that I wrote with my good friend Kimberly Jordano. You can find it here:

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Friday, October 12, 2018

How to Make Personalized abc Flashcards

My youngest grandson recently came home with a letter from his teacher. She wanted each child in the class to have a set of alphabet flashcards. It was fall break, so my daughter in law came over for us to work on the project. Then, it hit me! Reading Recovery...Maria Clay...I learned many years ago through Reading Recovery that children learn letters best when they are personalized! That's when I decided to make Brody his own set of abc flashcards, all about him! Here's how I did it...
 First, I created a power point and changed each slide to 3x5. I added text boxes for the letters and the word, and then I added a cute frame.
 For each letter, Ginny searched her photos on her phone for just the right picture. I inserted the picture, added a border, and centered on the card.
This is a screen shot of the slides once I added all of the pictures.  Next, you will need to save the power point as a png. This can be easily found in the pull down menu. By doing this, you are creating a "picture" of each slide.
 Next, create a new power point.  Insert a table like the one above.
 Now, go to "insert picture" and find where you saved the png's you created.  Insert them into the power point and place one in each of the boxes.
Once you do all of the letters it will look like this.
Now you are ready to print, laminate and cut! To make it easier for you, I have already made the templates. I made the power point for the individual  pages. On each page, you will insert pictures you select. Then, in the "apples" box, add the name of the picture. Save the power point as a png.
Locate the new png images on your computer and insert. I have made this template for you as well.
You can grab both of these pages below. **This is a "zipped" folder. You will need to "unzip" to get to the forms.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Easy Steps for Meaningful Homework

Do you assign homework to your kids? Do they do it? Do they bring it back? I have even had kids tell me that their mom did it after they went to bed. So...what is the answer? Should we assign homework or not?
I answered this question by first asking myself, "Why am I sending home homework?" Here's why:
  • I want parents to spend time with their kids.
  • I want learning to be celebrated.
  • I want kids and parents to value educational opportunities.
I could say more, but those about sum it up. Now that I knew the answer to my first question, my second question..."How can I do this? How can I make homework all the things?"
This series of questions led me to setting up homework bags for my kids to check out each week. Here's how we do it:
To begin, each child needs a 2 gallon Ziploc bag. I use the freezer bags so that they will last all year.
The children store all of the needed items inside the Ziploc bag. The first item in the bag is a 2 pocket folder. In the folder, I have a page for parents to record the bag (each bag is numbered), the date, and their signature. There is also a parent response page. This page allows the parents to tell me anything I need to know...are pieces missing? did their child have difficulty? were the directions not clear enough?
The Ziploc bag also holds the game. I used a large envelope (they come in brown too). On the front of the envelope, I laminated and glued the cover to the game.  I added a piece of ribbon to make a handle.
Inside the envelope I store the game pieces and the direction card. The directions card tells the parents "the standard" and how to play the game. There are also additional activities they can play with the same game. The kids are going to keep the bag ALL week. The additional activities provide new ways to use the resources each night.
I also add a few books, usually 3 or 4, to the Ziploc bag. These books are for the parents to read to their kids.  So many of our kids don't have a library of books at home. This gives the parents something they can read each night. The other letter in the photo is used separately. This letter is attached to the front of a brown envelope like the one that stored the game.  This envelop contains a book for the children to read to their parents.  They bring this envelop back and forth daily. I can decide to send home the same book, or a new book each night. You can grab these two forms FREE at the bottom of this blog post.
I teamed up with my good friend Adam Peterson to put together a unit of homework bags all related to FALL.
The unit has 10 different games.
Each game is available in color AND black/white. You choose which one works best for you.
The parent direction cards for each game are also included.
You will also find all of the forms needed to keep your parents organized!
Pictures are provided to identify each part of the unit.
General directions for your use are also included. We also added a supply list for each bag. This will make it easy to check to be sure everything has been returned.
We used this form to list each child. Then, we could keep up with which bags they had and which bags they still needed. Since there are 10 bags, you may want to make a few sets of each. This way, every child will get a back each week. I had the kids return the bags on Friday so that I could get them ready to go home again on Monday. If a child didn't bring his/hers back on Friday, I didn't always have enough time on Monday to get them ready.
It is amazing how many parents STILL talk about these bags even when their kids are grown. The parents LOVE them! No more tears at homework time!
 All of the items can be found in this Homework Play Unit.
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Monday, September 24, 2018

Fun with Nursery Rhymes

Do you use nursery rhymes in your classroom? Over the years, with the increased pressure on teachers to "teach to the test", fewer teachers are using nursery rhymes. But, why did we do nursery rhymes in the first place? Here are a few things that research shows us related to teaching children nursery rhymes.
  • They develop language and listening skills.
  • They develop communication skills by learning new vocabulary and numeracy.
  • They enhance physical development when actions are incorporated.
  • They develop cognitive skills such as memory, concentration and spatial relationships.
  • They enhance individual development of social skills, better self control, and higher confidence and self esteem.
  • They enhance brain development through music and movement.
  • They develop the part of the brain that controls motor development and planning.
Here are a few ways we are using nursery rhymes in our classrooms:
As we learn a new nursery rhyme, we reproduce a copy of the rhyme and add it to our poetry notebook. This is a good way for kids to develop fluency...or more specifically prosody. As the children read the rhythmic rhyme they become better readers! It's also a great way to practice one of the ways we teach our kids to read with together.
Another thing our kids enjoy is to use the nursery rhyme wheels.
To make the wheels, invite the children to color and cut out the two circles.
Stack the wheels on top of each other. Add a brad into the center (black dot). As the kids turn the wheel, the pictures for retelling appear in the "window."
Another idea is to make crafts that will help the kids in retelling the rhymes.
To make this fun Humpty Dumpty craft, invite the children to cut and sequence the pictures on the strip. Add the chimney to the top. Attach Humpty Dumpty with a brad. As the kids say the rhyme, they can rotate Humpty Dumpty when he falls down.
Don't be so quick to send these activities home. We added them to our bag of books. They are great for reading with friends during our partner reading time.
Another fun rhyme is Baa, Baa Black Sheep. To remember this rhyme, we invited our kids to make this fun cut, stack, staple and read book.
The kids wrote the color words on each of the sheep. Then, they stack the sheep in a pile. Finally, staple the sheep to the Baa, Baa Black Sheep strip.
Now, enjoy reading your book with your partner!
To introduce each rhyme, we made the words to sequence each of the sentences.  I grouped the words needed for each sentence and placed them in the pocket chart. I placed the pictures at the bottom and invited to kids to help me sequence the pictures to tell the rhyme.
Then, we took the words to match the pictures and sequenced them to make the sentences.
All of these activities are from the nursery rhyme unit that I wrote with my good friend Kim Jordano, kinderbykim.
The unit contains the poetry page for 6 popular nursery rhymes.
It also includes the retelling wheels for each of the 6 nursery rhymes.
For each of the rhymes, all of the pieces to make a craft are also included. It also includes a color photo for reference and a page with step by step directions.
And finally, for each rhyme, the sequence pictures and the word cards for each rhyme are included.

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