Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thanksgiving Read Aloud and a FREE Writing Activity!

Yes, me hearties! Pirates celebrate Thanksgiving, too! After all, a steady diet of fish, squid, and hardtack gets a bit boring!! More importantly, because buccaneers spend so much time at sea, we miss our families and look forward to seeing our loved ones, sharing stories with them, and dining on turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie! 

Of course, the whole point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks for our blessings. As a teacher, I make a point to connect holidays with our curriculum. For Thanksgiving as with all holidays, I gather a variety of children's books and place them in our classroom library corner for students to read. I select my favorites to read to the class and start with ones that put a focus on the purpose of Thanksgiving, to give thanks for the special people in our lives and for the benefits we have. I recently created a new Pinterest board, Thanksgiving Books for Children, you may find helpful.

THANKFUL by Eileen Spinelli is one of my favorite Thanksgiving books. Written in rhyming couplets, this picture book is about a sister, brother, and their parents and the blessings for which they are grateful. Before introducing the book, I place post-its in strategic locations in the book. I cover the text of the first two pages of the story. For the rest of the book, I cover the last word of each couplet. Explanations for why will come later!

I begin the read-aloud by giving students time to look at the book cover. (If you have access to a doc camera, use it to show the illustrations.) Based on the cover's illustration, I have students determine the season and what the children are doing. I, also, have students think about the title and why the author chose it. Then I give them time to share their thoughts with a partner. After they share, I ask someone to tell the class what their partner said. Next, we take a look at the illustrations on the title pages and discuss what the children seem to be doing. (They are playing "dress up".)

Now I turn to the first page to focus on the illustration. Remember, I have covered the text. I ask the class who the girl is pretending to be (a waitress) and how they know. I show the next illustration and ask what is happening. (The waitress trips and the beverage flies toward the boy.) Next, I point out how the boy is dressed and ask students who they think he is pretending to be (a news reporter). They may not know so I direct their attention to the notepad, pencil, and camera. If news reporter doesn't come up, I tell them that we will read to find out.

Having read the first two pages and determining that the boy is a local news reporter, I ask students if the text rhymed and if so, what words rhymed. I also ask what is the waitress thankful for and what is the reporter thankful for. We, then, discuss why they are grateful for these particular items (shoes and interesting news). 

Before continuing our read aloud, I let the students know that I have covered some words with post-its. I explain that I want them to figure out what the hidden word is. I remind them that the illustrations and other words in the text provide clues. Also, I point out that the covered word rhymes with another word in the sentence. The rhyming words are fairly easy to determine so when I get to the post-it, I pause and give students the opportunity to call out the word before uncovering it. This makes the read aloud very interactive. 

When we have finished the book, I go back through the pages to talk about what the characters are thankful for. For example, why is the artist thankful for color and light or why is a chef thankful when the plates are licked clean. Now I ask students to think about what they are thankful for and share with their partners. I also share a few ideas of my own.

This is where read aloud segues to a writing activity. There are two activities I can choose. One is writing couplets similar to the ones in the book. The other is writing a paragraph to share the people and things for which we are thankful. Sometimes we do both writing activities.

 Here's a FREE Thanksgiving writing activity!
I have put together a FREE resource to guide teachers and students through both writing processes. Included in the product are:
                     1. Teaching tips
                        2. Three graphic organizers
                        3. Draft and final copy sheets
                        4. Writing samples
                        5. Revision Checklist
                        6. Editing Checklist

Click on the product cover, and it will take you directly to my TpT store and this FREE resource.

Thanks for visiting my blog, matey! Before you sailing away, please write a comment and follow me. The first five visitors who leave a comment and their email address will receive one of my products of their choice worth $5 or less.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you like the Pirate Queen's Pilgrim hat, check out this TpT store.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Return of the Pirate Queen

Ahoy, Mates! The Pirate Queen has returned! I could say I have been on a lengthy treasure hunt. I could say I was lost at sea! But truth be told, life just got in the way! My family needed me so I took a break from blogging. Now, things are settling in, and I am able to take time to write again.

You may have noticed that my blog banner has a slight change. It used to say, "Language Arts Treasure for the Intermediate Classroom". Although most of my resources are LA related, I occasionally have created math products and a few others related to holidays. Also, my resources are mostly geared to grades 3-5. However, I am broadening my scope to include middle school products as well. Thus, the change to the banner: "Treasure for the Intermediate and Upper Classrooms".

Recently, I have been working on grammar related resources that align with the Common Core State Standards for Grade 5. Specifically, my focus has been on CONJUNCTIONS! The interesting thing is that in order to understand conjunctions and their functions you also must have an understanding of SENTENCES-- simple, compound, complex as well as CLAUSES-- independent and dependent. What this means is that as you teach conjunctions you must review sentences and clauses. You will find that these Conjunction resources will help you with that challenge.

There are three types of conjunctions: Coordinating, Correlative, and Subordinating. When teaching such complicated concepts, I find PowerPoint to be a useful tool. My slideshows are engaging, interactive, and include animation. Students work with partners to answer questions posted on the slides. Also, teaching tips are provided as "Comments" for most slides.

Click on the product covers to preview each resource. Although these resources are aligned with Grade 5, they can be used for reviews with Grades 6-8.

There is an additional Subordinating Conjunction Task Card resource available that includes three task card activities. Below is a link to a FREEBIE that will give you an idea of what the Task Card resource is like.

If you are looking for grammar products for Grades 3 and 4, sail to my store by clicking on the Pirate Queen image at the beginning of the post. For 3rd grade you will find resources for nouns and verbs. For 4th grade, there are products for each of the Common Core Language Conventions Standards, 4.1A-G.

If this is your first visit to my blog, please take a look at previous postings. Most have a link to a free product. Be sure to read the first post as I explain my classroom pirate theme.

Finally, please leave a comment if just to say hello.

Happy Sailing!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Sentence Fluency Plus Mini Poster FREEBIE!

Ahoy mateys! Generally speaking, pirates spin great yarns. They know how to hold their audience's attention with details that are organized to enable the readers or listeners to follow along. They use language that is rich and paints pictures in the minds of the audience. Also the yarn spinners' sentences have a natural flow making the story easy to follow and enjoyable to hear.

What I am describing may remind you of the Six Traits of Writing which resulted in the research of Ruth Culham and Education Northwest.
The traits are Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, and Conventions. For me teaching writing became a pleasure when using the Six Traits model. In this post, I will share instructional ideas on one component of the Sentence Fluency trait.

Sentence Fluency is described as "smooth, rhythmic, easy to read" (Creating & Recognizing Quality Rubrics CD Copyright © 2006 Educational Testing Service). Think about a flowing river or stream. It is constantly moving. However, in some locations, the water moves slowly and quietly. While in other spots, the water rushes and cheers loudly. Sentences within a story have a similar movement. Some are short and sweet. Some are long holding you in suspense. Put them together and you have a flowing narrative.

If you take a closer look at sentences that are "smooth, rhythmic, and easy to read", you will see that they begin in a variety of ways. One reason for varying the start of sentences is to connect an idea from the previous sentence to an idea in the sentence that follows. In addition, starting sentences differently prevents choppy sentences and sentences that repeatedly begin with a simple subject which becomes boring after a bit. Take a look at the "Broccoli" paragraph.

All of the sentences begin with a simple subject, and most are short and choppy.
Now, let's read the revision.

Did you find the sentences more interesting and detailed? Did the sentences seem to flow more naturally? Did you notice that the sentences vary in how they start? Some begin with prepositional phrases. A couple are introduced with adverbs and one with adjectives. Two sentences remain the same and begin with the simple subject.

When teaching students how to vary sentence beginnings, I introduced one variation a week to give them time and opportunity to use the technique in their own writing and to find examples in our textbooks and in their independent reading. There were four starting varieties that I introduced early in the year:
  • Begin with one or two adjectives describing the subject.
  • Begin with a "how" adverb such as "slowly".
  • Begin with a "where" adverbial phrase such as "in the closet".
  • Begin with a "when" adverbial phrase such as "last night". 
This mini poster is available as a FREEBIE!

In addition I created a PowerPoint with engaging and interactive slides to teach these four beginnings.

Sentence Fluency: How to Begin Sentences/CCSS Aligned 3-6

Sail to my store to preview the PPT and mini poster by clicking on the product covers below.


If your students need practice with Fragments and Run-on Sentences, you may be interested in this treasure!

One more gem before you sail away! You will find on the side bar a link to a Pinterest board I have created for mentor picture books to help you teach sentence fluency.

Thanks for visiting! Please come again when you are looking for more teaching treasures!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Figurative Language and a FREEBIE!

During Writer's Workshop, I emphasize to my students that writers have a toolbox filled with tools and devices to revise and edit their writing. One of those tools is figurative language to be used by the writer to help the reader see, hear, taste, smell, touch, or feel what s/he is describing.

I often introduce a concept with a slideshow in which definitions and examples are provided, examined, and discussed. Students are then given the opportunity to work in pairs to identify, explain, and create. In the case of figurative language, I created a PowerPoint to teach six literary devices for writers: simile, metaphor, personification, idiom, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. The slides are often animated and interactive. Below is a snapshot of some of the slides for "Simile" instruction.

Providing additional practice identifying these figurative devices is key to helping students create examples of their own. When reading to students during Hear Me Read, I tell them to listen for the type of figurative language we are currently learning. When someone points out the device, we talk about how it helps us understand what the writer is saying. I also encourage them to be on the lookout for examples in books they are reading and to keep their ears open as they watch TV or talk with their parents and friends. Students write down their discoveries and share them with the class during the next Writer's Workshop. 

In addition I provide practice with activities such as this Simile/Metaphor Sort.

In this Figurative Language Adventure Game students compete to be the first to reach the Writer's Toolbox by reading Figurative Language cards and identifying the type of literary device as they move along the game board.  

Following instruction and practice identifying the literary device, students write and illustrate an example of their own. This can be done by hand or on the computer as seen below in the idiom example. 

Often we take a Museum Walk in the classroom to share our work. Students clear their desks except for the illustrated literary device. We walk slowly and quietly about the room to view the illustration and read the author's work. This gives students a chance to see what their classmates have created. I often hang the examples in the hallway for parents, teachers, and other students to view as they travel about the school. Another option is to make a class book of the students' examples.

The Figurative Language PowerPoint, the FL Adventure Game, and the FREE Simile/Metaphor Sort are available at my TpT store.


Thanks for visiting. Here's luck and a fair wind to you!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Honoring Our Veterans

Ahoy Mateys! Veterans Day is around the corner, and I want to share with you an activity I did with my little scallywags to honor our friends and family members who have served or currently serve in our country's armed forces.

First thing on my list was to gather children's books about Veterans Day. These were displayed on the rain gutter tray mounted below the whiteboard. (The rain gutter idea came from Jim Trelease, the author of The Read-Aloud Handbook! When perched on the rain gutter, the books' covers are easy to view.) In addition, I searched for student-friendly websites for background information on Veterans Day.

I introduced the topic of Veterans Day by asking my students what does "veteran" mean. Once we arrived at the definition related to the holiday, I distributed KWL charts and asked students to list in the "K" column what they knew about Veterans Day. I had also made a poster size KWL chart. After the kiddos had made their list, I had them share their knowledge with each other and called on volunteers to write on the class chart. We then brainstormed questions we had about the holiday and wrote these in the "W" column.

Next the kiddos gathered on the carpet in the Reading Corner for a read-aloud of Veterans Day by Rebecca Rissman. This book provides information on the history of the holiday and how it is celebrated. After the reading, we returned to our KWL charts to write in the "L" column the facts we learned from the book.

The following day I talked with the students about an idea I had to honor the veterans we personally know. I showed under the doc camera a copy of the Veterans Information Form I had created. For each veteran in their family they would complete the form with a family member's help. If there were no veterans in their family, they could fill out the form for any family friends who were vets. (A letter explaining our project would be sent home along with the Veteran Information Forms.)

I explained that we would create a Veterans Wall of Honor on the wall outside our class door by displaying the information forms. In addition, I encouraged them to bring photos their families or friends might have of their veterans to place on the wall as well. For students who did not personally know a veteran, they were assigned to write a paragraph about the "Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Veterans Day". These would also be displayed on the Wall of Honor. 

Throughout the rest of the week, we continued to read more Veterans Day books and view the various VD websites.

On the day that the assignments were due, I provided students with red construction paper on which to glue each cut-out form and photo. Students who wrote paragraphs also glued their writing to the construction paper. Once that was completed, I distributed blue and gold stars. I explained to students that during World War I a family tradition began of placing in the home window a white banner with a blue star to honor a family member actively serving in the armed forces. Later another tradition was started. Gold stars were sewn onto the banner to honor family members who died while serving their country. Students then glued the appropriate star above the Veteran Information Form to the red construction paper. 

After school that day I hung the red construction papers on the hallway wall outside our door. The students were very excited to see the Veterans Wall of Honor when they came to school the next morning! 

If you want to create a Veterans Wall of Honor with your students, click on the picture below. This FREEBIE contains the resources and directions for completing this project to honor and remember our veterans.

Thanks for docking your ship here for a while, me hearty. 
As you sail on to a new adventure, I wish you well!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Back To School with Free Practice Activities

Ahoy, teaching pirates! 
By now ye and your little scallywags are settled on board for another year of sailing in the Sea of Learning! And the Pirate Queen has some teaching treasures to help keep the wind at your back.

                   Kinds of Sentences

The four categories of sentences are usually taught early in the school year. In 2nd and 3rd grades the category names are in simpler terms: Statement, Question, Command, Exclamation or Feeling. While in the upper grades, the names become more sophisticated: Declarative, Interrogative, Imperative, Exclamatory

One of the best ways to practice categories is a sorting activity. The free product below provides a set of ten sentences minus the ending punctuation. Students must read each sentence and use their knowledge of the definition for each type of sentence to decide which category each individual sentence belongs.

Click on the picture to preview this product.

With baseball playoffs scheduled in the fall, I chose to write sentences related to one of America's favorite pastimes. This particular set of sentences honors legend, Lou Gehrig.

Once the sentence strips are cut out, students read each sentence to determine the category and place the sentence below the category label. A recording sheet and answer key are also provided.

Story Elements

A second ELA area that is often reviewed or introduced early in the school year is story elements: Characters, Setting, Plot. This Freebie assists your instruction and provides students practice in identifying and explaining the setting of a narrative.
Click the picture to preview the Free product.

A graphic organizer setting map and sample are included in the Freebie. Also provided are questions that can be used for class or group discussion as well as for written response. These resources can be applied to any narrative form.

                               Place Value Freebie

Many district math curriculum maps begin the year with Place Value. In keeping with the seasonal time of year, these task cards ask questions about the number of pumpkins in the pumpkin patch. Understanding that ten ones is the same one ten and that ten tens is the same as one hundred is the key to place value. Solving the riddles help students to grasp that concept.

Click on the picture to preview the product. 

Each of these Practice Freebies is part of a larger product that provides additional resources and more practice. If you like any of the above treasures, check out the ones below. "They be worth their weight in gold, me hearties!"

Kinds of Sentences Sort will provide 30 more sentences to sort.   

Novel Study Resources includes graphic organizers for all story elements, theme, vocabulary, and summaries and can be used with all narratives,     picture book stories, and chapter books.

Pumpkin Patch Place Value Riddles has 32 additional task cards giving your students the opportunity to build their understanding of multi-digit numbers.

Happy Sailing, Buckos!  See you next month!