Simple Vocabulary Activities for ANY Word Study

I'm back from a two-day conference in Oklahoma where I got to meet and talk to so many amazing Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers.  It was definitely a busy two days, but so much fun!!  I absolutely love working with teachers!!!  

One of the sessions I presented was all about vocabulary.  I'm such a huge believer in intentional and explicit vocabulary instruction that not only focuses on academic vocabulary words, but Tier 2 vocabulary words, too.  It's so important for us as teachers to provide our kids with instruction that targets vocabulary retention.  Not only do we want our kids to know what words mean, but we want them to be able to apply what they learn as well.  Did you know that research suggests our kids need between 6-12 exposures to a word for it to become part of their working vocabulary?!  Fascinating!!!  

There are a couple of ways that I like to reinforce vocabulary in my classroom, so let's chat about that today.  These are really SIMPLE activities that can be used with pretty much ANY word you're studying.  

First let's talk about music.  Research has proven that are brains are hard-wired to connect music with long term memory.  It just makes sense to incorporate music into our learning!  I love to make up songs...ridiculously SIMPLE songs that don't require any creativity whatsoever.  You do not have to be Mozart to come up with your own tunes.  When reinforcing vocabulary words, I like to take the definition of the word and sing it to a familiar tune. Here's an example of a song I made up when we were studying winter animals.  One of our vocabulary words was "burrow".  I just incorporated the definition into the song and BAM!!!  A masterpiece...only notsomuch.  

You can use any word & definition with any familiar tune to create a catchy song that will not only enhance learning,but create a lasting memory, too.  Don't like making up songs?!  That's okay!  Release the control and let your kids make them up!!!  DIvide your kids into small collaborative groups and give each group a vocabulary word & definition.  They can collaborate on everything from the tune to the lyrics and everything in between,  What a great way to target those kids who learn best when they have the autonomy to be creative!

Now let's switch gears for a second.  Instead of reinforcing and assessing vocabulary knowledge in a paper/pencil format, engage your kids with a hands-on activity that they are sure to love!  I know mine sure did!!  This activity is great for both small and whole group and it can be done as a transitional activity or part of something bigger.  It's great for reinforcement and assessment.  I think sometimes we feel like ALL assessment has to be paper/pencil based, but it SO does NOT!!!  It can be done aloud  and various settings.  Need documentation?! Just take notes...or a video!

For this activity, place your vocabulary words in one container/bag and the prompts in another bag/container.  Call on one student to reach into the bags/containers and remove a vocabulary word and a prompt.  The student has to do what the prompt suggests using the vocabulary word they removed from the container.  Simple and easy.  Great way to reinforce learning and perfect for a quick assessment.  Always a class favorite and SO easy to incorporate into instruction!!!

What activities do you like to incorporate for vocabulary study?!

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Writing Interventions, Guided Reading, Behavior, & Vocabulary (with Freebies!)

Yesterday I had the privilege of talking to some of the most wonderful teachers in the Texas teachers!!!  Okay, so I'm a little biased ;)   Honestly was such a GREAT day in Austin.  SO much to cover!!  Writing interventions, guided reading, behavior management, and vocabulary!  This is how I typically feel after a day full of talking...

Hahaha!!  I absolutely love it!  The exhaustion is most definitely worth it!  

I promised my Texas teachers I'd pop-in today and leave a few goodies to download :)  If you attended my Writing Intervention session, you might remember me talking about the visual resources my kids keep in their desks.  They're used specifically for writers workshop.  These checklists are great for keeping kids on task and helping them self correct/self monitor when writing independently.  The checklist on the very bottom of the graphic below is great to keep them on track during the writing process.  The first visual on that checklist is a light bulb.  I have the kids place a counter on top of that light bulb when they're thinking about what they're going to write.  Then they move to the little drawing girl when they're sketching, the boy with paper when they're writing, the boy reading when they're editing/rereading their work, and then finally the teacher/students when they're ready to share their writing with me.   I can walk around and quickly assess where everyone is in each stage of their writing and help where needed.

The writing checklist is laminated and kept in their desk as well.  I have them take these out when they think they're finished with their writing.  I want them to check for capitals, spacing, punctuation, etc. and this checklist has really helped them through the editing process.  Some of my kids will even keep this checklist visible as they're writing to self monitor as they go along.  The WWW.WHAT.HOW is just a mnemonic device I like for them to keep handy as a reminder to add all of those elements to their story.  If they can go through the list and check them all off when they reread their story, then it's probably time to share it with me.  If they can only check off a few, they need to write a little longer and add a bit more to their story.

If you're interested in reading more about how I run Writer's Workshop....and some different things I do for writing in my can check it out HERE

And how about Guided Reading?!  I feel like I should dedicate an entire post to this, so I'll be back soon with more info on Guided Reading and a few best practices I've picked up the last 14ish years ;)  I'm no expert, but hopefully some of the things I was able to share was helpful for you and maybe gave you a better understanding of how guided reading works!

I chatted about sight words and sight word mastery in this session and promised I'd come back and link to the sight word list I use.  Here's the downloadable version of that list.  Click HERE to grab your copy.

You can grab more FREE downloads and ideas by clicking through THIS POST below.

And don't forget about this INVALUABLE resource I mentioned yesterday!!!  LOVE this book!

The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader

We also chatted about different ideas and activities to target various skills during the "warm-up" block of your guided reading instruction.  Here are a few we use in my classroom.

Read about the activities in this resource HERE.

In the meantime, happy reading!!!  Check back soon for more guided reading activities, ideas, and freebies!!!!!!

If you were in my session on behavior management, we talked about these fabulous punch cards from Rachelle at What the Teacher Wants.  Head on over to her blog to grab this great freebie!!!

I also mentioned wearable rewards and reward coupons that Amy Lemons at Step into Second Grade has available on her blog for FREE!!!!! Love them!!!

Lastly, if you were in my vocabulary session, don't forget to grab this FREE vocabulary mini booklet.  These are perfect for word work or small group work...even that "peanut butter & jelly" time we talked about :)

We finished with an explanation of this activity and because it was the end of a LONG day, I wanted to leave this here in case you forgot about it or needed a visual to remember the details!
You can read more about that activity HERE.

Whew!!!  Hope this is helpful!!!  Thank you so much for coming out!  It was such a pleasure meeting each and every one of  you!!!  God bless Texas!!!  :)

February Science!

Last week I got to travel to Columbus for a quick day of fun and learning.  Of course, it was FREEZING in Ohio and this Texas girl forgot her jacket at home.  Praise God for heaters.  I'd say it was a nice change of pace compared to what we're experiencing in these parts, but NO.  It was not.  I'm convinced it shouldn't be that cold anywhere!!  Ha!!!  My husband has decided that we need to take the boys skiing over Spring Break (I've never been!) and so I fully plan on sitting by the fire sipping a hot chocolate cocktail while the boys tough it out in the cold.  That's something I  can handle.  And I won't forget my jacket (fingers crossed).

This week I'm planning for the Texas 1st conference set for next week and I'm really excited about traveling to Austin!  My favorite Texas city :)  I'm even more excited about meeting lots of new faces and sharing what I love best!!  We're gearing up to talk about writing interventions, guided reading, behavior management, and vocabulary.  EXCITED!!!!  

Speaking of vocabulary, I wanted to share with y'all the latest project that my dear friend, Abby, and I just finished up.  The Science of February!!  After lots of great feedback from our Science of January activities, we decided we'd keep the project ongoing until we have a year's worth of detailed science plans with cross curricular connections to math and ela.  They're a labor of love and we're so excited y'all have been able to use these lessons and activities in your classrooms!

We're all ready for February and next month's themes include light, the human heart, candy,and dental health.  Eeek!!!  Here's an idea of what's included...

Lots of vocabulary.  Lots.  Four weeks worth of vocabulary words, cards, games, activities, and comprehension checks.  It's been so much fun to put an emphasis on words and we have the best time coming up with hands-on ideas to make the most of learning.   

The organization of these resources is one of my favorite things about it.  At the start of each week we provided a recommended book list corresponding with the activities planned.  By NO means are the books necessary for the activities because the activities can definitely stand on their own!!!  We just like to include books based on our experience and texts that we feel would be perfect paired with the lessons.  We also included two non-fiction texts that we wrote to correspond with two of the themes that were lacking in the non-fiction department.  

Of course, the main theme of this resource is science and we LOVE this month's science experiments and activities!!!!  Fizzing hearts, shadows, dissolving candy, and tooth enamel's all included!!  We worked really hard to provide observation logs that follow the scientific process as well.  These are perfect to pop into your science notebooks.  My boys were THRILLED to test out all of the experiments here at home!!!  

In addition to the science and vocabulary, we also included math and ela activities that compliment each day's science lesson pretty well, if I do say so myself ;)  These activities are more than just a paper/pencil kind of thing...they're hands-on, engaging, and meaningful!!  And they'll definitely leave your kids with a lasting impression.  Our main goal in creating these resources is to help you integrate science skills and objectives throughout the day and not limited solely to your science block.

We made sure to include activities and games that would span grades K-2 and can be differentiated or modified as needed.  Again, more than paper/pencil...hands-on and FUN!!!!  And of course, learning a lot in the process :)

If your'e familiar with the Science of January, it can seem a little overwhelming.  I mean, we really get carried away and tend to OVERplan and include more than necessary.  But that's really just a bonus for you because it allows you to pick and choose what will work best for the needs of your classroom.  

I'm not biased or anything, but these monthly science resources might be my favorite thing!!!  Maybe because they were such a labor of love.  I mean, we really try to pour everything we can into creating the most comprehensive and meaningful activities we can...and then plan it all out so that you don't have to!!!!  

Here's what the month looks like at a glance (also included in the resource)....

If you're interested, check out what people are saying about our Science of January resource....

and if you're wanting science planned for you for the month of February, just click on the pic to grab a copy for yourself!  

And hurry!!  Because today and tomorrow it's on sale!!!  20% off  with an additional 10% when using the code START16.

Lots to Cover

Happy Sunday, friends!

I just wanted to pop-in real quick to say "hello!" and give y'all a quick update because I've had several questions about a few resources and I figured this was the easiest and most efficient way to give y'all the details  :)

First up, I'm hoping to see some of my Ohio friends this week at the SDE Ohio K Conference.  This will be a quick trip for me...less than 24 hours in Columbus!...but I'm really excited about getting to share with teachers some of the things I'm most passionate about.  Vocabulary, Behavior Management, Math, and Anchor Activities!!  It'll definitely be a BUSY, but fun!!!, day and I can't wait!!! let's get down to business.  First up, let's talk Science.  Abby and I have had LOTS of questions about our most recent Science cross-curricular resource, The Science of January. You can read more about that resource HERE.  

To answer your questions, YES!  We are in the process of making these available for every month!!  YAY!!!  We hope to release The Science of February next Sunday, the 17th.  We are SO excited about these resources and have absolutely LOVED reading all of the wonderful emails and feedback about The Science of January.  We are beyond thrilled that so many of you have incorporated these activities into your plans and we look forward to bringing you more materials in the months to come.  Here's a sneak peek of The Science of January in action...

And here's a sneak peek of the first week of The Science of February...

Eeeek!!!  Our themes for February will include light, the human heart, candy, and dental health and the science concepts covered will include matter & energy, force & motion, Earth & space, organisms & the environment, and scientific investigation and reasoning.  Be on the lookout if you're interested in including these plans in your instruction.

For my sweet teacher friends who have been asking about my Reading Simple Sentences resources, I just released Reading Simple Sentences - Long Vowels/Silent E.  You can see what these activities include in this post (they're the same for short vowels as well).

Here are the Simple Sentence resources I have available so far.  

I will be adding Simple Sentence resources for digraphs, blends, vowel teams & diphthongs, and r-controlled vowels in the weeks to come.

For those of you who have asked, I do not have any non-fiction penguin resources because there were already so many fabulous resources available.  However, if you're looking for penguin ideas and freebies, head HERE to read what I posted last year.  Lots of ideas and freebies perfect for this time of the year!

And here are some fun and engaging hands-on math and literacy penguin themed centers.  One of our favorite sets!!!

WHEW!  I think that covers it?!  I hope!!! 

Have a WONDERFUL week, friends!!!!  

100th Day Planning & Freebies

I wanted to get a jump start on the 100th day this year since I've talked to so many teachers who are in the process of planning theirs.  This may be premature, but hopefully a few of these ideas will help you as your plan your 100th day celebration this year!!  I know I like to be prepped and ready even though I'm most known for flying by the seat of my pants :)  This is one of those days that deserves thoughtful consideration because it can be SO MUCH FUN for you AND your kids!!!  And SO very full of meaningful learning and content at the same time :) 

For the first few years of my teaching career, I didn't think the 100th day of school was all that.  I mean was special.  SUPER special (for lack of a better description).  But I didn't invest much time in planning because I guess I didn't think it was THAT big of a deal.  Oh, how naive.

As the years passed, I realized I was missing out on a pretty cool celebration.  I started to become a bit more intentional with planning the days festivities.  At the time, that consisted of decorating 100 day crowns, making 100 day Froot Loop necklaces, and indulging in a 100 Day snack.  Perfectly perfect. 

Then I switched schools & districts.  My eyes were opened.  The 100th Day of school was a HUGE deal.  Our whole campus celebrated with a balloon release.  Pretty. stinkin. awesome.

And we reminisced about 100 things we learned in the first 100 days of school...

The I made a big move 4 hours south and started teaching at a Kindergarten campus.  My administrators value and celebrate every milestone and special day you can imagine...homemade t-shirts, parades, the whole 9 yards.  Yes my friends...the 100th Day is a BIG deal.  And I loved watching it all through the eyes of my boys....


I loved celebrating it with my babies just as much.  But there was NO way I could fit in everything I wanted to (darn you, Pinterest!!!!!).  I couldn't figure out a way to finagle my schedule so that I could attempt to fit it all in.  It's really an impossible feat.  But I sure did the best I could...and we had a pretty amazing celebration.  I compiled everything into a fun little resource we love using every 100th day of school and you can check that out HERE if you're interested.

Then last year's 100th day rolled around and I felt like I **finally** had a system for getting as much out of the day as I possibly could.  I wanted to go all out, but make the day meaningful as well.  I didn't just want a day full of play, but I wanted our activities to be fun as well.  Finally...after 13 years...I found a system that was stress free and it actually WORKED!!!!  And we had a blast!!!  

I decided schedule 8 different 100 day stations throughout our day...we even had time for a 100 day parade, a special snack, and a few read alouds, too!  It really was a perfect day!

After posting all about our 100 day festivities last year, I had several requests to make the station signs, punch cards, and crown templates available.  SO...if you're interested in setting up a successful and stress free 100th day full of rotations, here you go!  A little 100th day freebie for you!  

I hope this helps your planning go smoothly and I hope you love it as much as we did!!!!!

January Science...with Math & ELA, too!

One of the common things I hear almost in every state I visit with every set of teachers who come to my sessions is that teachers are in need of more science resources.  Not just an experiment to do here and there, but science with "meat".  Science activities that have cross-curricular connections and can be fit in at any time during the day.  Science lessons and activities that not only reach specific standards for a set amount of time, but lessons and activities that span a variety of concepts and skills so that instruction and practice can be reinforced through spiral review all year long.  

I get it!  I do!!!  Science is SO very important and yet it seems like there's just not enough time in the school day to do it all.  I mean, isn't science the first thing that always takes a backseat when we're furiously trying to reach all the math and ELA standards...and testing!!!!....we're required to teach and test?!  But really, the kids LOVE science don't they?!  They love to investigate and experiment.  They love non-fiction texts.  They love applying what they know and what they've learned and we have to be able to give them opportunities to do that.  But what happens when we don't have any...or many...resources to work with?!  And how exactly can we carry over our knowledge about science into ELA and Math?  

Well, we've been listening.  We really have!  In fact, my dear friend Abby and I have been racking our brains and working many a late night (with LOTS of caffeine ...and really messy houses) to bring you something that will make planning for science...and cross-curricular connections...effortless.  And let's be real...we could all benefit from a little help with planning!  Amiright?!

Abby and I have just released our first unit in a series of science based resources that includes detailed lesson plans for 4 weeks along with cross-curricular math & ELA activities.  We've included lots of vocabulary, too!  Here's how the month of January looks at a glance....

As you can see, vocabulary is a big focus and that's because it's SO important!  Did you know that there is a 30 million word gap between  economically disadvantaged kids and kids who come from more financially stable households?  WOW.  When you step back and take a look at the bigger picture you can really see how important it is to give our kids...ALL of them...every advantage possible to build their word base.  Not just by introducing words, but incorporating those words in meaningful activities aimed to strengthen their knowledge and encourage their use in everyday language.  Our resource is jam packed with vocabulary cards, science notebook activities, games, and comprehension checks to make this portion of planning easy as pie.

We made sure to include a list of suggested books for each week, although ANY book to which you have access that covers SNOW, ICE, WINTER, & ANIMALS IN WINTER will work beautifully for these activities.  We even included three non-fiction books in this resource that you can print out and bind or project and read.

The main focus of this resource is Science.  Everything else...the vocabulary, craftivities, ELA, and math connections are all centered around these concepts.  Sometimes we look at each subject area as one-dimensional.  I teach math during math block...I teach literacy during our reading block...I teach science...well...when I have time. Ha.  Instead of looking at teaching in blocks, consider integrating all the subject areas together.  That makes it so much easier to fit in skills and objectives when you can integrate it all throughout the day.  That's exactly what this resource provides...a way to help you fit it all in!

For me, personally, I think it's the easiest to integrate science skills and concepts into literacy.  Filling our libraries with concept based alouds....writing.  There are SO many opportunities to integrate science concepts into literacy.   We created this resource with not just a passion for science, but a love of literacy, too.  Some days we're doing good just to fit in ELA and Math, but  we can absolutely fit in Science, too!!!  

I personally LOVE math and will take any thematic opportunity I can to work in other subject areas into my content & instruction.  We made sure to include many math activities to incorporate into your instruction and they're all based on the science concept for each week.  These hands-on math games are great for getting your kids up and moving and providing them with a kinesthetic experience in the content.  We also provided instructions & explanations for differentiating the activities to meet a wide range of learning abilities and experiences.  

 If you've been following Abby and I for any length of time, then you are very familiar with our love of craftivities.  NOT as a filler or something fun, but as a way to provide our kids with a hands-on visual to help them make connections and provide them with tangible experiences in subject matter.  These are not "fluff".   Sure...craftivities are cute..but that doesn't mean they don't have purpose. Just an added dimension to learning that always gets the kids (and me!!!) excited!!!! 

If you're interested in implementing these activities and plans into your classroom, just click on the pic below.  We are SO excited about this resource and can't wait to see how you incorporate it into your plans!!!  This was a labor of love and we hope you love it as much as we do!!!!!