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Text to Self Connections with Me and My Family Guided Reading with a Purpose


On week three in first grade we begin to make connections with literature. The is key to getting children to love, relate, and engage in books. The first connections we make are text to self connections. The perfect unit to teach this concept is family.  Above you can see some of the anchor texts I use throughout this unit. This is right around Grandparent's Day so we like to integrate that into our unit as well.  We begin by reading Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon. This book teaches students to be proud of who they are and stand up for themselves. I follow the same steps each day with each story. After reading, we share our connections and I post them on sticky notes. After we have shared, they go and write their own idea on paper pencil and add an illustration. For writing on this day I like to also read, I Like Myself. It is a really quick read and helps us get our ideas flowing for our writing. We make a self portrait and a tall writing piece on this day and make a list of characteristics about ourselves. They are really cute up on their lockers.


 I also like to begin our family portraits on this day by having the students create themselves. We put them in a baggy and add to them each day.

On Day 2 we read "What Mommies and Daddies do Best" by Laura Numeroff. Then we share connections about our parents or guardians.  I also love to read Weird Parents by Wood. This is a funny story about parents who love to embarrass their children. (one of my favorite things to do) After reading and connecting, we make our parents and/or guardians. We also do this sort below with Parent/Children or Both.


On the third day we discuss siblings and what that word means. We read What Brothers and Sisters Do Best by Laura Numeroff.  Of course there are also children who have no siblings. We make sure to make them feel included by also discussing cousins and close friendships.  On this day we follow the same format and then we create our siblings and or pets. If it is an only child, they can make someone else special in there family. Below you can see how we glue them on black paper and how adorable they turn out. 


On Thursday we read my favorite story, "The Family Book". This book addresses the concept that all families look different. It provides a variety of examples of different families which will make any child feel like their family is special.  I like to do the word sort below that shows characteristics of some and all families. This year the children were amazed at how long the "some" side was. To lead into our writing for the day, we do the can, have and are chart. Then we go back and write about our own families. 


As a fun culminating project, we make these family rainbows. They are very easy to make, and it really brings home the idea that not all families look the same. It is a glyph activity and each color represents someone different in their family.  They are super pretty in the hallway too.


On the last day we discuss grandparents. We read What Grandmas & Grandpas Do Best by Numeroff. I also like to read  How to Babysit Grandma or Grandpa by Reagan for the text to self connection too. I change it up from year to year. We work on all of our grandparent's day activities and make our grandparents. They always turn out so cute. Then we invite grandparents in for lunch. We ask the parents to send in cookie donations. During our lunch, I introduce myself and I do a quick slide show of things the children wrote about their grandparents. Then I give out awards. There is an cupcake (anniversary award) for being married the longest, a gas card (traveled the farthest) and a picture frame (most grandchildren). This was all in place when I came to this school, I can't take credit for these ideas. The children love having them visit their classroom, and I love making a connection to there families.



 Another fun activity we did last year was the family trees. We ran out of time this year but they turn out super cute too.




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Friendship & Retelling GRP Week 2

On week two of Guided Reading with a Purpose we move onto the theme of friendship. We need to build new friends within our classroom and learn the right way to treat one another without leaving anyone out. During this week our focus shifts to retelling. Eventually during the year our retelling will become more detailed but as we begin, we focus on three parts; beginning, middle, and end.
The featured stories I picked are shown below.


We began the week with a little activity called Guess that Story. I read a beginning, middle and end from the cards I created and they have to guess the story. I have 2 sets, one for Goldilocks and the Three Bears and then one for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (You can see them below on the green chart) Next I tell them a very vague beginning, middle and end which they will NOT be able to guess. This brings up the discussion about retelling and including the most important details.

After the introduction, we begin our first story Peanut Butter and Cupcake.  This story is one of my favorites because it is so funny...lots of puns. I love to discuss the title with the class. I always ask them why Terry Border didn't call the story Peanut Butter and Jelly. This year one of my kiddos hit it spot on! She said "That would give the story away!" Once we read the story, we reviewed the characters and setting, went over the discussion questions and then began retelling the story. 


Back at our seats we work on a picture retell. You can see that before cutting out the parts, I read them to the class and we labeled them B, M, or E. Then we glued them in order. We also discuss that the middle is  "most" of the story and will always have more details. For writing you can see I modeled three sentences as my retell. Then we did our own retells and made either peanut butter or jelly. Also above I have some sorting cards. I always have these on hand for early finishers. They come up to the chart and we do these activities together while others finish up...this keeps behavior problems to a minimum.


On day two we read Nugget and Fang. It is a great story of an unlikely friendship. We focus on never judging a book by its cover.  I love this story, the illustrations are amazing. Below you can see the retelling cards and a fun opposite sort. We also review characters and setting too. I keep the routine pretty similar, children love routines.



For writing we wrote about how Fang saved the day. We basically retold just the ending of the story. Of course we had to make Nugget and Fang.


On the third day we read Chester's Way. This is my very favorite Kevin Henkes story. This story talks about accepting others differences and making new friendships. Also Lilly is in this story and she is so much fun. Here are a few pictures from this unit. We sorted the different things the characters like in this story since it is a huge part of the story.




Day 4 is a little extra special because we have a yummy treat.  Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun is a story of a little girl who gets picked on by a boy in the class. One day that boy finds himself stuck and Lucy comes and helps overlooking how he has treated her. In the end she was the bigger person and gained a new friend. It also brings up the idea that life would be boring if we were all same. Lucy loves spaghetti in a hot dog bun.   This was an easy thing to prep for my class. I made 1 box of noodles and added sauce. I cut the buns in half and warmed it up in a microwave. It was a lot of fun and we did a little tally graphing too.


We also discussed other things that might taste good in a hot dog bun. We created our own ideas and wrote about them.  A little text to self connection. 


On our final day we read Do Unto Otters. This story is soooo adorable. We do a little picture and label retell and look closely at some of the key vocabulary. This vocabulary basically sums up the qualities of a good friend. Perfect to end our week on friendship.


As a class we each added a sticky note of what we would like from a friend. We made our cute little otters and they are hung out in the hallway.  


Finally, we ended the week with a fun culminating activity. Students got into groups of three. They picked a book from the week or one that we had read this year. Each person took either the beginning middle or end. Then they presented the story with words and pictures. This was a fun way to celebrate what we had learned plus they were able to work in groups and collaborate.


Here is a sneak peak at some of the fun crafts included. Of course we don't have time to do them all. I like to change it up from year to year too.





If you are interested in checking out this unit, click below.



If you would like to look at my entire year long GRP bundle click below.



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Using Google in my First Grade Classroom to Build Phonemic Skills

 About a year and a half ago I decided to take the plunge and push myself outside of my comfort zone. Our school district was working hard to get Chrome Books into the hands of our students. They were slowly getting rid of the desktop computers and I knew I needed to find a way to utilize them in my first grade classroom. Lucky for me, there are many educators out there who had already taken the plunge and were super helpful in the learning process.  Once I began using them, I realized how easy it actually was, and how motivated and engaged my students were.  Living with 7 of my own kiddos I realize how driven they are by technology. In my own home we have limitations and I feel the same in the classroom. They do not consume us daily but they are definitely a small part of our day.

I knew I wanted to find different ways to make my phonemic learning and word work more digital.  I came up with 4 different activities I use consistently with my students. Usually we practice them together in whole group using the SMART board.  Then I go and assign them using Google Classroom. (The best invention EVER).  I won't harp on Google Classroom too long but I will make a few amazing points on this Google App. It is super easy to send an assignment to your students. It automatically makes an individual copy for each student. The coolest feature is that it allows me to differentiate. I can pick students I want to send assignments to. Not everyone needs to work on the same thing! 

One of our favorite activities to work on is called Turtle out the Word.  This activity is a great way to work on phoneme segmentation. It begins with a word. The students look at the word and say the sounds slowly...like a turtle. Once they have the word identified, they drag the matching picture for the word. In this picture we were working on the diphthong ow for the week. You can see the students up at the SMART board here completing this as a whole group.  By the way..if you have a SMART board it is easy to drag and drop if you make a fist. I have 48 different assignments for Turtle out the Word.


 Here is a sample of what is looks like up close.



Another fun activity we do is called Build a Word. With this activity we focus on segmentation and spelling specific word patterns. Students look at the picture provided. Then they drag and drop the letters to spell the word in the boxes provided. Sometimes the pictures can be tricky so I do like to play them together whenever I get a chance. 


 Here is a before and after picture.



Clip activities came to me from the traditional activity where you use a laminated card and a clip. The process of cutting and laminating all of the cards, only to have them last a year or so was not appealing. Instead my students will work on the same concept but digitally instead. No laminating, copying or cutting for me. During this activity, students look at a picture. They drag the clip the correlating sound in the picture.  Here you can see that we are working on r-controlled vowels. 


Here is an up close picture of an s blend activity.




Finally, one of my favorites was also created to use less paper, time and glue. They are called digital word sorts. I have over 200 different sorts that I can send to my students throughout the year. Students drag and drop the words into the correct column. There are also little yellow frames that can be dragged over the specific phonic focus for the week. 


Here is a photo of us completing it together on the SMART board and individually on the Chromebook. 



I can finally say that I have completed all of the skills I use in my first grade classroom and have them organized for each week of our learning next year. It was a long process but so worth it. Once they are done, there is only one thing left to do, send them to the kids.  This MEGA BUNDLE contains 333 different assignments you can use with your students throughout the entire year. It is an all access phonemic pass. It covers initials sounds, final consonant sounds, cvc words, short vowels, cvcc words, long vowels, cvce words, vowel teams, digraphs, diphthongs, r-controlled vowels, blends, and word endings. I took the plunge on Google and have never looked back.

































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First Week of School with Rules and Routines


What will you be doing your first week of school? We  usually have a few days on our first week of school. During that time I usually read "First Day Jitters", "Kissing Hand", "If you Take a Mouse to School", or "Froggy Goes to School". On the first full week of school we begin our Rules and Routines Unit from Guided Reading with a Purpose. The focus of this unit is to discuss classroom rules and routines while we learn about characters and setting from a story.  Below you will see the 5 anchor text I use to teach characters and setting.  


To make it extra exciting and fun for the students, I try to dress up like a character from a book and create different settings daily. This gets them really excited to come to school each day and creates anticipation.  Last year they were trying to guess who I would dress up like the next day. Here are a few pictures from last year. It is nothing elaborate.. I just bought a few hats off of Etsy. I do realize this is a little over the top but that tends to be how I roll.


On the first day, I only focus on characters. I begin with a game called "What's in my Bag?". Slowly I take an image out of my bag and put it on our chart. Once we have all of the characters out of the bag, we brainstorm what they all have in common. The idea is to get them to understand the term character.   Here is an example.


This anchor chart is then on display for the week. On day two, we learn about settings.  We play this game again but this time the pictures include different settings. 


I also set up a mystery setting at their tables. Each day they come in and they have to guess where they are at for the day. I just went to the dollar store and purchased items around the same theme. Here are a few snapshots of some of the settings I created. Can you guess what they were?
(beach, bathroom, pet shop, birthday party)


During the week, we read a different story each day and worked on shared activities. We do 1 to 2 worksheets each day and discuss parts of the story using the colorful cards I have created. 





Of course we had to sneak in a few crafts throughout the week. Here are the ones included. I never have time to do them all so I pick and choose. I like to provide choice also. My students picked which teacher they wanted to make from Miss Nelson is Missing and which student from The Recess Queen. 


Here is their finished work. I love their interpretation...so cute.


Finally, we ended the week with a fun sharing project. I don't like to give out homework or projects that ends up being a parent project. Since I have 7 children I feel the parent's pain in that area.  This assignment was optional. I told them to bring in something that represented a favorite character or setting from a book and we would try to guess it.  This is the perfect activity to address the "Speaking and Listening" standards. It was almost like show and tell for them. They loved it. We had a variety of things brought in but I'm pretty sure Captain Underpants got the most laughs.


This is the first week in a 40 week series of units that teach a specific standard and skill. Some teachers call it "Shared Reading". In my school this is our large group guided reading time. It is a wonderful opportunity to present a new concept to the whole class and work on building listening comprehension. In all honesty it is my favorite part of the day. It leads into our writing and sets the tone for the day. 

Here is what others have said about this unit.
"I loved the first GRWAP file that I bought so much, that I purchased others! Lots of resources to choose from. Clear teaching points and great ideas!"
"Very thorough and engaging! The students love the book choices."
"I love the literature connection! Very enjoyable and complete!"


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