Animals in Winter Guided Reading with a Purpose Week 19

Animals in Winter Guided Reading with a Purpose Week 19

This year after winter break, we will begin our Animals in Winter book using my Guided Reading with a Purpose series. This unit is week 19 of a 40 week MEGA BUNDLE.  This was previously my hibernation unit but as I updated it, it became much more than that.  These are the five featured texts that I will be using to teach this unit to my first graders.  One of the books you can see was written by me.  It comes in both a paper pencil version for the students or this colorful version that is projectable or can be printed.  I like to project the color version on my SMART board and give the students the paper pencil version to use at their seats.  We do a lot of highlighting and writing write in this book. I like to include one book that I make so students can really look at all of the non-fiction text features.  

Of course it isn't a fun unit without a little crafting.  Here is a sneak peek at the crafts I've created.  The bear craft where the students tear the paper is one that I do every year. This year I added a few more.  The main focus of this unit is checking for understanding. Students will learn this strategy using these 5 books. I chose a unit that had both fiction and non-fiction because I want to teach them to check for understanding in both kinds of text. 

We will begin our unit with Animals in Winter by Bancroft.  This is a simple book that explains 4 different things animals can do in the winter... hibernate, migrate, prepare for winter, or do nothing.  After reading this book we will check for understanding using activities included in the packet.  Then we will sort and discuss information from the text. Here is a sample chart we will create.

On day 2, we will read my digital/paper pencil book.  We will be reviewing non-fiction text features specifically the table of contents, headings, glossary and bold-faced words.  Then we check for understanding. Here are some fun charts that we complete together and I also keep them out for students to complete when we do rotations.  This are taken from the book we read.  

Our animal chart also changes as we will now have more fun things to add as well as more animals that we have learned about. 

Finally, to conclude the non-fiction portion of checking for understanding we read Hibernation by Kosara.   The pictures included are wonderful.  This is also a great opportunity to discuss the idea that not all non-fiction books contain headings, table of contents and so on.  After reading this book, we look at statements from this book and brainstorm possible headings that would make sense. 

We can add a few more categories to our chart after reading this book as well... torpor and estivate.
Here is a peek at our chart after completing all of the non-fiction books.

Now, on to fiction books.  It was hard to pick but I just love these two books.
First I chose to use Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming. It is a simple book but gets the idea across and introduces animals that hibernate through a fiction text.  The ending is kind of funny too. After reading this book we review the characters and do a retelling.  

Then we learn how to check for understanding using a fiction text.  

Finally, this year we will end our unit using this new book, "A Loud Winter's Nap" by Katy Hudson. It is absolutely adorable.  I can't wait to read it to my class. We are definitely going to make the turtles that go with this fun craft.  We will again review characters and setting and then we will do a character analysis of the turtle.  The students love to do these sorts more than once so they are fun to leave out in a center if you have the space.  

This unit comes with other fun activities to do during word work as well. I like to include lesson plan ideas as a frame work to show how I implement this unit in my classroom. Here is a peek at those plans.

Even though my main focus is on the five texts mentioned above, I do include activities to go along with a few more stories.  I love Hibernation Station and Bear Snores On.  There are a lot more activities for Bear Snores On because I LOVE that series written by Karma Wilson but both texts are great additions to a long day or if you want to extend the unit into more than one week's worth of material.  

If you are interested in this oldie but newly updated goodie, check it out.


Pumpkin Pie in a Cup

Pumpkin Pie in a Cup - First Grade Roars!

Pumpkin pie in a cup was an idea that came to me last year when we were planning our annual turkey soup Thanksgiving feast.  After talking with my teammates, we realized we were making this soup and no one was eating it. So I thought it would be fun to make something with the kids.  Sometimes when they are part of the creating, they are more willing to try it.  So with the idea in my head, I began to experiment with the ingredients.  This is what I purchased at the store.

Next, I just measured and tested.  Nothing went to waste as I have 7 kids who were vey willing participants with the tasting portion that is.  However, one little helper wanted in on the action.

Charlie and I love to bake. It helps that her sitter loves to bake too.  She is always helping out. Here is a photo of the finished product.  Believe me when I tell you, it is really yummy. 

The day before we completed this at school, I made sure to have all of my goodies prepped.  There is a donation sign up sheet that I sent home so I didn't have to purchase anything.  I am so grateful to work where my parents are willing to help out with fun things like this.  

Before we begin the process, we predict if we think we will like it and survey 10 classmates.  

You could do this activity in many ways but I thought whole group was the best option for first grade.  I moved my table in front of all of their tables and we made it together.  They sat at their seat and one volunteer at a time, read from the mini book. Once we knew what to add, I would have a student come up to do it.  I tripled the recipe last year so three students added one ingredient and then I had a mixer.  This allowed everyone to help.  Here are a few photos. 

Once the ingredients are all added, I passed out baggies and graham crackers.  The students crushed up their crackers and put them in their cup.  WARNING: This is a little messy but they LOVE IT!

Once they have their crackers in their cup, I go around and poor the filing in the cups. Finally, I add a little whipping cream on top.  Now we are ready to eat. (THE BEST PART)

I think about 90 percent of the kiddos liked it.  When we were all done eating, we surveyed and graphed our results. Then we made these fun crafts and added them to our door.

This was so much fun and the students learned  while we were making it.  There are math extensions as well as a writing activity that we completed too, later in the day.  If you are looking for a fun little activity to do in October or November, this is it!


5 Reasons why I use Google Apps in my 1st Grade Classroom

I have a confession to make, never in a million years could I have imagined the capabilities of my first graders until I experienced them myself.  Google has proven to be one aspect of learning that I have put off and avoided for years. This past year they proved me wrong! 

5 Reasons why I use Google Apps in my 1st Grade Classroom

In the Fall,  I decided it was time to explore all the avenues that I could to help my first graders gain knowledge using the amazing technology they had at their fingertips.  I took it in baby steps, and by the end of the year I was so happy I had explored all of it.  Truth be told, my first graders were too!  So I want to share with you the 5 reasons why I DID and will CONTINUE to use Google Apps in my classroom.

I differentiate as much as I can in my classroom and technology is the EASIEST way to do so!  When you have activities that are multi-level, you can reach all of your learners.  Google Classroom is AMAZING.  It reminds me of Facebook with posts that continue on your feed.  It is also super EASY.  It lets you select which students you send an assignment to.  In math, I can send out the same kind of assignment, but at different levels. When teaching greater than, less than, or equal to, I can send out an assignment with numbers up to 10, 100, and 1000.  While they are working on their computer, they have no idea that they may all be working on completely different assignments. 

We all know children are more engaged with technology.  In my classroom, I try to change the activities throughout the day to keep their attention.  Technology is one way to do this.  Everyday we used Google Slides to work on math practice during math rotations.  I quickly send out the assignment via Google Classroom.  When they get to the technology rotation, they log into our Classroom and began to work on the assignment.  Believe me, I strongly feel they need paper pencil in the primary grades as well.  However, when you offer instruction in multiple ways you are sure to have student engagement.

 In our school we have something called CORE PLUS.  During this 30 minutes, we ability group the children amongst our 5 first grade teachers. We work in smaller groups on specific skills that children need extra help with.  For the children who are at benchmark, we enrich them by sending them different research projects through Google Classroom. They work independently or with a group of students to research, create their own Google Slides or complete given assignments.
Sometimes children dont get a concept right away and may need extra help.  After reviewing and re-teaching, I can simply send them the assignment again for extra practice.  

Although creating things for Google Classroom can be time consuming, once it is done I have it forever at my fingertips.  The BEST part is... it's paperless ~ no copying. Once you have the activities, you don’t have to print them, collect them, or pass them back out.  You simply send them out, and then they are turned back in digitally.   I have taught my first graders to "turn in" their assignments and NOT email or share them with me. I don't want hundreds of extra emails each day.  I simply go to my classroom to see who is done and who is still working.  I can add comments to their assignment all from my computer at home.  The BONUS~ I don’t have to take anything home with me.  If I feel an assignment needs more work, no problem.  I  taught my students how to unsubmit an assignment, read my notes, and complete it again.  Yes, in 1st grade!

 We all HATE testing but lets be honest, it isn’t going away any time soon.  In my district, K-2 teachers do as much as they can to prepare our students for testing which begins in 3rd grade.  In my school district, the state testing is all done online using Chromebooks.  So why not help them prepare by working on skills such as dragging and dropping, typing, and logging onto computers using passwords.  Of course we work on the academic piece too, but moving them forward with technology while they are young can only help. 

This year I have learned to never underestimate my first graders with technology.  I also learned to push my self to learn new things.  Yes it was uncomfortable and scary at times but I learned so much.  My students left my room with fantastic technology skills that they can continue to use in second grade. 

They love it so much, they asked me to assign them things over the summer.  To make things fair, I opened up a Google Classroom for our entire first grade.  We are taking a trip around the world to the 7 continents.  So far they have been to Australia.  Next up is Asia~ I'm still working on those resources.  It has been a fun way to connect with them over the summer too!  

I hope you take the plunge if you haven't.  If my first graders can do it, so can yours!  Also, there are so many "How To" videos, there is no excuse!  

I am just beginning my journey of creation, but there are already so many wonderful things out there for you to explore.  Teachers pay Teachers is filled with rich activities that you can use with your students. Click Here!
 If you would like to peek as some of the things I have shared with my students, click HERE.

As always, thanks for listening~ love what you do and do what you love!


Small Group Guided Reading Prepped with a Freebie

Do you struggle to plan and differentiate your SMALL GROUP GUIDED READING? This was a huge problem for me until I found a great solution. Now it is as easy as pie and my favorite thing to prep!

Small Group Guided Reading Prepped with a Freebie

Grouping my Students

Yesterday I was so excited to get something checked off of my bucket list for back to school.  I actually planned out my small group guided reading units for my incoming first graders.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Every year the kindergarten teachers give their students the DRA or Diagnostic Reading Assessment before they leave for the summer.  Using that information, I created some dynamic grouping for the Fall.  One thing I have noticed after teaching first grade for 18 years is that the students stay pretty close to that level when they come back in August.  Of course, I will retest them and change them, but that is exactly why my grouping is called "dynamic" will change.  

Based on the DRA, I just add the names to sticky notes.  This is a made-up page because I can't reveal who my new children will be, it is always a surprise for them in August.  I wanted you to see how easily I group them.  I am not wasting any time next year, I want to read with them in a small group as soon as I establish good routines.  

Organization of Materials

So after 18 years of teaching, I feel I have finally mastered this process.  It took me longer than I wanted but I got to my final goal.  As a teacher,  you already have to plan lessons for all of your core subject areas.  On top of that, you are then differentiating small groups of students and making more lesson plans for them.  When I get to the small group planning, I'm exhausted.  I usually have about 5 different groups with 3-5 lessons for each group each week.  That is a lot of extra planning.  So I got smart this year and did a lot of reading and researching on each reading level. I wanted to see what was expected in the reading process.  Then, I created 30 lessons for each level with little to no prep at all.  Just copying a few pages and I was ready to go.  Today I will show you what it looks like for the Level D Binder.  

Let's Peek Inside my Small Group Guided Reading Binder

Here is a picture of the binder.  Inside it is split into 4 sections.  
  1. Teacher Tools: Pre-Assessment, Post-Assessment, Teacher Data Tracking
  2.  30 Typed Lesson Plans that are ready to go.  
  3.  Student Activity Pages- black and white ready to be copied
  4.  Comprehension Activities that you can add to each lesson when needed. 

The ONLY thing not included are the books!

Lesson Plans

So here is where I begin.  I like to prep only 5 lessons at a time because children grow and change quickly.  Also, I'm kind of taking a guess in the beginning. If I'm off, 5 lessons won't be too long.

Here is a picture of 5 Level D lessons.  There is some repetition however, the main activities change amongst the days.  You can copy them and staple them for each group but I don't.  

You can see the binder on the left and the stapled packet on the right.  I put all of my lesson plans in clear sleeves and keep them right in the binder. Now they are no prep.  At the bottom, I place a sticky note in the "book & comprehension focus section" where I add what will be done if I choose to do so.  Simple and effective. 

Student Work

For the students, I prep a packet for them.  On the left, you can see a set of packets with ____'s Guided Reading Journal.  I copy five lessons and staple them.  So you could see what is inside, I laid out one packet.  The first 3 pages are vowels, strategies, chunks, digraphs, etc.  Whatever is discussed at this level.  During our lessons, we refer to these pages for singing and saying the sounds that they make.  At the bottom are the 5 activity pages.  In addition, there are three cut and glue activities.  I pre-cut them and put the lesson that they go with.  You can see my sticky note #5. 

 Yesterday, after I knew my levels, I went to school and copied my packets for 5 different groups.  It literally took my 10-15 minutes. 
In addition to the black and white posters, I also made colorful teaching posters for each level.  I laminated these and keep them in the binder to use when I meet with the children.

Choosing Books

After I copied my packets, I went to my leveled reading bin and pulled the books I wanted to use.  For each level, I choose two books to work with, one fiction and one non-fiction.  We have a leveled book collection but we also have a membership to Reading A-Z.  Sometimes, as I get to know my students, I print paper books so we can highlight, chunk and write in them.  This is especially important for my lower levels. 


Next, I printed the comprehension pages.  Here is a peek at all the strategies that are included for Level D.  I also include colorful posters to go with the strategies for teaching purposes.

 Finally, I copy the pre and post-assessment as well as the data tracking sheets.  I three-hole punch them and keep them in my box on a clipboard.  While I am working with the students or after working, I fill out the data form.  So here is a peek at what my bin looks like when I'm finished. 

Once I have filled out the entire tracking sheet, I add it to my Data Binder.  I made this fun cover which you can grab for free today and use in your own classroom!

I found these amazing number tabs at Office Max.  I use them to separate my students.  I give each first grade a number.  Once the Guided Reading Notes are complete, I put them behind their number.  I also add the pre & post assessment too.  When it comes time for progress reports or conferences, I have everything on each child separated out. 

Here is a picture of it altogether. My container, binder, posters, books, and student activity packets.

At the table, I like to keep these things handy.  I have a mini easel I bought at Meijers for my reading strategy cards, pencils, pointers, glue sticks, scissors, and some fun comprehension dice.

So that's it.  I never have to write a full lesson plan for small group guided reading again! I already did it for you.  I was able to prep all 5 boxes last night in a half hour.

Remember that freebie I promised, well here it is!  I also included these fun little Guided Reading Group Labels 1-8.  DATA BINDER COVER & LABELS.  

I have levels A-O done. CLICK HERE to check them out!

Thanks for reading, I hope you were able to grab a few housekeeping ideas for your guided reading!  
As always, love what you do and do what you love!

Back to Top