Monday, November 23, 2015

Actual Size {Animal Measurement Facts Book}- Must Read Mentor Text

Happy Monday and Happy Thanksgiving Week!
Today's Must Read Mentor Text is called Actual Size by Steve Jenkins. I love all of his books! They are fabulous! And the illustrations are amazing! The artwork portrays the animals at actual size. So cool!
Here is a description from
"Just how big is a crocodile? What about a tiger, or the world’s largest spider? Can you imagine a tongue that is two feet long or an eye that is bigger than your head? Sometimes facts and figures don’t tell the whole story. In this visually stunning book, seeing is believing as Steve Jenkins illustrates animals both large and small at ACTUAL SIZE."

This book is a Must Read Mentor Text for Math, but it actually is great for Science too! One animal is depicted on each page, and there are a couple of facts to accompany it. The facts include measurements like the size of the animal's eyes or teeth, or the weight of the animal, or the height or length, etc. 
You can read the book as an introduction to your measurement unit or use it at the end to review and extend student learning. Students are fascinated by the illustrations, and they are always blown away by all of the facts! You can discuss vocabulary like height, length, weight, and units of measure. Depending on the grade level, you can even have the students do some conversions between units like feet to inches. Another math skill you can work on is comparing numbers and measurements. Since the illustrations depict the actual animal sizes, it is very easy to compare the animals as well. 
In Science, I like to use the book to discuss animal adaptations. It's a fun way to get students thinking critically. After you read the page, ask the students Why? For example, Why does a giant anteater have a two-foot long tongue? What does it use that for? and then ask why don't cats or dogs have tongues that long? It helps students to realize and understand the importance of each animal's unique adaptations. 

At the back of the book, there are short informational paragraphs about each animal. Additional facts are listed. These are great to extend your conversations about animal adaptations.
After reading the book, as an extension activity, you can have each student research an animal and share measurement facts as well as adaptation information. They love researching animals, and it's a great way to connect writing, math, and science!
I hope you and your students enjoy this cool text! Have a great week and a very Happy Thanksgiving!  :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Using Collaborative Posters to Ensure Small Group Participation

Happy Wednesday, Friends!

We are blogging over at the Primary Peach today to share a "Helpful Harvest" tip!

Please click the images above to go check it out!
Have a great day! We're almost to Friday!!!  :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

What Was the First Thanksgiving Reading Freebies- Must Read Mentor Text

Today's Must Read Mentor Text is just in time for Turkey Day! It's titled What Was the First Thanksgiving? by Joan Holub.
This chapter book is a simple and engaging way to teach your students about the First Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims, and life on the Mayflower. I love using it as a read aloud in my classroom the weeks before Thanksgiving or during our Colonial America unit. I've also used it in small groups. The students LOVE it because it is written in a way that is easy to understand, and the illustrations and photographs aid in their comprehension of the text. Even struggling students and reluctant readers enjoy it and are able to participate. 

The book is broken up into 11 short chapters (105 pages total). If you don't have time to read the whole book, you can just read aloud (or have students read) certain pages or chapters that apply to what you are teaching. :)

We've made some Reading FREEBIES that you can use with your students as you move through the book! Students can complete these as you read the text aloud, or you can put the book at a center for students to refer to as they are working on the Reading sheets. Click here or just click the images below to download these FREEBIES in out TpT store.

Also, within the chapters there are extra informational pieces to give additional background to the students. These pages are perfect for close reading!
The book contains illustrations in each chapter, but also has great photographs too!

We hope that you and your students enjoy this book as you study about the First Thanksgiving! :)
Have a great week!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Teaching about Colonial America- Books and Resources

Hi, Friends!  Today we are linking up with Carla from Comprehension Connection for her Thematic Thursday (even though we are a day late!), and this week's topic is Colonial America! Please click her button below to go check out all the awesome ideas that you can use in your classroom! There are so many! You will be set!  :)
Colonial America is always one our favorite units to teach! The students LOVE it because it is so much fun to hear America's story- they are always amazed to learn about what life was like then!

Here are some of our favorite books to use. We always start with reading about the lost colony of Roanoke- the kids get enthralled with the story! Then, we talk about Jamestown and Plymouth before moving into the 13 colonies.

The book, You Wouldn't Want to Be an American Colonist also grabs the students' attention. The whole series of You Wouldn't Want...books is fantastic! We actually did a Must Read Mentor Text post about this series of books. Click here to see how we used this series of books and make sure to download the freebie (the link to download is in that post)! The freebie is a poster for the students to make showing what they learned about why you wouldn't want to be an American colonist.
In addition to reading great texts about Colonial America, we also use nonfiction articles to teach our students everything they need to know. We created these articles because our text book didn't quite have the information we needed, and it wasn't written in a way that our students could understand. We paste the articles into our Social Studies notebooks and use the accompanying interactive notebook activities and flip books to take notes. We LOVE using the articles because they are written in kid friendly language, they promote great discussion, and our students can highlight and take notes right on them! It really keeps them engaged and helps them to understand the information better. 
After we finish reading and discussing the articles together, the students answer the comprehension questions that follow each article. Sometimes we use these for morning work or homework, and they are great for assessment grades as well! The questions are an easy way to check for comprehension and review the students' learning. Just the click the pictures to check out the articles available in our TpT store.
We also compiled some other resources, ideas, and freebies in a Sunday Sharing Post from the end of October. Here is the image. Just click to download it and then click on the individual images in the download to go to those resources!
We hope you found some helpful resources to use during your study of Colonial America! Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Turkey for Thanksgiving Ready to Go Lesson Activities- Must Read Mentor Text

Happy Monday! Today's Must Read Mentor Text is one of my favorites for's such a fun Thanksgiving story!

It's A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting.
This fun and surprising story is always one of my students' favorites! This book is great for first, second, and third grade! I use it in fourth grade too because I LOVE it so much!  :)  It makes me smile each time I read it. 

Here is a description from "Mr. and Mrs. Moose invite all their animal friends for Thanksgiving dinner and the only one missing is Turkey. When they set out to find him, Turkey is quaking with fear because he doesn't realize that his hosts want him at their table, not on it.

You can use this book in so many ways! Making Predictions is a great skill to focus on with this book, because the story seems to be very predictable- even the illustrations make you predict that Turkey will be "on" the table and not "at" the table. 
It's also great for cause and effect and sequencing, as well as summarizing. I love to use the "Who Wanted But So" method for summarizing. 

Who: Mrs. Moose
Wanted: a turkey for Thanksgiving
But: she didn't have one
So: Mr. Moose searched for a turkey and brought one back for her. Turkey was afraid he would be eaten for dinner, but he was really a guest at the Thanksgiving dinner table! 

Students can also make lots of inferences with this story- sometimes simple stories are great for inference practice! :) For example, how is Turkey feeling at certain points in the story or why are the other animals helping Mr. Moose find Turkey- students have to read and listen to the text closely to make those inferences. The author, Eve Bunting, uses vivid language to help the reader make inferences. They use evidence from the text plus their own thinking to help them infer.

This text is also fabulous to use in your Grammar and Writing lessons! There is dialogue between the characters, so you can work on quotation marks and dialogue tags. The author uses vivid verbs and amazing adjectives- I have my students keep a list in their writing notebooks of the strong word choice she uses. 

There is also figurative language and great descriptive language throughout the story. I love how the reader can experience Mr. Moose's turkey hunt through the author's detailed writing- "snow crunched under his hooves" and "the earth smelled of ice and moss." It would be great to have the students analyze how the author brought the story to life- how she used the "show not tell" strategy. You can create an anchor chart describing the setting of the story- what do the characters see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and feel? The author didn't just say it was cold. She described it. I love modeling how authors do this in narrative writing, so my students can try it in their own writing.

Also, we have made a unit to accompany this book if you would like to check it out- it has everything you need to teach this fun Thanksgiving story in your classroom!

Thank you for visiting us! Hope you and your students enjoy A Turkey for Thanksgiving too!
Have a great week!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fossils Tell of Long Ago- Monday's Must Read Mentor Text

Happy Monday and Happy November! Time is flying by!

Today's Must Read Mentor Text is all about fossils! When I taught fossils in third grade, this was always one of my favorite books to use! It's called Fossils Tell of Long Ago by Aliki.
This book is a great way to introduce your students to fossils! I always read it at the beginning of my fossils unit.

I started by creating a KWL chart together to see what they already knew. I like to make mine on chart paper and then give students sticky notes. They write down what they already know and and what they want to know on different colored sticky notes. Then they can come up and share their thinking with the class as they place their sticky notes on the chart. I found that this really helps encourage participation because they love writing on sticky notes and then coming up and sharing. A lot of times I let them work with a partner too so they can discuss their thinking together.

After we created our chart of what we knew and wanted to know, I gave the students another colored sticky notes to write down what they learned as we read the book. I love to have students think about their learning! Having them write down facts they learn helps to hold them accountable as I read aloud. They are actively engaged! I usually read a few pages and encourage them to write down some things they are learning- I tell them they don't have to write down everything, but to pick things that really stand out to them. I stop every few pages to call on a few students to share what they have learned and add it to our chart. I also stop and have the students turn and talk to each other about what they have written- this way everybody has to share and is participating. When I stop along the way I can also address misconceptions that the students may have had- things they thought they "knew" that changed when they heard me read the book.

As I read the book aloud, I also pointed out key vocabulary that I knew we would be working on during our study of fossils. This was a good way to preview the words. The illustrations are also so informative, and they really help the kids understand how fossils form! If you have a document camera, you can project some of the illustrations up and have the students "read" the pictures- they can add new learning from the illustrations to their sticky notes.
When I finished the read aloud, we added our sticky notes to the learned section of our chart and discussed misconceptions, more questions that we had, etc. Because all of the sticky notes couldn't fit on our class chart, I had the kids stick some in their science notebooks- that way they could still refer back to their new learning. 

I LOVE studying fossils because they are so much fun! We made imprint fossils out of play dough and clay, and the students loved that! There are so many cool experiments and activities out there!

We have a couple of fossils products available in our TpT store if you want to check them out! The nonfiction articles and flip books are great for interactive notebooks, and the accompanying comprehension sheets are a great way to assess student learning. There's also an All About Fossils Printables Pack that is great for review!

Thanks so much for checking out this week's Must Read Mentor Text! Have a great week!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monkey Business and Idioms- Must Read Mentor Text

Happy Monday!

Today's Must Read Mentor Text is all about IDIOMS! This is always one of my favorite lessons to do with my students because idioms are so much fun!

The book I use to introduce idioms is called Monkey Business by Wallace Edwards. It's fabulous! The illustrations are absolutely amazing in this hilarious text!
I start my lesson by discussing what idioms are with my students- I try to find out what they already know about idioms, idioms they have heard before, etc. We make an anchor chart defining idioms and examples we know. We also talk about WHY authors use idioms in their writing and how they can use idioms in their own writing. 

Because the illustrations are so detailed, this is a book that takes a little longer to read aloud. I stop on each page to discuss the idiom and analyze the illustrations. We talk about what the idiom is saying and what it actually means. I like to place the book under my document camera so it can be projected up on my whiteboard for all the students to see. If you don't have access to a document camera, you can have your students sit up at the floor with you so they can see the illustrations clearly or have the book available for the students to look at later after you finish the lesson (this is one my kids always ask to borrow and read again!) 

In our notebooks, we make a list of the idioms discussed in the book and what they actually mean. We don't list all of them- there are so many! But, I like for the kids to have a reference so that they can look back at these idioms when they are doing their own writing.
After we finish the book, we make idiom posters! The students love this! They get to choose an idiom (could be from the text or not) and they create a poster with an illustration of an idiom and what the idiom actually means. The illustrations are usually quite funny!
If you are looking for a fun way to teach idioms, this book is a must! I found it a few years ago, and it has remained a go to text for my figurative language unit. I hope you and your students enjoy it!
Have a great week and thanks so much for stopping by to hear about this week's Must Read Mentor Text!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sharing Sunday: November Lesson Ideas with lots of Freebies!

We're so excited to be participating in Sharing Sunday at the Primary Peach Blog! There are TONS of awesome resources here to help you plan for November!  :)

Here are some great resources to get your November planning started! Click on the images below to download the PDF. Then, click around on all of the images to visit those resources- clicking on the pictures will take you straight to them!

Make sure to visit The Primary Peach to see other posts sharing amazing resources!

We hope you find some helpful ideas!  :)

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