Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother {Must Read Mentor Text for Language Arts}

Hey y'all!

I have a Must Read Mentor Text to share for Language Arts. It's by one of my favorite authors, Patricia Polacco. :)

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother Summary from 
"Featuring an obnoxious, freckle-faced, bespectacled boy and a comforting, tale-telling grandmother, this autobiographical story is as satisfying as a warm slice of apple pie. Patricia can't quite understand how anyone could possibly like her older brother Richard. Whether picking blackberries or eating raw rhubarb, he always manages to outdo her, rubbing it in with one of his "extra-rotten, weasel-eyed, greeny-toothed grins." When their Bubbie teaches Patricia to wish on a falling star, she knows just what to ask for. The next day her wish comes true; although dizzy, she remains on the carnival merry-go-round longer than Richard. Her nemesis turns into her hero, however, when she takes a spill and he carries her home. This warmhearted look at a typical family relationship will strike a familiar chord with siblings of all ages."

I love reading this story to my students. Even if they have heard it before, they always get excited to listen again. The touching book seems to connect with all of us.  :)

The illustration above is priceless! The little sister is determined to beat her older brother, and he relishes in watching her try. 

I used this book with my class this week as we learned about point of view. We pasted in flip flap graphic organizers from our Spring Interactive Notebook Flip Books Pack. We discussed what 1st and 3rd person point of view were, and wrote examples under the flaps. The kids loved the little chicks!

We also reviewed literary elements with the story. We talked about characters, setting (which a lot of students always seem to forget!), plot, and theme. Theme is always a tough concept for my kids. But, I was so impressed with what my students came up with. Some examples- "Be careful what you wish for." "Always take care of your siblings." "You don't have to prove yourself to others." "Everyone is different." "Siblings care about each other, even if they don't show it."

We pasted in another flip book to record the literary elements.

This book also tied in perfectly with our personal narrative unit. We analyzed the author's language and word choice. The students loved how she used similes in her story: "Then an inspired thought comforted me like a fresh breeze on a hot summer day." They also loved her adjectives. Here is one of my favorite sentences: "Richard gave me one of his extra-rotten, weasel-eyed, greeny-toothed grins." I just love the description of his smile. Can't you just see it?!  :) I tried to make the smile for my class, and they all just started cracking up...

We've been talking about bold beginnings and excellent endings in our writing, and at the end of the book, one of my kids said, "Wow. That's a great ending. I really like it. I wish more books ended like that." Other kids agreed. We talked about what the student meant, and we realized that we all liked it so much because it wrapped everything up, and it left us with such strong emotions of happiness. The conflict in the story was solved, but the competitive relationship between sister and brother still lingered in a friendly way. Awwww...Such AMAZING writing! I just LOVE her! :)

We will use this book next week too as we review parts of speech in Language Arts. It is filled with amazing adjectives, vivid verbs and adverbs. 

I hope this book can become one of your favorites too!

If you would like to see our Spring Interactive Notebook Flip Books that I used with this book, please click here. These flip books work with ANY text! I am actually using them with a Social Studies book about government next week. 

Spring Interactive Notebook Activities and Flip Books for

This would be a great time to buy this set since we are having a Spring Cleaning sale and everything in our TpT store is 20% off this weekend!!

Have a great rest of your weekend, and don't forget to link up!

Next week's linky- Math

Sunday, March 23, 2014

George Washington's Socks {Must Read Mentor Text for Social Studies}

Hey there!!

It seems things are crazy busy and we can't get more than one blogpost done a week!  Hopefully things will ease off (ha!  yeah right!) and we can get a little more consistent!  Well, I guess every Sunday is pretty consistent, but you know what I mean right?  I guess I mean we'll blog more often, hopefully!

Anywho, I'm hear to share a must read for Social Studies, especially if you teach the American Revolution!

My must read is George Washington's Socks by Elvira Woodruff.

This is a chapter book that goes right along with the Battle of Trenton.

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:  A mysterious rowboat transports five adventurous kids back in time to the eve of the Battle at Trenton where they experience the American Revolution. Through encounters with Hessian soldiers, revolutionaries, and even George Washington himself, Matthew, Quentin, Hooter, Tony, and Katie watch history unfold before their eyes as they see first-hand, the grim realities of war and the cost of freedom.

Students truly love this book!  It really is amazing!  We are using it right now as our extended text.  All of the students in my LA group are reading it.  Right now, they are reading two chapters a night and then I am picking passages from the chapters they read the next day to highlight with a close read.

I created questions and reading response prompts for each chapter (you can find this product HERE).  I started off having the students answer the questions as part of their homework because I wanted them to READ the book and I knew they'd be hooked with the first chapter.  I don't plan on having them answer questions for each chapter each night, but I do have them respond.  They just paste the response at the top of the page and then respond in their notebooks.
We talked about foreshadowing with Chapter 3.  We did this activity as part of our close read during class time.
It's amazing what you can do with one book!  And all the while that you are reviewing history!  This is a great example of historical fiction!

Stacia is also using it in her class.  She made this super cute chain of character traits with her class!
She asked her students to each name one character trait to describe Matt, the main character. After they named their character trait, the students had to provide evidence from the text to support their trait. If the class agreed that the evidence supported the trait, they added the link to their chain. Stacia said it was awesome to see her students making such great inferences and truly analyzing the character. It was also an excellent way to show how characters change and grow throughout the story.
She also did a summary of Chapter 5 and made a vocabulary foldable!  The polka dot plot came from Krista Wallden's pack of Reading Responses.
The vocabulary foldable was quick and easy, and it was a great way to practice a few important reading strategies- stopping, slowing down and questioning when you come to an unknown word; context clues; using a dictionary. The vocabulary words sparked great discussion, and students made connections to other subject areas.

Last year we did a close read with figurative language and I have it in my plans for next week.  Here's the picture from last year:
They wrote examples of figurative language on the left and then drew it to show how the author helped the reader visualize!

We've been working hard on our own personal narrative and this book is great for them to see how Elivra Woodruff used "show, don't tell" and we are trying to apply it in our writing.

There is just so much you can do with this book, and even if you don't teach the American Revolution, you could still use this book, or use some of these ideas for a historical fiction book for the Social Studies unit you are teaching.

Hopefully this post makes sense!  I'm writing it while we watch the movie Frozen and it's such a great movie my attention is divided!  Sorry!  :O)

Next week's linky- Language Arts

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Food Chains and Food Webs - Who Eats What? A Science Must Read Mentor Text

Hi Friends!

I am here to share a fabulous Science Mentor Text with you! It's all about Food Chains and Food Webs! My students always LOVE this book!


The title is Who Eats What? and it is written by Patricia Lauber. It is FILLED with information and perfect illustrations! Description: "Informative and intriguing, this science book teaches children to think about the complex and interdependent web of life on Earth. Every link in a food chain is important because each living thing depends on others for survival, no matter how big or how small. Lively drawings from Holly Keller illustrate the clear, simple text by Patricia Lauber."

The one word that I used to describe this text is SIMPLE. And I mean that in a great way! So often, I find science books that have awesome information, but they are so tricky for kids to understand. This book provides facts and details in an engaging and easy to comprehend manner. I actually love this whole series of books: Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science. I have used tons of these books over the years! :)

If you are teaching a unit on ecosystems, food chains, or food webs, this book is a must read! I like to use it at the beginning of my unit on ecosystems as a hook to engage my students and preview vocabulary and concepts we will be discussing. I like to have my students keep track of their thinking on sticky notes as we read the book aloud. This is a great way for me to make sure my students are "staying with me" as I read the text. :)

For example, I ask them to write down new words or unfamiliar words they hear, facts they learn, and questions they have. As we move through the text, students will often find answers to the questions they have written down, and their questions lead to meaningful discussion. Once we finish reading the book, I have the students stick their stickies in their science notebooks so they can refer back to them later.

In the picture above, you can see how the author includes 2 different representations of a food chain. I LOVE the arrows showing the transfer of energy, but I also LOVE how she has shown the chain within the hawk! How cool!

I also like how the author includes simple examples of food chain and food web drawings so kids can see how energy is passed between consumers and producers. 

The last page of the book is one of my favorites because it not only summarizes everything that the book has taught us, but it leads right in to a discussion about ecosystems and how every living thing plays a role and is dependent on one another. It's a perfect springboard into conversations about what would happen if....there were no more plants......or an entire population of mice was wiped out......or a fire swept through a habitat......etc.....

I hope this book is helpful for you and your students! Please let me know how you use it in your classroom! :)

I can't wait to see your Science Must Read Texts! Please link up!
Have a great Sunday!  

Next week's linky- Social Studies

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Working with Fractions- Must Read Math Mentor Text

Hey there!

I am here to share a math must read!  I'm sort of cheating a little again because this book has been shared before in this linky, but it's so great I thought it deserved another share!  It was originally shared by Miss King at Miss King's Enchanted Kingdom, and someone else may have shared it, but I looked through all of the link ups and didn't find it in the pictures, so if you shared it, and I missed you, let me know!

The book I am going to share with you today is called Working with Fractions and it is by David Adler!

This is an adorable book!  The illustrations are engaging and it is full of text and numbers!!

You could read this all in one sitting as an introduction to fractions, or, you can read a few pages at a time because it really covers everything about fractions!  I used it a few pages at a time when I pulled my small math groups.

I love that it includes money as fractions:
I also like that it shows students how to fold paper to find fractions.  I read these pages, and then we did a paper folding activity with it.  This was a great way for me to just observe them and their understanding of fractions.  We did this at the beginning of the unit.
With my small groups, I had them fold a piece of paper in half.  I asked them how many sections the paper would have.  Then, we folded it in half again.  They all knew there would be 4 sections.  Then, I had them fold it in half again.  I asked them, before we opened it, how many sections they thought there would be.  Some said 6 and some said 8.  We unfolded them and then checked.  I asked them why there were 8 sections and not 6.  They all came to the realization (some with a little help) that we were doubling it each time we folded it in half.  Then I asked, if we folded it again, how many sections do you think we'd have.  They said 16!

Once they had their paper folded and opened back up, I asked them to shade half of the sections.  They all figured out that it was 4/8.  We wrote it on our paper.
Then I had them flip the paper over and shade 1/4 of the sections.  This was interesting.  Even though we had just folded it, many of them still only shaded 1 section.  So, then I said, ok, you shaded one.  How many sections are on your paper.  They said 8.  I said, so actually, the fraction would be what?  Ohhhhh, 1/8.  So then they had to rethink and figure it out.  My goal was for them to "see" where we had folded it into fourths, even though there were 8 sections.
Then, I wanted to see if this would transfer to a numberline.  I gave them a strip of paper and said, draw me a numberline on here and label it/divide it into 8ths.  Sure enough, most of them did NOT fold the paper.  They just tried to draw the numberline.  However, there were two or three (in my high groups) that looked at me and said, can I fold the paper?  I shrugged, smiled, and said, I don't know, can you?  And so they did.  And as soon as they did that, their friends figured out that would be a good idea, too.  In my groups where no one thought of it, I let them draw it and then I said, hmmmm, I wonder if we can use the activity we just did to help us draw a numberline so that we can be sure our sections are equal?  And then they said, ohhhhh, we can fold the paper!  I said, yes, let's fold it and see how we did.  So, they folded it and checked their work!  I just want them to know they can fold their paper to find equivalent fractions if they need to!!
There is also a great website that I had found a while back that gives even more ideas on paper folding and fractions!  The website is  You can click the photo below to see more!

The book also has a section on making equivalent fractions and how it works with multiplying by a whole.
And it also explains adding and subtracting fractions.
And, there is much, much more in this book!!!  I HIGHLY recommend it and I'm so thankful we host this linky and get to learn from you guys each week about books that are working in your classroom!!  I learn a LOT each week!!!  So, keep linking up!!!  And if you aren't a blogger, I do hope you come back and check out all of the books that are linked up!  They will help you too, I'm sure of it!  :O)

Next week's linky- Science

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Great Language Arts Mentor Text! Ordinary Oscar!

Happy March to You! :)

I can't believe it's already March!!! Where has the time gone?

I'm here for this week's Must Read Mentor Text Linky focused on Language Arts! And I have a FUN text to share with you!

It's called Ordinary Oscar by Laura Adkins. It's one of my favorites!

Every time I read this book, I smile. It's so ADORABLE! :) BUT, it's also so full of WONDERFUL language arts possibilities! 

A quick summary: Oscar is a snail who is fed up with his ordinary life. He dreams of being different, exciting, and famous. After visiting the wise old snail, his Fairy Godsnail pays him a visit. She grants him three wishes. While using his wishes Oscar soon realizes that being ordinary is really not so bad. 

The first skill that I teach when I read this book to my students is theme. This story shows students that everyone is special just the way they are. We all are "extraordinary" in our own ways. They can also make connections to Oscar - we have all had times when we wished we were something more, and it never works out how we hoped. Oscar is a character that can be compared and contrasted with many other characters. I love comparing him to the triangle in the The Very Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns (another of my favorite books), they are very similar and both learn a very important lesson.

I also love to review and preview grammar skills with this book such as verbs, adjectives, and dialog.  

I absolutely love how the author uses such vivid language throughout the story. Not only does she use vivid verbs and amazing adjectives, but she also fills the story with figurative language. Some of my favorite puns are on the page pictured above when Oscar imagines what it would be like to be famous. The other snails are admiring him and they are saying things like "He just OOZES charm!" and "He's really come out of his shell!" which is also idiom. Adkins also uses alliteration throughout the book: ordinary Oscar, slime slither, and stunning stupendous spectacular snail.  

As I read the book I like to have the students record the amazing adjectives and vivid verbs used by the author. For example, the author writes that the snails "munch" and "crunch" the leaves rather than simply eating them. We write these in our writer's notebook so that we can refer to them later in our own writing.

Although I have used this book with my third and fourth graders it would be a great book to use with first and second grades as well. Students can make predictions based upon the text and illustrations. They can also create story maps sequencing the main events. Literary elements such as character, setting , problem, and solution can also be discussed. 
My last suggestion for this book is a writing activity. At the end of the story the author includes a newspaper article describing how Oscar becomes a hero to his mother and family. It would be fun to have my student's create another newspaper article about Oscar, or even a character from another story we have read. 

I hope that you will check out this book because I am sure that you and your students will enjoy it as much as I do!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please linkup your favorite language arts texts. I look forward to adding some new books to my Amazon wishlist :) Have a great rest of your weekend!

Next week's linky- Math
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