Monday, November 30, 2015

The Scarlet Stockings Spy: An American Revolution Must Read Mentor Text

Happy Monday and Happy Cyber Monday Sale Day! 

Today's Must Read Mentor Text is one of my most favorite books that I use to integrate Language Arts into Social Studies during our study of the American Revolution. This book is one that I look forward to using every year, and the students LOVE it! It usually ends up being one of their favorite books of the entire year!  :)
It's called The Scarlet Stockings Spy by Trinka Hakes Noble. It is an engaging, powerful, and moving story of a young girl's patriotic service during the Revolutionary War. This fabulous book tells the story of a young patriot girl who is a spy for the Continental Army. And a warning- you might cry! I did...but it's soooo good! And wait until you see the illustrations!!! Soooo beautiful!
You can really use this text to teach almost every Reading Skill- there are so many possibilities! I also tie in our Social Studies standards about the Revolutionary War- it is a great background for the students. Even though it is historical fiction, it helps the kids understand what it was like in Colonial America, and it presents it from a child's perspective.
I like to stop at many points throughout the text to have the students make predictions and also inferences about what is happening in the story. It really encourages critical thinking and discussion. I also do a lot of work with character traits and text evidence.
We created a whole unit to use with your study of the book. It has Common Core aligned activities that you can use with your students. We usually spend one-two weeks working through this book. Click below to see the unit in our TPT store. And it's on SALE today and tomorrow for Cyber Monday! :)

Hope you have a great week! 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sharing Sunday: December Lesson Ideas and 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 December!  :)

Here are some great resources to get your December 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!  :)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Reading in a Winter Wonderland

Hello and welcome to our second annual Winter Wonderland link up!  Last year, The Reading Crew sponsored a winter literacy hop, but we decided to run it a little different this time. Instead of hopping with the potential of dead links, we decided on a closed link up. What this means is that there is a "map" of the blogs at the bottom of each post, so you can hop through them all at once, visit some today and some later in the week, or see what best matches your literacy needs. 

On each blog, you will see a word in blue font. This is the blog's mystery word. Please be sure to record them because you will need each word for a five point entry in our raffle. To help you keep track, you can print and use THIS FORM. We are raffling off two wonderful prizes. We are giving away a copy of each book featured in our posts to two winners (K-2 group) and the (3-up group). Each prize package will include 12 books (K-2) and 13 books (3-up). 

On each blog, we will be sharing a mentor text lesson using the book we've chosen. The lesson will be modeling a reading skill (comprehension or writing typically, but some at the primary level may target vocabulary, fluency, or word building).  The materials that are shared may be forever freebies or may be free for a limited time. Please take note of this as you visit the blogs. 

Again, we welcome you to our blogs and wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

We have an amazing book to share with you by the talented Lester Laminack called Snow Day!
When the television weatherman predicts a big snowfall, the narrator gleefully imagines the fun-filled possibilities of an unscheduled holiday from school.  Piling under warm blankets. Sipping hot chocolate in snowman mugs. Building a snow fort. Sledding in the neighbor's field. In scene after snowy scene, from sunrise to sundown, a pair of siblings, with their father in tow, show how they would make the most of their day off.  But when the family wakes up the next morning, they are in for a disappointment. No snow! As the family members pile into the car so they won't be late for school, an unexpected twist reveals who wanted the snow day most of all.  (Can you guess?!?!?!  It's the dad who is also a teacher!!!!  Can you relate?)

One of the standards for upper grades has to do with point of view.  Students have to understand the difference between first-person and third-person point of view and the impact that this has on the reader.  Students need to understand that when you are reading a story from first-person point of view, you only see the story from that perspective.  You only know what that character sees, thinks, and feels.  However, in third-person, the reader can get a bird's eye view of what is going on with all of the characters.  But, within that, they lose the connection to the character that you get from first-person. So, to set the stage for this lesson, we need to make sure students know and understand the difference between first-person point of view and third-person point of view.  Students will paste the flipbooks in their interactive notebooks to have as a resource if needed later.

This is not to be confused with perspective.  Sometimes it can get a little muddy explaining the difference between point of view and perspective.  This is also where I would try to lay to rest any misconceptions.  A story can be told from different perspectives, not to be confused with point of view.

I think it is safe to say that we have all felt the excitement of hearing the word SNOW on the television.  Or is it just those of us who live in the south and rarely get snow?  Either way, I think this is a definite way to hook the reader by having them connect to the very first page of the book.  After discussing first and third-person point of view, it can be pointed out right away that this book is in first-person point of view.  You may choose to read several pages before pointing it out.  By the second page, you can get a feel for how the character feels about school.  The character says "Just much snow, even the buses can't go.  No-so much snow even the teachers can't go."  (This would be foreshadowing as well, which you can bring up after you read the last page, stating that the teacher is telling the story.)

The flipbook would need to be completed AFTER the book has been read because it's key that your students understand that this is being written from the perspective of the teacher.  Then, the students should be able to see how the point of view impacts the reader.  You may even want to reread the story so that they can think about it through the lens of the father, the teacher.  It's definitely a different way of reading the story, which is where the discussion of perspective comes in.  The book is first-person but through the perspective of the teacher.  The story might not change too much if it was through the perspective of the children, they'd probably still want to build snow forts and drink hot chocolate, but it still would be a different story.

A way of extending this activity would be to have students write the story from a different perspective.  On the paper I supplied in this freebie, I asked them to write it in first-person point of view from the perspective of the children in the story.  You could also have them write it in third-person, which would definitely be a challenge, but a great extension!  It's important for students to be aware in their own writing what point of view they are writing in, who their audience is, and how to really write it in a certain perspective so the reader can understand the story.

This is a forever freebie!  Click the link below to get it!

Before you go, I will remind you that our  mystery word is wish. You can enter it onto your sheet or into the rafflecopter below. Good luck to you, and we hope you'll come back soon.

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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!

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