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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Springsational Poetry Activities

April is National Poetry Month and I would love to share my passion for poetry with you.

Try some of these Springsational Poetry activites:

  • Collaborative poetry is a fun way to use poetry in your classroom. It can be done with the entire class or in small groups. Each student will write 1 sentence about spring on a sentence strip. Give your students a prompt, such as 1 of those listed below. Collect all of the sentence strips and mount them on one large piece of poster paper.  Invite students to illustrate around the poem and display it for everyone to enjoy. Prompts:
    • It's a sure sign that it's spring when...
    • The best thing about spring is...
    • Spring is the best season because...
    • The worst thing about spring is...
    • Spring weather...
    • One spring day, I ...     You get the idea!
  • Acrostic poems are always fun and leave the poets free from the need to create rhymes and rhythm. This can be an individual or collaborative effort. Begin by brainstorming a list of spring words, encouraging students to think in extensions; that is, going into more depth on vocabulary. Use word webs on the board to accomplish this (illustration below). Once you have a nice variety of terms, allow students to choose one of the word web words to use for their acrostic. I often have students circle the word on the board that they are going to use, writing their name or initials by it. If you have enough words, each student can use a different one.  If not, you may wish to impose a limit on the number of children who can choose the same word. Then set them loose to create their acrostic poems (example below).

If you are passionate about poetry (or at least enthusiastic), your students will find that feeling is contagious.

Check out these poetry products borne of my passion (how's that for poetic writing?):

Saturday, March 28, 2015

It's About Time to Grow Your Spring Centers!

It's about time, teachers, for spring centers.

Here are some spring centers that may add some beauties to your spring bouquet of classroom activities...

Spring Showers Syllable Sorts challenges your students to determine the number of syllables in each word/picture card. The pictures provide support for young readers. This center is low prep and holiday neutral.

How Many Ways - April Edition combines computation with critical thinking.  This center is open ended, providing a great challenge for fast finishers, and/or differentiated instruction.

Spring Square Puzzlers are excellent for exercising your students' problem solving skills.  The challenge is to reconstruct the square array so that all the images match on every interior side.  3 puzzles are included, making differentiation easy and providing a challenge for every grade level.  

The other 2 puzzles are progressively harder as they are a 3x3 array and a 4x4 array. There is a secret clue in each puzzle that can be provided if your students get too frustrated.  

Be forewarned!  Your students will not want to put these puzzles away.

There are more centers to come so check back soon.

You may also like these spring resources:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Here Comes Peter Cottontail!

Are you ready for him?  

Here are some ideas for your classroom:

  • Make bunny windsocks to hang from the ceiling. Using a large piece of white construction paper, draw a bunny face on it with markers or crayons. 

     On a 9" x 12" piece of white paper, draw 2 large bunny ears.
Cut the ears out. Make a cylinder out of the bunny face and glue it. Glue the ears to the inside of the cylinder. Cut 18" - 24" crepe paper streamers and glue them to the inside of the cylinder.

These windsocks will look fabulous hanging from the ceiling. When you can open the windows, the breeze will make them dance!
Are you looking for some bunny centers?  Try these:

  • Scrattle: The Spring Edition combines word work with computation; individual effort with competition. As in Scrabble™, students use a set of letters to create words. After recording their words, they calculate each word’s score using the Scrabble™ letter values. Then they engage a friend in a battle wherein they compare their scores using >, <, and =. The student with the most >s wins the battle! There are 3 levels of difficulty included in this product, making it perfect for differentiation and applicable to nearly every grade level. Best of all, it's FREE!

  • Easter Hink Pinks & Hinky Pinkies are eggs-actly what you need for spring! They will have your students cracking up as they determine the 2 word answer to these riddles. These are awesome for H.O.T.S. You can also use them as a warm-up egg-tivity, a sponge egg-tivity, a literacy yolk center, or a challenge for fast finishers.  It, too, is FREE!
  • Easter/Spring Patterns & Sorts provides materials to practice patterning and review color words for pre-K through 2nd grade students. This product includes picture and letter cards, as well as a recording sheet.

The next 2 centers are holiday neutral, but work well with spring themed classroom activities.
  • Egg Idioms will increase your students' vocabularies and enrich their writing.  After introducing the idioms to your students, use this booklet to have your students illustrate the literal meaning and interpret the figurative meaning. This activity is also great for ELL and speech/language students.

  • Egg Equations are CCSS aligned for grade K-3. Students will make true equations in the quest to master basic addition and subtraction facts.  Gather plastic eggs and fill each one with the equation components. Students will use the components to construct equations appropriate to their abilities.  Thus, differentiation is inherent.
Now that spring has finally arrived, I hope your days are filled with sunshine and smiles.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

10 Reasons You Should Teach Poetry

It's about time, teachers, for National Poetry Month.

Here are 10 reasons you should teach poetry:
  1. Poetry enables teachers to teach their charges how to read and find meaning in any text.  Figures of speech and literary devices are more readily identified and understood when introduced through poetry (think ELL).
  2. You can teach grammar by parsing a poem.  Students can more readily find and identify parts of speech, inflectional forms, syntactic relations, structure, and morphology when working with a brief poem.
  3. By examining how poets deviate and/or corrupt the use of punctuation, teachers can draw attention to the power of punctuation (think e e cummings).
  4. Poetry facilitates the teaching of writing. Skills such as precise descriptions and economical use of words can be honed through poetry (think Mark Twain's famous quote, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.")
  5. Because poetry eschews rules of grammar, otherwise reluctant writers may be more inclined to express themselves in this genre (think song lyrics and rap).
  6. Poetry can give students an outlet for their emotions. Judith Viorst's poetry is excellent for demonstrating this.
  7. Reading poetry aloud can build trust and empathy in the classroom.
  8. Reading poetry aloud promotes speaking and listening skills.  Poetry is widely recognized as an efficient means of promoting fluency.
  9. Through poetry, teachers can foster creative expression. In the age of CCSS and multiple choice, standardized testing, creative expression is too often sacrificed.
  10. You should teach students to love literature and this is easily accomplished through poetry.  

You may like these poetry resources:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Emergent Readers for Spring

The Nia Readers are a set of 4 emergent level books for beginning readers. As is typical of emergent readers, these books have consistent print placement and simple, supportive illustrations. The subject matter is familiar to young children; the language structure is natural. Each book features a set of high frequency words in predictable, repetitive sentence patterns. One or two changes are included in each book to ensure that students are attending to the text; not just repeating a memorized pattern.
  • Nia’s Toys focuses on these high frequency words: has, a, & no. The text pattern is “Nia has a [toy name supported by picture]."  The last two pages break the pattern. Simple, black and white pictures are attractive and inviting for the children to color.
  • Nia Colors the Easter Eggs is a book of seasonal interest. It is a counting book that provides practice with color words. The text pattern is “Nia colors [number] eggs [color word]."  The last page provides a change in the pattern. I recommend inviting the children to color the eggs as described by the text before reading the book independently.
  • Nia Goes to the Park tells about her activities at a park and provides a focus on high frequency prepositions (on, in, and with). Other high frequency words include: plays, the, her, & a. The text pattern is “Nia plays [preposition] [article] [noun supported by picture]."  The last two pages break the pattern.
  • Nia’s Cupcakes is the most difficult of The Nia Readers. Predictable text is supported by the illustrations. High frequency words include: she, put, on, made, some & color words. The text pattern is “Nia/she put [numeral] [color word] jelly bean(s) on [numeral] cupcake(s).” The numbers are not in sequential order, thus requiring the reader to attend to the text. Similarly, the initial noun varies between “Nia” and “She,” providing additional opportunities for the teacher to determine the student’s attention to the text. Again, you may wish to direct the children to color the illustrations in compliance with the text, thereby offering additional support.  Nia's Cupcakes also invites cross curricular extensions, such as: How many cupcakes did Nia decorate? How many jelly beans did she use altogether? Count, tally, and graph the colors of jelly beans used.
The Nia Readers make great take-home books.  My students are always thrilled by that reality.

BTW, these books are named after my adorable granddaughter. Love her to the moon and back 10,000 times!

You may also like:

Sunday, March 8, 2015

St. Patrick's Day FREEBIES

Sure an' you'll be wearin' the green for St. Patrick's Day.  And it's lucky you'll be if you snag these FREEBIES for your classroom.

Both you and your students will feel extra lucky when learning is this fun! Skills involved in solving these riddles include: 
• vocabulary development 
• parts of speech 
• synonyms
• rimes

In this packet, you will find 32 cards with St. Patrick’s Day-themed clues. The cards are copy ready; just print on pink card stock, laminate, cut apart, and you have them for years to come. The answer key is included. 

You can use these as a warm-up activity, a sponge activity, or in a literacy center. Fast finishers love working on the solutions. If your class is unfamiliar with Hink Pinks, Hinky Pinkies, & Hinkity Pinkities, solve several together to model your problem solving.

Luck o' the Irish is a one week creativity challenge for your students to complete at home. They then bring their results to school to share with the class. The intention of this product is to enhance 2 of the four traits of gifted and talented students: fluency and flexibility. Although originally created for G/T students, I find it works perfectly well with heterogeneous groups of students. 

The challenge in this project is to seek out superstitions and symbols of good luck. Students will then create a t-chart listing superstitions that promise us good and bad luck. They are encouraged to share the t-chart with the class, along with a good luck charm they may own.

This creative thinking project is from the Destination: Imagination via Creative Thinking, Vol. 1 files. If you and your students like this challenge, you may wish to check out the larger products:


Scrattle: St. Patrick's Day Edition is a learning center activity that combines word work with computation; individual effort with competition. 

As in Scrabble™, students use a set of letters to create words. After recording their words, they calculate each word’s score using the Scrabble™ letter values. Then they engage a friend in a battle wherein they compare their scores using >, <, and =. The student with the most >s wins the battle! (SCRAbble + baTTLE = SCRATTLE!)

SCRATTLE can be played by students with simple addition capabilities, as well as those skilled in solving mixed operations in complex equations. Three different recording sheets are included, providing instant differentiation. 


You may also like these March products: