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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Groundhog Day 4.0

This is the last post about Groundhog Day, I promise.  Words and word play are really my thing.  I love enticing and intriguing my students to increase their vocabulary through fun activities.  My students and I just love Hink Pinks, Hinky Pinkies, & Hinkity Pinkities.

If you've never encountered Hink Pinks, etc., you are in for a treat. Hink Pinks are rhyming answers to riddles. The answer is a Hink Pink if both answer words are supposed to be just one syllable. If the riddle calls for 2 syllables in each answer word, it's called a Hinky Pinky. You've probably already figured out that 3 syllable answers are Hinkity Pinkities. Several years ago, my enrichment students begged to know what a 4 syllable answer would be called. Never having encountered one, I let them name such pairs. Voila! Hitinkity Pitinkities were born. Then, of course, I had to quickly create some riddles with 4 syllable answers. Good brain exercise for me!

I have created some Hink Pinks, etc. especially for Groundhog Day.  You are invited to try them with your class. Here are a few to get you started:

I've designed my clues to be on cards that I can use at a literacy center or at a large or small group meeting.  Note that the "Hink Pink" logo appears on the cards so that students know what number of syllables to be thinking about. In the above examples, the answer to #1 is deep sleep. #2 is bright light. Pretty fun, huh?

Now try Hinky Pinkies and Hinkity Pinkities. (Sorry, no 4 syllable answers for this holiday.)

The answer to #9 is rehide inside. Muddy buddy is the solution to #10.  

#17 is prediction description, although I would also accept prediction depictionFurrow burrow is the answer to the last one.  

Your students will love working on vocabulary, parts of speech, synonyms, rimes, making inferences, and interpreting data when they are disguised as fun. Mine clamor for more everyday.  

You are welcome to download this freebie here. If you visit my store, you will see that I'm a bit obsessed with these word riddles. There are currently 24 more Hink Pink products listed here. All of these products bear the same logos on the cards and are print ready. I recommend copying them on card stock and laminating them before cutting them apart. Then you will have ready-made fun for years to come.  Enjoy!

For economy, you may be interested in these bundles:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Groundhog Day 3.0

One of the things I love to do with my students is immerse them in poetry because it offers so many teaching possibilities. Naturally you can focus on poetic structures and poetic devices.   But have you ever used poetry to teach reading skills? Because poetry is usually short and the message concise, it's a perfect venue for studying vowel sounds, contractions, punctuation, parts of speech, syllables, rimes, inflections, ....  The  possibilities are almost endless.  It's always good practice to relate these skills to what is being read.  Practicing skills in isolation may transfer to reading skill building; then again it may not.  

Each poem has reading skills already built into it.  All you have to do is look at it with a "reading skills eye."  Thus, if the poem is replete with a particular consonant blend, use it in a guided reading lesson about that blend.  If the poem has a sprinkling of contractions, devise a review lesson about contractions using the poem.  As an example, look at the following poem, noting that it has several compound words in it.

Due to the structure of a poem, it is easier for young children to locate the compound words.  If you reproduced this poem on sentence strips for use in a pocket chart, that would facilitate  identifying the compound words as a group.  With a little magic and masking tape, you could make the compound words come apart.  Alternately, you might focus on the punctuation and how it helps the reader to read with expression.  Or, you might choose to conduct a mini-lesson on the inflections -ing and -ed.

As a reading specialist, I highly recommend using poems for guided reading lessons and review lessons.  It has always been a favorite activity of my remedial students if for no other reason than they had less text to conquer.

While wearing my other hat, enrichment specialist, I developed Poetry Possibilities for my colleagues with teaching points identified for them.  For example, the Possibilities  for the above poem include:

As item #3 indicates, poetry can also be a launchpad for differentiating instruction.  Gifted and talented students deserve and require our attention, but it can be quite taxing to provide extensions for them.  I have dedicated most of my career to creating challenges for G/T children.  Most of my products on TpT reflect that commitment.  I hope you will go here to check out my critical and creative thinking products.

If you are interested in more seasonal poems with teaching points and skill suggestions, visit my TpT store here for February poems and possibilities.  You may also be interested in Black History Month Poetry Possibilities.  Just a word of caution: reading poetry is principally about creating enthusiasm for reading.  Take care not to defeat that goal by always turning poetry reading into a skill drill.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Groundhog Day 2.0

It's about time, teachers, for Groundhog Day.

I have a quick primary grades project for Groundhog Day...

Make several cardboard templates of the groundhog.  Have your students trace around the template on brown construction paper, cut it out, and add their groundhog's facial features.  If the groundhog did not see his shadow, then ask your students to write that on his body.  

If the sun was shining on our groundhog friend, ask your students to trace and cut out another groundhog on black construction paper.  Glue it behind the brown groundhog to represent his shadow.  Again, your students should write about that event. 

Happy Groundhog Day!

You can get a copy of the template on Google Docs.

You may be interested in these resources for February:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Groundhog Day

It's nearly Groundhog Day and I'm hoping it will be another overcast day. Don't want the groundhog to see his shadow! Let's hurry into spring. 

Groundhog Day is such fun in 1st grade. It provides the opportunity to study shadows, obviously. But I like to use the day to launch a study of folk wisdom weather predictions, as well. Lots of kids have heard such sayings as: red at night, sailors' delight; red at morning, sailors take warning. That saying is actually based in fact, as a red sunrise means there is a lot of moisture in the air which can, indeed, indicate rain. But what about this one: 

Snow is due when the cat washes behind both ears. 


 If ant hills are high in July, winter will be snowy

Invite your students to collect other folk wisdom about the weather by talking with their parents, grandparents, and other elders about weather sayings. As a Reading Recovery teacher, I feel strongly that every opportunity to spur verbal communication should be maximized. (Students who struggle with early reading skills too often lack verbal communication skills.) Reporting on the folk wisdom they have collected naturally leads to a discussion about the probable validity of the sayings. That, of course, promotes critical thinking a la the upper levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. How great is that?

Groundhog's Day is also an opportunity to work on compound words. Focus on verbal fluency by challenging your students to compose a list of animal names that are compound words (warthog, butterfly, starfish, ...). After they gets their cogs spinning in that direction, switch gears to test their flexibility. Ask them to name compound words that identify animal homes (anthill, doghouse, beehive, ...). Switch categories again with a new challenge, like foods that are compound words. Clearly you can keep this going for as long as your students are engaged. All the while you will be promoting the 4 tenets of gifted education:  

  1. fluency
  2. flexibility
  3. originality
  4. elaboration

You may like these FREE products designed for Groundhog Day:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Black History Month

It's about time, teachers, to get ready for Black History Month; a month to celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans who have done so much to make our lives better.

Assigning your students to report on noteworthy people is fine, but, let's face it, a little boring.   Couple that with the time constraints we all face for prescribed curricula, and you have a common conundrum: how can I blend what I WANT to do with what I HAVE to do?  In the case of Black History Month, I find that poetry is a perfect way to solve it.   For example, the following poem gives you the heart of Matthew Henson.

But just reading a poem doesn't seem worthy of the study of Black History. So, I try to incorporate required curricula with some creativity. I call it Poetry Possibilities, just to remind myself that I don't have to do EVERYTHING every year. Rather, I can choose what is most appropriate to this year's class, and what appeals to me at this time. Honestly, sometimes I do all of the listed ideas; sometimes I just copy the poem and share it with my class.

As you can see, one of the things I could assign my students to do is design a postage stamp just for Matthew Henson. I was impressed to learn that there are more than 60 U.S. stamps honoring black Americans. Check it out for yourself at: 

For Black History Month, I have collected 14 poems, which means you can use 1 poem per day for nearly 3 weeks. Each is accompanied by a teaching point covering a variety of skills, including: types of poetry, poetic devices, poetic structures, choral reading, text innovations, creative writing, and a host of reading skills. Because I am committed to differentiated instruction, I have included enrichment opportunities and research topics. You will also find graphic organizers, art projects, and book links.

This is just one piece of my Black History Month poetry unit, Black History Month Poetry Possibilities. This unit has a cousin unit that is absolutely FREE, called Poetry Possibilities -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I hope they help to make your Black History study more enjoyable.