Word Families and Guided Reading

Why teach word families?
Word families are groups of words that have a predictable pattern or chunk. These words have the same ending and they all rhyme which makes learning a new set of words easier on our beginning readers. Word families are an effective way to increase a student's ability to spell and decode many new words. 

Word families for struggling readers:
Learning to read can be a struggle! Each child is different and EVERY child has their own path to reading. Over the years I have seen a wide range of learners in my kindergarten classroom. Some come to me with a great background and cruise through the curriculum with no worries. Many come to me with out the foundational skills needed to be successful at first but by Christmas most are finding their way. A few need additional supports and are still learning sounds at spring break. Using word families can help these struggling readers feel success and gives them letter sound practice at the same time.

Guided reading routines: 
I have discussed effective grouping for guided reading on the blog before so I won't go into that today but if you want to read more about that you can click HERE. Once you determine your groups it is essential to come up with a strong routine. Routines are the best in kindergarten because everything else can fall apart but your routine is there to save the day! My routine for my lowest groups (those still working on word families) consists of these basic components: 

Letter Name/Sound Recognition: 
At the beginning of each lesson we review the letter sounds and their names. This is a quick review and is essential to retaining those names/sounds. It is easy to want to skip this first step if you are running behind but don't! 

Word Work: 
Using letter tiles (or magnetic letters) students need to build the words and practice the sounds individually before diving into a new word family. Using individual letters encourages blending and really serves as a great formative assessment to see who needs more help in this area. 

Create a word list: 
As you work with a word family make a list of all of the words in that family. This is a fun time to work with real vs. make-believe words too. Without fail a student will try to add "dat" or "gat" to the -at word family list. Great time to talk about real words and pull together a list of words. 

 Read, read, read! 
Read those word families in context. I have plenty of word family books in my library but I wanted some that my students could read, color, and take home (for some these are the only thing they have to read at home!). They love it when I give them a little time to color at the end of our guided reading group and sometimes if we have a few minutes before lunch this is a great 5 minute time filler too.

Here are the supplies you need to start a great word family guided reading routine in Kindergarten: 

  • magnetic letters
  • alphabet chart
  • flash cards
  • anchor chart (for word lists)
  • Word Family books 
I have a ton of BOB Books in my classroom and they are full of word families. My kiddos love checking these out for read to self in the classroom. Here is a link  to one of my favorite sets. This is an affiliate link for your convenience. 

For some consumable sight word readers you can see some examples of these in my store HERE. This bundle is at a VERY discounted rate until I finish the whole series so it is a great time to snatch these up. 

And of course word families are awesome in centers! Click HERE for word family centers and for a fun little BUILD A WORD FREEBIE you can click HERE. Enjoy! 

Thanks for stopping in today! 

Transform Your 100 Chart!

We have a new math program this year and it has a calendar component. I really like it but I will be honest, I haven't implemented all of it. There is a lot in the first year of a new program and that's ok...I will get to more of it next year. 

I don't know why I feel the need to come clean with you on this but I do! 

That's not the point of this post. What I really want to share is the awesome 100's chart that we created together from the calendar component. This is part of Everyday Counts from the Math in Focus curriculum. 

We started at the beginning of the year recording each day of school. It was a slow process! Each day was on a new color sticky note. Every time we finished a group of 10 we started all over again. We used this in our calendar routine to count every single day. Every. Single. Day. If you aren't familiar with a solid calendar routine this is a key component. It is really easy to want to skip these simple steps each day but let me tell you...it makes a huge difference! 

We were SUPER excited to get to the 100th day! We had a huge celebration and I felt like we were at the end of a journey. Success right? Well...no. I was quickly put back into my place when I had a guest teacher come in and teach a lesson and she asked my kids a simple question....what comes next? If you keep counting what comes next? What if you count by 10's? Ummm......we were all over the place. Some shouted out the right answer right away and others...not so much. I knew I needed to make a change and step it up a bit. 

Well the really awesome part of this hundred chart is that it is on strips of paper. I used the old fashioned accounting tape to put the stickies on so I decided to reimagine what I had on the wall so we could "keep going" and get up to the 180th day of school (that will really be a celebration!) 

How about a number line? We are moving into comparing numbers so a number line will be so visual for that. Yes! I asked my trainer what she thought and she agreed it was a great transition. So I did it! 

It is WAY up high at the top of our wall and stretches all the way across to 100. I made this decision with the class. I asked them what we could do to "keep going". I posed the problem that if we keep adding stickies we would run out of room on the board. They actually came up with the idea to put it all the way across a wall! We put a few lines together and I made sure they knew where each new line should go (11 after the 10....21 after the 20...). The next day they came in to a beautiful number line stretched all along the top of our wall! 

Now what? 
We keep going! 

We have new strips on our board that we use during calendar to "keep going". It is a much more visual way for them to see the pattern that continues after 100. I am really excited about this and so are they! We will add these to the number line (if I can reach that far!) as we go along. It should keep things interesting reaching up to 180!

How did I stick it to the brick wall? This is a HUGE problem in my room because I have all brick walls. I just figured out that HOT GLUE is the way to go. It sticks and doesn't fall down and when it is time to take it off it just peels right off. That is my favorite new classroom hack! 

That's that. Such a simple little change but I really think it will step up our calendar routine for the second half of the year. 

Here is another little routine I have put into place now that we have reached all the way to 100. I am using these 100 charts to hand out during calendar and students have them right in front of them to count and point. We count by 1's on Monday, 2's on Tuesdays, 5's on Wednesdays, 10's on Thursdays, and backwards from 20 on Fridays. Gotta keep it fresh! 

Here is a freebie for you if you want a clean new 100's chart :) 
That's all I have tonight. I have been very absent from blogging and it feels good to share a few things tonight. I guess I just needed something to be excited about! Have a great week teaching! 

Valentine's Day Stations

I did it. 
I figured it out. 
Finally the perfect Valentine's Day in the classroom! 
I'm not kidding! 
This day was so super easy to prep for and my students were engaged the whole day. It was still a big day with lots of craziness but it was the calmest craziest day by far! I know that will only make sense to a kindergarten teacher! 

Here is how it works. I did 100 day stations inspired by Marsha McGuire at A Differentiated Kindergarten. I decided it worked so well on that day I would try it for Valentine's day. Why not right? Valentine's day is always so crazy I just thought if I kept them busy it would help.....hopefully!

I made 8 stations and had them spread out all over the room. Students moved from station to station on their own with one stipulation. When they finished they raised their hand and I came by to check their work. I had a paper they could check off their completed stations and then they were free to move on to the next one. Some stations could only fit 3 students but some could fit up to 6. We had plenty of room for students to move around the room freely. 

Our 8 stations: 

  • Lego Table: students tried to create a heart with red Legos
  • Stacking Cups: students used tiny plastic cups to stack a creation
  • Valentine Bag: students created their own bag to collect Valentines (from Simply Kinder)
  • Gumdrop: students created 3D shapes with gumdrops and toothpicks
  • Conversation Hearts: graphing station
  • Dot Painting: Dot painting page from A Differentiated Kindergarten
  • I Love Book: sight word book from Jennifer Heir
  • Listening Station: our regular listening station with a Valentine's book
  • Bingo 
The one HAVE TO station was the Valentine Bag. I needed everyone to complete this station so they would have a bag to collect their Valentine cards in later in the day. I allowed 6 at that station at the time. The messier stations only had 2 or 3 spots available like the Lego table, Stacking Cups, and Gumdrop station. The Dot Painting station was really popular and I had 4 of those spots available. It was full the whole time! 

We started our stations as soon as we got into the classroom. It took me 20 minutes or so to explain all of the centers and then we got to work. At 10 o'clock I stopped everything and we had a "Heart Healthy Breakfast" (which I did not take a picture of!) Student brought in muffins, yogurt, fruit, and water bottles and we had a heart healthy little snack in the middle of our day. So much better than sugary cupcakes! 

After snack we got right back to it and worked for a little bit until it was time to exchange Valentines. We set up our bags and got to it. 

This needs to be said......
...I told my kiddos to fill out the TO and the FROM on their cards.  
Yes...it took a little time to hand out cards but it is seriously SO SWEET to see them carefully handing out every single card to just the right person. They thank each other, they are kind to one another, and it is simply one of the sweetest things you will ever witness. I know it is popular to tell your students to only fill out the "from" to make it easier but I love doing it this way. It is quite possibly my favorite day in Kindergarten! To make it a bit easier the fast finishers can help their friends that aren't quite done yet. 

Why am I blogging about this AFTER Valentine's day? So I will remember next year! Save this post so you can try it next year too! 

Thanks for stopping by! I hope your Valentine's day was fabulous. Obviously ours was awesome. I hope to make it just as special next year!

What Are You Teaching? January

It's January and we have been back one full week. It was a LONG week. It was a BUSY week and a TIRING week! We were focused on getting back into routines and just surviving. We did it! It's time to dig in and get to work. What are you teaching this week?

We are on Unit 4 Week 2 in Reading Street. One of my favorite stories, My Lucky Day! It is an adorable story about a fox and a piglet. This unit has a lot of fairy tales in it and it is our focus for new IB unit "How We Express Ourselves". It's always a fun one!

For our centers we are using this set:
It has objective posters to keep me on track and "paper centers" (that's what we call them) for the kiddos to complete during the week. Some of our favorites are cut and glue, stamping, and write the room.

This unit also includes a really fun craftivity to go along with it. It is free HERE!

For our "hands on" centers we have some fun Little Red Riding Hood activities. I created these over break to kick off our fairy tale unit. 
CVC word blending cards for small groups
Sight Word work mats for independent time
CVC Building Mats for independent time

We will be reading a new Little Red Riding Hood book each day and comparing the characters, setting, problem, and solution. I love reading fractured fairy tales! They are so much fun! 
Here are a few we are including. 

I won't get to all of these this week but I should be able to get to most of them by Friday and then finish them up next week. We will also explore Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs in the coming weeks. We are playing with the idea of writing our own "fairy tales" during Writer's Workshop but I will have to get back to you on that one. It will be a new venture for me for sure! 

So what is in your lesson plan this week? If you do any fractured fairy tales I would love to hear how you use them! Thanks for visiting today! 

Christmas Handprint Calendar Freebie

Many moons ago I made handprint calendars with my class to send home for Christmas. They were a ton of work, copying/pasting to get the calendars on the right pages, and the handprints take some time. After leaving full day kindergarten and going into half day....I just knew I would never be able to manage 48 sets of handprints so I never even considered doing them again. 

Well this year was the year! 

Full day kinder and only 24 students....woohoo! 

In the last 12 years so much has changed when you create something new and when I set out to make these again they were super easy. I didn't have an original to look at so I had to find poems to go with each month but I think I have it pretty close to what we did back then. 
Even better? I thought printing them was going to be a mess but all I had to do was put them in the copier in order and copy 1 to 2 sided and they were perfect!  I had all twelve months done and copied in no time (copy on cardstock) 

Here is a peek at two of the handprints we did yesterday. I will share all of them once we get them done but that won't be until next week. I need to do 4 handprints a day to get them done on time. I may have to call in reinforcements! 

Handprint Calendar February
February....super simple, just two handprints to make a heart

Handprint Calendar March
March....a little more complicated. You need 3 colors to pull off the leprechaun look

Handprint Calendar March
They all turned out really cute! 

Handprint Calendar March
A simple little smile to complete the leprechaun.

Want to make one? Here you go! I added them to my TPT store today. Seriously, if you are still in school this week you could get them done in no time! 

Kinder Bites: Quick Mini Lessons for December

This week will be a quick share of some quick mini lessons for December! 
Do you ever struggle with integrating the fun books you want to use for the holidays while meeting your comprehension needs with a reading series? And how long can your kids sit still? 3 minutes? 5 minutes? Here are some QUICK (that's the theme for this post!) mini lessons to use in between your regularly scheduled programming! :) 

I wrote up a few of my favorite books and some fun ways to integrate comprehension with them in this Kinder Bite activity. Here is a sneak peak...
 6 quick and easy little mini lessons for the month. I am going to keep putting these together for my favorite books so stayed tuned for more! 

Happy December! 

Jack & the Beanstalk Activities and a FREEBIE

We are in our final week of our How the World Works unit and this week our story from Reading Street is Jack & the Beanstalk. It's such a fun week to explore plants, wrap up our investigations on life cycles, and explore some make-believe fiction! 

Sprouting a Lima bean: 
It seems like a strange time of the year to be doing this but who could resist sprouting a bean stalk while reading Jack & the Beanstalk? And they are so easy to do! Here is a quick overview: 

1. Soak your lima beans overnight the night before you want to use them. 
2. Have students wet a paper towel and place the bean on the paper towel. 
3. Place the paper towel in a plastic bag. 
4. Hang in the window. 

You can add these cute Jack & the Beanstalk castles to display them in the window. This is available in this Jack & the Beanstalk unit.  To prepare the beans is pretty easy so this adds a little to the lesson by having them color the castle, cut out the door, and add it to the bag. 

Another great resource I found is this YouTube video of a bean sprouting. It's really cool! 

Parts of a Plant: 
To finish up our life cycle unit we are giving a summative assessment this week about the parts of a plant. I will use this to add to their portfolio. I am still searching for a great summative that would include more choice on the student's part. This will close out the unit nicely though. 
This is the freebie file! Download it HERE.

If sprouting Lima beans wasn't enough for science we are starting our FOSS kit "Trees". This will involve some nature "hikes" to the playground this week to check out the changing trees in our area and make some observations about what happens to trees in the winter. We have some nice pine trees right outside our playground fence that will make a good topic for discussion and a little compare/contrast with the trees out front that are in the middle of losing their leaves. (yes...our trees still have leaves on them!) 

Literacy Centers: 
We have so many options this week for centers!  

The letter of the week this week in this Reading Street unit is the letter Ii (for the second week). We will continue to work on not only the initial sound /i/ but also the medial sound /i/. 

Here are a few of the options in the unit. 
Upper/lowercase sort
Upper/lowercase Letter Sort

Letter Search and Color
Upper/lowercase letter search. 

Word Search Middle /i/ words
This is new this week and will be their first
time with a word search.

Write the Room
Write the room includes a spot to draw a picture of yourself
with one of the words on the wall. This week focus on middle /i/ words.

Rhyme Time
Rhyme Time includes a rhyming sheet. Students use bingo chips to match up rhyming words then they complete the cut and glue.  
We also have a fun listening station available with a response sheet about reality vs. make-believe. And of course all of our small groups happening this week with a full rotation finally in place. These centers keep them engaged for about 15 minutes while I make my way through groups. We are 12 weeks into school and I can finally say it's working just the way I want it to! Perfection takes time (wink, wink).

Jack & the Beanstalk is one of my favorite weeks with Reading Street so I am looking forward to all of the activities we have planned. Do you have any special activities you do with this book? I'd love to hear from you! 

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