Tuesday, September 29, 2015

October Homework for Early Readers

 At the beginning of every month, I struggle to find homework that seems appropriate for all my kids.  I want it to be meaningful as well as review the class lessons. I’ve found a variety of homework papers that focus on phonic skills or letter recognition, but I want my students to actually practice READING at home. Plus, I’d like a little printing, coloring, and number practice to be included as well.

It is because of this quest, that I’m excited to share my NEW OCTOBER HOMEWORK PACKET with you! My students read/print words and sentences, as well as sequence and write numbers. At the top of each paper is a place for a parent’s signature and a box to write the number of times the child reads the words and sentences. The pictures are fairly large and “simple,” making them easy and fun to color. So many worksheets have teeny tiny pictures that young children rarely enjoy coloring!

I’m also searching for variety. I want the homework to vary in some way, yet still contain the same skills. I’ve included pages about fall, pumpkins, bats, owls, Christopher Columbus, and Halloween. There are 20 pages of READY to SEND HOME homework!
These pages are also perfect for “morning work” if you prefer. Your students complete the pages in class, read them to a reading buddy, and take them home to READ to mom or dad. Mom and dad send them back with a signature and the number of times read. Either way, children are reading!

I’m hoping that these printables will boost your students reading abilities and make YOUR teaching life a little easier.  I’d like to give away 3 packets of my October Homework to the first 3 teachers that leave me a comment and their email address. I’d love to know what you think!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pumpkin and Scarecrow Brace Maps

In my last post, I mentioned that I LOVE brace maps and showed an example of my APPLE BRACE MAP. I hope you had a chance to make one with your kids! This month, it’s easy to guess that we will be making a PUMPKIN BRACE MAP and in November we will be making a (drum roll, please) a variation of a SCARECROW BRACE MAP! 



This illustration of a Scarecrow is not an actual Brace Map in appearance because it doesn't show the PARTS as well as the WHOLE. 

BUT... here's why it works: The children spread the parts out on the rug, label them, and then ... glue the parts into the whole! The children proudly carry their scarecrows home to show off to mom and dad!

Keep in mind, that a brace map illustrates visually to our young learners the concept of part to whole and whole to part. This concept is important for all future learning and fun to teach too! If you’ve never tried making BRACE MAPS with your kids, fall is the perfect time to begin.

Later on in the year, I'll share with you a Snowman Brace Map and a Flower Brace Map too! Kids will start thinking of their own brace maps before the end of the year!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Apple Brace Maps

Fall is here! It’s arrival brings a world of new activities that will engage our little ones! One of my favorite projects, although I must admit that I have several favorites, is the introduction of Brace Maps!

A brace map illustrates visually to our young learners the concept of part to whole and whole to part. This concept is important for all future learning and fun to teach too!

Apples provide the perfect introduction to a brace map because the components of an apple are easy to observe. For young children, concrete examples work best and “REAL” apples are easy to bring into the classroom.

You may want to begin your discussion by HIDING the apple, giving clues, and then revealing the apple for the kids to view. This tends to generate excitement for the lesson. 

Discuss the parts of the apple that are observable before cutting: skin, stem, leaf. Record the answers, and then cut the apple to reveal the parts inside: flesh, seeds, and core. 

You may want to draw a huge apple on red paper and label the parts of an apple with your class. There are also lots of books for young children that show the parts of an apple.

For the follow-up activity the next day, we review the concepts that were introduced and make individual brace maps … but in whole group!  We begin by cutting out an apple shape, stem, and leaf. I use “directed drawing” in lieu of patterns or dittos. My kids draw the parts using a black crayon and then color and cut. Next, I illustrate how to make the skin, flesh, and core. We will glue the seeds on later.

Depending on the time allotted for this activity, the children either put all their parts in their crayon boxes until tomorrow, or glue them on the 12” by 18” black paper. We would cut out the words and glue them next to our parts. Lastly, we glue the “real” apple seeds on the core.  As this is our first brace map, I draw the bracket with a white crayon.

As our study of apples continues through the month, we will refer to our apple brace map often. Finally, as a closing activity and an informal assessment, each child will create their own apple brace map to take home and share with the family.

Example of individual brace map.

This is the beginning of many more brace maps to come! It’s easy to guess that next month will be a pumpkin brace map!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Building Book

Today is September 11, 2015. It was fourteen years ago today that America was attacked and our innocence was shattered. The land of the free and the home of the brave was forever changed by the malevolent behavior of a group of individuals displaying depraved indifference for human life.

As adults, we were rocked by the violence and the loss of life that occurred on this horrific day. The disbelief that this violent attack could have occurred on our soil was profound. Families and friends rallied together in disbelief as the reality of the attacks came to fruition.

Children were exposed in varying degrees, depending on their ages and situations, to the enormity of the attacks. Did our children comprehend the atrocity of the attack? Did they verbally share what they were feeling or thinking with an adult?

Adults often write to solidify their knowledge of an event or subject, as well as to clarify their feelings and thoughts.  Children write for the same reasons. They want to share something that is personal and of interest to them. As an educator of young children for more than three decades, my goal is to provide my students with the tools to be independent writers. I want to know what my littles ones are thinking, learning, and feeling. 

Through the years, the five year olds in my class have stunned me with their abundant and insightful writing. Tales of frogs, butterflies, gingerbread boys, dogs, cats, owls, scarecrows, rainbows, and so much more have graced my desk and filled my heart with joy as I read their precious words.  

More often than you would imagine, a child will share a piece of writing with me that leaves me speechless, as I realize the magnitude of the words on the paper. Such was the writing that Justin shared with me on a beautiful blue-sky day in September.

Re-writing his words for you to read would diminish the meaning of his work. You need to view his work, and see each letter that he independently sought to hear and then to print successfully to communicate his thoughts to the reader. His work is not profound, but it is personal and telling.   At the tender age of five, his words illuminate his disbelief that a nefarious act of this magnitude was possible.  
The Building Book : #1 Bad people drove air planes to... #2 destroy the city and kill... #3 the people they want to kill... #4 the grown-ups to.

Justin’s writing communicates an event that is deeply troubling to him. As his teacher, I take great pride in teaching him the skills necessary to share his thoughts in written form. Perhaps more importantly, I acknowledge that he is capable of sharing his ideas on paper and provide him the time and freedom to try. 

Consider the difference in Justin’s writing had I provided him with a “prompt.” Would asking him to share his favorite animal or what he did on summer vacation inspire him to write? It may provide analysis of his writing skills, but it would not allow him to write authentically.

Children will write for the same reasons as adults if given the opportunity to do so. The children in my classroom are writers without limits. Our mantra is: If we think it, we can say it. It we can say it, we can write it.” Learning to write opens a new form of communication for a young child. Just as he learned to speak with practice and praise from his parents, so will his writing rocket with support and guidance from his teachers. Providing him opportunities to take risks, and spread his wings, may determine how far he will soar.

Justin is a freshman in college this year and there is no doubt in my mind or heart that his  writing will continue to enlighten us all.