Monday, December 14, 2015

The Polar Express Figurative Language Activities {Must Read Mentor Text}

All aboard the Polar Express!!! This is always one of my favorite books to read with my students in December. And I think they love it as much as I do!
This week's Must Read Mentor Text is The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. It's a Christmas classic!

There are endless possibilities for using this book in your classroom! I usually spend one to two weeks close reading and analyzing the story and author's craft with my students. And it's fun to watch the movie adaptation at the end of our unit, so we can compare and contrast.
One skill that I love teaching with this text is figurative language! I love focusing on all the figurative language and incredible word choice that Chris Van Allsburg uses to bring this story to life. Before reading the story, I review different forms of figurative language with my students. We sometimes make an anchor chart or, we look back in our reading notebooks at the notes we've taken or examples we've recorded. Click HERE to download our FREE figurative language mini book- great for note taking!
As I read the story, I ask my students to listen out for figurative language. I give each student sticky notes to record the figurative language they hear. Then, I let the students share the figurative language they've recorded. We either put our sticky notes onto a class chart or we stick then right in our reader's notebooks to refer back to later.
After you have discussed the figurative language in the story, you can have your students make figurative language posters. I let the students pick one of the figurative language examples from the book, and I give them large white paper or chart paper to illustrate the figurative language. On the poster they have to include: the type of figurative language (simile, personification, etc.), a definition of it, the example sentence from the book, and an illustration depicting the example they've chosen. Then, I put the students in small groups to share their posters and review the figurative language.  :)
I'm sorry I don't have any poster pictures....

What activities do you like to do with The Polar Express? I'd love to hear your ideas!!!  :)

I hope you enjoy this Must Read Mentor Text! Have a great week!

*We will not be posting Must Read Mentor Texts over the holidays- Monday, Decemeber 21st and Monday, December 28th but we will be back on Monday January 4th with a new text!

If you didn't enter our Merry and Bright Holiday Giveaway, please click the image below to read all about it in yesterday's post- there's still time to enter!  :)

Thanks so much for visiting us!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Huge Winter Prize Bundle and Teacher Tips to keep you feeling Merry and Bright through the Holidays!

We can't believe that the holidays are so close! We are linking up with our blogging friends from Teach 3-4-5 to share Tips and a HUGE Winter Prize Bundle to keep you and your students feeling merry and bright through the holidays! These last few days before break are always tough!

Are you singing the song with us?  "May your days be merry and bright..."  :)

So, first we are sharing a tip for this crazy time of year!
Our tip is to integrate holiday themed games into your Math time! 
We love using games during Math time, and we also love celebrating the holidays with our students, so we put the two together! There are so many important Math skills that you can review with games, and there are tons of Christmas and Winter themed Math games out there that you can use. Check out a few multiplication games we've used by clicking the pictures below. We use them during Math Workshop rotations, centers, partner work, early finisher work, and even morning work sometimes. The kids love them!

Now on to the HUGE prize pack! Yay for Winter Giveaways!!! We are all giving away a winter product that you can use now or after winter break! 
You can win a Winter Prize Bundle from the amazing bloggers above! Just enter the Rafflecopter below!

And be sure to check out all of the amazing tips linked up by clicking on the Blog Buttons below.

Have fun! And we hope you have a VERY MERRY HOLIDAY!  Good Luck these last few days! :)

Thanks for stopping by! 
Come back tomorrow to check out Monday's Must Read Mentor Text! 
Have a great Sunday!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Gingerbread Friends {A Must Read Mentor Text}

Happy Monday, Friends! Today's Must Read Mentor Text is a sweet book perfect for December!
It's Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett. I've always loved reading gingerbread stories with my students, and this is a cute twist on the classic tale. It's actually the sequel to Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby. I usually start by reading a classic version of the Gingerbread Man and then I read Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends. It's fun to compare and contrast all of the stories, and students love hearing different versions.
In Gingerbread Friends, the Gingerbread Baby longs so badly for a friend to play with. He sets out an adventure to find a perfect friend, but ends getting chased by a fox, a dog, a cat and other animals before he makes it back home. But, at home, Mattie (the boy) has made him a big surprise- lots of gingerbread friends!
There are so many ways to use this mentor text. You can focus on reading skills such as making predictions, compare and contrast, sequencing, theme, summarizing, and story elements. 
We created two FREE compare and contrast resources for you to use while you read this book with your students! 
Click HERE or click the image above for FREE Compare and Contrast Printables that you can use with any Gingerbread books! Compare different versions of the story or different characters. There is a Venn Diagram and an interactive notebook flip book. 
The last page folds out to show the huge world of gingerbread friends that Mattie has created!

I hope you and your students enjoy this book! It's so cute and a lot of fun! 
Have a great week!

Friday, December 4, 2015

12 Days of Winter FREEBIES Galore!!!

Happy Friday, Friends! We are blogging over at the Primary Peach today sharing day 9 of our 12 Days of Winter Countdown! There are so many amazing Freebies, Activities, and Ideas to check out!

Today's post is 9 Grammar Freebies- Yep! 9 Freebies to just click and download. Perfect for the Winter Months! Click on the image below to go see them!

And be sure to look back at Day 12 filled with so many amazing read alouds- you know how much we LOVE books- this is like Christmas morning!!! There are so many books that are now on my Must Read List!

And Day 11 is filled with 11 FREE Winter Math Activities and Day 10 has 10 FREE Winter Reading Activities! It's like opening a present each day!

Tomorrow is Day 8 with Amazing Winter Homework Freebies....
Hope you find some helpful ideas and activities! Have a great weekend!

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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