May 25, 2016

It's in the bag!!!

Originally seen on Virginia is for Teachers!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful HeatherAre you at that point where your kids are just bored with sorting words? Do you need a hands on way to keep those bored students engaged? Well, today's post will be just what you need. My students have loved making these books, and I know yours will too!
Looking for new ways to engage your students? Try these bag books for a hands on approach. This post explains how they're made and used.

It's in the bag!

Using simple paper lunch bags you can create meaningful study guides for your students (I also call them bag books).  Your creativity is your limit!  I find this activity most helpful in small differentiated groups.  In my first grade classroom I currently use these bag books to make sight words, sentence knowledge, and word families.  My students cannot wait to add to their bags.  These bag books are kept inside student pencil boxes and used multiple times daily.

Supplies:

You won't need much to make bag books!  For each student I use 3 paper bags.  You can buy already designed bags, white paper bags, or the original brown paper bags.  Grab your hole punch, some string, yarn, or ribbon, and decor!  I use leftover name tag labels, stickers, and markers.  3x5 cards will be used inside the bag (so make sure you have some handy for later). 

How To

You can be creative here but this is how I make my bag books.  Using three bags, alternate the way the open end faces each time you place one on top of the other.  Fold all three bags in half (creating the book shape) and make a crease.  Take your hole punch and place a hole at the top and bottom of the book's spine (on the crease).  Now students can decorate their own bag by choosing colorful string to bind the book.  The book is ready to be personalized. 


Sight Words

On a chosen page of the book bag I have my students write "sight words".  We discuss that there are words that we each have to work on and know quickly to make us awesome readers.  I choose three words at a time and the student is allowed to pick two that they are having difficulty with.  They write these words themselves on 3x5 cards.  If they need a picture clue they can draw it on the other side of the card.  These store beautifully inside the pocket made from folding the bag.  As students master their words we add more (and send the others home to continue to practice). 





Word Families
This is my absolute favorite way to teach word families!  Before I present the books to the students I cut the bottom bag flap.  In the picture above I cut four times to create five small tabs that can be flipped back to reveal a letter.  In preparation I also write the word family boldly on the left.  When the students come to small group we have a conversation about rhyming words and the word family that we are working on.  The students that were working on the "at" family chose the words cat, fat, rat, mat, and bat.  Other students were working on the "ip" family and they wanted to use the words hip, rip, sip, lip, and ship.  Students are then guided to write the beginning letter (c for cat) and draw a picture to match.  When they are working with this activity the illustration gives them assistance in remembering the word family words.

Sentence Knowledge

 How many times do we make an anchor chart teaching editing skills that go completely ignored?  This is a fun and engaging way to have students actively pay attention to sentence structure.  Your students will need to pay attention to capital letters, punctuation, and spacing.  The above pictures show that you can manipulate and differentiate to fit any student's needs.  For my present class I use the center pictures.  The headings remind them that sentences should "start with an upper case" and "end with .!?" (punctuation).  They write an example on the page and draw arrows from the rule to the portion of the sentence where it is shown (above top right).  Inside the pocket (created by the bag) we keep editing sentences we have been working on.

Adjectives and More!

It's fun to use a bag book for parts of speech.  The example to the left is used for adjectives.  They could write their name and draw their picture (or add a school picture).  Inside the flap they can describe themselves.  Think about the possibilities........ students could describe the regions of Virginia, states of matter, list proper nouns!

What will you do?

This is an inexpensive way to get students excited about work!  A pack of 100 bags can be found at any dollar store.  Think ahead and ask parents for a pack on your supply list.

So.... how will you use a bag book?  Please share your ideas and let everyone know what is working for you?  How many pages will you try?  What grade(s) do you teach?  The sky is the limit with these bag books and I'm so thrilled to hear how you choose to create and implement!  Have fun.... because it's in the bag!!!






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Looking for new ways to engage your students? Try these bag books for a hands on approach for teaching sight words and word families. This post explains how they're made and used.

May 20, 2016

17 FUN Comprehension Strategies

Originally seen on Virginia is for Teachers!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather back for the third and final post in my series. In case you missed them, I began with sharing a view of my classroom on Sunday, a glimpse of me doing what I do, and today, I am sharing a bit of what I've learned so far.

17 FUN Comprehension Strategies 

If you are looking for fun and attention grabbing comprehension strategies this post is for you! You will be treated to 17 exciting comprehension strategies that can be implemented before, during, and after reading. Have fun!
From left to right:  Amanda Hunley, Heather Waild, Kristen Roth
This past March was very exciting!   Along with two co-teachers/friends, I presented at the 49th Annual Virginia State Reading Association Conference.  We worked hard to make sure that teachers went away with strategies that they could implement immediately and effectively.  We called ourselves "The Comprehension Queens" and thanks to Honey Side Up Creative, we were also made into cartoons!

At The Guided Reading Table

Here are some comprehension ideas that you can use at the guided reading table with your small groups.
This activity is called "FLAG IT when you READ IT".  The two above are differentiated for ability and grade level(s).  It's a great use for the flags that are used for page markers in college.  I have a laminated version of this page for my reading table.  Each student receives a set of flags with different colors.  When they are reading and they find one of the identifiers they grab a flag and stick it in the book.  When I see a student reaching for a flag I usually stop my readers and say, "Oh!  Did you find something?  Tell us!"  There have been wonderful 'light bulb' moments using this idea.  Students also are more aware of a purpose for reading when this is introduced. 
This fun game/activity is called "Roll a Response".  After being guided, you could put this activity into a listening center for an 'after-reading activity'.  There are four included here (two for fiction and two for non-fiction).  The teacher can choose which one to use depending on the text given.  If you are sensitive to noise, please use the foam dice that you can find at the dollar stores.  A student simply rolls the die and answers a question that correlates with the number rolled.  If you laminate these boards they can be used year after year!
 
 Some students struggle with learning how to wonder.  It seems as if it would be very natural but that is not always true.  When I saw this book about the Inupiaq people, I knew that it would be a great cover to introduce 'wondering' with.  You can see that one of my students wondered, "Is she in bed?"  After all of the students verbalized what they wondered, they wrote them in the bubble portion of the activity sheet.  As we were reading, students were encouraged to let us know if they found out the answer to what they just wondered.  This student wrote about the fur that the Inupiaq people wear when she found out that the girl was not in bed, she was wearing a fur coat.



As we sit at the guided reading table we know what kinds of questions to ask.  BUT wouldn't it be nice to have someone write them all down for you?  These guides are full of differentiated questions to ask students.  You can also use them as a "pick-a-card" activity during reading.


Your students will have so much fun with these spinners!  Make your own spinning mechanism with a paperclip and a pencil.  A paperclip is the spinner and the point of the pencil holds the paperclip in the center.  If a student is holding the spinner with his/her left hand they can spin with their right.  Our kindergarten friends may need the teacher's assistance but they will love to spin just the same!  On these (fiction and non-fiction) spinners, picture clues are given.


Centers To Go

Who doesn't love an already-created center? Have fun watching your students using comprehension strategies while reading.

Using these "Anticipation Guides" the teacher can give statements or the students can create their own.  They get to predict if the statement if going to be found true or false prior to reading.  After reading, they can go back and answer with information found in the text.  They can even add page numbers where the information was found!

You have to love an activity where the student is asked to wonder before, during, and after reading.  With this activity students can do all three!  The teacher can put page numbers on the activity or give them a choice on where to stop and wonder during reading.






These choice boards give students the opportunity to choose what they will do in centers.  Throughout a week, the students need to color in three boxes (like tic-tac-toe).  A sneaky (aka smart) teacher will place items that need to be done in a main box.

Laminate these book marks and tuck them into books.  You can even write the page number in the bubble with dry erase marker (in case they fall out of the book).  Students get to that spot in the book, stop, and wonder.  You can even offer students lined paper and they can write down their thoughts (if you choose).

Keep It Current

It doesn't matter what grade you teach, students enjoy activities that are current.  We need to take things that they think are cool and turn them into moments of learning.  Students will want to participate if they are excited about the work in front of them.

All that you need for this activity are these guides and sticky notes.  As students find what they are looking for in the book (character, funny party, a time when they inferred, etc.) they draw the icon or emoji that correlates and stick it in the book!

This activity allows students to wonder, tell how they feel, what they thought was funny, if they were confused, what they liked, and how they reflect on the story.  Using emoji-like characters, the students write about what they find/read.  This can also help you, as the teacher, find group reading that the students enjoy and it can stimulate conversation(s) in small group.

Using a hashtag can be an enrichment activity!  When students read text and can summarize with a hashtag they truly have comprehension skills.  This is fun and the students love it.  I'd love for you to share some of the hashtags that your students create!

 

This is one of my favorites and I'm so thrilled that students still use them and love them.  You may remember them as Fortune Tellers or Cootie Catchers.  Don't be intimidated.  They are easy to fold (if my husband can do it, you can do it!).  I put them out in centers and also send them home for comprehension homework.  Many times parents do not know what to ask after a student reads a book.  This will help guide them and promote family fun.  I decided to use sight words for the "outside sections" to give my students extra practice with difficult words but you can be creative and implement them in any way that you need.  *A hint for upper grades:  Have students create their own connected to the text that they are reading.  Comprehension Fold-A-Fun can be a great study tool too!

Make It And Take It

The summer is right around the corner!  It's the time that we have to actually meet up with friends and relax a little.  One thing my friends like to do (nerd alert) is to choose an item that we would like to have for our classroom and make it while we are gabbing.  We've always had a fun time while creating for our classes together.  I think you will too.  Here is your challenge:  Meet up with teacher friends once a month and craft something useful for your class.  Here are some ideas:

These 5 finger retells are just as cute as they look!  The students simply slide the bead(s) up when they find the story element.  Your students will love them and want to retell after using them!         


These differentiated "Roll and Know" cubes are fun and quiet!  Cover them with packing tape prior to cutting them (or use a light laminate) and they will last a long time.

Find colorful card stock and laminate them.  Once they are cut out, they make wonderful thought bubbles for comprehension work.  After reading about friendship these students responded that a "Friends have your back!" and "Best friends is BFF friendship".




Using the labels to the right (and they are ready made to be on printer labels) stick them on craft sticks and put them in a container (this one is a coffee container) and make a cute label.  Students will love to answer questions when they get to choose from the Quiz Me Can!

Can You Comprehend How Fun This Would Be?

I hope that you have found one thing that is new to you or that you would like to make.  You should collaborate with your friends the way that I did with mine (shout out to my girls Kristen and Amanda).  Great things happen when teachers get together!  You should make it happen.  Please let me know what you enjoyed or if you have a different spin on things.  We can all learn from each other!  

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If you are looking for fun and attention grabbing comprehension strategies this post is for you!  You will be treated to 17 exciting comprehension strategies that can be implemented before, during, and after reading.

Don't Forget To Have Fun - Dress Up!

Originally seen on Virginia is for Teachers!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.

Don't Forget To Have Fun - Dress Up!

It's always fun to take a break from the regular workday and add in a little fun.  Working in a Primary School there are many opportunities to dress up.  We celebrate Reading Month yearly and we have a "sunshine committee" (they plan outings and fun dress up days).  There are plenty of teachers in my school that dress up for these scheduled events.  We have a positive atmosphere to be creative.  I hope this motivates you to either participate in your school events, initiate some fun school dress up days, or add to your already fabulous style.

It Has Always Been An Issue

Yes, I'm a dress up junkie.  I need an intervention of sorts.  No one is safe from my need for dress up.  Before I was married, I made my husband dress up like a woman for Halloween.  He still married me!  To me, that is like signing a contract that says, "Forever more I will let her dress me up!"  See..... it is a problem!  Then my daughter was born and my husband was given a respite.  When Kelsey grew up and moved to California (not because of me, I promise!) I had to turn inward and bring the fun to school.

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teachingDo you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
My husband as Richard Simmons for a race at the beach.  He doesn't look like he minds it too much.

My daughter over the years.  Born into this!

"Work is either fun or drudgery.  It depends on your attitude.  I like to have fun." -Colleen C. Barrett     

Yes, I'm fortunate that the people around me, and the building I work in, promote and support fun.  BUT, I am a teacher..... my costumes have to be inexpensive and not take a lot of time to fabricate.  Enjoy a laugh at my expense!

Character Dress Up 

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Pete The Cat
Pete The Cat:  With a simple yellow polo shirt borrowed from my husband and a pair of sweats from Walmart, this costume was simple!  I cut off the extra length of the pants to make the tail.  It was just pinned on.  The rest of the costume was printed out on a printer and laminated.  I glued the laminated mask onto some old sunglasses with the lenses popped out.  I glued some pipe cleaners as whiskers, put on some red kicks, and I was done!

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Miss Viola Swamp:  I was frightened to see how close I could come to looking like the "meanest teacher".  I used a rubber nose from a few Halloweens prior, put on rouge with vigor, and some black lipstick.  My go-to black dress and witch stockings from the dollar store were the bulk of the outfit.  Top it off with a printed picture to tape onto your school badge!




Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Olivia with Pete The Cat
Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Lady Bug Girl
Olivia:  The only item I had to buy for this costume was the stockings.  The neck tie is a scrap from a junk box at school.  The nose was made out of a toilet paper roll, felt, black elastic, and a sharpie.  The ears were found on sale after Halloween.

Lady Bug Girl:  My boots were borrowed from the Pete the Cat (left).  My wings and antennae were from a costume my daughter wore years ago.  I bought some tulle to make the skirt and added black construction paper dots for the boots.  Sadly most of the dots fell off by this time of day!

Not Just The 100th Day of School!

Many teachers dress up on the 100th day of school.  It's a milestone!  Why not?  I agree!  But our school goes a little further (or less) than that!

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
 Look at this group of teachers celebrating the 50th day of school!  Why not celebrate the ability to count to 50 and discuss past and present standards of learning at the same time?  Finding a big skirt is easy these days.  My skirt was from a time when my daughter was in a presentation of Grease at her high school.  I tied a scarf around my neck and tied one on my ponytail and off I went!  What a comfortable outfit!  As you see, many of the other teachers used creative ideas and looked stinkin' cute!

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
The 80th day of school was celebrated like this!  I used to be a student that REALLY wanted to dress like this in the 80s but my babysitting funds didn't allow it.  I was in my glory!  For under $20 I found the top (skirt attached), pants, belt, headband, and glove.  Those awesome sneakers were borrowed from my daughter and I purchased some rubber band bracelets to wear (on my ears too).

The Sunshine Committee and More

Gaze your eyes upon these beauties.  Keep in mind I did have to drive to and from school.  Driving the speed limit was super important on these days.  How would you explain this to a police officer?


Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching






Nerd Day (A Sunshine Committee-created day) and St. Patrick's Day are always fun for the teachers and students. 
Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teachingDo you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching

This was Prom Day!  You were supposed to dress up like you were going to the prom.  I just couldn't be mainstream, so I took an old tuxedo and an old dress and sewed them together.  Make up and barrette were only applied to one side.  This was a ton of fun and honestly was way easier than you'd think.  You just have to give it a try.  I remember my husband saying to me, "Do you have any idea what you're doing?"  I replied, "No!"


Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
On Super Hero Day, I was drawing a blank when it came to ideas.  As I browsed for costumes they were all too costly.  Then I came up with the idea to be an original super hero:  Super Bucket Filler.  Our school is a "bucket filling community" and I use individual bucket filling in my classroom for behavior management.  I made the cape with material that was on sale, glued an extra bucket to a headband, and another one to a classroom pointer.
Silver Day!  Believe it or not I own that dress!  It's really cute but really, really, SILVER!  I covered an old pair of boots, made arm bands, and covered a headband with aluminum foil.  The girls in my class loved this outrageous outfit!

Would you?  

Dress up days are the best medicine for overworked students and data-driven teachers.  They should be mandatory in every school.  Does your school allow this kind of tomfoolery?  Have you had dress up days that you'd like to share?  I would love to see them and generate some fresh ideas for those who enjoy it.












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