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My Favorite Picture Books for Setting and Story Elements!

I recently blogged about the books I read in August and September as we focus on illustration, print concepts, and characters.

As October rolls around we focus on setting and story elements and I wanted to share some of my FAVORITE picture books I use to teach these skills: 

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen: Identify Setting (time and place)
This beautiful book has my readers looking closely at illustrations and descriptive language to determine the setting in this story. There are parts where I have my students close their eyes and just listen to me read Jane Yolen's words and then describe what feelings they have when they listen to her describe the setting.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: Compare/Contrast Setting
While I love this book for MANY reasons and you may be thinking "why would I read Snowy Day in October?!" don't be scared - we read this book a few times throughout the year!! I love to compare the setting in this story to Owl Moon. We take a close look at how the setting affects the characters in both stories as well and it always brings a great discussion.

Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco: Setting Affects Plot
Have I ever read a Patricia Polacco book I didn't love?! Nope.
In this story, I have my students pay close attention to how the setting affects the plot and characters in the story. It is very clear in this story to see how the thuunderstorms and dark stormy, environment affect the little girl in the story! We also talk about how the story would be different if the setting had been entirely different.

Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey: Setting Affects Plot
Same as Thunder Cake, I read this story with the focus of HOW the setting of this story affects the plot of the story. The setting is very important to the ducks in this story and it is a great way for my kids to see how things change as the ducks travel in the story.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon: Retell beginning, middle & end
This is a seasonal book I love to read in October to go over retelling. By this time in the year, we have certainly touched about retelling, but this book has a clear beginning, middle, and end . We also discuss which part of the book we find to be the most important to the storyline and why.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes: Retell beginning, middle, & end
As we read this Kevin Henkes classic, I have my students not only retell the story, but retell it with a focus on Lily's feelings and actions throughout the beginning, middle, and ending of the story. I always try to emphasize that we only retell the "important" parts of our story as well.

So there you have it! Six of my favorite read alouds for Setting and Story Elements!

You can grab the above books here:


I also spent all of last year creating one page lesson plans for all of the above books with stopping points and questions that relate to the skills I mentioned! If you want to see those and try a FREE one click the image below and download the preview:

Pin it to remember:

Johnny Appleseed Free Mini Unit


Just stopping by real quick tonight to share a free mini unit I made to help your young students celebrate Johnny Appleseed!

This mini unit is geared towards grades 1-2 and includes:
- Nonfiction passage (see above)
- Vocabulary sheet
- Comprehension sheet
- 2 writing prompts
- Addition apple partner game
- Phonics partner game for short e/long e

The above game helps students read short e and long e words and collect seeds as they go! Whoever collects their 12 seeds first, wins!

If you are looking for a little something fun for Johnny Appleseed just click below to download!




August and September Read Alouds

My favorite time of day is read aloud in the classroom.

All my students sitting around and enjoying a story together. As the teacher, I always like to choose rich texts with tons of learning opportunities for our read alouds. Some of my favorite books are the ones we can read over and over and STILL learn something new.

I thought over the next few months I would share some of my favorite read alouds, the skills I teach while reading them, and when I read them!



In August, my students are introduced to an interactive read aloud while we review the basic concepts of print and focus on respectful listening and interactions. The main skills I teach during this month are centered around the importance of illustrations as it connects to the text of a book. Four books I love to teach these skills are:


How To Read a Story by Mark Siegal:
This is GREAT book to kick off reader's workshop at the beginning of the year. I read this book to show my students that the illustrations in a story match the text that is written.

Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola:
This wordless book is a classic. This story always helps emphasize that illustrations tell a story and that even though the author didn't write ANY text... he still told us a wonderful story.

The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak:
This is a relatively new book and is a HILARIOUS hit in my first grade room. This book has no pictures (shocker, ha ha) and is perfect to show my students that text has meaning.

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann:
This book is a fun one to teach students that illustrations can give us more information than the text alone. We look closely at the pictures to see what is happening in the story and use our beginning inferring skills.

You can grab any of these books here:


As September rolls along, we begin to meet our characters in different stories. I want my students to be able to identify the inner and outer character traits of main characters as well as their actions and feelings.


Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell & Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae:
I use both of these books to kick off our character unit. They are great for students to identify character traits - both inner and outer!

A Weekend with Wendell & Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes:
In these two classics, we identify characters and the feelings they have throughout the story. These two books always allow for great discussions around our feelings at the beginning of the year!

The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill & The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch:
I use both of these books to model character actions and what it says about the character.

You can see any of the above books here:


I also spent all of last year creating one page lesson plans for all of the above books with stopping points and questions that relate to the skills I mentioned! If you want to see those and try a FREE one click the image below and download the preview:

Fix it Cards!

Hi there!

Today, I wanted to take a minute to share one of my FAVORITE math tasks.



WHAT ARE FIX IT CARDS?
Fix it cards are great questions to pose to your students to promote HIGHER ORDER thinking!

These fix it cards pose typical questions in a different way to help your students identify mistakes in another person’s work AND show how they can fix it. Many of the cards have multiple ways to fix the problem as well which promotes great discussion in your classroom.

These cards are a wonderful tool in facilitating meaningful math talks with your young students and allows you to check student learning through their discussions. 

The cards are differentiated so ALL students can participate!

IN MY CLASSROOM:
I often posed “fix it” questions as a math warm up in my class. These warm ups were posed whole group under the projector and I would facilitate a student-led discussion around what was wrong in the problem and possible ways we could fix the problem.

These cards are also great for small groups. In each section (number sense, addition, subtraction, etc.) there are easier cards and more difficult cards so all students should be able to be challenged!

Math stations – my higher groups would love to complete these so they would put out a few fix it cards and recording sheets so I could check their learning when they were finished!

I included 20 different cards of varying difficulty for each of the following subjects:
-Number Sense
-Addition
-Subtraction
-Place Value
-Time
-Money
-Geometry
-Data and Measurement

Here are some close up examples of these problems so you can see if they would work in your room:









The above cards show just 4 of the 20 different cards in each subject!

If you think you and your students would enjoy these tasks, you can see them by clicking below:


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