Tag Archives: reading comprehension

Fostering Text-to-Life Connections through Common Summertime Activities – Part II

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

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Making connections between a text and a reader’s life is an important part of reading comprehension. The more young readers are encouraged to relate books to their own experiences, the better they’ll be able to access prior knowledge, make predictions, infer cause and effect relationships, and synthesize meaning. And, the more readers practice making connections, the more natural this critical reading skill will become.

So, why not use summer to practice making authentic text-to-life connections? It’s easy. Just pick a book and read it before, during, or after an activity with a similar theme. Before you begin reading and also during reading, ask prompting questions like:

  • “Have you ever done this?”
  • “What was your favorite part about _____(fill in experience)___?”
  • “How do you feel when you’re ___(with Grandma, at the beach, camping, etc.)___?”
  • “How do you think the character is feeling now? How would you feel in this situation?”
  • “What did we do next when we were ____(experience)__? What do you think the character is going to do next?”
  • “How was this like our trip? How was this book different?”

To get you started, we shared a list of books that connect to visiting grandparents and going to the beach in Part I of this series. Now, here’s a list of books that connect to camping, flying on an airplane, and making something creative out of an empty box!

Summertime Activity:


The books that connect to the activity:

S if for S'mores

S is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet, by Helen Foster James

From what to pack, to where to go, to what to do when you get there, S is for Smores: A Camping Alphabet takes readers on an A-Z trail exploring this outdoor pastime.

Canoe Days, by Gary Paulsen

This gorgeous picture book is by the award-winning outdoor youth novelist of Hatchet. Here’s the publisher’s review: Opening this book is like sitting down in a canoe, taking up a paddle, and gliding out into the summer beauty of a hidden lake. In this picture book that is as refreshing and inviting as a perfect canoe day, a fawn peeks out from the trees as ducklings fan out behind their mother. Ruth Wright Paulsen’s sunlit paintings and Gary Paulsen’s poetic text capture all the peace and pleasure of a day when water and sky are one.

Summertime Activity:

Going on a picnic!

The books that connect to the activity:

The Picnic, by Ruth Brown

This delightful book narrates a picnic from the perspective of the animals that live both on top of–and under–the ground.

The Bears’ Picnic by Stan and Jan Baranstein

Oh, silly Father Bear! That’s not how you pick a picnic spot! In this bear-errific misadventure, Father Bear leads the family on a quest for the perfect picnic spot…but ends up trying out quite a few subpar spots (train tracks, dumping ground, mosquito swamp) first.

Summertime Activity:

Turning an empty box into a house, or castle, or race car, or ship, or….

The books that connect to the activity:

Christina Katerina and the Box, by Patricia Lee GauchChristina Katerina and the Box

If you can get your hands on a copy, DO IT! This imaginative book was my favorite growing up (and judging from the many reviews on Amazon.com, I wasn’t alone), and now it’s a favorite for my own young readers. Christina likes nothing more than the promise of an empty box. So, when a new fridge arrives at her house one summer day, Christina quickly claims the box. She pulls it into her front yard where it becomes a castle, club house, race car, and ballroom floor. It will inspire countless hours of imaginative play with your own empty boxes!

Other Summertime Activity Books:

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Filed under Academic Success, Critical Thinking, Home Schooling, Parenting, Reading, Summer Learning

Testing…made {much} better, Part I

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This is part 1 in a two-part series by Diane Burdick, M. Ed.

Ahhh, spring: swaying daffodils, refreshingly warm days, welcomed longer afternoons…and tests, tests, tests. Although standardized tests are extremely important, they shouldn’t strike dread into the hearts of your students. Instead of hitting the all-panic button come testtime, help your students (and parents!) feel confident and prepared with these helpful hints.

One Bite at a Time

We all know how to eat an elephant, and it’s not all at once. Similarly, don’t spend the week before testing cramming with your class; rather, review both daily and weekly. Incorporate concepts into several simple “Morning Work” problems for your students to solve when they enter the class each day. You can write questions or equations on the board or have a simple practice sheet waiting on student desks. Steady, consistent review is better for both long-term memory…and everyone’s nerves.

Tips for Parents: Ask your child’s teacher for a list of concepts to review or information about the test format. For example, will your student be required to fill in answers or will the questions be mostly multiple choice? Even going over this simple fact with children helps them feel calm when the test is finally placed in front of them.

Study Helps

Use graphic organizers, charts and diagrams to help students visualize the answers to study questions. When possible, use alliteration or rhymes to help students remember key points.

Consider using the SQ3R technique— Survey, Question, Record, Retain, and Recall — to enhance comprehension memorization. Click here for detailed direction on how SQ3R works; it’s a great way to transfer information to long-term memory!

Tips for Parents: Check out the veritable slew of research-based test-prep workbooks and activities at your local school supply store. These from The School Box are some favorites:

  1. Georgia CRCT Prep Books (they sell books by state!) $15.95
  2. Carson-Delosa testing prep books, by grade level. These workbooks contain strategies and practice activities that will greatly increase student confidence and familiarity with the test format and content. Love them! $12.99
  3. Core Skills Test Preparation workbooks from Harcourt School Supply, by grade level: another great set of skill-specific practice pages to help build mastery and strengthen reading comprehension. $9.99
Just a few practice sheets a week can make a world of difference both in reviewing skills and in helping kids feel on top of their game come test morning.
Two more helpful guidelines will be shared in the next article in this two-part series!


Kanar, C. (2011). The confident student. Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

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Filed under Academic Success, Reading, Study Skills, Test Prep

The Coolest Birthday Gifts Ever (Hands-On Science Part III)

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

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Science is one of those subjects that, when done right, is just as fun on a Friday night at home with the kids as it is in class. This is part three in a three-part series on fun science projects for home or school.

While the supplies under your kitchen sink make for great science experiments (as shared in Part I and Part II of this series), there are also some fabulous (affordable) science kits that you can purchase at specialty toy stores to provide hours of exploration and discovery.

Here are our favorites, which would also make welcomed birthday and Christmas gifts. Think of them as toys that pack a one/two punch. ONE: They’re tons of FUN. (Seriously, who doesn’t want to make a robot?) And TWO: They teach and reinforce critical thinking skills (cause and effect, reading and pre-reading strategies, direction following, synthesis, analysis, prediction…).

Now doesn’t that sound like a better gift than the usual overpriced plastic thingymajig that will become toy box fodder in two days? We thought so, too.

Five Rockin’ Science Kits

  • Tin Can Robot

Description: Recycle a soda can by turning it into a silly robot that can wobble around! Kit includes all working parts, motor, wheels, arms, googly eyes, and fully detailed instructions. Requires screwdriver and empty soda can (not included). Great way to recycle! Ages 6+.

Price: $14.99

Available at: The School Box store or online here: http://www.schoolbox.com/Tin-Can-Robot-Kit

  • Electromagnet Science Kit

Description: Build a doorbell, telegraph system and even a catapult using a true electromagnet! Kit includes: disc, latch and neodymium magnets, compass, straws, wires, sand paper, switch plates, wood screws, nails, light bulbs, battery holders, iron filings and more. An instruction booklet walks young scientists through an array of project options and experiments for hours of captivating fun.

Price: $26.99

Available at: The School Box stores or online here: http://www.schoolbox.com/ProductDetail

  • Big Bag Of Science

Description: This giant kit is designed to whet the appetites of budding young scientists of all ages. With more than 70 unique, fun, hands-on science activities, this kit guarantees hours of science fun. Amaze your friends and family with such activities as making water disappear, having liquid flow uphill, making a 30’ soda geyser, growing fake snow instantly, balancing 6 nails on the head of one nail – and much more. Store all components in the reusable zipper bag. Ages 8 and up.

Price: $39.99

Available at: The School Box stores or online here: http://www.schoolbox.com/Big-Bag-Of-Science

  • Solar Rover

Description: Learn how regular sunlight converts to energy as it powers this rover to roll along the floor. All you need is a recycled soda can! Ages 8 and up.

Price: $19.99

Available at: The School Box stores or online here: http://www.schoolbox.com/Solar-Rover-Kit

  • Weird Slime Laboratory

Description: Create green jelly worms, tadpoles and leeches, invisible jellyfish and more! Learn about the properties of matter, wet spinning, hydrated crystals and cross-linked polymers. Kit includes eight activities, each of which builds on the skills learned in the previous one. Ages 10 and up.

Price: $19.99

Available at: The School Box or online here: http://www.schoolbox.com/Weird-Slime-Laboratory

For more hands-on science kits, check out these other awesome ideas and kits (erupt a volcano, anyone?): http://www.schoolbox.com/Science-Fair-Projects-And-Kits.aspx


Filed under Academic Success, Activities, Centers, Critical Thinking, Reading, Science, Summer Learning, technology

Be Your Own Author!

by Rachel Stepp

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The story Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk is about a small mouse who dwells in the library and decides to become an author. He stays up during the night writing undersized books for his local library. The patrons of the library discover the books and fall in love with them! They become so curious about the author that they leave him a note. They want to meet him, but they don’t know he’s a mouse. Instead of revealing himself, the library mouse puts a mirror in a tissue box to encourage the children to see themselves as their own authors.

Write Your Own Books!

After you have read this book to the class, tell your students that they are going to be creating their own library books…just like the library mouse. Here’s how:

1. Prewriting

First, brainstorm ideas as a class. What would you like to write about? In the story, the mouse wrote about things he knew, such as himself and cheese. Help your students make a list of things that they know and could write about (pets, friends, activities they enjoy, toys they play with, etc.).

2. Drafting

Encourage your students to write rough drafts of their story with a beginning, middle and end.

3. Revising and Editing

Tell your students to read back over their drafts. Make this checklist on the board, for students to follow as they reread their stories:

Does the story make sense?
Does anything need to be added or changed?
Do the sentences all have capital letters and punctuation?
Do I need to check the spelling of any words?

4. Final Copy

Help your students make their own books by folding paper in half and stapling it. On the day that students will write their final drafts, create a tissue box with a mirror in it (like the one in the story). Have each student “meet the author” by looking into the box and seeing themselves. This will help students envision themselves as authors and illustrators!

5. Publishing!

After your students have written their own books, put them on display in your classroom library. Students will enjoy sharing their books with their peers and getting new ideas from others. You can even allow the children to read their books to the class, just like the teacher.

6. A Fun Text-to-Life Connection

A fun way to conclude this unit is to tell your students that the school’s library mouse will probably be visiting the classroom when he hears that there are new books to read! After one night, leave a small (mouse-sized) note from the mouse. Tell your students that the mouse has come during the night and read through some of the books. You can make it personal by including small comments about titles of books, illustrations, student names and even fun suggestions. Students will be enthused by the idea of the school’s mouse reading their books!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who often shares her creative ideas on A Learning Experience.


Filed under comprehension, creative writing, grammar, Language Arts, Reading, reading aloud, Writing

Creating a Class Quilt

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By Rachel Stepp

One of my favorite projects is creating a class quilt (out of paper…no needles required :). This activity promotes class unity, reinforces summarizing skills, uses the strategies of visualizing, synthesizing and connecting, and creates a stunning bulletin board or wall display. How’s that for multi-tasking?

Begin with a Book

To introduce this idea, read The Quilt Story by Tony Johnston. Teach your class about the history of quilts, including how women used to use scraps from old clothing to piece together a warm quilt. Talk about how quilts can tell stories because of their different scraps. Your class will be making a quilt that will tell a story they want to share.

Quilting Steps

  1. Brainstorm different stories your students might want to tell. List their ideas on the board, which may include: something I like to do at school, all about me (personality and interests), my favorite memory, my favorite thing that we have studied this year, all about my pet, all about my family, etc.
  2. Give each student a square of white construction paper (an 8″ square is easy to cut from an 8×10 sheet, and white makes a nice background for student pictures).
  3. First, students should write a rough draft of their paragraph (or sentence, depending on age level) on notebook paper. Discuss using sensory details, correct paragraph format, etc. Modeling a sample paragraph on the board, first, is a wise idea before students begin.
  4. Their paragraphs/sentences need to be rewritten in a final draft on white paper (or a notecard) and glued onto their squares, near the bottom (to leave room for an illustration).
  5. Once their paragraphs/sentences are complete, they can begin drawing a scene on their white square to illustrate their writing.
  6. When each child has finished, mount each white square on a larger square of colored construction paper. You may choose to laminate each mounted square for a polished look, but it’s not necessary. Punch a hole in each of the four corners of the colored squares, and use yarn to tie the squares together to look like a quilt. Yarn bows look especially cute and “quilt-y.” If you have an odd number of students, use plain colored construction paper squares randomly throughout the quilt to make an even number so the quilt forms an even rectangle when pieced together.
  7. To save time, the white squares could also simply be glued to a large piece of colored bulletin board paper to make one large quilt.
  8. Be sure to give your quilt a title and hang it in a visible place so that other classes can see it. This will help to share the story of your classroom throughout the school.

This idea could also be modified as a creative book report idea: each student could create a square to summarize a book or a different chapter. The quilt could even be used to sequence an historical event or time period, like the Civil War.

By making a class quilt, your students will be able to see that they can all work together to create a masterpiece. To continue with the theme of quilts, you can invite parents into the classroom to bring in family quilts. Student connections will abound, making this activity a memorable one for all!

If your students get inspired, they may want to make a “real” quilt at home with this beginner’s “knot quilt” kit from The School Box. So darn cute!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who is full of creative ideas.


Filed under Activities, Art, Assessments, Classroom Community, Classroom Decor, comprehension, Cooperative Learning, creative writing, grammar, Reading, Writing

Doing a Book Study…Even in the Early Grades!

by Rachel Stepp

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Do you have a particular author that you are interested in? Do you think that your students should read a special book that will teach them a lifelong lesson? If you do, you might want to do a book study with your class.

The first step is choosing a book. Choose one that each student in your class can read individually or in pairs. In the earliest grades, you might have to choose a book that you can read aloud to the class everyday. Here are five days’ worth of ideas for how to do your very own book study:

Day 1

  • Introduce the book to your students. Tell your students why you have chosen your particular book and what you hope to do with it. Take ideas and suggestions from your students.
  • Create a chart with them on large chart paper. Title the chart “KWL,” which stands for “What I Know, What I Want to Know, and What I Have Learned.” The students can fill in the K and the W before reading the book, after they have done a picture walk. Students can also predict what the reading will be about.

Day 2

  • Let your students read the book (or read it aloud to them). If you are letting your students read it individually or with a partner, make sure that you have enough copies of the text.
  • Help students to create a word bank of important words that they come across and words that they do not know.
  • At the end of your session on this day, fill in the “W” on your chart about what students have learned that day from their reading.

Day 3

  • On this day, focus on the author (and possibly the illustrator) of your book. Bring in biographies and online information about your author so that the students are aware of who wrote the book.
  • When you introduce authors to students, they realize that people who write books are real people, just like them. Ask them to find similarities between their own lives and the author’s life.
  • One great book I like to do this with is Tommy DePaola’s The Art Lesson. This book follows the thoughts of a young student, Tommy, who wants to be an artist; the fun comes when you tell your students that Tommy DePaola wrote this book about himself!

Day 4

  • Revisit your book on this day. Reread the text and go over tricky and important words that students have recorded.
  • Have students illustrate and write about their favorite part in the book. They can write describing words, sentences, and even paragraphs (depending on the grade). Allow your students to share their ideas and discover similarities and differences between their illustrations and those found in the book.

Day 5

  • Celebrate your book choice! Reread the text to the children and finish the “KWL” chart. Children should be able to identify what they have learned while reading the book. Ask children if they answered all of their questions about what they wanted to know.
  • If they did not answer their questions, help them discover places where they can look to find answers. This could start a student-led research project!

When you’re finished with your week-long book study, introduce a few more books to your students that are either written by the same author or are written on the same topic. Students that were interested in your book will be interested to read more.
If you are looking for some variation in this book study, ask your students what kinds of projects that they would like to complete. Student choice gives students the chance to express their individuality and to be creative!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia whose good ideas are frequently published on A Learning Experience.

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Filed under Academic Success, comprehension, Reading, reading aloud

{New} Guided Reading Activities

by Rachel Stepp

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Do you struggle with your guided reading group routine? Here is a simple idea for a five-day reading routine for the lower grades (which could easily be adapted for upper grades, as well).

Imagine your class divided into several small groups. You can work with each group for approximately 15-20 minutes depending on the number of students in your class.

Day 1: Selecting and Introducing the Book

If your school has a guided reading book library, then use it to find books that are appropriate for your students. When you first introduce the book, allow the students to do a picture walk (flip through the book, looking at the pictures) and make predictions. Then read the story aloud to the class the first time through. Make sure that your students are using their ‘tracking finger’ to follow along. After the whole group has read the book together, ask the students to whisper read to themselves as you listen in. Make sure that the students read the book enough times so that you have time to walk around the class and listen to each student read.

Day 2: Learning New Words

Begin the second day by reviewing and rereading the book from day one. Check ‘tracking fingers’ like you did previously, and monitor the students as they read to themselves. After they have reread the book, talk about new words from the story. You can write these words on index cards to add them to the word wall, if your class has one. Have your students practice saying the words and talk about their meanings. You can have the students write out new words on individual white boards if time allows.

Day 3: Be an Illustrator!

Once again, begin the day by allowing your students to reread their stories. Ask comprehension questions related to the text and pictures (“Why do you think he did that?” “What’s going on in that picture?” “What did you think about that part?”)–to get students to think deeper about what they’re reading.

Now it’s time to let your students’ creativity shine: tell them that they are going to become the illustrator for a page in the story! After they draw their favorite scene, they can write a caption. Depending on students’ writing abilities, their captions may range from one word to paragraphs. This will help them practice their spelling and attention to story sequence and details.

Day 4: Social Reading

On this day, once again reread the story, but allow your students to do this with a partner. Let them move about the room for a few minutes as they read to each other. Once everyone has had the chance to read, bring them back together and review the new words. The students can try to read new or unfamiliar words on their own by sounding them out or using context clues. At the end of this day, allow your students to take home their books so that they can read them with their families.

Day 5: Working on Writing

Since you sent the books home with your students the day before, you might not have them all back on day five (let’s be realistic). So, on this day, orally talk about the story. Tell the students to write words or sentences summarizing the story’s content. You might need to remind students what the story was about. Allow them to sound out words and work on their phonics skills. Also, while they are writing, ask them to check for spacing between letters and look for neat handwriting. Children can use their index fingers as a guide for how much space to leave between words.

These five days of guided reading plans are simple enough to be adapted to many classrooms and guided reading units. One final tip: Listen to your students read aloud during guided reading. This may be the only time that you will be able to hear them read one-on-one. One of the purposes of guided reading is to get to know your students’ abilities on an individualized basis, and after this week’s worth of activities, you will have witnessed oral reading, vocabulary skills, comprehension, interpersonal skills, writing, summarizing and drawing. Not too shabby for one week!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia whose good ideas are frequently published on A Learning Experience.


Filed under Academic Success, comprehension, Cooperative Learning, Reading, reading aloud

The Tiny Seed: Teaching Parts of a Story

by Kelli Lewis

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Here’s a lesson idea I’ve used to teach the “beginning, middle and end” of a story, using Eric Carle’s The Tiny Seed.

  • Gather your students together on the reading rug and read the story The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.
  • After reading, post a folded piece of chart paper (folded into three vertical columns) on an easel for all of your students to view.
  • Write “beginning” on the first column, “middle” on the next column, and “end” on the last column.
  • Discuss with your students what they think this means. What are the “beginning”, “middle” and “end”? Try to think of other ways to describe this, apart from the story. For instance, an ant with three body segments. (You could even draw this out for them.) The head would be the beginning, the body would be the middle, and the last segment would be the end.
  • Be sure to end this discussion of the concept in relation to a story’s beginning part, middle part and end.
  • Now, tell the students that you are going to determine the beginning, middle and end of The Tiny Seed.
  • Reread the story, stopping and discussing what may be the beginning, middle and end.
  • After rereading, begin to fill in your folded chart. Allow the students to help you. Refer back to the book, flipping through the pages as you go, to demonstrate how the book can help refresh your memory and double check what you just read.
  • Fill in the chart with a sentence for the beginning, a sentence for the middle and a sentence for the end. Allow the students to help you come up with what each should say.
  • After determining the story’s beginning, middle and end, you then can add an illustration for each section.
  • Again, allow the students to help you decide what to draw. Be sure to make it clear that your illustrations should match your words. Discuss what wouldn’t be appropriate. For example, if your sentence says, “The tiny seed traveled with the wind,” it wouldn’t be appropriate for your drawing to be of a unicorn on a rainbow. These drawings solidify two important reading strategies: summarizing and visualizing.
  • After filling in the entire chart, have the students return to their desks or some other working space.
  • Hand out sheets of tri-folded paper for your students to create a chart, just as they saw you do.
  • Allow them to see yours as they create theirs. It’s alright if they just copy yours for now.
  • Then, the next day, read a different book of your (or your students’) choice, and allow the students to create their own tri-folded beginning, middle, and end chart by themselves.

This activity could take several days to completely finish, according to your allotted time. This activity was created for first graders but can be modified accordingly to meet your students’ needs for any grade level in which this concept may need to be taught. It could be used to introduce writing a summary paragraph in older grades, for example.

Display the students’ charts around the room, and then congratulate yourself. You just planted “a tiny seed” of knowledge in each of your students!


Filed under comprehension, Reading, Writing

Carvin’ Up Some Great Informational Writing

by Kelli Lewis

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Gotta teach informational writing this year and need a way to spice it up a bit?  How about teaching it during the month of October and having your students learn about pumpkins…while carving them in the process, of course!? Consider this fun twist on traditional expository writing assignments: Have your students create instructional books about pumpkins, along with a step-by-step “How-To Carve A Pumpkin” guide to go along with it.

Like the idea? Here’s a detailed lesson plan to follow. (This plan was created for first-graders and designed to take one day, but it could be easily modified for older grades, as well.)


ELA1W2 b.) The student produces informational writing that stays on topic and begins to maintain a focus.

ELA1W2 d.) The student produces informational writing that begins to use organizational structures (steps, chronological order) and strategies (description).

ELA1W2 h.) The student produces informational writing that may include oral or written prewriting (graphic organizers).

Materials Needed:

The Pumpkin Book, by Gail Gibbons (available at The School Box)

-sticky notes

-chart paper


-web/bubble graphic organizer, for informational sentences


-pumpkins: choose one of the following, according to your classroom’s needs: 1) small pumpkins for every child, 2) medium-sized pumpkins for each group, or 3) two large-sized pumpkins for you and a parent volunteer to demonstrate.

-carving tools

-large trash bag

-butcher paper/newspaper to lay down on the floor/table, underneath the pumpkins

– “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet for documenting (This graphic organizer should just have spaces for: materials, “First you…”, “Second you…”, “Next you…”, “Finally you…”)


  1. Ask your students: What is informational writing? What is a topic?
  2. Read aloud The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons.
  3. Reread the book again, using sticky notes to demonstrate how to take notes and copy an informational statement as you’re reading. Post the sticky note to the page in which you found it. Make as many ‘notes’ as you have room for on your web/bubble graphic organizer.
  4. Go back through the book and transfer your sticky-note information onto the web/bubble graphic organizer. Demonstrate this process to your class. Write each statement from the sticky notes onto the graphic organizer, around the topic “pumpkins” in the middle of the page.
  5. Have students return to their desks and copy your graphic organizer’s information onto their own graphic organizer. (For older grades, students could repeat this process independently with a second pumpkin story or book).
  6. Discuss the “step-by-step” processes for creating a jack-o-lantern.  Discuss the importance of listing the materials and being sure the steps are in order and nothing is left out. Discuss ideas with your students about what you would write.
  7. Record ideas, as you discuss, onto your “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet.
  8. Decide, as a class, what the “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet should say. Then, start to create the list of materials and steps.
  9. When it is complete, have your students copy it onto their own “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet.
  10. Now it’s time to carve!  As you carve, refer back to the the “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet, made by your class, to see if the steps are in the correct order and that nothing was left out!

Happy carving!

Kelli Lewis is an Early Childhood Education graduate student at the University of Georgia who often shares her wonderful ideas on A Learning Experience. (Lucky us!)


Filed under Assessments, comprehension, Cooperative Learning, Reading, Writing

Our Fave Mommy-and-Me Beach Reads!

by Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.

There you sit, sand between your toes, enjoying the sun, the surf…and the fact that you can finally crack a book! To help you achieve beach Zen this summer, here are our favorite lit. picks—as well as award-winning books and activities to keep your kids engaged (and learning!) long enough for you to get past the first chapter.

Mommy Lit.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

The basic plot seems trite: Girl steals best friend’s fiancé. But, with Giffin’s witty narration and relatable characters, you’ll actually root for the cheaters!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Told through letters written by a cluster of characters in 1946, this enchanting novel shares the story of Guernsey Island’s Nazi occupation.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

The latest from Kinsella (Confessions of a Shopaholic), this is the tale of Lara, a girl who is visited by a fun-loving ghost from the 1920s. Kinsella-style hilarity ensues.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

An uplifting and compassionate tale about a Mississippi town in 1962, whose racial tensions are blown wide open when Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan publishes the stories of the town’s mistreated black maids. Soon to be a major motion picture from DreamWorks.

Kiddie Lit. (and Activities)

Summer Express, $14.99*
Give children a head start in school! Each workbook includes 100 ready-to-go, fun-filled math and literacy activity pages.

Hot Dots Flash Cards, $9.99*
These electronic, self-checking cards are great for reviewing math facts. And they’re (gasp!) lots of fun, too.

Carole Marsh Mysteries, $7.99*
Each adventure mystery in this series is set in a historical place, making history and geography really cool for kids.

Science Kits, $9.99*
These award-winning kits bring science to life with exciting, educational projects that have amazing results!

*Featured products are available at The School Box.

This article appeared in the spring issue of Little Black Dress/Little Red Wagon Magazine, page 26. Click here to see the original article, along with a printable coupon for 20% off one regular-priced item! (Coupon good through July 1, 2010).

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