Guided Reading

Guided Reading
Guided Reading


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Kindergarten Step by Step: Transportation Week!

Well you hit fall so that means you are well on your way to October!  What's important about October?  Well, in the kindergarten world....October is when the skies open and it rains down these little readers, writers, and truly magnificent kiddos!  I mean not that they weren't awesome in August and September... but October is when their awesome is so bright, you'll need your shades!  I have a lot to share with you today so I'll get started!

It's week five of KinderLiteracy!  That means you are wrapping up unit 1!  You have accomplished SO much in these short five weeks!  You most likely have your KinderLiteracy routine down, students are starting to chit-chat with their partners, and you are most likely falling in love with your close read block! Well, that last one was an opinion, but I'm assuming so! : )  This week is all about Transportation!  This was a new close read last year and oh my...where was it all my life!?  Kids love things that MOVE!

This week's bubble chart you can use the included picture cards or list them like you did for previous weeks!  This weeks the kiddos will be listening closely to answer their two essential questions!  How are ___ and ___ alike?  The second question-- how do we get from place to place?  I would like to spend a little more time chatting about that first essential question!

Below you can see the essential questions written on the board!  You will notice I reworded the essential question slightly!  I have explained before but there are always two essential questions each... one skill-based and one life-based!  The skill-based question should be a question that is open ended and offer students an opportunity to express EVIDENCE and PROVE their thinking!  For this week's essential question we want students to be able to compare two of the modes of transportation!  A generic, more basic answer would be, "Boats are in the water and cars drive on roads."  Although that answer is true... it doesn't require much evidence from the book because they most likely have known that statement for years.  So, we want to offer them an opportunity to take that more basic statement and back it up some evidence, "I know that boats transport us in the water because boats can float!  I see that the boats don't have wheels so they wouldn't be able to drive down the road.  Cars have wheels so they can roll down the road... cars can't float!"  I know that all sounds a little dramatic but trust me... we have to start somewhere!  Teaching kids this early to use evidence from texts will make WORLDS of difference for them in the later grades!

The start of day two's lesson plan includes a lot of what I call "housework."  The students are asked to review their essential questions and then answer some DOK 1 level questions!  The questions that are within the lesson plans are great, but if you are wanting to kick that up a notch you can try these two:
1.         What type of book is this? What evidence can we use to support our answer?

2.       Why would the author write this book?

After the "housework," you'll get into those vocabulary words!  I hope you ar getting more into your groove for this!  Just a couple reminders/tips!  Be sure you think ahead on which words you would like to turn and talk on and which words you want to do a simple raised-hand answering!  Also, if you haven't tried tabbing your ca do that too!  I like to tab each page with a so that I won't forget it (HA is this just me?) Below I will share the vocabulary words and their optional actions!

traffic- make lots of honking noises and look in distress

crawls- move your arms like you are moving slowly (careful here to not let kids actually crawl as this is a different version of the word)

wind- take one hand and motion it back and forth as if it's going around corners

island- make a fist (island) and motion water all around the land

neighborhood- make a house with your arms

You see my vocabulary display a lot, but I wanted to share a couple alternate ways to display your words below!

We also brought transportation to our lives by charting how we get home!  This was an update to the unit last year so make sure you have that version! :)

This week's craft is a full size stop light!!!  The kiddos love this one!  I purchased the black plates at the dollar tree and simply cut them right down the middle!

We are also so blessed to be able to go on quick field trips within the town!  The kiddos had a BLAST at the local airport!

Okay!  Let's chat some KinderCalendar!  I hope you are starting to get into your own routine of calendar!  Please know that KinderCalendar is your meat and potatoes for calendar time!  However, feel free to do as you please with that substance!  If there are new ways you've found to implement the routines then go for it!  I've had some ask if they can use the # of the day as the days they are in school... of course!  You'll see in the video below though that by choosing an alternate number of the day that differs from the days in school.... offers two number studies instead of just one!

I am SO sad that I cut off the end of the place value/ten frames of the days in school :(  Also cut off was the math skill focus- boo!  However, I hope this video helps you to see the flow of the curriculum and give you more insight into how it could look in your classroom!  You'll notice that she chose a large hundreds chart instead of the post-it note hundred's chart!  Again, totally your personal preference!

Today for our writing block I want to share with you a couple of my favorite writing mini lessons from the beginning of the year! Up first is the "We Are Writers" mini lesson!  You can watch the lesson in action below!  To grab the freebie HERE!

This next mini lesson is all about getting the kiddos to work on building words!  You've most likely spent these first couple weeks labeling and now it's time for some words!  You can view the lesson in action below!

We did the lesson again the following day!  This time the kiddos came up to help create the words!

I will be sharing more writing ideas each week!

I've had a lot of requests and questions about literacy center time aka Daily Five!  Today I will be focusing closely in on your word work baskets!  Next week we will dig deeper into a different daily five choice!  In my classroom I have four word work basket!  I have implemented independent literacy centers.  That means these baskets are for one student per basket!  Inside the basket are 3-4 activities!  They activities are differentiated for above and on level students!  I have differentiated the activities by using two different colored baskets (pink and green baskets pictured above).  Below I will try to answer a few FAQ for my word work tubs!

Q: How many activities are you placing into each basket?  Isn't that a ton of work to create 20 different activities?

Yes,  so as I stated above, I place 3-4 activities into each basket!  Why do I do this?  I like to offer the students a variety of games in their basket!  This allows them an opportunity to "choose" which game they would like to play first and helps with "buy in" as they love being in charge of the literacy center basket!  Yes, that is 16 or so activities.  However, you will see in the pictures below that sometimes it is simply one practice sheet or a hands-on game that doesn't take a lot of prep!

Q: My kids are not fully engaged in the LEARNING during literacy centers.  How do I get the students to use the activities correctly and not play around?

Again, I feel this is really part of the "buy in" during literacy centers!  It's so important that we build it up... how they get to work on their during this time, they won't need us (teacher) because they will be able to do it on their own!  Modeling is also KEY!  I try to take those few extra minutes and model the correct and wrong way the centers might be used!  Will someone stick all the magnets on the back of the cookie sheet instead of the front?  Possibly!  So, model it that way and wait for someone's gasp.... then explain how that isn't the correct way! Then, model the correct way to play for all students to see! 

Below I will be sharing with you my first set of literacy center basket!


Milk and cookie cut-outs (from Dollar Tree): Students matching capital and lowercase letters

ABC playdoh letters

ABC Magnetic Board


Basket #3



Basket #4


Muffin Tin ABC bean sort
ABC tablet tracers
ABC clip it cards

In other news...

October is also commonly known for Grandparents' month!  If you celebrate Grandparents day this month and would like these freebie coloring can download it for free HERE!

Have a SUPER week and talk soon!

Kindergarten Step by Step: Seasons Week!

Well howdy! Thanks so much for popping in for another weekly edition of Kindergarten Step by Step!  This post is based upon the SEASONS!  I will also be sharing today about the first stages of writing and some guided reading ideas!

We are now on week FOUR of KinderLiteracy!  Can you believe it?  By now your kiddos are most likely getting used to the routine... this is what we do Monday, Tuesday, etc.  Now it's time to really show them what all we can learn and the why/how we use this new knowledge!  I always feel it's about this time of the year (closer to October) that the light bulbs start shining!  Wow, this is really cool... look what I learned!  I know that this comes from them seeing YOUR passion!  

For this week I recommend you do a bubble chart for fall!  However, this is totally up to you and you could do a general one for all seasons as well!  After taking initial ideas and charting those you will want to really expand on this week's text. This is now our second nonfiction text in a row so you can really talk up this...something like:

"Oh boy and girls, guess what?  This week we are reading another nonfiction text.  Can I get a whoot, whoot?!  Thank you!  Yes, and remember that nonfiction books do what?  Yes, they teach us things!  What are these things called?  Yes, facts!  We learn lots and LOTS of facts in nonfiction texts.  There is just one secret... would you like me to tell you?  Well, boys and girls, in order to learn lots and LOTS of facts you have to listen VERY closely!  Sometimes when people read to me I get distracted and forget to listen.  Make you are listening for these facts!  Keep them up here (point to your head) and you will be able to share them with us!"

Again, we are using a fairly "basic" nonfiction text!  This is on purpose!  We want to ease them into nonfiction!  Not too overwhelming, but still factual!  After your first read one day one, you will chart additional ideas on the bubble chart!

On day two we will be dipping back into the book to address those vocabulary words!  I *hope* you are starting to see your kiddos using those words in their everyday life!  This is a HUGE part of close reads and really the reason we spend a whole day on vocabulary!  How do you get the kiddos to add these words to their everyday life? YOU use them!

"Boys and girls, come on down to the carper so we can get cozy!"
"Oh, your jacket looks so cozy.  Is it?"
"Eek!  My writing paper is bare...what should I write?"
"I am feeling a little chilly in here?  Do you guys feel chilly?"
"When we go outside today, let's look and see if there are any buds on the trees!"
"Johnny, will you collect the papers for me?"

I encourage you to try SO HARD to use those words.... trust me they are listening!  Sometimes I get... "OH YOU SAID ONE OF OUR WORDS!" "Oh, did I? What word was that?"

Kindergarten students undoubtedly tend to live in their bubbles... "T!  That's my letter! It starts my name."  They can be the same with read alouds if we don't show them the skill outside the book as well.  Squirrels aren't the only ones that collect...who/what else can?  We aren't just cozy in our beds...where else can we be cozy?

So, this week I challenge you to use those words! And bonus points if you can use them all in one sentence! Ha!

I have been giving optional actions for each word so I'll keep up with that!

cozy: use arms to hug yourself and and make ahhh sound
bare: arms out and make shiver
bud: make one fist (bud) then slowly open your fingers showing the bloom
chilly: shake arms and shiver
collect: hands hands to pretend grab several items

Don't forget to display those essential questions!  This is just the life based question below!

On Wednesday you will be asking those text dependent questions!  Remember those two important things- you don't have to ask EVERY question and you don't have to do turn and talks for EVERY question!  I also draw close to the questions that use the words: infer, evidence, and compare ;)

So, then comes Thursday!  It's time for the paired text and oh my goooooooodddddneesssss!  I LOVE this book! It's SO fun and SO engaging!  

You can watch the video below!

There's two "crafts" in this week so I like to do the sequencing trees on Thursday as well! 

On Friday it's time for the assessment and cumulative craft! We LOVE these fine motor trees!  You can have the kiddos tear the paper squares or cut! Look at the focus in that!

If you still have some kiddos turned their cutting hand over you can place a sticky dot on their thumb!  Smile up! :)

I always love how these turn out because each one is SO different!

Just a reminder that all of the activities above and a week long detailed lesson plan are part of my KinderLiteracy units!

I'm going to skip around and talk about writing next!  Now if anything varies in's for sure our takes on writing instruction!  So, I always like to disclose: this is what has worked for me... I might be going again research.  Take it. Leave it. Scroll passed... etc! Ha!

Here are MY thoughts on the beginning stages of writing!

Step One: Teach our kiddo what "writing" is- - this is simply letting them know that writing is taking your thoughts and putting them onto paper!  They start by drawing pictures of things they "know" about like their family, school, pets, food, etc!

Step Two: Next, we want to iniate the first step to truly getting words onto paper! However, we are going to start with labels!  I like to do this with my modeled stories from the beginning!  I will choose 2-3 pictures to label.  For example, if it's me standing in the grass under the sun.  I will say something like this, "Boys and girls, I wrote this nice story but I want to make sure everyone knows that this is me in the picture so I am going to write my name.  You all know that I am in the grass but I better label that so no one is confused.  Listen... /g/rass... /g/, /g/.  I heard a g so I will that!".  I have found that modeling this for a couple weeks allows for an easy transition... first off a lot of the kids start doing it on their own!  Second, I can quickly know how I have been doing this?  Well, now you get to also! Labels would continue until you think the majority are ready for step three.  In my opinion, students do NOT need to know all of their letter sounds to move to step three!

Step Three: This is the step where I waiver slightly different than some.  A lot of teachers like to stay in labels until students naturally transfer themselves over to sentence writing.  However, I have seen how much our kids watch what we do... and so many times you are blown away by what they can do!  I feel the same is true with sentence writing!  The students see you model writing a sentence and they want to do it too!  So, how do you get them into sentence writing if they don't know all their sight words and letter sounds? Well, again we have to start somewhere!  I like to start out very guided and then take away my guidance day my day!  How does this look?

Well, let's look at the KinderLiteracy lesson plans for example...  the students are working on "I see" sentences.  You can decide if you want to do thematic writing or do student choice writing.  I feel you can still do an "I see" sentence thematic or open ended!

"Boys and girls, today I want to talk to you about something SO special!  Are you ready?  Well, I have noticed how hard you have you been working in writing!  You are drawing excellent pictures and you a lot of great details!  You also have been labeling your stories so everyone will know who is there and what you are doing!  Today I want to talk to you about the next step...sentence writing!  You see a sentence is a group of words!  Listen to this... I see mom.  What did you hear?  Yes, we word three words.. I ... see ... mom.  Let me write these words on the board for you to see.  We know the words I and see because they are our sight words.  This last word is the word mom. I am going to write another sentence.  I see a d (dog).  I wrote the words I see and this is the /d/ sound for dog!"

After this modeled sentence I will leave up the words "I see" on the board.  Don't throw pencils at me!  Honestly, most kids only use it as a reference to if theirs is correct.  I also only do this for the first 2 days of that sentence pattern.  On Wednesday I erase my modeled sentence and encourage the use of the sight word wall if they need help!  WHY do I do modeled sentences like this?  Well, I  feel kids learn by experience!!!  If we just wait for them to get there...yes they will.  However, why not encourage them and model for them!  They are just as proud for their first stories as they are books!

Below is a sentence starter story using "I like..."

In my own classroom I have had the kiddos write "sentence starters" for two-three weeks (No longer than mid October). After this they are confident to write their own sentences!  I change the way I model sentences (I don't start with I can, I see, I like, etc).  However, when I have attempted the full on "free spirit" model the kids struggle and honestly it's at NO blame to them...they just don't know!

Last year I created this freebie whiteboard file!  You can pull it up on your whiteboard to use for mentor sentences!

You can also snag a variety of FREEBIE writing paper HERE!

Okay...time to talk "guided reading block!"  How are you doing?  How are those centers going?  Hopefully you are starting to wind down on the daily five/center introduction!  If you are ready to start pulling back groups you might have this look :O Like oh my goodness yes...I need you back here but where do I even start?! Ha!  I will share a few ideas below that I like to start the year off with!

First off...names!  Yes, if you do not know how to id the letters in your name or write your name- - we are starting there!  I love to cut up names and mix/fix names!  For cut up names, I write each students name on a sentence strip twice.  I cut one one name and leave one name whole.  I place both into an envelope! At the table we pull out our large name plates and trace over the letters with our fingers.  I then have them pull out their pieces and start building their names.  This helps me get around the table and check in with each student.  I have them continue to mix and fix until I get around to everyone!  We then push up our pieces and write the names!

We like to do the same with magnetic letters.  However, I have preferred this initially because they need to see those letters BIG!  I can also send this home and they can work on it there as well! :)

Next is mixed up sentences!  Before I get these kiddos into books...we first need to master a mixed up sentence!  I shared a freebie HERE!  If you are wanting more... I have them HERE as well!

 Of course not all the kiddos you are meeting with will need help with their names!  I love pulling out my writing strips right away! I start with the missing first sound version!  The kiddos are able to use the picture to guide them.  They then write the complete word! I have LOTS of these but you can view these CVC strips HERE!  

You can try out a freebie strip of letter id/sound strips HERE!

Well that's all I have for you now!  My plans are to get a big KinderMath post out to you this week along with a new set of true "lesson plans" for each week! Eek! As ALWAYS feel free to email me if you have any questions or hiccups this year :)