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Happy Fall Y'alll!!!  My students love having some seasonal activities.  Here are a few of my favorites!  Make sure to keep reading, because at the end of the post are links to some fabulous fall freebies!

1.  Candy Corn Letters and Sounds!  Students can match upper case letters and lower case letters.  They can also match the letter to the picture with the matching beginning sound.  

This set also comes with candy corns that students match the picture with the correct beginning sound.

2.  Phonemic Awareness Mats and Letter Sound Activities.  This set has lots of different activities.  I found these small squishy balls and these sprinting spiders at the Target Dollar Spot.  As I say the word, students can push the ball up for each sound they hear.  You can also laminate the Sound Boxes and it comes with a variety of pictures that students can write the letters in each sound box.

Finally, this set has 16 different fall pictures and upper and lower case letters.  This Letter Practice mat, allows students to match the picture with the correct letter. 

3.  This is something I have used with my students that are already reading at least at a D+ level in the fall.  Students practice sorting the short and long vowel words.


This QR Code freebie allows students to practice reading simple CVC sentences.  Students have to figure out the missing word.  For example, For example: My ____ is red. (hat, big, mad)

This sight word matching game is free in my store!

Room on the Broom is a great fall book to read aloud to students.  The book has lots of rhymes and is fun to read!  Students will be able to pick up on the rhymes very quickly!  It is also a great book to incorporate story elements.

This book is great for after reading strategies and teaching text structure!  

I thought I would focus on two areas.  The first is  problems and solutions.  In the book, there are lots of problems and lots of solutions!!

- The witch drops her hat, and a dog brings it back.
- The witch looses her bow, and a bird finds it.
- The witch drops her wand, and a frog finds it.
- A dragon tries to take the witch, the animals trick it.

Using this graphic organizer, students can pick one of their favorite problems and solutions in the story.

Room on a Broom is also great to teach sequencing!  The witch has very bad luck, and there are lots of events for students to track.  This graphic organizer helps students keep track of the sequence of events. 

You can download both organizers here for free!

Please check out the great ideas my Reading Crew friends are sharing with you!

Enter to win!

I'm linking up with my blogging friends Marissa at the Inspired Owl's Corner and Lisa at Pawsitivley  Teaching for this month's Pinterest Pick 3!

Here are some of my favorite finds for October!

I'm always looking for ways for students to practice sight words!  You can check more differentiated ideas out on my Pinterest Board.

I love how easily this could be made into a differentiated workstation!

Here is another way to differentiate sight words.

I love making "easy" fall treats.  This looks perfect!!  I love anything with almond bark!  Add some popcorn and candy!! YUM!

I've been looking for a cool fall decorations for my front porch.
I saw something similar at Lowes for $70!! I know I could make it for much less!

I thought the spider web on the ground was too cute!

See these other great ideas for fall!

Language development is something near and dear to my heart!

Implementing techniques to improve student's language development will work with any curriculum and any standards!

Teaching in a high-poverty school, the research has shown that students from poverty do not get exposed to as many words as children that do not grow up in poverty.  In fact, children that grow up in poverty can have half as many words in their vocabulary when compared to students that are not in poverty.

There are easy to implement ideas in the primary grades to help decrease this gap and provide students with rich opportunities to experience language.

1)  Answer in complete sentences!
This is really easy to implement.  When asked a question, by a teacher or students, they are answered in complete sentences. This is something that the teacher models.  For example, if a student asks, "Where do I turn in this paper?"  Instead of pointing or saying, "over there,"  you would respond with, "You may turn in your paper to the red bin on the shelves."  It takes some practice and consistency, and I've learned that it may take many times to model-  especially in kindergarten.  It is fine to provide students with a model.   However, I always make them repeat the entire sentence.  This is kind of what it looks like.  To be proactive, many times, when we are first learning, I will start the sentence frame for them.

Teacher:  Where did the story take place?  The story took place in the...
Student:  The story took place in the house.

2) Asking the right questions!
When learning about language development decontextualized talk has a huge impact on language development and thinking.  What is decontextualized talk?  Decontextualized talk is talk about the past or future; discussions about abstract objects or ideas that are not present.  Asking thought provoking questions that will encourage discussion is a great way to help students develop language and vocabulary!

What do you think will happen next?
Why do you think that?
What would you do if you were in this story?

This freebie can be kept on your clipboard as a reminder to ask questions that get students thinking and using decontextualized text.

One way to do this is through reading books...which leads to number 3.

3)  More read alouds!
Read alouds are a great way to get children talking!  Asking questions that are beyond the text is critical.  It is also important that the teachers are not just calling on one student to answer the questions.

Turn and Talk is one way to have students share.  All students have a carpet partner, and when teachers stop during read alouds and ask a question, they end it with, "turn and talk."  I like to assign students A/B partners.  This helps make sure that everyone is getting a chance to talk.
I like to find read aloud stories that have some sort of problem or an event that causes the characters to change.  Here are a few of my favorite authors that really get students talking!

I remember how excited I was when I began teaching 12 years ago!  I had my dream job and I knew was going to make a difference.  Twelve years later, I still work in the same school district, and I still work in a school that has about 85% students coming from a low-income home.   I still have the same excitement and feel the same way- that I am making a difference!

Not everyday is perfect and some days are harder than others.  You'll meet lots of people that have lost their "teaching spark" but that doesn't mean you will!!!

I'm a big picture gal, and I know that what I'm doing is going to change these children's lives and help break the cycle of poverty!  I've been collecting the wisdom of experienced teachers from one year to thirty years experience!  I wanted to share with you some ideas that will help you survive your first year, help maintain your sanity, and keep you energized and excited!

Jennifer from the Practical Primary Teacher and Carla from Comprehension Connection both focuses on classroom routines and procedures.  Jennifer says that it may seem like overkill to model and have kids do certain things over and over until they get it correct, but it will be worth it when they can do it automatically. It will save you from chaos and from wasting valuable instruction time. Remember...wasted seconds and minutes each day can add up to wasted hours and even DAYS over the period of a school year! Some examples of things to perfect: Coming to meeting area, lining up, leaving meeting area, drink and bathroom procedures, getting supplies, turning things in, going to centers/stations, cleaning up centers/stations, meeting at small group area.

Carla reminds new teachers to think about about the traffic flow- (least amount of wandering possible)! If you decide to change things up in your room, try to make just one change at a time and polish it before making another. Too many changes at once leads to a stressed teachers and confused kids.

In terms of academics, Cathy Collier reminds new teachers to help provide students with the tools they need to be successful independent workers!  

Sandy Cangelosi provides advice on digital citizenship and online safety.  She says that it can be incorporated into your classroom behavior plan, and if your district doesn't have policies in place, there are lots of resources online!  Here are some great resources from ISTE to get you started! 

The most frequent advice I was given was to use your fellow grade level teachers as a resource for questions, guidance, anything you need!  

Darcy from Ms. D's Literacy Lab reminds new teachers to become good friends with your literacy coach and reading teacher. They will be your greatest supports with ideas, websites, knowledge of your school's literacy closet, understand the language arts curriculum at all grade levels, and know your students' already !  

I love this great suggestion from Janiel Wagstaff:  One way to boost your skills is to observe expert teachers in your own building. Your literacy coach or admin can facilitate this.

When it comes to students, Miranda J. reminds new teachers to create a bond with your students, relationships are everything. They will work and try hard for those they know care and believe in them.

Finally, Shelly T. reminds teachers to get plenty of sleep!!!  You’ll need it!

Since school is getting ready to start back up!  I've been looking at lots of awesome classrooms on Pinterest and searching for great print rich classrooms!  If you click on the photograph, it will take you to some awesome blogs with great idea.  My Pinterest board is full of more ideas!

1.  I loved the class books in this classroom!  These books were made for the students.  It is easy to

2.  This blog has lots of great ideas for not only print rich classrooms, but also print rich literacy work stations.

3.  The next two blogs have more great ideas about creating print rich classrooms, and have some great organizational ideas!

4.  Love For Kindergarten has done a great job of including environmental print on a bulletin board.

I'm linking up with teachers from the Reading Crew to help get you ready for a great school year.  My tips are all related to staying organized during literacy work stations.

Tip 1
Photo containers from Michaels are great to keep you organized at Literacy Work Stations.  I've used them to store magnetic letters.  They are the perfect size and make them very easy to store.  I've also used them to store task cards.  I like that they come in different colors and you can easily differentiate task cards by color.
Using photo organizers to keep task cards organized!

Tip 2
Label everything.  It makes it so easy for both you and the students to find things!  I like having containers for work stations that are labeled.  They just stack and can be stored on a shelf.
Label everything so students can easily find their work station and materials.

In addition, it makes it easier to keep work stations organized when supplies are labeled for the students.  You can download these labels for supplies free!
Label supplies so students can easily find- and put away materials!

Tip 3
Have a Station Manager that the students ask for help.  I always have this be a class job.  That way, when issues come up, the Station Manager helps out!  I just print out these badges, laminate them, and clip them on lanyards for the Dollar Tree.  You can download these job tags here!
A station manager can work stations running smoothly!
These great bloggers have amazing ideas to help you have a great school year!

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