Creative Prompts to Encourage Student Writing

Creative prompts helps kids share their ideas and express creativity.
Creative prompts helps kids share their ideas and express creativity.

There is something special when your child starts to be a writer.  Writing gives children an opportunity to share their ideas and express their creativity.  Using creative prompts allows kids to use their pre-reading and writing skills in a way that is relevant to them.   

But writing is not easy and many new writers struggle when faced with a blank page.  Writers, both novice and experienced, need encouragement but they also can benefit from getting some ideas (prompts) to get them started.  Think of it as that “slight push” you give your child when they first learn to ride a 2-wheeler.

When creating prompts, think of different ideas that will spur an interest to write.  Giving your kids a variety of topics to help them extend their vocabulary and language skills.  Kids can find their “voice” through writing poems, songs, jokes or stories.  But don’t limit their choices to “common” types of writing.  Encourage them to see and find “writing” in the world around them.  Commercials, plays, TV shows, ads, emails and blogs are all opportunities to share their writing.

5 Creative Writing Prompts for January

  • Fortune Cookies: Fortune cookies have a piece of paper inside with a message.  Write 5 messages that you would like to find in a fortune cookie.
  • Soup of the Day: Create a recipe for your favorite “unusual soup”.  Perhaps one that makes you silly, old or talking another language!  Write the 10-15 ingredients that make your soup special.
  • HAPPY NEW YEAR: Try creating a HAPPY NEW YEAR acrostic. Choose words or phrases that relate to your wished for 2020.  The H, for example could be “Hope I’ll learn how to dance this year.”
  • Say Something Nice in 2020:  Everyone likes to hear a compliment.  Choose 5 people in your life and write down a compliment and give it to them.  You’re sure to get a smile.
  • Winter Clothes: The winter season brings cold weather to many parts of the U.S. Dream up some new clothing ideas you would like to invent for your new winter clothes.  Be creative.  Maybe some skis attached to your flip flops?

Encourage Writing

Today’s technology can capture the attention of a wide range of audiences making it easier than ever for our words to reach others. I would never have dreamed 40 years ago when I entered my first classroom door that my thoughts on education would be seen worldwide! I am so honored to have so many blog readers.  Your comments and ideas are the “prompts” that I use to write my posts.  Thank you for helping so many kids learn.

Let’s use 2020 to develop some writers. Check out my monthly post of writing prompt ideas to help inspire our new authors. Happy New Year Writers!

Creative prompts to encourage student writing
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

Encouraging Writing for Kindergartners

Writing Prompts to Encourage Writing

Writing prompts can help kids get writing.
Writing prompts can help kids get writing.

Why Writing Prompts?

There is something special when your child starts to be a writer.  Writing gives children an opportunity to share their ideas and express their creativity.  While writing kids get to use their pre-reading and writing skills in a way that is relevant to them.   Writing prompts can help. 

But writing is not easy and many new writers struggle when faced with a blank page.  Writers, both novice and experienced, need lots of encouragement to be successful. But they also can benefit from getting some ideas (prompts) to get them started.  Think of it as that “slight push” you give your child when they first learn to ride a 2-wheeler.

Writing Prompts Motivate

When creating prompts, think of different ideas that will spur an interest to write.  Giving kids a variety of topics helps them extend their vocabulary and use different language skills.  Kids can find their “voice” through writing poems, songs, jokes or stories.  But don’t limit their choices to “common” types of writing.  Encourage kids to see and find “writing” in the world around them.  Commercials, plays, TV shows, ads, emails and blogs are all opportunities to share their writing.

Today’s technology can capture the attention of a wide range of audiences making it easier than ever to reach people on the other side of the world. I would never have dreamed 30 years ago that my thoughts on education would be seen worldwide!  I am so honored to have so many blog readers.  It’s the comments and ideas that I get from my readers, students, colleagues and parents that help me choose my posts. Thank YOU for helping so many kids learn.

Let’s use 2020 to develop some writers. Check out the new prompts that will be posted each month throughout the year to inspire our new authors.

January Writing Prompts

  • HAPPY NEW YEAR: Try creating a HAPPY NEW YEAR acrostic. Choose words or phrases that relate to your wishes for 2020.  The H, for example could be “Hope I’ll learn how to dance this year.”
  • Say Something Nice in 2020:  Everyone likes to hear a compliment.  Choose 5 people in your life and write down a compliment and give it to them.  You’re sure to get a smile.
  • Soup of the Day: Create a recipe for your favorite “unusual soup”.  Perhaps one that makes you silly, old or talking another language!  Write the 10-15 ingredients that make your soup special.
  • Winter Clothes: The winter season brings cold weather to many parts of the U.S. Dream up some new clothing ideas you would like to invent for your new winter clothes.  Be creative.  Maybe some skis attached to your flip flops?
  • Fortune Cookies: Fortune cookies have a piece of paper inside with a message.  Write 5 messages that you would like to find in a fortune cookie.

Happy New Year Writers!

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ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: December 2019

Each day we spend with kids is an opportunity to teach a piece of ourselves.

Happy New Year Friends! Welcome 2020!

Yeah! I achieved my 2019 Blog resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter posted each month on time! I wasn’t sure if I could do it. However, the many followers and comments that I received throughout the year, motivated me to GET IT DONE! Let’s go 2020!

I hope you have a year filled with your hopes and dreams!

December 2019

December’s Most Popular Posts

My Favorite December Posts

I choose my favorites each month for different reasons. Sometimes it’s timeliness, a hot education topic, student teacher needs or as a family and friends resource. Sometimes, it’s just, BECAUSE. Enjoy!

2019 Archives

2018 Archives

  • Gradual Release of Responsibility
  • Kindness Quotes to Start the New Year
  • Math Thinking Skills Primary
  • Math Thinking Skills Grades 4-5

Christmas Jokes for Kids

Christmas jokes to make you laugh!
Christmas jokes to make you laugh!

Why not add some Christmas jokes to your Christmas celebration this year?

As I sit watching the first snowfall of the year, I’m reminded of the snow days that my kids and I would enjoy together. Yes, there was some shoveling with hot chocolate afterwards, but we also played games, hung out in our pajamas and enjoyed the SNOWDAY!

With Thanksgiving behind us we look forward to Christmas a short 24 days away. Why not use some holiday time to teach your kids some Christmas/winter jokes? Joke telling helps kids learn new vocabulary, strengthens comprehension and helps communication skills. Best of all, the holidays are a great opportunity to laugh together as a family.  Why not take some time to be silly this Christmas season and enjoy a laugh (or eye roll)?  Merry Christmas!

Q. What Christmas song do wild animals sing at Christmas? Answer: Jungle Bells

Q. What happens if you eat Christmas decorations?
Answer: You get tinselitus

Q. What do you call Santa when he stops moving?
Answer: Santa Pause

Q. What comes at the end of Christmas Day?
Answer: The letter “Y!”

Q. What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
Answer: Snowflakes. (or Frosted Flakes!)

Q. What does an elf study in school?
Answer: The elfabet.

Q. What do you get if you mix a vampire with a snowman?
Answer: Frostbite!

Q. What does Santa suffer from whenever he gets stuck in a chimney?
Answer: Santa Claustrophobia

Q. How do sheep wish each other happy holidays?
Answer:  Merry Christmas to ewe.

Q. What does Mrs. Claus say when there are clouds in the sky?
Answer: It looks like rain, deer.

Q, What do you call a greedy elf?
Answer: Elfish!

Q. Why wouldn’t the Christmas tree stand up?
Answer: It had no legs.

Q. What kind of ball doesn’t bounce?
Answer: A snowball.

Q. What did one snowman say another snowman?
Answer: You’re cool.

Q. What is every parent’s favorite Christmas carol? Answer: Silent Night.

Q, What do you get when Santa plays detective?
Answer: Santa clues! 

Q. What falls but never gets hurt?
Answer: Snow.

Q. What do you call a shark that delivers toys at Christmas?
Answer: “Santa Jaws!”

Q. Where do snowmen keep their money?
Answer: In a snow bank.

Q. What do snowmen like to do on the weekend?
Answer: Chill out.

Q. What does Jack Frost like best about school?
Answer: Snow and tell.

Kid: Knock, knock.
Adult: Who’s there?
Kid: Murray.
Adult: Murray who?
Kid: Murray Christmas, one and all!

Kid: Knock, knock.
Adult: Who’s there?
Kid: Pizza.
Adult: Pizza, who?
Kid: Pizza on earth, good will toward men!

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Scholastic Books Warehouse Sale

Scholastic Books Warehouse Sales are great opportunities to buy books at bargain prices.
Scholastic Books at deep discounts

Scholastic Books Warehouse Sale 2019 is Coming!

December 4th – 14th 

My local friends the closest location is Danbury, Ct.  (Approximately 40 mins. from Fishkill area.

Scholastic Books Warehouse offers for a limited a limited time only deep discounts on books.  This holiday you can purchase “Buy One, Get One Box” from hundreds of books, gifts,  and school supplies. There is even a Build a Box opportunity!  Refresh your school, home, and classroom libraries, and stock up on gifts for everyone.

For every item you buy, choose an item of equal or lesser value for FREE

  • Shop from a large assortment of already reduced items
  • No limits on how many items you can buy
  • Build-a-Box is included with the BOGO offer (yes, Danbury has it)
  • Perfect way to maximize school purchase orders, grants, and Title 1 funds

Coupon is $10.00 off a purchase of $100.00. OR $25.00 off a purchase of $100.00 using Scholastic Dollars.

Danbury, CT Warehouse Sale:

Weekday Hours: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Saturday Hours: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Closed Sundays

The Danbury location is a Build-a-Box event. As many books as you can fit in a box for less than $29.95.

Sign up and get coupon! Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Jokes for Kids

Thanksgiving jokes can add some fun to your celebration.
Thanksgiving jokes can add some fun to your celebration.

Why not add some Thanksgiving jokes to your Thanksgiving celebration this year?

Teaching kids to appreciate jokes is a great opportunity to laugh together as a family.  Why not take some time to be silly this Thanksgiving and enjoy a laugh (or eye roll).  Happy Thanksgiving!

Kid: Knock, knock.
Adult: Who’s there?
Kid: Gladys.
Adult: Gladys who?
Kid: Gladys Thanksgiving. Aren’t you?

Kid: Knock, knock.
Adult: Who’s there?
Kid: Harry.
Adult: Harry who?
Kid: Harry up, I’m hungry!

Q. Why did the farmer run a steamroller over his potato field on Thanksgiving Day?

A. He wanted to raise mashed potatoes.

Q. What is a turkey’s favorite dessert?
A. Peach gobbler!

Q. Why did the police arrest the turkey?

A. They suspected it of fowl play!

Q. What do you call it when it rains turkeys?

A. Foul weather!

Q. What smells the best at a Thanksgiving dinner?

A. Your nose

Q. Why do pilgrims’ pants always fall down?
A. Because they wear their belt buckles on their hats!

Q. Why did the cranberries turn red?
A. Because they saw the turkey dressing!

Q. What did the turkey say to the computer?
A. “Google, google, google.”

Q. What kind of music did Pilgrims listen to?
A. Plymouth Rock.

 Q. What’s the best thing to put into pumpkin pie?
A. Your teeth

 Q. What always comes at the end of Thanksgiving?
A. The letter “g”.

Q. Which side of the turkey has the most feathers?
A. The outside.

Q. What do turkeys and teddy bears have in common?
A. They both have stuffing.

Q. Where does Christmas come before Thanksgiving?

A. In the dictionary

 Q. What do you get when you cross a turkey with a centipede?
A. Kid: Drumsticks for everyone on Thanksgiving Day!

Q. What did the turkey say to the turkey hunter on Thanksgiving Day?
A. “Quack! Quack!”

Q. What key has legs and can’t open doors? 

A. A turkey.

Q. Who isn’t hungry at Thanksgiving?
A. The turkey because he’s already stuffed.

 

Isn't education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

Other posts related to this topic:

  • Jokes for Kids Develops a Sense of Humor

Reading Strategies for Parents

Parents can review reading strategies taught at school at home.
Parents can review reading strategies taught at school at home.

The State of Tennessee believes that by teaching reading strategies to parents, parents can help their child at home.  They’ve got it right.  Of course, parents want to help their kids.  Why not give them some basic information? Yeah Tennessee! 

When the state of Tennessee set a goal in 2007, to increase literacy skills for children across the state, they decided to enlist the help of parents.  The Tennessee State Improvement Grant document was created to support family members to help their children at home.  The document outlines reading strategies for parents to use with their child at home.  

Although this document was created over 10 years ago, it is still a good document to help families. The information has good ideas and is user-friendly.  It is also a great refresher for new teachers, student teachers and classroom substitutes. The overview includes:

  • Five Areas of Reading Instruction 
  • How to Choose the Right Book at the Right Reading Level
  • Vocabulary Building Strategies
  • Reading Comprehension Strategies

Sometimes, we just need a little help from our friends. Thank you Tennessee!

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Store for Used Books Poughkeepsie Library

Used Bookstore at Poughkeepsie Library: Boardman Road branch
Used Bookstore at Poughkeepsie Library: Boardman Road branch

Great opportunity to fill your bookshelves at home or in your classroom. The book store has a selection of over 20,000 high-quality used books, cds, dvds and audiobooks. Books are organized and sorted to make shopping a breeze.

Entrance to the Friends’ Book Store is on the south side of the building – just look for the blue awning.

Store hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm.

Telephone: 845-485-3445 x 3423

Cash, checks (with valid ID) and MasterCard, Visa, and Discover cards are accepted.

Follow them on Facebook too to check out special sales and events:

Poughkeespie Library Bookstsore

Threeringsconnections.org  Isn't education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: October 2019

Thinking is the hardest work any one can do –
Henry Ford

Ten months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 12 October posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 10 down and 2 more to go! Have a great month!

2018 Archives

October’s Most Popular Posts

As regular readers know, at the end of each month I share the three most popular posts from the last month. I thought people might find it interesting to see what everyone else was looking at. Enjoy!

My Favorite October Posts

I choose my favorites each month for different reasons. Sometimes it’s timeliness, a hot education topic, student teacher needs or as a family and friends resource. Sometimes, it’s just, BECAUSE. Enjoy!

  • Concepts of Print (COP)in Daily Reading
  • Teacher Motivational Quotes
  • How to Help Highly Advanced Readers
Coming Next Month
  • Online Safety: Free Classroom Resources
  • Math Thinking Skills: Primary – November
  • Scientist of the Month- Benjamin Franklin

Concepts of Print (COP)in Daily Reading

The Concepts of Print (COP) assessment was created by Marie Clay (1993), The assessment includes items to assess a child’s knowledge of both print and written language skills. These two skills work together to help children learn to read and write.

Many students entering kindergarten understand that a book tells a story (the print has meaning). However, very few understand “how print works”. Concepts of Print (COP) skills involves kids knowing parts of a book (using the correct terms) and understanding the letter/writing concepts included. Since many parents and teachers read to children daily; why not add a few of the COP skills.

Concepts of Print (COP) in Daily Reading

Point to the Following Parts of the Book

  • Front and back of the book.
  • Binding.
  • Top and bottom of a picture.
  • Title Page.
  • Author’s Name (define that the author writes the book).
  • Illustrator’s name (define that the illustrator draws the pictures).

Show How to Read a Book

  • A sentence is read from left to right.
  • Pages are read from left to right.
  • Point to each word while you read.
  • Read pages from left to right.
  • A story has a beginning and end.

Words and Writing  in Books: Basics

  • A capital letter is at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Words and sentences have capital letters and lower case letters.
  • Point out 1 word in a sentence, Point out 2 words.
  • Point out that a word is made up of a group of letters.
  • A comma explains to the reader  that it tells the reader to pause or slowdown.
  • There are punctuation marks at the end of a sentences (period, question mark, exclamation mark) Explain that the marks tell the reader how to read.

Research: Clay, M. M. (1993). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Heinemann, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801-3912.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Exit Slip (Ticket) Ideas

An Exit Slip (ticket) can be used at all grade levels and every subject.
An Exit Slip (ticket) can be used at all grade levels and every subject.

An Exit Slip (Ticket) is a formative assessment tool used to assess student learning and to plan future lessons. Typically, a prompt or a question, it is given to students at the end of a class that is tied to the objective of the lesson taught that day. They can be in a multiple-choice format or an open response. These mini assessments are meant to be no more than 1-5 minutes and not graded.

5 Exit Ticket Ideas

  • 3-2-1 Tickets
    • 3 things I learned today
    • 2 things I found interesting
    • 1 question I still have
  • And the Survey Says…
    • Use the Exit Slip to survey a class on a topic. It can be used to launch a new topic or build class culture.
  • Activate Prior Knowledge
    • What do you know about _______?
  • All About You
    • What is your favorite __________?   This helps to build a shared community.
  • Give me a number?
    • Simply asking students to self-assess their learning.  This could be as easy as #3 – I get it, #2- I don’t totally understand it or #3 – I don’t get it and I need some help.

Exit Slip Prompts

Some basic prompts can be used for many different types of lessons.  Having a collection of prompts at your fingertips will ensure that you are engaging student voice in every lesson.  For plan book ease, number your prompts and just add the number to your plan book.  Try some of the basic prompts below and modify as needed. 

  • Did you enjoy working with your group today? Explain why?
  • Write one positive and one negative thing about working with your group today?
  • Did you enjoy working with your partner today? Explain why?
  • Name 1 thing that you learned in today’s lesson that you didn’t know?
  • From today’s lesson, what question would you like to see on the next test?
  • What was the main idea of today’s lesson?  Can you write one sentence about it?
  • I didn’t understand ________ in the lesson today.
  • What was the 1 thing that you learned in today’s lesson that you didn’t know?
  • What was the 1 thing that you learned in today’s lesson that made you go “WOW”?
  • I would like to learn more about….

THINK of Exit Slips as giving you the answer to 2 Big Mysteries. How YOU (the teacher) taught the lesson and where are you going next in the curriculum. Why wait until the “official” test results are in to know how kids scored and how we did? 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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  • Exit Tickets (Slips) in the Classroom?

Exit Tickets (Slips) in the Classroom?

Exit Tickets are a quick and easy student assessment
Exit Tickets are a quick and easy student assessment

Recently while observing student teacher lessons I realized that each of them used Exit Tickets as their closure activity. Although they each teach different grades and subjects, they all used Exit Tickets as the “go-to” strategy to check for understanding. And it worked! 

What are Exit Tickets (slips)

An exit ticket is a formative assessment tool used to assess student learning and to plan future lessons. Typically, a prompt or a question, it is given to students at the end of a class that is tied to the objective of the lesson taught that day. They are usually in a multiple-choice format or an open response. These mini assessments are meant to be no more than 1-5 minutes and not graded.

10 Exit Ticket Benefits

  • Allows students to self-assess
  • Clarifies main concept of the lesson
  • Keeps students engaged in the lesson
  • Assesses student understanding
  • Creates an additional review and reinforcement opportunity
  • Invites students to ask questions or clarify thoughts
  • Guides teacher lesson design based on student understanding
  • Helps organize small group instruction
  • Provides data on student progress.
  • Opens a communication channel between teacher and student

Exit slips are easy to use for teachers and students.  They can be used at every grade level. So, why not give them a try?

Great article on Exit Slips by education expert Robert Marzano. Check it out. 

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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3 Writing Strategies to Use Evidence

Ways to help student use evidence to answer open-ended questions.
Ways to Help Students Read and Write

Answering open-ended response questions is an important task in third and fourth grades.  Looking for evidence is the key and organizing your thoughts. As the length of reading passages increases, many students struggle locate information. Teaching kids a “list of steps” and pairing it with an acronym helps students respond to a written article. Kids like acronyms because they are easy to remember. Three strategies to try in your classroom are: R.A.D., R.A.C.E and C.E.R.   

R.A.D. (Restate, Answer, Details)

  • RESTATE the questionto start the beginning of the answer.  
  • ANSWER the questionby going to your notes and looking for the answer. Read and circle any information that you have in your notes that will help you answer what is asked. 
  • DETAILS should be included from the text as evidence.

R.A.C.E (Restate, Answer, Cite, Explain)

  • RESTATE the question.in your topic sentence.
  • ANSWER the question that is being by including it in your topic sentence.
  • CITE evidence from the text to support your answer.
  • EXPLAIN how the evidence from the text supports your answer. 

C. E. R. (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning)

  • CLAIM – A statement that responds to the question being asked using words from the question.
  • EVIDENCE – Provide (facts) from the text as evidence to support your answer (claim). (No opinions, just the facts)
  • REASONING – Explain how these facts support your claim.  You may need to include background knowledge along with the facts to explain your reasoning.  

Using one of these strategies will help students answer open-ended questions.  It will also be helpful when students face high stakes testing. Having an acronym to hang on to will help reduce test anxiety.  

Isn't education ALL about reaching the kids?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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ReadWorks a FREE Reading Resource (K-12)

ReadWorks provides K-12 teachers with nonfiction and literary resources.
ReadWorks provides K-12 teachers with nonfiction and literary resources

I LOVE this site. ReadWorks is Amazon shopping for EVERY type of teacher!  Everything that you need to support your student’s comprehension.  It’s all in one place and FREE

ReadWorks is a nonprofit that provides K-12 teachers with nonfiction and literary articles that support reading comprehension and vocabulary learning. Resources are easy-to-use, research-based, and FREE (I guess I said that enough). Articles are leveled for reading instruction and can be printed, used digitally or projected on a Smartboard.

ReadWorks Includes:

  • Reading Passages
    • Over 5000 K-12 passages
    • Search by grade or by Lexile
    • Written by experts, curated by educators
    • On curriculum topics
  • Questions Sets
    • Text-based questions
    • Multiple choice and written answer questions
    • Explicit and inferential questions that build a deeper understanding of the important elements of a text
  • Vocabulary
    • Carefully selected, high-impact words
    • Multiple definitions and authentic sentence examples
    • Practice with word families and metacognition
  • Article-A-Day
    •  A 10-minute daily routine that dramatically increases background knowledge, vocabulary, and reading stamina
  • Paired Texts
    • Two texts related by topic or theme
    • Question sets to draw connections and comparisons
  • Step Reads
    • Less complex versions of original passages.
    • Designed to provide access for struggling students.
    • Preserve the integrity of the original text, including vocabulary, knowledge, and length.
  • Lessons and Units
    • Based on trade books.
    • Support instruction of longer texts.
    • Include complete lesson plans with guided practice and independent practice.
  • Student Tools
    • Audio versions of all reading content
    • Ability to highlight, annotate and adjust text size.

ReadWorks encourages teachers to share their resources with other colleagues. Pass it on!

Isn't education ALL about reaching the kids?

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ThreeRingsConnections’ Newsletter: September 2019

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.
Nelson Mandela

Nine months down in 2019, how are you doing on those New Years Resolutions? If you are still working on catching up on professional development, take a look at this month’s newsletter. All 13 September  posts are below, as well as ALL the posts since I started the blog in September 2018. My New Year’s Resolution to get the Threeringsconnections’ newsletter out on a timely, consistent schedule is accomplished: 9 down and 3 more to go! Have a great month!

September 2019 Archives

September’s Most Popular Posts

My Favorite September Posts

See some posts coming next month
See some posts coming next month
  • The Grand Canyon for Kids
  • Hour of Code
  • 3 Writing Strategies to Use Evidence

Comprehension Questions: Grade 2-3

Asking the right comprehension questions will support a child's reading ability.
Asking the right comprehension questions will strengthen your child’s reading.

For teachers and kids, the beginning of the school year means “Reading Assessments”.  We test to see if our students’ reading levels have increased, remained the same or decreased over the summer.  However, although we get an independent reading level, we know that the reading level may not always be 100% accurate.  Asking the right comprehension questions can help kids be better readers.

The following Behaviors/Skills and Questions can be useful when working with students who are at an independent reading level from K through N.

Knowing the skills and behaviors at levels above and below a student’s level will help teachers and parents ask better questions to support comprehension. This strategy can help our students on their independent reading level as well as our Review/Reinforcement and Enrichment students.  

Comprehension/Behaviors Skills (F & P Levels K/L)

  • Uses dialogue to understand characters 
  • Infers cause and effect by understanding characters and events
  • Understands how problems and events are related
  • Searches for information to confirm predictions
  • Use evidence from the story to support their ideas or thinking
  • Makes predictions based on prior knowledge and the text
  • Predicts the solution to the problem
  • Identifies important ideas in the text 
  • Makes predictions based on character traits

Comprehension Questions (F & P Levels K/L)

  • Retell the story in detail
  • Who is speaking?  How do you know?
  • Does what you just read remind you of anything?  How does this help you better understand the text? 
  • Describe (character’s name) in detail.
  • What happened?  Why did it happen? 
  • What in the story makes you think that?
  • What do you think will happen next?  Why?
  • What caused (problem or event) to happen?  How do you know?
  • What do you think (character’s name) will do?  Why?
  • What is important for me to know?  Why?

Comprehension Skills (F & P Levels M and N)

  • Searches for information to confirm predictions
  • Identifies important ideas in the text
  • Notices descriptive language Summarizes the text
  • Describes characters’ traits, feelings, and motivation.  Uses this information to make predictions
  • Demonstrates changes in perspective as events unfold
  • Pays attention to the author’s craft
  • Expresses clear opinions to agree or disagree with the text
  • Rereads and closely monitors their understanding
  • Uses a variety of strategies when meaning breaks down

Comprehension Questions (F & P Levels M/N)

  • Does what you just read remind you of anything?  How does this help you better understand the text?
  • Summarize the story or text
  • Describe (character’s name) in detail.
  • What happened?  Why did it happen?  
  • What in the story makes you think that?
  • What caused (problem or event) to happen?  How do you know?
  • What do you think (character’s name) will do?  Why?
  • What is important for me to know in this text?  Why?
  • How does the author help to create a picture in your mind as you read?
  • What do think about this text?  
  • How do you know when you do not understand what you are reading?  What do you do?
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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School Age Readers and Writers Activities

Reading and writing activities at home to help young readers.
Reading and writing activities at home to help young readers.

School Age Readers and Writers – (5 to 9-year-olds)

  • Give your child encouragement when he or she is doing homework or a writing assignment. Remind your child that writing involves several steps like panning, composing an initial draft, revising, and final editing. No one does it perfectly the first time.
  • Read different types of books to expose your child to different types of writing. Kids love a variety of fiction and non-fiction formats including plays, chapter books, series books, books with sequels, short stories, diaries and logs, and graphic texts.
  • Create a writing toolbox — Find a special box and fill it with drawing and writing materials. Think of everyday opportunities for your child to write —the family shopping list, thank -you notes, birthday cards, or sign on the bedroom door.
  • Ask your child to read out loud what he or she has written.
  • Create a book together — Make a handmade book together by folding pieces of paper ion half and stapling them together. Your child can write his or her own story, with different sentences on each page. Ask your child to illustrate the book with his/her own drawings.
  • Show your child how to summarize a story in a few sentences, for example, or how to make predictions about what might happen next. Both strategies help a child comprehend and remember. After reading a story together, think out loud so your child can see how you summarize and predict.
  • Pick books that are at the right reading level —Help your child choose reading materials that are not too difficult. The goal is to give your child lots of successful reading experiences
  • Partner Reading – Take turns reading aloud to each other. Whether it’s a page or a sentence, it’s another way of getting a couple minutes of reading fun.
  • Have your child read aloud to you every day. 
Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

Activities for Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)
Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

Preschool Readers (2 to 5 yrs.)

Learning to read is not easy and takes time.  Many parents wonder on the best ways to help their kids learn to read.  With 8 grandkids under 9, we have various levels of reading going on in our family. Ranging in age from 7 months to “newly 9” we have readers of all sizes and abilities.  

I created the following list to make it a little easier for my adult children to have a few “reading ideas” to help their kiddos. Reading is very comprehensive and therefore, there is a wide range of activities at each level.  The important thing to remember is reading builds on foundational skills.  Therefore, each level is important for reading success.  Don’t worry if your more advanced reader wants to do a lower level.  Even advanced readers can continue to learn and grow from some of the Preschool Reader activities. Last week we started with our series with Very Early Readers (Birth – 2 years).  This week we continue with Preschool Readers (2 – 5yrs). 

Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

  • Discuss what’s happening, point out things on the page, ask your child questions
  • When looking at a book together, point out how we read from left to right and how words are separated by spaces.
  • Talk about print everywhere. Talk about written words you see in the world around you and respond with interest to your child’s questions about words.
  • Ask your child to find a new word every time you go on an outing.
  • Watch My Lips – Encourage your child to watch your lips and mouth while you make certain sounds. Have your child think about how his/her own lips and tongue move. You can say something like, “Can you feel how your mouth moves the same way at the beginning of the words sun, snake, and sour? Watch my mouth while I say them.” Exaggerate the letter s when saying the words.
  • Play sound games— Give your child practice blending individual sounds into words. For example, ask “Do you know what the word is? m-o-p?” Say the sound each letter makes rather than the name of the letter. Hold each sound longer than you normally would. This will help your child recognize the different letter sounds.
  • Trace and say letters while saying the letter’s sound at the same time. Use a pan filled with rice, sugar or beans to involve touch, sight and speech.  
  • Play word games — Use a dry erase board to play word games with your child. First, write out a word like mat. Then change the initial sound. Have your child sound out the word when it becomes fat and then when it becomes sat. Next change the final sound, so the word changes from sat to sag to sap. Then change the middle sound, so the word changes from sap to sip.
  • Punctuate your reading.?! -. Discuss how punctuation on a page represents ways of speaking. You can say, for example, “When we talk, we usually pause a little bit at the end of a sentence. The way we show this pause in writing is to use a period.”
  • Dig deeper into the story — Ask your child about the story you’ve just read together. Try questions that require your child to draw conclusions. Say something like, “Why do you think Clifford did that?” A child’s involvement in retelling a story or answering questions goes a long way toward developing his or her comprehension skills.
  • Tell family tales — Children love to hear stories about their family. Tell your child what it was like when you or your parents were growing up or talk about a funny thing that happened when you were young.
  • Storytelling on the go — Take turns adding to a story the two of you make up while riding in the car. Either one of you could start. Start with a beginning middle and end and work up to a longer story. A fun activity that stretches the imagination!

Every minute counts in becoming a good reader. Why not set a goal to try to do at least one activity a day? Be prepared to have days when it doesn’t get done. It’s only a goal. Most of all, enjoy the special time with your child.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Very Early Readers (Birth – 2)

Very Early Readers
Birth to 2 yrs.

Very Early Readers (Birth – 2 yrs)

Learning to read is not easy and takes time.  Many parents wonder on the best ways to help their kids learn to read.  With 8 grandkids under 9, we have various levels of reading going on in our family. Ranging in age from 7 months to “newly 9” we have very early readers to advanced readers.   

I created the following list to make it a little easier for my adult children to have a few “reading ideas” to help their kiddos. Reading is very comprehensive and therefore, there is a wide range of activities at each level.  The important thing to remember is reading builds on foundational skills.  Therefore, each level is important for reading success.  Don’t worry if your more advanced reader wants to do a lower level.  Even advanced readers can continue to learn and grow from some of the Very Early Reader list activities. This week we start with our very early readers.

Very Early Readers (Birth to 2 yrs.)

  • Read together every day. Uninterrupted 2 minutes of time is time well spent.
  • Keep a book or magazine with you all the time to read with your child.  Every minute counts. 
  • Re-read a favorite – Kids love to hear books again.  Repeated reading helps kids read more quickly and accurately.  It helps promote their reading confidence. Research shows that repeated reading builds language skills.
  • Read with fun in your voice. Why not use different voices for different characters. A little acting can go a long way!  
  • Let your child choose —Give your child the chance to pick his/her own books. Letting children choose their own books nurtures independence and their own interests.
  • Read it and Experience it — Help your child make the connection between what he/she reads in books and what happens in life. If you’re reading a book about animals, for example, relate it to last month’s trip to the zoo. 
  • Make books and reading into something special by taking your kids to the library, helping them get their own library card, reading with them, and buying them books as gifts.
  • Have a favorite place for books in your home, or even better, put books everywhere!
  • Talk about what you see and do together.
  • Talking about everyday activities helps your child’s background knowledge, which is crucial to listening and reading comprehension
  • You can play games that involve naming or pointing to objects.
  • Say silly tongue twisters—Sing sings and read rhyming books. These help kids become sensitive to the sounds in words.
  • When you read aloud, read with expression.

Coming Next Week:  Preschool Readers (2 to 5 years)

Coming in 2 Weeks: School Age Readers and Writers (5 to 9 years)

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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Guided Reading Level: At School and Home

Knowing a child's Guided Reading Level (GRL) can support a child's reading.
Knowing a child’s Guided Reading Level (GRL) can support a child’s reading.

The start of the school year brings some new reading terms for parents of children in the early grades.  Many teachers use Guided Reading to teach reading.  The days of everyone reading together out of one book has been replaced by small-group instruction.  The small groups are composed of children that have similar Guided Reading Levels (GRLs).  The level is assessed on a child’s word-knowledge, comprehension and fluency.  These levels are also used to determine a child’s independent reading level.

Fountas and Pinnell, (F & P) is one of the most popular assessment tools.  The levels range alphabetically from A to Z, with level A representing the lowest level and level Z the highest. This allows the teacher to work closely with each student to help them become better readers by introducing them to increasingly challenging books and instructional focus.

How Are Book Levels Determined?

Books are assigned Guided Reading Levels based on several general expectations and capabilities of a reader. As the levels progress, the books become more difficult. Each level is based upon the increasing complexity of ten benchmark common book characteristics that readers encounter at all stages of the reading process from when your child picks up his or her first book through the time when he or she becomes a fluent reader. These guided reading categories are: 

  • Themes and Ideas: Big ideas communicated by the author
  • Genre: Type of book
  • Text Structure: How the book is organized
  • Content: Subject matter of a book
  • Sentence Complexity: Difficulty of the sentence
  • Language and Literacy: The writing techniques used by the writer.
  • Vocabulary: The frequency of new words introduced in the book.
  • Words: How easy the words in the book can be figured out (decoded) by a reader
  • Illustrations: The correlation and consistency of images and pictures in the books to the words printed on the page
  • Book and Print Features: How the printed words are on the page.

How Can I Find Books at My Child’s Guided Reading Level?

Ask your child’s teacher for the appropriate Guided Reading Level (GRL) to practice reading at home. In the classroom, books are often labeled so kids can easily grab a book at their reading level.  Your school or local librarian can be helpful to find books at your child’s level.  Many book publishers also include a Guided Reading Level on their books.

Isn’t education ALL about reaching the kids?

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