Please share the resources below to give someone the “Gift of Reading”. • Overdrive is a database of books that allows you to borrow up to 10 ebooks or audiobooks from your local library. Just use your library card for your one time registration. • Tumblebooks is a collection of audiobooks and ebooks for kids. Books are leveled and the site also includes activities. Once you register using your library card, you will be given access information. Happy Free Reading!
Recently I was driving home with my granddaughter, who just started kindergarten. To help distract her on our long ride, I thought it would be fun to count to 100 and see how long it would be before we saw our house. When we got into the 50s she informed me she wasn’t very good at the higher numbers. Ah, a challenge for GG!
So, for her next visit I downloaded a 100 chart to help her develop an understanding of numbers. A hundred chart is an easy way to do fun math without lots of preparation. A 100 chart can easily be found online. I was ready for an exciting game of 100 chart BINGO.
Let the game begin!
After about 10 numbers, I realized her focus was more on the purple butterfly tokens we were using to cover the numbers rather than the numbers themselves. A good early childhood teachers knows to keep a lesson focused, short and fun. That day Miss M did not think my 100s chart game was any of the three. So, the hundred (100) chart game will wait for another day.
Kindergarten Concepts to Review Using a 100s Chart
One to one correspondence(be sure to point to each number)
Practice counting forwards
Practice counting backwards
Examples of 100s Chart Games
Find the number
Count off the days
Numbers are symbols for amounts
Ordinal numbers (first, second, third etc.)
Roll a die(1) or dice(2) and move that number of boxes on the chart.
Remember the fun is in the journey. Enjoy the moment !
When I was a teacher of the talented and gifted we administered the Torrance Tests of Divergent Thinking as one of the admission tests. Points were given if kids expanded some basic squiggles into creative drawings. Kids loved the test and always wanted to do it over. IF they did take the test again, they probably would have done better. Why? Because after the test I had shown them how they scored Therefore, they learned how to score better the next time.
Talented and Gifted Admission: A Good Idea?
A Torrance retest would be a perfect example of learning, but could I use the results to test creativity? I’m not sure. The example showed that creativity is a skill can be developed. So, what about the kids who scored high on the original test? Was that inborn talent or had they had opportunities to develop their creativity prior to testing? Perhaps they had experiences that gave them the confidence to try different challenges where there was no right or wrong answers.
Bottom line is that parents can foster creativity in their kids. Fostering a child’s creativity through art and music is a common idea. However, creativity and problem solving can be seen in all areas.
10 Ways to Promote Creativity in Children
Give kids lots of unstructured playtime to let their imaginations be unlimited.
Provide resources to let them explore. (Ex. paper, pencils, boxes, old clothes for dress up, straws, newspapers, blocks, Legos) Let them look around and find things to use.
Give them flexibility to make choices and think of solutions.
Help them learn words associated with creativity by asking questions. Ex. What would happen if? What could you do with that? Any ideas that might be possibilities? Let’s think of possible solutions.
Applaud their creativity! Remembering that there is no right or wrong. Allowing kids to express themselves with acknowledgement helps to build confidence to try new things.
Allow them to make rules to a game. They’ll experience whether they work or not. When they don’t let them change them again. Problem solving at its best
The focus of creative activities should be on process: generating (vs. evaluating) new ideas.
Remind them it’s ok to make mistakes. You don’t want them to be afraid of failure. Adults make mistakes too!
Encourage divergent (different) thinking. I used to challenge all my first-grade classes to find 100 ways to melt a snowball. It was a struggle, but they always did it. Wow, those kids were creative!
Show kids creative ideas. In other words, something that will trigger “out of the box thinking”.
The photo attached to this post was taken by my husband on a golf outing. He thought it was unique and knew I would share it with some of my grandkids. But he didn’t know that I would use it as the focus photo of a post on creativity! Who would ever thinking of carving and painting a scene on a tree? So, maybe, you won’t paint on the next tree you see, but I bet you’ll think of this photo the next time you see an entwined tree trunk. Now, you’re being creative.
Thanks to Griffon Ramsey, for the creative inspiration from “Bad Day on the SS Normandie” (2017)
So good news. If you are reading this blog, you have been taught to read. However, how did you learn to read? What are the main parts when teaching reading? I’ll give you a hint… there are 5 parts of reading.
I asked that question to a few non-teaching friends recently. They all responded comprehension, and with some additional prodding, they added vocabulary. Both are correct! Now, what are the other 3? For anyone helping kids learn to read it is important to know that it takes all 5 ingredients working together for kids to become successful readers. Adding to comprehension and vocabulary are fluency and phonological and phonemic awareness. Often, students that have difficulty with reading comprehension have difficulty in 1 or more of the other reading components.
Comprehension is what most people think reading is. It is creating a meaning out of a group of individual words. Reading comprehension is the most complex aspect of reading. It includes the other 4 components and requires the reader to think about what they are reading and make connections with their personal knowledge.
Vocabulary is needed for kids to read books. As they become stronger readers, they will tackle more difficult readings with new vocabulary words. When reading with a child ask them to try to figure out a new word by the context clues (hints) in the text. They can look at other words in the sentence, the main idea of the story, or the pictures in the story to provide hints to identify the new word. Like vocabulary, reading comprehension skills develop and improve over time through practice.
Fluency is a reader’s ability to read with speed, accuracy and expression. It is important for reading comprehension because it frees up working memory in the brain to spend time comprehending what they are reading. Reading books slightly below your child’s reading level will help build confidence and therefore, increase fluency.
Phonemic Awareness is recognizing parts of words. To see that a word has a beginning, middle and end and makes a new word if you add an ending such as /s/. Phonemic awareness is also blending the parts of words together to make a full word. For example: /h/ and /at/ to form hat. Phonemic awareness also recognizes specific sounds and location in a word. For example: knowing what the first sound in the word “ball”.
Phonological awareness is the connection between sounds and letter symbols. These sound/symbol connections create words. Children need to understand the connection between the individual sounds that each letter makes and how putting the letters together to create a word to understand. Nursery rhymes are great resources to help develop both phonological and phonemic awareness skills.
Top 5 things for parents to do to help their child read
Read with your child daily.
Reread books to expose kids to same words to build fluency.
Ask questions about the story or illustrations.
Use different vocabulary words in conversations with your child (age dependent)
Read different types of text. (Ex. magazine, menu, cereal box)
The technique “use your words” encourages children to talk about their feelings. Being able to use words to describe what they are feeling gives children power over their feelings. Giving words to feelings can make them become a lot less overwhelming or upsetting or scary. The Use Your Words Learning Kit with Daniel Tiger is a FREE resource has many tips for parents and teachers for helping children learn to use their words to express how they are feeling. Great resource that kids will love!
I saw the video “Every Kid Needs A Champion” a few years back at an ASCD conference in Texas. I don’t know exactly what touched me about it, but it gave me “the goosebumps”. You know what I’m talking about. The goosebumps you get on your arms when you really “get” it.
Take a few minutes and sit back with a cup of coffee to watch this video. Then think about the question below of how you feel after watching it. Whatever answer you choose, it validates your choice to become a teacher. What you DO makes a difference in a child’s life. Thank you for what you do.
Children remind us to pay attention to the details and the magical moments. They encourage us to sing “Let It Go” for the 100th time. (with hand movements, of course). Children’s enthusiasm is contagious and that’s why we teach. How can we keep that joy alive in our teaching?
I’ve used the video below many times in Teacher Professional Development workshops when we try to understand the many changes occurring in education today. Sometimes the video helps to focus a group to understand the need for changes. Other times it helps to support a group challenged to change and looking for meaningful and sustainable pathways. Overall, a good visual to illustrate how our world has changed and a glimpse into the future. At the very least it’s a 5 minute history lesson.
I had this video embedded in a recent Keynote speech, only to find out that the Internet was not working. (Don’t you just love technology!) So, here you go Astor Friends! I will also be posting the Champion Speech. You all deserve it!
Minute-Mysteries are stories that can be solved with close examination of the clues in the story.
Emily and Connall were playing checkers at GG’s house. They played 5 games. Each of them won the same number of games and there weren’t any ties. How could this happen?
John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was the youngest person elected to the presidency. However, he was the second youngest man to hold the office? How could this be?
On Monday, the teacher asked Teaghan how old she would be on her next birthday. She answered that in two years she would be twice as old as she was five years ago. How old is Teaghan today?
A photographer went for a walk in the woods to take pictures of nature. That was the last time anyone saw her alive. Three days later she was found dead in the woods. The story says that she died because of a pack on her back. What was so deadly about the pack?
My knowledge of questioning was limited prior to being hired as a teacher of Talented and Gifted students. I vaguely remember hearing something about Bloom’s Taxonomy. But honestly, it didn’t sound important to me at the time. My new position put it front and center of my teaching. However, I was WRONG not to have used it in my prior placements. Good questioning should be in every teacher’s toolbox and used often in both instruction and assessment. It is a great addition to a parents’ toolbox as well.
Most questions are used to ask students to recall and check for understanding. For deeper understanding, we should ask children to apply their knowledge. Often my students could recall the information but could not explain their answers. Most of today’s testing requires students to explain their answers and gives partial credit to validate thinking.
This is an excellent topic for discussion. Therefore, look for future blogs on effective questioning for different age students that will include questioning stems to help in the classroom.
Remember: Being able to recall or recognize ideas and information.
Understand: Understanding the main idea of new information and being able to summarize.
Apply: Applying an idea to solve a problem.
Analyze: Breaking down an idea into parts to help understanding.
Sometimes you just need a magazine with short, easy to read articles on education topics. A resource to share with your colleagues over lunch. A resource that gives ideas to immediately use in your classroom. Two resources that you may want to try are Edutopia and District Administrator.
Edutopia is a magazine that celebrates and encourages innovation in K-12 schools. The George Lucas Educational Foundation publishes this resource for educators. Sign-up on the website is easy. Only available through digital subscription. Get great resources sent to your mailbox each week. https://www.edutopia.org/
District Administration (DA) The most widely received and most regularly read publication for school district leaders nationwide. It is available in print and digital formats. If you are a K-12 district leader you may qualify for a free subscription to the DA print magazine. A digital edition is available on line for free. https://www.districtadministration.com/
This blog is response to a reader for a list of some good reading resources. A tough question because SO much goes into a recommendation depending on what their need is. Recommendations should be based on many factors. Who needs it? For what purpose is the recommendation? What type of reading resources do you need? Are you looking for resources, research, opinions?
The table below is my best attempt at a TOP 5 list. However, please look for future posts on this topic.
TOP 5 Reading Resources
Teachers/Subs Student Teachers
Parents & Grands
Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR)
Research-based classroom activities developed to improve reading instruction Pre-K through 12th grade. Center Activities includes a Teacher Resource Guide. A Professional Development Video that provides insights into differentiated instruction. www.fcrr.org
A subscription-based digital education program. Geared for children ages 2-6. First month is Free. Games and activities are based on student progress. Many subject areas included. www.abcmouse.com
FREE 1st month
$79 yr. Look for coupons
Starfall is a free public service to teach children to read with phonics. Excellent resources for preschool, K-2, special education, homeschool and ELL’s. Math and music activities are also included. www. starfall.com
FREE with Premium $35.00/yr.
Offers a wealth of reading strategies, lessons and activities designed to help young children read. Support to build fluency, vocabulary and comprehension skills. www.readingrockets.org
Provides access to high quality practices in reading and language arts instruction by offering the very best in FREE materials. Every lesson plan has been aligned to NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts and individual state standards as well. www.readwritethink.org
Last week, my oldest granddaughter excitedly started Kindergarten. We all knew she was ready, but our eyes still welled up when she climbed the bus stairs. She is growing up so fast! So, how did we know? Well, GiGi’s and daughters JUST KNOW but research on behaviors that predict Kindergarten Readiness also gives information to consider.
A report by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicates that kids entering kindergarten display a wide range of behaviors. Some of them give kids a big advantage. The study tracked students from kindergarten through third grade, to determine whether some of these behaviors are related to academic performance. They are:
Pays attention well
Persists in completing tasks
Adapts easily to change
Shows eagerness to learn new things
Follows classroom rules
Looking at the list and Little Miss M, a couple of items make us raise our eyebrows but OVERALL, she was ready. Have fun Miss M! School is ready for you!
Earlier this month I presented at a Professional Development Day for Head Start teachers on Early Numeracy. We touched on a concept that certainly could fill an entire day, “Math Walks”. This is a great teaching strategy that can be effective from toddlers through adulthood. If you look around the room or through the window, math concepts are everywhere. I promised my Head Start colleagues that I would post a cheat sheet on “Math Walk” basics. So here you go Head Start friends, have fun!
What is a “Math Walk”?
A “Math Walk” is a planned walk with sites along the way to show students math concepts. It encourages students to ask and answer questions. It’s an opportunity to take kids out of the classroom to “see” math. It is an active learning strategy to keep kids moving and of course talking!
Top 10 Benefits of Math Walks
Can be done anywhere, anytime and with anyone
Easy to prepare
Opens children’s eyes to the world around them
Helps kids see and understand math concepts
Gets kids actively learning
Gives multiple opportunities to solve problems
Encourages communicating thoughts and ideas
Builds confidence and a willingness to try
Can be tailored to meet children’s abilities
Promotes FUN in learning!
“Math Walks” give students and teachers opportunities to see and talk about math terms in everyday conversations. Start a checklist using the following terms and see how many you use during your walks.
Depending on students’ interests and abilities, questions can be prepared to discuss counting, number sense, measurement and geometry. Open-ended questioning gives students opportunities to solve problems and develop language. The possibilities of “Math Walks” are endless.
Geometry & Measurement
Can we find any shapes in the buildings? Squares, rectangles etc.
Can you name the shape?
Do you see any shapes in the buildings, ground, cars that pass by?
Do you see any patterns?
How tall is the tree?
How can we measure an item?
Number Sense and Counting
How many windows do you see in our classroom?
Can you find an object that is approximately one foot long?
Estimate which item is bigger, smaller, shorter, taller
Can you find a specific number of things? Ex. Three windows?
TRY THIS NOW: Sample Math Walk: Take a look at the photo in this blog.
Estimate how many small mailboxes there are?
How many mailboxes are there all together?
Look at each mailbox, are there any other shapes on the box? What shapes are there?
Is the circle bigger than a quarter, dime, nickel or penny?
Do you see any other Math symbols on the mailbox? What do you see?
How many columns are in the structure? How many rows?
How many mailboxes are in each column? Row?
What shape is each mailbox? How do you know?
What size is the mailbox? Can you measure it?
What is the shape of all the mailboxes added together in each column? Row?
Tell me something is taller than each mailbox? Shorter?
Are all the mailboxes together taller than you? Shorter than you? Taller/shorter than mommy?
Teachers: Don’t forget to add “Math Walks” to your plan books
“Math Walks” are not an “extra” in your lesson planning. “Math Walks” meet important NCTM Process Standards.
Recognizing and applying mathematics
Communicating mathematical thinking
Analyzing and evaluating the mathematical thinking of others
Making and using connections among mathematical ideas
Finally, one of the keys to creating a positive learning experience is motivating students. Try a “Math Walk” today and “see math” through the eyes of your students. Enjoy the walk!
Research states that reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the word. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. But what to do if your child is not interested and it becomes a nightly struggle rather than a special nighttime ritual? Try Picture Walks!
As a K-2 principal I sometimes gave pep talks to parents in ways to engage their child in reading. A simple and easy way to help your child read is to do a “Picture Walk” BEFORE reading an unfamiliar story. “Picture Walks” help children to learn how to preview and make predictions about a book. A “Picture Walk” can last one day or multiple days depending on your child’s interest.
Before you read with your child
Choose a book and read it to yourself first.
While reading, look closely at the illustrations (pictures), the text (words) and the structure of the book (lots of illustrations, words on the bottom/top, rhyming, repetition of words)
Think about what YOUR child will like about the book. (illustrations, characters, ending)
While reading with your child
Model how to read
Look closely at the illustrations with your child and have them talk about what they see. There is no right or wrong answer, just talk about the illustrations.
Point out text features that will help them comprehend the story. (Subtitles, question marks, exclamation points)
Use some of the new words in the story when pointing to the illustrations.
Looking at the illustrations, ask general questions about the story. (Ex: where do you think the story is taking place, who might the story be about?)
Respond to their replies vaguely; rather that they are correct or incorrect. (Use phrases like “I wonder, it looks like, oh maybe, let’s read further)
After reading the book
Review some of the ideas and predictions that you talked about while looking back at the illustrations. This reinforces their thinking and fosters enthusiasm.
Solving mysteries can support critical thinking while having fun
Mystery Luncheons were a regular activity in our school when I was a principal. I invited different grades each day to join me to eat lunch and I shared with them a few mysteries to solve. It was a great time as we all chatted and tried to solve the mysteries.
The object of 1-2 minute mysteries is to solve the mysteries based on clues in the story. The clues are few and very often are not obvious. The mysteries seem impossible to solve until you remember there is something (or more than one thing) that you are making assumptions about.
Steps to Solve:
Read the story slowly.
If you are solving the mysteries with a friend, you can ask questions that can only be answered yes or no. Be sure to phrase the questions vaguely at first? Such as does the solution have anything to do with a specific character, the setting, the time of year, time of day, the weather etc.
Once you realize the answer is not clear, look at the story and think about what the tricks in the story could be:
Most times the trick could be in our assumptions of the 5 W’s. (Who, What, When, Where and Why)
What tricks could be in the story?
Is there something about the sequence of what happened? (what happened first, second or last)
Is there something about the characters? (Their name, the type they are)
Something about the setting? (weather, time)
In the old West a man rides into town on Friday. He stays for three days and leaves on Friday. How can this be?
A father and son are in an auto accident. The father dies and the son is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The doctor looks at the boy and says, “I can’t work on him, he’s my son.” How can this be?
Donna and Jerry and Howard and Mary all live in the same house. Donna and Jerry go out to a movie, and when they return, Howard is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass. It is obvious that Mary killed him but she is not arrested. How could that be?
There is a pipe, a carrot and a pile of pebbles together in the middle of a field. Why?
Declan wants to go home, but he can’t go home, because the man in the mask is waiting for him.
Friday is not a day of the week
Some careers have both men and women employed
Howard is not a man
Can you think of something that uses all 3 items?
The man in the mask is not a threat. He is supposed to be wearing a mask.
Answers: (You asked for it, here they are)
Friday is the name of the horse the man was riding on.
The surgeon is the boys mother.
Howard is a fish. He lived in a fishbowl and it had fallen on the floor.
September and the start of school has always inspired me to buy new school supplies. Recently, I found the 101 Best Book List created by researchers at the Curry School of Education which is a great list to start your classroom library. The choices are based on readability, length and including different types of genres.
Books don’t have to be new to be enjoyed Because books are expensive start your search at garage sales, books sales and used book sales at your local library. Dutchess County friends, take a road trip to the Poughkeepsie Library on Boardman Road. Their bookstore has great buys. I recently bought 10 Early Reading (Levels 1 and 2) books for $2.64. That’s 25 cents a book! It’s clean, organized and a friendly group of volunteers. Worth a visit. http://poklib.org/friends-of-ppld/book-store/
I have retyped this list to make it user-friendly when shopping for books. Happy Shopping!
Most students in my talented and gifted classes were highly-abled. At times, these students exhibited traits of giftedness in a subject area. At other times, it may have been their creativeness or problem solving ability. Knowing the characteristics of highly-abled students will help teachers modify curriculum to develop strengths and address student needs.
has an excellent memory
has a large vocabulary
Uses complex sentence structure for their age
reads earlier than peers
demonstrates logical thinking
concerned with social and political issues
asks probing questions, inquiring minds, curious
has original ideas
enjoys and initiates own learning
can concentrate for lengthy periods of time
tends to be persistent and motivated
can be impatient and intolerant
has a wide range of interests
may have an extreme focus in one interest
has a deep knowledge base
often highly sensitive
has sophisticated sense of humor
transfers learning to new situations
makes connections between different activities and ideas
works well independently
enjoys spending time with older students or adults
(Source: National Association for Gifted Children (https://www.nagc.org/)
As requested by some attendees at the Astor Services Head Start on the September 14th conference day, the link below is a repost of a Reading presentation that I gave last year to the Astor Education committee.
The presentation outlines the importance of literacy in Childhood Education. It includes both research and strategies to include in literacy instruction. The differences between phonological and phonemic awareness is highlighted. The pros and cons of the Common Core standards is also included for discussion.
As requested by some attendees at the Astor Services Head Start on the September 14th conference day, the link below is a repost of a presentation that I prepared for the Astor Education Committee in May, 2017.
Many preschool students understand numeracy. However, they probably don’t know the vocabulary. Creative Curriculum gives teachers many new terms to use. The “Go slow to go fast: Learning about math is neither short-term nor rote” presentation reminds teachers that learning takes time.
Thank you Astor friends for inviting me to your Professional Development Day.