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Reading Strategy Practice for Young Readers

Is it just in my classroom that students S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E to use strategies? Especially those striving readers. They are pulling at everything they can to not feel clueless, and even with us modeling over and over again - they just sit there and wait.... wait for you to help them with a strategy, tell them the word. Am I right? Those faces looking up at you - you know the ones. Big sweet eyes that look blank, because they haven't a CLUE how to please you. Or we have the kiddos that don't even look at you. These students break my heart. They are my kiddos that have no confidence,  don't volunteer, and feel hopeless.

My own son struggles with this. No matter what I do with him, he would still guess and keep going or wait for me to tell him the word. I have created these with your new readers in mind. I wanted to give students a way think their way through a strategy. These reading strategy strips do just that.
First, there are over 100 sentences included with this pack. (111 to be exact) I wanted to use sight words that kindergarten and first grade students learn. I cross referenced two different popular sight word lists and took some of the more popular ones. I also wanted sentences that students had to not only pick a picture, but also to vocalize why they chose it. 
 There are two options for these sentences. One option has only one picture and students are decoding more of the words and trying to make sense of the picture and their schema.
I also created sentences that have two pictures on the card. I wanted students to use a strategy and circle the one they thought went with the sentence. 


You are able to store them on rings. I used 2 inch rings from Amazon. You can find them here. I put 27 ish on each. 

The great thing about these are that if you laminate them, students can start by going through with you modeling each step. Students can then circle not only the strategy but also the word that made them circle which strategy. 

I wanted to ensure that your students had the same strategy pictures as well, so I have included four different themed sentences to match your classroom strategy cards. 

Students can use dry erase markers with these. 

Storage is simple. The rings can be placed on magnetic hooks, push pin bulletin boards or on a peg board. I used this peg board that I got from Bullseye's Playground. 

The best part, is that I have added a strategy tracking template. That way you are able to track student growth and streamline what your students need more reinforcement with.  These are perfect for data binders! 
These are a great warm up for guided reading. Have each student take and work on the same four - five cards. Have them complete the activity independently and then discuss the strategy used. The amazing thing about these strips is that there can be different strategies used. It depends on the student. They are able to have a conversation with one another to explain their thinking. 
I also have friends use these strategy bookmarks while they are reading. I have them put a paperclip on and slide to the strategy they used. After our lesson, we all take a minute and share one word we used and the strategy that was used. You can see those here, or click the picture above. 

During guided reading groups, I also put these clear picture dividers up and put the strategy posters inside. They are a great reminder and but also adds a bit of privacy! 
You can find the clear dividers here. You can click on the picture above to grab the strategy posters. 

Students do their strategy lesson first, then we go into our work work. The magnetic letter return sheet can be found here or by clicking the link above. 

My sweet friends reference these posters ALL THE TIME when they read. 




You can check out a few videos of these in use. 




If you'd like to purchase these sentence strips, click any of the pictures. 
Be sure to pin the image below for future reference. 
I hope allow your students to feel successful, confident and excited readers! 




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Guided Reading Routine - Part 1 - Sight Words

My guided reading time is my FAVORITE time in my classroom with the exception of the time I spend with my students doing poetry. I only have a quick 25 minutes twice a day. I needed to ensure I kept to a very tight schedule to meet the needs of the differing levels in my classroom.

I've decided to break it down into parts because it will take SO long to do more that one part at a time. So here is Part One - Sight Words.

We have a VERY specific list of sight words that we must use in my school. So you will see that this list is NOT Fry or Dolch. Not to worry! This entire portion of this post is to help meet the needs of YOUR students. This is a completely editable product that you can customize with your sight words word list.

I am MUCH better at talking then taking pictures, so I did an Instagram Live and saved it so you could HEAR me show you how it works for me. (Scroll to the very bottom of this post) Pictures are all well and good, but video is much better. * Disclaimer - this is not edited yet - so it isn't polished, but I am not a polished person so I am ok with it! :)
This sight word tracking is EDITABLE. You pop in the words that your school needs. You can have a list of 3, 4, or 5 columns. 
Each time a student spells the word correctly, they get a check. After 3 consecutive checks, you cross off the word and date it. Instant tracking over time without any additional work on your part! 




I hope you find this helpful!! :)


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Classroom Items to Invest in NOW

We love to buy stuff for our classrooms. It's in our blood. We just can't help it. I have ever marker, pen, target spot item you can think of. There may be some stuff you haven't thought to buy. You may be a new teacher and don't know what to buy. You may be student teaching and want to buy things as you are in school.

These are things that I wish I had from day one OR things I had from day one that I happened to be smart lucky enough to get. Lots of articles will tell you NOT to buy things before you are hired at a school. Some people will tell you don't spend on your classroom. (Likely, they are skipping this post, too - and that is ok)

Here is the thing: YOU'RE EXCITED. You are GOING to spend money on your classroom (at least I bet you are if you are reading this). If you are going to spend your hard earned money - I can at least help you spend it wisely!

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. This allows me to keep my teeny little blog up and running. 


Years ago, more years than I care to admit - I started buying. ALL. THE. THINGS. for my classroom. I KNEW I would teach third grade. (that is what grade I did my student teaching in) I thought third grade is it. I will NEVER teach a different grade. So during student teaching, I bought every single chapter book I could find. I went to garage sales, found other teachers giving away books etc. Guess what? I taught kindergarten the next year. Then first grade. All those books sat in a bin until two years ago, when I gave them away to a new fourth grade teacher. What a waste of time and money.

Here is my advice on the top 10 things to invest in that will more than pay for themselves through your teaching career. I try to only buy things with my money, that no matter what grade I'm moved to - I can use it and it won't go into storage.

1. Containers.  I should have stock with sterilite. My first year teaching I bought 5 of the grey bins below. You can grab them by clicking here or on the picture below. They are amazing. They are solid gray plastic and match EVERYTHING.  I suggest sticking with black, grey, or blue. White does start to show kicks and dirt. I have gone from 6 bins to 12. When I want a theme change, I switch the sign (They are held on by velcro dots)

The far left blue are lock and latch boxes. You can find them here
The middle are six drawer bins. You can find them here
The end is a mailbox is from here. Now, I know this is expensive, but it is solid wood and will last forever! 

I also invested in these white containers. They were a dollar each back then. I think the people of sterilite have caught on that teachers like them because they increased the price a bit but so worth it. They have a flippable lip to stack them SUPER easy. Find those here.  I bought 30 of them. It has been 10 years and they still look like new. Not ONE has broke. Last year, I tossed them into my dishwasher and they look BRAND NEW!  If I change themes - I pop on a new themed label rather than tossing containers for new ones.  You can find these labels by clicking the picture or here.

Latch bins are KEY to hold supplies. Look at this mess under my sink before - now look how great they look. I have an index and can find anything!  Find those labels here or click the picture above.


I also use them to house recess supplies! Find the labels here.



2. You will ALWAYS have a library as a primary classroom teacher, so spend the money on QUALITY bins. You can find these here from Steps to Literacy. You can buy at dollar tree, but this is not going to be a long term use. If you have tough kiddos, a lot will break. I invested in both and my dollar tree ones have been long gone. But, these ones have stood the test of time. You can find my editable labels here


3. A paper cutter.  A good one - you can find this one here.  Yes, your school likely has one - but when was the blade last changed? Did you know that - they need changed yearly due to all of the use? If you buy your own, you can go a good 5-7 years without needing a change. Our cutter is a mile away and I want to cut when I want to cut. I have one at school and one at home.  You can find this sight word game here.



4. a laminator. I have 4. Don't you dare judge me - I used to have five but gave away one to a friend. hahahah
I have two at school and two at home. You never know if one will break and then you are stuck. Plus, I send one home on the weekends for parents to help me cut out center stuff. See the volunteer forms that I use with it here.  I also use lamination sheets from here. I use the thinner ones now because I love using this cardstock - especially for printing center materials.


5. A teacher tool box. I KNOW, I KNOW - You don't think you will use it. I don't know what I would do without mine - seriously. I use it DAILY. My most used by me: velcro. Most used by my co-workers - change. hahaha   I got it here.


6. Lanyards - It may seem like something silly on this list of big items, but these are my FAVORITE!  I refuse to tie shoes in my classroom, and I will not untangle yarn knots!! I only threw away two or three after five years.  I used yarn for years and it made me mental. You can easily clean the lanyards year to year by hanging them in oxyclean for a bit and then soak in water and air dry. I got the lanyards here.  You can find the editable lanyard tags by clicking the picture or here.

7. A Lost and Found Bin - this has seriously saved my sanity! If one more student interrupted me with a staple or glue cap, I was going to jump out a window.  This bin is big. Like can hold 2 back packs big. I have had students put in jackets, lids, pencils, crayons - you name it. My students know not to bug me if they find something. If they loose something, they go look in the bin before they talk to me about it. At the end of the week, one kid empties it. You can find the label for this here. I got the bin from Big Lots for $7.

8. Read Aloud books. I don't care if you are a first grade teacher or a fifth grade teacher - kids LOVE read aloud books. I get more excited than my students to hear a new one, so buy them, but don't get too crazy. (Not yet anyway) I tried to buy a couple seasonal ones, a few for the start of the year. You never know what grade you will be in, but for the most part - read aloud books will last you forever! I buy hardcover used books from Amazon.
Here is where you can find the comprehension companions to go with the stories.


9. Magnetic Letters and trays - this is worth the investment in your classroom if you are a primary teacher! You can read all about where I bought my letters, and how I use them  here or click below.


10. Student Mailbox Center - this is another thing I wish I had purchased from year one. This isn't something you will move often so it will stay sturdy and your students will be organized. You can find the 1' binder clip labels here.

I know not all teachers have the money to buy these things all at once. You can save where you can, ask for donations, write a donors choose proposal or sell some of the things you no longer use. Your area may have a teachers facebook sell site and you could be buying new things in no time!

Did I leave anything off the list? Is there anything that I need that I don't have? I am ready to shop and buy more things.  (just kidding - sort of)
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Word Work in the Primary Classroom

Hey all!
Does your guided reading time fly by? Mine sure does! I only have twenty five minutes, twice a day.
When I have my kiddos transition to their centers, and my others hop over to the guided reading table, I need to ensure everyone is working on activities that are appropriate for their independent levels.
So today, I thought I would share one of the activities that I have students work on during centers times for my word work station.

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase. This allows me to keep my teeny little blog up and running. 

I use these magnetic boards in my classroom for EVERYTHING. 

I use them in my guided reading groups, and for students that are in the work on words center. 

This new activity may end up becoming my favorite!!!

Word Work Task Cards start with level A-1 and go up through level C-3. Each card has five words. Set one starts with only substituting the ending sound. Set two substitutes either the first sound or ending sound, while each word only changes one letter at a time. Set three can substitute any sound in the word, still only changing one letter each line. Each set has 45 words - with 135 cvc words in the entire pack! 
The task cards have two sized recording sheets if you want your students to have written reinforcement. One is a full size recording sheet that can be made into a booklet for easy storage. The small size is one that you can glue into word work journals. I will have my parent volunteers take these home and create my booklets so that I can keep them all together and glued into their notebooks!


I have also included letters to use in case you don't have magnetic letters. These will fit easily into the task boxes. The boxes are called Iris Photo boxes. You can click the picture below to find the photo boxes that I use. 

I also have this set available in black and white to save you color ink. I will say that I think they really stand out in the astrobrights color paper. I would print each set starting with the color red. I keep everything in rainbow order. Set one is red. Set two is orange. Set three yellow. (coming soon will be set four green, set five blue, set six purple, set seven pink) I do this so that students know what set they are in and start at. Everything in my room goes with the rainbow. They know the order of the colors and know always to start with red and end with pink. The sets also have numbers on them so that students can double check where they are.


The recording sheets either have the words with a space to write after or the picture and the space next to it to record, depending on your child's ability level. 
I used the rings to keep my cards together. These small rings make it so that they fit easily into the task box containers. You can find the rings here.


 These tiles below are also able to be used. They are small 
and skinny enough that you can use them inside the boxes as well. You can find the tiles by clicking here

These letters are also easy to use and fit inside. I of course like them because they are so colorful. You can find these colorful letters by clicking here. It says that you can get at least 3 full sets a-z out of one bucket. I will find out and update this as I pull them into sets. 


You can also use the banana gram or scrabble tiles for students to make these words. Click here for the link to the tiles. 

The great thing about this set is that it goes right along with Lucy Calkins Next Step in Guided Reading. So you know that if you are using this set, you are following right along with what you should be taught at each level. 


You can find the items I use in my guided reading and word work area by clicking on the pictures below:
These are the boards that you can use in your room as well. Click the photo above to find these boards. 

I use this shelving system to house all of my boards(click on either photo to grab the shelving!)

 Here are the magnetic letters that I use. You can get a full board covered with five letters left over per box. So if you want five boards, you will need five of these sets of letters.
Finally the template below that I place on top of the boards is scaled down to 87% so that it fits on these colorful boards. You can click the photo below to purchase the magnetic letter template. This allows students to EASILY return their letters and organize them. They will spend more time working on their activity and less time figuring out where their letters are. 

I hope you find this pack useful! These word work task cards are PERFECT for an organized and efficient word work time. Click below to grab these task cards for your primary classroom. They would be a perfect addition to your pre-k, kindergarten, first grade, or sped classrooms! 




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