FEETSPEAK’S Book Study: Comprehension Activity Units
Here’s an Overview of FEETSPEAK’S Book Study: Comprehension Activity Units I have created and posted on my http://eashields.com/ website. In addition to several informational posts: “Childhood Mutism” and “Helping Your Grieving Child”, there are TWELVE so far with more to be added….
I’m listing these Activity Units in the order they were published with sequential considerations in place ~ not unlike how I would present them in the classroom. You can, of course select, download, and complete them in any order.
Number One: Story Sequence
The ACTIVITY CONTENTS of this 9-page Unit include:
And I have created several interactive, hands-on Games and Activities for learning the Vocabulary Words your child will be seeing, hearing, reading, and writing according to his/her current Grade Level.
CLAMDIGGER’S Summer Games for Boosting Vocabulary
Each of these Summer-themed Games contains Grade-Level Specific Vocabulary Word Lists collected from frequently cited reading texts ~ fictional and informational as well as academic terms used in the classroom on a daily basis.
The 7 games included follow Bloom’s Taxonomy sequence for increasing Critical Thinking Skills:
The Vocabulary Guide presents a review of grammatical terms used to identify the components of Words ~ KNOWLEDGE.
Specific Game Sorts allows the learner to understand how each word follows certain rules ~ COMPREHENSION by organizing, summarizing, translating & describing the wide range of categories Vocabulary Words can share.
Specific Word Activities provides opportunities for the learner to take what s/he knows & use it ~ APPLICATION of learned content to produce solutions in a variety of problems.
Word Part Specific Charts, Lists & Tables enables the learner to use Critical Thinking Skills for ~ ANALYSIS of learned Vocabulary Words into components by recognizing the relationships of their different and/or similar elements.
Additional Vocabulary List gives the learner connections for making unknown words known ~SYNTHESIS of these diverse elements for building and strengthening Vocabulary acquisition.
And prepares the learner for ~ EVALUATION, then, provides opportunities for making judgements on newer, unknown Words by using the Skills attained from following the above sequence.
A Grade-Level Specific Literature List ~ see above BLB Resource Library link~ along with a general Lesson Plan are included.
A variety of Word categories are explored with each Vocabulary Word groups.
Vocabulary Word Groupings
These Summer-themed Vocabulary-Boosting Games cover the following Word Elements:
Summer Blooms: Nouns & Verbs
Pool Party: Adjectives & Adverbs
Summer Fruit Basket: Prefixes, Suffixes & Root Words
Under The Sea: Synonyms & Antonyms
Sandcastles: Summer Compound Words
Summer Vocabulary Words Study: Third-30 words/Fourth-40 words/Fifth-50 words
It is astonishing how short a time it takes for very wonderful things to happen. ~ Frances Burnett
March is filled with mystery. And some of its mystery is written in the whirling winds, changing from Winter to Spring.
This Mysterious Month encourages your Imagination to create a tale or two, observes Windy Weather, celebrates the Green of another Spring, and/or engages that sense of Humor you may have lost inside Winter’s cave.
Opportunities for creative expressions in art, science, math, social studies, and writing are included in March’s activities.
Each and Every Unit of the Literacy Enrichment Collection
The Components of each Unit include:
colorful Front & Back covers
a Contents list
an Introduction Sequence
a Master Materials List
a Thematic Literature List of fiction& nonfiction trade books
an overall Lesson Plan
Projects/Activities with Construction Instructions written on an Independent Reading Level for Grades 3 ~ 6
Ready, Set and Go!
Preparation for each of these units can be done by following this sequence:
Read over the Materials & Tools needed for each project in the Master Materials List ~ a component included with each Unit.
Gather the Materials & Tools together specific for each Activity ~ card-stock, printing paper, scissors, glue, pencil, colors, etc.
Protect your work space with a plastic, washable tablecloth, newspaper, or butcher paper ~ the latter invites doodling & checklists.
Read all the steps included in the Sequence part of the Instructions provided for each Project/Activity BEFORE beginning.
Keep a copy of these Construction Instructions close by, so you can re-read as you create.
Clean up your work space when you have completed what you wanted to do.
What Is the CLAMDiggers’ Literacy Enrichment Program?
Click on this link for more information on CLAMDiggers’ Literacy Enrichment Program:
This is the CLAMDiggers’ Enrichment Program Overview!
A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his/her might that which s/he desires. ~Paulo Coelho
I am very excited to share CLAMDiggers: a 52~week, cross-curricular, enrichment, and interactive program I developed from my teaching and learning experiences with children, ages 8~11 years-old.
They always encouraged and inspired hands-on activities with readily available materials. Producing projects, such as games, books, sculptures, puppets, skits, paintings, food, keepsakes, etc. enhanced not only the learning process propelled by children’s love of an engaging read, but also, stimulated their creative skills in critical thinking, problem solving, visual & spatial reasoning, etc.
In the Beginning…
CLAMDiggers was originally developed as a classroom enrichment program and/or an after-school activity club for children, ages 8-11, integrating fiction and nonfiction literature with craft-making, role-play and artistic expression.
However, given the changing landscape of education, I tweaked and edited each Unit’s activities to make them more tech-friendly and accessible. Their priority remains as an interactive, hands-on learning experience.
Initially formatted for a classroom teacher, I re-worded Activity Directions into an Upper Elementary Independent Reading Level. The Lesson Plan is written as a guide for teaching reading comprehension within the thematic trade book selection list.
An Educational Overview
CLAMDiggers is designed to build Cognitive Skills through Critical Thinking.
While promoting the ongoing development of a child’s eagerness to explore the accomplishments of creative production through manipulative experiences, CLAMdiggers:
cultivates an appreciation for appropriate children’s literature using a thematic approach
addresses cross-curriculum objectives throughout each lesson for analysis, synthesis and evaluation
inspires creative production using a variety of art media
provides opportunities for extension and enrichment within the framework of each session
increases an understanding of the global community on both physical and cultural levels
The impact of CLAMDiggers is immediate and expansive, as each child internalizes the confidence to express imaginative responses.
This labor of love of mine is assembled into seasonal / monthly / weekly collections (Summer, too) and formatted to correspond with educational guidelines. Each session includes:
An Introduction with an Instructional Sequence
The Unit’s Introductory Overview includes a suggested Instructional Sequence for integrating the fiction and nonfiction, Thematic Literature, grade-level trade books listed with the Haptic Activities included.
Master Materials & Literature Books Lists
The Unit’s Master Materials List is a complete inventory of each Activity’s necessary supplies for completion. Substitution ideas are, also, included. The Unit’s Thematic Literature List is compiled of titles I successfully used in the classroom. Children predictably and positively responded to these 10-12 reads. There are spaces for you to lists your choices as well.
A Lesson Plan with Curriculum Objectives
Each Lesson Plan generally focuses on ideas for utilizing a variety of Comprehension Elements within the Literature reads. It, also, provides the Objectives the specific session will address. These Curriculum guidelines are designated in abbreviations: LA (Language Arts), MTH (Math), SS (Social Studies), SC (Science), HLTH (Health), A (Art), M (Music) & PE (Physical Education). The Activities/Projects are listed as well.
Activities/Projects with Directions, Illustrations, Templates & Extensions
Directions for the Activity or Project have been sequentially tested for understanding. I know how LITERAL children can be, especially with Hands-On tasks. Some illustrations and templates may be included for, hopefully, easier modelling and tracer accessibility. Extension ideas at the conclusion of each Activity/Project will give you and your child more possibilities for enrichment.
Seasonal & Monthly Studies
Each Seasonal collection of Literature Study & Activity/Project options includes opportunities to:
celebrate Nature’s seasonal changes
investigate weather patterns
observe the sky’s phenomena
explore a variety of animals
Monthly Units have a collection of mini- poetry posters to introduce a focus on the content of the different lessons within each weekly session. They may include connections to:
celebrate holidays & special occasions
examine historical events
research social environments
create plays & games
apply critical thinking skills for problem solving
use imagination for expression
Here’s Condensed Contents List of the CLAMDiggers’ Seasonal & Monthly Main Ideas:
JANUARY: Nature in Winter/Snow/Civil Rights/Hibernation
FEBRUARY: Asian New Year/Valentines/Friendship/US Presidents
MARCH: Dr Seuss & Imagination/Windy Weather/A Wee Bit O’ Green/Spring Into Spring/Humor
APRIL: Fairy Tales/Clouds & Rain/Earth Day Everyday/Arbor Day: A Celebration of Trees
MAY: Mothers’ Day/Baby Animals/Bicycles & Safety/Neighbors in the Neighborhood/Let’s Have a Picnic
JUNE: The Sun/Fathers’ Day/Backyard Summer Fun/Going on Vacation
JULY: Independence Day/Summer Nights: Moon & Stars/Tall Tales & Legends/Fun in the Water: Oceans, Lakes & Rivers
DECEMBER: An Early American Christmas/Oh! Christmas Tree!/ Santa & His Reindeer/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/New Year
Weekly Unit Components
Each weekly unit, or session includes the following components:
front & back covers
a contents list
introductory sequence overview
master materials activities list
thematic literature book list
one-four activities with sequential instructions & extension ideas
Crafts, Literature & More
You can utilize CLAMDiggers’ enrichment program in a variety of ways:
a Home-School enrichment program
an hour after-school club session introduced with a teacher-read trade book and guided activity
a several hours mini “workshop” with your child or several children partner-reading several trade books, electing a teacher-read book and producing activity (ies)
an on-going classroom, thematic DEAR with an independent and/or partner-student read, promoting a book-share, a teacher-read encouraging comprehension and culminating in project production with usage for evaluation
center-based tasks to include student-generated comprehension assessments in conjunction with activity production
cooperative group preparation of book and project presentation
multi-grade level student partnerships for book-shares and activity production
extra-credit or homework assignments to encourage parental involvement
Laminating a pocketed folder with brads or providing a notebook with dividers will help your child or children keep lessons and materials organized. A permanent black marker will enable them to title the cover.
Book Reviews & Comprehension activities with Project Directions can be part of the folder’s contents.
Encourage your students to anecdote the Directions with questions & thoughts. It will help generate Critical Thinking and, hopefully, facilitate Brainstorming and Creativity for Extension Activities .
Whether selecting a few weekly units individually and/or a monthly bundle (which will include a 30-page booklet of Graphic Organizers for Reading Comprehension, Brainstorming & Writing), CLAMDiggers’ enrichment program for Upper Elementary Learners will be available ~hopefully~ for purchase on Mz. Bizzy Lizzy Biz’s Teachers Pay Teachers Shop several weeks before the Month’s due date. September’s Monthly/Weekly Units are first. Access to the Monthly Poetry Posters will be in the Shop as well. Here’s the link to my Shop:
This is Part 5 of the Family Literacy Circle’s Five ~ Part Kindergarten Series
Developing & engaging the Writing Skills of your 5-year-old is this post’s focus. This complex set, yes set, of skills has several components, beginning with the growth & development of your child’s fine motor skills. This can take some time, routine, exercise & patience. As a preparation-overview for helping your child with his/her writing skills, check out the sections: “Writing Activities & The Brain” as well as “Pre-Writing Readiness” in my post, Building Your Family Literacy Circle’s Reading & Writing with Your “I AM FOUR!” Just click on the link below:
THE FINALE~ACT FIVE : Encouraging Your Kindergartner’s Writing Skills
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. ~ Kahlil Gibran
Written expression offers an exciting opportunity for your child to see how the worlds of creativity are imagined & invented.
If drawing has been, and continues to be, part of her/his communication, letter formation & words will be easier to approach.
There are many different sensory activities that can encourage this key part of his/her Literacy growth & development.
By the end of Kindergarten, your child’s writing skills should include:
writing upper & lower case letters
writing her/his first & last names in a legible, readable way
using letters & sounds to spell common, frequently-used words in a legible, readable way
using letters & sounds to attempt spelling less common words in a legible, readable way
writing several sentences without a lot of help from an adult
writing responses to topics studied in school, or elsewhere
writing about a book s/he has read
writing about some of his/her life experiences
Did I just hear a large chorus of OMGs?!?
The expectations in Kindergarten are now what YOU were expected to know at the end of First grade…. Read on for the Common Core’s current list of objectives & expectations for Kindergarten…..
The USA’s Common Core Writing Expectations
From 2011 to 2012 many states & territories of the USA reviewed, adopted & began using the K-12 Common Core Standards for Language & Math in their schools. By 2018, 41 of the 50 states were using these Standard Expectations. Some states revised & re-worded the Common Core; some states continued to use their own set of Standards. For more specific information, click on the Common Core link below, or visit your state’s website:
There are lots of FUN activities to share with your child as Fine Motor developmental tools and/or to use as warm-up exercises for pre-writing.
It is important to remember that drawing and writing, though similar, are not the same. Painting, scribbling & drawing are important steps in the growth & development of writing. Scribbles, in particular, are the early attempts of writing words & thoughts.
A child’s eye sees letters as a combination of curved & straight lines as well as shapes. Drawing letters can be a start, but the end result should be automatic when writing letters. Drawing to form an image uses a different part of the brain than writing letters to form words.
BLB’s Resource Library includes a page on locating sites with activities & exercises for developing Fine Motor Skills in children, ages 4~6. There are, also, some sites offering free, downloadable, practice skill sheets for tracing, cutting & letter-writing. Here’s the link:
Your child’s beginning, “purposeful” writing may look like scribbling….It is, but it ISN’T to your child. Just ask. You’ll receive several sentences describing what the “writing” is saying. There may even be some random letters and, or symbols included, but they won’t represent accurate sounds to words.
In the next stage of writing ~ Letter Strings~ your child will chose legible, random letters and write them in the correct progression-left to right. S/he will read the writing back to you from top to bottom. However, the letters s/he has chosen do not correspond with the sounds in the words written.
The final stage before your child is actually connecting letters & sounds into words is when s/he copies the words s/he sees, known as Environmental Print. S/he usually doesn’t know what the words are and they don’t form a sentence.
These important stages, when encouraged and praised, will lead to your child’s ability to construct meaningful words into sentences.
Keep reading for some tips to encourage these important early stages of writing.
Call Those Scribbles ” Writing”
If your child enjoys drawing and attempts to “write” about her/his pictures, take that as a positive sign! Those “scribblings” are meaningful. You can encourage your child to make those “words” say something with an interactive conversation. When given a specific answer, write it down on the picture (with permission, of course).
You can, also, have your child help you write lists and notes. Be sure to take and send them once “written”. Write notes to each other.
Make sure to include fill-able writing forms in your child’s Pretend Play scenarios.
Use colorful sticky-notes to label things around the house. Point and use these words in your interactive writings about events, routines & descriptions.
Your child can tell you sentences to write and, then, have him/her make a drawing to go with the sentences. Make a collection book of these writings to read together. SO FUN!!!
If s/he enjoys tracing letters, numbers & shapes ~ YAY!!! If you see random letters (some from her/his name) included in his/her descriptions ~ WooHoo!! Time to set up a Writing Nook.
Setting Up A Writing Nook for Your Budding Writer
First of all, make sure your child’s writing space includes a hard surface like a lap-desk, clipboard and/or table. Organize some of these materials in containers on a shelf or stacked crates:
Once your young writer knows most of the alphabet with their letter sounds, s/he will using that knowledge to spell words during written composition. Try not to correct too much. Instead, help him/her learn how to use a sight & vocabulary word chart/cards, word family lists, and a simple picture dictionary as well as word-sound stretching.
Using these skills will help your child meet the high expectations that are currently part of your Kindergartner’s Writing Goals for the year: writing fiction & nonfiction stories (the narrative), writing a book review ( the opinion), and writing directions (the informative, or how-to)……
I heard that collective GASP!!!! Believe me, many educators were/are part of that concern…..but that is a whole ‘nother convo-post.
Back to the ” informative” part of this section….
So, YES ~ 3 main types of writing (several varieties are part of the “main types”) with several (usually about five) complete, related sentences on a topic, using minimal adult/teacher intervention are the Common Core Writing expectations by the completion of Kindergarten……
YES…5 Different Pieces of Writing….
The Narrative can be a personal, nonfiction story about an event in your child’s life. Think celebrations, holidays, vacations, younger/older siblings & relatives, friendships, growing experiences, etc. The other piece of story-telling your Kindergartner is expected to compose is a simple fictional piece, complete with a setting, characters, events as well as a problem to be solved.
The Informative can be a How-To, or Instructional sequence describing the way to make or do something. Think how to ride a bike, how to brush one’s teeth, how to make a breakfast cereal bowl, how to build a sheet-tent, etc. The other part of this expectation has to do with sharing learned, nonfictional facts about a subject. Think bears, apple trees, community helpers, parts of a flower, holidays, seasons, etc.
An Opinion is usually written about books being read as a class, by the teacher and/or independently by your emergent reader.
Graphic organizers can help with this process. I created a few as a PDF for you to use. Just click on the link below to download & print:
And as rigorous as this sounds, many 5 (soon to be 6)-year-olds are able to accomplish this. The growth from beginning Kindergarten (think Pre-K) to the end of Kindergarten (think Pre-First) is HUGE and amazing!!!
However, some writers are reluctant, especially at this level….well at any level, really…. As a PUBLISHED author~it’s called a Block….
This Is TOO HARD!!!!!
You can make anything by writing. ~ C.S. Lewis
Several factors can contribute to your child’s reluctance to putting the pencil-to-the-paper:
S/he is not confident with his/her knowledge of what the letters are, how the letters look, and/or how to form the letters on the paper.
S/he is struggling with grasping a writing tool and, then, using it to form the letters on paper.
S/he becomes frustrated when trying to choose what to write about.
Continue practicing the alphabet with fun, hands-on activities. You can find some ideas from a number of websites. BLB’s Resource Library has a page to help with that. Just click on the link below:
If Fine Motor skills are part of your child’s struggle with writing, click on the several links provided in the “Strengthening Those Fine Motor Skills” section of this post.
Remember to show your child the importance of writing throughout the day as you write notes, lists, calendar appointments, etc. Your interactive writing with your child is, also, very instrumental in the actual writing process of literacy.
HEY!!!! I CAN Write Words & Sentences!
Letting your reluctant writer set the pace for her/his learning is one of the keys to putting that pencil (or any writing tool)-to-the-paper. Instead of specific lessons, blend writing into everyday activities & especially during play, like labeling things, making signs, filling out Pretend Play lists & forms.
One of the easiest ways to start the writing process is to begin with a drawing your child has created. Label parts of the picture with post-its, describe what the picture is telling, give the picture a title, and, then, write some simple sentences together.
Another fun way to get the writing “juices” flowing is to use the rhyming activity the Word Families encourage. Use those words as a basis for a song to be performed on the Family Stage in Concert or as a verse to be shared during a Poetry Reading with other family poets.
Need a few Writing Tool Kits to include in your child’s Home Writing Nook?
BLB Shop can help! Just click on the links below to check them out:
Probably one of the most powerful ways to engage your “budding” author is through the Interactive Journal. This personal – written dialogue between you & your child can be quite a surprising way to learn as well as discover thoughts, feelings & knowledge. It is a very successful Literacy tool for writing (and parenting…..).
Need some other ideas, tips and/or suggestions? The post from Creekside Learning lists as for First through Third, but there are some FUN ideas you can use with your Kindergartner. Click on the link to read:
Upgrading The Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader’s Research Project Skills
Within the first few weeks of school, I’m sure you (and your Second Grader) tried not to be too overwhelmed by :
the amount of content in ALL subject areas being covered ~ ALREADY!?!
the amount of Homework being given ~ where’s that WEEKLY checklist?!?
the amount of classroom expectations with their accountability ~ REALLY!?!
the amount of changes your child seems to be going through ~ QUICKLY!?!
With you celebrating these changes with your seven-year-old, s/he will be preparing to embrace an even bigger change in what your young Scholar will achieve ~ the successful completion of…. THE RESEARCH PROJECT!!!
This is Part Three :
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Research Skills
Your Second Grade Scholar
The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation. ~ Ray L Wilbur
By now you & yours have created a “work-space” for getting those academics done. Homework has been coming home for most students since Kindergarten, even if it was just reading together for minutes every night and a weekly spelling list and, oh yeah, some math problems…..
Yes, the Homework load will definitely increase, following your district’s guidelines for Second Grade. It should be a review of content to be done independently by your child. It will, usually, include independent reading for a certain amount of time with a a few sentences about comprehension to be written, a weekly spelling list with a daily study activity, and a few math computations with a word problem or two to solve. S/he should be able to complete these assignments independently in under 30 minutes, including the read time…. Issues?
Until…..it’s time for the Research Project, but that’s in the future (and not so distant…)
So…. your BIG Second Grader may be ready to move away from the kitchen table and into a more private, “serious ” study space. It may require some research….
A Private Study Space of My Own
I came across a helpful little article, “Quick Study” by Caylin Harris in the September 2017 edition of FAMILY CIRCLE. She collected some ideas from Amanda Titchenal, Leslie Josel & Kate Varness and offers these suggestions:
Make the creation & design a “joint effort”. The sense of ownership will encourage use & maintenance of the work-space.
Choose furniture with the flexibility to “grow” with your child, physically & aesthetically.
Keep going through that “Goes Home” folder together. Is there a separate Homework folder? They may be color-coded.
Music ? Yes/No ? Some types of music is actually beneficial for studying. Check out what moves, motivates or distracts your child’s focus & concentration. Headphones ? Maybe not….
Use organizational boxes, bins & racks. Have your child label them. I used dividers in drawers for easy, quick access to tools & materials. Not a fan of Junk drawers, myself…..
Open shelving on pegboard allows for easy access & visual organization. Big fan of that option especially in a closed space.
Make sure a Celebration Board is part of the work-space ~ cork, magnetic, plexiglass with ribbon.
Don’t really have space for a work-space?
A Home Project….and Some Research
Actually, you do. Josel suggests making a tri-fold privacy shield out of a presentation board. It does need to stand on its own and the height may need a trim. Your child can decorate & stick on pockets for organizing. When the shield has done its work, your child can fold it up and slide it under the bed, beside a chest of drawers or inside the closet.
Setting up a Home Learning Environment can be challenging, especially if space is limited and other “stuff” is taking up space ~ DO NOT get rid of the dishwasher…. This BLB Resource may have some helpful ideas for you & yours:
You know your child has not only been engaged in research at school since Kindergarten, but, s/he has, also, been conducting informal Research Projects at home. They may be totally verbal, but…”Here’s why we need a dog..”; “There’s tons of stuff to do at….”; “I really need to join….”~ to mention a very few…
Collecting and ~ yes ~ writing down the information is an entirely different “project”. So, I thought I would create a few Family Fun Home~Grown Project Templates with an idea list :Home Research Projects
Of course, you obviously are an important partner for developing those Critical Thinking Skills your child so readily uses to “present” a potential Family Research Project…
And speaking of Academic Vocabulary, did you know there are 4 types of Knowledge & 6 Cognitive Processes (Bloom’s Taxonomy ~ remember him…) !?!
Yes…There Are 6 Levels of Thinking within Those 4 Kinds of Knowledge…
And now for some 25-cent words to include in this SHORT explanation of Knowledge & Thinking… which, believe it or not, your Second Grader is already hearing in the classroom…
FOUR TYPES OF KNOWLEDGE
terminology (specific words/vocabulary)
specific details & elements
classifications & categories
principles & generalizations
theories, models & structures
subject’s specific skills & algorithms (rules of process)
subject’s specific techniques & methods
criteria for determining when to use appropriate procedures
strategic (careful design/plan)
appropriate cognitive tasks
SIX COGNITIVE SKILLS
Again ~ not only does your young Scholar understand many of this “terminology”, but s/he will, also, be (if not already) using this Knowledge and Cognitive Thinking Skills during the Research Project Process. UH HUH!!!
There are a few things you can do at home to help build the skills s/he needs to successfully & accurately produce a Research Project.
Home ~ Grown Research Project Prep
You can not open a book without learning something. ~Confucius
You are probably already doing this if you and yours are Nonfiction book readers ~ you have taught your child the value of learning how to use Informational Text Features like: the Table of Contents, the Glossary, Captions under images, Labels, Diagrams, Bold & Colored Print, etc.
Second Graders learn how to use at least 17 of these helpful clues when trying to understand and discover which pieces of information will be necessary to include in the Research of a Topic. Here’s a little workbook you can use for reviewing and/or reteaching these all important Research Skills:
I, also, painstakingly, created a fun and very concise Literacy Learning Tool for teaching Informational Text Features that includes an interactive Nonfiction book I wrote ~ THE TINY GIANT: A True Story About Watermelons~ with a mini comprehension workbook. Here is the BLB Shop link:
Your beach-loving boy has just caught a crab of some kind. A nonfiction book about Ocean Animals needs to be found because he needs to know EVERYTHING about this small, interesting creature. Wherever you decide to look for a book, it needs to have the right information. “So, where’s the first place you should look in the book?” you ask your eager learner.
He quickly opens to the Table of Contents, but doesn’t want to read that much yet. “Where else could you find what you’re looking for ?” If he doesn’t know about the Index ~ here’s your teaching moment~ and “SO, you know you want to find out about…” “A crab!” he exclaims. “Look! Here it is on page…!” Well, it’s a Section with all the different crabs found in the ocean. Guess, he’ll have to do a little more……research.
If there are pictures of different crabs, encourage him to study the photo and think about what he already knows. Then, it’s time to read the Caption underneath it to see if this crab could be the same, or a similar one. Is there a Map or some other Location image ? Ask your child to look for them.
Kind of like a Treasure Hunt, huh!?!
These interactive questions mirror how your Second Grader is learning how to use Informational Text Features in the classroom.
The Teacher ~ Parent Connection
Have you connected with your child’s school and the teachers ? We Are Teachers created a short PDF loaded with tips and ideas regarding the relationship between you, your child & school. Just click on the link:
Although author and book studies can be part of a Research Topic, Geography, Social Studies & Science are heavy hitters in this category.
The “I Wonder…” phase of the Inquiry is usually begun in a KQRL template. Here’s an example : KQRL Template
Your Scholar is participating in a monthly Research Project which usually begins as a whole class lesson presented in sequential mini-lessons. Peer editing is usually part of this Process with a final, strongly visual Presentation piece, such as a flyer, poster, or even a sculpture.
His/her teacher may assign cooperative groups of 3-4 classmates a variety of Topics for them to discuss and, then decide on a specific Topic Question / Sentence.
A partner Project may be next with an independent Project as a cumulative study towards the end of the year. One, or several may be given periodically as an ongoing homework task with a deadline schedule for the different parts of Project research until its Presentation due date.
The Topic usually starts out BIG : Animals to a Smaller Topic: Birds to a specific, simple Topic: The Life Cycle of a Robin.
Possible Second Grade Science Topics
These Topics may, also, be part of a Science Fair Project ~ again, Big to Small to Specific:
Animals: traits & characteristics as in diet, habitat, seasons, life cycle
And, if you need an easy-to-use, step-by-step Instruction Handbook with Templates & Reference Checklists for The Research Project AND The Science Fair Project, you can find this Guide in BLB’s Shop. Just click on the link below :
As a parent and educator, it’s really difficult for me to know where to “draw the assistance line” .
There are so many “variables” to consider when your child, especially your Second Grader, comes home with The Project to complete.
So, again, I did some research, and, I think I found a few pieces of sound advice to share with you.
Diane Divecha of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence defines too much help basically tells your child s/he is not capable of doing the work. Instead, she recommends support your child by helping him/her develop the skills to do the projects independently with experiencing the stress big projects can bring.
Teach those organizational skills needed for effectively completing all the parts of a Research Project ~ to-do list, materials list, task schedule
Show how time management can help make the Project advance more efficiently, even if it means s/he needs to modify some of the product.
Review, if necessary, how to use some of the tools, materials & supplies.
Act as a sounding board for ideas and a discussion resource to encourage your child’s ownership of his/her work efforts.
I’m sure you’re not surprised by the length of this post, but there was a lot of ground to cover….Believe me ~ I did the Research…
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Upgrading The Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader
You may have noticed a BIG difference in your soon-to-become-a-Second-Grader’s speaking, listening & reading skills over the summer.
Not only is s/he listening for the meaning of discussions & conversations, s/he is, also, participating with his/her ideas clearly expressed in complete sentences AND is following multi-step directions with accuracy.
These are some of the “perks” her/his progress with reading comprehension skills : Main Ideas, Details, Sequence.
S/he is very excited about his/her ability to read some text independently.
And, although, s/he wants to transition from an Emergent/Beginning Reader into an Independent Reader, s/he still LOVES your time together reading together, especially those wonderful Chapter Books.
This is Part Four :
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Reading Skills
Your Second Grade Reader
The more that you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss
Here’s a brief checklist of other Reading Skills your child is preparing to use in Second Grade. S/he can:
Recognize & understand new words by using phonics & context clues
Use a basic sight & high frequency words vocabulary with accuracy
Speak the beginning, middle & end sounds within a word
Add, omit or change sounds in a word to make a different word
Read & make words in word families
Read some compound words & contractions
Understand & interpret stories or short passages
Answer the 5 Ws & How questions accurately
Retell the Main Idea, Characters, Setting & the Sequence of Events with accuracy
Use a story’s elements to make a plausible prediction
Follow simple, written directions correctly
Your child will continue to develop and extend these skills during Second Grade as well as adding just a “few” more….
How’s your Literacy ~ Rich Home Environment coming along?
From Playroom to Study Nook
Is there a place in your home, near the “library ” bookcase for bean bags & large floor pillows?
If your child has a bookcase in his/her nook, make sure to include other reading materials besides fiction & nonfiction books, like pamphlets, catalogs, comic books, magazines.
You may want to set up a special “display” area for current study materials as well as a calendar/schedule on a cork board.
Include infographics, labeled/captioned posters, and/or maybe an “anchor chart” regarding specific skills ~ your child’s teacher may help with that resource.
Here’s an I AM A READER Poster you can make with your soon-to-be-an-Independent-Reader : I Am A Reader poster
Oh, and a dry erase board with multi-colored dry erase markers is a great tool for planning, vocabulary word of the day, graphic organizers, and, of course, a brain-break doodling session.
Your Home is your child’s first classroom and can continue to provide an on-going Literacy Space. It will encourage and build her/his academic success with Reading accuracy as its foundation.
Second Grade’s Reading Expectations
Reading becomes more complex in its vocabulary within much longer content. The words have more syllables, common prefixes & suffixes, irregular spellings & complex phonetic rules. Synonyms, antonyms, compound words & adjectives are part of word definitions.
The variety of fiction & nonfiction genres as well as poetry types expands into:
Story Structure (beginning, middle & end) with its Elements (Main Idea, Character, Setting, Problem/Solution, Lesson) are explored in greater detail. Emphasis of comprehension can be done by comparing & contrasting similar stories, characters’ response, and cultural definitions. Why the author wrote the story is, also, part of the comprehension discussion.
Nonfictional reading is used for Research Projects with attention given to text features such as labels, caption, diagrams, glossaries, indexes, etc. Click on my previous post for A LOT more info:
So ~ reading at grade-level includes word recognition accuracy at a steady pace with expression. Using Comprehension strategies to locate evidence and self-correction skills are benchmarks for your Second Grade reader.
Here’s a List of the Reading Literacy Terms such as Decoding Skills & Fluency Rate, your child’s teacher will be using during The Conference : Literacy Terms
Let’s Begin At The Beginning
You and your child have been “working” on Word Attack Skills since, really, s/he was in-utero. Letters, sounds & their combos are the building blocks of beginning to read ~ think the hearing & speaking skills of Phonological Awareness to Phonemic Awareness and, now, Phonics ~ the written version.
Second Grade currently introduces more of those Phonetic structures to increase your child’s ability to Decode all those BIG, unknown vocabulary words s/he is experiencing while reading more complex content.
Along with blending 2 or more consonant sounds together at the beginning and/or ending of a word, here are some other graphemes (written letters) & phonemes (spoken sounds), your child will be learning this year:
Consonants Digraphs: ch, sh, th, wh, qu, ng
Hard & Soft c & g
Silent Consonants: wr, kn, lk, mb
Long Vowels: silent e & teams
Vowel Patterns: igh, y
Diphthongs: ou, ow, oo, aw, au, oi, oy
Inflectional Endings: s, es, ies, ves, ed, ing
BLB Shop has TONS of games for teaching some of these specific skills:
Malia Hollowell from Playdough to Plato created & shared several Reading Roadmap “Sheets” for meeting some of readers’ challenges. Among her suggestions are:
Does that sound in the word: Make sense, sound right, look right?
Skip the word & come back to it during the re-read
Stretch out the word slowly; then saying it again fast (kids love this one & it can be very effective)
Make a good guess
Decoding Skills go hand-in-hand with the speed & flow of your child’s reading.
The Ebb & Flow of Fluency
Fluency, or Fluent Reading is the ability to read without stopping to decode words. Decoding occurs in a quick, mental, self-check way.
Speed, Word Recognition Accuracy, Comma Pauses, End Punctuation Inflections, and Expression are all components of Reading Fluency.
Getting stuck can be disruptive to his/her thought process & comprehension, although, it doesn’t always affect understanding.
For example, a child may read the words accurately without stopping in an even pace, but NOT understand anything s/he read. Just as another child may read and decode more slowly, but understands exactly what s/he read.
Finally, I organized my Reading Strategies into a Mini-Poster & Flip Cards Sequence Guide ~ Ready To Read ~ for your Second Grade Reader when solving the “I’m STUCK on this word!” dilemma : Reading Success Sequence
The Vocabulary in the MANY different books s/he is reading this year is GINORMOUS!!!
So, What Books Are on My Second Grader’s Level?
A book is a dream you hold in your hand. ~ Neil Gaiman
Before I get into actual Reading Comprehension Strategies, I thought I’d go on a bit more about the “newer” book genres your child will be sharing with you from the classroom (according to the Second Grade Core Expectations).
Within the Fiction Genre, there is an emphasis on stories created that could happen in real-life, have a historical basis, contain mysteries to be solved as well as inventive futuristic stories and imaginary fantasies. Books & stories about the Creative Arts can be very engaging to your aspiring artists.
Comprehension Skills can be mastered by using a variety of Reading Strategies.
You have been teaching your child many of these during your read-alouds with him/her throughout the years. You did this by:
pointing out specific details & key ideas/facts in the illustrations on the Picture Walk and throughout the story (click on this link for the Parent Guide to the Picture Walk :Going on A Picture Walk)
asking & answering the 5 Ws
defining time & place regarding present, past ,future & fantasy vs reality
retelling the story by including important details, such as the characters, setting & plot (click on this link for the Parent Guide to Tell Me A Story : Tell Me A Story Abt the Story Read)
using descriptive language & lots of expression
explaining new vocabulary words
making personal connections to the story
discussing lessons & morals of the stories
sharing both fiction & nonfiction books
Your child’s teacher uses similar strategies during read-alouds to encourage comprehension.
Guided reading promotes an effective way to teach how-to-understand-the-read strategies during one-on-one time.
Guided Reading Comprehension Strategies
In Second Grade many of the following Story Elements Comprehension Questions are discussed orally with maybe a short prompt or two for written responses.
However, as the year progresses, written responses to these questions begin to occur more frequently. This Comprehension Q & A can help your child understand & answer those questions with accuracy: Primary Rdr’s Comp Q & A
Filling in Graphic Organizers (Click on this Reading Graphic Organizers link: K Rdg Comp GOrgs ) are easy ways to engage your child’s understanding of texts read. Here’s a Comprehension Freebie example using Aesop’s fable ~ “The Crow and the Pitcher” : I Understand the Story
Take a breath ~
Although your Second Grader may feel overwhelmed at certain times, s/he is totally capable of learning all these things AND MORE!!! You and yours have got this!!!
OMG!!!! How Can I Help!?!?!
Now that you’ve taken a deep breath…or several….
Remember, there are several ways you can help your child read and listen to stories with a purpose in mind, which you have probably been doing for years.
Dr. Michael Gurian, a brain scientist, family therapist & author of the book, Nurture the Nature, offers these suggestions:
Engage discovery in nature
Encourage imagination with physical & mental play
Include morals & values in family discussions
Foster positive relationships with peers
Show support of the school environment
There are many DIY Comprehension games you can make together & play with your child to keep learning fun. Here are a few links:
Keep reading anything everywhere with your child everyday and encourage her/him to read to other children. Listen to books on tape while driving. Record your child reading a story. Act out stories.
And… if your child struggles with reading…….
Teaching Your Child to Read WITHOUT Words
For some children Reading is a challenge…..for a number of reasons.
Does your child “freeze” at the sight of words on a page you are not reading?
Wordless Picture Books are not just created for “babies”. They are, also, “written” for older children ~ like me ~ and may be the way to actually engage your child into reading. Really….
They can inspire your child’s creativity & imagination while building reading comprehension skills, vocabulary AND critical thinking.
Nicole Clevenger@playfullearning.net and I have some suggestions for fun activities with Wordless Picture Books:
Use Post It notes to write down thoughts or dialogue of the characters & place them directly on the book pages beside them.
Use Post It notes to write down observations, questions, predictions, and/or inferences about what’s happening in the illustrations.
Ask your child to write a book review that includes the story elements: Main Idea, Characters, Setting, Problem/Solution.
Encourage your child to create a Wordless Picture Book and narrate it as it is being read. Write down those thoughts & attach them to the backs of the illustrations. Hopefully, your child will want to read those words.
I, also, compiled a Wordless Picture Books list for older children:
One more VERY effective Reading Strategy for engaging a Reluctant Reader is Partner, or Paired, Reading ~ usually with a peer, friend or slightly older “mentor”.
I used this reading strategy every year with my struggling readers and found this approach to be highly effective for building confidence, improving reading skills, and encouraging a love for reading ~ for pleasure. A definite Win ~ Win ~ Win !!!
Click on this Reading Rockets link below for more information:
Upgrading The Family Literacy Circle with Your Second Grader
If your soon-to-be Second Grader’s vocabulary & reading skills have progressed over the summer, pat yourself on the back because those daily reading sessions have worked. Even s/he is surprised (YAY for the Family Literacy Circle !).
Now……How are those Writing Skills coming along ?
Unless your child LOVES to write…..prepare for a Super-Sized learning curve with Super-Sized expectations in your Second Grader’s Writing Workshop.
Got your Family Literacy Circle Writing Center ready?
Here are some suggestions for your young author’s Writing Space:
Upgrading the FLC with Your Second Grader’s Writing Skills
Your Second Grade Writer
Sometime this summer, inventory the following Writing & Spelling Skills with your soon-to-be Second Grader:
Writes last name with accuracy
Writes messages using phrases & sentences
Writes simple stories with a beginning, middle & ending
Recognizes & uses print conventions when writing: end punctuation, grammar, nouns/verbs
Spells common grade-level words with accuracy
Locates known & unknown words in a picture dictionary
Recognizes & uses phonetic rules to spell unknown words
Understands & identifies the differences between a noun & a verb
Can write a simple, complete sentence
Understands compound words
Identifies some prefixes & suffixes
Identifies regular & some irregular plurals
Understands the meanings of synonyms & antonyms
Yeah! And there will be MORE to learn in the Writing Arena throughout the year….
Oh ! A quick word or two about Handwriting…..
The Labors of Legible Handwriting
Picking up a paper using those fine motors skills is easy compared to the complex set of muscles (brain included) needed to write thoughts, grasping a #2 pencil onto that piece of paper in a clear, readable way.
Those skills ~ still growing and developing~ can be “nurtured” in several ways. Seemingly, “mindless” practice is one of them, but they are part of your Second Grader’s Writing Skills.
Click on this link to access a Resource on Fine Motor Skills from BLB’s Library :
Engaging your child to draw pictures of the words s/he is reading can be a stepping stone into the Writing Process. S/he may decide the story should be written differently and will “edit” the text (YAY!) in a creative way.
Using Dialogue clouds in those character pictures is definitely writing. Think comic books and cartoon strips.
Here are some book title ideas in this little freebie~ Read, Write and Draw Books :
Engaging your child in the fun and creative process of story telling is a very productive way to inspire writing. However, your Second Grader’s Writing Skills will include learning and mastering many other writing elements this year
Second Grade Writing Expectations & Objectives
If your campus follows the Common Core, there are two major components of the Writing Process: Language, or Standard English Conventions, and the actual Writing Purposes.
Here’s a General Overview, listing the Second Grader’s Writing Skills Expectations for Language Usage & Composition:
I’ll get into a little (haha) more detail on these 2 HUGE topics, beginning with Standard English, or Grammar.
Good Grief, Grammar !!!
No one is perfect ~ that’s why pencils have erasers. ~ Wolfgang Riebe
Informal speech, also known as slang, colloquialisms, street talk, jargon, lingo and, even, dialect, can make learning “proper”, or Standard English confusing. Heard in peer groups, media and read in “literature”, expecting your child to use good grammar while speaking can be frustrating.
And in writing….oh my…..
Here are a few of my Freebie Helpers with a BLB’s Shop Product:
I, also, created a 100+ page Grammar Handbook that includes lots of activities for learning & practicing Good Grammar with a Sentence Builder component, using Adjectives & Adverbs. You can preview it in my TpT Shop. Here’s the product link:
And, although Vocabulary is listed as more of a Reading Skill, I’d like to chat a little (again, haha) about it’s significant role in writing ~ choosing the exact words to express exactly what you want to say.
Here’s What I Want to Say…..
Although reading plays a large role in Vocabulary Acquisition, knowing which words you want to use in your writing, how to find them, and how to spell them correctly definitely takes some practice. It is a skill good writers learn through lots of repetition and review.
Using a Picture Dictionary is more appropriate for Second graders than teaching the actual Dictionary skills. Even my Third Graders found learning how to use a dictionary challenging. Again, practice, practice, practice.
Click on the link below for ideas and games to help teach your Second Grader how to use a dictionary:
Yes, ALL of this in a Written Expression or Ten….yes, at least 10 by the end of Second Grade…..
The Storyteller Becomes The Author
Write the kind of story you would like to read. ~ Meg Cabot
Your youngster has been inventing & writing stories since Kindergarten. This year those stories will be following certain guidelines to meet Expectations. Her/his editing skills, as well as, paragraph construction play heavily into meeting those expectations.
Believe it or not, within the first few weeks of school, your Second Grader’s Writing Skills will help him/her produce more complex and interesting stories, opinions and reports.
Does s/he keep a journal or diary at home ?
S/he will probably be excited about an upcoming Research Project (aren’t you?). YAY! It’s Our Family Tree Project !!!
And, yes, there’s more….
The Second Grade Writing Experience
There are more than a few writing assignments s/he will be given during Second Grade. Here’s a list of Written Expressions (with some helpful Resource links ) your child will be composing this year:
The 5~Sentence Paragraph Formula ~ topic sentence, 3+ topic-supporting sentences, and a conclusion sentence, which re-states the beginning topic sentence