2015 - Susan Jones Teaching

Free Legend of the Poinsettia Activities!

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola is one of my favorite Holidays Around the World books to read! I thought I would share some of the comprehension and vocabulary activities I use each year {of course, all "gussied up" with better borders and fonts than I used in the past}.

In case you're reading the same book and need some free activities just click below:

There is a simple, retelling sheet, a comprehension question page, and some vocabulary that I point out to my first graders.


I also included a directed drawing for a poinsettia. They are super, simple to draw which usually means success for ALL my students, artistically inclined or not ;)


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Christmas Writing Prompts, Printables and Crafts

It can be hard to keep your young students' minds focused on school when the holidays come around. Heck, it can be hard to keep your own mind focused on school when the holiday lights are up, the Christmas songs are on the radio, and the air starts to get a little chill!

Holiday writing prompts were always an easy fix. I throw a little holiday music on in the background, allow lots of choice in my students writing and my students get to writing. It is a wonderfully relaxing time. 


I threw together some of my favorite prompts I've used over the past few years in a little Christmas writing unit. It is designed for teacher ease! 

This unit includes:
14 narrative writing prompts
14 informative writing prompts
14 opinion writing prompts
elf craft
Santa craft
reindeer craft

There are plenty of writing paper options, print-and-write sheets, and the crafts are only 3 or 4 pieces with plenty of space for your students to personalize and make it their own.

To take a closer look at some of the writing included, click below and download the preview:


Happy holidays!

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Free Thanksgiving Math Center: TURKEY RACES!

Ahhh.. the holidays are coming... 

The air is crisp, the leaves here in Massachusetts are all shades of orange, yellow, and red and most of them have made their way to the ground already!

With all the excitement, I know my first graders always needed high engagement. Anything that could keep my students learning and on-track was a win during these holiday months.

I'm not sure about your class, but my room always loved a good, competitive partner game. I thought I would share a free Thanksgiving math center that you could just print and use in your room:

TURKEY RACES!


This Thanksgiving math center is a fun, addition partner game!

Students will pair up and grab one board, one ten-frame tracker, & one turkey spinner.

Student A will spin the spinner and track that number on their tens-frame sheet. Student B will do the same. Every time a student fills a 10 frame, they may color in one block on their tower on the game board. 

The first student to reach 100 (the top of their tower) wins!




There are colored boards that can be laminated and re-used with a dry erase marker as well as black and white boards that can just be printed and used with crayons or pencils!

There are also 4 different spinners, so students can play many times with different numbers!

As students progress you can also take away the 10-frame trackers and have students add on scrap paper or in their heads!

If you think your students could use this, please click the image below and grab a copy!



Also, if you are looking for some great community building ideas for Thanksgiving, check out my {last post} about Stone Soup!


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Stone Soup: A Literacy & Community Unit

Do your students read Stone Soup around Thanksgiving?! I love these activities to go along with some versions of Stone Soup. 


I have done this unit 4 of the 5 years I taught first grade and both my students and I L-O-V-E it!

I always complete this literacy unit the week before Thanksgiving and we tie in the relation between the holiday of giving thanks and the importance of community and helping one another. I find that these books exemplify the thoughts of coming together and helping one another. Many students can also relate the feasts shown in this book to the feasts they have themselves on Thanksgiving!

There are so many versions of the Stone Soup folk tale, but the four I choose to compare, contrast, and dive into are by the following authors:

They are each a little different, but share the same sentiments of sharing, caring, and working together for a greater good!

For each book, I included some story responses, writing prompts and read aloud lessons that we have discussed over the past few years.



The story responses touch on sequencing, inferring, vocabulary development, comparing/contrasting, and story elements. While the writing prompts are a mix of opinion and contrasting stories!


There are also a few crafts included as well a recipe and parent notes in case you want to re-create the stone soup experience for your students!



You can grab everything you need for a stone soup mini-unit by clicking the image below:

Download the preview to see a closer look at what's included in this unit!

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Cats vs. Dogs - A Reading and Writing Project

Cats vs. dogs is the ultimate opinion writing lesson! Students choose a side and read both fiction and nonfiction books to learn more about their decision. In the end, students choose a winner and write their opinion paragraph to determine which is the best pet!



I love integrating reading and writing and last Spring I was receiving my last Scholastic Book Order and snagged these two books:
*Both books are still available on Scholastic Book Club for $3 each. They are also available in the Teacher Store as well as Amazon for a bit more.* 

I ended up getting them right before school ended, reading them to the kids and they just LOVED them! We compared and contrasted the books and had a whole love of lively debate about which animal we believed to be the BEST pet! My mind was left reeling with all he activities I wish I had time to plan! So...I decided to make a little unit for them!

It is a reading and writing unit, which has plenty of activities for the nonfiction book, the fiction book, and comparing/contrasting both! Again, it is a whole lot of fun to listen to students share their opinions about these 2 animals that they think they know so well! It's also fun to see what they learn about some of their favorite pets!

For nonfiction activities I included:
Book responses including:
- True or False Comprehension Check
- Multiple Choice Comprehension Check
- Vocabulary
- Cat Facts
- Dog Facts
Question Cards for whole group, small group, and partner discussion.
All about Dogs/Cats mini books
Cat and Dog fact match up

 Mini fact books for each animal!

 Students record their learning!

 Cat and dog fact match up.

Comprehension Checks!

Fiction activities include:
Book responses including:
- Dog vs. Cat comparisons
- Dog and Cat character traits
- Retelling (B,M,E)
- Vocabulary
- Story Map
Question Cards for whole group, small group, and partner discussion.
Problem/Solution flipbook
Life After Baby… fill in speech bubbles
Order cards for retelling

Get into the character's head and guess what they would say to their owners if they could talk!
Also, a problem and solution flip book! 

 12 different questions for each book - great for whole group, small group, and partner discussion!

Writing and craft activities include
- Comparing books
- Choosing the winner (cat vs. dog)
- Cats Rule/Dogs Rule – providing reasons for opinions
Six writing prompt cards
Craft and bulletin board ideas
- Cut and paste craft option
- Directed drawing option
- Writing paper for both cat & dog


Easy dog and cat crafts for students to complete and add to their opinion writing.

There are both cat and dog directed drawings included if students would rather draw their own animal and write their opinions!

You can snag all the activities for a couple week's worth of fun by clicking the cover below!

 I hope you and your students enjoy it!

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Free Pumpkin Number Match Center!

Apple cider donuts, picking pumpkins off the vine, hayrides... that is what Fall is all about, right?!

I am feeling oh, so in the season and thought I would make this free math center for your younger students to practice their number sense!



Students simply count up the seeds (or better yet, identify the number in the 10s frame without counting!!) and match it with the numeral. 

I also included a recording sheet where students will write the number word after matching!

Simple and fun!

To download your free center, click below:

Enjoy!


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Interactive Read Aloud in 1st Grade

Interactive read aloud lessons in my first grade classroom have completely changed my Reader's Workshop! My students love to read these classics and I now have all the questions and stopping points ready to go!


I recently wrote a post HERE about what an interactive read aloud is and how I use them in my first grade classroom. 

My overall takeaway about an interactive read aloud is this:
Interactive read aloud is essentially a planned and purposeful read aloud that encourages thoughtful and respectful discussion!

During our read aloud times my students sit in a circle promoting eye contact and respectful listening and together we dig deeper into some of my (and eventually their) favorite books! The picture books above and the ones in my previous post are some of my favorite books to teach about and practice certain skills!

If you have read my previous post then you will know I created a unit of ready-made, one-page lesson plans to go along with each of these books (there will be 64 lessons in all!) and I wanted to show you what the beginning of the year scope and sequence looks like:
You can see the overall theme each month, the books I chose for interactive read aloud and the more focused skill I zoom in on in each book. I wanted to show you this because I chose these books very purposefully and I also wanted to mention that I read these books (which are amazing for all sorts of reasons) don't only cover the skills I mentioned - they cover LOTS of skills and my students and I will read many of these books more than once throughout the year.

My main point in bringing this up is that while Chrysanthemum is a fantastic book for text-to-self connections, the beginning of the year, main idea, vocabulary, etc. but during my read aloud and my lesson - we will remain focused on the skill at hand and try to develop that skill throughout the entire book! I really emphasize this point to my students as well and show them that we can read books over and over while noticing "new and exciting things" each time!

That's just a little tidbit on how I hold these interactive read alouds in my room!

If you want to look at a lesson, you can download a free lesson for Officer Buckle and Gloria by downloading the preview below:

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5 Free Close Reading Ideas and Activities!

I just wanted to stop by and share some free close reading ideas and activities that I just love!


I wrote a blog post way back when that explains how I introduce my first graders to close reading and how happy I become every year when it finally *clicks*! My young students learn to go back in the text, highlight important information, circle vocabulary terms, infer meaning from the text, and go back into the text to provide evidence to comprehension questions!

To read how we do that click the image below:

Now onto some free passages, activities, and ideas to help your young learners with close reading:

{1}
Here is a passage from my Close Reading Unit. Students will read this fiction passage, define key vocabulary terms and infer the answers to some comprehension questions!


{2}
Close reading with poetry!
This awesome freebie is from Jennifer over at First Grade, Blue Skies. You can snag her sheet and some great poems to use it with by clicking on the image above!

{3}
These close read bookmarks are a great resource from Fantastic First Grade Froggies and let students practice marking up their text independently. Just click the image above to grab your copy.

{4}
This great close reading companion goes with the class favorite, Miss Nelson is Missing! Tessa Maguire of Tales From Outside the Classroom, has thought of everything for you to get started close reading with this picture book. She has stopping points, questions, and graphic organizers ready for you to use! Just click the image above to download your own copy.

{5}
 Tara West over at Little Minds at Work, has quite a few close read units in her shop, but this penguin one is perfect for your little learners. Click on the image above to check it out!

I hope these 5 freebies have been useful to you and your students as they continue to grow as learners.

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Happy teaching :)
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