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5 06, 2017

Strategy Share: Teaching Strategies to use During Guided Reading & Freebies

By |2019-03-12T21:06:00-04:00June 5th, 2017|Guided Reading, Teaching Strategies|0 Comments

Hi everyone! What are some practical strategies you can use during guided reading to help streamline your lessons and keep students moving forward? Today, I want to share some practical teaching strategies with you that answer that question.  I also have included a few freebies, so you can apply these strategies right away.

Find some teaching strategies to use during guided reading in this strategy share post.

Strategy #1 Teach Memorable Strategies

I find it important to teach a strategy first, so students have a possible opportunity to apply it as they read. I’ve seen some suggestions to do this after reading, but let’s be real. Kids will forget if they do not get to apply it right away. I probably will forget too, haha! By teaching the strategy before the lesson, students are more likely to remember it and internalize it into their bank of strategies in their mind. You can teach the strategy either by modeling the behavior yourself, or sometimes you can guide students to apply the strategy as shown below. The words in parenthesis below are the actions and the other words are the scripted language. This is from my Chunky Monkey lesson B plan. (Link to free resource with his lesson plan posted below!)

Let’s take a walk through the words in the book. (Find a spot in the book that has a word that would have a familiar chunk in it like –at in the word mat.) Let’s stop at this word. (Point to the word.) Do you see any familiar chunks or parts in the word? (Students respond.) Very good! Now, what’s the sound of the first letter? (Students respond.) Blend them together. (Students blend the word.) Very good! You just used the Chunky Monkey strategy. (Show the anchor chart/poster and discuss it.) When we come to a word we do not know, we can look for chunks we know to help us read the word. (Have students practice the strategy with a few other words in the book.)

Another way to make the strategy memorable is by using a fun character theme. Many of us are familiar with Lips the Fish and Eagle Eyes, but I realized there were other skills to be teaching students that did not have a memorable character or lacked an action-oriented strategy to develop that skill all together. I got creative, and came up with some strategies with fun names. For example, students need to learn to read left-to-right, so now there is the Left-to-right Gecko…and my son helped me name that one, hehe! Love my sweet boy! Matching Moose is another one. This one is simply to teach voice-to-print, so students are matching the words on the page with what they are reading.

Strategy #2 Guide with Prompts

When it comes to teaching students to read, it is important to guide the students to apply a strategy instead of just telling them a word. Have questions handy to prompt students to apply the strategies as they read. It is important to keep what you say to the student very brief, so you don’t interrupt their connection within the text. It’s like you want to be that little voice in their head, so just a simple short question or statement is perfect. Then let them read on.

Strategy #3 Reinforce with Precise Praise

When a student is first learning a strategy and they apply it, it is important to reinforce with some precise praise. Don’t be vague and say, “Good job!” Instead, let’s say you just taught students the Eagle Eye reading strategy. Students were taught to use picture clues to help decode a word. You notice a student just used a picture clue to figure out the word zebra on the page. Instead of offering a simple compliment, be exact. Here are some examples:

“You just used your eagle eyes.”

“You used a picture clue.”

“You used a picture clue to figure out that word.”

If you notice, it does not really say anything about being awesome or doing a good job. The action the student took was what was summed up. This reinforces the student’s behavior. This will help them to acknowledge the action they took, so they can remember to use it for next time. Once a student shows proficiency with a strategy, reinforcement will not be needed. There will be other strategies the student will be newly learning. so those are the ones to focus on with reinforcement.

Strategy #4 Observe and Assess

There is no need to interrupt guided reading constantly with constant formal assessments. (Unless you are just required to do that, which is unfortunately the case way too much.) Performance assessment are your BFF when it comes to guided reading. You are able to keep the guided reading lesson flowing, and glean the information you need on each student. I absolutely have always loved using checklists during guided reading. Honestly, this helped me to focus more on the student’s too! If I just sit there, I will day dream accidentally. I am seriously ADD, so to focus, I need something in my hands. I can’t be the only ADD teacher out there, haha! But with all seriousness, you can get constant information about your students through performance assessments that will help you to group your students, match texts to them better, and know what you need to be reteaching students. Running records are another performance assessment you can use during guided reading too.

Strategy #5 Focus on Targets

Free sheet to use during guided reading to help focus on targets.

From your observations, you can make some notes on what to focus on next time. Did they apply that new strategy you just taught adequately? Maybe you need to reteach it.  Did you notice a reading behavior that is a struggle for them? Use that information to select the next strategy you teach them. Does one student in the group seem to be struggling with a strategy that the others are not struggling with at all? Make a note to focus in on prompts for that strategy as that student is reading. Now sticky notes are great for jotting down these ideas, but they can end up being a hot mess pile in no time. I have included some sticky note pages for you to jot down your focuses for your groups and students to keep them organized.

Simply opt-in for email to receive your free sticky note page. If you are already an email subscriber, just enter the information again, and you will also get access to the pages too! Check your email for them. 🙂

 You can also view my privacy policy here.

Now as promised, I have a freebie for you I mentioned earlier with the Chunky Monkey level B lesson plan. Simply fill out the form to join the newsletter to snag that up too! If you already signed up, just run it through again to get it sent to your email too.

Guided Reading Level B Sampler

Just click here to grab it.

Thanks so much for stopping by the Candy Class! I have more Strategy Share posts geared for teaching reading and writing planned, so make sure to check your email if you signed up.

Jolene 🙂


5 05, 2017

Fitting Science in Your Primary Class

By |2019-03-12T21:06:00-04:00May 5th, 2017|Classroom Organization & Management, Science|0 Comments

Hi everyone! How many of you have an hour each day to spend on science? What about a half hour? What about ten minutes? Ok, most of you are probably like, extra time. What is that? The struggle is for real. Yet, fitting science in your primary class is so very important.

Different Ways to Fit Science in the Primary Class

First off, it is important because you are going to have some curious little minds in your classroom that have a desire to learn everything about everything. Some students might actually prefer non-fiction to fiction too. There are going to be children in your classroom that you can better engage with topics on frogs, penguins, pumpkins, and so on than with some made up story of a kid and his talking pet pig. Now I can spit off other reasons you don’t want to skip over science, but if for any reason, it is for reaching students and engaging them.

So take a deep breath! You can do this! I got some ideas below. Some you probably know to do, but I hope to add some fresh ideas while covering all bases too.

Read Alouds

Read Alouds with Science Books

Include some books when you are reading a story aloud to the classroom. Having a nice balance of 50% fiction and 50% non-fiction is great!

Guided Reading

Finding some guided reading books on non-fiction for levels AA-D is like finding gold! They do exist! Being able to add that pumpkin reader in when you just did a read aloud on pumpkins is such a great extension!

Writing Workshop

Include writing about the science topic in your writing workshop or during guided writing after you have incorporated a read aloud or a book in guided reading. You could add a fun craft twist on it to make it even more engaging and exciting.


Example of Recess Science Experiment

Do you have a fun experiment that belongs outdoors? Do it when you are bringing students outside for recess. Usually it just takes a few moments to make a soda bottle explode from the mentos, and then students can carry on with their play.

Experimental Motivators

Do you have a struggle in your classroom with transition times? Are students taking too long to pack up right before leaving? If you have an experiment that you will be demonstrating to the classroom and letting them observe that is not very time consuming, you could use it as a motivator to get them to pack up those bags quickly or to clean up centers swiftly. Just let the student know that if they are packed up by so and so time, you will have time to squeeze in a science experiment. I recommend keeping it positive though. You don’t want it to turn into a punishment type of thing, just something that you honestly can have time to squeeze in if time allows. I recommend keeping it positive. Children love experiments, so be ready for those centers to be cleaned up fast!

Math Centers

Some science activities can tie in with math. You can add that as a math center or tie in the theme if there is not much connection. Some examples: Measure the “dinosaur bones” with counting cubes or inches as they dig for the “bones.” (These can be print outs of course!) Let them count the pumpkin seeds to a 100 from a pumpkin you cut open earlier. Measuring water in different size containers is another good one.

Morning Work

Morning work can be meaningful because it is review time and time to work on important skills like handwriting, but it is possible that some of you could exchange that time once a week for doing a science activity too. This will start the day off with a bang and get them excited about learning!

Reading Response

If you don’t have time to focus on science right after a read aloud, don’t stress it. You can always add a reading response craft as one of your reading centers. Setting out an example and picture directions will help them to be independent at the center. Students can do things like label the parts of an ant. They can also write all about bees or the life cycle of a flower. You can also have students open non-fiction books that were used during the read aloud on a device like an iPad or tablet to help them recall important details from the pictures and inspire their science craft creations. The crafts below come with non-fiction books that pair with them.

Fitting science in the primary class is as simple as using crafts and read alouds

Find the resource by clicking here

I hope some of these ideas get you thinking about how to integrate and fit science in your classroom. Maybe you were able to spring some ideas off my suggestions above for fitting science in your classroom. If so, I would love to hear some of those ideas below in the comments. Thanks so much for stopping by the Candy Class! Make sure to sign-up for email below. I have some upcoming blog posts with exclusive freebies planned!

Jolene 🙂




19 04, 2017

Strategy Share: Fun Ways for Previewing Texts & a Freebie

By |2019-03-12T21:06:00-04:00April 19th, 2017|Guided Reading, Reading Strategies, Strategy Share|2 Comments

Hi everyone! Welcome to Strategy Share! This is a series I just recently started that focuses on teaching strategies for reading and writing. You can learn more about strategies in general here. Today, I want to share some reading strategies for previewing texts. These strategies are geared for guided reading, but you could use it during a read aloud too. Below, I will also include a free resource to help you apply these strategies in your classroom.

Reading Strategies for Previewing Texts

First off, guided reading time is limited, so previewing a text should be very brief. If you find you are super crunched for time, just spend a minute or two tops on this part of the guided reading lesson. It is still a very important part of the guided reading lesson, but a big chunk of time is not needed for it to be effective. You can also find more tips on teaching a guided reading lesson here.

For these strategies, choose just one to use. You could make a rotating schedule with the strategies for previewing texts if you like.


Strategy #1

Book Explorer Reading Strategy

Be a Book Explorer: Since I have a trunk full of animal themed reading strategies in my guided reading units, I like to stick with this theme. With this strategy, students are jungle explorers. Students “explore” or walk through the text. This particular strategy is not narrowed down to just looking at pictures or looking at words, but rather, students freely explore the pages in the text and make their own discoveries.


Strategy #2

Put on your binoculars during guided reading

Put on Your Binoculars: Keeping with the jungle explorer theme, students put on their “binoculars” to explore the pictures in the book. Now, if you want to get all fancy and you got a few extra minutes, you could actually have students use binoculars. If not, let students make binoculars with their hands to explore and make discoveries with the pictures. You can extend this by having each student point out something they notice, but that is not necessary if you need to keep the time down. You can get through this in a minute by using a sand timer if needed, so students know they got just that time to breeze through the pages.


Strategy #3

Make Word Discoveries: Have those explorers “discover” words. You can either put a focus here on new vocabulary or familiar sight words. When focusing on familiar sight words, you can say something like, “Let’s discover words we know in the book. Jungle explorers, look for words you know.” To extend, each student can point out a word to you. If you are using books that are printed for each student, they could also highlight the words in the book if time allows. If you need to save time, just let students preview the words and each day have one or two students point out a sight word. You can also use the sand timer to give them their exploring time if needed.

If you will be focusing on new vocabulary, you can say, “Let’s explore for new words. Do you see any words you do not know?” Have students point out the new words. If it is a word that they should know, but just are not familiar with reading the word, you could have them use the picture clues to figure out the word. If it is a new word they may not be familiar with, but it has good context clues, you could lead students to figure out the meaning with the context clues if time allows. If not, you can just briefly explain what it means. If time is really short, you could lead students to the page with the new vocabulary word. Then ask, “Let’s explore for new words on this page. Do you see any words that you do not recognize?” Then give students the definition. I recommend pulling any language from the text to help explain the meaning, so it is more in a contextual way. This will help build stronger understanding.

Strategy #4

Explore Predictions: To explore predictions, you could say, “Explorers, what do you think this text is about? Let’s explore some predictions.” Then have some students make a prediction. To monitor the time, you can use a sand timer. If calling on multiple students, you may want to use a 2 or 3 minute sand timer. If you need to limit the time, you can rotate having students make a prediction and just call on one student. Another way is to say, “In seven words or less, what is your prediction?”

Strategy #5

Discover the Characters: With this strategy, students look through the pages and identify the characters that are evident through the pictures. After students look through the pictures you can either put the spotlight on them to talk about the characters or you can introduce the character.  If you want students to explain their findings, you can ask, “What did you discover about the characters through the pictures?” If you will be introducing the character, just give a brief description of the character.

Strategy #6

Discover the Setting: This strategy is similar to the discover the characters strategy, only the focus is on the setting. Instead of asking students to describe their discoveries about the character, they describe their discoveries about the setting.

Strategy #7

Explore What You Know: This strategy is geared for non-fiction texts. When introducing a non-fiction book, students discuss what they know about the text. You could say, “Let’s explore what we know about this topic. Tell me something you know about __________.”

I hope these strategies for previewing texts help you up your game with guided reading! I am including a free resource for previewing texts to help you apply the strategies here. I think you are going to find it handy! 🙂

Simply subscribe to email to claim the free resource above. If you are currently a subscriber, simply just enter your email again to get the resource.

Also, make sure to check out this free guided reading sampler of level B here when you sign-up for the newsletter. If you already joined, just fill the simple form out again to get it sent to your email box.

Guided Reading Level B Sampler

Click here or the image to get the freebie! 

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit my blog!

Jolene 🙂



10 04, 2017

Strategy Share: Using Strategies to Teach Reading and Writing

By |2019-03-12T21:06:01-04:00April 10th, 2017|Guided Reading, Reading Strategies, Strategy Share|0 Comments

Hi everyone! I want to start a new series that shares various strategies you can use in your classroom. It is going to be posted sporadically. It is my goal to help build confidence when it comes to teaching reading and writing and to share ideas and inspiration in those areas. 🙂 I want these posts to include practical strategies you can implement in your classroom. I will also be sharing many freebies along the way to help you apply these strategies in your classroom. 😉

Using Strategies to Teach Reading & Writing


Strategies have been a bit of a buzzword over the past few years, and rightfully so. It’s important for every teacher to have a tool bag of strategies to use in their instruction throughout the day. Today, I mainly want to focus on what defines strategies and how they apply to teaching. Now before you click out of this post because you already know that vocabulary word, lol, hear me out. I think we all get the definition, but lets be nerds for a bit to really “get” how strategies apply to teaching. I promise to make it short and sweet. After this post, it is my goal to share some strategies for each Strategy Share post. That way, you can fill-up your teaching tool bag. 😉 I already have some strategy tools for your tool bag written up to go with this one. You can choose “Strategy Share” in the categories on the right to find all of the current posts.

Strategies are the practical steps to developing skills. Quote

First off, strategies are a means that students can use to obtain a goal. An example of a goal would be to get your students reading on a second grade level.  The goal of reading on a second grade level is reached by developing various skills such as decoding skills, reading comprehension skills, and so on. Strategies are the practical steps to developing those skills. The skill may be a necessity for obtaining that goal, but there may be several different strategies that can be used to develop that skill and eventually reach that goal. Just like there may be several different steps you take to make sure students gain those decoding skills. Maybe you teach some strategies like Eagle Eye (use your eagles eyes to look for picture clues) or Lips the Fish (say the beginning sound), and maybe you use different strategy methods. The strategy here has a fun theme with an eagle, and the decoding skill being taught is to look for picture clues. Neither Eagle Eyes or Lips the Fish or any other specific method is the ultimate way to gaining those decoding skills. You could very well teach students to simply look for pictures to help decode the word without a fun eagle theme or come up with a completely other way to teach them to look for picture clues. Therefore, it is important when using strategies to remember the strategy is not what is most important. It is the skill being developed that is needed to reach that goal. If one strategy does not work for your students or even your teaching style, it is ok. Find a different strategy that does. I hope to be able to share many strategies that will help your students to develop those skills and reach those goals.

Now with that said, I hope you find the strategies I share practical and helpful. And maybe, some will even inspire you to bounce other ideas off of them. I love bounced ideas! I really would love to hear from you, so always feel free to comment below on my posts. I would love this to be a collaborative learning where many of us come together to learn new ideas and even grow new ones.

Make sure to join my email list, so you can get some strategies in your email box. There will be plenty of exclusive freebies along the way with this series too! 🙂

Thank you for stopping by the Candy Class!

Jolene 🙂

23 02, 2017

Seven Tips for Teaching Guided Reading with Confidence

By |2019-09-02T22:28:17-04:00February 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|3 Comments


Image for tips for teaching guided reading

When I use to ask students about their favorite part of school, what do you think the overwhelming response was from them? Recess? Nope. Lunch. Guess again. Guided reading? YES!!!! Actually, they would not say guided reading. They would tell me things like spending time at the table with you reading. Gush! My heart would absolutely melt! Spending time reading with the teacher was their favorite part of school!

Now honestly, I can say, I sincerely lacked confidence in teaching guided reading when I first taught kindergarten many years back. Pretty much, I was thrown into a classroom that was formerly a storage room a week after school started because the enrollment was high. I was told to teach guided reading with only access to a room full of leveled readers. Thankfully, I had that! I discovered that I LOVED teaching children to read, even though I was not the best at it initially. For sure, I was a work in progress for a while. I can’t say I was an instant pro at it my first year. Hopefully, I did not scar those students from my first year of teaching kindergarten for life haha! I know I can’t be the only one to think that about their first year of teaching! It was not until my third year of teaching kindergarten that I finally felt confident at teaching children how to read.

To save you some trial and error, I want to share some of my teaching strategies with you that will hopefully help you to teach guided reading more confidently. 

Guided Reading Level Mastery Checklist

1. Regroup Frequently- Evaluate where students are frequently, and regroup based on those evaluations. Now I am not talking about giving them 100+ formal assessments. Teach, of course! Performance assessments are your guide and work seamlessly during guided reading as you teach. Checklists and running records are both great performance assessments to give you the feedback you need to adjust your reading groups as needed. That way, students are always being challenged at the appropriate level. Having a list of clear guidelines on when students should move up to another reading level helps a bunch too. You will still have to evaluate things like beginning sounds if they have not mastered those, but many things can be assessed through performance during a reading lesson to help you make decisions on regrouping.

Guided Reading Name and Alphabet ActivitiesAlphabet Activity

2. Build Up- It would not make sense to teach a student on paragraph writing if they did not know how to write words, nor would it make sense to teach a student how to read level C readers if they don’t have a firm foundation with the alphabet. Teaching effectively means finding out where the student is and guiding that student from there. If they know most of their alphabet letters and sounds and have a firm foundation with print concepts, give them level A. If they only know a handful of letters and sounds, that preschool level AA is going to help that sweetie a bunch! The child is going to build confidence, even if you have one or two children that have to spend the whole year on that level. I tell you, you will see growth when you continue to build from where they are. In my professional opinion, building up from where a student is with their reading development is by far the most effective strategy you can utilize when it comes to teaching reading. If you are doing that, students are going to flourish in reading.

Spend most time reading

3. Let them read. -Don’t fluff it full with other junk. From the research I read, they should be reading. Sure, you will need to include some things that support the learning of reading such as sight words and word work, but make sure the bulk of the time is spent on actually reading. Keep those other activities short and sweet.

Example of a Word Work Activity

4. Support Your Readers- Having that small group time to focus on word work activities to build up phonics skills, teach sight words, stretch comprehension, and to build and write sentences is very valuable to supporting the learning of reading.  Keep these activities short and sweet, of course. For example, one day, you may have students identify the missing letters out of three words. Another day, you may have the students mix and fix them. During word work, students may sort words that end with the b & d sound. Another day, they may build some CVC words. Since these activities are only focused on a small bit, they can be completed within a few minutes each. The goal is to support the reading, not take over the reading lesson.

Example of technology being used during guided reading

5. Keep it engaging- When completing sight word and work work activities, keep it hands-on and visual to keep your students engaged. Technology is also another engaging method to use. If you actually have enough tablets or iPads, I actually have a resource that includes digital formats. (It also includes everything printable too, so a teacher can be hybrid with it.)

Fun Guided Reading Strategy Posters

Click here to learn more about the guided reading bundle

6. Teach Reading Strategies with Memorable Characters- Children love characters. We know that a popular world renown cartoonist has proven that! You may have used the popular Lips the Fish and Eagle Eye reading strategies before. However, there are other reading strategies for decoding texts that students need to learn that lacked a fun character to help make it more memorable. I got to work and created some more characters to help teach those strategies. One character, my son helped me come up with the name, is Left-to-Right Gecko. This is simply teaching children the print concept of reading left-to-right.

7. Have fun! Young students love spending time with their teacher. (Remember my story at the beginning?) Just be authentic. Enjoy that time with your students. Laugh, be goofy, and make it a fun place to be. You will make a big impact just by being engaged with them as they read.

I hope these teaching strategies help you to soar with your guided reading instruction. Make sure to sign-up for email on the right, so you can receive more posts like this from me. Also, I have a guided reading sample of level B freebie for you when you sign-up for email!

Guided Reading Level B Sampler

Click here to get it

Thanks so much for stopping by the Candy Class!

Jolene  🙂

27 09, 2016

How to Not Teach a Boring Compound Sentence Lesson

By |2020-02-26T10:06:54-05:00September 27th, 2016|Grammar, Uncategorized|13 Comments


Hi everyone! Today, I wanted to share some ideas about teaching compound sentences in your primary classroom.

Ideas for Not Teaching a Boring Compound Sentence Lesson

Introduction of Fanboys

First off, students need to know those fanboys before diving into the realm of compound sentences. A simple way to do this with a hands-on twist is to have them make some fans with those bad boys. Students simply fold the paper seven times to make eight sections. Then they can write the coordinating conjunctions on the fan, squeeze the bottom together, and then fan away.

 Fanboys Fans for teaching compound sentences


 Activity Ideas for Compound Sentences

Idea #1 Silly Sentences

Write some simple sentences and the fanboys on some sentence stripes. Students connect the two simple sentences with one of the fanboys. Then they use pasta and lentils to add the punctuation. Finally, they add that capital letter at the beginning with a wikki stick or other letter manipulative of choice. Alternatively, you can have some sentences with capitals and others without it, and they piece those together.

Silly Sentence Idea for Teaching Compound Sentences

Idea #2 Create & Share Giggly Sentences

Each student creates their own simple sentence. I recommend encouraging silliness. Then they partner with someone else to form a compound sentence with their two simple sentences. They can record their newly formed sentences on a paper. After a few minutes, they rotate to pair up with another student and make another sentence. You can rotate as many times as you like.

Giggly Sentence Idea

Idea #3 Work with Compound Sentences in Multiple Ways

Students can identify if a sentence is simple or compound, rewrite two simple sentences into a compound sentence, add more details to a compound sentence, and rearrange compound sentences into other sentence formats.

Various Ways to Work with Compound Sentences

Click here for these task cards in a bundle or check out the digital ones here.

Idea #4 Butterfly Grammar Craft

Add simple sentences on each wing of a butterfly. Then the comma and conjunction can be added on the body of the butterfly to join the two simple sentences into one. I added a touch to this craft idea by making the butterflies body in the shape of a comma, but you can use any butterfly template or make your own easily for this craft. All I did was cut these out of some colored card stock. You could also use colored papered too.

Would you just prefer to have a template for the this butterfly craft template? You can find this in my Compound Sentence Bundle here. The craft is also linked in the bundle separately too.

Comma Butterfly for Teaching Compound Sentences


Click here for the Compound Sentence Bundle

I hope you enjoyed these ideas about compound sentences. Check out some of my other grammar posts, and make sure to subscribe to email for more ideas here. I promise I do not spam, and you can always unsubscribe at any time.

Compound Sentences 1B

Thanks so much for stopping by the Candy Class!  I hope you are enjoying my grammar posts and scooping up many ideas to jazz up your lessons.

Candy Class

Jolene 🙂


31 08, 2016

Ideas for Not Teaching a Boring Contraction Lesson & a Freebie

By |2019-03-12T21:06:01-04:00August 31st, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Hi everyone! Today, I want to share some ideas for teaching contractions that will help you cover all the bases of various learning styles, and yes, you read the title correct. I also have an exclusive and unique freebie in this post!


1. Start with a formal classroom introduction when teaching contractions. This can include an anchor chart and mini-lesson. A simple way is to start off by defining contractions. To strengthen those connections in the brain for the purposes of being able to recall the word contraction more easily, give a bit of a vocabulary lesson for the word contract, which means to become smaller or shrink. You can even strengthen those connections more with some sensory by giving students a string and having them contract their “snakes.” This is a good way to get the attention of those fidgety sweeties too. 😉 For guided practice, you can write the two words on the board that forms a contraction, and the class says the contraction as they contract with their strings. You can then write the contraction on the board. You could also just say the words and have students say the words back, but I think the more you involve the senses, the better they all remember. Also, this helps your visual learners too.

Teaching Contractions with Brain-Based Research Strategies

Here are some ideas for independent practice: 

2. Contract them on paper. This activity is very ideal for your kinesthetic learners! There is just something about physically contracting the paper into a contraction. You can write these yourself on paper and simply fold.

I decided to make have some fun with this concept by making some “boa contractions.” Kids love fun themes. I made sure to draw them up as friendly boa contractions. 😉

Boa Contraction Snakes for Kinesthetic Learning
Find the boa contractions by clicking here.

3. Make it relevant with a contraction hunt. Just like a lesson in geometry, you would show how shapes are all around. It’s important for students to be able to see how contractions are all around them. Students can hunt contractions as they read. You can always point out how contractions tend to be used most in quotes from characters in most books. This will help them to know where to look and give some extra attention to quotes! When you get ready to teach formal and information English, you got some prior knowledge you can tap on with this. 😉

Contraction Hunt

To hold students accountable and to add some more sensory for memory purposes (brain research strategies about using more senses), I recommend they write them down on a graphic organizer or in a notebook.

Contraction Activity: Scavenger Hunt While Reading


4. Hold your tongue. This really connects to relevancy above too, and it is a good activity for reaching your auditory learners. This is a one day activity that extends across their other activities. For the day, you encourage students to pay attention to how much they actually speak with contractions. When they hear themselves say a contraction, they must “hold their tongue”. Their tongue is actually this freebie bracelet I am providing below. Basically, they hold the tongue on the bracelet when they hear themselves saying a contraction while speaking. If they hear a friend saying a contraction, they can ask their friend to hold their “tongue.” It is a good idea to do this activity on a day where you know your students will be doing some social learning activities throughout the day. If you like, students can write some contractions on the bracelet portion before wearing it.  Click here to snag up the free contraction bracelet activity.

5. Write with contractions. I am all about moving students from foundational knowledge to higher order thinking. Therefore, I think it is always important to require some creativity and application rolled up into one from students. Writing is the perfect opportunity for this. You can write a list of word pairs for students to use and give them some writing prompts (your choice). I recommend students be encouraged to use dialogue containing contractions.

I have a fun writing activity where some boa constrictors have not been forming their contractions around Pet Town and have overtaken the town. Students create a writing piece about this and use contractions in their writing.

contraction blog 3

Writing with Contractions
Scavenging resources for teaching a concept can be daunting at times. I created this unit for teaching contractions that includes the anchor chart, a mini-lesson, the boa contractions, a contraction hunt activity, task cards, interactive notebook/journal options, no prep printables, the writing project, a quick check, and assessments! You can find Contractions: All You Need to Teach It Unit here. (Note: I came up with the string idea from number one after creating this unit, but you can squeeze the idea in there easily with the mini-lesson. All you need is some string, a dry erase marker, and a board.)

How do you like to teach contractions? Feel free to share your ideas for teaching contractions! Also, if you liked these ideas, make sure to sign-up for email on the right! I love sharing ideas, and I have more to come!
Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!
Candy Class
Jolene 🙂
23 07, 2016

Assessing Students’ Technology Work

By |2019-03-12T21:06:01-04:00July 23rd, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Assessing Students' Technology Work

Hi everyone! Today, I want to talk tech. Specifically, I want to talk about assessing students’ technology work.

I know many years ago when the technology was not as advanced as it was today, I was told by administration that I needed to incorporate more technology use in the classroom. How many of you have been there and been like with what software? I am sure I can’t be the only one! Here was me. A teacher told to do that and only given special software for students with IEP’s, in ESL classes, and one other software that was only good for whole instruction with a projector. What was I suppose to do for the rest of the students when it was time for them to use the computer? I was clueless and not as talented with creating digital anythings back then, and they did not offer us much more guidance than throw equipment at us with those limited software I just mentioned and preach to use the equipment. I was happy for the tools in my classroom. Oh yeah! I wanted to make the most of them. For sure! I did use a few free games at the time, but finding resources that offered a way for me to truly assess a student’s work on that computer was not there. My technology use in the class became a center for reinforcing skills, which was still good. I am no way complaining about that because my first year teaching had one of those green screen things, lol! Also, we don’t have to grade everything, and students do tend to stay more engaged on the computer. However, for something so engaging for student learning, it just would make sense to have a way to pop in and actually be able to assess their work on the computer to know they are spending quality time learning on the computer. (If anything, to make sure they are staying where I told them to go on the computer while I was busy with a reading group, lol!)

AND I think that is what I really like about using Google Apps for learning in the classroom. Their work is saved automatically, so you can pop up every now and then to make sure they are on track and having quality learning moments on the computer or tablet. Sure there are a lot of apps out there, but you can’t really go back on many of them to actually see the student’s work. That to me is a big drawback with lots of them. I mean, they do have their perks too. Students often are given automatic feedback on their work with many of those apps. They need that too. I would not say abandon ship on using apps with no assessment features. They have a place too. I just think there needs to be a balance struck there. We need to be viewing students work regularly to keep up with where they are and where they need to go. Sure, we got those big state tests, lol! 😉 Maybe the software actually gives you a vague teaching report too. However, us true teacher breeds know it is that day-to-day performance assessment that should be at the heart of how we drive instruction for the next week to come. I don’t know about you, but my best assessment comes from viewing authentic student work, not some vague report. This really gives me the best insight on what a student needs from me, so I can give them the best instruction possible. With students utilizing more and more technology in the classroom, Google Apps used in conjunction with Google Classroom, is really a great tool for performance assessments. After all, students don’t even have to save their work. It is saved for your viewing automatically.

Imagine students doing quality word work with digital magnetic letters, and you being able to go back and view how they did! Like so cool, you can’t even do that with real magnetic letters and dry/erase cards usually. All possible with Google Apps! See this video to see this in action. I am then able to go back and see student work on there!

Here is the link to my this resource and other resources created for Google Classroom use

Imagine students working with grammar and vocabulary digital cards, and you are able to go back and see their progress! Totally possible now! There really is so much students can now do digitally with you being able to assess their work, and Google Apps is a great resource for that! It’s going to help you be a better teacher because you are providing engaging work that can also be assessment driven!

What tools are you using to assess student work on the computer/tablet? How many of you are going 1:1 this year? I would love to have a conversation below in the comments! 🙂

I have joined in with a link up.

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Jolene 🙂

24 06, 2016

Teacher Hacks & Organization Inspiration

By |2019-03-12T21:06:01-04:00June 24th, 2016|Classroom Organization & Management|0 Comments

Hi everyone! I wanted to share some organizing inspiration and teacher hacks!

Teacher Hacks and Classroom Organization Inspiration

Teacher Hack and Idea #1

Contrary to what the clear tape people told you, student name plates do not need to be a permanent fixture on a desk. Use some mounting putty and plop those babies on the desk. Little Talks-a-lot not mashing well with the Chatsome Talkettes? You can relocate that student swiftly without a word while you waltz the room teaching that math lesson.

Teacher Hack with Name Plates



Idea #2

Labels make teaching easy. Well, maybe not, lol!  They can’t take away the stress of unscheduled meetings, interrupted planning time, and that student who you love so dearly (ahem…after they move on to the next grade level). But labels do help label away the stress of chaotic basket mash potatoes, so label, label, label.


Joke about labels making teaching easy


Supply label image of Math Cubes

Supply Label Organizing Inspiration

Tip: Simple shoe box containers with lids are really great for storing all those math manipulatives because you can stack them easily on a cheap $20 book shelf. I use the additional space on the side of these containers to stack some plastic pencil cases for things like flash cards.

Classroom Shelf Organized

Idea #3

No more looking like you are running the airport. Use center signs to smooth out transitions.

Teacher Hacks and Organizing Inspiration with Placement Holders for Center Signs

Teacher Hack: Use place holder signs for placing the center signs in their place. Super simple and cheap. I snagged up a box with 8 of these place holders for under $5 with a 40% coupon from a craft store.

Teacher Hacks and Organizing Inspiration with Placement Holders for Center SignsBasic RGB

Idea #5

Your clipboard is your mind. (Ok, now that I am rereading that statement…I am realizing that totally sounds zombie like. Your clipboard is your mind. And I don’t even watch horror movies, lol!) With all due seriousness, my biggest weakness is my memory. It’s not that I forget things. It’s just I don’t think about them at the right time…like the next day I remember. See I remembered. 🙂 I remembered that one student was suppose to go in the car rider line instead of on the bus to after school care…after I put him on the bus (and the parent came in looking for him…but they helped me remember!) I remember that meeting with the superintendent, the next week (after they hand me a pink slip…ok pulling your leg on that one, lol!) But, I do forget way too much! But those things are not forgotten anymore because I realized a long time ago that my clipboard is an extension to my brain.

Clipboard quote for better classroom organization

On my clipboard, I have kept a list of transportation that lists every day of the week for the month. Than, simply check off each student as they line up to make sure everyone is going to the right place on the right day. A to-do list is a clipboard must. A schedule with student rotations comes in handy. Keeping a form for classroom management helps too. With a clipboard doing the hard thinking, it takes away quite a bit of stress and helps even the most forgetful of people (me!) remember. An attendance list is also good to store there and comes in handy for any kind of drill. Keeping the clipboard either in my hands or an arm’s reach away has kept me on tract and well organized.

Clipboard with mode of transportation

Idea #6

Students need to know where the homes are of everything in the classroom, so they can do their part to keep the classroom organized. Keeping a classroom organized has everything to do with training students to use your organization system. Once you got those systems set-up, its just a matter of training them to use your system. Which I have found to actually be easy to do even with even kindergartners, but absolutely impossible to train the people in my house an organization system, haha! But in my sweet husband’s defense, he does do the dishes for me to help me have more time to work on my blog! 😉 The key is to know how you are going to train your students before they come to your classroom at the beginning of the year, and reinforce, reinforce, reinforce that first week. What I have found to work is picture the students coming into the classroom in the morning, hanging up their backpacks, pulling out their homework folders and placing those in the basket near the cubbies, and so on. Visualize how you would like the transitions to go between reading centers and lunch. That way, when those sweeties walk in your classroom, you can start training them the system. It’s amazing how a totally messy classroom (due to center time) can become so clean in a few short minutes….now if only that could happen at home. (By the way, my family was a good sport about my joke about them and are currently cleaning up the house for me. I just like to pick on them, and I am super blessed!)

Quote about classroom organization

Idea #7

Let students help you stay organized and use signs to keep their classroom job roles organized. Students don’t suddenly become responsible adults one day, they grow into responsible adults. A classroom job is like the water that will help that growing happen. By the way to make them even more responsible, you can send them to clean up my house too….just saying ;).

Let students help you stay organized.


Use a classroom job chart with clips that rotate to make management of the jobs easier. You can even have a student rotate the clips for you.

classroom job chart

Tip and dot hack:

As I mentioned, students can move the clips for you. Simply have them remove the bottom clip and place at the top. Than move each clip down one. If there is a job that has more than one student, you can put a sticker dot or mark a dot for each of those spots on the job chart. Students simply put the clips on those dots.

teacher hack for putting a classroom job chart together

Assembly Hack:

Eliminate some of the cutting, by only clipping the jobs you won’t be using from the pages. Keep the rest of the page together. No need to cut it all.  Less cutting will also make it more durable and easier to piece it together. However, maybe you don’t need a chair stacker…so clip that one off the page. Then attach the rest of them together with tape on the back. Laminate them either all together (if using a school laminator) or in paper size sections (home laminator). If you laminated in paper size sections, attach them all together with a stronger tape like duck tape on the back. You want the back to have good support to hold it all together. Attach the top part securely to wherever you will be attaching it, but allow the rest to float down.

classroom organization inspiration

Click here to get to the organizers and decor. 

I hope you found some helpful ideas with the teacher hacks mentioned and some inspiration. Make sure to subscribe to my email to receive more inspiration and ideas in your inbox.

Thanks so much for stopping by the Candy Class!

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Jolene 🙂


22 06, 2016

Building up with Bossy R {Activity Ideas & a Freebie!}

By |2019-03-12T21:06:02-04:00June 22nd, 2016|Phonemic Awareness, phonics, Word Work|0 Comments

Bossy R Activities and Ideas

Hi everyone! Today, I wanted to discuss good old Bossy R and how to build up from phonemic awareness to higher order thinking. Of course, it will incorporate some activities and include a freebie.

I like to set foundations and build up when it comes to mastering phonics skills. I have these levels I like to use. First is identification, then isolation, blending, segmenting, addition (adding sounds together), and substitution. Once students get those foundations set, then they are well prepared to spell the words, read the words, and write with the words. Now if you are saying, say what to all that, I actually have broken down each area below and put some suggested activities with each. With many of the areas, some phonemic awareness activities can be used during carpet time or in small groups. However, I have included some actual phonics ideas with each area too.

1. Identify Bossy R. Here students are learning to identify words that contain those r-controlled vowels. This typically involves distinguishing between words that contain bossy r and those that don’t.

Identifying Activity #1: For a phonemic awareness activity, you can simply name words. Students can point their bossy fingers if the words contain an r-controlled phoneme.

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Identifying Activity #2: Sort words. Students can sort words that contain bossy r, and those that do not.

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2. Isolate Bossy R. Here students isolate or locate where the bossy r sound is in the word.

Isolating Activity #1: Where it is. You can place out just about anything for this activity, counters, traditional box frame, and TOYS!!! You say a word and students tap if the r-controlled vowel is in the beginning, middle, or end of the word.
Isolating Activity #2: Isolate with a shark toy. Snag up a shark picture or toy from somewhere for some extra fun! This is very similar to the Where it is activity, only anything with a shark deserves its own activity number, right? 😉 Students simply tap where the r-controlled vowel sound is located. Is it in the beginning? Tap the shark’s head. Is it in the middle? Tap the shark’s body. Is it at the end? Tap the shark’s tail.

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Isolating Activity #3: Students show the isolated sounds by writing the phonemes where it belongs.
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3. Blend Bossy R. Here students take the individual sounds and put it all together. Getting students to blend the words fluently for reading is the goal.

Blending Activity #1: Blend the letters. You can write some words on some index cards and let students practice blending the words in small groups or as a center activity.

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Blending Activity #2: Roll a word. You write the phonemes on some dice that have the dry erase option, create cards to fit in some dice with the sleeves, or put some stickers with the phonemes on some foam dice. I recommend including not only basic consonants and bossy r, but also some digraphs and blends. Students roll the dice and blend away. You can even put a game twist on it with them trying to make the most real words.

Blending Activity #3: Show your blending. Let them show you their blending on paper with activities that require them to connect words to pictures. You could even have them illustrate what the words on a separate sheet.

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Click here to link to this resource.

4. Segment Bossy R. Here students break apart words that contain bossy r. An example is the word surf. S-ur-f. This is different from isolating the sounds because here students are dealing with each sound in the word, instead of only isolating the r-controlled vowel.

Segmenting Activity #1: Break apart bossy r words. For a phonemic awareness activity, students can hold invisible hammers or toy hammers. They can break apart each phoneme in the words by pounding out each sound.

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Segmenting Activity #2: Segmenting in the box. You can actually do a simple phonemic activity with this. Say a word. Students point to each box as they say each segmented sound.

Segmenting Activity #3: Isolate in the boxes (phonics style). Students segment the word by writing the phonemes in the boxes.

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5. Add the phonemes (or graphemes) together. Here additional phonemes (or graphemes) are added.

Adding Activity #1: When art becomes a cart. Say some words and have students add an additional phoneme. Example: What word would you have if you added “c” to art? Cart. What word would you have if you added “s’ to tar? Star. What word would you have if you added “sh” to ark? Shark.

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Adding Activity #2: Word adding. Students add the graphemes together to form the words.

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6. Sub Bossy R. Here students play around with the words by subbing phonemes in the word for other phonemes.

Subbing Activity #1: Turning sharks into parks. Say some words and have students sub one of the phonemes for another phoneme. Example: If you take the word, shark, and change “sh” to “p,” what do you get? Park. If I take the word, torn, and change “th” to “t,” what do I get? Thorn.

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Subbing Activity #2: Word Munching.  Have students munch off the phoneme and add a different letter on top to form a new word.

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7. Moving Up to Spelling with R-Controlled Vowels. I like to incorporate spelling too. I think it important students have time to develop some phonemic awareness and phonics skills with the words before they are expected to memorize a bunch of spelling words though. After all, they can’t memorize every word in the world that contains an r-controlled vowel off a spelling list!

Spelling Activity #1: Build the words. Students can use letter manipulatives to build the words.

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Spelling Activity #2: Crossword Puzzles. You can use one of the free crossword building sites out there to create some crossword puzzles.

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8. Comprehending Words with Bossy R. It’s important that students read r-controlled vowel words within context.

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Comprehending Activity: Students can identify words they see with the r-controlled vowels in books or passages they read.

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Click here to link to this resource.

9. Incorporating Higher-Order Thinking with Bossy R Words. I believe it is important to push the boundaries of simple identification and application to synthesis and creativity. Ok, say what? It’s important to push them up on that Bloom’s Taxonomy aka use their brains!

Higher-order thinking Activity: Have students use a list of bossy r words to write a fun, short story.

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Click here to link to this resource. 

Here is some organization inspiration. This is my organized binder of printables. This is actually from my diphthong no prepset, but they are set-up the same with the same activities. I have these broken into different sections with the section dividers I created and include in the resource. It is so nice to have them all pulled together like this. Easy to find, and makes differentiating instruction easy too. 🙂

Click here to link to the no prep printable pack.

Here is a link to the free sample!

I hope I inspired you with many ideas for teaching those r-controlled vowels! Make sure to get on my email list for some more inspiring ideas right to your box!

Thanks for stopping by the Candy Class!

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Jolene 🙂