Graphic Organizers for Nonfiction Text & Research Projects

Graphic organizers for reading, writing, and science
As educators, we know the importance of research skills. We know students must be able to gather, comprehend, evaluate, and synthesize information from a variety of sources. So what does this look like in elementary school? What does it look like in K-2? How can we prepare the littlest learners to read (or listen to) nonfiction text and share the information learned in a meaningful way?
Nonfiction text for elementary students starting research
First, we must find the right text and MODEL, MODEL, MODEL. In the primary grades, this can be done through think alouds, where the teacher models her thinking as the class reads the book together. Graphic organizers will help organize information, facts, ideas, questions, etc.
Download ALL of these FREE graphic organizers!
Comprehension of nonfiction
Love this graphic organizer for How to Survive as a Shark
Graphic organizer for nonfiction text, How to Survive as a Shark
Nonfiction graphic organizer
Fact or Opinion lesson activity
It's not a one and done. It's an ongoing skill that must be modeled and worked on throughout the year, and that's why the research standards are blended throughout. For years, I did animal research projects at the end of first grade. it was more of a separate unit. Although students LOVED it, and they created beautiful projects, I think ongoing BRIEF research opportunities would be even more meaningful. Having the opportunity to dive into interesting nonfiction text and discover new information many times throughout the year is key. 
FREE Activities for research skills
Use the same graphic organizers with additional nonfiction texts. 
Model through think alouds.
Let students work in small groups to discover new texts.
Kick start student research projects.
Send blank printables home to help parents as they work with primary students on their research projects.
Free printable for student research
How to Survive as Shark Activities and Printables FREE

Creative Writing Prompts

Y'all know I love labels. I've long touted the beauty of putting writing prompts on sticky labels. So easy for students to just pick a fun label, stick it in their journal, and start writing!
Teacher Hack: Print creative writing prompts on sticker labels! Brilliant!
If you don't have the same love affair with labels or want something a little more reusable, check out this teacher trick... Put your writing prompts on a metal binder ring so they can be used over and over again! 
**Laminate before putting them on a binder ring for durability.**

Addition and Subtraction Strategies

A great visual for number bonds and missing part
In order for students to have automaticity with their math facts, they must first have good number sense. They need to be able to visualize numbers in different ways and see the relationship between the numbers. It's a skill that can be practiced all year by composing and decomposing numbers. When kiddos can see number bonds and parts of a whole, they will master addition and subtraction facts effortlessly. 
Awesome visual for students to see parts of a whole and relationship between numbers
This isn't a lesson or skill that is taught in a week or a month. The strategies should be incorporated into the curriculum and practiced or spiral reviewed throughout the year, rather than in an isolated unit of instruction. Creating an anchor chart for math strategies is a great visualize for students to reference.
Ideas for small group tutoring
While students are working to gain fluency with their math facts, manipulatives should be readily available! In this case, students are using the part part whole strategy with counters. Seasonal erasers or unifix cubes also work well.
Math strategy for building fluency with basic facts
Composing and decomposing numbers and number bonds will build number sense and automaticity with math facts.
A great way to let students have continual practice with this skill is to let them "play teacher." It is great for math centers, math workshop, or independent practice. Students use manipulatives and create their own math problems and answers. If you have a student that needs a little more direction, you can give the student a baggie of dominoes to use when creating his or her problems. Dominoes are set up like parts of a whole, so it will guide the child.
Part Part Whole Strategy for teaching addition and subtraction
To save paper at math centers, you can slide pages inside of dry erase pockets. Students can self check with the answer key!
Addition and subtraction activities to use throughout the year in math centers and math workshop.

Word Work & Spelling with Pool Noodles

Hands on word work activities
Have you seen them? Pool noodles are everywhere... especially Pinterest. I'm here to share my ideas on using pool noodles for word work, spelling, and sight word activities in the classroom or for your homeschooler.
Keep reading for my "oopsie" moments as well!
Literacy center ideas for Pre K, Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade
If you are wondering why pool noodles are all the craze, let me tell you why...CHEAP. QUIET. EASY TO FIND. TACTILE. FUN.
Seriously, pool noodles are my new favorite manipulatives because they are so inexpensive and don't make any noise! They are colorful, easy to manipulate, and perfect for fine motor skills. You can stock your literacy centers with pool noodles for building sight words, practicing spelling words, creating word families, or working on CVC/CVCe words for just a couple bucks. 
Literacy activities using pool noodles
I was cutting my pool noodles while my littles were napping. My cat was very skeptical. She couldn't imagine what we were going to do with all of these.
Independent activity for Word Work literacy center
As soon as my preschooler saw these, he was all over it. He wanted to build every word he knew! He started with his name and then progressed to some simple sight words that we keep on index cards. We worked together on this activity, but he could also work independently by using the sight word cards to build his towers. These noodle letters are great for building spelling words and word families too.
Literacy activities for homeschool, preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade 
Here is my #1 tip for teachers and homeschoolers who are planning to run to the Dollar Store to bring this activity to life for their kiddos... Think about which way you write the letters on the noodle pieces. When I first started writing with a Sharpie, I was writing them all sideways. OOPS moment #1. Here is my next tip- think about how you want kids to build the words. Do you want them to build towers like this? If so, a paper towel holder from the Dollar Tree is perfect. If you would rather them build the words horizontally, like they are written, you will want to use something like a dowel rod instead. 
Tactile, fun, cheap, DIY idea for elementary classrooms
This is my four-year old, Reed, when he first started building his name. He started with R, so he ended up spelling "deer." Oops #2. 
Tactile, hands on, engaging activity for preschool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade students
I'm loving pool noodles for hands on, easy, and fun additions to any Pre K, Kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade literacy center! I would love to find out how you use noodles in your classroom or with your homeschooler. Leave a comment and share your ideas!

Journal Writing: 100 Creative Writing Prompts for Kids

There are two kinds of writers in the world. The first have an endless assortment of ideas that magically pop into their heads when it is time to begin writing. The rest of us look like this...
100 Journal Writing Prompts for Upper Elementary
Frustrated. Annoyed. Defeated. Tired.
I don't want students to feel like this when it is time to write in their journals or work at the writing station, so I created a solution to this problem... 100 Creative Writing Prompts.
100 Writing Prompts for Kids
Here is the best part. I formatted them so they can be printed on 2x4 labels. So when it's time to start writing, and you have a kiddo that says, "I don't know what to write about," you simply let them choose a sticker label with a writing prompt on it. They peel it off, stick it in their journal, and get started! You can get a huge pack of labels on Amazon for super cheap. You could use these for an instant writing station. Just add some paper, journals, fun pencils & pens, and the writing prompts, and you are all set.
Fun and easy ideas for writing
If you don't want to buy labels, you can print the writing prompts on colored card stock. Laminate for durability, and then store them inside of an index card filing box. You can also hole punch them and put them on a metal binder ring. 
Creative writing prompts for journals and writing center
Quick and easy writing lesson for upper elementary
Writer's block no more! Happy Writing! Get them HERE.
Fun writing prompts for any occasion

Ten Frame Activities for Addition & Subtraction

Math manipulatives, ten frames, addition and subtraction
Ten Frames are awesome. Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade students can work on so many essential concepts including number sense, subitizing, counting on, addition, subtraction, basic facts, making ten, and more. I HEART TEN FRAMES, and I hope you will too, after reading this blog post! 
Fun, easy, engaging activities for math stations
Ten Frames are a part of many direct teach lessons, but I utilize them to spiral review in math stations, as well as small groups and tutoring. Ten Frames are concrete, and I like that we can swap out manipulatives to make it fun and engaging. Add tweezers, pinchers, and grabbers to make it even more exciting and fine tune those fine motor skills! DONUT HOLE MATH!
Fun and easy ideas for math small groups Kindergarten and 1st grade
Engaging and fun math ideas for K-2 students
I created four sets in this resource: Addition, Subtraction, Mixed Set, & a Challenge Set.
Ideas for storing the cards...
1. Laminate & put them in baggies
2. Index Card Filing Box
3. School Supply Box
4. Dollar Store Photo Album! 
(See video below)
My other favorite way to use these cards is for a class "scavenger hunt." When the students are at lunch or specials, I will hang a set of the cards around the room in random hiding places. When they return, I will give them a recording sheet and let them go hunt throughout the classroom to find the cards. It's such a fun and interactive way to practice the skills they need to be review. Math is so fun!
Fun and easy idea for math centers in Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade
Fun ideas for math centers and small group tutoring
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