Digraphs: CH


There are many ways to teach digraphs.  My favorite way introduces digraphs with hand motions. Teaching with multiple modalities ensures you reach more students.  When I introduce the "H Brothers" I use the story and motions from the Project Read program. Each brother has a story to help students remember the motions.  The "CH brother" is the brother who likes choo-choo trains so students makes a motion with their arms like train wheels while saying "ch, ch, ch". 

Each day during circle time,  I read a different story that has a "ch" word in the title.  Before I read the story, I introduce vocabulary words from the story.  We discuss different meanings the words might have.  When we come to words in the story with multiple meanings, we discuss how the word was used in the story. Doing this is helpful for all students, especially your ESL students. We also listen for words with "ch". When students hear a word with "ch" they (quietly) make the hand motion.  Another activity that enforces "ch" is to put the vocabulary words in a pocket chart and then mask the "ch" in words.   To make a mask, I cut up colored folders that you can see through.

There is also additional practice with extension worksheets and literacy centers in my All Star Digraphs.  One of my favorites is to type up sentences from the story I just read to the class.  Print the sentences on cardstock and cut apart words like puzzle pieces.  I like to use those scissors you find in the scrapbooking aisle that make pretty edges.  The sentences are self checking.  After awhile students will figure out tricks like real puzzles.  You know how you begin a jigsaw puzzle with corners or straight edges.  With sentence puzzles, students will soon learn that the first word with begin with a capital letter and the last word will end with a punctuation mark.  This activity reinforces writing conventions and reading.  Two for the price of one!

Here's the packet I made.  It's available on TPT for $5.

These are the books that I used when I wrote the lessons for this packet:


Book Club


Fluency is such an important component of reading.  Low fluency rate may not always be detected until late elementary or early middle school.  Suddenly, a student is expected to read more curriculum in a short period of time, and is not able to keep up with his or her studies. This is one area of reading that I wanted to tweak so my students would be well prepared.

I realize that in order to increase a student's fluency rate, he or she needs to practice reading.  I reflected back to my personal experience of joining a book club.  My book club read a different genre each month . . . i.e. we didn't read chick lit. each month.  I thought this must be what it's like for my students.  You know, reading a book that's not really your personal taste.  Whenever the genre wasn't my taste, it took me all month to read it.  Most months I would have a cram session a couple of days before my book club met to finish the book.  UGH!  This must be what my students feel like! 

I decided to do something a little different to help my students.  On Wednesdays, students are encouraged to bring a book of their choice to school.  It can be a book they checked out of the library or one of their personal books.  If they don't have one, they may check a book from my class library.  I give them 20 minutes of time to read in class.  Then we meet in book club groups.  Students are grouped differently each week.  Sometimes we meet according to the genre of the book.  Other time I will have students meet in groups of 3 and do a book talk, mini-commercial about their book.  

Each student has a Book Club folder.  I attached the assignment sheets (below) in the 3 prongs in the folder.  I made each student a Book Club booklet.  I cut construction paper in half, put copier paper in it, and stapled it together. The assignments are numbered.  Each week, students complete an assignment about the chapter they read at school.  Some weeks I assign a specific assignment, other weeks I let students choose their assignment.  I found these assignments from different websites, but I'm sorry I can't remember which one or I would give him or her credit for the great ideas. Please let me know if you know the source.

Book club is making a difference!  I'm sure the key factor is CHOICE!  Choice of book and some weeks they have choice of assignment.  

Below are the forms I use:





Henry & Mudge

All children love dogs.  What better way to nurture their love of dogs than reading about a funny dog named, Mudge!  The Henry and Mudge series is sure to spark your students' interest.  I'm sure they will want to share all their stories about their beloved pets.  You'll probably hear more stories than you really wanted to hear, but what a great way to engage your students in reading.  They have so much prior knowledge.  Here's a few activities I like to use:

Click on the picture above to get a free copy of this page.

Click on the picture above if you wish to purchase this packet.
It cost $3

This packet includes the following: comprehension, editing, compare & contrast, and characterization activities to enrich the following Henry and Mudge books: Wild Wind, Take the Big Test, and Under the Yellow Moon. 


Sight Words


A team approach is the best way to teach sight words, in my opinion.  I think parent involvement is key to students learning their sight words.  My sight word homework is called "Bubble Gum words".  These are the words I want to "stick" (like bubble gum) in my students' minds.  I implement it much like a do the "Popcorn Sounds" program which I wrote about in an earlier post.  

*Ahead of time, take 10 file folders and label them:  List 1, List 2, List 3 . . . and so on.
*Make at least 20 copies of each list, punch 3 holes, and put in folders.  It is helpful if you copy the lists on different colored paper.
*Give a placement test by having students read the list of words.  Students will begin the program on the row of words, on the list of words, of first word he/she reads incorrectly.
*Make Bubble Gum homework folders out of folders with 3 prongs.  Put the list of words in students' folder after they take placement test.  NOTE:  This homework is differentiated . . . students will be working on different lists based on placement test results.  
*Send home folder of words so parents can help their child study.
*Each week - you decide which day of the week - students will bring their folder and you will test them.  Some student may only be able to read one row of words correctly.  Other students may read 4 or 5 rows of words correctly.  Let the students read until they come to a word they don't know.  
*I put a bubble gum scented sticker in the last box of the row of words if the student reads all of the words in that row correctly.  For some reason, bubble gum stickers are very motivating to students.  You can also use stamps if you don't want the expense of stickers.

During the week, to enforce sight words, I play Bubble Gum BINGO when I meet with my reading groups.  As a general rule, each group will be on similar list of words.

Here is list #4 and the BINGO game cards for list #4.

From a time management perspective, one of the best tips I have is to list your students in order alphabetically  and assign each student a number.  This will be the student's number when you are testing him/her for Popcorn Sounds or Bubble Gum word knowledge each week.  Very quickly, your students will learn their number order.  I.E.  Jennifer C. is #5 so she comes after Chris B. #4, but before Ben D. #6.  I usually test the majority of my students during journal time.  Sometimes I have to finish a few during D.E.A.R. time.

Also, to save time I put the folders in number order before I begin testing.  I can quickly see which # is missing so I can ask that child to double check his/her backpack.
Here's my chart:


This is the letter that I send home to parents.

The entire packet can be purchased for $5 at TPT:

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Christmas: The Nutcracker

This is the time of year when the "holiday crazies" set in!  You know the symptoms:  excessive talking, wiggles, incomplete assignments, and there are days when it feels like all I do is conflict management . . . A.K.A. tattling!  One of the things I've found to combat the "holiday crazies" is soothing music.  I think the music from The Nutcracker is the perfect anecdote!

I love sharing the story, The Nutcracker, because there are so many different activities you can do with it that are hands on.  A couple of my favorite activities are:

*Science station:  Check first to make sure you don't have any students with nut allergies. Buy or ask for donations of nuts in the shell.  Ask for a variety of nuts to make this center more interesting. You will surprised how many students have never seen nuts in a shell.  Students will go to the centers and use their five senses to observe the nuts.  Have samples of nuts out the shell for students to taste.  One of the biggest surprises my students find is some nuts make a noise when you shake them.  Who knew!!!!

*Nutcracker station:  Buy or ask for donations of nutcrackers.  Let your students handle and experiment with cracking a few nuts for a nutcracker.  I usually put the metal type of nutcracker for them to experiment with, too.  Then I print four copies of the first page below so students can look at a colored copy of the nutcrackers (put it in a page protector) that they are going to compare using a venn diagram.  Sometimes I let them fill out the venn diagram worksheet with a partner.  At the end of the week, we share our results in class.


FREEBIE - Winter Writing

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