We all know a few days in October that are fun to celebrate in our classrooms. Obviously, if you are a primary teacher, you can find lots of days to celebrate in many ways. With Common Core coming our way, it is a bit more difficult to bring fun activities in to our classrooms. BUT...I think and I am sure you will agree that there are a plethora of ways to have fun with Common Core and there are definitely some Special Days to celebrate in October besides Halloween...BUT we have to include Halloween for October or our kiddos will be sooooooo upset!

Sooooooo what days can be celebrated in school or at home during October? 

Here are some ideas and activities for Special days to celebrate in October and still have a bit of fun learning in your classroom:

๐ŸŽƒ World Smile Day is October 2nd!

What a great way to start the month of October. Tell children to bring their smiles to school or virtually to class that day and try a few of these activities to brighten their DAY!

Partner children 6 feet a part of course and see who can get the other to smile...but if in person, you can only tell by their eyes.

Have a joke telling chat.  With this kids simply tell jokes to make each other laugh!

If virtual these can be done in break out rooms.

๐ŸŽƒ Name your Car Day, Too...Say What?  

Now this is also another fun day to write about and have some fun with at home or at school.

At home, you might want to give your car a name...my granddaughter named my car "Vanilla Caramel Brownie" because it is white with tan interior and my perfume smells like vanilla sugar. and Brownie because it is not always the cleanest car on the road! You can have a lot of fun with this one and also get a few laughs or smiles since they are both celebrated on october 2nd!

๐ŸŽƒ Did you know that October 4th is Taco Day?  

Here is a cute book to celebrate tasty taco treats.

  • Before reading the story, you can access prior knowledge to find out what your students know about tacos, what their favorite taco is and maybe where they like to buy or eat their tacos.
  • During reading stop every so often to have your students think, pair, share as you ask questions, have students make predictions or inferences as well as answer some questions about the text. Here is a fun interactive Reading Resource with ideas for use that you might want to use for shared reading for this text or any text!

๐ŸŽƒHow about Cake Decorating DAY? 

You can give each child a writing frame, which I have links to at the bottom of this post and have them decorate a cake and then write about it.

If they have a picture of a favorite birthday cake, have them share it during sharing time or reserve a few minutes to have children share or tell about their favorite birthday cake of all time!

christopher Columbus was an explorer and most children LOVE to explore anything and everything.  This craft is super fun to talk about explorers๐ŸŽƒ We all know That Columbus Day has led to some controversy surrounding it and about celebrating this day, but this craft can simply focus on Exploration and if you were an explorer what would you want to explore

Here are a few Ideas to Celebrate Exploration:

Here is a way to bring out the Explorer in your students.

What would you explore and why?  Then...turn them into explorers.  

Be an Explorer

๐ŸŽƒ Another Fun Day to celebrate is PUMPKIN DAY.

Did you know that National Pumpkin Day is October 26th? 

Let's take a look at a few ideas for Pumpkin Day which is celebrated right before Halloween...perfect Timing!

This pumpkin resource includes everything you need to celebrate pumpkins from facts to opinions, measuring, graphing and more.  check it out Right here

Need some Great Books to go along with Pumpkins? 

here are 4 of my faves:  

1.  How Many Seeds in a Pumpkins works fabulous with Pumpkin "Fun"tivities. Read it before you do the measuring activities. it is super for making predictions and works great with the interavtive props and ideas!

2.  Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie is great text to use to learn about how pumpkins grow and for facts and opinions about pumpkins.

3.  The Biggest Pumpkin Ever is another great story that is fun to use as a shared reading and the kiddos LOVE it!

4. My all time favorite book is the The Little Woman who wasn't Afraid of Anything.

I used this as an interactive shared reading with props and you could hear a pin drop as we shared the story and acted out the parts with  real items! 

Here is a link for Ideas to go along with this book!
Let's Get Interactive!

๐ŸŽƒ If you Don't Like Pumpkins, you Can Always Celebrate Cupcake Day on the 26th or Both Days and Make Pumpkin Cupcakes!

YES! You read that right...CUPCAKE DAY!  Kids can draw cupcakes or make them out of construction paper and share about their favorite cupcake of all time!

Click on the picture to get this Dollar Deal to help you celebrate and use these 5 fun writing prompts! 

๐ŸŽƒ And Let's Not Forget Halloween    

Here are some tried and true Halloween Resources
Take a look and see if these might be something you want to try out this year!

Well...there you have it! Some Special Days to Celebrate in October...NEXT UP Some fun days to celebrate in November!

Have a great October!

Make this October the BEST EVER!

Keep Smiling...the BEST is yet to Come!

As a retired teacher I am well aware of the burn out that all teachers feel. Whether at the beginning of the school year, during conferences, the week before Winter or even Spring break as well as the end of the year aaaannnnnnddddd let's not forget SUMMER...Summer you question??? YES Summer! Do Teacher really relax or are the spending their summer thinking about a new class of kiddos...YOU DECIDE...I know the answer...been there...done that and every vacation seems to disappear like magic...POOF and it is time to teach!!! 

This year is a completely different journey...the Covid-19 journey. Add this to the mix and ummmm do you think teachers are stressed?  You know the answer! I have 4 teachers in my immediate family and they have been stressed out since March 15th. who wouldn't be?  It is easy to say everything will be back to "normal" and I know it will...we all know it will, BUT when their stress ripples into my territory, they look to me for solutions and positivity because I have always tried to be positive every day of my life...turned difficult situations into doable and always lived by this mantra:

Do the best you can do in every situation and your best changes depending many factors that happen in your life or how you feel...you know headaches, exhaustion, not enough caffeine, no sleep and many other circumstances of life.

This affirms the way I live my life to be my best self. if you were in my head, you would hear, "Do the best you can or you are doing the best you can and that is all you can do!"

Well...I am a firm believer that YOU need to take care of yourself every chance you get or you will burn out before you even start...especially now more than ever!

Who's with me...think of this...Do you feel like September is here and you never had a BREAK not even a teeny tiny break?

So Here are 5 tried and true Ideas that I have used, when I taught...WELL actually still use, to make sure my engine is running in top notch condition:

๐ŸŒปSurround Yourself with Positivities or Be Positive:

That means:  Read positive quotes: 
Post a positive or inspirational quote in your classroom, office or anywhere you can see it everyday...Remember there will be days that are harder than others.

Make a list of everything you love about everyone and everything around you. I have kept a small journal and take a few minutes every so often to count my blessings and think about what I love about each member of my family. Can I just tell you how touching it is to read what I wrote down about each child and my spouse...sometimes I think...did I really write that? A family Blessing Jar can also be self care for the entire family and is worth the time because everyone will love adding a blessing to the jar as family self care!

Take a minute and jot down a positive moment or an accomplishment...Little or Big that made you feel blessed to be present with your family.  I love the idea of a gratitude or blessing jar. It is quick and simple to create...add a little of your personality and personal notes, then on New Year's Eve or a designated day, sit and read the notes in the jar. If you don't have time to create a pinteresty jar, just throw the notes in a basket!

It may bring some tears, but happy tears are always good for the soul!                                                            

I also have a blessing bracelet that was given to me many years ago from a 

The idea is to wear the bracelet every day and each morning when you put it on, you count 4 blessings in your life. The blessing can be as simple as I have a roof over my head or my coffee is hot or I have the opportunity to support children during this time to make their education the best it can be right now!  I think I need to get a new one, this is looking a bit worn.  

Don't forget those Positive Affirmations!  I can do this, I am strong, I am capable, I am healthy...

๐ŸŒปTake Time for Yourself and I MEAN ALONE TIME:

MOMs.. Eat lunch or take a coffee break or even an afternoon snack by yourself once a week or once a month or ummm every single day...you may need to hide in your car or closet!

I used to take these breaks in my classroom during a prep time or even during my lunch break just to regroup and have a bit of thinking time. Virtual and teaching from your classroom, you can still do these suggestions. 

If you are home teaching and have kids home, simply walk around the house and take deep breaths to stay calm and focussed.  When your kids have a break, take a brisk walk outside or maybe a family yoga break...simple positions like baby's pose or tree pose or simply stretch together.

I had a friend who used to ride the school elevator to gain a minute or 2 of quiet time and destress!! Not a bad idea if you have an elevator in your building!

๐ŸŒปGet Rid of that STRESS! 

The list of Ideas to destress and relax is infinite...BUT...you have to try one to get started. Find what works best for you and your schedule and JUST DO IT!!!

Here are some Ideas that I have tried and they might also work for YOU!
  • Yoga:  Every Morning rise a bit earlier and simply do about 7 minutes of yoga poses. Check the internet or have a book handy.  You can always sign up for a class, but 7 minutes a day will make a world of difference!! 
  • Walk at lunch time with a friend, colleague or alone. It is even better when it is cool out! When I taught full-time, (I'm retired now!) we used to walk around the school neighborhood about 2-3 days a week. It was one of the best activities I did and made a world of difference for how I faced the rest of the day.  
  • I also used to walk with a friend to school everyday...sometimes even in the snow...my friend and I would solve all the school issues as we walked and felt great even if the problems did not go away, we still chatted about it and got it off our minds. We lived about a mile and half away from school and would meet on the corner.  We were assigned the title:"The Walking teachers" and I would even see someone in a supermarket who would say, "Don't I see you walking everyday to work?"
  • Play with the kiddos. play hide and seek, catch outside, a board game, anything you know will take your mind of off school and bring you back to where you are...in the present!
  • Read a non educational book. 
  • That's right PAMPER yourself do something...anything that you love doing...don't wait for someone else to do it!!! UMMM...it might not happen. You are in charge of YOU!!
Now, I know right now many things are different.  I have not really pampered myself the way I used to do before Covid, but I have figured out ways to keep the positivity going and pamper in a different way. For example, give yourself a home DIY facial, foot massage, stretch using an exercise ball ( I saw these for $5 at 5 Below!), muscle rollers to get rid of tension or simply stretching out each muscle in your body especially the neck.

Now...please note...I am not saying to do all of these...I mean....you would add more stress to your life than you had before you started!!!

Simply pick one or two to try for a while and see if it makes a difference in your daily life!

๐ŸŒปPrioritize or Set Priorities:

  • Make a list of Have To's or Must Do's, Can DO's or Can Say No To's and start to listen to your list and cross off and prioritize that list. 
  • Make a list each week perhaps Sunday night or a night that works for you and write everything that you have that week.  Then evaluate each item on your list.  Add a key something like this:  Green is MUST Do or Have To; Yellow is Can Do and Red is I can say no to or can postpone to another time.   Remember, your job can bounce back from a hiccup, but your family and you should be treated like a glass ball because when it breaks, it is harder to mend.
Download this list and Print.

๐ŸŒป Eat as Healthy as you Can:

I say as healthy as you can because I know how crazy hectic life can be.

For example; make one change. Something like I am going to switch to "breadless" sandwiches this week and stick to it. Plan that type of lunch for the week and make it each night or ahead of time. Add all the ingredients except for the heavy bread. Add a light dressing and that change will come naturally the more you do it.

Sometimes you just need to be mindful of what you eat...stop the fog eating, where you are eating without thinking about what you are eating and add a few healthier choices each day.  

Another idea might be to start your morning off with a healthy fruit or vegetable smoothie each morning or even bring it to school for break or lunch.  Here are my Go-to's....easy and nutritional!

I simply use frozen smoothie mixes and mix and match to my current mood each morning. Sometimes I add fresh fruit that I have on hand like bananas, blueberries or even an apple.  

I have one daily smoothie, but I only add fruit, veggies and water with stevia and I am good...less calories and great tasting.  The one above, looks yucky, but tastes yummy!  It is Matcha tea, banana, strawberry, mango, coconut and stevia...I drink it a feel like I am on a tropical island until my phone rings and brings me back to reality! 
Just simply make small changes and you will see a difference!

The last one that you NEED to absolutely add to your diet is water!

Just remember every day is a new beginning with new possibilities. If at first you don't succeed, just simply start again and again...Remember: you might not be there YET...but you will!!


Try your best to focus on the Blessings you have not what your neighbor has...Positivity is a choice...a choice you have to make every single DAY!  If you feed your brain positive thoughts, you brain will be reconditioned to think that way, which will lead to a less stressful life.

Allow yourself to make a few mistakes because we learn life long lessons from our mistakes and PLEASE, PLEASE, don't be hard on yourself...NO ONE IS PERFECT!

They say if you can do something for 30 days straight, then it will become a habit or second nature!! 

Let me know how you do...I'll be waiting!!

I have been thinking a lot about virtual learning, remote learning, distance learning or whatever you want to call it. Whatever term you decide to use, it is online learning. 

As I watched my grandkids learning online...ballet...second grade skills, and myself tutoring online as well as  and my daughter teaching viola virtually, a television show came to mind that I remember watching as a young child. That show was Romper Room. The teacher on the show would use a magnify glass and say, "I see bobby and Joanie and Teddy!"  She would wave to each child and say, "Hi, you look happy today or or let me see that smile."   

Each child felt so special as they watched her perform and enact all her lessons or activities for the morning.  

Let's imagine that you are teaching online or in your classroom and you are ready to share a book...you gather all your students online or on the rug...they are all sitting "crisscross applesauce" or their eyes peeled to the computer screen ready to begin the story...just waiting for you to start...all eyes on you, smiles gleaming.   They are so excited they can hardly contain their emotions. All directions have been announced and modeled.  Well... it may not be this perfect but you get the idea!

They know that they will have such a "fun"tastic time interacting and taking part in Shared Reading! They are ready!!!

Let's Get Interactive: 3 Great Tips for Interactive Shared Reading...a great ideas to involve your students in your shared reading! You will love all 3 tips!!                                        I remember those days...great memories and now that I am retired...I want all of you to have this same experience! YES...YOU! You can use these ideas teaching on your computer or in your classroom (socially distancing of course with masks on) You can do this with these tried and true tips in school or online!

I have had a few principals, get so involved when they observed, that THEY even began to participate...and said,

I wish my elementary reading experiences were like this!

So...drumroll please....Here you go:

3 Great Tips for Interactive Shared Reading online or in your classroom!!!

1.  Get your students thinking about the books you use for shared reading:  

Plan ahead and see which parts of the story you want to share that can be integrated with participation in the story.  If you feel that the story will work, then definitely assign your students predetermined "Thinking Partners" for shared reading that can change every so often.  

If you are teaching virtually, then you will give your students a thinking minute to think about the different parts of the story as you read.

Sticky note parts of the story that your students  can make predictions and inferences, think metacognitively and parts where your students can think about questions they might have at the beginning, middle and ending of the text.  If you have done the work beforehand, your experience will run so much more smoothly!

So...now...when you gather children onto the carpet make sure you have spots around the room or on the carpet that are 6 feet apart, ask them to sit near their "Thinking Partner" and to be ready to Think, Pair, Share, (from a distance) which of course you have already modeled several times...I hope!! (Simply have children face their partner and chat about the parts of the text as directed by YOU!) 

OR Virtually explain that you are going to stop every so often and give them time to think about the story. I usually "Give a thinking minute, which is really a bit more than one minute!)

Now...these partners are ready to go...masks on, 6 feet a part...Don't they look happy?

2.  Use visual props to support reading Comprehension:  

This tip piggybacks to #1.

In a small basket next to your reading chair or your computer, have visuals to support Reading Comprehension Strategies; such as, Visualizing, Cause and Effect, Questioning or what you might be wondering about right now and Making Predictions.  

Then as you ask the question or want your students to share with their "Thinking Partners" or when you give them a "Thinking Minute"you simply hold up the sign that matches the strategy you want them to use.  

While reading, you can also give each child a different part to play: The prediction Maker and they have the wand, The visualizer with the fake glasses or a pair of dollar store glasses, the Thinker, etc. 
Even better, sent a copy of these props home, through an e-mail, and have your students make them to be ready for shred reading online. (optional)

Later you will see students using the clouds and props on their own while partner reading or even reading to self!!! 

Here are some samples of some of the props I used with my kiddos.  You can find them HERE along with some other related Reading Comprehension resources.

              Making Predictions:                                                  Visualizing:



                        Cause and Effect:                                  Explain your Thinking or Metacognitive

Questioning or I Wonder: 

These props can be used with ANY Book!

3.  Using actual props from the text: Say What?  

I LOVE dong this and so do children.  It can even be fun to do at home with a story when reading with your own children or in a homeschool setting or virtually.  So let me explain:  

Take a book like If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff or actually any book in her series of similar texts.  

Look through the story to what items you can collect around the house or purchase them at the dollar store.  Then give students or partners and item you have pre-purchased. As you read the story to your class, have those students rise every time you read their item.  Imagine the fun of listening until their part comes!  If you are teaching virtually, simply assign your students parts and have them create or make them at home or even find the object around the house.  You can assign more than one student for various props. 
After the story is read, see if your students can retell the story as a group using their props. 

One of my all time favorite books to encourage participation is: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

The kiddos LOVE this story and in fact one day, a few years back, I invited my principal in for our Halloween Party and shared this book on the rug. At the end she screamed out in unison with the class, when I asked them to scream out what they thought the little old lady would do with all the items that followed her home!  PS...I always ask the students to scream, whisper, speak like a robot, a mouse, a baby or other ways when I want a whole class answer and it is the BEST!
They can't wait to hear what voice I will ask for to answer the question!!!
So to in order to use props for this story, you will need, shoes, a pair of pants, a shirt, a pair of gloves, a hat and a Jack-o-Lantern...                                                                         If you separate the shoes and gloves, there are 8 different props to give out to your class or for the students to create etc.  You can also add doubles of each item so everyone has a props or assign partners to each item.                                                                                    As you read the story to the class, they have to act out the parts with their props.  For example:  when the part is read,"the shoes went CLOMP, CLOMP."  the students who have the shoes make them walk...CLOMP, CLOMP! Just imagine the listening and participation that will magically happen when you share a book in this manner!  Can you read every single book this way? Probably not, but pick and choose those books that you can use this way and make it a "FUN Friday" activity...learning and fun. What more can a teacher ask for?  

It has always been my philosophy to make learning educational and fun, so that each child will love learning, want to come to school, reach their potential and be their best self! 

There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bat  With this story, you can have each child stand every single time their item is read in the story or YOU can be the OLD LADY! At the end everyone can YELL TRICK or TREAT!!!

Remember teaching online or in your classroom can be motivating and entertaining, which will encourage students to want to be online with you or come to school.  Whatever way you are teaching this year, make the best of it and make it one of your best years yet! You can do this!

Home and School communication is so important. Getting parents on your side and working together as a team can enhance all aspects of a child's education. One thing to remember is parents know their child better than we do in that they have been their child's teacher from the day their child was born. 
I always tell parents that they are the most important person in their child's life.  

So, with that being said, use parent's input about their child and work together!

Although this year may look a bit different. These 3 tips are ways that you can include parents in their child's education from day one and build positive relationships with students and their parents. 

Whether you are teaching virtually or in person this year, the following tips to work side by side with parents, will definitely promote and enhance student progress.

Start the Year off with a Positive Phone Call 

Try to make a positive phone call home
within the first 2 weeks of school. I know that this can be a difficult task with all that needs to be done, but this WILL make a difference! 

Think of yourself as a parent: you are nervous about your child going to first grade and just think how "little Jimmy or Doris" feels. 

Receiving a positive phone call and I emphasize phone call NOT e-mail can set the tone for the rest of the year and it will make it much easier when you have to call for other reasons. 

I also call to EACH child the night before the first day of school to say "hi" and welcome them to my classroom. I tell each child how excited I am to have him or her in my classroom and to make sure they bring their smile to school tomorrow! 

Say hello and express your excitement about having him or her in your classroom.  My video that I have posted below is an example of a phone call you might make if you are teaching in person, but it can easily be changed to represent a virtually classroom. Making each student in your class feel excited to come to your classroom, no matter where you are teaching, begins to build important connections with each child.  


Invite Parents into your Classroom or Virtual Classroom

If it is permitted in your district, invite parents to come into your classroom and share a favorite book or chat about their job or occupation. Our School always had a Guest Reader on Friday afternoons. I changed the day and time for working parents if necessary. Teaching Virtually? Invite a parent to read to your class through Zoom or any other platforms you may be using. Maybe ask parents to sit in on your lesson to see what his or her child is learning that week. 

Keep Parents in the Loop

Send a Monthly or Weekly Newsletter home sharing with parents special news and announcements that are special to your classroom. You can send these notes and announcements on your class homework sheet through your website or through google with a link to read these important messages. Attaching these to an e-mail works too! 

I hope these quick and easy ideas bring a bit of sunshine to start your year! Enjoy! 

Try your best to be your best this year even with the struggles we are all facing this school year!

After spending many months and hours of distance learning due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, I am sure you are wondering "how I can continue at this pace?" I am sure it still is and was a difficult situation especially since many of us are working from home as well.

After months of making sure our kids are social distancing, trying to explain why our children weren't able to play with their friends, visit grandparents, keeping kids focused before, during and after learning sessions at home, were challenging for us all.

Our dedicated teachers, who would much rather be in their classrooms with our children, found themselves teaching through video, send home packets as well as using distance learning resources.

SInce my last post, things have changed quite a bit.  If I posted a picture of myself today, you would notice that my roots are showing gray without my salon open, my nails are growing and desperately need a refill and my eyebrows are flowing...so...we are all in this together and as such, we need to work to find some positives in everything we do!  

That being said, here are some ideas that you can use to encourage writing at home especially since many of you are using distance learning or if you are a parent, conducting home learning as most schools are closed without an opening date scheduled!

So with all that in mind...

Here are 3 more ideas to use at home or at school to encourage writing!
  This is the perfect time to encourage Journal Writing.  This is an idea that was mentioned in my first post, but NOW is definitely the time to encourage children to keep a journal especially if your state has mandated a "Stay at Home Policy."

You can grab a notebook or some paper that can staple together in a booklet, decorate the front and go from there.

In my opinion, if kids decorate their journal, they will take ownership of their writing, build confidence and feel encouragement to write in it...OR NOT! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

The purpose of keeping a journal, especially during this pandemic journey, is to write about each day and how they feel...BUT...not just that!  Have your kiddos write about whatever they want and encourage creativity!

Take a look below to see some other journal ideas you can provide with distance learning or at home.

  • Have kids draw a picture right in their journals adding as many details as possible.  Then have them write about the picture. It can be anything they want to draw as long as they write a few sentences about it.  You can assign a certain number of sentences according to age or goals.  I usually assign 3 sentences in Kindergarten, 5 for first grade and so on. However, you know your kids better than I do so assign accordingly or you can simply say write as much as you need to give all the information about your picture or topic! 
  • Take pictures of family activities you are doing during this time.  Have your children write about the picture.  If possible print the pictures and glue them right into their journals. Maybe placing one on each page and then have them write about one picture each day.   Then one day you can look back on this time and reminisce about times gone by.  
You can also give your children pictures that you have in your phone to write entries. I would choose ones that they remember perhaps sports, family vacations or simply fond memories!

 Give your child a Blank Heart and have them write, draw pictures or even cut out ideas from magazines that are dear to their hearts and keep this heart in their writing folder or glue it into the front of their journals...they will always have an idea handy! 

Last but not least...drumroll please number 3:

✐ Prized Possession Writing: This can be done in 2 ways. First have students bring in  an object of choice or if you at home, grab an object of choice about which to write.  Most kids have a prized possession or a stuffed animal that has been their "go to" forever.   Second whether you are at school or home have a basket of beanie babies, plush toys and fun objects from which to choose and the kids can describe the object, create a story about it or simply tell how they got it or why they like it!        

I hope these ideas support your distance learning, at home learning or, if you are still in school, support your writing curriculum and/or give you some ideas for writing in general! 

Maybe you want to support writing at home by using some of these writing ideas  to use for YOU to write and then have a family sharing time...I think I would LOVE doing THAT!

Look for more writing ideas soon!

Be safe and stay healthy...we are all in this together!! 

Children love to scribble and draw with pencils, crayons, paper and maybe even on the walls.  

I know my grandkids would scribble something on a piece of paper and I would say. "Read this to me." and they would "read" it back usually saying it says "I love you or I had fun or maybe something silly, but they knew what they wrote and what it said.

It is on this premise and experience that you and I know that kids have ideas tucked away in their heads ready to spill out on paper or walls!  

With that being said, this is Part One of a Series of Blog Posts about how to encourage your students or children to write more at home and at school using some basic principles I have learned through my years of parenting and teaching! Ideas that you can put into practice immediately after reading this post!

Writing is so important for all children, yet can be so difficult for some.  

They want to know how to spell but you as a teacher want to get them to get their ideas on the paper so their ideas...those thoughts, those experiences flow onto the paper easily without hesitation and still what echoes throughout your classroom, "How do you spell dog.  How do your spell because?  How do you spell where???"

So how do you support your students to feel confident and take risks with their writing?  Good question right? 

One way I found and I am sure many of you already use this method is to encourage “Kid Writing” everyday...everytime children are writing at home and/or at school.

Some kiddos are hesitant to take risks and write without knowing how to spell, but if you make it non-threatening and support young writers with positive feedback on what they are writing, they will take risks and begin to use creative spelling to spell more difficult words writing the sounds they hear.

This is a win-win situation.

As you circulate around the room, have the kiddos read what they have written. I always asked if it was okay to write adult spelling below their writing so I remembered what they wrote. If that doesn’t work, then write it on a sticky note with their name. Anyway you do it you are learning so much about your students!

Why is this Important?  

✎  You can learn so much about a student’s phonological awareness and other writing skills simply by analyzing Kid Writing! 

1.  Does the student have beginning sounds, ending sounds, digraph, affricates and/or medial vowels?

2.  Do they have an understanding of what letters spell a word but maybe they are not in the correct order?

3.  Are they using some conventional spellings of sight words? 

4.  What do they know and what do they still need to learn?

5.  Do they have capitals, end marks or an understanding of words and sentences?

I can tell from this sample:

  • The writer has some conventional spellings of my, his, love and is.
  • I notice the writer needs to work on blends and digraphs as the writing is missing "br" and "th" in the word brother, also "br" in Brady. "Pr" is missing from practice.  
  • The writer has learned that that the "ea" vowel combination says "e" but it is not used properly in the word he.  
  • Also, the silent "e" in the word name is not used. That is something to work on as well.
  • The writer does not hear the difference between "n" and "m": at the end of words.  
  • She is more on a Phonetic spelling level., but does understand some conventional spelling words and patterns. 

What do you notice?

So much data can be collected to discern where each child is to drive small group writing, phonics and reading instruction!

How can we encourage parents with supporting their children at home with writing?

✎  Now you have your students on board with "Kid Writing" but what about all the parents grinding their teeth with their children spelling words incorrectly at home?

1.  Talk to parents:  I always chatted at back to school night or in a special meeting, if needed, explaining what spelling expectations I have or the district has for the grade level taught.

2. Send an example of 'Kid Writing" like the one here to show them first hand why this type of spelling is desired.  

( this is a free resource in my TpT Shop)

3. At back to school night or conferences show exactly what you can learn using a sample of "Kid Writing" and show what phonemic skills and concepts that example demonstrates.

✎  Have parents consistently encourage writing at home.

To do this send home a list of ways to encourage children to integrate writing in their everyday life.

Here are some ideas to include in your list or for parents to try:

  • Write lists for gifts they might want at some future point.
  • Write thank you notes to grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers...anyone really!
  • Keep a daily or weekly journal to write about their experiences...what they like to do or don't like, how a sports game or ballet class went.
  • Keep a feelings journal.
  • Create the grocery list for family shopping.
  • Create a "to-do" list for the week.
  • Have your child write a list of chores that need to be completed.
  • Create a writing spot in your house or classroom where kids can simply write with various media: pens, colored pencils, markers, magnetic letters or whatever. Don't forget to include different types of paper!
  • Encourage writing to friends who live far away or not far away!
  • Label things around the house or draw pictures and hav your children label the picture.
  • Praise you children for what they do know..."Wow, you knew that beginning sound or ending sound...Way to go!"
  • Write some journal entries together where you write a sentence and then your child writes a sentence.
  • If your child wants something, have them write you a note convincing you to get what they want.
  • Respond in writing to a favorite book, movie or television show...even what they like about a favorite video game!
  • Make a list of what they observe on a car, airplane or train trip...even what they see around the house, restaurant or even while at a sibling's play, dance or game.
  • Create a non talking day where everything you need or want has to be written down!
  • Give your students or children some fancy pens and props to use while writing.

There are so many more ideas that you can come up with to add.

Remember this is the first part of a series focussing on writing at home and at school.  There is so much more to come...so don't forget to check back for more. I have so many ideas tucked away to add a little pizzazz to writing at home and at school!

See you next time!