Book Theme: Change is in the Air

Sunday, October 4, 2015

October Theme of the Month: Change is in the Air

Indian Summer has ended, the nights are starting to cool off, and soon the leaves will be changing. Fall is my absolute favorite season of the year, I love everything about it! I thought we could celebrate that in the classroom with the theme: change is in the air.

The perfect book for our October theme is the Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg. The stranger is a mysterious book with a very ambiguous ending, lending itself open to different interpretations and amazing discussions!

Here’s a mini “movie” based on the book:

Activities and Resources for The Stranger:

Other books with the theme “change is in the air”:

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Flipping for Fall Mentor Texts

Friday, October 2, 2015


Welcome to Reading Royalty! I'm so glad you're stopping by The Reading Crew's blog hop! 

Fall is my favorite time of year! I love the cooler weather, beautiful New England scenery, and pumpkin spice everything! We're getting back into the swing of things at school and diving into some fabulous fall themed mentor texts. 

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
by Linda D. Williams is the mentor text I chose to focus on. This is one of my absolute favorite Halloween themed books! It's about an old lady who goes for a walk in the woods and is confronted by different scary items that follow her on her way back home. I use it in grades K-2 to work on sequencing. 

The Little Old Lady Who is Not Afraid of Anything is such an engaging book with lots of opportunities for beginning readers to play a part in the read aloud! 

My favorite part of this book is that each scary item that follows the little old lady is accompanied by it's own sound. For example, when she encounters the first item in the woods, the text states: "The shoes went CLOMP, CLOMP." These items and their sounds build on one another and repeat throughout the story. The sequence of each item that follows her home is very clear and the repetition is a perfect way to practice sequencing with young students. 

There are a lot of ways you can use this book to help young students with sequencing. I love to teach using multi-modalities as much as possible and The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything allows me to do just that! Using movement, sound, and props will keep students engaged and help them remember the sequence of events. You can have students join in while you're reading the repetitive text or (and the little kiddos love this) you can come up with a movement to go along with each sound. 

There are a lot of ways you could use these companion activities! 

During reading, you can use the phrase cards and or picture cards to engage students. Laminate, glue on to craft sticks, and pass out to students to hold while you read the story aloud. When students hear their phrase or the name of their item, they can hold it up and repeat the phrase.                                                                                           After reading, you can use the phrase and picture cards as a matching activity by matching the picture to the correct phrase from the book. They can also be used to get the class up and moving to practice sequencing. Place your students into groups of six, give each student a picture card to hold, and have them work together to sequence the pictures. Extend the activity by having each student retell his or her part of the story. 

A differentiated printable activity is also included. One version includes traceable phrases from the story in order. The other is blank. Students can trace, cut and paste, or write the phrases on their own depending on their ability level. For both activities students cut, sequence, and paste the picture cards in the numbered boxes to retell the events in the story. 
If you like this freebie you may also enjoy these other Halloween activities: 
Trick or Treat Graphing $1 Deal
Descriptive Writing: Create a Monster $1 Deal
Halloween Literacy Centers

Did you catch my mystery word?  If not, it's clomp. Now it's time to hop to the next stop! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Happy Teaching!   
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Book Theme: Perspective

Sunday, September 6, 2015

September Theme of the Month: Perspective 

It is so important for our students to consider multiple perspectives, whether it is in reading or in their everyday lives. Oftentimes, children (especially younger children) do not realize that people have a perspective different from their own. Exposing them to this through books is important in helping them realize it applies to their everyday life as well.

Hey Little Ant, which is based on a song written by Phillip Hoose and his daughter Hannah, is a fabulous way to introduce perspective to students. This book is written in the perspective of the ant negotiating with the “kid” who is about to flatten him. The book is left open-ended, which allows for some wonderful discussion about what the “kid” should do, persuasion, and how each character feels.

Here’s a read aloud for Hey Little Ant:

Activities and Resources for Hey Little Ant:

Other books with the theme “perspective”:

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Book Theme: Back to School

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August Theme of the Month: Back to School

With school starting up again soon (how fast did the summer fly by?) I thought it would be a great time to focus on back to school books. Students and teachers are always nervous starting a new school year, but we need to embrace the new beginning and start fresh!

One of my favorite back to school books to read is Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. This little mouse reminds me SO much of myself as a child (and sometimes as an adult). I worry about EVERYTHING. It’s a great read aloud to remind students that everyone has worries, especially on the first day of school.

Wemberly Worried Book Trailer:

Activities and Resources for Wemberly Worried:

Other books for the first day of school:

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Favorite Back to School Book

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


My favorite book to read to students on the first day of school is A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. I love it so much that I featured it as my book of the month in May, and felt like I needed to revisit it for my favorite back to school book!

A Bad Case of Stripes is about a girl, Camilla Cream, who loves lima beans. She is afraid to admit it because no one else in her class likes them and she wants so badly to fit in. She is sent home from school when she begins to suffer some strange transformations, like turning red, white, and blue, and breaking out in stars during the Pledge of Allegiance. Being true to herself is the only cure.

I've used this book successfully with students in grades 2-5. The first day of school is a perfect time to read A Bad Case of Stripes because students are often feeling nervous about fitting in with their new classmates. This book shows students that being true to themselves is important.

If you plan on using this book, use my free bulletin board activity to accompany the read aloud! It includes 4 sets of mini posters (2 boy versions and 2 girl versions). After listening to the read aloud, students create their own "Bad Case of..." mini poster by decorating it with their favorite foods, activities, sports, books, etc. Students can share their mini-posters as a way to introduce themselves to the class. Collect each student's poster to make a quick and easy bulletin board for the beginning of the year!

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Unlocking the Levels of Comprehension

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Reading is an active process. In order to become proficient readers, students need to be able to not only decode the words they are reading, but also deeply understand what they are reading.

When upper elementary teachers share concerns about their most struggling readers with me, nine times out of ten, they're concerned with comprehension. Comprehension is such a HUGE umbrella! Used broadly, it's extremely difficult to pinpoint exactly where a student's comprehension breaks down, or to implement an effective intervention for them.

In an effort to break it down into more manageable chunks, think of comprehension in three levels: literal, inferential, and critical.

Literal Comprehension

Literal comprehension is understanding information that is directly stated in the text. Literal comprehension involves recalling information, sequencing events, summarizing, identifying the main idea and details, and categorizing.

Sample literal questions:
  • What are the key details from the story?
  • Who are the characters in the story?
  • What is the problem/solution?
  • What is the main idea of this section?

Inferential Comprehension

Inferential comprehension is understanding something that is not directly stated in the text. Students use evidence from the text along with their background knowledge to make inferences - reading between the lines. Inferential comprehension involves making predictions and connections, understanding figurative language, drawing conclusions, and synthesizing.

Sample inferential questions:
  • Based on what you know, what might happen next?
  • What is the message or lesson in this story?
  • What kind of person is the character? How did the author show what the character is like?
  • How did the character change from the beginning to the end of the book?

Critical Comprehension

Critical (evaluative) comprehension requires the reader to respond to the text based on their prior knowledge and their opinions. This is a high level of comprehension because the reader is evaluating the writing. Because opinions vary and everyone has their own background knowledge, answers to critical comprehension questions will vary. Critical comprehension involves analyzing, evaluating, and making judgments.

Sample critical questions:
  • What did the author do to make the book surprising?
  • Do you agree with the character's actions? Explain.
  • Is _____ (title) a good title for this book? Explain. 
  • How could the character have reacted differently to the problem?

Being able to determine where a student struggles within these three tiers can help teachers to focus their instruction and create a more effective intervention.

Last year, I began compiling all of the comprehension questions I would ask students before, during, and after reading. I categorized the questions into grade levels using the CCSS and broke them into the three tiers of comprehension. I use these question lists while working with each of my intervention groups.

Interested in using these comprehension questions? The sets can be used one-on-one, in small groups, or as a whole class. Use them to set reading goals, track student progress, and to help students dig deeper and propel them toward more difficult texts.

They are available for grades K-8. Each grade level set is $4 in my TpT store.

Happy Teaching!
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Book Theme: Patriotism

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July Theme of the Month: Patriotism

America: A Patriotic Primer by Lynn Cheney is a fabulous, quick read aloud for all elementary aged students. The younger students seem to enjoy the alphabet structure of the book, while older elementary students are engaged with the concepts about the history of America.

Activities and Resources for America: A Patriotic Primer

Patriotic Activities and Crafts:

Other books with the theme patriotism:
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