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Reading/Decoding Strategies {free!}

Sunday afternoon.  While the past 8 or so Sundays I really haven't even noticed that it was Sunday, I have a feeling that is all about to change.  This is my LAST Sunday to think that way, as I go back to work THIS Thursday {insert little sobs and sad faces}.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my summer, even if it did FLY by.  While I spent the first half preparing for the I Teach 1st conference and other professional development conferences, the last couple of weeks have been somewhat relaxing! 

With school coming very soon,  I, (like most of you!) have been up at school preparing my classroom and setting up everything making sure it is ready for all the new kindergartners that will be walking through the doors in two weeks.    Although setting up the classroom is important, I can't help but plan and think of the content and activities that will be coming to life in a few weeks!  One of these things.... READING! 

I know... I know.... Kindergartners do not start the year off reading (for the most part!).... BUT, if we don't hit the ground running pretty soon after DAY 1.... I'm losing precious time to turn these sweet babies into readers!

While many strategies, activities, and ideas are floating around classrooms everywhere, there is something about the famous animal decoding strategies that absolutely stick with young readers.  After presenting a few PD sessions on reading and literacy, I have found that MANY teachers are unaware of these precious little strategies.... so I decided to write this post so that we can dive a little deeper into these wonderful strategies for new readers!

These reading strategies are typically called "Decoding Reading Strategies" as they are used for helping our new and young readers into decoding unfamiliar words.  

Many teachers that I have spoke with over the past year during conferences had absolutely NO idea what these were or had ever heard of them.
I felt the need to share :)

Throughout my ten years of teaching, I have seen a HUGE variety of readers, from brand new, right on target, and advanced!  One thing many of these readers have in common is they often guess unfamiliar words, don't even try, and often give up while trying to read unfamiliar text. 

These decoding strategies offer a variety of ways to help our young readers determine what these words are.  

Let's break it down!

"Lips the Fish"

This is one of the first strategies that I introduce during small reading groups.  
I do NOT recommend throwing all of the strategies out at one time.  Just like any other content that we teach, we do it gradually and in small steps!
These strategies are no different :)

I usually focus on the strategy for a while, allowing students to really grasp just what the strategy is wanting them to do with the text.  After focusing on the strategy for a few group sessions, I will then introduce the next strategy.  

Along with Lips the Fish, I also introduce "Eagle Eye" as one of the first strategies.  

"Eagle Eye" is teaching students to look at the pictures for clues to help them read the unfamiliar word. I introduce this as one of the first decoding strategies as well, because often with our new readers, many of the books are very predictable with little text, usually allowing the pictures to match the text.  

Meet "Stretchy Snake". 

This is also a great strategy to introduce as one of the first strategies when students have mastered their letter sounds.  
Stretchy Snake will have students sounding out and stretching out the sounds within the word, then blending the sounds back together. 

"Chunky Monkey" is one of my favorites... and not because he is so darn cute!  

I love when students are reading an unfamiliar word and use this strategy.  Chunky Monkey allows for students to find familiar words within the unknown word to help them decode.  Students get so excited when I remind them to use "Chunky Monkey" and they find the familiar word!  

"Flippy the Dolphin" is geared for our readers who have mastered letter sounds and are a little more aware of the different sounds that vowels can make, as opposed to just the short vowel sounds.  

Flippy has students flipping the vowel sound to see if it makes the word make sense.  

I like to eat "cake".   (Say the word cake with a short /a/ sound and a long /a/ sound).  Which vowel sound makes sense?  

Often our students will see a vowel and read the short vowel sound first, unless they have a comfortable understanding of vowel patterns.  

"Trying Lion" ....sometimes seen as "Tryin' Lion"
reminds our students to keep trying.  
Often our students will say "I don't know" and they give up.  This strategy tells our students to keep trying and try to find a word that makes sense, without giving up or asking for help. 

Last, but certainly not least, 

"Skippy Frog"

Sometimes our students will sit on a word for far too long, leading to frustration!  
Skippy Frog will allow our students to "skip" over the word and continue reading the remaining text in the sentence.  After students finish reading the sentence, they can determine if other words from the sentence or text gave clues to figuring out the unknown word.  If not, I will often assist my students and then they can re-read the sentence using the correct word.

I use these strategies daily in my small reading groups and really encourage my students to learn the picture/name and strategy to help them become successful independent readers.

Do you send home reading book bags or book folders with your students?  

I send home books with my students (the same books that we focus on in small groups), which gives them the opportunity to share and practice their skills with family at home!

Included in these folders, parents will find these same strategies in a bookmark form!

Often as teachers, we practice and preach in the classroom, but fail to give our parents the same information, leading to confusion at home when parents are working with their children. 

These bookmarks allow for parents to also be aware of the reading strategies that we practice in the classroom, giving a consistent pattern and routine for my students.

While I have the posters on the wall (as they are introduced!), I also print the same strategies and place them on Popsicle sticks, putting them into a bucket!  This is great to use during small groups!

So... if you are NOT using these decoding strategies (which are proven through research to aide in reading with new readers!), I highly suggest you look into them for your students!

This is the set that I will be using this year.... and they are FREE :)

Feel free to use the posters, bookmarks, strategy sticks, or pick your favorites!

Just click on the picture below :)

Just remember...

DO NOT introduce all of the strategies at the same time.  It's overwhelming, and you will probably find that your students will struggle with remembering them while reading!

DO introduce them 1-2 at a time and really allowing time for your students to focus on them while using them with text.

It really helps when students are reading and come to an unknown word and I can simply say "Eagle Eye" and students will understand the strategy, implement the strategy, and successful read the word!

Just give it time.... you will see a difference!

Happy Teaching :)

Meaningful Morning Work

I've been browsing Social Media and I've seen SO many beautiful classrooms, teachers prepping for the back-to-school craziness, and some even already with their students back in school!

It's that time....  Time for the sweet smell of brand new crayons, students showing off their new backpacks and meeting new friends, freshly sharpened pencils, and the big smiles on our new student's faces.

We as teachers plan and prep most of the summer, getting our classrooms ready to meet and greet the faces for the new year, planning the first day lessons, and making sure our students will have the best welcome into the new year.

After that... things get kinda fuzzy.  Some teachers are already planning well into the school year, but for most teachers, we take the first week on with a vengeance, and then proceed with caution the rest of the school year when it comes to planning and prepping.

When I begin to plan my weeks, I begin with the first part of my day.... morning work.  This year, students will have a ten minute window in the classroom from first bell to tardy bell.  I *REALLY* want to make the most of every single minute with my kinder babies.... and Morning work should be NO different!

So often I'm still running around in the mornings, preparing activities for the day, grabbing me a snack and drink, fighting traffic to get there on time, getting my OWN child ready for class, talking to a parent, and whatever else gets thrown our way in the morning! I'll be the first to admit that my students are often left sitting at their tables for morning work and I'm saying.... "Share your favorite thing from yesterday" while I run around to finish preparing   #guilty

I can also add to that guilty statement... that I will run some copies of busy work.... and they will usually find themselves in the trashcan at a later time.   Please tell me I'm not alone with this morning work pattern.....

Well that is about to change in my classroom!

Morning work doesn't have to be boring and filled with fluff to pass the time!  It's time to make the most of our mornings!

I started creating a few activities that I wanted my students to be using the first few weeks of school and realized I had a created a complete packet!  

This will be a project that will be growing throughout the year! 

Introducing "Meaningful Morning Work ~ Volume 1 {Back to School}

I wanted to show you some of the activities that you will find in this pack that are perfect for kindergarten and first graders!

Simply place these sheets into a dry-erase pocket or laminate!  Give students a dry erase marker and they are on their way!

The Alphabet boxes ~ All you need in magnetic letters!  Students will fin the opposite letter (capital/lowercase)  Multiple versions are included for a variety that your students can rotate through.

A variety of name activities are included as well! 

This activity dives deep into student names.... fun and engaging!

A variety of beginning sound activities are also included!  

Lots of Number activities are included in Volume 1 as well.  I have a variety of levels that are included, starting with tracing numbers, sequencing numbers, building numbers, comparing, and more!

We can't forget about Fine Motor fun!  So many of our students still struggle with fine motor development.... which is why I will be including fine motor skills throughout each Volume!

This month is all about basic tracing!   A variety of fine motor pages are included!

I also included puzzles for students this month for sight words and math!

This "Meaningful Morning Work" pack has over 70 pages of math, literacy, fine motor, and name activities perfect for Back to School!

A few tips and tricks:

~ Copy onto bright colored paper (I use Astrobrights!) for an extra pop or color!

~ You can laminate the pages or place into dry erase sleeves!  

~ You will need: alphabet letters (capital and lowercase), dry erase markers, and that is it!

I have the Back to School packet posted (ON SALE!) 


If you would like to buy the Growing Bundle, you will receive the remaining packs as they are uploaded!

You can check them out below:

So.... it's time to get rid of the fluff in our mornings!  Make the most of our mornings... even if you only have 5 minutes!  Set the tone for the day when students first enter the classroom!  

Happy Teaching!

HUGE Back to School SALE!

Well.... look how that calendar just switched over to August.... just like that!  I'm pretty sure July just swept through in record speed, BUT to make the transition a little easier for all of us.... Teachers Pay Teachers is having their HUGE Back to School SALE today and tomorrow!  {EEEK!!!}

My entire Teachers Pay Teachers store is 20% off through the sale AND... I've extended it until Wednesday!  Although the extra 8% won't be available on Wednesday.... you can still grab some goodies on sale in my store if you miss the sale on Monday and Tuesday!

Take a look at just SOME of what is on sale :)

Happy Shopping!!!!   (I know my cart is FULL!)

Vegas Recap (Part 1)

Happy Monday friends!

After talking with A LOT of teachers last week (more on than to come!).... some of you are already back in school THIS week!  WHAT?!

For those of us soaking up the lasts few days/weeks of summer.... I hope you have enjoyed your summer thus far and make the most of what is left.

Last week was definitely the highlight of MY summer!  I'll give you a hint.... 6,000 enthusiastic teachers in one location (Las Vegas!).... some fabulous presenters, some amazing program and event planners with SDE.... and ME!

You guessed it.... the National I Teach conferences with SDE.  Specifically, the I Teach 1st Conference, as this is where I was presenting for two days!

Usually when I present at the state conferences throughout the year, I travel alone, take time off from work, and then return and get right back in the hustle of things!  This year though, I brought the hubby along.... since I would be gone for 5 days!

We arrived on Sunday and settled in.... walking the strip and adoring the sights.  OH.... and the AMAZING food.  Gosh dang.... I could live there for the food!

And ..... yes.... we gambled (a tiny bit!)

One great thing about these conferences is not only the wonderful teachers who attend, but I get to see some blogging and social media buddies that I don't get to see too often!

And you know what happens when teachers get together.... we talk talk talk chat talk talk LAUGH talk and chat some more!  SO while I met some AMAZING people last week.... I didn't get my picture with everyone because of all the chatting, talking, and laughing!!   :(

After settling in... it was time to get to work!  This was my room for the week .... 

Now.... onto the GOOD stuff :)

As promised in my sessions, I told everyone that attended that I would be on the blog soon to recap the sessions!  

Today - - - - - > It's all about Literacy and Sight Words,

More specifically, the sessions,
"Readers Under Construction"
"At First Sight" - sight words

Readers Under Construction 

This session was all about building our students into successful readers using shared and guided reading, along with comprehension, decoding, vocabulary, and fluency activities in the mix!

A combination of shared and guided reading should be included daily into your classroom to create successful readers in the primary grades.  This is the ultimate goal in K-3 classrooms!  If you are not doing shared or guided reading, I highly recommend looking into it and seeing if it can be implemented into your classroom schedule!

As we build our students into readers, we should also be including a variety of activities that focus on comprehension, decoding, vocabulary, and fluency.  

Throughout this session, I highlighted a variety of activities for each of these reading components and compiled most of them into a complete packet!

Here is a quick look at what is included!

These comprehension sticks are perfect to use whole group or small group after reading a selected text.  The teacher can choose or students can choose and it makes fun interactive way to focus on comprehension!

These Comprehension Necklaces are a favorite!  These can be used in small groups or whole group!  Divide your students into groups of 5, giving a necklace to each student.  The students are responsible for retelling the part of the story that matches the necklace they wear!  This is a fun and interactive way to get all students involved for comprehension!

I use these comprehension cards in my small groups every.single.day!   I color coded mine into red, yellow, and green, as in a stoplight!

Red  - we are stopped.  We haven't moved forward with the text... we don't know what lies ahead!

Yellow - We are SLOWLY and cautiously moving through the text, gathering information and answering questions.

Green - We are moving quickly now.  We have completed the text, we are answering questions and re-visiting the text if needed.

The following pictures will give a much more detailed look at what is included in the completed "Readers Under Construction" packet.

I have just put the bundle in my TpT store AND it's on sale!!  You can find it by clicking HERE or the picture below :)

Now.... onto Sight Words!

I shared quite a bit of activities (like 35-40) sight word activities as well as tracking options to help measure our student's success!   I think by far the favorite... were the sight word songs!  Well... you aren't alone!  My students LOVE to sing our sight word songs :)

Did you know that when you put content to music, the brain has a 90% higher chance at retaining that information?!  IT'S TRUE!  Imagine what putting our content in the classroom to music can do for our students?!  

Many of you asked for a copy of the songs.... AND they are available for YOU!!!   

I have two separate packs that offer the sight word songs....

This pack includes the songs for the first 100 Fry words, however it also included multiple activities for each word as well, totaling over 1,000 pages in this bundle!

This bundle includes letters to build the words, no prep printables, student booklet, songs, and more!

IF you JUST want the sight word SONGS.... then the pack below is for you :)

I included color and b/w versions, just in case you want your students to create their own song book for a keepsake!

I also have the Interactive Sight Word pages available for the first 100 sight words, which make great morning work activities, centers, word word, fast finishers, and more!

The packs below are all in my TpT store :)

This pack is all about your word wall that includes your own specific sight words for your classroom!  This pack includes the mystery word activity as well as 19 other activities for your word wall and sight words!

This pack includes an interactive template for the first 100 Fry words, allowing students to write the word, trace the word, write a sentence, and build the word!

I really just want to say a BIG Thank you to EACH and EVERY teacher who attended a session of mine last week!  You were so engaged, enthusiastic, and I had a blast with each and every session!

Please feel free to email if you have any questions from the past week or a session!  I'll be more than happy to help :)

Stay tuned for Vegas Recap (Part 2) which will be ALL about Science and Social Studies :)

Until then, you can find the activities above in my TpT store and by clicking on the highlighted links throughout the post!

Happy Teaching!!!

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