Posts made in June, 2013

Flash Freebies

Posted by on Jun 16, 2013 in Uncategorized | 6 comments

Flash Freebie SundaysI just wanted to let you know that I will have fabulous flash freebies available most Sundays on my Facebook page throughout the day. These freebies are usually my newest products. I put them up for free for 15 – 30 minutes in return for your fair rating on them at TpT.

There will be at least 4 opportunities today, sometime between 9 and 11 am, 1 – 3, 5 – 7, and 8 – 10 pm. These times are CDT.Please stop by and check them out!


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Discover, Decode, DISSECT, Develop, Discuss, Define

Posted by on Jun 14, 2013 in Freebies | 0 comments

Discover, Decode, DISSECT, Develop, Discuss, Define

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
― Stephen King

I love dissecting words! I love sharing Greek and Latin roots with my third grade students. They like to know that “manuscript” literally means “hand writing”.

Word Detective

Children need to look at words, known and unknown, to determine what it is they know about them. Dissecting words, to me, is going beyond decoding. I not just looking at the letter clue, the context clues, and the visual clues to decide what the word might say. I am looking at the word to think about what it IS saying.

Compound words are so fun. The two parts are supposed to make meaning together. A “bluebird” is indeed a bird that is blue and a “mailbox” is a box for mail. But we need to let kids recognize that “breakfast” is the time when we break our fast from the night before. They may need to learn a new meaning for fast, and that’s a good thing. “Necklaces” started out as lace for necks.

I like to think that “island” is a compound word that came about when sailor thought they saw land, but they weren’t sure, then they thought maybe it was, and then finally somebody shouted , “It is land!” It makes a good story to help the kids remember how to spell it anyway.

Some fun words are what I call “fake compound words”. For example, carpet is NOT a pet to keep in your car and while you will have to pay for each person to enter the amusement park, you are not being asked to pay per son.

Kids can dissect a word by covering part of it with a finger and thinking about the rest.

Look for prefixes. We learned un-, dis, re-, in-, mis, for a reason. And the reason is to use what they mean to help explain the word. I love the the word “mistake” actually means to take wrongly and the word “display” means not play.

So many suffixes and inflectional endings to give us more meaning for our words! -less, -ful, able, -ness, -ment, and could we, would we pay attention to -tion and let it help us with our spelling?

Maybe you already know that “triangle” means three angles. And, maybe, it won’t surprise you to know that quadrilateral literally means 4 sides. But I tell you, I was so excited when I was reading a list of suffixes recently and discovered -gon also means angle! So polygon is literally Greek for many angles! So then we have pentagon, hexagon, octagon, decagon, oh and my favorite dodecagon!

This word play can be fun for your kids! You just have to be excited by words.


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Discover, DECODE, Dissect, Develop, Discuss, Define

Posted by on Jun 13, 2013 in Freebies | 2 comments

Discover, DECODE, Dissect, Develop, Discuss, Define

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.

John Locke

Decoding for third graders and beyond should be reaching automaticity. According to Wikipedia, automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice. Yes, some third graders have some more learning of phonics rules and vowel sounds to master and obviously they need more repetition and practice, but, certainly some time should be spent celebrating the success they’ve had!

In my 35 years of teaching, I’ve had only a few reluctant readers remain so throughout the course of the year. Their reluctance usually comes from a lack of belief in their abilities to conquer the written word. While I can bring all readers to a love of books when they are read aloud and savored, I have a harder time bringing the desire to work at skills needed for decoding to make all of my students independent readers.

Children need to be shown patterns in our language. Then they need to be shown how to apply the patterns to their decoding efforts. Word Study Notebooks are one strategy that can help. For the student, the notebook is used to record word study activities and develop and apply word study concepts. To implement word study effectively, teachers and students alike must become word detectives, engaged in an ongoing attempt to make sense of word patterns and their relationships to one another. Spelling “rules” are not dictated by the teacher for students to memorize. Rather, spelling patterns and generalizations are discovered by students.

Ideas for Word Study Notebooks:

  1. Word Sorts – Example/Non-examples of a given sound, rule, parts of speech
  2. Flipbooks for prefixes and suffixes
  3. Foldables for syllables
  4. Headers to collect word types such as compound words, contractions, homophones, etc.
  5. Making Words – given a set of letters, create 3, 4, 5, even six letter words – glue the letters at the top of the page to make a word
  6. Word Jail for words that break the rules

Rhymes with Blue, Spellings for "oo"

Rhymes with Blue, Spellings for “oo”

Words Inside Words

Words Inside Words

Here are some fun activities to help with decoding.

I also sell headers at my TpT store:

Headers for Word Study Notebooks

A poster is also included for each type of word. I don’t know why I don’t include that!!


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DISCOVER, Decode, Dissect, Develop, Discuss, Define

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Freebies | 0 comments

DISCOVER, Decode, Dissect, Develop, Discuss, Define

For me, reading has always been not only a quest for pleasure and enlightenment but also a word-hunting expedition, a lexical safari.
― Charles Harrington Elster

Welcome to my newly redesigned blog! There will be more about the penguins another day… but for now I’d like to talk about the words at the top. I will highlight one each day.

I think the quote by Charles Harrington Elster is the perfect place to start. If students were to see reading as a word-hunting expedition, a safari searching out unknown words, what fun they could have! Mr. Elster also said, “To enjoy and learn from what you read you must understand the meanings of the words a writer uses. You do yourself a grave disservice if you read around words you don’t know, or worse, merely guess at what they mean without bothering to look them up.” This year one of my struggling third graders read around words every day, despite my constant attempts to help her learn to decode and develop them. Her first line of defense when presented with a new word was a mumble. If I did not catch her, that was also her last effort on the word.

I want to always encourage my students to discover new words. We had a dictionary section in our Word Study journal for new words, but we didn’t make use of it. I think my students are aware of my love of language, but I need to  actually work to know that this is the case.

I share riddles and jokes about language with them: “Icy” is my favorite word, do you know why? I see why! And when is a door not a door, when it’s ajar! I need to make this more of an event. I need to pull them in to find the delight with me.

But beyond jokes and riddles, there are special words in our language. Words that remind us of special people and places, words that exactly describe something the way we would’ve described it, words that create the perfect pictures in our heads. I need to be sure my students can delight in language!

Here is a quick idea for a word safari. I am sure I will have more ideas for this throughout the summer.


Word Safari

Next time I will talk about decoding.

Do you have any special words to share?


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Fishy Fish

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Uncategorized | 3 comments

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

Henry David Thoreau

Fishy Fish Here is a fun freebie!

A Very Fun Freebie

Here is a fun end of the year activity. I provide a list of names of actual fish. Fish have the most awesome names! The kids then draw a literal picture of what the fish should look like. A dogfish, a pinecone fish, a knife fish, a jellynose fish, etc. The kids love deciding which fish to draw. The next step is to write a sentence describing how they think the fish got its name. Then the students look up the fish on the internet. They draw what the fish actually looks like. They try to find out how it actually got its name, but if they can’t find that information, they just share a fact they discovered about the fish.

Here is my list of fish:

Fishy Fish

Here’s where the kids can do their work:

Fishy Fish Workspace

My students have asked do this again and again in their free time!


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