Teaching Comprehension

There are many ways to support comprehension in listening and reading. These skills compliment and strengthen each other. Comprehension is something that actively needs to be taught. Children do not develop it all on their own without assistance and guidance.

Introduce your students to rhymes on a regular basis as this repeated exposure will help them discover rhyming words. Repeatedly reading and retelling rhymes to each other helps children develop their memory retention and active listening skills. Who doesn't like a kid who can listen and remember what you say?! Not only that, it also helps children with their comprehension abilities when they are reading and what they hear others say.

A fun way to help your child with comprehension is to teach them one joke per week that they can share with family and friends. Retelling the joke will have the same benefits as rhymes as it forces your student to use their recall memory!

Reading {Questions and Prompts}
Before Reading
Do a picture walk first. Ask what they predict is happening in the story and what they wonder about when they look at the pictures. What does it remind them of?

During Reading
Help them make connections to the text. Whether it is to their own lives, another book or the world around them. For example,
Text to Self - "I have a dog that looks like this dog. She does tricks like sitting for treats."
Text to Text - "The boy in the story reminds me of the kids in the book we read last week. They both love to go to the beach and build sand castles!"
Text to World - "This is a cool cat. Did you know that a lion is also a cat? Just a much bigger cat. I think they are one of the biggest cat in the world! Did you know that a tiger is a cat too?"

This story reminds me of...
This story is funny because... (change the adjective up)
This story is just like __ because...
Do you remember the time...

After Reading
Get your students to retell the story in their own words. Exposing them to the words first, then, next, after that and finally. Eventually, try to get them to use these words in their retell. Discuss with them what they liked and what did they not like in the story. Add a twist, if they were the author, how would they change the story!


Daily Activities to Support Your Child in Literacy

This list will help you to support your child in reading, writing and their oral communication when they are young. Pick one or two activities a day and let them become a "natural" part of your day. You will find that you will eventually remember to do these "on the fly" with your child and you will be shocked at how much they will learn!

  • Do alphabet puzzles together with your child.
  • Become a detective in your home. Look for multiple items around the house, that are meaningful to your child like when they are learning their name or that begin with the initial sound you are supporting your child in learning.
  • Discuss with your child how their day was at school. Ask what centres they went to, who they played with and what story they read.
  • Review the sounds of the alphabet that they have learned at school. Look for items around your home that begin with that sound.
  • Practice sight word vocabulary games like Memory, Lotto, BINGO, ZAP! or BANG!
  • Read signs and other environmental print around your neighbourhood. When your child recognizes a STOP sign or the Tim Hortons sign they are reading!.
  • Read to your child and listen to your child read.

  • Provide opportunities to count using food, toys, furniture, friends etc.
  • Talk with your child. Ask for their opinions,.respond to their questions. Promote retelling of events and stories of what you do throughout the day or at the end of the day as a reflection of the good things that they remember.
  • Go on a word hunt. Pick a word and look for it all over the house. Check out books, magazines, cereal boxes, etc.
  • Newspaper Word Hunt: Look for some words in the newspaper and circle them with a marker once you've found them!
  • Eat your words! Use alphabet cereal or pretzels and make popcorn words. Once you have made them, read them, and then you can eat them!
  • Use pudding or shaving cream to practise writing their name, letters, and popcorn words.
  • Use markers, glue and sparkles, and paints to practise their name, letters, and popcorn words.
  • Put the letter of the week or high frequency words (whichever level your child is at) on the fridge and throughout the day have your child tell you what letter/word it is or what sound it makes. For instance, as you go to get a drink ask your child, "What letter is this?" Have them practise this on a regular basis so they realize that letters, sounds and words are all around them!
  • Go on a letter hunt in old magazines and flyers and have your child look for pictures or words that begin with the letter they are learning. Cut the pictures and words out and make a collage!

In my kindergarten classroom we use a wide variety of fun activities to learn sight words. Click here to read my blog post about how we "Cheer for Sight Words" in our class which includes a link to a freebie to help you play a fun active game to help learn sight words in an engaging, kinesthetic way!

We also use fun, interactive games like Bingo in our class. We start the year playing the game in small groups to teach independence. Once the children have mastered the rules of the game and can play cooperatively together, we can provide a variety of different Bingo games with a variety of different topics for students to play independently.

These are some of our favourite Bingo Games to play in Kindergarten. I personally scrounged garage sales when my kids were little as I was not willing to pay the $14 dollars for the Scholars Choice version of Bingo. If you are interested in a pre-made set of Bingo click on the images below. I also have available three other sets for grades 1, 2 and 3 for you to check out in my Reading section of TpT store if you follow the link.


Staycation Fun

This year I have been enjoying giving my own children a glimpse into my childhood on daily trips to a local lake and "enjoying" the progress of actively working on transforming my backyard into my dream backyard with my family.

Water Fun! My Favorite memories as a child.
About 17 years ago my dad was diagnosed with several heart conditions. Between not being able to lift over 20lbs for several years and us not being able to financially help we could not help repair our family boat. This year we inherited it from my parents as they are downsizing and my husband spent the spring fixing the boat. I am so happy that my kids are able to develop a new love and appreciation for water sports!

 This is me on the tube. First time in 17 years!

Watching the family enjoy tubing!

It took several trips to get used to the waves but my dog now officially loves coming boating!

Sunsets on the water!

Backyard Transformation
In the spring we decided to remove our pond. It was in our backyard, beautiful and working when we bought the house but we have realized that it doesn't suit our families lifestyle. Having a dog motivated me to want to change up the background asap in order to have some grass to prevent the mud from coming into the house!

 This was the first job we tackled. I dug out this corner section of my garden and transplanted my plants into! In the photo below you can see how long it became. The gardens are over 6 feet deep!

We kept the rocks from the pond and repurposed them. The large ones are interspersed between the plants in the back garden. The small ones in the pile here (seen in the photos) will eventually become a border separating the garden from the grass. The buckets, hidden under the tarp, are filled with stones from the pond which will help to form the rock base of the future fire pit.

This photo can sort of give you a glimpse into how large our pond was (and some water equipment drying out from a boating excursion). It was surrounded by wide gardens. We moved these plants into our back garden.

In the photo above you can see our stacks of grass that we replanted under our tree. Since  replanting the grass we now have grass under our tree for the first time ever!

We will eventually have a fire pit in this hole. Surrounded by stone work that used to be the waterfall in the pond that we removed this spring (which is now the dirt behind the circle) and we will have some sort of deck or patio against the house (to be determined still)!

I will eventually post more photos as the project continues.

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into our staycation! What are you doing for your summer vacation?


Play Based Literacy

If you were to be a fly on the wall in my classroom you would notice our literacy centers are unique in my school to the other classes. It is not that my program is better. It is just different.  Our class is a play based classroom and as such, I like to incorporate play in our literacy block by tying in our shared reading poem into the various provocations that are available for the children to choose. These are some of the various ways I incorporate play and literacy!

Roll a Word

Roll a word is a fun interactive way which targets multiple curriculum expectations. For each poem I have a roll a word center. Six simple words from the poem are included and are associated with a specific number. When they roll a number, students then write the corresponding word. I try to differentiate this activity by providing multiple options for the game. 

Game Options
Play until you have rolled each number. Count how many rolls it took!
Which word will have five first? Or a lesser number as an adaptation for young learners.
Which word will be filled to the top first?
Fill the chart! *This, strangely enough, is the class favorite!*

I love this game for many reasons but love the academic skills it reinforces. Students are practicing subitizing skills (automatically recognizing a number without thinking about it), number sense (using the numbers 1-6 in a dot formation) as well as printing skills when they write the corresponding word.

Word Towers

Making a word tower out of the sight words we use is another fun way to incorporate writing! It is differentiated in that I provide multiple cups with the sight words from the poem which allows the children to build different heights and complexities of towers.

Each cup has a word and the associated image on it which is really important for the non-readers in my classroom in order to support their learning by providing meaning to what they write. Even when they cannot "read" their friends think they can and they feel very proud! Some children even will draw the images of the clip art beside the word, just like is on the cup!

Bean Bag Toss

It is amazing to see the pure pleasure that a simple game of bean bag toss will bring to a class! Allowing a "safe" location for kids to throw things in a classroom is an all time "win" with children and allows for kinesthetic learning. You should try it out sometime. It is a great hook for literacy, especially for the boys in your class!

There are many skills needed to play:
* developing organizational skills as I let them set up the game as you can see in the image above
* gross motor skills by aiming and trying to land the bean bag onto a word
* fine motor skills as they write the associated word down to track which words they have landed on
* interpersonal and social skills as they negotiate turn taking and sharing the bean bags

Tip: These sheets could easily be laminated for reuse purposes but I just put them in sheet protectors and switch them out each week as our poem changes.

Write the Room

I always like to incorporate a write the room activity as a writing provocation. Sometimes I hide the words. Sometimes I let the kids hide the words. As with all the other activities, I always ensure that every word has an image beside it for our non-readers. Kids love to find things and feel very proud when they are successful at it! Usually when we are putting away this activity I'll have to ask the class for an "expert" in the class to find a missing word. They love this ownership and responsibility!

Original Poetry

Interested in some original play based activities?
The poem used in this example is actually a freebie in my TpT store! It doesn't include all of the activities I use but will give you a 'snapshot' into what it feels like and it is a sampling of the bigger products below. Click on the link or the image below to download it for free.

Each of the following include 4 original poems and identical play based activities.

In these there are multiple versions of the same poem to accommodate for ELL, young readers and higher levelled readers (varying degrees of pictorial prompts).

What is included for all poems:
Poem * 3 (plain, fill in the blank and a version for ELL and young learners with picture support)
Read, Trace, Write Draw 
Word Hung
Cup Tower Building {worksheets & printables}
Write the Room
Word Wall Words {also for write the room activities}
Roll a Word Graphing
Bean Bag Toss {worksheets & printables}


Redeeming Credits on TpT

It is never too late to leave feedback and earn credit within Teachers Pay Teachers. Check it out! I am always surprised to hear that most teachers do not know about this amazing feature on TpT! This is how TpT explains it:

"How it Works
Earn TpT Credits for purchases on TpT. You get one TpT Credit for every $ you spend on TpT. Thing is, you only get the Credits after you Provide Feedback -- both a fair rating and a fair comment -- on the items that you purchase. We will round up for you, too! If you provide fair feedback on a $4.75 item, you will earn 5 credits. Every 100 Credits is worth $5 that you can apply towards future TpT purchases, but there is no need to wait until you have 100 to redeem them. 50 credits is worth $2.50, for example.
The program is retroactive to feedback provided on purchases since August 1, 2011.
How to Redeem TpT Credits
You can keep track of how many credits you have accrued here or on the top of the site after login. When you check out, you will be given the option of applying your TpT Credits to your purchase, thereby discounting your purchase price accordingly."

I loved originally learning about this as I was able to buy a few products for free immediately! Now I try to rate my products immediately after I purchase them to make sure I don't have to go back and rate them in the future to earn the credits! 

Happy rating!


Start a Walking School Bus in Your Community!

Walking school buses have many benefits to both yourself, your family and your community!

They are organized to help improve safety in your neighborhood. There is safety in numbers!
They encourage a healthy lifestyle by making it normal to walk to school everyday.
They help to develop community relationships amongst neighbors who work together to ensure everyones safety.
As an "extra" bonus, they reduce parking issues at school as it is a serious safety hazard when there are a lot of cars parked near schools due to parents dropping off or picking up their children.

How does it work?

The walking school bus concept is simply the organization of adults who take turns walking to school with a group of children of all ages who live in the same area. This helps parents know that their child is safe, ensures that the children are getting to school and home at the end of the day, while only having to personally walk their child once or twice a week (depending upon how large your group is). This decreased time commitment allows parents to get to work on time with less stress or can just free up your morning to get those extra daily task that are always needing to get done. 

How do I start one?

1st: Find some families who live in your area who would appreciate this type of a community building opportunity.
2nd: Agree upon a time and location to meet in order to walk to school together.
3rd: Figure out which day works best for each parent or older responsible siblings to take responsibility for the group walking to school.
4th: Meet together at the predetermined location and say "good-bye" to your child knowing that they will be safe walking to school when it's not your turn to walk the group.

Consider visiting www.walkingschoolbus.org for more information.

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