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6 Easy Test Taking Skills You THINK Your Students Know

When it comes to test taking, there are so many skills that our students need to master in order to do well and show their true abilities. So many times, I've found that many of the simple things that we expect our students to know are not instinctively done by our students. 

Below are a few test taking skills that I believe you should be spending time teaching to your students between now and the time that you begin testing. 

Previewing Questions

When your students are taking a test, they NEED a purpose. When we are reading a novel at home or as a read aloud, it's ok to just read and have fun. Unfortunately, that isn't the world that we live in when it comes to testing.

Where do your students find their purpose? They find it by previewing the questions! They need to know if they are look for the main idea, making an inference about how a character feels, or searching for a "right there" answer. Without previewing the questions, they don't know what to look for as they read.

So, why do we need to teach this explicitly? Honestly, our students are lazy. They want to dive in and get it done. They don't want to spend an extra time reading. They want to start reading and answer the questions afterward. Show them WHY they need to preview the question.

Highlighting the Text

I once worked with a classroom teacher that required all students to highlight in every passage that they read. The problem? The kids didn't know what to highlight. Some students didn't highlight much at all. Other students had more highlighted space than white space left on the page. Students NEED teachers to show them what to highlight.

When your students preview the questions, they also know what to highlight. If the question asks which word describes a character, your students should know they need to have their highlighter radar on when they see a sentence or a phrase that tells how what the character reacts, responds, or demonstrates a character trait.

Restating the Question

I am able to be see so many classrooms and help so many kids. One thing I've noticed--every teacher tells their students to restate the question. But, do you know what else I've noticed? Some groups of students hear it and have no clue what to do. Others know exactly what to do and are able to restate the question, even if only minimally, better than others. In my opinion, students need to be taught this explicitly. They need to know that this is the expectation and WHY this is important. I always tell my students that restating the question helps them sound smarter, but most importantly, helps them know that they are actually answering the question. 

I have a PowerPoint, booklet, and example passages to help explicitly teach your students to restate the question. You can find them in my Restate the Question packet on TpT. Once we use the booklet to understand what it means to restate the question, we practice by cutting up the words and rearranging them to help us restate the question, as shown in the picture above. I have a blog post with the details on this activity that I do in my small groups, if you would like to read more about it as well.

Finding the Supporting Evidence

Some students are really good at answering a question, but that doesn't always mean that they are ready to support their answer with evidence from the text. Again, this is something that we tell our students, but they don't always know how to actually do it.

I like to have my students begin by answering a question that has more than one right answer. Students can support each side of the answer with various pieces of evidence. It's a great way to explicitly teach and prepare students for transitioning to finding the evidence on their own. If this looks like something that your students need to practice, you can find it in my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Managing Time

Some kids speed through the test. Other kids need you to nudge them every five minutes to make sure they are alive. This is truly a skill that many students need to be taught in order to understand how their needs.

There are many aspects to this, depending on if you are focusing on reading or writing. For example, students need to understand that if a test is thirty minutes and they have three passages to read, they only have ten minutes per passage. In writing, students need to realize that if they have fifty minutes to write their response, they can't spend thirty minutes of that planning. Instead, they must be reminded that they should spend approximately five minutes planning, 35-40 minutes writing, and 5-10 minutes editing. Of course, each student is unique in their needs, but discussing this with your students as you practice for upcoming testing is critical.

Planning for Writing

Just like the highlighting example above, I feel like students approach the planning page in one of four ways. They either (a) have no clue what to write, (b) write WAYYYY to much, (c) write something down without a system of organization or reason, or (d) write nothing because most testing scripts say that the planning page isn't graded.

Your students need you to help them know what to write during their planning time and WHY planning is so important. Planning is needed for even the best writers. In what order will you write your paragraphs? What are you going to say in your introduction, after all your introduction should tease what is to come in later paragraphs. Without planning ahead of time, how can you make these decisions about your writing.

I love to use graphic organizers to teach students to plan properly. Since the planning page is often 90% blank, I teach my students to quickly draw the graphic organizer that would be most beneficial to them. They can do that with a few seconds and have a good way to organize their thoughts.


8 Fun Ways to Practice Sight Words Every Day

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}
If you are teaching a primary grade or special education, I believe that sight word routines should be included in your daily routines. Some of our students, especially students with disabilities, need repeated exposure to allow them to master recognizing sight words quickly. Below, you will find six ways that I practice sight words with my students every day! 

Daily Oral Practice

I strongly believe that this one routine is the number one reason that my students have made progress with sight words this year. One of my daily routines in SO many of my groups includes orally reading words from flashcards together. We say the word, spell the word, and say it again. We spend 2-4 minutes of our group time each day with this quick activity. Most of the time we read ALL sight words, but other days, we only have time for a few. 

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Bingo

After reading the words orally, I use the flash cards to play Sight Word Bingo. It is a fun and simple way to allow your students to see and hear the words repeatedly. They hear me say and spell the word again as they search their own Bingo board for the same word. It is a great way to practice visually matching words and noticing differences between words. 

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Roll & Read

My students really love playing Roll & Read! To be honest, they love anything with dice. It is simple. They roll the dice and read the line next to that number. We repeat this for 3-5 minutes in our small groups. 

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Race

Ahhhh! Sight Word Races are so much fun! I have my students play in groups of 2-3. They roll one dice and move that many spaces on the board as they race to the end. I have them read the words after they move their monster. 

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Connect Four

Each player chooses a side on the board and they must race to connect four words together in a straight or diagonal line. To be honest, my kids just like using the spinner! It's hard to see in this picture, but there is a clear plastic piece with a spinner attached that my students use to spin a word. It is simple and something that my students look forward to doing. You can find them on Amazon here!

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Bump!

Bump is an exciting game that gives everyone a fair shot at winning. You can be in the lead and then BUMP! You suddenly find yourself in last place. Students roll the customized dice and use their colored marker to cover the word. If your partner rolls the same word, they can BUMP you off. But, if you roll the same word two times, you can double up your markers and make it impossible to be bumped of off that particular word. It's total luck and a whole lot of fun!

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

M&M Words

I found these M&M containers at a gas station and had to make them into a center. Using a circle cutter, I made 1 inch circles to use for M&Ms. I hand wrote words that I knew some of my first and second graders were really struggling to master. I needed a fun way to get them reading those words on a regular basis. 

For directions and this editable printable, be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter. It's such a fun and simple activity!

Teaching primary grades or special education means sight words should be part of your daily review. Students required repeated exposure to allow mastery of recognition. Whether you utilize these 6 fun ways as a whole class, centers, or small groups, they are sure to create a more exciting way of practice for your kids. This blog post shows a few quick, simple games and ideas to to help reinforce your students recognition of sight words. {lower elementary, special education, centers}

Sight Word Folders

I have four things that I do with my students each day with their Sight Word Folders. First, I begin by checking in with each student to see what words they remember from the previous day. If you're interested, I have a video of this routine for you to see it in action. After each student has FOUR words that they are ready to practice, we play three quick and easy games that are differentiated just for them! I also have a video of our sight words games. I'd love for you to watch to see them! You can also find my Sight Word Folders on TpT. 

Be sure to click the image above to purchase the sight word centers featured in this post from my TpT store!

Simple Daily Routines for Number Recognition & Counting

Need some fun ideas to help with number recognition and counting for your elementary students? Be sure to check out this blog post and print the freebie! Practicing numbers and counting is made simple, with these games. They are perfect for small groups, centers, or fast finishers. One game allows for instant differentiation for students who need extra attention. Students will enjoy a change of pace to play a "game", while utilizing their number recognition skills {elementary, counting, freebie}

Do you need some ideas for daily routines to help with number recognition & counting?

Number Recognition Zap

My students love to play ZAP. It doesn't matter which group or the grade level. It's simple and fun! I have versions of ZAP for letters, sight words, math facts, and now NUMBERS! 

Here's how to play: 

  1. Put number cards and 1-4 ZAP cards in a bag or bucket. 
  2. Set a time for the amount of time you would like to spend playing the game. I usually do 5-10 minutes of my small group time. 
  3. Students take turns drawing the cards from the bag. 
  4. When a student pulls out a card, I require them to say the number they see. I tell them and make them repeat it if they haven't mastered that particular number. 
  5. If they pull out a ZAP card, they have to put ALL of their cards back in the bag. 
  6. When the timer goes off, the student with the most numbers in their hand wins!
Need some fun ideas to help with number recognition and counting for your elementary students? Be sure to check out this blog post and print the freebie! Practicing numbers and counting is made simple, with these games. They are perfect for small groups, centers, or fast finishers. One game allows for instant differentiation for students who need extra attention. Students will enjoy a change of pace to play a "game", while utilizing their number recognition skills {elementary, counting, freebie}

Memory Game

Practice numbers and play a good old-fashioned memory game at the same time! I print two copies of number cards and choose pairs of numbers according to the needs of the students I'm working with. I like to choose a combination of familiar and unfamiliar numbers. From there, I put them face down on the table and take turns making matches. I always require my students to say the name of the number or numbers they turn over. If they don't know the number, I help them and have them repeat the number. 

Need some fun ideas to help with number recognition and counting for your elementary students? Be sure to check out this blog post and print the freebie! Practicing numbers and counting is made simple, with these games. They are perfect for small groups, centers, or fast finishers. One game allows for instant differentiation for students who need extra attention. Students will enjoy a change of pace to play a "game", while utilizing their number recognition skills {elementary, counting, freebie}

Ordering Numbers

I have several students who need help understanding the sequence of numbers. Every day, we spend 1-2 minutes putting the numbers in order and verbally counting together. Sometimes, I have one student do it by themselves. Other days, we work together to put them in order. 

Need some fun ideas to help with number recognition and counting for your elementary students? Be sure to check out this blog post and print the freebie! Practicing numbers and counting is made simple, with these games. They are perfect for small groups, centers, or fast finishers. One game allows for instant differentiation for students who need extra attention. Students will enjoy a change of pace to play a "game", while utilizing their number recognition skills {elementary, counting, freebie}

Green Beans

This is a simple activity that I adapted from another teacher in my building. Last year, she used this at the beginning of the year to help her students with 1:1 correspondence up to five. I knew my students needed help with this all year long and with larger numbers. So, I created several versions of the recording page for various groups. To prep this, you'll just need to grab a handful of beans and spray paint ONE side green. If you would like to download the recording pages, click here! :)

Here's how to play: 

  1. Place 5 or 10 beans in a cup. The number in the cup will depend on the recording page that you choose to use. I have a page for numbers up to 5, up to 10, and number bonds. 
  2. Shake the beans in the cup and dump them on the table. 
  3. Count the beans that are GREEN. 
  4. Write or trace that number on the recording page
  5. Repeat until one number is completely full. 

Need some fun ideas to help with number recognition and counting for your elementary students? Be sure to check out this blog post and print the freebie! Practicing numbers and counting is made simple, with these games. They are perfect for small groups, centers, or fast finishers. One game allows for instant differentiation for students who need extra attention. Students will enjoy a change of pace to play a "game", while utilizing their number recognition skills {elementary, counting, freebie}

Counting Mats

I really love using these number mats to help my students tackle many skills in one activity. Each student receives a mat and a handful of erasers. I show them a number and have them say it aloud. If they don't know the number, I say it and require them to repeat it. Then, I say, "Show me {insert number}." They take erasers from the large box and count out the number shown on the card. I require them to say the number aloud as they move the eraser to encourage 1:1 correspondence.

I love this activity because I can differentiate in the moment. I have one student who can count up to fifteen, so he is working on mastering numbers between fifteen and twenty. I have another student who is constantly rotating between 1, 2, 3, and 4 on his mat. He is repeatedly doing those numbers. Each student is working at their level while doing the same task. If you would like to download these recording pages, just click here! 

Need some fun ideas to help with number recognition and counting for your elementary students? Be sure to check out this blog post and print the freebie! Practicing numbers and counting is made simple, with these games. They are perfect for small groups, centers, or fast finishers. One game allows for instant differentiation for students who need extra attention. Students will enjoy a change of pace to play a "game", while utilizing their number recognition skills {elementary, counting, freebie}
Do you know what I love? Prepping ONE set of number cards and being able to use them for three different activities! If this sounds like something you love too, be sure to click the image above to download the number cards. If you are wanting to play memory, just print two sets! 

Making the Month of December Special in the Classroom

December doesn't have to be an insane or stressful time for your classroom. Making December special with your kids will be fun with these ideas and printable. Whether you grab the FREE party invites or the printable Christmas tree reading activity, you're sure to have your elementary students attention! Creating engagement before winter break can be difficult but using these ideas help bring everyone together a December to remember! {3rd,4th,5th, FREEBIE, printable, holiday}
The month of December can be stressful and crazy! We know the kids are ready for Christmas break, and honestly, so are we! I like to find ways to make the month of December special and memorable for my students. Here are a few ideas for celebrating Christmas in the classroom. 

December doesn't have to be an insane or stressful time for your classroom. Making December special with your kids will be fun with these ideas and printable. Whether you grab the FREE party invites or the printable Christmas tree reading activity, you're sure to have your elementary students attention! Creating engagement before winter break can be difficult but using these ideas help bring everyone together a December to remember! {3rd,4th,5th, FREEBIE, printable, holiday}

Christmas Ornaments from Home

I always come in during Thanksgiving break to set up my Christmas tree. Then, when my students come back to school, I invite them to bring or buy an ornament from home to put on our tree. I always ask that they don't bring anything that is glass or that they'd be heartbroken over if it was lost or came up missing. They always enjoy decorating our Christmas tree. Plus, I don't have to spend any class time making 36 of the same ornament. 

December doesn't have to be an insane or stressful time for your classroom. Making December special with your kids will be fun with these ideas and printable. Whether you grab the FREE party invites or the printable Christmas tree reading activity, you're sure to have your elementary students attention! Creating engagement before winter break can be difficult but using these ideas help bring everyone together a December to remember! {3rd,4th,5th, FREEBIE, printable, holiday}

Singing Christmas Carols

We also always visit two local nursing homes and sing Christmas Carols. This idea came to me after my first year in fifth grade. We take a half day D.A.R.E. field trip to tour our county jail. As you know, once you return from a half-day field trip, you might as well check out for the rest of the day. So, I thought it would be fun to make use of that time and go caroling. 

We don't use music or practice for hours on end. We don't have anyone doing solos. We just sing. We spend a few days memorizing the words and how we will stand. The residents at the nursing home always sing along and thoroughly love us being there. 

We also write Christmas cards and hand deliver them to the residents. I have my students write something basic, like "Hi! My name is Amanda. I'm a student at Crothersville Elementary. I hope you enjoyed our caroling today and that you have a very merry Christmas." Last year, we even had NINE residents write back to my students. They sent their letters or cards to the school with the student's first name on the outside. The school secretary brought them to us as they came in. It was such a great way for the kids to see just how much it meant to the residents. 

December doesn't have to be an insane or stressful time for your classroom. Making December special with your kids will be fun with these ideas and printable. Whether you grab the FREE party invites or the printable Christmas tree reading activity, you're sure to have your elementary students attention! Creating engagement before winter break can be difficult but using these ideas help bring everyone together a December to remember! {3rd,4th,5th, FREEBIE, printable, holiday}

Christmas Shopping Planner

To bring in academics, we spend about a week working on planning what we would buy for our loved ones and how much that would cost. They utilize my coupons to help make the most of their budgets and use them strategically. It's a fun way to combat the craziness of pre-Christmas Break energy! You can find this in my TpT Store by clicking here. 

December doesn't have to be an insane or stressful time for your classroom. Making December special with your kids will be fun with these ideas and printable. Whether you grab the FREE party invites or the printable Christmas tree reading activity, you're sure to have your elementary students attention! Creating engagement before winter break can be difficult but using these ideas help bring everyone together a December to remember! {3rd,4th,5th, FREEBIE, printable, holiday}

Real vs Fake Christmas Trees

Do you know which is better for the environment? My kids and I always LOVE reading about the difference between buying a real tree every year and throwing it away or using a fake Christmas tree year after year. This is so engaging and perfect for practicing reading multiple texts, finding the main idea and details, comparing and contrasting, and writing a persuasive essay. My kids are always so engaged in conversation and sharing facts with others. I also have this in my TpT Store if you are interested. 

December doesn't have to be an insane or stressful time for your classroom. Making December special with your kids will be fun with these ideas and printable. Whether you grab the FREE party invites or the printable Christmas tree reading activity, you're sure to have your elementary students attention! Creating engagement before winter break can be difficult but using these ideas help bring everyone together a December to remember! {3rd,4th,5th, FREEBIE, printable, holiday}

Christmas Breakfast

I also tell my students that they can wear their pajamas to school and to come ready for Christmas breakfast on the last day before Christmas break. I make a Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole and serve chocolate milk, white milk, orange juice, and fruit. It is such a great way to start the day. I usually ask for parents to donate the items needed. 

Before they come in for the day, I arrange my desks in two LOOOONG "tables" and cover them with butcher paper. I pull up Netflix and play the fireplace video. We have breakfast together by the fire. 

December doesn't have to be an insane or stressful time for your classroom. Making December special with your kids will be fun with these ideas and printable. Whether you grab the FREE party invites or the printable Christmas tree reading activity, you're sure to have your elementary students attention! Creating engagement before winter break can be difficult but using these ideas help bring everyone together a December to remember! {3rd,4th,5th, FREEBIE, printable, holiday}

Board Games

After breakfast, we spend time playing board games. I invite the kids to bring in games they like, and I bring a few from home as well. We just relax and enjoy our last day before break. 

December doesn't have to be an insane or stressful time for your classroom. Making December special with your kids will be fun with these ideas and printable. Whether you grab the FREE party invites or the printable Christmas tree reading activity, you're sure to have your elementary students attention! Creating engagement before winter break can be difficult but using these ideas help bring everyone together a December to remember! {3rd,4th,5th, FREEBIE, printable, holiday}

Sock Gift Exchange

I also love to do a sock gift exchange. By the time my kids have gotten to 5th grade, they've exchanged books, school supplies, games, and so much more! Girls buy socks for other girls and boys buy boy socks. We get into two circles, one for boys and one for girls. We play a game with dice, and it is SO much fun. I found it on Pinterest years ago and have used it for my students, staff Christmas parties, and family. You can find the printable here. 

If you would like the printables that I send home inviting students to send in socks and the gift tags, you can download them here. :)
Making the month of December special in your classroom will be enjoyable for everyone using these ideas.

Mentor Texts Your Students Will LOVE in December

I absolutely love to embrace the chaos of the Christmas season and tie the holidays into my December lessons! I love to find ways to make learning engaging for my students and still focus on my grade level reading standards. Below are a few books that are perfect mentor texts for teaching various reading comprehension skills, like theme, story elements, and synthesizing. 

If you like any of the books you see in this blog post, you can click on the picture to find the affiliate link for the book on Amazon. 

Mentor Texts Your Students Will LOVE in December

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. Embracing the chaos of the Christmas season and tying in the holidays in a great way to make sure students retain the instruction on various skills {3rd, 4th, 5th, December}

The Light of Christmas

In this book, the Keeper of the Light is looking for a replacement. He asks everyone to bring a gift to the tree lighting ceremony. There, he will choose who will be the next Keeper of the Light. As the people of the village rush to the city's center with their gifts, the Keeper of the Light is disguised as a poor, old man. Only one child stopped to help--Alexander. While many citizens have given gifts, only Alexander has given well. He gave himself. He sacrificed missing the ceremony and the opportunity to become Keeper of the Light in order to help someone else. 

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. Embracing the chaos of the Christmas season and tying in the holidays in a great way to make sure students retain the instruction on various skills {3rd, 4th, 5th, December}

Zetta the Poinsettia

At the grocery store, Zetta wants nothing more than to be chosen to go home with a lovely family for the holidays. In her mind, that is what gives her a reason and a purpose. What happens to poinsettias after the holidays though? Will she be tossed out with the tree? What is her purpose? What was her reason "to be" as she says? She discovers that she can still be a gift to others.

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. Embracing the chaos of the Christmas season and tying in the holidays in a great way to make sure students retain the instruction on various skills {3rd, 4th, 5th, December}

Presents through the Window

This book was honestly one I nearly skipped over. It seemed juvenile with its windows peeking through to the next page. But, those windows are exactly what make the theme of this book perfect. What you see through the window may not always be the truth. Things aren't always as they appear.

I also love that this book has a second theme that is just as great. It teaches us to be thankful and make use of things that are given to us, even if it isn't exactly what you need. 

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. Embracing the chaos of the Christmas season and tying in the holidays in a great way to make sure students retain the instruction on various skills {3rd, 4th, 5th, December}

My Teacher is an Elf

This book isn't tied to a particular reading comprehension skill as much as I'd like, but I love the fun that you can have with this book! I begin by asking my students how I am like an elf. They laugh. They look at me like I'm crazy, but they really begin to think critically think about ways that I might be like an elf. I like to do crafts. I like kids. I like to give! Then, I read the book. The narrator describes all the ways that the teacher is like an elf. She jingles when she walks down the hall. She sings, and she loves chocolate and cookies! 

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. Embracing the chaos of the Christmas season and tying in the holidays in a great way to make sure students retain the instruction on various skills {3rd, 4th, 5th, December}

Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein

Rachel doesn't celebrate Christmas. She celebrates Hanukkah. She wants nothing more than for Santa to come and visit her house. She writes him a letter. She sits on his lap at the mall, and she even leaves him a plate of latkes. By the end of the story, she begins to realize that every family and every religion have their own traditions. She learns that "...there are so many great holidays in the world, why feel bad about one little old day like Christmas?"

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. Embracing the chaos of the Christmas season and tying in the holidays in a great way to make sure students retain the instruction on various skills {3rd, 4th, 5th, December}

Leo's Gift

I usually only show ONE graphic organizer for each book, even though there are always multiple skills that we can weave into a text. With Leo's Gift, I couldn't choose which was better. So, I broke my own rule and put them both!

This is a lengthy text about a boy who discovers he has an amazing piano playing gift. His sister, on the other hand, does anything she can to avoid the piano and play basketball. Not only is Leo talented, but he also enjoys playing the piano so much. This book has multiple themes and so many connections that students could make with both Leo and his sister. 

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. November is a great time to have fun with books about parades, and being thankful, while also incorporating other stories will deeper subjects requiring the kids to focus on the story more. {3rd, 4th, 5th, reading comprehension, fall}
If you are interested in the graphic organizers that I used in the pictures for Mentor Texts, you can find them in my TpT store, by clicking here. Included in the file, you find both digital and printable versions of each graphic organizer!

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Mentor Texts Your Students Will LOVE in November

Mentor Texts Your Students Will Love in November

As you know, mentor texts are a great way to allow your students to practice reading skills quickly and in an engaging way. This month, I share a few great November themed (or just for fun!) books to get your students working on sequence, making predictions, and theme. 


Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. November is a great time to have fun with books about parades, and being thankful, while also incorporating other stories will deeper subjects requiring the kids to focus on the story more. {3rd, 4th, 5th, reading comprehension, fall}

Balloons Over Broadway

Maybe it's just me, but I LOVE to get my kids excited about large events or traditions that occur. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is something that many students watch, while others have never heard of it. When I discovered this book, I knew I had to share it with my students. 

This book would be perfect for practicing summarizing or sequencing skills as the author tells how the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade originated with the help of a puppeteer, Tony Sarg. The illustrations are great and it is loaded with information.
https://amzn.to/2FfukET

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. November is a great time to have fun with books about parades, and being thankful, while also incorporating other stories will deeper subjects requiring the kids to focus on the story more. {3rd, 4th, 5th, reading comprehension, fall}

Thankful

This book is simple and easy to read. It would also make an EXCELLENT mentor text for a project or book made by individual students or the whole class. 

In this book, the author shares with the reader all of the things that various people might be thankful for. "An artist would be thankful for color and light. The clown, for her costume silly and bright." I would love to see students share what police officers, teachers, principals, doctors, and other people in their lives might be thankful for.
https://amzn.to/2JUcshx

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. November is a great time to have fun with books about parades, and being thankful, while also incorporating other stories will deeper subjects requiring the kids to focus on the story more. {3rd, 4th, 5th, reading comprehension, fall}

Knock Knock

In this heart-touching book, the main character loves to play a Knock Knock game with his dad every morning as his dad wakes him up. Then one day, his dad doesn't come to wake him up. He also doesn't come home for dinner. He's confused and a little scared. While this book NEVER reveals where the father truly is, it offers students the opportunity to make predictions about where the father might be and offer evidence from the text to support their predictions. 

I also love the author's note at the end of the book. The author shares that she knows this is such a sad reality for so many kids in our country today. They are dealing with the loss of parents in more ways than one; arrest, death, substance abuse. This book is so well written about such a tough situation that so many of our students experience every day.
https://amzn.to/2JReUoK

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. November is a great time to have fun with books about parades, and being thankful, while also incorporating other stories will deeper subjects requiring the kids to focus on the story more. {3rd, 4th, 5th, reading comprehension, fall}

Giraffe Problems

What problems might a giraffe have? Maybe how long his neck is! Should he wear a tie as a distraction? Does the tie make it stand out even more? Are other people looking at him? Why can't he have a cute little neck, like a turtle?

This book offers a really great theme about loving yourself for who you are. Everyone has strengths. Everyone has things they dislike about their own bodies. But, we were born that way for a reason.
https://amzn.to/2PTeDak

Using Mentor texts is fun way to teach or review reading comprehension to upper elementary students. These digital and printable graphic organizers are a fun way to engage , whether you utilize mentor texts in centers, small groups or the whole class. November is a great time to have fun with books about parades, and being thankful, while also incorporating other stories will deeper subjects requiring the kids to focus on the story more. {3rd, 4th, 5th, reading comprehension, fall}
If you are interested in the graphic organizers that I used in the pictures for this post, you can find them in my TpT store, by clicking here  Included in the file, you find both digital and printable versions of each graphic organizer to reinforce the mentor texts your students will love. Image Map

4 Fun and Simple Ideas for a Thanksgiving Classroom Celebration

Thanksgiving celebrations can be simple and academic, while showing your students how thankful you are for them. Using math skills to plan a Thanksgiving meal, or baking a pie turns into an engaging party activity. Kicking back with popcorn turkeys and a movie is a great way to relax before Thanksgiving break. Your kids are sure to enjoy a peaceful, fun celebration day! {upper elementary, holiday, printable}
Making Thanksgiving special is something that I love to do. I like to show my students that I'm thankful for them and make things fun and academic. Here are a few things that I did with my kids to create a Thanksgiving celebration in my classroom. 

Thanksgiving celebrations can be simple and academic, while showing your students how thankful you are for them. Using math skills to plan a Thanksgiving meal, or baking a pie turns into an engaging party activity. Kicking back with popcorn turkeys and a movie is a great way to relax before Thanksgiving break. Your kids are sure to enjoy a peaceful, fun celebration day! {upper elementary, holiday, printable}

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

We started our Thanksgiving fun by making a little pumpkin pie. After all, no Thanksgiving is complete without a pumpkin pie, right? I found a simple recipe on Primary Chalkboard's blog and grabbed the ingredients. It was such a fun way to put some real-life math skills to work! 

Thanksgiving celebrations can be simple and academic, while showing your students how thankful you are for them. Using math skills to plan a Thanksgiving meal, or baking a pie turns into an engaging party activity. Kicking back with popcorn turkeys and a movie is a great way to relax before Thanksgiving break. Your kids are sure to enjoy a peaceful, fun celebration day! {upper elementary, holiday, printable}

Thanksgiving Dinner Planner

I'll admit, we had been working on our Thanksgiving Meal Planner for a couple of days prior to this. Once we had our brains all warmed up and our bellies were full of pumpkin pie, we finished planning our Thanksgiving Day Meal. They worked to calculate the cost of each part of a Thanksgiving meal, such as main courses, side dishes, and desserts based on the number of people they were serving. 

Thanksgiving celebrations can be simple and academic, while showing your students how thankful you are for them. Using math skills to plan a Thanksgiving meal, or baking a pie turns into an engaging party activity. Kicking back with popcorn turkeys and a movie is a great way to relax before Thanksgiving break. Your kids are sure to enjoy a peaceful, fun celebration day! {upper elementary, holiday, printable}

Popcorn Turkeys

I also had no intention of serving turkey, but I wanted to serve popcorn during our afternoon movie. So...I made turkeys out brown paper bags. I also bought pre-made popcorn from the chip aisle at Walmart. It was so much easier than popping multiple bags for my class of 36, and it tasted just as good! 

Thanksgiving celebrations can be simple and academic, while showing your students how thankful you are for them. Using math skills to plan a Thanksgiving meal, or baking a pie turns into an engaging party activity. Kicking back with popcorn turkeys and a movie is a great way to relax before Thanksgiving break. Your kids are sure to enjoy a peaceful, fun celebration day! {upper elementary, holiday, printable}

Thanksgiving Movie

I have no idea what movie we are watching here, but they look into it! We watched a movie on Netflix during the afternoon. I *never* let them watch a movie, so this was a treat! During the movie, I served them juice and my homemade "turkey". It was a relaxing time to be together. 

Thanksgiving celebrations can be simple and academic, while showing your students how thankful you are for them. Using math skills to plan a Thanksgiving meal, or baking a pie turns into an engaging party activity. Kicking back with popcorn turkeys and a movie is a great way to relax before Thanksgiving break. Your kids are sure to enjoy a peaceful, fun celebration day! {upper elementary, holiday, printable}
They kicked back and ate popcorn and watched a movie!