Saturday, May 21, 2016

Student Written Class Plays!

Hello Friends!

I am excited! I had an idea and it came to fruition better than I imagined! Today I want to share with you how I made a big shift with my end of  the year class plays.

FREE! Teach your 1st 2nd or 3rd grade students how to write their own short reader's theater play scripts! All templates included to ensure that your class play will be fun and successful!




This year instead of giving my students a part in the play I picked out, have them memorize the lines, and act the way I interpret the character should act, my first graders wrote their own plays.  If you like the idea you are welcome to download the FREE printables or pin the ideas for next year to use in your classroom.

For years now, I have used Kristin (A Teeny Tiny Teacher)'s Partner Plays during Daily 5 centers. My kids love them, they honestly CHEER when I bring a new season out!! They love the characters and themes, I LOVE that they are engaged, loving reading, and practicing their fluency. If you don't know what I am talking about check them out {HERE}.

Earlier this year I was inspired to start shifting the way I teach when my principal invited me to a screening of Most Likely to Succeed . If you have not yet seen or heard of the documentary, in short, it is a film about a school in California, High Tech High that has shifted the way they teach from lecture type classes to integrated project based application. The kids at the school are engaged and hungry to learn and produce.


Since the screening while planning, I have been thinking, is this what my kids need or is this how I have always done it?

So then one dayan idea hit me, I could teach my 1st graders how to write their own partner plays and perform them as an end of year celebration for their parents. I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous to give up control. #controlfreak

It ended up better than I imagined. :) My kids learned so much. They had to make decisions, collaborate with their partner on ideas, make compromises when they didn't agree, and have the stamina to finish the project. I coached them every step of the way so they would be successful. I did a lot of role playing of things that could happen as they were working with their partner. In total, it took about 1 month from the beginning of choosing partners to performing (we worked about 15-20 minutes a day).



The Process

First, I had my students write a short list of who they would like to work with. Of course, I had the final say but tried to pair them up with someone on their list.




Next, I modeled explicitly how to brainstorm and plan a title, characters, setting, problem, and  a solution for a script. This took many days.


FREE! Teach your 1st 2nd or 3rd grade students how to write their own short reader's theater play scripts! All templates included to ensure that your class play will be fun and successful!



Then, we needed to know traits for our characters before writing the dialogue. Would their character be shy, outgoing, kind, funny?

Last, my students took many days of working together to write their actual scripts.


Once we had our scripts written, I conferenced with each group for a few minutes to help them make any necessary changes. Then they started rehearsing their lines to memorize.

Originally, I had thought my students would bring props or make paper props at school but I decided to keep it simple. Their plays were so good, I didn't want the props to take away from the hard work they had done. I did have them make a sign their play titles to hang on our backdrop for the performance.

I know it is close to the end of the school year for most of us. Maybe you want to try this idea with your students and perform for a buddy class? Maybe you just want to use this idea to fill the last week of school and have your students perform for each other? Maybe you are just going to pin them for next year?

If you want, you can download the printables for FREE by clicking the image!

FREE! Teach your 1st 2nd or 3rd grade students how to write their own short reader's theater play scripts! All templates included to ensure that your class play will be fun and successful!

Thanks for stopping by and reading, I hope you have a fabulous end to your school year!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring Into Reading Giveaway!

Hello Friends!

If you are new here, I am Christina from Mrs. Winter's Bliss. I have been teaching 1st grade for 20 years. Being a former California girl, I now get excited for the warmer weather that spring brings! To celebrate I have teamed up with 7 other amazing bloggers to share some of our favorite spring books and FREEBIES with you! 





Along with the freebies for each book, we are also giving away a copy of each book. Make sure to read through to the end of the post to grab the freebies and a chance to WIN ALL 8 books! 



I chose to share the book Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in her Pocket by Barbara Park. 





If you are like me and my 1st graders you already know what a hilarious and relatable character Junie B. is to us. This book is no exception! 


It's almost the end of the school year, and Room Nine is taking a field trip to a farm! There's lots of fun farm stuff there. Like a real actual barn. And a real actual farmer. There's even real alive animals you can pet! Only, where's the gift shop? That's what Junie B. Jones would like to know. Surely no one would want Junie B. to go home empty-handed. . . .

My freebie is a packet of text dependent comprehension questions. I use them with my small group“independent” readers who are ready to dig deeper into what they are reading. Junie B. Jones Has a Peep in her Pocket 2.1 (DRA 24) reading level.


There are 2 text dependent questions for students to provide a written response for each chapter. Also included are character analysis graphic organizers. 

When I meet with my small group I have them bring their book and reading response sheet from the previous chapter they completed independently.

First, we discuss the main events of what they read and each child shares their responses to the comprehension questions assigned previously.  I give my students time to comment or question other student’s responses in the group.

Next, we preview vocabulary words in context to clarify meaning before they read independently.

I highlight the vocabulary words in the books so students can easily find them while we preview AND so students recall them as a word we discussed while reading independently. 

Last, each child reads the chapter and completes responses independently before our group meets again.

My students greatly enjoy the independence, have continued or ignited their love of reading, have become much better at writing responses to text dependent comprehension questions, and can better communicate their thinking with other students.

Of course you could use these response sheets to practice the rigorous text based written responses after reading aloud the book to your whole class, or as homework for individual students. 



You can grab this FREEBIE by clicking the picture or {here}! 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Before you hop onto see my friend, Rachel over at The Tattooed Teacher, don't forget to grab my number! Each blogger will have a number at the end of his/her post. Collect all the numbers along the way, and when you're done, add them all up and enter the total number in the Rafflecopter below!



Good luck, happy spring and hopping!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Fiction VS. Nonfiction Teaching Ideas

Hello Friends!

One thing I love about the Common Core Standards is the emphasis of our students reading and writing informational texts. My heart is so happy when I see my first graders get excited when I bring new nonfiction books into our classroom! Today I have a few ideas to share that I used in my classroom this year.

When we begun our work learning about nonfiction texts I started the unit by making sure my students understood what made a text fictional and nonfictional. After modeling how I knew, students turned and talked to a partner to explain how they knew the text type. Then I added these posters to our focus wall.

Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.

Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.


These videos were also perfect!

Harry Kindergarten is always a favorite.



 This video has short clips of Happy Feet 2 and March of the Penguins

The next day I planned to start teaching nonfiction text features. I asked, "What are text features?"  I looked out and saw blank stares...heard nothing but crickets....This actually excited me. I love when no one already knows what I am about to teach. :)

Prior to our mini lesson I made these 2 posters (later taped them together) with the text pictures pasted on.

Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.


You can get these FREE text feature posters I used from Deana at Primary Punch {HERE}.

Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.

I shrunk the posters down and printed 4 to a page.  I did not prewrite the post-its on the poster, my students and I decided on the notes together as we looked for, discussed, and determined each text feature's purpose we found in our nonfiction books.

It took us 4 mini lessons to determine what these text features were and to understand how they help us while reading nonfiction texts. I hung our anchor chart in a low space accessible to my students while working in the classroom.

Now that my readers had a good foundation of identifying nonfiction books and text features, we moved on to comparing fiction to nonfiction texts. These two familiar books on butterflies were perfect to use as examples of each text type.


Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.


In first grade students must be able to explain major differences between fiction and nonfiction texts. So again, I premade the beginning of our anchor chart to compare texts. I printed and cut out these word strips on cardstock. We built the chart together in a few mini lessons having my students prove the differences in my butterfly texts. 


Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.
Get these attribute printables {HERE}

Later my students sorted the attributes on their own chart. 


Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.



I  used this printable in a center. It was perfect to have students share their thinking with a partner. :)

Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.

This printable made a good assessment I shared with parents at conferences.

Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.

If you are interested in looking closer at this pack you can see it on my TPT shop {HERE}.

Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction - Do your students need help understanding the differences between fiction vs nonfiction texts? These printables are perfect for making an anchor chart for your classroom as your students are learning to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction.

In addition, I have saved a ton of ideas on my Pinterest board Informational Text Ideas, come pin with me!

I would love for you to leave a comment below sharing ideas how you teach your students to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction!

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Writing Process {ideas & a freebie!)



Hello Friends!

Do you love teaching writing as much as I do? Let's talk the writing process!

Our primary students have so many stories to tell. Have your students ever walked in your door in the morning eager to tell you a story? Mine do, EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Writer's Workshop is such a great way to let them do just so.

I love hearing their stories and letting them have the chance to speak through their writing.  I love that my first graders are so eager to learn that they practically try to emulate an author mentor or my writing style. I love that we can ignite their desire to write more by calling them "authors" and giving them "special tools" to publish their revised drafts of stories they have written.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about Writer's Workshop!

Today I want to share with you specifically how I publish stories with my first graders, it is so powerful that it is something I have done for more years than I remember. :)

I launch Writer's Workshop at the beginning of the year with narrative writing. Even at the beginning of the year I start to introduce the writing process to my first graders. I hang this anchor chart up as a so we can reference the process during mini lessons.


You can find this chart for FREE in my shop {HERE}

Through modeling and direct instruction my students develop an understanding of how writers prewrite, draft, revise, and edit (self, peer, teacher) their work. However, during the first two months of school we do not usually publish our stories. It is more important in my opinion for my students to be completely independent and capable writers before I can add book publishing to our learning. Plus I always like to save some things for later in the year to motivate and reignite their love of writing.

By the second quarter, we start writing to inform with procedural writing (how to) writing. This unit is by far my students and my favorite text type. My students are eager to teach others through their writing things they have "expert" knowledge of.

By the end of the unit my students revise and edit their How To writing templates and choose their favorite piece to publish.


You can see more of this writing template {HERE}


 Now we are ready to publish! I created a WORD doc template that my students can use to type their stories. For the first published book, I have them create only the cover, title page, and materials need page in the document. They learn how to create text in a text box, change the font if desired and import a picture for their cover. We can print two copies and use one as a title page.




Once printed, I ask a parent volunteer to assemble pages in their book so they can write and illustrate their masterpiece. They are so eager to finish writing their edited text and add illustrations with special publishing tools (markers, twistables, glitter crayons etc.).


I make a big deal about them being authors, give them time to share their books and send them home with a letter to their parents. IT IS A BIG DEAL!!!

Parent letter

Later in the year when my students have more stamina, I encourage them to type their entire text with the published book template. It does take a while for them to publish these books as most of my students are still "hunting and pecking" to type their words. :) But it is sooooo worth it!

How cute is this....she googled how to help the bird ;) 

If you have never published books with your students, I want to encourage you to do so. Suddenly writing is exciting again, there is a purpose, students are reading and talking to each other about their stories, they are beaming with pride.... (and you will be the best teacher ever!!!)

If you are interested in taking a closer look at the publishing templates you can click the pictures below.




I am so glad you stopped by, I would love to hear any ideas in the comments you have on published writing or author celebrations!








Monday, January 18, 2016

Hip Hip Hooray for the 100th Day!

Hello Friends!

Do you LOVE the 100th Day? Ours is coming up this week and I am excited!

There is something wonderful about the number 100...(could it be that it marks that we are more than halfway through the school year?)....who am I kidding? I teach in a year round school! Maybe it is their smiles as they are counting, reading, and writing 100's of things!

Today I want to share with you my 100th Day of School Celebration Centers and a FREEBIE.


I created this file a few years ago and each year the 100th day has been fun and low stress. :) I LOVE to have parents involved in our learning and this day seems to be a day parents who don't regularly volunteer (could it be the word CELEBRATION?) want to be involved.  

About 2 weeks before the big day I send home a letter asking for volunteers and donations.


On the 100th day, I divide my class into 5 small groups. I have a parent volunteer lead an activity and stay at their assigned center for each rotation. The centers will take about 17-20 minutes before the students will be ready to rotate to the next center. If a student finishes a center early, I have them go to their desk  to count and tally shapes in the Can you find 100? printable (that way they will not bother other groups who are still working).


Here is a closer look at the 5 centers my students rotate through, it usually takes about 2 hours. 







The direction card makes it so easy for a parent to manage and I usually just rotate around the room to assist and take pictures of these smiles!


If you are interested in these Celebration Centers with EDITABLE Parent letters you can see more in my TpT shop {HERE}


This year I added 100 Rhyming Words to have just in case of bad weather (100 Ways to Exercise) or in a word work center later this week. I purposefully did not write the word of the picture in the box so my students would have to think of what word family it would represent.

 I made a color and black and white version of each page. Depending how you plan to use it you could copy the black and white version back to back so students could take the printable home, or place a few of the color version in a plastic sleeve to be reused by students in a center. Included in the download there is also a direction card. :)


You can grab this FREEBIE here!

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you also see 100's of smiles on your 100th day!


Sunday, January 17, 2016

So in Love...With Books Giveaway & Freebie!

Hey Friends!

I am Christina from Mrs. Winter's Bliss. I have been teaching 1st grade for 20 years. If you teach 1st you know what a special year it is completly exhausting  magical!  :) Anyway, I am excited to be linking up with 11 other amazing bloggers to share some of our favorite Valentine's Day books and FREEBIES with you! 





Along with the freebies for each book, we are also giving away a copy of each book. Make sure to read through to the end of the post to grab the freebies and a chance to WIN ALL 12 BOOKS! 



I chose to share the book Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime by Barbara Park. 




If you are like me and my 1st graders you already know what a hilarious and 
relatable character Junie B. is to us. This book is no exception! It's a mushy gushy mystery! 

In this story Junie B. can't wait to see all the valentine cards she'll get, but she never expected a big mushy card from a secret admirer! Who is the mystery guy? Junie B. is determined to find out! 

This book will make your students laugh out loud! I love the ending, such a sweet message of kindness!

My freebie is a packet of text dependent comprehension questions. I use them with my small group“independent” readers who are ready to dig deeper into what they are reading. Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime is a 2.1 (DRA 24) reading level.

There are 2 text dependent questions for students to provide a written response for each chapter. Also included are character analysis graphic organizers.

When I meet with my small group I have them bring their book and reading response sheet from the previous chapter they completed independently.

First, we discuss the main events of what they read and each child shares their responses to the comprehension questions assigned previously.  I give my students time to comment or question other student’s responses in the group.

Next, we preview vocabulary words in context to clarify meaning before they read independently.

I highlight the vocabulary words in the books so students can easily find them while we preview AND so students recall them as a word we discussed while reading independently. 

Last, each child reads the chapter and completes responses independently before our group meets again.

My students greatly enjoy the independence, have continued or ignited their love of reading, have become much better at writing responses to text dependent comprehension questions, and can better communicate their thinking with other students.

Of course you could use these response sheets to practice the rigorous text based written responses after reading aloud the book to your whole class, or as homework for individual students. 



You can grab this FREEBIE by clicking the picture or {here}! :)



Thanks so much for stopping by! Before you hop on to see my friend, Tori over at Tori's Teacher Tips, don't forget to grab my number! Each blogger will have a number at the end of his/her post. Collect all the numbers along the way, and when you're done, add them all up and enter the total number in the Rafflecopter below!

Good luck, happy hopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 1, 2016

Long Ago Informative Writing & a FREEBIE

Happy New Year!

I am always in awe of the new year....it feels so refreshing to have a clean start to a new year. I am looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store!

I have been on break from school for almost 4 weeks, so I am pretty excited to get back to the act of teaching my sweet first graders.

During break I have been busy creating a new writing unit that came to me before trackout.



At this time of the year I always teach a  "Long Ago"social studies unit. We also start an informative "All About" writing unit. Long ago before I know of TpT I created a writing booklet for my students to use as we compared the past to the present.

Let me tell you, it was not cute!! :)

So I had an idea to make a flap book that compared the past to the the present and I am so excited that it came out exactly as I envisioned! (rarely happens to me) This unit ended up to be so much more than I imagined, take a peek at some of the goodies!






I know since it is interactive with the moving flaps my kids are going to EAT.IT.UP.!  I love that our social studies unit is integrated with writing, so the writing unit becomes so meaningful to my students. I also love that there is not a lot of cutting to make the pages interactive to show past/present.


By the end of our unit my students will learn 5 topics from these (schools, homes, transportation, chores, jobs, entertainment, clothing, communication) and create an "All About" chapter book. The book will include an introduction, table of contents, chapter pages, and closing. We will use text features like labels, headings, and bold words to help our readers learn as true "All About" books do. 

I teach my students through books, websites, or videos about a topic a day and how to write a clear informative piece that teaches others about the topic.

While creating I thought it might be helpful for others to see how I teach the unit so I put together a planning guide. Also, through the years I have found so many great resources so I included online links to a lot of them to help other teachers. 



When finished my students will create their own informative chapter book that will look something like this. 








If you are interested in seeing more in my TpT shop you can click here: Long Ago and Today

If you have read through this post, I hope you got some good ideas. I have a FREEBIE for you even if you don't teach this writing unit. Your students would still love this printable! You could use it when teaching categorizing skills or compare and contrast. You can grab this for free {HERE}!




Thanks for stopping by and reading! If you have any additional resources (books, websites) you have found that makes teaching this unit even more engaging I'd love for you to leave a comment below! 


Happy 2016!