Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall, and “A Wandering Word Wall” FREEBIE!

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

The Wandering Word Wall
Today I am going to explain how to teach kids to use a word wall, and about a really great writing tool that I like to use in my classroom called “The Wandering Word Wall.”  “The Wandering Word Wall” is a small, portable word wall that you print and mount on a file folder so that children can take it with them and use in any area of the classroom.  But whether your word wall is large or small, if you don’t teach the children how to use it, you’ll probably find that it is just taking up valuable wall space in your classroom and that it serves little or no purpose!

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

A portable word wall is a great tool to have, because often there are so many children in a classroom that they wind up trying to do writing assignments while sitting in desks that are a bit too far away from the real word wall, and so they can’t really see the words well enough to use it.  This makes them want to get up and walk around the room to check the spelling of a word, etc.  I think that kids tend to get more done when they stay in one spot and keep working without needing to get up and walk around, so the Wandering Word Wall solves that problem nicely!

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

If you have been following my blog for several years, you may remember that I mentioned my Wandering Word Wall in a blog post before!  But since it is such a great tool, I wanted to give it it’s “own” blog post. To download a copy of my Wandering Word Wall, click here. 

HeidiSongs' Wandering Word Wall

One word of caution, though:  you will need to teach them how to use it and what it is, or it will just become a “tent” and a barrier to play with rather than a useful word wall as you intended!

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!


To teach the children to use the Wandering Word Walls, or ANY word wall in your classroom:

1.  Pass out the Wandering Word Walls, or point out to the children the real word wall in your classroom.

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

2.  Show the children how the words are in alphabetical order.  Point to each letter and sing the ABC song as you point.

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

3.  Tell the children to find and point to a word, such as the word “see.”  Explain that the word will be in the box with (or underneath, etc.) the letter S, since it starts with an S sound.

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

4.  Have the class sing the ABC song again as they point to the letters until they find the S words, and then look for the word “see.”

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

5.  Ask the children to write the word “see” on a paper or on marker boards, etc.  If time is an issue, just have the children spell the word aloud, or write it in the air, or draw it on a friend’s back, etc.

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

6.  Repeat this process with a few other words until the children understand how to use the word wall to help them find and spell words.  It’s like having a small spelling dictionary right there!

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

To make a set, just download the word wall and glue it onto a file folder for each child.  Then laminate it, and you’re done!  I made two copies for each child, and put one three-hole punched copy into their binders so that they could have a word wall at home as well. 

Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

Tip:  I collect my Wandering Word Walls that go in the children’s binders at the end of the year, so that I do not have to make them again the following year!  I doubt that any of the parents would get them out for the children the following year again anyway.


Teaching Kids to Use a Word Wall! & "A Wandering Word Wall" FREEBIE!

We used the Wandering Word Wall for journaling when my kids were all spread out throughout the room and could not necessarily see the word wall from where they are seated. It worked out really well!

If you are unfamiliar with our Sing and Spell the Sight Word Songs, check out the video below!  They are also extremely effective in getting young children started writing because the songs and movements help kids memorize the spellings of so many of the high frequency words used in their writing.

I hope you enjoy this and find it useful.



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How to Do Guided Reading with Informational Text (in Kindergarten!)

Guided Reading Pin

Have you ever tried to do a guided reading lesson with kindergartners using little non-fiction “science” easy readers?  Teaching kids to read informational texts is “hot” right now in the educational world, and teachers are often pressured to use it in their classroom more and more often- even at the Kindergarten level!  Although this may sound a bit intimidating, my experience is that children REALLY ENJOY reading and learning real facts about the real world around them, especially when it includes information on animals or on how things work, such as magnets.  These types of topics are highly motivational for kids, and can be lots of fun to teach!  So read on if you’re interested in finding out how I give guided reading lessons using little non-fiction easy reader books.

Easy Reader Desert Animal Books

If you are looking for a way to “wow” your administrator or get a few more “brownie points” for your next lesson observation, you might want to consider doing a lesson like the one I’m going to share below.  It was actually pretty fun and easy!  In fact, the hardest part was convincing myself that it was both possible and appropriate!

Guided Reading Informational Text

The truth of the matter is that children really LOVE to learn real things about the world around them, so non-fiction and kids go together quite well.  Even better, writing lessons follow out of the discussions that arise from these books quite naturally, so this makes thematic lesson planning EASY.  And that’s always a good thing!

Reading for Guided Reading; Wolf Book

First:  Find Non-Fiction Books at an Instructional Reading Level for Your Kids

First, here’s the tricky part:  finding books to use that your kindergarten kids can actually attempt to READ (with a tightly controlled sight word and CVC vocabulary, etc.)  Your district adopted science program might even have some little books like this- mine used to!  But I also used these Scholastic Science Readers, because I could easily get enough copies of the book so that each child had one to look at.  I had purchased them from the Scholastic Book Club a few years back, and now I see that they are also available on Amazon.  (See the link below.)

Guided Science Readers Set from Scholastic


I found the “Super Set” of Science Readers right here for $70.00, plus $3.99 shipping (that’s less than Amazon!) and it includes 144 little books, all with full color photos that are so interesting and meaningful to children!  My kids loved these!

Guided Reading "There is a Bird" Easy Reader Books

How to Give a Guided Reading Lesson to Emergent Readers with Informational Print

1.  Show the children the book, but do not pass the books out yet.  Ask them if they can guess what the topic of the book might be?  If you have not yet introduced what a topic is, then do that first, of course!

Guided Science Readers - Forest Animals

2.  Introduce and practice reading any repetitive vocabulary in the book, especially if it comes up on every single page.  For example, if the book is about bats, then I would make sure that my children can sound out both the words “bat” and “bats.”

Inside a Guided Science Reader - Deer

This picture shows how we used Post-It note flags to mark new words in the story.



3.  Introduce and practice reading any new sight words or word family words that come up in the book, especially if they are found on every page.  For example, if the word “go” or “can” appears on every page and these are new words for your class, make sure you go over the new words before giving the book to your students to read.

Inside of a Guided Science Reader - Sight Words like CAN

4.  Read the book to your little group, pointing to the words as you go along.  Ask the children to read along with you and chime in if they can.

Inside a Guided Science Reading Book - Night Animals

5.  After reading the book aloud together, talk about it briefly.  What did they learn about the topic?  Explain that these are the details about the topic, and that we might learn new details on every page!  Kids should try to remember as many details about the topic as possible and be ready to tell you what they are when they’re done reading.  They might even be able to show us where in the book they learned that!

Forest Animals Chart

When we were done reading our books, we brainstormed and made a list of the details that we learned about the topic. I think I drew little “lake” next to the fish because a child pointed out that fish don’t live in the forest, but in a lake or a river instead. LOL!


6.  Pass out the books.  Give the children a few moments to look at the book themselves and read it through by themselves if you wish.  (Sometimes I skip this step due to lack of time.)

Guided Science Readers - Forest Animals

If you have time in your group, you may want to have your kiddos mark the sight words or any other words you want to direct their attention to with something. My higher groups progressed through the lesson quickly enough to do this, and we used the Post-It Note “flags” shown in this picture to do this.


7.  If you have enough time and their attention span is holding out:  Ask the children to find the front cover and put their hand on it.  Now ask them to find the back cover and the spine of the book.  Now see if they can find the title of the book and circle it with their finger.  Then read the title together, pointing at each word as you go along.  If your students are still struggling with knowing the difference between letters and words, you may want to have them count the letters and count the words, just for good measure.  Then turn the page and find the title page, too.  If there is a Table of Contents, find and identify that as well.

Kinders Ready for Guided Science Reading Center

8.  Have the children read the book with you choraly, all together. I tell my students, “Put your finger in the air and wait until I tell you to begin.” Once everyone has found the right page, I say, “Ready?  Read!”  Then we all start reading the page together as the children point to the words.  When the page is finished, I say, “Turn the page and fingers up!  You should be on this page now, just like me,” as I show them what the picture on my book looks like.  (Telling the children the page numbers will work, too- but sometimes that actually makes it WORSE, LOL!)

Following Along in a Guided Reading Center

What a CUTE little READER!!! OOOH, I just want to give her lots of big HUGS!!!! :)



I do not do “round robin reading” in Kindergarten, (in which they each take a turn reading while the rest of the group follows along and listens), except with my most mature students!  Most of the children simply do not read along while other children are reading, and the time is wasted for them.  They just can’t seem to “read in their head” until a certain age, and for me at least, it has been an exercise in frustration trying to make it happen.  I have had much better luck giving the rest of the children in a group something to do (such as coloring or using a manipulative) while they wait their turn for me to listen to them read.


Marking a Word in a Guided Reading Center

9.  After we have read the entire book together at least once, release the children to read the book on their own.  At this time, I usually zero in on listening to the child or children read that are the most reluctant to read or whom are struggling the most.  (Two kids can usually read to me at once pretty easily.)  There’s usually a child in a group or two that quickly thumbs through the book and says, “DONE!” and hands it back to me without even TRYING to read it again on his or her own!  When that happens, I just pass the book right back again and say, “I didn’t see you really reading, just looking at the book and that’s different.  Show me how you really read the book.”  And then I WATCH to make sure that they did that!

Reading Along in a Guided Reading Center

10.  Last step:  Ask the children to tell you as many details about the topic as they can remember!  If you still have their attention and enough time, make a short list.  You can teach them to refer to it later if you want them to write about the topic.  If children can show you WHERE in the book they found that information, that is a good habit to develop, too!  Sometimes, children tell me other information that they know about the topic we are discussing, but not information that they learned from the book.  It can be useful to start distinguishing between the two!

Whiteboard of Story Details from Guided Reading Center

For pre-readers, I think it is a good idea to make a little picture icon to represent the words in your list, if you have enough time! The students in this group started asking me to draw the pictures after I drew the moon. :)


If you decide to try this, I recommend that you start with just the most basic steps.  Skip the steps that I said to do only if you have time.  Once you have your timing down for the minimum basic lesson, you can start adding the other steps in as the lesson becomes more automatic for you and you know you can get through the whole thing.  My top group made it through all of the steps in about 20 minutes, but our groups were supposed to be 15 minutes!

And so for the rest of the groups, I had to skip those optional steps.  And for one group, we only talked about the topic and details because there was no time to make a list.  It was frustrating for me, but if I had started off with lower expectations, it would have probably gone better.  Another alternative would be to talk about the book and make the chart with the entire class after all four groups were done- assuming that the entire class has read the very same book, of course.  I tried give my kids a little science emergent reader that was about the right instructional level for each group, so that alternative method wouldn’t have worked well for me in this case.

Here is a picture of all of the books in the set.  As you can see, the topics are ones that are typically covered in most early childhood classrooms.

Here is a picture of all of the books in the science set that I used. The levels are on the top right corner. Level A books are significantly easier than level D!

I hope that you found this useful!  I think that children really ENJOY reading informational books and learning about the world around them!  And since this goes right along with the Common Core, it’s a nice lesson to keep “in your pocket.”


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New! The Wide Mouthed Frog Sing-Along, Read-Along Book

Wide Mouthed Frog

We are very excited to announce the arrival of the newest sing-along, read-along book: The Wide Mouthed Frog!  I LOVE the way this book came out!  The illustrations are totally adorable and the songs are so much fun, and are simple enough for kids (and adults!) to start singing along even the first time you hear them!

Wide Mouthed Frog Page

This version is different from any other, because it features children dressed up as the characters in the story, acting it out as they put on a class play!

Wide Mouthed Frog Page 2

We produced this book to go along with our Wide Mouthed Frog musical play, but it’s actually a great addition to any classroom library, and would be especially wonderful to use in a listening center!

Wide Mouthed Frog Center

If your students listen to the entire thing from start to finish in a listening center, it will take 18 minutes.  That amount of time would have been absolutely PERFECT in my kindergarten classroom, because then they would have needed only ONE book in their listening center to keep them happy during the entire rotation!

Wide Mouthed Frog Center

(I always found it kind of hard when the listening center books ended after about four or five minutes, but the rest of the class was still busy working for another ten minutes or so!)

Wide Mouthed Frog Center

This wonderful picture book is the perfect way to introduce the concept of acting out a story for fun and for putting on a class play with young children! If you’re looking for a class play for the spring, this would be perfect!

Wide Mouthed Frog Play

My classes loved putting on this play! There really is a role for everyone and the children always seem to outdo themselves in “cuteness,” if I do say so myself! :-)

Wide Mouthed Frog Froggy

Here’s a clip from one of the scenes from my class a couple years ago! The “Hopping Along” song!


For more information on how I put on this play with my class and some tips and advice for putting it on with your class, check out this blog post from a few years ago!! I’ve got lots of pictures and ideas and another video clip! :-)

Wide Mouthed Frog Lion


Available on our website HERE, we have a DVD of the performance of the play, as well as videos of my rehearsal with the kids where I teach all the hand motions, PLUS it comes with the script! You can also purchase the music CD that includes all the songs for the play and the script!

Wide Mouthed Frog DVD


To purchase the read-along, sing-along picture book, The Story of the Wide Mouthed Frog, click HERE to go directly to the product on our site!!

Wide Mouthed Frog Cover


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An EASY Way to Put on a Play With Kindergartners!

Easy Way to Put on a Play

Today we have a great idea for a totally EASY way to put on a class play with Kindergartners or first graders with minimal costumes, minimal investment, and a part for every child in your class!  Below is a guest post from my new friend Lindsey Law from the blog Miss Law’s Kinders!  I discovered this great blog when she tagged me with the photo of her class putting on my Wide Mouthed Frog play below on Instagram!  I was delighted by the happy smiles of this “class selfie” with the children all in their cute little masks, all ready to put on their play!

But I had to know:  where in the world did those masks come from?  When I did the play, I spent quite a bit on animal hats and costumes, but it looked like Miss Law did it just as well on a shoestring budget.  So I asked her how she did it, and she directed me to her blog post on it, which you see below.  I have since discovered that she also has some really NEAT looking items on her TPT store as well- (I saw photos of them on her Instagram account!!!  I want, I want, I want!!!)  Lindsey agreed to share her post on how she did this play with us here.  I’m going to add few comments of my own in italics, too.  Enjoy!

Hi!  I’m Lindsey Law, from Miss Law’s Kinders!  This past Friday, we performed our class play by HeidiSongs, “The Story of the Wide Mouthed Frog.” The play was absolutely precious, and I am so incredibly proud of how well my Kinders did. I wanted to share with you some pictures from the play.


The characters in the play were:
Wide Mouthed Frogs





& a Crocodile

To put on this play, the children just need to learn some simple songs and act out the story while the teacher narrates.  It’s the narration that prompts them and helps them know what to do next, so they don’t have to remember very much on their own.

“The Story of the Wide Mouthed Frog” goes a little something like this.

The Mother Wide Mouthed Frog and her babies went in search of food to feed her babies.
(Each time the characters do something, there is a simple song about it with movements.)

They came across Elephants, Monkeys, and Lions and asked them what they feed their babies. The Mother Wide Mouthed Frog realized that she can’t feed the same things to her babies, and continues to search for the best possible food.

(Each group of characters take their turn on the stage to be featured singing their songs and doing their movements to it.  You can have as many or as few of each animal as you like, so that each child gets a part no matter what.)

That is, at least, until they came across a Crocodile. Mother Wide Mouthed Frog quickly realized the mistake she had made by talking to the Crocodile when he tells her that he feeds his babies Wide Mouthed Frogs.

After the scare of getting eaten by the Crocodile, the Wide Mouthed Frogs all returned home and never left again.
This play ends with an adorable song that all of the characters sing together.


I highly recommend Heidi Songs Primary Plays such as this one for your own Kinders. Each play is able to accommodate all class sizes, and is simple enough for the younger kiddos to perform.
If you are interested in doing this play in your own class, click the picture below to visit the HeidiSongs website to purchase the CD, or you can click here to see all of the primary plays she has to offer.

Each CD or DVD is $15 each. (You need the music CD to put on the play. The DVD is only for reference so you can see what the play looks like.)

Also, the costumes for this play were a piece of cake. I was able to find the masks for each character on the Silhouette Design Store, and I was able to quickly print them using my friend’s Silhouette and then laminated and cut. I added some string and asked parents to have their child wear the color of their character to school for the play, and voila! Parents didn’t have to search for expensive costumes, and I didn’t have to really worry about any of my students not having a costume on the day of the play because no matter what, I had the masks for them.


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Helping Children Understand Informational Print with Thinkmarks


In this post, I am going to tell you how to use a simple tool called “ThinkMarks” to help young children understand informational text that they are reading or hearing someone read aloud.  ThinkMarks are really just small sticky notes with symbols on them that represent different types of thoughts, such as what the topic is or perhaps an important detail or new word.  Teachers might want to have children put them on things like the table of contents, glossary, or index, too.  Children can also be taught to put Thinkmarks in books when they catch themselves using critical thinking skills such as inference or predictions, so they can be used in a wide variety of ways and at many different levels, and can also be a great part of a close reading lesson!


I first wrote about Thinkmarks in my January, 2014 post, “Using Thinkmarks to Boost Comprehension of Fiction and Critical Thinking Skills in Young Readers.”  Just click on the link to find out more and to download the Thinkmarks that I created for fiction.  The Thinkmarks that I made for this post are specifically for informational print, (which we used to call “non-fiction” when I was in school!)

How to Use Thinkmarks at the Kindergarten Level to Help Children Comprehend Informational Print

The plan below assumes that you’ve already introduced the ideas of finding the topic and some important details about it in an informational book that you’ve read.  To be successful comprehending Informational print, children need a basic understanding of how to find the topic of the book and some details about it.  After that, the rest is just gravy- it’s great to have, but not the most important thing, at least not in my opinion.

The great thing about using ThinkMarks when teaching kids to read informational print is that you can also use them to help them find and mark the topic and details in the text, which I found to often be a difficult thing for many children. Of course, finding the topic and the details might not really critical thinking in the way we usually think about it, but they are an incredibly important part of comprehending informational print.  And I think that it is important to establish this basic comprehension of the text first before moving on to teaching more complex levels of thought.

For best results, don’t try to introduce ALL of the Thinkmarks in the same lesson.  (I tried this, and it didn’t go very well!)  I would introduce just one or two to start with, and then introduce another new one later when they seem ready (probably just one more new skill/Thinkmark at a time.)

  1. Show the Chart:  Show the children the informational Thinkmark chart, and tell them that they are going to use these sticky notes to mark the important things in the book that they find.  Let them know that we may not need every single Thinkmark for every book.
    ThinkMark Chart-Informational Text K1
  2. Read a Book:  Start by reading a book aloud to the whole class.  Invite the children to raise their hands and let you know when they find the topic, details, or any other of the items on the chart.

    Informational print for Kindergartners

    This is a good example of an informational print book at a level that Kindergartners could read themselves. It’s a good starting place for a whole group lesson like this, too, because it’s SO short and quick that you would have time to talk about how to use the Thinkmarks.

  3. Find the Topic & Place the Thinkmark:  Hopefully, a child will raise his or her hand as you begin reading and identify the topic of the book.  When that happens, invite the child to up to come find the Topic Thinkmark and place it on the page that shows the topic, which will probably be the title page, the cover of the book, or one of the first pages of the book.  If none of your students do this, then ask them if anyone knows what the topic of the book is.  Call on one of them and ask that child to put the correct Thinkmark on the book.


    Here is a photo of a child as she tries to place a Thinkmark on a book independently in a small group lesson later on.

  4. Find a Detail and Place the Thinkmark:  Tell your students that since you have already identified the topic, then they should look for information about the topic, or “details” about it, and raise their hands when they find one.


    This photo shows one Detail Thinkmark.

  5. Find Another Detail and Place Another Thinkmark:  Hopefully, a child will raise a hand and quickly identify some important information in the book about the topic.  Have that child come forward and put a Detail Thinkmark on the page with that detail.
  6. Continue Finding Details and Placing Thinkmarks Until Done:  Continue reading like this, having children come up and put a Detail Thinkmark on any page that has more important information about the topic.  (Try to let the children determine whether or not the information on the page is important enough for the Thinkmark!)

    chart and book

    As you can see in this photo, we were using a more complex version of the Thinkmark Chart than I would recommend starting with. It was too hard! Start with the one pictured above. I have included several versions for you to try out if you like!

  7. Optional:  Add an Opinion Thinkmark:  If a child says something like, “Ew!” or “Yuck!” or “Awesome” then tell the class that the child just formed an opinion!  Have that child put an Opinion Thinkmark on that page.  (Caution:  you may want to limit the number of opinion Thinkmarks available per book, or once they get the hang of it, your class may NEVER stop offering opinions and it will take a really long time to finish reading any book!)

    Opinion Thinkmark

    This photo shows an Opinion Thinkmark. I got in the habit of asking my students what they thought of the book at the end of it, and then reminding them that this was their opinion. Then we placed an Opinion Thinkmark on the back cover or the last page. I actually like the idea of having each child draw a face that represents THEIR own opinion of the book, rather than both the happy and sad face to represent the word, “opinion.” I think I will try that next year!

  8. Optional:  Add a Connect Text to My World Thinkmark:  If a child happens to say something like, “I’ve seen one of those before…” then you can tell the class that he or she just connected the text to his own world or life, and that means the Connect Thinkmark goes goes there!  See step seven for advice on limiting the number of times this can happen, LOL!  Otherwise, their attention span may run dry before the book ends.

    "Connect the Text to My World" Thinkmark

    This photo shows a picture of a “Connect the Text to My World” Thinkmark. If a child says something like, “Oh, I’ve seen one of those before,” then a text to self connection has been made, and the Thinkmark can be placed. (The X on the circle is supposed to represent the Earth.) LOL!

  9. Model the Whole Process Several Times, Then Try It In Small Groups:  After modeling this process several times with different books, your little ones may be ready to try this themselves in their own little informational print reading books during your guided reading time.  For some classes, they may be ready after watching this modeled four or five times.  Others may need more.  Just be ready to help them through it, one step at a time- especially those that struggle a bit.

    Using Thinkmarks in a Small Guided Reading Group

    This photo shows what it looked like when we tried using the Thinkmarks in a small group. I made black and white charts because I didn’t want to waste all of my colored ink. I thought you might want to do the same, so I included those black and white charts in the file.

  10. Optional:  Add an Infer or Predict Thinkmark:  I’m including a version of the Informational Print Thinkmarks that also includes a space for “Infer” and “Predict.”  However, I found that these are REALLY hard to use with informational print, at least in Kindergarten.  This may be more do-able in first grade and up, though, so I am giving you the master to download just in case you or a friend can use it- especially since the work on it is already done.
    ThinkMark Chart-Informational Text
    thinkmark tiles logo

    If you want children to have a way to remember what those symbols mean, you might try these Talk Blocks! I tried them with first graders, and they really enjoyed them- but they WERE a distraction! To use the Talk Blocks, the teacher pre-records a message 30 seconds or less onto the blocks. If a child needs to hear the message, he taps the block to hear it play.  I would use them, but only if your children really NEEDED them as a prompt.  After that point, take them away for sure.


  11. For Older Children:  Add a Thinkmark for New Words, Table of Contents, Index, Glossary, etc.  I have included a chart with these elements on it for older children as well, in both black and white and in color.

    Here is a Thinkmark chart for much older children.

    Here is a Thinkmark chart for much older children.  The children would make up their own symbol, drawing, or pictogram, or simply write the word on the sticky notes.

  12. Customize Your Own Chart:  I also included a chart that is blank, except for the sticky notes.  Make up your own Thinkmark, and then be sure to let me know what you did with it!  I can’t wait to hear all of your great ideas!

    Here is a Thinkmark Chart that you can do whatever you like with!

    Here is a Thinkmark Chart that you can customize by writing in anything you like!

Tips to Make the Lesson Go More Smoothly

Before you read your first book whole group, draw the icons on the sticky notes yourself so that they are ready ahead of time.  It’s easiest to try this for the first time if you don’t have to fumble to remind yourself what to draw, especially as you sit in front of your whole class of students, and even worse- in front of your administrator!

Having those sticky notes DRAWN and ready to be placed BEFORE you read the book is essential to the reading lesson!  If you have your kids stop to draw up each of these things, that’s all you will do for that lesson.  So if each child is to have his or her own chart, then let them draw the sticky notes on another day and place them on their charts.  Then you can save the charts and pass them out for the children later.

When I tried this in a first grade class, I did not have the stickies drawn, and the kids all had to stop and draw them.  It REALLY slowed them down and distracted them from what we were supposed to be focusing on.  Later I tried it again in Kindergarten, and I had everything ready to go this time, because I had learned my lesson.  Things went much more smoothly, but then the chart was too hard!  Hence, the simplified chart you see at the top of the page.

I think that the easiest way to give the lesson is to have a set of charts ready with sticky note icons that are TEACHER DRAWN.  If you have groups of six kids maximum, make six charts, plus one for yourself, and maybe an extra for a possible new student if kids come and go a lot at your school.

So… the bottom line is that your life will be easier if you just draw all of those sticky notes yourself.  If you make a set of six charts, that’s eight per chart, so it’s 48 icons.  I made a set and it took me about 15-20 minutes.  Yes, I know that it is supposed to be possible to print on sticky notes, but I imagine that by the time I figured that out and cleared all of the paper jams in my printer, I would be done filling out all of those little stickies!

Moving On From There

The next step in this process is to teach the children to go back through the text and use the Thinkmarks to help them remember what they read, brainstorm, and make a chart of what they learned about the topic.  We then use the chart to help us generate sentences to help us figure out what to write.  But that’s another blog post, I think!

Forest Animals Chart


Click here to download the Thinkmarks Charts!


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