Genre Activities... FREE Printables!

One of my goals for the first month of school has always been to get to know my students as readers. I want to know what types of books interest them, and which books bore them, and then I use this information to recommend certain books to my students throughout the year. These discussions pop up naturally when we review the genres with our students... everyone seems to want to share whether or not they enjoy reading a certain genre. Therefore, genre is a topic I dive into early in the school year with as many engaging and meaningful activities as possible! Today, I am going to share three genre activity ideas with you!
Looking for genre activities to engage your upper elementary students? This blog post contains a genre anchor chart plus two more genre activities! Free printables, too!

Activity #1- Anchor Chart

This is a second-day activity in my classroom, because I use my Genre PowerPoint on Day #1 to introduce the topic. To prepare for this anchor chart activity, three things need to be done in advance. First, I make the anchor chart "base", which looks like this:
Genre Anchor Chart
Second, I print my definition phrases on sticky notes. (Click on the image below to download these free phrases. There are instructions listed for printing on sticky notes, or check out Courtney's blog post if you would like to see a tutorial with photos.)
Genre anchor chart sticky notes- plus two more free activities!
The third and final preparation task is to print a genre response sheet for each student. (You can download this free sheet also, by clicking on the image below.) This sheet is super important, because it keeps EVERYONE engaged in the entire lesson! I print the sheets on cardstock and slip them into a reusable dry-erase pocket or a page protector sleeve. (After our genre unit is complete, I gather them, and store them away so that they are ready to use again next year.)
Genre Identification Activity for the upper elementary classroom- plus two more free activities!
When it's time to begin the lesson, I hand each student a genre response sheet, a dry-erase marker, and an eraser. Then, I read one of the sticky notes, and tell students to circle the genre they think is being described. After a short discussion, we place the sticky note in the correct area of the anchor chart, and we move on to the next sticky note. Throughout the lesson, I'm making notes on a clipboard, marking which students are having difficulty, and which genres are the most confusing for students. As a result, this activity serves as a formative assessment! When we have finished, our anchor chart looks like this:
Genre anchor chart and free printables!

Activity #2- Identifying Genres

Minimal preparation is required for this activity. I only need to visit the school library (or classroom library) and check out a wide variety of books. I aim to pick out a few for each genre.
Genre activities for the upper elementary classroom! Free printables!
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Students will once again use their genre response sheets, dry-erase marker, and eraser. To begin, I simply display a book, and read its title. I also read the blurb on the back or share a short "teaser" that provides clues as to what genre the book belongs to. Again, students circle the genre  that they think the book belongs to on their response sheet, and then we have a short discussion to reveal the answer.
Genre activities for the upper elementary classroom- free printables are included!

Activity #3- Genre Minibooks

The only thing I need to do to prepare for this third activity is gather some old Scholastic book order forms and a sheet of blank white paper for each student. (Also, if you don't know how to make a tiny 8-page mini book, check out this one-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21qi9ZcQVto )

After guiding students on how to form their mini book, they write "Genres" on the cover of their mini book while I distribute a book order form to each student. I instruct my students to find as many different genres in the book order as possible. When they find a book that belongs to a genre, they cut out the image and glue it to one of the pages of their mini book. After the image is glued in place, students need to label the genre they found.
Genre sorting activity for the upper elementary classroom- plus two more free activities!

If you are looking for additional genre activities, feel free to check out the following resources in my TpT store:
Genre PowerPoint- introduce your students to 14 genres. Lots of opportunities to practice identifying genres!

Genre Book Display Craftivity- students identify 12 genres... great bulletin board idea!
I used this craftivity with 4th and 5th grade students. If you want to see the one I used with third grade students, click here.

I hope some of the activities I shared will be helpful to you as you and your students explore genres this year. Thanks for stopping by!

What Do Authors Do: A Mentor Text for Writing! (Includes a sequencing freebie!)

I discovered a new picture book recently. Well, it isn't really a new book, but it was new to me! It was actually published back in 1997 (which was the year I student taught!). I wish I would have found it back in 1997, because I would have used it every year for the past 19 years! Perhaps you've heard of it, or have even used it in your classroom... (An Amazon affiliate link follows.)

Looking for a mentor text to use in a writing lesson for upper elementary students? This text can be used as a foundation to stress tons of truths about how "real" authors write.

What Do Authors Do? is by Eileen Christelow. You may recognize her name from the popular Five Little Monkeys picture book series. This book is written in cartoon form, and it follows two authors through the writing process, from the moment they get an idea and all the way through the arduous writing process and publishing process. Both authors get an idea when one of their pets chase the other one into a lake. The male author decides to write a chapter book, while the female author chooses to write a picture book.

When I found this book, the teacher in me immediately thought, Oh my goodness! This is the perfect book to share with students as part of a writing minilesson! As an ESL teacher who co-taught in many upper elementary classrooms, I wish I had a dime for every time I reminded a student that real authors revise their writing over and over, and that as authors, they needed to be willing to revise their initial drafts, too. This book provides proof of the revision process for authors in a kid-friendly way.
Looking for a mentor text to use in a writing lesson for upper elementary students? This text can be used as a foundation to stress tons of truths about how "real" authors revise. Includes a free printable!

Some of the other key points I would stress during a read aloud include:
Looking for a mentor text to use in a writing lesson for upper elementary students? This text can be used as a foundation to stress tons of truths about how "real" authors write. Includes a free printable!
This page could serve as a springboard to make a list of things students could do when they feel stuck in writing!

Looking for a mentor text to use in a writing lesson for upper elementary students? This text can be used as a foundation to stress tons of truths about how "real" authors write. Includes a free printable!
This is one of my favorite pages! I like how it shows that authors get emotionally attached to their writing, and that it can be difficult to hear negative feedback. Best of all, though, is how Eileen Christelow stresses that authors are persistent people... they DO NOT GIVE UP!

Looking for a mentor text to use in a writing lesson for upper elementary students? This text can be used as a foundation to stress tons of truths about how "real" authors revise and edit. Includes a free printable!
I would encourage students to connect this to the writing process that occurs in the classroom. When the author meets with an editor, who suggests ways to make the story better, it reminds me of how students meet with teachers during a writing conference for the same reason! 
Another fabulous feature about this book is how it does not end when each author receives an acceptance letter from the publisher. Rather, it takes the reader through the publishing process, which includes working with editors and designers, dedicating the book, and seeing how books are printed and bound by machines.
Looking for a mentor text to use in a writing lesson for upper elementary students? This text can be used as a foundation to stress tons of truths about how "real" authors revise and edit.

Finally, I love how the book ends... with the authors thinking about ideas for their next book.

Don't you love it when you can get two uses out of ONE book? When I first read this book, I knew immediately that I wanted to use it as a writing minilesson to show students how real authors work through the writing process. However, it quickly struck me that this could serve as a dual-purpose lesson! Not only could I focus on the writing process, but I could also make this a sequencing activity! Click here or on the image below to download the FREE sequencing strips!
Read aloud What Do Authors Do?, and then have your upper elementary students sequence the story-writing process using this FREE printable!


Looking for a mentor text to use in a writing lesson for upper elementary students? This text can be used as a foundation to stress tons of truths about how "real" authors write. A free sequencing activity is also included in this blog post!
Pin this activity for later!!

Classroom Must Haves: Things I Can't Picture Myself Teaching Without


Are there classroom supplies you simply cannot imagine having to survive without? Whether you're a brand new teacher or a veteran with thirty-some years of experience, you've surely got a list of teaching must-haves. My fellow bloggers and I at Upper Elementary Snapshots are going to share our favorites with you!  (Amazon affiliate links follow.)


Thirteen upper elementary bloggers share their "must have" teaching supplies and resources!

Must Have Supply

I could not live without reusable dry erase pockets
Reusable Dry Erase Pockets... a classroom supply I couldn't live without! These are so useful in the classroom for multiple reasons!

They are soooo versatile! They are similar to individual white boards... but so much better! I have found multiple uses for these little gems!
Slip a colored sheet of cardstock inside the sleeve, and you have an individual "white" board! I use this feature on a daily basis to promote student engagement. Just like with individual white boards, each student can practice a math problem, define terms, or write responses (like the two words within a given contraction).

Here's the best part about the dry-erase pockets, though. You can slip any sheet of paper inside the pocket! Are your students learning to tell time? Slip an analog clock image inside, and students can draw the hands of the clock so that they display a given time. Slip a map of the United States inside and ask them to write the abbreviations you've learned on each state. Slip a Venn diagram inside and ask them to compare and contrast two characters! The possibilities are endless!
Reusable Dry Erase Pockets... a classroom supply I couldn't live without! These are so useful in the classroom for multiple reasons!

A final use for dry erase pockets I found on a whim. One day I decided to print a partner play at the last minute to use at a reading center. Normally, I would laminate my partner plays for added durability. However, on this day, I didn't have time to do that. I spotted a dry erase pocket out of the corner of my eye and realized hey! I'll just slip this pair of scripts inside two pockets until I have a chance to laminate them later! 
Reusable Dry Erase Pockets... a classroom supply I couldn't live without! These are so useful in the classroom for multiple reasons!

Must Have Book

What Do You Do with a Problem? by Kobi Yabana was just published in 2016. It is by the same author as the New York Times best-seller What Do You Do with an Idea? Both of these books caught my eye recently during a trip through a local bookstore. I ran across it right after I had finished creating my Growth Mindset PowerPoint, and I knew I had to have it... it fits so perfectly with the growth mindset approach!
Teaching about growth mindset? Check out this awesome classroom read aloud book, What Do You Do with a Problem?

This book is about a boy who encounters a problem. At first, he tries to escape from the problem, but he realizes that it keeps following him from place to place. After much worry, he decides to confront his problem. 

The following image shows my favorite page of the entire book:
"My problem held an opportunity! It was an opportunity for me to learn and to grow. To be brave. To do something."
I think a perfect followup discussion after you read this book aloud to students is to brainstorm problems, and some of the opportunities that might be found within.

Must Have Resource

Of all of my resources, the one I simply couldn't live without is my Nonfiction Text Structure Bundle! It contains a plethora of activities- possibly more than you could use in one school year! An interactive PowerPoint (with a companion handout), a flipbook, TWO craftivities, 24 task cards, graphic organizers, posters, worksheets, an assessment... this resource containing more than 100 practice passages has it all! 
Nonfiction Text Features BUNDLE!!  This file contains so many activities for teaching upper elementary and middle school students about text structures. More than 100 passages are included!

FREE FOR YOU!

If you were to ask my students what their favorite classroom activity is, I bet more than half would respond "PARTNER PLAYS!" without hesitation! Cheers erupt when a new set of partner plays is introduced! If you are not familiar with partner plays, they are scripts that students read with a partner. They are great reading center options that allow students to work to improve their reading fluency! Plus, all of my 4th and 5th grade sets now contain some sort of follow-up worksheet that accompanies each script. Click on the image below to try one out in your classroom!
Try out a partner play for FREE!  This script is designed for 4th and 5th grade readers. It comes with a bonus comprehension sheet!
2nd and 3rd grade teachers, CLICK HERE to check out the partner play freebie I wrote for your grade levels!

After you've downloaded my freebie be sure to visit each of the blogs below to add 12 more FREE RESOURCES to your own collection of things you can't picture yourself teaching without. Afterwards swing by our collaborative blog, Upper Elementary Snapshots for lots of great content and ideas you can put into practice in your own classrooms as well as a chance to win gift cards to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Teachers Pay Teachers so you can stock up on your own Classroom Must Haves.


~DEB

Growth vs. Fixed Mindsets... A FREE Sorting Activity!

Hello, Friends!

I have spoken with several teachers who have shared how they started the last school year with teaching the fundamentals of growth mindset, and how it positively and profoundly affected their classroom climate last year. I’ve talked to even more teachers who plan to start with this approach this year. I even watched my own daughters blossom last year after a teacher they shared spent several days focusing on the importance of having a growth mindset. Therefore, when a teacher asked me to create a Growth Mindset PowerPoint a few months ago (that she could use to introduce the concept at the beginning of this upcoming school year), I immediately thought, Genius! Why didn't I think of that myself?

After creating the PowerPoint, I thought I was done… until, during a recent loooooong road trip, I was inspired to create some growth mindset stations, and make them available for free to my blog readers. 

The station I have shared below is simply a sort. Students cut out a statement, read it, and determine whether it is a statement made by a person who has a fixed mindset or a person who has a growth mindset.
Help students differentiate between growth mindset statements and fixed mindset statements with this FREE learning center!

Help students differentiate between growth mindset statements and fixed mindset statements with this FREE sorting activity!


Click HERE to download these free printables. Then, hop on over to Upper Elementary Snapshots, where I wrote an accompanying blog post. You’ll find FOUR MORE FREE STATIONS there that you can download!
Foster growth mindsets within your students this year with these four FREE learning centers!


Also, feel free to check out my PowerPoint and partner plays- just click on the images below. These stations would be an excellent followup activity after working through the PowerPoint with your students.


Growth Mindset PowerPoint and worksheets. This file includes directions on how to split this PowerPoint into a 5-day mini-unit... perfect for back-to-school time. Five growth mindset worksheets are also included!

Growth Mindset Partner Plays- 5 scripts students can read with a partner to improve fluency. This set focuses on growth mindset concepts and includes a free worksheet that students can complete after reading each script!


Nonfiction Text Features Anchor Chart (including a freebie!)

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I am addicted to anchor charts. I think it's the ESL teacher in me... I like the idea of having a visual reference available in the classroom for those kiddos who need it.

There are so many great nonfiction text feature anchor charts on Pinterest, and I've recreated several of them over the years for my own classroom use. The one I am going to share with you today, however, is a near-replica of one I created myself one year after realizing that many of my ELLs were confusing the index and the glossary.
Nonfiction Text Features Anchor Chart plus tips for teaching students about text features. Download the FREE packet so that you can recreate this anchor chart for your own students.

As you can see, this anchor chart compares and contrasts the four text features that are actually full pages in a nonfiction book. When using this anchor chart as part of a lesson, I recommend having everything except the definitions on the anchor chart when you begin class. When I begin the lesson, my students and I study one image at a time, and I ask students to share what they notice about that page (I jot their ideas on the board in the form of a bullet list). Yes, sometimes I have to "steer" the discussion in a certain direction to help them notice certain aspects of the text feature. After a brief discussion, I write a definition below the image.
Use these FREE printables to teach your students about an index, glossary, table of contents, and title page in a nonfiction book. Use these materials to create a nonficiton text features anchor chart!
If you would like to download the four text feature examples I glued onto my anchor chart, just click HERE. (It's free!)

I would like to share one more tip with you about guiding readers to use nonfiction text features as they read. When I was younger, I remember struggling to know exactly when I should be looking at the various text features on a given page. Do you read the text before looking at the text features (like diagrams, text boxes, etc.) on the page? Do you scan the text features after reading the text? I must confess that I used to do the latter... read the entire chapter, and then go back and scan the text features. I did it as a way to check myself for understanding. Then, during a professional development experience near the beginning of my teaching career, a speaker recommended that we teachers direct students to preview text features as a prereading strategy! When I learned this, I had to restrain myself from slapping my forehead with the palm of my hand. That makes so much sense... why hadn't I thought of that before?  In college, I had learned about doing a "picture walk" with beginning readers before beginning a fiction book. This is an easy and effective way to frontload vocabulary and have them make predictions. It makes perfect sense to do a "text feature walk" with readers at all levels before beginning a nonfiction book for those very same reasons!

I have found that this strategy works so well... for myself and my students! I would love to hear your experiences with this strategy, or if you have another tip that works well with teaching students how to use nonfiction text features!

If you are looking for additional text feature resources, I have several available in my store! These task cards that contain a game twist are FREE.
Nonfiction Text Feature Task Cards... for FREE! Plus, these unique task cards feature a game twist!

Click on this image to preview the my text features bundle, or to check out an of the individual items seen below.
Nonfiction Text Features... a bundle of resources!

Thank you for stopping by today!

Fireflies Freebies: A Mentor Text for Writing


Hello! Welcome to our Mentor Text Lesson link-up for summer. Although the overall theme is summer, you can definitely use most of these activities at any time during the year! A list of all of the participating blogs is at the bottom of this blog post. Each blogger will be sharing a mentor text lesson using a particular book. Hop through the various blogs to find some outstanding read-aloud books, and grab the amazing freebies that accompany each book! (Some will be forever freebies, while others will be free for a limited time.) Also, don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post for a chance to win TpT gift cards! 
(Amazon affiliate link below.)
Using Fireflies to teach the importance of word choice in writing: A mentor text activity that focuses on revising sentences! Multiple FREE printables included! - Crafting Connections with Deb Hanson
The book I chose to feature is Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe. I fell in love with this book the very first time I read it. I was able to connect with this book immediately, as my personal memories of catching fireflies on late summer nights as I was growing up came flooding into my mind. My big brother, twin sister, and I, along with all of the neighborhood kids, would "dash about, waving our hands in the air like nets, catching two, ten- hundreds of fireflies, thrusting them into jars, waving our hands for more". The author's words capture my own memories perfectly! Her eloquent words describe my memories in a way that I would have difficulty expressing. And that's why I chose to use this book as the basis for a writing minilesson!

Using Fireflies to teach the importance of word choice in writing: A mentor text activity that focuses on revising sentences! Multiple FREE printables included! - Crafting Connections with Deb Hanson


Fireflies is written from a first-person perspective, and begins with a young boy eating his dinner on a summer evening. When he spots a few flickers of light out the window, he shovels in the rest of his dinner, grabs a jar, and flies outside. His other neighborhood friends have already begun to gather with their own jars. As the sky grows darker, they "run like crazy", "grasping at the lights", and "thrusting their hands into the jar" once they capture a firefly. Eventually, it is time for everyone to return to their houses. Once in bed, the boy begins to feel guilty about his mass of fireflies, growing dimmer by the minute. Eventually, he flings off his covers, goes to his window, and frees his fireflies. The story ends with the words "The moonlight and the fireflies swam in my tears, but I could feel myself smiling."

I read this story aloud to my students twice. The first time, we read it for pure enjoyment. The second time, however, we read it with a purpose. Before beginning the second reading, I ask my students if they would have been able to visualize what was happening in the book if there hadn't been any pictures. After agreeing that this definitely would have been possible, we discuss the reason for this: the author used exact and descriptive words that make it possible for the reader to visualize the scenes in the story. Then I tell my students that we are going to read this book a second time, and record some of the descriptive sentences from the book. Noticing these descriptive words and sentences will help us to become writers who use exact words and vivid sentences.

Using Fireflies to teach the importance of word choice in writing: A mentor text activity that focuses on revising sentences! Multiple FREE printables included! - Crafting Connections with Deb Hanson

  
I distribute a recording sheet to each student (printed on one sheet of paper so that the recording sheet is 2-sided). We read through the top paragraph and direction paragraph, and then we read the top row of the chart: The author could have written a dull sentence.. but instead, she wrote this descriptive sentence! As you can see, the dull sentence is provided. As you read the book a second time, students need to listen for a descriptive sentence that the author used in place of the dull sentence, and record it on the sheet. (I model the first few using my document camera.) Page numbers have been provided so students know when they should start listening for a replacement sentence.
Using Fireflies to teach the importance of word choice in writing: A mentor text activity that focuses on revising sentences! Multiple FREE printables included! - Crafting Connections with Deb Hanson Using Fireflies to teach the importance of word choice in writing: A mentor text activity that focuses on revising sentences! Multiple FREE printables included! - Crafting Connections with Deb Hanson


I have two follow-up activities that can accompany this lesson. First, you can give the students the following worksheet, and students can practice writing descriptive sentences to replace the dull sentences. (After everyone has finished this worksheet, it is fun to ask volunteers to share their replacement sentences with the entire class. Plus, it sparks even more ideas for some students!)
After reading Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe, have students complete these three FREE followup activities. The free writing minilesson focuses on revising sentences and word choice - Crafting Connections with Deb Hanson

Second, you can distribute this writing prompt, that asks students to write about a time that they have captured fireflies! (I have found that students are always eager to share their own connections to this book, and since this is a writing lesson, they might as well share their connection through writing!)
After reading Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe, have students write about their own experience catching fireflies! FREE writing paper, but two additional free writing activities - Crafting Connections with Deb Hanson

Thanks for stopping by! I hope that you'll be able to use this writing activity in your classroom. Have fun checking out the other blog posts~ that's where I'm heading now!