Don't Be Fooled... {FREE April Fool's Homophone Craftivity!}

Elementary students LOVE April Fool's Day, don't they?! Yes, we teachers sometimes get to deal with immature jokes that students try to pull on one another, but I find it somewhat entertaining (and insightful!) to observe the harmless antics most students engage in on April Fool's Day.  (I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard "Mrs. Hanson, there's a spider on your head!" on April 1st over the years!)

Anyway, I've got an April Fool's Day FREEBIE available at my TpT store that I thought I would highlight today!
This FREE homophone craftivity is a perfect activity to do with elementary students on April Fool's Day (but it could easily be adapted to use at any time during the school year)!

If your students could use some homophone practice anyway, this would be a fun activity to do on April Fool's Day.  Enjoy!

The Rainbow Tulip: A Mentor Text for Inferences (includes freebies!)

The Rainbow Tulip is by Pat Mora. (Amazon affiliate link below.) As a teacher of ELLs, I have found that my students love this book. A handful of words and phrases appear in Spanish, and my Spanish-speaking ELLs' faces light up when they hear their native language being spoken in the book.
This blog post contains a FREE inference worksheet that can be used as a followup activity to reading the story The Rainbow Tulip.
The Rainbow Tulip

The Rainbow Tulip

The Rainbow Tulip is written by Pat Mora and is illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles. It is the true story of Estelita's experience participating in a May parade. Estelita, eager to take part in the parade, asks her aunt to sew her a beautiful, multi-colored tulip skirt. When she arrives at school on the day of the parade, however, some boys laugh at her colorful skirt, and Estelita finds herself embarrassed that she isn't dressed like the other girls.

I love this book because the author skillfully addresses a common challenge faced by so many bilingual students who are growing up in two different worlds- an English-speaking school world as well as the native-language world of home. As readers progress through the book, it is evident that Estelita struggles with finding her place in her two contrasting worlds.

I begin the lesson by telling students that we will be inferring as we read this picture book. I remind my students that authors often do not tell readers exactly how the characters are feeling, but they expect their readers to make inferences as they read. Then, I review the two critical ingredients for making an inference while reading:


I distribute the printable to the students and begin reading the book.

This blog post contains a FREE inference worksheet that can be used as a followup activity to reading the story The Rainbow Tulip by Pat Mora.

This blog post contains this FREE inference worksheet that can be used as a followup activity to reading the story The Rainbow Tulip.
Once you reach a section from the book that is listed on the chart, give your students time to fill in the schema column and the inference column. After you briefly discuss the inferences your students made, continue reading the book. (Click HERE to download this for free!)

The last page of this book contains a note from the author. It is on this page that readers discover this is actually a true story. Estelita is actually Pat Mora's mother, and this is her childhood memory from growing up in the 1920s in El Paso, Texas. 

At the end, the author poses these questions to the reader:
What about you? Have you made a family tree, discovered the treasure of stories that is your family?

What a great extension writing activity this opens up!  Tell your students to go home and ask their parents to share a childhood memory with them. Then, students can write a draft of the story the next day during writing!

Favorite Books to Use with ELLs Part 1: Amelia Bedelia

Do you have certain Guided Reading Levels that you would consider your favorites?  I do!  When I have students who hit Levels K and L, I know exactly which books I am going to retrieve from the book room... Amelia Bedelia books!!!  I love 'em, and they quickly become favorites for my students, too! (Amazon affiliate links are below.)

As you probably already know, I am an ESL teacher for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.  I go into the classroom and co-teach writing during most of the school day.  But I do have two 30-minute guided reading groups each day.  Since I work with a number of students who have just recently arrived to the United States, I have some fairly low-level guided reading groups.  As a former reading teacher, I LOVE these periods of my school day! love Amelia Bedelia books for several reasons.  First of all, Amelia is so funny!  These books are super engaging.  Even my reluctant readers get "hooked" within the first few pages.  Second, these books are predictable.  After reading just two Amelia Bedelia books, readers begin to notice the plot pattern:  Amelia Bedelia will misunderstand someone's directions, but she will end up fixing everything in the end with food! the best thing about using Amelia Bedelia books with ELLs?  They allow me to multitask!  I can pack multiple skills into a lesson, which is so very necessary with my students who are playing "catch up"- trying to learn English quickly so that they can catch up with their classmates and focus on grade level standards.  With Amelia Bedelia books, there are so many opportunities to teach multiple meaning words, homophones, and idioms!  They are also perfect for working to improve fluency.  Readers must pay close attention to the punctuation.  Amelia Bedelia asks lots of questions (???), and Mr. Rogers gets annoyed with her antics often (!!!). always begin my Amelia Bedelia lesson with a chart similar to the one below that accompanies Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping.  We complete the first column of the chart BEFORE we read.  I feel that it is vitally important to do this.  After all, if my students do not know the real meaning of "hit the road", they will not comprehend why it is funny when Amelia Bedelia starts hitting the road with a stick.  It is always interesting to go through the first column and determine what my ELLs already know.  For example, when I recently used the chart below with one of my groups, my students already knew the meanings of "chocolate chip", "start a fire", "row a boat", and "sleeping bags".  On the other hand, they thought "shipshape" meant "in the shape of a ship" (just like Amelia Bedelia assumed!).  The other phrases, like "tent stakes", and "pitch a tent" were unknown to them.  They told me what they thought Amelia Bedelia would think it meant, but they admitted that they didn't quite know the real meaning.  This indicated to me that my students realize that they have to think critically about words (YAY!).  They are at a level where they know that "pitch a tent" probably means something different than "throwing a tent" because it would be very unusual for someone to really throw a tent.
Click HERE to download a copy!
Here's the version I use with Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia.
Click HERE to download a copy!
After reading the book, we complete the chart with what Amelia Bedelia thought each phrase meant in the story. We also compare and contrast this Amelia Bedelia story with the other ones we have previously read.   My students usually rank which Amelia Bedelia stories are their favorites, and I have them tell me why, of course!

Coming Soon:  Part 2 of this series will focus on Reading Safari Magazines!  Stay tuned!

FREE Synonym and Antonym Lesson for Upper Elementary

Today is my day to post at Upper Elementary Snapshots! Click on this link to read about how I teach my students to attack synonym and antonym multiple choice questions on standardized tests when they don't recognize one or more of the vocabulary words in the question. Plus, you'll be able to download this activity for FREE and use it in your own classroom if you wish!
Teach your students three important test strategies for identifying synonyms and antonyms on standardized tests... even when they don't know what a word means! This FREE lesson contains a poster, an exit ticket, and three multiple choice teaching examples!

Have a great day!