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Print Awareness - Early Literacy Series

Students who begin their literacy journey with a strong focus on print awareness and a longing to learn about reading and writing are enabled with tools to be successful in reading.

Welcome to the beginning of a series focused on early literacy! We're going to kick this off by

discussing print awareness. Research shows that students will have a higher chance of being

successful in reading when they have strong print awareness skills. Throughout the school day,

teachers must be intentional about building print awareness. We have to provide literacy

experiences which consist of concepts about books and print, as well as attitudes when it comes

to reading and writing. Let's dive in!

Concepts About Books

A part of building print awareness includes children not only understanding books but also how

they should read a book. They know that books are used for reading, they can hold the book 

right side up and they know where they should start reading and which direction they should 

read (front to back). They also read the left page before the right page and they turn the page 

correctly. 

Students who begin their literacy journey with a strong focus on print awareness and a longing to learn about reading and writing are enabled with tools to be successful in reading.
As their print awareness grows, children know what a book title is, that pictures are related to

the print, understand that there are an author and illustrator and understand what their jobs are. 

They will also exhibit comprehension by retelling familiar stories by using pictures, setting,

theme and plot in addition to sequencing stories. They will respond to appropriate questions about 

stories as well.

Concepts About Print

An understanding of concepts of print include everything from letters and words to punctuation,

signs, and symbols. The student will understand directionality, understand the concept of a 

letter and a word by pointing to only one, and they are able to follow along by pointing at words,

beginning to match the spoken word to the printed word. 

Students who begin their literacy journey with a strong focus on print awareness and a longing to learn about reading and writing are enabled with tools to be successful in reading.

A big shift in understanding occurs when the student realizes that print is speech written down,

can fluently identify letters by name, associate sounds with letters, start to use pictures to help

them identify words, use meaning and syntax to identify words and even predict the story. They

begin to copy letters and words, write their own name, hear and record sounds in words, and write

down a few high-frequency words.

Student Attitudes Toward Reading and Writing

We have a great responsibility in helping to shape student attitudes toward reading and writing.

How they feel toward reading and writing has a direct correlation to their literacy growth. As 

children are exposed to reading and writing, it is important that we make the experiences both

meaningful and enjoyable. 

Students who begin their literacy journey with a strong focus on print awareness and a longing to learn about reading and writing are enabled with tools to be successful in reading.

During this time assessments can be conducted to see if the student enjoys being read to, if they 

choose to look at books when they have a bit of free choice time, if they want to share books with 

their classmates, and if they show interest in writing. These assessments can be conducted formally

or informally. 

Students who begin their literacy journey with a strong focus on print awareness and a longing to learn about reading and writing are enabled with tools to be successful in reading.

Observing children daily and taking anecdotal notes as they respond to your literacy block is

the best way to determine their level of understanding when it comes to books and print. 

Sometimes you need the information at your fingertips as you plan for mini-lessons during

the week. I created these for a quick informal assessment so that you can have a snapshot of 

where your students are in regards to print awareness. You can grab these freebies by clicking 

here or on the picture above. Stay tuned for the next blog post in our early literacy series!

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Students who begin their literacy journey with a strong focus on print awareness and a longing to learn about reading and writing are enabled with tools to be successful in reading.

Using Wordless Books in a Primary Classroom

Wordless books are perfect for integrating into your classroom. They can be used to building confidence, comprehension skills and writing!

Books, books and more books! For every topic that you want to learn about, you can find a book

on it. I love to introduce and review concepts with any books that I can get my hands on! Every year

when I introduced new books into our day, I never gave wordless books much thought. It wasn't until

later on in my career that I realized how powerful they were. Now I'm on a hunt to add even more of

them to my library! They lend themselves to multiple skills. So why should you include them in your

classroom? Keep reading on to find out!


This post contains affiliate links, which means that I'll get a few cents thrown my way at no 

cost to you. This'll help me keep this old blog running!

Building Confidence

Entering school for the first time can be a vivid experience. Once you add in everything that we 

ask students to do these days it can be completely overwhelming. I have found that wordless books

can build up the confidence in each and every student in so many ways. A lot of times emergent

readers will shut down when they encounter words, and I always hear "I don't know how to read".


Wordless books are perfect for integrating into your classroom. They can be used to building confidence, comprehension skills and writing!


Luckily, wordless books do not have the added pressure of words. We take a ton of picture walks

through the books, and we discuss that reading the pictures is one way to read. Their face lights

up when they realize that not only can they identify the pictures, they can also discuss what is

happening in the pictures as well. From that moment on they know that they can read any book that

is in our library. I love to introduce wordless books by not saying a single word! It's so tempting

to start explaining what's happening on each page, but I use a lot of awesome facial expressions!

It's always interesting to see and hear their reactions when we reach the end of the book!

Comprehension

Comprehension skills are extremely important and every reader needs the chance to practice their

skills. Wordless books give students the opportunity to do this. They can actually focus on

the story that is unfolding, as opposed to focusing on the words. This is what students need when

we are beginning to teach comprehension. Students can sequence the events of a story, recall what

has already happened and they can practice their inferring skills.


Wordless books are perfect for integrating into your classroom. They can be used to building confidence, comprehension skills and writing!


Children can also practice their storytelling skills, because we all know that they have active

imaginations! Predictions can be made and they can learn to be on the lookout for visual clues.

With wordless books, students can be an active participant in the story discussions. This ensures

that no one gets left out of the conversation!

Writing

I know what you're thinking. How can wordless books be great for writing? There are no words!

I promise that it IS great for writing as well! Before we begin writer's workshop, I have discovered

that I must awaken their appetite for storytelling and introduce tons of vocabulary through picture

walks. It is only through modeling and exposure will they begin to include these in their writing.

Wordless books are perfect for integrating into your classroom. They can be used to building confidence, comprehension skills and writing!

We also use wordless books when we are learning about labeling our illustrations. I like to

use sticky notes and they help me to tap out our words, write the letters for the sounds and then we

label the pictures in the book.

Wordless books are perfect for integrating into your classroom. They can be used to building confidence, comprehension skills and writing!

When they are ready, another mini-lesson includes writing a sentence for what's happening on the

page.  Once you model new skills during writer's workshop, then pretty soon you'll have students

who are trying to incorporate it into their own writing!

Wordless books are perfect for integrating into your classroom. They can be used to building confidence, comprehension skills and writing!


If you haven't given wordless books a chance, I hope that you'll try to introduce them into your 

classroom! I've gathered a selection of a few great titles to begin with, you can check them out

right here. If you know of any other great uses for wordless books, please sound off below!



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Wordless books are perfect for integrating into your classroom. They can be used to building confidence, comprehension skills and writing!

6 of the Best Fine Motor Activities Part 2

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

Fine motor activities seem to only be thought of at the beginning of the year, but it is something

that students need practice with all year long! It doesn't take up a lot of extra time, just a few

materials and they are ready to go! Awhile ago we discussed six great fine motor activities, so

stay tuned for the next round of activities that you can quickly implement in your classroom.

1. Screws and Washers

Who knew screws and washers would hold a child's attention? I like to put them in the iris photo

boxes that you can grab from Michael's. Depending on how long they are, you can even put them

in the little crayon boxes that you can find at the Dollar Tree or Wal-Mart. They are super cheap

and perfect for little hands. Be careful, because they will end up all over the floor! One year I had

a custodian who asked if my desks were somehow falling apart, because he kept picking them

up off of the floor! I had to show him our boxes! Haha!

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

2. Cutting Practice

We all know that the only way children will get better at cutting is to practice. They're always

itching to cut random bits of paper so I let them! Children need to practice cutting straight lines,

curved lines, zig zag lines, moving on toward cutting shapes and other pictures out!

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

I know that it can be a tad bit annoying for them to have paper everywhere, but I promise the

engagement is totally worth it! The practice that they will get is priceless! Let them cut!

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

3. Geoboards

Geoboards as a fine motor activity used to definitely make me nervous. I mean, children with

rubber bands and spikey boards were enough to make my blood pressure rise. Once I got over that,

and had plenty of talks about do's and don't's with the rubber bands, they did surprisingly well

with them! And yes, a few of my friends had to have another talking to and consequences for

launching a few rubber bands across the room. Don't worry, just correct, re-direct and move on.

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

4. Pattern Blocks

Pattern blocks get a bad rap sometimes it seems. They get relegated to math time but they

are good for multiple uses! I use them for literacy practice as well!

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!


And wouldn't you know it, your little ones are practicing fine motor skills at the same time.

Maneuvering the blocks into their appropriate place and in between other blocks definitely takes

some fine motor skills!

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

5. Sticker Lines

Stickers lines are almost the same as cutting lines. It's exactly as it sounds! Add some lines to a piece

of paper, and let them follow the lines with stickers! If you find that your students are unable to

work with the smaller stickers, start them out with the larger ones, and then gradually move them to

the smaller ones.

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

As you can see, it doesn't have to be anything fancy! You do not need clip art, or dotted lines.

All you need is paper and a few markers, and you can make any type of sticker line that you want.

I like to use leftover stickers that I have completely forgot about. When I come across them,

I add them to the sticker line pile!

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

6. Fine Motor Maze

Now we're at our last fine motor activity for this post, the fine motor maze. I promise, it's not as

complicated as it sounds! You fill up a ziplock bag with cotton balls, and then add a colored

pom-pom to the bag, then you zip it up! The students would then try to move the colored pom-pom

from the outside of the bag. They would push the colored pom-pom from the bottom of the bag

to the top. You can even do thematic mazes, for halloween put a ton of black pom-poms and then

add an orange one, for Christmas you can do green pom-poms and add a red one! Easy-peasy!

Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

Aren't these activities so easy? I bet that you already have a ton of these material laying around!

Don't forget to read part 1 of fine motor activities! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate

to reach out!



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Fine motor skills can be practiced throughout the day in your learning activities! It is definitely something that should not be overlooked! Read on for great activities that you can easily implement in your classroom!

An Introduction to the Alphabet

Early reading success can be attributed to early letter recognition. Introducing the alphabet through the first 26 days of school can help with that!


One of my fave subjects to teach is reading. I absolutely love our morning literacy time. When

I plan my year of phonics instruction out, there are basically three parts that it includes. There is

some sort of letter introduction at the beginning of the year, where I introduce every letter of the

alphabet. Once they have been introduced, then we dive into whole group phonics instruction, and

then once students are assessed, we add small group instruction.


Today, we're going to talk about the 26 day letter introduction. This begins the first full week of

school. I like to do this because I don't like to make assumptions about what they know.  This

way we can all start off on the same foot. Each day pretty much looks the same, just with a

different letter. Everything that I will be talking about you can find here.


We introduce the letter then add it to our "plate", which is our brain. We talk about how the letter

looks, and how you form the letter. I like to use the terms straight lines, big lines, little lines

and curves.
            Letter of the Day

Once the letter has been introduced, we move onto the sound of the letter. I introduce the sound 

of the letter using the picture for the keyword that is on the alphabet card. 

Letter of the Day

Once we have covered the name of the letter and the sound that it makes, we move to what

I like to call applying the skill. We make a chart with the keyword picture card, and we talk

about other words that we know that begins with the sound. I draw and label their words,

all while showing them that it does not have to be perfect. Then I have each student to 

come up and write the letter. I let them choose whether to write a capital or lowercase letter,

so that they are comfortable in trying. It's a great informal assessment.


Letter of the Day


Next up is our tactile letter. Nothing about this has to be fancy! This helps to reach learners

who are tactile learners. We pick a material to cover the letter with. Sometimes we do tissue

paper, other times I have them to tear construction paper to glue onto the letter. This is perfect

for fine motor practice. You can also use finger paint, noodles, glitter (eek!), cheerios or

pom-poms, etc. Whatever you have on hand really!


Tactile Letters

If we have time, we take a look at our alphabet reader. I love that the title is just the letter,

and the inside just has the word that matches the picture. It's a great way to introduce and 

review concepts of print and initial sounds. 

Pre-emergent Reader

At the end of our alphabet routine is an exit ticket. They trace the capital and lowercase letter,

and they color the keyword picture. It's a nice end to our lesson of the day.

Alphabet Exit Ticket

All of these activities you can find in the  Letter of the Day Introduction from The Phonics Diner

which you can find by clicking on any of the pictures, or you can click here.

  Early reading success can be attributed to early letter recognition. Introducing the alphabet through the first 26 days of school can help with that!

So let's recap for a moment. These are the activities that we do during our letter of the day

introductory unit:

  • Letter Introduction
  • Sound Introduction
  • Alphabet Posters (Skill Application)
  • Tactile Letter
  • Letter of the Day book
  • Exit Ticket

All of these activities you can find in the  Letter of the Day Introduction from The Phonics Diner

which you can find by clicking on any of the pictures, or you can click here. However, these are 

routines and activities that you can use with any alphabet curriculum. If you have never done a letter 

the day introduction, you should consider implementing it in your classroom!





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Early reading success can be attributed to early letter recognition. Introducing the alphabet through the first 26 days of school can help with that!


5 of the Best Literacy PD Books


If you have been in education any length of time, you know how education trends change in no

time at all. Just like doctors need to be current on new procedures and surgeries and accountants

have to be current on tax laws, educators must stay on top of what is current in our field as well.

We all have to go to district mandated professional development, but a lot of times it does not get

the job done. It can all be vague information, and we're left with no clear way forward. Or even

worse, it is not relevant to us at all.


This post contains affiliate links, which means that I'll get a few cents thrown my way at no 

cost to you. This'll help me keep this old blog running!


This is why it is important that we take our learning into our own hands. I love to read current

professional development books because I am always learning and evolving as a teacher. This

helps me to stay current on educational research and trends. Below are my favorite PD books

all about literacy.


Last year our instructional coaches brought this book up, and something about it totally

captured my attention. A Fresh Look At Phonics by Wiley Blevins is worth its weight

in gold. My college was all about whole language acquisition. This means that I have had

to teach myself about phonics along the way. I bought this book over spring break intending

to read it over the summer, but I devoured it over that week. It was that good! It was also

the second time that I actually read a PD book from cover to cover. All 300+ pages of it.

Seriously, you will not be disappointed, because it includes actionable tips that you can

implement immediately!

Are you a teacher who is looking to improve their practice in literacy? Here is a list of 5 great professional development books to help you along the way!

The next book I have seen all over Instagram. The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo 

has been making the rounds. I wondered if it was really good, or if everyone was just jumping on 

the bandwagon. I finally grabbed it a few weeks ago, just to see what the hype was about. 

Y'all........I have to say, this book is totally the truth! It is set up by the goals you are trying to reach 

with your students. I love this because no matter where they are on the reading spectrum, you can 

identify a skill that they need to work on, and then you have a few strategies at your fingertips

that you can implement!

Are you a teacher who is looking to improve their practice in literacy? Here is a list of 5 great professional development books to help you along the way!

Small Group Reading Instruction by Beverly Tyner is another go-to for me! I was introduced

to this book by my friend Vickie Plant and I instantly fell in love. If you are looking for a book 

that details differentiated small group instruction, this is it. We're all given a reading program

to implement, but there's no real information on how to help your students with their reading

deficits. How crazy is that? Or you might get some PD or read a book, and even though it has

kindergarten, it really means 2nd grade and up. That doesn't help me at all! This book begins 

with what small group should look like, planning for small group, and then continues with 

the different stages from emergent all the way up to independent reader. You need this book

in your collection. You will find yourself referring to it again and again.

Are you a teacher who is looking to improve their practice in literacy? Here is a list of 5 great professional development books to help you along the way!

The next two books are by Debbie Miller. I love her! Reading with Meaning is all about

teaching comprehension in the primary grades. Key words here are the primary grades.

She takes you through a year in her classroom, where she leads her students into being

the very best readers that they can be. She uses the gradual release of responsibility model

and I love that she takes us along for the ride.

Are you a teacher who is looking to improve their practice in literacy? Here is a list of 5 great professional development books to help you along the way!

Next up is Teaching with Intention. I re-read this book in its entirety every summer. It is

not a literacy book per se, but it is all about your practice as a teacher, which is why it is

designated for K-5 teachers. The subtitle sums it up perfectly. It's all about defining your

beliefs, aligning your practice and taking action. Whereas the previous book followed Debbie

in her own classroom, this book takes you through her work as a literacy consultant, as she 

helps other teachers. I definitely recommend this book for any early childhood/elementary

schoolteacher. 

Are you a teacher who is looking to improve their practice in literacy? Here is a list of 5 great professional development books to help you along the way!

I absolutely love reading books and I buy them and sometimes they can fall flat and 

not be what I expected. This is not the case for the books listed above. I love them all

and I hope that you will as well! Click on any picture or here to see all of the books in one place

on my Amazon shop, and the individual links will take you to the individual books.




Are you a teacher who is looking to improve their practice in literacy? Here is a list of 5 great professional development books to help you along the way!