Registration is no longer needed !

Getting to the Core

camp read away, ideas for march is reading month, camp read away, ideas for march is reading monthI think that my students’ favorite thing that we do for March is Reading Month is Camp Read Away.  I’ve collected 8 tents over the years.

You can pick up some great buys at garage sales, and when my close friend Maria asked me what I wanted for my birthday she wasn’t too surprised when I said: “The purple Disney Princess tent”.

It easily holds 4 giggling girls and they LOVE “reading away” in it! Camp Read Away is an easy theme day to throw together. Here’s how I do it:

Notes Home:

I Launch Camp Read-Away on a Friday; I send a letter home about it on Monday with a reminder on Thursday.  To make “camping” a bit more fun, I ask parents to please send a flashlight to school with their child.  Click on the link to view/print the letters. 


The night before I cover my windows with black bulletin board paper, and set up the tents.  I like to have the windows covered so that when my students enter the room it is entirely pitch black; they have only their flashlights to guide them.  They love the adventure.

I have foam alphabet and number puzzle mats that I put on the floor as a path that leads to the various tents.   I tell my students to stay on the path.  If they fall off they’ll land in the Camp Read Away swamp and could be eaten by a crocodile!  This adds to the excitement.

Set the mood:

I put a CD of a thunderstorm in my boom box.  I flip it on so that when they enter the pitch-black campground it’s raining.  A rumble of thunder cracks and startles the children whose eyes are still not adjusted to the darkness.  It makes the adventure even more fun!

I put a small basket of books in each tent.  I’ve already explained to them that they are to read quietly with their flashlights for a full 10 minutes.   As an incentive to get them “down to business” I tell them that if their tent is quiet, I will come around with glow-in-the-dark bracelets; they may choose any neon color they wish to wear for the day, but they have to be caught quietly reading to earn one.  This does the trick to simmer them down!

smores, camp read away, ideas for march is reading monthSnack Time:

For snack we have Smores. I have parents who signed up at my Open House that are willing to provide things for our special occasions. I’ve already sent a note home with those children asking them to provide an ingredient for our Smores.

They are easily made in the microwave.  Depending on how many students you have, you’ll need 3-4 Nestle candy bars, a bag of large marshmallows, and a box of cinnamon graham crackers.  I like the cinnamon kind because they taste better.   Because they are so rich, each child gets only ½  a graham cracker.

Break the tiny chocolate rectangles apart.  Put 1-2 rectangles on top of ½ a graham cracker, put a marshmallow on top of the cracker; put 4 of these stacks on a paper plate and then set in the microwave for 5 seconds. Keep watching through the window that they are melting.  Add more seconds if needed.  Immediately put the other graham cracker on the top when they have melted.

Continue to make more until you have enough for each child.  I have a microwave right in my classroom so this really helps.  I’ve put the tents back up and my Y5’s are once again reading, while I’m making snack.  I have my “mood lighting” on.  They still like to read with their flashlights even though it’s not necessary.

 ideas for reading with a flashlite, camp read away, ideas for march is reading monthLessons:

It’s basically a regular day except that our tabletop and their centers revolve around a “camping” and “reading” theme.  For example one of their centers is to cut out a circle and glue it to a Dixie cup and then Pinch & Poke a pattern in the top.  When everyone is done, we again turn off the lights, put our flashlights inside the cup and see our star design on the ceiling!

We play flashlight tag, sing the alphabet song with the flashlights, add and subtract numbers with the flashlights, and play “I Spy” with the flashlights.  To sing the alphabet song just put the beam of the flashlight on the letter and move it along.

To add and subtract, write the numbers 0-10 with a black marker on a piece of tag board; include the symbols + - and = on the bottom line. Move the flashlight beam to a number, then to a + or - symbol then another number then the = sign.  Whoever calls out the correct answer first, gets to hold the flashlight next.

ideas for march is reading month, camp read away, easy readers, class books, I play “I Spy a Shape” and point the flashlight beam to the door. My students should say,  “Rectangle.” We also play  “I Spy a Color.” My students have to say the color of the object the flashlight beam is on, in English and Spanish.

For a reading-writing extension they TRACE-WRITE-CUT-and GLUE their My Camping Booklet together and then we read it as a whole group.  They enjoy taking these "easy readers" home and sharing them with their families. Click on the link to view the booklet.

To reinforce listening and following directions we do a camping glyph, as well as a camping-alphabet slider. We sing the alphabet song with that and they manipulate the paper strip sliding it up and down as I ask for various letters. Click on the link to view my Activities For Camp Read Away Book

skunk, ideas for march is reading month, campfire songs, camp read awayStory Time:

I found a blow up campfire at a garage sale, that I blow up with a bicycle pump. I set this in front of my rocking chair.   Before I had the blow up campfire, I crumpled up red, yellow and orange tissue paper and laid it around and under a real birch bark log.   I stuck a small flashlight that I had wrapped in tissue beside it.  I use this during story time and we read by the campfire and sing campfire songs.

I have a few favorite songs that I teach my Y5's:  A Camping We Will Go and  The Little Skunk. I have a skunk puppet that I use to help out.  Because we're learning to count in a variety of ways we also sing 10 Little Campers to the tune of 10 Little Indians.  They enjoy making an Itty Bitty Number Booklet as we "Camp Count" by 10's to 100 as well as 1's, and then count backwards from 10-0 and blast off.  The Itty Bitty number booklet also counts by 2's, 3's and 5's for older students.  Click on the hot links to view/print the songs.

I also play the CD "Goin' On A Bear Hunt" Our paper bag bears are still hibernating in their big leaf bag cave, but will soon be awakening on the first day of spring (March 20th).  I thought it would be fun to do this musical-movement song, since bears are often seen at campgrounds.  We sit in a circle and repeat what the narrator says as well as a movement that they do.

Michael Rosen's Board Book Goin On A Bear Hunt is animated in this YouTube video and the author does his personal version of the book in this Goin' On A Bear Hunt YouTube video.  Check out the next YouTube video to see another song that we sing. 

After we go on our initial bear hunt we sing this song and instead of catching a bear we catch different animals.  This song leads us into our writing transition, where each student illustrates their own page and writes about what animal they caught on our bear hunt.  Click on the link to view/print this Class Book.   

There is another You Tube video called Goin' On A Lion Hunt that you can show and do a comparison contrast discussion of the two stories.  You could also have your students write their own version of the bear story using another animal like these children did with the lion.  Have them substitute different things that they will cross or go through to make their adaptation even more interesting.  You can have them graph which story they liked better.  Click on the link to view/print the graph.

My favorite camping story that I read to my Y5's is a hilarious rhyming book called A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee.  {amazonWS:itemId=0811836037}

princess tent, goin on a bear hunt, camp read away, ideas for march is reading month

At the end of the day we toss Ebony the skunk back and forth and share what part of the day was our favorite.  I give everyone a certificate of participation.  Click on the link to print/view a Camp Read Away certificate.

I keep the tents available for the next week and simply pop a few of the biggest ones up during Free Play center time and Free Reading time.  They are great for imaginative play, and a “super-duper-shutter-upper” when I want them to quietly read.  

Even if you only invest in one tent, it is really worth it, because of the fun YOU and your students will have.  I set a timer so that everyone gets a turn in the princess tent, even the boys!

princess tent, goin on a bear hunt, camp read away, ideas for march is reading monthThanks for visiting.  Feel free to PIN away.

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading, or do things worth writing about." -Benjamin Franklin


 kite art projects, kite projects, ideas for march bulletin boards, ideas for march is reading month, easy readersAnother theme I like to read about during March is Reading Month is KITES.

To add color to my hallway, I hang some interesting kites from the ceiling.  My students’ favorite is the butterfly. I add more in April when we study that unit.

kite art project, ideas for march is reading month, march bulletin board ideasme kite, kite art projects, ideas for march is reading month, march bulletin board ideasI also decorate my students’ lockers with nametag kites and their squisher kite artwork. 

I wrote my favorite kite books on an inexpensive Dollar Store kite and stuck it in the middle of a bulletin board with a blue-papered background.  The title: Reading Helps You Soar To Great Heights!

Some crumpled up white tissue paper, helped make the 3-D clouds.  Take a picture of each of your students reading a kite book, mount them on multi-colored kites, with yarn tails and staple them around the kite.  Easy and instant bulletin board.

As a home-school connection my students create ME kites.  Click on the link to view/print the ME-kite letter home. This is a great way to learn more about your students, and a wonderful opportunity for them to share and increase their verbal acuity.  Simply cut out a diamond shape on a half sheet of tag board and send it home with the letter.

flying kites outside, kite activities, kite art projects, march bulletin board ideas, ideas for march is reading month, easy readersInstead of the usual recess, I asked for several parent volunteers to walk to the park and they helped the children fly my collection of kites.  They had a memorable blast.

One year my semi-professional kite flyer friend Donovan, was available. Hhe came and gave an awesome loop-de-loop demonstration of all his kite tricks.

Afterwards, students ran around with their own decorated plastic grocery bag kites to see how high they could get them.

Simply turn printed grocery sacks inside out and let students decorate with permanent markers and stickers, tie a string on the handles so they can pull it.  You can also do the same with a paper lunch bag, but cut a hole in each corner and then insert the string.

I take an entire day or two to do a theme around kites. 

Click on the links to check out these fun activity booklets and Unit: My Easy Reader Counting Kite Booklet (With Math Extensions), Go Fly A Kite, (Spatial kite slider, kite art projects, kite projects, march bulletin board ideas, ideas for march is reading month, easy readers, Directions) My Shapely Kite, (Reviews Shapes)  Where Have All The Kites Gone, (subtraction easy reader), My Kite Counting booklet (Math activities)  + the big 78-page Kite Unit. One of the things my students enjoy making in the Kite Unit is the slider pictured on the right.

rhyming word kite, kite art projects, kite activities, ideas for march is reading month, easy readers

My favorite easy reader is: My Kite booklet because of all the fun extensions. Pictured on the left, is the rhyming word kite. Click on the link to view the entire booklet. 

kites, 3D shapes, kite booklet, kite activities for preschool kindergarten and first grade, I also like The Shape Of My 3D Kite because it helps review those tough shapes in an interesting and fun way.

I have a Kk is for Kite poster that lists all of the rhyming words.

I also have 5 kite activities in my 133-page Spring Art & Activities Book. One of my students’ favorites is the Japanese watercolor fish kite. Click on the link to view the adorable photographs.

There are also other fun and easy projects that make great March bulletin boards, as you reinforce report card standards and explore some science concepts.

You can do the math extension kite graph with your students, as well as share the kite poems or make the class kite book; view/print the kite activities.

girl flying kite, kite projects, kite art projects, ideas for march is reading month, ideas for march bulletin boards, easy readers

During story time we enjoy the following: 

The Emperor and The Kite, Yolen; Kite Flying, Lin; Kite, Packard; Laura’s Secret, Baumgart; Berenstain Bears: We Like Kites, Bear’s Bargain, Asch; Dora and The Rainbow Kite Festival, Ricci.

I hope you got a few ideas to supplement your March is Reading Month plans or kite activities. 

May they take you up-up and away to a great day … of reading!

Happy Fat Tuesday! 

mardi gras day ideas, mardi gras in the class room, ideas for mardi gras day, ideas for read across america, ideas for march is reading month, mardi gras mask,mardi gras ideas, mardi gras day in the classroom, mardi gras day, ideas for read across america, ideas for march is reading month, mardi gras maskAs we “Read Across America” I wanted to do something a little different and also toss in some geography; so I thought it would be fun to learn about Louisiana and have a Mardi Gras theme day on a Friday. 

My students have really enjoyed it in the past.  It's another fun thing to do for March is Reading Month and a great way to learn about another state.  Here are just a few of the things I did:

I kept it simple, just sending a letter home asking parents to please have their child wear something festive, purple-yellow-and green, or dress as a Mardi Gras-type clown if they wanted to.  I also dress up.  I've collected quite a few costumes over the years. 

My students enjoy seeing me dressed up and it makes story time extra fun.  Here I simply appliqued some Mardi Gras fabric cut out's to a black dress, added some gold and purple puffy paint around the edges, donned a feathered boa, a coin necklace, some beads, put on crazy purple, yellow and green socks, and a metallic mask and I was all set!

I have a Happy Mardi Gras note on their desktop with a purple, yellow and green Skittle waiting for them.  They get to eat two Skittles and then we use the other one as a manipulative to play “I Spy” the number or letter for our first Table Top lesson.  Click on the link to view/print the Mardi Gras note + a blank “I Spy” skill sheet. (You can fill in whatever letters/numbers that you're studying.)  

mardi gras day in the classroom, ideas for mardi gras day, mardi gras mask, mardi gras games, ideas for march is reading month, ideas for read across americaI bought Mardi Gras necklaces at the local party store and the students got to choose which color they wanted. Since Mardi Gras is all about collecting necklaces they got to make an additional one out of dyed macaroni, incorporating a specific ABC-ABC pattern.

Their favorite centers were decorating a mask, using bingo dot markers to make a pattern, and doing a pinch and poke with a golf tee.  Click on the link to view/print these Mardi Gras center activities

In the afternoon we played a few games. I tossed purple, green and gold coins all over the floor while they were at lunch.  When they came back to the classroom they got to scamper around and find as many as they could and then sort them by color.

The one who found the most coins won a prize.  Everyone got to keep 3 coins (one of each color); we identify these colors in Spanish.

We made several different patterns with the coins, counted them by 10’s to 100, and by 1’s in English and Spanish.  We counted backwards from 10 to 0 and then "blasted off" to our lockers to put the coins in our backpacks.

mardi gras ideas, mardi gras mask, mardi gras games, ideas for mardi gras in the classroom, ideas for march is reading month, ideas for reading across americaOriental Trading sells quite a few Mardi Gras items as well as your local party store.

As another math extension, they also played a Mardi Gras dice game. Click on the link to view/print the Mardi Gras dice game.

I bought a beanie-type Mardi Gras stuffed Jester and we played “Hot Jester” (Like Hot Potato) passing it around in a circle to music; when the Mardi Gras music stopped, the one holding the Jester was out.

We had our own Mardi Gras parade marching around the room and then down the hall to visit a few of the other preschool and kindergarten classes.

For writing/reading they completed their Mardi Gras page for our class book. Click on the link to view/print a Mardi Gras class book.

For geography/writing/reading everyone cut and glued their Louisiana book.  We found Louisiana on the globe and state map and looked at books from the library.  If you are a Gold Subscription member and want to make a comparison booklet using your state, drop me an e-mail and I will send you the clip art and pages for your state. Click on the link to view/print a Louisiana state booklet.

mardi gras ideas, mardi gras mask, mardi gras games, mardi gras ideas for the classroom, ideas for march is reading month, ideas for read across americaFor story time I checked out books from the library on Mardi Gras and showed them photos that I printed from the web.  Some books I recommend are:

  • Mardi Gras in New Orleans: an Alphabet Book by Karen Jansen.  This is a different kind of alphabet book as it doesn’t just have A is for Alligator.  The text recognizes all of the initial A’s.  e.g. Accordions, the anticipation of Ash Wednesday, the day after “Fat Tuesday”, We all attend the Mardi Gras, an annual action that…” All of the bolded letter A’s are be in a purple color.
  • Mimi’s First Mardi Gras by Alice Couvillon, is a great way to give your students a bit of information about Mardi Gras as well as learn some of their distinct vocabulary, everything from beignets (doughnuts eaten for breakfast) to the doubloons (colored coins) thrown from the floats.  The book is illustrated in the vibrant colors of Mardi Gras that help the story come alive.
  • Cajun Alphabet, by James Rice is also an unusual alphabet book.  I like that it rhymes, but the text is a bit long at times.  It definitely has a Cajun flavor and even throws in some French phrases.
  • Celebrate  Mardi Gras & Carnival, by Campoy This included a regional map of the US and highlighted Louisiana.  They gave a short description of the holiday and had actual pictures of Mardi Gras.  The authors also mentioned hurricane Katrina in their dedication page to New Orleans.
  • After reading about Mardi Gras, we graphed whether we'd really like to go to Louisiana and attend Mardi Gras.  Surprisingly, some of my students did not; they thought it would be kind of scary.  Click on the link to view/print the Mardi Gras graph.

During Show & Share time, we tossed the Mardi Gras jester back and forth.  Whoever had the jester got to share what part of Mardi Gras day was their favorite.

The day went faster than usual.  I gave everyone a certificate for participating; it seemed that everyone had had a Mardi Gras great time! Click on the link to view/print a Mardi Gras certificate

I like to feature authors during March is Reading Month.  One of my favorite book series is the Berenstain Bears, by Jan and Stan Berenstain. The photo is courtesy of

Jan and Stan Berenstain, Berenstain Bears, March is reading month ideas, Inisde outside upside down, teaching spatial directionsThis was my son Jason’s favorite “read to me” book before he went to bed.

Stan and Jan Berenstain wrote this successful children’s series together.  It started with their first book The Big Honey Hunt in 1962.  Previously, they had been successful cartoonists for magazines and adult humor books.  Since then, they have produced more that 300 Berenstain Bear books, with 260 million copies sold.

Their son Mike was their inspiration and joined the writing team in the late 1980’s.  He and his mother continue to write new stories, since his father’s death at the age of 82, in 2005.

I’ll sometimes follow up a story with one of their life-skill building videos.  They are very short, usually less than 10-minutes, and teach a valuable lesson.  My favorite is Messy Room. Click on the link to view this on U-Tube.

My favorite Berenstain Bear book to read to my Y5’s is Inside Outside Upside Down.


The simple gist of the story is that Brother Bear gets into a box. Papa Bear turns the box upside down, takes it outside, and it accidentally gets put on a truck.


Why I Love it:

The rhyming text, and repetitive verse make it a perfect easy reader.

Since teaching spatial directions is one of my report card standards this is the perfect book for explaining those concepts.

Jan and Stan Berenstain, Berenstain Bears, Ideas for March is reading month, teaching spatial directionsberenstain bears books, jan and stan berenstain, ideas for march is reading month, teaching spatial directions, spatial direction wordsHow I Teach Spatial Directions:

  • I pause at the repetitive verse and have my students repeat the phrase with me, as I point to the individual words.
  • I make the book even more fun because I made a large box similar to the one in the book. 
  • Since eyes peek out of the box, I cut out two white circles and glued huge wiggle eyes on top and then glued them to the box. I also glued the repetitive words, inside, outside, and upside down on the box.  I put contact paper over them for extra protection.  After I finish the story the child shows the side of the box that says: The End!
Click on the link to view/print the words to make your own manipulative box.
  • I choose a student to manipulate the box while I read the story.

  • After the story I review all the spatial direction words with my students and call on quiet students to manipulate the box.  i.e., the box is beside the student, the box is above the student, the box is between two students etc.
  • Even my ESL students have spatial directions pretty down pat by the time we end this activity.
  • I add spatial direction words to our word wall, make flashcards for them, and have my students make Itty Bitty books from the flashcard skill sheet. Click on the link to view/print a copy of the spatial direction word cards.

  • berenstain bear books, jan and stan berenstain, ideas for march is reading month, teaching spatial directionsThey trace the words, cut out the cards, and I staple their booklets.  They really enjoy sharing them with their families.
  • We then think of the spatial direction word that we like best and graph the results.  Click on the link to view/print a spatial direction graph.

  • I also Xerox off their school picture on the photo setting of the copier.  I cut 7 ovals of their picture so that they can glue it beside, above, under, inside... the boxes on the pages of their  Where Am I? booklet. 
  • They also get practice tracing and writing the words and increase their fine motor skills cutting and gluing them to the correct pages.  This is one of their parents' favorite keepsake booklets that they make. 
  • berenstain bear books, jan and stan berenstain, ideas for march is reading month, teaching spactial directions, spatial direction wordsI make the rounds of several food and appliance stores and ask them for boxes.  During Free Play Center time my students have fun playing with the boxes.

  • Later, I have them manipulate blocks and go through the various spatial directions using the blocks.  We'll do this at their tables.
  • For a gross motor movement, I'll have them choose a puppet or stuffed animal, bring it to the circle and I'll tell them to put the puppet/animal on, above, beside them.  To extend this, and get the wiggles out, I'll put on some zippy music and we'll march around.  As they march, I'll say "On!" and they'll put their puppet/animal on whatever body part I put mine on. We'll continue to march and I'll say: "Beside-left, beside-right,  above." etc. 

  • It also gives me a chance to reinforce the names of the various parts of their body, which is also a report card standard.
  • It’s a fun day for my students, and one of their favorite books in their book basket.  It’s especially rewarding when they come to me and say: “Mrs. Henderson.  Mrs. Henderson.  Listen to me.  I can read this page!”


Berenstain bears, Jan and Stan berenstain, Ideas for March is reading month, teaching spatial directions, Where's Blue?

  • The other thing that I do to get spatial directions in their head is to “hide” something in plain sight.
  • Each morning this is one of their jobs.  It teaches responsibility and gives them something to do that keeps them quiet and focused.
  • The first child to discover where the object is, raises their hand and gets to tell the class (using spatial direction words) where it is.
  • In September this is Blue from Blue’s Clues, in October it’s a pumpkin.  I skip November because everyone has the concept nailed by then.  I revisit it again in December with Elf on a Shelf as a behavior modification tool. I also do it again in March with a Leprechaun for the same reason and also as a refresher.


berenstain bears, Jan and stan berenstain, ideas for March is reading month, teaching spatial directions, Laundry Line Of Learning:

  • Another way my students learn their spatial directions is with my Laundry Line of Learning; it has numbers that change with the various months/seasons.
  • i.e., I’ll have numbered school children for September (pictured), numbered snowmen for January, shamrocks for March etc. hanging from a clothesline. The clothesline is just below my number train in the photo.

  • Leo the Lion has his thumbs up or down if he’s messed up the numbers. His arms are bendable.  He is sitting on the chalk sill next to the hot pick rectangle.
  • My students use their spatial direction words to tell me where the numbers should go so that I can fix the line i.e., before, after, left, right, as well as ordinal placement: first, second, third etc. jan and stan berenstain, berenstain bears, ideas for March is reading month, teaching spatial directions



  • I have a flannel board with Monthly Manipulatives where my students can place a Velcro apple (September) or an October pumpkin in the various positions. i.e, the smaller apples have the spatial direction words on them like "beside". I'll pass out the little apples and the children will put the word-apple where it goes.  The big themed piece (in this case the apple) is in the middle of the flannel board.  The child with the small "beside" apple will put it beside the big apple.
  •  If I'm working on left and right, I'll tell them to put it beside the apple on the left or right.  The child with the "above" word-apple will place it above the big apple and so on.  I do this board during story time.  It only takes a minute and the children enjoy placing the seasonal manipulatives on the board. 
  • It's another fun way for them to get these word-wall words into their heads so that they can read the matching booklets.  I also have color and number words on the apples, pumpkins, mittens etc.  This also helps them read the matching color and number booklets.  Click on the link above to check out this fun program that helps my Y5's become readers. 

jan and stan berenstain, berenstain bears, ideas for march is reading month, teaching spatial directionsSpatial Direction Booklets:

  • Finally, every week they have at least one, sometimes two spatial direction booklets that they trace, cut and glue together.
  • After everyone has completed their booklet, we read it as a whole group.  This reinforces concepts of print and helps get the spatial direction words in their head.
  • My students’ self-esteem is also built because they can actually take these little booklets home and read them to their families!

  • I have lots of spatial direction booklets available for only .29cents. I designed them for each of my themes.
  • My students really enjoy making them.  They reinforce reading skills, but also help with writing, listening and following directions; plus it helps increase their finger dexterity, increasing muscle control as they improve their cutting skills.
  • My students are familiar with the directions, so I simply pass a booklet out during our reading block and they “get down to business”.

  • Because this is an independent activity, I’m free to do assessments, or work one-on-one with a struggling student.
  • March spatial direction booklets are:  Go Fly A Kite,  Lucky Me!  I Found A Four-Leaf Clover,  There’s a Pot Of Gold At The End Of The Rainbow,  Where Is The Pot Of Gold, and  Where’s The Lion?
  • Become a Gold Subscription member and download over 100 booklets and anything else at no additional charge.  Every week I add new things including at least one easy reader!


jan and stan berenstian, berenstain bears, ideas for march is reading month, teaching spatial directions, This Berenstain Bear book can be read to even a very young child.  My children enjoyed it as young as one.  So if you have little ones at home, snuggle up on the couch, and grab a big old empty box from the basement.  You’ll have some great quality time with your kids!

I remember one Christmas my daughter Kelli’s favorite thing that year was not playing with her new toys, instead, with a bow stuck to her little blond head, she crawled inside a box, rolled upside down, squealed… “Mama Mama!” and had the time of her life, much like the ending of Jan and Stan’s book: “Mama Mama I went to town, inside, outside, upside down!”


Happy Reading,

whether you're inside, outside, or even, upside down!

Click on the link to view/print a spatial direction certificate.



Happy Read Across America! 

Garden_Of_Readin', read across America ideas, March is reading month ideasHere's what I'm doing in Michigan to promote reading! I wanted to write an article that would include lots of the fun things that I've designed that helped my Transitional Kindergartners and First Graders learn words.  I even use some of these things with my Y5’s.


Word Wall:

For my word wall  I had a Garden Of Readin’ wall that was several pieces of lattice.  It was a fun way to put up alphabetical word cards.  These were not only the usual sight words, but had a place for the month’s seasonal words as well as color, number and calendar words.

I made the word wall a bit more fun by reviewing it daily in the dark.  I’d pick a Popsicle stick with a student’s name out of the “garden basket” and that student got to use a lighted laser to point to the words.


Dolch word help, read across America ideas, march is reading month ideasWord Cards:

I have packs of word cards that I laminate and use for games.  I laminate them and make Memory Match games.  Students also partner up and flip over one card at a time.  The one who reads the card first gets to put it in their pile. 

I’ll play “Slap” with them as well and sprinkle the cards on the carpet.  I give each of my students a flyswatter and call out a word. They slap that card.

Sometimes I’ll flash a card from the pack I keep by my rocking chair.  The first student to identify the word gets to hold it.  The one with the most cards gets two M&M’s (Most words Memorized!) Everyone else gets one. 

My students also gather in a circle and we’ll play “Word Down.”  I’ll hold up a word and the first person reads that word.  If they can’t they sit down and the next person reads it. Then I flip up another card and so on ‘til only one person is standing.

We play ABCDe-tective.  I’ll hide word cards around the room and in the hall.  If someone finds the card they read it to the class.  If they can’t read it they give it to a friend that can.

I put the word cards in a center for the students to make sentences with them.   I challenge them to come up with a really long one.  We write the longest one that they have come up with so far on the board and try to beat it.

I have several word card books:  Popcorn Words  has 70 FREE traceable popcorn words, a writing sheet and a poster + a blank set for you to make your own. I also have over 300 FREE Dolch word cards from pre-K through 3rd grade + more helpful things in my Dolch Word Help Book and Kindergarten Mini-Site Words includes 52 traceable word cards. 

Elkonin Word Boxes are also helpful. Click on the link for 50 word templates + blank templates for 3, 4 and 5 letter words to make up your own.


Read across America ideas, March is reading month ideas, reading help, Dolch word listRead across America ideas, March is reading month ideas, reading help, Dolch word listActivities:

I have a mystery letter of the day. I also do this with our number and shape of the day.  They are posted behind the apples that you see on my board.

I have a WOW on the board each day.  (Wonderful Outstanding Word!) Click on the link to print a FREE poster.

There are also directions for making a "Reading Survival Kit" as a little gift for your students and Zippy a reminder to be quiet poster. 

I also have a Secret Word of the day.  This is usually a word my students are having difficulty with.  I’ll give clues about it all day and then during “Show and Share Time” I’ll ask who’s guessed it and reveal that turned over word card.

I’ll mix up a row of word wall word cards and “steal” one and see if my students can figure out which one is missing.

I’ll drop the word cards in a basket. We’ll sit in a circle right before lunch.  Each student will choose a card and read it.  I call this “Munch a bunch of words before lunch!” Crunch-Crunch!

Toss all the word cards on the floor.  Have your students tip toe in.  They can only pick up a word card if they can read it.  As they pick them up they read them. Then assemble in a circle.  Have each child show their cards one at a time and read them.  The rest of the students repeat what’s on the card.  The student who found the most cards gets 2 M&M’s the others get one.

I’ll pick 3 cards my students are having trouble with,  and play "Hot Cards!" My students sit in a circle and I turn on some zippy music.  Three different students pass the 3 cards one at a time.  (Start them at 3 different sections of your circle.)  When the music stops whoever has a card reads it and is then out. Play continues ‘til there are only 3 people left.  They receive 2 M&M's everyone else gets 1.  (I remind them that M is for March and M is for M&M's (Most words Memorized so get busy!)

We graph our favorite words, colors, numbers, days, and months. (ages, birthday month, birthday day etc.)

ideas for read across America, ideas for March is reading month, reading helpGames:

Play 4 Corners with 4 difficult words.  Play Simon Says with word cards.  Simon says “Read this card.” Play Doggy Doggy Who Took Your Word?  Each time you play use a different word card.

Put 4 cards in the middle of the carpet and play "What's Missing?"  Read the word cards: all-are-an-and.  Have students close their eyes.  Take a word card away.  Ask students to guess which card you took?  Continue to add another card until you have 8 cards.

I'll pick a word from the wall and put that many dashes on the board and then set the timer. Students have one "Mad Minute" to ask me a letter.  If it's in the word I'll write it in, until someone can finally read the word and tell me what it is.  If the timer hasn't rung yet, I'll put another puzzle word on the board. Each day they try and beat their record of the most words that they solved in one "Mad Minute".

When we're waiting in line in the hallway I'll play "I'm Thinking of a Word"  and then give them clues such as it has the letter a in it, or it ends with, or it rhymes with, or it has 5 letters etc.

I make up game sheets I call SCRAMBLE.  I set the timer for 3-5 minutes.  The student who can unscramble the most mixed up word wall words in that amount of time wins a prize.

Spill and Spell is a game I make for my students out of Popsicle sticks.  It helps them to learn their names.  They really enjoy this gift.  You could also make them for your word wall words.

Gross Motor & Music

Instead of saying just the alphabet we’ll also say the phonetic alphabet and add a word for each letter.

We do actions for blends and digraphs. i.e. st - stomp! I have a helpful checklist booklet with this chant in it.

We "cheerlead" a new word:  Give me a Y give me an O give me a U! What does it spell? Y-O-U – YOU!  I’ll brainstorm with my students of how we can make the letters with our arms so we can fit in some gross motor movements.

We sing the vowel song to BINGO.  (There was a class that knew their vowels and this is what they sang Oh! A-E-I-O-U, A-E-I-O-U, A-E-I-O-U, and they were very smart Oh!)

ideas for read across America, ideas for march is reading month, reading helpProjects:

I have my students make Itty Bitty Books out of all of my word card flashcards for the various booklets and themes.  They take them home to read and review with their families.

I have them do Table Top skill sheets where they do the following with their sight words: They see it, say it, trace it, write it, find it in a sentence and then underline it; spy it in a box and zap it!  They enjoy these “fun sheets” and it builds their recognition skills, writing skills and self-esteem. 

Click on the link for 61 FREE Sight word skill sheets + the 46 page companion More Sight Word Skill Sheets book, covers colors, numbers, days of the week, months, and question words like who-what and where etc. 

Another different site word skill builder filled with skill sheets and covering 53 words is 76 pages long. Here they trace, write, color, cut, rearrange and glue the letters to make the words; involving all sorts of skills.  My students enjoy this book because it's like putting together a puzzle.   

Take Action With Contractions is another FREE book that's 62 pages long and chock full of activities to get contractions into your students' heads. 

We think of rhyming words to go with our word wall words even if they are nonsense words.  It's often a silly time.  We'll start in a circle with the 1st letter of the alphabet for the word and go from a to z. i.e.  at is the word.  The first child starts and then it goes to the next child:  at, bat, cat, dat, e-at, fat, gat, hat, i-at, jat, klat, mat etc.  We do a lot of giggling.

I make skill sheets with groups of words all over them and make it into an “I Spy!” game sheet.  I’ll call out a word on the sheet and students spy it and circle it.  That student then calls out a word and the students find and circle it. The first person to raise their hand is the next one to be able to call out a word.

We alphabetize our words.

We do word finds.

We compare a word with another word.

We play “I spy!” and look for words inside words.

easy readers, ideas for read across America, ideas for March is reading month, reading helpBooklets:

I make up “Easy Reader” booklets for them to trace-write-color-cut and glue.  Then we read them as a whole group.  They enjoy collecting these booklets and sharing them with their families. One of the most popular "Easy Readers" that teachers pick is the "I Can!" booklet.

I have also designed counting, color, spatial direction and shape booklets for each theme.  The repetition of each booklet in the series helps a student recognize the format and words.  Many of my Y5's can read these booklets by the end of the year because of the simple repetition. 

Because students recall the familiar directions the teacher is freed up to do other things. As students work independently, a teacher can help students one-on-one or do assessments.  One of my Y5's personal favorites is the color booklet.

I do 3 of these booklets through out the day.  My students enjoy them and take only 5-7 minutes to complete one, depending on the booklet.  It’s great as an independent center activity, home-school connection, something for students to do when they complete other work, or something for your sub. folder. 

ideas for read across America, ideas for March is reading month, Dolch word list, Contraction help, reading tipsCalendar:

Calendar time is also another place I incorporate reading.  I incorporate reading words during calendar time.  The days of the week and the months are part of our word wall. I have a fun class book that my students make that gets the months into their head.  It's called Rhyme Time Movin' Through The Months and they LOVE reading and making this book. 

The other booklet they really enjoy is There Was An Old Lady. This is a spin off of the original as my old lady has a different twist. My students feed her the months as we read the story.  I've also written one for colors, numbers, shapes and letters.  My students enjoy the manipulatives I pass out.  We sequence them as well as pop them into the various old ladies' mouths, learning the different concepts and report card standards as we go.

Whenever I give them a free choice book that they'd like me to read it's usually an "Old Lady" booklet.  I've made these 2 on a page so you can run off copies of these booklets so your students can each have one to take home and enjoy reading to their families.

Students also practice their writing skills and learn to read the month words by making a Very Hungry Student booklet, they especially enjoy the rhyming text.  There's even a page for classmate's autographs.

I also get my parents on board by sending themed-word and picture cards home each month with an "I'm So Cool Calendar!" A letter of explanation tells them how to use the pictures and cards and the calendar provides a way for them to keep track of the words their child is learning.  It's a great home-school connection as well as self-esteem builder. 

Click on the link for this FREE 27 page reading help calendar booklet. You may find Calendar Concepts as well as Calendar Helper Book worthwhile too.  The first is 80 pages long, the 2nd is 50.  


ideas for read across America, ideas for march is reading month, reading tips, Dolch word list Get Parents On Board:

I have a program that I call RAH RAH. It stands for Read At Home. I hang a megaphone that I bought at The Dollar Store from the ceiling and put a poster listing all my students' names on a wall in the hallway, so that everyone can see how well my students are doing.  A letter home asks parents to read to their children a few times a week and then to X off a monthly-themed piece of clipart and send back the signed note. 

It has been extremely successful.  I think it was all that some parents needed for that extra push to read to their child at night, and see the important value of making the time to do that.  Click on the link to view/print your FREE RAH RAH reading logs.  Click on this link to print RAH RAH #2 A FREE poster, letter, bookmarks, etc.

I not only want my students reading, I want to build their vocabularies.  I need parental help for that and send a monthly list home in my students' Take Home Folders.  Monthly Vocabulary Lists

Ideas for read across America, ideas for March is reading month, reading tips, Dolch word listMisc.:

I read lots of alphabet, color, number and themed books every day to my students.  I use puppets and magic to make things exciting and to help them become lovers of books and life-long learners. I have a book with 260 teaching tips of how to make storytelling more fun.  It's chock full of great ideas to help make your story time educational as well as a much-looked forward to, time of day.

I have my students practice writing their name by sending "I love you" grams and leaving them in silly places once they get home. You could extend this idea by having your students choose a word wall word that they are working on and sign it on the back.

I use a flannel board to post our seasonal word manipulatives. I have two sets: One for the beginning of the year September through December and one for the end of the year, January through May.

I use stuffed animals and Beanie Babies to help my students remember reading strategies.   They "Chunk with the Skunk", "See with the Bee", "Make a Sound with the Hound", "Check the Vowel with the Owl" etc.  I’ve made these into posters and bookmarks and a bulletin board. You can find these things in my FREE 136 page A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That Book complete with word wheels and skill sheets!

We have older students come in and be Reading Buddies with my little ones.  They work with them one-on-one and sometimes just read together flopped down on mats or simply chill out in a corner on a bean bag.  Everyone looks forward to this once a week-end of the day time.

I have a week of Camp Read Away where I let my students read in the dark with a flashlight in a tent for 10 minutes at the beginning or end of our day. I have now collected 10 tents. (More details in another article!)

The entire school has DEAR Time (Drop Everything And Read), where we get to go out in the hallway with a book, plop down in front of our lockers and read for 10 minutes after announcements during March is Reading Month.

ideas for read across America, ideas for March is reading month, reading tips, Dolch word listPraise:

To build self-esteem I give ABCDe-tective certificates after students are able to read a specific booklet.  Click on the link to see a sample.

I also give them bookmarks as incentives and to praise their efforts.  I designed 8 reading ones in the 60-page March Apple Bytes newsletter packet.  As a fun center activity, why not have your students design a bookmark for Read Across America or March is Reading Month. 

Give them a 7x3 piece of white construction paper and have them create something unique. This is a school wide activity for us.  Each teacher submits the best two from their class and then the school votes on the best one from each grade level.  Prizes are given and the bookmarks put in a frame in our atrium. 

Via a newsletter I let parents know that I want to know how their children are doing with their "I'm so Cool Calendars". When students can read all of the Easy Reader Booklets, or are "Most Improved" or can read all of the Word Wall Words or have done other milestones, I award prizes, stickers and certificates + lots of genuine verbal praise and encouragement. 

I post all of these things in my monthly newsletters.  I think it helps motivate parents to help their child shine a little brighter. 

And finally...

I make it as FUN and as stress-free as I can, through all of the above and promoting a positive "can do" attitude in my students that empowers them.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading and hope my enthusiasm is contagious.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful.  As always, if you have something that’s working for you and your students, I’d love to hear from you.

As you're reading across America this month I wish you a magical and safe journey!

Page 146 of 151





Please help keep my site online and FREE.


If you've enjoyed the teaching materials and would like to donate even a dollar to help me with the cost of running TWM, I'd be grateful. Thank you!


Share My Button
fb freebies

advertise with us