In our 1st-3rd grade groups we have been practicing inferencing! We are practicing inferencing with pictures and discuss observing details in description and paying close attention to important detail. We point out unimportant details too, just to practice process of elimination ;). Some vocab we use is "I notice" and "I observe" based on what they may already know. This line of thinking will transfer over to text, but it's easier to start with pictures!

RL. 1, RIT.1: ask and answer questions about key details, make logical inferences, draw conclusions based on evidence. 

How-to in grade 2!

Our second grade groups have been practicing writing. I want them to be creative writers and ENJOY writing. This means we spend 4 minutes in class with no talking- no asking how to spell something- no "is this right?" just writing ANY words. They ask if they can write "I don't want to write" the entire time, and I say yes. They never do that and always end up saying "Wait! I need more time!" 

In both 1st and 2nd grade groups we are practicing "How to's" to get our writing muscles moving even when they don't want to be flexed and practice those transition words like "then, next, finally" -- This is also what you see us practicing when we play story ball! 

IL State Standard for writing 3:

Write narratives in which they recount two or 3. more appropriately sequenced events, include
some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and closure

What to practice with your 3 or 4 year old!

Tracking print! The underrated skill to focus on for 3 + 4 year olds. And it’s easy! You can practice it by counting words you speak as you’re driving in the car! If you have a more eager little one, you can practice noticing how sentences end! Like .!? Clara picked this up so fast and LOVED it. In fact, this was a 30 minute giggle fest between cries all evening. As you can hear, the doctor came in to check her ears and she had a double ear infected and burst ear drum! But, still asked to learn to read! How could I say no?!


Letter formation! Letters start from the top and go down. It's important for little ones to learn this! You can practice it with stop signs, noticing green is the top light, ice cream cone scoops, etc. Just practice starting at the top! :)

Rhyming + Listening

Rhyming is SO important to practice with your 3,4, and 5 year olds. It is the #1 phonemic awareness skill- the "easiest" to master and a huge predictor in phonemic awareness.

 Phonological/Phonemic Awareness is essential for reading. Phonemic awareness is the process of identifying and manipulating sounds of spoken language. 

Try asking your young readers to rhyme words with pig, rock, tap, or ran. It's common for 4 year olds to name a word with the same beginning sound, but remind them we are looking for words with the same ending sounds. 

If your reader can rhyme, ask them to listen to a few CVC words you say and to tell you how many sounds they hear. This is phoneme counting and is also very helpful in learning to read! 

Sight words?

Sight words. Sigh. If you’re a parent with a 4-7 (8, 9, 10?) year old, you might be pulling your hair out about this. You’ve just learned all the sounds the letters make, but, why or WHY do most of the words your little ones are trying to read NOT sound like their sound?? Don’t worry, you’re doing the right thing with the sounds and here’s why. Sight words, fry words, Dolch words and high frequency words all basically mean the same (ish) thing. High frequency words are words that likely DO follow the phonetic patterns, but occur frequently in the English language. They just follow patterns that kids don’t usually learn until later- like that /ow/ sound in down.
Fry words are the most common words in English separated in groups by how frequently they occur. The first 100 make up about half of all printed material! So, you’d think it’s best to skip the sounding out step for now and focus on these words, right? Yes, memorizing them can be very helpful to early readers, but there can be some problems when students rely on sight words to read. They are likely memorizing word shapes and will not notice the difference between barn and born in a book, when /ar/ and /or/ make very different sounds. So, take some time to practice both! And try to remember, the best thing you can do is enjoy reading with your little one. They’ll follow your lead on if something is frustrating or if it is fun! Let it be fun. ❤️

Little City Readers

Does anyone read blogs? I just instagram. But, I should tell any of the blog reading moms about this awesome class you can join called Little City Readers. I have a confession to make. Little City Readers did not used to be my favorite class- for the sheer amount of set up and clean up! It took the most planning time and physical labor. But each semester I grow more and more in love with Little City. I cried this week when the last class left because I was so happy. I got a text from a mom saying, “I can’t believe how much he is communicating and how his confidence has grown in this class!” And another from a mom saying, “I wish we had this class every day!!” And, I do too! Because I see week to week the developmental mile stones these little ones are crossing off their lists and the ways they are learning to communicate with their grown ups AND peers! And the words they learn, the skills they master- like proper form in holding a paint brush! And it is truly an honor to get to be a part of it all. I love watching the grown ups become friends and the babies get messy. I laughed so hard my face hurt this week after one little reader literally cannon balled into the 1 inch water pool. I love this class and all these friends!

You wouldn’t believe all the things they are learning as they explore in this class- like emotional and cognitive development, their rate of verbal development, how to interact and share with other toddlers, how to be themselves and make decisions- like which sensory station they want to go to, process art exploration. They learn cause and effect from all these messy stations as they strengthen their fine and gross motor skills and coordination. Plus, all those signs we’re learning! Did you know—some studies have shown babies and toddlers that sign have greater confidence and self esteem later in life? Let’s not forget probably the most important part—the care giver/child bond that’s happening here 💕 it’s such a blast leading this class.

Monkeying around!

Did you know the monkey bars are a GREAT way to help get your reader get ready to write? The monkey bars help strengthen upper body muscles and hand strength that is needed to do everything from sitting in a chair to holding a pencil and having thecoordination to write their name! In order to write their name the lower arm muscles must be strong enough for the wrist to hold steady and rotate to the appropriate positions. The fingers have to hold the pencil to meet the paper at the correct angle, the upper body has to be strong enough to sign an upright position, the upper arm has to hold the weight of the lower arm. SO MANY THINGS. Next time you think your little reader is just "monkey-ing" around at the park, you might want to stop and give them a round of applause for all their hard work in getting ready to write! #finemotor #grossmotor #bigcityreaders


Opinion writing: Sour or Sweet?!

In second and third grade classes this week we got into something SWEET! Or, Sour...

We did a taste test of sour vs. sweet skittles and formed teams of which one each of us thought was better! (State Standard: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.) The projects were a little differentiated based on student ability and goals we had set- second graders were to come up with two reasons and third graders were to come up with three, plus concluding statements!

We got into teams with peers who chose what we did, sour or sweet, and students brain streamed and made graphic organizers using sidewalk chalk to form our topic sentences and supportive reasons WHY sour was better or sweet was better. Students then presented in attempts to persuade the rest of us. It was a great and silly lesson in speaking in front of others, persuasive and opinion writing and team work! Plus, we checked off FIVE state standards for writing for second grade and third grade listed below, if you're into that  : )

Write opinion pieces in which students introduce the topic they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

With guidance and support from peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.


Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.

Provide reasons that support the opinion.

Use linking words and phrases (e.g., becausethereforesincefor example) to connect opinion and reasons.


Story telling, top down letters, and hop scotch!

In 4's and 5's we built on our sight word knowledge in a review game of hop scotch. The words in your 4+5 year old's sight word bank should now be: have, like, said, go, the, that, in, I, a and be.

We practiced beginning, middle and end of story telling and working together to tell one word at a time stories. We passed the ball around and made it SILLY. 

We practice the formation of top down letters in using the visual cue of a house!  The attic, house, and basement are good for letters like h, which starts in the "attic" and ends in the "house." The letter g starts in the "house" and ends in the "basement."

And usual, things got silly with shaving cream, goo and sand! 


Fly Bye- First Grade Ready!

Fly Bye- First Grade Ready!

This week our first graders were introduced to a NEW reading strategy. Lips the Fish is securely locked into their reading strategy storage systems and they are ready to master another strategy. As a reminder, Lips the Fish is the concept and cue card we use to remind ourselves that while we may not know every long word, we can look at JUST the first sound and get our mouths ready to say it. This is a good strategy to practice even with more "seasoned" readers, as they get very eager to finish the word and sometimes skip over the first sound completely!

Anyway, the NEW strategy!! Fly Bye- because this summer really is flying! But also because it's easier for children to recall a strategy if they have a fun animal/insect attached to every strategy. Fly Bye is the natural add on after Lips the Fish is mastered because the two go hand in hand, or fin in wing ;).

Once students have noticed the first sound, this cue card will remind them to look at the picture for help to figure out the rest of the word. For example, in this photo, Fly Bye will help students know the word is a meal word, but Lips the Fish will help students know it is l-u-n-ch instead of breakfast or dinner. 

Quiz your little ones this week, they'll love it! Happy Reading!