Finding Primary Sources to Teach Virginia Studies

Resources and tips for locating and selecting primary sources to teach Virginia Studies

Are you interested in using primary sources with your students, but aren't sure where to start? I know it can be a little overwhelming and time-consuming to find what you need, so I've compiled a list of user-friendly places to look for primary sources related to the Virginia Studies curriculum. I've also included some suggestions for how to select appropriate primary sources to use with your students. Hope this helps you to get started!

Using the Dictionary

Second graders begin to use the dictionary to learn how to use guide words. Gulp. Sigh. And alphabetize to the second and third letter. This is such a hard skill, especially since first graders are only expected to alphabetize to the first letter. So since I have now taught a combination first/second class for two years, I have been able to expose my first graders to more challenging content and get them ready for next year by doing more alphabetical order.

Winter Poetry and a FREEBIE

Want some ideas on how to keep the writing curriculum fresh, even on those long Winter days?  Then check out my Winter Poetry Unit and Winter Poetry Freebie: Haikus!  Poetry + Figurative Language = FUN during your writing block that will keep the creative juices flowing. 


Winter poetry and figurative language lesson: Cinquains, limericks, haikus, freestyle poetry



It doesn't matter if you're in elementary school or middle school when it comes to poetry.  Everyone loves poetry!  You can dig pretty deep into figurative language and writing structure with something so simple as a poem.


This unit is designed to have writers use the following strategies to vary their writing and use descriptive terms:
~"Show, Don't Tell"
~Figurative Language: Onomatopoeia, Metaphors
~Creating rhythm in poetry: Alliteration, Rhyming
~Types of poems: Cinquains, Limericks, Haikus



Winter poetry and figurative language lesson: Cinquains, limericks, haikus, freestyle poetry




Winter poetry and figurative language lesson: Cinquains, limericks, haikus, freestyle poetry



What's poetry without some really cool forms of figurative language?  My Winter Poetry packet includes:
Onomatopoeia
Metaphors
Personification



Winter poetry and figurative language lesson: Cinquains, limericks, haikus, freestyle poetry



And NOW.... a FREEBIE!


Winter poetry and figurative language lesson: Cinquains, limericks, haikus, freestyle poetry



Haikus are a wonderful way to dig deep into word choice and the writing process without a lot of pain.  This FREEBIE includes:
~Description and rules for writing a Haiku
~An example Winter Haiku
~Instructions for writing and editing a Winter Haiku 

What are your favorite ways to get the students to buy into figurative language and the writing process?  I'd love to hear how!





Using Google Forms as a Reading Log Alternative

So, this school year happened, hasn't it?

Switching grade levels has really put a hold on any blogging I've done, but I have this awesome idea to share with you all that I'm making time to blog!

A couple of factors have changed since moving up to fourth grade... obviously my students have a completely different set of needs than my second graders did.  Learning to readjust my thinking and make things more relevant and engaging for my students has become a focus for me.

Veterans Day Activities FREEBIE

Veterans Day is November 11th, 2016.  One of my favorite ways to honor our military families is during my Language Arts block with activities that celebrate veterans' dedication to our country.  Read on to check out my Veterans Day Unit Lessons FREEBIE!


Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.





We start the activities by drawing a graphic organizer in our writing notebooks.


Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.



Next, we read the following mentor texts.  Students collect words and phrases that help them fill in the graphic organizer.


Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.



Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.



Veterans Day activities for Language Arts.  Veterans Day activities for Reading and Writing.


After we've collected filled out our organizers, I hand out a writing rubric and we discuss the expectations for the paragraph(s) students will write.




I then meet with small writing groups to:
•Complete the graphic organizer
•Write 1-2 paragraphs
•Edit/Revise the paragraph according to the rubric criteria

Challenge for early finishers:
•Type  the paragraph(s) and print.
•Write a friendly letter to a veteran using the example letter included in the packet.





If you'd like to pick up a FREE copy, click here.


How do you celebrate Veterans Day?  I'd love to hear about it!







Teaching Math Equality to Primary Children

My first graders are working on our equality unit this week. This is one unit that makes me cringe just a little bit because of the challenge of it, especially being at the beginning of the school year. Here's some of the things we have been learning:

We sorted subtraction (seen here) and addition (not pictured) sentences for different ways to equal a difference or a sum.

Alphabet Journals...4 Steps for Journal Writing

First grade teachers work hard every year to send independent readers and writers to second grade.  But every first grade teacher forgets what September means in first grade...it means they are still kindergartners.  The re-post can be a good idea for journals at the beginning of first grade.

What can I write about?

UGH!  This is one way to curb the "I don't know what to write about blues."  These alphabet journals combine decoding, illustrating and writing in a way that can be completely individualized.
Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.
I have always suggested teachers use the sound chart as a topic chart for writing, but whe I sat down to make a journal for that, I decided I could make the journal decodable.

4 Easy Steps

Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.

1.  Decode.

Each page has a decodable picture.  MOST pages are cvc words (dig for d, log for l, pan for p).  The highlighted initial letter keeps the journal is alphabetical order.  Of course, the vowels were tricky.  I have 2 options for each of the vowels.  Option #1 has a cvc word with the vowel highlighted in the middle.  Option #2 is a two-letter or three-letter word starting with the vowel (ant for a and up for you).
Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.

2. Illustrate.

If you want a good story, give your students time to make a good illustration.  Each page includes a clip art picture for the decodable word.  Students will complete the picture.  The picture above shows a boy digging on a construction site.  Another student used the same picture to draw a garden scene and a third student drew a the boy digging with a pirate flag in the picture.
Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.

3.  Write.

Of course, this is the goal.  Students have to write about their picture.  The more detail in the picture, the more detail in the writing.  "The gum is in the gum shop. The gum is mine.  The gum is different colors. The gum comes out."
Writing can be challenging at the beginning of first grade. These journals can help students decode, create, and illustrate.

4. Repeat.

Students can use this journal to create a book of stories.  

If you'd like a FREEBIE sample of this set, feel free to click on the picture below or CLICK HERE
If you would like to visit my TPT store and check out Alphabet Journals, click the picture below or CLICK HERE.  There is also Set 2, 3, and 4.

Constitution Day Activities

Are you searching for meaningful activities for Constitution Day?  Would you like to be able to conduct your Constitution Day activities during multiple core subjects?  If you said yes, then this post is for you!






I always like to try to combine my social studies curriculum with my language arts, and Constitution Day is no exception. Combining my Constitution activities during both subjects means I'm not confined to a single subject or block of time.

First, I like to make an anchor chart as a class of freedoms at home and school.  I keep it up for reference during the Constitution Day activities.  More on that later!

After making the anchor chart, we read a book I LOVE, We the Kids, to teach the preamble!  It's great for read-aloud or you can assign parts of it to older students to explore.


We the Kids book to introduce the Preamble to the Constitution.


Flipped Classroom idea:  There's also plenty of videos on YouTube of people reading the book.  You could assign the video for homework the night/days before Constitution Day.  Then, students can come in and be ready to talk about it without a read-aloud.

After reading the book and/or watching the video, we revisit our anchor chart and put stars beside the freedoms that were also mentioned in the Preamble  

Next, I like to explore the vocabulary of the Preamble because it is so challenging robust.  I love the language used, but most students don't have any background knowledge of words like "posterity".  To do this, I use a graphic organizer.


The first version of the organizer provides support with pictures and synonyms for the meaning of the Preamble vocabulary.


Constitution Day activities.  Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.


The second organizer is a "challenge" for students who are ready to tackle synonyms and vocabulary independently.


Constitution Day activities.  Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.


If you'd like to pick up a copy, click here.


Do you have Constitution Day activities or materials that make the day fun?  I'd love to hear about them!


Constitution Day activities that can be done in Language Arts and Social Studies or Civics class.   Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.