Teaching word families

There are many ways to teach different word families. One week during last termI focussed on “tion” words. I chose this word family as it often misspelled by students and I felt that my Grade Two class would benefit from a little revision of this tricky collection of words.

Technology is a big part of my daily program so I usually begin my lessons and introductions by finding a good website or tool on the IWB. I used this powerpoint demonstration to model how ‘tion’ words are spelled.



Students then completed this activity sheet which I made.

I concluded the lesson playing this fun Hangman game using ‘tion’ words.



What strategies do you implement to help student learn different word families?



Film Study

For something different in Literacy this week my students completed a film study. We have been studying dinosaurs this term (which has been a big hit!) and we watched the classic children’s film The Land Before Time at the beginning of the week.

The students were then given a film study matrix which I made,  (see below) detailing twelve different literacy-based activities. They were not required to complete all of the activities but could choose which tasks appealed to them. Here are the activitites the students worked on during the week.

The board game, DVD cover and movie poster were popular choices but I was also happy to see students choosing to change the ending of the movie and complete character profiles.

My students loved the freedom of selecting their own activities and they really enjoyed the opportunity to be creative during Literacy this week.

Have you ever done a film study with your students?

What other activities could be completed?

What children’s movies would be great for a film study?


Independent Reading

This week I went to a PD presented by Anne Hammond. It was a session designed specifically for Grade 2 and 3 titled “Effective reading teaching and learning in the grade two/three classroom”.

One topic that Anne focussed heavily on was independent reading in the classroom. While the concept of independent reading is not new, it is easy to forget the simple things we can do as teachers to help students develop a love of reading. Features of independent reading include:

The importance of text selection and allowing the students to choose their own texts. Students need to learn to find “just right books” for them, books that are not too easy or too difficult and books they have an interest in. Generally students should choose books they can read with 95% accuracy and understanding.

– A variety of books should be read (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazines etc) and students can have a collection of 5 or 6 books to read during independent reading time.

Anne suggested that independent reading could occur during the Reading hour between shared reading and the learning centre activities. Alternatively, it can be done at any other time of the day.

Classrooms can be set up so that a library or book corner houses many different types of books. Collections of books can be categorised and stored in different tubs so that students have access to a wide variety of texts.

Reading for fun. We spend so much time getting our students to complete activities about books, answer questions, do book responses etc. The focus of independent reading is to “get rid of the stuff” and simply allow the students to read for the joy of it.


This week during our library time, students borrowed two books. One could be taken home and the other book was to be kept at school in the students’ locker tubs. On Friday we had independent reading for the first time (for half an hour before lunch) and I provided students with a reading record to keep track of their reading.




The room was absolutely silent and every student was absorbed in their book, which was great to see. At the conclusion of the independent reading session students discussed their book with a partner for a few minutes. I look forward to implementing independent reading in my classroom a few times a week….the simple things in life are often the best!

How do you run independent reading in your classroom?

What other reading ideas do you have?

Using Google Docs in the Classroom

Last week Kathleen McGeady and I decided to try something a little different in our reading rotations and used Google Docs with our Grade Two students. As I had a student teacher who was taking my Guided Reading groups, I was free to work with the computer group each day and introduce them to Google Docs.

Google Docs is a free service from Google which allows multiple users to collaborate on the same document. People from all over the world can join in on the document if they have the link. At the recent Ultranet training day, the Ultranet lead users demonstrated how Google Docs is a fantastic Web 2.0 tool for connecting and collaboring with others. I immediately thought of the potential it could have in my Grade Two classroom so I was keen to try it out.

Our current Integrated Studies topic is dinosaurs. I set up a Google Doc with a series of questions about the dinosaur Cretaceous Period. Students worked on different computers to answer these questions using an information website. Their job was to find a question, locate the answer on the website and type in the answer on the Google Doc. The students loved seeing their answers pop up on all of the computers and by the end of the session, they had collaborated to answer all of the questions!


Check out the Google Doc below to see an example of the work the students completed

Google Doc 1


The students used the website below to locate the answers to the dinosaur questions

cretaceous info


It was also important to discuss with the students that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet and it’s sometimes necessary to cross-check information before determining whether it is true or not.


Benefits of this activty were…

– Students learnt new technology skills to navigate and operate Google Docs.

– It is a great way to demonstrate research skills and strategies.

– Students worked on their own computers but collaborated together.

– It is an authentic method of teaching students about not believing everything you read on the internet.

– Students transfer their knowledge in various subject areas.

– Students experience the power of collaboration and it allows them to break down geographical barriers.


I would encourage other teachers to try using Google Docs in the classroom with their students. It is helpful to have an adult working with the students the first time they try it out, but the experience will prove to be beneficial for both you and your students!


Have you used Google Docs with your students?

How do you think Google Docs could be used in the classroom?


Fun literacy game!

I played this “Multiple Meaning Word Finder” game recently with my Grade Two students and they loved it! It is a jeopordy-style activity and focuses on thinking of words that have multiple meanings (eg. can, bark, coat).



  • Choose to play a one-player or two-player game (we played girls and against boys).
  • Students take in turns to select an unnamed category and level (each level is worth different value of points). They are presented with two meanings of the one word, for example: A child OR a baby goat.
  • Students type in the correct answer and press submit.
  • If the answer is correct the points will be added to the team total.


I used this as an introduction to a literacy lesson, as it focuses on vocabulary and really gets the kids thinking. Students can decide whether to choose more basic questions (which are worth less points) or challenge themselvs with more tricky multiple-meaning words and score higher.


What fun literacy games do you like to play with your students?


Guided Reading

Guided Reading is an important part of the Early Years classroom in primary schools across Australia. For those of you unfamiliar with Guided Reading, it involves the teacher working with a small group of students (around 4 or 5 is best) who are of similar reading ability for around an hour a day. Each day the teacher works with a different group, and other students participate in rotational literacy activities throughout the week. So, by the end of the week, all groups have worked with the teacher at least once.

Students are regularly assessed to determine what reading level they are working at and appropriate Guided Reading books are selected for each group on a weekly basis.

I often discuss with colleagues what they do AFTER the book has been read during Guided Reading. While some teachers read the book and then swap groups and work with another group of students in the same one hour session, I prefer to complete a thorough follow-up activity with the one group. A popular activity is giving the students a commercially produced worksheet based on the Guided Reading book but I like to be a little more focussed and actually work with the students. Some activities I often do are….


–  Vocabulary match up: I write a list of new/unfamiliar words on the board while we are reading the book. I write the meanings of each word and students have to work together to match up each word with its meaning.


Dictionary task: As above, but instead of me writing the meanings of the words, students search for the meanings using dictionaries.


True and False: Students make up their own true and false questions about the book.


Adjectives/verbs/nouns: Find as many adjectives/nouns/verbs as they can from the book.


– I often use websites or activities on the IWB that relate to the book we have just read. For example, if it was a fiction book with characters, I might get students to complete a character profile on the website Character Scrapbook.

Character Scrapbook


ReadWriteThink has many fantastic activities for junior primary classrooms. Sometimes I have students complete an activity from this resource, my students particularly enjoy Construct A Word. It is suitable for Prep, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students.

Read Write Think              Construct a word


Obviously there are many types of activities you can do as a follow up to Guided Reading but I really believe it is an important time to spend with each reading group. The activities you choose should be relevant, challenge the students’ thinking skills and focus on a variety of key literacy areas (vocabulary, comprehension, word building, spelling etc). It is a great opportunity to work with students in areas of literacy that are at their own level.

Leave a comment…

What activities do you like to do after Guided Reading?