Reading at home

Reading at home is an important part of students’ reading development. In the Early Years, students are expected to read at home most nights from the take home readers supplied by school. While all schools and classrooms have their own routine, this is what happens in my Grade 2 classroom….

  • At the beginning of the year students are provided with a plastic folder which contains their spelling lists, a home reading record and the books the child takes home each night.
  • Students bring their reading folders to school every day and my parent helpers read the old take home book with each student.
  • Students change their books.
  • They are expected to read at home at least four times a week.
  • I check the home reading records on Friday mornings. Students who have read at least four times earn Free Time after lunch on the Friday. Students who do not read four times over the week spend the time reading.


 My students are encouraged to read books of their own choice, library books and novels from home. Advanced readers are also encouraged to read relevant and appropriate newspaper or magazine articles.

I am pleased to say that most weeks all of my students regularly read at home. I believe having the incentive of free time is a very effective way to ensure students understand that reading is both important for their learning development but also that reading is fun and enjoyable.


Please comment…

How do you encourage your students to read at home?


“Read Write Think” Postcard Creator

When school heads back next week for many parts of Australia, students will no doubt enjoy doing some holiday writing. In my experience students love to discuss and recount their fun holiday adventures to share with myself and their peers. I usually conduct a two hour session in which all students verbally share a favourite holiday event, they brainstorm some ideas for their writing and then they write a recount and illustrate.


I like my students to create a poster about their holidays to display as it brightens up the room and parents love to read what their children have written. A popular idea for holiday writing is to write a postcard. In the past when I have used the holiday postcard idea, we discuss features of a postcard and students are provided with a blank A3 proforma to create a beautiful postcard.


To assist with the creation of a postcard I plan to use the Read Write Think Postcard Creator on my IWB. I think this will be a great way to introduce my lesson and it will remind my students that traditional “snail mail” still exists, even though email is the preferred method of communication in 2010!

postcard creator


Leave a comment….

What “holiday” activities do you like to do at the beginning of a new term?


Narrative Writing with Five Card Flickr

Teaching young children to write narrative stories can be a difficult task. Incorporating a beginning, a middle which includes some kind of complication and an ending which resolves that problem is not easy for young primary school students. Let alone trying to also include punctuation, correct spelling and paragraphs!

To help my Grade Two students come up with ideas for narrative stories, I recently used the Five Card Flickr website.

Five Card Flickr 2


On Five Card Flickr you draw five random cards from the photo storing site Flickr. These photos can then turn into the inspiration for students’ narratives. After brainstorming some ideas based on the cards we drew, all students produced interesting and coherent stories including all of the photo cards.

I blogged about Five Card Flickr and included some examples of my students narratives on my class blog. Check it out and let me know what you think!


Five Card Flickr my blog



I recommend using Five Card Flickr to introduce narrative writing to your young students. It takes away the pressure of them having to come up with every aspect of the story independently and it is also a lot of fun seeing what they come up with!

Please comment…

Have you used Five Card Flickr in your classroom?

What tips do you have for introducing narrative writing to students?

Reading Day

Yesterday my teaching partner and I Kathleen McGeady held a special “Reading Day” for our Grade 2 students. The idea originally came from Mr Salsich’s class in Conneticut. We were keen to have a ‘fun’ last week before the holidays and we felt that celebrating the joy of books and importance of reading was a positive mesage to send to our students.


We organised the following activities…

  • Our Assistant Principal was invited to be a guest reader.
  • We had a special “What is your favourite book?” show and tell session.
  • We had a reading rotation with six activities – Chunk Stackers word game on the IWB, literacy games on the computers, origami making on the iPod Touch, a big book browse, a word competition and a ‘share your favourite book’ station.
  • We had a special library session.
  • We watched Zac Power and Charlie and Lola stories on the IWB.


The students absolutely loved this video “Gotta Keep Reading” and it was a fantastic way to launch our Reading Day. Just a warning though, it is very catchy!



One of the most popular activities was the origami. Students watched videos on the iPod Touch from the HowCast website and followed the instructions to make an origami swan and sailboat. The videos are below.



Students were presented with certificates at the end of the day and it was clear to see all students loved the day! I would encourage all teachers to consider organising a similar experience for their students, it was great to see the enthusiasm, joy and excitement on the students’ faces throughout the day!


Read more about “Reading Day” and see what else has been happening in my classroom on my class blog

Please leave a comment….

Have you ever had a similar Reading Day?

What special reading activities have your students enjoyed?

Teaching editing skills to young students

During writing sessions in my Grade Two classroom I constantly reinforce the importance of editing work to my students. My students are expected to check over every piece of writing they complete before showing me at correction time. I developed this routine for the following reasons:

  • They are taking responsibility for their learning and showing initiative to produce their best work possible.
  • When I do look at the students’ writing, it is a true indication of their abilities and skills as they have actually corrected any errors they could detect. Any errors that are not identified by the students demonstrates that they have a weakness in that area (eg. full stops or particular spelling words).
  • It teaches and reinforces the basics of grammar and spelling.
  • They may choose to improve their writing by adding more information if they are not completely satisfied with their initial attempts.
  • It will hopefully making editing an “automatic” part of their writing, particularly as they head into higher grade levels and the expectations increase.
  •  It makes my job of correcting their work a lot easier if they have already made some alterations!

When I discuss the editing process with my students there are several main questions I encourage them to ask themselves…

  • Does my writing make sense?
  • Have I used full stops and capital letters correctly?
  • Do I need to add any other forms of punctuation to my writing?
  • Are the high frequency words spelled correctly?
  • Is my handwriting neat and are the letters of the correct size and shape?

I developed an editing checklist for my students to refer to during our “editing time”. I made copies for every student and they can access the checklist at any time. I have found this to be a very useful tool as it enables the students to complete the editing process using a step-by-step method. Breaking down the task of editing into manageable tasks produces better results and the students are clear of the expectations. They are also encouraged to help each other and read over one another’s work to assist with the editing process.



My editing checklist



Another editing process you could use is the CUPS method (capital letters, understanding, punctuation, spelling). It adopts similar ideas to assist students with the editing process.  My teaching partner Kathleen McGeady provided me with this poster.

Leave a comment – How do you teach editing skills to your students?

Whole Class Reading Introductions

An important part of the daily Reading hour in any junior classroom is the whole class reading experience. I like to vary this between shared and modelled reading, depending on what my focus is. While the traditional “big book” is still a popular resource used by most teachers, I find that it can be very worthwhile to mix it up by also using online resources on my Interactive Whiteboard.

My Grade 2 students have experienced big books practically every day since the beginning of Prep. Consequently, they are completely engaged and absorbed in the joy of reading when I find a story to show on the IWB. There are many fantastic online resources which contain stories and books that can be read and discussed with your class.

Benefits of these resources include:

– Stories can be paused so that the content, vocabulary, characters etc can be discussed.

– Many of the stories also have comprehension activities and games to complete after the story.

– There are many different genres of stories so you can select stories based on class themes or students’ interests.

There are many free online sites that contain stories that can be read to the students or you can read them aloud. Here’s just a few examples…

Storyline online


British Council

Mee Genuis








While some teachers may be reluctant to move away from traditional methods, I believe a combination of  traditional big books and embracing stories online can only enhance and enrich our literacy curriculum and broaden our students’ experience with literature.

Comment: What are your experiences with online stories?