5 Summer Activities to Boost Reading Fluency

22 May

Help students boost summer reading fluency with these 5 interactive fluency activities | A FREE printable for parents is included to support student fluency development. By doing these activities, parents can help their children maintain reading skills and avoid the summer reading regression that usually occurs.

Summer break is a time to recharge, refresh, and relax; however, for many teachers, it’s bittersweet. After an entire year of getting to know your students, guiding them toward personal and academic growth, and investing countless hours helping them to meet their individual learning goals, it’s hard to hand over the reins and stop worrying about their progress.

As I wave (maybe a bit too happily) at all the school buses pulling away on the last day of school, I can’t help but wonder about the fate of my students’ reading growth: I wonder if Sophie will continue to read over the summer. Is Sally going to practice her sight words? How many reading strategies will I have to reteach Bobby in the fall? Will my second graders forget ALL the reading skills they mastered? The “summer slide” is a real thing and the reality is that reading isn’t usually a priority for most students in the summer. So what can we do?

Well… what if we take a few extra steps to prepare our students for the summer? We can introduce ideas and activities that don’t feel like “work” but can help them maintain their reading skills. The students can relax and recharge, too, but without losing sight of their learning progress and goals. We can enlist the support of parents and encourage them to make reading a priority over the summer. We can ask families to make a summer reading plan and work together to prevent students from losing all the valuable skills they developed over the past year. (Sounds magical, right?)

Not sure where to start? I always start with reading fluency. It’s the glue that holds many of the reading skills together and promotes a better understanding of texts. With fluency, students are able to maintain their reading skills with texts that are at their independent levels. The truth is, no matter the grade-level or learning need, fluency is a skill we could all use a little extra practice with. Plus, fluency practice can be fun (especially for our struggling readers)!

Emphasize the Importance of Practicing Fluency

Last year, I shared a blog post on avoiding the dreaded summer slide with “fluency fun.” It included some general fluency activities, helpful links for parents, and free printable fluency task cards to send home with students for the summer. (Feel free to go back and check out that post!) It’s important for parents to understand the foundations – what fluency is and why it’s important. Below are a few fluency-specific links to support parents who are looking to help their children at home with summer fluency development.

Helpful Resources for Parents:

Five Interactive Summer Activities to Boost Fluency Skills

The five activities below are an extension of my post from last year and provide a few additional fluency activities for parents to help boost fluency at home. The activities are engaging, interactive, and wonderfully effective for summer fluency development!

Summer Activities to Boost Fluency

1. Partner Reading

The first activity is a simple and obvious (but oh-so-powerful) one… read with your child! Not only do children love this extra shared time with parents, but it provides them with a model of what good fluency sounds like.

There are many different ways to partner read:

  • I Read/You Read – You and your child take turns reading a book, making sure he/she is following along or whisper reading along when it’s not his/her turn.
  • Echo Read – You read and then the child reads the exact same sentence, using the parent’s model of fluent reading to guide how to change his/her voice to match the text for phrasing, expression, accuracy, etc.
  • Paired Reading – Choral reading together, as one. Both parent and child whispers or reads the page aloud. This helps model appropriate pace and intonation, and encourages your child to match his/her voice to what your voice is doing.
  • Fill-in-the-Blank Reading – You read a sentence but leave out certain words for your child to fill in. This helps your child practice automatic recognition of sight words and familiar vocabulary using the context.
  • Readers Theater Reading – You and your child have an assigned part in a back-and-forth structured partner play or poem. Texts designed “for two voices” are meant for partner reading, but regular picture books can also be used. One person can be a narrator and one can do all the character speaking parts. (Check out the partner plays on TpT or even some of my partner poems!)

Sometimes reading with your child every single night is just not realistic with busy summer schedules (baseball games, dance rehearsals, swimming lessons, sports camp… I get it!). On those busy nights, set your child up to do Buddy Reading with someone else… a younger sibling, a pet, or even a stuffed animal in the car on the way to baseball practice. Just the act of reading aloud to someone else is effective for fluency practice! (Remember, the book should be an “easy read” at the child’s independent level. Familiar, repeated readings are even better for this.)

2. On-the-Go Fluency Bag

Find a bag (any bag!) and fill it with fluency materials. The idea is for you to bring it with you on all your summer adventures – in the car, to the store, on vacation… really, anywhere! When you’re not “on-the-go” you can keep it inside and use it for various transition times throughout the day (i.e., while you’re cooking dinner, while your child is waiting for a friend to come over, before bedtime, etc.). You can also use the fluency bag as a “ticket out the door.” For example, have your child read something from the bag before leaving the house, exiting the car, or getting up from the dinner table. Embed this fluency practice as part of your daily routine and use this extra time as an opportunity for fluency development.

Fill the fluency bag with independent-level books, poems, and/or fluency cards. The idea is for all the materials to be read aloud multiple times until your child can read the words accurately, automatically, and smoothly, while attending to punctuation and expression. The repeated reading of each of these materials is important, as this helps your child build automatic recognition of the words and strengthens the overall comprehension of what they are reading. (NOTE: If the book, poem, or word card is new and not familiar, model it for your child first!)

When your child feels he/she is ready for new materials, have them read the book, poem, or fluency card for you aloud. You can be the judge of whether or not they are ready for new materials. (I would suggest waiting at least a week to switch up the materials, even if they seem to be mastering it rather quickly!)

**FLUENCY CARDS: You can easily make these yourself using index cards (have your child help you) or there are plenty of free online resources you can print. These fluency cards can be tasks or even phrases, sentences, short paragraphs, knock-knock jokes, tongue twisters, fun facts… anything that gets your students reading for fluency! (See resource links below.)

3. Fluency Games

Turn games you already own, like CandylandTrouble, and Chutes and Ladders , into fluency board games! Just modify the directions to include a fluency task. For example, in order for a player to move his/her game piece, he/she has to read a fluency card with a phrase, sentence, or short paragraph/poem/rhyme using all the components of fluency! You can also print blank board game templates to use with the fluency cards.

You can also use fluency cards with familiar games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Hangman, Go Fish, Memory, Connect Four, and BOOM!. Check out this website of sight word games that can easily be adapted for any type of cards you have (words, phrases, sentence, paragraphs, tasks, etc.) you have.

4. Poem of the Week

Poetry is always the perfect tool for fluency development because of its structure and natural rhythm. Create a poetry folder and pick a poem to read each week with your child. You can follow the sample schedule below, or create one that works for your family!

  • Monday: Model reading the poem for your child (1-2x) and then echo read line by line. Make sure your child can decode all the words.
  • Tuesday – Thursday: Practice reading the poem each day. (You can even place it in the “on-the-go” fluency bag for repeated readings!)
  • Friday: Your child can perform the poem for you or the entire family.

**You can even video or audio record your child reading the poem on Monday and then on Friday so everyone can reflect and celebrate his/her fluency progress!

(Need some poetry resources? Check out Poetry4KidsGiggle Poetry, or Jack Prelutsky’s website for some silly poetry!)

5. Song Lyrics

Practice fluency with familiar song lyrics!This activity is perfect for older students and wonderfully motivating for reluctant readers who lack reading confidence. Have your child provide you with a list of his/her favorite songs and search for the lyrics on AZLyrics using a computer or mobile device. Make sure the lyrics are age-appropriate and then print out a copy of the lyrics. Here are the steps:

  • Step 1 – Have your child listen to the song and silently read along with the lyrics in his/her head. Pay attention to the fluency of song (i.e., pace, phrasing, attention to punctuation, expression), as well as the song’s rhythm. You may wish to clap along with the beat to get a feel for the rhythm (this will help guide the pace and phrasing of the read-through).
  • Step 2 – Model reading the lyrics with good fluency (not singing) to your child without the music and go over any unknown words. You may need to echo read or choral read some of the lines that are more difficult.
  • Step 3 – Have him/her practice reading each line of the song aloud with the music artist first. Practice until your student can read the lyrics (not sing or recite) without the music.
  • Step 4 – Your child should be able to then read the lyrics independently and fluently, without the music!

You may need to repeat some of the steps if the song is more challenging. Keep in mind, the goal is for students to read not recite, so make sure his/her eyes are on the page following along with the words for every single step!

If you’re interested in learning more about using music for fluency development, check out this article by Shari Edwards on the Scholastic website.

Want to get the family involved? You can even practice fluency karaoke style! If you own a smart TV or have a media streaming device (*e.g., Amazon Fire TVRoku, or Apple TV) you can display the lyrics to the song right on the TV using YouTube Karaoke Channel. If you don’t have any streaming options, just gather around your computer or mobile device and use the Karasongs website. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can even download the free Karaoke App for karaoke fun!

(*Streaming device list may contain affiliate links) 

Free Fluency Activity Printable

To help your students include fluency activities in their summer reading plans, I created a printable resource that you can download and share with their parents. Feel free share the link to this blog post in an end-of-the-year email/newsletter for parents to read more about these ideas, as well.

Summer Fluency Booster Activities

Download the free parent handout HERE or by clicking the image above!

Looking for Extra Resources to Support These Activities? 

Free Word Card Resources: 


(*Book resource list may contain affiliate links) 

Fluency Task Cards: 

I hope you found these ideas and resources to be helpful! The The Reading Crew has put together an entire month of literacy learning. (Did you miss my post from the first week? Check it out here!) There will be new blog posts shared throughout the month of May, so be sure to follow our hashtag #thereadingcrew on social media or check out our live calendar. The calendar will be edited to include clickable links as each blog post is published and made available. You may wish to pin it or bookmark the calendar for easy access. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and social media to receive updates about our upcoming blog events, too!

Happy Summer!


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Help students boost summer reading fluency with these 5 interactive fluency activities | A FREE printable for parents is included to support student fluency development. By doing these activities, parents can help their children maintain reading skills and avoid the summer reading regression that usually occurs.

Literacy Ideas for Every Day of the Month | Check out the calendar of blog posts presented by The Reading Crew. Clickable links will be added throughout the month. (Follow us on Facebook for ideas and upcoming events!)

Dreading Summer Regression? All You Need is a Plan!

2 May

With summer nearly upon us, it’s time to start thinking about the dreaded summer regression (insert frustrated teacher sigh); however, the summer slide doesn’t have to be a reality for every student. Encourage parents to prepare now by developing a summer reading plan, and show them the importance of summer reading so their children don’t lose any of the gains they worked so hard to make this year.

Emphasize the Importance of Summer Reading

The “summer slide” is a common occurrence for many students. Often, summers get busy and reading isn’t a priority. Parents want to give their children a break from school, or they don’t wish to battle their children who are reluctant to pick up a book. Sometimes, they aren’t even aware the negative effects this academic break causes. Summer regression a big issue, especially for struggling readers, but it can be avoided.

Be proactive. Send home a parent letter explaining the benefits of summer reading, or email your classroom parents to share a few informative websites. This information may be just what they need to see the value of summer reading and may encourage families to take action and make a plan for summer reading.

Helpful Resources: 

Encourage Parents to Create a Summer Reading Plan

So often we say we’re going to do things, but unless we’re intentional with our time and an action plan is in place, it’s probably not going to happen. Being mindful of our goals and actually writing down our plans helps with accountability. Similar to my weekly “to do” list – writing it down doesn’t guarantee it will happen, but the act of creating a plan increases the chances immensely. 🙂

Consider sending home a planning page to help families start thinking about their summer reading plans. There is one planning page for families to complete together, and one for students to complete. Which form they choose will depend if it’s a whole family initiative – where every family member takes part in the summer reading challenge – or just the children.

I would encourage parents to fill these forms out with their children! You can model the conversation students can have with their families and make it the planning page part of their homework. Or if you don’t want to make it mandatory, get creative and think of some incentives that would encourage your students to have the conversation with their families. For example, students can bring in their plan into school to show you for a free homework pass to use during these last few weeks of school, or they can earn a ticket for a fun raffle drawing – perhaps for a prize or a fun lunch with you! (I’m not above bribery incentives! ;))

Download the free summer reading planning pages HERE or by clicking the image above!

I hope you found these ideas and resources to be helpful! Join The Reading Crew over the next few weeks for an entire month of literacy learning. There will be new blog posts shared each day so be sure to follow our hashtag #thereadingcrew on social media or check out our live calendar. The calendar will be edited each day to include clickable links as each blog post is published and made available. You may wish to bookmark it for easy access. Be sure to follow us on Facebook to receive updates about our upcoming blog events, too!

Happy Teaching!

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Celebrate Your Inner Superhero with National Superhero Day

26 Apr

National Superhero Day - Free Activities from MsJordanReads

Did you know that April 28th is National Superhero Day? It’s a day to celebrate all superheroes, especially the ones in your classroom! Your students don’t have to fly through the air, have magical powers, or fight villains to be superheroes. We all have superhero powers… we just have to figure out what they are and unleash them.

So, what superpowers do our students have?

No, it’s not forgetting homework, losing pencils, or picking their noses 🙂 (although they are pretty good at all of those things). Their inner superpowers are more along the lines of being good citizens, kind friends, thoughtful classmates, helpful sons/daughters, and positive role models for other children. Even our most challenging students have superpowers hidden inside, and it’s our job to help them unleash those powers. Empower your students and give them the opportunity to let those superpowers shine!

I came across this blog post from Kids Stuff World titled Every Child a Superhero. In the blog post, it lists 20 ways that you can help children unleash their superheroes. It is written by a parent but can definitely be applied to the world of teaching. Some of the ways include teaching them to have integrity, giving it all you got, seeing the good in other people, staying true to who you are, and standing up for what you believe in. Her message is that we are all capable of living our lives with these non-superhuman (but definitely super) powers

So let’s throw on our invisible capes and celebrate our inner superheroes!

Take this national “holiday” as an opportunity to promote and encourage positive character traits in your classroom. The ideas and activities below would be perfect for a character-building lesson. All the activities are ready to print and you can easily have everything prepped and ready to go for April 28th. Let’s work together to empower our students to be kind, respectful, and brave in our classrooms!

Create a Superhero Class Book or Bulletin Board

Get ready to celebrate the inner superhero that’s inside of all us! First, have a discussion about superheroes to activate their schema. Here is a list of possible guiding questions:

  • How would you describe a superhero?
  • What makes a superhero different than an average person?
  • What character traits make a superhero special?
  • What are some superhero powers?
  • How can superheroes be real-life role models?
  • If you were a superhero, what would you want your power be?
  • Do you know any real-life superheroes?

Next, help build a connection between superheroes and your students. Help students realize that superheroes don’t have to wear a cape or fight villains. They can be regular people who are just good citizens and do super things. Help your students self-reflect and brainstorm a list of “powers” they use every day. Record these character traits on an anchor chart that you can refer to throughout the day (or even the year!).

Anchor Chart for National Superhero Day | Celebrate your inner superhero with printable class books, bulletin board displays, masks, bookmarks, and read-alouds! | Free Printables | Freebies | Character Traits

Once students have a good understanding of some positive superhero characteristics, have students pick one everyday superpower that they feel they have inside them. Students will record their superpowers on the activity page and explain how they use that superhero power each day to make a positive impact. They can illustrate their superpower when they are done with their writing!

Classroom Activities for National Superhero Day | Celebrate your inner superhero with printable class books, bulletin board displays, masks, bookmarks, and read-alouds! | Free Printables | Freebies | Character Traits

Download this printable by clicking HERE or the image above!

These activity pages can be compiled to make a wonderful class book to keep in your classroom library (laminate & bind), or you can turn it into a bulletin board display. I included a couple cover/header options in the freebie that you can use. 🙂

Create Superhero Masks

For a little extra fun, print and color fun superhero masks that the students can wear during your National Superhero Day celebrations!

Classroom Activities for National Superhero Day | Celebrate your inner superhero with printable class books, bulletin board displays, masks, bookmarks, and read-alouds! | Free Printables | Freebies | Character Traits

Download from FirstPalette by clicking the image above or HERE!

Superhero Read-Alouds

Check out these fun read-alouds that are perfect for National Superhero Day. Read one to wrap up the day or even read one to kick off your superhero class book-making activity.

(If you’re interested in the classics, like Superman or Batman, check out Marvel or DC Comics websites! I’m sure your school library has a few of the graphic novels or picture books that you can fill up your classroom library shelves with, too. Could be a fun theme for independent reading time!)

EXTRA: You can even print these colorful bookmarks for students to use with their own independent reading books!

Happy Superhero Day! 

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FREE Classroom Activities for National Superhero Day | Celebrate your inner superhero powers and promote positive character traits in your classroom with printable class books, bulletin board displays, masks, bookmarks, and read-alouds! | Free Printables | Freebies

Teaching Sensory Language with Mentor Texts – Where Butterflies Grow

21 Apr


I’m teaming up once again with The Reading Crew to bring you another resource-filled, fun link-up. If you’re just joining us, please check out the blog links at the bottom to learn about all the wonderful mentor texts and scoop up some fun resources!

There will a HUGE giveaway at the end of the link-up for you to enter for a chance to win ALL the books we feature through our blog posts. How fun is that?! All you have to do is collect all the mystery words (look for the words in color), follow all the links, and you may be the winning recipient of over 15 mentor texts to boost your reading instruction this spring! (NOTE: This giveaway ended 4/28/17) 

Introducing the Text


Where Butterflies Grow by Joanne Ryder is a wonderful spring-themed book filled with descriptive language and beautiful illustrations. It’s the perfect text for teaching visualizing and helping students explore sensory language. In this book, students are taken on a sensory journey through the life cycle of a butterfly. The author writes in the second person point of view, helping students to apply their senses and imagine what it’s like to be an actual caterpillar ready to turn into a butterfly… or what it’s like to be a butterfly who just flapped its wings for the first time.

Focus Skill

In my experience, Sensory Language is often challenging for younger students to understand and apply. I was greatly surprised when I did a lesson with my third grade students and they struggled with matching sensory words to each of the five senses. When given the sentence “The spicy tacos made me extremely thirsty.” the students were able to vaguely explain what it means for something to be spicy AND could identify that spicy connected to food, but they had a difficult time communicating that spicy appeals to the sense of taste.

This mentor text lesson focuses on the language that is associated with each of the five senses. Students will explore adjectives and verbs that connect to each of the senses and how sensory language in texts helps us better comprehend what we are reading. The goal is for students to be able to identify sensory words in a text and communicate which of the senses the words appeal to. (NOTE: This lesson does not dive into similes, metaphors, imagery, or other forms of sensory language.)

Before Reading

What is Sensory Language?

To kick off the lesson, you can activate students background knowledge by asking the following questions:

  • Can you name your five senses?
  • What do each of your five senses do?
  • What parts of your body help you see, hear, taste, smell, and fell?
  • How do the five senses help us?
  • What are some things I can see, hear, taste, smell, and feel?

I would highly recommend creating an anchor chart that you can add to and refer to throughout the lesson. Record your shared background knowledge as you review what students already know about their five senses.


How Sensory Language Connects to the Five Senses

You can help students explore how sensory language connects to the five senses. Review what “language” is, and then build the analogy between the word “sense” and the word “sensory” (e.g., “If I know what sense means, then I can figure out what sensory language means.”).


You can help students identify the root word inside of the larger vocabulary word, and help them understand that sensory language is words or phrases that connect to the five senses and describe what we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel.  Be sure to review what a verb and adjective are, as well, since you will be using those parts of speech words throughout the lesson.

Feel free to download the poster below to help remind students of the definition of sensory language throughout the lesson. For those of you who use interactive notebooks or reading notebooks, this may be a nice reference to make into a half-sheet and glue into their notebooks.


Making Vocabulary Connections

Before moving on, it’s important for students to review the connections between the different vocabulary words for the sense of sight, hearing, and touch. You can add these to your anchor chart (see above). For example, we often use the words looks and sees when we describe the sense of sight. Having three different words connected to one sense can be confusing. Have students point to their different body parts as they complete the following chant: “I use my sense of ______________ to ______________ things with my ______________. Sensory language describes how it______________.” Students can refer to the following reference sheet and echo the sentences below while doing the motions. (The kinesthetic connection often helps builds deeper associations!)


  • I use my sense of sight to see things with my eyes, and sensory language describes how it looks.
  • I use my sense of hearing to hear things with my ears, and sensory language describes how something sounds.
  • I use my sense of touch, to feel things with my hands, and sensory language describes how it feels.

(These are the same but you can review them anyway!)

  • I use my sense of smell to smell things with my nose, and sensory language describes how something smells.
  • I use my sense of taste to taste things with my mouth, and sensory language describes how something tastes.

The Purpose of Sensory Language

It is important to also review the purpose of sensory language. Start off by asking a few simple questions:

  • Why do you think authors use sensory language?
  • How does sensory language help me comprehend what I’m reading?

Guide their responses to the actual purpose, which is: Authors use sensory language to help readers make connections, visualize what they are reading, and “experience” things they may not have a chance to experience in real-life. 

To help students better understand how authors do this, you can provide a few simple examples of sentences with and without sensory language for the students to compare (see below). Sight is the most utilized sense when authors are adding sensory details, so encourage students to really pay attention to how the other senses can be brought into writing.

  • Examples:
    • The bright green fish was swimming quickly through the sparkly, deep, blue ocean.
    • The fuzzy, brown caterpillar crunched loudly as he ate the fresh, green leaf.
  • Non-Examples:
    • The fish was swimming through the ocean.
    • The caterpillar ate the leaf.

With your support, students should hopefully develop a pre-reading understanding that sentences with sensory language will allow them to better visualize, imagine, and ultimately comprehend what is being described.

During Reading

For this lesson, students will stop and think about the sensory language the author uses throughout the text. Introduce the book, Where Butterflies Grow. Students can go on a picture walk and predict some the sensory language they may come across.

Possible Prediction Questions: 

  • What senses do you think the author wants you to use as you read about life cycle of the butterfly?
  • How do you think the author will describe the life cycle of the butterfly?
  • What specific sensory/describing words do you think the author will use?
  • How will the author help you visualize or imagine what you are reading?

NOTE: Every page is filled with sensory words and phrases, so there will be no shortage of sentences to dissect and explore!

Sensory Language Guided Practice

Depending on the reading levels of your students, they may need help navigating the vocabulary and sensory language of this text. Although it’s a Guided Reading (F&P) level N, the book is filled with rich vocabulary, so you may need to guide students in using context clues to determine the meaning of these higher-level words.

If you’re working with students in a small group setting, you can use enlarged-text sentences from the book to help with the guided practice (see below). The sentences I used are the same ones from the graphic organizer and I put them in sheet protectors so I could use dry or wet erase markers with them.  (You can also laminate them!) They are the same sentences that are listed on the scaffolded graphic organizer. You’ll notice that I like to color-code the different senses as I’m guiding students through the process. You can have your students do this for the graphic organizer, as well, if you want them to think about the sense before underlining. Otherwise, the students can underline first in pencil and then identify the sense using the context.


To determine which color to use when underlining each sensory word/phrase, I first use a think-aloud to model identifying the sensory language by looking for describing words (adjectives or verbs). Once I find the describing words, I model how to think through making connections between sensory language and the five senses.

For example, for the first sentence, I say that I know the word “soft” is a describing word and an adjective. I model using the fill-in-the-blank questions below to help determine that soft is a something I feel with my hands so it connects with the sense of touch.

Students plug in the sensory words and ask themselves:

  • Is ____________ something I can smell with my nose?
  • Is ____________ something I can taste with my tongue?
  • Is ____________ something I can hear with my ears?
  • Is ____________ something I can see with my eyes?
  • Is ____________ something I can feel with my hands?

You may wish to guide the students through a few sentences and then let them work independently or in partners for the rest, or you can guide them through each sentence if you predict they will have a difficult time on their own. Students can fill out the graphic organizer as you complete each sentence together.

You may want to provide the sentence starter chart (below) as a helpful resource, as well. Students finish the sentence with the sensory word or phrase to see which makes sense.

Slide5Lesson Differentiation

If your students are more advanced and you still wish to use this mentor text to introduce sensory language, just modify the lesson so that you’re providing less support. After modeling how to complete the graphic organizer, students can navigate the text on their own or with a partner. Instead of using the scaffolded graphic organizer with provided sentences, they can hunt for their own sensory language examples and can record the sentences using the blank graphic organizer. You can also just use one page of the scaffolded graphic organizer and place a blank copy on the back for the second half of the text. You decide what works best for your students!


After Reading

Independent Practice

For independent practice with identifying sensory language examples and connecting them to the five senses, students can reread the text independently and hunt for additional sensory language sentences. They can also read a new text at their independent reading level and hunt for sensory language. Students can use the blank graphic organizer for this independent portion of the lesson.


Sensory Language Word Sorts

To reinforce sensory language and how sensory words connect to the five senses, students can complete the sensory language word sort (click image below). Some of the words are from the text, but some are random. The sensory language in this book only really appeals to the sense of touch and sight (It does appeal to the sense of motion, but we’re not focusing on that for sensory language in this lesson, since it’s not one of the five senses!)


Here are a few tips & reminders for students:

  • Sense of sight words are often colors, shapes, or describing the appearance of an object.
  • Sense of hearing words are often verbs that mimic actual sounds (onomatopoeia).
  • Sense of taste and smell words are often closely related (salty, fresh, burnt, etc.).
  • Sense of touch words are often textures.
  • Some words can be used for more than one category depending on the context (e.g., “soft” can be a touch word or a sound word).

This sensory language word sort can be used to practice making sensory language connections at home for homework, or even in an independent literacy center. You can laminate for students to sort again and again, or you can make individual copies for each student to cut and glue down into their reading notebooks or on a piece of construction paper.

Let’s Reflect!

After completing the mentor text lesson, students can ask themselves the following questions:

  • How will sensory language help me as a reader?
  • How will sensory language help me as a writer?
  • Why is it important for me to use sensory language when I’m writing?
  • How will I use sensory language when I’m reading and writing independently?

The idea is for students to start thinking about how sensory language translates to their own writing.

Lesson Extension

Writing with Sensory Language

When working with literacy skills, it’s important to make connections and bridge the skills across reading and writing. Students can extend their learning to start adding sensory details to their writing. Students can work toward using sensory language to enhance their writing and help their writing audience visualize and experience what they’re writing about, similar to Where Butterflies Grow.

Need an idea for getting started? Ask students brainstorm sensory sentences for a specific object. They can pick their own or you can provide them with a spring-themed object to describe (i.e., flower, bumblebee, umbrella, etc.). Students should think beyond the sense of sight and challenge themselves to bring in all five senses to include a full sensory experience in their writing pieces. Use thematic webs for brainstorming and provide graphic organizers to help them through the writing process.

Descriptive Writing Unit

This lesson is also a nice segue into a descriptive writing unit where students learn to apply imagery, figurative language (i.e., similes, metaphors, etc.) and descriptive details in their writing. The sensory language activities from this lesson provide a strong foundation for later descriptive writing mini-lessons.

Lesson Resources

As part of this link-up event, the lesson materials for Where Butterflies Grow are currently FREE! Be sure to check out the companion resources for Where Butterflies Grow, and scoop up the print-and-go materials for your next guided reading lesson!


(NOTE: This resource was a temporary freebie from 4/21/17-4/28/17 for the link-up!)


Check out the mentor text lesson resource for Where Butterflies Grow by clicking HERE or the image above.


Download the FREE posters by clicking HERE or the image above!

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Check out my “Resources for Sensory Language” Pinterest board for additional ideas. I’ll be adding to this board throughout the year, so make sure you “Follow” me on Pinterest!

Hope you found these resources to be valuable! How do you teach sensory language? Feel free to comment below!

Reminder: Be sure to check out the other mentor text links below and collect the mystery words for the giveaway. Follow the Rafflecopter links for each blog and enter for a chance to win an amazing collection of books! 🙂 (NOTE: This giveaway ended 4/28/17) 

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Happy Teaching! 


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Teaching Sensory Language with Mentor Texts -- Where Butterflies Grow | A mentor text lesson with sensory language activities, anchor charts, guiding questions, and free printables for your literacy lesson

“Goodbye, Snow!” – A Free Poetry Resource for Spring

13 Mar

We recently had a few 70 degree days here in WNY! They were promptly followed by a week of freezing temperatures and a snowstorm on the way, but it was a nice reminder that spring is (hopefully) just around the corner.

The fleeting sunshine inspired me to put together a new spring freebie just for you! “Goodbye, Snow!” is a simple poem that you can use for fluency practice in your classroom. Save it for April’s poetry month, or try it out tomorrow. You can use it for small group instruction, literacy centers, or even to send home with students.

GoodbyeSnow Poem

As a bonus, there are four corresponding comprehension activities to go with the poem: “Make-Your-Own Poem,” “My Visualization” “My Connection,” and “Poetry Vocabulary.”


Download the spring freebie by clicking HERE or the image below!


Looking for additional spring resources? Click here to check out my other spring products or check out some of my favorite spring-themed books below!

What are your favorite books, poems, or resources for celebrating spring in the classroom?

Happy Teaching! 


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“Watch Out for Tricky T!” – Free Phonics Resource

3 May


My RTI students often have a hard time with blends, specifically R-blends like tr- and dr- where the beginning consonants change their sounds. To help them with tr- blends, I created a poem and activity packet to help reinforce the sound T makes inside the blend. Students can read (and reread!) the poem and highlight the tricky blends inside of the poem. The corresponding activities and games will help build automaticity with the “Tricky T” sound inside the consonant blend.

Download this FREE poem for teaching or reviewing the sound of the tr- consonant blend by clicking HERE or the image below.


If you’re interested in the complete phonics packet, check it out HERE! This packet includes word lists, assessments, practice word cards, and fluency activities/games.


Looking for new resources to try out in your classroom? Be sure to check out my other phonics and fluency products.


Happy Teaching!

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Teaching Author’s Message with Penguin & Pinecone

27 Nov

Unpack your scarves and boots… winter is fast-approaching! To help you prepare for the long winter season, I’m sharing a wonderful winter mentor text and resource to use with your students this snowy season.

Last November, I had the privilege of attending the NYS Reading Association conference where Salina Yoon was presented with the 2014 Charlotte Award for her book Penguin and Pinecone. She talked about her inspiration for writing this beautiful book and the message about friendship she hoped to share with her readers. It was very inspiring to listen to her speak and share her story, and I just knew I needed to share this story with YOU!


Book Description

“When penguin finds a lost pinecone one day, an unlikely friendship blooms.”

Penguin and Pinecone (MsJordanReads)

In the heart-warming story, Penguin and Pinecone, a little penguin becomes friends with a pinecone; however, he finds out that his friend pinecone can’t live in the snow, so he takes the pinecone back to his home in woods with the hope of being reunited again. Later, he visits his friend pinecone in the woods and discovers that “love only grows over time.” (Read the full summary at www.salinayoon.com)


Lesson Introduction

So how do I use this story in my classroom? Well… I actually use this grades 2-5 with all the students I work with, since it’s a great mentor text for all ages, but for this specific lesson, I used it to teach author’s message to my RTI 2nd & 3rd graders.

First, to get my students thinking about the story, I show them the book trailer created by Salina Yoon.


I have them activate their schema, thinking about what friendship means, and then I ask them to think deeply about why this book is labeled as “a friendship story.” I share that friendship and love are the two themes of the story, and I ask the students to make predictions about what the author’s message might be (connected to themes). Students record their predictions on a sticky note to revisit after we finish reading.

NOTE: If your students need a review of what “author’s message” is, you may wish to use the poster below (it’s a forever freebie!) or create an anchor chart for your classroom.


With their individual predictions in mind, students now have a personal purpose for reading — to see if their author message predictions are correct!

Lesson Activity

For my 2nd and 3rd grade groups, I read the story aloud to the students. In my small groups, the students follow along in their copies of the text. (NOTE: You could easily share it as a read aloud on your reading rug, or even using a projector screen using an AverMedia player with your whole class.)

After reading the story, we talk about the story events and complete a shared graphic organizer for author message. Students hunt for text-evidence to support their understanding of the author’s message (CCSS RL2.1, RL3.1). They use this evidence in their written responses and visualizations.

Penguin and Pinecone Graphic Organizers (MsJordanReads)

There are many discussion questions connected to theme and author’s message you can use during your instruction. These can also be used as writing prompts.

Possible Discussion Questions: 

  • What is the author’s message for FRIENDSHIP? (How do you know?)
  • What is the author’s message for LOVE? (How do you know?)
  • What does Penguin learn about friendship and love from his friendship with Pinecone?
  • What did YOU learn from the story about Penguin and Pinecone?
  • What evidence from the text supports the author’s message that “Love only grows over time”?
  • What evidence from the text supports the author’s message that “Friendship lasts forever, even if you’re miles apart”?
  • Why do you think the author chose these themes for her book?
  • Why do you think the author chose these specific messages for her book?

Download This Resource

Would you like try out this resource in your classroom? Check it out here or by clicking the cover image below. You can use this resource as a shared lesson, similar to how I explained it above, to model author’s message using a think-aloud process. You can also use it for students to apply their knowledge of the skills independently.


(NOTE: This resource was a limited time free resource from 11/27/15 – 12/4/15 as part of a blog hop. It has since returned to being a paid resource in my TpT store.)

Lesson Extension

There are SO many lesson extensions for Penguin and Pinecone. I could make it a blog post in itself, but below are a few resources and ideas for you to try out and explore for yourself!


Salina Yoon shares a wonderful CCSS-aligned educator’s guide on her website to use with your students. This resource (created by www.teachingseasons.com) includes text-based activities for sensory language, making predictions, compare/contrast, sequence of events, and author’s message. You can download it for FREE here!

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Apparently, penguin has his own blog! It’s a cute photo journal from penguin’s point of view, sharing what he’s been up to. It hasn’t been updated since 2013, though, so this could be a fun writing extension activity to use with your students. Students have to think beyond the text to come up with what they think penguin is doing now in 2015. Have students create a picture/photo journal, or even their own blog from penguin’s point of view. As an extension to the mentor text lesson, students could try to incorporate their own “author’s message” into their journal/blog entries. (They could use one of the penguin crafts below to document their penguin’s journey in photos!)

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The author created three coloring pages you can use for your K-2 fast finishers. Check them out here!



I came across a wonderful interview on the Charlotte Award blog that I thought would be fun to share with students. It could lead nicely into an author study, after using it as a mentor text. Students can even compare/contrast the author’s messages in each book!


Check out the other books in Salina Yoon’s series:

Happy Winter!


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NOTE: This blog post was originally part of a blog hop sponsored by The Reading Crew. We divided our blog posts into primary and upper elementary link-ups. Explore the category that is most appropriate for the grade you teach, or check out both if you wish. Each blog post will feature a mentor text along with a corresponding skill freebie to use with the book.

Grades K-2 Link-Up
Click HERE or the image below to access all the blog posts in the K-2 link-up!


Grades 3 & Up Link-Up
Click HERE or the image below to access all the blog posts in the Grades 3 and up link-up!


Goodbye October… Hello November! — Scarecrow Poem & Activities

1 Nov

As many of you know… I. Love. Fall. 🙂 I love fall foods (pumpkin muffins, apple pie, butternut squash soup… Mmmm!) and pretty much everything related to fall. I would be ecstatic if we could stretch-out the autumn fun to last another month. Unfortunately, winter usually comes too early in WNY, and my hopes for a long autumn season get buried under a pile of snow. (Sigh.)

Since I probably have a few more weeks before I have to say “Goodbye Fall… Hello Winter!,” I wrote a new fall-themed poem about a scarecrow to share with all of YOU! Not only is it fun for fluency, but I’ve also added some word work and comprehension activity pages to go along with it.

Scarecrow Poetry Resource

Students can use the descriptive language in the poem to visualize the scarecrow. They can hunt for text evidence that helps them create a mind-picture and can record the picture on the page provided.

Scarecrow Visualization

This poem provides plenty of word work opportunities! Students can hunt for rhyming words, compound words, word endings, and specific phonics patterns. I always create a coding key for my students to follow. For this poem, I had them underline rhyming words, box compound words, and squiggle underline adjectives.

Scarecrow Poem Word Hunt

The scarecrow adjectives are great for a parts of speech mini-lesson! I always have my students circle or highlight the adjectives in the poem before recording the words on the graphic organizer. (As an alternative, the scarecrow patches on the graphic organizer can be used to visualize the adjectives, almost acting as picture frames, for students to show they understand the meaning of each word!)

Scarecrow Adjectives

Are you looking for some picture books to add to your classroom library? I’ve listed a few of my favorites below. They are perfect for building-up your students’ background knowledge and scarecrow vocabulary!

Download the free poem by clicking HERE or the image below!

Scarecrow Poem & Activities

Happy November! 


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Summer Stock Up!

26 Jun

Summer is FINALLY here for us WNY teachers! My last day of school was yesterday, and I am beyond ready to relax and recharge. Of course, in between relaxing and recharging, I will be planning and thinking ahead to next year. (Do teachers really ever take a break?!) The summer always goes by fast, so I’ve decided to pull together some resources for a Summer Stock Up event to help us get ready for next year. Stock up now so you can relax and enjoy the last bit of summer! 🙂 Summer Stock Up This past year, I’ve been slowly building-up my fluency toolbox and creating resources that can be used as interventions with my RTI students. I like to dig deep into fluency and really target the specific area of fluency they struggle with. (Pace? Phrasing? Expression? Attention to Punctuation?) With a new year of fluency groups in mind, it is my summer goal to finish my growing collection of differentiated “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards.  Slide03 “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards are geared toward elementary-level students. They’re easy to use and perfect for the classroom! They can be used in many ways and are helpful for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and assessing fluency phrasing with your students.

(Sets 1-8 are ALL currently available on TpT!) 

These task card sets can be sent home for practice, used as a center, incorporated into Daily Five, or used in small groups. Directions and suggestions for use are included with each set. Scoop It Product Details Each “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Card set includes the same components, but just increases in difficulty. You can purchase one set, or you can purchase the whole collection! IMG_7212 There are two formats of task cards within each set. The task cards with scoop lines are perfect for students to practice reading with phrasing, following the scoop lines with their fingers as they read. Scoop It Reading Task Cards The task cards without scoops are helpful for students who need practice with identifying appropriate phrases within a sentence. If you laminate the cards, students can draw in the scoop lines (using dry-erase markers) and can practice grouping the different words together. They can then practice reading the sentences afterward. Scoop It Interactive Cards The 48 task cards in each set each feature a targeted phonics pattern. Set 1 starts off with pre-primer words and basic CVC word patterns. Each set increases in difficulty. By Set 6, your students will be interacting with multi-syllable words and complex vowel patterns. Use multiple task card sets to differentiate your practice and instruction. IMG_7217All of the “Scoop It” task card sets are currently available in my MsJordanReads store. The collection consists of the following sets:

There is also a “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Card Bundle if you’re interested in grabbing all the sets at once and at a discounted price.


“Scoop It” Freebie & Giveaway

Be sure to stop by my Facebook page this weekend to download a FREE sample of my newest “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards (Set 2). Just look for my “Summer Stock Up” tab to download it. When you’re done, click “More Freebies” to stock up on additional resources from the other participants and see their products in action! Also, as part of this wonderful Summer Stock Up event, I am offering a giveaway for TWO lucky winners! Each winner will receive the completed “Scoop It” sets that are currently available in my store. Enter by completing the form below. I will be randomly choosing the winners Friday, July 3rd and announcing on my Facebook page. The winners will also be notified by email!

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED! Thank you to everyone who entered. A huge CONGRATULATIONS to Allison Kieffner & Jennifer Lyman for winning my “Scoop It!” Fluency Task Card giveaway! (An email will be sent with the resources!)

Blog to FB Image

Happy Summer!


Avoid the Dreaded “Summer Slide” with Fluency Fun

19 Jun


Avoid the Dreaded Summer Slide with Fluency Fun - MsJordanReads

Practicing oral reading fluency throughout the summer is a great way for children to further develop reading skills and prevent summer regression.

Fluency is the glue that holds together oral reading and comprehension. Without fluency, your student or child may have a difficult time understanding the text they are reading. It is the path to comprehension and is a key foundational skill for children who are learning to read.

There are many resources and activities you can use to develop fluency skills. Many of the activities are free and just require books or texts at your child’s “independent level.” The goal is not to challenge your child with complex phonics patterns or unknown words, but to have them interact with texts that are on the easier side. This transfers the focus from “word reading” to “reading for meaning.”

Over the past few years, I’ve shared many fluency activities for teachers to use in the classroom; however, many of these activities can be used at home, as well.

Activities for Fluency Fun & Practice

Here are a few fluency activities that parents can try at home this summer:


Rereading texts is one of the best ways to improve oral reading fluency (and comprehension!). After the first read-through, students are more familiar with the words and can focus on grouping words together, adding expression, and stopping at punctuation. They can also try to improve their reading pace. Although reading speed is not the biggest focus of fluency, an improved pace will subsequently improve your child’s comprehension of texts. The pace should increase naturally as your child completes multiple readings of the same text!


Poetry is a great way for children to practice fluency! Typically, poems are short enough that they can complete multiple readings in one sitting. If your child needs fluency practice, he/she would benefit from listening to someone read each poem with “good fluency” first before practicing it. As a parent, you can model the poem and then have your child “echo read” each line to build up accuracy and phrasing. It takes away the “unknown word barrier” and allows your child to focus on changing his/her voice to sound like you! Poetry is an effective resource that allows children to practice all the components of fluency at once.

Audio Recording

Having children record themselves reading is an extremely powerful fluency tool! There are many free programs out there that are easy to use and allow kids to record their reading (i.e., Audacity for computers, iTalk for Apple devices, etc.). The playback feature of these recordings is the key to fluency development and can build self-awareness for kids regarding HOW they sound as readers. Many children don’t even realize how disfluent they actually are! With the playback feature, your child can listen to his/her recordings and reflect on the different parts of fluency. Encourage your child to answer the following questions: Did I read with appropriate pace? Did I read with phrasing? Did I read with expression? Did I attend to punctuation? Through reflections, your child can set goals and try to make changes. He/she can later compare repeated readings and listen for improvements.

Audio Books

Audio books are wonderful for summer break! With these “books-on-tape,” kids can follow along in a text as someone else reads to them. The power of modeled fluency is HUGE. Your child can listen to how fluent readers group their words together into phrases, change their voices to match character emotions and punctuation, pause appropriately after phrasing and punctuation, and apply intonation.

As our world becomes more digital, there are websites popping up everywhere that offer “Read to Me” books, such as Reading A-Z, Epic!, Farfaria, MeeGenius and more! Hundreds of books-on-CD and audio books are also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

If you’re looking for a few free audio books to start with, NOOK Read to Me Books are fabulous and can be used on any device you can download the app to. (My students listen and read the free NOOK “Read to Me” books I’ve downloaded through the NOOK app on our iPads.) Also, if your local library is like mine, you can download audio books to your personal device via their website, using software such as Overdrive. This is a great way to bring new audio books into your home or classroom each week. If you have a long car trip coming up, audio books are an extremely valuable way to fill the time!

“Fluency Fun” Picture Books

If you are already reading with your child, why not pick some fun fluency books? These picture books will be sure to bring out your best phrasing and expression. Be silly. Have fun. Show off your fluency!

The books listed below are my favorite for modeling and practicing fluency, especially expression. Use them for read-alouds, partner reading, and choral reading (reading at the same time). You can even read them at bedtime!

Daily Fluency Task Cards — Summer FREEBIE!

To help you avoid the “summer slide,” I’m sharing my SUMMER set of seasonal Daily Fluency task cards. This resource is perfect for parents looking to further develop their child’s fluency skills. The resource is also great for teachers who are tutoring or teaching summer school during the summer months!

The fluency task cards in this set are geared toward grades 2/3 and focus on the four major components of fluency: Pace, Phrasing, Expression, and Attention to Punctuation. (Want to learn more about each of the fluency components? Download my free “What is Fluency?” Reference Sheet HERE, or read more about fluency HERE!)

Daily Fluency Task Cards SUMMER

(Download this free resource HERE or by clicking the image above!)

How to Use Fluency Task Cards at Home

After modeling and going over the directions listed for each task, your child should be able to use these fluency task cards independently. You can put the cards on a key ring, organize them in an index card box, or even put them in a dollar store photo book. Each day, have your child complete 1-2 task cards and record the completed task cards on the task card log. There are four sets for your child to rotate through.

You child should practice each task card aloud a few times. (Repeated readings are built into each task.) You can even create a DIY whisper phone using PVC pipes so they can monitor their fluency and hear themselves read! Every task has a specific fluency focus (i.e., pace, phrasing, expression, punctuation), but you will find that students will need to combine fluency skills to complete each card.

Tips for Promoting Summer Fluency Development

Obviously, fluency is not a skill that develops overnight. Like most reading skills, it takes consistent practice and requires your child to read EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Here is a review of a few tips and suggestions I shared in this post to help you promote fluency development at home this summer:

  • Encourage repeated reading (reading a text multiple times)
  • Read lots of poetry
  • Choose books that are at easier levels
  • Build in time everyday for your child to practice reading
  • Read to your child to model appropriate fluency
  • Encourage your child to read along with audio books
  • Have your child record their voice while reading to reflect and set goals
  • Switch it up — echo read, choral read, and partner read
  • Complete fluency task cards! 🙂

NOTE: This post was orginally part of the Summer Blog Party Kick Off Hop! Check out the first post in the blog hop HERE to scoop up all the summer reading ideas and resources. Continue on to the next stop in the blog hop here at Literacy Spark

Happy Summer!


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Fluency Task Cards for the Summer that you can download for FREE! | Blog post includes other summer fluency ideas to help students practice fluency and avoid the typical "summer slide" reading regression.

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