Interactive Read Alouds

My students LOVE to hear books read aloud in the classroom, and they are in 5th grade!  Picture books are often underutilized in the intermediate grades.  Doing an interactive read aloud each day will help your students think and talk about books, which will make them better readers.  They will also encourage those struggling and reluctant readers to pick up a book that you have used as an interactive read aloud and reread it!


You can use just about ANY picture book as an interactive read aloud.  You can quickly search Pinterest to find lists of picture books for a variety of topics, like theme, mood, figurative language, point of view, etc.  We are starting our interactive read alouds this year with picture books focused on figurative language.   Here are some of the ones we are using in our classroom to start the year…



Think about what topics you are focusing on and start collecting those picture books!   Grab a pack of post it notes and an assortment of picture books, and you are ready to go!  This chart should help you with what to do before, during and after interactive read alouds!


What picture book titles are must haves for your classroom?


Teaching Theme with Picture Books

Theme is such a tough concept for kids to understand.  I use picture books to help my students identify the different themes and then use evidence to prove they have chosen a theme that works for the book.  I just found a picture book that was a total HIT with my students!  The book is, Barnacle is Bored, by Jonathan Fenske.


This story is so cute!  Barnacle is so bored just hanging off the dock all day and night.  He is envious of a little fish that gets to do all these fun things…until he gets eaten by an eel!  Yikes!


We read the book aloud and then charted the different themes from the book.  My kids came up with a great list, including:

  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • Be grateful for what you have.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover.
  • Focus on the positives.
  • Things are not always what they seem.


Students then worked on creating their own theme poster with examples from the book.  This lesson was a huge hit (and the book is really popular in our classroom, too)!


New Use for Picture Books!

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of picture books in my classroom and around my house that don’t get that much use anymore.  But, I found a GREAT way to use them!  I stumbled across this fantastically creative book on the Scholastic site.


This funny little book is really quite original and amazing.  It is an edited picture book, with added pictures, words, side bars, etc.  The pages look like this:


So, I gave my students some unused and no longer loved picture books from my own kid’s collection and then bought a few more from the used bookstore in my neighborhood. Today, each student got a black sharpie marker and a book.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with tomorrow!  You can get your own copy of the book, Battle Bunny, here.

Why not let your students upgrade some picture books?

Testing Fun! (Yes, I said FUN!)

Testing is an inevitable part of every year, especially for teachers in grade three and up.  I want this week (or if you are in my state these weeks) to be as low stress for my students as possible.  We take six total state tests, two in reading, two in math, and two in either science or social studies (depending on the grade level).

Each year, I come up with a testing theme.  We have done Rock Star, Survivor, and this year we are going with an Outer Space/Alien theme.  We start by having students color and fill out a testing motivational poster.


We hang these posters up outside the classroom for the duration of the testing period.  After each day of testing, students get a fun item.  For this theme, we included inflatable aliens, space pencils and erasers, shuttle pens, and more.  We found a TON of fun and inexpensive items at Oriental Trading and on Amazon.  Click here for the FREE Alien/Space Testing Pack!

What do you do during your testing week(s)?

Author Visit 2016

We just had the most amazing Author Visit at my school!  We had the author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.  She was so wonderful!  The students were simply in awe of her all day long.  We have been reading many of her books in class and many students have read even more on their own.


She gave a presentation to each grade level and then stopped by each classroom for questions.  If you have not had an author visit at your school, I highly recommend them.  They are a great way to get students really excited about reading!


I know students will be talking about Margaret Peterson Haddix for a long time, as well as reading all of her books!  A total success!

Vocabulary Activity for Any Subject Area

Are you looking for a way to get your students to learn important vocabulary words?  I am always looking for new ideas!  My kids really like this one!


I printed out pages with the vocabulary words on each one.  Students wrote the definition of the word (each pair had a word related to the science topic), then created 4-5 circles of examples of the word.  So they got the definition and examples of the word all in one lesson!


They turned out great and students seem to be able to remember the definitions AND give examples of each!  What ways do you reinforce vocabulary in your lessons?  Share some ideas in the comment section!

Totem Pole Tales

We learn about the different Native American regions in social studies.  In addition to learning about the different aspects of the region, we also do an art and writing project.  For the Northwest Coast Indians, we read the book, “Totem Tale”, and created our own totem poles from a sheet of paper.

  Click on the book cover to grab a copy!


Once the totem poles were created, we wrote totem tales based on the poles.  We edited the tales, focusing on sentence beginnings, using descriptive details, and proper capitalization and punctuation.  Since we need practice typing, we types these stories and then learned how to embed clip art (just right click on the picture, hit “wrap text”, and then “square”).  Works like a charm!


The students were so proud of their work!  I have to say, they are awesome!  I have created a Northwest Coast pack, if you are interested in purchasing it, click here.  You can still do the project without it!


Why not try some totem pole writing today?