Prefix and Suffix Resources and a Freebie!

Many studies show the importance of building children’s vocabulary. One study has shown that a set of 20 prefixes and 14 roots, and knowing how to use them, will unlock the meaning of over 100,000 words. A similar study showed that a set of 29 prefixes and 25 roots will give the meaning to over 125,000 words. Imagine adding suffixes!  Here are some of my favorite hints, resources, and printables when introducing prefixes and suffixes! Continue reading

Long and Short Vowel Activities

Two products that we love using not only in the classroom but at home!  Early elementary students need lots of practice distinguishing long and short vowels!  The more hands on fun we can provide the better!

Find the Sweet Vowel Word Hunt and Monster Vowel Word Hunt in our stores!

Quick Tips on Long and Short Vowels….

What is the difference between short and long vowels? Depending on their position in the word and the pronunciation of that word, the length of the vowel can change and have a different sound. Not all letters make the same sound in all words, and that’s what vowel length is about.

14Short Vowels

When syllables end in a vowel and then consonant (as in the examples above), the vowel is usually short. If there is more than one consonant, the vowel is almost always short.

The most common sound for each vowel is its “short” sound:

  •  ă, pronounced /æ/ as in apple, pan, or mat,
  •  ĕ, pronounced /ɛ/ as in elephant, pen, or met,
  •  ĭ, pronounced /ɪ/ as in insect, pin, or mitt,
  •  ŏ, pronounced /ɒ/ as in octopus, ostrich, upon, or motto,
  •  and ŭ, pronounced /ʌ/ as in umbrella, pun, or mutt.

15Long Vowels

The alphabet sounds (when the vowel “says its name”) are called “long vowels.”  We call them ‘long’ because we hold them longer than the short sounds, but they are completely different sounds– not a longer version of the same sound.

  • Long A (ā ), pronounced /eɪ/ as in ate or mate,
  • Long E (ē ), pronounced /iː/ as in eat or meat (or meet or mete– all pronounced the same),
  • Long I (ī), pronounced /aɪ/ as in mite or might,
  • Long O (ō), pronounced /oʊ/ as in oats, mote or moat, and
  • Long U (ū), pronounced /juː/ in mute.

Vowel Resources!

Comment below and tell us, what resources do you use to teach vowels?

Reading Workshop

Reading Workshop Tips and Tricks: Round #2

In the last Reader’s Workshop Tips and Tricks #1 I talked about how to get to know your students before you begin your Reader’s Workshop.

This weeks Tips and Tricks Round 2 are based around getting the first few weeks off the ground!!

Before a child can have an interest in reading, he must first have an awareness of it.  The child who is unaware of the riches of literature certainly can have no desires for them.

          ~ Jim Trelease 

I have to admit that I am a Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop junkie…I love scouring the web looking for new ideas to integrate into my classroom.  I have learned a few things over the past years while teaching Reader’s Workshop in my fourth grade classroom.  I thought it was about time I put them down and shared some of the tips and tricks that I have been taught.

The most important piece of advice I have ever received about implementing and learning Reader’s Workshop is you need to give yourself time and grace!  There is no one that is able to implement it all at once without taking the time to get to know each of the parts in-depth.  Experts say that it takes at least three years for an educator to have all parts of the workshop fully implemented and thriving.

 The best advice that was given to me was to make the first year you do workshop the “year of the mini”.  

Start off really concentrating on getting to know your minilessons.  I find that the best format to organize these lessons and really keep track of all of the parts is using the same format that Lucy Calkins uses.  The only thing I did for my own lessons for the first year…and for those of you that may have some of my lesson is I eliminated the “mid-workshop teaching point”.  Then about half way through that first year I was able to grasp how and when to insert that “mid-workshop teaching point”. Now a few years in, I have become artful at doing and I know the lessons well enough to really know what the students need and where they are missing pieces.

I have developed a series of Reading Workshop Units for grades 3-5.  They are all on sale starting today on Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook!!!!!!  

Example Unit
Reader’s Workshop
Launching Unit:  Building A Reading Life

The Reader’s Workshop: Launching -Building a Reading Life is easily adaptable for 3-5. 16 Lessons with connection, teaching point, active engagement, link, and sharing. It addresses Common Core Standards and includes anchor charts, minilessons, booklist, conferring notes, partner expectations, parent letter and much more. This product has been adapted from Units of Study for Teaching Reading Grades 3-5 by Lucy Calkins.

In the Launching Unit some of the very first lessons include…

  • Setting expectations for behaviors during the mini lessons, independent reading time, and partner work.


  • Setting goals for reading as a class.  I keep these posted all year.
  • Typical starter mini lessons like “Signs to Watch for When Choosing a Book” and “Reading Fast, Long, and Strong”.  During this unit you will be continually trying to build their reading stamina.  Over the past few years I have used Stamina Graphs as recommended by the “The 2 Sisters” who have written Cafe and The Daily Five.


I highly recommend if you are a lower elementary teacher that you check out the linked websites above.  The Sisters really have done a fabulous job giving resources that you can use tomorrow!

  • Setting up partnerships.  These partnerships start off minimal and using them only a few times a week with very specific conversations.  Then during the next unit which is our Character Study, they are ramped up.  By this time they have had a lot of experience with accountable talk and are ready for action!
Later this week I am very excited to blog on the Tips and Tricks of Conferring.  We just had an amazing PD day with a woman who had the coolest ideas and set up to her conferring…so get excited for that to come your way!!!

Reader’s Workshop Tips and Tricks! Round 1

Getting to Know Your Students As Readers

My mama taught me well!  Before I ever do anything, I get to know the student as an individual!  In Reader’s Workshop we are providing students with an environment that is a catalyst to create a reader for a lifetime.  We do this by individualizing and personalizing not only our role as the teacher but fitting the needs of each individual student.  There is no way I can begin to teach without learning about their pasts as an individual and as a reader.  Then I also need to know how to get to them now but where to begin to get their attention and trust.  Some call them “Reader’s Profiles”

I collect as much information as possible about each student a couple weeks before school and during the first month (If you have not done this you still have time!!!!!!  It is never too late!!!).  This looks like scouring their previous work, standardized test results, talking to last years teachers, and anything from the previous years I can get my hands on!!!    Then I prepare to collect information from the student, my own observations, parent surveys, and more.   In the freebie below you will find some of the materials that I use in my room including…

  • Parent Survey and Information Form
  • Reading Interest Survey
  • Strategy Interview
  • Questions About My Reading
  • Getting to Know You Conference

 You will also find a couple of my “Beginning of Each Unit Forms” that have been thrown in!

  • “What I Want To Read Next” is a worksheet that I always have my students keep with them and add to it before and throughout the units.  We always talk about adding to it as we hear of books during book buzzes or learning of squeals to books they love!
  • “My Reading Goals”  is a form that is continually added too.  I mainly check up on this and we add to it as we meet and conference together one on one.   These are goals that we talk about in order for them to become better readers.
  • Reading Logs

Make sure and watch for ROUND TWO of Reader’s Workshop Tips and Tricks!  Next I am planning on talking about Conferring in the Reading Workshop!

A couple other Freebies from my shop for you lucky ducks!  Click on the links below

Post-It Note Collection and Reflection