Animals are fascinating creatures and kids love to learn about them and their life cycles. They are in awe from the moment of their births and they marvel at the ways they grow and change.
What is a life cycle?
Every animal on Earth has a life cycle - this is the process they go through from when they're born until they die. All animals have different life cycles, and the length of time it takes them to go through each stage varies hugely too. Let's take a look at some examples.
A frog's life cycle has four stages: egg, tadpole, juvenile, and adult. Frogs start their lives as eggs, which are laid in water. Once they hatch, they grow into tadpoles, which have tails and live in water. As they mature, they develop legs and lose their tails, becoming juveniles. Eventually, they turn into adults and leave the water for good.
Honey bees have a very different life cycle to frogs. They have three stages: larva, pupa, and adult. Honey bee larvae hatch from eggs and are fed by the worker bees. After a few weeks, they enter the pupa stage. During this stage, their bodies change and they develop into adults. Once they emerge they take on their roles of worker bees, drones, or queen bees.
Mammals life cycle
The animal life cycle that is probably the most familiar to us is the one we see in mammals. Mammals generally go through four distinct stages in their lives-embryo, neonate, juvenile, and adult.
As human mammals, we can relate to these.
When a woman is pregnant, the baby is in the embryo stage. This is the time from when the egg is fertilized by the male until the baby is born.
When the baby is born, it needs to be cared for by the parents because it is not able to care for itself yet. This is the neonate stage.
As the child becomes more independent and able to care for itself, we refer to this as adolescence or the juvenile stage.
When the child has reached full maturity and can mate and have offspring of its own we refer to this as the adult stage.
Life cycles in the classroom
In many primary classrooms, at some time during the year you will find a life cycle of some animal being studied. At my school, this was usually butterflies, chickens, or salmon. Not only were the students in the class excited to see the changes from eggs through the stages as they became these different animals, other students around the school would often stop by to check out the changes too.
There is no better way to learn than to experience it in person. Learning from videos, books, or shared experiences of others is okay, but seeing that butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, watching that baby chick peck it way out of the egg or releasing fry into the river will imprint that memory for years to come.
If you are interested in studying the life cycles of animals with your class, here are some resources that I have created that might help.
Life cycle of a salmon
Life cycle of a frog
Life cycle of a chicken
Life cycle of a honey bee
Life cycle of a butterfly
Here is a set of templates that may be helpful for gathering information about animal life cycles. It is part of a set of 4 animal research templates.
Grab your free copy by subscribing to my newsletter.
From the time children are babies, we talk, sing, and make gestures to get them to respond to us and we are so excited when we hear them squeak and coo. This is oral communication at its best. We've made a connection and started the process of language development.
Importance of oral communication
Oral communication is such an important way to develop language and literacy skills. It is through oral communication that children learn to articulate their thoughts and experiences, to engage with others, and to build their vocabulary and comprehension.
Oral communication doesn't begin when a child goes to school. It begins from the time the child is a baby. The more we interact with kids when they are infants, the better they are able to communicate their feelings and needs.
Teachers can build on those early communication skills when the children begin school, but the richer the experiences as infants and toddlers, the more successful they will be with their educational experiences.
Though oral communication is sometimes viewed as simply talking, it is actually a complex process that employs all the language arts skills. When we oral communicate effectively, we are able to share our thoughts and feelings with others in a clear and concise way.
Oral communication is so much more than just speaking. It is an oral language activity that uses all the elements of Language Arts including listening, viewing, speaking, writing, and critically thinking. When we communicate orally, we are not only using words but our whole body to express ourselves through intonation, facial expressions, gestures, and body language.
Oral communication helps children to develop language skills, and it also encourages them to be creative and expressive. There are many different ways to encourage oral communication in the classroom. We communicate orally when we tell stories, sing songs, read books out loud, enact scenes from plays, and present oral reports.
In the classroom, oral communication activities can range from choral reading and readers theater to storytelling and circle time discussions.
Choral reading and readers theater
With choral reading, the whole class reads a book together, taking turns to read different parts. This is a great way to get everyone involved, and it can also help to build confidence in those who are less confident readers. Because they are reading as a group, the fear of making mistakes and struggling with reading is lessened.
Another way to encourage oral communication is through readers theater. This is where children take on the roles of different characters in a play and read their lines aloud. This is a great way for children to practice their oral reading skills, and it also allows them to be creative and have fun. They can sometimes add different actions and voices as they read.
Plays and puppetry
Puppetry and class plays are great ways to promote oral communication skills. These activities provide opportunities for children to practice speaking in front of an audience, to listen to others, and to develop confidence in their oral communication skills. The actors are able to use body language and actions to further emphasize the words and voices they use for their roles. The audience practices the skills of listening and viewing to make sense out of what is being expressed on stage.
Audio books and music
Listening is a big component in oral communication. It is important to be able to listen and understand when someone is speaking or sharing information through other mediums. Using audio books and music is a great way to help develop listening skills. Messages are being shared without the visual part, so it is necessary to listen more closely to understand what is being shared.
Doing interviews is another great way to develop oral communication skills. Not only does it require being able to speak, but also to listen so that both parties are able to understand and share ideas and thoughts.
Being part of a podcast involves listening and speaking as well. The difference is, you can't necessarily see the other person, so you need to be able to figure out meaning from the words and intonation of the speakers.
These are just a few of the many ways you can help your students build their oral communication skills. So have fun and get creative!
Have you ever reflected back on why you teach the way you do? What made you use that story? How did you know what to do when a certain situation arose? Could you have approached things in a different way?
Teaching kids language skills so they are able to communicate effectively can be complicated at times. There are so many different experiences and abilities to take into consideration.
I started to do some self reflection and realized that some of my most valuable lessons and ideas have come from raising my own children. As I stumbled through those first few years helping them learn to talk, read, write, and self regulate, I found myself creating a toolkit of skills and resources that would ultimately go with me into the classroom.
Who knew those constant "why ......? questions would shape my teaching for years to come.
I have 4 children and as might be expected, they all learn differently. What worked for one child didn't necessarily work the same way for the others. Sounds like most classroom situations, right? That means that we need to have multiple ways to approach each situation so that we can help all our students to be successful as they learn.
Let's focus on language development for today.
Language development requires being able to recognize sounds, letters, and how all of this goes together to communicate.
One of the best ways to help children develop strong language skills is to combine oral communication with phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. By combining all of these elements, you can create a powerful tool for teaching language development.
When it comes to teaching language development skills, phonemic awareness and phonics are two of the most important concepts for primary teachers to understand. Simply put, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. Phonics is the relationship between those sounds and the letters that represent them.
How we approach teaching these skills will vary depending on the abilities of our students, our teaching styles, and of course access to resources and support available.
There are many different ways to approach phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. Some teachers prefer to work on phonemic awareness activities first, and then move on to teaching phonics. Others teach phonics from the beginning, using games and activities to make it fun and engaging for students.
Whichever approach you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it's important to make sure that your students are comprehending what you're teaching them. Second, be sure to provide plenty of opportunities for practice. And finally, don't forget to mix things up now and then- kids learn best when they're having fun!
Phonemic awareness and phonics activities
There are a variety of phonemic awareness and phonics activities that you can do with your students. Here are a few ideas.
Word work activities are a great way to practice phonemic awareness and phonics skills. Word family activities, segmenting and blending, for example, help students learn about how individual sounds come together to form words. These activities are essential for helping students develop phonemic awareness and phonics skills.
One way to introduce phonemic awareness is through rhyming games. You can start by saying a word and having your child say a word that rhymes with it. As they get better at identifying rhyming words, you can start saying a series of words and have them identify the word that doesn't rhyme. This will help them to start thinking about the individual sounds in words.
Another popular activity is called "sound swapping". To do this, you'll need a list of words that all begin with the same sound (for example, hat, ham, hog). Write each word on a separate sheet of paper or index card. Then mix up the cards and have your students draw one from a pile. The goal is for them to read the word aloud and then swap out one of the phonemes (sounds) to create a new word. For example, if they draw the word "hog," they might change the /h/ sound to a /t/ sound to create the word "tog." This activity is great for practicing phonemic awareness skills while also reinforcing letter-sound relationships.
Word families activities are a great way to reinforce phonics skills. A word family is a group of words that share the same ending sound (-at, -an, -ig, etc.). You can introduce word families by reading aloud a list of words from the same family (-at words: cat, hat, rat, bat). Then challenge your students to come up with additional words from that same family (-at words: mat, sat). Once they've had some practice with this, you can start mixing things up by having them create words from different families (-am words: jam, ham) .
Word family activities not only help students understand how different letter combinations can create new sounds; they also provide valuable practice in blending and segmenting words - two essential skills for reading success!
My son loved to try and read words he saw around him and he liked to have me make word lists and tape them to his closet door from the time he was a toddler. I still remember all the "ss" word lists. He would read through them and try to figure out other words that might go in each list.
Read alouds are a great way to model phonemic awareness and phonics skills for students. When you read aloud, pay attention to the rhythm and flow of the words. Point out how the different sounds come together to form words. You can also do some fun language activities together, like clapping out the syllables in words or finding words that start with the same sound.
My daughter used to listen to me read books to her and then she would record herself reading the books. I was amazed at how well she was able to copy the intonation and fluency from an early age. It goes to show the importance of reading aloud to help with language development and oral communication.
The concept of print is also important for primary students to understand, as it helps them to make connections between what they see on a page and the words that correspond to those images.
Sight word games help students to learn how letter-sound relationships work. For example, students might be asked to match pictures with words or to identify words that begin with a certain sound. These games are not only fun for students, but they also help them to develop a better understanding of how written language works.
Here are several themed sight word sets and activities that may be helpful.
The importance of phonemic awareness and phonics cannot be overstated. These skills are essential for language development and reading comprehension. Without them, students would have difficulty understanding spoken or written language.
The ultimate goal of phonemic awareness and phonics instruction is to improve reading comprehension. So go ahead and get started on some fun phonemic awareness and phonics activities with your students today!
This is a sampler of alphabet sounds game board that is free for my newsletter subscribers. If you are interested in the full resource, you can find it here.
Teaching kids reading nowadays is a juggling act, balancing a wide range of abilities and skills with confusion, engagement, and boredom. Differentiation is a must, not a suggestion anymore. Full class lessons are often replaced with guided reading groups.
Planning guided reading groups
Guided reading can be a bit daunting for primary teachers. When you consider all of the different guided reading activities, it's no wonder we sometimes feel overwhelmed! But guided reading doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, planning guided reading groups is actually quite simple, and the benefits are well worth the effort. Here are a few tips to get you started.
First, do some pre-assessment to decide on appropriate reading levels to start with. Then, choose texts that are appropriate for the levels of your students.
Next, decide what you want your students to focus on during guided reading.
Finally, don't forget about word work!
Choose appropriate texts
Once you have decided on the levels for each reading group, it's important to have a variety of materials and topics available so that all students can be successful. You want to make sure that the texts are interesting and engaging.
It's important to select books that are not too difficult or too easy, as this can lead to frustration or boredom. Fortunately, there are now many leveled readers available, so finding the perfect books for your groups should be a snap.
Decide on the group focus
The needs for each group will be different. You will need to decide on what the focus will be based on these needs. Do you want them to work on fluency? Comprehension? Vocabulary development? Once you know your goals, you can choose activities and games that will help your students meet those objectives.
Don't forget word work
You'll need to prepare your guided reading materials. This includes creating sight word lists, preparing word work activities, and generating questions for each group. You'll need to select language activities and games that are appropriate for each group.
This is an important part of guided reading, and it's a great way to help students build their vocabulary and sight word recognition skills. There are many fun and engaging ways to incorporate word work into guided reading, so get creative and have fun!
Setting up guided reading groups
Guided reading is a great way to help your students improve their reading skills. But how do you set up guided reading groups? And what should you do with the different groups?
Managing multiple guided reading groups can be a challenge, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
First, make sure you have a clear plan for each session. This will help you stay organized and keep the groups moving along at a good pace.
Second, provide clear instructions and model each activity before jumping into small groups.
Build in some flexibility into your schedule so that you can adjust as needed.
Finally, it's important to monitor the groups and adjust as needed. This might include changing the texts or activities based on student progress or adding in intervention or enrichment activities.
If you would like more specifics about setting up groups, check out these posts.
Guided Reading - Getting Started
Running A Guided Reading Program
Keeping kids on task
Once you get your guided reading groups set up, you need to make sure that kids are staying on task. Here are five guided reading activities that will help keep your young readers engaged:
1. Read the first sentence of the story together and have them predict what will happen next. This is a great way to get them thinking about the story and making predictions.
2. Ask them questions about the characters and what they think the characters might do next. This gets them invested in the story and thinking about the characters' motivations.
3. Have them illustrate a scene from the story. This allows them to use their imagination and really visualize what's going on in the story.
4. Have them retell the story in their own words. This helps to solidify their understanding of the story and gives you an opportunity to check for comprehension.
5. Put together a class book with illustrations from each student. This is a great way to end a guided reading unit and gives everyone a chance to see their work in print!
Guided reading is a great way to support your students' literacy development. By taking some time to plan and prepare ahead of time, you'll be ready to make the most of this instructional approach! By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to success with guided reading!
Get a free copy of this sight word set by signing up for my newsletter.
When it comes to teaching beginning young writers, there are a few essential tools that every teacher needs in their toolbox.
What's in your toolbox?
First and foremost, patience is key. It can be frustrating for beginning writers when their ideas don't always come out perfectly on paper, but it's important to remember that they're still learning and growing. Try to provide encouragement and positive feedback whenever possible.
2. Sense of humor
Secondly, a good sense of humor can go a long way. When beginning writers make mistakes, try to see the humor in it and help them to see the silver lining.
3. Story telling
Lastly, story telling is a great tool for beginning writers. By providing examples of stories that have been successfully written, beginning writers can see what is possible and be inspired to create their own masterpiece.
With these tools in your toolbox, you'll be well on your way to teaching beginning young writers.
Tips for getting started
There's nothing more rewarding than seeing a beginning young writer find their voice. But getting started can be tough. That's why I always tell my students that the best way to become a better writer is to write every day, even if it's just for a few minutes.
One of the best ways to get started is to keep a journal. Write about anything and everything - what you did today, what you're thinking about, what you're feeling. It doesn't have to be perfect, and no one else has to read it. Just getting your thoughts down on paper can help you to clear your head and see things in a new light.
Another great tip for beginning writers is to read as much as you can. Not only will this help to improve your writing skills, but you'll also get some great ideas for things to write about. So go ahead and crack open a book (or two, or three!) and start exploring the world of writing today.
Remember that every writer has to start somewhere. So don't expect perfection from the beginning. Just encourage them to get their thoughts down on paper, and worry about editing later.
I often tell my students to use approximations to get their ideas out, and then find the "dictionary spelling" when they are ready to polish their work. If they fret too much about correct spelling, the stories will never be as developed and wonderful as they could be.
Use scaffolds and graphic organizers
Scaffolds and graphic organizers can be extremely helpful for beginning writers. By providing a structure for their thoughts, beginning writers can more easily organize their ideas and put them into words.
Scaffolds also help beginning writers to stay on track, keeping their focus on the task at hand.
Graphic organizers can be used to plan out a story or to brainstorm ideas for an essay. They can also be used to keep track of characters and events in a story.
By using scaffolds and graphic organizers, beginning writers can become more confident and proficient in their writing.
Here are a couple of scaffolds that I have used successfully over the years for the fall.
If you would like a copy, click on the images.
Finally, be sure to offer plenty of compliments and encouragement along the way. Let them know that you're proud of their progress, and that you believe in their ability to become great writers.
Remember: With a little support and guidance, beginning writers can achieve anything.
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.