Hello! Things have been so hectic at home and school, and I've been a really bad blogger! I wanted to pop in quickly and share a few freebies today. These gift card holders are perfect for a quick gift for a colleague, friend, or family member. Just print and add a gift card and you have the perfect, easy gift. They will be free throughout today, so be sure to click on the picture above and grab them now if you want them.

I wanted to share another freebie that I hope to blog more about soon. We have been learning about measurement, and this hopping bunnies activity is perfect this time of year. The students measure their bunnies, then they "hop" them, and measure how far they hopped. There are a few different sheets available in this set, including inches and centimeters. I found these bunnies at Oriental Trading Company here, but you can use the frogs that are sold at the dollar store too. Since this isn't really an Easter activity, you could do it any time of year. You can click on the picture below to download this pack. Be sure to check back, because I will have another measurement freebie with the same idea coming soon!
I hope you are able to use these freebies! Have a wonderful rest of the week and Easter! :)

All About Penguins
Today I'm teaming up with my Reading Crew friends to bring you our favorite mentor text lessons for winter and a giveaway!  
All About Penguins
For the past few years, nonfiction text has taken center stage in our classrooms. It's no surprise, since the majority of what we read in our daily lives is nonfiction. It becomes important for us to give our students the tools they need to navigate through this complex text. Today I'm sharing some ideas and tools for teaching text features using one of my students' favorite nonfiction books.
All About Penguins
My students are obsessed with the National Geographic Kids series. I purchase sets of six with my Scholastic Book Order points, and they are always the first choice during our independent reading time. Penguins have been a favorite of my students this time of year.

To teach nonfiction text features, I start off by introducing each text feature using my Scholastic Introduction to Nonfiction Text Features Write On/Wipe Off Flip Chart. (I purchased my flip chart with Scholastic points a few years ago, but it is available on Amazon.) This giant book is excellent for teaching each text feature, whole class or small group. We discuss the text features included, such as photographs, captions, maps, and side bar.  Students share examples of text features they've seen in their books, we discuss how each text feature helps us to better understand what we are reading, and I clarify any confusion. These posters from Scholastic's website are a free download and helpful to teach nonfiction text features if you don't have the Scholastic Introduction to Nonfiction Text Features Flip Chart. I have also used these free text features posters on my wall to teach with and have students to refer to throughout the year. They make a great display, and my students actually refer to them! 
After our text features discussion, I have students work in groups to find examples of text features using a copy of National Geographic Kids Penguins and the Nonfiction Text Features Investigation sheets. Students find examples of each text feature and write the page numbers where they found them. We come back together as a class and each group shares their findings. We discuss how not every nonfiction text has all of the text features we learned about. Students share how particular text features helped them to better understand what they read. We also discuss how we could take information we learned about in the book and create our own text features for the information.
Once students have a solid understanding of text features, they dig into the text deeper with their Penguin Research Booklets. Using the Penguins Reader, they find information such as vocabulary meanings, what penguins eat, their enemies, fun facts, and adaptations. I also have them create their own text features using the information from their Penguins Reader, but I tell them it has to be a text feature that isn't already included in the book. 

This time of year I have my students choose a polar animal to research. Since there are only a few National Geographic Kids Readers for polar animals, I collect other nonfiction books about polar animals from our school and local libraries. My students have their own tablets, so they are able to research online to gather more information about their animals. After they complete their Research Booklets, I plan to have my students create their own nonfiction books with the information they learn about their animals. Students can also create posters and habitat dioramas for their animals. This will be a great culminating project for our nonfiction study!
You can click on the picture above to download a copy of Penguins Nonfiction Text Features Investigation. Inside you will find  Penguins Text Features Investigation pages, a Penguins Research Booklet, and links to student-friendly research websites. 
If you are looking for more opportunities for your students to research a variety of polar animals, you can see the complete Polar Animals Research Booklets Here. Included in this pack is a Text Features Investigation that can be used with any nonfiction text and sixteen different Polar Animal Research Booklets.

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All About Penguins
Be sure to check out the other mentor text lessons from The Reading Crew!

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