Hello, Ramona Recommends Readers! I am so excited to be a guest blogger for my sweet friend Courtney today! I'm Jessica, or Jivey as I'm affectionately known, and I blog over at Ideas By Jivey!
Courtney and I first bonded over our love for books. I love, love, looove children's books! For this reason, I have never taught a page out of a basal a day in my life. I am obsessed in love with using mentor texts to teach EVERYTHING. When I was still in the classroom, I used mentor texts to teach reading, writing, science, social studies, math, and even grammar!

Yup, that's right- you can teach grammar from your favorite children's books! It's called mentor sentences. I first heard about the idea from a fantastic author named Jeff Anderson. I adapted some of his ideas for my classroom, then added some of my own, and my TPT Mentor Sentence Units were born! I have TONS of resources over on my blog about mentor sentences, including videos. If you want the nitty-gritty details, definitely head over there. The short "CliffsNotes version" is: Mentor sentences show students the RIGHT way to write a sentence. Students identify what makes a sentence awesome instead of what is wrong with it (and let's face it, DOL-users... they usually don't know what is wrong with it and they are just guessing because they have never seen the sentence before in their life!)- this leads to application in their own writing! By focusing on one skill each week, but spiraling previous skills, students are immersed in grammar daily without a "drill and kill" worksheet. It also improves their writing style and conventions! They actually LOVE this time of day. How many times have your students begged to do grammar?

Today, I am going to share five mentor texts that I love to use for mentor sentences, but also another subject or two, because if you can double dip, why wouldn't you? ;-)

First up is one of my all time favorite books to use for figurative language, Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse. This mentor sentence focuses on vivid verbs, but the entire book is great for a writing lesson on figurative language. It's FULL of it! Students love to identify the figurative language, and then incorporate it in their own writing. If you'd like to try out this mentor sentence and interactive vivid verb activity, it is a freebie available in my store! You can download the freebie here. It is also available in Volume 1, Unit 1 Mentor Sentences.

Next, let's get into a little social studies AND grammar! If you teach Westward Expansion, this is a great one for you. I love anything Eve Bunting writes, and Dandelions is no exception. A family moves west in their covered wagon and builds their house and even their well from the ground. The book shows how difficult it was to leave family and friends, but also the hope of a new future. This mentor sentence lesson focuses on prepositional phrases but you can see, it will also be a great opportunity to review figurative language again! This mentor sentence is available in Volume 1, Unit 3 Mentor Sentences.

We can't leave out science! I love this book to teach the solar system: Postcards from Pluto by Loreen Leedy. As a culminating activity, it's really fun to have students write their own postcards from a planet once they have learned more about them. This mentor sentence lesson focuses on possessive its vs. contraction it's, as well as being a good example of a compound sentence. This mentor sentence is available in Volume 2, Unit 4 Mentor Sentences.

On to math... yes, MATH! If you have not discovered all of the wonderful math mentor texts out there, I beg you to do a little digging! My students always loved to hear a book during math time. This book, A Remainder of One by Elinor J. Pinczes, not only teaches dividing evenly, but it's also poetry. Talk about triple-dipping with this book! This mentor sentence lesson focuses on adverbs. If you'd like to try out this mentor sentence and the interactive math activity that goes with it, you can download it here. It's a freebie in my store! It is also available in Math Mentor Sentences & Interactive Notebook Activities for 3rd and 4th Graders.

Last, it was hard to pick only ONE more because they're all my favorite... but this one is soooo good to teach inferring in reading. Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne is a very unique book. You must look closely at all of the illustrations as well as listen to each character recount their trip to the park. The character development is done solely through inference of the text and pictures. This mentor sentence lesson also focuses on adverbs and adjectives. This mentor sentence is available in Volume 2, Unit 3 Mentor Sentences.

I hope I've given you some new ideas of mentor texts you can use to teach it all! For more mentor text ideas, visit my blog! If you enjoyed this post, please consider following me on Facebook and my TPT Store.

Sparkling in Second
Hop on over to Sparkling in Second to let the fun continue

 During the last week before Winter Break, we do dress up days. One of the days is Crazy Hair Day! Clearly, I've been preparing since I was a kid. I love these days because I think it builds community with in the school. The kids love when the teachers participate. Here is a picture from last year of the Winter Wonderland shenanigans. 




I don't know about you, but I love anticipation! It makes life more exciting. I created this Winter Break countdown for my class. If you are interested for the last 5 days, grab it in my TpT store


I love teaching content with a winter twist. For the last two weeks before break, I do a figurative language unit. I have created a WINTER WONDERLAND figurative experience. 



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We all know what it is a like the week before Winter Break. The kids are excited, we are excited, and lets be honest the desks in the classroom need a break too! Even though I am dead tired I always look forward to the last week before Winter Break. There is something magical in the air. I love playing Christmas music while I am preparing for the day.




 For a winter treat, I give my students a homework pass to say thank you for all their hard work first trimester. Want a copy, click here!
During the last week, we have dress up days. This particular day is dress like you are in snow storm. Mind you I live in California so this is my "snow storm" attire. :) The kids love this day!!!


I got this idea a few years ago from Mary- Teaching with a Mountain View. It is so easy to make. A fun treat on the last day is always special.
Focused on Fifth










Share Christmas book ideas... I didn't even have to think twice about this blog post. Of course I will share my love books and even better CHRISTMAS BOOKS.


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4d2OL0R7Zx1bkNmTUZ6em5oY2M/view?usp=sharing
Click on the list to download my favorite holiday books. The dates were from last year, but the books are still golden. 

The following receive the Ramona Recommends Holiday Award for this year.

 How to Catch Santa by Jean Reagan is a heart warming story about two little kids and their mission to get Santa Claus. In the upper grade world, I use this book to start my informative writing unit. We talk about the descriptive detail the author uses and what elements draw the reader in to know exactly how to catch Santa. I specially love the illustrations in this book too! (Amazon Link Used)
 Oh The Carpenter's Gift gives me chills every time I sit down and read this dear story. I love reading this story to the kids. They are asked to use their Snow Shovel to dig for multiple perspectives from the different character's points of view. I also like this story because it is historical, but paints a vivid picture of gratitude. Kids these days need demonstrate more gratitude. This book teaches children have to find beauty in nothing and everything.
I read this book as a Read Aloud!


Focused on Fifth










Hey Everyone! I am super excited to sharing a few of my Holiday Classroom Ideas with Focused on Fifth. Through out December I will share some of must dos, reads, and more! This time of year is always filled with such cheery moments that I want to keep bottled up forever. There is something about Christmas Music that can make a bad day great in about 5 lyrics. I mean who doesn't love a little Silent Night or Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

 Oh do I love figurative language! This year, I created a winter wonderland 8 day Figurative Language adventure for the kids. Each day they learn a new type of figurative language. As always, I read a picture book to set the scene, no I did not have an 900 igloo for them to sit in. (I SO WISH....seriously Kim and Hope are amazing, aren't they!) Then I give a direct instruction lesson on the given element. Finally, the students take their knowledge and apply to a fun creative winter activity. For Metaphor, I read The Giving Tree. 
The extension activity the students will do- They will create a metaphor with a WINTER Word.
Example: Snowflakes are my mind during a staff meeting.
If you want a list of what books, I use when I teach figurative language check back during winter break. It's on my to-do list. *Pinky Promise 
 The Snow Shovel Award is used when students give evidence during reading. They must shovel out the good information. They write the information on the back. I use the Snow Shovel Award while we group read, Snowflakes Fall.
A Freebie from me! My kids absolutely love this activity. During the last week before Winter Break when everyone is antsy, we play musical chairs winter style. Each chair gets a card, you must solve and sit down before the music goes off.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Rockin-Multiplication-Musical-Chairs-1008891

I wish everyone a Merry and Cheery Holiday Season!
Focused on Fifth








Hi everyone!  My name is Stephanie and I am a fifth grade teacher who blogs over at Teaching in Room 6.  I am here today to talk to you about something I just LOVE teaching in my room.

Social studies is my absolute favorite subject to teach.   Telling stories from the past, and finding connections to the present and future, is such a great way to reach the students and help to create scholars.  One way that I have found to effectively reach the kids in my room when it comes to social studies is through picture books.  Using text with a historical background that is written at my students' reading level is perfect for grabbing (and holding) their interest.  So I thought I would bring you 5 different books that I have found successful in my classroom for teaching social studies concepts.

The Gift of the Scared Dog by Paul Goble
Native Americans

This is a great myth that tells about how the arrival of horses in North America (when European settlers came) impacted the tribes living here.  While this is a myth (and not nonfiction) it still offers a great glimpse into how Native American tribes lived, their culture, and how myths played a central role in storytelling.  It also lends itself to a great discussion about how horses changed the way Native American peoples, the Sioux in particular, lived. 



Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters
Colonial Times

When I teach the students about the original 13 Colonies, and the settlers who came from England to establish the new lands, I love using Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters.  It is a photo-journal written in first person point of view, that shows a typical day in the life of a Plymouth Colony girl.  Reading through this book, the students are able to see what hard work it was to settle these new lands in the early 1600s....and realize that even the kids had to work!  (There are two other companion books, Samuel Eaton's Day and Tapenum's Day that show life through the eyes of a Pilgrim boy and a Native American living at the time.)  I then like to have my students create their own "photo-journal" from the point of view of a Pilgrim boy or girl living around the same time.  Using details from the text, as well as our social studies books and other resources, the students follow the same pattern as the Sarah Morton text and describe life from sun up to sunset.
 

Boston Tea Party: Graphic Novel  by Matt Doeden
American Revolution

Using this graphic novel, which tells the basic story of the events causing and leading up to the famous Boston Tea Party, is a great way to hook my reluctant historians.  Seeing the true details of the event come to life with comic book drawings and speech bubbles is enough to make each of my kids eager to learn more about this piece of history.  I then am able to transfer that curiosity into learning about the various battles of the revolution and the students creating their own comics about the historical events.


Betsy Ross by Alexandra Wallner
American Revolution

Ok...I know I already wrote one suggested book about the American Revolution, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE this time period.  There are so many different "American Heroes" that came out of this time, that I usually do my biography unit in conjunction with this social studies topic.  A nice book to use is this one about Betsy Ross.  It is a very accessible book for all students to read, contains a lot of history, and even addresses some historical myths surrounding this prominent lady.  Using this book, we are able to see just what life was like for Besty growing up, as well as delve into the genre of biography.  From here, I am able to branch off and do many different projects surrounding Mrs. Ross.  Two of my favorites are creating our own American flags and biography reports of other notable people during this time period.









If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon by Ellen Levine
Westward Expansion

This is a nonfiction book with lots of little tidbits about what it was like to travel west along the various trails that cropped up after the Louisiana Purchase.  There is a great deal of information included in this book, all written at a level that the students can understand.  I love using this one as we are discussing various parts of the Westward Expansion movement.  It is useful for the entire unit!

So there you have it.  A few books that you can use to enhance your social studies curriculum.  What books have you used that you have found particularly useful in teaching social studies standards?

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