A strategic and engaging read aloud experience is an effective way to model fluent reading and develop language, vocabulary and comprehension for ELL students. Here are some steps to making read aloud beneficial for students who are learning English.

1. Choose interesting books that have some words and content new to the students. The choice of book depends on the English level of the student. I would suggest teaching five to ten new words during a read aloud.

2. Activate prior knowledge by finding out what students already know about the topic. In a narrative text have students make predictions about what might happen in the story by looking at the pictures.

3. Preteach new vocabulary by bringing in actual objects or photos of objects from the text. During the reading explain and discuss vocabulary  in context. Encourage students to let you know if they do not understand a word.

4. During the reading make comments and explain ideas in the text. Encourage discussion by asking questions and allowing students to ask questions. Share the strategies good readers use to make meaning of text.

5. Provide a closing activity that provides practice and review of  vocabulary and content. Creating a graphic organizer,  writing and/or drawing  about the story and oral retelling with a partner are some good closing activities.

There are many, many wonderful read aloud books to choose from. Because of the great visuals and cultural content, I like to read aloud to my English language learners from multicultural picture books.

Click here for a list of some of my favorite multicultural picture books.

Snowball Narrative Writing

snowball kidssnowball sample

Snowball narrative writing is a very exciting activity that get students up and moving! My students LOVE to write narrative stories using the snowball method. It is called snowball for two different reasons. First, the students will actually be throwing paper snowballs. Second, when you make snowballs, they grows bigger as your roll them in the snow. In this activity students will be building narrative stories one layer at a time.

Click here to download snowball narrative writing pages for primary and intermediate levels.


  1. Give each student a snowball page. Instruct them to write the first part of the story.
  2. When they are finished, have students crumple the page into a snowball.
  3. Play some music and let students have a snowball fight. How fun!
  4. When the music stops, have students take just one snowball back to their seats.
  5. Students should read what was written and write the next section of the story.
  6. Go back to step 2 and continue until the story has been completed.
  7. Have a few students share the finished stories. Students may also publish and illustrate the stories.

This is a super fun narrative writing activity to do for seasons and holidays. It is an excellent party day activity, because while being fun and engaging it also builds writing skills. Matching the music for the holiday or season adds to the fun.!


Light Up Math Game for the Holidays

light up mathHere is a super fun holiday math game to practice addition and subtraction facts to 20 or multiplication and division facts to 100.  The only materials needed are crayons, one board game and two moving pieces. Follow my TPT to receive notice of more of these math games for different holidays!

Directions for Two Players:

  1. Each player chooses a different color of crayon.
  2. The first player places the moving pieces on two numbers at the bottom of the page. The player adds or multiplies the numbers and colors a light bulb with the answer.
  3. The next player may move only one moving piece to a different number. The moving pieces may also be on the same number. This player colors the bulb with the answer. Players continue to take turns in this manner.
  4. The goal is to color in five bulbs in a row while blocking the other player from getting five in a row.  If the player wants the 18 bulb, they must figure out which numbers will get them to 18 using their subtraction or division skills.

Click here to download the Light Up Math game boards.

I hope your students enjoy this game!

Please follow me on my various social media sites to receive ideas, inspiration and freebies. You can find links to these sites at

Open-Ended Math Tasks

A powerful, effective and easy way to differentiate in math is through open-ended tasks.  Open-ended math tasks…

  • Do not have one right answer
  • May be completed at different levels and in different ways
  • Empower students to make mathematical decisions
  • Engage students in productive struggle to build understanding
  • Encourage student creativity

Open-ended math tasks are used in guided math lessons where the teacher can support students in their decisions, discussions and sharing of ideas. They are also used at workstations with students working independently or collaborating with a team. The three categories you may use to assess the tasks are:

  • Complexity: The work matches the level of the student
  • Correctness: All math terms, computation and information is correct.
  • Neatness: Completed task is neat and easy to understand

Here are some ways to develop open-ended math tasks that do not take a lot of teacher preparation. Click here to download 12 open-ended math task cards to use with grades 1-5 students at any math level.

  1. Compare and Contrast: Students choose two numbers, shapes, graphs, etc and explain in writing and diagrams how they are alike and different.
  2. What’s the Question? Students are given the answer and then write a word problem with a question for the answer. This task card could be given to students at any grade level.  math task zombies
  3. What’s the Answer and the Question? Students fill in the answer and create a word problem for their answer.math card marbles
  4. Adjust Closed Word Problems: Take closed word problems for your grade level and remove some of the values.

Closed: Taylor has 854 baseball cards, and Kyle has 928.  If Taylor and Kyle combine their baseball cards, how many cards will there be? 

Open-Ended: Taylor has lots of baseball cards, and Kyle has even more cards than Tyler. If Jade and Kyle combine their baseball cards, how many cards will there be?

Closed: Bobby saw 3 cows, 2 horses and 6 chickens at the farm. How many animals did Bobby see at the farm?

Open-Ended: Bobby saw some cows, horses and chickens at the farm. How many animals did Bobby see at the farm? 

Closed: In the fish tank there are 28 fish. One fourth of the fish are goldfish. How many goldfish are in the tank. 

Open-ended:MT orange 5

  1. Close or Almost: Using these words on math tasks gives students many more possibilities for their answers.   

Add two numbers where the sum is almost 25. What could the numbers be?                    Multiply two numbers where the product is close to 500. What could the numbers be?

Pull and Peek Book

untitledCreating exciting published projects is a great way for students to celebrate and share their writing. This pull and peek book is a winner with students of all ages. It is made with just one sheet of paper.  Students decorate the cover and write their story or report on four inside pages. When the first and third pages are pulled, an image appears. The pull and peek book is super easy to make and can be used in a variety of different ways.

Click here for written directions, video directions, and many more exciting ways to use the pull and peek book.

Launching Guided Math

counting 2Teachers work in classrooms filled with a broad diversity of students. Direct math instruction based on a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective with such diverse groups, as students learn in different ways. Differentiated math instruction addresses the varying needs, interests and learning styles of all learners.

Differentiated math instruction takes time, materials, training and the willingness to change from traditional teaching. However, when implemented effectively math will become easier for the teacher and more meaningful for the students. Watch these videos for a wealth of ideas on how to launch successful, differentiated and low stress guided math in your classroom.

Launching Guided Math in Grades K-2 and Grades 3-6




Aurasma in the Elementary Classroom

aurasma-1358939021_600.jpgAurasma is a super exciting augmented reality app which can be used in a variety of  elementary school projects. Aurasma combines the real-world with the digital world. You can create auras by tagging a paper image with a digital image, video or animation. The digital image can only be seen on the camera within the Aurasma app.

Click here to watch a video of Aurasma in action and also to get some great ideas for ways to use Aurasma in the classroom which are sure to delight students and parents!

Directions For Using Aurasma:

  1. Download the free Aurasma app and create your own account.
  2. To create an aura click on the plus sign in the top right hand corner of the screen.
  3. A camera box will appear. Hover the camera over the paper image.
  4. When the white ball is in the green bar, click the circle at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Choose an overlay from the library on the app or from your device. If you want to use an image from your device, you will need to upload one from your camera or photo library. Tap on the video, animation or image you want for your overlay. Then click on the select button.
  6. Your image will show on the screen as an overlay on top of the paper image. You can move and size by pinching and moving it with your fingers. When you have the overlay where you want it, tap on “next” in the top right hand corner of the screen.
  7. Name your aura and make it private or public. Private auras will only show on your device. Public auras can be seen by anyone who follows your page, but only if they have the paper image that is tagged with the aura.
  8. View an aura by clicking on the purple box at the bottom of the Aurasma home page and then hovering the camera over the paper image. The digital image will magically appear!
  9. To follow a channel, type in the channel name in the search box at the top of home screen. Tap on the channel, then tap on follow. Now you can see all the auras on that channel, if you have the paper image.