Reading in Winter Wonderland

Nov 27, 2015

Hello and welcome to our second annual Winter Wonderland link up!  Last year, The Reading Crew sponsored a winter literacy hop, but we decided to run it a little different this time. Instead of hopping with the potential of dead links, we decided on a closed link up. What this means is that there is a "map" of the blogs at the bottom of each post, so you can hop through them all at once, visit some today and some later in the week, or see what best matches your literacy needs. 

On each blog, you will see a word in blue font. This is the blog's mystery word. Please be sure to record them because you will need each word for a five point entry in our raffle. To help you keep track, you can print and use the form below.

 We are raffling off two wonderful prizes. We are giving away a copy of each book featured in our posts to two winners (K-2 group) and the (3-up group). Each prize package will include 12 books (K-2) and 13 books (3-up). 

On each blog, we will be sharing a mentor text lesson using the book we've chosen. The lesson will be modeling a reading skill (comprehension or writing typically, but some at the primary level may target vocabulary, fluency, or word building).  The materials that are shared may be forever freebies or may be free for a limited time. Please take note of this as you visit the blogs. 

Again, we welcome you to our blogs and wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season.

Trees are one of my favorite things about the season.  The smell of pine, the lights, and the beautiful shades of green.  Living in the Midwest, winter time equates to not a lot of color.  Lots of grays, browns, and white snow. (I do love the white snow!)  But the pine trees still give off their color.

When I found this book quite a few years back, I instantly fell in love with it because it is filled with trees of all sizes. 
Mr. Willowby has his tree delivered but he quickly finds out that it is too tall. So the butler cuts off the top and gives it to the maid.  This tree is too big for the maid and she must chop off the top.  The gardener picks this little treetop up but has the same problem.  And so the story continues through many different characters but the final piece of the tree ends up back at Mr. Willowby's home with a little family of mice.

 The book is filled with great oral vocabulary for our youngsters. Some of the words that stick out to me include: glistening, dashed, splendid, magnificent, haste, delighted, snipped, padding, drowsily, hunk, trim, scampered, frolicking, and nook.  Here are two of my favorites in use.  Oh!  And did I mention that this is a rhyming book, as well?

Before introducing the book I like to get an idea of the prior knowledge students have with the vocabulary words.  I ask them to put a thumbs up for "I know it," a thumbs down for "I've never heard it," and a sideways thumb for "I've heard it but don't know what it means."  This is just a little pretest for me and them because now they know what to listen for as I read the text.
Once I begin reading, I will quickly pause at the six vocabulary words that I have chosen to focus on for the week.  I give a very quick and brief definition.  Sometimes it can be a one word definition.  The example below shows how I would read this page to emphasize the word "scampered."

My lesson has two primary focuses.  I want students to have an understanding of the vocabulary words that I have chosen to point out because I think that they are rich and meaningful to the story.  If they do not understand them, it will impact their comprehension of the story.

But I also want them to be able to retell the story.  This can be done as a whole class and then it can be done independently through a sequencing activity.

This freebie includes three versions of the sequencing activity.  Each version includes the same events but the difficulty of the text changes. See the example of one sentence below:

I like when the students sequence the sentences on construction paper.  This allows for more space to move the sentences around. Once they are in place, students can glue them down.

Since oral vocabulary is learned through repeated exposure, I spend the week quickly reviewing and using the words that were first introduced through Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree.  With this repeated exposure and usage, the hope is that the words will become part of the oral vocabulary of the students too.  Some things that I do to build this understanding is providing kid friendly definitions, giving examples and non-examples of the words, showing images, or asking the students to draw quick sketches of the vocab words.  
Oral vocabulary has been one of my personal focuses this year because I really saw a gap in my teaching.  At the end of the week I have been assessing the receptive and expressive vocabulary of my students to determine if my teaching routine for vocabulary is effective.  I have included the assessment in this freebie.  You can use it with any vocabulary words from Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree or any other book throughout your school year.

Tip:  When I first started using this assessment, my team and I did not include that many words.  We would white out what we did not need.  We also gave the students strips of words typed up.  They would just glue the words down instead of writing them.  This was helpful to us as we all got use to the assessment.  And....we like to throw in some review words!

This is a forever FREEBIE.  Please click on the cover below to grab your copy!

Before you go, I will remind you that my mystery word is tree. You can enter it onto your sheet or into the rafflecopter below. Good luck to you, and I hope you'll come back soon.

Pin for Later:


  1. This is a new book for me, and I'm adding it to my shopping cart! I love all of the fabulous ideas, Em, and I'm pinning away! Thanks for linking up.

  2. This is one of my favorite stories. I love the differentiated sequencing! This will be perfect to use with my guided reading groups.

    1. Oh my goodness! Me too!! I love the way all the characters are all connected and that it comes full circle. And this illustrations make me happy :) So glad that you can use this for your guided reading groups as well!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I have never heard of this book. Bonus that it rhymes! Thanks for all the great resources.

    Literacy Spark


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