January Step by Step: Close reads, freebies, and more!

Hello and welcome to my January aka winter edition of Step by Step!  I will be sharing all about my winter themed close reads, math ideas, and more!  Let’s get started with a close read that I am also sharing as a FREEBIE!  We all know and LOVE Snowy Day!  So, if you haven’t had a chance to try out a close read…now is your chance!  Okay, let’s get started with Snowy Day!

Snowy Day is week one of the 4th unit in KinderLiteracy!  This unit is the first unit that really starts to teach kiddos that we not only read books to state characters, setting, and for an enjoyment purpose.  However, that we also read books to LEARN!  I think that it is so important that we relay to the kiddos that we can learn from EVERY book!  We teach them that nonfiction texts are great for learning facts, but we can learn from fiction as well!  In Unit 4 of KinderLiteracy, the students also take a new role on Tuesday’s (vocabulary days).  I will speak more about that once we get there!  The Snowy Day close read is paired with a nonfiction text, Snow is Falling.  Remember that you don’t have to use that paired text… any text you have that would pair nicely will work! This week’s essential question, How does the author portray the conclusion of the story? The “life-based” essential question, Why does snow melt? Can you prove this?  Like I mentioned above, I love getting the kiddos to pick up on that factual knowledge!

To recap the process again in case you aren’t as familiar with it….day one is all about learning the theme of the text!  This week’s theme is SNOW!  Below you can see an example of snow bubble chart!


As I mentioned above in unit 4 we take up the vocabulary a notch as well!  Below is a look at the vocabulary word cards and definitions! In unit 4, we will ask that the students think about the unknown words to more of a critical thinking level.  Instead of just focusing on what the word is, we will also determine HOW we figure out that meaning. I feel it’s important to teach this “reversed” thinking skill so when they come to an unknown word in their reading they will have these same three tools to try!  In unit you are give these three picture cards.  I taped mine onto my teacher cart and then they were they to access each week thereafter! As we came to a KinderLiteracy unknown word we would stop to discuss the word, its meaning, the action and then end with HOW we figure out that word…did we use the picture, did we use the words, or did we have to infer AKA my teacher most likely had to give it ha!  These skills then become part of their tool chest for independent reading time.  Hmm…. I came to this word that I don’t know.  Okay, I can use the words and pictures to help me.  If that doesn’t work then I might just have to infer what it could be!


snowy day close read
Let’s talk possible actions for the sight words!

piled: use both hands to motion a stacking action

pretend: have kiddos make animal noises to ‘pretend’ they are that animal

path: use both hands and  ‘walk’ them in a straight line in front of you

firm: pretend to make a snowball, be sure pack it tightly

sank: make a sinking motion towards the ground

The KinderLiteracy Unit also included a “can/has/is” chart


You also can’t do this week justice without PLAYING IN THE SNOW!  The kiddos loved, loved, loved this! It also works for y’all in the warm states…you know while we suffer here in the midwest, ha! Before starting the experiment, we started a snow anchor chart.  This one would contain descriptive words that we could use to describe the snow.  I got a few answers and then we came back to it after the experiment and added more!

snow day close read
This “recipe” is so easy! I mixed two boxes of baking soda and 3/4 cup of conditioner in a bowl. This was enough for five students! I had placed the conditioner in the refrigerator so that it would be cold! They kids had a blast!!! I did put down the tablecloths which helped with the mess tremendously! Fun times!

snow day close read

The consistency is so similar to real snow!  Also like I mentioned above…placing the conditioner in the refrigerator makes it so realistic as well!

snow day close read

snow day close read

I did not have recess duty so I was able to get the room set up prior to the kiddos coming in!  I put down the table clothes and then gave each kiddo a pile of snow!

snow day close read
snow day close read

Because our essential question dealt with melting, we also did this fun experiment!  We created three “snowmen” using frozen water bottles.  Technically to make the experiment completely accurate, I would have used the same sized bottles 😉  We poured salt in one, one was placed in hot water and the last was the control.

snow day close read
Here is a picture at the end of the day!  The one sitting in the hot water had melted the quickest!

snow day close read

Earlier I mentioned that this entire week would be a FREEBIE!  Below is a short video where I share about the units and what is included!  Directly below the video is a link for the download!

You can click HERE to download the freebie Snowy Day lesson plan *HERE* or clicking on the image below!

Also, while we are on The Snowy Day…have you seen this??? So Adorable and FREE if you are an Amazon Prime member! It is a Snowy Day MOVIE!!!!!


Okay, off to a next time!  How about a little Mitten?  Of course everyone loves a great Jan Brett book!  The Mitten KinderLiteracy lesson plan is om Unit 8 (supplemental weeks).


The essential main essential question for this week, How do readers use sequencing to understand and retell the text? This type of essential question help you to center all of your focus around on big main idea for the week and then you’re able to web off of that!  Your main focus being that of sequencing!  How does Jan Brett then help with our sequencing…using her picture clues!

A lot of time I get questions on bubble chart themes!  Honestly…that is completely up to YOU!  I would say winter would be a great theme and also Jan Brett (especially if you to read several of her texts).

The paired text for the lesson plans is The Hat!


Vocabulary words for The Mitten:

knit: pretend to knit using your hands

jostle: use both hands and rub/bang them into each other

commotion: flail your arms around

grumble: make a grumpy face

talons: use fingers for pretend talons

investigate: close one eye and use a hand for a looking glass


On day three (text dependent day) the kiddos are going to be asked several higher order thinking questions!  The will be asked questions that use the words: evidence, understanding, visualize, and predict! You can see with each of those questions they are almost a lesson within themselves!  I always urge teachers to teach less but with MORE meaning!  What does that mean?  On day 3, I list 8 questions.  Instead of just touching the surface of all 8, just ask 4 and make them GREAT!  Allow plenty of time for turn and talks and allow the kids to lead the conversations.  If they show right away that they understand the illustrations and can quickly give you specific evidence, then move onto a new topic like the visualization question!

Below  is a look at this week’s writing craft!  I mean a CUTE CAT…come on!  Adorable 🙂


It’s a new week!  I just simply LOVE this week!  I have mentioned this before so if you heard me say it before then turn your eyes off this paragraph lol!  However, I am simply amazed how a simple close read can allow the learning to take place on topics that can be kind of “tough” to teach to our young learners!  Before close reads I would ‘teach’ the concept of equal rights and about Martin Luther King Jr. but I always felt like I was leaving the kiddos with a missing piece of knowledge.  They just weren’t able to visualize what this might have felt like for the children at that time.  However, after finding Ron’s Big Mission, I knew that we could cut that disconnect! The kids LOVE this book and they are able to see through the text what it really means to not be treated equal and then ultimately what it looks like when you are!  I feel that the book allows me a chance to lean on it…giving the kiddos time to come to their own conclusions with my just sitting them there telling a story about a long time ago. After teaching the close read I then teach about MLK.  They understand completely and make that connection to Ron!  Never the less… this book is AWESOME considering it’s based on a true story 🙂 Okay ramble over.


Ron’s Big Mission is part of Unit 4 of KinderLiteracy and is paired with The Skin You Live In.  However, you can pair with ANY text you have that fits the theme! This week’s skill-based essential question, How does the character in our story compare to Martin Luther King Jr?  So, right there they are being asked to make that connection!  The life-based essential question, What would have happened if MLK did not stand up for others?  Below is a shot of the bubble chart for the week!


Within the unit are these headers to help organize the kiddos’ thoughts!


A look at the week’s vocabulary words!


Here are some optional vocabulary movements!

important: tap your watch and act worried

nervous: grab your tummy as though you have “butterflies”

serious: give a stern look on your face

budge: use both hands to try and move something that doesn’t want to move

tucked: pretend to grab something and tuck under your arm


A look at a couple of the sheets and writing booklets from the week!

Let’s wrap this step by step with a couple of nonfiction animal close reads —my favorite!! Up first is PENGUINS!  This nonfiction close read is paired with none other than TACKY! This close read plan is also part of Unit 4!  The skill-based essential question for this week, How does defining the unknown words help our understanding of the text? Remember when I mentioned that Unit 4 is all about LEARNING new things!  The students of course “know” about penguins but we want them to do more than just know… we want them to be EXPERTS!  Kiddos become experts when they are able to use above grade level vocabulary.  How do they learn that kind of vocabulary?  From the text of course 🙂   This week we hone in on that and get them to not only understand the words I have pre-selected but really take time to understand all the unknown words that appear!


The  life-based essential question for this week is, Can you have a pet penguin where you live?  I always love this question because it can usually spark quite the debate ha!  However, all in all…they are debating over the FACTS they learned!


Below is a look at the penguin bubble chart!


Penguin vocabulary words!


Optional vocabulary actions:

webbed: use fingers and spread them apart to represent webbed

barb: stick out tongue and pretend it is lined with sharp points

equator: use your arm to represent a “line”

colony: use both arms to represent a large huddle (looks like you are hugging a big group of people)

marine mammal: touch your hair to show you are a mammal and then pretend to “dive” into the ocean

coast: use one arm to be steady (coast) and then use other hand to make a moving wave motion…have it “hit” the coast

Practicing those vocabulary words!


Above is a look at the week’s penguin poem!


Labeling the penguin whole-group!


The kiddos also work on labeling a penguin!


Another practice sheet from the week where the kiddos are inferring!


This week the kiddos are working on all about penguin books!  Just love these!





I love giving the kiddos penguin pictures for their covers to make them look like real-life nonfiction books!


I also love this hands-on experiment ! To prep the cookie sheet, I just fill it with water and carefully place it into the freezer!  I select a few small moments: snap cube, stuffed animal, tape, glove, book, and a shoe!  The kiddos get to explore and see if the items will slide like the penguins!


We watch to see what will happen!


The kiddos then track the results on their recording sheets!

You can download this recording sheet for FREE….HERE or clicking the image below!


Moving onto the last week…POLAR BEARS (also from KinderLiteracty Unit 4)! This nonfiction week is paired with If I Knew a Polar Bear and/or Ice Bear! The fiction text is great…however the essential question for this week really encourages the use of multiple texts . It allows the students to gain fact after fact!


Below is a look at the polar bear bubble chart!


Below is a look at this week’s vocabulary words!  Here are some optional actions to match!

float: sway your arms back and forth to indicate that you are floating

Arctic shiver and say burr

den: put arms over your head in a dome fashion

snatch: pretend to quickly crab something

cub: motion like a small bear walking


Practicing the weekly poem and vocabulary words at the poetry center!


Vocabulary listen and draw


The Connect It sheet using If I Knew a Polar Bear!


This week’s can/have/are chart!


In guided reading we also read the Polar Bears reader!  Those readers are in my nonfiction easy readers packet!


I love those because they have labels!


Each book also has a fact checker at the back 🙂


This week we also do another fun exploration!  The good ol’ Crisco glove!  The kiddos get to experiment with how it feels when you have a protective fat layer!


Sticking with the polar bear spirit, I will share some of my fun winter explore bin ideas!  Up first are these adorable marshmallow igloos or dens 😉


I mean how cute right? 🙂


The kiddos also LOVE these paint sample match-ups!


Up last are some fun explore tub winter sheets!  These are all freebies and can be downloaded **HERE** and additional freebie sheets **HERE**




Before we skidaddle into math I wanted to share this freebie!!!!  Hopefully every kiddo in your class had a New Year’s resolution to learn how to tie their shoes? HA!  You can grab this freebie poster **HERE** and the freebie certifications **HERE**


My next freebie I get to share about are these procedural “how to” writing story templates!  When we teach procedural writing it can be TOUGH!  It’s hard for the kiddos to sort their thoughts into that step by step process!  These are great for helping them to  visually see the three parts! You can download these freebie writing sheets **HERE**


Well that is it for today… have  a GREAT week!


  1. Just wanted to thank you for taking time to provide the step by step on your blog! It is such a tremendous help in explaining each unit! I don’t ever want to take for granted all you do and freely give to so many!!! Thanks again!

  2. I am currently teaching this unit and it is great to see how you put it all together. I love seeing it come alive with your pictures. Thank you for sharing your passion, it is being passed along to my 25 favorite kinders!

  3. I would not have been able to survive my first year of Kindergarten without your lessons, blogs, freebies, and everything else you’ve provided! Thank you so very much!!

  4. I just want to thank you for everything. I teach Kindergarten in a very small daycare/Church and they did not have any curriculum at all. So, I was spending so much time piecing all of the work, that I was going crazy. When I found your “The Snowy Day” packet, it was an answer to a prayer. Thank you so much for helping get my life back.

  5. What amazing resources you are sharing with us here! I downloaded The Snowy Day and truly appreciate all the engaging activities I can do with my class. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to your wonderful students and fellow teachers!

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