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Welcome Friends!  

Thanks for joining our blog hop this weekend!  A huge "shout out" goes to the always awesome Amanda over at The Primary Gal.  She makes it all happen, and I am forever grateful!  To get this party started, I recently swapped products with the incredible Angie from Olson's Little Learners. 

Adopting her TpT language arts unit, Camping in the Classroom, and agreeing to use it with my second graders was so much fun, and provided me with a wonderful way to to re-ignite their enthusiasm for reading, improve their vocabulary and word work skills,  and provide opportunities for them to practice both personal narrative and non-fiction writing!


Our excessive number of snow days and erratic school schedule here in Ohio has really taken a toll on my student's attitude and effort toward productive, cooperative learning this winter.   In my desperate search for a way to boost their interest and amp up their enthusiasm, I began perusing blog posts for ideas to help us all beat the seasonal "blahs."   I needed a new way to boost class morale and improve behavior, while staying focused on learning.  Luckily, I came across Angie's post about how she celebrated Read Across America week with creative and common-core aligned unit!  After previewing her ideas, I was convinced that they were just what my group needed to be refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to write, read, and succeed!  Since my students have been immersed in completing mandated standardized tests since March 7th, I thought that enjoying Angie's lessons this week (after we completed each daily section of our assessment books) would be a great way to reward and show appreciation for their hard work.

Absolute magic happens when you pitch tents, build blanket forts, and then encourage your students to crawl inside them and read books!
This is just one of the seven camp sites Angie created in her classroom!

 Angie's first grade teacher was the "celebrity reader" for her camp out!
What a special treat for both she and her students!

Olson's Little Learners LOVED camping out in their classroom,
and so did Reynolds' Rock Star Readers!

Here's just a glimpse of the good times we had bringing the great outdoors into Room #2!


My students know that it is going to be a special day when I bring out
my "story" and "song" shoes that were hand-painted by a friend's very talented son!  They also loved my snazzy "outback hat," and thought it was very funny when I started giving directions using my  megaphone and an Australian accent.  Sometimes, silliness is just what needs to happen!

Below is the collection of Google images I found and used to make a Power Point slideshow that I looped during Camp Read-A-Lot!  My "city kids" marveled at some of the scenery, some having never seen the likes of it!  At Angie's suggestion, I also played a CD of instrumental music and nature sounds softly in the background. Target had a great selection, and the music really helped set the mood and keep us calm!

In preparation for Camp Read-A-Lot, I sorted through my extensive collection of children's literature, and organized all my books about land animals, sea creatures, pond life, insects, and weather into categorized bins.  I also created some new thematic bins of both fiction and non-fiction class favorites.  I also included St. Patrick's day folktales, as well as stories about spring in some of the baskets.  I dug out a wide array of "just right" chapter books--my group is just starting to enjoy the Ready Freddy, Geronimo Stilton, and Magic Tree House series! My students were thrilled to read new books about the types of nature and wildlife they might encounter on a real camp out, and were also excited to re-visit some of their old favorites!  It made me happy to see students who normally don't choose to read non-fiction get excited about exploring a new genre!

The  five books featured below were the group's favorite read-alouds over the course of our three days.  Amelia Bedelia's hilarious attempts to "catch a fish" without a fishing pole and "pitch the tent" into the bushes caused us all to collapse into fits of giggles!  Denise Fleming's books lent themselves well to wonderful choral readings.  My students absolutely love the sound words, action verbs, and vivid torn-paper illustrations in her stories!

When it was finally time to go "read in the pretend woods," teams of 3-4 students each were given a cute little "tent" (made out of a gingham-print manila folder) that was labeled with their group name and a blanket.  Once they had set up their corner classroom sites, they shopped for books to bring back to read there.  Some chose to read independently, and others chose to read with one or two partners.  Those that brought flashlights were asked to share, and a wonderful 20+ minutes of sustained silent or "whisper" reading was enjoyed by all!  It made me smile as I listened in while these two "book buddies" read 
Dr. Seuss in unison with great expression and fluency!

I loved how the group pictured above took turns reading aloud and tracking  print with their flashlight!  The group below listened intently as their lead reader brought a spooky story to life with dramatic intonation and appropriate pauses!

At the end of our reading time, the children were delighted to turn their flashlights upward to shine and swirl on the ceiling!  One little girl exclaimed,
"Oooooh!  It's just like a starry summer night!"

No camping experience would be complete without yummy s'mores, and Angie's delicious recipe of Golden Graham cereal, milk chocolate chip morsels, and mini-marshmallows was a treat that my students sure liked to eat--
and it did not require a bonfire!  I set up a buffet with the three ingredients in big bowls, and then called my hungry campers to come use a Dixie-cup to scoop what they wanted into a sandwich-size Ziploc bag.  Angie included cute bag tags also, which I laminated for each child to keep as a Camp Read-A-Lot souvenir!  After we happily munched and crunched, our class messengers delivered some of our special recipe to the principal and office staff.  Some students even made leprechaun-size s'more sandwiches!

On the second and third day of our Camp Read-A-Lot experience, other curricular areas besides Reading were introduced into the mix, and the Scoot game Angie created to help review telling time made for a great learning adventure!  I used some old calendar numbers and posted them next to the analog clock cards in different places around the room.  Then students were asked to choose a partner or work alone to walk around the room, read and solve each clue card, and then record the digital time on their answer sheet.

The Camping in the Classroom pack also includes writing templates for students to write summaries about their favorite parts of the Camp Read-A-Lot experience.  It also includes "how-to" templates for them to use to write instructions on how to pitch a tent, make a s'more snack, and build a campfire. My students gained much-needed practice in using time-order words to organize the steps to giving directions, and the memory sheets provided them with the opportunity to think reflectively and gain practice in supporting their written opinions with reasons and details.

I provided each child with a two-pocket folder to keep their writing templates in, and they really enjoyed having a variety of writing topics to choose from!  I am going to compile their memory sheets into a class Camp Read-A-Lot scrapbook with photos, and put their "how-to" pieces in a class book entitled Room #2's Creative Camping Tips!


The true test of any learning activity is student enthusiasm and a positive response.  These "before" and "after" graphs tell the tale!  If you look closely and analyze the  data we collected, you'll note that the "survey says" 16 out of 18 students who participated in Camp Read-A-Lot had a grand time!

Know that my classroom is full of eager readers who cannot wait to return to their campsites and log more valuable reading minutes!  I also am excited to incorporate tall tales, fairy tales, and poetry into our thematic camping activities in the months ahead!

I have a million ideas running around my brain for extending Camp Read-A-Lot to include related art activities and science experiments, but that will have to wait for a future blog time and space!  For now, my class will continue to celebrate our love of books, wear our hard-earned "Brag Tag Swag" proudly --another idea inspired by one of Angie's products that you can get {HERE}-- build our camping vocabulary by making new words out of the letters in our group names, and begin composing notes to our new pen pals!

Camping adventures would not be complete without "singing around the campfire," so just imagine now that I am strumming my guitar and leading this "piggyback" version of "She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain!"  Feel free to join in and hum the tune!

Oh we'll be reading some great books in
our camp!
We'll be  reading some good books
in our camp!
We'll be reading some good books!
We'll be reading some good books!
We'll be reading some good books
in our camp! 

As always, thanks for stopping  by my blog!  I hope you enjoyed your stay, and are eager to bring Camp Read-A-Lot to your classroom!  I assure you that Angie's well-planned activities will not disappoint!  

Be sure to enter this great GIVEAWAY for a chance to win the units included in our blog hop!

Continue to teach on, share your story, and hold a song in your heart!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Jennifer Reynolds
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  1. Where did you get the wooden graphing thingy?

    1. Hello Christine!
      The graphing thingy is ages old, but I think I ordered it from Lakeshore, or maybe Really Good Stuff! I apologize for not remembering!

  2. Wow...that was a fabulous post. I love the pictures of the kids with head in books. Priceless!

    1. Your kind comments are appreciated, Carla! We had a GREAT day! Talk about being immersed in books! A grand time was had by all!


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