Teaching Newcomers: Reading and Number Sense Games

Hip Hip Hooray! My newcomer students as they read a book for the first time! What an amazing feeling, to watch a student recognize a word and then say it, knowing what it means.  We used my Halloween Emergent Reader after previewing the vocabulary, then used TPR to learn the phrase I can see.  So exciting! Want to see?  Watch my sweethearts read, here.  After we read we took a walk around the school to find Halloween decorations, using the phrase I can see a... (witch/ghost/etc.)  It was so much fun.  Note to self: it was the first time they had been in the main office...take them back there.

I also broke out the witch reading fingers this week...adorable!

3. We played a new math game to practice addition.  I had students close their eyes and pull out two numbers from a bucket (using their witch fingers) and add them together.  Simple and fun!  We use the hundreds chart to count on, since we're still working on counting and number recognition.  They circle the first number with the Expo marker, then count on however many spaces they need.  They each have a laminated version in their notebooks for help as well. 

4.  I finally got our bulletin board up.  I traced the template onto butcher paper on my whiteboard, then traced mini ones onto tag-board for my kids to decorate.  The template comes from Rooting for Third Grade- it's adorable- thanks Kayla!

5.  I made gnocchi.  Delicious, amazing, comfort food gnocchi. With brown-butter sage sauce.  It is heavenly- one of our favorite dinners, hands down.

My husband had been working out of town for three weeks; this is what he requested for when he got home.  It's more of a weekend cooking event, but I made it on a Tuesday night and we were able to eat at a reasonable hour! 


3-5 Russet or baking potatoes
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour
kosher salt

Clean, prick, and nestle potatoes on a bed of salt on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees 50 minutes, then let cool until safe to handle.  Slice potatoes down the middle, then scoop the insides out with a spoon.  Using a box grater or potato ricer, grate the potatoes onto a cutting board/silpat.  Let cool for another 5 minutes. 

Beat the egg and some salt in a small bowl, drizzle over potatoes.  Add the flour, and begin to knead the dough into a ball.  Add more flour as needed.  You are finished when the dough is no longer sticking to your fingers, and you can poke a finger in and the dough does not spring back.  Cover with a kitchen towel, let rest for about 10 minutes. 

Make the gnocchi: Divide the ball of dough into 6 to 8 pieces.  Roll each one into a rope approximately 8 inches long- do not flatten! Cut pieces 3/4" to 1" thick- you can get 8 to 9 gnocchi from each dough rope. 

Lay gnocchi on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, sprinkle with flour when all are finished.  Pop in the freezer for 30 minutes (or until you're ready to cook...whenever that may be.)

Boil a pot of salted water, add the gnocchi.  Stir gently! 45 seconds after the gnocchi float to the top, they are finished.  Add to sauce!

Brown Butter Sage Sauce

1 stick butter
red pepper flakes
chopped sage
parmesan cheese

Saute 1 stick of butter over med/high heat until it browns.  You'll know it's done when there are brown flecks throughout and it smells a little nutty.  Remove from heat until gnocchi are ready to come out of the pot.  Turn the heat to medium, add a tsp (more if you like spicy) of red pepper flakes and a tbsp of chopped sage leaves. Add the gnocchi and toss to coat.  Remove from heat, add about a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Serve immediately, top with more cheese if desired.  Mangia!


What's your favorite dinner? Hope you have a great weekend!


  1. We used our witch fingers this week, too! Dinner tonight will be at Yogurt Yeti - a locally owned fro-yo!

    Learning is for Superstars
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  2. Oh, that makes me hungry! Will be pinning that for a future meal!


    1. Why do you scoop out the insides and what part do you grate?

  3. I am so excited for your newcomers! (and you too!) That must have been an amazing feeling! That gnocchi looks fantastic! I am hungry just looking at it! I am glad your husband is finally home and you can spend some time together. It was nice of you to make a special meal for him!

    Eclectic Educating

  4. I bet your students had a lot of fun with those witch fingers! That gnocchi looks yummy!! Glad your hubby is home now to spend time with you.
    Conversations in Literacy


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