Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Powerful Printers

January Summary 2019

Our class only met twice this month, but I wanted to send you to be informed about what we’re doing.  Everyone is working hard and having fun!

Letters: we have practiced the lowercase letters c, o, s, v, w, and t

Words: the workbook has 2- 3-letter words made with the letters they know so far (such as “cot”).  They have done a page of 6 words each week.

Crafts: We start each class with a craft to help with fine motor skills.  The first class they rolled the dice to find the color on the color key and traced their names in at least 5 different colors.  The second class they made a color, cut, and paste tiger.

Hands-on activities: When they have finished their workbook and I have checked it over, children can choose an activity.  I bring things that help with learning letters and words or building motor skills.  Examples include: picking up small objects with tongs, magnetic letters, word puzzles, magna-doodle, etc.

We are going through the lowercase section of the workbook in order.  It would be great if you could practice at home because one day a week is not enough for young children to remember how to form all 26 letters!  In February, we will be covering a, d, g, u, i, and e.  Attached below are the instructions for making each letter the way we teach it in class.  You can use any type of lined paper that works for your child.  It is good for them to get used to different types of paper.  I’m also attaching the capital letters chart and a handout about pencil grip in case these are useful.

If you have any questions, please let me know:


K_CA_Capital Formation Chart

K_CA_Teaching Lowercase Letters Step by Step

Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Author’s Workshop

January Summary 2019

This was a short month, with only 2-3 classes, depending on which site your child is attending.  However, we covered some big concepts and jumped right in!


  • A story has a beginning, middle, and end.  We read Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One by Kate Duke to find out the key things that belong in each section of a story.
  • How to write the beginning – hooks and introducing your character(s) and setting.
  • How to write the middle – bringing in a problem/conflict, explaining the character’s attempts to solve it, and using transition words to move the story along.

Students keep a journal in which they do free writing at the beginning of each class.  After the lesson, I have them do a short practice exercise of what they learned.  At the end of class, they usually have 15-20 minutes to work on their own stories, poetry, etc. (it is their choice what they write).

On a related note, I often get questions about spelling.  Although we don’t correct spelling until the final stages of the writing process, both reading and writing are great for spelling.  I see students attempt a word, stare at it, and then fix it.  Sometimes the fix is not correct either, but they are starting to notice that something is not right.  If a student is really stuck, I will tell them how to spell something.  I often put it on the board and we have a little discussion about the word’s spelling.  The other children end up joining in.  We had quite a discussion about the different forms of “there” (or their or they’re) last week in San Jose, and how you know what meaning they each have.  I believe a useful, teachable moment like this is going to stick with them more than a word list – unless the list is of words they want to learn, are struggling with, or words that follow the same phonetic pattern.

Finally, here is an article with a list of games that help with spelling.


Feel free to contact me with any questions:



Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Powerful Printers

November/December 2018

In the last two months we learned the following letters:

C, O, Q, G, S, A, I, T, and J

We are now finished with all the capitals!  Please continue practicing them at home.  I have attached some worksheets at the end of this post.  We will be moving into lowercase next semester so it is important that children are strong with their capitals so they don’t get them mixed up.


  • Letter C Book – they colored and cut out pictures of things that start with C, and we stapled it into a little book.
  • Thankful Turkey – they colored a turkey picture and wrote what they are thankful for.  If they chose to, they could trim around the feathers to make the top turkey-shaped.
  • Winter Color-By-Letter, Letter A Dot-to-Dot – color a winter scene using a letter key; do a dot-to-dot that makes the letter A.
  • Roll a Snowman; Snowman Name Craft – roll dice and use the key to find out what to add to your snowman; cut out the snowballs with letters of your name on them and glue together to make a snowman.

In addition to practicing the letters, hand strength and active play are both very important.  Here are some resources for you.  Let me know if you have any questions:  Happy 2019!




K_CA_Capital Formation Chart

yellow star and orange bauble
Photo by on
Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Powerful Printers

October Update: Classes 5-9


We finished up the Frog-Jump letters with M and N.  Then we started the Starting Corner Capitals.  These are letters that start in the upper-left corner, just like frog-jump letters, but then do not frog-jump back to the top.  We will be finishing them up in October or early November, depending on which class your child is in.  I have attached a practice page you can use to review at home.  The starting corner capitals are H, K, L, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z.

Here is a cute song from Learning Without Tears called “Sliding Down to the End of the Alphabet” that helps children practice all the diagonals in the letters V-Z.



  • M is for Mouse craft (mouse face on a big letter M)
  • Q-tip dot painting on train picture
  • Decorate a monster with glued-on craft supplies, stickers, and coloring
  • Coming up: color, cut, and glue pumpkin craft
  • Weekly – I bring activities for early finishers such as magnetic letters, tactile letter cards, magnadoodle, tongs with small objects to pick up, etc.

Here is a link for your home practice worksheet.  If you have questions or want more information, please let me know!

K_HL_Starting Corner Capitals


Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Author’s Workshop

October Update: Classes 5-9

Here are the lessons and activities we did this month:

  • Using sensory details in writing and writing a Fall Sensory Poem (describing fall using each of the 5 senses)
  • Playing theater games to loosen up our creativity and get out of our comfort zones
  • Learning about the typical “Story Arc” in a basic children’s story.  We read Dragons Love Tacos, but it would work with The Three Little Pigs, Goosebumps books, or just about anything.  More advanced novels might have more plot twists and subplots but would still follow this basic structure if you just look at the main plotline.
    • Just to fill you in on the language our diagram uses, from left to right along the arc, it has SOMEBODY (characters & setting), WANTED (goal), BUT (obstacle), THEN (main steps taken to reach goal and overcome obstacle), SO (outcome).  We talked about other words we know for these, such as “climax” or “high point” for THEN.  I really like this chart, because the all-caps words could be memorized and then students could make their own chart before writing a story so they know where they are headed before they start.  This way of mapping out a story is also helpful for comprehension after reading a story.  If your child can make a chart of the entire story arc, it shows full understanding, doesn’t it?
  • The Cupertino class revised their “The Day I Shrunk” story, so I’m attaching that here for you to see.
  • At the last class, I asked students to go back through their journals and choose a story that they would like to develop more and take all the way through the publishing step.  This will be our main focus for the rest of the semester.  We started to talk about editing, and I gave them a simple editing checklist with the abbreviation COPS: Capitals, Organization, Punctuation, Spelling.
  • An optional worksheet was given out on making a list of witch’s brew ingredients to help Helga win the witch’s brew contest.  Just some seasonal, creative fun!


Copy of The Day I Shrunk.Cupertino.Revised

Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Author’s Workshop

San Jose 9/19/18  Cupertino 9/24/18

Here is what we did this week:

  • Journaling/Freewriting
  • Mini-Lesson on Revising – learned the acronym ARMS: add, remove, move, substitute.  Practiced revising using the story we wrote together last week.
  • Discussed oral storytelling and did a theatre warm-up called “Yes, but…”  The class really enjoyed this and you might want to try it at home.  Two people play at a time and the rest are the audience.  One person asks a favor or to borrow something.  It’s best if it’s really outrageous.  The second person HAS to start their answer with “Yes, but…”  Then the first person responds with a negotiation or a different ask, and again the second person has to say “Yes, but…”  You can imagine how it gets funny really fast.

The theatre exercises and oral storytelling help creativity flow for all students and give students who are reluctant with pencil and paper a way to participate in class and gain confidence.

NOTE: As you can see by the date, the Cupertino class will do this lesson on Monday.  I am attaching their rough draft story, which isn’t quite finished.  We will finish it next class, and probably not revise it for another week.  Next week I’ll move a lesson around instead of having SJ get way ahead (their class is 10 minutes longer).

For San Jose, I’m attaching the rough draft and the revised version.

The Day I Shrunk.Cupertino.Rough

The Day I Shrunk.Revised.San Jose

The Day I Shrunk.Rough Draft.San Jose

Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Powerful Printers

San Jose 9/19/18; Cupertino 9/24/18

OPENING ACTIVITY: Playdough letters – children rolled out playdough into “snake” shapes to form letters on cards.  The cards guide them as to how to form the letter.

LETTERS: We learned B & R this week.  They are still frog jumps, but the R introduces a diagonal line.  We listened to a song about diagonal lines and made the lines in the air with our hands.  We refer to the diagonal as a “slide” because that is where most children have seen a diagonal, so they can think of it as drawing a slide down from the middle of the R.

CLOSING ACTIVITY: We did a color by letter paper that says “I Love Fall.”

If your child is still having difficulty holding the pencil correctly, these tips may help:

Holding the Pencil

Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Author’s Workshop Week 3

9/12/18 San Jose, 9/17/18 Cupertino

  • Free writing in journals – I have a table set up with many writing prompts and story idea sources students can use if they choose to.
  • LessonDrafting, the second step in the writing process.  I chose a writing prompt called “The Day I Shrunk.”  We did a brainstorming graphic organizer to get our ideas ready (there was a lot of laughter as we thought of things that might happen if we were the size of an ant!)  Then students dictated to me as I wrote down a rough draft and read it back to them.  We discussed how the drafting step is just to get the ideas down and the general beginning, middle, and end of the story.  It is not about perfection!  There is time to improve it in the later steps of the process, which we will learn about in the coming weeks.
  • More Journaling/Story fill-ins  For the remainder of the class, students were given the choice to continue working in their journals or to do a worksheet.  The worksheet has a short story written with a lot of the pieces missing for them to fill in.  This helps students who are having a hard time getting started or don’t like the physical act of writing but want to do the creative part.
Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Powerful Printers Week 3

September 12 San Jose, September 17 Cupertino

Opening Craft: Color by letter Seahorse (fine motor and capital letter recognition)

Letters: D and P – we wrote them in the air using BIG arm movements; practiced on the chalkboards; practiced in the workbook

Activity Table: we used tongs to put balls in tubes and small disks onto pictures made for dot markers.  Using tongs is fun and strengthens the hands.

NOTE: We are still on the “Frog Jump” letters.  The main issue I’m seeing is children are forgetting to start at the top.  Please watch carefully when they are practicing and if they put their pencil at the bottom, ask them to stop and think “Where do we start our letters?”  They always answer, “At the top!”  So they know what to do, they just forget.  It takes practice.

Here is a video showing how to write the Frog Jump Letters:

Here is some paper with the grey blocks like they have in their workbook.  They are used to writing one letter inside each block.  By the end of the workbook, they will be able to write on lines.




Beth Hankoff, Class Information

Author’s Workshop Week 2

Sept. 5 San Jose/ Sept. 10 Cupertino

This week I introduced Writing Journals to the class.  Every week when the students come in, they will grab their journal and begin writing for the first 15-20 minutes of class.  At first, it is tough for them, but in a month or so, they will be asking me for more time!  They are allowed to write just about anything – even random thoughts that come to mind – plus, I have a whole table spread with story starters and other things to use for inspiration if they need it.

This week’s lesson was on Brainstorming (also called Mind Mapping or using Graphic Organizers).  We made an example for the topic “How do you play Baseball?” and talked about how this could help you think of ideas, organize ideas, and even narrow down your topic to what you really wanted to talk about.  For example, maybe pitching is really your area of interest and you could focus just on that.

Brainstorming is often part of “Prewriting” – the first step in the writing process.  After students are familiar with all the steps, I’ll be asking them to look back in their journals for something they would like to work on some more.  They will take this piece through the writing process until it is a finished product, edited and ready to present to others by the end of the semester.

Here is a simple description of the writing process if this term is unfamiliar: