Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Diary (The Totally True Story of Me!)

My Diary (The Totally True Story of Me!) By Gilles Tibo
Grades 2-4

I will hand this to my students who like reading diaries or books that deal with heavier topics, but aren't ready to tackle something too long or deep. This diary written by Marilou is filled with her thoughts and poetry dealing with issues such as her goldfish dying, her parents announcing they're having a baby boy and fighting with her best friend. It's sectioned into themes like death, sadness, courage, freedom and hope. I think her entries are very relate-able for a younger child.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Patricia and Me

Here I am with the spunkiest and most down-to-earth author you could ever hope to meet. 
Patricia MacLachlan - we all love you!
Thank you for an amazing visit to Washington School in October 2012.

Oh, How Sylvester Can Pester (And Other Poems More or Less About Manners)

Oh, How Sylvester Can Pester By Robert Kinerk
Grades 1-5

These funny poems about messiness & manners are combined with great illustrations. My personal favorite is titled "Brussels Sprouts" about a boy named Chauncey who writes a poem to his parents in hopes of convincing them not to make him eat the dreaded mini cabbages. It doesn't work, but he gives it a good effort for sure!

Lesson Seed: After reading a handful of these poems to your students have them write their own poems about poor manners. Pick whatever format they happen to be learning (acrostic, diamante, free verse, etc.) Allow them to illustrate the poems and then turn it into a class book.

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah By Leslie Kimmelman
Grades K-3

The traditional story of The Little Red Hen with a Jewish Passover twist. This is a perfect story to introduce Passover to your students in public schools (informative yet fun and not too religious). The poor little red hen is making matzah for Passover and none of her animal friends want to help plant or harvest the grain, bring it to the miller or help cook the meal. Yet when it comes time for the Seder they certainly want to be invited in to eat! What should the little red hen do? Since she's a mensch (a decent person) of course she invites them all to eat with her. In the back of the book a description of Passover is included, along with a recipe for homemade matzah and a glossary of Yiddish phrases used throughout the story.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Over and Under the Snow

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Grades K-5
Poetic perfection is rare to find in a nonfiction selection written for children, but Kate Messner has achieved it. I love showing my students examples of nonfiction that are illustrated because some of them think a nonfiction book must have real photographs. This book reads more like a story about a girl going cross country skiing with her father and all the animal tracks they find along the way. Her father tells her about the animals hibernating right under the now. I love finding winter books and projects that aren't holiday focused and this fits the bill. Below are three hibernation crafts/projects that I found which could pair well with Over and Under the Snow and some songs and finger plays you could try as well.
 Sleeping Bear in Cotton Ball Covered Paper Plate Cave found here.
 Where Do Animals Go in the Winter? Craft found here.
 Sleeping Bear in Cave with Autumn Leaves craft found here.

Here are some songs and finger plays that will go great with your hibernation themed story time.
I found these songs and rhymes on the fun4kids blog.

Hibernation Song
(to tune of wheels on the bus)
The weather's getting cold so bundle up,
bundle up, bundle up
The weather's getting cold so bundle up,
winter's coming soon.
The bears in the cave sleep all the time............
The squirrels in the trees get lots of nuts...............
The frogs and toads go deep in mud.......
The ducks and the geese go flying south........
The people in the town wear hats and gloves..........

Here is a Cave
Here is a cave. (make arch with one hand)
 Inside is a bear. (using other hand, put one finger in cave)
Now he comes out. (pull finger out)
To get some fresh air.
He stays out all summer
In sunshine and heat. (fan face with hand)
He hunts in the forest (crawling motion with hands)
 For berries to eat. (fingers to mouth)
When snow starts to fall (wiggle fingers like snow falling)
He hurries inside.
His warm little cave (make arch with hand again)
And there he will hide.(put your finger inside)
 Snow covers the cave
Like a fluffy white rug.
Inside the bear sleeps (hands to side of head like sleeping)
All cozy and snug.

Winter Animals
Winter is cold (hug yourself and shiver)
There is snow in the sky (flutter fingers above your head)
 The squirrel gathers nuts (Pretend to gather nuts)
And the wild geese fly (flap arms)
The fluffy red fox (Cup hand over had to form ears)
Has his fur to keep warm (Stroke arms as if stroking fur)
The bear’s in her cave (form a arch with your arms)
Sleeping all through the storm (fold hand under cheek and pretend to sleep)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Lonely Book

The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer
Grades K-4

An enchanting story about a book who was once frequently check out and loved, but over time got lonelier and lonelier sitting on a shelf in the library. Eventually it ends up in the basement awaiting the book sale. Luckily a little girl who had once loved the book very much and had been searching for it for quite some time spots it at the book sale and brings it home for good. Not it will always be read and loved. This is such a celebration of reading and how a special book can remain in your heart forever.

Lesson Idea: I would read this book to my 3rd or 4th graders and then have them write about their favorite book that has touched their own life.

The Cat in the Hat

We're getting ready for Read Across America Day!

This week I made this cute Thing 1 and Thing 2 project with my kindergarten classes. First we read The Cat in the Hat by the beloved Dr. Seuss. Then I helped the students trace their hand and foot to make the hair and body of the creatures. I had pre-cut the brown circles for them to use as heads. Then all they had to do was glue it all together onto white paper and add arms, faces and legs. Due to time constraints each kindergartener only made one and they picked whether it would have a #1 or #2 on its shirt. Thanks for this great idea Nora Davis of Kindergarten SuperKids! Her blog and more detailed information about her lesson can be found by clicking here.

Eight Keys

Eight Keys By Suzanne LaFleur
Grades 4-8

Elise lives with her aunt and uncle because her parents died when she was young. Behind the house is a large barn and on the second story of the barn there are eight locked doors. Elise and her best friend Franklin are getting bullied at school and she is having an identity crisis growing up without her parents and not feeling like she truly fits in anywhere. When she discovers a key that unlocks on of the barn's doors she begins a journey of self-discovery. Her father, before he died of cancer, filled each of the 8 rooms with special memories of himself, Elise's mother and Elise. This is a tear-jerker and a book I have yet to recommend to a student who didn't also become fascinated with Elise and her life. As she learns about where she came from she begins to have a sense of self-worth and matures in many ways.

A Horse of Her Own

A Horse of Her Own By Annie Wedekind
Grades 4-8

I'm not a horse lover, I've never even ridden a horse, but it didn't prevent me from absolutely falling in love with this book.  This is a story about Jane who has been riding horses at Sunny Acres for years. However unlike many of the girls who ride there her family doesn't have enough money to buy her a horse of her own. She rides Beau and forms a strong attachment to him. When she finds out she is no longer going to be able to ride Beau she is devastated. She is offered the challenge of training a feisty horse instead named Lancelot. Jane is up for the challenge and becomes a stronger rider and a stronger young woman throughout the process. She learns a lot about herself and what it means to be true to yourself and not bend to fit in with the popular girls. She develops her first crush on one of the boys who takes care of the horses. All in all just a wonderful chapter book for your girls who want real-life characters and a plot that keeps you turning the pages.