Monday, December 3, 2012

Diary of a Worm

Diary of a Worm

Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Harry Bliss

Theme: Ecology, Environment, Invertebrates
Genre: Fiction, Journal/Diary, Humor
Age: Preschool and up

Synopsis: Written in journalistic style. This book chronicles the activities of a worm and what he does during his day. He runs into a few complications and finds some things he just cannot do.

This is such a good book, and my students loved the story. They spent days talking about this book and actually asked me if they could write their own diary.

Activity 1: Have students pick their favorite animal, and write their own diary for this animal. Have them start off writing five days worth of diary entries, and you can add to this number for more ambitious students.

Activity 2: Have students keep a diary about themselves for a week. Talk about the importance of writing these entries in chronological order.

Author: Doreen Cronin lives in New York. She is best know for her book Click-Clack-Moo: Cows that Type which won the Caldecott Honor. She was an attorney before she became a writer. However she wrote her first book before she went to law school, but it was rejected for years. Finally she was contacted by a publisher who wanted to publish her book. At this point she decided to leave the courtroom to be a full time writer.

Cronin, D. (2003). Diary of a Worm. New York: HarperCollins. Grades Preschool and up.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

Author: Laura Numeroff
Illustrator: Felicia Bond

Theme: Every Action has a Consequence
Genre: Children's Literature
Age: Pre-School and up

Synopsis: This book is a sequel to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. It is written as a funny sequence of events that may occur if you were to give your guest, a moose, a muffin.

I loved both this book and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as a child and remember writing our own versions of this story when I was in elementary school.

Pre-Reading Activity: Before reading this book, talk with you class about what a moose is, because depending on where you live your students might not know what a moose is and this discuss might help them to relate the the story more. After you have discussed what a moose is, ask your students what they think that a moose might eat. Make a list of these things up on the board.

Post Reading Activity: Now it is the student's turn to make their own story, written as a sequence of events as this story is. Have the students each pick an animal and what they are going to feed this animal. Go over the process that they will need to use to write this story with them.

Author: Laura Numeroff is the author and illustrator of a number of children's books. As a child she was an avid reader and at the age of 9 she decided that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. However when it was time to apply for college she decided rather to follow her older sister and go to school for fashion. Her dreams quickly changed though and decided to go back to her dream of being a writer. She wrote and illustrated her first 9 children's books. But when she wrote her tenth book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie her editor hired Felicia Bond to illustrate her book, and since then she has not illustrated any other books.

Numeroff, L. (1991). If You Give a Moose a Muffin. New York: HarperCollins. Grades Preschool +.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001

I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001

Author: Lauren Tarshis

Themes: Historical Fiction, Adventure
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure
Ages: 1st grade and up

Synopsis: Lucas loves football, who his Uncle Benny has taught him everything he knows. So when Lucas's parents decide that the sport is too busy for him to play he decides to skip school and take the train to Manhattan to talk to Benny. What Lucas sees that day will change his life and the lives of the people in the United States forever. 

I liked how this book was written with historical facts, with the twist of the story that students will be able to relate to and enjoy.I recommend this book and other books written in this series as books to help introduce students to historical events while telling a story at the same time.

Pre-reading Activity: Start by discussing with the students what happened on September 11th, 2001. Ask they what they already know about what happened that day. Make a list of these things on the board. Have students write about what they already knew about this day in their journal and something they might want to learn.

Post-reading Activity: After reading this story have students write in their journals about what they learned by reading this book, and also something that they are still wondering about what had happened on this day. Have students either pair up to look up answers to these questions or poll the questions your students still have and tie them into the lessons you plan on teaching on September 11th.

About the Author:Lauren is the editor of the magazines Storyworks and Scope. She is also the author of the I Survived series. Lauren currently lives in Connecticut with her husband and four children.

Tarshis, L. (2012). I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001. New York:Scholastic Paperbacks. Grades 1+

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waltz of the Scarecrows

Waltz of the Scarecrows

Author: Constance McGeorge
Illustrator: Mary Whyte

Themes: Halloween, fall, family
Genre: Fiction, Children's Stories
Age: Preschool and up

Synopsis: When Sarah goes to visit her grandparents, she helps them make scarecrows. But these scarecrows are a little different. They are dressed in top hats and tails, ball gowns and gloves and look as if they are ready for the ball. The illustrations in the book will make the readers mind dance as they read the book.

I enjoyed reading this book, and first came across it while visiting my mom at the pre-school where she works. The children really seem to enjoy this book and are always trying to be the first one to find the scarecrow hiding on the page.

Pre-reading Activiy: Before reading this book, as the students if any of them have ever made a scarecrow. Have a pre-made scarecrow on the board or easel and have the students name the different parts that a scarecrow has and have them come up with a list of objects that they could make this body part of the scarecrow out of.

Post-reading Activity: After reading this story talk about with the students whether they think scarecrows really dance. Ask them what the real purpose of a scarecrow is. Bring in a pile of old clothes and buttons, break the students up into groups, and have each group make their own scarecrow, to be displayed on the lawn of the school or in the classroom. After the groups have made their scarecrows, have them name their scarecrow as a group, and then have them write a story about the scarecrow.

About the Author: Constance McGeorge lives in Ohio, and is the author of a number of children's books, including Boomer Goes to School.

McGeorge, C. (2003). Waltz of the Scarecrows. :Chronicle Books. Grades Pre-k +.

Scotty's Way

Scotty's Way

Author:Jennifer Fura
Illustrators: Samantha Smith and Matthew Ulrich

Theme: Disabilities, Overcoming obstacles, Being a kid
Genre: Nonfiction, Overcoming obstacles
Age: Kindergarten and up

Synopsis: Scotty is a seven year old boy, who at the age of two and a half was in an accident which resulted in the lost of his right arm. This book is about how Scotty has adapted his life, despite the loss of his right arm, and has shown how he can persevere to do just about anything any child could do. This book is very inspirational.

During my time as a graduate student, I was given the change to meet Scotty and his mother Jennifer, the author of this book. Scotty is an amazing little boy, extremely funny and entertaining, and could put a smile on anyone's face. He was very inspirational and when they first arrived at class many of us did not even notice that he did not have his right arm as he was throwing around a football and was making jokes. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a little inspiration in their lives.

Pre-reading activity: Ask the students what they think it would be like if they did not have an arm or a leg. How would they do some of the things that they do daily. Discuss different ideas on how they could accomplish some of these things.

Post-reading Activity: In groups have students hold one arm behind their back, stand on one leg, etc. and have them try and do different activities such as catch a ball, walk from one side of the room to another, etc. After they have each had an opportunity to preform at least one of the tasks, have them go back to their desks and get out their journals. Have them write about their experience without the use of their arm or legs to preform a task that other wise they would have been able to do easily. Have them write about what they found to be difficult about this task, why was it difficult.

About the Author: Jennifer graduated from West Genesse High school in 1995, and received her bachelors degree from Oswego State University. She now lives in New York with her husband and two children. She wrote this book as a gift for Scotty at first, and he inspired her to share his story with everyone.

Fura, J. (2010).  Scotty's Way. Houston:Halo Publishing. Grades K+. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Polar Express

The Polar Express

Author:Chris Van Allsburg
Theme: adventure, Believing, Christmas
Genre: adventure, Folktale
Grades: Kindergarten -2nd grade

Summary: Late one Christmas Eve a little boy is invited to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole to meet Santa. While there he asks for the simple gift of a sleigh bell off of one of the reindeer. Santa grants the boys wish and sends him on his way. The finds that he has lost his bell and is upset by this, until Christmas morning he finds his bell under the tree. His mother admires the bell but thinks it to be broken upon ringing it. The boy finds that he is able to hear the bell, as the only way to hear it ring is to believe.

I loved this book as a child. We always read it around the holidays, and I have read it to many of the children that I have worked with over the year. Its a great book to discuss with children what they think it would be like if they were to be invited to ride the Polar Express.
Activity: After reading the story discuss what it would be like to be able to take a train to the north pole to see Santa. Ask them what they think that they would see on their way there. Who else they think would be on the train with them. Would there be any goodies on the train? You can even have students write a story about thier own experience that they might have on the Polar Express.
Activity 2: Read this book before Christmas break and have a Polar Express party in your classroom. Print out tickets and pass them out before watching the movie. Have the students bring their PJs to wear during the movie. Provide simple refreshments for students during the movie. Go around and hold punch each child's ticket before they choose a seat for the movie.
About the Author: Chris Van Allsburg enjoyed art as a child, but this slowly died out as he got old. When enrolling into college he decided to enroll into an art school, because he thought it would be easy, but was seriously mistaken by that. He studied to be a sculptor but that didn't last too long and he found him self drawing instead. Chris has written and illustrated many books, including The Polar Express and Jumanji, as well as illustrated other books.

 Van Allsburg, C. (1985).The Polar Express. Boston:Houghton Mifflin.Grades K-2

Thursday, November 15, 2012

John Gets Ready for School

John Gets Ready for School

Author: Joanna Zellweger
Illustrator: Andy Elliot

Themes: Cochlear Implants, Support, Family and Friends
Genre: Nonfiction, Disabilites
Grade: 2nd Grade

Summary: John is a young boy with cochlear implants.  He is getting ready for school, but puts on a wide range of different clothing such as a scarf and slippers.  John keeps getting dressed until he is dressed appropriately to go to school.  This story is told from the perspective of his sister Caroline.

Many children will have no idea what a cochlear implant is, as many of them will have never been exposed to them. But this is a good way to try and educate students a little on what it is and how it works. But also how peoples differences do not make them as different as people might think, They are regular people, they just might do some things in a different way.

Pre-Reading Activities: I would start with a discussion on people who are hearing impaired, and asking students whether they know anyone who has a cochlear implant or a hearing aid, such as a grandparent. I would then as the students who know someone who has one of these things, and ask them about their experiences with communicating with these people.

Post-Reading Activities: This book is written for young children, so after reading a good activity might be to learn some sign language with the students and have them try to communicate a message with one another using this sign language. Students might also make up their own signs and have their peers try and guess what each of these signs mean.

About the Author: Joanne Zellweger was inspired to write the book because of her two children, John who is deaf and Caroline.  She learned that a family member who is deaf affects everyone involved, and wanted to teach children about cochlear implants through a humorous story and wonderful illustrations.  

Zellweger, J. (2010). John Gets Ready For School. UK:Squeeze Marketing Limited.Grade 2