Monday, June 29, 2009

Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James

An imaginative little girl shares letters with her teacher about a whale living in her pond.
Through a series of letters exchanged between Emily and her teacher, Mr. Blueberry, Emily learns about whales and Mr. Blueberry learns about imagination and faith. Lesson Idea: The pictures in the story show Emily's story, but we never see Mr. Blueberry. Read aloud the story. Ask your students to close their eyes and imagine what they think Mr. Blueberry looks like. Have them draw a picture of Mr. Blueberry. Share the pictures and discuss how each person has individual mental images and activating these mental images as we read helps us to comprehend text.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Hermit Crab by Carter Goodrich

A story about a shy hermit crab who becomes an unexpected hero to his underwater friends.
Motivating Boys
The hermit crab in this story does not set out to be a hero... so begins this beautifully illustrated picture book by Carter Goodrich. Hermit Crab is rather shy and prefers to search for food and keep to himself. One day, he finds a new and different looking shell. One like he had never seen before. When a contraption lands in the center of town, everyone is afraid to go near it until they realize that flounder is trapped underneath. Hermit Crab comes upon the contraption and inadvertently saves flounder. But who's the hero? Hermit Crab or the shell? The superhero aspect to this story makes it a motivating read aloud for boys. Lesson Idea: This book can act as a catalyst to motivate boys to write. Read aloud this book to your reluctant boy readers/writers. Have students brainstorm components to a superhero story. Conduct a shared writing experience with the group to write a superhero story.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant

A lovely story about a lonely old woman and the items she loves.
Setting a Purpose for Reading
Cynthia Rylant introduces us to the main character and describes how she has outlived all of her friends and so she names inanimate objects now. She does not like the idea that she will be a lonely old woman without any friends to call by name. So she only chooses to name objects that will "outlive" her. She names her chair, her car, her bed, and her house. The objects become her friends. One day when she is out in her yard, a puppy stops by. Will the Old Woman resist the puppy or take the puppy in? Lesson Idea: Read aloud the beginning of the story up to the point where the puppy shows up. Stop and ask students, "What more would you like to know about the Old Woman and the puppy?" Record student responses. Students will wonder what will become of the relationship between the Old Woman and the puppy and will want to read on to find out, thus setting a purpose for reading. After reading, confirm student's predictions.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Verdi by Janell Cannon and Time for Kids: Snakes by Editors of Time for Kids

A cute story about a snake who doesn't want to grow up, but learns a valuable lesson about staying true to himself. A nonfiction text about snakes.
Twin Texts
Cannon beautifully writes and illustrates this tale of a carefree snake who learns to love himself despite the fact that he has to grow up. Even though he must age, he does not have to lose the fun-loving, figure-eight forming side of his personality. Lesson Idea: If snakes or animals is a topic of study in your classroom, or if you are trying to find something to interest boys, Twin Texts is a great strategy. Choose a fiction and nonfiction text that complement each other. In this case, Time for Kids: Snakes is a great complement to Verdi. Read the first page which describes Verdi being sent off into the jungle by his mother. She wants her hatchlings to grow up big and green, but Verdi is resisting this idea. He likes his yellow skin and bold stripes. After reading the first page ask, "What more do you want to learn about Verdi?" Have your students list all that they want to learn about Verdi. Discuss. Read aloud the text and see if students wonderments were answered. Similarly, prior to reading Time for Kids: Snakes, have your students complete the K and W of a KWL. Read aloud the text (or have students independently read) and then have students complete the L. These two activities together should provide students with the ability to activate their prior knowledge and come to a deeper understanding of the topic of snakes.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dinner at Aunt Connie's House by Faith Ringgold

A fantastic book that highlights noteworthy African American women through history. Each woman introduces herself and discusses her contributions to U.S. history.
Making Text-to-Text Connections Using her internationally renowned artwork and historical facts, Caldecott award-winning author, Faith Ringgold weaves a story between past and present as noteworthy African-American women tell their stories to the current day narrator. Students can easily make connections to the adversity that the women went through to forge a place in U.S. history. Lesson Idea: Through a social studies unit on civil rights, have students read biographies about the various women. Ask them to make connections between Dinner at Aunt Connie's House and the biographies they read. Ask students to think about how women were part of the evolution of civil rights over the years, particularly African American women, beginning with Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman and moving on to Rosa Parks.