Monday, August 31, 2009

Big Plans by Bob Shea and Lane Smith

A little boy sits in the corner of his classroom plotting his future and his plans are BIG! With the help of his bird and a lucky stinky hat, he may become Mayor, President, or fly to the moon!
A great book to use to guide students to think about their own big plans. This book could be a great discussion starter at the beginning of the school year to elicit student plans for the year and to motivate them to create plans. This book can be used in a number of ways:
Lesson Plan Ideas:
Goal Setting: After reading aloud this book, discuss the ideas of making goals with your students. As a class make a list of goals to complete for the year. Post them prominently so students can see when goals are achieved. In addition, ask students to make individual goals. For younger students, this may only mean one or two goals - or conduct a shared writing with younger students to determine their goals. Older students should be able to make four or five. Don't get caught up in the number of goals though, each child will be different. Throughout the year, revisit the class goals and invidual goals and determine how to meet them and if they have been met. In addition, students may want to revise their goals or add new ones.
Writers Workshop: After reading aloud this book, discuss the idea of having dreams and goals (BIG plans!). Ask you students to create a list in their writers notebook of their dreams and goals (no matter how far fetched!). Later on in the year, when students need a writing piece, they can choose one of their dreams or goals to elaborate on. Perhaps they will want to write down the steps they may need to take to reach a goal. Or, if a goal has already been met, perhaps they would like to share what they did to meet their goal.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pictures from Our Vacation by Lynne Rae Perkins

A young boy and girl are given a camera and a notebook to take pictures and write memories of their summer vacation. The pictures don't quite turn out and they realize that the best pictures are those they can see in their minds.
Writers Workshop
This book could be a great read aloud to get kids thinking about the memories of their own summer vacation. Prior to reading aloud, ask students to bring in photos from their summer vacation.
Lesson Idea: After reading aloud, have students paste their photos in their writer's notebook and write about the memory.
After reading aloud, discuss with students how the best pictures are often the ones we can see in our minds. For a lesson in visualization, ask students to visualize some memories from their summer vacation. Students can list their summer memories in their writer's notebook and then choose one to elaborate on.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

A great book about feeling nervous on the first day of school. . . with a twist.
Building Community A great read aloud for the first day of school, this book is laugh out loud funny, and should allay those nervous butterflies in children's and teacher's stomachs. Use this read aloud as a catalyst to discuss how everyone gets nervous. . . even adults! Validate for your students that it's ok to feel nervous, especially on the first day of school, because there is an element of the unexpected.
Lesson Idea: Create a "worry box." Use a shoe box with a lid or another similar sized box and lid. Cut a hole in the box top. Decorate the top and the box with contact paper or wrapping paper. Read aloud the book to students and then share with them a worry that you have about the new school year. Write it on a small piece of paper. Ask each student to annonymously write one worry they have about the school year on a small piece of paper as well. Place your worry in the box and ask students to follow suit. After all students have placed their worries in the box, take some time to read through the worries aloud and allay their fears by discussing them as a group.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer

Based on the #1 New York Times bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket?, the children's version provides a concrete way for kids to understand how our words and actions affect other people.
Building Community
A young boy named Felix learns how to become a "bucket filler" instead of a "bucket dipper" when he realizes that all words and actions affect people in different ways. We can make an effort to help people feel good about themselves. Read aloud this book to your students during the first week of school and discuss the idea that we all have invisible buckets that need to be filled. When our bucket is full, we feel happy and good about ourselves, but when our bucket is empty, we don't feel so good about ourselves. Then introduce this:
Community Builder idea: Purchase small buckets or cups (even the large Solo cups would work). Purchase one for each child in your class. Place them inside a plastic shoe bag. Purchase a bag of 100 mini pom-poms and place them in a location near the buckets. Post a sign that says, "Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?" Encourage your students to fill their buckets when they feel happy and to remove pom-poms when something happens to make them feel bad. A variation includes having students fill their classmates buckets as well. Ask them to be on the lookout for ways their classmates help others fill their invisible buckets. When they spot something, ask them to fill that classmate's bucket with a pom-pom. Use any empty buckets as a discussion starter. What are some ways we can help _________ fill their bucket?
One more variation: Try this at home! I'm going to provide two buckets for my kids and a bag of pom-poms. I'm going to read aloud the book to them and have a discussion with them about filling buckets. Then I will introduce their new buckets and encourage them to fill each others buckets. I may even provide a bucket for my husband and me. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Special Edition: The Itty Bitty Bookworm: A Literature Based Preschool Curriculum

Ok, so I don't normally do this. . . review curriculum that is. However, I couldn't resist when given the opportunity to review this preschool curriculum. It sounded wonderful: "A Literature Based Preschool Curriculum" - what could be better? And really, I'm not sure there is anything better! This curriculum rocks! It's clear and comprehensive. It provides all the tools a preschool teacher, day care provider, or home school parent needs. The literature chosen is high quality and includes such authors as Eric Carle and Laura Numeroff.
The curriculum is standards based, following the recommendations of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). So important! The writers of this curriculum are early childhood educators and their knowledge of early childhood education is evident. Not only does the curriculm provide educators with lessons for every month of the year, but it also provides many extras such as a sample schedule, songs to start your day, learning centers, activities to enhance motor skills, parent newsletters, material lists for each month, observation sheets, and assessment options. I was particularly impressed with the fact that portfolios are included as a form of assessment. Equally impressive is the fact that journals are included as tools for emergent writers.
The curriculum is available in two parts. Bailey's Curriculum is developmentally appropriate for 18 month through two year olds. Bo's Curriculum is developmentally appropriate for three and four year olds. The lessons are scaffolded, so that each lesson builds upon the previous. Integrated into the lessons are creative arts activities, math, science, and social studies instruction as well.
This is the most comprehensive preschool curriculum I have seen. It's easy to follow, standards based, developmentally appropriate and fun to boot! If you are a preschool director/teacher, day care provider, or home school parent (or know one or all of the above!) looking for a curriculum that will challenge and engage your students, look no further! The Itty Bitty Bookworm is for you. Click on their logo and start ordering!