Happy Thanksgiving

November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  Enjoy your time with your family.  I’m looking forward to some time to relax and just focus on my kids.  My husband and I just celebrated our 18th anniversary, so we will have some time together as well.  Check back for the next post on November 29.  Blessings!

A Lost Colonial Colony?

November 21, 2009

Roanoke: The Lost Colony--An Unsolved Mystery from HistoryI’m amazed by the Roanoke Colony Mystery.  I must have been sleeping during history class, because I’ve learned of Roanoke in recent years.  Jane Yolen writes eloquently.  She collaborates with her daughter, Heidi, in creating a children’s book on the known history surrounding the Roanoke Colony.  The five most popular theories are shared in the conclusion.  The book is called Roanoke The Lost Colony:  An Unsolved Mystery From History.

The authors begin the book iwth a young girl, who wants to be a detective.  She collects the information in her notebook.  The story of Roanoke is shared in a narrative nonfiction format.  Factual clues are written on a notebook inlaid in the illustration.  vocabulary words are sprinkled on the text’s off sides.  History comes alive.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Roanoke the Lost Colony:

  • Background knowledge – formation of our country; Native Americans and early colonists
  • Notebooks – collecting information during reading
  • Vocabulary – defined and in the context
  • Synthesize – what happened?  Draw your own conclusions.

(3rd grade book)

A Thanksgiving Comedy

November 18, 2009

Lisa Wheeler has created a fun Thanksgiving comedy in her book, Turk and Runt.  Turk is a grand turkey, “the biggest, strongest, and most graceful bird on Wishbone Farm.”  Turk’s parents have big aspirations for him.  Turk is his mother’s dancer and his father’s football player.  The family does not notice the Thanksgiving clues, except for Runt.  Runt knows that his brother will be chosen for someone’s feast – “But no one ever listened to Runt.”

When Madame Waddelle and Coach giblet come to Wishbone Farm, Turk’s parents believe Turk finally has his big chance.  Turk performs brilliantly and becomes the pick for their dinner.  runt is keen and springs into action, coughing and wheezing uncontrollably.  Turk is saved, as the customers flee.  Still no one realizes that Runt has saved Turk once again.
In the end, when Runt is chosen for someone’s feast, Turk realizes that Runt has been right all along.  He springs into action and saves his little brother.   Enjoy read aloud.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Turk and Runt:
  • Voice – “Look at zee size of zose drumsticks!”
  • Illustrations – character feelings are shown through the turkey characters’ faces
  • Inference
  • Repeating Structure – father praises Turk; mother praises Turk’ runt gives a warning that no one pays attention to
  • Passage of Time
  • Humor – “He’s a goner, ” said his brother, Runt.
  • Surprise Ending – “Over my feathered body!” Runt said.  “We’re not plucked yet.  I have a grade-A-plan!

Chicken Chasing

November 15, 2009

The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice Harrington is a first person narrative, told through a young girl’s viewpoint.  The young girl is not named in the story.  For reference sake, I’m naming her Queenie.  Queenie loves to chase chickens.  She shares her chicken chasing techniques with you.  As the reader, I’m amused at her detailed plans from cornbread sprinkling to hiding behind the wheelbarrow.  Your students will laugh at the chicken-chasing banter between Queenie and her favorite prize chicken.

The illustrations are a unique combination of cloth cutout shapes placed on a painted scene.  Shelley Jackson weaves the tan, golden, and brown hues into a patchwork of scenes.

I was amazed at the craft that has been used throughout the text.  I also love the voice shared through Queenie.  Listen.

I stand so still even my shadow gets bored and starts to walk off.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County:

  • Similes – “I make myself as still as sunlight.”
  • Punctuation Combination – bold words with exclamation point; comma in a series, two m dashes, a colon, quotation marks around onomatopoeia, and ellipse
  • Hyphen versus the M Dash
  • Close Echo – peckity-scratch-peck
  • Alliteration – feather-flapping
  • Inference – PAH- Quawkkkkk!  Chickens go feather-flapping in every direction.
  • Personification


The Snaggle Grollop

November 13, 2009

Children often ask the never-ending question, “Can I have a dog?”  “May I have a cat, please?”  My own children ask the questions even though they can predict the answer.  Daniel Postgate brings a unique and comical twist to this family’s new pet in the book, The Snagglegrollop.

Sam is no different.  He asks his mother and father for a dog.  Receiving the standard, ‘No’,  Sam asks for a “snagglegrollop” , a made up creature.  Thinking the creature is imaginary, his parents agree.  Boy, is dad ever surprised when Sam brings one home.

What on earth is that?” exclaimed Dad.  “It’s a Snagglegrollop,” said Sam.  “You said I could have one, remember?”

“Yes, bu t… no, but … but — oh golly,” spluttered Dad.

Sam starts with his responsibilities of caring for a Snagglegrollop – giving it a bath, brushing his teeth, feeding him.  Sam shares his idea with Emily.  Emily later appears with a ‘quibblesnuff.”

The story has several deeper themes – friendship, self-confidence, responsibility.  Younger children will wonder about where the creatures came from or why they leave.

Nick Price throws in another silent thread woven into the story.  At the end of the story, Sam reasks his dad for a dog.  At the fence, the dog is looking through the gate.  When I turned the page, I noticed a picture on the book jacket of Sam holding the dog.  (It makes me wonder if Sam’s parents reconsider the request for a dog.)   It sparked a curiosity.  I realized I had seen the dog on a couple of other pages.  So, I began rereading the illustrations.  I found the dog hidden in most of the scenes.

I read this story to a first grade class this past week.  They gave me two thumbs up.  they asked questions and wondered why events happened.  When I showed the dog illustrations, their eyes lit up.  They loved it!

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Snaggle Grollop:

  • Wondering – why is the Snagglegrollup sad?
  • Foreshadowing – the shadow of Snagglegrollup coming through the door
  • Emotions – laughed, enchanted, fond of
  • Voice – you can hear the father speaking
  • Conversation –
  • A Boy Read

(Warsaw Public Library)

Veteran’s Day

November 11, 2009

I believe that it is important to honor our veterans.  Our country has been founded on many men and women who have given their time, energy, and in some cases, their lives for our freedoms.

I love the book, America’s White Table.  I wrote about it last year.  It’s awesome.

The Wall by Eve Bunting is another long time favorite.

What favorite books do you use to celebrate our country?

Giving with Thanks

November 10, 2009

Marlo Thomas edited the book, Thanks & Giving All Year Long.  Several writers and illustrators, TV and movie actors contributed their childhood memories or imaginative stories to crate this collection of writings.  All contributions from the book go to help the researchers and doctors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Marlo Thomas introduces the book with a quote from her father.

My father used to tell me that there are two kinds of people in the world:  the takers and the givers.  The takers sometimes eat better, he would say, but the givers always sleep better.

Marlo continues to share that we have many reasons to be thankful.  She enjoys the holiday of Thanksgiving with memories from her childhood.  She encourages her readers to be thankful throughout the year.  Her focus is for people to be givers.  A sincere smile is giving.

The children in our classroom need to be givers.  We have a responsibility to build a community of learners in our classroom.  By having the children hear the stories of thankfulness, we can help them to be more aware of the needs of others around them, building the community of learning with it.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Thanks & Giving All Year Long:

  • Short Stories – stories that focus on small moments with important events
  • Variety of Genres – songs, letters, fables, poems, comics, narrative
  • Letter Writing – tow great examples of letters written to a sibling, remembering a special time and building them up
  • Purpose – the author wrote the book with the intention of building others up and raising funds for research
  • Community Building
  • Health – explore St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital website and learn about children that are their age

The Library Doors

November 8, 2009

This book is a great introductory book to the library for preschool to second grade.  Toni Buzzeo uses the familiar tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” for the structure of the text in her book, The Library Doors. (Have you ever tried using that as a class book idea?)  This is a great upper elementary text to give readers a structure to make their own books or books for younger readers.The Library Doors

Children will be able to interact with the text in many ways.  The text shares information on how to search for books, use library markers, and even the updated scan to check books out.  Included with the book, Toni Buzzeo has an eight page Library lesson booklet for additional extension lesson.  I particularly like the hand/finger plays that go along with the text.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Library:

  • Verbs – search, click, hold
  • Onomatopoeia – shh, tickety tick
  • Class book for procedures  – you could use the structure of the text to create a book about procedures in class
  • Hybrid – poetic, informational
  • Sequential

Pumpkin Town

November 6, 2009

Harvest time is in full swing here in IN.  Corn and beans are the main crops.  But the family in the story grow a different produce:  pumpkins. Katie McKy creates a fun read aloud in Pumpkin Town.  Katie is a storyteller and has been an educator.  Pablo Bernasconi’s illustrations are definitely interesting.  He’s applied real pictures within the paintings.  With our diverse population, I found it interesting that he’s from Argentina and his website is written in Spanish and English.

Jose’ and his family always saved the best seeds for the next year’s crop.  The rest of the seeds were thrown away, well – tossed and caught by a blustery wind.  Each scene seems to end its little story when in fact the events create a domino effect.  The story takes you from the boys’ farm to the town below, where the pumpkin seeds have sprouted in everything – roofs, trees, gardens.  As they grown, the wonderful pumpkins turn the town into chaos.

Jose’ realizes that they created the problem, so the boys decide to help.  They silently harvest the pumpkins at night.  Because the towns people are so grateful, they send the boys home with watermelons.  The pumpkins are sold, and the towns people use the money to make a statue in honor of the brothers.  Of course they eat the watermelons, keeping the seeds…until a caught the seeds again.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Pumpkin Town:

  • Alliteration – The seeds slipped into straw roofs and settled
  • Colon – The Big Moons were bigger still:  too large for five boys to roll.
  • Cause and Effect – one event causes the next, creating more difficulties
  • Problem/ Solution – “It is our fault,” whispered Jose’.
  • Dependent Clauses – Katie McKy starts most of her paragraphs with a dependent clause
  • Bookend – the seeds from the watermelons are tossed and a wind catches them; students could write their own ending to the story.
  • Prediction – the clues from the story lead you to the next scene

Review of Autumn

November 6, 2009

I would like to feature some of the autumn topic books from last year.  I have begun to read some to classes and love the theme.  I have some new ones that I will be adding to starting tomorrow.  Enjoy the season.

Fall Books:

Fall is Here:  I Love It by Elaine Good

Peepers by Eve Bunting

Thanksgiving Books:

An Outlaw Thanksgiving by Emily Arnold McCully

Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock

Sara Morton’s Day:  A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl  by Kate Walters

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey

Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac

The Very First Thanksgiving by Rhonda Gowler Greene