The Gift of the Tree

November 20, 2014

Alvin Tresselt’s book, The Gift of the Tree, is an older text c1972, 1992. The seasonal descriptions sequence the life a tree gives through aging stages. Rich language seasons your mental images, prompted by the paintings of Henri Sorensen. Each two page scene summarizes the change happening with the tree and the life, protection it gives to the creatures around. It’s personified, showing battles between the inhabitants and aging.

During this fall season, take your class outside and observe a tree. What critters are around? Is it a home to any animals? As the seasons change, observe changes and notice the importance of trees. Take pictures and write observation notes. Create a class book with the tree being the central focus.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Gift of the Tree:

  • Science Connection – seasons, cycle of the trees – leaves mulch and disintegrate into the soil, limbs weakening
  • Setting – description
  • Rich language – moldered, gnarled
  • Personification – “life gnawed at it’s heart”
  • Sequence of seasons and years


How BIG Could Your PUMPKIN Grow?

November 17, 2014

Image result for how big could your pumpkin growThe author, Wendell Minor, invites the reader to imagine the largeness of a familiar place by using a pumpkin as a common object. He crafts How BIG is Your Pumpkin? by sprinkling imagination with historic as well as present happenings. For example, a pumpkin lingering in the background of a rocket’s take-off at Kennedy’s Space Center. Is the time period when the first rocket flew into space or a recent take-off? A fall fiesta fair happens in New Mexico while a pumpkin regattas happen in the east. Did you know the largest pumpkin weight is 2009 pounds? Now that’s a BIG pumpkin.

Each two-page spread features a scene found in the United States. A question is posed to the reader, prompting deeper thinking about the illustrated scene. I imagine students will enjoy googling the topic for more information. My favorite is the Texas oil fields scene. The pumpkin is featured in a jumbo cowboy hat.

Savorings for reading and in writing for How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?

  • Synonyms for Big – immense, astronomical, colossal
  • Geography connection – the back of the book hosts snippets of US landmarks
  • Types of Sentences – primarily questions
  • Vocabulary
  • Voice – “-but watch out -“


Thanks for Giving

November 13, 2014

Image result for ready freddy thanks for givingReady, Freddy! series is a favorite of mine. I had the opportunity to meet the author, Abby Klein, at NCTE several years ago. During breakfast, she shared you gained her ideas from the kindergarten children she taught as well as her own children. She wrote during the summer, early mornings, on Saturdays with plenty of coffee. She uses everyday life situations to teach a lesson. Freddy wants to do the right thing, which is not always easy. The classroom bully, Max, seems to torment Freddy, creating a tension of retaliation versus kindness.

Thanks for Giving is one such story. The class has chosen to bring in can goods for the community. Mrs. Mushy, his teacher, works through student conflict and shares how to be generous to those in need. I love how Abby Klein uses this opportunity to teach children to look to the needs of others and to be thankful for what we do have.

Freddy is eager to contribute canned goods to the food drive. But when Max doesn’t have any cans to give and asks Freddy for help, Freddy is left with a dilemma – does he show kindness to his fellow classmate, especially since Max has pestered him so much? Freddy wrestles with his decision, recalling the negative mishaps produced by this kid. Freddy chooses compassion and a helping hand instead. This simple reader creates a venue for class discussion on how to share and the freedom of choice.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Thanks for Giving:

  • Everyday moment – school
  • Character Traits
  • Philanthropy – learning to give to others
  • Community Building
  • Inner Thinking – Freddy shares his thinking with the reader throughout the story. Students struggle with adding this feature into their narratives.


Honoring Veterans: Lisette’s Angel

November 11, 2014

AngelDo you have a family member who has served our country? Do you know his story? Amy Littlesugar shares a story inspired by her father-in-law who was a paratrooper. Lisette’s Angel begins during World War II when the French were occupied by the Germans. Lisette and Emile had endured hardship and prayed for an angel to erase the war. Max Ginsburg’s painting illustrations are brilliant, life-like, capturing your heart in the moment of tense survival.

1944, the night of D Day, paratroopers dropped into France. Some of the soldiers drifted onto farms and were helped by the French countrymen. Lisette and Emile awoke to the sound of planes. A solo “angel” feel into the children’s farm. Curious, they went to his aide. Hearing the “click-clack” of the German boots, Lisette led the limping soldier into the barn. As the soldiers drew closer, Lisette sprinted to gather the “star” parachute from the yard. Thankful, the American paratrooper gave his Hershey bar to Emile and left the silk parachute.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Lisette’s Angel:

  • Exploding the Moment – saving the soldier slipping out to retrieve the parachute
  • Onomatopoeia – “CLICK-CLACK!” interjected between the lines to increase tension
  • Perspective – story told through a young child’s eyes
  • Author’s Note – Paratroopers landed in France; people risked their lives for freedom.
  • Family stories

South Whitley Community Library