Turk and Runt

November 10, 2017

Image result for turk and runtI was perusing through my Thanksgiving books and came across Turk and Runt. The book is hilarious. Lots of play on words and voices. Lisa Wheeler did an incredible job of thinking like a turkey in pursuit. Just had to mention it. Click on this link for more mini-lesson ideas.

For a video of the book, click here.

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


C is for Coffee, Camo, and Connecting {Celebrate}

November 16, 2013

A is for Autumn by Robert Maass I caught my eye this week. I love the brilliant pictures illustrating the beauty around us this autumn season. This book is a good mentor text for a photo book  project in a content area. It makes me think of Instagram in a book form, pictures with captions, especially with technology so prevalent in our schools.Image result for a is for autumn by robert maass

(I love linking my thoughts with books. Here is a short, 1 minute 35 second video clip featuring the book. Very delightful!)

Yesterday, I kept thinking of the theme ‘T is for Tree’ for the 5 Minute Friday post. This morning, ‘C is for Celebrating’ began swirling in my mind while driving for an early morning basketball event. (Getting up at 4:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning should be banned. :))

C is for …

Coffee with peppermint mocha. Delicious! I have “candy coffee,” my husband’s endearing term, to waken my senses.

Carpooling basketball teens and sharing the responsibility with a fellow mom. Love saving time and gas (and hearing their stories)!

Caring and listening to first graders tell about a lost tooth, a new puppy, and playing in the leaves.

Cuddling cat laying on my lap while holding my husband’s hand  watching a TV show, hearing him say he will never give up on us.

Camo basketball shirt, a soft fit for Tim’s sensitive skin, a symbol of belonging, a commitment to teamwork.

Connecting on blogs, refreshed and ignited from stories, poems, and slices shared.

Capturing the moment, being alert to the wonders swirling around us, pausing to listen to my child’s tale, reliving the pleasure through the written word.

C is for celebrating with you!

Capturing moments throughout the week that make you smile. Share a celebration at www.ruthayreswrites.com.

Capturing moments throughout the week that make you smile. Share a celebration at http://www.ruthayreswrites.com.

Why Are Animals Purple?

November 4, 2013

Fall is here with all its brilliant colors. I’m amazed at the reds, yellows, oranges mixed with the changing greens and browns. Purple is not a color I often see here in Indiana, although I suspect it shows its shade as well. With the focus on colors, the book, Why Are Animals Purple?, intrigued me. This book is one of several in a series of animal colors by Melissa Stewart.

Purple animals? I thought. I am not sure if I have seen any animal dressed in purple until I turned to the first featured animal – Purple Martins. My dad had one in our yard and taught me about these helpful birds. Do you know they eat 1000 mosquitos daily? Around lake areas, these bird hotels sprinkle the skyline.

Eleven other animals are featured in her book. Key vocabulary, such as predators and attract, are in bold print, repeated distinctly throughout the entries. The photographs zoom in features and allow the reader to be up close and personal. Children will be drawn to this book and learn how color camoflages and defends each in nature.

A 2 minute Youtube video about how Melissa Stewart got her ideas from nature for two of her books.

Savorings in reading and for writing for Why Are Animals Purple?:

  • Vocabulary
  • Thematic Map – at the back of the book, a map represents where each animal can be found
  • Question Lead
  • Personifies the Color Message – It says, “Stay away. This is my home.”
  • Links to websites and other book references for further research

Fall Favorites

October 21, 2013

20131021-220637.jpgPorkenstein by Katherine Lansky is a fun book I read Friday to a groups of third grade boys. I have these three boys each day. Their reading skills are lacking and thus their interest in reading is lacking. My goal is to capture their attention and spark their interest in every day reading. It happened. “Mrs. Gensch, do you have another book like this one?” J asked. The other two listened.

20131021-220702.jpg I suggested The Hallow-wiener by Dav Pilkey, which brought laughs. They totally related with this book.

Although I am not in classrooms sharing literature as writing mentors, I am excited to still connect kids with fun literature that will capture their hearts.

Pumpkin Patch

October 22, 2011

Patty’s Pumpkin Patch by Teri Sloat is a hybrid text full of fun for the autumn season. I happened upon an early childhood website with class activity possibilities.

The text is written in a two-lined rhyme, describing the beauty of the fall season. Along the bottom of the pages, the alphabet is featured with upper and lower case letters. Between the letters is a zoomed in illustration featuring an animal or insect found in nature. A Junco, Pheasant, and a Vixen are a few examples. Your students could create an alphabet book about Autumn. The text lends itself to connecting with a natural science lesson.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Patty’s Pumpkin Patch:

  • Class Book – alphabet structure
  • Poetry
  • Science connection – insects, birds, animals
  • Agricultural setting – every day happenings for those living in a rural setting
  • Timeline – spring to fall


October Favorites

October 15, 2011

The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey

Autumn:  An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schur:  autumn activities

         Peepers by Eve Bunting:  fall description

       Henry and Mudge:  Under the Yellow Moon by Cynthia Rylant

In November by Cynthia Rylant:  autumn season

Leaves by David Ezra Stein:  autumn; hibernation

              Old Bear by Kevin Henkes:  hibernation; seasons

The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin by Margaret Wise Brown: autumn; changing of the season; Halloween

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

Sweet Dreams, Bear

September 25, 2009

Old Bear is hibernating for winter.  Do you ever wonder what the animals are thinking?  Kevin Henkes speculates a tale of possibilities in his book, Old Bear.   Snuggle up and get cozy as you journey with bear as he dreams.

Old BearI love the close up illustrations of the bear cuddled up, snoozing in his cave.  Old Bear’s dreams takes the reader through the seasons.  Kevin illustrates a two page layout of the seasonal scenes.

The flowers were as big as trees.

He took a nap in a giant pink crocus.”

This text is explicit for teaching visualization.  Read the seasonal scene and have the kids visualize in their minds.  The children could even draw/color the visualization.  I highly recommend doing one as a model on the overhead or chart paper.

Old Bear is just fun to read during this autumn season.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Old Bear:

  • Illustrations – excellent for younger students when teaching to illustrate using the large piece of paper
  • Visualization – dreams
  • Predictable Structure
  • ‘Community Property of Writing’ – “Old Bear slept and dreamed, dreamed and slept.”  (Okay, I do not know what the fancy title is for this literary technique, but the reciprocation of the verbs reminded me of the community property in math.  Katie Wood Ray says name it what you can remember in order to use it.)
  • Varied Sentences – long, short, short;  “When he finally woke up, it seemed to him that no time had passed since he had fallen asleep.  He yawned.  He stretched.”

(PES Library and Warsaw Community Library)

Peepers by Eve Bunting

November 15, 2008

As I take a picture walk through the book Peepers by Eve Bunting, I’m drawn in to the colorful scenery illustrates so poetically by James Ransome.

Image result for Peepers by eve buntingTwo sons accompany their dad on the Leaf Peeper Tours.  They are not enthused, but dutifully help their father.  To pass the time, the story is sprinkled with their kid-like antics.  “Behind their backs Jim moose-prances and makes antlers with his fingers.”  The boys are amused as the tourists sigh and ooohh about autumn’s beauty.

Time passes and in the end, both boys begin to notice nature in its winter’s newness.  Both seem surprised, embarrassed, as they realize they’ve become like the Peepers.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Peepers:

  • Descriptive – “Aspens shower gold into the water.”
  • Similes – “Our bus crawls slow as a caterpillar.”
  • Kid’s realism – “Jim about busts laughing.”
  • Show don’t tell – “Jim and I roll our eyes.”
  • Passage of time – beginning of autumn until the leaves have all fallen
  • Reflection
  • Science – different types of trees:  “shagbark hickory trees, red-feathered sumac, speckled adlers