April 12, 2018
Observing nature quiets a soul and calms our fast-paced lives. Children need time to process their learning, time to explore and think.
Old Elm Speaks, by Kristine O’Connell George, invites you to interact with the world around you. Trees have personalities and beckon us to tell a story. Can you hear the stories the stories they can write? Climbing. Tree houses. Mushroom hunting. On her website, Kristine O’Connell George shares some writing and science activities that go along with this book. Other poetry ideas are on her website as well. Celebrate Poetry Month by including these poems that will connect with children’s hearts. Take a nature walk around the school and notice nature. What tree speaks to you?
Ordinary yet unique.
Inaudible yet whispering.
Savorings for Old Elm Speaks Tree Poems:
- Everyday life – gathering stories/ poetry from around us
- Figurative Language – “a tiny velveteen satchel“
- Description – using comparisons, figurative language, rich language
- Science Link
- Class book idea – create a photo book of trees with the students’ poems, memories
June 30, 2014
In Indiana, the heat index is fairly normal in the 80’s. The humidity has been above 50%, tolerable but definitely moist when pulling weeds this morning. But these temperatures are nothing in comparison to a day in Lumberville.
In Heat Wave by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, the towns people are doing everything possible to keep cool. I connected Patricia Polacco’s books with this book when the people sleep outside. No air conditioning available during this time period. (I am so thankful for ours right now.) Children will understand this book. It’s an everyday happening – activities you do in the summer when it is hot.
“Sun sizzled. Hair frizzled. It was a sweltering day in Lumberville….”
Set in a day of the week text structure, Eileen focuses on each individual activity – cooking in the basement, hair cut, splashing in the wash tub. Finally, the people sleep outside near the river, on the fire escape, or on the roof. Each had the same dream – rain.
This book reminds me of Come on Rain by Karen Hesse.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Heat Wave:
- Snapshot – one moment in time
- Proper names with title clauses – Mike Morello, the mailman,
- Varied sentences
Eileen and her husband, Jerry, share about their writing lives in this 5:30 minute YouTube video.
August 20, 2013
Crickets sang from the country greens around the golf course. Eighty degree sunshine filled the air, brightening the emerald grass, as I watched my Elizabeth play golf.
Birds signaled a call to a friend, who replied a congenial song. Today’s sweetness awakened my dendrites.
In the stillness only the country bacon bring, the cricket’s song caught my attention. Most August days I might have considered the continuous song ordinary.
Today I noticed.
The music had new meaning.
I have been listening to the audio book, A Cricket in Times Square. A story of friendship, loyalty, and hope has been inspiring. Crickets do annoy me and mice do not please me. Nevertheless, the craft of personification has brought me closer to the insect, summoning admiration for its song.
March 13, 2012
My flip-flops were calling my name this morning. I could hear them, “MH, we are the shoe for you today. Our color matches your top perfectly and our cushion is fabulous. You really should wear us today.”
It’s March 13 and it’s 68 degrees here in Indiana, which feels absolutely delicious!
I noticed my coworkers have been wearing flip-flops, and my daughter has been begging to wear hers. I guess flip-flops kind of symbolize spring and warm weather. They add a new step to the day.
So I caved in and wore them. It was delightful!
(And it had nothing to do with the fact that my knee-high tights were still in the laundry from last night. You know the ones that I wear with my shoes all the time. Naaa, convenience of wearing the flip-flops wouldn’t have ever entered my mind. :p)
March 12, 2012
Driving down the road,
I couldn’t help notice
the beauty spread before me.
The sky was brushed with pinks,
bubble gum, magenta swirled together.
White clouds pillowed above with
a silhouette of trees awakening in the light.
The beauty of the morning refreshed my soul,
lifted my spirits, and reminded me to notice.
June 20, 2011
Among the concrete buildings, a young boy finds a small island of wildlife. As the river runs through the concrete embankments, a small marsh hides around a telephone pole. Ted Rand paints the beauty within the noisy city. The boy and a few nature lovers observe with admiration. How did such wildlife of ducks and birds come to be? A flashback of the wilderness history is painted in their thoughts in the book, Secret Place.
Eve Bunting uses her storytelling gift to warm every nature-lover’s heart. The “secret place” allows for a spotlight of hope, life and peach within the bustle of the busy city. The book will open the reader’s eyes to the nature that surrounds him/her.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Secret Place:
- Setting Lead
- Repeating Line – “in the heart of the city where I live“
- Compare/Contrast – noise of the city versus the noise of the secret place
- Figurative Language – similes, personification
- Sensory Description
January 2, 2010
Bill Martin Jr. is an author who brings rhythm and rhyme to the his writing. Although this text, The Turning of the Year, is short, the words are rich. It was like savoring each bite of Turtle Cheesecake. The text takes you through each month of the year – with only two lines per page.
Greg Shed, the illustrator, infers so much more with his illustrations. One painted page shows a scene from a typical day. On the text page, Greg scatters items that represent other activities. These clues lift the level of comprehension, especially for younger children.
Savorings in reading and in writing for The Turning of the Year:
- Context Clues – rich vocabulary
- Class book idea – your students could create a page about activities happening each month for the school year
- Repeating Structure – each month has activities
- Personification – “earth fashions green“
Warsaw Public Library book
December 4, 2009
My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is a story that will make children smile, connect, and wonder. The theme fits the holiday season – children making their wish lists. I especially like the letter writing feature that begins the story. A young boy, Joe, is writing his letter to Santa asking for a specific present. Joe shares that he is being very specific about his request. This book gives a good example of describing an object with specific language.
I also think the My Penguin Osbert will appeal to your boys. The illustrator, H. B. Lewis, paints a two page spread of a red racecar in the beginning. The main character, Joe, reminds me of my youngest. Since he has had difficulty getting the exact present that he wanted in years past, Joe goes all out and is detailed in the size, color, actions of his request. Joes wanted a penguin, not a stuffed one, but a penguin from Antarctica.
On Christmas morning, Santa game through. To the delight of Joe, Osbert the Penguin is waiting for him. Joe is ready to open more presents, but realizes his friend wanted to go outside and play. Each time Joe wants to do something, he renders his wishes for his friend. You can almost hear Joe’s thinking and sense his conflict.
“But I had asked for Osbert, and now I had him.”
Osbert was the penguin he had asked for, but Joe did not realize that a penguin would be so much work. Sound familiar with a pet? After a while, Joe writes a secret letter to Santa. He explains that he loves Osbert, but that if Santa thought Joe should have a different present, he would swap. Santa does reply and sends Joe on an adventure to the Antarctic World exhibit at the zoo. Osbert loves the exhibit and Joe relinquished his pet out of love. In the end, Joe shares the lesson he has learned.
Savorings for reading and in writing for My Penguin Osbert:
- Adjectives – specific descriptions
- Letter writing –
- Inference – the clues will lead the children to conclude Joe’s reasoning for giving up his pet
- Varied Sentences – the author does an excellent job of writing long, complex sentences and then integrating some simple sentences. “Then I waited.”
- Colon – used with a sign
- Hyphenated words – snow-globe; fire-engine-red
October 4, 2009
A year and a half ago, I had the privilege of meeting Claire Ewart. Claire is an Indiana author and illustrator, residing in Fort Wayne. She spoke at our school for our Young Author’s Conference.
One of my favorite texts is The Giant. The text is rather moving, bringing the emotion of the daughter alive to the reader. A girl, who has lost her mama, searches for the giant who was to watch over her. She looks and notices the giant in the clouds, stars, and every time she thinks she can reach the giant, he always is beyond her. Paralleling this search, Pa is working the farm. Pa was steady by his daughter’s side, yet she could not see beyond her loss and the daily chores… until one morning.
“And there was Pa…like he’d always been, standing there, tall and strong in the wind.”
Claire shared that one idea for the book came one day as she was driving along US Hwy. 30. Looking out across the spring fields, she noticed large puddles. Claire said the puddles seemed like giant footprints walking across the land. Claire uses figurative language so beautifully. I savor the words like chocolate.
“Small lakes formed
where ponds and low spots had been,
like Pa’s big boot prints,
like huge feet had walked across the land.”
Savorings for reading and in writing for The Giant:
- Figurative Language – interwoven throughout the text
- Transition in Time – from early spring to harvest time in the fall
- Illustrations – painted in the clouds, shadows is a foreshadowing of the giant
- Inference – the reader longs to find the giant with the girl
- Symbolism – What does the giant stand for? In the end, who is the mysterious giant?
- Varying Sentences