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 -“


A Rainy Day Book

April 11, 2013

Hello, It’s spring!

I’m loving the spring green I am seeing on my drives. Sunshine and warm temps jump started the week. It was wonderful. And now rain. Rain and thunderstorms and cold temps. It’s spring and the green will need the moisture. I just want warm temps again.

The rain made me think of a book I read called My Side of the Car by Kate Feiffer.

A little girl is heading to the zoo with her dad. The sunny day has changed to the reality of rain. Dad informs his daughter sitting in the back seat that they can’t go. Yet, the daughter looks outside her window and announces that there is no rain on her side. Her perception is illustrated splendidly as she visualizes others going to the zoo too. Father continues driving and comments about the continual precipitation.

The inspiration for the book is shared through a conversation between daughter, Kate, and father, Jules. I love the debate-able voices. It reminds me of my kids when they were little.

Rainy day sunshine,

Mary Helen

Savorings for reading and in writing for My Side of the Car:

  • Everyday happening – rain, conversation with parent, car ride
  • Perspective – reality vs. imaginative
  • One day story – excellent text to illustrate conversation with action
  • Anticipation of the event – feelings of the character
  • Illustrations – reminds me of child-like drawings

SOLSC: Spring is Anew

March 30, 2012

Spring is here and the trees,

bushes are flowering.

Colors burst brilliantly

Nature seems to be creating an orchestra

of uplifting music.

Morning greetings mix

bird flutterings.

Sunshine waves down

kissing the air with warmth.

Spring is anew!

***I subscribe to Your Daily Poem to increase my like of poetry. Poets amaze me with the craft of words, the rhythm and snapshots with deep meaning. This week, a beautiful poem by William Wadsworth was shared called Written in March. It captures Spring so delightfully.

Scaredy Squirrel

September 27, 2011

When I heard Jeff Anderson read Scaredy Squirrel, I  instantly added the title to my must-have list. The voice Melanie Watt uses with her delightful, yet nervous, character grabs your attention. You are hooked.

This summer, I came across another book in the series, Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party. You will quickly learn Scaredy Squirrel is particular. He’s very contemplative and plans ahead for possible disasters. He does not want any surprises.

When Scaredy Squirrel plans his birthday party, he is very detailed. The party schedule makes me chuckle. You can definitely sense his anxiety. The party schedule page could be combined with a math activity. Student could have clocks and calculate the digital time to analog time. It also show a comparison usage of the colon – in time and also in a list.

A surprise gift warms Scaredy’s heart. Even young children will get a sense of how the character changes by an act of kindness (what a lead in to a discussion on community). What a twist to Scaredy Squirrel’s well planned party.

View the YouTube trailer to predict possibly disasters:

Savorings for reading and in writing for Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party:

  • Voice – talks to the reader
  • Speech Bubbles
  • Character Thinking – you can sense Scaredy’s personality
  • Character Change – notice the last page
  • Reading Charts – use the book to introduce nonfiction text that have inserted charts
  • Friendship

Warsaw Community Public Library new (2011)

Friendship: City Dog and Country Frog

March 26, 2011

Product DetailsMo Willems has created a frolicking book about friendship in City Dog, Country Frog.  Two animals meet and become friends – a dog and a frog. Each animal teaches the other some games.  Jon Muth’s illustrations allow the readers to infer much more than the text says.  It’s a packed, simple story that allows children to fill in the parts when time transfers from one season to the next.

In the end, the dog goes and cannot find his friend after the winter.  The pictures made my heart sad. As I turned the page, my heart was cheered when a Country Chipmunk came upon the City Dog waiting for his friend.  And a new friendship bloomed.  Love it.

Savorings for reading and in writing for City Dog, Country Frog:

  • Semi-colon – “City dog didn’t stop on that first day in the country; he ran as far and as fast as he could.”
  • Seasons changing and hibernation
  • Parenthesis
  • Bookend – begins with City Dog meeting Country Frog who was waiting for a friend
  • “Ing”ing verbs – sniffing, fetching, barking

(Okay I know the verbs are called present participles, but I learned a long time ago that first graders do not understand that terminology.  Instead, thanks to Katie Wood Ray and my friend Ruth, who noticed “ing”ing words in My Mama Had a Dancin’ Heart, I can name the verbs what I want.  So “ing”ing verbs makes sense to little kids. :))

Winter Books

February 5, 2011

Throughout my blogging days, I have posted books about the current season or holiday.  I have listed all my books (hopefully) that I have posted in the index.  I highly recommend perusing it to see if a title stands out.

Below are a few books about winter that I have blogged about.  Enjoy!

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

Snow Ponies by Jason Cockcroft (a favorite of mine!)

Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Samms II and Jean Stoick.

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


Squishy Mud

July 14, 2009

What is it with children and mud?  Some magical force draws children to the squishy mud like a magnet to iron.  Mary Lyn Ray captures this fun-loving moment in her book, Mud.  The illustrations are large, full, and inviting.  They remind me of what a child might focus on and draw in their pictures.  You can almost feel the mud squeezing its way through your toes.

Mud features the awakening of the spring season.   Although a shorter text, narrative nonfiction is packed with perfect description.  As author Barbara Morrow says, “Each word counts!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Mud:

  • Simile – “A cold sweet smell rises in the ground, like sap in the snow.”
  • Personification – “By morning brown leaves loosen from their frozen drifts and run...”
  • Varied Sentences
  • Alliteration – squish, squck, sop, splat, slurp
  • Magic of 3 – “Come spring.  Come grass.  Come green.”

The Beauty of Snow

December 3, 2008

Winter is upon us here in Indiana, and although I do not enjoy the cold, icy winds, I do love the beauty of the fresh fallen snow.  The whiteness blankets the barren lands and brown, sleeping ground.  As I looked out my window at some gently falling flakes, I was reminded of a beautiful book, Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Samms II and Jean Stoick.  First Snow in the Woods is a companion book.

A Photographic Fantasy (Nature)      A Photographic Fantasy

Carl R. Samms II and Jean Stoick are fantastic photographers of nature’s beauty.  I’m intrigued by the brilliance of the photos.  If you have an Elmo, you students will enjoy seeing the photos in an enlarged fashion.  My favorite picture is of the cardinal in flight.

The snow has fallen softly in the woods, but something is amiss.  The animals sense a stranger and begin to share their feelings, thoughts, and concerns.  This book shows such great voice.  “Who-hoo’s in the woods?  Where?  Where did the jays say?  Where is he?” asked the Owl of Many Questions.  Your students can predict who the stranger might be.  The narrative creates a sense of tension among the animals.  As the reader, you gain an empathy for the animals, who are trying to be brave.  In the end, a snowman is the stranger.  The photographs will draw your attention in.

To learn a little about the authors, view the below YouTube video. I think your students would enjoy seeing the authors in person.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Stranger in the Woods:

  • Voice
  • Point of View – the animals share their perspective
  • Non-fiction brought alive
  • Publishing – the placement of the words to add to the movement of the animals
  • Punctuation – creative to show a sense of tension:  “You’ll not be volunteering me!  No sir-ree!”  said the scared rabbit.  “Is…is he watching me?”