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.



Author/ Illustrator: Henry Cole

December 8, 2011

Author Tidbits: a Pleasing Bit of Information

Henry Cole is better known for his illustrations, but is an author as well. Henry has a created a lusciously illustrated chapter book in  A Nest for Celeste. The story takes place in the 1820s in Louisiana where Audubon and his assistant spent time observing birds in their natural setting.

On Henry’s website, you will find a fun tab for your students in Elmer’s Art Room. Henry Cole has collaborated with author, Pamela Duncan Edwards, on several books.  Your students will enjoy meeting Henry Cole during his video clip.

Henry Cole illustrates Celeste the mouse in a minute and a half. Wow!

In an interview, Henry explains how the theme of A Nest of Celeste is about friendship. He use to have field mice as pets when he was a boy and he loves animals. View a short interview (almost 5 min.)  for a Florida Book Award 2010. Henry shares where his ideas came from and some of the pages of the book are seen.

The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin

October 20, 2008

The Hallo-Wienerby Dav Pilkey has loads of craft to teach.  It can serve as a great mentor text during this Halloween season.  Themes such as name-calling, bullying, friendship, persistence, loyalty, and kindness are embedded, creating an avenue for class discussion and community building. The illustrations lift the text and provide foreshadowing clues. The book’s humor entices the kids to reread it several times, allowing the message to sink in.  What a fun way to learn!  I highly recommend visiting Dav Pilkey‘s website.  He shares his story of being a hyperactive kid.

Savorings in reading and for writing for The Hallo-Wiener:

  • Flexing sentences – “Because of his unusual shape and size, all the other dogs made fun of him.”
  • Think bubbles – “All day long at obedience school, Oscar daydreamed about Halloween…”
  • Hyphenated words – “Half-a-dog tall and one-and-a-half dogs long
  • Play on words – “Then Oscar showed up, looking quite frank.”
  • Suspense – “The dogs stopped dead in their tracks.”

Bootsie Barker Bites

October 17, 2008

To tie in with yesterday’s every day happenings post, Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner came to mind.  Bullying is a real life situation that most children are faced with sometime in their childhood.

In Bootsie Barker Bites,  Barbara Bottner has incredible insights she shares from the viewpoint of the victim.  The girl who is bullied is unnamed, so I’ll refer to her as Susan.  Susan is faced with an incredulous tormentor, Bootsie.  During each bullied situation, Barbara paints a picture of Susan’s thinking – the thinking children would relate to. Susan creates a daydream scenario of revenge she wishes on Bootsie, with a twist of humor.  We can all relate, which is the drawing point of the book.

I have used this book with fifth graders and all are interested, even the boys.  Throughout the story, the reader is cheering for Susan, empathizing with her.  The book is an excellent resource for discussion of characterization and inferring and can also enhance class community.  It’s full of possible teaching points.

Savorings in reading and for writing for Bootsie Barker Bites:

  • internal and external characterization – illustrations show physical differences between the two characters
  • grabber lead – (When Mrs. Barker comes to visit, she always brings chocolate donuts, fresh strawberries, and Bootsie.)
  • show don’t tell – (“Play nicely, girls!”  Bootsie yells, “We are!”  I can’t yell anything.)
  • visualizing – (“I picture Charlene and me being rushed to the hospital with dinosaur bites.”)
  • character emotions – (When my mother asks me what Bootsie and I would like for snacks, I can’t stand it anymore.)