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
Class book idea – create a photo book of trees with the students’ poems, memories
Fun. Creative. Interactive. Viviane Schwarz engages her readers by interacting with the characters in Is There a Dog in This Book? I just love how the characters chit-chat with you: “Oh, hello! You opened our book!” Andre’ sniffs and wonders if someone else is in their book. The hide-and-seek game begins between the cats and the dog. The reader engages in the hunt by lifting flaps in the book, seeking and adding to the story.
Author/ illustrator, Viviane Schwarz, shares her story about writing books in this 8-minute video. I love how she wants to inspire children to draw and write, creating their own books.
On this YouTube clip, the author reads her story to you. I think the kids will enjoy hearing her read this delightful tale. View her blog for more behind the scenes tidbits of her work. You will be introduced to other books by Viviane Schwarz.
Savorings for Is There a Dog in This Book?
Second Person Narrative – interaction with the characters
Power of 3
Character Description / change
Everyday Happening – children can relate to the topic; create stories using their pets
Setting – helps young children see the importance of the setting
Jessica Olien (@jessicaolien) created a hybrid text in The Blobfish Book. Students are introduced to the creatures of each ocean zone. Facts are shared with real photos of the animal creatures. Blobfish adds his first-person commentary on each page with speech bubbles. The humorous style will hook your kids into learning more about the ocean.
When the text shares that the Blobfish was named the ugliest animal in the universe, Blobfish has a melt down. The other creatures, his friends, rally around him to uplift his spirits.
This book trailer includes an explanation of the different ocean zones.
Children often have a favorite topic to write about. They return to the topic and use the same genre in sharing their information. For example, if a child loves his dog, he often will write a story, a narrative. This writing practice is a great start.
One way to broaden children’s understanding of genres is to present books on the same topic with different formats. You can compare and contrast different books on the same topic. Dinosaurs. Trucks. Bears. Show them how this information can be shared out through a narrative, informational text, poetic nonfiction, poetry, all about, etc.
Three books I found recently lend themselves to this kind of study.
Circular/ Bookends – begins with a bug that looks small on a big leaf but is a small leaf to a big tree, and continues (begins with the topic of bugs but is only one part of the book versus the other books are all about bugs)
Skunk takes a walk at night to visit his friend, Possum. Possum seems to be hiding. He hushes his friend. He’s afraid. He’s afraid of the night animal.
The evening continues as Gianna Marino introduces other night animals – wolf, bear, bat – in Night Animals. Using speech bubbles, the animals share personified feelings of fright for the darkness. Humorously written, the reader will learn who are night animals and what their behavior is like. My favorite if Possum, especially when Skunk gets surprised. Do you know what skunks do when they are frightened? This book would be a fun way to introduce a nonfiction text on the subject of nocturnal animals.
Growing up, I learned about the nine planets in our solar system. Pluto was the farthest. In 2006, new discoveries changed this notion.
As you read All My Friends Are Planets, you are engaged in a conversations with Pluto. It explains how it changed from being a planet in the solar system to the classification of a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt. It feels alone, describing the other planets in the solar system. It is
I’m not a scientist at heart, but I love the wonderment of space. This lighthearted conversation explains the differences of Pluto for children to understand. It’s a great springboard into further research. The author nudges her readers to investigate more on the subject and lists possible sites to begin in the back of the book. Alisha Vimawala also has a drawing contest of a future planet. Genius!
Your heart will be swept away to that special book tucked away in your heart. Memories of reading the delightful pages transport you to a different time and place. Riding Freedom is one such book for me (by Pam Munoz Ryan). Its pages aren’t worn yet, but it’s set in a special place. Do you have a book that has grown old, pages worn or ripped, but the story goes on and on? The little girl finds one such book. She reads it over and over until one day, she can’t find it at the library. It’s been placed in the basement for the book sale. The book is lonely and wants its story to touch a heart.
The Lonely Book is a wonderful way to inspire children to connect with stories. Maybe you read it at the beginning of the school year and get them excited about finding books in the library. Maybe you read it on a special reading day to remind kids that they can explore worlds and gather new ideas. Maybe you read it just to let them know your readerly-life and the power reading can give. It brings your imagination to life.
“For everyone who’s ever loved a dog. – Ree Drummond”
I love the dog, Charlie. He reminds me of our dog, Harley.
Harley loves our family, especially my father-in-law. When he entered our home a year ago, rescued, he has given us continual thanks. Harley snuggles when you are sick, endlessly wags his tail smiling at you, and watches over my father-in-law all day. Although he often lays around, his eyes are watching and his ears perk at all noises.
Harley loves to snuggle.
In comes Moo, our kitten.
Moo loves to sit on my books when I am blogging.
Harley tolerates Moo’s playfulness, the sneaky attacks, swats of his tail, and nips on his floppy ears. If I could read his mind, I am sure he would talk like Charlie in Charlie and the Christmas Kitty.
Charlie is trying to do his own thing and the kitten keeps on snuggling up to him. The personalities of the animals are brought to life. Diane deGroat’s illustrations enhance the personalities of the loveable pets. Don’t you every what your pet is thinking? I especially find the “King of the Ranch” endearing. I’m sure Harley believes he is King of the Gensch household. Charlie’s perspective brings life to the playful pets. His perspective is true to so many of our furry friends.
On the back, Ree Drummond is holding her Bassett Hound. Kids will be inspired to write their own pet-perspective story. Our furry creatures have such personalities and talk to us. At least we talk to them and stories from the heart warm our lives and make us laugh. Read this book. Share with your kids. You will bring joy to the classroom.
(A 47 second sneak peek into the book.)
Savorings for reading and in writing for Charlie and the Christmas Kitty:
Personification – character personality
Dog perspective – notice how Charlie changes, becomes more accepting
First Person Narrative – speaking to the reader
Reporter Voice – Can’t you just hear Charlie’s disgust? “WHAT’S A CAT DOING ON MY RANCH?”
For more Charlie fun, read the prequal: Charlie the Ranch Dog. The below YouTube video allows you to preview the book (5 min.). Enjoy.
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