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.


Scrapbook Memories (dedicated to Tonya and Emma)

November 17, 2008

IImage result for The most thankful thingf you enjoy scrap-booking, then you will want to read this creative text in The Most Thankful Thing by Lisa McCourt.  A daughter finds her mother reflecting on what she is thankful for.  Her daughter’s curiosity sparks the question, “In your long, long, long life, what are you the very most thankful for?”  Cleverly, her mother has her guess, sending the daughter to get her scrapbook.

Cyd Moore uses the background of the text as the black-based scrapbook pages.  He then blends the current conversation and reflections on the pages with bright thought shots.

This hybrid text becomes unique as you read picture captions and labels to bring meaning to the stories shared.  The mother always adds, “But even if...” adding a grand prospect, she closes with “it wouldn’t have been as great as my very most thankful thing.”  As the scenes of the young mother’s life pass by, the daughter finally gives up.  “Your most thankful thing must be awesome!  It must be amazing!

At that moment, her motherly love pours out as she acknowledges her daughters birth as being her “most thankful thing.

As I’ve reread and reflected on this book, my first thought was “this is a book for parents.  It’s motherly love.”  But then, as I savored and looked deeper, I did find nuggets to help teach our children.  I view this book as a resource to teach concepts during conferencing.

Savorings for reading and in writing for The Most Thankful Thing:

  • Savor the moment
  • Time-line – highlights important scenes in a life
  • Summarizes events
  • Questioning – child-like curiosity explodes through this text, probing for more answers
  • Conversation – back and forth
  • Notebooks – personal scrapbooks of meaningful moments
  • Thought shots

Are We There Yet?

November 13, 2008

The age old question from children, “Are we there yet?”, causes parents to just sigh.  Even Hollywood jumped on the theme and created movies from it.  We can all relate.

Eve Bunting grabbed hold of the question and created a book with a more somber mood.  How Many Days to America?:  A Thanksgiving Story is about a family from the Caribbean who flee the country.  The story is told through the oldest son’s viewpoint.  Kids can relate.  They have listened to their parents whisper in the night like these children.  Hopefully, most kids have not had to go through the difficulties that this family goes through.

I believe twe need to teach our chldren to be compassionate to others and to be grateful for what we have.  Eve Bunting has created an avenue for discussion on this issue through this book.  She has also authored other books around sociological issues.  Using picture books, you can promote conversations and provide an avenue for synthesizing the story.  (Fly Away Home is another book to share.

Eve Bunting dedicates the book to “The children who came and to Marilyn Carpenter who shared their stories.”  I wonder who they are?  What I do know is that their stories inspired her to write this book.  Share that with your kids.

Side note:  I came across a website that has some teacher plans on multiculturalism.  It gives more detail that relate to How Many Days to America?:  A Thanksgiving Story

Savorings for reading and in writing for How Many Days to America?  A Thanksgiving Story:

  • Wonderings – How would it feel to leave all your special things behind?
  • Inference – “‘I must have your wedding ring’, My father told my mother. (…)She did not speak.”
  • Repeating line – “How many days to America?”
  • Tension – “We were an hour from shore when the motors stopped.”
  • Connection/Compare – “Long ago, unhappy people came here to start new lives.”  Compare to the present day settling of the refugees coming to America.

Saving Thanksgiving

November 6, 2008

Living in an age of super heroes – Iron Man, Batman, Fantastic Four, children sometimes forget that ordinary people can be heroes too.  Laurie Halse Anderson created a new super hero in her book, Thank You, Sarah:  The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving.  She begins by talking to the reader:

You think you know everything about Thanksgiving, don’t you?

After making you think for a moment, she responds to you:

Well, listen up.  I have a newsflash…      WE ALMOST LOST…THANKSGIVING!  Didn’t know that, did you?”

The voice of Laurie Halse Anderson resonates through the story.  The reader is drawn in immediately.  When I read Thank You, Sarah, I feel like I’m having a conversation with the author.  Matt Faulkner, illustrator, adds a humorous touch to the story with his visuals.  His illustrations support the “talk” that the author has created.  Laurie then adds in some of the history of how people were forgetting about Thanksgiving and how Sarah Hale became the super hero.  A repeated line is used throughout the writing:  “She was bold, brave, stubborn, and smart.”  It supports the snapshots of Sarah Hale’s achievements in history.

Thank You, Sarahis one of the best texts to support persuasion.  Laurie writes, “And Sarah Hale had a secret weapon… a pen.”  She continues to show how Sarah Hale wrote and wrote and wrote to persuade people on issues during a time that women were considered second class to men.  She wrote to four presidents asking to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.  All of them told her no … until she wrote Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.  He then said yes.  Thank You, Sarah!!  And thank you, Laurie Halse Anderson for writing such a brilliant book that will draw children into the history of the season and also to demonstrate the power of the pen.  Children need examples of writing for a purpose!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Thank You, Sarah:  The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving:

  • 2nd person – speaks to the reader
  • Voice!!!
  • Persuasion – supporting with valid points
  • Writing for a purpose – “secret weapon…a pen
  • Comma – in a series, clauses, for emphasis
  • Vivid verbs – “curdled her gravy

End note:  I discovered a teacher’s guide for Thank You, Sarahin Laurie Halse Anderson’s website.  Because I love history, I found it intriguing that the author is a distant relative to Sarah Hale.  Read it in Social Studies section on the teacher’s guide.