Friday, July 31, 2015

"FLOTSAM" by David Wiesner


The wordless book and me chilling in the home-schooling corner.
THE BOOK:

"FLOTSAM" is Wiesner's award-winning wordless picture book that follows a boy's discovery of a washed up camera--the flotsam--at the beach. The boy soon discovers the camera is special, perhaps magical, camera film that has miraculously survived the ocean. He devlops the film and discovers photos of an underwater world, living, mechanical, and fantasy. (I would also like to point out this book has the first-ever documented use of a selfie-stick... well... kinda.)

USE THE BOOK:

This book is great for sharing with groups or one-on-one with kids, grades preK to third grade. I can see this being liked by upper elementary children who still have a love for fantasty, and perhaps again in art classes, grades 7-12--it is a beautiful piece of art.




Focus on The Writing Process: 

I like to use wordless texts to support writing and storytelling. One of the best tips I have for teachers who are trying to build writing into their classrooms is to SLOW IT DOWN and BREAK IT APART. Often we throw kids into writing without the pre-thinking that is required. Plus, we need to model the WRITING PROCESS and what real writing feels like. So here is one way to do this...

Grade Levels: 1, 2, 3

Materials Needed:

Chart paper
Markers


1. "Read" the book by showing the pictures. Don't add a verbal narrative; let the pictures do the talking--remember, silence is golden.

2. Afterwards, ask the children to turn to a neighbor and "tell the narrative" in five sentences or less--explain the narrative is the storyline and the major events.

3. Have kids share their points of interest in the story. Tell them this is what writers call, "brainstorming".

4. Now validate their ideas by "reading" the book again. As you read, stop to note what happens on each page. On the chart paper, write one to two sentences explaining what has happened. Have the children construct these sentences by calling on one child to dictate the sentence (or two). They needn't be perfect--you will edit them later. Tell the kids this is the "draft".


A sample page of the "draft".


5. After you have written a sentence for each page, have the children analyze the complete story. Ask them, "If we only wanted to keep the sentences that were essential to the narrative, which would we keep?" Then circle the five essential sentences. In many cases, you will decided to edit your list--for instance, you will probably take the pages with all the photos of the sea creatures and sum it up into one, cohesive sentence: "David saw pictures of animals, machines, aliens, and more in the photographs." Either way, tell them "This is editing."


The first round of editing.
Round two of editing, with circled essential sentence.


6. Next, tell the kids these points are essential to the story, without them we would be unable to understand the narrative. Illustrate this by reading through the book once more. Read their sentences for each of the "non-essential" sentences and skip over the pages that contain the five sentences that are "essential". (In some cases you will literally show three pages of the book.)

7. Now tell the class everything circled is essential, but all of the additional sentences are supporting details that elaborate and enhance the work--basically, they make the story better. Ask the children to each identify their favorite detail on the list and share it with a partner. Tell them when a storyteller adds these details it is another form of "editing".

8. Talk to the kids about how what they did was the writing process: They identified the main story with a partner (brainstorming), wrote it out in sentences (drafting), fixed it when something needed to be clearer (editing), and selected details that would make the story more interesting to readers (further editing).

9. Now that they have gone through the process with the group, have them write out the full story of "FLOTSAM" on their own. Have each child use the five essential sentences in their stories--you may wish to even type these out and leave gaps in the work like the sample below. Between each sentence, the child must provide at least one sentence (or if doing this with older kids one paragraph) elaborating on the big idea.


The ideas the kids share are typed out.
They fill in the details in between sentences.


    
Discussions/Writing Prompts:

Use these prompts to talk about the book with your kids, or you can have them write their responses. Remember, picture books don't need to stop in second grade!
One of many "photos" from the book.

1. If you could be there when one of the photos was taken, which photo would you pick? Why?

2. Do you think David (the boy) can convince others of his experience? Why or why not?

3. What elements of this book let you know it is a fantasy?

4. What happens after the last page? To the boy? To the girl?

5. Look at the title page of the book.  Most of them are not featured in the actual story. Why would the illustrator include them?

I hope you enjoy "FLOTSAM"... And remember to keep your eyes open the next time you are walking along the beach!


Happy learning! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood" by Marjane Satrapi



Me in my Hogwarts shirt with Ms. Satrapi's book.
THE BOOK:

"Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood", by the amazingly talented Marjane Satrapi, chronicles Strapi's middle childhood as an Iranian girl growing up in the 70s and 80s. Her personal tales of her family's involvement in the revolution (her grandpa was prime minister), and her reflections on growing up under the Shah and the Ayatollah. This memoir has everything to do with our young people as it deals with a loss of innocence, religion, family, youthful rebellion, and revolution. It is nothing short of fantastic.

USE THE BOOK:

This book is one of the most compelling graphic memoirs, and is in my top ten books to use with high school students. Because of the language and content, this book is only for high school students on up. With that said, it is a fabulous book with many applications. Here is just one of them:




Graphic Memoir with Historic Spin-

We are all surrounded by the makings of history. Often we observe it from afar, but at times the stuff that will be written down in history books will seep into our lives. This lesson asks students to think about a historic situation they lived through that had a personal impact on their lives. Here is the lesson:

Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12

Materials Needed:

Computer for research
3" x 5" index cards (5 per student)
Drawing paper
Markers, pens, and pencils


1.     After reading Persepolis, talk about how Satrapi was able to weave in the story of a nation and the story of her life. Have students find evidence for both interwoven storylines.
2.     Now share the prompt for this creative assignment with the class:
Construct a 3-page graphic novel-styled memoir about you and an historic event that had a significant impact on you. Each student may choose his/her own method for constructing their art: draw it; get magazine or online collage pictures; or even recreate the scenes with photography.
3.     At this point, we spend time doing a brief overview of modern history, especially events that may have touched close to home. I basically spend twenty minutes highlighting two or three main events from the past 15 years. Some events include: The invasion of Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, Obama is elected, the Great Recession, legalization of gay marriage, etc.
4.     I then have the kids answer the questions below. This may be assigned as homework:
a.     What significant events have happened during my lifetime in world events? List at least three.
b.     Now circle the event you plan on writing about. That event took place in the year _______________.
c.      During that time I was _________ years old.
d.     I lived here: ________________________________.
e.     My favorite food was _____________________.
f.      My favorite activity/game was __________.
g.     I liked this type of music _________________.
5.     The questionnaire is VERY important, as kids will get a chance to think back to that time. All students need this data to make a well-rounded memoir. 
6.   I then have the students copy their questionnaire data onto a 3” x 5” index card as  a system for recording and storing data. I use this system detailed by another blogger.
7.     After they have copied their data, have them now research their "historic event" on the Internet.  For instance, if I was to construct a graphic memoir on 9/11, one of my sources would be this link. All students will need three sources that describe that significant event. Significant facts should be copied onto 3” x 5” index cards using the above mentioned system; each student should have one index card per source.
8.     After collecting the data, the student will need to interview one other person who was either with them during that time (a parent, sibling, or teacher) or a person who also remembers that event, anyone alive during that time—not necessarily someone who was “with” that student. (Remember, some kids no longer live with their families from that time.) Significant facts should be copied onto a 3 x 5” index card.
A page on "smuggling" from the memoir.
9.      The student should have 5 index cards of data—1 with personal information, 3 with information on the event, and 1 with an interview from a person who was alive during that time.
10. With that data in hand, share a comic book template like these from Google Images. Have the students plan how they will organize their information into a minimum of 3 pages; they need to include one bit of information from each source.
11. I have my students write out a mock up “storyboard” with words only. Use Satrapi’s book to talk about the balance of text and pictures. Note the use of strong vocabulary and specific details.
12. We then take a day in class to edit the words and flow of the story. I suggest assigning the storyboard, starting it in class, and then having the students finish it for homework.
13. Collect the drafts and review for story flow and ideas.  Then have one-on-one meetings with each student or have kids do peer editing to focus their drafts. Be sure to look for those five ideas from the research.
14. At this point, the students need about one week to make the final draft—either in class or at home.
15. In the mean time, have the students make a Works Cited page. I use OWL at Purdue to help teach this.
16. After the work is complete, have a reading day in class. Kids really love reading other works. I ask them each to have a blank sheet of paper at the back of the book where readers can give compliments to the author.
17. I grade this project using the following scoring guide:
  • The draft/"storyboard" was turned in complete and on time _______/10 points
  • Research index cards completed and followed proper format ________/25 points (5 per card)
  • Works Cited page attached and in proper format _______/20 points
  • The graphic memoir follows a historic event with researched details _______/10 points
  • The graphic memoir includes personal details from the questionnaire _________/10 points
  • The graphic memoir uses strong, academic language ________/10 points
  • The graphic memoir is organized in a logical manner, is easy to follow, and shows good effort in art  ______/15 points 
Here is a sample page of my historic, graphic memoir on 9/11


My historic, graphic memoir. Feel free to print it and share!
Discussions/Writing Prompts:

Use these prompts to talk about the book with your kids, or you can have them write their responses. Remember, picture books don't need to stop in second grade!

Two pages from the memoir.
1. Was Marjane's life better under the Shah or the Ayatollah? (I stole this question from my friend Vickie Gill.)

2. What would have changed if Marjane had not rejected her call to be a so-called prophet?

3. How does Marjane's relationship change with her parents throughout the memoir?

4. Do you believe Marjane's parents were right to send her away from Iran? Why or why not?

5. How does this story relate to your experience of growing up? In what ways do you relate, and in what ways do you contrast?

I hope you enjoy "Persepolis"... And I hope you do take the time to talk with kids about how the world around you relates to your lives!


Happy learning!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Hi! Fly Guy" by Tedd Arnold

The "Fly Guy" book and Me
THE BOOK:
"Fly Guy" by Tedd Arnold is an award-winning hit with young children. To tell you the truth, I didn't like this book until I shared it with my son. My four-year-old son adores this book series, and so does his just-out-of first grade cousin.

It is a simple book, set up in chapters--but don't be fooled, you can read this book in about three to five minutes. The story is about a boy who finds and keeps a pet fly who he names Fly Guy. The boy loves the fly because Fly Guy can say the boy's name, "Buzz". At first his parents and judges at the local pet show scoff at his choice for a pet, but in the end everyone agrees Fly Guy is not only a great pet, but the smartest pet at the showcase.

USE THE BOOK:
Kids in preschool all the way up to second grade would enjoy this book. It will work as a simple, quick read aloud, and is a perfect book for sharing one-on-one with kids. The humor is silly, and in other books in the series even a little gross, but nothing inappropriate. Here is a fun extension activity to use with kids after reading the book...

Animal Awards-


This book deals with the unlikely talents of an unexpected pet, Mr. Fly Guy himself. The premise got me thinking about other animals who might do well in an "pet competition". This lesson would be perfect for kids ages 4-8.






Grade Level- PreK, K, 1, 2

Materials Needed-

  • Printed awards
  • Printed picture of animals or Drawing paper
  • Markers/Crayons/Colored Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Glitter (optional--I hate glitter so I rarely use it)


Process-

1. After reading the book, tell the class you are going to host an imaginary "Pet Show Competition". You may even want to print out this banner to hang up:



2. Have each child think of an animal they believe is one of the best in the world. You may want them to look through a database online, or you can get them some copies of animal books.

3. Now have the children draw a picture of their animal. If you are low on time, you can print out these drawings I made:








3. Once each child has selected and drawn an animal, give them a copy of one of these awards:
 

4. Now have the children create award titles that their animals would win. For instance: a lion might win "Most Ferocious Animal" and a turtle might win the award for "Best Traveling Home".

5. After the children have made the awards, encourage them to color or even add glitter to make it unique.

6. Next have the children write a paragraph describing why that animal wins the award.

7. After all of the work is done, have a big ceremony where each child reads his/her writing aloud and pins the award next to their drawing. It is a lot of fun and validates their work when kids get to read it aloud to the class.

This would be a fun open house display for preschool or kindergarten, and, with added study of the animals, I could see it working in first and second grade.

Fly Guy and his owner, "Buzz".
Discussions/Writing Prompts:

Use these prompts to talk about the book with your kids, or you can have them write their responses. Remember, picture books don't need to stop in second grade!

1. Fly Guy communicates to Buzz in this book. In what other ways to do other animals communicate to people? (e.g. dogs bark when they want out, cats scratch doors to get in, chimps use sign language, pigeons play ping pong... Seriously, click this link.)

2. What qualities make a good pet?

3. If you were to keep a fly, where would you keep it?

4. Why did the adults think Fly Guy wasn't a good pet?

5. Have you ever had a pet? If so, what did you do with your pet? If not, what kind of pet would you like to have?

I hope you enjoy "Hi! Fly Guy!"... And I hope you and your kids have a great awards ceremony for all the pets!


Happy learning!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"Knuffle Bunny" by Mo Willems


(To Readers: I had a beautiful blog that took me a long while to write, then I clicked the wrong button and POOF! It was gone. So here is an abbreviated version so I don't get behind in my regular blogging.)

THE BOOK: 
Knuffle Buny by Mo Willems is a delight for kids ages 3-8. Most kids can relate to Trixie and her dilemma when she loses Knuffle Bunny. The award-winning art and story will bring the family together with giggles and good memories.

USE THE BOOK: 
As I said, this is a great one for ages 3-8, or grades preK-2. There are a million uses for this book, but my favorite is in the realm of art...




Grade Levels- preK, K, 1, 2, 3

Materials-

  • Digital Camera or access to GoogleImages
  • Printer
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Construction Paper
  • Ruler


1. Show off the book.
2. Ask kids how Mo Willems made the art.
3. Now read kids the description contained on the copyright page.
4. Tell kids they will make Mo Willems-styled art.
My postage-stamp-sized backyard.
5. Give each child a chance to take a digital photo--maybe on the playground, at the beach, by the street... wherever. If you don't have a camera, use GoogleImages and search for a scene.
6. When you print the photo, select the printer properties and select grayscale (not black and white).
7. Mat the photo on colored construction paper. 
8. Now that you have the photo, give the child a ruler to measure how tall drawn items will be.
9. On a separate piece of paper, have children measure out how big their drawings should be. I have kids cut the paper to that size. (The are turns out better when you do this.)
10. Once the paper square is cut out, they can draw their image in pencil and color in marker.
Before they are glued down.
11. Now have the kids cut out their actual drawing.
12. Glue the drawings to the photo. Notice how Mo Willems uses the mat to create even more depth--encourage children to have characters of objects slightly off of the photo as in the example below.

A finished product.




A sample page from the actual book.


Monday, July 27, 2015

"The Poem That Will Not End" by Joan Bransfield Graham illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker


THE BOOK:
Joan Bransfield Graham has created a gem of a book--a perfect book for ANY classroom! The main character, Ryan O'Brian, creates poetry everywhere he goes. He just can't stop; he writes a couplet with his french fries and scribbles a sonnet on the staircase. It seems he can't stop, until the climax when his teacher assigns him to write a poem about spring... Go figure, he draws a blank.

The book is a solid narrative with an added one of Ryan's poem scribbled across every page--it is set up similar to many science picture books where you can read the narrative or stop and read the additional facts.

Along with Kyrsten Brooker's fun illustration, this book can reach from Kindergarten all the way up to sixth grade (maybe even high school).  Well crafted, and oozing with potential to use in the classroom, this is a must-have for any teacher of poetry.

The Poem That Landed On Top of My Head

USE THE BOOK:
Like I said, this can be used with almost any age group. I think the interest level comes in around second to fourth grade, but older kids may get a few chuckles from it. Here are a few ideas to steal for your lessons...

1. Stop Freaking Out About Uniformity and Give the Kids Some Space to Be Creative:

This book has a good lesson for us teachers. Did you catch it? I love that the teacher's direction to write a poem on a particular topic stifles Ryan's creativity; it is true to life and hysterical. So rather than assigning a particular topic or style to a child, just spend time enjoying and exposing them to the different forms of poetry. Avoid what the great Billy Collins says happens to to poetry in schools:

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem   
and hold it up to the light   
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem   
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room   
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski   
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope   
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose   
to find out what it really means.

Let them see there are endless options, and then give them something to write on and with (French Fries work, but markers, pens, and pencils are slightly better). And then let them do it. Let them take moments to stop and write ideas during class. Sure, make it an assignment. But don't squish it into one day or week. Give them a month to start a poem. Some may take a year to get something they actually like, but give them time... And stop squelching their creativity with these uniform poems! (OK... in a week or two I will tell you to squelch their creativity with some ideas for poetry, but for now, let's all be free to be you and me.) Seriously, click that link.

2. Poetic Forms Detective Work:

This book contains a potpourri of poetic forms. I have it on my shelf to use this January when I teach my high schoolers about poetic forms. This would be a good one to use in centers or rotations, and it can be used with grades 3-12. (Yes, I do centers in high school... the students enjoy them and there is a ton of learning that can happen during this time.)

Make a copy of the last double-page spread AKA "Ryan O'Brian's Guide to Poetic Forms". Then, cut out each poetic form listed in "Ryan's" guide. (Some of you who reuse items year-after-year may want to post them on index cards to keep them sturdy.) On each form, cut out or white out the part that lists the example title and page number. Be sure to do this as it is the part that makes this more than just a numbers matching game!

Next, have the book, a piece of blank paper, and writing tool on a table with the cut up guide/index cards. Have the student(s) look through the book to find the poems that match the description from the guide. For instance, on the card it would read: "COUPLET: Two lines that usually rhyme." The students would then read through the book and discover on page 10, "Couplet for French Fries" is the match in the book. The student(s) would then write down the definition of couplet, then cite the example. You may want them to write the full couplet, or just cite the page number. (I prefer the full example--this way the paper becomes a superior study guide and reference sheet.)

The "Couplet for French Fries", clearly, would be one of the easier examples; however, the forms cinquain, triolet, limerick, and tanka have a little more detective work to do.

Ryan shows off by making a french fry couplet.
3. Creative Writing Brainstorming with Parts of Speech:

As I finished this book, I thought it would be cool to see a series of books like this on the different forms of writing. I suppose it would be a little boring reading "The Research Paper That Will Not End"... So then I realized, it would probably be best to do a sequel using parts of speech.

Have kids form groups based on the different parts of speech--I suggest you go with the four teams: Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, and Adverbs. Give them the narrative that Ryan O'Brian has a new dilemma, he can't stop noticing all of the nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs around him. Because of this, Ryan goes around and observes, names, and writes out the different things he sees.

Have kids think about places they think Ryan might go--the bowling alley, to a best friend's house, the beach, Disneyland... you name it. Once the group picks a location, and every group should have a different place, give them the table below and ask them to write their location in the blank at the top.


Ryan goes to ________________________

Nouns
Verbs
Adverbs
Adjectives








Next, tell them TO ONLY FOCUS ON THEIR PART OF SPEECH and give them five minutes to come up with as many place-specific parts of speech as possible. For instance if they are in the Verb group and they select baseball it may read something like this:

Ryan goes to the Baseball Field
Nouns
Verbs
Adverbs
Adjectives

Run
Walk
Hit
Steal
Slide






After five minutes, that team passes their paper to the left and the next team has to come up with words that fit their column on this NEW topic. For instance, if the Adverbs group is beside the Verbs group, the Adverbs take the baseball paper and for five minutes they add to the list until it looks like this:

Ryan goes to the Baseball Field

Nouns
Verbs
Adverbs
Adjectives

Run
Walk
Hit
Steal
Slide

Quickly
Loudly
Boastfully
Tensely
Bravely


During this time the Verb group gets a new paper, say on the Barber Shop, and they work on theirs. This continues on until all groups have worked on all pages until every group has worked on place-specific parts of speech for all four tables.

The baseball paper might look something like this:


Ryan goes to the Baseball Field
Nouns
Verbs
Adverbs
Adjectives
Baseball
Bat
Helmet
Pitcher’s mound
Umpire

Run
Walk
Hit
Steal
Slide

Quickly
Loudly
Boastfully
Tensely
Bravely
Fast
Angry
Funny
Sluggish
Amazing


NOTICE- THE WORDS DO NOT NEED TO MATCH EACH OTHER; the part of speech is hard enough for many kids. In the end, however, the kids will have had a chance to work on four location, focusing on their one part of speech. 

Your job during all of this is to supervise their word choices to ensure all parts of speech are properly placed, and push them to pick the very best terms. If they keep repeating terms, then they haven't done their job. 

I would then suggest you make copies of their pages, and then have kids write narratives with these word banks that have been created so they can figure out what Ryan O'Brian does next.

5. Discussions/Writing Prompts:

Use these prompts to talk about the book with your kids, or you can have them write their responses. Remember, picture books don't need to stop in second grade!

1. Why do you think Ryan was infected with poetry? (Or should I say "blessed" with poetry?)
2. Where was the best place Ryan put his poetry? Why?
3. Should poetry be written on walls and tabletops? Why or why not?
4. What do you think will happen if he gets the poetry bug again?
5. Have you even been consumed by something that you can't stop thinking, writing, or talking about it? What is it? Why do you like it so much?

I hope you enjoy this delightful book narrative with poems included "The Poem That Will Not End"... And I hope you and your classes dive into poetry this year!


Happy learning!



Sunday, July 26, 2015

"If You Give a Mouse A Cookie" by Laura Joffe Numeroff illustrated by Felicia Bond

THE BOOK:
Felicia Bond is one of my favorite children's illustrators, and Laura Joffe Numeroff was nothing short than delightful when she wrote this now classic children's book. The story follows a boy as he invites a mouse to eat a cookie, which leads to a glass of milk, which leads to... well, the whole book. The mouse eventually just wants another cookie and the so-called "circle story" to repeat (if you read it again; and heaven knows you will read it again since the target demographic is preschool up to second grade).

Me and the book... I like to imagine those are cookies over
my head.

USE THE BOOK:

I have used this book with four year olds, Kinders, first, and second grade--in all cases it was a hit and kids learned something great. I will suggest, however, that you could stretch this book into further age groups. Read on for some ideas...

1. Preschool and Kindergarten Dramatic Play:

One of the great teachers I have worked next door to had a kit I would borrow once a year to share with my three and four year olds--the four year olds like it much more. She assembled all of the items, most of which are common household items like Scotch tape, crayons, and a broom (she had a mini version of one), to tell the story of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie". What I didn't know when I borrowed the kit was how pre-literacy skills were built when using the items. 

For instance, you can set these items at an activity center for two kids. The kids can work together to "read the book" and to act it out. The child who reads the book can use the pictures to help her tell her friend what to get out (e.g. "Get the straw!" or "He needs a napkin to get rid of the crumbs!"). I love the way kids could interact with the book. Matching verbal commands with pictures is early literacy!

For a more teacher-prepped version of this, make a list of all of the items Mouse will want. As the child goes down the list you can have a printed picture on the back of the text (like a flashcard). Encourage the child to look at the printed word and the picture. Clearly, this takes it to the next learning level in Kindergarten and even first grade.

2. First, Second, and Third Grade Creative Writing:

I used this activity with first and second grade, and I am now kicking myself for not using it with third grade. As most of you know, Numeroff and Bond have created an entire series of "If You Give a _____ a _____" books. They are all delightful, but this one and "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" rank as my top two. One of the fun activities I use in my classroom is to have students mimic the writing pattern and style.

For instance, I could write:

If you give a camel a Cheeze-It (the best snack in the universe), he will want a Valencia Orange to wash it down. Once he tastes that Starbucks drink, he'll want to get a cake pop to go with it. Eating the cake pop will remind him of going to a birthday party, so he'll want to call his friends over. But once he picks up your iPhone, he'll remember he wanted to play Angry Birds. 

And so on. Clearly my example is taken directly from my ADHD brain and life; go figure. But the point is, kids like making connections and this is a great format for them to make those wild, "Axe Cop" kind of connections.

The hardest part for the kids is finding the link back to the first part of the story. I often have them pair-share to come up with solutions. If they are really stuck I have then draw what the first item they offer to the animal is. That normally helps them see it, and from that they may come up with:

But when the camel sees the RedBox with the movies in it, he'll want a drink to go with his movie. And chances are he'll want another red box, a box of Cheeze-Its, to go with it.

Or something like that. They write better versions. Go see for yourself!
The inside page that pays homage to mothers and fathers everywhere.

3. Upper Grade and Beyond Grammar Focus:

I am not a huge grammar hound with kids, but the subject is important. I do end up teaching them quite a bit on the subject because it is empowering. One of the reoccurring grammar topics covered by this book is subordinating conjunctions and dependent clauses. Over and over again, the book uses phrases like "If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to task for a glass of milk." and "When you give him the milk, he'll probably ask you for a straw." The beginning clauses, you may notice, when ripped apart, cannot stand on their own. Thus, they are dependent upon the other half to make sense.

I use "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" as a mentor text as it does a great job of demonstrating these often neglected commas. The famed AAAWWUBBIS will help you teach this concept even better, but be sure to use this book as a fun, throwback mentor text!

I also have students mimic the writing style and create as many absurd lines for this book as possible. It is similar to the above writing prompt, but we tend to do sentences and not a whole story.

Remember, make small mouse-steps toward strong grammar; it pays off in the end!

4. Discussions/Writing Prompts:

Use these prompts to talk about the book with your kids, or you can have them write their responses. Remember, picture books don't need to stop in second grade!

1. Should the boy have given the mouse the cookie? Why or why not?
2. What adjectives would you use to describe the mouse?
3. What are the boy's feelings toward the mouse? Do they change as the book develops? How can you tell?
4. How is this book similar to the Cat in the Hat? How is it different
5. If the mouse came to your house, what different activities would he want to do based on the things you have at your house?

I hope you enjoy "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"... And I hope you and your kids enjoy all of its busy fun!



Happy learning!