Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf

The Story of Ferdinand and me
as I dream of my childhood...

This book follows the life and feelings of Ferdinand, the bull from Spain who is peaceful and different. He, unlike most bulls, likes to sit under a tree and smell the flowers. It is a book that reminds people it is OK to be different and peaceful.

This is my all-time, number one children's book. Published all the way back in 1936, it was a part of many people's childhood memories, including mine. I have very destinct memories of reading it in my dad's make-shift office in the garage. I personally related to this book more than an other I have ever read. For those of you who know me, you know I am a very different person--I have met only two or three others who I consider to be like-minded--and I always wondered if it was OK to be me. In my early teen years I decided to embrace my odd thinking because it was who I was created to be, and after a few years of trying to become comfortable in my skin, I eventually was.

This book somehow seemed to show up during my childhood--stashed on a shelf it would pop up and remind me to be who I was made to be.

So with that in mind, and because this book is so good, I really just want you to read it to kids and talk about differences in people that are good. Talk to them about being true to who they are, so long as it is good and right. Remind them they don't have to be do-ers, they can be thinkers, watchers, wallflowers, or whatever--so long as it is good, be it.

For those of you in need of more, here is a link to a fantastic blog where philosophy and Ferdinand are discussed in depth: Click here.

Just enjoy it.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"On Market Street" pictures by Anita Lobel, words by Arnold Lobel


"On Market Street", pictures by Anita Lobel and words by Arnold Lobel, is a classic alphabet book with an early 80s style. It loosely follows a character who goes to Market Street to buy a plethora of items for a "friend". Each page is decorated to show a person bedecked in that letter's item (see below).


I like alphabet books for a few different age groups. First, preK and Kinder seem to work nicely, but I also like to use them with older kids in art. Here is an idea to use in your classroom...

Mimic the Art:
Mimic the art concept behind "On Market Street". This can be a collage, pen and ink drawing or a photography project.

Grade Levels- PreK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Vary depending on your method, but may include:

  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Pencil
  • Photograph of child's face

1. Take a photo of each child's face.

2. Have each child in the classroom use the first letter of his/her name, and think of something he/she likes. For instance, Troy may like Transformers, Sarita may like Snapple, and Jose may like Jelly Sandwiches.

3. Have each child draw a picture of a body with pencil, or they can use this template of a gingerbread person.

4. In the "body space", not the head, have the child fill it with images of the above selected item (e.g. Transformers, Snapple, or Jelly Sandwiches).  They can draw, paint, collage from magazines or GoogleImages, or even take photographs to fill the picture.
Kids can mimic the style from a page like this.
Here is my character. M for Mac n Cheese.

5. Print out the photo of the child taken in step 1.

6. Cut and paste the photo in the head spot.

Michael's made of Mac n Cheese. LOL

7. Add more images to surround the face and color.

It may be a little creepy, but it is what you might see "On Market Street"--and I like it.

Monday, August 3, 2015

"Caps for Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina


"Caps for Sale" by Esphyr Slobodkina is one of my favorite books from my childhood. My father masterfully read it aloud to me as a kid. The story follows a peddler who sells caps in a town for 50 cents each. He falls asleep under a tree, only to find a group of monkeys has stolen his hats. The man must then find a way to get his caps back.


This book is a perfect read aloud for age 3 in preK all the way up to third grade. It is a great group read aloud as the kids listening can act out the part of the monkeys and make the infamous "Tsz! Tsz!" noise.

Patterning with Caps:
Patterning is a huge development in preK and K; it is a foundation for math and literacy.

Grade Levels- preK, K

Worksheet printouts

1. Print out the worksheets below. You can either use the colored copies or the plain ones. If using the plain ones, give each child two sheets totaling 10 caps. If using the colored copies, print enough caps so each child has at least 10 caps of various colors.

2. Have children cut out the caps you provide.

3. Now have children make a pattern with the caps. Have them try a pattern such as:


4. Before they glue down the caps on the peddler, have them practice at least 5 combinations.

My 4-year-old making patterns.

5. Have the kids draw and color a background.

6. Then, have them glue a special pattern of caps atop the peddler's head.


If you would like kids to use this as a repeatable center, pre-cut the items and place them in a sandwich bag (I made all items to fit in there easily). Then tape the sandwich bag to the back of the book for easy storage.
Attach tape to the bottom of the bag and
adhere the bag to the book.

The attached bag of materials.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"I Want My Hat Back" by Jon Klassen

I lost my hat (and some of my hair)
in this photo. So did the bear.

"I Want My Hat Back" is a funny story by Jon Klassen that my 4-year-old son enjoys. It follows a bear (I think he's a bear) who has lost his hat. He looks around for his hat, only to find one of his so-called friends has taken it.

Using simple dialogue exchanges, this book is a fast read with some joyful interactions as you read it to kids.


This book can be used as a great group read aloud with preK to 2, but I can see this activity being perfect from grades 2-12... Here is how...

Inferring Tone in Reader's Theater: 

Teach kids about inferring tone in a piece of literature. One of the hardest aspects of reading for many kids is hearing the tone of an author, unless the piece is read aloud. That's why I start with kids listening to characters. I ask them to read aloud and imagine the feelings, and, essentially, tone of characters. It is a simple activity you can truly use with most.

Grade Levels- 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


Worksheet (below)
Copies of the "dialogue" pages of the text (have kids jot these down or make copies)

This is a great book to use for Reader's Theatre. Each page offers a back-and-forth dialogue that can be preformed by two students. Here is a simple format to follow:

1. After reading the book, identifying the culprit, and laughing (or gasping) at the end, copy off each page of the book, or transcribe it by hand. There will be 7 pages with this type of dialogue (see the page to the side for an idea).
An example of a dialogue page.

2. Have students pair up. Each pair receives a copied page. (Feel free to have multiple groups read the same page, but be sure they work in pairs--no trios.)

3. In pairs, have the tallest person be the bear and the shorter person be the other creature. Have the kids practice reading it in their pairs.

4. Now have the roles switch, the shorter person reads the bear.

5. Together the pair fill out the following worksheet. Tell them:

You are going to listen and infer what your characters' tone are in this piece. Tone is the "attitude toward the subject". Since the text doesn't tell us, you have to infer. Is the character confused? Is she worried? Is the character somber, playful, or serious? Your job is to decide two ways in which the character could possibly say his/her lines. Once you decide, write in on your worksheet. Only use the lines where it says "Tone 1" and "Tone 2".

(You should model this for the kids using the process using the double-page spread at the bottom of this post. You can show them he may be "sad when he says "Nobody has seen my hat." You can point out that this could be read in an "angry", "frustrated", or "somber" tone. Read it in the different tones so kids can see how the way we read the text changes the characterization and, at times, meaning.)

Supervise students to ensure they just do the first two tone lines for each character.

6. Now have some fun and give the kids the printout from the tone list. Click her for the list. You may want to adjust this list for your age group.

7. Ask the kids to try reading the dialogue with different tones. Ask them to write down and practice three more from the list provided.

8. Once done, have students select the best tone from their list of 5 options. Circle the best option, and then have the class gather together to preform the whole piece in front of the class.

The bear lamenting over his lost hat. This page is a good
one to use as you model inferring tone.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Little Owl's Night" by Divya Srinivasan

My fear of night creatures expressed and the book.

This simple board book (also available in traditional hardback) by Divya Srinivasan is a great story about a little owl who roams about at night, watching the other nocturnal animals. It reads like a simple bedtime story.

This book would work beautifully with kids preK through second grade. Here is an idea on how to use this with K-2...

Animal Research-
Every animal featured in the "night" part of this book is nocturnal, and in all honesty, I didn't realize it until I took a second look... A second look, and a quick Google on a few of the animals. Which is just what kids need to do for this activity.

Grade Levels- K, 1, 2

Materials Needed-
Computer with internet access
Worksheets (below)

We want to teach kids to be lifelong learners. Which is why I will simply say, when reading this book, point out to kids that all of the animals in the night section are nocturnal. Explain the term and consider all of the other creatures that are nocturnal that are not featured.

Then ask kids to look up facts on the animals featured in the book. I made a simple fact-gathering sheet for you to use when researching these nocturnal creatures.

From their research, have kids compare and contrast the animals. Classification and organization in this chart is a wonderful literacy skill that many kids don't get a chance to master, so take the time to utilize this tool. (I selected a few of the animals to chart, you can always add more.)