Summer Reading for Middle Grades

I have been a bit behind with my book blog posts this year as I have been busy writing my new Poetry book… but have been recently trying to catch up on my middle grade novels. So, I’m VERY excited to be sharing some of my favorite middle grade novels so far of 2021 with you! There are SO many amazing novels this year, so if you have a tween looking for a new book to get lost in this summer, or are a middle school teacher looking for a new book to share with your class – I’m hoping you will find one or two titles in this list. The books this year are rich in diversity and include many novels written in verse (#ownvoicesnovel and culturally immersed adventures seem to be the trend this year!), fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, and contemporary fiction all layered with many important themes. Happy reading, everyone!

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Red, White, or Whole Rajani Larocca

A heartbreakingly, poignant and hopeful story written in verse. Reha is a young American Indigenous girl who feels torn between her two cultures. Her life is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia. The voice of this character is so believable and so relatable. Have your Kleenex handy.

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Ancestor Approved – Intertribal Stories for Kids edited by Cynthia Leitch Smith

I am SO excited about this book of short stories written by American and Canadian Indigenous authors, including local BC author, Monique Grey Smith.  The short stories are perspectives of a variety of Native tweens who are all attending a major powwow in Michigan. (major text-to-text connections to the adult novel There, There by Tommy Orange!) The stories are sad, joyful, funny, mysterious – and the voices weave together beautifully to bring the pow-pow to life. A must for school libraries!

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The Frog Mother – Brett D. Huson

I had no idea that this series existed – but this is the fourth in the Mothers of Xsan series – a collection of stories that connects the world to the matrilineal society of the Gitxsan people of the Pacific Northwest Interior of British Columbia. Previous books include Sockeye Mother, Eagle Mother and Grizzly Mother. This book follows the life cycle of the spotted frog and the connection the Gitxsan people have at each stage of their lives. Gorgeous illustrations. Would be a wonderful series for integrating indigenous beliefs and knowledge into an exploration of life cycles.

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The Mysterious Disappearance of Aiden S. (as told to his brother) – David Levithan

If you are looking for a portal fantasy to escape in – here it is! One night, 12-year-old Aidan disappears. He and his younger brother Lucas both go to bed (they share a room), and when Lucas wakes up the next morning, Aidan is gone. Police are called and the town searches everywhere. Six days late, Aiden turns up. Where had he been? And so begins the story of twists and turns, truth and reality, fantasy and belief. Love the relationship between the two brothers.

The Last Fallen Star – Graci Kim

This new series by Graci Kim weaves Korean culture and folklore into a thrilling, fast-paced contemporary fantasy. I learned so much about Korean culture. The story is funny, magical, and explores some complex family relationships, sisterhood, and food! I loved the spunk and determination of Riley, the main character, who tells the story. I believe this will be a popular series!

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Unplugged – Gordon Korman

When Jett Baranov, rich, privileged, entitled tween, is sent to The Oasis wellness camp for six weeks (think low frills, no tech, vegetarian experience), he is bored and resistant. Enter a cast of diverse characters, pranks, a mystery, and the fun begins. Short, fun summer read told through multiple voices.

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The Lion of Mars – Jennifer L. Holm

What would it be like to be an Earth kid, living in a small Mars settlement in 2091, populated by just a few kids and adults? This engaging sci-fi story about 11 year old Bell, who lives on Mars at the American Mars colony explores this question as well as topics of isolation (lots of connections to Covid isolation), problem solving, and living life to the fullest. Some really great character development in this one and I like how it combined science fiction with some “deep thinking” philosophical questions.

Alone

Alone – Megan E. Freeman

Another book I read in one sitting, heart in my throat, then sobbed at the end. Twelve year old Maddie wakes up one morning to discover that her entire town has been evacuated and she’s been left behind with her neighbour’s dog, George (best dog character ever!) The story, told in verse in Maddie’s brave voice, is harrowing, poignant, and thought-provoking. (Think contemporary version of Island of the Blue Dolphins) The language is gorgeous, with sparse text on each page – a great choice for both fluent and reluctant readers. The story was very emotional for me – sometimes quite intense but a perfect ending. (Warning – deals with the loss of an animal so be prepared) I loved everything about this book.

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Starfish – Lisa Fipps

I finished this book in one afternoon. Loved it so much. It is written in verse and explores Elle’s heart-breaking and inspiring journey through being overweight and bullied into a place of self-worth, standing up for herself, and claiming her right to take up space in the world. It is so inspiring, beautifully written, and had me in reaching for my Kleenex several times.

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Thanks a Lot, Universe – Chad Lucas

Set in Halifax Nova Scotia, this middle-grade novel featured two extremely likeable characters – Ezra and Brian. Chapters alternate between their perspectives amidst issues related to important topics including anxiety, bullying, family, and sexuality.  Love to have a new voice in Canadian middle grade novels – this one would be best suited for upper middle grades and early high school.

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The Gilded Girl – Alyssa Coleman

A wonderful mix of of magic, quirkiness, enchantment, historical fiction, justice, privileges, friendship, and heart! Set in New York in 1909, this book, inspired by the classic The Little Princess, explores issues of inequality and social-economic status mixed into a fast-paced, highly visual, magical, historical fantasy. I LOVED this book and so good for many themes and discussions.

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Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls – Kaela Rivera

Lots of excitement about this book and it’s actually the first Latinix fantasy books I have ever read. This book is SO MUCH FUN! (Think Pokemon meets Rick Riordan) It is a story about family, community, and power, and the inherent connection between all of those things. It weaves adventure, action, magic, supernatural creatures, Latinx-based mythology, friendship, and lots of emotion into one fast-paced, spirited story! Cece is a likeable protagonist and I feel a second book coming on! (or maybe a movie??)

Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You

Stamped – Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

The children’s version of the groundbreaking bestseller Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (available in both adult and YA), this book takes younger readers on a journey from present to past and back again. Readers will discover where racist ideas came from, identify how they impact America today, and meet those who have fought racism with antiracism. Along the way, they’ll learn how to identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their own lives. Powerful and one of the best introductions to the history (and present) of race, racism and antiracism for younger readers I have read. Short, easy to read chapters would be great to prompt class discussions.

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy – Emmanuel Acho

Wow. If you are looking for a great anchor book to help your younger readers better understand white privilege and racial issues – here it is! The nonfiction book is aimed primarily at white readers to better understand racial issues and should be in every school library across the country. It’s an adaptation of the viral video series by Emmanuel Acho called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” I would recommend using this as a class read-aloud to launch discussions rather than assign for independent reading as there is a lot to unpack. Each chapter focuses on a race issue including white privilege, microaggressions, bias, color blindness, systemic racism, the Confederate flag, etc. I would likely read one chapter at a time and then have a discussion. Such a great anchor book for Transform and the Knew-New strategies. It has a conversational tone and never feels as if it talks down to readers but OH, SUCH AN IMPORTANT BOOK!

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Would love to know what books are now on your TBR pile! Please share this list with your colleagues so we can get these amazing books into the hands of all the young readers we know! Thank you!

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Filed under Diversity, Fantasy, Middle Grade Novels

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #22 – Making a Difference

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While many are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support. (Shout out to my teacher friends in Alberta and Ontario who are working online at the moment!) These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5 – (WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow)  (This post is temporarily unavailable)

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19 – The Six Senses of Spring

OLLIE #20 – Thank you, Earth!

OLLI #21 – Mother’s Day Poem

The Inspiration

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.         – Jane Goodall

An essential goal for teachers in the 21st century is to try to help students understand that they are in important part of the global community.  No matter our age, our actions can affect and contribute to the world.  Most children living in North America don’t really understand that, for the most part, they are among the most privileged in the world and because of that privilege, they have a responsibility as a global citizen to be mindful and helpful of others.  And while we may not able to take our students to Africa to help build a school, as this year winds down, we can help bring awareness that our actions, no matter how small, can make a big difference. 

The Anchor:

One Two Many  – Linda Grace Smith

Listen to the author read her story on Simbi HERE

Watch YouTube Read-Aloud HERE 

One Too Many introduces young readers to social justice issues (poverty, education, safety) in a child-friendly and easily accessible way.  Simple, rhyming text with repeating phrases will leave the reader feeling more aware of those in need and inspired to take action.  An important book to explore basic needs and access to them and simple ways we can all make a difference.

Added bonus – Author Linda Grace Smith will be sharing her book during a Virtual Author Visit next week! (more information below! Don’t miss out! )

The Lesson:

  • Write the words “NEED” and “WANT” on the board.  Invite students to think about what the difference is in the two words.  Give an example:  I need food and water to live; I want a new video game.  Invite students to share some of their own ideas.  Create a list on the board.
  • Look at the “NEED” list – introduce the term “Basic Needs” and explain that there are only a few “basic needs” people need to survive – food, water, clothing, shelter, and love.  Without those things, it becomes difficult to live your life.  Explain that everything on the “WANT” side of the chart are not necessary for survival.  We might WANT a new video game but we don’t actually NEED it to survive.
  • Explain that if someone does not have their basic needs, life can be very difficult.  Most of us don’t need think about what we are going to eat, where we are going to sleep, or if we have clothes to wear. 
  • Ask students if they think everyone in the world has basic needs.  Discuss the fact that there are many people living in different places in the world who don’t have food, water, shelter, clothing, or love.  Ask if they think that it’s fair that we do and they don’t?

But there are 7 billion other people in the world, so I probably don’t need to do anything.  I can live in my house and play my video games and go to soccer practice, eat pizza, play with my friends, and live a good life. I can’t really do anything about it – I’m just a kid!  Agreed? 

  • Write or show this quote: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending a night in a closed room with a mosquito.”  – African Proverb  
  • Invite students to talk to their partner and infer what they think it means. (if one tiny mosquito can make that big an impact – then I guess I can, too)  It only takes one small action to make a big difference!
  • Read the book One Too Many.  Explain that the author wrote it because she wanted us to start thinking about others and about ways we might be able to help.  Invite the students to be listening for ways they might be able to help.
  • Close the book and say “Sometimes, when I finish reading a story, the book ends but my thinking doesn’t.  This book is really lingering (triple scoop word!) in my mind. 
  • Ask the students what is “lingering” for them.  You might model:

It really made me think about others and also how one small act can make a big difference. One person can make a huge difference – just like one tiny mosquito can have a huge impact on a gigantic human.  You are the mosquito; the person is the world.  I may not be able to help people in other countries get clean water or food, but I can make a difference by my everyday small actions.  Don’t ever think that one small action is not going to make a difference.  YOU CAN make a difference!

  • Create an “I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE” chart.  Brainstorm different ways students can help make a difference. (see examples below)
If I see someone…I can…
playing by themselvesinvite them to play
eating alonesit with them 
cryingask them if they are okay
carrying something heavyask if they need help
with no snackshare my snack with them
  
  
  • Pass out “I Can Make a Difference” chart.  Tell the students they can “borrow” one or two ideas from your chart, but to try to come up with the rest on their own.
  • After students have completed their page, invite them to share their ideas. Discuss setting a goal and challenge each student to pay attention to those around them in school, at home, or in their neighbourhood. Encourage them to notice a need and do their best to take action and “make a difference”.

Download the “I Can Make a Difference” page HERE

Download the “I Can Make a Difference” page for Early Primary page HERE

Join author Linda Grace Smith next Tuesday, May 25th at 9:30 am PST  for a Virtual Author Visit! 

Sign up for FREE Here

Lesson Extension

This lesson would be a great introduction to the concept of “Change Agents”.  Depending on your grade, you could continue sharing books about real people whose actions changed the world.  For more lessons on Change Agents and other global issues, see my book Powerful Understanding – Chapter 4 – Understanding the World

Additional Anchor Books:

The following books are recommended for introducing social injustices, local and global poverty, and acts of kindness that make a difference. Don’t forget to search for Read Alouds on YouTube, if you are teaching online. Whenever possible, choose the video of the actual author reading their own book.

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed – Emily Pearson

Lend a Hand John Frank

Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Maddi’s Fridge – Lois Brandt

Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson

Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts

I Like, I Don't Like: Baccelliere, Anna, Ale + Ale: 9780802854803: Books -  Amazon.ca

I Like, I Don’t Like – Anna Baccelliere

Some Tips for a Better World and Happier Life – Rebecca Doughty

Secret Kindness Agents: How Small Acts of Kindness Really Can Change the World – Ferial Pearson

Weezer Changes the World – David McPhail

What Does It Mean to Be Global? (What Does It Mean To Be...?) by [Rana DiOrio, Chris Hill]

What Does it Mean to Be Global – Dana DiOrio

Recommended books from the Simbi Library. (Not familiar with Simbi-Read for Good? – Check it out HERE)

Bear Shaped by Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden

  Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour

  Lionel the Lonely Monster by Fred Blunt

  Impact Series: Malala Yousafzai by Stephanie vanKampen

  Impact Series: Anne Frank by Stephanie vanKampen

  Impact Series: Greta Thunberg by Adrienne Gear

  A New Alphabet for Humanity by Leesa McGregor

  Rebel Girl: Yeonmi Park by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

   There’s a Norseman in the Classroom by Grayson Smith

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you have some new ideas and new book titles to inspire small acts that make a big difference!

Somewhere inside all of us, is the power to change the world – Roald Dahl

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Filed under Class Community Building, Lesson Ideas, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, social justice, Social Responsibility

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #21 – Mother’s Day Poem

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5 – (WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow)  (This post is temporarily unavailable)

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19 – The Six Senses of Spring

OLLIE #20 – Thank you, Earth!

THE INSPIRATION:

This Sunday is Mother’s Day – a day to show love and appreciation for all the hard working Moms out there who are trying to juggle work, kids, marriage, and all the other things that moms do! While I recognize that there may be some students who might not have a mom present in their lives, let’s invite them to choose a special grown up in their life they would like to say “thank you” to.

THE ANCHOR:

Last year, my Mother’s Day OLLI lesson, entitled “How to Be My Mom”, focused on instructional writing. You can check out the “HOW TO BE MY MOM” lesson from OLLIE May, 2020 – HERE.

This year, since my head is full of poetry (I’m writing a new book called “Powerful Poetry”), I thought a Mother’s Day poem might be just the thing for this week’s Mother’s Day OLLI!

Jack Prelutsky is a well-known, popular children’s poet. His poem “I Love You More Than Applesauce” has a great rhyming pattern and is also a great mentor poem for teaching syllables. For this lesson, we will be “borrowing” Jack Prelutsky’s rhyming pattern to help us write our own “I Love You More” Mother’s Day Poems Download a copy of the poem HERE

THE LESSON

  • Ask students what special day is coming up this weekend (Mother’s day)
  • Ask them why we celebrate Mother’s Day? (to say how much we love our moms; thank them, make them feel special)
  • Tell the students that moms, dads, and other special grownups always appreciate when we take the time to thank them for all they do and tell them we love them.
  • Explain that we are going to be writing a poem for our Moms or special grown up in our lives.
  • Copy the poem onto chart paper or share on the smart board (Note: you may need to explain “marzipan” and “marmalade”) Download a copy of the poem HERE
  • Tell the students that the poem was written by Jack Prelutsky – a poet who is very good at writing rhyming poems.
  • Read the poem aloud.
  • Ask students what the poem is about (someone who loves sweets a lot but loves someone even more than all those sweets!)
  • Invite students to think of something they really love (soccer, Minecraft, pizza, unicorns). Then ask them to think of someone they love MORE than that! (ie – I love you more than books! )
  • Read the poem again and invite students to listen for the rhyming words in the poem. You may explain that the rhyming pattern is A-B-C-C-B. (lines 2 & 5 rhyme and lines 3 & 4 rhyme) in each stanza.
  • Tell the students that one of the things you noticed is that a lot of the words in the poem have 3 syllables. This is what helps to give the poem have such a great rhythm. Find the 3 syllable words in the poem and clap out the syllables (bubble-gum, lollipop, candy drops, lemonade, etc.)
  • Read the poem again and invite the students to clap each time you read a 3 syllable word
  • Ask students to think of other words or phrases that have three syllables. (soccer ball, grizzly bears, Nintendo, hockey stick, unicorns, Christmas trees) List them on the board.
  • Invite students to try to think of a 3 syllable word or phrase that rhymes – ie soccer ball – waterfall, hockey stick – magic trick, Christmas tree – deep blue sea Write the rhyming word or phrase beside it.
  • Explain that they are going to be writing their own “I Love You More” poem for their mom or special grown-up. You are going to be “borrowing” the rhyming pattern from Jack Prelutsky but use your own rhyming words.
  • Pass out the syllable rhyming sheet. Explain that the students are going to start by listing things they love that have one syllable on the left (ball, gum, dogs) On the right side, they are to try to find a word that rhymes. Continue with 2 syllables words and 3 syllable words. (See sample below)

ONE SYLLABLE

ball – wall

dog – frog

TWO SYLLABLES

ice cream – day dream

rainbow – playdough

THREE SYLLABLES

soccer ball – waterfall

hockey stick – magic trick

  • Explain that these words are going to help them with their poem. Download the Syllable Rhyming sheet HERE (This lesson may take two days so this might be a good start end Part 1)
  • When the students have finished their rhyming page, pass out the I LOVE YOU MORE poem template. Download HERE
  • Re-read the Jack Prelutsky’s poem. Explain that they are going to be using their syllable sheet to fill in the blanks on the page. The small numbers at the end of each line tells them how many syllables should be on that line. Students can use their syllable rhyming sheet to help them.
  • Model a sample, using a “Write Aloud” – talking about and clapping your syllables:

I love you more reading books

Than forests and the beach

Than camping tents

And big presents

And a fuzzy orange peach (I cheated a bit here!)

  • Note: The rhyming pattern in the last stanza changes slightly so ending requires some 1 syllable rhyming words. Depending on your grade level, I recommend focusing more on the syllable count rather than the rhyming. Encourage students to clap their words and read their poem out loud as they write so they can check the rhythm.
  • See student sample below from a grade 3 student.

MOTHER’S DAY ANCHOR BOOKS:

Below are some of my favorite books for celebrating Mothers and Mother’s Day:

What NOT to Give Your Mom on Mother's Day by [Martha Seif Simpson, Jana Christy]

What Not to Give Your Mother on Mother’s Day – Martha Simpson

Online read aloud

How to Raise a Mom Jean Reagan

My Mother's Voice - by Joanne Ryder

My Mother’s Voice – Joanne Ryder

The Mommy Book Todd Parr

The Best Mother – C.M. Surrisi

My Mum is Fantastic – Nick Butterworth

My Mum by [Anthony Browne]

My Mum – Anthony Browne

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Happy Mother’s Day to every mother, mother-to-be, hoping-to-be, mother in other ways, and mothers who are no longer with us.

Please tag me readingpowergear if you are posting any student samples! Thank you!

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Filed under Mother's Day, OLLI, Poetry, Writing Anchor book

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #20 – Thank You, Earth!

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5 – (WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow)  (This post is temporarily unavailable)

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19The Six Senses of Spring

THE INSPRIATION:

Earth Day is coming up this Thursday, so I thought it would be a great time to focus on extending our gratitude to Earth and all that it provides for us! It’s also a perfect topic to inspire some great writing!

THE ANCHOR:

Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet – April Pulley Sayre

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

While not a brand new book, this has been my “go to” book for Earth Day for many years. I love that the book is all about gratitude for all that the Earth gives us written in the form of a letter. Filled with stunning photography and lyrical rhythmic text makes it a perfect read-aloud.  The end notes provide suggestions for ways we can help the environment.  I also appreciated the detailed notes about the photographs – which are truly breath-taking.  Great anchor to inspire “Thank you, Earth” writing and poetry and great mentor text for teaching alliteration.

THE LESSON:

  • Ask students what special day is coming up on April 22nd. (Earth Day) Ask students “What is Earth Day”? “Why is Earth Day important?”
  • Explain that the Earth is an amazing planet, but it needs our help to protect it! Earth Day is a day when people all over the world celebrate the Earth and take part in activities to help make our world a happier, healthier place to live.
  • You may wish to brainstorm things that students could do this week to help the earth: turn off lights, turn off the water when brushing your teeth, recycle bottles and cans, pick up garbage, have a shorter shower, put your computer on “sleep” rather than on screen saver, bring re-usable containers for lunch, walk or ride a bike to school.
  • Remind the students that the Earth gives us so much, we all need to work together to try to protect it. Every day is Earth Day!
  • Ask: What are some of the things the Earth gives us? (water, air, trees, soil, animals, rocks, mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sunshine, clouds, plants, fruit, vegetables, etc.)
  • Tell the students that if a person gave them so many amazing things every day, you would probably be thanking them! Ask them when was the last time they said “Thank you” to the Earth? Explain that it might feel strange to say “Thank you” to earth because Earth can’t really hear us and it’s not really alive. But what if we could say thank you to Earth? What would you thank Earth for?
  • Show them the book “Thank You, Earth“. Tell them this book is someone saying thank you to the Earth for all that it gives us. Read or share the story on YouTube
  • Invite the students to share their favorite photograph or page.
  • Tell the students that you noticed even thought the book didn’t rhyme, there was a lovely sound and mood to some of the words when you read it out loud. Tell them you noticed several were several words that started with the same letter in the book. Explain that this is a technique writers sometimes use called “alliteration“. “Craggy caves” and “majestic mountains” are examples of alliteration because they are two words, close together, that start with the same sound.
  • Read the book again, and invite students to listen for the alliteration. (ie – slippery seaweed and stone; mountains and minerals; bills and bones) They can give a “thumbs up” whenever they hear similar sounds.
  • Tell the students that they are going to be writing “Thank you letters” to Earth, thanking it for all the amazing things. Tell them that you are going to think about using alliteration in your letter.
  • Model this during a “write aloud” Invite the students to help you with your alliteration.

Dear Earth,

Thank you for the tall trees and the green grass.

Thank you for tiny turtles and giant giraffes.

Thank you for red raspberries and green grapes.

Thank you for lakes to swim in and rivers to follow.

Thank you for whooshing waterfalls and cool caves.

  • Point out that you were trying to choose two things on each line that were connected in some way and also that you were trying to use alliteration. The alliteration makes the writing sound a bit like a poem, even though it doesn’t rhyme.
  • Talk about an ending that let’s your reader know you are at the end. Tell the students you want to try to include something about protecting the Earth at the end of your letter. Invite students to make suggestions for the ending. And don’t forget to sign your name!

Earth, you give us so much and never ask us for anything

But if you could talk, you might say, “Please take care of me!”

I will, Earth. I will!

Love, Ms. Gear

  • Students can do a Dear Earth draft in their Writer’s Notebook if you prefer.
  • When they are ready, they can write their letter on fancy paper, or use one of the POSTCARD templates below. Students can use one side of the Postcard to write their message and the other side to draw and color a picture of their favorite thing that Earth gives us (forest, mountains, ocean, gardens, etc.)

Postcard Template 1

Postcard Template 2 (no lines)

Postcard Template 3

Postcard Template 4

More Earth Day Anchor Books (some with YouTube links)

The week leading up to Earth Day is a great opportunity to share a range of wonderful picture books to help start conversations about the importance of doing our part to care for the earth.   While there are dozens to choose from, I have tried to highlight some old classics, new releases, and inspiring true stories.

Hello, Earth! – Poems to Our Planet – Joyce Sidman

Interview with Joyce Sidman as she talks about her book and reads some of her poems from this beautiful new book

HERE

My Friend Earth – Patricia MacLachlan

(YouTube read aloud HERE Note – start at 1.36 seconds)

A celebration of the natural world and an invitation for positive action for Planet Earth. Great opportunities to share life science concepts and amazing facts about the environment with children. Interactive text and lift the flap pictures. Patricia MacLachlan is one of my favorite authors!

If We Were Gone: Imagining the World Without People – John Co

YouTube Read aloud HERE

Is the Earth better off without us?  What has human impact done to our Earth? What a great question and one that will certainly stimulate some great discussion from your students.

Does Earth Feel? 14 Questions for Humans – Marc Majewski

Does Earth feel calm?
Does Earth feel curious?
Does Earth feel hurt?
Does Earth feel heard?

A stunning picture book that asks 14 critical questions to encourage deep thinking and discussion about our one and only planet.

Earth Day Every Day (Cloverleaf Books ™ — Planet Protectors) by [Lisa Bullard, Xin Zheng]

Earth Day Every Day – Lisa Bullard

(YouTube Read aloud HERE)

Not For Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green – Maria Godsey

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

One Earth – Eileen Spinelli

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

Lovely rhyming and counting book for younger readers. Readers can count reasons to love the planet and ways to protect it. Beautiful illustrations in this conservation-themed book.

The Earth Gives More – Sue Fliess

YouTube Read aloud – HERE

A lovely, rhyming story follows the change in seasons and illustrates how we can all be stewards of the Earth.

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem – Linda Glaser

Beautiful and inspiring.  Not only could you use this book for Earth Day but also for acceptance and inclusion – no matter who you are, what race or culture you come from – we all share this world and are responsible for its care.  This book is filled with joy and a sense of wonder at this “home” all humans share.

What A Waste – Trash, Recyling, and Protecting Our Planet – Jess French

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World – Melanie Walsh

I think that one challenge of teaching about Earth Day is helping kids know practical ways they can take care of the earth, besides doing garbage duty at school.  This book gives young readers clear examples of how they can help.  From turning off the water while brushing their teeth, to using both sides of the paper while drawing, kids will enjoy learning simple ways they can care for the environment.   I love the large size of this book, making it great for sharing.  It’s visually appealing and cleverly designed with flaps and includes clear, simple language.

My Green Day – Melanie Walsh

A companion to 10 Things I Can Do To Help My World, this book outlines through picture, simple sentences and colourful illustrations how we can all try to be more environmentally friendly in our every day activities.   Hidden pictures, flaps to lift and holes makes this a fun book for sharing and reading.

The Earth Book – Todd Parr

With simple language and his colorful signature illustrations, Todd Parr describes to young readers how they can do their part to help the environment.  Great concrete examples showing how we can all do our part to make a difference.  Use to inspire younger students create their own “Todd Parr” style Earth Day poster!

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What Does It Mean to Be Green?  – Rana DiOrio

A young boy and girl explore all the different ways they can be Green over the course of a day. They discover lots of amazing facts (like our food travels an average of 1,500 miles to be on our plate!)  I like how DiOrio takes the buzzword “green” and explains it clearly to children, giving them lots of ideas for being “green” themselves.

What Matters – Alison Hughes

Great new book for Earth Day!  This is a wonderful look at the ripple effect of how one small act – picking up garbage that isn’t yours – has repercussions to make the world cleaner and better. (Think Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed but for the earth!) I also think this book would be great for introducing the concept of the inter-connectedness of ecosystems.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Liam is a curious boy living in a drab, gray city. One day, he finds a few dying plants growing through an old railroad track.  Liam waters and prunes the plants until they grow into a lush garden that overtakes the entire city.  By the end of the book, greenery covers the rooftops and pops up in the most unexpected places.  I LOVE this magical story and notice something new every time I read it.  If you haven’t shared this with your class yet – it’s a MUST read!

The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

“UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not!”

Way back in the 1960’s, long before “going green” was a mainstream concept, Dr. Seuss introduced young readers to the impacts of clear-cutting on the environment.  Written and illustrated in classic Dr. Seuss style, but this book focuses on more serious themes of consumerism, economics, deforestation, and the environment.  A great choice for older students that will stimulate some great discussions about environmental conservation.

The Wartville Wizard – Don Madden

This book was published in 1986 but its message will never be outdated.  A cranky old man who spends his days cleaning up the litter left by his fellow townspeople. One day he receives “the power over trash,” which gives him the ability to send the garbage right back where it came from! When the townspeople find their garbage stuck to them, they learn a valuable lesson. Great pictures, great story!  This book is lengthy so would make a great read-aloud for older students.  (Warning – references to cigar butts and beer cans.)

The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales – Dawn Casey

This is a gorgeous anthology of seven traditional tales from around the world, each one promoting a sustainable lifestyle and living green.  Readers learn about the ways that different cultures around the world try living in harmony with the rhythms and patterns of nature.  Included are suggested activities to go along with each story including creating a a song-line painting, cooking “anything-goes soup”, making a cornhusk doll, and growing your own tomatoes.   Love the link of Earth day and cultural diversity.

Thanks for stopping by! Please share this blog post with your teacher friends!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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Filed under Earth Day, environment, New Books, OLLI, Read-Aloud, Reading Power, Writing Strategies

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #19 – The Six Senses of Spring

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5(WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow)  (This post is temporarily unavailable)

OLLIE #18 Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

THE INSPIRATION:

Spring break might be over for some of us, but the season of Spring is just beginning. I love the freshness, the colors, the sounds, smells and feelings of hope and renewal that comes with this time of year. And since I have been immersed in poetry of late (due to the new poetry book I’m writing), what better way to celebrate the new season than a little poetry lesson?

THE ANCHOR BOOKS:

This week’s OLLI lesson, unlike the previous ones, is not dependent on a specific title. Any book about spring will do! New spring picture books come out every year and this year is no exception (including Todd Parr’s new book!) The first books listed (below the lesson) are new releases (#warmbookalert) and the later ones are some of my favorites from previous years. If you don’t have a hard copy, don’t forget to check YouTube for a read-aloud. (always preview full video before showing your class!) If you prefer, you can always show the video with the volume down and read it yourself! I’ve tried to include some video links for the titles whenever possible.

THE LESSON:

  • Begin with the “ONE WORD” activity. Write the word “Spring” on the board or chart stand. Invite students to think about a connection, a visual image, and a feeling that comes into their mind when they think of this word.
  • Give them 1 minute to think and 2 minutes to share (with a partner)
  • Invite students to share their responses with the class, while you record the words in a web on the board around the word “spring”
  • Explain to the students that one of the things you notice most about spring is how everything feels as if nature is waking up from the darkness of winter – flowers grow, leaves grow, baby animals are being born, grass is greener, it stays lighter longer. Tell them that spring also wakes up our senses – there are more colors and smells and sounds and “feels” in springtime.
  • Choose one of the anchor books (see list below) to read aloud. Invite students to be listening for the “six senses” of spring.
  • Write “Six Senses of Spring” on the chart stand or board. Explain that scientists have 5 senses but writers add emotion and feeling into their writing. Make a 6 box chart and write the name of each of six senses (or draw a symbol) at the top of each box: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, emotion(feeling)
  • Beginning with sight, invite students to brainstorm things they see in springtime (flowers, grass, baby animals, blossoms, rain, mud, etc.)
  • Move into the next box and do the same. Depending on your grade level, complete the chart as a class or pass out “The Six Senses of Spring” and invite students to complete the page either by themselves or with a partner.
  • Download the Six Senses of Spring student template HERE
Sight
flowers
kites
grass
chicks
puddles
Smell
grass
dirt
blossoms
flowers
dirt/mud
Taste
ice cream
jelly beans
chocolate eggs
barbeques
Sound
rain
wind
birds
kids playing
baseball
Touch
rain
grass
Easter eggs
baby chicks
puppies
baseball bat
kite string
Feeling
hope
energetic
excitement
happy

  • Once the chart is complete, students can use their ideas to create a simple list poem. Model how to select three ideas from each box and add a verb (action word) to it. Encourage “triple scoop” verbs! End each stanza with the sense “I _______ spring”. (see below for an example of the start of a poem) Students may “borrow” a few ideas from your example but you would like to see how unique and clever they can be!

The Six Senses of Spring

Flowers blooming

Blossoms bursting

Kites flying

I see spring

Rain splashing

Bees buzzing

Chicks chirping

I hear spring

  • Students can add illustrations to their poem and share them out loud with a partner, their buddy, or with the class.

THE ANCHOR BOOKS

Busy Spring – Nature Wakes Up – Sean Taylor Youtube Read aloud – HERE (story starts at about 1.23)
Happy Springtime! by Kate McMullan: 9780823445516 | PenguinRandomHouse.com:  Books
Happy Springtime! – Kate McMullan
Cover Image
Spring Stinks! – Ryan T. Higgins YouTube Read-Aloud HERE
The Spring Book Todd Parr Youtube Read Aloud HERE
Spring for Sophie Yael Werber
YouTube Read Aloud HERE
Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring – Kenard Pak
YouTube Video HERE
Abracadabra, It’s Spring! – Anne Sibley O’Brian Watch YouTube Here
Spring is Here! Heidi Pross Gray
Toad Weather – Sandra Markle
Worm Weather – Jean Taft
YouTube Read Aloud Here
When Spring Comes: Henkes, Kevin, Dronzek, Laura: 9780062331397: Books -  Amazon.ca

When Spring Comes Keven Henkes

Youtube Read Aloud HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_kNU3XpMew

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And Then It’s Spring – Julie Fagliano Youtube

Read Aloud HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hPa3OqwlOA

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms – Julia Rawlinson YouTube Read-Aloud HERE
Over and Under Book Series

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Hoping your students will enjoy writing their spring poems and that you have discovered a new Spring picture book to brighten your classroom or library!

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Filed under OLLI, Poetry, Seasons, Springtime

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers!

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5(WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  (The Sounds of Snow

THE INSPIRATION:

March is Women’s History month and March 8th is International Women’s Day.   That means it’s time to celebrate all the amazing women who have lead, marched, developed, thought, created, transformed, and inspired their way into the world with her tenacity, wisdom, and grit.  How will you celebrate?  Why not share some great picture books about great women with your students this month and start the conversation about gender equality and celebrate some inspiring women trail blazers!  

THE ANCHOR BOOK:

It’s difficult to recommend just one single title for this OLLI lesson because there are just SO many picture books celebrating women trail blazers you could use!  I’ve provided a list of  books about inspiring women and created a few different templates that can work with ANY of the books.  It may come down to what book(s) you have access from your school or classroom collection! 

THE LESSON:

  • Write the phrase “Boys Are Best!” on the board.  (this will no doubt cause a bit of an uproar in your class!) 
  • Invite someone to read the statement out loud.   Ask students if they agree with the statement or not.  Take a vote – who agrees?  who disagrees?  (likely you will have a mix of opinions) 
  • Explain that when you have an opinion about something, you will need to be able to explain why you feel that way.   Invite students who “agreed” to explain why they think this and those who “disagree” to explain why.  
  • Ask students to think about what feelings they get when they read this (angry,  horrified, happy, frustrated, embarrassed, disappointed, confused, proud)
  • Write the word “equality” on the board.  (Depending on the grade you teach, introduce your students to the terms “gender equality”)   Ask the students what they think it means.  (everyone treated equally, men and women treated equally)
  • Explain that looking back in history, women were not treated equally to men.  Discuss ways that they may have not been treated equally:  fewer job opportunities, unequal pay, not allowed to drive, vote, or go to school.    
  • It’s important that this is not about one gender being better than the other – but that everyone has the right to be treated equally. 
  • Tell the students that there have been many women all over the world, who have stood up and fought for their rights; who have stood up to inequality and paved the way for other women to be treated better.
  • Read any book from the list below to share the story of a women who stood up for her rights and or paved the way for others.  Use the templates below for follow up responses. 
  • Students can draw a portrait of their trail blazer and write a short description about them including. When writing about a famous person, I like to give students the frame: “Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? WOW!”  

Use the template here for Primary students

Use the template here for Intermediate students.  

Use the template for creating a Newspaper article for your Trail Blazer Woman – HERE 

 Lesson Extensions

  • Continue sharing books about inspiring women throughout the month. Create a “Trail Blazer” bulletin board, featuring different women and what their inspiring stories. 
  • Older students could choose a women they are interested in and do further research and writing about them
  • Students can write a persuasive essay about who they feel is the most inspiring woman and why.  

Picture Books for International Women’s Day: 

Below are my GearPicks for introducing gender equality and celebrating the many trail blazers who have inspired us all to stand up and make our voice heard.  If you do not have access to the physical book, try searching on YouTube for a read aloud version.  

11 inspiring children’s books to teach kids about gender equality

No Difference Between Us – Jayneen Sanders 

   

My First Book of Feminism – Julie Merberg (board books) 

Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole - SLAP HAPPY LARRY

Princess Smartypants Babette Cole

The Paper Bag Princess (unabridged): Munsch, Robert, Martchenko, Michael:  9781773214054: Books - Amazon.ca

The Paper Bag Princess – Robert Munsch

11 inspiring children’s books to teach kids about gender equality

ABC What Can She Be? – Sugar Snap Studio

11 inspiring children’s books to teach kids about gender equality

A is for Awesome: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World Eva Chen

Canadian Women Now and Then: More than 100 Stories of Fearless Trailblazers –  Elizabeth MacLeod

11 inspiring children’s books to teach kids about gender equality

Shaking Things Up – 14 Young Women Who Changed the World – Susan Hood

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Vol 1: Simon & Schuster Canada:  0642688063955: Books - Amazon.ca

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – Elenza Favilli

children's books about women's suffrage movement

She Persisted – Chelsea Clinton 

Trailblazers: Jane Goodall by Anita Ganeri: 9780593124109 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Jane Goodall: A Life with Chimps – Anita Ganeri

Malala by Malala Yousafzai | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Malala – My Story of Standing up For Girls’ Rights – Malala Yousafzai

11 inspiring children’s books to teach kids about gender equality

A Computer Named Katherine – Suzanne Slade 

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 – Michelle Market

Rosa - Zinn Education Project

Rosa – Nikki Giovanni

11 inspiring children’s books to teach kids about gender equality

Ada Twist, ScientistAndrea Beaty

Scholastic Canada Biography: Meet Viola Desmond | Scholastic Canada

Meet Viola Desmond Elizabeth Macleod

11 inspiring children’s books to teach kids about gender equality

Mae Among the Stars – Roda Ahmead

Thanks for stopping by! To all the women out there – I celebrate you today.  Thank you for all that you are doing each and every day to contribute to your family, your friends, your job, and your community. 

You ROCK! 

 

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Filed under Biography, Canadian, celebrating women, Equality, Lesson Ideas, making connections, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #16 – Leaving Our Heartprints

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5(WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

THE INSPIRATION:

As we turn a page on a new month and start to prepare for Valentine’s Day, most of us will be talking to our students about kindness.  Why not use this month to inspire a little heartprinting in your class!  This lesson comes directly from my book Powerful Understanding (Understanding Others – page 101-103, 121), but in case you don’t have a copy, here it is!  

THE ANCHOR (Primary) 

A World of Kindness – Anne Featherstone

This simple book outlines clear, concrete examples of different ways you can be kind.  From waiting your turn, to helping someone younger – this book is a great starting point for discussing “actions of kindness” that leave heartprints on others.   You can find the online read aloud – HERE 

Note:  The read aloud narrator on Youtube starts by greeting “grade 1’s” so you may wish to just start the video a few seconds in if you don’t teach grade one!  

The Anchor – Intermediate

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed – Emily Pearson

One of my very favorite anchor books for introducing random acts of kindness and discussing how an ordinary deed can change the world.  While it looks like it would be more geared for younger readers, the message is for everyone!  A wonderful story about the ripple effect that kindness can have and a bonus math lesson on expediential growth at the end!  

You can watch a video of the read-aloud HERE  

The Lesson

  • Begin with the “one word” activity.  Write the word “Kindness” on the board or chart stand.  Invite students to think about a connection, a visual image, and a feeling connected to that word.  Have students share their ideas with a partner and then brainstorm out.
  • Create a class web, recording their ideas around the word using one color of pen.  Tell the students you are going to come back to this web at the end of the lesson to see if our thinking has stretched.  
  • Show a photo of a footprint in sand.  Ask the students what it is and how it’s made.  Show a picture of a handprint and ask the same thing.
  • Write the word “heartprint” on the board.  Ask students what they think it might be – discuss in partners and with the class. 
  • Explain that a heartprint, like a footprint or handprint is something that you leave behind.  But unlike a footprint or handprint, you can’t actually see it.  But you do feel it inside your heart.  
  • Ask students how someone might leave behind a heartprint.  Invite students to share some ideas.  Discuss that leaving heartprint is often done quietly, without being asked.  Depending on your grade, you can introduce the concept of “random acts of kindness”.  
  • Share the anchor book A World of Kindness.  Invite students to listen for ways to be kind and leave heartprints.  
  • After the story, discuss examples of kindness from the story.  Discuss how the acts were sometimes very simple.   Leaving a heartprint doesn’t have to be big or involve “buying someone a present”.  It could be as simple as letting someone go first, or giving someone a compliment.  
  • Revisit the One Word activity “kindness” on the board and invite students to reflect on the word.  How has our thinking about this word changed or stretched?  Invite students to share and record new ideas, using a different color felt, to show the change in thinking.
  • Explain that this month is Family Day and Valentines Day – both days give us opportunities to leave heartprints at home and at school
  • Create a T-chart and brainstorm ways they can leave heartprints at home (clean up my room, take out the garbage without being asked, thank mother or father for cooking the supper, do a chore in secret, share a toy with your brother or sister) and at school (leave a positive message on a sticky note on someone’s desk, clean out someone’s desk, hold the door for someone, let someone go infront of you) 
  • Plan a Heartprint Week in your class next week.  Invite students to come up with ways they will leave heartprints for others.  
  • Pass out the template “Leaving My Heartprint” for students to complete.  They set their goals at the top and then complete the bottom at the end of the week.  

         Download the template HERE

Additional books about spreading kindness: 

Here are some additional books about kindness you can share throughout your Heartprint Week.  I’ve tried to include options for both primary and intermediate ages.   If you don’t have a physical copy of the book, many are available as online read-alouds.  Just google the title and search “video”.    One important theme I would try to include is how one person’s small act kindness can make a huge difference to many.  Don’t forget to revisit the word “kindness” and add new thinking to the One Word Activity after you read.

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What Does it Mean to Be Kind? – Rana DiOrio

When We Are Kind – Monique Gray Smith

Lend a Hand – Poems About Giving – John Frank

The Can Man – Laura E. Williams

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The Jelly Donut Difference – Maria Demondy

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch – Eileen Spinelli

How Kind! – Mary Murphy

The Pink Umbrella – Amelia Callot

The Love Letter – Anika Aldamay Denise 

Plant a Kiss – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The Mitten Tree – Candace Christiansen

 Be Kind – Pat Zietlow Miller

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The Kindness Quilt – Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Tomorrow I’ll l Be Kind – Jessica Hische

The Day it Rained Hearts – Felicia Bond

Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light – Apryl Stott

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Heartprinting, everyone! 

 

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Filed under Kindness, New Books, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Social Responsibility, Valentine's Day

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #15: 100 Things That Make Me Happy

Hello, everyone!  Well, it’s mid-January and the January blues may be creeping in!  Time for another OLLI and time to spread a little happy in your class!  For those getting ready for 100th Day – this lesson will be a perfect fit! For those who aren’t – there is never a wrong time to focus on gratitude for simple things that bring us joy! 

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5(WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

THE INSPIRATION:

As primary teachers prepare to mark the 100th day of school, I thought this lesson would be one way to mark the day by finding and spreading a little “happy” (x 100!) in your classroom!  Mid winter blues, Covid, (will it ever end???) – we could all use a little happy in our lives!  Finding joy in everyday things and demonstrating gratitude is something can all practice.  Even if you don’t celebrate 100th Day in your class – this lesson can be adapted to any grade and great chance for you and your students to “find some happy”!  

THE ANCHOR:

100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

100 Things That Make Me Happy – Amy Schwartz

A lovely, charming, rhyming list of things that make most of us happy.   I love this book for so many reasons: the abundance of gratitude for simple things in life, the whimsical rhyming that makes it easy for kids to read and reread, the feeling of joy that comes from thinking positive thoughts with our students, and, of course, the connection to “One Hundredth Day” celebrations.   You can find the online read aloud – HERE

The Lesson

  • Begin with the “one word” activity by writing the word “happy” on the board.  Invite students to think about the word. Specifically, ask them to make a connection, create a visual image, and attach a feeling connected to the word.  (because this is a feeling word, invite them to think of other words that might be connected) 
  • Invite students to share their connection, visual image, and feeling with a partner.  Ask some to share and record their ideas onto the chart, around the word “happy” to create a class web.  
  • Tell them you are going to read a story about “happy”.  Invite them to pay attention to their thinking because you will be coming back to the word after you have finished reading
  • Read the story or show the video of the read-aloud.  You can find the online read aloud – HERE
  • After reading the story, invite the students to “re-visit” and “re-think” the word “happy”.  Has anything changed?   (you may want to steer them in the direction that this book made you think about how easily happiness can be found in small, simple things.  This book also made you feel thankful that there are so many things in the world that can bring us joy – we just have to notice them)
  • Invite the students to brainstorm a list of things that make them happy.  Remind them that the happiness in the book was found in things other than material things (toys, video games, etc.)  Encourage them to include experiences, places, and people as well as objects on their list.  
  • Invite students to share their list with a partner and then invite them to share out as you record their ideas to make a class list.  
  • IF you are celebrating 100th Day – this could be the start of creating a class list “100 Things That Make Us Happy”.   Students could contribute their ideas as you record them on a large class list.  
  • Pass out the template Things That Make Me Happy.  Model your own, showing how you draw a picture and write about it underneath.   
  • You can download the Primary Template HERE 
  • You can download the Intermediate Template HERE 
  • You can download additional Happy Lists HERE (short list) and HERE (long list)
  • Depending on your grade, this could be incorporated into a writing lesson, using “magical detail words” (See Powerful Writing Structures – page xxx).  After students write what makes them happy, they can add a detail using the word “Once, When, If, or Sometimes”    example:  Reading a book makes me happy.  Sometimes, I sniff the pages to fill my lungs with book joy.   OR  My dog Maggie makes me happy.  When I come home, she always meets me at the door and wags her fluffy tail.
  • Students can share their happy pages with a partner.  
  • Create a class book or display on a bulletin board: “Div. 5 is Finding Happy!” 

Additional Books About Happiness and Gratitude: 

Below are some of the other recommended books that encourage us to “look for happy” and be grateful for the little things.   

Taking a Bath with a Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy – Scott Menchin

100 Things I Love to Do With You – Amy Schwartz

  100th Day Worries – Margery Cuyler

The Favorite Book – Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Hap-Pead All Year – Keith Baker

My Heart Fills With Happiness – Monique Gray Smith

A Good Day – Kevin Henkes 

This book is also great for TRANSFORM for younger students.  What makes a bad day?  What makes a good day?  

All the World – Liz Garton Scanton

Thankful – Eileen Spinelli

The Thankful Book – Todd Parr

Thanks for stopping by! I hope this lesson brings a little happiness into your classroom and into your heart!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Connect, Feelings, Gratitude, Gratitude, Lesson Ideas, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Writing Anchors

Reading Resolutions 2021! Let’s Go Genre Jumping!

What section would I find you in, in a book store? Fiction? Biography? Travel? Cook books? Children’s Section? Self help? How many books will you read this year? 1? 3? 9? It’s a new year and what better time than to set some READING GOALS for yourself and your students? Setting Reading Goals is a great opportunity to motivate your students to expand their reading interests and introduce your students to a wide range of different genres. Why not make 2021 the year you and your students go “genre jumping!” and motivate your class to explore genres they may have never read before?

The Lesson:

  • Write the word “genre” on the board. Ask students what the word means. Explain that a genre is another word for a “category”. Using genres is a way of organizing things like music, movies, and books by identifying different types or categories.
  • Brainstorm or give examples of different genres of music ( jazz, rock and roll, rap, classical) and movies (drama, comedy, thriller, documentary, romance)
  • Ask students to brainstorm with a partner different genres of books that they know. Record them on the board. Depending on what grade you have, you may or may not need to provide suggestions!
  • Show the Genre Jumping slideshow to review the different genres, showing an example of each.

Download the Genre Jumping slides HERE

  • Invite students to think about which genres they tend to read more of, favorite, etc. Discuss “favorites” of the class. You may even want to create a graph of your students’ genre preferences.

You can download a Genre Graph HERE.

  • Explain that often, once readers discover a genre they like, they tend to stick to it. Pass out the Reading Resolution template. Download HERE: 2021 Reading Resolutions – Genre Jumping template. Primary Version HERE: 2021 Reading Resolutions – Genre Jumping PRIMARY
  • Explain that: This year, I’m encouraging everyone to try to expand their reading horizons by reading some different genres. Remember: you won’t know until you try! Setting some Reading Resolutions can help motivate you to expand your reading interests.
  • Explain that the class is going “Genre Jumping” in 2021! The goal is to try to read as many different genres as you can. “How many you try is completely up to you! You are only competing with yourself!”
  • Invite students to complete the survey on the second page, selecting their “go to” genres, as well as the genres they may have never read before. Invite them to set a goal for how many genres they think they will try to read this year.
  • Explain that the sheet is for them to keep track of books they read from different genre categories. Likely, they will set their goal from now until the end of June.

Final Thoughts:

  1. This is not intended to be used as “reading homework”. I would never “make” students read books that they may not be interested in. I also am not a big fan of home reading logs (kids read – parents sign) as I don’t think they promote a love of reading.
  2. The goal is not to “FINISH” the sheet, but to set a goal and try a few new genres. There is no PRIZE for “finishing”.
  3. I ever “reward” kids for reading. The reward for reading is reading itself! Just say no to giving prizes and pizza for reading! That being said, however, if I do have a student who I feel legitimately reads a book in all 18 categories, I may quietly present them with an Indigo gift card. But not for a “prize” – but more for the “pride”.

Lesson Extensions

Genre of the Month – Depending on your grade level, “Genre Jumping” could be something that you carry on for the remainder of the year. Each month, you could have a “Genre of the Month”, set up a “table with a label” with books of that genre, discuss the specific features of that genre, and focus on this genre for your read-alouds. Now there are more genres than months left in the school year… so you may have to narrow down your monthly choices.

Book Talks – Invite students to present a book talk on one of the new books/genres they have been exploring. Link this to persuasive writing and teach them the difference between a descriptive book talk (purpose is to share story summary and highlights, favorite character, highlight, lowlight, insight, etc.) and a persuasive book talk (purpose is to try to convince others to read the book).

I found this website which has free printable of the different genres that includes a frame for a book report.

Thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you feel inspired to inspire your students to do more “genre jumping” this year. Putting the perfect book in the hands of a student is one of the most rewarding things about being a teacher. Sometimes, it just takes one book to spark a flame of book love in a child. Let’s see if we can spark a few flames this year!

I’d love to hear about your “genre jumping” experiences! Please post and use the tag #genrejumping and tag me #readingpowergear (so I will see it)

Have a great week, everyone and happy “genre jumping”!

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Filed under Genres, Literature Circles, OLLI, Reading Resolutions

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #14: Happy New Year Lessons

Happy New Year to all of you!   I do hope you were able to enjoy the break, take time for yourself, your family, and your friends.  I know that the year ahead holds a great deal of hope and anticipation but that those feelings are mixed with the worry and fear that things are still not as they should be.  As teachers, we face uncertainty and concern that we aren’t doing enough, but are working harder than we have ever worked before.   It’s going to get better, I believe that.  And in the meantime, be kind to yourself.  Do what you can and know that it’s enough.  

I’m happy to know that my OLLI lessons are proving helpful for both your online and in-class lessons.  Hoping these New Year’s lessons (one for Primary and one for Intermediate) will help you and your students find ways to launch into 2021 with a positive outlook!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5(WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger) 

THE INSPIRATION:

It’s New Years – and that is always a time for us to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead.  While we have faced many challenges in 2020, there were some “silver linings” that unfolded as well.  Reflecting and being grateful for those moments and events is an important exercise for our students (and for all of us!).  Moving into 2021 with a positive outlook will help your students begin the new year with a little hope.  

The Lesson – New Year’s Resolutions (Primary)

THE ANCHOR: 

Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution  – Pat Miller

As Squirrel makes visits around the forest, she learns about New Year’s resolutions and helps her friends get started on theirs. If only she can think of a resolution of her very own!  This book introduces the concept of “New Year’s Resolutions” to younger students and a good one to share during the first week back.

Start the Lesson:  

  • Write the words “New Year’s Resolution” on the board and invite students to share their ideas about what it means.  Discuss why people might make resolutions for the New Year. 
  • Brainstorm some typical resolutions that adults often make:  ie – lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, get more sleep, read more, play less video games, etc. 
  • Discuss why resolutions may be hard to keep. (ie – habits are hard to break, etc)
  • Share the book “Squirrel’s Year’s Resolutions” (in print or on YouTube)
  • After viewing or reading the story, review what a resolution is.  Add any new ideas to the board. 
  • Explain that making a resolution at the start of a new year can help you set a goal to try to become a better person.   Discuss that the resolution should be something realistic and attainable
  • Brainstorm some possible resolutions –
        • keep my room cleaner
        • help around the house more – offer to help
        • read more books
        • do my homework after school not after dinner
        • call my grandma once a week
        • play less video games 
        • be nicer to my brother
  • Pass out the template New Year’s Resolutions – Squirrel and Me!  Download the template HERE
  • On one side, they draw and write about Squirrel’s resolution, on the other side, they write their own.   Model your own on the whiteboard or chart stand.  
  • My 2021 Selfie, adapted from a lesson in Powerful Understanding (Self), is an optional art activity.  Download the template HERE

 

The Lesson – Highlights, Lowlights, Insights, Goals  (Intermediate)

Supporting your students to reflect on their learning and behaviour independently will help them become well-rounded individuals as they move through their schooling and beyond.  Helping students to develop “reflective habits of mind” is a key component in education now and the start of a new year is an excellent opportunity to begin this practice.   (For more ideas on developing reflection in your classroom click HERE)  

  • Explain that a New Year is an opportunity to look back at some of the things that happened last year, reflect on them (both the good and the bad) and learn from them.  This reflection can help us learn, grow, set goals and take action.   
  • Explain that a new year is a great opportunity to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future.  
  • Write the words “HIGHLIGHTS, “LOWLIGHTS”, “INSIGHTS” and “GOALS” across the top of your white board.  Explain that 2020 was certainly a year of challenges and “lowlights” but reflecting on the “silver lining” can help us gain new perspective and insight.   
  • Brainstorm some of the highlights of last year.
        •  no school 
        •  went to the park more
        • more time with family
        • learned to play cards, knit, play piano
        • lots of video games
  •  Brainstorm some lowlights of the past year:
        •  Covid-19
        •  no school
        • no hockey (sports)
        • lots of people got sick, died
        • couldn’t see friends or  grandparents
        • no school
        • no holidays
        • crowded in the house
        • broke my arm
  • Discuss what an insight is: something you learn based on your experiences and your reflections.  Example – you and your best friend stop speaking and you don’t know why.  You think about it for a while, reflect on the last couple of months, and your realize that you have not been very kind, not responding to texts, teasing a little, picking fights.  You ask yourself why?   After thinking about it for a while, your insight is that your friend was doing better in school and you were a little jealous.  So you started being just a little mean because you were trying to somehow get back at him/her.   
  • Explain that insight comes from thoughtful reflection.  When we gain insight, we can become more aware of our actions and what we can do differently.  The result is we become a better, stronger person.  
  • Ask students:  What insights have we gained this year, during the pandemic?  What have we learned about ourselves?  What surprised us? What will we do differently, now that we know more about it? 
  • Explain that our insights can help us set goals for the future.  Model example:
      • HIGHLIGHT – we didn’t have to go to school for a few months
      • LOWLIGHT – I missed seeing my friends and teachers 
      • INSIGHT – School is actually an important part of my life and I shouldn’t take it for granted
      • GOAL – I am going to appreciate school more and work harder. 
  • Pass out template My New Year’s Resolutions 2021 Download the template HERE
  • “My 2021 Selfie”, adapted from a lesson in Powerful Understanding (Self), is an optional art activity.  Download the template HERE

Additional Books to Celebrate the New Year: (check YouTube for online versions)

Our 12 favorite new year's books are perfect for your January lesson plans or at home with your children. These are great for preschool, kindergarten, or first grade students.

The Night Before New Year’s – Natasha Wing

Natasha Wing’s “Night Before” series is a favorite with young readers.  The Night Before New Years is a fun story about how a family celebrates this special evening.

Our 12 favorite new year's books are perfect for your January lesson plans or at home with your children. These are great for preschool, kindergarten, or first grade students.

New Year’s Day 

People around the world have different customs to welcome in the new year. Learn the history of New Year’s Day, and read about all of the different traditions that make it fun!  This is definitely a must for your New Year’s book list if you are teaching students about traditions and customs!

Bringing in the New Year – Grace Lin

This lively, colorful story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. A perfect introduction to this holiday for young readers.

Our 12 favorite new year's books are perfect for your January lesson plans or at home with your children. These are great for preschool, kindergarten, or first grade students.

P. Bear’s New Year’s Party – A Counting Book – Paul Owen Lewis 

This book counts down to New Year’s Eve, while teaching numbers, counting, and telling time! This book is popular with teachers, and students will enjoy the story and the simple illustrations. 

Shante Keys and the New Years Peas by Gail Piernas-Daenpor

In her quest to find some black-eyed peas, Shante discovers the different ways that her neighbors celebrate the New Year. A story of diversity and traditions that children will really enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope this lesson helps you as you start your first week of 2021.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy New Year!

Stay tuned for an upcoming post to help your students set some Reading Resolutions for 2021!

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Filed under Connect, Lesson Ideas, New Year's Resolutions, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book