Daily Archives: May 29, 2013

Another Great Book for Father’s Day

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffery Brown

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffery Brown

Darth Vader and Son (sample page)

Darth Vader and Son (sample page)

Darth Vader's Little Princess by Jeffery Brown

Darth Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffery Brown

Darth Vader's Little Princess (sample page)

Darth Vader’s Little Princess (sample page)

I am not a particularly huge Star Wars fan, but have enjoyed the early movies in my younger days and enjoyed watching my both my boys live through the “Star Wars” phase, obsessing over the movies, Star Wars Lego, books and mini figures.

But I laughed out loud when I read through these two books, making connections not only to Star Wars, but to being a parent.  These two hilarious comic-like books by Jeffery Brown depict Darth Vader as a dad like any other.  He puts a fresh twist on many classic Star Wars moments, depicting “the trials and joys of parenting through the lens of a galaxy far, far away”.  Life lessons include light saber batting practice, using the Force to raid the cookie jar, Take Your Child to Work Day on the Death Star (“Er, he looks just like you, Lord Vader!”).

Two great read alouds for students as Father’s day approaches, but would also make great Father’s Day gifts for a few dads out there!

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“My Garden” – Wonderful Writing for Spring! – Part 2

The next day, when their garden pictures were complete, the students paired up and did a “point and talk- point to your picture and talk to your partner about it”.  The chatter in the room was filled with excitement as the children described the amazing things in their gardens.  One little boy was so excited to tell me that “In my garden there is a tree that grows hockey cards.  And when you pick a hockey card – the guy shows up!”   There was even a tree that grew French Fries and a nest that was filled with ketchup!

Sharing their garden pictures with a partner - "Point and Talk"
Sharing their garden pictures with a partner – “Point and Talk”
Sharing Garden pictures
Sharing Garden pictures

After the children shared their garden pictures, we met on the carpet and I showed them the writing I had done about my garden.  (see photo below).  I had intentionally written in “robot writing”, listing facts with no details.  I read my piece out loud and asked the children to tell me what they had noticed about it.  Many hands went up to tell me that I had written “robot writing” – “Boring!”

Teacher model: "Robot Writing"
Teacher model: “Robot Writing”

I reminded the students that writers need to make sure their writing is interesting for their readers.  Adding details is one way we can help make our writing interesting.  I asked the students to help me think of an interesting detail I could add about my book tree:

In my garden there is a book tree that grows books.   Every morning when I go into my garden there is a new  book growing just for me! 

The new writing technique I introduced for this piece of writing was “if” sentences; cause an effect sentences that can add a sophisticated sentence structure to beginning writing.  We first looked for “if” sentences in Kevin Henkes book.  Then I asked the students to help me come up with some “if” sentences for my garden picture:

“If you want to go into the garden, you have to say the secret password”“If you plant a piece of Lego, a Lego box will grow”

“If you want to change the season, you tell the tree what season you want”

“If you pick a book from the book tree, a new book grows.

Finally, we reviewed the things we were going to try to include in our writing:  1) interesting details    2) “triple scoop” words   3) Anchor line: “In my garden…”   4) 1-2 “If” sentences

The students couldn’t wait to get started on their writing!  I am excited to read their finished pieces soon.  One little boy asked if we could skip the field trip to the beach next week and “just go visiting everyone’s garden”!

Gr. 2 Sample - My Garden
Gr. 2 Sample – My Garden

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“My Garden” – Wonderful Writing for Spring! – part 1

Anchor Book:  My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Anchor Book: My Garden by Kevin Henkes

After spending several weeks writing about things from our “memory pockets”, the primary students at my school were excited to use their “imagination pockets” this week to help them with their writing.  After reviewing the strategy of “VISUALIZING” with the students, (“making thinking pictures in your brain when you read”) I read “My Garden” by Kevin Henkes. I told them that I was not going to show them the pictures the first time because I wanted them to make “thinking pictures” inside their heads while I read. This delightful book tells the story of a young girl who helps her mother weed and water the garden, but then proceeds to describe her own imaginary garden.  “In my garden…..Flowers bloom and never die”, Strawberries glow like lanterns, If I plant a seashell, shells would grow.”  After I finished the story, students shared their “thinking pictures” that were “stuck” inside their brains. I then read the book again, this time, showing the pictures.

I explained that for our weekly writing this week, we were going to write about our imaginary gardens. I prompted some questions for them to start visualzing their own gardens: How do you get into your garden? What interesting things grow there? What animals and plants can you find there? What can you do in your garden? What magical or extraordinary things happen in your garden?”

I then modeled by drawing a picture of my own imaginary garden. I talked through my picture explaining the things in my garden, including: a special gate that has a secret password to get in; a tree that grows books, a fountain that has buttons to push and different coffees come out, a bench to sit on and read my book, a chipmunk that comes to paint my toenails while I’m reading, flowers with red licorice stems, cotton candy clouds and a chocolate waterfall. (see picture below)   The students couldn’t wait to get started on their own garden pictures!

My Garden - teacher model

My Garden – teacher model

The students worked hard drawing and coloring their pictures.  These pictures will then be used to help them with their writing tomorrow!   Stay tuned for Part 2!


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