Monthly Archives: September 2015

Top 10 Tuesday – Favorite Nonfiction Connect Books for Primary

top 10

It’s Top Ten Tuesday!  This week, I’m featuring my favorite Nonfiction “Connect” books!

When practicing “making connections” with your primary students, try alternating between fiction and nonfiction books so your students learn that we can connect to both stories and information.  When reading stories – we can make connections  to characters, feelings and events;  when reading information, we can make connections to background knowledge and experiences.  

Try using the “KNEW-NEW” connection after reading a nonfiction book to your class – “What was one fact from this book you already KNEW and one fact that was NEW information?”  Kids love the “KNEW-NEW”!

Here are my top 10 Nonfiction “CONNECT” books for Primary students…

  1.  The Handiest Things In the World – Andrew Clement

Connections to all the things our hands can do.

2.   With A Friend By Your Side – Barbara Kerley

Connections to the value of friendships all around the world.

Families Around the World – Margriet Ruurs

Connections to families and cultures.

3.   You and Me Together:  Mom, Dads, Kids Around the World – Barbara Kerley 

Connections to the strong bond between parent and child.  Stunning photographs!

4.  I, Fly:  the Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are – Bridget Haos

Connections to fly facts.

5. A Chicken Followed Me Home: Questions and Answers About a Familiar Fowl – Robin Page

Chicken connections!

6. Senses at the Seashore – Shelley Rotner

Connections to the sounds, smells and sights of the beach.

 7.  What in the World?  Numbers in Nature –  Nancy Raines Day

Connections to sets of numbers in the nature.

8.  Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain? – Harriet Ziefert

Connections to rain facts.

9.  Water Is Water Miranda Paul

Connections to the journey of water.

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

Connections to the hidden wonders in the garden.

What are your favorite Non-fiction books to teach and practice making connections?

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Filed under Nonfiction, Picture Book, Read-Aloud, Reading Power, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Immigration, Autumn, Spiders and a Jellyfish!

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

It’s been a busy start to the school year – with school and workshops!  But there is always time for new books!  Here are a few of my latest discoveries…

I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

P’esk’a and the Salmon Ceremony – Scot Ritchie

With First Peoples being an important and integral part of BC’s new Education Plan, I’m on the look-out for authentic picture books to support the curriculum. P’esk’a is excited to celebrate the first day of the salmon ceremony, a custom of the Sts’ailes people, who have lived on the Harrison River in BC for 10,000 years. This celebration includes honoring and giving thanks to the river and the salmon.  This book includes an illustrated afterward, glossary and an introductory letter from Chief William Charlie.

My Leaf Book – Monica Wellington

Fall is my favorite season – changing leaves, apples, crisp mornings!  Last fall, I did a post of my favorite fall books.  (You can read that post HERE)  This new book is definitely be one I’ll add to my list!  This charming book follows a little girl as she hunts for fall leaves to press into her book.   An interesting look at different sizes, shapes, colors and patters of different leaves.  Simple text, bold, colorful illustrations and includes lessons on leaf rubbing and leaf art.

My Autumn Book – Wong Herbert Yee

It’s finally here!  I’ve been waiting for the final addition of Fall to Wong Herbert Yee’s adorable season collection!  (Other books include:  Tracks in the Snow, Summer Days and Nights, and Who Likes Rain? A little girl explores the outdoors and observes the gentle signs of the changing of the seasons and the arrival of fall. Soft, watercolor illustrations and lovely, simple text.  LOVE!

How to Be A Dog – Jo Williamson

Heart-warming and humourous “how to be”  book written from a dog’s perspective.  From choosing the right “owner” to learning where you should sleep, this book is delightful!  I would definitely use this as an anchor for a creative instructional writing piece.

I’m Trying To Love Spiders!  – Bethany Bartum

This humourous, creative non-fiction would make a great read-aloud!  It’s filled with interesting facts but written in a playful tone.  Great art! 

The Hugging Tree: A Story About Resilience – Jill Neimark

Wow. This is a powerful story that I can see being used at many levels.  It is the story of a tree, growing alone on a cliff.  The tree is faced with many challenges including thunder storms, freezing winters and vast, crashing waves, but the kindness and compassion of one little boy and protected by the natural world, the tree grows and eventually becomes a shelter for others.  The entire story could be seen as a metaphor for the hope and resilience we can show when faced with life’s struggles.  A great book for inferring and transform!

The Thing About Jellyfish – Ali Benjamin  (FREE Kindle PREVIEW of Chapter 1-11)

This book made my heart ache and my eyes sting. In fact, I think it should come with a box of Kleenex. Suzy is a smart, “different” grade 7 student who is dealing with the drowning death of her best and only friend, Franny.  As the story progresses, we learn the depth of Suzy’s grief: the end of her only friendship; her guilt for not being there; the terrible last conversation she had with Franny; – all too much for a young soul to carry.  Through her grief, she searches to find the reason why her friend drowned and becomes convinced that a jellyfish must have been the cause.  She stops speaking and becomes obsessed with jellyfish. This book is so, so beautiful, so emotional, so sad – at times, I had to stop reading it. I’m not sure how – but the weaving of jellyfish facts through Suzy’s sadness works seamlessly. I thought Fish in a Tree was my favorite novel of the year for middle grades – until I read this book.

Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book or books have caught your eye!

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Filed under dogs, Fall, Grief, immigration, instructions, jellyfish, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Seasons

It’s Monday What Are You Reading? New Picture Books for Fall – Part 2

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

The Way to School – Rosemary McCarney and Plan International

Just what would you go through to get to school? This stunning book explores how, in some countries, children often have to travel through disaster zones, cross dangerous waters, climb mountains and maneuver zip-lines just to get into the classroom. Some of them even carry their own desk!   The determination in the children’s expressions and in their body language as they make their way to school would be perfect for practicing inferring. An important book to share with children and one that could stimulate a conversation about the desire for education and the physical commitment so many children face each day.  Simple text and stunning photographs – this book is a gem!  Proceeds from the sale of this book go to Plan Canada, one of the largest international development agencies in the world.

The Good Little Book – Kyo Maclear

I admit that I got a little teary-eyed reading this book… It is a classic love story of sorts: Boy finds book, boy falls in love with book, boy takes book everywhere, boy loses book… But truly this is the story about the transformation that books can have in our lives: the adventures, the relationships, and the memories. Amazing whimsical illustrations. This is definitely a book to start off your school year.

The Little Book of Big Fears – Monica Arnaldo

Simple, rhyming text introduces 16 children who share their fears – from raccoons to the dark.  Alphabet book of sorts – but the missing letters spell out GUTSY and BRAVE.  Perfect book for making connections with K-2!  My only thought was that there was no reference to how you can conquer these fears – but an important “after reading” discussion!

Waiting – Kevin Henkes

Love. Love. Love.  I love this book so much.  Soft, simple, quiet, wise, gentle, whimsical – Kevin Henkes is a master storyteller.  Waiting is about five toy friends who sit on the windowsill of a child’s home waiting for their turn at play.  I already have a plan for reading this book to a primary class, focusing on visualizing:  read through, without interruption and allow the students to delight in the sounds of the words and let their minds imagine.  After the book is finished, I will ask them, “Hmmmm, what do you think the friends are waiting for?  Turn and talk to your partner.”   Hug this book.  Love this book.  It’s “waiting” to be read.

Friendshape – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

 This latest book by the clever, creative Amy Krouse Rosenthal, about the friends who “shape” our lives, is filled with fun word play, great illustrations and would make a wonderful read-aloud for a primary classroom!  Not my very favorite Rosenthal book but certainly worth a look!

With A Friend By Your Side – Barbara Kerley

National Geographic photographer Barbara Kerley captures images of friends from around the world and pairs them with simple, touching text.  Wonderful book for making connections and also learning about different places in the world.  Map and background information about each photo are included in the back.

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That’s (NOT) Mine – Anna King

Two cute fuzzy bears want the same chair but they do not want to share. Great illustrations, a lesson on manners and a lot of laughs! 

Lizard from the Park – Mark Pett

Adorable story of a young boy who finds a lizard egg in the park.  Crack!  It hatches into a pet lizard… who grows… and grows.. .and grows!  Charming illustrations by the author/illustrator of The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl and Bicycle.  Lovely surprise ending!

I (Don’t) Like Snakes – Nicola Davies

Fun blend of fiction and non-fiction about snakes.  Although the narrator is convinced that she doesn’t like snakes, for every negative she identifies, her snake-loving family come up with the positives!  Interesting information and great illustrations!  I love anything Nicola Davies writes! 

Bug in A Vacuum – Melanie Watt

This clever picture book explores the 5 stages of grief through the eyes of a bug who gets sucked up by a vacuum.    Sounds strange, but it’s brilliant and emotional and the illustrations are hilarious.  I would definitely read this to older students.  Another winner by the author of Scaredy Squirrel.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book(s) has caught your eye?

 

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Filed under 2015 releases, Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Favorite Back-to-School Read Alouds

top 10

I realize that there are many of you who may be reading this who have already started teaching, but this is my first week back so I thought that I’d share my top 10 books (OK – I went a little past 10!) for starting school.  All of these books would make wonderful “connect” books to share during those first few days and weeks of school!

Fun, Wacky, LOL books! 

1. Steve, Raised By Wolves – by Jared Chapman

LOL!  This book is hilarious and would make a brilliant back to school read-aloud for any grade! Young Steve is literally raised by wolves.  Mother wolf sends him on his first day of school with this advice:  “Just be yourself!”.   So Steve proceeds to do just that – howling in class, shredding homework, marking his territory, drinking from the toilet and pouncing on his classmates!  His behavior does not go over well!  In the end, Steve saves the day and helps to find the class pet.  Great book for discussing appropriate school behavior as well as what it means to “be yourself”.

2. The Gingerbread Man is Loose in the School – Laura Murray

This is a fun twist on the classic fairy tale.  After a gingerbread man is left alone in the classroom at recess, he decides to leave to find the children. He makes many stops in the school and asks many different people for help.  Great rhyming text and graphic novel type illustrations.  This book would be a great introduction to different people and places in the school.  I know of a teacher who, after reading this book, hides a gingerbread man in the school and takes her class on a search for him!   Or you could have your students write about the gingerbread man’s adventures!

3.  The Exceptionally, Extraordinarily Ordinary First Day of School – Lorenz Albert

This book was a little on the odd side, I must admit, but it got better each time I read it!  The illustrations reminded me of MAD magazine and the story line is a little like Marc Teague’s “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” with a boy’s “version” of his summer vacation.  Unusual but clever!

4.   Daddy’s Back to School Shopping Adventure – Alan Lawrence Sitomer

Yes, it’s “back to school” shopping time and the school supply stores will be full of parents and kids filling their baskets!  Sticking to the shopping list is difficult for this wild and wacky dad who takes his kids or their supplies. He is tempted by the glow in the dark glue sticks and neon paper clips but his kids keep him on track! A little wacky, lots of fun and a sweet surprise ending. A fun first week back read aloud! 

Books about Beginning School Anxieties

5. Back to School Tortoise – Lucy M. George

Story includes worries of starting school, not wanting to go inside the classroom and the most adorable illustrations ever!  Perfect for Kindergarten!

 6.  Monkey: Not Ready For Kindergarten – Marc Brown

Adorable Monkey experiences anxiety as Kindergarten is only a week away . . What if he gets on the wrong bus? What if they don’t have any red crayons? What if he doesn’t like the snacks? What if he doesn’t make new friends?  Poor Monkey has so many worries running through his head!  Slowly, his family helps him ease his worries.  Perfect book for Kindergarten children and making connections to starting school.

 7.  Chu’s First Day of School – Neil Gaiman

Adorable Panda Chu is worried whether his classmates will like him. He gets so nervous when he gets to school, he can’t even speak to share what his favorite thing to do is.  Charming, simple story and sweet illustrations.

8.  First Day Jitters – Julie Danneberg

Delightful story with a surprise ending…. and an important message that teachers get nervous about starting school too!  I have read this book to MANY classes over the years and the reaction at the end is always the same!

Books About School Days, School Goals and School Rules!

9. This School Year will Be The BEST! – Kay Winters

Fantastic beginning of school read-a-loud. Great for starting the conversation about what students are nervous about, thinking about, and hoping to get from school.  Also a great anchor for writing about school goals and wishes for the new school year ahead.

10. Starting School Allan Ahlberg

A group of kids start kindergarten. The book walks you through a day at school, the second day of school, a week, and special events. Good for calming nerves and making connections.  (Does have reference to a Christmas pageant and a school prayer)  I love Janet and Allan Ahlberg books  (Jolly Postman, Each, Peach, Pear, Plum) and they were a favorite of my children when they were younger. Delightful illustrations! 

11.  Back-to-School Rules – Laurie Friedman

Perfect anchor book for stimulating a class discussion and creating a class anchor chart of school rules.

Books about Creative Souls, Fitting In and Embarrassing Moments

12.  Ally-Saurus and the First Day of School – Richard Torrey

A first-day-of-school book with a dinosaur-loving main character who calls herself Ally-saurus  A lovely picture book that weaves together a number of discussion-worthy issues including first day of school, imagination, books, fitting in, and friendship. A great book to show that everyone may have different interests but can still be friends.  LOVE the illustrations in this book – especially the pages with the children’s “drawings” of their interests.

13.  I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson’s Blackboard – Jennifer Mann

This is the heart-warming, heart-breaking story of Rose, a creative soul who struggles doing all the things that earn the other children stars on the blackboard. But as we all know, not every student is a neat, straight-A student with all the right answers. This book helps us see that there are blackboard stars out there for the doodling daydreamers too.

14  First Grade Dropout – Audrey Vernick

When the young narrator of this story experiences a mortifying moment in class (he calls his teachers “mommy”) he decides to quit school.  This fantastic picture book is a great look at how to persevere after embarrassing things happen.  Perfect read-aloud for making connections.

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite “back to school read-alouds?

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Filed under Back to School, Connect, New Books, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? – Fantastic Fall Favorites (Part 1)

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Ooooooo…. I just can’t help myself!  The new picture books that have been coming out in the last few weeks are SOOOOOO good – I am bursting with book love!   There are so many that I have decided to share a few each Monday this month.  Here we go with Part 1….

Steve, Raised By Wolves – by Jared Chapman

LOL!  This book is hilarious and would make a brilliant back to school read-aloud for any grade! Young Steve is literally raised by wolves.  Mother wolf sends him on his first day of school with this advice:  “Just be yourself!”.   So Steve proceeds to do just that – howling in class, shredding homework, marking his territory, drinking from the toilet and pouncing on his classmates!  His behavior does not go over well!  In the end, Steve saves the day and helps to find the class pet.  Great book for discussing appropriate school behavior as well as what it means to “be youself”.

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We Forgot Brock! – Carter Goodrich

A charming take on the imaginary friend story with delightful illustrations. Heart-warming and funny. A must read for anyone with an imaginary friend or for anyone who ever wanted one! Great story for making connections with younger students. 

I am YogaSusan Verde

Yoga is a wonderful practice to incorporate into your weekly classroom routine.  This book, written by a certified yoga instructor, would be a wonderful book to introduce your students to this calming, strengthening practice.  In this gentle introduction , children are encouraged to explore the world of yoga and to open their hearts to the world.  A child-friendly guide to 16 yoga poses is included in the back.  Icing on the cake are the illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds.

Words –  Lora Rozler

Wow. This book. So clever. So visual. So emotional. So provocative. So powerful. So transforming. I am almost speechless it is that good. It is the story of a lonely letter who sets off on a journey to find meaning. Through his various encounters, he combines with different letters, forming different words:  some hurtful and some helpful – eventually leading him to make a choice which word he would like to join.  On one level, it is a book about how letters become words and words become meaning but on another level, it is about the power of words and how words can build up or destroy. It is also about belonging, about making choices, about discovering and an underlying theme of anti-bullying.  This book is definitely one I would use for transform.  Watch a trailer for this book here.

Job Wanted – Teresa Bateman

This heart-warming book tells the tale of an elderly dog who shows up on a farm, inquiring about getting a job.  The farmer tells him he doesn’t need a dog because they just eat and never give anything back.  So the determined dog comes up with very creative ways to persuade the farmer that he is a useful addition to the farm.  A great read aloud with a subtle message about being determined and valuing others.  I fell in love with this dog – an adorable, creative, persistent hero.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox – Danielle Daniel

Wow – I was not expecting this book to be SO full of wonderful, teachable connections! It is introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals told through young children who explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal.  Simple text written as simple poems with a gentle reminder of how there are elements of all these animals in each of us.  In an author’s note, Danielle Daniel explains the importance of totem animals in Anishinaabe culture and how they can also act as animal guides for young children.  After reading the book, students could chose the animal they identify most with.  Also a wonderful link to a Social Studies, Art, Drama and Writing lesson.

Island Morning – Brenda Jones

A gentle story of a girl and her grandfather’s early morning walk through the fields of Prince Edward Island.  Beautiful descriptions of the scenery make this a perfect book for visualizing.  I also loved the special relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter as they enjoy the beauty together.

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West Coast Wild – A Nature Alphabet – Deborah Hodge

I am extremely fortunate to live on the West Coast of British Columbia. It is a majestic, magical place. This stunning alphabet book by local author Deborah Hodge explores the fascinating ecosystem of the Pacific west coast, from ancient       rainforests, to rugged beaches and a vast open ocean.  The book also explores the interconnectedness of the rich marine life found in and around the shores and forests.  Breathtaking illustrations, gorgeous descriptions, fascinating facts – this book is a must have for any West Coast teacher!

That’s all the books for this week!  Check out my “Part 2” next week!  Thanks for stopping by and I’d love to know which book caught your eye!

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Filed under 2015 releases, It's Monday, making connections, Mindfulness, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies