Category Archives: 2020 Releases

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

GEARPICKS Holiday Book Gifting 2020 Part 2 – Book Gifting for Tweens

Last week, I posted PART 1 of my Holiday Book Gifting ideas, focusing on books for your younger readers. You can read the post HERE. This week, I am excited to share my picks for gifting those tweens in your life! I’ve tried to include books for all interests and hoping one will be a perfect match for that reader in your family!

For the Sci-Fi Fan

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Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

Kids ages ten and up will get sucked into this unputdownable science-fiction novel about a strange rain that causes alien plants to sprout. The plants climb up buildings, destroy crops, and devour animals and people. Only three teens are immune to the mysterious plants, and nobody knows why. This action-packed book is the first in an exciting new series that will keep kids up all night.

For Your Imaginative Animal Lover 

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The Elephant’s Girl by Celesta Rimington

Kids that like animal stories will likely get lost in this magical book. Lexington can speak telepathically to elephants, and they can speak to her. When the elephant Nyah sends her a mysterious message, Lex gets caught up in a spooky and magical adventure that may provide answers about her past.

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Skunk and Badger Amy Timberlake

Skunk and Badger join a list of literary “odd couples” in children’s literature, much like Frog and Toad or Elephant and Piggie. If you’re looking for an early middle-grade book to read with the kids, this is a great one. Reminiscent of the 100 Acre Wood and Wind in the Willows, and filled with quirky, memorable animal characters, this friendship story has both humour and thoughtful themes. Jon Klassen’s illustrations add to the fun.

For your Budding Environmentalist

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Music for Tigers Michelle Kadarusman

A coming-of-age story set in the dense rainforest of Tasmania. This book explores so many different themes – family, legacy, friendship, animal extinction, autism, and environmental conservation. Louisa is sent to spend some time at her Uncle Ruff’s bush camp in Tasmania when she would much rather practicing her violin for her big audition. While at the camp she meets her great-grandmother, through her journals, a new friend in Colin, and a once thought extinct Tasmanian tiger named Ellie. Ah-Mazing! Love this book and love that it incorporates Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

For your Historical Fiction Fan

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The Blackbird Girls – Anne Blankman

This is a moving story about two girls whose friendship develops during the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Told in alternating perspectives and different periods in history, this story shows that hatred, intolerance, and oppression are no match to the power of friendship. Fascinating and innovative.

Folklore and Fairy Tale Fans

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When You Trap A Tiger – Tae Keller

Know someone that likes family legends, folklore, and fairy tales? If so, you’ll definitely want to add this middle grade novel to your shopping list. Filled with magical realism, a magical tiger, Korean folklore, challenges and deals and family ties, this novel is about finding the courage to speak up.

Humour

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Wink – Rob Harrell

Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader but with his recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer, blending in is not an option. Based on author Rob Harrell’s real life experience, this book is packed with comic panels and incredibly personal and poignant moments. It is an unforgettable, heartbreaking, hilarious, and uplifting story of survival and finding the music, magic, and laughter in life’s weirdness.

For Fans of Realistic Fiction

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The List of Things That Will Not Change – Rebecca Stead

Rebecca Stead is known for her realistic middle grade stories and her latest book is amazing. Bea is thrilled that her Dad is going to marry his boyfriend and that she’ll finally get a sister. As the wedding draws closer, Bea learns that nothing is simple when you’re forming a new family.

For Your Adventurer

The Last Kids on Earth: June's Wild Flight by Max Brallier

The Last Kids on Earth: June’s Wild Flight – Max Brallier

It’s not hard to see why The Last Kids on Earth series is such a popular series. These action-packed books are full of monsters and adventure with black and white illustrations splashed across every page. The series has even been adapted into a Netflix show. This book, featuring June, is set between the events of The Midnight Blade and the upcoming sixth book in the series.

Fans of Survival Stories

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Red Fox Road – Frances Greenslade

A thirteen-year-old girl on a family vacation becomes stranded alone in the wilderness when the family’s GPS leads them astray. A compelling survival story for ages 10 to 14, for fans of Hatchet and The Skeleton Tree. Exquisite sensory detail!

For Graphic Novel Fans

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Doodleville – Chad Sell

Calling all artists! This magical graphic novel is for readers with a big imagination and a love of art from the creator of Cardboard Kingdom. It’s a funny, imaginative world called Doodleville created inside main character Drew’s sketchbook. The only problem is that her doodles don’t stay in the sketchbook, including a not-so-friendly monster named Levi. Full of friendship, humor, and fun, this graphic novel will be a big hit!

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Nat Enough – Maria Scrivan

Delightful graphic novel about navigating friendships in middle grades – making friends and losing them.
This is a great graphic novel for middle grade readers. It not only teaches kids what real friendship looks like, but it also teaches them to focus on who they are instead of who they aren’t. This is the first book in the Nat Enough series, but the second book in this series has just been releasedForget Me Nat

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When Stars Are Scattered – Victoria Jamison

Based on the real-life experiences of Omar Mohamed, this heartbreaking yet hopeful graphic novel gives readers insight into the life of a refugee. When Omar gets the opportunity to go to school, he is excited. He knows an education could enable him and his younger brother to get out of the refugee camp where they’ve spent most of their lives. But going to school also means leaving his brother behind to fend for himself every day. This book is a perfect example of how graphic novels can introduce important and timely issues that will resonate with readers. EXCELLENT!

For Hockey Fans

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Hockey Super Six on Thin Ice – Kevin Sylvester

Lots to love about this series! It’s not only about a group of six friends who love to play hockey, but also an evil genius, some mutant squids who form an opposing team, and a magical blue light that gives everyone some unexpected skills on the ice. It’s funny, entertaining, and also focuses on the importance of teamwork.

Thanks for stopping by! I do hope you found 1 or 2 titles that you can gift to the tween in your life.

Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday and well deserved break. Enjoy this time to recharge, reflect, and read-read-read!!!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Animals, Art, Diversity, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Holiday books, Literature Circles, Middle Grade Novels, Novels, Refugee, Sci-Fi, social justice

GEARPICKS Holiday Book Gifting 2020 Part 1 – Toddlers, Beginning and Early Readers, and a little Festive Fun!

Give Books

Stuck trying to think of something to buy that baby, toddler, or young reader in your life? Why not gift them with some BOOK JOY????   Welcome to the 2020 edition of my Holiday Book Gifting post!   I hope you find one or two books to gift to a special reader in your life this holiday season!  (Book Gifting for Tweens coming out soon!)

Happy reading and gifting everyone!

For Toddlers

The Babies and Kitties Book – John Schindell

Anyone who is looking for a board book to give to a new baby – this is it!  ADORABLE photographs and rhyming text celebrates all the ways babies and kittens are alike.  Off the chart on the cuteness scale.   This is the follow up to The Babies and Doggies Book (which I had never heard of but it’s beyond cute as well!)

No More Naps  – Chris Grabenstein

Look at this cover!!! Can you stand it?  How can you not make connections to that face?  With  just a few words and simple drawings, this story captures the emotional highs and lows of a toddler, as well as the poor folks having to deal with them.  LOVE this one!

Delightful Picture Books

The Box Turtle – Vanessa Roeder

Terrance the turtle is born without a shell so his parents strap on a box.  All is well until the other turtles tease him and Terrance begins a search for a new shell.  Another off the chart on the cuteness scale but also a lovely message about being yourself and loving who you are.  Not preachy – just sweet.

Find Fergus – Mike Boldt

Hilarious story of a bear who is VERY bad at hiding.  This one will have you and your kids laughing out loud!

The Barnabus Project – The Fan Brothers

One of my favorite picture books of 2020, The Barnabus Project is a stunning story both visually and emotionally.  Barnabus is half elephant and half mouse (think Island of Misfit Toys in Rudolph) so is banned to the basement of the Perfect Pet Shop with the other “Failed Projects”.  Love this story.  Hug this story.  Share this story.  

Polar Bear in the Snow – Mac Barnett

So, so clever! A perfect combination of words and illustration pulls the reader in and makes them pause at each spread.  Simplicity, beauty, and wonder – this is picture book perfection!  LOVE!

The Snow Fox – Rosemary Shojaie

A charming story about cherishing old friends and making new ones that takes readers quietly through the four seasons.  Gentle and calm and with beautiful illustrations.  This is a cozy-curl-up-and-read-together kind of book!

The Grinny Granny Donkey – Craig Smith

Another sequel to the wildly popular, viral sensation “Wonky Donkey” series.  This one is about Grandma Donkey and, like the others, is filled with cute, tongue tied rhythms.  Lots of fun!

Grumpy Monkey Up All Night – Suzanne Long

Love this new edition to the Grumpy Monkey series.  This one will have you laughing at Monkey who is determined to stay up all night!

Attack of the Underwear Dragon – Scott Rothman

This is a fun, rhyming tale of a young boy who loves the Knights of the Round Table and dreams of one day joining their ranks as an assistant Knight.  Perfect for anyone who loves Knights, dragons and underwear!

Not Me – Elise Gravel

“Who’s responsible for this mess?”…”Not me!”  Hilarious book all parents will relate to!  The “Not Me” monster comes to life in Canadian author Elise Gravel’s new book.  Available in French.

New for Beginning Readers

Cat Kid Comic Club: From the Creator of Dog Man by [Dav Pilkey]

Cat Comic Club – Dav Pilkey

Dav Pilkey is back with a new graphic novel series about a cat who starts a comic writing club.  Such a great book for inspiring creativity!  Why not gift your budding cartoonist with this book and a blank comic book (see below) so they, too, can draw comics like Cat!

Blank Comic Book for Kids

A perfect gift for your budding cartoonist.  An entire book filled with blank comic book frames and empty speech bubbles!  LOVE this for home but a great one for having on hand at school!

The Bad Guys in THE ONE?! – Aaron Blabey

For the BAD GUY fans in your family, here is the latest in the series.  Soon to be a major motion picture!

Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure  – Jeff Kinney

For Wimpy Kid fans, here is a new series by Jeff Kinney.  This one is filled with adventure, fantasy, quests and LOTS of LOL moments.

Fun Facts

The Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Creatures – DK Publishing

Calling all Unicorn and Dragon lovers!  This one is packed full of “facts” about all the mythical creatures you can imagine.  Beautiful illustrations

400 Minecraft Tricks – Jimmy Wong

This book would likely not appear on any of my GEARPICKS recommended lists – but for the obsessed Minecraft player in your house, this one might be a big hit!

Two Truths and a Lie – It’s Alive – Ammi-Joan Paquette

Perfect family fun for the holidays.  This book is jam-packed with stories that are too crazy to be true and asks readers to separate the facts from the fakes! Also available in a Histories and Mysteries edition.

For the Family Foodie

MasterChef Junior Cookbook – Christina Tos

A perfect book for the budding foodie in your family.  Filled with great recipes, tips and tricks, nutrition, and amazing photographs.  Yum!

A Little Festive Fun

Would You Rather? – Christmas Edition

Great stocking stuffer and perfect for engaging the whole family with hilarious festive “would you rather” scenarios. Perfect for sitting around the table between courses!

I Spy Christmas Book

For a little quiet time or lap snuggling, this book is perfect for toddlers who might need a little calm as they search for hidden Christmasy things!

Jack and Santa – Mac Barnett

Mac Barnett is such a clever writer and his Jack series is just hilarious for beginning readers.  Here is the latest that has Jack worried when he finds himself on the Naughty List.  Great twist at the end!

Happy Narwhalidays – Ben Clanton

I adore Narwhal and Jelly stories – simple graphic novel format for your beginning reader.  This one is filled with more delightful and funny adventures wrapped in Christmas cheer.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s 8 Nights of Chanukah – Eric Carle

Beloved author Eric Carle brings everyone’s favorite little caterpillar along to introduce the littlest readers to Hanukkah in this colorful counting book.  This simple board book takes readers through the 8 nights of Hanukkah and the wonderful traditions and symbols of the Festival of Lights.

The Joyful Book – Todd Parr

Todd Parr never disappoints and his delightful new book looks at all the simple things that brings us joy.  Signature illustrations – his books always make me feel good when I read them!

Mistletoe by Tad Hills

Mistletoe: A Christmas Story – Tad Hills

Such a sweet story about a mouse who loves to play in the snow and an elephant who prefers to stay inside.  A gentle, funny (the last page is HILARIOUS!) story about friendship and gift giving, just right for the Christmas season.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you were able to find a special book for that special someone!

Stay tuned for Book Gifting Part 2 for your Middle Grade Readers – coming out soon!

Happy Reading and Holiday Gifting, everyone! 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Christmas, Holiday books, New Books, Picture Book, Winter Books

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #13: Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present

Hello, everyone!  Thanks to all for your positive responses to my OLLIs!  It’s great to know that these are being used and are helpful for both your online and in-class lessons.  Hoping this lesson will help you and your students fill your classroom with happy memories!    

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)

THE INSPIRATION:

It’s Christmas –  my very favorite time of year.  And while this year will look different in many ways, one tradition that remains in our house is our Christmas book collection.   When the decorations come out, so does the tub of holiday books.   When my boys were younger, I bought them each a new Christmas story every year.  Each story brings back memories and feelings from when they were young and the magic of Christmas filled our home.  There were a few favorites that always ended up at the top of the bedtime reading pile.  One of those favorites was Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present by John Burningham.  (Just the name “Slumfenberger” alone was a hit!!!)   I’ve read this book out loud I would guess over 60 times and it never ceases to delight.  There is something comforting about the journey Santa takes, the repetitive language, the compassion, the kindness of those who help Santa on his journey, the importance of the individual, and the extraordinary message of the Christmas spirit.  I have read this story aloud every year to to every grade from kindergarten to grade 7.  I never tire of it, and nor do my students.  

THE ANCHOR:1629865

Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present – John Burningham

Early one Christmas morning after returning from his annual delivery, Santa discovers one present still in his sack — a gift for Harvey Slumfenburger who lives at the top of the Roly Poly Mountain, far, far away.  Santa’s reindeer are asleep and one of them is sick.  Santa is tired, but he knows Harvey only receives one gift a year and it’s the gift he brings him on Christmas Eve.  So, he sets back out a very long journey on foot . . . by plane . . . on skis . . . until he reaches Harvey’s hut on the top of Roly Poly mountain. There, he delivers the last Christmas present.  “I wonder what it is?”  The last line of the book is one of the best endings because it invites the reader to think, to predict, and wonder just what Santa gave this little boy for Christmas.  

The Lessons

Predicting 

One of my favorite things about this book is that the reader never knows what gift Santa leaves for Harvey.  While we can use the clues of the size of the package to narrow down the choices, the possibilities are endless.  I love having children really think about what they think Harvey might want given that he only receives one gift all year.  

  • Begin by inviting the children to brainstorm a list of things they would like for Christmas this year.  Share with a partner.
  • Tell the students – what if you could only have ONE gift – which one would you choose?  Share with a partner.
  • Explain that this is a story of a little boy who only ever got one present each year from Santa Claus.  I wonder what it is? 
  • Read or share the story on YouTube (HERE)
  • After the story ends, invite the students to think about what gift Santa might have left for Harvey.  Discuss clues that will help with the prediction (ie – size of package; possible age of Harvey; ) and also what Santa may have thought would be a good choice for Harvey.
  • Invite children to share their ideas. 
  • Pass out the Harvey’s Christmas Present temple and invite the students to draw and label what gift they think Santa brought.    Click HERE for the template. 

Story Mapping and Sequencing

Because this book follows Santa’s journey to Harvey’s hut at the top of Roly Poly Mountain,  it works very well for re-telling, sequencing, and “de-constructing”.  (If you have a copy of my book Powerful Writing Structures, you can follow the “Event Story” lesson on page ). 

Students can use the Story Box template to map out Santa’s journey.    Click HERE for template 

Additional Lessons:

Visualizing – This book paints many pictures in the readers’ mind and is one that lends itself well to practicing visualizing.  Read the story aloud to the class WITHOUT showing telling them the title or showing them the or any of the illustrations.  (cover the cover with butcher paper or play the YouTube with audio only)  Invite them to practice visualizing the story.  Pause and invite students to share “what they see” in their mind.  Students could also draw sketches images while you read, or draw the one scene that “sticks”.  What does the “Roly Poly” mountain look like?  What does Harvey’s hut look like?  What’s inside Harvey’s package?   Make sure to show them the real illustrations afterwards!  

Questioning and Inferring – This book invites many questions and works well for practicing questioning and inferring.  Among some of the questions I have had from students:   Why are their only two reindeer?  How did the Reindeer get sick?  What did Santa bring Harvey?  How did Santa get home?  Why does Harvey only get one present?  How would Harvey feel if he woke up on Christmas day with no presents? 

Reader’s Theater – This book would make would be a wonderful one to use for Reader’s Theater becuase of the repetition and the various “characters” that help Santa on his journey.  Students could act out the parts, while a few take turns being the “narrator”.   Older classes could perform for their buddies.   

Additional Christmas Classics for reading and sharing: 

Below are some of the other favorite holiday classics from my collection.  Hoping there are one or two you can add to yours!  All make amazing read-aloud to share with your class or your loved ones at home.  

Who’s That Knocking on Christmas Eve? – Jan Brett

 In her classic detailed Nordic style, Jan Brett tells a delightful tale of a young boy from Finland and his ice bear who help to scare away a group of trolls who are coming to gobble up a Christmas feast.  This book is a wonderful read-aloud, great for predicting and questioning.   My son would laugh every time I got to the line “Have a bit of sausage, kitty!”  These trolls certainly won’t be knocking again next Christmas!  

The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snitcher  Robert Kraus (author of Leo the Late Bloomer) 

This book was first published in 1969 and was one of my favorites when I was younger.  I sadly did not keep a copy of the book but was thrilled to see it re-issued.  This book is such a fun read-aloud.  Great rhyming patterns which sound rather “Grinch” like at times.  While the villagers are sleeping, the Cookie Sprinkler Snitcher comes and steals all the cookie sprinkles so the mothers cannot decorate their Christmas cookies in the morning!  Lots of great connections for those of us who love to decorate those Christmas cookies!

 

Little Robin’s Christmas– by Jan Fearnly 

This book was first published under the title “Little Robin Red Vest”. It is a sweet story of a generous robin who has a vest for every day of the week.  But leading up to Christmas, he gives away each one of his vests to different chilly friends who need something to keep warm. By the time Christmas arrives, poor Robin has no vest and begins to freeze on the rooftop… when a surprise visitor delivers a special gift.  I love this book – it is a tender story with a message of sharing and kindness.

Little Tree – e.e. cummings 

“Little tree  little silent Christmas tree   you are so little   you are more like a flower  who found you in the green forest   and were you very sorry to come away”   This book is an illustrated version of e.e. cumming’s beautiful Christmas poem about a brother and a sister who find a tree in the streets and bring it home.  While they are walking home with it, they speak to the tree, asking it questions and comforting it.  This is a favorite of mine – the illustrations are soft and calming and the tenderness in which the children care for the tree is heartfelt.

The Snowman – Raymond Briggs 

Long before “graphic novels” had made their debut, Raymond Briggs brought us this classic wordless picture book which is written in the style of a graphic novel.  This charming story depicts a young boy’s adventure with a snowman who comes to life one night in his dreams.  The book has been turned into a Christmas “wordless” cartoon set to music that is apparently as classic in the UK is as the Grinch is in North America.  This story is magical, whimsical, delightful.  I have a “The Snowman” stuffy that plays the music from the movie – that’s how much I love this book.   Also comes in a board book.  

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss. (first published in 1957 – and still going strong!)   

No list of Christmas classics would be complete without the Grinch.  Every Who down in Whoville has memorized this amazing story of the true meaning of Christmas.  And in an age of outrageous consumerism – it’s a good one to revisit and remind ourselves that what is most important at Christmas is not an upgraded bamboozle or cardinker – but being “heart to heart and hand in hand” with those we love.   I read this story every year.  I watch the TV show every year.   I never will I tire of it.

The Polar Express – Chris VanAlsburg  (1986 Caldecott winner)

This book is a holiday tradition in our house, as I’m sure it is in many homes.  Every year, before my boys go to bed on Christmas eve, I read it aloud.  They are young men now, but still sit enjoy this book on Christmas Eve.  After reading the last page, I take out a small bell from my pocket and ring it – making sure that we can all still hear the sweet sound.  I am all grown up but I can still hear the sound of the bell.  Can you?

It’s Christmas, David! – David Shannon.  

David Shannon wrote a book when he was five using the only two words he knew how to spell:  “no” and “David”.  When his mother passed along his keepsake box when he was an adult, he discovered the book… and the rest, as they say,  is history!  In this holiday version of the popular “David” series, we follow David as he snitches Christmas cookies and peeks in closets, and as usual, has trouble staying out of trouble!  A delightful, funny read-aloud with lots of possibilities for “making connections”.

Christmas Cookies – Bite Size Holiday Lessons Amy Krouse Rosenthal  

In these “Cookie” books, Amy Krouse Rosenthal cleverly uses the analogy of making and eating cookies to define and illustrate important concepts such as respect, trustworthiness, patience, politeness, loyalty, etc.  The book reads a little like a dictionary – each page sharing a new word and example.  In this Christmas Cookies version, she includes holiday-related words like joy, patience, believe, celebrate, peace and tradition.  One of the things I love about Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s books is how simple they are – and this one is a perfect example – she  incorporates larger words that indirectly teaches children the meaning through the text.  This book is a perfect Christmas read-aloud in a classroom and would also make a wonderful holiday gift!  Adorable illustrations!

The Christmas Quiet Book – Deborah Underwood 

How many different kinds of quiet leading up to Christmas are there?  How about – “Searching for presents quiet,” “Getting caught quiet”, “Hoping for a snow day quiet” and the “shattered ornament quiet“.   I made connections to every page!   I loved the original The Loud Book and The Quiet Book so again, was excited to see the Christmas version.  The illustrations in this book are adorable – soft, gentle and quiet.  LOVE this book!

Snowmen at ChristmasCarolyn and Mark Buehner  

In this delightful follow-up to the popular Snowmen at Night, we follow snowman on a Christmas adventure while the rest of the world is sleeping.  The illustrations are magical – every time I read the book I see something new!  A wonderful, fun read that would lead to great art and writing activities.

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas – Melanie Watt  

Christmas would not be complete without Scaredy Squirrel!  My students have grown to love his insecurities, his worries, his cheesy grin and all his fears.  This holiday safety guide is filled with practical tips and step by step instructions to help readers prepare for a perfect Christmas, Scaredy style! From making Christmas crafts to dressing “holiday style” to choosing the perfect tree – this witty, laugh out loud book will delight Scaredy fans everywhere!  I love using these books to teach students about text features – labels, maps, fact boxes!  Have your students create a “Scaredy Squirrel” version of “How To” instructions for their favorite holiday activity!

Carl’s Christmas – Alexander Day   

The “Carl” books were, for me, my first real experience with the wordless picture book genre.  The original Good Dog, Carl book was published in 1996.  The premise of the books is a Rottweiler named Carl who is left in charge of the baby while the parents go out.  Sounds ridiculous, I know, but somehow, it works.  Day’s illustrations require no words – they tell the story seamlessly.  In this book, Carl and baby prepare for Christmas, go shopping, do some Christmas baking and have a reindeer encounter!  My boys LOVED Carl books when they were younger.  If you have never read a Carl book – you are missing something special!

The Jolly Christmas Postman – Janet & Allan Ahlberg

The Jolly Postman is back again, this time on Christmas Eve. He is off on his rounds where we meet some familiar characters and some new ones. When reading this to my class, they loved to identify who the characters were and who they thought he would visit next.  A delightful interactive book – filled with traditional rhymes with new witty twists..and beautiful illustrations.  Most of the letters contain activities for the children to do such as a game or jigsaw etc.  Such fun! 

Dasher: How a Brave Little Doe Changed Christmas Forever –  Matt Tavaras

How did Santa end up with all those reindeer and why are there eight of them? Do they like living at the North Pole?  This origin story by the author of Red and Lulu will answer all of those questions and more.  Absolutely stunning illustrations.  This book has been mentioned in several best-of-the-year lists.  A great book for “Knew-New’s”!!!

Red and Lulu – Matt Tavares 

This recent addition to my Christmas collection is absolutely stunning.  A male and female cardinal get separated when the giant tree they call home is cut down and hauled away.  Red (the male cardinal) follows the truck to find Lulu (the female), but he can’t fly that fast and loses sight of it. The countryside turns to a city scape, and that’s where a reunion, traditions, and new beginnings are found.  Beautiful, touching story about perseverance and love.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope this lesson brings you some Christmas joy!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts with some holiday book gifting ideas!

Wishing you and your loved ones near and far a VERY happy and WELL DESERVED holiday.  Look after yourself and enjoy the magic of the season.   Happy Holidays, everyone!  

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Community, Connect, Identity, immigration, Lesson Ideas, Mapping, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Powerful Writing Structures, Visualize, Writing Anchors

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #12: Map of Good Memories

Hello, everyone!  Thanks to all for your positive responses to my OLLIs!  It’s great to know that these are being used and are helpful for both your online and in-class lessons.  Hoping this lesson will help you and your students fill your classroom with happy memories!    

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)

THE INSPIRATION:

One of the things I love is when an anchor book can be used for multiple lessons.  The Map of Good Memories is one of those “multi-purpose” books that could be used as an anchor for many lessons.  One lesson might be to introduce immigration and to highlight the challenges facing families when they are forced to flee their home because of war and leave their memories behind.  It could be used for making connections to places in our community.  It could be used for practicing visualizing (don’t show the pictures and invite the students to visualize and create their own map)

But since I have a small obsession with books about maps (is there anything that can’t be mapped???) I thought about linking this book to mapping.  When I realized that this book was about mapping memories – I thought of combining memory pockets with mapping!   If you could “map your memories” – what would you include? 

THE ANCHOR:

The Map of Good Memories Fran Nuno

As her family prepares to flee the war-torn city of her birth, Zoe maps out the favorite places where she has spent the happiest times of her life, creating a “map of good memories,” so that they will always be with her.  At the end of the story, she discovers a secret message (shape) within the map. It made me wonder what shapes or patterns we might see if we made our own maps.

The Lesson:

Part 1

  • Write the word memory on the board or chart board.  Ask students what a memory is.
  • Discuss that memories are made from experiences we have in our that we remember.  Explain that memories often have feelings attached to them. These feelings can be happy, sad, scary, worried, etc.
  • Ask students where our memories are kept?  If you have done any lessons from Powerful Writing Structures or Writing Power, you can connect this to brain pocket writing, specifically “memory pockets”
  • Ask students to think about favorite places in and around their home and community where they have happy memories (favorite family restaurant, park, store, school, special tree)  Share some of your own.
  • Tell them that the story you are going to read is about a girl who has to leave her home but before she goes, she wants to make “a map of good memories”.  Invite the students to listen for the places she incudes on her map.
  • Read the story or share the read-aloud video (below)

 

Part 2

After reading the story, explain certain places can become extra special because of the experiences we have there and the people we visit these  places with.  While we might not be able to go to some of these places now, it’s nice to think back on the happy times we shared there and hopefully will again, soon.  Where do you love to go?  Think of all the places you have been to that are special to you.  

Invite the students to brainstorm places in their neighbourhood where they have experienced happy memories.  Ideas may include: 

  • favorite family restaurant
  • school
  • soccer field 
  • friend/cousin/grandparent’s house
  • favorite store (collectibles, video game store, toy store, etc.)
  • favorite park
  • swimming pool or skating rink
  • favorite back lane for street hockey

Using the My Map of Good Memories planning page, model how to list special places on one side and the happy memory connected to that place on the other.  Encourage students to record the actual name of the place.  ie – instead of “park”, write “Hillcrest Park”.  

  • Little Mountain baseball field – My happy memory of playing little league
  • Superstore – My happy memory of going shopping with my mom
  • Oodles of Noodles – My happy memory of eating noodles with my family

Part 3

After the students complete their planning page, model how to “map” the memories on My Map of Good Memories page.  Draw a picture of one of the places from your list and label it.  Depending on your grade level, students could create a key on the side, listing the place and happy memory.  

Students can color their maps when they are finished.  Like the book, invite them to track their happy memories (using a pencil first!) and see what “shape” they create.  

The example below is a teacher model of a Map of Good Memories from https://thelinkingnetwork.org.uk/    (Love the luggage labels! )

map of good memories

Additional Books to Support This Lesson:

Mapping Penny’s World Loreen Leedy

I have used this book often to launch a mapping unit with primary students.  Lisa is learning about maps in school.  She can create a map of anything and decides to map her dog, Penny’s, world!  Great information about map features including keys and scales.   

Mapping My Day – Julie Dillemuth

Spunky Flora teaches readers how to read, draw maps, and develop spatial thinking skills in this fun, interactive book.  

My Map Book – Sara Fanelli

Maps of everything from your bedroom, your day, and your stomach!  Perfect inspiration for your mapping unit.  

I Know Here – Laurel Croza

A young girl is moving from a rural home to a big city.  She spends the days before her move revisiting her favorite places for the last time.  

Shi-shi-etko – Nicola Campbell

A young indigenous girl spends the last few days before leaving for residential school collecting “memories” of her home and the land around it.

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All the Places to Love – Patricia MacLauchlan

A classic from Patricia MacLauchlan about special places and the people we share them with.  This story begins as Eli is born and, as he grows, he learns to cherish the people and places around him.  Eventually, he passes on what he has discovered to his new baby sister, Sylvie.  

For more lessons on connecting and visualizing, check out my book, Reading Power, 2nd edition 

Thanks for stopping by!  Stay safe, everyone.  I know these days are challenging and it’s sometimes it’s hard to find happiness amidst the worry. Hoping this lesson will help everyone find some happy memories to focus on.   

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Community, Connect, Identity, immigration, Lesson Ideas, Mapping, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Powerful Writing Structures, Visualize, Writing Anchors

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #11: If You Come to Earth

Hello, everyone!  When schools shut down last spring, I wanted to find a way to continue to support teachers as they went to online and virtual teaching.  OLLI lessons (Online Learning Lesson Ideas) were weekly lessons, based on a picture book, that teachers could either use for remote or in-class lessons.  Since then, teachers have continued asking when I would be posting them again.  And while I can’t promise I will be posting a new one every week, I will do my best to post as many as I can!

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)

THE INSPIRATION:

One of the most important messages making its way into children’s literature is the need to care for the earth and for each other.  When writing my book Powerful Understanding a few years ago, I noticed many authors finding unique ways to share this important message to children through their books.  This week’s OLLI features one of my new favorites for this theme, inspired by the author’s travels for UNICEF and Save the Children.

THE ANCHOR:

If You Come to Earth: Blackall, Sophie: 9781452137797: Books - Amazon.ca

If You Come to Earth – Sophie Blackall

“If you come to earth, there are a few things you should know…” 

This gorgeous, thoughtful book imagines a child explaining Earth to a visitor from another planet. Both good and bad things about our planet are highlighted, with the overarching theme that our world is a beautiful place and it all works better if we help one another. Kids will love looking at the wonderfully detailed scenes on each oversized page.

This book is inspired by the thousands of children Sophie Blackall has met during her travels around the world in support of UNICEF and Save the Children.

Watch the author, Sophie Blackall, read the story aloud HERE

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THE LESSON:  

Start the lesson by inviting the students to imagine an alien had arrived on earth and their class had been invited to help introduce our planet to them.  What would we want to tell them about it?

How would we describe Earth to a stranger?  The land, the people, the animals?  How would we explain different countries, culture, diversity, kindness, war?  What positive and negative things would we want them to know about living here on Earth?  

Begin to create a large brainstorm web in the classroom.  In the center of the web, write “What is Earth?”  Depending on the grade you teach, you may wish to prompt children to think about different sub-topics connected to Earth such as:  people, land, water, weather, animals, earth problems, earth blessings, earth tips.  Download a planning page HERE

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Begin to brainstorm ideas for each topic.  This lesson could actually take several days to complete.   I would also invite students to add to the web, as they think of new ideas.

After one or two days of recording ideas, read the story If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall or show the video of the author reading the story aloud.   This will likely stimulate additional ideas that you can add to extend the class web.

Depending on your grade level, I could see this developing into a class project or a class book.  Each student could take on a different topic to describe:  People, Animals, Land, Water, People, Weather, Diversity, Problems, Blessings, Tips.   Using the whimsical voice of the author, research would not be required, but better to capture the natural voice and insight from the children.   You can use the student template HERE

Additional Books to Support This Lesson:

Below is a list of additional books that would support this lesson.

We Are Here – Notes for Living on Planet Earth – Oliver Jeffers

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This is How We Do It – Matt Lamothe

The Lonely Planet Kids Travel Book: A journey through every country in the world by [Lonely Planet Kids]

The Travel Book by Lonely Planet Kids

Atlas of Adventures by Rachel Williams

 If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche

Thanks for stopping by this week.  I’m hoping you have found some inspiration or an anchor book you feel excited to share with your students.  The Earth is our home.  We need to take care of it and each other.   It’s that simple.

For more lessons on this theme, see my book book Powerful Understanding.

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Diversity, Ecosystems, environment, Lesson Ideas, Multicultural, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book

Top Ten Tuesday – New Fall Picks for the First Day of Fall!

The Broke and the Bookish : · Top Ten Tuesday

Happy first day of fall, everyone! (my favorite season!) While many things feel unsettled and unpredictable, one thing that we can always predict is the changing of seasons. And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate fall than with some new fall books (and a few fall favorites!)

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Leif and the Fall – Alison Sweet Grant

A little leaf is afraid to fall and and is determined to find a different way down. With his friend Laurel, he uses the resources around him to create a net, a kite, a parachute all in hopes of softening his landing. Great book for STEAM and growth mindset! Students could design their own way of helping Leif down.

Little Acorn

Delightful introduction to the life cycle of trees. Beautiful illustrations!

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Dance Like a Leaf AJ Irving

This one took me a little by surprise. As her grandmother’s health declines, a young girl takes the lead in their cozy shared autumn traditions. Poetic prose and beautiful illustrations. So much more than a book celebrating fall, this is a beautiful celebration of life and a gentle introduction to the death of a loved one.

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn – Kenard Pak

A young girl takes a walk through forest and town, greeting all the signs of the coming season and saying good-bye to summer. This is one of a series of “Hello, Goodye” to seasons. I always think of my Grannie when I read this book. Like the little girl in this story, she used to talk to every flower and creature and gust of wind.

Little Goose’s Autumn – Elli Woodlard

A beautiful, uplifting story about a little goose trying to find her place in the world. Lyrical text, gorgeous illustrations and full of hope. A perfect anchor book for “SELF”.

Le temps au fil des jours – Martha E.H. Rustad

See the changes in the weather and explore how people and animals get ready for cooler temperatures. Great for building French vocabulary. This is one of a series of four season books.

The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry

The Scarecrow – Beth Ferry

This book is likely my favorite book from 2019. A gorgeous and poignant picture book about two unexpected friends and the special connection they share. Emotional exploration of loneliness and love. Kleenex, please. Translated into French and available online as a read-aloud.

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Lawrence in the Fall – Matthew Farima

Lawrence the fox is the only student in the class without a collection for sharing. His father takes him into the forest and Lawrence discovers an endless collection of fall leaves. Lovely muted blue/brown illustrations. This would be an excellent tie-in to leaf collecting, nature walks, or tree identification (final endpapers show the leaves he collects).

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Full of Fall – April Pulley Sayre

Simple, rhythmic text in a beautiful font support this absolutely beautiful photographic journey of a tree. Full color photographs so real you can almost smell the leaves. Great information at the end for budding scientists.
“So long, summer. Green, goodbye! Hello, yellow. Greetings, gold.
Oh-it’s orange! Red, be bold.”

Hello Autumn! – Shelley Rotner

Simple text and bright, vivid photographs show readers the changes in animals, plants, and landscapes that occur during fall. Great for early primary!

Awesome Autumn – All Kinds of Fall Facts and Fun – Bruce Goldstone

I have used this book many times with students. It’s jam packet with so many facts about fall – everything from the environment and weather, plants and animals, traditions, sports, clothing, activities. Lots of curriculum connections in this one!

Autumn Math Walk Deanna Pecaski McLennan

I discovered this series over the summer and posted them on my Outdoor Learning blog. Love the celebration Math in the natural world and the suggestions for outdoor learning. A perfect anchor for sparking mathematical conversations about shapes, patterns, and numbers in the fall.

Summer Green to Autumn Gold – Uncovering Leaves’ Hidden Colors – Mia Posada

This nonfiction picture book beautifully explains why leaves change color in fall. It combines the vibrant colors of fall with interesting facts. Scientific facts and links to hands-on activities included at the back. Great link to both Science and Art.

Autumblings Douglas Florian

Douglas Florian is my all-time favorite, go-to poet for teaching poetry. I love his style, his word play, his humour and his illustrations. So many of his poems can be used to inspire poetry writing! This book is a follow up his other season poetry books Winter Eyes and Summersaults. (I have them all!)

What is your favorite fall book to share with your students?

Thanks for stopping by! And I hope you found one or two new books you are excited about! Happy reading and happy fall, everyone!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Fall, Seasons, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Back to School 2020 with New Books, Old Books and a few Covid Books

It's Monday What are you reading? | There's a Book for That

This school year will certainly be uncharted and ever-changing territory!   Students, parents, and teachers will have nonstop questions and concerns.   With just a week left, I know that many have mixed emotions about the return to school.  But one thing I do know, when everything else about this year may feel completely upside down – the one constant you can rely on is… BOOKS!    So here are my favorite new, older, and Covid releases for “back to school 2020”.  There will never be another “back to school” quite like this one!

NEW RELEASES 

Our Favorite Day of the Year – A.E. Ali

Oh, this book.  So much to love and so many lesson ideas (my brain is swirling!) with this book!  After their teacher tells them the first day of school is her favorite day of the year, a group of kindergarten students get the opportunity to share their favorite day with their classmates. As the school year progresses, many different cultures, traditions, and observations are introduced and shared between each classmate.  LOVE!

Our Class is a Family – Shannon Olsen

One of my favorite new Back to School books this year and a perfect one for building community within your classrooms, creating a home away from home, and making students feel safe, included, and loved.

I Got the School Spirit – Connie Schofield-Morrison

A young girl greets the new school year with an abundance of positive energy!  Bouncy text, lots of sound words, and boundless enthusiasm in this one!  Would make a great first day read-aloud.  I Got the Rhythm and I Got the Christmas Spirit are the two other books in this series.

Bunny Braves the Day – Suzanne Bloom

When a little bunny is nervous about starting school, his big sister hops right in to help him overcome his fears.  I really liked how it was a sibling, not an adult, who helps ease the nerves.

Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten by [Laura Purdie Salas, Hiroe Nakata]

Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten – Laura Purdie Salas

First day of kindergarten told from the viewpoint of a shy child.  This is particularly good for children with sensory issues and how to make plans to help with those school challenges.

We Will Rock Our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Follow-up to the very popular We Don’t Eat Our Classmates (see below), and while not quite as cute as the first one, there is still a lot of fun and heart with Penelope Rex and the kids of Mrs. Noodle Man’s kindergarten class as they prepare for the class talent show.

Old Favorites….

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

A warm, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids starting and returning to school.    All children need to know they are welcome in their classrooms and feel a sense of belonging.  In rhythmic phrases, this story emphasizes the inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures.  The perfect book for the first week of school to promote a positive classroom and school community.

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!– Mo Willems

Mo Willems is back with another pigeon book just in time for back to school! The Pigeon Has to Go to School is a laugh-out-loud hilarious story focusing on fears about going to school for the first time. Not preachy and a great ending. A perfect back to school read! LOVE this!

You’re Finally Here! – Melanie Watt

In a Mo Willams “Pigeon” style, this bunny speaks directly to the reader, telling them how LONG he has been waiting for them.   Melanie Watts’ style is fun, playful, and very easy to read aloud because the humour keeps readers engaged in the story.

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We Don’t Eat our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there are many “back to school” books to choose from… but this is definitely the one I recommend.  So fresh and funny, but teaches empathy so beautifully.  A perfect read-aloud or gift for that young one who might be experiencing “back to school jitters”.

Steve, Raised By Wolves –  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”

The Day You Being – Jacqueline Woodson

Wow. Powerful and perfect. A beautifully illustrated and told story of encouragement and empowerment for kids who feel different from others, one that urges them to tell their stories and lift their voices.  A great back to school book for creating a positive class community.

A Few COVID Tales….

Germs vs. Soap – Didi Dragon

The perfect how-to children’s book for Covid Times, when proper hand washing is more important than ever.  Love the clever, memorable language, and playful illustrations and humour.

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If You Can’t Bear Hug, Air Hug – Katie Sodmak

Super cute book that provides alternative ways to greet each other and show that we love them during this new world of social distancing.  Perfect book for the first week back to school!

A Unique Start – 6 Ft. Apart – Emily Oquendo

A perfect classroom read aloud for the first day or week back at school during the COVID-19 crisis. This book addresses some of the changes that students will see around school during the 2020-2021 school year and a great one for  parents and/or teachers who have to talk about this difficult time with their children.  Written in a very relatable way without being too preachy

Thanks for stopping by!  Hoping you found a title or two that caught your eye!

Sending positive thoughts to each and every one of you as you prepare for back to school this year.

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Back to School, Community, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books, Picture Book

Picture Books 10 for 10 (2020) Top Ten Picture Books to Support Outdoor Learning

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I’m excited to be, once again, participating in this summer’s 10 for 10 Picture Book celebration! #pb10for10   This annual celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning.  Hard to believe this is my eighth year of participating in this event! (you can read my 2019 here 2018 here,  2017 post here,  2016 post here2015 post here2014 post here and 2013 here. )  Each year on August 10th, the blogging community chooses 10 picture books on a range of themes – from diversity, to community building, to writing, to conservation.  It is an amazing opportunity to explore new picture books related to a wide range of themes.  (It can also be a little hard on your bank account, if you are anything like me!)

 2020…. A year for the record books.  As we prepare and venture into the unknown of classrooms during Covid,  many are pressing the reset button and looking for new ways to support their students learning while trying to keep everyone safe.  While there is no doubt school start up will be challenging and look very different from any other year, it may also open up some exciting opportunities for exploring new ways to teach.  Outdoor learning is one of these new opportunities.  Outdoor learning is more than just taking students outside to play at the end of the day.  It is an outdoor learning space that provides an opportunity to integrate nature into your teaching and promotes play, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

Traditionally, I have always organized my #pb10for10 around Reading Power two books for each strategy (connect, question, visualize, infer, transform).  But this year, I am breaking with tradition and focusing on a theme more fitting for the times – 10 books that celebrate nature and may inspire outdoor learning and exploring.

(Note – I found so many wonderful books for this theme, I will continue with a second post later this week!)

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1.Run Wild David Covell

This book makes me want to take off my shoes and run around outside and explore!  A wonderful reminder that there are so many adventures to be found when you put down your screen.  Lovely rhythmic text and detailed illustrations!

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2.The Not So Great Outdoors – Madeline Kloepper

The little girl in this story hates nature.  She wants her WiFi and her electricity, and she doesn’t see what the big point of this “outdoor stuff” is.  Camping with her family is not exactly her idea of fun.  But she soon discovers that the (not-so) great outdoors can be just as exciting as screens and skyscrapers.  Love this playful picture book celebrating the pleasures of unplugging and embracing nature.

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 3. Daniel Finds a Poem – Micha Archer

What is poetry? Is it glistening morning dew?  Crisp leaves crunching?  A cool pond, sun-warmed sand, or moonlight on the grass?  Maybe poetry is all of these things – you just have to take the time to really look and listen.  I use this book when launching my poetry unit but it’s the PERFECT book to inspire exploring and writing.

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4. The Listening Walk – Paul Showers

What can you hear when you’re out for a walk? The tap of your shoes, the whirr of the sprinklers, the chug of the bus? This classic picture book encourages you to slow down and listen to the noises all around you.  I have always loved using this book for visualizing and teaching onomatopoeia but would be an great inspiration for taking a “listening walk” with your students.

5. Autumn Math Walk Deanna Pecaski McLennan

Outdoor learning means finding ways to integrate nature into all areas of your curriculum.  This is a wonderful series that can spark mathematical conversations with children, and be used as a guide for discovering the rich math that exists in nature.   See also Winter Math Walk, Beach Math Walk and Playground Math.

6. Everybody Needs a Rock – Byrd Baylor

This is one of my all-time favorite books to share with students.  Byrd Baylor invites readers to find their “perfect rock” and gives 10 “rock rules” to follow while searching.  So many lessons and activities stem from this book –  a perfect introduction to rocks and minerals unit in science; students can find their own rock to learn about; learning a First Nations ways of knowing perspective; students to find a special rock and write a description and about their journey to find it.  LOVE!   (Check out my OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea on this book HERE)

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7. You’re Missing It!  – Brady Smith

Sometimes, it’s parents who need reminding to turn off their phones and enjoy the sights and sounds around them.  Perfect reminder to practice mindfulness, being present and enjoying the moment.  A great to companion (text-to-text) to Sidewalk Flowers.  

8. Backyard Fairies – Phoebe Wahl

Where are those fairies?  I am certain they are here – there are clues everywhere – but I just can’t see them!   Follow a little girl as she sets out into the woods in her backyard searching for the backyard fairies.  Although readers can see them, as hard as she looks, the fairies are always just out of view for the narrator.  Delightful illustrations.  I would use this book to promote Imagination Pocket writing.  Children could also go on a fairy walk outside or draw their own fairy forest.

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9.  Finding Wild – Megan Wagner Llyod

Breathtaking illustrations and enchanting language, this book takes readers on a sensory journey though nature.  Would be a great anchor book for visualizing and sensory details.  Would also be inspiring for kids to find their wild!

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 10. The Hike – Alison Farrell

Share the joy and excitement of three friends as they head out to enjoy the great outdoors together.  I love the beautiful, lyrical storytelling and the details of nature that fill every corner of this book.  Besides the overall message of encouragement to get out and enjoy the world outside, I would definitely use this for launching scientific notebooks and labelled diagrams.

While  not  a picture  book,  this  looks  like  an  excellent  resource  (but  I have  not  read it,  myself).  12082784

Moving the Classroom Outdoors:  Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning in Action – Herbert W. Broda

A great resource of new ideas and advanced ways to meaningfully use the space on  school grounds to support student learning.  Includes research and practical examples from schools across North America. Great photos!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book to caught your eye!

(Note – I found so many books for this theme, I will continue with a second post later this week!)

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 10 for 10, 2020 Releases, environment, New Books, Outdoor Learning

Favorite Middle Grade Novels of 2020 (so far!) for summer reading!

It’s August!  Eeeek!  Only one more month to catch up on our READING, so thought I’d post a list of favorite middle grade novels.   (You can read last summer’s post HERE)

Whether you know a child,  tween, or teen who might be looking for some great summer reading, or you are on the look-out for a new book for next year’s read-aloud, there is something here for everyone.

What trends have I noticed in MG novels this year?:  stories written from alternating points of view, relatable characters who stand up for injustices, and a good dose of spook!  Some very powerful books – well worth checking out!  Happy summer reading, everyone!

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A Field Guide to Getting Lost – Joy McCullough

So much to love about this book about Sutton, a girl with a passion for science and  Louis, a boy obsessed with robots who dreams of writing fantasy novels.  While the two have nothing in common, they must figure out how to get along when their parents start dating.  Told in alternating perspectives of Sutton and Luis, this book is so engaging and has such authentic characters and voice – readers will make SO many connections!  Loved it so much!

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Efren Divided – Enesto Cisneros

Raw, gripping and powerful.  Seventh-grader Efrén Nava’s world turns upside down when his mother, his Ama, his Superwoman, is suddenly deported.   Efren is left to dig deep to find courage as he struggles to look after his young brother and sister and find a way to get his Ama home.  An important book that will spark discussion about immigration policies and inequality.  Heart-breaking and heart-warming, I needed Kleenex for this one.

 

Rick – Alex Gino

Eleven year old Rick struggles with a toxic friendship and his sexual identity is as he navigates middle school feeling “different”.  Sequel to the popular book GEORGE by the same author.  This is an excellent introduction for younger tweens to the LGBTQIAP+ community, nonbinary pronouns and sexual identity.

The Blackbird Girls – Anne Blankman

Gripping historical fiction, told in two voices, tells the story of two young girls fleeing the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.  Related story told through flashbacks of one of the girls fleeing the German invasion of Kiev during WWII.   Despite the horrible events both girls are experiencing, hope and the power of kindness shine through this book.  The details of daily life in Ukraine are fascinating.  If you enjoyed the HBO series “Chernobyl”, you will enjoy this book!

A Place at the Table – Saadia Faruqi

Told in alternating points of view, sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl are each in need of a friend.  Both girls are struggling with complicated home lives and a meet in a cooking class.  Mix in a cooking contest, middle school friendships, and a much-needed lesson on empathy, this book really surprised me.  Beautifully written and rich with important themes to discuss including race, religion and immigration, friendship, family, and how to make choices to be the type of person you want to be.

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From the Desk of Zoe Washington – Janae Marks

“Just Mercy” for kids!  Zoe Washington just turned twelve and has big plans to enter a kids baking show.  Things take a turn when she receives a letter from her biological father, whom she has never met and discovers he is in prison for a crime he says he did not commit.  She writes him back and so begins a summer filled with baking, friendship, and some important lessons about the criminal justice system that is accessible and easy for a tween to understand.   Another great surprise book for me.

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We Dream of Space – Erin Entrada Kelly

I can still remember vividly watching the Challenger tragedy unfold on TV.   Set in Jan, 1986 in the days leading up to the Challenger tragedy, this book is written from the perspective of Bird, Cash, and Finch – three different siblings living in a dysfunctional family.  Erin Entrada Kelly has captured the confusion and chaos of adolescence in a heartbreaking,  beautiful way.

Dress Coded – Carrie Firestone

A modern “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret?”, this powerful debut novel is told through narration, podcast episodes, and various letters.  So many themes to explore here, including girl-power, friendship, and standing up for what you believe in.  Molly, an eighth grader, starts a podcast to protest the unfair dress code enforcement at her middle school.  So relevant without being forced or fake.  EXCELLENT!

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Me and Banksy – Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Entertaining and thought provoking story that tackles the important issues of cyber bullying and cyber security in schools and includes themes of art and civic debates.  Dominica and her friends are targeted by a cyber bully, who is posting embarrassing images of them online.  They stage a protest to show how damaging the security cameras are to the students and teachers.  I loved the funny and engaging banter between the characters. This would be a great book to prompt a discussion with tweens about privacy issues in our digital world.  

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The One and Only Bob – Katherine Applegate

The much anticipated sequel to The One and Only Ivan did not disappoint.  In the story, we follow Bob after a tornado separates him from Julia while visiting his friends Ruby and Ivan. The story is action-packed, involves a diverse array of animals, and touches on the important topic of forgiveness.  You will be laughing in one moment and reaching for your Kleenex the next.  Bob’s voice is delightful and I love Katherine Applegate’s brilliant use of language, rich with metaphors and similes:  “When he opens the fridge, the light spills out like maple syrup on a hot pancake.” So many quotes worth savoring.  LOVE!

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Music for Tigers – Michelle Kadarusman

Beautifully written coming of age story set in Tasmania.  Louisa would rather spend the summer at home in Toronto playing her violin but instead is shipped off to spend the summer with her Uncle.  This book transports the reader to the lush Tasmanian rainforest of Australia as Louisa discovers a diary of her great grandmother.  In it, she learns a rich-family history to conserve the Tasmanian tigers.

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Stand Up, Yumi Chung! – Jessica Kim

This was such a fun, heart-warming story!  Shy Yumi Chung dreams of being a stand-up comedian one day, but that is not what her Korean immigrant parents have in mind for her.  When she stumbles across a comedy camp meeting in her neighborhood, Yumi finds herself pretending to be “Kay”, an absent student, and taking her spot in the camp.  I enjoyed this book so much.  It’s heartfelt and funny with many themes including family, comedy, and being your true self.  Lots of hype about this one, and now I know why!

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My Life as a Potato – Arianne Costner

I SO SO SO loved this book! (I know I say that a lot!)  It is laugh out loud funny and a perfect read-aloud for the beginning of the year.  Hilarious, accurate story of seventh grader Ben, convinced he is cursed by potatoes,  as he navigates his way through middle school with a main quest to avoid embarrassment.  Fans of the Wimpy Kid series will LOVE this book!  The character development is amazing, perfectly capturing the voice and mindset of a typical middle school student, complete with self-doubt and girl crushes.

Ghost Squad – Claribel A. Ortega

Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters  mixed together in this action-packed fantasy about two best friends, a ghost family and a quest for a spell book.  Twelve-year old Lucely Luna likes hanging out with her best friend, Syd, and spending time with her family.   Only most of her family are ghosts and she’s the only one who can see them.  If any book will be made into a movie this year – I predict this one!

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Bloom – Kenneth Oppel

High scores on the creep scale for this one!  Bloom is the first book in a trilogy (book #2 should be released in September) by wonderful Canadian author Kenneth Oppel, set in Salts Spring Island, B.C.   Killer vines begin a global invasion, growing fast and furiously after a rainfall.  Three teens: Anaya, Petra, and Seth, each with their own unusual trait, are the only ones who seem to be immune.  What’s their secret?  Eeeek!  This one actually creeped me out!  It’s a perfect suspenseful mix of dystopia, mystery, and horror. Sci-fi fans will fighting over this one!  Can’t wait for book #2!

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Cinders and Sparrows – Stefan Bachman

Spooky, charming adventure story filled with magic, witches, and a castle filled with ghosts.  Twelve-year old Zita is an orphan who discovers she has inherited an old castle and that she comes from a long line of powerful witches.  Zita, unfortunately, doesn’t know the first thing about being a witch.  The focus on family, friendship, and belonging in this story is fresh, magical, and enchanting.  Note – this book will be released in early October – just in time for Halloween!

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A Wolf for a Spell – Karah Sutton

I so enjoyed this magical retelling of of the classic Baba Yaga story told from the perspective of a wolf who must work together with the dreaded witch to save her pack and beloved forest.  The writing has a classic fairy tale feel and the author’s fresh twists and perspectives on this classic Russian witch tale really worked.

And there you have it!  My favorite Middle Grade novels so far this year!  Stay tuned for some exciting news about ordering these books for your school!

Thank for stopping by!  Hope one or two books have caught your eye!

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Diversity, environment, Family, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Identity, immigration, Middle Grade Novels, New Books, Novels, Point of View, Racism, Read-Aloud, Sci-Fi