Category Archives: Ecosystems

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #6: Up in Garden and Down in the Dirt – Kate Messner

Hello everyone!  Hope you all had a restful weekend and enjoyed some time with people in “your bubble”.  Things seem to be “opening up” slowly,  with “in person teaching”  scheduled to start next week.  I know that the thought of being back in schools with children brings with it a range of emotion and I am sending you positive thoughts and energy as you transition to yet another version of our “new normal”.

Thank you for the positive responses to my weekly OLLI  posts “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“.  I’m happy that you are finding them helpful for your distance lessons.

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) 

Anchor Book:

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt | Flowering Minds

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

This week’s OWWI is based on the anchor book Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal – the second book in the “Over and Under” series. (See also Over and Under the Snow and Over and Under the Pond)  I love this series and have used them extensively in classrooms.  I particularly love the clever “split screen” illustrations in this series, showing life above and below the ground.   I thought this would be a great book to inspire children to get outside to enjoy the spring weather with their families and perhaps do a little gardening!  This book has SO many curriculum connections – you could spend a week or more planning activities in science, math, art, and writing, so be sure to add this title to your STEAM collection!

This book is a delightful textual and visual celebration of gardening layered with a wonderful inter-generational story of a granddaughter and her Nana.  We follow the young girl and her grandmother as they journey through the year planning, planting, and harvesting their garden—and learn about all the animal and insect life that we don’t even see or suspect going on in the world “down in the dirt”. Added bonus is the informative back notes including an author’s note, bibliography and extra facts about the animal species encountered.

There are many versions of this book as a read-aloud available online, including the author, Kate Messner, reading it herself!

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt | Flowering Minds

 

Podcast: Going Underground: Kidlit in the Labyrinth | Curious City ...

Lessons: 

After students listen to the story online, choose from any of the lessons below – or do them all!

  • Making Connections  – in the story, the girl is learning from her grandmother about many different aspects of gardening.  What connections do you make to this story?  What activities do you like to do with your grandparents?  What are some things they have taught you?                                                                                                Click HERE for the Primary Connections template.                                                            Click HERE for the Intermediate Connections template.
  • (For more lessons on Making Connections – see my book Reading Power)

 

  • KNEW-NEW” Connections – after reading (listening to) the story, invite students to record facts they already KNEW about gardening and NEW facts they learned.  There are also spaces for visual images and questions on this page.                        Click HERE for the KNEW-NEW the template.

 

  • Art – Draw (and label) a “split screen” picture (see sample below) of “above and below” the garden.

split screen garden

  • MathStudents brainstorm a list of vegetables they would like to plant in their “garden”.  Using a grid, they can plan out their garden, deciding where each vegetable should go and how much space (grid squares) it will take up.  This would be a perfect lead in to a lesson on AREA and PERIMETER.  I found this idea on Pinterest for planning a zoo, and while I would not do zoo planning with students (not a fan of them), I thought it would be a great idea for planning a garden!               Click here for the Math Garden Planning template 

Math zoo

  • Science – What does a seed need?  Students could learn about the “Fab Five” – five things a plant needs to grow:  sun, soil, space, air, and water

 

  • How To Writing “How to Plant a Seed”. Depending on whether your students have access to a garden, they could do some actual seed planting or just learn about it from one of the anchor books listed below and then write steps and tips on how to plant a seed.  (For more HOW TO writing ideas, see my book Nonfiction Writing Power or my new book, Powerful Writing Structures.)
  • Click HERE for the How To writing template for Primary (two pages)
  • Click HERE for the How To writing template for Intermediate.

Other lesson extensions:

  • Family Gardening Project – gardening with your family – students could join or  encourage their family to grow some vegetables or flowers and could participate in the planting and caring for the family garden.
  • Family Nature Activities:  Find backyard nature activities that students and families can do in their own backyard from the Project Learning Tree.
  • Inter-connectedness of nature  – students could learn and write about how plants and insects work together to support the cycle of nature.
  • Bug study – students choose one bug they learned about in the story and do a bug study.  Don’t forget the back-notes in the back of Kate Messner’s book that lists information about all the creatures included in the story.
  • Bug Identification – invite students to download the free iNaturalist app to practice taking photos of bugs and learning how to identify them (so cool!)  https://www.inaturalist.org/
  • Author studyKate Messner is an AMAZING writer who has written dozens of picture books, Nonfiction, and MG novels. Download the Kate Messner Author Study Guide for more ideas!

Below are other recommended anchor books you could use to support this lesson, featuring books about gardening and insects.  Check Epic Books or YouTube for online versions of these books.

Lola Plants a Garden – Anna McQuinn

We Are the Gardeners – Joanna Gaines and Kids

Plant the Tiny Seed Christie Matheson

Gardening For Beginners Osborne Books

Garden to Table

Garden to Table – Katherine Hengal

In My Garden – National Geographic Look and Learn

Backyard Bug Book for Kids – Lauren Davidson

Hello World! Backyard Bugs – Jill McDonald

 

If you are interested in more gardening education, here are some interesting websites I found:

https://kidsgardening.org/https://kidsgardening.org/in particular:   https://kidsgardening.org/blog-adapting-to-school-closures/

https://www.teachervision.com/search/gardening

https://growing-minds.org/

https://www.plt.org/activities-for-families/in-your-own-backyard/

Have a great week, everyone!  Hope these lessons inspire some ideas for your online or in-person learning this week.  Happy reading and happy gardening!

You are doing an amazing job!  There is a light at the end of this tunnel! You can do it!!!

 

 

 

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Filed under "How To" Writing, Connect, Ecosystems, environment, Gardening, Math, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Science, STEM, Writing Anchor book

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books of 2018

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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

Nonfiction picture books are invaluable read-aloud experiences and provide so many opportunities to link to content learning and inspire deep questions and rich discussions with your students! With 2018 coming to a close, I thought I would highlight my favorite Nonfiction picture books of the past year.  From animals, to insects, health, mapping, land and water, seasonal changes, ecosystems and biographies, there is sure to be a book on this list you can share with your students next term!

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Who Eats Orange? – Dianne White

Lots to love about this colorful, interactive concept book that introduces young children (Pre K- K) to different colors, animals and foods.  Engaging read-aloud filled with guessing-game pattern and rhyming text that students will enjoy, not to mention the stunning illustrations.  Lots of extra information at the back about what exactly the different animals eat and the biome they live in.

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What Do They Do With All That Poo? – Jane Kurtz

You can’t really go wrong with a book about poop in a primary class.  This one is perfect for reading aloud and practicing “The Knew-New” connection activity.  (“I knew this, but this is new to me”) Great information in this book (I learned a lot) and I like the question-answer format:  Why is hyena’s poop white? Do lions hide their poo like domestic cats? What animal has square poo? And of course, what do zoo’s do with all that poo? Sure to be a hit in your classroom!

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Lovely Beasts: The Surprising Truth – Kate Gardner

This beautiful book which breaks down myths of “scary beasts” with gentle tenderness.  Gorgeous illustrations include subtle shift from black and white depictions of our negative first impressions to full color when we learn the importance about each animal.  Just enough facts for younger students and I love the use of the “one word” activity in this book!

Terrific Tongues! – Maria Gianferari

Who knew that world of animal tongues was so  full of fascinating facts?   Tongues can be like a sword, like a straw, like a mop, and more. The story is carried by a cute monkey who investigates the mechanics of his animal friends’ tongues.  The guessing game format makes this a great read aloud and hard to resist a book that encourages kids to  stick out their tongues in a positive way?!  Love!

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Beavers: The Superpower Field Guide  – Rachel Poliquin

An engaging, entertaining graphic novel nonfiction book for middle grade students.  Love this unique format packed with amazing information as well as great illustrations and text features.  Hilarious and fast paced and I love the “guide book” size.  I look forward to more Superpower Field Guides!  (“Moles” is being released in June!)

Bugs Don’t Hug: Six-Legged Parents and Their Kids – Heather L. Montgomery

How do insect mama’s and papa’s take care of their babies?  Believe it or not, they have more in common to us than you would ever expect!  Such a fun read filled with so many amazing  and surprising insect facts.  Large format and humorous scenes will make this a very popular read-aloud!

Water Land:  Land and Water Forms Around the World – Christy Hale

Creative, clever cut-outs help readers learn about different land and water formations.  Simple, spare text even younger readers will understand.  This would be an excellent anchor book for introducing geographical terms and includes information at the back.  An excellent concept book!  LOVE this one!

The Squirrel’s Busy Year: A First Science Storybook – Martin Jenkins

Readers follow two squirrels as they travel through the changes of the seasons.  This is a simple concept book and would be a good one for teaching changing weather, plants, and animal patterns. There are teaching tips in the front and back of the story and a small index.

Stretch to the Sun: From a Tiny Sprout to the Tallest Tree on Earth – Carrie A. Pearson

There is much to love about this picture book which introduces readers to a a 600 year old Redwood – the tallest known tree on earth.  Through stunning, detailed illustrations and beautifully written sparse text (lots of triple scoop words!) this book takes us on a journey through an old growth forest ecosystem and all inter-conectedness of nature.

See How We Move – Scot Ritchie

I am a fan of Scot Ritchie books so was excited to see his new book about health and well-being.  (His other books on Community BuildingMapping Skills, and Buildings and Structures are well worth having in your library!)  Set within a story of five young multicultural friends who are competing together at a local swim meet, this book introduces young readers to a wealth of healthy habits:  importance of safety equipment (goggles, bike helmets), importance of exercise for your body, warming up before exercising, teamwork, practicing skills, enjoying the exercise, handwashing to stop spread of germs, proper nutrition, interaction of the brain and the body, and visualization.  Several games that kids can play to keep moving are included at the back.  Another MUST HAVE for your classroom or school library!

Mapping Sam – Joyce Hesselberth

Excellent blend of fiction and nonfiction in this one.  Readers follow an adventurous cat named Sam as he journeys and maps his way through the neighbourhood at night.   This would be a great way to introduce different types of maps to young students.  More details about each type of map can be found in the back of the book.

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House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery – Liz Rosenberg

“Anne with an E” is one of my favorite characters from my childhood!   I so enjoyed reading and learning about the fascinating life of the author and creator of the beloved Ann of Green Gables books in this very readable biography.  I learned so much about Maud’s fascinating life, her relationships, her mental illness and her battle to overcome it.  Recommended for older students and I recommend teachers pre-read it for appropriateness if planning to read it out loud.

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Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement – Stephanie Roth Sisson

For those who may not have read Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring (first published in 1962), it was the groundbreaking book which introduced and exposed the impact of pesticides and herbicides on the life cycles of plants and animals. This picture book biography tells the true story of this inspirational environmentalist, leader, activist, scientist, and author Rachel Carson, highlighting and recounting her incredible accomplishments and contributions to science that changed the way the world thinks about our environment.  Timely and a great anchor to any unit on the environment.  Pay close attention to the amazingly detailed illustrations in this one!

The True Tale of a Giantess

The True Tale of a Giantess: The Story of Anna Swan – Anna Renaud

This is a fascinating picture book about one of the “exhibits of curiosities” of P.T. Barnum.  Anna Swan was born in the 1800s in Nova Scotia, and grew up to be extraordinarily tall.  As people whispered and pointed at her, she decided to make the most of her situation.   Well written, simple language, told from the point of view of Anna.  The author does an excellent job of comparing her size to plants and animals.  There are additional facts and real photographs at the back.  I plan to add this title to my “Reading and Thinking Across Canada” unit.

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

Amazing collection of tributes to 14 extraordinary rebel girls and women who changed the world.  Written in verse, each poem is paired up with an amazing illustrator.  Uplifting, powerful and inspirational and would certainly lead to further reading.  Reading one per day to a middle grade class would stimulate great discussions, questions, connections and inferences!   (in other words…. a little Reading Power!)

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

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Filed under 2018 releases, Animals, Biography, Ecosystems, environment, Favorite Books of the Year, Health, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Mapping, New Books, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Picture Books