Category Archives: New Books

Back to School 2021 – Books for Building Class Community

Well, it’s that time of year again… August is quickly passing by and we are starting to make that mental shift to our classrooms. It might be a good time to start gathering some books to share during those first few weeks back. I love sharing picture books to help to build class community so thought I’d share my latest favorites (and some old favorites as well!)

A Letter From Your Teacher on the First Day of School – Shannon Olsen

Every year, new books are released at this time to coincide with the start of school. And every year, one stands out to me as the “must have” back to school book. A “Letter from Your Teacher: on the First Day of School” by Shannon Olsen (author of Our Class is a Family) is on the top of my list this year! Told in the voice of a teacher, the rhyming text captures the feelings, hopes and expectations of a new school year. What a perfect book for your first week back and a great way to build a positive learning environment in your classroom.

How to Get Your Teacher Ready – Jean Reagan

The latest in the “How to” series (How to Babysit Grandpa, etc.) is out just in time for back to school! This book puts the roles in reverse by showing children getting their teacher ready for their school year instead of the other way around. Great for showing kids that teachers get nervous, too!

How to Be Kind in Kindergarten – D.J. Steinberg

Attention Kindergarten teachers and Kindergarten parents! Here is a wonderful new picture book perfect for back to school! “How to Be Kind in Kindergarten” by D.J. Steinburg is a collection of short poems that spans the entire year of kindergarten, offering simple, practical tips on how to show kindness: sharing your umbrella with a friend; taking turns on the swings, inviting someone to join in a game. Small book – perfect for a backpack! LOVE!

Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It) – Carrie Finison

Doug does not like hugs! They are “too squeezy, too squashy, too squooshy, and too smooshy!” But just because Doug doesn’t like hugs doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you! Fun, light-hearted and upbeat but introduces important topics to younger children about consent and respecting boundaries in an accessible way. Great for discussions and making connections.

Be Strong Pat Zieltow Miller

SOOOO excited about this BRAND NEW book “Be Strong” by Pat Zeitlow Miller, author of Be Kind. A young girl, discouraged she can’t climb the climbing wall in gym, learns there is more to being strong than just physical strength. Such a great book for discussion and includes themes of perseverance, leadership, and caring. SO many things to love about this one! I would recommend it as an anchor for the “One Word Activity” using the word “strong”.

IMPORTANT: if you are have or are planning to order the Primary GearPicks Pack – DO NOT ORDER this book! (You can infer the rest!!!)

Listen – Gabi Snyder

Beautiful, mindful story about slowing down and paying closer attention to nature. I love the soft, quiet tone of the story and the grey-blue pallet. Would make a great anchor book to read before heading outside for a quiet, mindful moment!

Little Fox Has Feelings – Didi Dragon

While there are many books about feelings, I love how, rather than managing emotions, this author focuses on naming and acknowledging them. Delightful, likeable main character and adorable illustrations.

My Unique Name – Chynika Wright

I do love books about names and this new book is definitely being added to my collection! In this story, you’ll meet a little girl who gets frustrated when others cannot pronounce her name properly.  This story sends a strong message of empowerment, confidence, and celebrating uniqueness! Would make a great read-aloud before your students make nametags for their desks!

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners – Laurie Keller

This book is a few years old but a “go to” for the beginning of the year to introduce manners and the “golden rule”. When a family of otters moves in next door, Rabbit is not sure how to treat them. But Wise Owl gives him some advice to “do unto otters”! This one is quirky and laugh-out-loud funny!

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. to read with your new class.

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

So much to love and so many lesson ideas with this book – one of my favorites from 2020. 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.  A wonderful anchor book for celebrating favorite cultures and traditions.

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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 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”.

Germs vs. Soap – Didi Dragon

This book was released last summer but it might be another good reminder to reinforce the importance of handwashing. Love the clever, memorable language, playful illustrations and humour.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you found one or two titles that you are excited about sharing with your new class this fall. Happy reading, everyone and remember – if you want your students to love to read, then read amazing books aloud to them every single day!

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Filed under Back to School, Connect, Cultural Celebrations, Diverse Children's Books, Emotions, Feelings, Friendship, Mindfulness, New Books

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

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

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

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

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

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

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

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

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

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

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19 – The Six Senses of Spring

OLLIE #20 – Thank you, Earth!

OLLI #21 – Mother’s Day Poem

The Inspiration

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

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

The Anchor:

One Two Many  – Linda Grace Smith

Listen to the author read her story on Simbi HERE

Watch YouTube Read-Aloud HERE 

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

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

The Lesson:

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

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

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

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

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

Download the “I Can Make a Difference” page HERE

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

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

Sign up for FREE Here

Lesson Extension

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

Additional Anchor Books:

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

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed – Emily Pearson

Lend a Hand John Frank

Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Maddi’s Fridge – Lois Brandt

Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson

Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts

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

I Like, I Don’t Like – Anna Baccelliere

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

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

Weezer Changes the World – David McPhail

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

What Does it Mean to Be Global – Dana DiOrio

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

Bear Shaped by Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden

  Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour

  Lionel the Lonely Monster by Fred Blunt

  Impact Series: Malala Yousafzai by Stephanie vanKampen

  Impact Series: Anne Frank by Stephanie vanKampen

  Impact Series: Greta Thunberg by Adrienne Gear

  A New Alphabet for Humanity by Leesa McGregor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

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

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

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

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

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

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

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19The Six Senses of Spring

THE INSPRIATION:

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

THE ANCHOR:

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

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

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

THE LESSON:

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

Dear Earth,

Thank you for the tall trees and the green grass.

Thank you for tiny turtles and giant giraffes.

Thank you for red raspberries and green grapes.

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

Thank you for whooshing waterfalls and cool caves.

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

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

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

I will, Earth. I will!

Love, Ms. Gear

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

Postcard Template 1

Postcard Template 2 (no lines)

Postcard Template 3

Postcard Template 4

More Earth Day Anchor Books (some with YouTube links)

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

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

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

HERE

My Friend Earth – Patricia MacLachlan

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

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

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

YouTube Read aloud HERE

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

Does Earth Feel? 14 Questions for Humans – Marc Majewski

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

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

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

Earth Day Every Day – Lisa Bullard

(YouTube Read aloud HERE)

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

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

One Earth – Eileen Spinelli

YouTube Read Aloud HERE

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

The Earth Gives More – Sue Fliess

YouTube Read aloud – HERE

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

Our Big Home: An Earth Poem – Linda Glaser

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

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

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

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

My Green Day – Melanie Walsh

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

The Earth Book – Todd Parr

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

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What Does It Mean to Be Green?  – Rana DiOrio

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

What Matters – Alison Hughes

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

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

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

The Lorax – Dr. Seuss

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

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

The Wartville Wizard – Don Madden

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

The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales – Dawn Casey

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

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

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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

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

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

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

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

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

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

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

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

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

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

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

THE INSPIRATION:

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

THE ANCHOR (Primary) 

A World of Kindness – Anne Featherstone

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

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

The Anchor – Intermediate

Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed – Emily Pearson

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

You can watch a video of the read-aloud HERE  

The Lesson

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

         Download the template HERE

Additional books about spreading kindness: 

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

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What Does it Mean to Be Kind? – Rana DiOrio

When We Are Kind – Monique Gray Smith

Lend a Hand – Poems About Giving – John Frank

The Can Man – Laura E. Williams

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The Jelly Donut Difference – Maria Demondy

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch – Eileen Spinelli

How Kind! – Mary Murphy

The Pink Umbrella – Amelia Callot

The Love Letter – Anika Aldamay Denise 

Plant a Kiss – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The Mitten Tree – Candace Christiansen

 Be Kind – Pat Zietlow Miller

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The Kindness Quilt – Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Tomorrow I’ll l Be Kind – Jessica Hische

The Day it Rained Hearts – Felicia Bond

Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light – Apryl Stott

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Heartprinting, everyone! 

 

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

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

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

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

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

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

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

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

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

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

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

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

THE INSPIRATION:

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

THE ANCHOR:

100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

100 Things That Make Me Happy – Amy Schwartz

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

The Lesson

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

Additional Books About Happiness and Gratitude: 

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

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

100 Things I Love to Do With You – Amy Schwartz

  100th Day Worries – Margery Cuyler

The Favorite Book – Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Hap-Pead All Year – Keith Baker

My Heart Fills With Happiness – Monique Gray Smith

A Good Day – Kevin Henkes 

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

All the World – Liz Garton Scanton

Thankful – Eileen Spinelli

The Thankful Book – Todd Parr

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

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

Reading Resolutions 2021! Let’s Go Genre Jumping!

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

The Lesson:

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

Download the Genre Jumping slides HERE

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

You can download a Genre Graph HERE.

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

Final Thoughts:

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

Lesson Extensions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Genres, Literature Circles, OLLI, Reading Resolutions

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

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

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

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

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

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

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

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

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

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

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

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger) 

THE INSPIRATION:

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

The Lesson – New Year’s Resolutions (Primary)

THE ANCHOR: 

Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution  – Pat Miller

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

Start the Lesson:  

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The Night Before New Year’s – Natasha Wing

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

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

New Year’s Day 

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

Bringing in the New Year – Grace Lin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you all a safe and healthy New Year!

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

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

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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