Category Archives: Connect

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Favorite Back-to-School “Reconnect” Books

Anyone who knows me knows that “making connections” is in my blood!  As one of the five “reading powers” I have taught hundreds of “connect” lessons to students, helped hundreds of teachers know the difference between “deep” and “quick” connections, recommended thousands of “connect books” over the years, and made dozens of “connect” book lists.  

Earlier this summer, I received an email from an educator in school district #69 (Qualicum, Vancouver Island) asking me for a recommendation for a “Re-connect” book.  At first, I wondered if it was a typing mistake!   “What do you mean by Re-Connect book?” I asked her.  

She explained that at the start of a new school year, the staff selects a picture book that is read in every classroom.  The theme of the book becomes the unifying school theme for the year.  

Past themes the school explored included courage, generosity, independence, stewardship, and caring communities.  This year, her school will be exploring the theme of “belonging” and she asked if I knew of any books I could recommend.  (I did, of course!) 

To build the school community, every class reads the book, then joins in an art activity around the theme during the first few weeks of school. The art is hung in the entrance hallway of the school to mark the school theme.   Hers is not the only school in her district that carries on this tradition each fall.  

Here is a photo of one of their school-wide art projects based on one of their past themes: Reach for the Stars. The “Reconnect Book” they used for this theme was DREAM: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom and Wishes by Susan V. Bosack.

She also shared past themes and corresponding picture books they have used:

Well, of course, my brain started swirling with “Re-Connect” themes and corresponding picture books and I felt so inspired that I just HAD to create a new TOP TEN TUESDAY book list!    With her permission, I am sharing this amazing idea with you in the hopes it may inspire your school to begin the year with a RECONNECT book!  

Below are my top ten “RE-CONNECT” book recommendations and the possible school theme connected to it.  

RECONNECT book:  Welcome! – Barroux

POSSIBLE THEME:  Inclusion/ Belonging 

RECONNECT book:  This is a School – John Schu 

POSSIBLE THEME: Caring Communities 

PLEASE NOTE:  This book is included in the Fall 2022 PRIMARY GearPicks Pack subscription 

RECONNECT Book:  All in a Day – Cynthia Rylant 

THEME:  Stewardship

RECONNECT book: The Thank You Letter Jane Cabrera

THEME:  Gratitude 

See Also: Thankful Elaine Vickers 

RECONNECT book: Jabari Jumps Gaia Cornwall 

THEME:  Mastery/Growth Mindset 

See Also 

 The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires 

 Flight School – Lita Judge 

RECONNECT BOOK:  My Heart Fills With Happiness – Monique Gray Smith 

THEME:  Joy

See Also:   Pass it On – Sophy Henn

RECONNECT Book: What is Given from the Heart by Patricia McKissack

THEME:  Generosity 

See Also:  Those Shoes – Maribeth Boelts 

RECONNECT Book:   I Can Do Hard Things – Gabi Garcia 

THEME:  Resilience 

SEE ALSO:   It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon – Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Reconnect Book: Rain Brings Frogs – A Little Book of Hope – Maryann Cocca-Leffler 

THEME:  Hope

RECONNECT Book: Wonder Walkers Micha Archer

THEME:  Wonder/ Curiosity 

RECONNECT Book – Brave Every Day – Trudy Ludwig 

THEME:  Courage 

NOTE:  This book is included in the 2022 GearPicks Pack SEL Add-On Pack

See Also:  When You Are Brave – Pat Zieltow Miller 

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you feel inspired to “RECONNECT” with your students this fall by sharing one of these books with them! Huge shout out to Karen Monstad and the entire staff at Nanoose Bay Elementary School the staff for sharing their “RECONNECT” book idea with me! Happy reading, everyone!

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Filed under Back to School, Connect, Gratitude, Gratitude, Growth Mindset, Mindfulness, Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday! 10 New Back to School Books for 2022 (plus a few more!)

As much as it’s hard to face – back to school is on the horizon. Many have enjoyed holidays, much anticipated travel, and time with family and friends this summer. Some may already be heading back to class soon, others have a few weeks left of summer bliss to enjoy. Whatever stage you are at shifting into school mode, it’s never too early or late to start exploring a few new “back to school books”. Starting school with a good collection of “back to school” themed books to share with your students during those first few weeks can really help spark important discussions and help to start building your class community. These books also are a great way to model and practice making connections to the range of feelings associated with heading back to school.

Here are my top 10 favorite new “back to school” books for 2022, along with a few old favorites! (And yes, I have trouble counting to ten!)

This is a School – Jon Schu

A book celebrating school not just as a building, but all that it signifies and represents: all the people who work and learn together, supporting each other to create a caring community. A perfect book to start the school year, to practice “Transform” (Knew-New connections!), but also one that would make a wonderful anchor book for writing about your special school!

NOTE: If you are a GearPicksPack subscriber, this book is included in your Fall box (Primary). For those who are subscribers, because many of these titles are ones you would want to share in the first days and weeks of school, no other books listed here are included in the fall GearPicks Packs as we don’t usually ship the first boxes until the end of September.

 Lupe Lopez – Rock Star Rules – Pat Zietlow Miller

Super cute book about following class rules! Lupe is a spit-fire, drum loving Kindergartener who loves to drum on everything! But when she gets to school and discovers the “no drumming” rule, this little rock star is not ready to put down her drum sticks. Eventually she decides to listen to her teacher, and makes a few new friends along the way! Love the addition of Spanish words throughout this energetic story, reminiscent of Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse.

Mae’s First Day of School – Kate Berube

Mae refuses to go to school and makes up many reasons why she should not go. Upon entering the schoolground, she decides to avoid entering and climbs a tree. Another girl who is afraid to go in decides to join her in the tree. Then, the teacher, also afraid of the first day of school, climbs the tree, too! I love the humour, along with the connections kids will make about why Mae doesn’t want to go to school.

  Hello World! Kelly Corrigan

A young girl sets off with her dog to go explore the world to meet new people. She asks questions, connects to people, listens to their advice, and learns along the way. A perfect analogy for starting school and a great Reading Power anchor book for practicing asking questions!

That’s Not My Name Anoosha Syed

I LOVE books about names and this new one is SUCH a wonderful addition to my collection. Mirha is so excited for her first day of school: she can’t wait to learn, play, and make new friends. But when her classmates mispronounce her name, she goes home wondering if she should find a new one. Such a great book about the importance of pronouncing people’s names correctly.

The Queen of Kindergarten Derrick Barnes

A sweet companion to The King of Kindergarten (I think I might even like this one more!), this book follows MJ as she starts kindergarten. Lively, colorful and heartwarming and I LOVE that there is a focus on kindness and helping others. A must-have for your school library collection!

Blue Flower – Sonya Hartnett

I got a little teary reading this one! A perfect book for making connections to feelings of not fitting in, feeling different, making friends, and anxieties associated with starting school. I love the simple, small moments of self realization, perseverance, and resilience. Stunning illustrations. LOVE this one!

The Little Bear – Nicola Killen

I’m a fan of this author/illustrator, so was excited to see her new book! A very sweet story about a about a bear cub soothing a little girl’s fears about starting school. The story is sprinkled with a little magic and adorable illustrations. Would make a great read-aloud and perfect bed-time story.

First Day Critter Jitters – Jory John

This book came out a few years ago, but I only just discovered it, so thought I would include it. This is a true laugh-out-loud picture book about a group of animals who are all tense about the first day of school. The sloth worries about being late, the mouse about being too small, the kangaroo about leaving mom’s pouch, the parrot about too much repeating, and so on. The creatures are adorable and I love the message of reassurance of starting school mixed with humour. A PERFECT read-aloud for the first day of school!

Lunch From Home – Joshua David Stein

WOW! I’m so in love with this book! Such a great book to discuss the importance of culture and food. Four students are teased by “the sandwich kids” for bringing culturally-specific lunches to school. Readers follow each student as they learn to manage their first “lunch box moments”. Love how this book inspires everyone to stand up and be proud of their food and culture and encourages empathy and respect. This is a PERFECT new book to add to my Powerful Understanding “Others” book list!

Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness – Ben Clanton

Another delightful addition to the graphic novel series for beginning readers. In this story, Narwhal and Jelly become substitute teachers! They teach their “school of fish” some interesting subjects, including “Wafflematics”. Surprise bonus in this book are all the TRIPLE SCOOP WORDS! Every time a fish responds to a question, the other fish respond in synonyms! Sweet, silly and great for vocabulary building! Available in FRENCH.

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

This book came out last year but it is definitely worth a second mention. SO much to love about this heartfelt, honest letter from a teacher to her/his students. A perfect back to school book to highlight a teachers purpose and to help build a positive classroom community. The illustrations are beautiful and inclusive. This book is also now available in French.

Our Class is a Family – Shannon Olsen

By the same author as A Letter from Your Teacher, this is one of my favorite books for helping to build a positive class community at the start of a school year. In it, the teacher compares the class to different families both traditional and non-traditional and how, like their family at home, a family environment in a classroom means making sure everyone is accepted, cared for, and loved.

All Are Welcome Alexander Penfold

Last, but certainly not least, you can’t have a “back to school” book list without including this one! This is one of the best books on diversity and inclusion you can find – and sends a warm message to all children that no matter who they are, what they wear, what language they speak, and what they eat for lunch – they are all welcome at school. A perfect back to school read aloud but an even better book for a principal to share at the “Welcome Back” assembly! There is even a SONG written from this book!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have discovered one or two new titles to add to your “back to school” book collection! Happy reading and sharing book joy with your class this year!

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Filed under 2022 releases, Back to School, Class Community Building, Connect, Diversity, French Books, New Books, Picture Book, Top 10 Tuesday, Transform

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 #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

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

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

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

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

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

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

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

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

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

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

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

THE INSPIRATION:

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

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

THE ANCHOR:

The Map of Good Memories Fran Nuno

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

The Lesson:

Part 1

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

 

Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

Part 3

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

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

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

map of good memories

Additional Books to Support This Lesson:

Mapping Penny’s World Loreen Leedy

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

Mapping My Day – Julie Dillemuth

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

My Map Book – Sara Fanelli

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

I Know Here – Laurel Croza

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

Shi-shi-etko – Nicola Campbell

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

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All the Places to Love – Patricia MacLauchlan

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

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

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

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

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #10: Dusk Exploring!

Hello everyone!  This will be my LAST OLLI lesson for the school year as I believe classes are wrapping up this week.

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!) 

Before my lesson, I just wanted to say WELL DONE, everyone!  You did it!  You juggled online and in person teaching AND supported your family AND wrote report cards AND learned how to ZOOM and so many other things!  Great job!!!

THE INSPIRATION:

Summer is here!  School is almost over!  The days are longer (last night it was starting to get light at 3:30 am – yes, I was awake!) and the weather hopefully warmer. (Can you say “NO MORE RAIN”?)  With some restrictions being lifted, we want to encourage children to spend more time outside enjoying the outdoors during the summer.  I have many happy childhood memories of playing outside in the summer with my sisters.  The endless days and evenings playing in the back yard, riding bikes to the park, the back alley, the neighbour’s house – outside until the streetlights came on or my mum called us in for supper – whichever one came first.   This week’s OLLI, I wanted to share a lesson that is an ode to these outdoor summer adventures!

THE ANCHOR:

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Dusk Explorers – Lindsay Leslie

This beautiful new book invites children (and parents) to enjoy playing outdoors on a summer evening.  The story winds through the neighborhood streets, with lyrical, descriptive language and encourages readers to head out for bike riding, tree climbing, playing, and wonderful exploring.   It’s like a hit list of childhood’s best memories!  I can’t imagine any child who wouldn’t want to try out all the outdoor “dusk explorer” activities after reading even just the first pages of this book.  Beautiful illustrations by Ellen Rooney.  This book came out in early June (warm book alert!) so it is not one that I was able to find as an online read-aloud, unfortunately.  But if you order it soon, you could read it online to your class before school breaks for summer.

Watch the book trailer HERE: 

THE LESSONS:  

This is one of those books that can inspire MANY different reading and writing lessons.  Below are just some of the ideas I thought about while reading this book.

NOTE:  I would recommend discussing the word “dusk” (and “dawn”) with students before reading this story!  In my experience, some have never heard of the word!

  1. VISUALIZING – Because of the author’s use of sensory details, this is a perfect book for visualizing.  I would read this story and invite students to listen for different sensory words and images.

Click HERE for the Six Senses Visualizing Template

Click HERE for the Single Image Visualizing Template

TIP – When practicing visualizing, I don’t show the pictures to the students the first time I read.  I want the words from the story to help them create their own visual images.

       2. BECOME A DUSK EXPLORER –  It’s hard to read this book without wanting to immediately run outside and start exploring your neighbourhood!  I think the author really wanted readers to feel that outdoor summer excitement so think this would be a wonderful “enjoy your summer” send off activity to give your students!

After sharing the story, invite students to make connections to their “dusk exploring” experiences.  Ask what their favorite “outdoor” games are?  (climbing trees, running races, kick the can, hide-and-seek, lane-way hockey or basketball, firefly catching)

Tell the students that now that summer is here, there will be more time for outdoor adventures.  Invite them to become “dusk explorers” in their neighbourhood this week.  Use the “Dusk Explorer” template to record things they saw, heard, played, felt.  Encourage them to try something new like a new game.

Click HERE For the Dusk Explorer template.

NOTE:  Remind them to ALWAYS be with a parent or tell a parent where they are going.

3. WRITING – I will definitely be adding this book my list of Writing Anchor books  as it is such a great example of an author who uses senses to create images.  I was also excited to find a video from the author, Lindsay Leslie, talking about writing sharing how to develop sensory details in writing.  It’s a video I would definitely share with students!

Watch the author talk HERE: 

After watching the video, reflect on what the author was saying.  I like to explain that in science, we talk about “the FIVE senses”, but writers actually use “SIX” senses – adding the sense of “emotional feelings” in additional to physical feelings.

Invite your students to go outside at dusk one evening this week.  Have them sit quietly in one spot and pay close attention to their senses.  What are you noticing?  What do you see? hear? smell? taste? feel? (physically), feel? (emotionally).  Have them record their observations on the Six Senses of Dusk template.   Invite them to write a descriptive paragraph, using as many of the sensory words as they can.  Remind them not to just write a list “I saw… I heard…” but to use similes and interesting detail words in their descriptions such as “sometimes”, “once”, “if”, and “when”.

ie – I see the pink clouds, fluffy like cotton candy.  Sometimes, I pretend the clouds are animals playing in the sky.  

Click HERE for the Six Senses of Dusk template

For younger students, they could write about dusk using the 5 finger planner:  TOPIC, DETAIL, DETAIL, ONE TIME…, FEELING.  (one sentence for each of their five fingers)

ie.  I like to play outside when it’s dusk. (topic)  The clouds are pink like cotton candy. (detail)  The leaves rustle in the wind. (detail)  One time, my brother and I played badminton until we couldn’t see the birdie. (one time).  I like being outside when it’s dusk.  

For more mini lessons for adding details, see my new book Powerful Writing Structures.  

Additional Books to Support the Lesson:

I hope you find one or two ideas you could share with your students this week, either online or in person.  Below is a list of more summer books – some new releases and some old favorites.  Many of these would also make great anchor books for writing sensory details.   Check YouTube as some of these are available as online read-alouds.

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And Then Comes Summer – Tom Brenner

A lovely, lyrical ode to summer fun.  Great for making connections and sensory details.

Summer Song – Kevin Henkes

So excited about this brand new book – the last of Henkes’ seasonal series.

Summer Color – Diana Murray

Love this book for younger and older students – beautiful details of nature.

Summer Days and Nights – Wong Herbert Yee

Beautiful small moment details about summer with great sensory words.

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Rules of Summer – Shaun Tan

Master artist and storyteller Shaun Tan’s book about summer rules is weird, mesmerizing, dark in places but a great choice for older readers.

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Hooked – Tommy Greenwald

Beautiful descriptions of fishing, some dad bonding, and I love David McPhail’s illustrations.

Jules Vs. the Ocean – Jessie Sima

Brand new book about a young girl who attempts to build elaborate sandcastles to impress her older sister.

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Down Under the Pier Nell Cross Beckerman

Beautiful descriptions of the inter tidal zone with a dreamy, magical “endless summer” feel.

Cannonball – Sacha Cotter

Love this new summer story about family, overcoming fears, and the importance of being oneself, all in the pursuit of performing the perfect cannonball!

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The Little Blue Cottage – Kelly Jordan

Lovely story about returning to that special summer cottage year after year.

You’re Invited to a Moth Ball – A Nighttime Insect Celebration – Loree Griffin Burns

Love this idea of having a summer event to celebrate nighttime moths!  Stay up late one night this summer and discover the amazing world of moths in your own back yard.  This would be a great summer family event!

 

Teacher friends… you have been through a lot of challenges these past few months and have faced them all with determination, dedication, open minds, and open-hearts. You have supported your students through through all the ups and downs, the online and in person, and all the “wash your hands” and “don’t stand so close to me” moments!  And in case it wasn’t clear before, you have shown the world just how important the role of a teacher is in the life of a child.   Thank you.

I will be continuing to post book lists over the summer, and will return with more OLLIs in the fall!  Thanks to everyone who has been using and sharing my posts.

Have a safe, happy, and healthy summer, everyone!

Enjoy your holiday – you have earned it (x 100!)

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Connect, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Seasons, Summer

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #9: “Happy Right Now!” 

Hello everyone!  Sorry for my late post (I usually post my weekly OLLI on Monday)  Hope you all had a restful weekend and enjoyed some time with people in “your bubble”.   Report cards finished?  Well done!

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 and in person 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) 

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) 

THE INSPIRATION:

Last week, I came across a lovely quote on Instagram (forgive me, I did not record the source so unable to credit).  It read:  “I used to think that when it rains, it pours.  But now I think – when it rains, it grows.”   What a lovely way of shifting our perspective from the negative to the positive.  I often refer to this purposeful action as “practicing happy”.  While we could spend many hours discussing the negative things that might be “pouring” on us at the moment, instead, we could be “practicing happy”  by choosing to focus on the new “grows” in our lives.

Let’s face it.  It’s been a challenge “practicing happy” during these past few months.  Many of us can connect with that feeling of doom and gloom, negative energy, the dark cloud hanging over our heads… the “If only…s”.   With Covid, the recent protests, the stress of school, family, finances, and so many unknowns – it’s all been a bit much!  Being happy is hard work some days!  But it’s so important that we each try to “practice happy” even for a few minutes each day and encourage our students to do the same – helping them understand that being happy is a choice we all need to make for ourselves.  Instead of wishing for what you don’t have (or don’t have yet), we should make the most of what we do have.

THE ANCHOR:

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Happy Right NowJulie Berry

What can you do when things sometimes don’t go the way you want them to? You have a choice, you can either let it get you down, or choose to be happy in the moment. This inspirational tale gives the reader some insight on making their world as best as it can be and embracing the circumstances we find ourselves in each day.  What I like about this book is, while its main message is the importance of focusing on happy, the author also explores the notion that its okay to feel sad sometimes too.  This book is a perfect choice for exploring emotions and how we deal with them, as well as choosing happiness, even on bad days!

THE LESSON:  

Before reading the story, I like to introduce the concept of “practicing happy” by first exploring the question – “Is this glass half empty or half full?”  If possible, bring in a glass half filled with water to start the discussion.  (If you are doing distance learning, you can do show the glass half full/empty when you are zooming with them.)  Ask the students how they would answer that question.

Explain that some people may look at the glass as being half empty – and wish they had a full glass (negative mindset); others see the glass as being half full – and are grateful for the water they have (positive mindset)

Explain that how someone views the glass, the perspective they take, determines how they feel.   Being happy about a half glass of water is a choice.  Wishing you had more is also a choice.  But which feeling do you want to carry inside you?  If you always look for what you don’t have, then that negative feeling fills you up.  If you choose to “practice happy”, you will feel more positive inside.

Read the story Happy Right Now – or show the story on YouTube.   Invite the students to think about the glass question while they are reading/listening to the story.

After sharing the story with students, discuss the fact that the girl in the story was “practicing happy” , making a choice to be happy for things she had, rather than wishing things were different. She was working on being “happy about right now”!  Explain that this can be helpful when we are feeling like things aren’t working out for us or we are feeling like life just isn’t fair!   “Practicing happy” means not wishing your life away but making a choice to appreciate what we have “right now”.

Choose a few of these and invite students to “practice happy” with these scenarios.

  • I’ll be happy when the coach picks me to be in the starting line up!  But I’m happy right now because…
  • I’ll be happy when it stops raining!         But I am happy right now because…
  • I’ll be happy when my ice cream cone stops melting!    But I am happy right now because…
  • I’ll be happy when I can see all my school friends together!   But I am happy right now because….
  • I’ll be happy when I win the World Mine Craft Championship.  But I am happy right now because… 
  • I’ll be happy when my baby brother stops following me all around.  But I’m happy right now because…
  • I’ll be happy when I’m allowed to walk to school by myself.  But I am happy right now because..

Invite the students to make up some of their own:

I’ll be happy when….. But I’m happy right now because…

ACTIVITIES:

If you are working in your class, create a “Happy Right Now” collaborative poster in the Ask students: “What makes you happy right now?” Model your own (ie – being your teacher, my morning coffee, the smell of my shampoo this morning) Invite them to add and record their own ideas onto the wall poster.  Encourage them to focus on specific small, personal things that make them happy.  This would be different from, for example, Earth Day or Thanksgiving when you might be saying “I’m thankful for the sun.  I’m thankful for the forest”.  Students working from home can contribute by telling you during a zoom conference or emailing it to you.

Read any of the additional anchor books to continue exploring this theme of “practicing happy”.   Invite the students to complete the “Happy Right Now” template.  (see below)

Happy Right Now – Primary 1

Happy Right Now – Primary 2

Happy Right Now – Intermediate

ADDITIONAL ANCHOR BOOKS:  Below are other books about happiness, mindfulness, appreciating what we have, and choosing to “practice happy”!

There, There – Tim Beiser

 

Rain Brings Frogs – A Little Book of Hope – Maryann Cocca-Leffler

 

Saturday – Oge Mora

 

The Three Questions – Jon Muth

 

Hap-pea All Year – Keith Baker

 

Layla’s Happiness – Maria Hadessa

 

Here and Now – Julia Denos

 

I Think, I Am – Louise L. Hay

 

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

 

The Wrong Side of the Bed – Lisa M. Bakos

 

Good News, Bad News by [Jeff Mack]

Good News Bad News – Jeff Mack

 

Thanks for stopping by this week.  I’m wishing you all many happy moments and many opportunities to “practice happy”.  See you next week!

For more lessons on emotions, hopes and dreams, and mindfulness, see my book Powerful Understanding.

 

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Filed under Connect, Growth Mindset, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #8: “I’m Talking DAD!”

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) 

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

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

After a very “heavy” week in the world, (click HERE for my recent book list on racism and civil rights), I decided to offer a more uplifting OLLI this week in preparation for Father’s Day.   Now I recognize that it’s sometimes challenging to focus on Father’s Day when some of our students are without a Father figure in their lives.  However, I have always found ways to encourage children to think about a special grown up in their lives who, for them, has given them support and love, whether it be a dad, uncle, grandparent or older sibling or cousin.

THE INSPIRATION:

Collin McNaughton’s Poem “I’m Talking Big” is the inspiration for this lesson.  It is a great poem for introducing synonyms and practicing triple scoop words.  Unfortunately, the book is out of print, but I’ve included the poem (all you really need for the lesson) and you can find used copies of the book at Abe Books (my favorite source for finding out of print books!)

Click HERE for a copy of the poem.

THE LESSON

Colin McNaughton’s poem “I’m Talking Big” is jam-packed with triple scoop words so it’s a perfect one to build vocabulary and encourage students to be more adventurous with their word choice.

After reading this poem, I use a simple frame to have students write their own mini synonym poems for some of our “single scoop” words including: walking, hot, small, happy, good, cold, sad, mad.

I’m Talking ________

I’m talking ________ (repeat the title)

I’m talking ___________ (1 synonym)

I’m talking _____________, ________________ (2)

I’m talking ____________, ________________, ______________ (3)

I’m talking ___________   (repeat the title)

Example:

I’m talking HOT

I’m talking burning!

I’m talking steaming, sweating!

I’m talking roasting, sizzling, blistering.

I’m talking hot!

 

The pattern frame can be adapted and used for practically any topic but for this lesson, I am focusing on their Dad or a special grown-up in their life.

Use the template frame and “write aloud”, modeling your ideas before having the students complete theirs.   The frame is easy to follow as it gives specific things to include.

Click HERE for the Poem template for Intermediate

Click HERE for the Poem template for Primary

I’m Talking Dad!

I’m talking Dad!

I’m talking _________ (name you call your dad)

I’m talking ____________,_____________, _____________  (3 character traits)

I’m talking ____________,______________,____________,___________(4 jobs your dad does)

I’m ______________,_____________,____________,___________,__________(5 “ing” actions)

I’m talking  ____________,____________,____________,____________,

___________, _________ (6 triple scoop words)

I’m talking ______________ (1 feeling)

I’m talking Dad!

Completed Poem example:

I’m Talking Dad!

I’m talking Dad!

I’m talking Popo!

I’m talking smart, funny, athletic

I’m talking taxi driver, hockey coach, lawn cutter, dog walker

I’m talking laughing, snoring, singing, tickling, fixing

I’m talking amazing, tremendous, legendary, epic, fantastic, extraordinary!

I’m talking love!

I’m talking Dad!

Lesson Extension 

I love this poetry frame and find it a great one for integrating poetry into into your content areas.  For example, with the grade 2’s and 3’s at my school a few years ago, we used it when we were exploring communities.  Here is an example of the same frame, but children chose a special place in their community to write about.

I'm Talking Vancouver

Last example… here is one about hockey!  (I’ve been missing the playoffs so thought I’d include this one written by a grade 6 student.)

I’m Talking Hockey!

I’m talking hockey!

I’m talking Canada’s sport!

I’m talking players, goalies, coaches!

I’m talking skating, puck control, shooting, passing!

I’m talking skates, shin pads, helmet, mouth guard, stick

I’m talking heart-stopping, exciting, cheering,

Thrilling, disappointing, nail-biting.

I’m talking Stanley cup playoffs!

I’m talking hockey!

 

Additional Anchor Books About Dads:f

My Dad – Anthony Browne

My Dad is Amazing!  – Sabrina Moyle

Made for Me – Zack Bush

My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Fathers – Hope Anita Smith

My Father’s Hands – Joanne Ryder

You and Me, Me and You – Miguel Tanco

My Dad Used to Be So Cool – Keith Negley

Darth Vader and Son – Jeffrey Brown

How To Surprise a Dad – Jean Reagan

 

Have a great week, everyone!  Hope these lessons inspire some ideas for your online or in-person learning this week.  Happy reading and Happy Father’s Day and Special Grown Up’s Day!

You are doing an amazing job!  There are only a few weeks left! You can do it!!!

 

 

 

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Filed under Connect, Family, Father's Day, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Writing Anchor book