Category Archives: Writing Anchors

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 #13: Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present

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

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

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

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

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

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

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

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

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

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

THE INSPIRATION:

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

THE ANCHOR:1629865

Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present – John Burningham

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

The Lessons

Predicting 

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

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

Story Mapping and Sequencing

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

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

Additional Lessons:

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

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

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

Additional Christmas Classics for reading and sharing: 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Little Robin’s Christmas– by Jan Fearnly 

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

Little Tree – e.e. cummings 

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

The Snowman – Raymond Briggs 

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

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

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

The Polar Express – Chris VanAlsburg  (1986 Caldecott winner)

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

It’s Christmas, David! – David Shannon.  

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

Christmas Cookies – Bite Size Holiday Lessons Amy Krouse Rosenthal  

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

The Christmas Quiet Book – Deborah Underwood 

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

Snowmen at ChristmasCarolyn and Mark Buehner  

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

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas – Melanie Watt  

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

Carl’s Christmas – Alexander Day   

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

The Jolly Christmas Postman – Janet & Allan Ahlberg

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

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

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

Red and Lulu – Matt Tavares 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

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

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

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

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

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

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

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

THE INSPIRATION:

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

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

THE ANCHOR:

The Map of Good Memories Fran Nuno

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

The Lesson:

Part 1

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

 

Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

Part 3

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

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

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

map of good memories

Additional Books to Support This Lesson:

Mapping Penny’s World Loreen Leedy

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

Mapping My Day – Julie Dillemuth

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

My Map Book – Sara Fanelli

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

I Know Here – Laurel Croza

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

Shi-shi-etko – Nicola Campbell

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

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All the Places to Love – Patricia MacLauchlan

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

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

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

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

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New for Spring 2020 (Read, Sniff, Share!)

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It’s actually Tuesday but better late than never!  Sniff! Sniff!  Can you guess?  I’m in book sniffing heaven!  I am extremely fortunate to receive copies of new books from exceptional Canadian publishers twice a year.  Thank you to Orca Books, Raincoast Books, and Kids Can Press for sharing your new spring titles with me so I can share them with everyone!  Hooray for new books!  Check out more #IMWAYR posts on  http://www.teachmentortexts.com/ or http://www.unleashingreaders.com/

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What If Bunny’s Not a Bully?  – Lana Button (Kids Can Press)

I loved this book! Unique and important look at bullies through the lens of inclusion, empathy and second chances.  Lovely rhyming texts and adorable illustrations are delightful making this a perfect read-aloud for your Pre-K, K, and Gr. 1 students.

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Why Do We Cry? – Fran Pintadera

A little boy asks his mother why we cry and she gently explains all the different emotions expressed by tears: sadness, anger, loneliness, frustration, confusion, and happiness. Wonderfully expressive illustrations and so many beautiful moments.  LOVE!  Oh my.  This is definitely an “Adrienne” book!  Filled with poetic language, imagery, metaphors, deep thinking questions – a perfect anchor for writing and also for teaching “Transform” and nudging our thinking about the concept of crying.  (I would use this book with the “one word” activity -“cry”).

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A Stopwatch from Grampa – Loretta Gabutt (Kids Can press) 

A simple and touching story about a child coming up to terms with his/her grandfather passing away.  This book features a gender-neutral main character (no first name or pronouns used) experiencing the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in a sensitive and subtle manner.  This is a perfect choice for discussions with children about their emotions, particularly the feeling of loss.

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What Grew in Larry’s Garden – Laura Alary

A lot of punch packed into 32 pages of this book, based on a true story of an elderly man and his “pay it forward” attitude.  While gardening is a big part of the story,  you could use it for so many themes including friendship, problem solving, small acts of kindness, community action and the power of kids to help make change in the world.   I would use this book to launch a unit ways to support our local community.

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I Got You a Present! – Susanne McLennan and Mike Erskine-Kellie

Fast-paced, lively story for younger primary students about a Ducky who is trying to buy his friend the perfect birthday gift.  Bright, fun illustrations – this would make an engaging read-aloud, great for making connections and illustrating the concept of “determination”.  LOVE the surprise ending!

We are Water Protectors – Carole Lindstrom

This book focuses on the indigenous perspective and would be a great one for discussing pipeline issues and standing up for environmental injustices.  I enjoyed the story but equally the back notes, which provided important background information about the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Gorgeous, colorful illustrations.  I would pair this with The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson.

Hike Pete Oswald

Beautiful celebration of parent-child relationships and the magic of the wilderness.   This story follows a child and father as they experience a hike together.  It is nearly wordless and a perfectly paced adventure that invites readers to appreciate the beauty of nature along with the child and father; to pause, wonder, and marvel at the views they experience on their hike.  Gorgeous watercolor illustrations.   I LOVE hiking and I LOVE this book!

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Snow White and the Seven Robots – Stewart Ross

Cute sci-fi twist on Snow White with robots instead of dwarves.  When the wicked step queen abandons snow white on a planet, she uses the space ship to build herself some robot helpers.  I was not aware of this “twisted fairy tale” series by Stewart Ross until now but am excited to check his other books including Octo-Puss in Boots and The Ginjabread Man.  

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Help Wanted: Must Love Books – by Janet Summer Johnson

A book about loving books?  Yes, please!!!!  This is such a delightful story about a young girl who sets out to interview potential “bed-time story readers” to replace her dad (she fired him!)  Next comes a string of familiar fairy tale characters applying for the job, but each one seems to have a problem (Sleeping Beauty falls asleep during the interview;  Gingerbread man steals her books and runs away).  Such a cute premise and I love the determination and spunk of Shailey, the main character.  Lots of chuckles with this one!

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The Boreal Forest: A Year in the World’s Largest Land Biome L.E. Carmichael.

Beautifully illustrated reference book about the seasonal changes of plants and animals in the Boreal Forest.  Not so much a “sit down and read in one setting” book but a perfect one for “snip-it read alouds”.   Lots of great descriptive, triple-scoop words (there is a lot of onomatopoeia) and amazing details about the forest.  I learned a LOT!

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Bringing Back the Wolves – How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem – Jude Isabella

Fascinating description of the 1995 reintroduction of wolves into the ecosystem of Yellowstone National Park, after they were all but eliminated by hunters in the late 1800’s.   Gorgeous illustrations and simple nonfiction narrative style that younger readers will understand.  This is an excellent book to illustrate the concept of inter-contentedness of ecosystems.  I would pair it with Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker.

The Keeper of Wild Words – Brooke Smith

Shocking true story: the most recent Oxford Junior Dictionary, widely used in schools around the world, removed 40 common ‘wild words’ (words connected to nature) from their dictionary.  Their justification was that “wild words” like apricot, blackberry, dandelion, and buttercup were not being used by enough by children to warrant their place in the dictionary. (Seriously?)  One might infer from this drastic decision that children are becoming less and less engaged with the natural world so less likely to have the need to use these words.  GULP!  YIKES!  HELP!  I first learned about this shocking removal of words from the exquisite book “The Lost Words” by Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by the amazing Jackie Morris.   While this book is stunningly beautiful, its sheer size (and cost) makes it less of a classroom book and more of a coffee table or gift book.  But the story itself needs to be be shared and so I am THRILLED to see this more accessible version for younger readers.  It weaves the story of a grandmother electing her granddaughter as the “Keeper of Wild Words” because the only way to save words is to know them, use them, and cherish them.   This book is a celebration of shared love between generations, nature, and words.  I can’t wait to share it, to inspire children to become more familiar with “wild words”, and to encourage some “wild writing”!!!  Buy this book.  Share this book.  That is all.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hoping one or two books have caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Activism, bullying, Community, Emotions, Grief, IMWAYR, Indigenous Stories, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, JK-K, New Books, Picture Book, Transform, Writing Anchor book, Writing Anchors

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? “How To” Books for “How To” Writing

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

Sometimes the discovery of a new book leads me to making many connections to other books and that sparks me to want to make a new blog post!  Such is the case for this week’s post – focusing on books written as “How To’s”, inspired by the new book The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog by Paul B. Janeczko.

One of the tendencies for students writing instructions is including too many words:  “First, you have to ….”  When teaching “How To” Writing – I tell students to follow the S.A.D. FormulaSequence word, Action word, Detail.  For example, First, (sequence word) squeeze (action word) a little toothpaste on the bristles (detail).  If you don’t follow the S.A.D. formula, your reader will be SAD because they won’t know what to do!

While it is important to learn how to write realistic “how to’s”, I also love to invite students to add a little creativity and imagination to their instructional writing.  The following are books to inspire creative “How To” writing.

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The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog Paul B. Janeczko

This delightful collection of “How To” poems, from practical (how to mix a pancake or how to bird-watch) or fanciful (how to scare monsters or how to be a snowflake) are written by a collection of amazing writers including Kwame Alexander, Ralph Fletcher, Karla Kushkin, and Douglas Florian.   There is creativity, gratitude, and joy in these poems and the soft, watercolor illustrations make it delightful to look at.  Love this brand new book!

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How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps Nicola Winstanley

Laugh out loud, hilarious new “how to” book features a little girl, a know-it-all narrator, and a cat who refuses to take a bath.  This book will have your students cracking up and would inspire a lot of funny “how to’s” in your class!

How To Be – Lisa Brown

I LOVE this charming book and have used it as an anchor book for many writing lessons.  Simple instructions on how to be various animals, written in a clear “how to” format.  Added clever bonus is that it doubles as instructions on how to be a person – brave, clever, friendly, curious, and charming.  Delightful illustrations.

Writing Idea – students write about an animal they researched in a “how to” instructions format.  Include diet, habitat, behavior, special skills, enemies and a human character trait.

Live___________,  Eat____________,  Catch _________________,  Fly______________, Swim_______________, Beware___________, Be _________________  and _______________________

How to lose your friends

How To Lose All Your Friends – Nancy Carlson

Hilarious tongue-in-cheek “how to” guide to loosing your friends.  Lots of connections to the child-like behaviors Carlson describes:”Be a bad sport – When someone touches you playing tag, lie and say they missed” (LOL!)  This is a great book to use at the beginning of the year.  I like to have the class ‘re-write” the instructions, focusing on positive behaviors –  “How to Keep Your Friends”.

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How to Read a Story – Kate Messner

Step One: Find a story. (A good one.)
Step Two: Find a reading buddy. (Someone nice.)
Step Three: Find a reading spot. (Couches are cozy.)
Now: Begin.

Delightful book to encourage reading and sharing, with the steps on how to read a book to a friend.  Simple but effective reminders to use expression, make predictions and read with feeling.

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle Chris Raschka

A young girl provides step by step instructions to learn to ride a bicycle…complete with some falls and lots of practice and determination…but ultimately with success!
Could be used to discuss determination or to discuss growth mindset.  Signature Chris Raschka watercolor illustrations.

The Astronaut Handbook – Meghan McCarthy

Delightful guide to becoming an astronaut.  Interesting and entertaining, full of fascinating facts and adorable illustrations. (Kids are particularly fascinated by bathroom instructions!)  Back notes provide more detailed information about space life.  Fun read-aloud and great anchor for writing “How To Become” with different occupations.

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Things to Do – Elaine Magliaro

 Things to Do If You Are A Honeybee

    Flit among flowers

    Sip nectar for hours

    Be yellow and fuzzy.

    Stay busy.  Be buzzy. 

I remember being surprised by how much I loved this book when I first read it.  Whimsical  illustrations and gorgeous, rhyming text.  This book is really a collection of poems focusing on the small moments and secret joys of a child’s day, including animals and insects they encounter.  This book is delightful invitation to write!

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Eddie Gets Ready for School David Milgrim

Morning routines are different for everyone, including Eddie!  While Eddie’s check-list says one thing, the illustrations tell a different story!  Fun read aloud and perfect anchor book for younger writers to write their own “How to Get Ready for School” (or hockey practice, swimming lessons, soccer game) instructions.

How to Teach a Slug to Read – Susan Pearson

Clever, witty, delightful, useful and engaging – full of practical advice for teaching slugs (and human kids) to read.  Adorable illustrations and hilarious “sluggish” titles and slug-related stories (think Little Miss Muffet with a slug instead of a spider!)

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How to Make Friends with a Ghost – Rebecca Green

A great book to share at Halloween but with a universal story of friendship and kindness, it could be read anytime.  A whimsical story about ghost care, this story is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and written in lovely “how to” format.

How to Read a Book – Kwame Alexander

This book will not be released until June, but I’m so excited about it, I just had to include it!  Created by the dream team of extraordinary poet Kwame Alexander and collage-style illustrations of Melissa Sweet –  this ode to reading is a must have for me!  “Once you’re comfy, peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine…Next, put your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and POP the words out.”   Squeeeee, can you stand it?

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

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Filed under 2019 releases, How To Writing, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Poetry, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchors

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 New Spring Picture Books Worth Reading and Sharing!

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It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for another  Top 10 Tuesday post!  This week, I’m featuring some of the amazing new picture books I have discovered this Spring.  Enjoy!

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1. The Treasure Box – Margaret Wild

“When the enemy burned the library, everything burned.”   This extraordinary book tells the story of a young boy and his father who save a book after their library is destroyed by war.  Powerful and heart-breaking story of resilience in the face of the atrocities of war.  Haunting.

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2. That Neighbor Kid – Daniel Miyares

A gentle, nearly wordless picture book of a new friendship that forms when a young girl moves into a new neighbourhood just as the boy next door is planning to build a tree house.  Friendship develops as the tree house is constructed.  Charming!  I love how the soft black and white illustrations are gradually include color as the story develops.

3. The Book No One Ever Read – Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke, acclaimed author of the InkWorld series and The Thief Lord, shares what it is like to be a book- told through the minds of the books themselves.  Imaginative, enchanting,  and a great message!

4. Twinkle – Nick Bland

A charming,  tender and beautifully illustrated story about a shooting star that falls down from the night sky into Penny Pasketti’s back yard.  When it’s time for Star to “fall up” into the night sky, Penny finds a way to send her new friend home.

5. Places to Be – Mac Barnett

Two fuzzy friends explore a wide range of experiences and emotions in this adorable book, reminiscent of The Quiet Book and the Loud Book.  I love the whimsical illustrations and the introduction of new emotion vocabulary – jubilant, awestruck, or sullen.  Great Connect book!

6. Town is By the Sea – Joanne Schwartz

A simple, poetic story set in the early 1900’s in Cape Bretton, Nova Scotia tells of the challenging life of a mining family.  A young boy goes about his daily activities in the sunshine by the sea while, in contrast, his father works underground in the mines.  The writing is so beautifully descriptive and would be a great anchor book for descriptive, sensory writing or Visualizing, but also Inferring.  The words are lulling and almost haunting and the illustrations are gorgeous. 

The Last Tree

7. The Last Tree – Ingrid Chabbert

“When I got home, I lost myself in my books. To see some green, some leaves… some happiness.”   Simple, thought-provoking story about environmental awareness, reminiscent of The Lorax.    A father tells his son about the days when he used to run amongst the grass and trees, instead of living in the concrete world they both live in.  This is a must add to your “Earth Day” collection!

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8. Little Fox in the Forest – Stephanie Graegin

So much book love for this one!  Adorable wordless picture book in large graphic novel panels tells the story of a young girl who brings her favorite Fox stuffy for show-and-tell.  At recess, a sneaky fox snitches the fox from the bench.  Lots of details to pour over again and again.  Heart-warming!  Delightful!

The Thing Lou Couldn't Do

9. The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do – Ashley Spires

Lou is fearless, full of adventure and up for anything… except climbing trees.  Encouragement and perseverance are the themes of this latest delightful book by Ashley Spires (author of The Most Magnificent Thing).  Love the nameless sidekick cat!

10.  The Book of Mistakes – Corinna Luyken

Here’s the perfect book for the Creative Thinking competency!  Gorgeous illustrations and poetic language in a large format make this a great book for sharing. Corrina Luyken explores the creative process, perseverance, accepting mistakes, making the best of a situation… so much packed between the covers of this beautiful book!  Lots to think about, to infer, and to transform our thinking!  So inspiring!  A great “gifting” book for anyone who loves to draw, create or design.  LOVE!

10.  Green Green – A Community Gardening Story – Marie Lamba

This story by Marie Lamba is a wonderful and inspiring book about children who join forces together to build a community garden.  Gorgeous illustrations and lovely rhyming text.  Wonderful details on each page to inspire discussion with primary students about the environment, community, and taking care of our Earth.  Two page information spread at the back gives information about how to make more “green” in your world and the importance of gardens to bees and butterflies.  Great!

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10. The Good for Nothing Button – Charise Mericle Harper

Yellow Bird has a button that does… nothing!  If you need a good giggle – you will get it with this third Elephant and Piggie Like early reader series!  What a hoot!  The Imaginative, playful and a perfect read-aloud for an early primary class.

Thanks for stopping by!  What book has caught your eye?

( And yes,  I lost track of my book count!  Turns out it is Top 12 Tuesday today!)

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Filed under 2017 releases, Connect, Earth Day, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Visualize, Writing Anchors

Top 10 Tuesday! Top 10 Anchor Books for “Small Moment” Writing

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Sometimes, children choose writing topics that are simply too: My Trip to Disneyland,  My Weekend, or My Family.  And while writers may start off excited about their topic, often the quality of writing becomes less important as they struggle to include every moment and end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.  You might call these “biting off more than you can chew” topics!  Focusing on “small moments” can help students focus on one event so that they can apply some writing techniques such as “triple scoop words”, “similes“, and “senses” to really expand a smaller moment with lots of details.  Using anchor books to show how writers focus on small moments can really help students understand that sometimes less is more.  Here are my top ten anchor books for “small moment” writing:

  1. A Moment in Time – Jennifer Butenas

The perfect book to introduce “small moments”!  This rhyming story describes a family  of four on summer holiday savoring each joyful, delightful simple moment.

2. Roller Coaster – Marlee Frazee

Wonderful anchor for re-telling an event, complete with all the sensory descriptions of a whooshing, whirling roller coaster ride.

3. The Relatives Came – Cynthia Rylant

From one of my all-time favorite authors, this gentle book describes the sounds, smells and feelings of a summer visit from family, complete with snores, strawberries and lots of hugs.  Perfect for making connections to family gatherings and a great anchor for writing.

4. Salt Hands – Jane Aargon

A late night “special moment” describes a young girl’s encounter with a deer.  She pours salt in her hand and waits for the deer to trust her.  A perfect description of a special moment when a human and animal touch. Simple, cautious and quiet.

5. Owl Moon – Jane Yolen

A young girl and her dad spend magical moments searching for owls one clear winter night.  This is another quiet, patient book that is filled with sensory images, similes and gorgeous descriptions.

6. Shortcut – Donald Crews

Have you ever done something you knew you weren’t really supposed to – just for the thrill of it?   This book tells the story of a group of children who, despite what they have been told, get the thrill of a lifetime when they take the short cut along the railroad tracks – and a train comes!  This is a perfect book for making connections teaching onomotopeia-“Whoo! Whoo!”, “klackity, klackity, klack”.

7. Fireflies – Julie Brincoe

Catching fireflies on a warm summer night.  Discovery, magic, joy – read this book with quiet whispers.  It is a truly magical moment to inspire some magical moment writing.

8. Red Rubber Boot Day – Mary Lyn Rae

The sights and sensations of a rainy day.  Lovely language, vibrant illustrations.  This book is a perfect connect book for West-coasters and will inspire some great “rainy writing” from your students.

9. Every Friday – Dan Yaccarino

Simple description of favorite days, favorite routines, and family bonding.  Every Friday, a young boy and his dad have a regular walk together and then eat the same pancakes at the same diner. A great book for getting students to think about their own family routines.  This is a simple book, but will inspire some great “Every ____________” writing!

Bibbity Bop, Barber Shop – Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

So much to love about this book about a young boy’s first haircut: diversity, overcoming nerves, reassuring parent, cheerful, loving scenes of home and community.  Lovely illustrations and gentle rhythm.  Love this book for making connections.

10.  Blackout – John Rocco

One hot summer night in the city, the power goes off.  OH NO! What can we do?  No computers!  No play station!  No cooking on the stove!  No lights!  It turns out, spending the evening on the rooftop with the neighbours and watching the night sky is better than video games!

               And there you have it!  Ten books to inspire “small moment” writing!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under Connect, New Books, Top 10 Tuesday, Writing Anchors

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Weekend Bookstore Bliss!

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

My husband:  How’s the beer on the deck?

Me:  I’m still in the book store.

My husband:  You are a nerd.

Me:  And proud of it.

I experienced book bliss this weekend when I spent over two blissful hours in Mosaic Books in Kelowna.   From the fiction, to the bargain tables, to the travel biographies, and ending with the children’s section – I was in book heaven!

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Here are just a few of the books that caught my eye (and some I had to buy!)

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The Toad Elise Gravel

I squealed with delight when I saw that Elise Gravel had added another book to her ever-so-popular-cannot-keep-these-books-on-the-book-shelf Disgusting Critter series.  A perfect balance between information and humour with a splash of gross topped off with delightful illustrations!  LOVE!

School’s First Day of School – Adam Rex

Charming and whimsical, mark this as a wonderful new back to school read-aloud.   Told from the point of view of the school, this is a fresh perspective on first day jitters!  Delightful illustrations by Christian Robinson (Last Stop on Market Street)

Circle – Jeannie Baker

With a wheelchaired-boy’s wish to fly as the starting point, we follow the incredible journey of godwits as they travel from Australia and New Zealand to the Arctic where they look for places to eat and breed.  Jeannie Baker’s collage illustrations are stunning and I was happy to find more detailed information about the birds at the back of the book.

Lion Lessons – Jon Agee

Witty and charming book that teaches you the seven steps to becoming a great lion and earning a lion diploma!   This would make an excellent participation read-aloud, as younger readers can practice the steps of ‘looking fierce’ and ‘pouncing around’!  What fun!

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Douglas, You Need Glasses! – Ged Adamson

Adorable story about a near-sighted dog who needs glasses.  Gentle and humorous, children will laugh when Douglas mistakes leaves for squirrels and steps in the wet cement because he couldn’t read the sign.  And yes, the print on the cover is blurry!

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Let Me Finish! – Minh Le

Adorable book about a little boy who can’t read a book without someone spoiling the ending for him. Sparse text and lively illustrations – this book will make a wonderful read-aloud for younger students and a good reminder for older students of how NOT to give a book talk!  27064352

Louise and Andie and the Art of Friendship – Kelly Light

In this follow-up to Louise Loves Art, this book explores making new friends, and the challenges friends face when they don’t see things in quite the same way.   I appreciated the realistic approach to their friendship fight and the hurt feelings that many students will connect to. I also liked that Andie was an Andy Warhol fan!

Ideas Are All Around Us – Philip C. Stead

The latest from one of my favorite authors, this book is inspiring and beautiful.  In it, an author and his dog go for a walk and discover stories everywhere.  This would make an excellent anchor book for writing workshop and discussing where ideas for writing come from.

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Be Frank With Me – Julia Clairborne Johnson

Our last book club read of the summer was  a delightful read, with quirky, charming characters.  I fell in love with young Frank, an eccentric,on-the-spectrum, friendless 9-year old boy who has very little connection with his grade four classmates because he dresses in 1930’s movie star costumes and has the wit and sophistication of an adult.  Frank is being looked after by a young publisher’s assistant while his reclusive mother, the once famous Mimi Banning, completes her first book in decades.   This book is light-hearted, touching and thoroughly entertaining.  A wonderful debut novel and a perfect summer read.

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The Book of Speculation – Erika Swyler

And from the bargain fiction table at Mosaic, I picked up this 2015 release.  I was drawn in by the cover and started making connections to  The Night Circus  when I read...”A wonderful tale of mystery, magic, carnivals, mermaids, tarot and through it all is the book of speculation linking the lives of two families.”  Sounds intriguing, I loved Night Circus – and it was on sale!  I’ll keep you posted!

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book has caught your eye?

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Filed under 2016 releases, Book Club, Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchors

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – I Can’t Keep Up!

IMWAYR

I’m happy to be joining in the weekly IMWAYR posts, hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee from Unleashing Readers

Well… we are back in full swing at school but my Pro. D. workshops this week were still cancelled (or post-poned) as teachers were just getting settled into their new classes.  This meant I had a bonus day off – most of which I spent at one of my favorite places – United Library Services!  There, I get to fill a SHOPPING CART with BRAND NEW picture books to read through!  Heaven!  But there are SO many great new books – I’m having a hard time keeping up!  Here are a few of my favorites from the top of a very tall pile!

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As an Oak Tree Grows – G. Brian Karas

This book is filled with so many teaching ideas I can hardly stand it!  The story follows the life of an Oak Tree from 1775 to present day.  Each page shows what has changed in the past 25 years – both in the tree and in the surrounding landscape.   I loved the timeline at the bottom of the page, showing each new era.  The illustrations are remarkable – and the book is large which allows the reader to take in all the details on each page.  The Oak tree grows while history transforms around it – from methods of agriculture,  transportation to uses of energy.  The poster included at the back of the book shows the rings on the oak tree representing the growth of the oak tree labeled and dated with many events and inventions that occurred while the tree grew.  This book is creative, unique and interesting!  A perfect link to a unit on growth and change in nature and in our world.

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The Right Word – Roget and His Thesaurus  by Jen Bryant

Sigh.  Sigh again.  I love this book.  So so much.   This amazing picture book biography is about the life of brilliant scientist and word collector Peter Mark Roget. The book explores his extraordinary journey that turned his love of words into the publication of the most important reference books of all time. The illustrations are stunning! If you love words as much as I do – this is a must have for your biography collection!  Watch the book trailer here.

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Vanilla Ice Cream – Bob Graham

I am a fan of Bob Graham books – I admire his ability to leave room for lots of deep thinking within his subtle text and detailed illustrations.  This book follows an endearing, curious sparrow on an unexpected journey as he travels across the world in a bag of rice from India to an urban setting (Australia?) The sparrow finds a family and invites a child to taste vanilla ice cream for the first time.  The soft pallet illustrations are classic Graham and I like how he uses a variety of closed panels with open drawings.  Don’t read this book too quickly – there is a lot to take in!

Uni the Unicorn

Uni the Unicorn – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

When I see Amy Krouse Rosenthal has a new book – I KNOW it’s going to be brilliant.  But I admit, when Maggie (from Kidsbooks) first showed me the cover  the cover of Uni the Unicorn, my heart sank a little bit.  Oh, I thought, these illustrations are not my thing.  They appeared too “Disney” like – rainbows, butterflies and unicorns.  What was she thinking?  But then I read the story and realized just how brilliant a story it was and how perfectly matched the illustrations were!  Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s latest book is a delightful twist to a familiar story. Uni is a unicorn who believes in her heart that little girls are real, despite the fact that her friends and parents say otherwise. Love the page where Uni is drawing pictures of “imaginary” little girls! Little girls will LOVE this story and make LOTS of connections! The illustrations are reminiscent of Pixar/Disney and will most certainly appeal to the unicorn loving children!   I was also thinking that if you added a cute little stuffed unicorn you have the perfect birthday party present!

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If Kids Ruled the World – Linda Bailey

If Kids ruled the world, birthday cake would be good for you.  Your doctor would say “Don’t forget to eat your birthday cake so you’ll grow up strong and healthy!”  And so the story goes – page after page –  a “wish list” of a kid’s paradise!  This book is fun, playful, imaginative and I can just hear the “YES’s” coming from the class!   A perfect anchor book for inspiring writing and art!  Love!

Penguin and Pumpkin

Penguin and Pumpkin – Salina Yoon

I fell in love with Penguin when I first met him in Penguin and Pinecone.  There have been a few Penguin books since, but none have quite come close to that emotional connection I had with that first book.  This story is sweet with familiar bold block colored illustrations.  Penguin and friends take a journey to explore fall outside the North Pole. He brings a few sights and sounds for his baby brother to experience.  I loved the last page when it’s “snowing leaves”  but the story fell a little flat for me.

Brothers of the Wolf

Brothers of the Wolf – Caroll Simpson

This is a beautifully illustrated West Coast First Nations legend about two wolf cub brothers found and raised  as human children in a village on the Pacific.  One cub feels at home in the forest and the other – the sea.  They are separated when supernatural forces change them into Sea Wolf and Timber Wolf.  Although separated, they howl together into the night sky, waking up the moon and bringing light to the darkness of the world.  The story is visually stunning and is a perfect book for questioning. It would also be a great inspiration for creating first nations paintings.

I Wanna Go Home

I Wanna Go Home – Karen Kaufmann Orloff

I have shared Karen Orloff’s first hilarious book, I Wanna Iguana, for many years with students and teachers as an anchor book for persuasive writing. In it, young Alex writes letters to his mother, trying to convince her to let him have a pet iguana.  His mother writes back, with all the reasons why an iguana would not make a good pet.   In the second book,  I Wanna New Room, Alex is trying to persuade his mom to let him have his own room.  In this third book, and possibly the funniest, Alex is sent to his grandparent’s retirement community while his parents go on vacation.  His desperate emails to his parents go from complaining about being dragged to his grandpa’s bridge games to delight in eating ice cream before dinner!  I love the connection to grandparents in this book and the fact that Alex is now sending emails!   Hilarious read-aloud!

The Orchestra Pit

Orchestra Pit – Johanna Wright

What happens when an endearing snake accidently wanders into an orchestra pit instead of a snake pit?   A whole lot of playful chaos!  The snake proceeds to investigate various instruments and causes quite a commotion among the musicians.  This book is hysterical and would be a perfect way to introduce the different instruments in an orchestra to young children.  Lively, colorful illustrations and endearing expressions on the snake!  Love this!

Lucky

Lucky – David Mackintosh

I LOVED Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School when it first came out so was excited to see this new book by British author/illustrator David Mackintosh.  This book is hilarious and one that children who have ever “jumped to conclusions” will make connections to!  When Leo’s mom tells him that there will “be a surprise” at dinnertime – Leo and his brother, desperate to find out, begin coming up with all sorts of possibilities – a bike? a new car? a new TV? a swimming pool?  By the end of the day they are convinced that the surprise is an all-expense paid two week trip to Hawaii!  And of course when they get home from school and discover the real surprise, they are left feeling let down.  All children have experienced the feeling of getting their hopes up and then being let down  – but it’s how you handle your disappointment that creates the teachable moment in this book.   David Mackingtosh handles it with humour and the subtle message of how being grateful for what you already have is enough to make you feel “lucky”.  Brilliant!

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The Boy on the Porch – Sharon Creech

I always tell my students that the greatest writers don’t tell us everything, but  “leave spaces for our thinking”.  Sharon Creech’s book is a perfect example of this – she doesn’t tell us evetyhing but provides us with spaces for asking questions and for thinking.  This book is beaurtifully written – simple, tender and powerful.  It is the story of a couple who discover a boy on their porch with only his name pinned to his shirt – “Jacob”.  (What are you wondering?… Who is he?  Where did he come from?  Why did his parents leave him?  Will they come back for him?   (So many questions!)  The boy does not speak but communicates through his extraordinary gift in music and art. Eventually, he is able to communicate with animals.  I read this book in one sitting and then I cried – not because it was sad but because it was so beautiful.  And because as I read it, I could not wait to hear my students filling in the spaces.   There is no better book to read.

Well, that’s it for now!  My pile of new books is only a little smaller now but I’d better stop!  Thanks for stopping by and please share the book that caught your eye!

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Filed under Art, celebrating words, It's Monday, making connections, Music, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Social Studies, What Are You Reading?, Writing Anchors

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Exciting Releases for Fall!

IMWAYR

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

Despite my heartbreak at the fact that I will not be sharing these books with my students tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day after that due to the ongoing teacher’s strike in B.C., I am happy to share them with you in the hopes that you are not on strike and can share them with YOUR students! I’ve had a little more reading time this past week so was able to read a few longer books.

The Boundless

The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

WOW!  This is an action packed adventure that I could not put down!  It tells the story of a young boy, Will Everett who is a first class passenger on The Boundless, the greatest train ever built.  (Think Titanic only a train!)  I loved how Kenneth Oppel has woven Canadian history and famous Canadian personalities (including Sasquatch!)  throughout the book, making it an excellent link to Social Studies.  Add a little magic and a few creepy bits and you have a fast-paced read-aloud!

Egg and Spoon

Egg and Spoon – Gregory Maguire

Another wow for this YA book!  Egg and Spoon reads like a Russian fairy tale.  It is filled with exquisite writing, laugh out loud humour, fascinating and often twisted characters. It is the story of two young woman: a city girl born of privilege and a country girl suffering from poverty and loss.  After a case of mistaken identity, both Elena and Ekaterina, or Cat,  begin an adventure across Russia and up to the North Pole on a quest to save their country.  I really liked how Maguire wove Russian culture, legends and characters, including Baba Yaga,  through the story.  At times, I felt the plot was more suited for younger children but the writing style and complex plot makes it definitely one for the older crowd.  If I’m being completely honest, I felt that some parts were a little confusing and complicated and other parts went on too long – but overall well worth the read!   

The Swallow: A Ghost Story

The Swallow – A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

Interesting that I happen to read two books featuring two female characters whose lives become entwined.   This one is AMAZING – I could not put it down!  It tells the story of the friendship of two 12 year old girls living in Toronto in 1963.  Polly – outgoing, bubbly, passionate… Rose – introverted, quiet and loves to sing and who, we discover, can see and talk to ghosts!  The story goes back and forth between the two different points of view.  This is truly a MUST READ book!  Enchanting, magical, mysterious – a great ghost story and a wonderful story of friendship.  I LOVED it!

Everybody Bonjours!

Eveybody Bonjours!  by Leslie Kimmolman

This book follows a little girl and her family on a trip to Paris. The text is simple, the illustrations are charming.  Lots of French sites, sounds, smells and tastes – a peak into French life.  I think this would be a wonderful anchor book for writing about Canada or other countries.  There is more detailed information at the back of the book.  I want to go to Paris now, please! 

And Two Boys Booed – Judith Viorst

This new Judith Viorst book was released this week! It is an adorable story of a little boy who gets an extreme case of nerves when he has to sing in the talent show. Perfect for making connections! This book rhymes, it has lift the flaps and has a song that you will all be singing after just one read! Love Judith Viorst and I LOVE this book!

Bluebird

Bluebird – Lindsey Yankey

I was totally drawn to this book by the cover.  A bird’s eye view from a bird’s eye view.  This is a charming story about a bluebird who is searching for her friend, the wind.  The repetitive text and the extraordinary details in each picture makes this a perfect read-aloud or quiet bed-time sharing.  I love how determined the little bird is.   As soon as I got to the last page, I went back and read it again!

Take Away the A

Take Away the A – Michael Escoffier

What fun this book is to read!  It’s a delightful alphabet book goes through the alphabet and offers words where you take away a letter and get a new word. So, for example, for letter A, “beast” becomes “best” when you take the A out. The concept is a simple but so clever and humouous! I have already thought about ways of using this in class – having the students try to create their own “take away” words! 

I'm Gonna Climb a Mountain in My Patent Leather Shoes

I’m Gonna Climb a Mountain in My Patent Leather Shoes – Marilyn Singer

Sadie is all packed for her rustic family camping trip:  patent shoes? check!  ballerina skirt? Check!  Sparkly suitcase? Check!  I loved the spunk of this girl, who despite her “girlie-girl” appearance is a great role model for girl power!  She is fearless and determined to find Bigfoot and protect her family.  Great rhyming pattern and bright, colorful illustrations!

 

Dojo Daycare

Dojo Daycare – Chris Tougas

Six rowdy children spinning out of control in their Dojo daycare, despite their master’s effort to demonstrate “honor, kindness and respect”. Fun, great illustrations, wonderful rhyme – a perfect read-aloud. Kids will LOVE this one!

The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing

The Writing Thief – Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing – Ruth Culham

“It’s been said that mediocre writers borrow, but great writers steal” Using children’s literature to teach writing – could there be a more perfect book for me? And since it would appear that I may have some more time on our hands next week, I’m excited to be spending it exploring this new book by Ruth Culham! 

Thanks for stopping by!  Please let me know which book caught your eye?

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Filed under Alphabet book, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Novels, Professional Books, Read-Aloud, Social Studies, Writing Anchors