Category Archives: Science

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

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

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

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

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

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

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

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

Anchor Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Lessons: 

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

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

 

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

 

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

split screen garden

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

Math zoo

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

 

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

Other lesson extensions:

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

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

Lola Plants a Garden – Anna McQuinn

We Are the Gardeners – Joanna Gaines and Kids

Plant the Tiny Seed Christie Matheson

Gardening For Beginners Osborne Books

Garden to Table

Garden to Table – Katherine Hengal

In My Garden – National Geographic Look and Learn

Backyard Bug Book for Kids – Lauren Davidson

Hello World! Backyard Bugs – Jill McDonald

 

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

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

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

https://growing-minds.org/

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Adrienne’s OLLI – Online Learning Lesson Idea #5 WANTED! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom

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

Thank you for the positive responses to my weekly OLLI  posts “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“.  I’m happy that you are finding them helpful for your distance lessons.  You can see my first OLLI HERE (The Hike), my second HERE. (If I Could Build A School).  My Mother’s Day lesson is HERE.  And last week, my OLLI lesson based was based on the book Everybody Needs a Rock.  You can view that lesson HERE.

Wanted! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom

Anchor Book:

This week, I’m excited to share WANTED!  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom a new nonfiction book, written by Heather Tekavec and published by Kidscan Press.   This book is a such a genius idea! I love it!  I can see it being a HUGE hit with kids. (Attention TL’s!!!)  The book combines facts about rather uncommon, quirky animals and turns them into a hilarious memorable Fact File Rap Sheets.  Each double page introduces a ‘criminal’ and gives details of their ‘crime’, for example, the cuckoo who steals other bird’s nests and “lets the other mother do all the work to hatch the eggs.”

Lesson:

Of course, while reading this book, I immediately thought about how much kids would enjoy making their own MOST WANTED page about a unique, weird and wacky animal criminal.  Unfortunately, this book is so new that there is no online version, so you may need to share one of these images with them as a reference if you do not have your own copy to read aloud online.  I have also included several additional anchor books that can be found online.  After learning about some of these weird and wacky creatures, students can choose one from a list (see list below) and do a little research about them.

Click HERE for the Weird Animal Research Page

Here’s the website where I found many of these strange animals that students may find helpful for their research:  https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/outdoors-and-adventure/photos/15-of-the-strangest-animals-in-the-world-and-where-to-see-them

There are also many “Weird Animal” educational videos students could view including this one:  https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/videos/really-weird-animals/

Some key teaching points to this activity:

  • identifying the crime – helping the students turn one of the animal features into a “CRIME”.
  • criminal vocabulary: dangerous, frightening, sneaky, shady, sketchy, identity theft, bribery, burglary, hides, corruption, crime, fraud, loots, steals, pick-pockets, smuggles, disguises, trespasses, vandalizes, chases, 
  • Criminal name and Aliases – helping students come up with a clever criminal name for the animal

After students have gathered facts about their “criminal animal” (can I invent a new word: “craminal”?)  they can use the template I created based on the anchor book, to make their own “WANTED Weird Animal Rap Sheet” poster.

Click HERE for the WANTED Weird Animal Rap Sheet template for Primary.

Click HERE for the WANTED Weird Animal Rap Sheet template for Intermediate.

If you or your students prefer, they could design their own WANTED poster.  Here is a great site for free WANTED posters templates:  http://templatelab.com/wanted-poster-template/

Other anchor books you could use to support this lesson, all featuring odd or ugly animals with interesting, unusual features.  Check Epic Books or YouTube for online versions of these books.

Animals Nobody Loves – Seymour Simon

What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You? – Steve Jenkins

Creature Features – Steve Jenkins 

Ugly Animals Laura Marsh

National Geographic Readers: Odd Animals (Pre-Reader) by [Rose Davidson]

Odd Animals – Rose Davidson

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The Ugly Animals – We Can’t All Be Pandas – Simon Watt

 

Have a great week, everyone!  Hope this lesson is one that you can possibly use for your online teaching this week.

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

 

 

 

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Animals, New Books, OLLI, Online Books and Lessons, Picture Book, Science, Writing Anchor book

Adrienne’s OLLI (Online Learning Lesson Idea) #4 – Everybody Needs a Rock

Hello everyone!  Hope you all had a restful weekend and were able to celebrate all the great moms out there!   I know some districts and provinces are in the process of gradually returning to modified versions of “in person teaching” but many are still trying to determine what that looks like.  No matter what your teaching situation is at the moment, I am sending you positive thoughts and energy!

Many of you have been using my OLLI – “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“.  (You can see my first OLLI HERE and second HERE.  Last week, I shared a “How To” lesson connected to Mother’s Day.  You can see that lesson HERE.

This week, I’m excited to share “Everybody Needs A Rock” by Byrd Baylor,  one of my favorite books, (yes, I say that a lot!) with your students.  This book and lesson invites students on a wonderful “outdoor” activity, as well as an act of community kindness!

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I love rocks.  I love their feel, their color pallet, their smell, their spirit.   Rocks are magical – each has its own history; its own journey; its own story.    Like snowflakes, no two rocks are the same.  But unlike snowflakes, rocks can be held, saved, and collected.  I collect them wherever I am at a beach.  I have pebbles from Spanish Banks, Haida Gwaii, Horby Island,  Mayne Island, the Sunshine Coast, Quadra Island, Saltspring Island, Hernando Island, and many other West Coast beaches.

Some people have certain rocks that they are always on the lookout for.  My mum loved striped pebbles.  She called them “Licorice All-Stones”.

Striped beach rocks | Etsy

Others are on the lookout for speckled pebbles.  Size and shape matter less to collectors than those splattered speckles.

Pacific Ocean Speckled Stones Round Conglomerate Spotted | Etsy

My childhood friend’s mother collected “wish rocks” – grey rocks with a single white line circling the center.  She said they were good luck.  The thicker the white stripe, the better chances of your wish coming true.

Wish rocks | Etsy

Another friend of mine loves searching for heart-shaped rocks.  These are harder to find, but when you find one, it is like discovering a hidden treasure.

Common Beach Stone Identification (Including Dolomite, Quartz ...

Me – I am a collector of smooth, shiny, flat stones that fit perfectly in the palm of my hand.  There is something comforting about these rocks to me.  Something sacred.

Highly Polished Slate-Black Fire Stones | Stone Decorative

Because of my love of rocks, this week’s anchor book Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor is special to me. (Can you say connections?) It was first published in 1974, and while the black and white drawings may not grab you initially, I guarantee the engaging, fresh voice of the narrator certainly will.   The story outlines ten simple, but important rules to finding the perfect rock and inspires the reader to follow the rules and go out to find their own special rock.

Everybody Needs A Rock Rules:

      1.  Find your rock anywhere.

      2. Shhhhhh… choose a rock quietly.

      3. Look at your rock eye to eye.

      4. Don’t choose a rock that’s too big.

      5. Don’t choose a rock that’s too small.

      6. Choose a rock that fits into your hand.

      7. Look for the perfect color.

      8. Choose a rock that has an interesting shape.

      9. Sniff your rock. (they all smell different!)

      10. Don’t ask for help.  You can do this all by yourself.

The other thing I like about this book is that, while it can certainly be read literally about the joys of hunting for rocks, following ten tips, and finding one that you want to save, there is also the underlying idea that everyone needs something solid to hold onto during challenging times. A rather timely book, wouldn’t you say?    It is also a gentle reminder to time to notice and connect to nature and to the things that really matter.

Watch the Youtube Read Aloud here:


After the students watch and listen to the story, invite your students to use these rules to go rock hunting this week.  They can do this in their yard, at a local park, or perhaps on an outing with their parents.  Encourage them to follow the 10 rules to find their special rock (they can download the rules so they don’t forget!)

After they find their perfect rock, they can draw and color a detailed picture and write about their rock finding experience – where they found it, why they picked it, etc.

Here is the Ten Rules Template (students can use this when searching for their rocks and also add their own rule!)

Here is the Primary Template

Here is the Intermediate Template

Lesson Extension – The “Giving Back” Rock

(Thank you, Cheryl, for this wonderful idea!!)

During our morning runs since the city shut down in March, my friend Cheryl and I have noticed painted rocks with lovely messages placed under trees along the trails.  Each time we run, in fact, we notice more and more of these cheerful, encouraging rocks.

Today: Rotary Trail RocksMessages on rocks help one neighborhood cope with coronavirus ...Steven Bright's tweet - "⁦@ronald_cohn⁩ ... someone in Oakville is ...

To extend this lesson, why not encourage students to find a second special rock to paint and leave somewhere in their neighborhood to brighten up someone’s day.  This “Giving Back” rock can be something the students paint at home, perhaps with their family.  They could drop off the rock on a neighbour’s porch or yard, or find a spot in a local park to leave it.  Younger students will likely need some help with the painting and planting of this special rock but I could see this being an activity the entire family could get involved in.  Invite your students to take photos of their sharing rock where they leave it in the neighbourhood.

Here is the “Giving Back Rock” template for Primary

Here is the “Giving Back Rock” template for Intermediate

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week, everyone!  You are doing a great job!

Happy Rock Hunting!

Check out more writing lessons in my new book, Powerful Writing Structures 

See you soon for more OLLI posts!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under How To Writing, Lesson Ideas, Links to content, OLLI, Read-Aloud, Science

Adrienne’s Anchor Book and Lesson Ideas #1 – Happy Earth Day!

I’ve been asked to start posting some simple lessons teachers can use for their online learning.  So here I go….

Happy Earth Day, everyone!  But as I tell my students “Everyday is Earth Day!”  We should not just be acknowledging and giving thank to the Earth once a year – but every single day!

The Hike by Alison FarrellIn honour of Earth Day, I’m excited to share this new book “The Hike” by Alison Farrell    , Published by Chronicle Books.  (I have checked and there are several versions of this book being read aloud on YouTube).  I love hiking and I LOVE this book!  Not only is it written in beautiful, lyrical language with adorable illustrations, but it inspires children to get outside and notice things around them.  What I love most is that there are examples of “sketchbook notes” directly in the book, perfect for linking to scientific observation and teaching labelled diagrams.  There is also a surprise hidden under the jacket cover!

Why not invite your students to go on a walk or hike with their family to celebrate Earth day and create some field notes about the wonderful examples of nature they see?  Maybe everyone in the family can add one page of field notes!  And it doesn’t have to be a hike – this book is proof that epic things can happen right in your own backyard!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

A Conversation With Alison Farrell About THE HIKE — Hello Small Empire

Thanks for stopping by!

Stay safe, everyone!

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Filed under 2020 Releases, Earth Day, environment, New Books, Online Books and Lessons, Science

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Favorite Early Readers and Beginning Chapter Books of 2017

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

This week, I am highlighting my favorite early readers and beginning chapter books from 2017.  So many great books to read and share with your emerging and transitional readers!  Many themes were featured this year, including strong, culturally diverse characters who face adversity, solve conflict and think outside the box to resolve problems.  Each of these books would work well either as a read-aloud in a primary classroom or as an independent reader.  (For each selection, I have included number of pages.)

 

Fergus and Zeke – Kate Messner  (56 pages)

Meet two charming, mischievous mice:  Fergus – a lovable classroom mouse who sneaks into a backpack to join a class trip and Zeke – his streetwise counterpart whom he meets and brings back to school with him.  Short sentences, repetition, great sight words, four easy chapters, straightforward plot and colorful illustrations – this brand-new series is perfect for emerging readers! 

Ballet Cat – What’s Your Favorite Favorite?  – Bob Shae (56 pages)

A delightful celebration of family relationships is the theme in this humorous third book in the Ballet Cat series.  Grandma ends up in quite a predicament when her two grandchildren – Cat and Goat – try to outdo each other when they put on a show for her.  Cat thinks ballet is Grandma’s favorite; Goat is convinced she likes magic tricks best.  A perfect early reader, the text is done entirely in large word bubbles, highlighted by Shea’s signature style illustrations and bright bold colors.

Super Narwhal and the Jelly Jolt – Ben Clanton  (64 pages)

In this follow-up to the first A Narwhale and Jelly Book, Narwhal decides to become a superhero.  He already has a name, an outfit, a secret identity, even a sidekick. But he still needs to find out which his superpower is… Cute, funny and very heartwarming. Comic style illustrations.

The Good For Nothing Button – Charise Mericle Harper (64 pages)

Yellow Bird has a button. It does . . . nothing!  It is a good for nothing button. Red Bird and Blue Bird are excited to try the button. But when they press it, they discover that the button makes them happy.  Happy is something! A flabbergasted Yellow Bird insists the button does nothing. But it sure does seem to be making him mad. Mad is something! A great read-aloud and high on the giggle scale!

Princess Cora and the Crocodile – Laura Amy Schlitz (80 pages)

When an over-scheduled princess, tired of no time to play and discover, asks her fairy godmother for a dog she is surprised when a crocodile is sent by mistake.   But the hilarious plan that follows involves the croc swapping places with Cora – giving her some much needed freedom.  With a mop wig and frilly dress, the “princess” croc insults the Queen (“Reptile!” “Mammal!”) and gnaws on the fitness-obsessed King (just a little). Charming and so much fun to read.  (and I “inferred” a little lesson for helicopter parents!)

Bruno: Some of the More Interesting Days in My Life So FarCatharina Valckx (96 pages)    Six linked quirky stories are full of friendship, silliness, and the little moments that make life memorable and unpredictable.   Bruno, a small cat in a blue checked cap, recounts in turn the peculiar and often extremely silly goings-on of his life.  I loved that Bruno takes such delight in embracing any experience that come his way.

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Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and MarshmallowsAsia Citro (96 pages)

What should you feed a baby dragon?  Zoey and her cat Sassafras use the scientific method and science journals to find out!  I LOVE this first book in a series that celebrates science and features a smart, strong, tenacious female character.  Also love the message that you need to work through mistakes and re-think your plan before you can succeed!  Cute illustrations, short chapters and a sprinkle of magic thrown in!  I can’t wait for more books in this series!
yours sincerely giraffe

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe – Megumi Iwasa (104 pages)

Sweet, quirky little book about a lonely giraffe and a lonely penguin who become pen pals.  A great early chapter book, first published in Japan, that touches on loneliness, friendship, letter-writing and understanding differences.  Love the playful line drawings which break the text into manageable chunks.

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Heroes in Training – Hermes and the Horse with Wings – Tracey West (112 pages)

Not sure how I missed this series – but this is book #13!  Each book in the series features one of the Greek Gods as a child.  Ten chapters, simple text and single page black and white illustrations.  A perfect series for any young readers interested in Greek Gods and the exciting world of Greek mythology.

Ivy – Katherine Coville  (144 pages)

This short, delightful fantasy includes pixies, a sick dragon, a three legged griffin, and some nasty trolls! Ivy and her Grandmother, whom villagers call “Meg the Healer”, can relate to all the animals that live in and around the village of Broomsweep.  Her grandmother can heal all the animals, including the magical ones.  Enchanting and heartwarming!

Jasmine Toguchi – Mochi Queen Debbi Michiko Florence  (160 pages)

So much to love about a headstrong eight-year-old named Jasmine Toguchi and her Japanese-American family.  In this first book, Jasmine longs to be part of a cultural family tradition of making Japanese mochi – a small, round dessert ball made with soft, pounded sticky rice.  But she is told she is too young to help.  I loved Jasmine’s determination, the details about mochi, and the family’s traditions.  Great for making connections!  A mochi recipe is included at the end of the book.  Looking forward to more from this series.

Beatrice Zinker – Upside Down Thinker – Shelley Johannes (164 pages)

I so enjoyed getting to know Beatrice Zinker.  She’s got the right combination of quirky and spunk, as well as her share of bad luck (think Ramona Quimby). She thinks outside the box and upside-down!  Fast paced and delightful with lots of quirky illustrations (reminded me a little of Dory Fantasmagory).  Themes of individuality, optimism, and the shifting shapes of friendships. Can’t wait for more Beatrice!

Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers – John Dougherty (192 pages)

With an undertone of Monty Python, mixed with Captain Underpants, Geronimo Stilton, an abundance of hilarious slapstick silliness, and plenty of tremendous wordplay – I LOVED this goofy LOL British adventure!  I especially loved that the cast of  characters are aware that they are in a story, and occasionally comment on it: when the king realizes they are in a story he immediately goes and puts on his clothes.  HILARIOUS!

A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold (208 pages)

Bixby Alexander Tam, or Bat, is great at Math and knows more about animals than anyone in his class, but he is not great at making friends. When his mom, a veterinarian, brings home a baby skunk, Bat becomes the best skunk care-taker ever, all while trying to navigate his world.  A charming story perfect for students transitioning from early readers to chapter books. I like that this book has a character most likely on the autism spectrum, without the book being about that.  Also touches on divorce and single parents. The story focuses more on Bat’s love of animals and how this empathy for animals helps him connect to his classmates. Tender, heartwarming and funny with an amazing character you and your students will fall in love with. Major warm fuzziness! 

      Thanks for stopping by!

              What are some of your favorite beginning chapter books from the past year?

 

 

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Filed under 2017 releases, Beginning Chapter Book, Cultural Celebrations, Early Readers, Family, Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Read-Aloud, Science

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Great Book Finds from Toronto!

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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

Last week, I was presenting at RFTLOI (Reading For the Love Of It) conference in Toronto.  One of my favorite parts about the conference is book browsing (and buying) at the publishers displays.  Here are some of my favorite new books I squished into my suitcase!

josephine

I am Josephine (and I am a living thing) – Jan Thornhill

A charming introduction to the concept of classification in the natural world for early primary students.  The combination of science and search-and-find works brilliantly and I love the colorful cheerful, cheery illustrations!

The Tree: An Environmental Fable – Neal Layton

When a family wants to cut down a tree and build a house, what will happen to the animal nests and burrows?  A sweet, simple tale about harmony in the natural world with a gentle message of taking care of the environment.

Teacup – Rebecca Young

Stunningly beautiful book about loss, redemption, adventure, hope – so breathtaking that it made me quite teary.  A young boy leaves his home and sets off to begin again.  Before he leaves, he fills a teacup with soil  from his home.  This is a book filled with subtle messages and would be an excellent choice for teaching inferring, symbolism and metaphor.  Gorgeous illustrations and poetic language – LOVE this book.

The Wolf-Birds – Willow Dawson

This book is fascinating!  Set in the winter woods and based on scientific data and anecdotal reports from Aboriginal hunters, the book explores the fascinating symbiotic relationship shared by wolves and ravens.  Gorgeous, calming illustrations and beautiful language – a perfect introduction to survival and the circle of life.

Abigail, the Whale – David Cali & Sonja Bougaeva

I was immediately attracted too the cover of this book and the adorable illustrations.    As a child, I was very chubby and was teased a lot for being a “butterball”.  I completely connected to this heartfelt story of Abigail, who is teased at swimming lessons because of her round frame and called “a whale”.  Her swimming teacher gives her some support and advice on how to “think light”.  This is a tale of positive thinking and would be a great starting point for a discussion about teasing, self-esteem, empathy, and perspective.

A Change of Heart — Alice Walsh

This year, I have been developing a unit called “Reading and Thinking Across Canada”, using picture books that tell true stories of Canadian events.  This book fits perfectly into the theme – and tells the remarkable true story of Lanier Philips, a US soldier in WWII who escaped the racism and segregation of his hometown in Georgia, survived a shipwreck, became an honorary Newfoundlander and went on to become a civil rights activist.  REMARKABLE!

The Stone Thrower – Jael Ealey Richardson

Another remarkable true story about an unknown Canadian hero..The Stone Thrower is the true story of Ohio-born Chuck Early who, despite his outstanding record as a high school and college quarterback, is rejected by racist NFL and instead plays for the Canadian Football League where he is named a Most Valuable Player. Themes of segregation, poverty, resilience and civil rights all tied up into an inspiring sports story – what more could you ask for?

My Beautiful Birds – Suzanne Del Rizzo

When Canadian author Suzanne Del Rizzo was looking for something to read to her own children that would explain the Syrian Civil War, she came across an article about a young Syrian refugee who found solace in a connection with wild birds at the Za’atari refugee camp. And so she wrote this book.  This book is gorgeous – textured filo illustrations reminiscent of Barbara Reid and a gentle, moving story that illuminates how this crisis is impacting children. It shows the reality of refugee camps and the struggle of families uprooted who are trying to redefine “home”. 

Lost and Found Cat – Doug Kuntz & Amy Shrodes

A true, heartwarming story about an Iraqi refugee family who is separated from and eventually reunited with their beloved family cat.  Such an amazing story it is hard to believe it is true – but it is.  Your students will break into spontaneous applause when you read the last page!   Will also inspire discussions about what it means to be a refugee.

Bob, Not Bob! (to be read as though you have the worst cold ever)   – Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick

This book made me laugh so much!  A little boy is stuffed, snuffly and sick in bed with a terrible cold.  All he wants is his mom – but when he calls his mom – it comes out “bob” – and soon the slobbery family dog comes running!  LOL!  A great read aloud!  Cracked me right up!

                            Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books caught your eye?

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Top 10 Tuesday -Top 10 Nonfiction Picture Books of 2016!

From snow, to frogs; from giant squids to seeds and monsters – 2016 has been an amazing year for new Nonfiction picture books.  Here is a list of my favorite top 10 (well, okay… I’ve gone over a little!) books for sharing and reading aloud to your class.  These books would make excellent additions to your classroom or school library!

Canada – Year By Year – Elizabeth MacLeod

With Canada’s significant birthday coming this spring, this is a perfect book to explore the timeline of Canadian history from its beginning on July 1, 1867 to the upcoming 150th anniversary in 2017. It includes famous people, politics, sports, culture and significant events.  Accessible and interesting.

Best in Snow – April Pulley Sayre

Stunning photographs and simple, poetic text describes the beauty of winter in its various states and the way animals respond to the coldest season. Snow/meteorology facts included in the back. A great read aloud for Pre-k – Grade 2 and excellent anchor for word choice and imagery for Gr. 2-4.

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snow Day – Andrea Davis Pinkney

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney is a wonderful tribute to the author of this iconic book. Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day helped open the door to children’s books being published with diverse main characters. I love learning the “story behind the story” – of how Ezra Jack Keats pinned a series of photographs of an adorable African-American boy to his wall. Twenty years the boy in the photos became “Peter” and inspired him to write his first children’s book. Andrea Davis Pinkney writes with such poetic and lyrical language. Mark this as an anchor book for word choice!

The Darkest Dark  – Chris Hadfield

The Darkest Dark by beloved Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is probably my favorite biography of the year.  Inspired by Chris’s childhood and his dreams of becoming an astronaut and his fear of the dark. So much to love about this book: themes of facing and overcoming your fears, dreaming big, not to mention the extraordinary illustrations by the Fan brothers, the adorable family pug, and the short bio at the back. Delightful!  

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Fabulous Frogs – Martin Jenkins

There are so many kinds of frogs in the world — more than 5,000! — and all of them are fabulous.  Gorgeous illustrations combined with great scientific information makes this a fantastic read-aloud for your primary classroom.  I love Martin Jenkins conversational style of writing and have used his previous books  (Emperor’s Egg and Chameleons Are Cool) for modelling “voice”.

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Fish Flying Frogs and Walking Fish: Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-Propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move   – Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

I am a huge fan of Steve Jenkins books as they make for such engaging read-alouds (perfect for practicing “Knew-New Connections”)  The collage illustrations and the fascinating tid-bits and details about creatures are eye-catching and brain busting!  LOVE!

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Animals By the Numbers – A Book of Animal Infographics – Steve Jenkins

How many species are there across the globe?   How much do all of the insects in the world collectively weigh? How far can animals travel?  This second Steve Jenkins book will appeal to your science buffs and makes for a great WOW read-aloud!  Informative and engaging, this amazing book is chocker-block full of scientific research, Jenkins signature collage illustrations and computer graphics.  Ah-mazing!

Giant Squid – Candace Flemming

Wow!  This book is filled with amazing facts, incredible imagery, and gorgeous, rhythmic text.   This introduction to the mysterious Giant Squid is a perfect book for questioning as it is filled with so many unknowns about these creatures. Incredible!

Metropolis – Benoit Tardif

Benoit Tardif introduces young readers to some of the major cities of the world. Each city contains basic facts (country where located, primary language(s) spoken, population) and then spotlights the city through colorful blocked simple illustrations of landmarks, sports, culture, food, and people.  Will inspire your young geographers!  This is a great anchor book for NF text features.

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Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future – Allan Drummond

This interesting and inspiring nonfiction picture book would be a great starting point for discussions about what “going green” and sustainability mean. Told in a narrative style, this book tells the story of a small Kansas town that decides to build a “green city” after it was devastated by a tornado.

The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World – Nancy F. Castaldo

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  This book about the history and future of seeds is fascinating, inspirational and important. I learned so much from it – things about seeds I had never heard of: crop diversity, GMOs, biopiracy, how seed diversity affects the food on your plate, and how to get involved in saving the planet’s seeds.   Important call to action – this book would make an excellent resource for an inquiry into seeds in a middle school or high school.

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Monster Science – Could Monsters Survive (and Thrive!) in the Real World? –  Helaine Becker

A totally unique way of exploring science, this book uses a collection of classic monster examples to cover a wide and fascinating range of real science, mostly relating to anatomy and biology.  Engaging, humorous and fascinating!

The Polar Bear – Jenni Desmond

Oh, this book.  This book is extraordinary in so many ways….stunning illustrations, information presented in such an artistic way…immersion into the world and knowledge of the Polar Bear with a quiet message about climate change.   For those of you who loved Jenni Desmond’s The Blue Whale, this book is a must have.  Amazing facts will fill you and your students with wonder and awe.

           There you have it – my favorite Nonfiction Picture books for 2016.                             

What are your favorites?    

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Filed under Animals, Biography, New Books, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Picture Books, Science

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Read-Alouds to Link to Your Content Areas

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Using novels to link to your content areas is a great way to introduce an area of study or inquiry to your class. Reading these books aloud during your unit will keep your students engaged, build their background knowledge and give them many opportunities for making connections, questioning and inferring. While there are many to chose from, here are my top ten novels (plus 2!) for both primary and intermediate grades with links to content:

(Please note that the grades listed are only suggested and that pre-reading any book before reading it aloud to your class is strongly recommended.)

                     1.    Appleblossom, the Possum – Holly Goldberg Sloan

                            Content Link: science, animals, marsupials    Gr. 2-3

Delightful glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial’s point of view.  Beautiful illustrations and a perfect read-aloud for a grade 2-3 class learning about animal families.

2. The Prince in the Pond:  Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin – Donna Jo Napoli

Content Link – science, frogs, life cycles    Grade 2-4

A delightful fairy tale about a frog having been turned from a prince by a hag, making the best of his new life as he mates, has children, and instills a new kind of thinking into his his frog family.  Lots of frog life-cycle facts woven into this charming story.

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3. Nuts to You  -Lynne Rae Perkins

Content Link: nature, animals, tree conservation, environment     Gr. 2-4

Two courageous squirrels set out on an adventure to save their friend from a hawk.  Funny, heartwarming, suspenseful story of friendship.

4. Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue – Paige Braddock

Content – science, biology, pond life, conservation     Grades 2-3

A hilarious graphic novel for young readers featuring a cast of memorable animal characters who live in a small pond.  When they discover their home will soon be bulldozed to make way for a new highway, Stinky Cecil and his friends attempt to save their pond.

5. The Wild Robot – Peter Brown

Content: adaptation; environment; survival; community; climate change  Gr.  4-6

A robot discovers she is alone on a remote island.   This is an amazing survival story that would make a great read-aloud to stimulate rich discussions about what happens when nature and technology collide.  Heart-warming and action packed!

6. Ghost Voyages II: The Matthew – Cora Taylor

                           CONTENT – Social Studies, Canadian history, explorers, John Cabot   Gr. 4-6

When he touches his grandfather’s old stamp, 11 yr. old Jeremy travels back in time and finds himself sailing on a tall ship with John Cabot as he claims Newfoundland for England.   An exciting adventure story filled with important moments in Canadian history.

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7. Inside Out and Back Again – Thanhha Lai

         Content – Social Studies, immigration history, Vietnam war       Gr.  5-7

A beautifully written, moving story of immigration told in verse through the eyes of a young girl during a year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from her home country of Vietnam to Alabama.

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8. The War That Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Content links – historical fiction, WWII; disabilities, survival.   Gr.   5-7

A heartbreaking and emotional story Ada, a young girl with a club foot who escapes with her brother from their abusive mother.  This novel is set in WWII England and weaves historical moments throughout.  I was particularly struck by the remarkable character development.

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                                               9.  Fatty Legs – Christy Jordan-Fenton

                        Content – Aboriginal issues, residential schools, social justice     Gr. 5-7

Fatty Legs tells the true story of an eight-year-old Inuit girl named Olemaun Pokiak and her experience with residential school.    Short, lyrical and straightforward memoir recounting the cruel treatment she endured and the hope, resilience, and unbreakable spirit she showed.

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10 . The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel

  Content link – Canadian history, building of the CPR    Suggested Grade  6-8

An action packed, rags-to-riches, adventure story of a boy on the maiden voyage of a cross country maiden journey of The Boundless – the world’s longest and most luxurious train. Sprinkled with facts about the history of the expansion of the Canadian railroad, facts and scenes from Halifax to Victoria, including some mythology of Sasquatches and the Hag of the Muskeg.           

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11 . Zombie Baseball Beatdown – Paolo Bacigalup

Content -Food safety, racism, immigration, activism     Gr. 7-9

A high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse that has underlying messages about the health of our meat supply and how policies on illegal immigrants allow employers to take advantage of them.   And how could you not like a zombie cow head?

12  . Paper Wishes  – Lois Sepahban

Content: historical fiction, WWII, Japanese internment camp.   Gr. 6-8

A fascinating and often painful truth of WWII’s Japanese internment camps is the setting for this beautifully written story of a loving family supporting each other through unimaginably difficult circumstances.

Thanks for stopping by!  Would love to know which book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under Canada, Content links, Links to content, Middle Grade Novels, Novels, Read-Aloud, Science, Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday! Top 10 Nonfiction Poetry Collections

 

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In honour of National Poetry Month, I have decided to do a TOP 10 post that features poetry, in particular, nonfiction poetry!  Poetry can bring science to life for young children and any one of these books can be linked up to a unit you are studying.  From Space, to Bees, to the Arctic and the Savannah, here is my collection of favorite poetry books that combine fascinating facts, delightful language and gorgeous illustrations.

  1. Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold Joyce Sidman

If you have never read a Joyce Sidman book, you have been missing out!   In my opinion she is the true Queen of Nonfiction Poetry so I have included two of her books on this list.  Winter Bees provides insight and information on how plants and animals cope with the cold, winter months told through lyrical poetry and gorgeous lino-cut illustrations.

2. Song of the Water Boatman and other Pond Poems Joyce Sidman

From algae to a nymph to a frog to a turtle,  Joyce Sidman examines the living things in and around a pond through poetry.  This would be a perfect book to compliment a unit of study on ponds or habitats.

3. Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars Douglas Florian

This collection of whimsical, factual poetry about astronomy is by my #1 information poet – Douglas Florian.   The book includes poems about each planet, as well as the moon, the sun, black holes, constellations, and other space topics.  Includes die-cut pages and a glossary of space terms, making this a perfect anchor book for your study of space and planets.

4. Out of This World:  Poems and Facts about Space – Amy E. Sklansky

Love the variety of different poetic forms, combined with fascinating space facts and gorgeous illustrations.  A perfect addition to your Space book collection and great anchor to start your study of space!

5. Un-BEE-lievables – Douglas Florian

In fourteen funny, fact-filled poems about honeybees, Douglas Florian (major poet crush on this man!) explores the fascinating and often unexpected wonders of these insects’ lifestyles, families, communities and their importance on our ecosystems.  Delightful paintings that will inspire some bee-autiful paintings from your students!

6. Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More! Poems for Two VoicesCarole Gerber

Kids will have a blast performing these child-friendly poems.  These funny, rhyming poems offer a close-up view of the plant and insect worlds, with an amazing amount of information about them. The art is bright, colorful and fabulous!  A great book for teaching and performing!

7. A Strange Place to Call Home – the World’s Most Dangerous Habitats and the Animals that Call Them Home – Marilyn Singer

Marilyn Singer’s fascinating poems, accompanied by Ed Young’s collage illustrations, feature unusual creatures whose adaptations allow them to live in challenging and often unappealing habitats.  There are helpful end notes which provide more information about each animal. I love how Singer uses a variety of poetic forms from free verse to haiku and sonnets (all defined at the back of the book).

8. When the Sun Shines on Antarctica and Other Poems about the Frozen ContinentIrene Latham

Brand new collection with poems about Antarctic life in the summer, including poems about plants, animals and landscape of this frigid climate.  Each page is accompanied by a paragraph of facts and an illustration that captures the frozen landscape.

9. Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North – Eileen Spinelli

Eileen Spinelli’s delightful collection of factual poems  about the Arctic can serve as an anchor for a more in-depth study of Arctic Animals (my favorite topic for nonfiction research writing!)  This collection is perfect for reading aloud to and with early primary students.  Spinelli’s playful writing style will tickle your tongue!    In the back of the book is a helpful list of Arctic facts about each animal.

10.  Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Watering Hole – Irene Latham

This collection of creative poems introduces a variety of grassland creatures who frequent this life-sustaining water source over the course of one day.  An accurate and vivid account of survival on the Savannah that  also includes a brief description of each animal on each double page spread.  Entertaining and fascinating!  I love the folk-art illustrations.

11. Silver Seeds – Paul Paolilli

While some may think acrostic poetry is easy to write, if done correctly, each new line is not necessarily a new sentence or word.  This collection of acrostic poems celebrating nature is my “go to” anchor book for teaching students how to write acrostic poems properly.  Simple, but profound poems and gorgeous illustrations.

MOON
Marvelous melon, whole,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Or sliced,
Offering sweet flavor to the
Night.

12. Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: Poems About Creatures That Hide – David L. Harrison

This amazing book features nineteen different creatures organized into five categories, each poem highlights interesting facts about the behavior and habitat of a sea creature, reptile, amphibian, mammal, insect or bird. Laroche’s fascinating cut-paper illustrations bring the habitats to life.  A perfect book for introducing animal classification and adaptation to environment.

Thanks for stopping by!  Which book or books caught your eye?

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Filed under Art, New Books, Poetry, Science, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – More New Books for the New Year

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: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

The new books just keep on coming and I have am happy to share a few more that have caught my eye this week!

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Sometimes You Barf – Nancy Carlson

It’s flu season!  And if you didn’t think it was possible to smile or even giggle at the thought of barfing – you will change your mind when you read this book!  A young girl narrates us through her nasty flu bug and, in the process, explains how everyone barfs, even animals.  The message?  Sometimes you barf, sometimes in embarrassing places – but life goes on!  Nancy Carlson has been writing books for kids for FOUR decades!  She always manages to write simple, playful books that we can all connect to!  Kids will LOVE this book, especially because it has the word “BARF” in it!  Great book for making connections!

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Pirate, Viking and Scientist – Jared Chapman

Viking is a friend of Scientist; Pirate is a friend of Scientist; Pirate and Viking are NOT friends!  So what happens when your two friends get along with you but not with each other?   Why, use your scientific brain, of course!   This is a wonderful story that not only focuses on the issues of friendship and conflict resolution but introduces the basic scientific method to readers.   Clever, fun, great “triple scoop words” and a lots of examples of how to use grid paper!  I loved this one! 

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Bunjitsu – John Himmelman

This book has a LOT going for it – big font, fun illustrations, beginning chapter book, martial arts, child-friendly scenarios, strong, feisty female character all woven together with Eastern philosophy! Each chapter is a subtle lesson about values such as creative thinking, hard work, and persistence.  Zen philosophy for beginning readers – what more could you ask for?

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Mr. Squirrel and the Moon –  Sebastian Meschenmoser

If you loved Waiting for Winter as much as I did, you will be thrilled to see Squirrel is back!  This time, he discovers the moon has fallen from the sky and landed in his tree.  Squirrel is worried others may think he has stolen the moon, so he attempts, with his woodland friends, to return it.  This story is hilarious – with classic Maschenmoser detailed, pencil illustrations that often tell a different tale than the text.  A perfect book for practicing inferring with the younger students.  LOVE!

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When Otis Courted Mama – Kathi Appelt

What happens when your mom starts dating a man you don’t really like?  Cardelll the coyote,  isn’t exactly thrilled when his mother begins dating Otis, the neighbor.  This great book would be a great anchor to introduce children about accepting and adjusting to a new step-parent.  I loved the dessert setting and the colorful illustrations.

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The New Small Person – Lauren Child

Many emotions are explored in this story of learning to accept a new sibling.  I love Lauren Child’s signature style and her way of capturing situations children can connect to.  Elmore – great name, great character, great book!

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Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs – Meghan McCarthy

This non-fiction biography describes the evolution of he earmuff and the story of Chester Greenwood – credited with being the inventor of the earmuffs.  However, the earmuffs were actually invented before he was even born!  He was born with big ears that were sensitive to the cold so his grandmother made him some earmuffs out of wire and cloth.  At 19, he patented the design and was credited with the invention.  I liked how this book shows the actual evolution of the invention and how different inventors improved on each other’s designs.

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Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain – Harriet Ziefert

This WONDERFUL book combines a fictional mystery about a girl searching for her cat during a rain storm with nonfiction facts about rain.  As we search for Kitty, we discover such things as what makes a duck waterproof and where do butterflies go to stay dry.  Beautiful art and lovely rhyming text. I loved the combination of mystery and science.  This is a little gem!   

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Wall – Tom Clohosy Cole

This book was written to mark the 25th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall.  It tells the story of a young boy, mother and sister who are separated from the father during the building of the wall and follows their journey as they try to re-unite.  The digital illustrations are stark and striking.  This is a thought-provoking book and would be a great introduction to the Berlin Wall for older students.  (Warning:  Sometimes the blue print on black page was hard to read.) A good book for Questioning. 

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Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter

My book club just finished reading this book and loved it.  It weaves together two stories – one set in an Italian fishing village in 1962 and the other in present day Hollywood.   At the heart of this book is a tender love story of the Italian hotel owner, Pasquel, who falls in love with the Hollywood actress who comes to his hotel to recover from an illness.  Fifty years later, he shows up at a movie set in Hollywood, searching for her.   This book is romantic, tender, funny and a colorful mix of travel, music, books, movie pitches, acting, movie stars, relationships, Hollywood, Italy.   An amazing cast of characters, sub-stories and a wonderful setting.  Pasquel fell in love with a movie star – I fell in love with Pasquel.

What are YOU reading this week?  Thanks for stopping by!  Please leave a comment and let me know which book caught your eye!

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Filed under It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Question, Science