Category Archives: Top 10 Tuesday

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Picture Books to Inspire Winter Art!

Happy New Year!  We are heading back to school SO early this year… and I believe it is going to be a long, cold, and snowy month ahead!  If you are looking for some creative ways to integrate some great winter picture books into your Art lessons, you may find some inspiration in this week’s Top 10 list!

1.Once Upon a Northern Night – Jean E. Pendziwol

Lovely, lyrical lullaby celebrating the magic and wonder of an icy winter night.  This book can inspire some lovely winter tree art.  I love this idea from First Palettte to use a marble and paint  inside an empty coffee cup to create the “snowy” effect!

Snowy Day Collage craft

2.  Cold Snap – Eileen Spinelli

A charming neighborly tale about a small town determined to beat the deep freeze. Great book for your unit on community and for making CONNECTIONS!  (Vancouver is in a deep freeze this winter!)

Add icicles to a simple cut-out house or tree art by applying white paint and letting it drip down.  Or use glue and glitter to create the icicles.  (Thicker paper or card stock works best.)  I found this lesson on a blog called Reading Confetti.

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3.   The Mitten Tree – Candace Christiansen

Touching message and beautiful, wintery illustrations.  This is the story of one woman’s generous heart, giving back, and random acts of kindness.  Perfect for sharing with your students.  The purples and blue palette can inspire your students to create their own patterned mittens.

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4. A Perfect Day – Carin Berger

One of my favorite winter picture books with gorgeous mixed media collage illustrations is the perfect inspiration for some snow-angel art!  Based on the book, students paint a snowy background, and create paper snow angels.  Read more about this lesson from Deep Space Sparkle.

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5.  Snowmen At Night – Caralyn Buehner

This book is a huge favorite with so many students!  The frolicking rhyming text and vibrant illustrations are delightful to read over and over.  I love following the different snowmen through their adventures – such personalities!   Inspired by this book, have your students create an “arts and crafts” collage by first making a tissue paper background and then adding a mixed media snowman.  This is another great lesson from Deep Space Sparkle. 

Alternatively, here is a different lesson, based on the same book.

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6.  Snowflakes Fall – Patricia Maclachlan

This book is a tribute to the community of Newtown, Connecticut, site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and childhood home of illustrator Steven Kellog . The  falling snowflakes described in the poem celebrate life’s uniqueness, beauty, joy, fragility, sorrow and renewal. Handprint Snowflakes can be found at : healthymamainfo.com

7. Over and Under the Snow– Kate Messner

This delightful book takes you down into the “secret world” of animals who live under the snow.   I love the link to science and the way this book introduces readers to different habitats and behaviors of winter animals, both common and uncommon.

This book can really lend itself to a “layered” art project – sky, above the ground, and under the ground.  Another great lesson from Deep Space Sparkle.

Winter Habitat art projects by third graders

8. Old Bear – Kevin Henkes

Old bear is dreaming and reflecting on the cycle of his life and the cycle of the seasons, his home in the forest and the beauty of his world.  This is a wonderful book for early primary students learning about the seasons.  I love the illustrations in this book and they will certainly inspire some lovely “old bear” art!

On black construction paper, students make leaf prints to create their background. The “Old Bear” is painted on white painting paper, then textured and outlined with black paint.  To make the bear “pop” off the page, have students leave a small edge of white around the bear when cutting it out.  Once the bear is glued on, the white outline on the black background creates a snowy 3D effect.

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9.  No Two Alike – Keith Baker

Another one of my favorite wintery books!  Two little red birds discover “no two snowflakes are alike” as they explore a snowy landscape together.    Sparse, rhyming text and gorgeous illustrations. This is a gentle, quiet book.

When I was younger, I loved borrowing “how to draw” books and learning the steps to draw animals.  While some think this type of art is too restrictive and confining, there is something quite satisfying about learning how to draw something accurately!  You can find a great step-by-step lesson on drawing cardinals at artprojectsforkids.org

draw a cardinal

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This layered art project begins with painting a background of sky and ground.  Birch trunks are glued on top of the dried background. HINT:  Space the trunks unevenly across the page and have some of them “leaning” in different directions.  Cardinal birds are painted on a separate paper and cut out when they are glued.  Last step is “fingerprint” snow flakes.

10.  Owl Moon – Jane Yolen

The sensations of walking in the moonlight on a cold, crisp winter night is captured beautifully in this classic story of a girl and her father who are searching for an owl in the woods on winter’s night.

 Light, shadows, contrast, perspective and lines are some of the artistic techniques that are highlighted in the gorgeous illustrations. I particularly love the way John Schoenherr plays with shadows on the snow in his illustrations.  I found this Torn Winter Tree art project on artprojectsforkids.com that would be a great lesson for grade 3 and up.

And this lesson from the same site called “Sharpie Winter Landscape“, using sharpie pens, also produces a dramatic winter moon effective.

Sharpie Winter Landscape

 Thanks for stopping by!  Hope that you found a lesson or two to try!

What is your favorite picture book inspired art lesson?

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Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 New Holiday Books for Sharing and Gifting!

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With school wrapping up so early this year, it feels as if there has been hardly any time to share some of my favorite new holiday books with my students.  But books are always the best gifts to buy, so if you aren’t able to share these with your students this year, perhaps you will find a special gift for a special someone on this list!

Here are my top ten holiday books for 2016…

1.The Day Santa Stopped Believing In Harold – Maureen Fergus

Hilarious, tongue-in-cheek twist on the age-old question “Is there really a Santa Claus?” Big belly laughs with this one!  Bright, colorful illustrations, welcome inclusion of a multiracial family and a great ending.  (Caution: A child who believes in Santa likely won’t appreciate the humour, and I wouldn’t want to introduce doubt where there is none)

2. Maple & Willow’s Christmas Tree – Lori Nichols

Sister bonding, a snowy expedition and problem-solving – all wrapped up in a delightful story that captures the snowy season.  Delightful illustrations.

3. The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story – by Kallie George

I kind of adore this book – it is so sweet and bursting with personality and kindness.  Four animal friends discover one of Santa’s gifts has fallen out of Santa’s sleigh.  But what to do with it is the question.  This book is a great one for predicting and also for prompting a  “What would you do?” conversation!

4. The Christmas Fox – Anik McGrory

Oh my, but this is a charming, heart-felt and tender story. A simple, subtle rendition of the nativity story and a sweet little fox who joins the other animals in the stable. I am in love with this adorable fox who shares meaning of Christmas through his joyful spirit.

5. Walking in a Winter Wonderland – Peggy Lee

The classic holiday song is brought to life with joyful, bright illustrations  by Tim Hopgood, complete with snowmen, sleigh bells, and dreaming by the fire.   Great large sized book is perfect for sharing!

6. The Christmas Eve Tree – Delia Huddy

A deeply moving story about a homeless boy who rescues a spindly tree, sparking hope and magic.  This story is unexpected, beautiful and one that must be shared.  Have your Kleenex handy.

7. The Great Spruce – John Duvall

Intergenerational story about a boy and his grandfather who come up with a plan to save their favorite tree after some men from the city want to cut it down and use it for the town Christmas celebration.

   8. The Wish Tree – Kyo Maclear

Despite his brother and sister’s disbelief, a little boy sets off to find a “Wish Tree” with his friend “Boggan” – his little red toboggan.  This is a perfect seasonal tale that mixes adventure, magic, and friendship with dreamy illustrations.

                                                 9..  Santa’s Underwear – Marty Rhodes Figley

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa cannot find his underwear!  This is a hilarious story with hilarious illustations.  I love the “romp” Santa takes through other holidays (Vanentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.)  as he searches for his Christmas undies!  LOL!

            

       The Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats                    A Poem for Peter – Andrea Davis Pinkney

The iconic book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was first released in 1962 and still remains one of “go to” books for winter reading.  This year, Andrea Davis Pinkney gives us the story behind this story in the gorgeous book A Poem for Peter.  What a great “pair” to be shared with students, children or grandchildren.

10   The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present – Harriet Muncaster

Thumbelina meets ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas!  When I was very young, I loved reading books with miniature characters and this  story would definitely have made my list of all-time favorites!  Delightful and determined Clementine is a teeny-tiny girl who lives with a regular sized family.  She is trying to let Santa know that she is very small and that the toys he leaves are always too large for her.  Sweet story, darling heroine – LOVE!

             And there are my top 10 (plus 2!) new holiday books for sharing and gifting!

                   Thanks for stopping by… which book has caught your eye?

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Filed under 2016 releases, Christmas, Holiday books, Homelessness, New Books, Picture Book, Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books to Explore Themes of Immigration and Refugees

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With the recent events in the US, immigration has become an increasingly important topic to explore and discuss with our students.  I am currently working with a grade 6 class at my school exploring immigration through picture books.  Many of these books are based on the authors’ family experience and  are the perfect opportunity to discuss the many issues surrounding immigration: different reasons why people leave their homes to seek new land (the “pull” – some are drawn to new opportunity; the “push” – others fleeing war and oppression); refugee camps; the challenges of adjusting to so much “newness” – country, friends, language, school, culture.  And yes,  Donald Trump was brought up in today in our class discussion.

At at a time when we need to be talking about and modelling kindness and celebrating diversity,  here are my top 10 picture books about immigration and refugees.

                                                     

                                                             1. I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

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Here I Am – Patti Kim

What must it be like to move far away from your home, across vast waters, to another country, culture and language?  Through this wordless picture book, we experience this  adventure through the eyes of a young Asian boy as he experiences the unknown city streets and cityscapes for the first time.  Gorgeous illustrations.

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2. The Arrival Shaun Tan

Beautiful, haunting, wordless picture book told from the perspective of a new immigrant. We see and experience everything he does  –  the heartbreak, fear, confusion, and enlightenment.  Sometimes strange, surreal and magical – this is a must share immigration book.

3. Sami and the Time of the Troubles Florence Parry Heide

Lebanon Civil War from a young boy’s point of view. Sami and his family spend much of their time in the basement trying to keep safe while the fighting goes on right outside his home.  To pass the time, they share happy memories.  This book is beautiful, moving and filled with hope.   Amazing illustrations.

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4. Gleam and Glo – Eve Bunting

Narrated from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy, this story is based on an amazing true story of what happened in a village in the 1990s as the Bosnian war.  The family  flees, leaving behind their home and belongings.  They spend time in a refugee camp and return to find their home destroyed, but their pet fish thriving and multiplying in their pond.  Beautiful, hopeful, inexpressibly sad – a must-read book.

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5. Stepping Stones: A Syrian Refugee Story – Margriet Ruurs

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs.  Stunning artwork, a simple, poignant story about a Syrian family’s departure from their homeland written in both English and Arabic, and a wonderful story behind the story.

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6. Adrift at Sea – A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival – Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

This is the beautiful true story of a family’s survival in the face of overwhelming odds as they leave Vietnam in search of a new life.  In 1981, just at the end of the Vietnam war, sixty Vietnamese refugees, among whom is six-year-old Tuan Ho and his family, endure days at sea in horrific conditions. They are eventually rescued and finally reach Canada.  The amazing life-like illustrations and large format makes it an engaging read-aloud.  I appreciated the historical facts and real photos of Tuan in his family included at the back of the book.

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7. Let’s Go See Papa! = Lawrence Schimel

This is a powerful story that many of my students made connections to.  Told from a young child’s perspective, it  is about what it’s like to have an absent parent living and working overseas and then to have to leave your home, country and those you love for a new life.

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8. How I Learned Geography – Uri Shulevitz

This story is based on the author’s own boyhood when his family lived as refugees after  fleeing war-torn Poland at the onset of WWII.  One evening, instead of their ration of  bread, his father brings home a world map.  After the initial disappointment, the young boy see that there are places in the world beyond his home, allowing him to dream and imagine beyond his hardships.

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9. Four Feet, Two Sandals – Karen Lynn Williams

Taking place in a camp in Pakistan for Afghan refugees, this is a story of friendship, sharing and compassion.  When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp,  two young girls race to grab whatever they can find, and discover they each have one sandal from a pair of shoes. Through their plan to share the shoes, the two become friends.   Powerful, heartbreaking and gives voice to the refugee experience.

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  One Green Apple Eve Bunting

This is a powerful and meaningful story about a Muslim immigrant trying to find her way in a new school without friends or words to connect to.   Important book about inclusion and one that we will be using for “point of view”.

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Anna and Solomon – Elaine Snyder

This is a true story of author Elaine Snyder’s grandparents’ immigration from Russia to the U.S. in 1897. It is a fascinating story of patience, understanding, and love. After Anna and Solomon are married, they choose to leave Russia during the Czar’s persecution of the Jews, and immigrate to the USA.  Having only enough money for one ticket, Solomon goes first.  After working hard to earn enough for a second ticket, he sends for Anna, only to discover she sends her brother.  Four more attempts bring 4 other family members, until eventually, Anna and Solomon are reunited.

Thanks for stopping by!  What are your favorite books about immigration?

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Filed under Diverse Children's Books, immigration, New Books, Picture Book, Social Studies, Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Remembrance Day Books

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With Halloween behind us, there are only a few school days before Remembrance Day. There are many books we can share in our classes to help children understand the significance and importance of this day and why we remember the men and women from all wars who have given their lives for our freedom. Some literal, some symbolic, some fictional, some factual –  here are my top Remembrance Day books for reading and sharing with students:

I love the inter-generational theme of this book as a young boy asks his grandfather questions about the war.  A perfect book for younger students that quietly honors the brave men and women who have fought for our freedom.
2. A Poppy is to Remember – Heather Patterson
Moving text and stunning illustrations by Governor General’s Award-winning artist Ron Lightburn explains the symbolism behind the poppy.  Bonus 5 page spread all about poem “In Flanders Fields” and Canada’s peace-keeping practices.
3. The Poppy Lady – Barbara Elizabeth Walsh
Why do we wear a poppy on Remembrance Day?  Against all odds,  in a day when women had few rights and opportunities Moina Belle Michael almost single-handedly launched a national campaign to establish the red poppy as the symbol of sacrifice and courage of America’s soldiers.  Gorgeous illustrations.
A tribute to the famous World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields”.  Informative and moving, weaving the words of the poems with fascinating information and stunning illustrations. This is the 2015 special edition that marks 100 years since the poem was written and includes additional information and a new cover.
5. Feathers and Fools – Mem Fox
A powerful, moving allegorical tale intended for older students.  This modern fable is about peacocks and swans who allow the fear of their differences to become so great that they end up destroying each other.  An excellent book for inferring and for text-to-world connections.
6. Why? – Nikoli Popov
A frog picks a flower;  a mouse wants it… and so begins this simple, profound tale about how war starts and ends.  This wordless picture book is one I have shared with many classes – perfect for practicing inferring and stimulating important discussions.
7. Enemy – A Book About Peace – David Cali and Serge Bloch
This poignant book has many layers of meaning but ultimately, it is the story that shows the humanity behind war.  Two soldiers, each in their own solitary bunker, wonder what the other is doing and eventually learn they are more alike than they are different.  Simple but oh, so powerful.
8. No!  – David McPhail
The word “No” repeated three times is the only written text in this otherwise wordless book with a powerful message.  In simple terms that anyone can understand, McPhail tackles the weighty subject of war and its effects on people. What’s more, he shows us what we can do to stand up and say NO.
This is a  very sad picture book that tells the true story of a tragedy at the Tokyo zoo during World War II and the painful decision one zoo-keeper has to make.  This story really shows the impacts of war not just on humans, but on animals.  Warning – Kleenex required.

10. What Does Peace Feel Like? – Vladamir Radunsky
What does peace feel like?  Sound like?  Look like?  An anti-war message told subtly through the five senses using similes and metaphors.   Great anchor book for writing!
 
11. Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan and Jon. J. Muth
Blowin’ in the Wind is a popular song during Remembrance Day assemblies.  Bob Dylan wrote the powerful lyrics to this iconic 1960’s song in 10 minutes; Jon Muth’s illustrations are stunning.  Together they create a wonderful way to introduce this message of protest, peace and freedom to younger students.
What books do you share with your students for Remembrance Day?
Thanks for stopping by!

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Top 10 Books for Teaching Point of View

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This term, I’m working with one of the grade six classes on writing from different points of view, skills which they will later apply to a unit on immigration they are working on in social studies.  Each week, I have been reading one of these books and the students have been practicing short writing pieces. I have been searching for different anchor books which can be used for introducing Point of View to the class so thought it would be a great topic for this week’s Top Ten List!  Many of these you will likely have or know… but there may be a few new titles for you!

1.Voices in the Park – Anthony Browne

Possibly the best book for teaching point of view – four “voices” tell their version of a walk in the park.  Anthony Browne is a master of telling a story without telling too much but leaving the reader a lot of spaces to think.  He also leaves clues in his illustrations that help tell the story.  I also love using this book for teaching inferring.

2.The Teddy Bear – David McPhail

This heart-felt story of a boy who loses his favorite teddy and the homeless man who finds and loves it is a perfect one for having students write in first person from the different characters’ perspective.  I even had them write from the teddy bear’s point of view!

3. The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt

When you first see the crayons, you may think the story is too young for your middle grade students – WRONG!  This story  is filled with sophisticated humour that could be a little over the heads of some younger students.  I used this book to explain how different points of view can often reveal personality.  A great anchor book for writing, too!

4. Seven Blind Mice – Ed Young

Different points of view often depends on the perspective, connections and vantage point of the character.  In this clever book based on a classic South Asian tale, seven blind mice investigate the “strange something” in the Pond.  Each one views one portion and comes back with their theory.  It is only when the seventh mouse views the “whole something” that the truth is revealed.

5. Hey, Little Ant – Phillip and Hannah Hoose

To squish or not to squish? – that is the question.  Love this story, told in two voices; a conversation between the “squisher” and the potential “squish-ee”.  Perfect for discussing perspectives.

School's First Day of School

School’s First Day of School – Adam Rex

This was one of my favorite new “back to school” books this fall!  A unique look at the nervousness and excitement about the start of the school year, told from the point of view of the school!

6. They All Saw A Cat – Brendan Wenzel

Brilliant and simple!  With each turn of the page, the reader is given the opportunity to also see how the cat is viewed from perspectives – from a bee, to a fox, to a child.  Bright, colorful illustrations.  After I finished reading it to the grade class, they wanted me to read it again!  I predict this book may be on a few award lists this year!

7. I am the Dog, I am the Cat – Donald Hall

Another perfect anchor book for point of view, as the contrasting voices of hilarious, affectionate companions converse together.  Gorgeous illustrations and beautiful words and I love the recognizable qualities of both animals that come through.  Kids love this book!

9. The Pain and the Great One – Judy Blume

An eight year old girl and her six year old brother take turns describing each other.  Hilarious and  another great example of different points of view, as well as a perfect connect book!

10. Two Bad Ants – Chris Van Alsburg

If you have not read this clever book by the amazing Chris Van Alsburg, you should!  I never get tired of reading this book aloud to students.  Two Bad Ants allows the reader to experience the world through two mischievous ants’ point of view as they explore a kitchen.  Ah-mazing, spell-binding, genius!

8. The Wolf Story: What Really Happened to Little Red Riding Hood Toby Forward

A funny, fractured fairy tale that replays the story of Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf’s point of view.  This would be a great anchor book for re-writing a fairy tale from different points of view.

11. The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be – Mini Grey

Another clever version of a fairy tale, this one told from the point of view of the pea!  Very witty!

Thanks for stopping by!  What is your favorite book to teach Point of View?

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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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Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books About Boxes! (Yes… I said boxes!)

top 10

Well, it’s June… and that means trying to finish up all of the school projects and units that need to be complete.  It also means some days, we need our students to be engaged and excited about school, even though our classrooms are stifling and summer is calling.  Why not give them an empty box and let their creative imaginations take over?  This idea came to me when I read Jane Yolen’s new book What To Do With A Box .  It’s an inspiring book about the endless things you can do with a simple box.   Of course, that got me thinking about other books about boxes.  It didn’t take long before a new top 10 list was born!

1. What To Do With A Box – Jane Yolen

The book that started it all…. if you give a child a box, who knows what will happen?  Imaginative, magical, inspiring.

2.  A Box Story – Kenneth Kit Lamug

What can you do with a plain brown box? Everything imaginable!  Simple, charming little book about a plain brown box.  Will definitely inspire children to experiment with their own empty boxes.

3. The Secret Box – Barbara Lehman

Secret messages, magic and adventure await readers in this wordless book by the amazing Barbara Lehman.

4. Not a Box – Antoinette Portis

Full of imagination and humour, this interactive pattern book focuses on a very creative, very imaginative bunny being asked about a box by his friends.  To which he replies, “This is NOT a box.  It’s a ……”

5. The Nowhere Box – Sam Zuppardi

Endearing story of a little boy named George who is trying to escape his pestering brothers so he tells them he is “going newhere” and hides in a washing machine box.   Love the underlying theme about appreciating siblings, no matter how annoying they seem to be.

6.  Christina Katerina & the Box – Patricia Lee Gauch

A new refrigerator for Mom…. a huge box for Christina…. to turn into a castle, a playhouse or anything!  Delightful, imaginative and inspiring!  This book was a classic when I was younger and has been recently re-issued.

7. Gramma & Grampa Live in a Box – Bambi Prunch

When “face-to-face” time between grandparents and grandchildren is limited, what better way to connect than through “a box”.  Perfect book for any grandparents who find themselves at a distance from those they love.  Also great for connecting and inferring (never explicitly says what the box is!)  Skype anyone?

8. Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes – Jeanette Winter

I adore any picture book biography by Jeanette Winter.  In this very simple picture book, she tells about unique New York artist, Joseph Cornell (1903-1972), who made shadow boxes filled with objects he found while selling textiles door to door.  Fascinating and inspiring look at different ways we share our stories.

9. The Houdini Box  – Brian Selznick

The compelling story of Harry Houdini, the magician who amazed the world with his great escapes. This is a short chapter book for grades 2-5, complete with amazing illustrations by the extraordinarily talented author of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck and  The Marvels.

10. The Memory Box – Mary Bahr

When a grandpa is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he starts a memory box for his grandchild to keep the memories of the times they have shared.  Tender way to teach children about the changes they might experience with their own grandparents.

10. The Cardboard Box Books – Roger Priddy

Great nonfiction book and perfect teaching tool for turning those cardboard boxes into creative inventions.

And there you have it- a whole lot of books about boxes!  Try reading one, passing out boxes and let the creations begin!

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

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Top Ten Tuesday! Top 10 Nonfiction Poetry Collections

 

top 10

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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Top 10 Tuesday – Ten Spring Releases I am Eagerly Awaiting!

top 10

It’s been a few weeks since I posted, but now report cards are written and marking is done, I’m  happy to be sharing some new releases ( picture books and novels) that I’m excited about!   I have listed release dates and all are available for pre-ordering.  While I haven’t actually READ these yet – some have amazing track records, some are from favorite authors, while others just caught my eye!  I’m “inferring”  I shall love them all!

download (12)

1. Flora and the Peacocks – Molly Idle (release May 3rd)

Molly Idle gifted us first with Flora and the Flamingo and then Flora and the Penguin.  Darling, dancing Flora is back, and this time, she is dancing with a pair of colorful, moody peacocks.  Can’t wait to read this one!

Book Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e75i9Q40STM

2. The Bear and the Piano – David Litchfield  (April 5)

I judged this book by it’s cover and decided it was a MUST read!  I can just imagine holding this cover up and asking the students “What are you wondering?”  My brain is swirling with wonderings!

3. Twenty Yawns – Jane Smiley  (April 1)

This looks like a sweet bedtime story and I adore Lauren Castillo’s illustrations so I’m keeping my eye out for this one!

4. Elephant and Piggie – The Thank You Book – Mo Willems  (May 5th)

I’m a huge fan of this hilarious, tender series and can’t wait to add this to our library collection!

5. Duck, Duck, Porcupine! – Salina Yoon (May 17)

I have enjoyed Salina Moon’s Penguin and Porcupine books so am looking forward to this book, told entirely through dialogue.

6. Flying Frogs and Walking Fish: Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-Propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move – Steve Jenkins (May 3) 

If you know me, you know I love Steve Jenkins.  Not just a little love – but overflowing book love for S. J.  His nonfiction books he writes with his wife (sigh) Robin Page are fascinating, engaging, stunning, and down-right glorious.  Here’s his latest.

7.  Booked – Kwane Alexander  (April 5)

 If you have not yet read or shared Kwane Alexander’s riveting novel in verse The Crossover, which won the Newberry in 2015 – it is a MUST READ!  In this much anticipated follow up novel, basketball is replaced with soccer.

8. My Seventh Grade Life in Tights – Brooks Benjamin

Lots of buzz about this charming, feel-good story of a tween boy who wants to be a dancer.

Book Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IOwYpsPLyI

9. Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood – Liesl Shurtliff (April 12)

If you are a fan of True Stories series by Liesl Shurtliff  (Rump and Jack),  you will be excited about Red!  If you teach middle school, these hilarious fractured fairy tales make the BEST read-alouds!

10.  Raymie Nightingale – Kate DiCamillo  (April 12)

Magic happens when you read Kate DiCamillo’s books.  Everything she writes is crafted masterfully and filled with heart-breaking, poignant moments and gorgeous, gorgeous language. This is the story of  a summer friendship.  Let the magic begin!

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

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