Tag Archives: Ashley Spires

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Books to Promote Critical Thinking

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With the re-designed curriculum in B.C., teachers are preparing to launch the school year with a lot to think about.  The best advice I have for wrapping our heads around the big ideas is to ‘start small’ and choose one area for your school to focus on.  At my school, we have decided to focus on critical thinking.  I’ve spent some time this summer thinking about what will be helpful for supporting my students to think critically – and so, of course, I think of picture books that connect to the three phases of critical thinking – Analyze-Question-Develop.

Here are my top 10 books for promoting Critical Thinking!

1. More-Igami – Dori Kleber

Learning something new takes practice and patience.  In this charming story, a boy tries to figure out how an origami crane is made – he analyzes, questions and develops a plan! What a perfect story for introducing critical thinking!

Most Magnificent Thing, The by [Spires, Ashley]

2. The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

One of the important stages of critical thinking is to analyze a situation and re-direct your thinking if things are not working.  When the little girl in this book decides to make a ‘most magnificent thing’, it doesn’t exactly go the way she had plans, resulting in a whole lot of frustration- making this a perfect book to begin the conversation about the importance of thinking critically.

3. What To Do With a Box?– Jane Yolen

What can you turn a simple box into?  This simple, charming book by the great Jane Yolen will inspire your students to analyze, question and develop their box into something amazing!

4. What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada

Nurturing ideas and making thinking visible – this story will inspire you to welcome an idea, give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next!

5. Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain – JoAnn Deak

Metacognition is a huge part of being a critical thinker and knowing how your brain works is a great first step in helping making thinking more tangible.  I love how this simple book explains how your brain works and how you can shape it.  I especially like the focus on how making mistakes, practicing, and gaining new knowledge can “stretch” your brain!

 

5. The Thingamabob – Il Sung Na

When a curious elephant finds a ‘thingamabob’ – he uses critical thinking to figure out exactly what it is!  Simple, playful, delightful!  I love how he asks LOTS of questions during the process!

6. Rosie Revere, Engineer – Andrea Beaty

A young girl with big dreams – this text highlights creativity and perseverance with delightful rhyming verse and whimsical illustrations.

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Shh!  We Have A Plan!  – Chris Haughton

Hilarious story of four friends trying to catch a bird.  Their plans turn into a ridiculous, tangled mess until the younger uses some critical thinking skills!  Fun read-aloud and eye-catching illustrations.

7.  Going Places – Peter and Paul Reynolds

This book celebrates the creative spirit and thinking outside the box – both figuratively and literally!

8..  On A Beam of Light – A Story of Albert Einstein – Jennifer Berne

When this picture book biography about the extraordinary life of Albert Einstein was released, I talked about it ALL THE TIME!  Big questions, deep thinking, thoughtful reflection – my favorite topics!  This book will inspire your students to  wonder, think, imagine, and be curious.

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9. Learning to Fly – Sebastian Meschenmoser

A simple, charming story about a penguin who believes he can fly and the man who helps him.  They plan, design, analyse, re-design… it’s the perfect combination of critical thinking, determination and friendship  Love the illustrations so much!

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1o.  A Home For Bird – Philip C. Stead

While stories about creating something concrete can be used to introduce children to critical thinking, it is important for them to see how critical thinking can be applied to other aspects in our life- including friendship.  A Home for Bird is a sweet, tender story of a shy bird and and his thoughtful friend who is determined to help his quiet companion.  Vernon, the toad, uses critical thinking to figure out just what Bird needs.  Love this book!

                            What books do you like to share that inspire critical thinking?

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Filed under Critical Thinking, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading! New Books from Kids Can Press!

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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

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I am fortunate to receive books every spring and fall to read and review from Kids Can Press, the largest Canadian-owned children’s publisher in the world.   It is like Christmas in my house when these boxes arrive!   This week, I’m excited (and proud!) to highlight some of my favorite new releases from our amazing Canadian authors and illustrators that arrived on my front porch last week!  Please note that many of these titles have not yet been released but most will be available early April and can be pre-ordered.

Toshi's Little Treasures

Toshi’s Little Treasures – Nadine Robert

Sigh.  I love this book.  Love it enough to want to make pajamas out of it and wear it to bed every night.   It is a unique search-and-find informational picture book about a little boy named Toshi and his grandmother. Together, they explore six of their favorite places — the riverbank, the town, the forest, the country, the park and the beach. At each location, Toshi finds treasures to add to his collection.  After you find the treasures with Toshi, there is a matching activity on the next page for Toshi to figure out where the treasures came from. There are SO many teachable moments in this book!   Interactive + thinking = a winner!

The Storm

The Storm – Akiko Miyakoshi

A young boy, excited to go to the beach, is disappointed when a big storm approaches and possibly ruins his plans.  That night, as his parents prepare for the storm, the boy listens to the sound of the rain and dreams an imaginary dream to try to drive the storm away.  This book has minimal text but the story is told mostly through the amazing charcoal drawings, which set the tone of gloominess and fear as the storm approaches.  This would make an excellent read-aloud book for practicing making connections.  

Life Without Nico

Life Without Nico – Andrea Maturana

Simple, poignant story about two best friends having to cope with parting ways when one must move away. Translated from Spanish, originally published in Mexico.  I  like how the book deals with not only the sadness when a friend moves, but how to “fill up the spaces” and what happens when the friend returns.  Lots of emotions here to connect to and charming illustrations.

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure – Andrew Larsen

My dear teacher and blogger friend Carrie Gelson (There’s a Book For That) has a fondness for books that highlight inter-generational relationships so I immediately thought of her when I read this book!  It is an endearing story of a girl and her grandfather doing something special together.  I loved the message that  it is not necessary to leave home for an adventure.  Great mixed-media illustrations.  This book would make a great anchor for writing about adventures with grandparents.

Manners Are Not for Monkeys

Manners are Not For Monkeys – Heather Tekavec

Hilarious story that turns “good” and “bad” manners on it’s head!  Children behaving like monkeys and monkeys behaving like children!  This one will be sure to get a lot of laughs from both the story and the silly illustrations and also be a good discussion starter about manners with the younger ones.

Mr. King's Machine

Mr. King’s Machine – Geneviève Côté

There aren’t many books for younger students that focus on environmental issues in a simple, accessible way.  This is the third book in Geneviève Côté’s wonderful picture book series about a crown-wearing cat who, with a little help from his friends,  learns important environmental lessons.   This book focuses on air pollution and would be a great book to begin a discussion on the environment with early primary students.  The two other books in this series are Mr. King’s Things (impact of pollution and over-consumption) and Mr. King’s Castle (environmental stewardship and reducing your footprint)

Willow's Smile

Willow’s Smile – Lana Button

This book is a perfect book to share with students just before picture day!  (Great connections!)  Willow has a beautiful smile but she is shy and doesn’t always smile when she should.   Lovely message encouraging you to be yourself and about having a good self image.  I have enjoyed the other Willow books, but I think this is my favorite!

Fluffy Strikes Back

Fluffy Strikes Back – Ashley Spires

This is a fun graphic novel about a group of pets, led by Fluffy the cat, who try to rid the world of aliens (bugs).  It is an apparent “spin-off” of s is a spin-off from the  successful Binky series.  This book is filled with dry wit and slapstick tones, (along with the occasional bathroom break!) but with important underlying themes of courage, determination and taking responsibility.   A great graphic novel for early readers.

Feathered – Deborah Kerbel

Wow.  This book caught me by surprise, sucked me in and wouldn’t let go.  Powerful, sad middle-grade novel about an eleven year old girl named Finch who endures the recent death of her father, the depression of her mother, the nasty friend of her brother, the meanest teacher in the school and nasty-girl bullying. When a new family from India moves next door, Finch begins to find a friend and a find a purpose.  This book tackles so many issues facing adolescent girls and would be an excellent book for discussions on loss, bullying, mental health, learning difficulties.  It is powerful, compelling, raw, and you will not be able to stop reading it.  Right up there with The Thing About Jellyfish and Reign Rain.

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

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Filed under 2016 releases, Canadian, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, making connections

It’s Monday – What Are You Reading? Ocean, Baseball and some Lullabies!

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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: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

This week, I’m happy to be sharing some recent releases from KidsCan Press.

There Was an Old Sailor

There Was an Old Sailor – Claire Saxby

There was an old sailor who swallowed a krill

I don’t know why he swallowed a krill –

It’ll make him ill!

Ahoy mates!  This lively nautical version of the classic and familiar song “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” would be a perfect book to read during a unit of study about the ocean.  It is filled with many sea creatures – some familiar and others not so much  and the delightful illustrations by Cassandra Allen are the perfect touch!  I was also thinking it would be a fun book to use for visualizing!

The Mermaid and the Shoe

The Mermaid and the Shoe – K. G. Campbell

Oh my – there are so many things I loved about this book!  The story, the character, the illustrations… a definite must read!  This book was inspired by classic fairy tales but takes on its own style.  Minnow is the 50th daughter of King Neptune.  While the other 49 daughters are remarkable, dearest Minnow is not. The only thing that makes her remarkable is the fact that she asks so many questions.  (LOVE her!)  Where do bubbles go?  Why don’t crabs have fins?   One day she discovers a mysterious object and her curiosity about it leads her on a journey of discovery.   I won’t give it away – you must read it!  This would make a wonderful book to promote the power of questioning. 

A Fish Named Glub

 A Fish Named Glub – Dan Bar-el

Here is another book that celebrates the power of questions!  Glub is a fish who lives in a fishbowl and asks deep questions:  Who am I? Where did I come from? Where do I belong?   We meet many different patrons from the diner  where he lives and they interact with Glub and try to help answer his questions.  Each person we meet is either lonely or missing something in their lives and with the help of Glub (and a little magic)  find  answers to their own questions.  This book is more suited for older students but would be a great one for questioning and inferring.  I loved the illustrations and the voice of Glub. 

The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

A great connect book for all you inventors and perfectionists!  This is the story of a little girl who wants to make the most magnificent thing. She knows exactly what its supposed to do and what it should look like. The only problem is, try as she might, she just can’t get it right.  Eventually, she is overwhelmed with frustration – “I quit!”  She goes for a walk, cools off, then goes back with a fresh outlook and new determination.  I love how this book promotes many important issues – creativity, patience and determination – not to mention a positive model for how to deal with frustration!  Great illustrations and a very cute doggie assistant!

Baseball Is… Louise Borden

Spring means many things to many people – but to my 15 yr. old son it is not about the chirping birds, bursting blossoms or budding tulips.   To him, spring only means one thing – BASEBALL!  So when I saw this book on display at the book store – I knew it was a must have for our house.  But the good news is that you don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate or enjoy this fantastic book!   This book is a sensory delight – filled with details of baseball facts, stats, rituals and players. The excitement and joy of the game spill out onto every page.  The writing is amazing and I’m definitely going to add it to my collection of anchor books that model word choice.  Take me out to the ball game – or just read this book!

The Wild Book – Margarita Engle

This book is based on the life of Margarita Engle’s grandmother, who suffered from dyslexia, or word blindness” as it was referred to in Cuba in the early 1900’s.  Her mother gives her a notebook – or “wild book”  and tells her to “think of this book as a garden – scatter your seeds all over the page”.  The girl (Elfa) begins to write.  The book is told in verse and I really enjoyed learning about life and war in Cuba during this time period.  This book celebrates words, reading and writing and an inspiration to any child or adult who may experience literacy challenges.

Goodnight Songs

Goodnight Songs – Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon was one of my favorite books to read to my children when they were younger so I was thrilled to learn of this new collection of unpublished lullabies by the late Margaret Wise Brown.   They are illustrated by many a range of award winning illustrators and accompanied with music and a CD.  Quiet songs and poems to play in your primary classroom or a lovely gift for a new baby.

Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book has caught your eye this week!

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Filed under Connect, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Writing Anchors