Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Week 13: Wendel's Workshop

In Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell, Wendel is an inventor who enjoys making new robots to do his work around the house. Unfortunately, when his robots don't do their jobs very well, he throws them out on the scrap heap. In the end, the scrap robots are the ones who save the day.  This story would be a great to use when talking about being persistent. Wendel gives up so easily when his inventions don't go right; he really shouldn't give up so easy each time. It is also good for talking about the fact that not everyone is perfect and we all do things in our own way. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Week 12: Chalk

Chalk by Bill Thomson is a huge surprise. It is a great wordless picture book to use with students. Children go to the playground and find some sidewalk chalk. But when they draw things with it, they become real. This is fine until they draw a dinosaur. How will they get rid of it? By using the chalk of course! Great for predicting and even for having students create their own words to go with the story. The illustrations are fantastic and the story is very original.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 11: Sneezy the Snowman

Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright is perfect for the snowy season. Sneezy gets cold and the neighborhood kids try to help him stay warm. They try many different ways to help him, but of course since snowmen shouldn't be exposed to heat, he melts each time. This is a great story for starting a conversation about building snowmen and different things to do in the snow.

Week 10: I Wanna Iguana (Late!)

Oops! I don't know how I missed a week! Time was flying by and I was not keeping up. Well, this book I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff makes up for lost time. It is a series of notes written between a boy who wants to get an iguana and his mother. There is so much humor in this book and the illustrations are fabulous. The boy presents his many arguments and tries to convince his mother that he should be allowed to get the iguana. The mother's reasons are hilarious and exactly what a mother would say. 

Classroom Ideas
1. This is a great text to launch a letter writing unit. These are quick notes back and forth but would be great for comparing the different types of letter writing. Each note also has a interesting closing, rather than the standard 'love' or 'sincerely'. These could be great for showing other ways to use the closing of a letter.
2. This is a wonderful mentor text for persuasive writing. It can be taken to many different levels. If you are looking for a simple idea, just the idea of presenting reasons why something should happen is in the text. When using this in a fifth grade room, we had the students look for 'tactics' that the boy used to convince his mother. The kids found many ways including 'sweet talking', 'highlighting the positives', and 'guilt'. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week 9: The Sandwich Swap

This is a great story about two friends who like to do many things together - jump rope, draw pictures, play on the swings, etc. One day they notice that the sandwiches they eat are different from one another. When they realize that they each eat different kinds of food, they begin making fun of each other. This is a great story to lead off a discussion about differences. Sandwiches are very personal to each family/person and beginning a discussion with how sandwiches are eaten in each family could provide an avenue for a discussion about bigger cultural differences between people. Students could also draw/write about what makes their sandwiches special. This could lead to a discussion about healthy eating and food groups/nutrition.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Week 8: The Black Book of Colors

The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin is wonderful for fostering creativity in your students. Each page of the book describes a color. The 'illustrations' are raised/embossed shapes on the page. Each sentence is also written in braille on each page.
The author describes each color by talking about things that are that color and what it is like. "Green smells like grass that's just been cut" is a great example of the type of description this book has written inside. 
This book combined with Hailstones and Hailbut Bones would be a great way to have students practice describing colors. Students could also gather pictures (either magazines or real photos) of things that are a particular color and as a class turn their short descriptive phrases of the color into a class poem about each color.
For younger students to practice writing, make a class book with labels. Each page of the class big book could have the title, "Things That Are Red" or "Things That Are Yellow" - students add pictures and label each picture to show the items that they added.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week 7: Frogs

Nic Bishop has a great collection of informational books. Frogs is one of my favorites. The photographs are very compelling. All age groups will find this book filled with interesting facts and information. There is even a fabulous fold out 2-page spread that shows a frog leaping into the air. 
This text is great for showing how ideas can be grouped under main ideas that are not explicitly stated. Another great activity would be to look at one page of text and figure out what are the important vs. interesting facts on the page. 
The short sections are also wonderful for summarizing. Summarizing nonfiction can be difficult and this text is short and interesting enough to make students want to summarize the important parts.
There are other informational books by Nic Bishop which would be great companions to this one.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week 6: Lonely Sea Monster

This week I'm going to offer you something different. A book that is NOT FOR CHILDREN. Instead, it's a book that is for adults who enjoy picture books with a bit of a dark twist. Lonely Sea Monster by Deanna Molinaro is one of my absolute favorites to read. The sea monster is adorable, the illustrations are very creative, but this story has a dark twist to it. If you click on the 'buy this book' link, you can actually read the book from the author's website. Picture books are often written with a predictable format - things work out in the end, there is a happy ending, the protagonist wins, etc. This is fine for young children who are still optimistic, but what about those of us that love the picture book format, but have a bit more cynical look at life? THERE'S A BOOK FOR THAT!!! This book is the perfect solution. It's not gory or scary...just fabulous.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week 5: The Hungry Coat

The Hungry Coat by Demi is one of my favorite books for teaching anyone (children/young adults) about how to treat others. In this story, a beloved townsman, Nasrettin is invited to a party with many other influential people. However, along the way his clothes get dirty as he helps out others. When he finally arrives at the party, the other guests (and host!) don't welcome Nasrettin as they usually do. This is a great opportunity to discuss why we choose people to be our friends, is it really what is on the inside that's important, and how others in the group can influence us.
Demi's books are always superb. The Empty Pot is another of my favorites.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Week 4: rhyming dust bunnies

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas is very funny. The dust bunnies all love to rhyme, except for Bob who can't seem to get it all together. While this story is great just to read for fun, it of course launches a great discussion of rhyming words. The book helps to start the process of building and discussing rhyming words while also predicting what is going to happen to Bob. This story is funny for many ages, not just kindergarten. Students at older grades will have fun looking at the clues Bob gives, while also reading the other dust bunnies' responses to Bob.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 3.1: Art&Max

David Wiesner's new book Art & Max definitely left me scratching my head. But since it was a David Wiesner book, it had to be purchased. His book, Tuesday, was the first book I ever purchased for my own classroom and to this day, it is still my favorite book. 
Art&Max had quite a few text features going on that forced me to read the book several times. The layout is similar to Wiesner's earlier work (he was doing graphic novel layouts before they were cool) but I found the dialogue to be difficult to follow. Until....on my third read...I realized they are in different colors and fonts to help those who can't figure out which character is talking. (Like me!)
While this book has limited text, I wouldn't recommend it for little ones. There are many details that could be missed if you aren't looking carefully.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week 3: Ping Pong Pig

There's not a lot to say about Ping Pong Pig by Caroline Jayne Church except that it is adorable. The illustrations really make the story charming. Ping Pong is a pig who wants to fly. The only problem is that he is disturbing the other animals on the farm. His friends decide to help him so that he will stay out of their way. However, he uses his new present to make life on the farm easier for everyone. A great story for talking about the idea that even if you can't do something fully (like flying for a pig), you can do it in your own way.
And again, the illustrations are just adorable.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Week 2.1: Swim! Swim!

I wasn't too sure what I was getting into when I picked up Swim! Swim! to read to a group of first graders. I wasn't sure if they would get it, since it is written similar to a graphic novel layout. However, they were rolling on the floor laughing by the time we finished this book.
Lerch is lonely and wants someone to be friends with, so he asks all the things around him to be his friend. This book has a great surprise ending and is definitely entertaining.

Classroom Ideas:
1. This is a great book to use to discuss speech bubbles and why/how they are used. There are great pages where more than one character is talking so the speech bubble actually represents two voices.
2. To adults it may be obvious where Lerch is at, but this is a great time to point out how we infer from a book. Is he in a fishbowl or in a lake? How do you know? This is a good way to explicitly point out inferring.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week 2: It's a Book

It's a Book by Lane Smith reminds us what is great about books. There is so much technology available to students these days, this book reminds us what can happen when students forget about the wonder of a book. Adults need to make sure they read this book thoroughly before using it, as the word 'jackass' appears. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 1.1: The Dot

The Dot by Peter Reynolds is great to use with all ages. This wonderful story can be used to help children explore their inner talents. Each one of us has a special talent that we may not see in ourselves. When others take the time to help us notice it, it can be the catalyst to make that person feel especially wonderful. 

Classroom Ideas:
  1. Students write (or draw) about their own personal talents. These talents can be shared on a bulletin board (all framed in swirly gold) or orally.
  2. Have students make their own dot. Everyone can share how their dots are different and the same.
  3. This book is a great launching point for a discussion about how to get better at goals you have. 

Week 1: Kicking Off

This is the start of the first adventure. 52 weeks. 1 book a week. I fully think books should just be read and enjoyed, but there are always great learning opportunities within books.
Each week I'll share a new book and some ideas of how you could use the book. I'm not anticipating a lot of people reading this, but at least it will be somewhere to store some ideas. And a place to think about the 1725 books currently in my Delicious Library.
So....what will be the first book?