Thursday, January 31, 2008

Minn and Jake Blog #2

This was a good book. It was easy to read, the story flowed well, and the characters were interesting. Wong did a great job capturing childhood friendship. This story defiantly is centered on friendship and I would use that as a jumping off point for a lesson plan. There were many valuable lessons that can be taken from the book for children; sometimes friends aren’t always as you imagine them, giving other people a chance and sticking up for your friends. I also really enjoyed the illustrations in this book especially the one on page 132 where the lighting has struck but the lightning is in the form of a lizard!

Wong, Janet S. Minn and Jake. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY: Frances Foster Books, 2003

Monday, January 28, 2008

Craft lesson#2: Buzz

Onomatopoeia Introduction

Targeted age Group
First Grade

Onomatopoeia is a long word to remember. To have students become comfortable with the term and its meaning the book “Buzz” by Janet Wong is very useful. Children will be able to listen to the book and point out words that make sounds and then create their own sounds and onomatopoeias.

How to teach it
Begin by writing the word “Buzz” on the flip board and ask students to read it out loud as a class. Ask them what they think that word sounds like. After receiving feedback, explain to the children that the word “Buzz” is an example of onomatopoeia, meaning it is a word that represents a sound. Then proceed with reading the book “Buzz” making sure that you allow children to make the “buzzing” sound when applicable.

After reading the book have a group of musical instruments and noise making materials (one object for each student) ready. Each student can choose one object and allow a few minutes for the students to make noise with their object before asking the class to keep their object quiet so that they can hear each one individually. Call on students one at a time to show the class what noise their object makes. When one student makes the noise with their object ask the group to repeat the noise with their voice then have the students suggest ways to spell the sound that they made while you write it on a large flip board. Continue this process until every child has had a chance to show the class the noise their object makes and the students have created a long list of onomatopoeias.

Wong, Janet S. Buzz. Illus. Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Orlando, FL:Voyager Books Hardcourt Inc., 2000.

Craft Lesson #1: Apple Pie 4th of July

Appreciating Diverse Classroom Traditions

Targeted age Group
First Grade

Every family is different and every family has a wide range of unique traditions that they engage in whether it is culturally, politically, or simply family based rituals. In the book Apple Pie 4th of July we see a young girl’s realization of that. She is dismayed at the thought that her family eats Chinese food on an American holiday but comes to understand that it is ok to have a different tradition than other people. Children can learn about differences in traditions and customs and learn to appreciate differences in others.

How to teach it
Start off the lesson reading the book Apple Pie 4th of July to the students. Asking them question while reading the book like, “why do you think the girl in the book doesn’t want to eat Chinese food?” , “who is she talking about when she says ‘no one wants to eat Chinese food on the fourth of July’?”, and “In the end who turns out wanting to eat Chinese food on the fourth of July?”

Then after reading the book the whole class will be broken up into small groups of two or three students who will discuss and write down a tradition that their own family does. You can give the students an example of your own personal family tradition as a starting point as well as refer back to the example in the book. Then come back together as a large group and share family traditions. Discuss and call to the students attention all of the different traditions and customs that are present in their own classroom and remind them that differences in others are interesting and worth learning about. You can post the family traditions in the classroom to remind students of their differences in traditions.

Wong, Janet S. Apple Pie 4th of July. Illus. Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Orlando, FL:Voyager Books Hardcourt Inc., 2002.

Minn and Jake Blog #1

So far, I have enjoyed this book. I feel like Wong has really captured the perspective of a fifth grader. The issues and subjects that matter to Minn and Jake are some of the same that I had when I was their age. In the beginning chapters of the book Minn is self conscious about her height because she is the tallest girl in her class; her head was even cut out of the class picture because she is so tall! I had a similar experience except I was the shortest and smallest in my class for almost every year in elementary school. I can relate to Minn in the sense that it seems like such a big deal at the time but everyone kind of evens out in the end and height and size aren’t as big of a deal as you think it is in elementary school.

I also loved how the walk home from school becomes an adventure with a map, selected resting/playing spots, and a designated time allowance! In my fifth grade year I walked home from school every day with my friends and siblings and we would stop by our makeshift fort underneath a bridge that stretched over a small dried up creek bed.

Wong has even captured in Minn and Jake’s thought processes the spirit of being ten years old. Like when Minn calls Jake to offer him lizard catching lessons and in her mind is congratulating herself for being such a good person. Although she is ultimately doing a favor for someone else she can’t help but think how wonderful she is for doing something for someone else.

Wong, Janet S. Minn and Jake. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY: Frances Foster Books, 2003

Children's Literature, Briefly: Chapters 6-9

I loved the ideas that the chapter gives for building appreciation for poetry in students. By keeping poetry light and humorous we can build up an enjoyment for poetry then use that positive reception to build a bridge into more traditional verses. The chapter had a wonderful suggestion, writing a different poem on the board everyday and not reading it to the students but allowing them to find it on their own and allow them to the freedom of choosing to be interested or not. The key to making poetry enjoyable to students is to mix light and humorous with traditional verses on a frequent daily basis, and allowing some freedom of choice the type of poetry they like. I believe that after reading this chapter I have a better understanding of my own experience with poetry and how to prevent the resentment I felt for it in my future students.

Tunnel, Michael O., and James S. Jacobs. Children's Literature, Briefly. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008.


I liked that this book is easy for children to relate to. There are a variety of noises and scenarios that a child can pick out or recognize that is similar to their everyday life. Whether it is hearing the alarm clock ring (or buzz!) in the morning or saying goodbye to mom and dad for the day, I think children will be able to listen and look at the book and relate it to their own day and possibly want to listen for repeated sounds they hear on a daily basis too.

Wong, Janet S. Buzz. Illus. Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Orlando, FL:Voyager Books Hardcourt Inc., 2000.

Apple Pie 4th of July

This was a great book because of the story’s message and the unique and colorful illustrations. In this book a young girl is upset by the fact that her parents are working on the fourth of July holiday and on top of that they are cooking and eating Chinese food on this American celebration. The young girl frets over this issue during the story but at the end when customers come into the store one after another to buy and eat their Chinese food she realizes that it is ok to celebrate an American tradition with Chinese cuisine. The book can help young readers to learn about cultural differences and how to accept and embrace them. The colorful and bold illustrations will keep readers entranced with the story and also allow a different interpretation of the story than if just the text alone was read.

Wong, Janet S. Apple Pie 4th of July. Illus. Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Orlando FL: Voyager BooksHarcourt, Inc., 2002.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Children's Literature, Briefly: Chapters 1-5

After reading the first five chapters in our textbook the chapter discussing the subject of determining a good book stuck out to me the most. As I was reading it I kept thinking to myself, “that is so true!” You want to pick great books for children to read but what standards or criteria are you basing it on? On the very first page of chapter two it has listed common ways in which adults pick books for children, all of which were ways I would have picked out a book for a child had I not read the chapter. It then explains that these reasons are sometimes misguiding and we must look at the book as a whole to determine its true value.

The rest of the chapter goes on to talk about quality verses personal taste. “Quality is recognized by evaluating different elements of the book.” There are over a dozen different elements that you can evaluate to determine the quality of a book. We can look at the way the author uses language, creates believable characters, and sets the mood of the book to determine its quality but sometimes it’s a matter of what the reader is personally interested in. Last semester I took a fiction course and was required to read the novel Frankenstein, which I had no interest in what so ever. It’s a classic book that has been read for years and years and considered a quality book but for me it wasn’t! I tried to read it but the words didn’t hold any meaning. Instead of reading Frankenstein I found myself picking up and reading this one book that I randomly bought at a book store a few years ago and have read over and over again. It is not exactly a “quality” book, it has no outstanding literary awards and I have never seen or heard of anyone but me reading it. I love this book though, and if you were to open up my copy you will find writing in the margins and highlighted phrases. This book is a quality book for me because I like it.

The important lesson I learned from this chapter and our discussion in class is that it doesn’t matter what children are reading as long as they are. While you may feel like their choice in reading is silly or not of very good quality, it is important that you allow them that freedom to choose their own quality or otherwise they could potentially become unengaged with reading. While allowing children to choose and read what they enjoy you can always mention and suggest different books that may be of better quality. By not criticizing their choices and offering quality books to broaden their experience you are setting your students up for a greater chance of success in their literary adventures.

Tunnell, Micheal O., and James S. Jacobs. Children's Literature, Briefly. 4th ed. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008.