Sunday, April 27, 2008

Craft Lesson # 8: Babymouse: Our Hero

Advice Columns

Targeted age Group:
Second Grade

Being able to put events in order is called sequencing. Utilizing words like "First", "Then", and "Finally" can help sequence the events of a storyline. Comic strips are simply collections of pictures that tell a story through sequence. You have to follow the sequence of pictures in the correct order to understand the story.

How to teach it:
After reading Babymouse: Our Hero to the class I would tell them that we are going to make our own comic. The students get a sheet of paper that they will fold into fourths and in each forth draw a part of a short story with a beginning, two middle parts, and an end. They will write a narration for the story using the key sequence words like "First" "Then" "Next" and "Finally". They will cut up their comic on the fold lines and jumble up the four pieces. They will switch comics with a neighbor and try and put another student's comic together in the correct sequence.


Holm, Jennifer and Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Our Hero. New York: Random House, 2005.

Children's Literature, Briefly. Chapter 15: Mulitcultural and International Books

Upon reading this chapter(and every other chapter in the book) I am compelled to say that I am so impressed with the text for this course. Tunnell and Jacobs have left nothing out; they have created a complete guide to children's literature for teachers!

This chapter discussing the importance of multicultural and international books was great. When I worked at the Child Development Lab here at Tech they emphasized multiculturalism through their wall decorations, language, and book collection. The children at the CDRC weren't afraid to bring up questions about differences because their questions were embraced and answered. Its when children learn from adult behavior that some things aren't to be talked about that they are confused and develop fear from uncertainty.

I will never forget the time my younger brother who was about four at the time questioned a cashier about the color of her skin. He had been looking at her while she was scanning our items and then said to her, "you black". Of course my mother and I apologized to the lady and "shhh-ed" him embarrassed that he had made such an obvious comment. But the lady replied that it was fine and proceeded to tell him that her skin color was very dark compared to his. She even showed him how the palms of her hands were different than his. Once she had confirmed that his conclusion about her being "black" was right he went on doing his own thing. Unlike my mother and I who tried to quiet him and suppress his insight for fear of offending the woman, she simply showed him in a very matter-of-fact way. He learned that people are different colors because she addressed his statement. If she hadn't done that he would have learned from our behavior to ignore differences and been fearful of acknowledging diversity. What I learned that day was it is better to embrace a child's curiousity about diversity and human differences in a postitive matter-of-fact way than it is to ignore them.

It is so important to represent all forms of diversity in your classroom in a subtle yet consistent way. To ignore differences between people will only encourage phobic and eventually hateful attitudes. By including multicultural and international books in your classroom collection you will be fostering awareness and acceptance of others; an indispensable lesson for children.


The idea of changing things up with a comic book was fun. It's illustrations and storyline were cute but I got lost reading it more than once. I got confused at times with what was going on because of the comic strip layout of the story. To make things worse the whole time I was reading it I was thinking to myself, "how am I going to use this book as a reference for a lesson?" As discussed in class some people are slow to warm up to comics if they didn't experience them as a child and I think I am one of those people. I loved the Archie comics when I was younger but they probably wouldn't hold my interest now. I can't put my finger on exactly why; I know it must do with the layout, maybe its just too chaotic for me.

Craft Lesson # 7: Stuart's Cape

Advice Columns

Targeted age Group:
Third Grade

Learning from our experiences is an important part of life. Being able to reflect on our own experiences and the experiences of others will help us in making future decisions. Giving recommendations for behavior based on observed or experienced events is also an important tool that will be learned in this lesson.

How to teach it:
I would have students read this book chapter by chapter in groups as a guided reading activity. At the end of each chapter they would have to write a piece of advice for an advice column just like Stuart does at the end of the book. Then after they have read the entire book they will have a complete advice column consisting of the student's opinions of what Stuart learned throughout the chapters.

Through this craft lesson the students are learning to derive meaning from events and then transform that meaning into advice. An example of a piece of advice they could derive from chapter one is, "If you let a dinosaur, a gorilla, and a horse into your room they will make a mess!" The advice can be funny since Stuart has many funny situations as long as the advice is derived from the chapter.

After the students have made an advice column based on Stuart's experiences they can make their own advice column. Their advice column can be directed toward the second graders who will enter into third grade soon. They can give them advice on how to be successful in third grade. This would probably be best to do as a class activity and then the column could be posted outside the third grade classroom for the second graders to see.


Pennypacker, Sara. Stuart's Cape. Illus. Martin Matje. Cambridge, NY: Scholastic Inc., 2002.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Children's Literature, Briefly. Chapter 14: Informational Books

As discussed in the beginning of the chapter, informational books do tend to meet negative responses. It is true that some informational books are boring and are only utilized when writing a paper. The authors make a good point about the five elements that can make an informational book good. I loved the suggestion for teachers to pick up an informational book and thumb through it for only three minutes and see if it catches your own attention before expecting it to catch the attention of an elementary school student. That is a great rule of thumb for teaching; if it doesn't spark your interest it probably won't for your students.

I really liked the quote on page 176 that stated, "good informational books teach the same way good classroom teacher teach: They examine a subject, think about things, make discoveries, and then share a personal view of what they have learned." The best teachers I had growing up were the ones that knew all the facts, delivered it in a way that interested the class, and then let students do their own personal research. Just like the book states, "lay a groundwork for wanting further knowledge". For me, this chapter was about defining good elements of informational books and then realizing that as teachers we are a metaphoric informational book. We must teach information in a way that is compelling, attractive, and fascinating.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Craft Lesson # 6: Sidewalk Circus

Shadows and Sun Clocks

Targeted age Group:
Second Grade

In the book, Sidewalk Circus, shadows play a very important role in understanding the textless story. In older times people utilized shadows as a way to tell time through sun dials or sun clocks. These ancient clocks tell time by the postion of a shadow which is cast by the sun.

How to teach it:
I would start the lesson by reading/showing the book to the class and reminding them to pay close attention to the changing shadows. After we have gone through the book I would begin a class discussion about what shadows are. I would get input from the class and then explain that shadows can play an important role in telling time.

Then I would have the class make their own sun clocks in groups of five. I have found a diagram for making sun dials that I would print out and give to each group.
(The diagram is at the bottom of this blog entry) Each group would also be given a compass and pencil in order to create the sun clock. They begin by going outside on a sunny day and laying the sun clock worksheet on the ground with the arrow that represents their city facing north. (They have to use their compass to navigate which direction is north.) They they stand the pencil up in the middle of the sun clock diagram on the days date to reveal what time it is.

This is a fun way to learn about both shadows, time, working as a team, and being outside.


Fleischman, Paul. Sidewalk Circus. Illus. Kevin Hawkes. Cambridge, MA: Candlewich Press, 2004.

Diagram found at the

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stuart's Cape

This was such a fun read for me. I loved the story because it blurred the line between imagination and reality. It never directly stated whether the situations in the story were were actually happening or was made up by Stuart's imagination; you had to decide for yourself. My favorite character was his crazy Aunt Bubbles who was so silly to think that the clouds were talking to her and that they were hungry for pound cake. She was a fun character because she played along with what Stewart was doing while his parents simply dismissed his ideas and even took his cape away to be disposed of.

I liked the way that Stuart thought and said things, for example on page 17 at the beginning of the chapter it says, "Stuart woke up on the ceiling. 'Good,' he said, remembering not to act surprised. 'I can fly." He talks so nonchalant and matter-of-fact that it was comical to me as I was reading. Another example is when One-Tooth, his cat, is snoring in the trash collector's car and Stuart realizes that cats don't make that sound and concludes that "of course! One-Tooth had traded places with the trash Man!" There were many more instances that I enjoyed throughout the book of Stuarts entertaining reasoning.

The illustrations in the book were so fun. I love on page 46 when Stuart imagines that he is an ant instead of himself. The illustration was really cute, it was an ant's body but with Stuart's head! Overall this book was really cute, had a funny story, and really captured the imagination of a third grade boy.

Pennypacker, Sara. Stuart's Cape. Illus. Martin Matje. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc., 2002.

Read Aloud Journal #2

Grace Anne really enjoyed the illustrations of this book. Often times I would be done reading the text on the page and began to turn to the next page and she would ask me to wait until she had looked the entire page over before I turned the page. I would point out how small Molly Lou Melon looked compared to object around her and Grace Anne would nod and sometimes point to something and say, "look how much bigger than Molly Lou". After I finished reading the book Grace Anne wanted me to read it again!

I enjoyed reading this book to Grace Anne probably as much as she enjoyed it being read to her. The illustrations were awesome and the lesson or moral of the story was great. I would absolutely recommend this book to read to children from pre-school to first or second grade.

Read Aloud Plan #2

Lovell, Patty. Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon. Illus. David Catrow. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2001.

I also read this book to Grace Anne Strieght. She is a four year old preschooler that my roommate babysits a few days out of the week.

This is a book with a wonderful moral. It is about a girl, Molly Lou Melon who has some unusual and undesirable characteristics about her. For instance she has buck teeth that she can stack pennies on , she has a voice that sounds like a bull frog, and is incredibly short. Molly Lou Melon doesn't mind these characteristics because her grandma has always told her to hold her head up high and be proud. When Molly Lou has to change schools she encounters a bully who attempts to make fun of her for her uniqueness, but she just heads her grandma's advice and things work out in her favor.

I chose this book initially because the illustrations are really cute and fun to look at. It turned out to have a humourous and meaningful story line, which I really like.

Read Aloud Journal #1

I began my read aloud by asking Grace Anne what she thought this book was about. She answered, "I think flowers and maybe rainbows." As we continued to read through the book she would point to a picture of a flower and say "ooo I like this one" or "that flower is my favorite color". When we finished the book I asked her if she remembered how the book explained how to plant flowers and she told me most of the steps. She said you have to plant the bulb and water the ground and plants begin to grow.

This was a fun book to read to Grace Ann but some of the names of flowers were really difficult even for me to pronounce. This would be a fun book to read to a class or even just a child and then have them plant a flower and watch it grow.

Read Aloud Plan #1

Ehlert,Louis. Planting a Rainbow. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Inc, 1988.

I got the opportunity to read this book to Grace Anne Strieght. She is a four year old preschooler that my roommate babysits a few days out of the week.

The book is basically the step by step process of planting flowers. It begins with the sentence "Every year Mom and I plant a rainbow," then begins explaining how to make plants grow. The illustrations are very colorful and are representative of what is going on in the text. The book contains the names of several flowers, most of which I was not even familiar with. Towards the end of the story there are pages that contain flowers of a certain color. For example, there is a page of red flowers then a page of orange flowers and so on.

I chose this book to read to Grace Anne because she loves flowers and has been noticing them popping up all around outside recently.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sidewalk Circus

This book obviously had amazing illustrations! Despite the fact there aren't words or text on the page that actually tells the story I though the signs, if read, gave a clue to look for something in the picture or shadows of the picture.

I really like the side picture that appeared on every page of the little girl (then later the little boy) watching the other side of the street. Everything from her exaggerate facial expressions to the fact that she is brighter than anyone else in the background. It is as if she is lit up in comparison to those around her because she is the only on who is enlightened with the knowledge of what is really going on across the street or that she is the one who see the "light". This is a great book to look at over and over and over again to try and catch things you previously did not.

Fleischman, Paul. Sidewalk Circus. Illus. Kevin Hawkes. Cambridge, MA: Candlewich Press, 2004.

Children's Literature, Briefly: Chapter 13 Biography

This was a good chapter to read because I had kind of forgot about biographies for children. The book is 100% right about the criteria that make a good biography, accurate facts, using direct quotes, allowing actions and quotes of subjects speak for themselves, and abiding by good writing rules. I was really surprised to read that until the 1960s children's biographies were commonly fictionalize! What?!? That seems so crazy to me that they would divert from actual facts just because they were writing a book for children. Biographies make for a great supplemental reading, I think, when studying history and social studies. They make you feel closer to the actual events that took place because you begin to know the people who were actually there and living.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Poetry Folder

Poetry in an Elementary Classroom

Poetry is an important part of elementary classroom curriculum. I think that it needs to be incorporated in everyday classroom routine. It doesn’t have to be an enormous planned out activity everyday but instead just be casually added into the daily plan. I love the idea from Michael O. Tunnell and James S. Jacob’s book, Children’s Literature Briefly, that reminds us as teachers to use rhythmic and humorous verses to build appreciation for poetry before moving on to more artistic forms. We also discussed in class simply putting a poem on the board everyday and not necessarily pointing it out or reading it but allowing children to gravitate and observe it then choose what they will do with it next.

It’s too easy to turn students off to poetry. Endless worksheets about deciphering meaning and indentifying literary components suck the amusement right out of poetry. I, myself have been disengaged with poetry in school because it was boring and didn’t relate to anything in my life. Reading poetry that contained meaning and language that I was unable to comprehend at the time discouraged me from enjoying any poetry. The key to keeping poetry interesting and fun to a young audience is to select poetry for your classroom wisely. Because children love nursery rhymes experienced in early childhood and singing, teachers can use that as a clue for a starting off point. Keep poetry clever, humorous, and heavily rhymed then eventually begin to introduce them to other types of poetry. Another wonderful part of poetry is that it is personal. Too often I think teachers tell children directly or indirectly what is good poetry and what is not. Just like with books, children should choose what poems they like the best. It’s more important that they like and enjoy poetry than what kind or which poem they are finding joy in.

Poetry is an important literary form and in order to teach it to children in a way they will understand and build appreciation for, teachers have to remember to keep poetry light hearted and assessable for students.

“By Myself” by Eloise Greenfield

Greenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems. Harper Trophy, 1986.

I picked this poem to be in my poetry folder because I like the message that can be derived by readers of self confidence and self worth. I would use this in a classroom by having students read this poem and then write their own poem about what they see when they close their eyes.

“Clouds Are Black” by Arnold Adoff

Adoff, Arnold and Jerry Pinkney. In for Winter, Out for Spring. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, 1991.

This poem made my poetry folder because it’s description of a thunderstorm. The personification of the clouds is great in this poem, for example, “their their bragging noise”. This would be a great example to begin a lesson about personification in language and literature. This poem could also be an introduction to a lesson about weather patterns and storms.

“Don’t Tell Me I Talk Too Much!” by Arnold Spilky

Spilky, Arnold. The Random Book of Poetry for Children. New York: Random House Inc: 1983.

I like this because children will relate to the defensiveness in response to being told they talk too much in the poem. Because this poem has quite a few exclamation points in it, a punctuation lesson can be taught from it.

“I Went to the Doctor” by Kenn Nesbitt

Nesbitt, Kenn. The Aliens Have Landed! Meadowbrook Press, 2001.

This poem made top 20 because it is formatted as a very short play and can be presented as a choral speaking activity. To use in a lesson, have the students break up into groups of two and perform the mini play together. Another way would be to divide the class into two groups and assign a part to each half of the class then act it out as an entire classroom.

“In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb” by Lorie Hill

Hill, Lorie. Spring poems and quotes. March 3, 2008.

This poem made my poetry folder because it is about the month of March and has a great AABB rhyming pattern. I would use this in a classroom at the beginning of the month of March to start a class discussion about future weather predictions for the month. We would predict the weather and maybe keep track of the temperature throughout the month to see if the poem is true, that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb

“Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens” by Jack Prelutsky

Prelutsky, Jack. My Dog MayBe a Genius. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008.

This poem was chosen because I like that it is silly and the vivid visual images that I see in my head when I read it. I would read this aloud to students and have them draw a comic of what is happening in the poem as I read it aloud to them.

“Little Black Bug” Margaret Wise Brown

Wilkins, Eloise. Poems to read to the very Young. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2001.

This poem is great for young readers because of the simple repetition and fun rhythm. An onomatopoeia lesson could be taught from this poem using excerpts like “Squeak-eak-eak-eak-eak” and “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”.

“My Pig Put On a Bathing Suit” by Jack Prelutsky

Prelutsky, Jack. My Dog MayBe a Genius. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008.

I like this poem because it is funny and has a fun rhyme and rhythm to it. This poem could be used in a lesson about time. The teacher can use an example clock to demonstrate the time with the hands and then change the sentence, “from ten till ten to four” to another time and demonstrate that time on the clock.

“My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson

Stevenson, Robert Louis. A Child's Garden of Verses. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing 1999.

This is a great poem because it captures the curiosity and interest I think children have about their shadows. It is a fun rhyme and the rhyming is kept very simple with the AABB pattern. This poem can be utilized to investigate shadows and the effect of casting light on objects; it can be used as an introduction to a science lesson about shadows.

“One Inch Tall” by Shel Siverstein

Silverstein, Shel. March 3, 2008.

I really enjoy reading this poem because (like many of Silverstein’s poems) it is clever and has a humorous aspect to it. This poem also activates the imagination; I find that while I’m reading it I start to visualize and think about what it would be like to really be one inch tall! We could have a small class discussion about other things that would be difficult if you were one inch tall or about what would happen if you were 1,000 inches tall. I would use this poem to teach students measurements. We could use rulers to determine how big an inch really is and then measure other objects (pencils, cookies, etc) to determine how much smaller you would be than objects you see in everyday life if you were just an inch tall.

“Over In The Meadow” by Olive A. Wadworth

Wadsworth Olive A. Over in the meadow. Antelope Publishing, 1995.

I love this poem mostly because I remember it vividly from childhood. I love that you can sing the words and there is an easy and catch rhythm to it that makes it fun to sing. I would sing this with my class and then do a lesson about animal habitats. We could reference the song to remember where certain animals live. For example, if we began studying birds we could refer back to the line in the song when it says, “In a hole in a tree,Lived an old mother bluebird” and then research to find if bird really do live in holes in trees.

“Rain” by Douglas Florian

Florian, Douglas. March 4, 2008.

I enjoyed the simplicity of this poem when I read it. Young children will be interested immediately in this poem because of its counting factor and the rhyme. This would poem could be use to introduce the water cycle to children. The end of the poem ends with a big word that we as a class could study and investigate and then learn about other parts of the water cycle (condensation, evaporation etc).

“Riddle” by J. Patrick Lewis

Lewis, J. Patrick. The Little Buggers. March 3, 2008.

I chose this poem because it is a riddle! It is a fun riddle that I think young elementary school children will be able to solve on their own. I would use this just as a quick and fun brain activating game for students.

“Smart” by Shel Siverstein

Silverstein, Shel. March 3, 2008.

I chose this poem because it talks about currency in a funny and amusing way. I would use this poem as a precursor to teaching a lesson about currency and money. This would be a great way to introduce the different values of coins like quarters, nickels, and dimes.

“Stars” by Valerie Worth

Worth, Valerie. Still More Small Poems. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1978.

This poem made my poetry folder collection because it is a beautifully simple free verse poem. I don’t really gravitate toward free verse poetry especially for younger children because it is not quite as fun as experiencing a poem with rhyming. I like this one though because it is effortless and simple to read but at the same time complex enough that you read it over and over to find the meaning. I would use this poem in a classroom to begin discussion about stars. Phrases like “fire-oceans” and “seas of heavy silver flame” would be great to spark imagination and provide starting points to begin research on the study of stars.

“ The Caterpillar” by Douglas Florian

Florian, Douglas. Beast Feast. Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994.

I chose this poem for my poetry folder because I like the rhyming and light hearted feel of the poem. I think children will like this poem because it is about a caterpillar and has a funny description. This would be a great poem to read to the children then talk about how a caterpillars turn into a butterflies. This would be a great poem to read if you had caterpillars turning into butterflies in your classroom.

“The Leaves Are Turning Colors” Jack Prelutsky

Prelutsky, Jack. My Dog MayBe a Genius. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008.

This poem is included in my poetry folder because of the descriptive language that is comprehendible for a young audience. This would be a great poem to use to teach about the different seasons and the colors, and even weather patterns of seasons.

“The Opposite Day Parade” by Timothy Tocher

Tocher, Timothy. Giggle Poetry. March 4, 2008.

I chose this poem because it is funny and takes thought process to decipher. I would use this poem to teach a lesson about opposites. The students can circle all of the opposite meaning words and phrases and replace them with what they should be.

“The Way I see Hope For Later” by Arnold Adoff

Adoff, Arnold. All the Colors of the Race. Lothrop Lee and Shepard, 1982.

I picked this poem because of the obvious message it gives to its readers. This poem could be read and then used as a starting point to begin discussion about different skin colors and how there are so many different colors. Students could also mix paint and attempt to recreate the color of their skin.

" Weather” by Eve Merriam

Merriam, Eve. March 3, 2008.

I like this poem because you have to read it a few times to get it to flow right because of the complex language. This would be a great poem to use to teach homonyms to students. “Weather” and “whether” are examples of words that sound the same and have very different meanings.