Sometimes you come across a book or an activity that you know will change your teaching. The days you come across a book and an activity that will change your teaching it's Like Magic. For years, I've done two activities in my class. One activity, the brown bag activity, we do at the beginning of the year to get to know one another. Everyone brings in three items in an unmarked brown paper bag. Then, I pull out the three items and we try to guess the owner of the bag. Last, the owner explains why he/she put the items in the bag. The other thing I do is a Star of the Week activity. Each week we a different class member brings in a photo of herself and beneath it a few of her favorite things and her favorite recipe. At the end of the year, I collate all the Star of the Week photos and recipes into a class yearbook that kids can sign.
Like Magic is going to improve both of these activities. Instead of having kids bring in a brown paper bag, I'm going to ask them to decorate a shoebox and put their three items inside inside their treasure box. Then, after I share my box I'll explain that this is going to be the class's treasure box. I'm the first Star of the Week. At the end of my week, I'll leave a homemade treasure in our class box that the next Star of the Week will take. That Star of the Week will leave a treasure in the box for the following Star of the Week and so on.
The activity below features the treasure box. The suggestion is to use a wooden box, but shoeboxes are free.
Activity Name: Treasure Box
Activity Description: "In the middle grade novel Like Magic by Elaine Vickers (HarperCollins), three lonely tween girls find friendship through a book-shaped treasure box in their library. Inside the box’s lid is printed the message,
Take this treasure,
Leave one of your own,
And remember this truth:
You are not alone.
The girls borrow the “Amicitia” box and leave each other origami stars, poems, music, and art postcards. Through the sharing of these small treasures, the girls create a connection and eventually meet.
Imagine having this friendship-building book on your shelves!" A template was created and is available at Curious City which will show you how to decoupage a book treasure box from standard craft store supplies. You can also print out the file below for step-by-step directions.
Early readers are a must have in the primary grades, yet students read through them so fast. This is an accessible series that's tons of fun. Be sure to check out the educator's guide below. There are many activities that tie into the common core standards, and the worksheets are kid friendly with plenty of space for kids to write. If your looking for fun worksheets to add to centers, be sure to check out the activity guide.
Activity Name: Class Couplet Book
Activity Description: Pig is silly and kind. Ask students to write a silly or a kind couplet about himself or herself. There's a word bank in the educator's guide that's very kid friendly. Take photos of the students acting out their couplets, and assemble the pages into a classroom book.
My whole body vibrated with joy when I read this book. The verse and the art are each stunning by themselves, but together they are a masterpiece. The activity below is from the teacher's guide created by Marcie Colleen.
Activity Name: I Am Collaborative Animal Poem
Activity Description: "Choose an animal from Twilight Chant or an animal not in the story-mammal, reptile, amphibian, bird, fish, invertebrate, etc. Title the poem with I Am: for example, "I Am a Skunk". Brainstorm about the animal for fresh and interesting details. Then, as a class, build a free verse poem about the animal to perform with gestures or poses. Students can then create an I Am poem about an animal of their choice." After, the students' poems can be collated into an I Am class book.
"Here's another book that I wish would have existed back when I taught bilingual Spanish first grade. Not only is the book super cute, but the author's message is so important-the stage is big enough for two! It's a message that can be applied to students' lives at home and at school where the stage often has to be big enough for twenty or more. I love the activity below that Crystal-Elisa Aldamuy developed. It makes me want to break out my patterned origami paper and start crafting!
Activity Name: Fish Puppet Craft
Activity Description: "Carmen loves to make props including all kinds of puppets. A puppet is an object used for storytelling that needs a person to help it move. The person that works the puppet is called a puppeteer. There are many types of puppets and many different ways to make puppets.
This puppet is made by collage. Collage is an art technique were you cut out different shapes and glue
them together to create a picture. To create a fish puppet, you need some key fishy parts: Head, Body, Gills, Fin, Tail, Eye, Mouth!
USING TEMPLATE: (Included in activity guide below)
Choose two 6x6 squares of different colors or patterns
Decide which will be the body.
Turn the other square over and use the template to draw head, fin and tail.
Cut out fish parts.
Glue the parts onto the body of the fish (patterned side up)
Use scrapes to create an eye and draw on a mouth.
IF NOT USING THE TEMPLATE:
Choose a square to be the body of fish.
Use other squares to create the parts of the fish–head, fin, tail, eye & mouth.
Glue pieces together.
Glue fish on to a popsicle stick to create a handle for your puppet."
Each year I have at least one student who struggles to keep his or her desk clean. I'm always amazed at the treasures that can be found in an overstuffed desk: a classroom supply of scissors that has gradually disappeared over the school year, missing assignments, and the worst-unidentifiable food items. This book has a fun timing activity to help students stay organized, the partner retell below will help younger students learn how to summarize, and dressing the part will help you Teach Like a Pirate.
Activity Name: Partner Retell
Activity Description: Come dressed for the part wearing an apron and an oven mitt, carrying a cookie sheet. Bonus points if there are real cookies on the sheet. Put your cookie sheet in a pretend oven and "lose" your oven mitt. After your act but before you read the story, pass out a story element strip to each partner pair in the classroom. Using your skit, the title of the book, and students previous knowledge about story elements, students will use the strip to work together and predict the main character, the problem and the solution. The skit and the activity will help ignite their brains for learning. After reading the story, have pairs use the same strips again to retell the story again.
One time when I was visiting my husband's family in Tokyo, I took an early morning walk. I stopped to admire a gorgeous blue hydrangea bush. A grandmotherly woman happened to be pruning it. She looked at me, smiled, and with gestures, offered to cut me a flower. Embarassed that my longing was so apparent and horrified that she would actually cut the flower, I shook my head no. She smiled. I didn't walk away with a stunning flower that day. Instead, I walked away with something much more valuable. A moment of connection that spanned generations, culture and language. Drawn Together shows another way that an unexpected moment of connection can happen between family members who have the same barriers as that woman and I did. I can't wait for this book's release on June 5th, 2018!
Activity Name: Drawn Together
Activity Description: Ask students to brainstorm a list of activities that they like to do. Then, for homework, ask them to call a grandparent, or have their parents call or email if language is a barrier, and ask the grandparent for a list of ten activities that he or she likes to do. Next, ask the student to find a commonality in her list and her grandparent's list. The student will then create three drawings:
1) Herself doing the activity in color.
2) Her grandparent doing the same activity in black and white
3) She and her grandmother doing that activity together. The picture should be outlined in black and colored in.
Mount the three drawings on black paper and have the child give the drawings to a grandparent as a gift. Teachers, if you don't know about Bridges Together, it's a stunning program. I think it's the most important unit I teach. This activity complements their curriculum.
Author Website: minhlebooks.com/
Illustrator Website: www.dantat.com/
Here's another post where I talk about Bridges Together.
Here's another post where I feature After the Fall by Dan Santat.
Here's another post that features persuasive essays written by my students about Dan Santat's amazing book, After the Fall, and Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell.
I'm super excited to feature another book by The Center School 2018 mock Caldecott Winner, Matt Tavares. Plus, the book ties in nicely with our class fantasy baseball league which will be starting up shortly. You can read more about that here. Finally, I used to teach first grade bilingual Spanish in Chelsea, and I always needed books in Spanish. Growing Up Pedro is available in Spanish and English. The activity below is a combination of two activities from the teacher's guide.
Activity Name: How Far From Home?
Activity Description: "Pull up a map of North America. Have students mark all the different places that Pedro played: the Dominican Republic, Montana, Montreal, and so on. Ask students to determine the miles between each location. Which place was the farthest from Pedro’s home? Which place was the closest?" Then, assign pairs of students various places in U.S. and Canada. Ask them to write a letter from Pedro's point of view describing to his friends and family in the D.R., what it's like to be in Montana or Montreal.
A Tangle of Knots is one of my all-time favorite books. You can check out a picture of me reading it below. I'm also attaching the Common Core discussion guide for all of Lisa Graff's fantastic novels below. But sometimes you and your students crave fun. So, here's an activity with fun in mind.
Activity Name: A Classroom of Cakes
Activity Description: The protagonist, Cady, has a Talent for cake baking and is able to create cakes that highlight the personalities of the special people in her life-pretty cool. Ask each one of your students to write a paragraph about which kind of cake encompasses their personality and why. Then, have them find a recipe on the internet and tweak it if necessary to include that extra special ingredient. Extra credit for students who bake the cake at home and bring in a slice for the teacher! ;-).
So excited to feature another book by The Center School 2018 mock Caldecott Winner, Matt Tavares. It's also a good book to read as we move into our class's fantasy baseball season. You can read more about that here. The other reason I'm super excited about this book is because it's available in Spanish and English. When I taught bilingual Spanish first grade in Chelsea, it was difficult to find a variety of books in Spanish, and Candlewick was one of the companies I could count on to publish quality books in Spanish. I combined two of the activities from the teacher's guide below into one. Enjoy!
Activity Name: How Far from Home?
Activity Description: Pull up a map of North America. Have students mark all the different places that Pedro played: the Dominican Republic, Montana, Montreal, and so on. Ask students to determine the miles between each location. Which place was the farthest from Pedro’s home? Which place was the closest? Then, ask students to write a letter from Pedro's point of view to his family describing one place he was in. Students can research the cities and brainstorm ideas in partners or small groups before writing the letters.
Website: www.matttavares.com/ Be sure to check out his website. He has a ton of resources about Growing Up Pedro. There are links to a few of the fabulous resources below.
Sports Illustrated for Kids Interview
The Yarn Podcast
Want to buy a signed book? You can order one from an awesome, local independent bookstore in New Hampshire, G. Willikers.
If you're like me, every year you have one or two voracious readers who long for complex stories. Here's one that's true. Upper elementary teachers, take note. Add this book to your libraries. I've described an activity from the Boyds Mills Press website and included a character trait dictionary that I use with my class. Enjoy!
Activity Name: Alice Paul's Traits
Activity Description: Each student should create a T-chart that describes aspects of Alice Paul’s character. For each quality they should include a sentence from the book that supports that trait. A sample trait could be "studious." The sentence that proves that trait could be, "By the time Alice was a junior, she had become a serious student who often hung a “busy” sign on her door and studied into the night (page 18). "
Whether it be for one specific student, a small group of kids, or a whole class, finding a "just right" book makes the teacher's and the students' day.