Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween Fun!

Week Nine

All week, students from grades K-5 were involved with writing and hearing about how an author makes books during our visit with John Coy. A big thank you to the ES PSA for making his visit possible!

In library class, most students watched a live action version of the story Bats at the Library by Brian Lies. In this beautiful picture book, a community of bats flies into a library at night and enjoys all of the storybooks, the photocopier, and even the water fountain! No bats have ever been cuter and what great readers they are! They get so caught up in their books, they seem to become the famous characters: Winnie the Bat, Little Bat Riding Hood, Pippi Batstocking and more.

We also enjoyed some Halloween picture books!
PreK 3 and PreK 4: Halloween Is... by Gail Gibbons
This colorful picture book serves as a clear introduction to Halloween and its traditions. When does it happen? Why did it start? What's a jack-o-lantern? Why do we dress in costumes? What are the fun parts about Halloween? The text is light and easy for younger children and the watercolor pictures are bright and cheerful - a perfect way to balance any of the scariness of the holiday with fun and good information.

Kindergarten: When the Goblins Came Knocking, by Anna Hines
Even though Halloween is mostly about having fun, there's a part of the holiday that's a little scary. This story tells of a young boy who was scared last year, but not this year! Last year, when the kids in goblin costumes came knocking, he cried. Last year, when the children in monster costumes came creeping, he cried. But this year - he's the scariest one of all! A great way for young children to see that they may grow out of their fears and a way for those who are ready to embrace the scary-fun!

Grade 1: Only a Witch Can Fly, by Alison McGhee
This was a bit too sophisticated for grade 1, and students declared it a dud even though it's a New York Times Bestseller. It's a rhyming story of a young girl who learns to fly, proving to herself and her family that she's a witch after all. The woodblock illustrations in subdued browns, faded green, and muted orange are not a grabber for little ones, but they create an atmosphere of the classic cold fall night.
Grade 1 also read Hoodwinked by Arthur Howard to add some levity to the session. This one was a huge hit, a funny story of a little girl witch who wants to choose the creepiest pet possible. The bats are too batty and the toad too buggy, but when a sweet adorable kitten shows up at her door, she's sure he'll be too cute to bear. Luckily, he ends up being a great pet who loves to do things with her - turns out creepy looks are not as important as she thought!

Grade 2: Halloween Motel, by Sean Diviny
An adventurous family goes on a trip to the Halloween Motel. They have a blast trick-or-treating door to door collecting goodies like band-aids from a mummy and chewed up apples from a vampire. Imagine their surprise, however, then the manager tells them that THEY are the ones the other guests are calling "weird." This funny story is great for children who already know some of the familiar creepy characters that make Halloween a hoot.

Grade 3: A Big Spooky House, by Donna Washington
Everyone loves a spooky story at Halloween time, and this folktale is just the ticket. A big, strong man is so confident of his size and strength that he never gets scared of anything. He walks through a thunderstorm, he barges right into a haunted house, and he stares down a talking black cat. Is there anything he's afraid of? Oh yeah, there is!

Grade 4 & 5: Students heard a video conversation with the author of Bats in the Library, Brian Lies, and learned where he got the idea for the story, how he imagined the bats as characters, and how he created the tone of the illustrations.

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