Monday, April 11, 2011

Spine Poetry, Mythology, and Forsythia!

Week 28

PreK 3 & 4: Guiding Question - How do we know spring is here? 

We did finger plays about planting seeds and watching flowers grow (we loved the one that starts "First you plant a seed..."), then looked at different branches of a forsythia bush to see buds closed, gradually opening, then blossoming. Finally, we read two stories:

Ten Seeds, by Ruth Brown, is a counting backwards book on board pages. We start with ten seeds and gradually animals either take them or destroy the seedlings, so in the end we're left with just one (gorgeous) sunflower bloom. Happily, the ending shows how that one sunflower will yield ten seeds when the flower dries out. Children enjoyed this surprise ending and understood the connection between the seeds we started with and the new ones we end with.

The View from Meadowview Street, by Henry Cole, is about bringing nature back into our lives. A young girl moves to a new house on Meadowview street, but there's no meadow there! The first day her dad mows the lawn, she notices a single flower and cords it off so he won't cut it down. Gradually, her "nature preserve" gets larger and larger until her yard is a paradise for all manner of birds, bugs, and blooms. 

Kindergarten: Guiding Question - What is a "series" book?

Continuing our "story strategies" theme, we talked about series books. We read two Curious George books, then children brainstormed the elements that make a series: same characters, illustration style, types of problems. Series books are popular because we enjoy seeing our favorite characters dealing with new problems. Other series books kindergarten children love: Arthur, Clifford, Charlie and Lola, and Franklin.

At check-out time, we put out our full collection of Curious George books - we have tons!

Grade 1: Guiding Question - What are some Caldecott books that make us laugh?

We looked at the Knuffle Bunny books this week and talked about what makes them a series and why two of them were Caldecott Honor books. Students enjoyed seeing Trixie grow up as we read each title, including the latest one, a new addition in the library. We applied our Caldecott criteria to Knuffle Bunny and determined that "creativity" was a particular strength because of the combination of black and white photography to show setting and cartoon cut-outs to show character.

Grade 2: Guiding Question - What is "mythology"?

Our traditional literature unit continues with a look at mythology. We talked about how myths were first created to explain events in nature. Our story Daughter of the Earth, by Gerald McDermott, is the Roman myth that explains the seasons of the year. Prosperina is captured by the god of the underworld, Pluto, and her mother, Ceres, punishes the earth during her absence by refusing to let anything grow. Although Prosperina does eat some pomagrate seeds while in the underworld, sky god Jupiter negotiates her release: he subtracts the number of seeds she ate from the months of the year, so she only has to stay with Pluto for three months - our winter!

After the story, we looked at two mythology websites on the grade 2 tab: Winged Sandals, which shows videos of four different myths and includes games and an illustrated glossary of the Greek gods and monsters of mythology; and Starfall's mythology page, which includes audio books of classic myths.

Grade 3: Guiding Question - What are the fun topics in our Dewey section?

Grade 3 is still working on their Dewey advertisements. This week we focused on choosing sounds. Students needed to be very familiar with their Dewey topics and be creative about sounds that would match them. For example, what sounds would you choose for the topic "religion"? How about "technology"? This was a good thinking exercise! We used Sound Bible and FindSounds to search for audio clips.

Grade 4: Book check-out!

Grade 5: Guiding Question - Can we find poems hidden in our stacks?
Grade five students created spine poems using book titles stacked up to create something new. The one rule we agreed to: the combination of titles needed to elicit some emotion on the part of the reader. Each class has its own slideshow of completed poems, but I chose my ten favorites for the slideshow below. (less than 2 minutes)

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