Sunday, January 22, 2012

A rockin' week!

Week 20

This was our first week with our new rockers, and I'm happy to report that we are doing a great job with "gentle rocking" as we enjoy them.

Here's the round-up for our lessons this week!

PreK 3 and 4: Guiding Question - What's similar, what's different?

The Three Little Kittens came to visit us this week. We read two versions of the Mother Goose poem and talked about the similarities and the differences between them. 

The Three Little Kittens, by Jerry Pinkney
This retelling of the Mother Goose rhyme highlights the playful antics of the kittens. We add the sounds "meow" and "purr" when they appear in the text to add an engaging touch. Pinkney's watercolor illustrations show the kittens close-up, tumbling about, acting contrite, and doing their best to behave. 

Classes loved the last line, when the kittens have found and washed their mittens but ask "May we go out to play?" We know they'll be in the same predicament if they do!

The Three Little Kittens, by Anna Alter
A perfect introduction to the classic rhyme, this little volume shows mice stealing the mittens. Colored pencil drawings support the single verse given here. This version is much simpler and the illustrations have a clean look. It's perfect for preschoolers.

Kindergarten: Guiding Question - What's a conflict? How can we identify the problem in a story?

One story strategy we use is identifying the problem in a story. We read together and talk about what the character is trying to solve. Did it work out in the end? How did it get solved?

Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes
Chrysanthemum has a clear problem: she used to love her unusual name but now she doesn't. 

When she starts school, three girls in her class snicker and make fun of her. "Her name has 13 letters!...She's named after a flower!...Let's pick her!" they snort. It's not until the lovely Mrs. Twinkle appears, a music teacher all of the girls admire, that these three realize that a name like Chrysanthemum's is "absolutely perfect."

Grade 1: Guiding Question - What's "creativity"?

For the purposes of our Caldecott unit, we define creativity as having "new ideas." 

There's no better Caldecott winner to introduce this concept than David Wiesner, a five-time medalist. We looked a three Wiesner books and will read more next week as we learn about how an illustrator works. 

We started with The Three Pigs and talked about layout. Children noticed how Wiesner showed the pigs entering and exiting fairy tales by using different artistic styles and extending the borders of the pictures. Next, we read Tuesday and talked about inset pictures and how they allow the illustrator to show the background and zoom in on the action in the scene all on one page. At the end of the story, some children noticed that the clouds on Wednesday morning look like frogs. This made a good segue into Sector 7, an entirely wordless story about a cloud factory. 

Grade 2: Guiding Question - What are some festivals celebrated in other countries?

Light the Candle! Bang the Drum! by Ann Morris
This picture book tells about lots of different holidays and celebrations around the world. As we heard about each one, we guessed the country and pointed it out on the map.

Next, each child took a volume in the series "Festivals of the World" and found a page of interest. We paired together to read captions and learn about one festival in our book. Next week we'll share more and create a map of the countries and their festival.

Grade 3: Guiding Question - What is "traditional literature"? 

Grade three begins a series of genre studies this week. Each lesson, we'll talk about the qualities of a particular genre and share some books in that genre. This week we talked about traditional literature. See our genre map here. It will grow as we add to it each week.

We used an excellent presentation created by Paula McMullen, a librarian in Norwood, Massachusetts called "Traditional Literature 3-5" available for download here. The presentation shows how traditional literature includes many types of stories. 

This flow chart is particularly helpful.

Grade 4 & 5: Golden Dragon book talks!

The book trailers, author interviews, and author websites are up  and ready to view on our library website. Students have already begun book talks about some of these Golden Dragon contenders. I'll also be posting talking avatars called "Vokis" on our home page, each featuring different books from the list. 

Here's last week's Voki about the novel Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper.


  1. Thanks for sharing such great resources. I am just ready to begin planning for my second semester classes and know that I will be "stealing" some of your ideas.

  2. Hi Sarah, Love your tweets and website. Would you be willing to do a short interview with us?

    Kathleen Fox