With our Mother Goose unit behind us, we are now moving to a weekly theme concept for preschool story times. In each session, we'll reinforce library expectations and good listening skills in story time. Here's a good example of a grid of year-long themes that work well. This week, I chose to focus on "Spring" since it's been quite grey and gloomy out our windows.
Old Bear, by Keven Henkes
Sweet, simple story about a bear who falls asleep in the winter and dreams of each season. There are fantasy elements for each: the sun is a daisy, it rains blueberries, and he sleeps in a crocus. When he wakes up, it's like he was never asleep! I love the expresson on the kids' faces at the page turn when Bear dreams of spring...they gasp at the colors.
and then it's spring, by Julie Fagliano, illustrated by Erin Stead
A child plants seeds and waits patiently for them to grow. All around it is brown, a hopeful kind of brown, a greenish hum kind of brown, and still the child waits. It takes time. It takes rain. Sun. And then there's the question of whether the seeds were eaten by birds or stomped on by bears. And then, finally, the brown turns to green, and what a wonderful page-turn that is!
Are You My Mother?, by P.J. Eastman
This classic early reader is fun for a spring story time. A baby bird is born but his mother has flown off. He goes in search of her and it's quite funny to see some of the creatures (and machines) he thinks could be his mother. Silly fun and this holds students due to that universal urge to be with mama.
Kindergarten: Guiding Question - How does predicting help us engage in a story more?
We practice first with a classic: The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss. Everyone tells a young boy that the seed he planted "won't come up." In reading the story, I pause and ask, "Will it come up?" and students say their prediction. The important part of predicting is that we're thinking - not that we are "right". Whenever I talk about thinking about a story, I make a "wheels turning" motion near my head. This becomes a signal during story time that we are thinking about the story.
Next we read, There's a Nightmare in My Closet, by Mercer Mayer. Do we predict there's really a monster-type nightmare in his closet? Many say "no" but actually, there is! Is the monster "real" do we think? Probably not. This is a good title to use to show that incorrect predictions are just as good as correct ones - in this case, it's a fun surprise to see there's a monster in the story!
Finally, a good long story, A Birthday for Frances, by Lilian Hoban gives us the chance to make various predictions. Do we think Frances is happy about little sister's party? Will she give her the coveted Chompo bar eventually? I absolutely love reading the Frances books aloud - there's almost always some singing involved! I'll add a clip of how I sing some of Frances's songs. In the meantime, here is the "real" version part I and part II.
Grade 1: Guiding Question - How can the past affect our present?
To support grade one's "Past, Present, Future" unit, we focus on biographies. This week we read about two men who each left behind gifts for us to enjoy even after their deaths. After reading, we charted the dates of their lives on a Dipity timeline.
Johnny Appleseed, by Aliki
This is an older book, but I love the simplicity of the retelling. Johnny's wilder encounters with animals are not part of this version, so it feels closer to a biography than a legend. The illustrations are a mix of color and black and white, and they have a rustic feeling. I also like the emphasis on the idea that the US was a wide expanse of woods, a vast space without roads or towns yet. Johnny's gift to us, apple trees that still bear fruit, makes a strong closing statement.
Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian
William "Snowflake" Bentley, grew up in Vermont and was obsessed with recording the beauty of nature, particularly snowflakes. His parents spent their life savings to buy him a special camera that could photograph microscopic images. These became his gift to us: images of unique icy snow crystals that live on long after they melted.
Grade 2: Guiding Question - What is "Traditional Literature"?
We start a unit about traditional literature by talking about the idea of repeating stories. Do we retell stories that are boring? Nope. We retell the good ones. The stories in this unit have been retold over many years because they are so good!
The Little Match Girl, by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Rachel Isadora
A young girl forced to work on New Year's Eve sells matches to make a bit of money for her family. Dreadfully cold, lonely, and unable to make any sales, she slumps into a corner on the street and lights a match to warm herself. Unable to face the cold again, she lights another match and then another, each one comforting her with visions of warmth and love.
This is a profoundly sad story, best for grade 2 and older.
Puss in Boots, by Charles Perrault, illustrated by Fred Marcellino
What a treat to read the real Puss in Boots after so many children claim they "know" the story from the recent movie. This is so different and we love Puss's cleverness. In this Caldecott-winning version, Puss is larger than life. Even the cover gives us a clue that he's a hero! And if you can manage a French accent when he speaks, it's an even bigger hit.
Grade 3: Guiding Question - What kinds of information can we find using different types of maps?
We used hand signals and visual clues (see worksheet) to help us remember the purpose of each type of map. Students repeat and make motions with me:
Physical maps show what the land looks like (make wavy motion to show mountains and valleys)
Political maps show country boundaries (make boxed off motion)
Climate maps show the weather (make rainfall motion)
Population maps show how many people there are (make counting motion)
Environment maps show habitats (make clustering motion...they combine vegetation and climate)
Economic maps show how a place makes money (rub thumb and forefingers together to show "money")
We do some practice together answering questions using each type of thematic map. For example, is there nomadic herding in the US? What is the elevation of Iowa? and so forth. We examine the information shown in the key of each type of map to become familiar with the terms.
Independent practice to come! And then...we'll do a fun application activity.
Stay tuned :)
Grade 4: Guiding Question - What poetry terms can we identify in a poem?
I'm sharing favorite poems and seeing how many different terms we can recognize in each. My two favorite anthologies are completely dog-eared (they are from my own collection, don't worry! I don't fold library book pages, I promise!)
Talking Like the Rain, compiled by X.J. Kennedy and Dorothy Kennedy, and illustrated by Jane Dyer
Sing a Song of Popcorn, edited by Beatrice Schenk De Regniers, illustrated by various including Sendak