We read two pirate stories and made the point that even though pirates are fun characters, they are really "bad guys" since they steal other people's things! At check-out time, each child got a temporary pirate tattoo, just for fun.
How I Became a Pirate, by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon
While playing on the beach, a boy notices a pirate ship approaching. The ship's captain notices the boy's excellent digging skills and recruits him to help them bury some treasure. But once he's on board and the excitement has died down, he realizes that pirate life is missing a few key elements.
David Shannon's signature boisterous illustrations add to the fun.
Tough Boris, by Mem Fox, illustrated by Kathryn Brown
Pirates are tough and mean and greedy, and Tough Boris is no exception. But when his pet parrot dies, even this pirate cries and cries. Finally a pirate we can relate to!
Animated watercolor and pencil illustrations show us the action of life on a pirate ship.
Kindergarten: Guiding Question - How can inferring help us understand a story better?
This is a longer story told in letters and newspaper articles, so it's a tricky read-aloud. However, we "read" the illustrations as well as the text to discover the truth, so it's perfect for practicing our inference skills.
Dear Mrs. LaRue, by Mark Teague
Ike, Mrs. LaRue's dog, has misbehaved and is sent to doggy boarding school to learn some manners. He complains bitterly about this through a series of letters to his owner. Supported by some reports from the newspaper to give us an objective point of view, we eventually infer the whole story and see through his dramatic tale. The illustrations need to be "read" as well, since they help us guess at what's really happening.
Grade 1: Guiding Question - What text features help us find information?
First graders are starting an animal research project. They're creating a zoo in their classrooms, and they will be the animals! They'll need to know information about the foods they eat, where they live, and other interesting facts.
To start the process, we looked at basic nonfiction text features: Table of Contents, Glossary, Bold Words, Index, Headings, Labels. These help us find information more easily. We love the Blast Off Readers, which come in various levels, for primary research projects.
We also read One Tiny Turtle, by Nicola Davis. This gives us a chance to notice that nonfiction books can also come in a narrative form and look like a picture book.
Here, we follow a baby turtle as she grows, swims thousands of miles, and returns to lay her eggs on the beach where she first hatched. Will her babies be as lucky as she was?
Grade 2: Guiding Question - What are myths?
We talked about the idea that myths explain something in nature or something about human nature.
Daughter of the Earth, by Gerald McDermott
This Roman myth 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!
Atlantis, by Christina Balit
Richly illustrated in bright colors and gold leaf, this retelling of the myth of Atlantis is stunning and reads beautifully. We learn how Poseidon created the island, Atlantis, as a tribute to his mortal wife, Cleito, and gave it to his sons to rule over. Its citizens lived in peace and harmony, thankful for the many natural wonders Poseidon provided for them. But over time, the people began to bicker and become ambitious and greedy. Zeus, displeased, demanded Poseidon punish them, and so the entire island was swallowed up and sank to the bottom of the sea where, some say, it still resides.
Dramatic and compelling, this makes an excellent read aloud for grades 2 and up - way up!
Grade 3: Guiding Question - What can we learn about a culture by reading its folklore?
Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile, by Won-ldy Paye and Margaret Lippert, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Mrs. Chicken's vanity gets her into trouble. While admiring herself in the reflection of the river, Crocodile captures her and plans to eat her up. Mrs. Chicken is clever and finds a way out of the bind. She learns her lesson and we have some laughs.
From the Dan people of Liberia. What lessons might the Dan have taught their children using this tale?
Mabela the Clever, retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Tim Coffey
Mabela, the mouse, has been taught to be clever due to her father's teachings. So when Cat tempts her and some other mouselings into joining a Secret Cat Society, she gradually becomes wary and suspicious. We're anxious to see how quickly she will figure out Cat's ruse. This tale wraps up with a meaningful reminder of the lessons: listen, look around, think about what you're saying, and move fast if needed!
From the Limba people of Sierra Leon. What other values does the story highlight? Pass down cleverness through the generations.
Grade 4: Check out!
Grade 5: Guiding Question - How do we get organized for a large research project?
|Browsing in NewsBank|
One class in grade 5 is undertaking an ambitious "global issues" project. They will research an issue of their choice, prepare an outline of their information, write a persuasive letter, and present their ideas in another form, too.
Steps we followed to get organized:
|Sample note-taking sheet, step 2|
- Explain our note-taking template.
- Explain how to use the note-taking template. (samples: step 1 - taking notes, step 2 - sorting information)
- All notes are done by hand (slows us down to ensure we're writing words and phrases vs. sentences)
- All notes are stored in a research binder.
Each research session follows the same format:
- Meet with group to brainstorm and assign focus questions for the day.
- Individual research time (quiet reading!)
- Wrap up with group to share information and choose focus for next session.
Resources we'll use to get started with searching:
- Video: Web Searching
- Twurdy (google search by reading level)
- Newsbank for Kids (AISB students, see portal for password)
- Links on the grade 5 page, "Global Issues" section