Book of the Week: Old Shell, New Shell

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Old Shell, New Shell
Old Shell, New Shell: A Coral Reef Take, by Helen Ward

A hermit crab living in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef outgrows his shell and heads out to seek a new one.

This is a mentor text purchased with funds from the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, and stickers with guiding questions have been added throughout the book. It also includes a lesson that focuses on these second grade reading standards:

  • 1.4.3 Problem – Solution
  • 1.5 Text Features

This is a great primary read-aloud because of the sparse text, but there’s also an incredible section in the back of the book for your more advanced or your particularly sea-life-obsessed readers. Every page of the book is annotated in the back with the actual creatures numbered and identified, along with text about the particular part of the ocean featured on each spread.

Hermit Crab

There are a bunch of great supplemental links at Kids’ Wings. Because the link is so short, it could be neat to plan a webquest using this list of sites. Or if you don’t think your students are ready to correctly enter the full web address, you can ask Mrs. Cole to add it as a bookmark in the computer lab. Also, the link mentions using Bill Peet’s Kermit the Hermit as a partner text. I have a copy of this in classroom library bucket 63 if you’d like to use it, just check it out using the check-out binder next to my tech cart.

Kermit the Hermit

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggested lessons:

Comprehension

  • Use prior knowledge to connect with text. Discuss how the previously mentioned webquest changed the way your students looked at the story. Chances are, many of them made comments like, “I saw that!” or “I know what that is!” Discuss how expanding prior knowledge can help them read books in the future.

Accuracy

  • Blend sounds, stretch and read. If you’ve already gone over digraphs with your students and you think you’re ready for blends, this book is a good, authentic place to start for examples with blends both at the beginning or end of words. Look for words like bright, crab, clownfish, spiny, clean, crept, squished, dark, watery, among, very, years.

Behaviors That Support Learning

  • Stay in one place. Often, particularly at the beginning of the year, I’ve noticed students with many picture books in their bags will seek additional texts during independent reading time. This book would be a good one to use to point out how books can be reread repeatedly for different purposes. The student could focus on the structure of the story, the crab’s problem and subsequent solution, or the plethora of facts at the ned of the book

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!

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Book of the Week: How Animal Babies Stay Safe

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

How Animal Babies Stay Safe, by Mary Ann Fraser

You can see a Google Books preview of this book here.

Author/illustrator Mary Ann Fraser blogs pretty regularly. It’s always neat to see into an illustrator’s process, so you should check it out.

There is a lesson for first graders included with this mentor text. It includes suggested conversation ideas along with page numbers. The question prompts are also included as labels stuck to pages throughout the book. The included lesson focuses on these standards:

  • 1.5 Locates Information
  • 2.1 Comprehends important ideas and details
  • 2.1.2 Summarizes a simple text with guidance
A brief aside: WHY is it that when humans are featured as minor characters in a book about some totally different topic they are almost always straight-haired blonde/brunette white folks? This book was written in 2002. I wish there were more non-white characters in books that weren’t just about “issues.” See rad Michigan educator Colby Sharp’s views on this matter here.

Anyways. This book would work perfectly with The Bird Lady, a Level J guided reading text available in our bookroom. The information section in the back talks about what humans do when animals lose their support system, and Bird Lady is a critter rehabilitator.

There is also a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggested lessons:

Comprehension

  • Monitor and Fix Up. If you follow the lesson plan included, you will create a chart showing the different ways animals carry, protect, and provide shelter for their young. You can explain that this graphic organizer can help you monitor your comprehension — if you notice that you haven’t recorded anything in a page or two, there’s a chance that you missed some key information.
  • Recognize and explain cause and effect relationships. The book discusses many different actions that animals take to take care of their babies, all with the effect of keeping them safe. Talk with students about the idea that a cause (i.e. a crocodile putting her babies in her mouth) can also be an effect (A predator had to cause the crocodile to put the babies in her mouth in the first place). At the end of the book, Fraser talks about why it is that animals are so keen to protect their young. This could be used to explore the idea that although there are many smaller causes and effects in the book, they all fit under the overarching idea of protecting young animals.

Expand Vocabulary

  • Use prior knowledge and context to predict and confirm meaning. The lesson plan included in the book bag features a conversation about the word “instinct.”

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!

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Book of the Week: Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here, by Jean Craighead George

I suppose this post has a bit of a Christmas in July feel, seeing as how most of the country is crazy-hot and humid. If you need to cool down, you can preview the book here at Google Books. As you’ll learn, winter actually began June 21, according to Grandma’s character.

This book is written in a letter format, and I could see it working well with The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart. I also received a great tip from Ohio teacher Ms. LaCrosse that Jean Craighead George books are a pretty great resource for folks looking to integrate science into their literacy block.

Scholastic has leveling information, and a quick search brings up all sorts of resources connecting this book to the winter solstice.  I plan on using this with our weather unit this fall. There’s a Reading Rainbow episode called Snowy Day: Stories and Poems, and a good supplemental lesson plan with several other suggested books can be found here.

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:

Comprehension

  • Check for understanding. If you’ve been teaching students to stop every paragraph or page or so to check for understanding, this could be a good book to help them refine the strategy. The whole book is one letter, so you can’t really stop all the way at the end of the letter (this would be contrast to the multiple letters in The Gardener, because you CAN pause and check for understanding at the end of each letter in that book). But at the same time, if you stopped EVERY page, meaning could actually be LOST because there’s not much text on each page and you’d be pausing in your reading an awful lot.
  • Use text features (titles, headings, captions, graphic features). George has her author’s note right at the front of the book rather than buried at the end. Why do students think she made that choice? The author’s note is brief, clear, and interesting, so copying it for students for a shared read might be a good idea. There’s a master copy of the author’s note already in the book bag if you need it.
  • Use main idea and supporting details to determine importance. About once sentence is on each page, and each section of text is accompanied by a small image. How did the illustrator choose what creature or scene would be featured in that small image? Does it relate to the main idea of the page, or does it illustrate a supporting detail? Maybe break students into pairs and give each pair a different page of the book.

 

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking! You can find this text in the red bookroom bucket labeled realistic fiction or narrative nonfiction.

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!

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Book of the Week: A Hummingbird’s Life

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

A Hummingbird’s Life, by John Himmelman

I’ve been slowly processing the old mentor texts from the SFA Roots series, and I’m pretty excited to add these to our bookroom for several reasons:

  • Many of them are light on the text, making them perfect for primary read alouds.
  • Most sets have three or more copies, so an entire grade level team can plan their read alouds collaboratively if they so choose!
  • Quite a few of the books have a “sister text” pairing fiction with nonfiction, another powerful planning tool.

If you’re looking to celebrate the arrival of spring with a study of nature and/or of poetry, this website is a good place to start for some hummingbird-inspired poems.

There are no lesson plans included with this book. There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:

Comprehension

  • Use text features. Despite being narrative nonfiction and being such a basic book (its AR readability level is 2.3), A Hummingbird’s Life is chock-full of text features. There’s an info box at the front giving background information on the Ruby-throated hummingbird, a glossary, and an About the Author section.
  • Use main idea and supporting details to determine importance. Another great benefit of this text being so short is that you can copy the entire book onto a piece of chart paper, project it using document I’ve typed here, or give each student their own copy to mark what they believe are the main ideas.

Accuracy

  • Trade a word / guess a word that makes sense. Many primary science units (at least in our school district) are about animals, habitats, and ecosystems. Talk with students about how their familiarity with new vocabulary they’ve learned in their science unit can help them read accurately.

Behaviors that Support Reading

  • Increase Stamina. Because of the limited amount of text in this book, this might be a good book for young primary students to practice making it all the way through a read aloud without needing a body break.

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcomed! Please leave a comment if you’ve found this helpful!

A Hummingbird’s Life

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

A Hummingbird’s Life, by John Himmelman

I’ve been slowly processing the old mentor texts from the SFA Roots series, and I’m pretty excited to add these to our bookroom for several reasons:

  • Many of them are light on the text, making them perfect for primary read alouds.
  • Most sets have three or more copies, so an entire grade level team can plan their read alouds collaboratively if they so choose!
  • Quite a few of the books have a “sister text” pairing fiction with nonfiction, another powerful planning tool.

If you’re looking to celebrate the arrival of spring with a study of nature and/or of poetry, this website is a good place to start for some hummingbird-inspired poems.

There are no lesson plans included with this book. There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:

Comprehension

  • Use text features. Despite being narrative nonfiction and being such a basic book (its AR readability level is 2.3), A Hummingbird’s Life is chock-full of text features. There’s an info box at the front giving background information on the Ruby-throated hummingbird, a glossary, and an About the Author section.
  • Use main idea and supporting details to determine importance. Another great benefit of this text being so short is that you can copy the entire book onto a piece of chart paper, project it using document I’ve typed here, or give each student their own copy to mark what they believe are the main ideas.

Accuracy

  • Trade a word / guess a word that makes sense. Many primary science units (at least in our school district) are about animals, habitats, and ecosystems. Talk with students about how their familiarity with new vocabulary they’ve learned in their science unit can help them read accurately.

Behaviors that Support Reading

  • Increase Stamina. Because of the limited amount of text in this book, this might be a good book for young primary students to practice making it all the way through a read aloud without needing a body break.

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive criticism are always welcomed! Please leave a comment if you’ve found this helpful!

The Three Pigs

Our first Bookroom Book of the week is David Wiesner’s The Three Pigs. You can find it in the red Fables and Fairy Tales bin in the bookroom.

This book won the 2002 Caldecott award, and you can find out more about it from David Wiesner’s Web site here. You can even read his 2002 acceptance speech here.

The bag includes a lesson connected with Washington state EALRs 2.1.3: Connects previous experience and knowledge when reading. and 2.2.1 Finds similarities and differences in texts. Pages in the texts are marked with labels for suggested comprehension questions.

As with most of our bookroom books, you can find a CAFE menu highlighted in the bag. I saw several routes that lessons could take — please highlight others with your ideas! If you’d like a copy of the CAFE menu aligned to Washington state standards, one should be laminated and attached to the side of the bookshelf immediately inside the bookroom door.

Potential mini-lessons:

  • Retell the story (you could also have students make a plot grid where they compare and contrast the different versions of The Three Little Pigs. A great blackline master for book comparison is available on Appendix p. 30 in Guiding Readers and Writers by Fountas and Pinnell)
  • Use prior knowledge to connect with text
  • Recognize literary elements (genre, plot, problem/resolution, theme)
  • Reread text (particularly if students are reading several different versions of The Three Little Pigs)
  • Practice high-frequency words (and phrases — if you see a fairy tale that starts with “Once,” chances are you know that it will begin with “Once upon a time.” That’s how good readers can start reading in phrases instead of word-by-word.)

You can see how I used The Three Pigs as part of my David Wiesner author study here (to be posted Monday, 11/22/10).

When we read fairy tales or fables in class, my students inevitably ask, “But who wrote it FIRST?” They are often completely perplexed to discover there isn’t THE FIRST Aesop’s Fables or THE FIRST Cinderella that they can put their hands on. That’s why I think this site is so fantastic. It shows several “original versions” of The Three Little Pigs from across the globe.

You can also take the Fractured Fairy Tales route. Sometimes bookstores understand my brain so well that it’s scary. Here are Barnes and Noble’s suggestions.

Hope this was helpful! Let me know if any of these resources were useful in your class.

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