Written and photographed by April Pulley Sayre
Published in 2015 by Beach Lane Books
“Raindrop spangles mark angles. They cling to curves and cover cocoons. Raindrops settle. They slip. They dot. They drip.” In this photo-illustrated nonfiction poetry book, acclaimed author April Pulley Sayre captures the beauty and wonder of rain, raindrops, and the water cycle. Composed of photos taken during and immediately after rainstorms, each page vibrantly celebrates the bright colors that appear and the small creatures that take cover when it rains. Sayre invites us to linger on each page noticing new details with each repeated reading. The sparse text shared in two or three-word phrases feels like raindrops that plop down and land in different places with each turn of the page. The back matter includes additional information cleverly titled a “splash of science” that invites us to learn even more about water in all of its forms through the water cycle. Raindrops Roll mindfully frames rain as a natural wonder worthy of close attention and will inspire students to get out their galoshes and take notice of the world before them, especially in April or during any rainy season.
Teaching Ideas / Invitations for Your Classroom:
Dramatic Presentation. The poetic text of Raindrops Roll lends itself to dramatic interpretation, either as a choral reading or as a play where students become the sky, clouds, rain, and wildlife featured in the photographs of the book. Use recyclables such as paper towel rolls and fill them with rice to create rainmakers to add sound to the presentation. Consider partnering with your music teacher to add musical accompaniment in the form of tambourines, egg shakers, and other hand held instruments to add rain-inspired sounds. Work with students to practice using their voices and bodies to create their dramatic reading of the text. Where should their voices whisper or get loud? Why? Add student created artwork or photographs to serve as a backdrop. Consider a public performance for families or the school community.
Closely Reading the World and the Words. Grab your rain boots and get out the umbrellas to support your students to closely read the world after a rainstorm. Encourage them to notice how the rain collects on leaves, flower petals, and blades of grass. Notice the kinds of birds and other wildlife that come out after the rain has passed. Look up and observe changes to the color of the sky. Have your students use digital cameras or tablets to capture what you find up close. Print or project the images and add simple descriptions using Sayre’s pages as a mentor text for your own class photo book or slideshow. After closely reading the world, support students to closely read Raindrops Roll by reading like a writer. What do they notice about her choices with layout? How does she vary the way the text is spread across the page? What do they notice about her word choice and the cumulative effect on them as readers?
Wordplay: Alliteration and Rhyming. Sayre makes ample use of alliteration and rhyming to create a stream of words across the pages using simple two- and three-word phrases that feel like raindrops, or maybe word drops. “Rain waters…and washes…and weighs down… [Raindrops] magnify…and mingle…and moisten.” “Rain plops. It drops. It patters. It spatters.” Pair Raindrops Roll with George Ella Lyon’s All the Water in the World in a duet text set comparing and contrasting their use of alliteration and rhyming. Invite your students to revisit a piece of writing that they are working on in order to add some alliteration and/or rhyming to their text. As you read other texts in the course of your classroom work in the weeks that follow, note how other authors have employed alliteration and rhyming in their writing. Keep a running list of effective examples.
Nonfiction Poetry. The genre of nonfiction poetry is a way to introduce students to new topics and information through memorable uses of language. Study the genre of nonfiction poetry as a class. Explore others works of April Pulley Sayre’s including Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant and Here Come the Humpbacks as well as the works of other nonfiction poetry writers such as Douglas Florian and Joyce Sidman. Discuss the techniques used by these poets to convey their nonfiction content. Invite your students to try their hand at writing nonfiction poetry using the craft techniques of these poets.
Behind the Scenes Secrets. Want to know what the big heart-shaped leaf is on the inside cover? It’s from a Redbud tree that April Pulley Sayre planted. Did you find the hidden creature on pages 37-38? On her website, April Pulley Sayre has created a blog post that reveals more about each photograph in the book. Sayre’s descriptions on her page invite readers to learn more by researching the wildlife she has so beautifully captured.
Rain and Water Text Set. The topics of rain and water are central to an understanding of environmental sustainability. Read-aloud other texts across genre that explore these topics in a variety of ways including Rain SchoolTeaching with Text Sets
A Splash of Science. The back matter of Raindrops Roll includes Sayre’s informational descriptions of the power and beauty of water and the water cycle. Sayre’s penchant for lyrical language makes this scientific read that much more memorable including sections on how rain patters and spatters, how raindrops cling, how raindrops magnify, and how they reflect, fill and spill. Finally, she concludes by describing raindrops inside us. Even her listing of additional resources is framed as an invitation to “splash around in more water science.” Read the back matter with students and consider the ways in which Sayre’s use of language contributes to memory creation. Use the back matter as a mentor text for informational writing. Support students to use her craft techniques such as repetition of words in headings and rhyming within headings to make their informational texts even more appealing to their readers.
Water as Power. Consider with students the ways that we are shaped by rain or lack thereof. In what ways is water necessary for life? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that people who live in areas experiencing drought have access to clean and affordable water? Pair Raindrops Roll with select news articles on the drought in California such as newsela.com’s or National Geographic’s coverage. Further student understanding of these informational texts with a viewing of the 2011 animated film Rango about a pet chameleon who arrives in a fictional Western town in need of water.
Kids Geo Rain Site
Science Kids Rain Facts
United States Environmental Protection Agency Water Site
United States Geological Survey Water Science School:
Water Conservation for Kids
Water: Use it Wisely
Weather WizKids Rain and Floods Site
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Kerley, B. (2006). A cool drink of water. Washington, DC: National Geographic Children’s Books.
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