Monday, June 27, 2011
The Classroom Bookshelf will return with new posts in mid-August. We hope you've found our blog to be helpful and that you and your students have enjoyed many of the books we've posted about throughout the year. Now it's time to take our own summer hiatus to reflect, recharge, and research more titles to share with you come fall. We can still be reached via email over the next few months if you wish to contact us. In the meantime, rest, relax, and enjoy the summer. We'll see you again soon!
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Written and illustrated by Hervé Tullet
Translated by Christopher Franceschelli
Published by Chronicle Books, 2011
ISBN # 978-0-8118-7954-5
In an educational climate that emphasizes content standards and testing, Hervé Tullet offers a refreshing and brilliant reminder of what reading can do – arguably what is supposed to do – for kids. Open the deceptively unassuming cover of Press Here and follow the directions to unleash the creative and practically magical power of a reader’s imagination. “Press here,” the book begins, indicating a simple, bold yellow dot on an ordinary white page. What happens next – and throughout the book – is just as entrancing as any iPad, video game, or flashy toy. The dot multiplies. Then, those dots change color. Then, they leap across the page, inflate to gigantic proportions, turn out the lights, and perform numerous other incredible acts as readers continue to follow the words and interact with the book. As in his other books, Tullet presents straightforward text with a gentle, cheerful, and captivating tone. The vibrantly painted dots in primary colors dance throughout the book, highlighting the aesthetic pleasure of simplicity. But the real star of the book is the impalpable power of imagination that effortlessly entices readers of all ages to believe that interacting with words and images on a page can still perform amazing feats.
- The Power of Imagination. Press Here taps into readers’ imagination to make the dots come alive. What other seemingly ordinary objects can our imaginations transform? Give students a range of everyday items – spoons, blocks, key rings, etc. – and tell them that they must use their imagination to make them come alive or to turn them into completely different things. Encourage them to be as creative as possible and work together to come up with ideas. Have them play with, draw, and write about the newly transformed objects and showcase them for their classmates. You may also want to read aloud some of the books or visit some of the art and imagination websites listed in the Further Explorations section below to help spur students’ creativity.
- Interactive Read-Aloud. Press Here lends itself to many ways of being read aloud in class, especially to support students' kinesthetic learning and embodied engagement with books. One way is to enlarge the pages on a document camera or overhead projector and have students press the dots projected on a screen. Another way is to give each student a card of yellow, red, and blue dots. Each time you read aloud a new direction, have students carry it out on the cards they hold. Still another way is to have students act out the parts of the dots as you read aloud the text.
- Fluency and Prosody. Tullet uses words, phrases, and sentences that speak directly to readers in varying tones. Use shared reading techniques to help students practice their fluency (reading aloud with accuracy and proper speed) and prosody (reading aloud with proper rhythm, intonation, and stress of speech).
- Second Person Narration. Press Here directly addresses the reader through second person point of view. Second person is the least common perspective used to narrate texts, but it is often the most captivating for children. Have students try writing a story or revising an already written one using the second person point of view. Make sure to discuss with them why an author might want to use the second person point of view and what effects it has on audiences. Share other texts written in the second person to deepen their understanding of this literary element, such as Choose You Own Adventure Books or excerpts from Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Desperaux and Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
- Press Here as Mentor Text. Help students brainstorm ideas for their own interactive books. Study how Hervé Tullet uses direct, encouraging language to address readers and simple yet vibrant artwork to capture their attention. There is much room for creativity here, and you might want to share other books by Tullet as examples. When the class finishes constructing their books, celebrate them with a publishing party or have students share them with children in younger grades.
- Evolution of Texts. Explore the forms that a “text” has taken over time. Explore cave paintings, cuneiform tablets, papyrus scrolls, and the medieval codex. Watch the YouTube video listed in the Further Explorations section below about the evolution of books. Read Lane Smith’s It’s a Book, which offers amusing commentary on the state of texts in a digitally driven world. How did each of these forms change the way people shared both stories and information? We still write on walls. We “scroll” through a webpage. What has stayed the same? Conclude your exploration with a picture book app. Considering what Tullet has done with Press Here, where do you believe books are headed?
Hervé Tullet’s website
Press Here book trailer
ABCya.com – free online educational games to inspire creativity and artistry
Imagination Factory – lots of links and ideas for creating art with everyday recyclable objects
ARTSEDGE: The Kennedy Center’s Arts Education Network
The Evolution of the Book
The Caves of Lascaux from Lascaux, France
Cuneiform and “The Epic of Gilgamesh” from The British Museum
Egyptian Papyrus Scroll from The British Museum
Medieval Codex - Images from The Pierpont Morgan Library
Cottin, M. (2008). The black book of colors. Ill. by R. Faria. Toronto, ONT: Groundwood Books.
- An amazing atypical book that makes readers experience colors with their fingers instead of with their eyes.
- Follow a perfect square’s adventures as it transforms in shape and size.
- A clever and vibrant book that explores the relationship between colors and emotions.
- Little Vashti believes she can’t draw until her teacher advises her to just make a mark and see what happens.
- This wonderful picture book celebrates turning everyday spills and accidents into imaginative and extraordinary things.
- An amusing picture book with entertaining commentary on the state of books in the digital age.
- A charming picture book about the ways children engage with books.
- Another interactive book whose bossy main character will surely delight children.
- The sweet and comical duo Elephant and Piggie turn their attention to the child who is reading the book.
- Like Press Here, this board book directly asks readers to perform actions to their delight.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Planting the Wild Garden
Written by Kathryn Osebold Galbraith and Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin
Published in 2011 by Peachtree. ISBN. 978-1-56145-563-8
Beginning with the familiar concept of gardeners planting seeds in rows, Kathryn Osebold Galbraith’s nonfiction picture book extends children’s understanding of how plants spread and grow in wild areas, featuring different means of seed dispersal. The poetic text makes wonderful use of onomatopoeia, dramatizing the roles that wind, plant structure, animals, water and people play in helping seeds to travel to new locations in which to grow. “Under the afternoon sun, the pods of the Scotch broom grow hot and dry. Snap! Snap! Out pop their seeds, like popcorn from a pan.” Equally engaging are Wendy Halperin Anderson’s watercolor images. Double page spreads feature larger images from the text that are surrounded by small squares. The images in the small squares relate to the larger images and expand a detail, show change over time, or incorporate varying perspectives. This is a beautiful book from all angles – the creative use of language, images, and book design, including wonderful seed strewn end paper all invite multiple readings and multiple opportunities to learn about the wonderful interconnectedness of the natural world.
Grades PreK – 2
- Seed Collection and Shared Writing. Go on a seed hunt! Take a walk around the school yards, on a nearby trail, or in a local park to collect different types of seeds. If this is not possible, invite families to hunt for seeds to send in to school. Identify each seed and talk about how the seed might travel to a new location. Work together to compose a class big book featuring information about the seeds that you have found. Be sure to make the seeds you have collected part of the illustrations for the book.
- Pocket Chart Matching. Use the websites below to find and print out images of different types of seeds. Create symbols or use words to represent the different ways that seeds travel: wind, water, animals, people. Place the seed images and methods of travel cards in a pocket chart and invite your students to match each seed up to a method of travel. Ask students to talk about how the characteristics of the seed (shape, size, texture) provide clues as to how they are likely to travel.
- Dramatic Play. Invite students to try out the movement of different seeds. You could do this with a rereading of Planting the Wild Garden, asking students to demonstrate the movements described in the text. You might even choose to create a brief play about seed dispersal. Students could make large images of seeds to wear as costumes, co-write a script, plan movements, and then perform their informative play for an audience.
Grades 1 – 8
- Onomatopoeia / Figurative Language in Nonfiction. In Planting the Wild Garden, Galbraith makes frequent use of onomatopoeia (sound words) and similes and metaphors for poetic effect. April Pulley Sayre also uses this technique in Trout are Made of Trees as does JoAnn Early Macken in Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move. Collect examples of onomatopoeia and similies or metaphors from these and other nonfiction texts. Invite students to try out this technique to enliven their own nonfiction writing.
- Comparing Nonfiction Texts / Examining Author’s Choices. Read Planting the Wild Garden along with Seeds by Ken Robbins and Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move by JoAnn Early Macken, two additional picture books that discuss seed dispersal. As you read the texts, ask children to identify important pieces of information (what they are learning) and list their responses on chart paper. Discuss the variations on the content that appear across the texts. Talk about the choices that author’s make as they write; nonfiction writers must select which content related to their chosen topic to include and they make choices about how to organize and present the information. You could also discuss how each of these authors have chosen to begin and end their texts. Be sure to also include a discussion of the role of the illustrations and photographs in these picture books.
- Seed Art. In the links below, you’ll find a YouTube video in which an artist describes her process of creating images with seeds. Ask parents to send in different types of dried beans and rice and ask students to collect seeds around the school yard and at home so that students can try this method of artistic expression.
- Life Cycles / Relationships in an Ecosystem. Galbraith concludes Planting the Wild Garden by noting the role that we all play in creating and sustaining our environment. Pair this text with April Pulley Sayre’s Trout are Made of Trees to bolster a discussion of interrelationships in an ecosystem.
- Multiple Images / Perspectives. Wendy Anderson Halperin’s illustrations for this nonfiction picture book are unique and fascinating. Take some time to study these pictures with your students. Use a document camera to project the images if you have one available to you. Students will notice that Halperin frequently uses a large image related to the text surrounded by small square images that expand a detail and incorporate various perspectives. Invite your student to try this technique either with drawings or with digital images. Students might especially enjoy using digital cameras (perhaps the camera built into the iPad2) to juxtapose images of a single object, related objects, or objects in different stages from many different angles. Popplet Lite is a free app that would facilitate this creative process. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/popplet-lite/id364738549?mt=8
Grades 3 – 8
- Invasive Species. As the text suggests, people play a role in encouraging the growth of plants in new locations. Sometimes this is accidental, as in the case of hitchhiker seeds, but sometimes, it is through deliberate cultivation efforts. Sometimes this is beneficial for the environment, and sometimes the movement of one species of plant to a new location can be harmful. Learn more about invasive species and their impact by visiting the National Invasive Species Information Center online. Invite a local ecologist to visit your classroom to discuss the impact of invasive plant species in your area. Invite your students to express what they have learned in the form of a nonfiction picture book that uses the power of image and language as an advocacy tool.
Author Website: Kathryn Osebold Galbraith
Illustrator Website: Wendy Anderson Halperin
The Great Plant Escape: All About Seeds
Science of Gardening
Seed Dispersal: How Seeds Spread
The Sustainable Table
The Edible Schoolyard
Farm to School
Seed Art: You Tube
Images of Seeds: Seed Dispersal
Nature on PBS: The Seedy Side of Plants
The Wonder of Seeds
National Invasive Species Information Center
In addition to the titles listed here, be sure to draw from the wonderful listing of additional titles in the back matter of Planting the Wild Garden.
Henderson, K. (2008). And the good brown earth. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
- While Gram carefully cultivates her garden patch, Joe scatters his seeds to the wind. They return from a vacation to find both gardens flourishing in different ways.
Macken, J.E. (2008). Flip, float, fly: Seeds on the move. Ill. by P. Paparone. New York: Holiday House.
- Poetic text and precise illustrations enhance this presentation of seed dispersal.
Richards, J. (2002). A fruit is a suitcase for seeds. Ill. by A. Hariton. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press.
- An illustrated description of how fruits serve as a vehicle for seed dispersal.
Robbins, K. (2005). Seeds. New York: Atheneum.
- This survey text describing seeds and seed dispersal methods includes fascinating close up photography of plants and their seeds.
Sayre, A.P. (2008). Trout are made of trees. Ill. by K. Endle. Cambridge, MA: Charlesbridge.
- This intriguing title focuses on the life cycle of the trout while highlighting the interrelationships of an ecosystem.
Wellington, M. (2005). Zinnia’s flower garden. New York: Puffin.
- Zinnia plans and plants a beautiful flower garden, sharing the fruits of her labors at a roadside stand. Images in the border help to describe the life cycle of a flower.
Wallace, N.E. (2004). Seeds! Seeds! Seeds! New York: Marshall Cavendish.
- Buddy Bear receives a packet of seeds in the mail from his grandmother and consequently learns all about seeds and how they grow.
Monday, June 6, 2011
- Tracing Connections. In March of this year, while speaking in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Kevin Henkes said that each book leads to the next. Have your students examine the picture books A Good Day, Old Bear, and My Garden. What connections do they make, in Henkes’s artwork, stories, or themes, to Junonia?
- Making Predictions. Each chapter starts with a blue sketch, rendered by Henkes. Have children predict the role the sketched item might have in the chapter and why that specific item was chosen for the chapter sketch. The book trailer (see below) features Henkes talking about these illustrations.
- Exploring Families in Henkes’s Work. Historically, many children’s novels feature child protagonists acting on their own; indeed, many older children’s novels have orphans at their center. Do parents always need to fade into the background? Should they? In Henkes’s novels, they usually don’t, and Junonia is no exception. While your students read Junonia, or when they are done, read aloud from two of Henkes’s previous novels, Sun and Spoon or The Birthday Room, in which the male protagonists are ten and twelve respectively. What role do parents play? In what ways are the main characters left on their own to work their worries, grief, or growing pains? In what ways do the parents serve as sounding boards, mentors, and companions?
- Family Rituals. For much of the novel, Alice must adjust to unexpected changes to a cherished family tradition. What are some of your students’ family traditions? What makes them special? Who participates? Have they experienced unexpected changes, too? Have students write about these special rituals and compile the reflections in a class book.
- Gift Giving. In Junonia, Alice receives many gifts that aren’t purchased, that she cherishes all the same: gelato spoons collected during an Italian vacation, old coins, a seashell on a string necklace, and a sand heart constructed on the beach, decorated with shells and sea glass. Have students share stories about special gifts that they have given or received that didn’t involve buying something. What makes these gifts so special?
- Rarity. On page 163, Alice wonders “what made something rare.” Explore some of the online resources below to uncover why finding junonia shells on Sanibel Island is so rare that each person who does gets his/her picture in the local paper! Next, have students list what they consider “rare” in their lives, and ponder why those items are valued.
- Finding Family. There are many Florida friends whom Alice considers family, although they are not actual family members, including her special “Aunt” Kate, and “[t]hey didn’t exactly look like they all belonged together the way some families did.” In today’s world, it is likely that families find themselves living apart from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. How do families keep in touch in the digital age? What friends serve as substitute extended family? Have your students create family trees that include both actual family members and friends that feel like family.
- A field guide for identifying shells.
- Protagonist Rob discovers a caged tiger in the woods behind the Florida hotel in which he lives with his father. Rob, with help from his new friend Sistine, work to free the tiger and wind up rebuilding their lives in the process.
- Skeet discovers a dead manatee in a Florida river, and devotes his spring break to finding out who is responsible.
- Thirteen-year-old Ben, like Alice, makes new discoveries about himself and his family while on vacation in Florida.
- Noah and Abby, brother and sister, secretly gather evidence that a floating casino is illegally polluting water in the Florida Keys.
- Upon moving to Florida, Roy befriends with a brother and sister team determined to stop the construction of a pancake restaurant on the habit of burrowing owls.
- It’s 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression, and eleven-year-old Turtle must readjust to living in Key West, Florida, with relatives she’s never met.
- This novel of friendship and camaraderie also includes wonderful scenes of sea turtles set on Florida beaches.