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Chapter books anyone?

We love reading chapter books to our class.  If they are shorter chapter books in a series we read a few titles from the series.  We also go to see plays of the books we have read if possible.  For instance, this year we went to see "Nate the Great".  Although we have a few titles that we've read over the years, we would love some suggestions if you have some that you like. 

One of our favorite activities is reading to the children while they use wax to mold.  We give them the wax ahead of time to play with and get used to.  Before reading we ask the students to get inspired by what they hear in order to create something.  Usually they make one of the characters in the story or something from the setting.  At the end they share what they made.  Molding the wax not only works the muscles in their hands but it helps keep them focused on the story.  This is the first year we are doing this and our students LOVE it.  At first we heard some moans and groans because the wax is pretty hard but once they realized that it does soften after a while they really enjoyed it.

Here are a few of the books that we've enjoyed reading:

Lafcadio Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back by Shel Silverstein: The story of a lion who is turned into a famous circus star.  In the process of becoming more civilized he looses track of who he is and becomes increasingly unhappy.  By the end he doesn't even know if he is Toys Go Out lion or human.

Toys Go Out: Being the Adventures of a Knowledgeable Stingray, a Toughy Little Buffalo, and Someone Called Plastic by Emily Jenkins: The adventures in the daily life of three toys who belong to alittle girl.

Toy Dance Party Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkis: The sequel to "Toys Go Out".  In this book, the three friends are left behind when the little girl takes other toys on her vacation and they wonder how they will always have her love.

My Father's Dragon by  Ruth Stiles Gannett: The story of a boy who runs away to rescue a flying dragon on Wild Island.  With an alley cat by his side and a few "tools" such as My father's dragon lollipops and rubber bands, he goes against the beasts on the faraway island and frees the dragon. 

Pippi Longstocking Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren: Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another! (www.bn.com)  Nate the great

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat: Each book in this series follows Nate, who considers himself as one of  the greatest detectives, as he tries to solve a new mystery.

Please let us know what your favorites are so that we can add them to our list.  You may conatct us here or at naomi.alexandra.scholasticblog@gmail.com . Thanks you!


Fun activites for "The Mitten"

"The Mitten" by Jan Brett is a book that we read to our class every year during winter.  Not only is it a great story but it also lends itself to many related activities.  Here are a few...

  • Read and compare different versions of the story:  We read "The Mitten" by Jan Brett, "The Mitten" by Alvin Tresselt and "The Woodcutter's Mitten" by Loek Koopmans.  We discuss each version and then compare them.  We talk about predictions, patterns in the story and the illustrations, and elements such as characters, setting, problem, and solution.  We also made a Venn Diagram.

           The_mitten_jan           The_mitten_alvin         

  • Graph:  After reading all three versions of the story we graph which story we liked the most Mitten_graph and explain the reasons for our choice.  Usually the students base their choice on a particular character, the illustrations, or the ending of the story.
  • Dramatization:  We usually pick one of the versions and take turns acting it out in small groups.  We use a big blanket or sheet to represent the mitten.  Each year the children really enjoy this activity. 
  • Writing acticity:  Children illustrate and write what animal character they would want in their mitten or what ending they would give the story.
  • Felt mittens:  The children make a mitten by sewing together two felt cut-outs of a mitten.  Then they decorate the mitten with jewels, pompoms or other items.  They can fill the mitten with stuffing/cotton to make it look as big and stretched out as the one in the story.

                                     3d_mitten_2_2                    3d_mitten_1_2

  • Matching mittens:  We discuss what comes in pairs.  Then we partner children and they create a matching pair of mittens.  Each student gets a left or right paper mitten.  They take turns adding details and copying their partner.  The children have to communicate, work together and often help and/or teach each other in order to achieve their goal.  This has always been a very successful activity.

             Mitten2031          Mitten2041          Mitten2021           Mitten2011    

  • Sorting:  First we brought in mittens from home.  Then we did a secret sort where we took turns sorting the mittens while the group had to figure out the sorting rule.  One year we donated the mittens we collected to a school in rte neighbirhood along with a copy of "The Mitten" by Jan Brett.
  • You can find coloring pages, reproducible character masks and information on Jan Brett's "The Mitten" at her site

Please share with us any other activities you have done or seen related to this story or a story that you love. 

Favorite Children's Books for 2008

Although I LOVE children's books here are two of my favorites from the year 2008.  I think they are great both ofr their story and tehir illustrations.  I have also included some of the ways that we have incorporated them into our curriculum. 

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

Clip_image001_3  I absolutely love the fall when all the leaves turn color and fall to the ground.  This book has unique and beautiful illustrations to portray this process but the story is endearing also.  As the season changes and all the leaves fall off the tree swirling around, the little yellow leaf holds on.  It just doesn’t feel ready to let go and you wonder if it ever will.  But in the end it discovers that one other little leaf is left behind as it too experiences the same hesitations.  Together they decide to take the big leap. 

This book was written up in the Sunday Book Review of The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/books/review/Barringer-t.html

Connections to the classroom

  • We read this book during our study of fall along with a few other favorites.  We went to the park and looked for signs of fall and collected leaves and other items.  Then we each sorted our items. 
  • We picked a tree in the park that we decided we will visit and observe throughout the seasons.  We recoded our observations in our science journals and collected fallen leaves as samples. 
  • We also read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert which also has leaves swirling and flying around.  Then we made leaf creatures out off leaves.  This year we made them out of real-looking paper leaves that we ordered but in the past we have used real leaves.

Wave by Suzy Lee

Wave This is a beautiful wordless picture book about a little girl at the beach.  The story is touching simply because it is so familiar.  It brings back personal memories of days spent at the beach, looking at and playing with waves.  The illustrations are amazing.  Suzy Lee uses blue, grey and black to create simple yet stunning images. 

Connections to the classroom

(We haven’t used “Wave” yet because it is a recent discovery!)

  • We use a lot of wordless books when we introduce writing workshop.  At this age the children focus more on the pictures rather than the writing part of their stories.  I find that wordless books help them realize that books without words do exist and relieves the angst of having to put words down on the paper.  In addition, our writing focuses on simple, familiar things that happen in our lives and “Wave” is a wonderful example of that.
  • We use a lot of wordless books in our classroom, especially in the beginning of the year.  The great thing about them is that everyone can “read” them. 
  • We often use wordless books to model and practice how to read the pictures in order to tell or retell a story.  Since there are no words, the children really have to focus in on the illustrations for details that can enhance the story. Usually the illustrations manage to convey not only the story but also the emotions of the characters. 

Please share your favorite books with us wether old or new.  We always love to hear about great books.  Thanks!

Great "All About Me/Community Building" Books

Weaving diversity into our everyday lives is essential for my teaching team. We try to build a safe and happy community in the classroom by celebrate diversity and promote learning about and from one another from day one of the school year. We believe that we need to start from a young age in order to help create a world free of bias and discrimination. We aspire to help our children become individuals who believe in themselves and are advocates for themselves while at the same time respect others. Below is a list of "all about me" books that I enjoy reading to my class to help reach that goal.

  • The Colors of Us by Karen Katz

I really love this book. It is the story about a little girl who, in her efforts to complete a picture, discovers that EVERYONE is a shade of brown.

This is another favorite of mine. It talks about children being endless shades of all the colors of the earth: bears, seashells, cinnamon, caramel, sand, etc.  If you want an activity to go with this book here is one that I found on the Scholastic website: Activity

  • I’m Like You, You’re Like Me by Cindy Gainer        In the first part of this book children point out ways in which they are similar or different and ways. Then they discuss ways behaviors that can aid people to feel accepted and get along.
  • Two Eyes, a Nose, and a Mouth by Roberta Grobel Intrater (Scholastic)       The pictures in this book are great!. Actual photos of people from around the world are used to illustrate the variety of facial features. The text is simple but the message that diversity should be celebrated is clear. This is another book with very interesting illustrations. The author takes us around the world to show that although children speak different languages, live in different places, and have different lifestyles, they are all the same inside.
  • It’s ok to be different by Todd Parr       Our students love the bright colors and funny images in Todd Parr’s books. The story is easy to read and the author’s message comes across in a very child friendly fun way.
  • Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pikney (Scholastic)       This book celebrates being black and proud. Every time I read it to my students they are always surprised at the diversity that can exist within one race. It is another book with actual pictures of real people.  If you want an activity to go with this book here is one I found on the Scholastic website: Activity
  • I like me by Deborah Connor Coke       A little girl points out things she likes about herself. I like this book for two reasons. The character talks about things that most children can relate too: arms that give hugs, ears to hear stories, eyes that see shapes in the sky, ideas to share, etc. Also the main character is African-American and I find that there are not enough books out there portraying a diversity of children.
  • A bad case of stripes by David Shannon (Scholastic)      My students LOVE this story about a girl who is so worried about everyone’s opinion she loses sight of who she really is. She begins to transform into everything and anything others call her. If you want an activity to go with this book here is one I found on the Scholastic website: Activity
  • I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont (Scholastic)      The main character in this book is an African-American girl who talks about all the reasons she appreciates herself!
  • I Like Me by Nancy Carlson (Scholastic) This is another book about feeling good about oneself. The main character is a pig!

If there are any books on this topic that you enjoy using please share their titles with us.


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Inside Naomi & Alexandra's Kindergarten Classroom are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.