Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Gruffalo: Visualizing Details, Retelling and Free Writing Prompt!

"A gruffalo? What's a gruffalo?"
"A gruffalo! Why didn't you know?"

Let me introduce you to The Gruffalo, my new favorite book of forever. And I mean it. 

Here's the summary:
A mouse is taking a stroll through the deep, dark wood when along comes a hungry fox, then an owl, and then a snake. The mouse is good enough to eat, but smart enough to know this, so he invents...the gruffalo! As Mouse explains, the gruffalo is a creature with terrible claws, and terrible tusks in its terrible jaws, and knobbly knees and turned-out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of its nose. But Mouse has no worry to show. After all, there’s no such thing as a gruffalo... 

Before you begin reading, show your class the spread of pages in the book that shows the setting.

Activate schema by asking questions such as:
“Have you ever been in the deep, dark wood?”
“What animals live in the forest?”

Discuss the words predator and prey.

Show the cover of the book with the picture of the gruffalo covered.

Explain that as you read the first half of the book, the students should listen for clues that help them visualize what a gruffalo might look like. Read aloud until the gruffalo makes his first appearance.

Have the class help you make a chart similar to the one shown that lists the physical characteristics of the gruffalo.

Tell students to pretend that they have been asked to illustrate the book. How would they draw the gruffalo based on the clues given in the text? Provide time for students to draw and then share their illustrations.

For added fun, play the song from the audio recording of the book. (Available at audible.com. Click the image to go to the recording.)

You can also listen to the song with this youtube link:

Now reveal the gruffalo on your chart and have students compare their drawings with Axel Scheffler's gruffalo.

Read the entire book from start to finish!

During another read aloud time, use the illustrations to have the children practice inferring. Show the students the picture of one of the animals as it approaches the mouse (remember that predator/prey relationship!). Compare to the picture of the animal after Mouse describes the gruffalo. What facial expressions change? How do the animals' movements change from showing confidence to fear? Invite the students to practice making these actions.

These masks are a hit when it comes to retelling and dramatizing the story. Of course, you can use them when leading students through a reenactment. To increase the thinking-skill level, ask a student to choose a character mask. Then interview the character to find out what it was thinking at different points in the story. Click the image to download the masks from Early Learning HQ

We went out to the "deep, dark wood!"

This wonderful site also contains finger puppets, word cards, posters and more!

Here's another video worth sharing to your young readers and and writers. Julia Donaldson shares her drafts of the book. Then she delights her audience by singing the gruffalo song with Gruffalo himself!

Here's a picture of bridge maps we made. The analogies answer,
Where did the animals live?
What was the invitation from each animal?
How did each animal escape?
What did the mouse say to each animal that the gruffalo likes to eat?

Here's a story map.

I also worked with small groups of kids to sort word cards found on the same site as the masks, Early Learning HQ. This group decided to sort the words as they related to each of the characters. Watch the video as they justify their reasons for their sorts.


Finally, here is a writing prompt. I invited my kids to choose which one they wanted to write. The first asks them to describe the gruffalo. The second asks them to create their own new monster to describe. Get them here.

Leave a comment if you try any of these ideas!

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Teen Toppers

Do your kiddos have a hard time understanding teen numbers? Give Teen Toppers a try!

Here's an explanation about why they work...

Here's what included in each set:


Please leave a comment. I'd love to know what you think!
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bright Ideas: Planters as Paint Pots

When I worked for The Mailbox magazine, one of our most popular sections was "Our Teachers Write." It was simply quick tips from real teachers. (That was loooong before Pinterest or Instagram came about!) 

Anyway, I think that's why I like the Bright Ideas Link-Up so much. It's just fun to look at a big bunch of teacher tips. I know you'll find ideas to pin in this month's collection.

Here's my idea for April. This time of the year, you're likely to see small, inexpensive planters for herbs. I found this little set at a yard sale. This tray is just right for setting up a table for watercolor painting. I just fill small paper cups with water and put them in the pots. The try makes it less likely that the cups will tip over and spill on the masterpieces. You can see I've also used them for paint as well.

I'd be happy if you'd follow me on Facebook, Instagram or PinterestFor more bright ideas, please see the linky below. 

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Jump Into January: Moving with Action Words and Poetry Writing Frame

Jump into action words, seasons, observing details and poetry writing with this seasonal picture book! (Reminder: If you use Journeys, this book is in unit 3, lesson 11.) Here's a peek inside:

Get started by inviting your kids to talk about how the weather changes. How does the weather change every season? every month?

Make a bridge map that shows the action words and the months.

Get moving by acting out the rhymes.

Study the details in the illustrations. 
Look for the pattern in the text. Use the writing frames provided to write your own poems.

Display the poems or make a class book.

Scare into October,
Come along with me!
The people are bobbing for apples
—what can you see?

Slip into February,
Come along with me!
The hill is glazed with falling snow
—what can you see?

Get the writing frame here.

If you enjoy these ideas, please leave a comment.

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