Monday, June 22, 2015

Rosie's Walk Writing Prompt And More

Time to pull out a classic. Anything that has been around for longer than 40 years is a classic right? (I mean just look at me...)

So what makes this simple book an enjoyable read and useful teaching tool year after year?  Beginning readers can read the book, study the pictures, predict the outcomes, catch the humor....

Let's get started, shall we?

Rosie the hen goes for a walk around the farmyard but does not realize — or does she?! — that her every movement is being watched by the local fox.

During your first read of the book, pause to allow time for students to make predictions. As you revisit the book over several days, engage your students in discussions about the hen's actions, the fox's actions and how they are related (cause and effect). 

Look at the title pages carefully and review the sequence of the story. Point out that the scene is like a map of the story.

Partner Writing Prompt
To introduce this narrative writing activity, I copied the basic frame of the story onto chart paper. Then as a class we filled it in to create a new story with a different main character and a different setting. Click here to get your copy of this prompt.

Here's our second story we wrote as a class.

Next I paired strong writers with creative thinkers and asked them to come up with their own stories.

After writing and sharing their stories, the partners drew maps of their stories. We took our inspiration for this from the cover pages of the book.

Here is the work of two partnerships.

Emma Kate's Hike
Emma Kate went for a hike
across the hill
around the trees
over the puddle
past the leaf pile
through the log
under the thorn branches
and got back in time for dinner.
character: Emma Kate      setting: campground

Tamani's Walk
Tamani went for a walk
across the trees
around the TRex
over the mountain
past the cyratops
through the cave
under the spikasaurus
and got back in time for lunch.
character: Tamani     setting: dino jungle

When I display student work like this in the hall, I always add signs that explain our learning goals. Folks walking by just won't realize how much learning takes place in your classroom unless you point it out! These are the signs I posted with the partner work on display.


Finally I want to share a site Early Learning HQ that has some Rosie's walk picture/word cards you might find useful. 

If you enjoy these ideas and the writing prompt, please leave a comment.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Follow My Pinterest Boards for I Teach K!

Listen up! I have important messages for YOU in this post.

It's not too late to register to attend the I Teach K! in Las Vegas. You can even still save 10% on the registration fee.

I have my sessions ready for July 6 and I'd love to see you. Please come by to say hello and sing and dance and learn. 

I started a Pinterest board for all of my sessions. Even if you can't attend, you'll want to check all the great ideas I've collected. Be sure to follow!

You can also find me Tuesday morning, July 7th, hanging out with my favorite friends from ESGI at their booth.

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Saturday, May 30, 2015


Recently we bought a piece of furniture from IKEA and it came in a large, sturdy box. When  it was headed for the curve I begged my husband not to throw it away. "Why not?" he asked. "It's just a box." Kindergarten teachers—you and I know it was NOT JUST a box! So I made asked him to drag it to my classroom.

First of all, it was the tool for a group lesson in number combinations. We took turns getting in and out. The kids recorded the action with pictures and numbers in their math journals.

Next we read Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. 
We looked at the pattern of the book. For a shared reading experience, we alternated reading the brown pages or the red pages by teacher/students and boys/girls.

Finally, we drew pictures to create a new book. (Sadly, there is not a use your imagination. After all, that's what the book is all about!)

This is not a box. It is a camper.

This is not a box. It is a monster.
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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hats off to Jon Klassen! Inferring, Questioning, Writing Dialogue

Hats off to Jon Klassen for creating two amazing books! I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat look simple at first glance, but they are packed with possibilities for helping your kiddos infer, question, study details in illustrations and even write dialogue. 
What? My kids writing dialogue?
Yes, your kids can write dialogue.

Let's start with This Is Not My Hat, a 2012 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book
The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor-- and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke. (Summary from Candlewick Press.)

Day One: The Text
The first day we look at this book we focused on the text. Notice how the colors change depending on which character is speaking? My kids also realized that the text matches the color of the speaking character...until you get to the rabbit. They decided the rabbit's words are red because he is wearing the red hat.

When I read the book aloud, I sped up during the "confessions." Hmmm...we wondered if we've ever sounded like this when we were guilty!

We talked about why some of the text is in all capital letters. We decided as writers, we also could write in all caps sometimes when we wanted to show a strong emotion. Scroll down to see a child put this into action.

Day Two: Inferring and Making Connections
On the second day we read this book, we paused on the spread where the bear finds the rabbit and his hat. We wondered what each character was thinking and recorded ideas on this chart. 

Next we recorded some of the ideas side by side on a chart.

Writing Lesson
Here's the follow-up writing lesson. Each child drew two characters of his choice on a folded sheet of paper. We wondered what other animals or people might look at each other the way the rabbit and bear did in the book. What would they think in their heads or say out loud to each other? After drawing, each child shared with a partner what the conversation would sound like between the two characters on his page. 

Finally, I helped each child pick a different color of marker to represent each of his characters. You're going to love this child's writing! Notice his use of capital letters and punctuation. There's some humor here, as well, because the kids all know about my intense fear of the pet snake in our building.

Snake: I'm hungry. I want to eat you.
Mrs. G: aaaaaAAAAhhhhh! Wait. I'm so old. I don't think I'll be a tender snack.
Snake: OK. But I'm not making any promises.

 Next up, This Is Not My Hat, a 2013 Caldecott winner. 

When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . . . Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale. 
(Summary from Candlewick Press.)

I read this book aloud slowly and with suspense. There was an audible gasp from the kids when we got to these pages and they realized...the big fish ate the little fish. Awesome!

We revisted this book for several days. One day involved discussions about which characters did something wrong. And how about that crab? Maybe he didn't mean to not keep his word. Maybe he was intimidated by the big fish, they offered. 

One day we made a chart comparing the story in the pictures with the story in the words. What an a-ha moment when they realized it was a book of opposites. What the little fish thinks on every page is the opposite of what really happens.

My kids have really developed a skill for looking at the illustrations to justify their thinking. For example, they thought the little fish was going slowly because there were only a few bubbles, but that the big fish was swimming quickly because there were more bubbles. How did the big fish know where the little fish went? The bubbles from the little fish go up. Check out the eyes on the big fish. Slanted eyes from a predator are never a good sign!

Finally, why are there no more words after the seaweed page? Because the character telling the story is....GONE!

I hope your kids get as much out of these two books as mine did. Happy reading!

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