In Leaf Man she takes us on a journey with the title character and shows us all the flora and fauna that can be created using different combinations of leaves.
Can you find all four mice in this illustration from LEAF MAN by Lois Ehlert?
At the end of the book, Leaf Man settles down happily with a Leaf Woman, which always wins approval from my listeners. After we examine Ehlert’s clever cut-paper illustrations, students draw (or trace) and cut out their own selection of leaves and use them to design an original leaf collage. I show them an example that I created:
There are always a few students, though, that seem unsure how to begin the art project. Enter Labo Leaves!
This app provides students with digital leaves that they can drag into position to create leaf animals that burst into life when completed. What a great hands-on introduction to the possibilities of designing with leaves! See for yourself:
You can purchase Labo Leaves for ios ($1.99) or android ($0.99) and once you download the app you can use it without an internet connection. You can see other Labo apps here.
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
If you’ve seen the book Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, then you’re familiar with the concept behind this book which shows us what’s going on above and below ground in the garden. The book opens just as spring is arriving, melting the snow that covers last year’s garden, and the illustrations show how the garden grows and evolves throughout the year and explain the symbiotic relationship between the insects and animals that live and visit there. As always Messner’s writing says much in just a few well-chosen words, wrapping scientific facts in poetic prose, and additional information about each animal is provided in the end notes. (Bonus: Right now you can get the ebook version for only $1.99 on Amazon. I used the free Kindle Reading App on my desktop computer to share this book on my interactive whiteboard so no one would miss any of the details in Neal’s mixed media illustrations.) Be sure to share Over and Under the Snow by this duo next winter!
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin Stead
This young protagonist has had enough of winter’s endless brown (haven’t we all!) and with his faithful animal companions decides to plant an assortment of seeds to brighten his world. The pencil and woodblock illustrations provide us with small signs that spring is indeed coming, even though it seems as though nothing will ever happen in the brown dirt. Stead includes a nice peek below ground as well, which lends this book to comparison and contrast with Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt. (You could also share the spring poems from Fogliano’s book When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons.) Enjoy the book trailer:
Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin
In contrast to the planned gardens in our first two titles, this book focuses on the many ways seeds travel and take root without (intentional) assistance from humans. Solid science combined with lyrical language (including lots of onomatopoeia) make it a perfect choice for story time, and the soft colored pencil and watercolor illustrations give solitary readers much to examine. The page layouts create the effect of a nature sketchbook, and may inspire some readers to take a nature walk and record what they observe! (Includes a bibliography of related nonfiction titles.)
I don’t know about you, but I was REALLY ready for spring this year! As a result, I’ve been sharing picture books about spring with many of my classes, and we’ve been celebrating in our makerspace and STEAM lab with related activities. This week I used some springtime books that feature paper collage illustrations (I’m a huge fan of this type of art) and that inspired some paper cutting projects in my library:
Finding Spring by Carin Berger
It was love at first sight as soon as I laid eyes on this gorgeously constructed story of a little bear who can’t wait to experience his first spring. The soft collage illustrations have a slightly vintage feel, and it’s easy to empathize with Maurice’s impatient yearning for spring. And don’t miss Berger’s other cut-paper books, including Friends Forever which explores friendship in the context of changing seasons, and A Perfect Day which celebrates one magical snowy day in winter.
Sorting Through Spring by Lizann Flatt, illustrations by Ashley Barron
This book is part of the Math in Nature Series by this author/illustrator duo, and it features a full measure of onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme, and whimsical questions about animals and nature on every page. The math concepts covered include patterns, graphs, and probability, and the author has also included Nature Notes on the animals featured in the text.
I included some math cards based on these pages in my STEAM Lab, and students used manipulatives to recreate and solve them. You may also be interested in the Sorting Through Spring teacher guide.
These books take collage art to a whole new level, in that Fleming makes her own paper that she then uses to create her illustrations. There are plenty of spring pond and meadow animals to inspire young artists to depict their own colorful scenes, and wide variety of descriptive rhyming verbs on each double page spread to move the action along from early morning to late at night.
I wasn’t ambitious enough to try making paper with my classes, but I stocked my Creation Station with construction paper, scissors, glue sticks, crayons, and extra copies of these books. Here are some of the spring collages my 2nd grade students created:
Can you recommend some other spring books using collage art? Please share them in the comments, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune
I often use this blog as a place to “think on paper” and reflect on different aspects of my job. As the 2014-2015 school year draws to a close, I’m scratching my head and wondering where the year went! Robert Browning tells us that our reach should exceed our grasp, so I suppose it’s okay that I had more plans than I was able to implement this year. But in looking back over the ideas that did come to fruition, here are some of my favorites:
This year I celebrated International Dot Day: Make Your Mark with all of our 5th graders. I shared the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds on the Promethean board via Tumblebooks, and we discussed the importance of trying new things and giving yourself permission to experiment with new things. We then used Microsoft Paint to create digital dot art, which I displayed in the library and online.
Our 2nd graders practiced their research skills and their technology skills with our African American Biography Timelines. They learned how to use Encyclopedia Britannica Elementary (part of the SC DISCUS suite of databases) to gather facts and photos, then synthesized their information into an online timeline using the ReadWriteThink timeline tool.
We discovered some budding poets through our Found Poetry project with 4th grade. We examined various nonfiction print sources to create word banks of important facts, then used the elements of poetry to communicate the information in more lyrical ways.
The Quest teacher asked me to lead an Hour of Code with the gifted and talented students at my school and the other elementary school she serves. We used a Scratch project, and the kids astounded themselves with their results! “Wow, I’m really good at this!” (Those types of comments are music to my ears!)
My LOOK! NEW BOOKS! new book preview for teachers this year included a QR Code twist! Many of the new books on display in the library contained bookmarks with QR codes that teachers could scan to access additional teaching resources for using the books in the classroom. I created the codes with QR Code Monkey, which I really like because it allows you to upload a logo or photo as part of your code.
I created several technology tutorials for teachers using the free screencasting tool ScreencastOMatic. When I can’t provide assistance in person, a screencast video is the next best thing!
What did you try this year that was a hit with students or teachers? Tell us about it in the comments!
I always look forward to the Kindergarten unit on penguins. I especially enjoy using penguin webcams in the library so that we can watch them in action.
Screenshot of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Web Cam. Feeding Time!
The Monterey Bay Aquarium web cam is turned on from 7 am to 5 pm Pacific time each day, and shows the rocky habitat of their African blackfooted penguin exhibit. (If you tune in at other times it won’t be live; you will see highlight videos playing instead.)
Screenshot of one of the SeaWorld Penguin Cam views.
TheSea World (Orlando) webcampage offers a choice of three different views of their penguin habitat: above ground, shallow underwater, and deep underwater. You can also use their camera tool to take a picture of the penguins and share it via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, email, or one of several other options. I shared one of our photos to my Book-Based Activities Pinterest Board.
After spending a few minutes watching the penguins, taking pictures of them, and discussing the penguin facts they’ve learned, I read the book Penguins by Liz Pichon. This is the perfect book to follow up our webcam viewing because in it (as the cover hints) a group of zoo penguins discovers a camera one of the visitors dropped. They have a wonderful time taking pictures with it (“Say FISH!”) until a zookeeper discovers it the next day and takes it to the Lost and Found. Once re-claimed, the owner discovers some very puzzling and unusual photos!
Last page of PENGUINS by Liz Pichon.
Although the book is a bit anachronistic (the extra photos are discovered when the pictures are developed) the kids love the surprise at the end: a foldout of the snapshots the penguins took of themselves! I just substitute the word “printed” for the word “developed” and the kids are none the wiser.
I also like to play the song “Rock Hopper Penguin” from the CD Fins And Grins by Johnette Downing. It’s a great uptempo song that we can dance to – and when I say “dance” I basically mean “hop up and down until we’re too worn out to move” – before we check out books. (Click here to listen to a sample.)
My favorite non-fiction penguin books to use with Kindergarten classes are:
My 4th grade teachers were looking for some new poetry ideas for their students this month, so I suggested introducing them to Found Poetry. I was introduced to found poetry by author/poet Kami Kinnard at my state school librarians conference last spring. It basically involves reading nonfiction text on a topic, pulling out the important words and facts to create a word bank, and then using one of the elements of poetry (repetition, alliteration) or forms of poetry (free verse, haiku) to create a poem.
Teachers are bringing their classes to the library next week to research weather using books, magazine articles, online encyclopedias, and websites. Then some classes will create weather “shape poems” (their idea, which I love!) while another will use a “free verse” approach.
I recommended the following books as good examples of shape poems:
Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham explores light in all its forms, from reading lamps to moonlight to flashlights to campfires. (Hover over the image above to see clickable links for additional resources for this book.)
Doodle Dandies: Poems That Take Shape by J. Patrick Lewis (former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate) takes a more eclectic approach to the subject matter – with poems ranging from sports to seasons to animals – as well as with the mixed-media illustrations. (Hover over the image above to see clickable links for additional resources for this book.)
And I just discovered a book that explains Found Poetry in a kid-friendly way:
In this amusing book, Joe asks Santa — very specifically — for a real, live penguin. (There have been some misunderstandings with Santa in the past!) He is delighted to find exactly what he asked for under the tree on Christmas morning. But as the days wear on, he realizes that there’s a lot to taking care of a penguin that he hadn’t really considered.
So he writes Santa another letter, and fortunately the solution is easily arranged.
Before sharing the book, I asked the kindergarteners if they had asked for and received something for Christmas this year that wasn’t quite as much fun as they expected it to be. Sure enough, several raised their hands to shares tales of Transformers that were too difficult to transform (I could totally relate to that one!), electric scooters that were too hard to ride, and a remote control car with a mind of its own.
As we read about Joe’s struggles to do what was best for Osbert, rather than what Joe wanted to do, the kids shared some tidbits of information that they knew about penguins, which is nice preparation for the penguin unit they will begin in class later this month.
I should probably mention that there’s a sequel, too, although we didn’t read it this week. Maybe for Valentine’s Day!
For years teachers have been using wordless books to encourage creative writing with their students, but imagine putting a new spin on it by having students write dialogue and narration using a comic book format! It’s easy when you use speech bubble sticky notes, and the same book can be used over and over again.
The Red Book crosses oceans and continents to deliver one girl into a new world of possibility, where a friend she’s never met is waiting. And as with the best of books, at the conclusion of the story, the journey is not over!
Students could even use this as a starting point for writing their own graphic novel sequel to show what happens to the boy who finds the book at the end of the story!
“A little girl sees a shiny new bicycle in the shop window. She hurries home to see if she has enough money in her piggy bank, but when she comes up short, she knocks on the doors of her neighbors, hoping to do their yardwork. They all turn her away except for a kindly old woman. The woman and the girl work through the seasons, side by side. They form a tender friendship. When the weather warms, the girl finally has enough money for the bicycle. She runs back to the store, but the bicycle is gone! What happens next shows the reward of hard work and the true meaning of generosity.”
“A rainy day. Three kids in a park. A dinosaur spring rider. A bag of chalk. The kids begin to draw. . . and then . . . magic! The children draw the sun, butterflies, and a dinosaur that amazingly come to life. Children will never feel the same about the playground!”
The story of what happens when three children find a secret box that was hidden long ago, and travel across town and across time on a puzzling adventure. It’s up the the reader to interpret the ending, and to imagine what happens next.
Click here for additional teaching suggestions for this book.
“A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer’s vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves—and about life!”
“When a farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding in the barn, she is at once startled and frightened. But the stranger’s fearful eyes weigh upon her conscience, and she must make a difficult choice. Will she have the courage to help him?”
Here is Henry Cole “reading aloud” from the book. This is a great introduction to show students how to think about and interpret a wordless book.
If you’d like to purchase pre-cut speech bubble sticky notes, here are some that I found online:
Can you recommend another wordless book that students could use to write narration and dialogue? Please share it in the comments!
Note: When you purchase sticky notes or books
via the links in this post, I receive a small
commission (4%) from Amazon in the form of a gift card.
I use these gift cards to buy books for teachers
to use during special reading projects and celebrations.
Thanks for your support!
One of the ways I’ve shared technology with my teachers in the past is to email them a WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) to share an online resource that might be useful in the classroom. Starting today I’m resuming those emails, and I’ll be sharing the sites here as well. I’ve also created an archive of all the sites I’ve shared so far so that teachers can find a particular website without having to search through a list of emails.