Big Plans!

Have you got Big Plans for your students this year?

big-plans-by-bob-shea  I started the school year off sharing the book Big Plans by Bob Shea, illustrated by Lane Smith with my library classes.  It’s a perfect choice for many reasons, not the least of which is because there is so much for kids to notice in the illustrations!

bob-shea-and-lane-smith

Image courtesy of Publishers Weekly.

We begin (as I always do when sharing a picture book) by examining the end papers for clues to the story.  It won’t be until we read about the football game that some observant student will exclaim “It’s the end papers!” upon seeing the “crowd” background, and then the hunt is on for more callbacks to the opening double-page spread showing our protagonist sitting in time-out in his classroom.  (A brief glance at the chalkboard will reveal why!)  Showing no remorse at all, he seizes this opportunity to envision himself conquering the worlds of business, sports, politics, and space travel on his way to world domination.

Layout 1

By the time we get to the last page of the book the kids are falling all over themselves to tell me how all the illustrations fit together, and how the hero of the story has been inspired by all the things around him in his classroom.  The myna bird sidekick adds a “Where’s Waldo” element to the illustrations, and the book ends with one last tidbit of information to share: The book was designed by Molly Leach, who is – wait for it – married to Lane Smith!  This revelation simply BLOWS kids’ minds, and provides a perfect opportunity to discuss a largely unknown (among elementary students) job in the publishing world.

big-plans-spread

Be prepared when reading this book aloud to “go big or go home” because this guy has BIG PLANS!  BIG PLANS I SAY! and you have to read it like you mean it!  Shea’s word choice, repetition, and larger-than-life story line cry out for a no-holds-barred presentation!  And it leads right into a discussion of my enthusiasm for the big plans I have for the students this year, and how I hope that the things they see and do in the library will inspire them to start forming big plans of their own.

Take a look inside BIG PLANS at the Amazon website.

Kudos to Bob, Lane, and Molly for giving us such a fun, wacky, inspirational book!

 

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Labo Leaves App for Leaf Collages

I just found out about Labo Leaves, an app that will fit perfectly into my annual “Fall Leaves” lesson plan!

Fletcher Falling Leaves Lucky Leaf Read Leaf Yellow Leaf Leaf Man

Along with the books Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson and Lucky Leaf by Kevin O’Malley, I always share Red Leaf Yellow Leaf and Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’m drawn to books that feature collage illustrations, and Ehlert is a master of this art form.

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.

Leaf Man spread

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:

1-Leaf GirlThere are always a few students, though, that seem unsure how to begin the art project.  Enter Labo Leaves!

Labo LeavesThis 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.

Too bad autumn is still five months away!

 

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Spring Garden Books and Activities

Previously I wrote about some of my favorite, fabulous spring collage-art books, but last week we explored seeds and gardens in the library so I wanted share those titles too:

up in the garden  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  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  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.)

      Wild Garden spread   Wild Garden page

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt was our inspiration for these garden pictures, created by some of my 1st graders:

7-garden art 4   5-garden art 1   6-garden art 3

I hope you’ll share your favorite garden books in the comments, or tweet me at @LibraryLoriJune

 

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Spring Collage Books and Activities

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  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.

Finding Spring spread(Note: Be sure to visit Carin Berger’s website; the splash page is delightfully clever!)

 

Sorting Through Spring  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.

Sorting Through Spring pageI 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.

 

In the Small Small Pond  In the Small Small Pond written and illustrated by Denise Fleming

In the Tall Tall Grass  In the Tall Tall Grass written and illustrated by Denise Fleming

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.

In the Small Small Pond spread

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:

3-spring collage 3   4-spring collage 4

1-spring collage 1   2-spring collage 2

Can you recommend some other spring books using collage art?  Please share them in the comments, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

 

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Creating Spine Poetry

Until I sat down to create my first book spine poem (a unique poetry form made popular by Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes) I didn’t really know what was involved in creating one.  Now that I’ve written one myself, I’ve learned that there’s more going on with book spine poetry than meets the eye!
I’m sure the creative process is different for everyone, but in my case wandering around the library staring at row after row of titles (my first approach) DID NOT result in a stack of books that formed a poem.

Wandering around the library and catching sight of The Long  Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder did spark the idea for my poem, but once I settled on a topic it took at least a dozen OPAC title searches to come up with a list of 15 or 20 promising books.  (I searched for snow, cold, frozen, winter, snowfall, blizzard, sleet, icy, windy, storm, snowfall, chilly, and spring, and those are just the words I remember looking up.)  Then I went and found each book on the shelf, and finally I arranged and rearranged them to create my poem.

book spine poem

The Long Winter by Lori June
Click to Enlarge

Think about that:  Choose a topic.  Develop a search strategy.  Perform the searches.  Write down the titles and call numbers.  Locate the books on the shelf.  THAT’S AN ENTIRE LIBRARY SKILLS LESSON DISGUISED AS A FUN POETRY WRITING ACTIVITY!  I am getting a jump on National Poetry Month and trying this with my 5th graders this week.  Here are some photos of some of the students stacking and arranging their books:

spinepoetry2      spinepoetry1

Have you done spine poetry with your students?  Please leave me a comment; I’d love to hear about it!

Images:
SML Books / 20090903.10D.52431 / SML‘  Found on flickrcc.net
Bookshelves Elsewhere‘ Found on flickrcc.net

 

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