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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Press Here to Follow Up on Dot Day

We had a great time celebrating International Dot Day last month by reading the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds and creating our own “dot” art.  We also had some great discussions about creativity and trying new things and believing in yourself.  I want to keep repeating that message for my students all year, so I decided to follow up this month with the book Press Here by Herve Tullet.

Press Here

Since the illustrations in Press Here are composed entirely of dots (circles) in different sizes, shapes, and configurations, the book is a perfect reminder of our Dot Day activities.  We begin with a discussion of different devices that use touchscreens (including our Promethean boards at school), and I wonder aloud if touching a book’s pages could work the same way that a tablet or phone screen does.  Then I show the students the cover of Press Here and tell them that we are going to try it with this book and see what happens.

I allow each student to interact with one page of the book, pressing or rubbing or tapping or blowing or clapping according to the instructions, and I truly can’t overstate how thrilled and amazed they are when they see the results!!  Each turn of the page is greeted with shouts of delight and awe as, just when they think they can predict what will happen next, Tullet throws them a curve ball with his inventive designs and surprises them all over again.

press-here-illustration

But it’s not enough to be mere consumers of all this creativity!  I want my students to be makers as well, so the next step is to create our own interactive book.

Each student is given a sheet of white paper and asked to create a page for the book by drawing an original dot picture (complete with instructions) on one side, and a picture on the other side of the paper showing what happens when the reader follows the directions.  Then we fasten the pages together so that each page turn reveals a surprise.  Behold some of their ideas:

Cliff

Michael

trent

 

Tullet has two other books that follow a similar pattern.  Mix It Up and Help! We Need a Title! both actively involve the reader.  (Click the cover to preview each book.)  And there’s also a Press Here app for iPads.

         

I’ll leave you with the book trailer for Press Here.  Are you using Herve Tullet’s books in your library or classroom?  I hope you’ll leave a comment and tell me about it!

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A Monkey With a Tool Belt is Ready for Anything!

Monkey tool-beltI fell in love with Chico Bon Bon the minute I met him.  He’s an extremely resourceful Monkey With a Tool Belt who loves to build and fix things.  He’s generous with his time and skills, he helps his friends with all kinds of problems, and he’s able to think outside the box.  (Literally!  An organ grinder traps him in one and he has to plan his escape.)

You might say he’s been part of the maker movement since 2008, before it was a buzzword in libraries and education.  So what better book to get kids thinking about their “maker” interests?

Monkey ramp

This week I’m reading the book aloud to third graders and asking them to think about what they like making and doing, and what specific tools or supplies they need to pursue their interests.  They have a choice of listing those items with a small drawing of each one, drawing themselves wearing their “maker” tool belt, or some combination of the two.  Here are some examples:

2-Alexandra    1-Morgan1-Elliott

This will lead right into a discussion of our makerspaces and the supplies that will be available for the kids.  It also gave me some great insight into the hobbies and interests of my students.  As they were writing and drawing, I was pulling books on art, fashion, sports, cooking, etc to show them during check-out time.

Don’t miss Monkey With a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe, or the two sequels!  Click on a book cover to look inside.

       

 

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LEGO Challenges in the Library: Build a Duck

One of my goals this year is to incorporate more STEAM activities into my library program, and with that in mind I’m instituting a series of LEGO Challenges for my students.

I began very simply with my 3rd and 4th graders; their first Challenge was to Build a Duck.

1-CIMG4064We went over some basic rules (click for a copy of my Duck Lego Challenge instructions) and then I gave each student a mini LEGO building kit that I put together using six to nine red, yellow, orange, and white standard bricks.  I made sure no two kits were identical so that copying someone else’s design would be impossible, and I stressed that the goal was to be original.

1-CIMG4090Most students dove right in, while others were a bit hesitant.  I think some had less experience using LEGOs, but a few were not sure what the “right” way to build a duck was.

09-CIMG4070As I circled the room offering praise for their creativity, I could see their initial noisy excitement fading to deep concentration as they experimented with different designs.

05-CIMG4066Students only needed a few minutes to complete their projects, which gave us plenty of time for Show & Share using the document camera and the promethean board.

12-CIMG4073I put blue paper under the document camera to serve as the duck pond, and students showed off their creations and explained how they built their ducks and why they used their bricks the way they did.

16-CIMG4077Allowing students to start small gave them an opportunity to build their confidence as well as their ducks, thus paving the way for more complicated projects later.  Who says learning can’t be fun?!?

1-CIMG4071Eventually I’ll be including LEGO Challenges as one of my makerspace stations.  Are you using LEGO Challenges in your library or classroom?  Please leave a comment or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune and share what you’re doing!

 

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First Day with First Grade

I saw the first 1st grade class of the year on Friday, and we had a great time together! I like to mix it up with them because if we spend too long sitting still in one spot they either get the fidgety-wigglies or they fall asleep!

mr. wiggles bookWe begin by sitting on the story rug while I read Mr. Wiggle’s Book by Paula Craig, and we discuss all the things that make Mr. Wiggle sad when people don’t take care of books. Unfortunately the book is out of print now, and the prices on Amazon (at the time of this posting) are ridiculous! If you have a copy of the book, it’s a great introduction to book care for younger students, and it leads right into a fun song.

Wwhaddaya think of thate talk about what we see on the cover of the book — Mr. Wiggle wearing his reading glasses and “holding” a book — and then I introduce them to These Are My Glasses from the CD Whaddaya Think of That by Laurie Berkner. We then sing the chorus together a few times, using simple motions to act it out, and the kids love it! (By the way, when you order the CD from Amazon, you get the mp3 version free with your purchase.)

2-Mr. Wiggle0003

Mr. Wiggle is sad when you throw your library book.

Then we move to the library tables and review book care with a Mr. Wiggle powerpoint on the Promethean board. Finally, I hand out drawing paper and crayons and ask students to draw a picture of Mr. Wiggle, and a picture of something you should or should not do when borrowing a library book.  We talk about the “No” symbol (at the end of the book, and on slide 8 of the powerpoint) and they feel extremely sophisticated when they use it on their Do Not drawings! 1-Mr. Wiggle0002

If we have time, I allow volunteers to share their pictures with the class. We then practice the song one more time so they can sing it for their teacher when she picks them up.

I love to hear how indignant the kids sound when they tell me about things that are bad for books. Most of them take book care very seriously, which is just the way I like it!

 

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Modern Art Collages and Jazz Picture Books

As we were making Matisse-inspired collages the other day as part of our family summer art project, one of my children was working solely with black and white paper.  It seemed like the perfect time to bring out two picture books that I had been saving for bedtime reading.

ben's trumpetBen’s Trumpet, a Caldecott honor book (1979) by Rachel Isadora, is the story of a young boy who is excited by the jazz music he hears in his neighborhood and longs to play the trumpet himself.  He practices outside the corner jazz club with an imaginary trumpet, until the laughter and jeers of some of the other kids send him sadly home.  Just when he’s given up on his dream, the horn player from the club invites him inside to give the trumpet a try.

ben's trumpet zig zag ben's trumpet zig zag club

Although all of the artwork in this book is done in black and white, the illustrations are bold and expressive, and easily convey the energy of the music.  As we read it, we noticed the jagged lines on the end papers, then smiled when we saw the sign on the first page for the Zig Zag Jazz Club. (Click the page of Ben on the fire escape for an enlarged view of the jazz club sign.)

ben's trumpet art deco 1We talked about the geometric Art Deco elements in the illustrations, and I explained how popular that was in the 1920s as a style of architecture, interior decoration, jewelery design, etc.  We compared the use of the angular shapes in this book to the shapes used by Henri Matisse in his collages.  (I wish I’d also had my copy of Snow White in New York by Fiona French, with its glamorous Art Deco illustrations depicting NYC in the 1930s, with me to show them!)

bring on that beatThen we read Bring on That Beat, also by Rachel Isadora but published twenty-three years later!  This book takes a similar concept — children in a 1930s Harlem neighborhood enjoying the jazz music played by local musicians — but here the artist embellishes the black and white street scenes with splashes and pops of wild, vivid color, and tells the story in rhyming couplets rather than straight prose.

wake up that street 1 wake up that street 2

When I use these two books in my library lessons (either in January when our 5th graders study the Harlem Renaissance, or in February during our Black History Month celebration) I follow them up by giving students a page with one of five different  black-and-white silhouettes of a jazz musician on it, and some crayons or markers.   Each student writes his/her own original rhyming couplet on the paper, and then adds colorful flourishes while we listen to jazz music from the 30s.

At home, we were already listening to jazz as we collaged, and one of the kids decided on a last-minute addition of a little jazz color to his picture.  I love it!

Midnight Jazz

Midnight Jazz

When we get ready to do painted-paper collages a la Henri Matisse, we will also look at some other books by Rachel Isadora that show her delightful take on that style of artwork.

there was a tree    princess and the pea    fisherman and his wife

 

Books used today:

ben's trumpet
Ben’s Trumpet
by Rachel Isadora

bring on that beat
Bring on that Beat
also by Rachel Isadora

Also mentioned:

snow white in new york
Snow White in New York
by Fiona Finch

 

 

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