Building Relationships with Books – Friendships

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Lately I’ve been working on putting together a collection of books and accompanying resources that can help students strengthen their friendship skills.  A new school year brings new classroom groupings, and I want our students to be prepared for making (and keeping!) new friends.  We also have more new students in our building than normal this year, so it’s important for the “old-timers” to realize how hard it can be for the newcomers to start over in a new situation.  I’m hoping the following titles will inspire them!

Books to Welcome New Students

The Day You Begin written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez

A touching story about students who are starting over in a new country (America), and how hurtful it is when their classmates aren’t accepting.  The illustrations are charming, and the closing lines of the story rejoice over the fact that “every new friend has something a little like you — and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all.”  A standout collaboration between an author who has won the Newbery Honor award and the Coretta Scott King award, and an illustrator who has won the Pura Belpre’ Illustrator award.

The Curriculum Corner offers an extensive book study printable packet for the book.

Here’s the Brightly Storytime read-aloud of the Book:

 

Duck at the Door by Jackie Urbanovic

This title is not new, but I love the exuberant story of Max the Duck, who comes in from the cold and then makes himself completely at home.  At first the other animals in the household aren’t quite sure what to make of his hobbies and messes, but when he leaves to rejoin his flock they realize that he had truly become part of the family.  The ending espouses a “the more the merrier” outlook that can often be needed in the classroom when newcomers join the group after the year has begun, and everyone has to adjust to the change.

Urbanovic offers a Duck at the Door coloring sheet on her website.  And students who fall in love with Duck will be happy to learn there are three sequels: Duck Soup, Sitting Duck, and Duck and Cover.

 

Books for Being a Good Friend

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill

Here we see the main character pondering what it actually means to be kind, both in the classroom and out in the world.  Is it cleaning up after the class pet, choosing to include the new girl in class, making cookies for an elderly neighbor who lives alone, recycling a bottle?  And can one person’s act of kindness inspire others to pay it forward until it reaches all around the world?  The author acknowledges that being kind can be hard — even when you know what to do — and it’s up to each individual to decide to make that choice.  These are important ideas for children to grapple with, and brainstorming additional acts of kindness is a natural follow-up activity.

The official book trailer includes interviews with several kids about their experiences with kindness, which can inspire students engaging in their own discussions::

 

How To Grow A Friend by Sara Gillingham

This book is an extended metaphor that compares nurturing friendships to tending a garden.  The text gives an outline of the steps necessary for building and sustaining relationships, while still leaving room for a class discussion on the meaning of each piece of advice.  For example, Gillingham suggests that friendships need space to bloom, and she warns that sometimes friends bug you.  Students can then offer their own ideas of what that means, and what it might look like in real life.  The illustrations are delightful and almost demand a follow-up art and/or gardening activity.

Here’s a link to a story hour guide for the book. (I love the printable friendship bracelets!)

 

Blue vs Yellow by Tom Sullivan

Blue and Yellow argue about which color is best, until an accidental collision shows what they can do when they join forces.  Then Red comes along, and they have to decide whether or not to include another color.  This book is a humorous reminder that you won’t win friends by constantly bragging about yourself, and that when you share your talents with others you might be surprised at what you can achieve.  The format of the story can also serve as a model for student writing about other colors competing against one another (red vs yellow, blue vs red) and what types of partnerships might result.

Here’s the official trailer for the book:

 

Do you have additional resources or ideas for using these books?  Do you have other favorite books about friendship that you share with your students?  Please tell us about them in the comments!

 

Autumn Leaves: Kindergarten Story Time

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 I love autumn, and I enjoy sharing all the elements of the season with my students. In this lesson I shared the fabulous book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert, which never gets old for me even though I’ve been reading it aloud for ten years! We followed the book with a discussion of all the items she was able to make with leaves, and then we brainstormed ideas of other pictures that could be created.

I then gave each student a sheet of plain construction paper, and an assortment of real leaves and acorns from my yard. Ordinarily I would take the students on a nature walk around the school grounds to collect materials for this project, but Hurricane Michael closed our school and then left a wet mess behind. As we talked about what body parts people and animals have, the students experimented with different sizes and shapes of leaves to design their own leaf pictures. And while they were making art, I was taking photos!

We ended our time together by returning to the rug and singing Autumn Leaves are Falling Down by The Kiboomers on YouTube. I chose this song because it mentions the colors of the leaves that fall from the trees, which is one of the facts I wanted the students to know.

I reinforced that concept with our line up activity: When I called a child’s name, s/he had to name a real leaf color (green, yellow, orange, brown) before lining up.

Do you share the beauty of autumn leaves with your students? Please leave a comment and share your ideas!

 

Scarecrow Fun and Friendship: Kindergarten Story Time

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 It’s always helpful to repeat books, songs, and rhymes, with students — especially younger learners. It makes concepts more “sticky,” and the kids enjoy participating in activities that they’re comfortable with. So in this session we revisited the topic of scarecrows, mixing some old resources with some new ones.

 The students briefly saw a scarecrow at the end of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves, so for this lesson I wanted to choose a book in which a scarecrow had a more prominent role. I decided on Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long so that we could “plant the seed” of becoming a more compassionate friend as well. When the farmer places a scarecrow in the field, the other residents of the farm are put off by his scowl and decide to leave him alone. Only Otis looks past the surface, and his response is a gentle lesson in empathy.

After sitting still for a story and a discussion, it’s time to get up and move. I wrote a simple poem made up of rhyming couplets which included the body parts of a scarecrow and taught it to the students along with some simple motions. We stood up and repeated it a couple of times until everyone was reasonably good at performing it.

The scarecrow pieces on the chart match the scarecrow pieces the students were given. Click to enlarge.

Then I gave each student a sheet of blank construction paper and a set of colored cut-outs of each of the scarecrow parts from Free Kids Crafts. (There’s also a black-and-white version available that kids can color themselves.) The children used the pieces to put together a picture of a scarecrow as we repeated the poem.

We ended with a repeat of the Scarecrow Song by the Learning Station on YouTube. The students always enjoy an opportunity to get up and dance!

Our lining up activity was to have each child name and point to a body part that a scarecrow has. Some of the things I do may sound very easy, but the majority of kids at my school are at-risk students so I usually start simple and then build up to more complex concepts. I’ve found it’s a good way to allow all of the students to experience some success. I also try to include lots of hands-on manipulatives and I bring in real items for them to handle, like the scarecrows you see at the top of this post which came from my local craft store.

I’d love to hear what scarecrow activities you use with your students. Please leave a comment and share!

 

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves: Kindergarten Story Time

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Our most recent story sessions have focused on trees and orchards, so our next logical step was to talk about leaves and the seasonal changes they are starting to go through.

 I began with a callback to a read-aloud I used earlier this year: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms TabackWe re-read that book and used the old lady interactive puppet to re-enact the story, then segued into a different “old lady” book: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucille Colandro. To make sure the students were actively listening, I instructed them to say “ah-choo” every time they heard the word “sneeze.”

 Not only did we see leaves on every page of the book, but at the end of the story (spoiler alert!) the old lady sneezes out a scarecrow, which provides another seasonal icon to work with! We had an interesting discussion about the purpose of a scarecrow. A few children knew it was for scaring birds away, while others insisted it was a Halloween decoration. We finally agreed that both uses were important.

After the story it was time to move around, so we learned the Scarecrow Dance using the video for the Scarecrow Song by the Learning Station on YouTube. I almost used the video/song Dance Like a Scarecrow but in the end I preferred the way the “Scarecrow Song” kept repeating and got a little faster each time. That gave the kids a chance to practice the dance, and they really like it when things speed up the longer you do them.

 Then we worked on small motor skills with a simple scarecrow coloring page. Some students surprised me with how well they were already coloring, but others were mere scribblers. All were proud of what they created though, as evidenced by their enthusiasm for “show and tell” time when we came back to the carpet to share the pictures.

Do you have some good scarecrow resources that you use in your story time sessions?  Please leave a comment or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

 

Building a Community of Readers in the Library

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 I’m not going to keep you long at my blog today; instead I’m going to send you over to Expect the Miraculous to read a post written by Andy Plemmons, who is the award-winning media specialist at Barrow Elementary School.

 In The Power of First Lines: Another New Library Orientation, Andy shares how he begins building a culture of reading during the very first week of school. His message to students revolves around the joy and power of reading, and everything he says and does during their first visit to the library communicates that.

I appreciate that he so generously shared his strategies for giving kids a positive experience with books. And in a world where social media revolves around sharing only our moments of carefully filtered perfection, I appreciate that he also shared what he terms a “pitfall” of this type of library session. (To which I reply: I realize that we all have a different level of tolerance for noise and disorder, but my philosophy is that learning is often loud and messy, and that’s okay. I’m glad Andy feels that the value of giving the students this type of experience outweighs the nuisance of a few mis-shelved books.)

If you’re thinking, “Wait, this is a library orientation lesson, and it’s already the end of September, so hasn’t this ship pretty much sailed already?” let me reassure you that it’s never too late to implement these ideas in your library.

So without further ado, go read his post!  You’ll be glad you did!

Bookshelf image is from Creative Library Concepts 
http://creativelibraryconcepts.com/roll-it-over-mobile-shelving-helps-libraries-to-open-up-space/

Orchards and Trees: Kindergarten Story Time

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I’m “branching out” from apple trees in this week’s kindergarten story time to fruit trees in general. (See what I did there?)

As a callback to our last story time we began our session with the song Way Up High in an Apple Tree by The Learning Station.

 Then I shared the nonfiction book At the Orchard by Bruce Esseltine which depicts a variety of fruit trees and provides a nice opportunity for students to identify different types of fruit.

 That led us into the rhyme A Tree Starts to Grow which I got from Miss Nina’s Weekly Video Show on YouTube. I did not use her video with the students; instead I made a chart of the words and taught it to the children myself. (Click the image to enlarge it.) I always try to alternate sitting still for a story with some singing and moving so the kids don’t get too restless.

 Then I used the Epic! ebook website to share A Tree Grows Up by Marfe Delano, which is a colorful look at the life cycle of a tree. I love the close-up of acorns on the title page, and the fact that the book mentions that acorns are food for different animals as well as seeds for trees.

 I brought in a couple dozen brown and green acorns from my yard, and the last few minutes of our time were spent examining the acorns and describing how they feel. Our “lining up activity” was for each student to place his/her acorn in the correct cup (brown acorns in the brown cup, green acorns in the green cup) on their way to the door. I sent the acorns back to the classroom to be used in the math center for counting and sorting.

Do you have some additional resources to recommend? Please leave a comment!

 

Apples: Kindergarten Story Time

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This week my story time focus shifted from animal farms to fruit tree farms. My theme was apples, and it was a multi-sensory experience for the children.

 I started by reading aloud At the Apple Farm by Rachel Albanese, which is a nonfiction account of a mother and daughter visiting an orchard to pick baskets of apples. I had a real basket with a couple of apples in it for the students to pass around while we reviewed what we just learned about apple farms.

 Then it was time to get up and dance to the song I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas. I used a music video from the Tumblebooks website, but there are also a few versions of the song on YouTube, including the one by The Learning Station.

 Once again I used the Epic! ebook website to share I Eat Apples in Fall by Mary Lindeen. This book shows children of different ethnicities picking and enjoying apples, and it also highlights the different colors of apples, which led into our apple tasting.

 I brought in bags of red (Red Delicious) and green (Granny Smith) apple wedges and gave the students one of each to touch, smell, and taste. We then used paper apples to chart each child’s preference to determine which flavor was the most popular.

The students ended our time by “picking” a paper apple off of a paper tree and placing it in the appropriate basket (red apples in the red basket, green apples in the green basket, yellow apples in the yellow basket) on their way to line up at the door.

Do you use apple books and activities in your story time? Please leave a comment and share!