I picked something fun for July’s professional development book: WHAT THE FUN?! 427 Simple Ways to Have Fantastic Family Fun by Donna Bozzo. As you can see from my pink sticky tabs, I found lots of quick, easy, inexpensive ideas in WHAT THE FUN?! that work well in classrooms as well as at home, like:
- p. 35 “Comedy Club…Let the kids spend the day finding jokes and writing their own material.” Riddle and joke books can be less intimidating for some kids and make for meaningful reading and writing. Anthony, a wiggly first grader, found motivation for self-control when he knew that he could have time to shine as class clown at the end of the day. If everyone quickly got ready for home, the last few minutes before dismissal could be “open mic” time. I could remind Anthony when he got squirrelly during lessons to save it for when we could all enjoy it, a positive consequence instead of a negative one.
- p. 65 “Practice Speaking in a Kind Way and Teach Your Children to Do the Same:…say six nice things to six someones and make their day.” This can be a transition activity, a “brain break”, something to do while waiting in line, etc. Choose kids to compliment and to give compliments randomly (my students all had a class number so I’d just pull from a jar of numbered wooden sticks) or select someone and catch them being good. Some days it’s tough to remember to model kindness, so consider making this a daily or weekly routine.
- p. 149 “Groundhog Day Fun!” Donna Bozzo has creative ways to share picture books with kids, and she came up with fantastic ideas to use with my book, GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA! Donna, you made me swoon! I’m going to try both your suggestions for making a groundhog for retelling my story, and your cake with fun-sized candy bars decorated to look like groundhogs peeking up is yummy year ’round.
Here’s to us all having lots more fun! Thanks, Donna Bozzo!Read More
It’s self-indulgent, but I can’t resist; my December pick is my new picture book that just hit the shelves, Groundhog’s Dilemma! It’s gorgeously illustrated by award-winning author/illustrator Matt Faulkner (with whom I’m about to celebrate five years of wedded bliss.)
Half of Groundhog’s friends want him to predict an early spring, and the other half want a longer winter. Groundhog wants to please everyone, so when February 2nd comes, Groundhog has a dilemma: to see or not to see his shadow?
Because the characters in this book have strong opinions and are trying to persuade our hero Groundhog (who is not immune to the lures of membership on a team or blueberry pie), use Groundhog’s Dilemma as a springboard for writing an opinion piece. I have a free, printable page on my website so students can write a persuasive letter to Groundhog (Core Writing Standard #1? Check!). Kids who send letters to Groundhog via my email or snail mail will receive responses!Read More
I’ve been hooked on Pout-Pout Fish since the beginning (fellow Michigander Debbie Diesen is a long-time friend), and the newest book, The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, is as wonderful as the original.
Mr. Fish feels caught up in the “tizzy-busy” rush of the holidays. (Dan Hanna does a brilliant job of tucking jokes in his illustrations of the packed store shelves!) The repetition of these lines not only supports our early readers, it completely captures the overwhelmed feeling many of us get :
“For a gift should be big,
And a gift should be bright,
And a gift should be perfect –
Guaranteed to bring delight.
And a gift should have meaning,
Plus a big of bling-zing,
So I’ll shop till I drop
For each just-right thing!”
When Mr. Fish has shopped until he’s plopped and still worries that his friends will be disappointed, the lovely Miss Shimmer reminds him that “the best gifts of all come straight from the heart.” Together they make wonderful gifts and, most importantly, enjoy their time with their fishy friends.
Let’s scale back this season. Share The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish with your kiddos, and talk about what you can make and do instead of buy. Consider replacing physical gifts with shared activities. I know some grown-ups who’d prefer the gift of a Readers’ Theater performance of this story to receiving another bag of potpourri. I wish you all oceans of joy and contentment this year!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but it’s a challenge to find Thanksgiving picture books that connect with kids: I find many “pilgrim and Indian” books that are cringeworthy with stereotypes, or stories about turkeys. This year, I’m focusing on the “thanks” in Thanksgiving and sharing One Family by George Shannon with pictures by Blanca Gomez.
The simple counting book is elevated here to show the beauty of what a family can be.
“One is one. One lamp. One clock. One book to share.” A white-haired, bespectacled white woman cuddles a cat as she reads.
“One is two. One pair of shoes. One team of horses. One family.” An Asian mom and her son ride hobby horses in a cozy bedroom.
Counting up to ten, we see all kinds of inclusive loving groups: two dads and their daughter (all with different shades of skin), grandparents and kids, a family with the dad and his sons wearing turbans, a mix of adults and kids where it’s not clear what the relationships are but who cares because they’re smiling and together. On the last page showing all the people we read, “One is one and everyone. One earth. One world. One family.”
Use this book to inspire your students to write and draw about their own families. To continue the counting 1 to 10 structure, students can write about what they are thankful for this holiday. Pair this with the wonderful new nonfiction book Families by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly if you want to compare and contrast to hit the Integration of Knowledge & Ideas standard. I count you among my many blessings!Read More