Logic Smart

“One Family” is one you need for Thanksgiving!

Posted by on Oct 16, 2015 in Art, Counting Book, Early Learning, Holiday, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Letter / Number Knowledge, Logic Smart, Math, Math Tie-In, Non-Fiction, People Smart, Print Motivation, Self Smart | 0 comments

One Family by George Shannon with pictures by Blanca GomezThanksgiving 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!

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27 Books You Can Use This Year

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 in Counting Book, Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Key Ideas and Details, Letter / Number Knowledge, Logic Smart, Math, Math Tie-In, Nature Smart, Non-Fiction, Phonological Awareness, Poetry, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Range of Reading, Rhyming, Science | 0 comments

During the “Moving Beyond the Basics… Reaching for More” conference on Aug. 11 at the Byron Center High School in Michigan, a roomful of teachers and I read through boxes of books. (Thank you, Annemarie Johnson and Kate DiMeo, for inviting me to share informational picture books and to talk about kids’ book publishing.) ((Have I mentioned that my first picture book, GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA, will come out this December 1 from Charlesbridge?)) After browsing and brainstorming, we generated a list of 27 books with lesson ideas we can use this year in kindergarten through third grade. Feel free to share it!

Title Author Illustrator  Lesson Ideas
Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types Werner Sharon Forss, Sarah alliteration, identifying letters in different fonts – visual learners
Aunt Ant Leaves through the Leaves Coffelt, Nancy homonyms/homophones
Bee Dance Chrustowski,Rick vocabulary, informational reading, chronological text structure, debate if it is “narrative” or “informative”
The Best of Times Tang, Greg Briggs, Harry multiplication in third grade, rules for each and tables
Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather! Kudlinkski, Kathleen V. Serra, Sebastia compare/contrast what we once thought to what we now think, text features, weather in first grade, landforms in second
Families Rotner, Shelley Rotner, Shelley “all about” writing at a simple level = great mentor text
Greedy Apostrophe: a cautionary tale Carr, Jan Long, Ethan grammar – ways to use an apostrophe
Henry’s Map Elliot, David mapping skills lesson, pictures with labels = text feature, mentor tex for writing
How To Surprise a Dad Reagan, Jean Wildish, Lee mentor text for “how to” writing that goes beyond basic instruction format, mentor text for incorporating all five senses in details
In Mary’s Garden Kugler, Carson Kugler, Tina compare/contrast with “The Most Magnificient Thing”
The King Who Rained Gwynne, Fred homonyms/homophones/word play, figurative language
Lucky and Stu vs. the Mikanikal Man Van Wright, Cornelius reading for pleasure! Friendship themes and good “boy” book
Math Fables Tang, Greg Cahoon, Heather number sense for youngers
Me, Too! Dunklee, Annika Smith, Lori Joy opinion writing: “Reason #1”, friendship story to discuss
Messy Jesse Bowles, Paula writing prompt, “what I’m good at”, punctuation lesson
Nino Wrestles the World Morales, Yuyi using context to decode unfamiliar words, appreciation of other languages/cultures
One Boy Seeger, Laura Vaccaro finding words within words
One Word from Sophia Averbeck, Jim Ismail, Yasmeen persuasive writing, writing for an audience, text features like glossary
Ostriches Are Not Pets! Niver, Heather Moore persuasive writing
Over in the Wetlands Rose, Caroline Starr Dunlavey, Rob vocabulary – word choice and author’s craft, context clues, inferring, how do animals prepare for storms compared to how people prepare?
Rufus Goes to School Griswell, Kim T. Gorbachev, Valeri use at the beginning of the school year, shows importance of learning how to read, point out persuasive reasons why pigs should (not) go to school
Simple Machines Adler, David A. Raff, Anna use as a mentor text for flip books, compare/contrast, nonfiction with illustrations and not photos, text features, easy nonfiction that’s not about animals
Speed, Speed, Centipede! Dahl, Michael Trover, Zachary early math counting by tens, shows 10 frames
This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations Rosenthal, Amy Krouse Corace, Jen writing with math symbols
Water is Water Paul, Miranda Chin, Jason “show, don’t tell”, art tells story as much as text does
Wumbers Rosenthal, Amy Krouse Lictenheld, Tom lesson on speech bubbles
Zero the Hero Holub, Joan Lictenheld, Tom higher math concepts, friendship, lesson on speech bubbles
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The Most Magnificent Thing

Posted by on Jun 10, 2015 in Art, Early Learning, Key Ideas and Details, Logic Smart, People Smart, Science, Self Smart | 0 comments

The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley SpiresThe perfectionist in me was upset to have missed posting last month, so as a reminder to be more patient with myself, I pulled out the very wise, very magnificent book, The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.

The unnamed girl has an idea for a magnificent thing. She uses all kinds of cool tools like hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches (rock on, tool girl) but she just can’t make in reality the fabulous idea in her head. She works and reworks it, but “(h)er hands feel too BIG to work, and her brain is too full of all the not-right things.” So many kiddos can relate to this feeling, and to the ensuing meltdown. Her assistant (her dog) suggests she take a walk, where the girl gets a break and a bit of perspective. In the end, she’s able to see that a part of her original creation can be reworked into a wholly new, magnificent thing. LOVE!

This is a wonderful book to share at the beginning of next school year. You and your students can discuss the universal feelings of frustration during the creative process, comment on how the girl worked through her angst, and come up with ways you can handle it in your classroom (your Self Smart kids excelling with Key Ideas and Details? Score!) Then, get out recycled stuff like paper towel tubes and fun art stuff like pipe cleaners and challenge your kiddos to build their own most magnificent thing. Kids can write and draw plans before building, and write descriptions of what they’ve made at the end. (What is that, exactly? It’s magnificent!)  Assisting others and taking breaks are encouraged as part of the process.

Bringing tools like screwdrivers into the classroom can be tricky, but one successful way to do it is to have a “take apart” center. Ask for donations of broken electronics and small tools, or scour your local thrift shops. It’s great for fine motor skills to unscrew those little screws, and examining the inner workings of an old alarm clock is real-life science!

I have a really exciting reason for why I missed May’s post, and I’m glad the ink is on the contract so I can share it with everyone now: along with my picture book, GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA, my second book will be published in December, 2015, too! DRAW WITH A VENGEANCE is a grown-up book, and since it comes from my snarky side, I’m using a pseudonym – Helen Wrath. For those of you kid-lit lovers who enjoy a bit of dark humor, I hope you’ll check it out!

Kristen Remenar in Publisher's Weekly

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The winner is: You Are (Not) Small!

Posted by on Feb 4, 2015 in Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Fluency, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Key Ideas and Details, Logic Smart, Math Tie-In, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Readers' Theater, Self Smart, Storybox Idea | 3 comments

You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher WeyantHappy Book Award Season! Many of us look forward to the annual announcement of the Caldecott and Newbery Medal Awards from the American Library Association, but the one that made me hoot and holler loudest this year was the announcement of the winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book: You Are (Not) Small written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyent.

Fantastic “easy” reader? Check.
Great for Readers’ Theater? Check.
Funny ending? Check.
Works for a ton of tie-in lessons? Check.
Story and art that kids will want to return to again and again? Big ol’ check!

Finding mentor texts on expressing opinion, giving reasons, persuasion, etc. isn’t easy for the younger crowd, so if you teach kindergarten – third grade, grab You Are (Not) Small. (It’s also fantastic for a print concepts lesson on italics, ellipses, underlining, for a lesson on reading with expression, for a math/science tie-in for comparing items by size, but I digress.)

The two main characters in this book express clear, opposite opinions. The orange fuzzy creature tells the purple fuzzy creature, “You are small.” The purple fuzzy disagrees, “I am not small. You are big.” Back and forth they go, giving reasons for their opinion by comparing themselves to other fuzzy creatures. It’s so simple it’s brilliant, and the ending will get everyone giggling.

After reading this to a first grade class, I told them, “You are small.” Uproar ensued. “No, we aren’t!”
“Yes, my opinion is that you are small, and my reason is that you are all smaller than this bookshelf.”
“But we’re bigger than the chair!” “Yes, and we’re taller than the desk!”
This led to an easy quick-write session: choose an opinion statement of “I am big” or “I am small” and write three reasons to support your opinion. Go!

So grab You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant, and check out other winners of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. The Caldecott and Newbery Medals are wonderful, but they aren’t the only awards given by ALA, so explore lists like the Coretta Scott King Awards and treat yourself to award-winning books.

 

 

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