Print Awareness

Bananas for Early Readers!

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in Early Learning, Fluency, Nature Smart, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Readers' Theater, Storybox Idea, Wordless | 0 comments

2049763Happy April, everyone! A teacher-friend asked me for super-simple books for readers who are wrestling with her lowest-leveled texts. I shared BANANA! by Ed Vere and the kids went ape. The facial expressions on the two monkeys are so engaging, and the text is limited to two words: “banana” and “please” with either question marks or exclamation pointsAs I read, I pointed out how the exclamation mark and question mark change the way we read the words. (Print Concepts mini-lesson? Check!)

Banana!  is perfect for readers’ theater. After reading the book to your students, split them into pairs. The kids can make their own monkey masks or hats or puppets. Give students time to practice their lines (nailing that Common Core State Standard of Fluency). Then, kids take turns performing for the class, reading their lines as you hold up the book and turn the pages.

You can make a silly spin-off book called “Apple!” Take photos of two teachers arguing over who gets to eat the apple and lay them out like Ed Vere’s pages. You can make lots of little class books like this if you have a digital camera – let your students be the stars of the book, arguing over and eventually sharing an orange, or a pencil, etc. Your students will go, well, bananas for this book!

I’ll be in Elizabeth, New Jersey this month to talk about the best books to teach preschool and kindergarden reading standards. Next month, I’m the keynote speaker for an early literacy conference in Michigan and I have two presentations to public librarians on Common Core State Standards. Please keep your fingers crossed for ice-storm-free travel days!

 

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Battle Bunny

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Art, Craft and Structure, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Self Smart | 0 comments

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers Happy February! This time last year, I was celebrating the sale of my first picture book, GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA, to Charlesbridge. This February 2nd, I came home from a week of presenting seminars to a cool surprise: my husband (author/illustrator Matt Faulkner) just received the official layout of the book so he can begin making the art! Woohoo!

Of course, I won’t see any of the art until it’s passed my editor’s approval. In the publishing world, authors don’t get to communicate with the illustrators. I just happen to live with my illustrator. And because I’d like to continue living with him, I can’t watch over his shoulder as he draws my characters, because I’d be tempted to give helpful comments like, “Maybe his cheeks should be a little chubbier, and maybe you should….” So Matt will make his magic in his studio and I will try not to peek until my editor says I can!

Those of you came to my seminars last week have already seen my new favorite book: Battle Bunny written by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett (and Alex) with pictures by Matthew Myers (and Alex). Kids who love the humor of Captain Underpants will go nuts for this book, and you can use it to teach the Core Standard of Craft & Structure.

When you show students the cover, they might think this book has been defaced. Well, yes and no. Battle Bunny is supposed to look drawn on and scribbled over – that’s the brilliant premise of this book. A kid named Alex is supposedly given a sappy-sweet book called “Birthday Bunny” from his Gran-Gran. Alex transforms the book by crossing out words, writing his own words, and adding crazy details to the pictures. For instance, the line “Birthday Bunny started on his path, hopping through the trees” is rewritten as “Battle Bunny started on his Evil Plan, chopping through the trees” and we see the cute birdie in the tree now has a speech balloon saying “You will fail!”

Revising! Editing! Transformative writing! After you’ve talked with your students about the authors’ and illustrator’s craft of word choice, art design, etc. that add layers to the book, go to mybirthdaybunny.com. There’s a free lesson plan for teachers, and I love that you can print off the “original” sweet version of the story for kids to change. If you are super-brave, buy some beat-up books from the library’s used book sale or from a thrift store and let your students revise them. Just make it clear which books can be written in and which of your books are off-limits!

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Wumbers

Posted by on Nov 14, 2013 in Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Letter / Number Knowledge, Logic Smart, Phonological Awareness, Print Awareness, Print Concepts | 0 comments

wumbers“What do you get when you combine a word with a number? A wumber!” Wumbers  is wri10 by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustr8ed by Tom Lichtenheld, the dynamic duo who made Duck! Rabbit! and other books I love passion8ly. With Wumbers, kids have 2 pay at10tion to the sound of the number word to figure out how to read the wumber. 1ce your students get the gist of it, they’ll want 2 make up wumbers of their own!

Because Wumbers focuses kids’ attention on the small sounds in words, it’s an ideal book to hit the CCSS of Phonological Awareness. Distinguishing the numbers from the letters in the words is part of Print Concepts. 1 book for 2 standards = gr8ful teacher and 4tunate students!

As you read Wumbers to your students, call at10tion first to the way the wumber looks. What number is mixed with letters to make a new word? 1ce students identify the number, say it out loud a few times, then blend the number name with the other letters slowly. Let kids have the thrill of calling out the wumber. It7ly! (Get it – it’s heavenly? Ok, I’m still working on a good one for 7.)

Before you let your students loose on reading and writing wumbers on their own, practice as a group. Choose a number, an easy one like 2 or 4 (because obviously 7 will pose challenges, even for those of us with plenty of wumber po10tial.) Write the number word and any phonological variations: 2 is two, to, too, tu, etc. Now, see if you can come up with words that have that to-tu sound in them.  Tuba becomes 2ba. Toothbrush becomes a 2thbrush. Because she is genius, Amy Krouse Rosenthal has a free activities kit available through her website: whoisamy.com. If you and your students come up with some 1derful wumbers, email me! 2gether we will celebr8 Wumbers!

For more about the illustrator, please visit tomlichtenheld.com.

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Words with Wings

Posted by on Sep 5, 2013 in Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Fluency, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Print Awareness, Print Concepts, Print Motivation, Range of Reading, Self Smart | 0 comments

wordswithwings

This novel-in-verse is for the daydreamers and for the teachers who want to guide, not squash, those who have such vivid imaginations.

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes is one of those gorgeously-written books you can read aloud to your class for wonderful group discussions and then watch them eagerly grab it to read independently. (Novels-in-verse are not only a great way to immerse your students in poetry, but it hits both Range of Reading and Fluency for Core Standards. Woohoo!) Imagine yourself reading aloud this page to your students and knowing that for some kids, it will hit home:

First Day
I duck down in the seat
of my new class.
To these kids,
I’m not Gabby yet.
I’m just Shy Girl
Who Lives
Inside Her Head.
No one even knocks
on the door
for a visit.
They don’t know
it’s beautiful
in here.

Gabby is a daydreamer, which sometimes causes problems in school and at home. But how can she help daydreaming, when words have wings? Some of the poems would make for great writing prompts in your classroom, like this one:

Waterfall
Say “waterfall”
and the dreary winter rain
outside my classroom window
turns to liquid thunder,
pounding into a clear pool
miles below,
and I can’t wait
to dive in.

To my absolute delight, Nikki Grimes named the teacher in this book Mr. Spicer after one of the coolest teachers I’ve ever meet, Ed Spicer. He teaches first grade here in Michigan and he is committed to giving his students time to daydream. Sometimes he plays music, sometimes it’s quiet. Sometimes he asks his students to write about their daydreams, or turn and talk about them, or daydream on a particular topic, like a science concept they are studying. I love the power of daydreaming and I adore Ed Spicer for encouraging his students to take a few moments to let their minds wander. Follow him on Facebook for more about his classroom because he is a wealth of amazing ideas.

So share Words with Wings with your students. For a quick Craft & Structure lesson, talk about the words Nikki Grimes chose that have “wings” for Gabby. Why did she choose these words? What words have wings for you? Give your students a few minutes just to daydream, wonder and imagine. It may become a favorite break in your classroom.

Happy September, everyone!

For more information about the author, please visit: nikkigrimes.com.

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