Non-Fiction

The Poetry of Firebird

Posted by on Apr 10, 2015 in Art, Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Fluency, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Range of Reading, Self Smart | 0 comments

Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How To Dance Like the Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers

Because poetry doesn’t have to rhyme, because poetry can tell a story, because the best poetry lights sparks of hope inside of us –  this is my choice for April’s Month of Poetry.

Firebird is written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers. A little girl sees ballet soloist Misty Copeland and thinks “the space between you and me/ is longer than forever”. Misty lets the girl know that with hard work and dedication “we’ll make the night sky our starry curtain/ the moon our silver spotlight/ as we spin across the planets/ pirouetting tightly as the curls on our heads”. Misty Copeland is the second African American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theater, and her uplifting poem-story is perfectly enhanced by Christopher Myers’ gorgeous art.

The poem is written in two voices – the little girl and Misty Copeland. After you share this book for the sheer pleasure of it, talk about the voices of the poem. (You’ll be rockin’ Craft & Structure as well as Range of Reading.) It can be read as literally two people, or we can see it metaphorically, as if the young girl is talking to her future self or as if Misty is talking to her past, younger self. Encourage your students to write poems where they can write as their “today” selves talking to themselves in the future or the past. Because poetry is meant to be shared aloud, hold a poetry slam where students can read their poems aloud, taking on both parts or asking a friend to read a voice. Who knows what future dancers, scientists, and presidents may come to life in your classroom? 

Also, if you’re on the lookout for an Orthodox Easter book (which will be celebrated this Sunday), I recommend Catherine’s Pascha: A Celebration of Easter in the Orthodox Church written by Charlotte Riggle and illustrated by R.J. Hughes. For those who celebrate Passover, Easter, and/or the coming of Spring, I wish you all joy and a sense of hopeful renewal!

 

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You Are Stardust

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Art, Early Learning, Key Ideas and Details, Nature Smart, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Range of Reading, Science, Self Smart, Vocabulary | 0 comments

You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim

Happy July! This is the month for fireworks and stargazing and wonder, which makes it the perfect month for You Are Stardust written by Elin Kelsey with artwork by Soyeon Kim. It begins like this:

“You are stardust./
Every tiny atom in your body came from a star that exploded long before you were born.”

This informational science book reads like poetry, and the facts within will astound your students:

We breathe in more than a million pollen grains with each breath.

The water we drink today is the same water that filled puddles when dinosaurs walked the Earth.

The electricity in your brain is stronger than lightning.

On owlkidsbooks.com, you’ll find a free teacher’s guide, a link to the app, a video showing second graders discussing the book’s themes, and a video that I found fascinating on how the book was made. Soyeon Kim’s dioramas are awesome and will inspire your kids to get out the art supplies. Choose an incredible fact from the book or one from the world that amazes you and bring it to life with a 3-D diorama. You might even ask a friendly librarian at your local library to put your diorama on display. (I know I’d say yes!) I hope that you and your students can be awed like Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim were and find beauty in our connections to the natural world.

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Dig in to fun summer books!

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Early Learning, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas, Michigan Author, Nature Smart, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Range of Reading, Rhyming, Science | 3 comments

Digger Dozer Dumper by Hope Vestergaard and David SlonimBuilder Goose: It's Construction Rhyme Time! by Boni Ashburn and Sergio de GiorgiThese books are so much fun I couldn’t choose just one! Now that summer is here, I’m looking for books that encourage outdoor play. Here are two books that will have kids scurrying to the sandbox: Digger, Dozer, Dumper written by Hope Vestergaard and illustrated by David Slonim and Builder Goose: It’s Construction Rhyme Time! by Boni Ashburn and illustrated by Sergio de Giorgi.

Both of these books have poems about construction vehicles, so by sharing them together you’ll not only hit Range of Reading, you’ll have great compare/contrast discussions which hit Integration of Knowledge & Ideas. (Also, both are written by Michigan authors, so shout out to the proud Mitten State!) I love that these books both give real information about how these machines work within fun, catchy poems. Dig these favorites:

Backhoe (from Digger, Dozer, Dumper)
The backhoe’s two machines in one:
a useful little truck.
His front end pushes dirt and rocks:
his back end digs out muck.

Heave Ho! Let’s Go! (from Builder Goose)
This old crane,
it swings wide!
It takes pallets for a ride.
With a heave ho, let’s go,
swing it back for more.
Hoist it high and watch it soar!

Once you and your crew have enjoyed the construction poems, everyone will want to go dig in the sandbox and build, dig, measure, and pour. Extend the learning and develop fine motor skills with these fun activities I found on preschoolexpress.com, Jean Warren’s genius website: hammer golf tees into firm Styrofoam pieces, screw screws into bars of soap, and build edible structures with graham crackers and frosting, peanut butter, or cream cheese. Happy reading!

 

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“Rah, Rah, Radishes” and Go, STEM!

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Art, Body Smart, Color Knowledge, Early Learning, Fluency, Math, Math Tie-In, Nature Smart, Non-Fiction, Onomatopoeia, Range of Reading, Science, Vocabulary | 0 comments

rahrahradishes Happy May, everyone! I had the pleasure of speaking at an early education conference where our theme was literacy and science. I brought stacks of books that tie into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) or STEAM (add Art) to share. Rather than just lecture all day, I led a session of “speed-dating” books: we’d spend a few minutes skimming a book and brainstorming ways to use it with students, share our ideas with the group, and pass the book along. This way, we had time to get our hands on over a dozen books and walk away with practical classroom applications. I was so inspired by the fantastic ideas the teachers generated! Here are a few ideas we came up with after reading Rah,Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre:

Bring in vegetables found in the book. Sort the vegetables by color and by size.

Classify and sort vegetables by the parts we eat: root vegetables, leaves, etc. Read Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens as a tie-in text and talk about which vegetables would be “tops” or “bottoms” according to Hare.

Predict which vegetables will sink or float. Test predictions in a tub of water. Wash the vegetables and talk about textures.

Use the vegetables to make prints.

Compare and contrast with fruits.

Weigh and measure the vegetables. Use a vegetable as a measuring tool.

Take photos of vegetables and label them. Reread the book and have students hold up the corresponding photos.

Make a chart or a Venn diagram with the terms “raw” and “cooked”. Try some vegetables both ways and chart our preferences.

See what other vegetables besides potatoes can be delicious mashed (great for little ones to do the mashing!)

Bring in potatoes with “eyes” sprouting and bring in vegetable seeds. Compare seeds and sprouts, then plant!

Make an edible collage with vegetables.

Practice patterning skills like ABAB, etc. with bite-size veggies and eat when done.

Plan a field trip to a farmer’s market or invite a farmer to come to the classroom for more vegetable experiences.

If you’re interested in the list of science books I shared, please email me at kristenremenar AT gmail DOT com. If you like Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant, be sure to check out Go, Go, Grapes! A Fruit Chant and Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat also by April Pulley Sayre. Hooray for early science!

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