Non-Fiction

“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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A Warm Winter Tail

Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Key Ideas and Details, Michigan Author, Nature Smart, Non-Fiction, Range of Reading, Science, Self Smart, Vocabulary | 0 comments

A Warm Winter Tail by Carrie A. Pearson and illustrated by Christina WaldHere’s what you need this chilly January: A Warm Winter Tail by Carrie A. Pearson and illustrated by Christina Wald!

This nonfiction picture book about animal adaptations in winter is perfect for a Range of Reading lesson (Core Standard #1 – check!). Carrie Pearson, a Michigander who knows all about staying warm in winter, uses a conversational tone to share a great deal of information. On each double-spread, kids learn what an animal does to stay warm in the winter when a baby animal wonders if humans do what they do to stay warm. For example, a baby box turtle asks its parent if humans dig deep into the mud and bury themselves like it does. A white-tailed deer asks, “Do they grow hollow hair/ so the coats that they wear/ trap the heat from their bodies for warmth?” A wide variety of animals is presented, and there’s plenty of extra information at the back of the book.

On their website, the publisher, Sylvan Dell, has an avalanche of free activities to go with the book (don’t you love not needing to recreate the wheel?) In the back of A Warm Winter Tail there’s a “Winter Animal Matching Activity” where students match the description with the correct animal, and if you go to sylvandellpublishing.com you can print off the animal sorting cards to make a fun independent/pairs/center activity. (Key Ideas & Details – Core Standard #2!) I can’t wait until February when a companion book, A Cool Summer Tail, comes out. Integrating Knowledge & Ideas – Standard #3!

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

For more information about the illustrator, please visit: christinawald.blogspot.com.

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You Can’t Ride a Bicycle to the Moon!

Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in Art, Early Learning, Key Ideas and Details, Logic Smart, Non-Fiction, Range of Reading, Science, Vocabulary | 1 comment

You Can't Ride a Bicycle to the Moon!Happy 2014! My goal this year is to share more nonfiction titles with you, so your Common Core Reading Standards Bingo Board will always have Range of Reading covered! I’m enjoying the new “You Can’t” series from Blue Apple books, especially You Can’t Ride a Bicycle to the Moon! by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Amanda Haley.

This picture book has short chapters and all the informational text features we educators love, including informative illustrations with labels (why hello, Integrating Knowledge and Ideas!) Your students can use the fun space facts they learn from You Can’t Ride a Bicycle to the Moon! in a creative project that incorporates using labels on a diagram or picture as a part of informative writing.

After sharing the book, discuss as a class why you can’t ride a bicycle to the moon, and discuss the features a spaceship needs to support human life. Create a class-made checklist of spaceship essentials: food storage, sleeping area, etc. Students can design, draw, and write about their ideal spaceship. (If you are extra-crafty, get out the cardboard and glue along with the paper and markers to make the spaceship 3-D!) The spaceship should have everything inside that astronauts need to live, as well as something to make your spacecraft go. Encourage students to use labels on any illustrations to convey information as well as write a paragraph or two of explanatory text.

With interesting informational books like You Can’t Ride a Bicycle to the Moon!, all your students will be superstar readers!

For more information about the You Can’t series, please visit blueapplebooks.com.

 

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How to be a better writing teacher

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Michigan Author, Non-Fiction | 4 comments

Groundhog sketches by Matt Faulkner

Matt Faulkner’s experimentation with Groundhog

The path to publication is packed with peaks and pitfalls (and apparently a plethora of P’s). It takes patience to pursue this path, and the revision process can be particularly painful (as can alliteration, so I’m stopping now). The way my editor guided me through this process taught me how to be a writing teacher.

I sent Groundhog’s Dilemma (the story formerly known as To See or Not To See) to my tireless editor in early 2012. She liked the story, but asked for revisions. Round 1.

So I revised, and my editor liked it even better. She still wanted revisions. Round 2.

So I revised and in 2013 I got that glorious phone call – I sold my manuscript! With all my debut-author-naivete, I thought my job was done. Silly, silly me! My editor told me she was excited to dig into the “official” revisions now. Round 3. And 4. And 5.

I have lost count of how many emails there have been with tweaks to make the story stronger. While each request for changes brought a momentary, involuntary stomach lurch, the way my editor approached revision taught me how to make revising less painful for my students.

1. Every email began with praise. Not “you’re the most brilliant writer ever!” or “snazzy font choice!” but honest, constructive, positive feedback. This made me feel like my work was appreciated, and that I was not in trouble.

2. When corrections needed to be made (grammatical or logical story points), my editor briefly explained why without making me feel stoopid.

3. My editor suggested changes, but made it clear that the decisions about my writing were up to me. She used words like “what if” or “I wonder” instead of “you need to do this here”.

4. Every email ended with encouragement. I knew my editor was confident in my ability to improve my work (even when my self-confidence was threadbare) and that helped me approach revision as a manageable, necessary process instead of as punishment. This is the approach I want to use with my students. Less “wrong!” and more “better!”

Today I submitted the final tweaks on the copyedited version of Groundhog’s Dilemma. I’m glad to be done working on this story, but I’ll miss working with my editor. Fingers crossed that my book sells so well, my editor will want a sequel!

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