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On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring

Posted by on Apr 5, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

April is Poetry Month and in Michigan it’s also a month full of “puddle-sploshing, crocus-poking, mitten-soaking” days. This month’s book is On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring by Buffy Silverman.

This simple poetry book is full of rhyme and imagery paired with gorgeous photos. It’s a list poem with onomatopoeia. You can read each line and see if it applies to your surroundings. Do you live where “mist lifts”? What do you see from the book that you can see when you go outside? Take your kids outside and have them point out what they see. Make a list and turn it into a list poem. See if you can come up with some cool onomatopoeia and maybe take photos. It’s a wonderful invitation to go outside and enjoy the poetry of the changing seasons. Remember to bring boots for puddle-sploshing!

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It’s important: “Let’s Talk About Race”

Posted by on Feb 26, 2020 in Craft and Structure, Early Learning, Key Ideas and Details, Non-Fiction, People Smart, Print Motivation, Self Smart, Social Studies, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Let's Talk About Race written by Julius Lester and illustrated by Karen Barbour

Talking about race is hard for me, but that doesn’t let me off the hook. Racism isn’t either/or, as in I don’t shout hateful slurs therefore I’m not racist. I’m racist because I’d rather hide any prejudice I have from growing up as a white, middle-class, suburban female in America than have important conversations where I might feel uncomfortable. My silence won’t help our kids. So let’s talk about it.

Let’s Talk About Race was written by Julius Lester and illustrated by Karen Barbour. Lester, who sadly died in 2018, wrote, “I am a story. So are you. So is everyone.” He wanted kids to know that being African-American was an important part of his story, not the entirety of it. He wanted to engage kids in conversations to see our differences and our commonalities. “What is your favorite food, your religion, your favorite color, your nationality? All of these things are a part of our stories.” But, he reminds us all, “…some stories are true. Some are not. Those who say ‘MY RACE IS BETTER THAN YOUR RACE’  are telling a story that is not true.”

After you read Let’s Talk About Race with your kids, talk about race! Open up a safe conversation where students can share and ask questions. Work hard not to deny experiences, and challenge with compassion any statements that make others “less than.” And talk about all the other wonderful parts of our stories, from favorite foods to hair color to pet peeves. You can make a questionnaire based on all the elements Lester talks about for kids to answer about themselves. Then, kids can find someone who had the same answer on their list. When we help our children talk about race and equality, we help build a stronger, kinder world.

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Easy choice: GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA!

Posted by on Jan 22, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In Michigan, the only predictable thing about the weather is its unpredictability, and I bet it’s like that where you live, too. Weather makes life so hard for Groundhog in Groundhog’s Dilemma – my book!

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?

I have free printable activities for you! Just click on the book cover on the right side of this page. You can use the fun facts sheet for informational reading and as a springboard for animal research projects. 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 prompt for writing an opinion piece. Students can write a persuasive letter to Groundhog. Kids who send letters to Groundhog via my email will receive responses!

February 2nd is my birthday so Groundhog Day has always been my favorite holiday. I hope you enjoy it as much as these kiddos do!

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“One Family” is one you need for Thanksgiving!

Posted by on Nov 18, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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). 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.

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 where the dad and his sons are 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!

One Family by George Shannon with pictures by Blanca Gomez
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