Saturday, February 23, 2013

Great Picture Books to Read Aloud

I ran across a great linky party about books! Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade is showcasing favorite books for her most recent Show & Tell Tuesday theme. 

I just love a good read-aloud, so I'm linking up and sharing some of my personal favorites. Some of these books are linked to blog posts I've written that describe activities to go along with them. All of the following are picture books that have been kid-tested and approved by my students this school year! 

"Pierre the Penguin" by Jean Marzollo
This is a must-have for your penguin unit! It's the true story of a penguin who lost his feathers and the brilliant solution that helped to restore them. Pierre just celebrated his 30th birthday and still lives at the California Academy of Sciences, which features live penguin cams on their website to show your students after reading the story.

"Moe the Dog in Tropical Paradise" by Diane Stanley
A great book to read in winter-time when you're wishing for warm weather! Click here for my blog post on this story.

"Little Granny Quarterback" by Bill Martin Jr.
You don't come across too many books about a football-playing grandmother! Click here for my blog post on this story (scroll to the end of post to see activities my students did with the book).

"There is a Bird on Your Head" by Mo Willems
Another hilarious Elephant and Piggie adventure! I read Elephant's lines using an elephant mask with a bird attached to the top and the kids were enthralled! This just might be my favorite book in the series.

"Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic" by Monica Carnesi
This is the true story of a dog rescued from an ice floe in 2010. Students can see pictures of Baltic and a video of his actual rescue on the author's blog

"Snowflake Bentley" by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
This is a beautiful picture book biography of Wilson Bentley, a farmer born in 1865 who photographed and studied snowflakes. Students can use Wilson Bentley's pictures as inspiration for making or drawing their own snowflakes.

"How Rocket Learned to Read" and "Rocket Writes a Story" by Tad Hills
Rocket's got reading and writing covered! See my blog posts here and here for ideas and activities.

"Senorita Gordita" by Helen Ketteman
This book is a Southwestern-style retelling of "The Gingerbread Man" and is so fun to read aloud! Kids will join in the refrain with enthusiasm ("with a flip and a skip and a zip-zoom-zip"), and comparisons to the original Gingerbread Man fairy tale are sure to follow. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the book, so an introduction to a few of them before reading it will have your students thinking about language and making predictions based on prior knowledge of the original story.

"Porkenstein" by Kathryn Lasky
 A fun Frankenstein-esque story to read at Halloween. Throw on a lab coat and safety goggles and start conducting science experiments after reading this book!

"The Library Dragon" by Carmen Agra Deedy
A librarian has serious issues with kids checking out or even touching the library books in this awesome story. Click here for my blog post on "The Library Dragon".

Be sure to check out other great picture book recommendations at Sunny Days in Second Grade's linky party here!


Friday, February 15, 2013

A Tropical Paradise in Winter!

"Moe the Dog in Tropical Paradise" by Diane Stanley is one of my favorite books and perfect to read at this time of year because it takes place in winter:

What images come to mind when you think of winter? Snowflakes? A blanket of white snow covering the ground? Ice-covered ponds and lakes? Well, winter in Central Texas is usually pretty mild, so unfortunately snow is a rare occurrence here. Last week was no exception with daytime temperatures in the mid-70's. Oh how we yearn for a little snow and ice once in a while!

So you can imagine the surprise for my students when they found out that there was an ice storm in the library, complete with a snowman, igloo, and an ice tunnel!
Our story area was transformed into a giant igloo!
The ice tunnel--brrrrr!
What does the inside of an igloo look like, anyway? Let's take a peek...
Entrance to the igloo

Hmmm, not quite what you might expect...

The tropical decor shocked the kids, but it made sense after hearing the story. And they really loved leaving the story area through the ice tunnel:

The story doesn't actually have an igloo or an ice tunnel in it, but I couldn't resist adding them. And in case you're wondering about the extravagant set-up, I didn't do it all by myself. I had help from my daughter and her friend, who were completely in charge of the tropical paradise area while I tackled the icy parts. We had fun decorating, and the students had a blast with this story! The setting prompted great discussions about weather, with students comparing warm and cold climates. Personally, I enjoy living in a warm location, but wouldn't mind a nice snowfall once every winter. How about you? 


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Library Football

 Give me an "R"! Give me an "E"! Give me an "A"! Give me a "D"! What's it spell?
Have your kids ever played library football? It's kind of like real football, except no tackling is allowed, and the Dewey Decimal System is an important part of the game! The week before the Super Bowl is when my 1st-5th graders play this totally loud but very fun game. Students are immediately greeted by marching band music and this guy when they come to the library for their lesson:

I have this awesome football field rug that comes out each year for the big event:

The kids get suited up in red and blue jerseys (courtesy of our P.E. coach) and the ref (yours truly) goes over the rules of the game, the most important of which is to quickly find a book that matches the Dewey Decimal number on a card.
Here's a sampling of the cards that students use during the game:

And here is a student finding a book to match his card. 

Once a match is made it has to be verified by the ref, and then a real football is moved down the field by the classroom teacher. 

A touchdown is worth 6 points, and the scoring team answers a question about something we've learned in the library to get the extra point.
When the game is over, students shake hands with the other team:

The kids LOVE this game--probably because it's the one time I tell them to be loud and run in the library! Something else they love is discovering books from the nonfiction section, especially sports books!

I am not brave enough (or crazy enough) to do this with kindergarten. Instead, I take this opportunity to compare nonfiction and fiction books. First I read them a simple nonfiction book about football and then we read "Little Granny Quarterback" by Bill Martin Jr.
Have you heard of this story? It's one of my favorites, and they really enjoy holding the story clues from this book!
After reading the books, we play a quick game of library football, kindergarten style. Basically the kids toss the ball to each other down the field until everyone has had a turn. Each catch counts as a point for the whole class, and we clap and cheer at the end. Believe it or not, they love it!


Oops--looks like my inner cheerleader has been unleashed!