Tag Archives: animals

Last Night & this morning

24 Apr

Stressed & exhausted, I took personal day yesterday, so I could go back last night for Literacy Night. The attendance wasn’t great, so each of the families that arrived got to choose a book for each child, rather than one book per family.

The evening was on a jungle animal theme and I had the joy of ordering the books. I chose these for the younger readers

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and these for older readers

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This morning, I am part of the team presenting to the staff about intentional read aloud and close reading. We are giving books to the staff too. They are getting

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After that I can relax. I got a big box of books this week full of Morris Award submissions and another box of yarn for a sweater I am knitting for me. It’ll be a rip-roaring weekend at my house.

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Wilbur, Ivan, and now, Audrey

7 Dec

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Wilbur is perhaps the most famous farm animal to escape the slaughterhouse. Ivan was not destined for the slaughterhouse, but he faced a grim future. And now we have Audrey.

From the publisher: Audrey is a cow with poetry in her blood, who yearns for the greener pastures beyond Bittersweet Farms. But when Roy the horse tells this bovine dreamer that she is headed for Abbot’s War, the slaughter house, Audrey knows that she must leave her home and friends sooner than she ever imagined. With the help of a whole crew of animals and humans alike, Audrey attempts to escape the farm she lives on–and certain death. Cleverly written as an oral account, this unique illustrated tale of an animal on the run, told “to camera”, uses over thirty narrative voices, including six humans, four cows, three sheep, two sheep dogs, one pig and a very silly rooster. Full of heart and humor, Audrey (cow) is ultimately a very human story about life and death, friendship, and holding on to one’s dreams–based more or less on a true story.

This is great book for taking to kids about voice. With so many characters, it is hard to believe that each one has a unique voice, but they do! Dan Bar-El is an artist with words. One cow’s grief over losing her son is compared to “a mist like we’d get on gray, foggy mornings that made the farm seem as if it were fading away along its edges”. Humor, realism, sadness, adventure and a lot heart make this a wonderful book, and an excellent read aloud. It would also be fun to create a class writing project trying to emulate this style in different setting, depending on what you are studying.

I highly recommend Audrey (cow). It would make a great gift for an elementary school student if you are still looking for books to give during this holiday season.

Three books

21 Aug

At my meeting yesterday, one of the icebreaker things we had to do was write down 3 books we thought every elementary student should read by the time they leave for middle school. You could feel the buzz in the room. People had lots of ideas, but no one started to write. The hard part was limiting it to three.

My first one was my first book love,  The Story of Ferdinand  by Munro Leaf.

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It’s an old book, but when I read it lo, those many years ago, my eyes were opened. I was just like Ferdinand and I had never realized that I could identify so closely with the character in a book. Disney turned it into cartoon in 1938.

Next on my list was Frindle by Andrew Clements.

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This was Clements’ first book and it is a wonderful tale about creative thought and the power of words.Brian Selznick’s black-and-white illustrations enhance the humor in this unforgettable story.

Finally, I chose a newer book, one that resonated with me very powerfully the first time I read it, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

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Just thinking about the book makes me get all soft & mushy inside.

As the day wore on, I added a few titles to my list, as did other people, but I wonder, what three books of you think  every elementary student should read by the time they leave for middle school

Sea turtles!!!!

30 May

Right now, I’m reading  Sea Turtle Scientist by Stephen R. Swinburne. It’s another in Scientists in the Field  series from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which I love. This book is as fantastic as the others and it has a video trailer:

 

From the publisher:

Dr. Kimberly Stewart, also known as the Turtle Lady of St. Kitts, is already waiting at midnight when an 800-pound leatherback sea turtle crawls out of the Caribbean surf and onto the sandy beach. The mother turtle has a vital job to do: dig a nest in which she will lay eggs that will hatch into part of the next generation of leatherbacks. With only one in a thousand of the eggs for this critically endangered species resulting in an adult sea turtle, the odds are stacked against her and her offspring. Join the renowned author and photographer Steve Swinburne on a journey through history to learn how sea turtles came to be endangered, and what scientists like Kimberly are doing to save them.

Like the others in the series, this book combines facts about sea turtles with the research done to preserve them and the actual people doing the work. It i very readable and makes me long to be on the beach in St. Kitts.

Brainy Bird Books

6 Apr

A family of ducks comes every year to nest in the courtyard of my school. There are usually two females, one or two males, and, eventually, many ducklings. So far this year, I’ve only seen two males, but I am hopeful that we will have ducklings before too long. Then, we will see teachers and students standing against the windows overlooking the courtyard, happily eating them. It is our Rite of Spring.

Thinking about the ducklings, my mind wanders to several new books about birds.

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Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth is a wonder. In the guise of a catalog from a future in which builds are extinct, it presents bird part  you can use to build your own bird. It is apart parody of sales catalogs, part cautionary tale about environmental issues, part natural history of birds. There is so much here and so many ways you can use this in the classroom: persuasive writing, descriptive writing, how to writing….. you get the idea. Here are some pages to show you what to expect.

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Feathers Not Just for Flying  written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen, is a more traditional take on natural history. Stewart focuses on just birds’ feathers and the many different purposes of feathers. Each page or two-page spread has a statement with a simile in large print like “Feathers can shade out sun like an umbrella.” Then there is a text box with smaller print describing how one particular bird (like the Tricolored heron, Florida Everglades) uses its feathers in this way. The text is simple, but the ideas are big.

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Finally, we have Mama Built a Little Nest written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Steve Jenkins, which focuses, as you might guess, on nests. More suitable to younger audiences, the rhyming text explains the different ways birds make nests for their young, allowing children to learn amazing facts about different birds.

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Animals Art(ists)

6 Jan

In   Parrots Over Puerto Rico Susan L.  Roth and Cindy Trumbore   intertwine the  histories of the Puerto Rican parrot and the island of Puerto Rico, culminating with current efforts to save the parrots from extinction.

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For the first half of the book, Roth and Trumbore do a splendid job providing young readers with a history of the island, intertwining the birds’ history with its human inhabitants along the way. In the second part they indicate the awareness by Puerto Ricans that the birds are almost gone and then their efforts to bring them back. The book ends with a very informative afterward with photos as well as a timeline and a list of sources.

As always, Roth’s collages are outstanding.

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Tables are turned in Whale Shines  by Fiona Robinson.

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Whale is cruising about the ocean, advertising an art expo for sea creatures.   He sees all the other sea creatures expressing their creativity, and  bemoans the fact that he is a mere vehicle for advertising, not an artist himself.

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With a little help from some tiny friends, though, Whale discovers that, he too, can become an artist.

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My inner nerdy child is dancing

11 Dec

I used to read trivia books and collect all sorts of facts and data. I even had a little book where I wrote it all down. I was such a weird kid.  Now, I am an adult and my inner nerdy child is dancing because of this book:

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Did you know that, in its lifetime, a caribou will shed and grow 10 sets of antlers? You would know this, and many other cool animal facts if you read Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives  written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. Each 2-page spread features one animal and gives at least one interesting fact about that animal with a large color illustration. But wait, there’s more:  the illustrations show the number cited (even 1,000 baby seahorses one male will carry!), so it’s easier for children to get the concept and they can count up on their own.Here’s one I especially liked:

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I wonder how many sweaters, hats or pairs of mittens that would make.

The animals mentioned in the book include spiders, alpacas, kangaroos, dolphins, woodpeckers, giraffes, alligators, rattlesnakes, alligators, and butterflies. The numbers range from 1 to 1000. Schaefer has more information about each of the animals she has included in the book and also how she came up with her calculations. There is also a note on “What is an average?” showing how to calculate averages. although designed with younger readers in mind, I think the back sections would be helpful in many math classes.

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