Students will need to choose a
book that is at the best level for them in order to be successful in their
independent reading. To introduce the idea of choosing a "just right" book,
I bring in several reading materials to show and talk to the class about.
First I introduce a children's
book. I read it aloud, reading quickly and finish the book within a couple
of minutes. I ask the class if they think this is a "just right" book for
me. With some direction, they will come to the conclusion that this book was
too easy for me. I read it very quickly and was almost "bored' with the
reading. We place emphasis on the fact that a book that is "just right"
should challenge you a bit to help you become a better reader.
Next I show the class a book
from my bookshelf at home - in the case of the photo, a Dan Brown book. I
open the book up and read from a page. This time I read at a good pace. The
kids think this book is just right, but I tell them that it actually isn't.
I emphasize again that I brought the book from my bookshelf at home to give
them a hint. They tell me that I must have already read the book and that is
what I am looking for from them. A "just right" book must be new to them,
not something they have already read. I do explain that it is great to read favourite books more than once but for independent reading, the book must be
something that hasn't been read before.
My next book is a book from my
husband's bookshelf (usually a car care guide) and I read from it to the
class. I act bored and the kids laugh telling me that I'm not really
interested in it. I add a sticky note to the front that says "Not interested
Borrowing from my husband's
bookshelf again, I next pull out a physics text book. This book is key to
teaching the kids the importance of being able to understand what you read.
I open to a page and begin reading the difficult terms and equations out
loud. The kids look puzzled and confused as do I! I explain that this book
is not "just right" for me. Even though I can read all of the words, I do
not understand what I am reading! This is so important as kids often choose
books that are too tough for them because it is something they would like to
be able to read, but just aren't ready for.
Finally, I introduce my last
book. I show the class that it is from a series. I mention that I've read
the first book from the series and I enjoyed it. I read some of it aloud, I
read smoothly for the most part, but make a show of slowing a bit at some of
the more challenging words . I show excitement about the book. This book is
the one! Again, I reinforce that I am interested in it, it's new to me, and
I can understand it.
Once you have completed your
lesson, create a bulletin board that you can keep up for awhile. When your
students bring a book to you that is not "just right" for them you can bring
them to the bulletin board and reference your lesson.
The Important Book
by Margaret Wise Brown
|This book is terrific for the beginning of the
school year as a getting-to-know-you activity! I read this story
aloud asking the kids to listen for the pattern in the words. They
quickly recognize it as each page repeats. We then use this pattern
so that each student can write their own "important" page. I give
them the 'rough' copy page (click here) after demonstrating on chart
paper how to write a page for myself. Once the class is all done
writing their 'rough' drafts, I help them edit them.
We then re-read the book on another day and this
time, we look at how the illustrator placed the words. The students
quickly see that the words are often on objects. We then plan for
their own pages. We emphasize large, bright pictures.
Once everyone is done their final page and they
have all been checked over for correct spelling, etc., we publish
our pages into our own class book!
I have done this with grade two, three and four
classes and once it is published it is a class favourite!
Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo
by Mercer Mayer Published by Rainbird Press ISBN: 1-879920-04-2
Professor Wormbog collects Beasties. He has a wall of pictures which is found on the
second and third page of the story. On this wall is an illustrated picture of every beast
he has found from A to Y. However, he has yet to find Zipperump-a-Zoo. The short story
chronicles his search for the missing Zipperump-a-Zoo. He knows what it looks like, but he
has not found one yet.
- Before reading the book, I cover any illustrations of the Zipperump-a-Zoo so the
children do not see Mayers depiction. After reading the story, I have the students
draw their version of the Zipperump-a-Zoo. As with all of Mayers books, the pictures
are large, bright and vibrant. The childrens work embodies the 4 Bs of my art
program: big, bright, bold and background. When their creative ideas are well developed
then I share the actual Zipperump-a-Zoo.
- Students can design a
Zipperump-a-Zoo trap to catch it alive.
- At the beginning of the book is the beasties wall
with one beasties for every letter of the alphabet. Have the students build their own
class alphabet wall of beasties. Each student can take a letter of the alphabet and design
a new beastie with a new name. Habitat profiles could be written for each beastie.
Theres an Alligator Under My Bed
Theres Something in My Attic
Theres a Nightmare in My Closet
by Mercer Mayer
These delightful books, tell the stories of a little boy who has an alligator living under
his bed; of a little girl who has a nightmare living in her attic, and a little boy who
has a nightmare living in his closet. In each book, the parents do not believe their child
and the child faces their monster and comes out victorious.
- Students can share things they fear now and in the past. Discuss strategies to handle
fear. Discuss ways that fear can be helpful. Compare adult and childrens fear.
- Illustrate the something in the attic and the closet
before sharing Mayers depictions.
- Write the next story evolving from each book,
"Theres an Alligator in My Garage" "Another Day with the Monster in
My Attic", etc.
- Design other ways to capture or get rid of these
- Students write and publish their own
storybook, "Theres a *** in My ***"
Sometimes I Feel Like a Mouse
by Jeanne Modesitt Published by: Scholastic ISBN: 0-590-44836-6
This is a wonderful picture book about feelings. Each page follows the same pattern
"Sometimes I feel like a (animal) (verb describing animal action) (adjective
describing feeling)." An example is "Sometimes I feel like an elephant,
stomping, bold". Each adjective is in a colour that corresponds with the feeling. For
example, the "bold" for the elephant is in a brilliant purple. The illustrations
are wonderful examples of colour expressing feeling, showing the main character
interacting with the animal that represents the emotion. This book opens a door to many
mini studies that will help you integrate your writing, grammar, computer and art lessons.
Introducing the Book
Begin by reading the book to the class. Re-read it several times, each time drawing the
students attention to different aspects of the book. Discuss what kinds of words are
being used, the colours, the painting technique, etc. Brainstorm several examples that the
students create. Work together to find the best adjectives and verbs to go with certain
- "Creating Personal Passages"
After creating several examples together, turn the students loose to create their own
ideas. Have them write several on rough paper and share them with friends to find their
best one. Have students type their selection in WordPerfect, being sure to have them put
the last word (the feeling) in a colour that best represents the feeling. Print each
students work with a colour printer.
Activity - "Class Book Making in Art"
Next, revisit the story paying close attention to the illustrations. Discuss what kind of
painting technique is being used (blending colours with water together) and which colours
represent which feelings (e.g. red for anger, yellow for happiness, blue and black for
sadness). Create a list together. Have students paint their own picture that goes with
their personal passage. Add the typed passages to the illustrations and create a class
Activity - "Personal Book Making"
Have students go back to their page of examples and begin to compile their own ideas for a
personal book of feelings. This book-making activity could take several days while they
paint or colour many illustrations for their books.
Extension "Moving Beyond Animals"
Soon after my students began brainstorming their own ideas, they came up with some that
went beyond animals to represent their emotions. For example, one student wrote
"Sometimes I feel like a hand, writing, tired." Another had "Sometimes I
feel like a brain, thinking, excited." As an extension, your class could choose a
different topic and create more books. An example might include incorporating this
activity with your weather unit - "Sometimes I feel like a cumulus cloud, floating,
calm." or "Sometimes I feel like a storm front, rumbling, mad." The
extensions are endless! Have fun!
|A really fun activity to do with any novel study is to complete a Wanted!
poster for one of the characters. I have a template that I use all the time. Students
refer to the text to gather information about ...
- the last known address of the character
- a physical description of the character
- special things you should know about the character
- other important information
- who to contact if the character is seen
A picture of the character is then added. The kids get very creative with
these and the more we do it, the better they get! For fun, have your kids try Templeton
from Charlotte's Web or Searchlight from Stone Fox (see sample). This is also a neat
activity to do with picture books for younger students. Another extension is to have your
students do a Wanted poster for a character from their own story writing. This is a great
way to get them thinking about including detail in their writing!
- Shayni Tokarczyk