Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Title: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Author: Dr. Seuss
Genre: Fiction
Grade: 1st
Theme: Realizing what is important in the holiday season

Who hasn't read this book? Who wouldn't want to read it? The real reason for the holidays is explained. The Whos were happy even without tangible items, just like we should be. My students were able to list the items they could live without in the classroom. We even did it for the day! Anyone's attitude can turn positive, with the correct mind set. And sometimes it even takes a crime to make it possible. But, for every wrong action, there is a right one, as the Grinch shows us.

Summary: The Grinch is a green creature who hides away in his cave upon a 3,000 foot mountain north of Whooville, where the Whos live. The Grinch's heart is two sizes too small, causing him to be incapable of emotion. His only friend is Max, his dog. While he is in his home, he can hear the singing of Whoville. The Grinch decides to attempt to understand their happiness by sneaking to the town in the middle of the night to steal all of their Christmas decorations, presents, and food. Despite this, the Whos are still able to get up in the morning to sing and celebrate the day. The Grinch returns all of the things he stole and realizes Christmas comes from within the heart, not from material items. When he does this, he is welcomed and taken in by the Whos as one of their own. At the point in time, the Grinch's heart grows to twice the size it should be.

Pre-Reading Activity: Students will create a list of items that remind them of the holidays. Most will say presents, lights, tree, Santa, menorah, cards, etc.

Post-Reading Activity: Allow students to realize Christmas comes from the heart and help them to understand it is not about tangible items. It is not about shopping, presents, lights, or black Friday. Christmas is about Advent and Christ. Christ gives us many gifts. Assign each student a gift that is not tangible that we must give back to Christ, especially during this season. Have each student portray it somehow and put it in a box. Place these boxes under the tree in the classroom.

About the Author:

Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, was a children's author born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He went to college at Dartmouth College and was kicked off the college humor magazine. This forced him to use the pen name "Seuss". For a period of time, Seuss drew political cartoons. When he returned to children's books, Seuss never won any book awards. Because of this, his own line of medals and awards were created. He passed away in 1967 of a long struggle with cancer.

Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks


Title: Thanksgiving Is For Giving Thanks
Author: Margaret Sutherland
Genre: Nonfiction
Grade: 1st
Theme: Being thankful

My students were telling me monetary things they were thankful for. Luckily, this book helped them to switch their mindset to the more spiritual and mindful things to be thankful for. The best part is I didn't have to tell them, they understood it themselves. I really enjoy books that spark the student's minds to learn and think without me having to tell them what to do.

Summary: Thanksgiving is when we think about what we are thankful for. Some things are tangible and some things are not. But what should we be thankful for? This book helps everyone remember what is most important: friends and family. In my Catholic school, we remember God and Jesus the most, as they are held in the most high regard.

Pre-Reading Activity: Have students create a list of what they are thankful for. Accept all answers, even tangible items that we do not need to survive.

Post-Reading Activity: Review the list created. Cross out what is not important. Have students color and cut out 4 leaves to glue to their personal thankful tree. On these leaves, write one thing they are thankful for. Hang and present these on the bulletin board outside the room for all to see, including visitors and family members.

About the Author:

Margaret Sutherland is a New Zealand native who has resided in Australia for almost 20 years. She has written seven novels and many short story collections and received multiple awards. She won a national literacy award in 2009 for one of her short stories. She now runs a music teaching practice in Lake Macquarie, New South Wales with her husband Bill.

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?


Title: What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?
Author: Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Genre: Nonfiction
Grade: 1st
Theme: Animals body parts

This book made me laugh and was strangely educational. I bought the book from Kohls last year and never read it until recently. The pictures remind me of Eric Carle and the words are informational. Even though the book does not tell a story, children are still able to increase their brain's knowledge. They can also predict what the animals are and what they might do with that body part. It is a fun experience for people of all ages.

Summary: This book goes through the body parts of different animals. It asks "What do you do with ______ like these?" along with a picture of that body part of different animals. When you turn the page, these full animals are pictured and what they do with that body part. In the back of the book, it gives more details about each animal and many more facts about them.

Pre-Reading Activity: Create lists of what we do with our different body parts. Use the parts listed in the book. These are nose, ears, tail, eyes, feet, and mouth. Have students add in other body parts as well.

Post-Reading Activity: Review the list made about humans and the body parts. List the animals that do the same thing with that body part. Children will be amazed at how alike animals and humans are! Have students pick an animal to focus on and find 5 more facts about it to present their findings to the class.

About the Authors:

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page are married and moved from New York City to Boulder, Colorado where they work in a studio attached to their house. They have 3 children ages 25, 23, and 11. The inspiration for most of their books comes from the questions their children would ask when they were younger.

The Big Snow


Title: The Big Snow
Author: Berta and Elmer Hader
Genre: Fiction
Grade: 1st
Theme: Preparing for Winter

This book does not have any color and is completely black and white. Some may see this as unfortunate, but I think it shows the simplicity in the book. The story is simple, so why would the illustrations be any different? Winter is the holiday season, which is not fancy or filled with monetary objects. Holidays are about the heart and the spirit, just as winter is. It creates unity within the environment, so the white illustrations work beautifully.

Summary: All of the animals are getting ready and preparing for the winter months ahead. Some animals are growing thicker coats and some are getting their dens ready to rest in. The day after Christmas, all of the animals come out of hibernation to see the change in the weather and glorify in it.

Pre-Reading Activity: Create a T-chart. On one side, create a class list about winter. What do you see? What do you do? What is celebrated? How do you feel? Gather all of the information as we can.

Post-Reading Activity: Fill in the other side of the T-chart with what animals do, especially the ones in the book because we see those animals in this area. Bring in a small stuffed bear and create a cave for it to rest in during Winter within the classroom. Allow the students to bring in things they see outside. Tell the students the bear's name is "Bear Nate" and encourage all students to say "Hi Bear Nate!" every morning. Discuss why he is going in a cave. Have students look at other books about hibernation to further their interests.

About the Authors:

Berta and Elmer Hader were married in 1919. He served in WWI and they lived in the suburbs of New York City. They we quick learners who were self-sufficient. The Hader’s enjoyed being independent, but also enjoyed having friends over to visit on the weekends. They decided to build a house together and a career. They have written and illustrated classic stories including The Ugly Duckling and The Little Red Hen. After these stories, their career soared upwards. They sold thousands upon thousands of books during the Golden Age of children’s literature. Despite their death in the 1970’s, their legacy continues to live on.

Margaret and Margarita: Margarita y Margaret


Title: Margaret and Margarita: Margarita y Margaret
Author: Lynn Reiser
Genre: Fiction
Grade: 1st
Theme: Friendship and Language

This book would work great in my class because of the dual language. Even though none of my students are bilingual, they are still recognizing other languages and cultures. The illustrations are beautifully done. My students were able to point out how the girls were alike and different. These were two concepts we were discussing in social studies at the time too! Talk about cross-curricular vocabulary!

Summary: 2 girls meet in a park. One speaks English and one speaks Spanish. Despite the differences in language, the girls become friends and are still able to cooperate and establish a relationship. Friendship does not have a language, it is universal. This book is written in both English and Spanish.

Pre-Reading Activity: Ask students what other languages they know. Have them ask questions in these other languages. Have students decide what it means to be a friend and how we can show our friendships.

Post-Reading Activity: Make a list about body language. What is it? How is it prevalent? What does it mean? Bring in children who speak languages other than what the students know. Remind the students about body language and being a friend. After the children leave, ask the students what they learned. Was there an exchange of learning? What did they find out about the children? What did they do? Would they like to play with them again?

About the Author:

Lynn Reiser is the author of many acclaimed books for children, including some bilingual books. She lives in Connecticut.

Fall Leaves Fall!


Title: Fall Leaves Fall!
Author: Zoe Hall
Genre: Nonfiction
Grade: 1st
Theme: Categorizing and Graphing

The illustrations in this book are big, bold, and vibrant. The words are big, bold, and vibrant. The children in it are not all white either, which my students could connect with. The book also gives ideas for teachers for projects and lessons. This book also allowed my children to explore and learn about leaves before they could touch and connect with them. They could tell me the characteristics before I had them do an activity. The book was extremely informational and kid-friendly.

Summary: Told through the eyes of two brothers, children will be provided with examples of how they can explore and learn about leaves.

Pre-Reading Activity: Create a list of what students like about fall. Most likely, they will say the leaves. What can they do with the leaves? What do they notice about them? Ask questions to provoke the use of their 4 senses, without taste.

Post-Reading Activity: Allow students to collect leaves from outside and bring them into the classroom. Discuss the types of characteristics of leaves mentioned in the book (oak, maple, ginko, sassafrass, and beech). Predict which type will have the most leaves. Students will sort their bag of leaves depending on the type of leaf. Count the number of each leaf and create a class bar graph of the information.

About the Author:
Zoe Hall is not a very well known author. Most of her books are fall themed.

The Devil's Arithmetic


Title: The Devil's Arithmetic
Author: Jane Yolen
Genre: Historical Fiction
Grade: 6th
Theme: Identity

I first experienced this book when I was in 6th grade. My teacher read it to us. I even went out to buy my own copy to read ahead of her. The adventure Hannah goes on is something most of us will never experience. At the same time, we have all experienced being taken away from our parents when we were in preschool. It is not to the same extreme, but is similar. Also, the reader is reading something new to them. As I said, most of us will never go through this type of trauma, but it's those stories that ake us want to turn the page over and over again.

Summary: Hannah dreads going to her family's Passover Seder. Her relatives always tell the same stories, and Hannah's tired of hearing them talk about the past. But when she opens the front door to symbolically welcome the prophet Elijah, she's transported to a Polish village -- and the year 1942. Why is she there, and who is this "Chaya" that everyone seems to think she is? Just as she begins to unravel the mystery, Nazi soldiers come to take everyone in the village away. And only Hannah knows the unspeakable horrors that await.

Pre-Reading Activity: Tape the Star of David to a couple desks in the classroom after school. When the students return the next day, start to treat these students more cruel than the others. Make these students stand instead of sit. Have them remove their shoes and put them under their desks. Take away their pencils and give them to those students who do not have stars. Tell them that they cannot talk, but allow those without stars to talk all they want, etc. Your point is to make the “the have nots” experience just a “pinch” of what it feels like to be mistreated for no reason at all, and to allow the “haves” to experience what it feels like to watch others be mistreated for no apparent reason. How did you feel, on either end? After the point has been made, begin to discuss the Holocaust.

Post-Reading Activity: The Devil’s Arithmetic opens with Hannah contemplating acquiring a tattoo. Unknown to her then, the idea of a tattoo will take on epic proportions in the surrealistic world of the Holocaust. What connection does Hannah make regarding the notion of a tattoo? What does this connection tell us about
the historical element of language? Create a list of other words that have changed in their usage or meanings over time. Ask students to trace the meanings of one or more of these words. How does changing language challenge us to understand the past?

About the Author:

Jane Yolen is an author of children’s books, a poet, a teacher of writing and literature, and a reviewer of children’s literature. She has won the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award among many others. She has written over 300 books for children.