Like Me on Facebook!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fly, Fly Away...

This next Kevin Henkes pick works best for the youngest of readers, especially those learning colors.  “Birds” is a simple story that draws on its illustrations to take the meaning of the text deeper.  Children will enjoy the artwork Henkes uses to parallel what his main character is thinking.  This text is not so much a story, but the thought process a little girl goes through as she peers out the window at the songbirds.  Her thoughts can act as a springboard for your child to wonder about animals or objects.
Ready for some activities?!
-Discuss how each letter in the title of the book is a different color.  Ask your child to point to the “B” and identify its color.  Or, ask your child to point to the blue one and identify its letter.
-Make an inference.  On the first page ask “Why is the curtain slanted?”  As simple as it sounds, inferences are a complex skill where readers must draw from background knowledge and clues from the story in order to determine what’s happening.
-Count the number of birds on the telephone wire.  How many birds are drawn altogether?
-Since that page is repetitive, see if your young learner can use their finger to track the words “They didn’t move.”
-Have them make a prediction on this page as to what will happen to the birds when the little girl looks away.  At the end of the story, also have he/she predict where the birds go during storms.  Predictions are a great way to set a purpose for reading, and to engage the reader in actively listening to the story to determine if his/her prediction is correct.
-Henkes’ cloud reference offers an opportunity to add a little artistic flair to your reading.  Have your child paint or draw a sky with clouds resembling birds or another object.
-Draw in some science and ask your child why the leaves are off trees in winter.
-Shout SURPRISE as the birds fly away from the tree!  Discuss that exclamation points tell the reader to put much excitement into their voices.  Beginning readers need to hear different intonations as you read.  This not only helps with their comprehension, but also with just making the stories more FUN!
-Pick out all the blue birds, or yellow, etc.
-Allow the young readers to copy a sentence onto index cards (one word per card).  Mix the cards up and see if he/she can arrange them in the correct order.
Again, I’m dying to hear from YOU!  Did you try any of these or previous activities?  Do you have any other suggestions?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Here Kitty, Kitty!

I’ve decided to study one author a week.  That way I can make sure I’m hitting on a majority of each writer’s good books.  I hate leaving some out  Kevin Henkes’ next book is by far the cutest, and especially great for the youngest of learners.  Poor Kitten has never experienced the wonder of a full moon.  Drawing from her background knowledge, she immediately thinks it is a bowl of milk.  Kitten spends the entire book trying to taste that bowl of milk in the sky, making you want to reach in the book and give her a hug (and a large bowl of milk).  No worries though, because she comes home to one sitting on the front porch.

Here are some great activities to go along:
  • Your child will find this book comical if they can understand Kitten’s confusion.  On the first page, ask your child what really is that bowl of milk in the sky?  Look outside.  See if there is a full moon.  If there is, what else could the full moon appear to be?  Your child could illustrate their ideas.

  • For our very early learners, demonstrate tracking by reading a sentence slowly and pointing to each word as you say it.  Do this several times so that your child memorizes the short sentence.  Then, see if he/she can point to the words as they read it.  If your child is able to, typically we say they have “Concept of Print,” meaning they have jumped over the first hurdle towards literacy.

  • If your child is slightly more advanced, choose a sentence from the book, or have your child pick their favorite.  Either you or the child can write each word of the sentence on one note card or Post-it.   Scramble the cards up and see if your child can organize the words into the original sentence.

  • For even more advanced learners, discuss how adding –ed or –ing changes the tense of a word.  Using Wikki Sticks , Twizzlers, highlighting tape or rubber bands, mark them.

  • If you have an active child, have them act out Kitten’s motions as you tell the story.  This really helps with listening comprehension!
I am NOT a cat person (and neither is my dog), but I do love all the opportunities Kitten gives us to do some learning!  As always, go cuddle and READ!

Anyone out there tried any of these activities?  Anyone out there have any more ideas?! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WORRIED About Your Child's Literacy Development?

Does Kevin Henkes capture your sentiments towards teaching your child to read in his book "Wemberly Worried?"  Wemberly's grandmother may have you pegged- "Worry, worry, worry... Too much worry."

Keeping with my Henkes theme, this is another wonderful story to share with your child.  It lends itself well for discussions about events that may be leaving your child anxious or concerned.  It also is an opportunity for you to share some of your worries and how you overcame them.  This allows your child to see that anxiety is an emotion people face, but that there are coping mechanisms to deal with it.

Wemberly, I'm guessing, is a Type A personality.  She worries that she'll shrink in the bathtub, or that the tree in their front yard will fall on the house.  Already, I'm picturing some people I know like this- no names mentioned ;).  Her worries are humorous and a way for you to further connect with your child.  Ask him/her why these worries are silly.

Wemberly's worst fear is starting school.  There are two entire pages of questions that Henkes includes to illustrate Wemberly's growing concern.  You can see the anxiety bloom as the questions build up in her head.  Use this page as an opportunity to introduce (or reinforce) question marks.  These are asking something, looking for a response, so they require a different type of punctuation.  Go on a Question Mark Hunt to find others within the story.  I love using Wikki Sticks to find words or punctuation in text.  But, if you don't have these, Twizzlers, Post-it Highlighter Pens or even string works.  Basically anything that engages your child and requires them to place something on the page.

You come to find that Wemberly's worries are pointless, as much of our worrying is!  She meets a friend and is excited to return the next day.  Can your child point out similarities and differences between Wemberly and Jewel?  You will be shocked to see Wemberly actually mutter the words, "Don't worry!"

Henkes weaves humor throughout his books.  "Wemberly Worried" is no exception.  Keep an eye on Grandma, as well as Wemberly's sidebar comments.  The threesome pattern seen in "Chrysanthemum" continues in this story.  Try to find it!

Here are some activities to do after reading the book:

  • Write WEMBERLY WORRIED on a sheet of paper.  Cut up each letter, so that you now have 15 smaller pieces of paper with a letter on each.  Try to come up with as many smaller words as you can using these letters.
  • Find opposites (or for advanced learners- antonyms).  You'll find BIG and LITTLE, DAY and NIGHT, EVERYTHING and NOTHING, etc.
  • More advanced learners can try to find long vowel words (Read this post to learn about long vowels ) with the pattern VCe (vowel-consonant-e).  We refer to this as the "Magic E" that takes a short vowel and stretches it out to make the long sound.  For example, MAD becomes MADE.  In the book, you'll find SMILE, SLIDE, MADE, PARADE, etc.
  • For younger learners, hunt for all words that start with a specific letter.  You can use the shaving cream activity to record these, or start a Word Bank .  
Let me know if you try one of these, whether it's successful or not!  Happy cuddling and happy reading!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum is one of my all time favorite books.  Kevin Henkes has such craft when writing that it appeals to both children and adults.  The illustrations parallel the writing like I've never seen.

Chrysanthemum is a mouse that absolutely adores her name.  That is, until she gets to school.  All her classmates' names are 3-4 letters long.  Hers "scarcely" fits on a nametag.  You discover the struggles of a young mouse trying to fit in.  Her nemesis is Victoria, a perfect representation of how NOT to act.  Chrysanthemum dreams of new, shorter names until their music teacher admits that she, too is named after a flower.  This immediately impacts everyone's attitude towards Chrysanthemum.  Chrysanthemum becomes the envy of the class and Victoria is reduced to messing up her lines in the class play!

This is advanced reading for most PreK-2 students, so it is suggested that you read it aloud to your child before completing any of these activities:

Henkes does a remarkable job using all context of Chrysanthemum's name to describe the events that happen to her.  He uses phrases such as "Chrysanthemum wilted" to depict her sadness.  See if your child can find other references to the flower connotation of her name.

Henkes also uses a pattern of three in his writing and illustrations.  See if your child can find all the threesomes, whether it be in the actual text or the pictures.

Chrysanthemum is composed of 13 letters.  See how many smaller words your child can make out of it.

Students need to understand the difference between short and long vowels.  Short vowels are most 3 letter words with the vowel in the middle (A- pat, E- pet, I- bit, O- pot and U- but).  Long vowels actually make the name of the letter.  Long a makes the A sound, long e the E sound, etc.  (A- snake, E- need, I- smile, O- boat, U- blue).  Depending on the age of your child, have them go on a word hunt throughout the book trying to find some of the short of long vowel sounds.  You can choose one vowel at a time, or all of them.  For PreK-1, it is probably best to stick with the short vowels.  End of the year 1st graders and all 2nd graders should have mastered those; therefore, they should search for long vowel sounds.  Make it FUN!  Spread out some shaving cream on a smooth baking tray and have your child copy the words with their fingers onto it.  Before writing the next one, just smooth the shaving cream with your hand!

For more advanced children, find the word "dreadful."  Discuss how "ea" in this word makes the short e sound.  See if you can find any other words that have "ea."  Do they always make the short e sound?  ("ea" can make the short e, as in bread, or the long e, as in bead).  Look in other books, too!

Happy cuddling and reading :)