USING MY PICTURE BOOKS IN YOUR CLASSROOM
(Designed with help by author Hope Vestergaard.)
ALL ON A SLEEPY NIGHT for ages 2-7 uFitzhenry and Whiteside, 2001 uISBN 0-7737-3315-9
Onomatopoeia: Have students make a list of sounds they hear around their homes at night. What inside noises are there? What outside sounds do they hear? Pair each child with a writing partner and have one student say the way the words sound while the other student attempts to come up with spellings of the sounds. Reverse the tasks and have the students compare the results. Let the students collect their favorite onomatopoeic words for a display or for use in future writing exercises.
All on a Sleepy Night takes place beneath the northern lights in Canada. As part of a unit on naturally occurring phenomena, discuss the northern lights. What causes them to appear? What colors can they be?
BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE for ages 2-7 uAlfred A. Knopf, 2005 uISBN 0-3758-2637-8
The animals in Bravest of the Brave are nighttime animals. Discuss how and why some animals are more active at night.Did you spy the shadow of the owls on the tree? How are flying squirrels different from the red, grey, or fox squirrels commonly seen during the day? Discuss why skunks spray. What are the defense mechanisms of other animals?
People have defense mechanisms, too—such as looking both ways before we cross a street. What others can your students think of? Skunk is very brave. What are the brave things people in your community do? The firemen? The police officers?
CLICK! for ages 2-7 uFitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003 uISBN 1-5500-5074-5
The author uses a parallel plot structure for this story that compares the mother bear and son to the human mother and son. Have your students choose two very different objects, animals, or groups to write about using at least three instances in which they are compared and then write a concluding section in which the two subjects come together in a surprising way.
CLICK! opens and closes with a couple of verses spoken by two heavenly “bears,” Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Have the kids draw those constellations. What other constellations have animal names? The North Star is also mentioned. How do people in the northern hemisphere usually locate it? Why is it called the North Star?
A FAMILY FOR OLD MILL FARM for ages 3-8 uClarion, 2007 uISBN 0-618-42846-1
The animals in A FAMILY FOR OLD MILL FARM declare the run-down farm “perfect” for their families. Discuss animal habitats and what the needs are for different animals. What about humans? Why are we able to live in a variety of habitats?
This book has two stories that move along together—weaving back and forth between the two. Can you find other books that weave two parallel stories together? Why would an author want to do this? What are the advantages? What could be possible disadvantages? Write a story using two parallel storylines. (Hint: read CLICK!)
FOX AND FLUFF for ages 3-8 uAlbert Whitman & Company, 2002 uISBN 0-8075-2544-8
Fox and Fluff relates the tale of a chick that has imprinted upon his vulpine father. Discuss imprinting. Can chicks imprint prior to hatching? What are some of the ways human babies identify their parents? How do seals, penguins, or sheep locate their parent(s) within huge groups?
Discuss the term “reputation” in the context of stereotypes. What kind of reputation do foxes generally have? Chicks? Are reputations always correct? Can they change?
THE HOUSE IN THE MEADOW for ages 3-7 uAlbert Whitman & Company, 2003 uISBN 0-8075-3393-9
Study the multicultural, multi-age cast of characters in The House in the Meadow. Discuss women, minorities, and seniors within the context of work. Are our societal expectations changing?
Illustrator Paige Billin-Frye created the characters in this book by painting them, cutting them out, mounting them on foam board or cardboard, and then lighting them and photographing them. Experiment with creating “3-D” characters by mounting artwork on cardboard. Discuss the creation of shadows as seen in the book and in the artwork of your students.
MY MOUNTAIN SONG for ages 5-9 uClarion, 2004 uISBN 0-618-15970-3
Have students list all the things they enjoyed doing over the summer. Can they use any of those in a poem? At the end of the book, Brenda Gail wonders about getting smells into songs. Find some good poems/songs that talk about smells. Are the authors of the poems successful in conveying smell? What about the other senses? My Mountain Song opens with the musical sounds of morning. Have students close their eyes and recollect how different times of day sound in their homes.
This story is very similar to the author’s memories of visiting relatives in Kentucky. In fact, her family nickname was Shuck Beans!* Have your students read other autobiographical or biographical books and discuss the difference between autobiography and biography. Which do they prefer? Can they write a story about themselves? Or a biography of a fellow student? *Extra credit to any student who finds out what “shucked beans” are, and why families use to store beans that way.
WHO TOOK MY HAIRY TOE? for ages 5-9 uAlbert Whitman & Company uISBN 0-8075-5972-5
Imagery: Write the opening sentence of this book on the board and discuss how it appeals to our senses of feeling, sight, and sound. Have your students energize their own writing by revising to appeal to the senses.
Repetition: Have students find stories with refrains or repetition and discuss how these tools build plot.
Alliteration: This book uses assonance and consonance. Count the “S”s that appear in the first sentence. Have students begin Alliteration Dictionaries—notebooks where they can collect favorite words that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
Personification: Discuss examples of personification from the book. List ways we use personification everyday. Bring in ordinary objects and discuss how one might personify those objects: “The blender does its angry dance. . .”
Who Took My Hairy Toe? is based upon an old folk tale. Read and discuss the author’s note at the back of the book. Can your students find other stories that have more than one version? Compare several. How do they differ?
[NOTE: Activities for THUNDER-BOOMER! and MINE! coming soon.]Shutta