Children’s literature has taught me so much about the literature of elementary students in addition to different skills, techniques, and materials that will help to make me the best teacher I possibly can be. I loved learning and interacting through hands on interactions with the literature. My favorite part about this course was the classroom experience I gained. I would love to see each one of you have just as much success in Shaye Miller’s class, therefor you must follow these six objectives.
Beginning this course, I was very discouraged. I went through high school checking my grades every day. This was part of my daily routine. I loved staying in touch with where I stood in every class. I was concerned when I learned that this course is done through what is known as contractual grading. This means that you will not receive a grade for the course until the end. I was terrified. My first thought was, how am I going to know if I am succeeding and meeting the requirements or not? Now that I am bringing the ends together in the last week, I am confident that I have accomplished a very high grade. I want to tell you to keep an open mind in the idea that you will be trying many new things throughout this course. Some may be odd, and slightly concerning however I promise you will achieve nothing but greatness if you stay confident in your work.
Mrs. Miller does a wonderful job making this step easy. The amount of information and things that need to be accomplished each week can be overwhelming. I’ll let you in on a secret, organization is your best friend. Each week the module will end with a check list. Use this check list to your advantage. I bought a binder which I split into each module. I then printed the checklists off which I made sure to complete. Not only will they provide a way of showing if you achieved each part of the assignments, but they will make your life much simpler come midterms and finals. Trust me, the five extra minutes each week will save you five or six hours come the deadlines for the course audits.
What I loved the most about this course was the continuous schedule. You will have work due throughout the week, however the assignments and their corresponding day will never change. I enjoyed never having the feeling of forgetting to do an assignment for I always knew which days they were due on. For example, you will have a blog post due on Monday’s, one due on a day of the week of your choice, and everything else is due Sunday evening. It gets better. These posts can be done ahead of time and scheduled to post on a specific day. This helps those ambitious enough to complete work in advance.
The library will become your best friend. I felt as if I was a part of this place for I spent more time there this semester than I did in my own home. (That may be a slight exaggeration, but I spent many hours a week here.) To put this course into perspective, I read over 300 children’s books this semester. You will be spending four hours of each week reading children’s literature, therefor it is important to find books that you will not only enjoy but could see yourself using in your classroom. Many of the librarians are more than happy to help you find the best of books. my favorite part was focusing on different authors and seeing how their pieces were similar. I also enjoyed reading the books in the different displays in addition to providing ideas to the librarians on the next possible displays.
You will set may goals throughout this course. Of all the goals, I have set for myself in my lifetime, I have only fully accomplished a few of them. In this course? You will succeed in all your challenges. I promise you that you will achieve all your goals. When setting goals, it is important to make sure they are SMART goals. This means they are, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based. If you follow these five topics, you will have the most achievable challenges.
This course consists of at least nine hours a week of work the first few weeks, I did all the week’s assignments during the weekend. Not even a third of the way through the semester, this honor roll student was at her breaking point. I wasn’t sure it was possible to keep doing all this work in this short period. I then decided to change my way of doing work before I was burnt out for the rest of the semester. I began to do a piece of the weekly assigned work each night. This would then leave me with only about two hours on the weekend and more free time. Through this class I learned the importance of spacing the work out and pacing myself each week.
There is no doubt in my mind that you will have nothing but success if you consider the six points above. If I were to take this course over, these would be the tips I would take to heart as I completed the semester. I wish all the future students the best of luck!
This semester, I spent beyond the twenty required hours perfecting my “A contract” proposal. Over the last ten weeks, I have met with the preschool class to observe and participate in their story time. I find it necessary to keep students engaged in their literature by providing props or activities to go along or follow story time. I spent many hours of the week creating activities or props to go along with each book I planned to read. I then read two books to the preschool class each week. As I read the stories, I observed the behaviors, comments, and mood displayed between the children. Lastly, I finished each book with questions that I kept age appropriate. I took extensive notes following the readings which have been displayed below! Enjoy!
Caps For Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business
I printed the peddler and his hats which I then colored and used to tell the story as a visual image. This book was one of the favorites from the preschool class. they were amazed by how many hats the peddler could fit on his head! I asked the children, “Do you need a hat? Because he has his hats for sale!” many of them reassured me that they had hats at home. as the book came to the pages of his hats missing many of them gasped. I was shocked that they had not read this book yet, therefore many of the were unsure of what would occur on the following pages. As we reached the monkey business, I had the students stand up and mimic the peddler’s actions just as the monkeys did. The students’ attention during this book I would have rated a nine.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
I printed off the letters and put together a palm tree to resemble this book. While this story was a hit, I found my props to need some repair considering they did not fit the injuries of the letters at the end of the story. I also found it difficult to hold all the letters and the tree up where all the students could see. As I read the story I had the letters follow the book up the tree. The children really enjoyed this. As the numbers at the top of the tree continued to increase the students began to get roweled up. They thought the tree was too full! After the book was over, the class and I sang the A, B, C’s I did this to help the students correlate this book to the alphabet. I would rate the students’ attention at an eight.
The Rainbow Fish
I was so excited to read this book to the preschoolers. The night before, I made a couple batches of blue play dough and bought some sequins. I planned for the class to make their own rainbow fish following the story. I was very disappointed when I read the book. Halfway through I had lost the attention of half the class. I have found that lengthier books are not the best choice for younger preschool classes. I pushed through the reading and tried to reengage the children by asking them questions about the illustration such as, “What color is this fish?” and “Do you share your home toys with friends?”. As we finished the story, I regained the attention of the students. They loved creating their own personalized fish as you can see in the pictures! During the book, I rated their attention at a three but at a nine during the activity.
I created Popsicle stick characters for this story. I then used these to tell the story rather than the images in the book. The children loved it. I made the book interactive by having them repeat the different noises that each animal made. They also had a blast guess which animal would come next at the end of each page. At the end of this book is the song, I tied this book together by singing the song with the children. I rated the attention at a nine.
The Very Hungary Caterpillar
I printed off and colored all the different pieces that made up this story. I feel the best part was how the pieces were brought to life once I hole punched the “bites” out. as I read the story, I asked the children which day of the week came next and how many fruits I had before I went on to what the little caterpillar ate. I felt this was a great way to keep learning aspects in the reading. the students favorite part was when I put the caterpillar behind the cocoon as if he had morphed. I then told them to close their eyes and count to three. When they opened, there was the beautiful butterfly. They were very amused at his transition. Their attention levels were at a nine.
Where’s My Mommy?
I reused some props from a previous story to put this book together. I interacted with the children by asking them if each of the animals was the kitty’s mommy as I read the page. Most of them usually had an enthusiastic, NOOOO! I then had them say the animals’ noises as I turned the page to help the little animals find their mommy’s. I found that the children’s attention was shaking during this read. the older preschools were being loud and obnoxious to the point where I would have to stop reading until they pulled it together to finish reading. the younger ones, enjoyed the book but I often lost their attention as I was regaining the respect of the older. I rated their overall attention to the book at a six.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
For this story, I created wooden spoon characters. I found the idea from Pinterest and could not resist! The children all found these hilarious. As I played through the book, I asked the students’ such as, “Do you think this chair is the right size?” and “Is she too big for this bed?”. Their answers were usually correct. I did not find them to be as interested in this story as I had hoped. The enthusiasm and remarks just weren’t there like they had been during the stories I previously read. Their attention was at a six.
Hansel and Gretel
I colored and laminated the characters and had other physical props such as the pebbles to play along with this story. I will be honest. This story is NOT for the preschool age. As I played out the story, I slowly lost the attention of the student’s one by one. I felt that the story was too long with a complicated story line for the age group I was reading it to. To make the issue worse, one of the younger girls became scared because she found the witch scary. Once again, most preschools do not like the story of Hansel and Gretel. I gave them a rating of a two on attention.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Of all the props, I made, these were one of my favorites. The goats looked so cute on the Popsicle sticks! Many of the boys in the class had a blast with this story. I used a bridge from one of their centers to have the goats walk across. They thought this was neat! I used different voices to best fit each character. That was a hit! They loved when I changed my voice. I even got a few giggles out of it! I played out the part of the large Billy goat head butting the troll into the water. I tossed the troll to the corner. The classroom began to roll with laughter. I am pleased to say that when Hansel and Gretel doesn’t pan out, choose the goats. Their attention was high during this book at a nine.
Hooray for Thomas!
I struggled the most in props for this book. I searched for ideas, however I could not find any I was in love with. I finally decided to use the Thomas the Train engine from one of the movement centers as my prop. This worked decently, however I think it would have been more of a success if I had all of Thomas’s friends too rather than other random train sets. The children loved how the trains raced as portrayed in the story. We had a vote on who we thought was going to win. I finished this story by sharing that everyone is a winner when you are kind and helpful just as Thomas was to the children. Of all things, this book did a great job showing the students how they can be good classmates. I gave their attention a rating of a seven. Most were intrigued most of the book; however, a few minds began to wonder.
Over the Moon
I again used previous props and a toy monkey to put this book together. I chose this version of the story because it provides a wonderful twist to the classic story of the cow jumping over the moon. I loved how the words were displayed through comic bubbles and most of the story was done through dialog. The students loved the book just as much as I did. I changed my voice to be the demanding director and the children loved it. They giggled as the cow was continuously not doing what he was asked. This book is a great book to use to keep the children’s attention and allow a break from the typical lesson. I considered their attention to be at an eight.
Red Riding Hood
For this story, I struggled with deciding what I would use as the props. I decided to use Gretel from “Hansel and Gretel”, the wolf spoon from “The Three Little Pigs”, and the farmer from “Old MacDonald in addition to a doll hat for granny and the basket of goodies. Most of the children had already heard this story, therefor it was not much of a surprise. They did, however still find it silly that the wolf was pretending to be granny. Their attention was at a seven. I began to lose the attention of some of the younger ones for this story is a bit on the lengthier side.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
Of all the stories, I read, I think this one was the most enjoyed. The students absolutely loved making their own props to be used during the reading of the book. With the help of the preschool teachers, I sent out flyers requesting that parents bring in their empty plastic water bottles. A few weeks after we sent out the letter, we had enough to supply all eighteen preschoolers with five bottles each. I began the lesson by sharing with them the project. We then made bottles representing the mud, snow storm, tall grass, forest, and river that the characters would travel through. I brought dirt in from outside where I helped the children spoon it into their bottles which we then filled half full of water to represent mud. Cotton balls were stuffed into the second bottle to resemble the snow storm. Dirt and green paper strips were placed in the next bottle as grass. The students filled the next bottle with water and a few drops of food coloring to create the river. Lastly, I took the children outside where they collected leaves, pine cones, and sticks to make their forest. Now that the shakers were created, we went back inside were I read the story. As I read the book, the children shook the shaker that represented the page. They LOVED this. I loved seeing the smiles on their faces as they were an active part of the book. I was filled with warmth when a little boy asked me if he could take his home and read the book to his parents. this was the overall point of my project. I planned to help children find their love and interest for reading. there is no doubt that their attention was at a full ten.
The Three Little Pigs
These characters were also created from wooden spoons. I also used building supplies at the school to resemble the homes of each of the pigs. The children loved watching the pig huff and puff and blow the different houses down. I enjoyed bringing this story life. As the wolf approached the different homes, I stopped and asked the students if they thought the wolf would be able to blow them over. While most of them already knew the answers, I loved hearing the creative remarks from a few. One little boy said that the wolf could blow down the brick house too because his block towers fall over when he blows on them. While most of the students were interested, a few were not, therefor I rated their attention to this book at a seven.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
I colored and created the animals that make up this story. This was also one of the children’s favorites. I had them guess to see what they thought each animal would see next. I loved their remarks on the very colorful animals. Their attention was at a nine.
I read this story a week and a half before Thanksgiving because I wanted to allow enough time for the project to be completed. I incorporated the parents and families into this book to provide for a twist on the other books I read. The children enjoyed seeing the different disguises turkey had for himself in efforts to live through Thanksgiving. With the help of the teachers, we sent a letter home with an outline of a turkey. The students were instructed to be creative and come up with a disguise for their turkey before Thanksgiving. We then displayed the wonderful results on a wall in the hallway. I loved hearing the stories on how the students worked with their parents to put together their turkey! During the book, the children’s attention was at a nine.
Go Away, Big Green Monster!
This one was so much fun to create! I found a pattern for the different pieces that make up the big, green monster. I loved how the pieces can be taken away and added just as portrayed in the book. This book was difficult to show to the entire class at once because I had no way of holding the pieces up together. This can be easily fixed by adding Velcro to the backs of each piece. For the sake of this reading, I split the students into smaller groups and played the book out on a flat surface where all the children could view the monster. I found that the smaller groups allowed me to better see the expressions of every students. I also feel it helped with the attention level for they were all very close to the story taking place. I rated their attention a ten. They loved seeing the monster disappear!
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear?
This book was reenacted using popsicle stick animals that I colored as well. I loved how the children drew their own conclusions that this book is like “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”. The children loved guessing which animal would be heard next. They paid close attention to the varied animals which is the reason I rated them a nine.
Pete the Cat: My White Shoes
To create this story, I made my four “Pete the Cat’s” with his different colored shoes. I then had a bowl with each of the different substances. As I told the story it was as if Pete was walking along and singing his song. The children have already heard this story, so I loved keeping them interactive by having them sing his song with me. The children loved this story. Their attention was at a ten.
This book was very complicated to create in a visual and required a large amount of paper. The children did not get as into the story as I hoped they would, however they did enjoy how the square transformed himself into different objects. I would say they were attentive at a seven level.
I learned many new things doing this project. I have learned that strong and interesting activities help to keep the youngest ages interested while allowing them some interaction. I also got a good grasp on which stories I would like to use in my classroom and which are not the best for read-alouds. I loved meeting with the preschoolers twice a week. I recommend that any of you who plan to become teachers and have yet to get some classroom experience use this as a starting point. I felt as if I was a role model while being in charge. The teachers used this time as their break to get a few things done that they needed to. this left me with the reins to conduct the story time in my own manner. This project has been much more meaningful than a letter bump.
Yolen was my favorite author to focus on this semester. Her stories all have their own unique pieces. I love how she has selections that have “sequels” and some that are just single hits. Her dinosaur series does a wonderful job teaching students different manners and actions that will help them succeed and become well-mannered. Her collection is so large that you could read books by this author for weeks.
Some of my favorite books from this semester are pieces of Mo Willems. I fell in love with the Knuffle Bunny “series”. I enjoyed how many of his works focused on events that took place in his life. His writing provides for a different style of reading for children. I love how he brings the reader into the story (literally) while writing using dialog and comic bubbles.
Numeroff shares many helpful hints when sharing events in your life with a variety of animals. These books keep readers intrigued as they tell the silly tales of the animals continuously wanting more. Other than that, her works have little rhyme or reason. “Two for Stew” was one of my favorite reads and helped to bring this author into my list.
Ehlert does a phenomenal job providing learning lessons for her readers. All her books are full of differentially in the illustrations as the words perfectly describe the subject. I love how she combines both reality and the imagination.
I love reading about Llama Llama. The author does a wonderful job informing students of how they should behave and deal with different situations. I love how this author uses rhyming words in addition to a little llama to describe the lesson at hand.
Eric Carle does a fantastic job making animals of all sorts the main attraction of all his books. I love how his stories are interactive while allowing the students to learn different learning skills that require the use of their different senses. I think it is important to include a lesson into some reading. Carle accomplishes this through the addition of colors, numbers, days of the week, and many other techniques.
Chris Van Allsburg
While these books are lengthier, they are perfect for the middle elementary levels. The use of his stories to create films proves that the subjects presented in his work are worthy of your time. I love how he puts borders around his images to separate the text from the illustrations. This is a creative approach. I think it helps to separate the two while keeping them connected. Most of his stories incorporate mystical elements. The suspense leads the reader to want more. I find this to be a very intelligent strategy.
Margaret Wise Brown
Brown’s collection is very scattered. As I read her stories I did not find two that were alike. The quality of the work, however was out of this world. I enjoyed reading her whole collection for I was always on my toes on what I would read next. I love how multiple of her stories tie back to the family. By providing connections for students on an emotional standpoint, I feel we can help them see the meaning behind the reading of a story.
Bill Martin Jr.
Bill Martin Jr. also has a strange variety of writing. I love his interaction with many of my other favorite authors such as Eric Carle and Lois Ehlert. His pieces are very like theirs in the sense that they provide learning tools to the reader. I recommend these stories to the younger elementary students for they are short and concentrated. Lastly, I love his rhyming and repetition.
My favorite part about her books is how it is as if you are watching a movie. The high concentration on descriptive and well placed details provides for perfect image of the dynamic characters. I also enjoy how the reader is left feeling the emotions of the main characters. Most of her books look lengthy, however you will be pleasantly surprised when you see her large margins and mental breaks by incorporating illustrations. Her stories are perfect for those beginning chapter books.
When I think about books I would want in my classroom, I instantly think about the ones that would best keep interest when being read-aloud. I have decided to compel my list of classroom books with this idea in mind.
The Little House
Of all the books I have read this semester, this is one of my all-time favorites no matter the category. Therefore, you are seeing it again. I love how the story portrays the change of a small object over a larger period. I significantly enjoyed how the reader is left touched by the illustrations attention to detail.
Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You?
This book is wonderful when you are struggling with the attention of your students. Through different fonts, sizes, and word color enthusiasm is brought to the piece. I feel what I enjoyed the most was how I was left almost singing along to the story due to the rhyme and rhythm of the words. The story is interactive by ending each page with the silly question of whether you can say the noises Mr. Brown can.
Flora and the Flamingo
Picture books are a fantastic way to introduce the youngest ages to books. without text to be read, they are left with the ability to create their own story based on the illustrations. I especially enjoyed how this book was interactive by providing different flaps for the reader to see the way the characters moved throughout the story. This is a great way to add sensory tools to a story.
The Book With No Pictures
Many children not only choose a book by its cover, but choose their reading based off the illustration’s. I love how this book shows that the content and text of a book matters as well. This story does a wonderful job keeping all readers and listeners intrigued as it makes the reader say and do silly things. Interaction is a necessity and this book does a phenomenal job portraying this.
The Day the Crayons Quit
I love books with imagination and creativity. “The Day the Crayons Quit” portrays both aspects. Could you imagine your crayon box sharing letters with you? I found it comical that they were all protesting and sharing different things they would like to see change. I also enjoyed how the author contributed the child’s creations as the illustrations. This helps the readers draw conclusions to the piece.
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
The deep truth behind the overall story is what led this one to be on this list. I love how Joseph takes something that is old and tattered and makes it new again. This teaches students that we can save and reuse many things throughout our lives rather than always having top notch, popular items.
The Doll People
I read this book for the first time as a third grader. Ever since, I have been in love with the story. I love how the dolls are brought to life through descriptive words. I think books such as this one are wonderful ways to get children’s minds off reality and allow them to be creative in their thoughts.
Suspense is what drives students to read. I loved how this book kept me on my toes as the family moves about. The use of magic is creative and mystical. I like this book because it is gender neutral. Also, I love how the descriptive words provide a portrait for the characters.
Where is the Green Sheep?
This book is fantastic for the younger ages. I enjoyed how it incorporated color aspects to add a learning dynamic to an entertaining story. They rhyming of the words allows the story to roll right off your tongue.
The Napping House
I love how the sequential order is built up and then torn down. I felt this helps the youngest crowds to learn memorization and order aspects. I also enjoyed the illustrations as each character from the page before was placed sporadically throughout the room as they began to wake up.
I find that the body of a book is what makes it a good read-aloud. Rhythm, strong morals, comedy, and suspense are all great tools that keep the reader focused while providing different types of literature. I think these are the best for this use. I plan to incorporate each of these books into my classroom in a few years.
(All book covers were taken from my Goodreads account.)
If you were to read 300+ books in a four-month period and then asked to come up with a list of only your top ten would you be able to do so? You now see the predicament I am in. Through lots of contemplation on the thirteen elements of literature I have been able to share with you this list. In no specific order, here they go:
The Little House
This book shares wonderfully detailed images of the gradual aging of an important little house. By making this story cover ventures in time, the reader is left with stronger connections to the house as if they have aged alongside it. I loved how knowledge of how rural areas become modernized can also be learned from this story.
With this book being a short-lived picture book, all ages can enjoy this piece. The simplicity of the images keeps the readers focus. What truly brought my love for the book is that our thoughts can change depending on our perspective of the topic. We are left thinking the book is about the work fish as stated in the title to find that it is only the missing pieces to a word with much more meaning. This is a topic that can be brought into our daily lives in many ways. always think about the positive perspectives.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale
I love how this book promotes diversity by teaching students about an African tale much like the tale of Cinderella. Books like these move us to be the bigger, kinder individuals in today’s often cruel society. I loved the intricate details preserved in the pages of the phenomenal and traditional story.
Knots on a Counting Rope
As stated before, I love stories that share different aspects of other cultures while entertaining the reader. I loved how this piece allows students to put together the puzzle of the young boy’s life as the story jumps back into time to share important parts of his life. I also enjoy how the story teaches students different aspects of the Indian culture, such as the counting rope.
Poetry is a form of writing that I plan to incorporate in my classroom. I do not see this type of writing used often. I want my students to see how the rhyming of words can result to the rhythm of your reading in addition to pressuring the author to use more descriptive words. I love how pieces in this form can be drawn intricately through the imagination rather than illustrations. This was my favorite set from this semester because it was a combination of pieces in different poetic forms.
The One and Only Ivan
Of all the chapter books, I read this semester, this one left the most impact on my life. There is no doubt in my mind that my feelings for this piece could be passed on to my students by reading this book aloud. This book shows the power of friendship. As an animal lover, I loved seeing the life of these beautiful creatures portrayed through an inner point of view different from the one I currently see.
Books with additional learning aspects are always a nice way to teach a lesson while entertaining. This story made my top ten list due to the addition of documentary pages sharing different species of animals along with a slight documentary on Jane herself. By tying a story to real life events, students can draw connections to help with their memory of the book.
The comical twist to the classic bed time stories told by a chicken could keep anyone interested. I personally enjoyed how the font changed depending on who was speaking in the story. This helps to incorporate dialog in the youngest ages literature.
The Scarecrow’s Dance
The illustrations are what made this book my favorite. I loved how realistic they were as they shared the life of a scarecrow. The story was brought to life through the straw creature.
Anything But Typical
I find it important that we teach students that nobody is perfect nor are we all the same. I love how this book shares the life of an autistic boy and his struggles to fit in. books like these move students to welcome everyone into open arms without judging them based on their differences. I enjoyed the different point of view that focuses on a different perspective.
Of any of the books you could take from my blog and read, this is the best list to choose from. I would highly recommend everyone read each of these books at some point in their lives for they are, after all, my favorite ten.
I am left with a heavy heart as I write this final “It’s Monday” post for this course. I have put so much blood, sweat, and tears into the work I have turned in for this class. I am, however, proud to say that I have accomplished to read 319 books this semester not including this week. Do you know what that means?! I have successfully achieved ALL the goals I set for myself four months ago. With that being said, I will now share with you the final selection of books made for this course. Overall, I was very pleased with this week’s reading selection. I loved adding Caldecott nominees to the list of challenges to complete.
Thunder Boy Jr. (4 Stars)
“Thunder Boy Jr.” left me sort of confused as I finished the book. I felt as if the author was unclear about the overall point being reached by the book. The entire story shares how the little boy does not enjoy his name and the many different ones he would much rather have. In the end, his father randomly says he is giving him a new name. While I am sure this is part of many other cultures, I feel the author could have better informed the reader on this process. I was however, very pleased in the detailed, cartooned, images and use of the boy’s dialogue in comment bubbles.
Frank and Lucky Get Schooled (4 Stars)
I want to start by saying the images in this book are top notch. The story goes through the many events a boy and his dog. I loved how the book brought aspects from all the different learning subjects into a single story. This book is full of wonderful lessons on many topics that can be learned by all ages. From the naming of creatures in the forest, to history lessons, to the definition of infinity this book is nothing shy of phenomenal. Who would have thought all of this could be tied together into a book about a boy and a dog? Pretty genius if you ask me!
FISH (5 Stars)
FISH was by far my favorite read this week. This book is made completely of pictures and letters. I love how the story puts a twist on the way of fishing by making the fish letters. Most of all, I loved how the book concludes in a way you would least expect. After finishing this book, I was left pondering ideas that I would have never guessed to have aroused during my reading. the illustrations are also simply without lacking important color and emphasis on the parts of the story that are most important. This is one of the only true picture books I have enjoyed.
Ideas Are All Around (5 Stars)
I highly recommend this book be read by or to children of all ages. The story shares the life of the author and how he finds the beauty in all aspects of his life. He would rather write; however, he shares the findings found on his walk with his dog. I enjoyed how the story was constantly proving that there is beauty around the corner. I also found it very interesting how real photographs were added in addition to the illustrations. This helped to bring the story to life.
Author of the Week
This week I have focused on Chris Van Allsburg. Chris is a 1990’s author who wrote many famous books later made into films. I chose him after researching that the details shown in the films of Jumanji and The Polar Express are put to shame by the words and illustrations portrayed in his books. I found a few things similar in all his pieces. First, Van Allsburg loves boarders around each page of the book. I feel this helps to narrow the reader’s eyes to what he wants them to focus on. All the stories are full of highly detailed imagery. When it comes to the writing style, he enjoys the use of words to tell the story. All his books are lengthier, however the underlying morals to each provide for a heartwarming and life-changing effect.
The Polar Express (5 Stars)
This will forever be one of my favorite children’s stories. The book itself plays out each aspect included in the film. I love the chapter book style portrayed through this piece. Even though the story is longer, the reader if felt full of belief as they learn the real story behind the magic of Christmas. The bell will only ring to those who still belief. Most of all, I enjoy how this story brings warmth to the cold, wintry days through the strong use of strong imagery words.
Just A Dream (5 Stars)
“Just A Dream” teaches students of the importance of recycling and picking up trash. The story plays through the dreams of a young boy as he learns about the future consequences of his actions. As the book finishes, we see the importance of protecting the earth we live on. I find this story to be just as moving to students’ as it was for me. The emotion brought to the surface of the story along with the detailed imagery is enough reason on why everyone should read this story.
Two Bad Ants (3 Stars)
The story line of this book shares the life of two ants and their mischief. I love how this shows students the consequences of not following directions. Of all of Chris’s stories, however this one was the least fascinating for me. I found that the story drug on.
Jumanji (4 Stars)
After watching the movie on repeat for years, I think it is safe to say I know this story-line like the back of my hand. I was disappointed that some of my favorite parts were not a part of the original story. For example, I feel that Robin Williams made the guide a significant role bringing the action to this piece. I was sad to see the book more in a fast pace. The pages being in black and white also took away from some of the detail of the book, however the overall story is a fantastic story. I love how it shares a mystical adventure proving that children’s imaginations are a wonderful thing.
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi (4 Stars)
This book tells the story of a little boy in charge of the neighbor’s dog. The story involves magic that leaves the reader with a smile as the book twists on its concluding pages. Even though this piece was also in black and white, I felt as if the different shades allowed for strong details in the images. I loved how this book shares that some things are better off left unknown. I recommend this book to the middle elementary ages!
“Top 100 Children’s Books”
A Hat for Minerva Louise (4 Stars)
This books is a perfect fit for children under the age of six. The story is very short and to the point. With big text and simply wording, the youngest ages are left interested as they learn about the silly events of a chicken using mittens as hats for her head and rear.
Tops and Bottoms (5 Stars)
A valuable lesson is learned by a bear after he sleeps through the planting season leaving the hare to do all the work. Moral of the story is to do the work yourself to insure you do not get shorted. I giggled as I continued to read about the many ways the hare outsmarted the bear.
Bear Snores On (5 Stars)
Of all the books I read this week, I loved the text of this one the most. I enjoyed how the author took the dialog of chapter books and turned it into a lower elementary level piece. Each of the characters talks in first person as they sit around the fire next to the sleeping bear. Friendship is indirectly defined through the events of this story.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (5 Stars)
Mo Willems is such a wonderful author. I love how he brings the reader into his pieces such as this one through his choice of words. Dialog is important and I feel is addressed nicely in this story. The illustrations are simple for they only include details in the story that are significant. This helps to keep the reader focused instead of wondering about the illustrations.
Max’s Chocolate Chicken (3 Stars)
I loved watching Max and Ruby growing up. As an adult, I realize the little significance or learning aspects involved in these two’s lives. My first question is, where is the adult. This may be silly but I feel the overall series shares a life without adults. Next, I feel Max is always up to mischief that is never resolved. I loved the holiday addition to the story of finding Easter eggs, however I found this book to be more of a time filler than that of any importance to the lives of our children.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (4 Stars)
Sometimes we just have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. I loved how the story goes about sharing a young boy’s horrible day before ending with the conclusion that sometimes these days just happen. I find it important the we read books like these to our children. I feel they help to provide reassurance that some feelings are normal. I would have rated this book higher if I would have been pleased with the illustrations. I found them to be rather boring.
Duck Soup (4 Stars)
Your cook is a duck. What would you do if you went to the kitchen to find a pot of soup with no cook? This very comical story shares the adventures of duck’s friends who fear their friend has been turned into duck soup. At the end of the day, they are left laughing and reminiscing over the day’s events…even duck. I love how this story is more of a laid-back book as it uses different fonts and styles to express different sounds, voice levels, and characters.
The Polar Express (5 Stars)
Mostly Monsterly (5 Stars)
I have been trying to get my hands on this book for three weeks now. I am pleased to say I finally did it! Let me tell you, it was worth the wait. Bernadette is a monster with very human qualities. These set her aside from others of her species. While she feels out of place, she can connect in a way that others would approve. I feel this is a great book to share with students that sometimes we need to act in an appropriate manner, but that it is okay to be ourselves. The moving of the words around the page to best fit the movement of the story was fantastic!
Julius (3 Stars)
This story was one of my least favorites from this week. I found the story to be unrealistic, however I enjoyed that no matter how others felt Maya and her pet pig were best friends. The moral of this story is that even though we are different, we still count on each other to be a part of our lives.
The Class (5 Stars)
I enjoyed how the cover alone shows the strong diversity of a class. The cover and illustrations are two the first things younger ages use to judge a book and this piece does a wonderful job helping to bring reality to the book’s cover. I liked how the text was placed around the illustrations of the book. In addition to sharing the different ways and things we do as we prepare for the day, I loved how the book included a numerical lesson as well.
In a Village by the Sea (5 Stars)
This story is writing in a simple repetitive manner. On each page, the story repeats the ending of the previous page. The piece starts with a broad, bigger, object and slowly becomes more focused. Overall, it is told through two different points of view both leading back to the hard work and long hours put into being a fisherman. The text brought so many emotions to the story. This book is one that I highly recommend to the younger elementary levels.
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? (5 Stars)
I found myself reading this book aloud as I read the words in a lyrical and singing manner. When the text is so full of the rhythm and rhyme, you can’t help but do so. I feel this is one of Dr. Seuss’s best books. the illustrations are vibrant while the change in font allows for differentiated sounds. This book will be one that I have in my classroom.
Flora and the Flamingo (5 Stars)
Who does not love pictures books with interactive pieces? This book allows the reader to open and shut flaps showing the similarities and difference of the two main characters in their ballerina moves. Even though there are no words, the reader is left with the ability to draw inferences such as the ideas that the characters are indeed ballerinas, they are best friends, and both love pink. I think books that encourage children to do so help to incorporate their creativity into the piece.
A Child’s Calendar (4 Stars)
I enjoyed reading this book. Teaching students their months is a very important lesson. I loved how in addition to teaching an important lesson, the students are enlightened on the different aspects of the specific month such as events that take place, weather, and emotions that engulf each month. The best part yet? All of this is done through a form of writing that many students are not fully familiar with, poetry.
As I continue to build my knowledge on what I need to do to be the best educator I can be, I have found that our overall educational system is very out of whack. Reflecting back to high school, I am left with the realization that I only remember a handful of things I learned in those four years. As sad as this is, it is true. Our school system has shaped us into thinking that grades are the most important aspect to our success when in reality, they are pointless. We can receive the highest of grades, but how much of this information do we carry with us more than a year? Very slim. This first semester as a full-time college student has taught me a plethora of valuable information. Most of my classes allow me to share information that I am passionate about, while bringing me closer to my classmates who have innovative thoughts and ideas. We are helping each other succeed by focusing on what we enjoy. I have learned more this semester than I could have ever imagined. Below is only a few things that we need to accept and begin to adjust to ensure futures generations are successful in adulthood.
(Click on the quote for the link to the many elephants in our classroom.)
The first elephant that needs to be set free from our classrooms is that most of our students will forget most of the content that they “learn” in school. The standardized testing and grades that we use to rank students is doing nothing but degrading the work of our children. Either they are going to cram the work into a small-period to ensure they get the best possible grade, or they will not try after knowing they cannot succeed. They will feel useless knowing they cannot succeed due to their grades, however it is these grades that are useless. There are two ways we can go about fixing this problem. First, we can completely do away with the grading system. I feel that by doing so, we can encourage students to focus on skills and mind sets that are most important to them. Assignments can still be assigned; however, deadlines should be increased and time should be spent in class learning about each students’ passions. These can then be shared in various ways such as presentations, videos, or blog posts. This ensures that students are in fact learning things, yet there are no restrictions other than a time or word count. Secondly, we can take the way of learning described above and make it a participation aspect. If you are learning and working you will pass the course. I think this is the reasoning why I enjoy the contractual grading system. The thought of a grade is left up to the student on how much work they are willing to do. I feel this is a wonderful way to give control back to our students.
In efforts of giving control back to the students, we eliminate the next elephant. Passion based work encourages creativity making school interesting again. The only way to reengage our students is to give them the power of choice. The current curriculum standards do not begin to cover the vast and diverse skills that are needed to succeed as an adult. By keeping assignment requirements to the minimum, we are encouraging students to focus on topics that will best benefit them as adults.
Now that I know how much I am capable of learning I want nothing but more from my students. I want my students to understand and enjoy coming to my classroom. I plan to incorporate their thoughts, ideas, and interests as much as I possibly can into their curriculum until us as educators get these elephants out of the room. Just as it has taken a long time to build standardized testing, it is going to require years to change and possibly end this state-wide requirement.
We need to encourage creativity and individuality through our children’s work rather than a percentile in a standardized test. This not only helps with making school interesting again, but studies show that the skills learned will better be absorbed and stay if they can be related to the student’s interests.
“Education is everything. It is the fuel that drives the future citizens of the world. It prepares them to make responsible decisions that will contribute to the well-being of society. Education’s first purpose was to help children become better citizens. However, our recent definition of education has changed drastically.” This quote was taken from the article titled, My Generation Essay: Redefining Education. I found this to be the most influential quote from the reading this week focusing on how we need to tweak our educational system.
Through this article the thought is brought to the surface on the fact that we cram information to pass the test rather than for our future use. Throughout high school I found myself stuck in a rut. I focused on straight A’s to achieve the honor student award rather than applying the skills I learned to my personal life. I could share with you only a handful of things from my high school career that stuck. I was that miserable high school student doing the assignments week to week that pertained nothing to my interests. I had little passion in my work for it was on subjects I didn’t care about.
This semester has changed my thoughts on schooling. I have found that it is possible to share your work on topics that matter the most to you. I love how Mrs. Miller provides us with guidelines, yet we have the freedom to discuss and learn about our interests. I have been an innovated learner by switching my ways from forgetting the useless information to creating a wonderful online story for myself that can be used for the rest of my career. Thanks to her I love school and what I do. I have found a new love for a type of writing I never thought I would enjoy, I have been happy in my work, I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts with the world for they are all on my passions. Now that high school is over, my honors award is pointless. It is a piece of paper that sits in my desk, however my digital story is the key to my success.
I am an innovative educator and I will continue to ask “what is best for learners”. -George
The sharing of our personal ideas in more passionate and memorable work is the back bone to being an innovative learner. This is what we need more of in our classrooms. George said in The Mindset of an Innovator that innovative educators will continue to ask “what is best for learners?” I feel this is the teaching strategies behind teachers such as Shaye Miller. The last step in innovation that I feel I have been a part of is listening and learning from different perspectives. Using a blog is a wonderful way to encourage the interaction of students and teachers through the comments on each other’s thoughts and ideas.
“We need to unlearn the idea that every student needs to learn the same content when really what they need to learn is how to self-direct their own learning.”
Another article that I found to be very beneficial is the thought of things that we must unlearn.The Unlearning Curve shares ten things that educators in today’s society need to unlearn. Off of that sheet, this semester I have accomplished the unlearning of many of these aspects. The one that I find to be the most significant is that we must unlearn that every student needs to learn the same content. In reality, we should be focusing on teaching skills that will benefit each and every individual for their adult hood. What is the point of teaching future bakers the history of the World War? What is the purpose in teaching authors the anatomy of a pig? Ideas such as these are the reasoning behind why we are losing the interest of students. They are focusing solely on getting the grades in the grade book rather than truly understanding and being passionate about their work. If we as educators focus on each student’s passions, we can not only aid their success to the fullest ability, but we will allow for our students to love being at school. One aspect that I feel I will still need to work on as an educator is unlearning that we can teach our students to be literate in this would by continually blocking and filtering access to sites and experiences. as much as I feel we should protect young eyes and ears from certain things in the cyber world, they must explore to learn. With monitoring, we can limit the harmful and explicit things they come across without blocking sites completely. I feel the hardest part with this aspect is the school system. In high school, we were not allowed on YouTube. This was very frustrating considering it is a wonderful learning tool full of many educational videos. The school system limited our ability to be innovative by blocking one of our most valuable resources.
All in all, I feel I have been a very innovative student throughout this course. I have learned more information that has been taken to heart that I could have ever imagined I would have accomplished. I will forever be thankful for the many tools I have learned that will ensure in my success as a future educator. We can innovate the way of teaching and the educational system, however it takes the support of the entire education family.
This has been by far one of my favorite sections that we have covered in Children’s Literature. As an individual who knew she loved reading, I have found myself to be engulfed in activities that correlate to my reading as well this semester. As I sit here, I ponder the many different skills I can incorporate into my classroom to help my students love reading as much as I do. What better way to encourage students to read than to hold a book award? Whoever thought of taking the Newberry and Caldecott award process and allowing their students to participate is a genius. Before I begin discussing how I plan to tie these skills into my classroom, I will share with you the Caldecott Criteria. This linkwill go further into detail on the topics I am about to discuss.
Book for children with illustrations
Author must be United States citizens and residents
Fits children fourteen years and younger
Based on quality not popularity
Aspects taken into consideration
In addition to informative information of Caldecott selections, I loved how this presentation shared with you the award winners from the previous years. I found myself to have read many of these books and was pleased to see them Caldecott winners. In some ways, I was shocked. For example, I found that “No, David” was the 1999 Award winner. I thought this story was much newer than that!
Next, I considered the different books on the nominees list. Before I went to the library, I wanted to read the summaries of each of the books. I wanted to keep an open mind one which would best interest me rather than choosing based on the cover. I found this blog post on the Newbery/ Caldecott 2017: Fall Predictions. Here I was pleased to see a wide variety of possible award books and their brief description. Following that, I finished my research with looking at an article by Falmouth Elementary School that categorized each of the nominated books by their genre. I thought this was a nice twist to the representation of each of the books.
I am very pleased in the different efforts portrayed by a variety of schools on the addition of this topic to their lessons. I especially loved how an elementary school in Monticello, Illinois set up the voting system of their Caldecott winner. Their educator, Katherine Sokolowski, spends four to five weeks discussing the aspects that make up their vote. After reading the stories, the classes are to decide on their favorite. each book is displayed on the front of a manila envelope. The students are then given three pieces of paper each displaying one of the numbers between one and three. The three books with the highest scores become their Mock Caldecott choices. I think this idea is wonderful!
From this point, I focused on my reading of these nominees. When choosing books, I was most excited to get my hands on:
“Shy” by Deborah Freedman
“This is not a Picture Book” by Sergio Ruzzier
“Ideas Are All Around” by Philip C. Stead
Of these three, I was only able to find “Ideas Are All Around”. While this was disappointing, I was able to read a few other nominees including:
“Fish” by Liam Francis Walsh
“Frank and Lucky Get Schooled” by Lynne Rae Perkins
“Thunder Boy Jr.” by Sherman Alexie
I was very pleased in the books I read. I loved the deep story line provided by each piece while the illustrations brought the book above and beyond. Of these books, “Fish” was my favorite. This book is contains no words, just letters. The story tells of a little boy who goes out “fishing” for the letters that spell out fish. In the end, this is not the word he was trying to accomplish. I loved how the story had you thinking one thing the entire story but switches in the final pages.
After reading the books, I was curious to see which other books I have read this semester that could possibly have fit the criteria and made the nominations list. seeing that “Lion Lessons” by Jon Agee was published this year but not included in this list shocked me. I loved how the story played out the life of a little boy wanting to become a lesson. The moral of this story shows young individuals that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I feel that the deferentially and morals of this story could have easily been adequate reasons for it to be a nominee.
Thinking about this topic has left me thinking about my future students. I plan to hold Mock Newbery and Caldecott events in my classroom. I plan to spend the whole first part of the year researching and discovering books that have been published that year. Come September, I will begin to introduce the topic slowly to my student’s. We will work on the different aspects that make up the award to ensure my students have the best understanding on what the award entails. I will work towards the award ceremony slowly to make sure my students have properly absorbed the information I have shared. In October, we will begin to study two books a week where I will have the students fill out a sheet sharing the pieces of the story. For example, it will have places for them to leave comments on the illustrations, themes, characters, and moods of each story. As December approaches, we will put together a list of our three favorite books. from there, we will hold our final voting session and finish with who we think should win! After the first of the year, I plan to then watch the real selection be made with my students. As we work on this topic, I will encourage discussions on the books. I feel this is a wonderful way to bring the class together and encourage reading.
The only problem I see arising with this issue is the availability of books. The funds are not always available to schools to buy that many new books each year, however I plan to work with the school library to put a list together of possible books to purchase, in addition I plan to check out books at the local library to help with the variety. As long as the books are there, my classes will be participating in Mock Caldecott activities.
(All book covers have been taken from my GoodReads account.)