As we enter April, spring fever is in full effect at our school. Our kids are getting a little restless and wishing they were outside enjoying the nice weather instead of being cooped up inside a classroom. The one special time of our day is our read-aloud time. Keeping them engaged during this time is never a struggle. They love listening to and discussing each new story. This month we chose six, adorable April books for our read-alouds. Each book was carefully selected to ensure that we could meet all the Reading Literature standards for the month. This post is a small preview of only one activity from each read-aloud. We cover many standards in each three to five day close read.
Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers is a clever story about a boy who tries to solve a growing problem by throwing things at it. It all begins when his favorite kite gets stuck in a tree. He tries to get the kite down by throwing different objects at it, which all end up getting stuck as well. For one of our lessons we decided to focus on standard 4 with our Stuck read-aloud. It has wonderfully complex vocabulary words. Students might not be able to define the word the first time they hear it, but after asking the text dependent questions and using our strategy to define unknown words, they can be successful at determining a definition for unknown words.
Below is Oliver Jeffers reading the story if you don't have the book.
Memoirs of a Hamster is another great book by Devin Scillian. We read Memoirs of an Elf in December and it is still one of our students' favorites. This story follows a hamster who starts to question his life in his cage. He lets the house cat talk him into escaping from his cage, only to find out the house cat had an ulterior motive. In one of lessons for Memoirs of a Hamster, we focused on what the characters were thinking, which hit standard 6.
The Thing About Spring, by Daniel Kirk is a fun story about animals in the springtime. All the animals are excited that spring is here, except for Rabbit. He feels like he will miss all the fun things about winter. His friends remind him about all the great things about spring and help him realize the importance of spring. We chose a fun way to meet standard 1 for The Thing About Spring by having students write all the great things about spring from the text.
Tops and Bottoms, by Janet Stevens is one of our all-time favorite children's books. Kids love that the book is designed to flip from top to bottom (instead of left to right), and this unique structure complements the "top to bottom" theme. Tops and Bottoms is a traditional trickster tale about Hare, who solves his financial problems by outsmarting Bear. As he strikes a deal with Bear, Hare and his family plant and harvest crops on Bear's land, then split the crop in half. Hare tricks Bear into choosing the "wrong half" each time, leaving hare with the "right half" each season. For one lesson, we chose to focus on key ideas and details by having students "plant the crops" using a vegetable cut and paste. This activity helps students understand how Hare tricks Bear each season with the "tops and bottoms."
Muncha, Muncha, Muncha!, by Candace Fleming is a humorous story about Mr. McGreely and his ongoing battle with the bunnies, who repeatedly find ways to sneak into his garden. He builds fences, moats, and finally a fortress to protect his vegetables. Kids can't wait until the end, to see who will win the battle. Kids love the sound effects, repetitive phrases, and humorous illustrations. This is a great story for teaching cause and effect. As an extension, students really enjoyed brainstorming ways to keep the bunnies out of the garden.
We chose Michael Recycle, by Ellie Bethel to honor Earth Day this month. This story is about Michael Recycle, a superhero who saves a rotten, slimy town by teaching the people how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. This story is a great springboard for teaching students about environmental preservation. We plan to have students sort "reduce, reuse, recycle" photographs into categories before and after reading the story. Then, we will revisit the story to find ways that the townspeople reduced, reused, and recycled. Students will think of ways they can take care of their environment, which will help them design persuasive posters to convince others to do the same.