Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Insect Unit with Eric Carle Books

Eric Carle is a much loved children's book author. Many of his books are written about creepy crawlie critters which are perfect for spring reading. We love to watch the very hungry caterpillar as he eats, grows, and changes into a butterfly. We love to read about the very clumsy click beetle who could not turn over and the very quiet cricket who could not make a sound. I enjoy sharing these well sequenced narrative texts, but I also enjoy learning facts from these books as well. Many of Eric Carle's books include an informational paragraph about the insect featured. This is a great mentor text for students who are writing their own informational texts. One of my favorite units to teach in spring is Reading and Writing about Insects (and other creepy crawlies) featuring Eric Carle books.

Eric Carle Book Activities

Eric Carle Insects Unit

The common core state standards  require students to both read and write narrative and informational text. My common core aligned unit helps students to do both. Students will read literature with Eric Carle texts such as
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle
The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle
The Very Clumsy Click Beetle by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

There is also a focus on close reading of informational text in this unit. Students will answer text dependent questions and focus on gaining new vocabulary. 

Eric Carle Book Activities, Insect Unit, Close Reading Passage

Students will work with a variety of graphic organizers to record details from their reading and plan their own writing. They will use a plan for reading informational text and connect that planning sheet to their writing. 
Eric Carle Book Activities, Insect Unit
They will also use a graphic organizers that focus attention on specific details and events in narrative text. 
Eric Carle Book Activities, Insect Unit

The projects in this unit are fun and create an engaging environment.

Eric Carle Book Activities, Insect Unit

Students will enjoy retelling The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Bright colored printable signs will help you display student work.
Eric Carle Book Activities, Insect Unit

The entire unit is focused toward helping students meet the standards so they can create meaningful writing of their own.  In the unit, students are often required to take on a role such as bug researcher, coauthor, or party planner.

Eric Carle Book Activities, Insect Unit

Reading and Writing about Insects is a fun writing unit for K-2 grade students.  You can easily print the activities which are aligned to the standards. There are scoring guides aligned to standards which will make standards based grading quick and efficient. You can purchase this unit in my teachers pay teachers store by following this link or clicking the picture below.

Eric Carle Book Activities, Insect Unit


Frozen! Frozen! Read all About It!: Frozen Storybooks and Apps

Do you want to build a snowman? Or read a book about some girls? Disney has brought the award winning film Frozen to the pages of storybooks. We recently had an opportunity to check out the digital storybook and print books for the movie Frozen. Disney has provided books for every age and learning style of young reader. I think all ages are going to be excited about reading when they find their friends Elsa and Anna lurking in the pages.

Disclaimer: I was provided review copies of each of the books and apps in exchange for my honest opinions. 

Frozen Storybooks and Apps

We were able to review the Frozen Storybook Deluxe app as well a beautiful Frozen picture book, a read along storybook and CD, an early reader book and a Frozen chapter book. I was really impressed that Disney has thought about each level of learner and made the text accessible to kids.

A Sister More Like Me
This picture book is the one book of the Frozen line of books that doesn't retell the movie story exactly. Instead, the book focuses on the relationship of the two sisters. It is based around the sisters comparing themselves to one another and wishing to have "a sister more like me." In the end, the sisters recognize they each have unique strengths and gifts and learn to accept and love the other. It's a cute rhyming book with a sweet message. There is also an ebook version with read along narration.

Frozen: A Tale of Two Sisters

This step into reading level 2 book is great for early readers. It retells the movie in a simple manner. It's a great book to read for enjoyment. The text structure is very simple and it would work well for struggling readers or speakers of other languages who are learning English. Students will feel success as most will already know the story line and characters.

Frozen: The Junior Novelization
I've been reading the Frozen chapter book to my kindergartener. It's definitely too hard for him to access independently. He is so familiar with the content of the story, so he's doing a great job listening to the book. It's perfect for readers in the 2-5 grade range who are huge fans of the movie. I reads like a retelling of a movie rather than a deeply written piece of literature, but kids need light enjoyable reads from time to time. They will love this one. As long as kids are reading, I count that as a win!

Frozen Read-Along Storybook and CD

My boys (ages 4, 5) were most impressed with the Frozen Read-Along Storybook and CD. This is a condensed version of the movie. It hits all of the highlights from the movie in a paperback picture book. The CD has great music and sound effects and the narration is great. We listen to it nearly every day on the way to school. In fact, I've been working with my kindergartner to write book reviews and here are his thoughts:

"I like the sound effects because the voices sound like Elsa and Anna."

Frozen Storybook Deluxe
The Frozen Storybook Deluxe is an interactive digital storybook. There is a narrated story which is told from two points of view. You can flip your device to hear Anna or Elsa's point of view. We loved the story but the games are less than thrilling. So buy it for a good digital storybook, don't buy it if you are looking for a game. Also, it takes a ton of space, so be aware of it before purchasing.

I think these Frozen storybooks would be a great treat in Easter baskets this weekend! Check them out and let me know what your readers think.


Monday, April 14, 2014

In the Tall Tall Grass by Denise Fleming Spring Book Activities

Welcome back to the Virtual Book Club for kids. Each month I join with a group of bloggers to feature book activities from books by a selected author. This month we are featuring the works of Denise Fleming. I've chosen "In the Tall Tall Grass" by Denise Fleming. It's a wonderful pick for spring reading.

Spring has sprung in our yard. Our grass is green, tall, and full of interesting creepy crawlies. The book "In the Tall Tall Grass" partners well with our outdoor explorations. This book explores the tall tall grass from the perspective of a caterpillar. The book explores the daytime critters as well as the nighttime critters. It has great descriptive rhyming text.  It provides opportunities for children to label and count a variety of grassland critters such as hummingbirds, bees, moles, snakes, fireflies, bats, and more.

Of course we had to explore our tall tall grass. Tyson was able to make connections to the text and compare and contrast the critters in our grass and the ones in the book. We continued the counting 
in the great outdoors as we counted plants and bugs. We also used vocabulary from the book to label bugs and birds and talk about the movement of the animals.

When we returned inside, we made our own tall tall grass craft. I gave Tyson a set of stickers. These were from a set of Eric Carle stickers that I found several months ago. Any bug or animal sticker would work for the activity. We also used some flower stickers. Children could also draw their own critters. We placed the stickers on one sheet of paper.

To create the tall tall grass, we snipped the green paper. I drew lines for Tyson to follow so he would know where to stop. I wanted him to leave a small section at the bottom of the page.

We glued the two papers together and the stickers were hidden in the tall tall grass. I reinforced the concepts of labeling objects using story vocabulary and counting objects as we explored Tyson's tall tall grass.

In the Tall Tall Grass is a great book and it's loved by all members of our family... even our kitty cat wants to get his paws on this great read.

If you'd like to see more ideas for Denise Fleming books, visit these blogs.

Link up your own post ideas below.  Share your favorite crafts, recipes, and activities to go with Denise Fleming books.

Next month we'll be exploring books by Mem Fox.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Free Printable Activity Sheets for Disney Nature's Bears + Screening Pass Giveaway

Do you have an animal lover in your family? I do! My four year old, Tyson, loves to visit animals, read about animals, watch movies about animals, and most of all, play with his own pet! He can't wait for Disney's new film, Bears. Today I have a free printable pack provided for my readers from Disney. The family fun pack is  great for home or classroom use. I also have a code for St. Louis area readers to check out an advance screening of the movie Bears on Saturday, May 12 in Des Peres.

The free printable family fun kit for Disney's BEARS includes hands on activities for kids of all ages.  Kids of all ages will enjoy decorating a bear mask. Young learners can explore what bears eat and complete a cut and paste activity. They'll also love comparing their hand prints to the paw print of a bear.

Older kids may enjoy the word searches and the animal adaptation game.

Teachers, you might even use the informational text passage about bears to help students identify main ideas or draw information from text. There are also some great activities that could help students work on inferring information from picture cues. Kids will likely be engaged with these activities that relate to the popular film.

Everyone can download the free family fun pack from Disney! If you are a local St. Louis reader, you can also get a sneak peek of the film. The advance screening for St. Louis will take place on May 12th at 10am at the Wehrenberg Des Peres Cine 14. Click on the link below to download free passes to this showing. You will want to arrive early as screenings are filled on a first come, first served basis and are overbooked to ensure capacity. Seating is not guaranteed.

Screening Passes for Disney Bears St. Louis

Disney Nature's Bears

 In an epic story of breathtaking scale, Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure “Bears” showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life, their journey begins as winter comes to an end and the bears emerge from hibernation to face the bitter cold. The world outside is exciting—but risky—as the cubs’ playful descent down the mountain carries with it a looming threat of avalanches. As the season changes from spring to summer, the brown bears must work hard to find food—ultimately feasting at a plentiful salmon run—while staying safe from rival male bears and predators, including an ever-present wolf. “Bears” captures the fast-moving action and suspense of life in one of the planet’s last great wildernesses—Alaska!  

Directed by Alastair Fothergill (“Earth,” “African Cats” and “Chimpanzee”) and Keith Scholey (“African Cats”), and narrated by John C. Reilly, “Bears” arrives in theaters April 18, 2014, to celebrate Earth Day.