Monday, January 27, 2014

Picture books featuring Penguins and Polar Bears

Penguins and polar bears are fascinating to many young readers. My boys love learning about these polar animals. Winter can be a fun time to explore polar regions in books and book activities. I've rounded up some of our favorite picture books about polar regions. I've tried to group this book list into books about north pole polar bears and south pole penguins. There is a mixture of fiction and informational text. We've been doing a lot of book activities with these books. We've done crafts, writing activities, science experiments, and math practice. I'll be sharing these activities over the next few days. I'd love if you'd come back to check it out. You can also find all of the activities on my winter activities for kids pinterest board.

arctic, polar bears, penguins, preschool themes

Picture books about Polar Bears

Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer 
In Little Polar Bear, Lars the bear is separated from his father when the ice breaks in the middle of the night and he floats away. He lands on a tropical island and with the help of new friends, who guide him through a few brave adventures, he is able to return home to his family. There are many books in the Little Polar Bear series, many featuring other animals in the arctic:
Little Polar Bear and the Whales
Little Polar Bear and the Brave Little Hare
Little Polar Bear and the Husky Pup
Little Polar Bear and the Reindeer

The Three Snow bears by Jan Brett 
Jan Brett tells the traditional tale of the the three bears in an arctic setting. Goldilocks is played by Aloo-ki, an Inuit girl. Aloo-ki's sled dogs float away on ice. As she goes to look for the dogs, she stumbles into the three polar bears igloo. The story then plays out much the same as the traditional tale. 

Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson is illustrated by one of my most favorite illustrators, Stephan Savage. In this story, an adventurous baby polar bear leaves the den in the middle of the night. His night time journey takes him past the common animals of the polar region. He explores a star show. Finally, the sleepy bear returns to the warmth of his mom. This is a sweet story. It's great for introducing some of the animals of the arctic region.

In Arctic Waters by Laura Crawford introduces the animals of the arctic region by using the pattern of the rhyme, "This is the House that Jack Built". Children are introduced to many animals and given new vocabulary for these animals. There is also a section of facts in the back of the book. 

Over in the Arctic where the cold winds blow by Marianne Berkes is another arctic book based on a popular rhyme, "Over in the meadow". This book not only introduces children to arctic animals, but involves singing, counting, movement, and rhyme. This book was a big hit at our house as my boys are very "active" listeners!

Polar Bears by Gail Gibbons is a great first informational text about polar bears. There is a lot of information included. Information is shared both in the text and visually which is helpful for young readers. Children can discover facts about bears such as size, location, feeding habits, families, and dangers that are faced by bears. 

Polar Bear Journey by Debbie Miller is a true story of a mother bear and her newborn cubs. Readers get a glimpse into how the bears develop and how they move through out the arctic landscape in search for food. It is a beautifully illustrated and fascinating to read. 

arctic, polar bears, penguins, preschool themes

Tacky the penguin by Helen Lester  Tacky is definitely my favorite penguin and he is one of my most favorite characters in all of children's literature. Tacky is a penguin that does his own thing. Generally the other penguins are annoyed by his odd behavior, until it ends up saving the day. There are lots of other books in the Tacky series as well such as:
Tackylocks and the Three Bears
Three Cheers for Tacky
Tacky the Emperor
Tacky and the Winter Games (hello, winter olympics)
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers is the story of a boy who finds a penguin at his front door. The boys decides to return the penguin. It is an adventurous journey that builds a lasting friendship.
Penguins by Gail Gibbons is an nonfiction book that is great for a polar regions unit. This book is fun because it discusses the variety of types of penguins. 

Penguins by Emily Rose Townsend I love Pebble books for early readers. They are great nonfiction text with clear differentiation between print and pictures. Most are written on a late first grade reading level which allows some young readers to read the information for themselves. Here are a few other Pebble books about arctic animals
Arctic Hares by Helen Frost
Arctic Foxes by Emily Rose Townsend
Seals by Emily Rose Townsend
Polar Bears by Emily Rose Townsend
Snowy Owls by Helen Frost

National Geographic Kids Penguins The NatGeo kids nonfiction books are great for early readers too. I love that these books use more text features like maps, labels, text boxes yet the pages are not overly busy. There is also a NatGeo version of the polar bear book too. 

As I was looking for great books for this unit, I found there are tons of books written about penguins and polar bears. There is a good deal of high quality informational text as well as nicely written literature. We've spent a lot of time exploring the animals of polar regions with some of these great books. Do you have a favorite book you could add to this unit? Leave it in the comments and let's keep the list growing!!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Word Work Activities for Valentine's Day

Each week on ready-set-read, I share a word work activity or tip for your home or class. Today I'm tackling phonograms or word families. The purpose of teaching these word families is not to cover every single possible phonogram. Rather, the purpose is to help children notice and use the patterns that are in words. According to Fountas and Pinnell, authors of The Phonics Lessons,

"Knowing spelling patterns helps children notice and use larger parts of words, thus making word solving faster and more efficient. Patterns are also helpful to children in writing words because they will quickly write down the patterns rather than laboriously work with individual sounds and letters. Finally, knowing to look for patterns and remembering them help children make the connections between words that make word solving easier."
I thought it would be fun to add a seasonal twist to word study this winter. My son isn't keen on working on reading when he gets home from school. If he thinks I've made a "game" for him, he's eager to play! Just adding hearts and bugs to a normal picture and word sort made him game to try this word work activity.

word work activities

Valentine's Day Word Work Activity

Love Bugs is a fun game for students to practice sorting word families. There are two word families for each short vowel. 

For each word family, there are both picture sorts and word sorts to accommodate the individual need of the child. 

The word families included are –an, -at, -en, -ed, -ig, -ick, -ot, -op, -un, -unk. Love Bugs love to eat hearts. Be careful, if you feed them the wrong word family, they’ll get love sick!
You can purchase these already made games in my teachers pay teachers store.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Snowman Word Work Activities

It's time for Word Work Wednesday! Each Wednesday I feature activities you can use with your early literacy learner for word work. Word work is the time when children have an opportunity to work with words (and letters). This will look different in different classrooms. There are components of phonics, sight words, and spelling. The goal of word work is to learn how words work.  Today I have a free word work activity for kindergarten students. If you'd like more word work activities, check out the full round up of word work Wednesday posts. Also, don't forget to check out my word study Pinterest board.

Snowman Word Work Activity
My oldest son is in Kindergarten. He knows letters by name, sound, and visual form. He can even sing his "ABCs". Lately his teacher has been working on alphabetical order. While he has great control letter knowledge, he gets confused about the order of letters. Most of his teacher's activities involve a worksheet where he has to fill in the missing letter. I wanted to create an activity for him to practice this missing letter skill. However, I wanted it to be a fun, hands on game. Getting him to "do more papers" at the end of a school day is nearly impossible. I created winter alphabet clip cards to get him going. Not only can he practice alphabetical order, he can strengthen his fine motor skills as he clips a clothespin on the correct answer.

In Winter Alphabet Clip Cards, Logan names the two letters on the cards and clips the snowflake that shows the letter that comes between the two letters. 

Free Printable Word Work Activity
I'm offering the Winter Alphabet Clip Cards as a free printable to all readers! The pack comes with all of the alphabet clip cards, directions for play, and a worksheet to check student understanding. You can get this pack free in my new store on Buy Sell Teach.

More Free Printables and Giveaway
If you'd like more free resources for teaching, you've got to check out the Chillin' and Hoppin' winter blog hop that is going on right now. I've teamed up with 14 bloggers to bring you 14 freebies. Plus, you have a chance to win a bundle of 14 products or the grand prize of $150 gift certificate to Buy Sell Teach! Giveaway ends Saturday, January 18th. You can enter here.

You can also find me busily pinning on Pinterest, tweeting on twitter, and chatting about the best Children’s literature on facebook and Google+.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie Book Activities

Welcome to another month of the Virtual Book Club for kids. In January, we are featuring the author Laura Numeroff. Numeroff has written some of my favorite books for preschoolers. She is widely known for her "If you give a..." series (If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, If you Give a pig a Pancake, etc.) She has also written a series of "What do... do best?", flip books that feature mommies and daddies or grandmas and grandpas. This month we are teaming up with a group of bloggers to feature book activities to accompany many of Numeroff's wonderful books. My boys focused on one of Numeroff's best known books, "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie". You can check out the book activities we did for that book, link up your own ideas for Laura Numeroff books, or find tons of activities for an author study here!

book activities, laura numeroff

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie is a circular story that tells about a boy who regrettably shares a cookie with a pesky mouse. The mouse begins to ask for milk, a straw, a mirror (to check for a milk mustache), scissors for a whisker trim... and on, and on, and on.

The "If you Give a" series of books provide an opportunity to introduce children to the structure of circular stories. Circular stories begin and end in the same way. Children may be able to make a connection to a plant cycle, seasons, or other cyclical event when they read circular stories. When children are able to read a lot of these types of stories, it helps them make predictions and comprehend the meaning of the story.

Other Circular Stories in the "If you Give a..." Series

If you Give a Moose a Muffin
If you Give a Pig a Pancake
If you Give a Dog a Donut
If you Give a Cat a Cupcake
If you Take a Mouse to the Movies
If you Take a Mouse to School

Book Activities for If you Give a Mouse a Cookie

After reading "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie" make a mouse puppet with your preschooler. You'll need a paper bag. Fold it under before beginning the project so that it looks like this:

book activities, laura numeroff

Cut out shapes or allow your preschooler to help cut. Glue on to make a mouse face.

book activities, laura numeroff

Allow your child to create their own circular retelling with items from around the house. Begin with a common household item such as a crayon. Ask your child, "If you give a mouse a crayon, what will he want to go with it?" Go around the house collecting items. If you can, help your child make the story cycle back to the starting point.

Cookie Game for If you Give a Mouse a Cookie

The familiar rhyme, "Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?" is fun to add to this story.
Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?
Logan stole the cookies from the cookie jar.
Who me?
Yes, you!
Couldn't be.
Then who?
 Have kids stand in a circle while they say the chant. When you ask "Then who?" have the last person toss a ball to the next person and say his/ her name.

Cookie Taste Test for If you Give a Mouse a Cookie

Provide kids with three different types of cookies. Let the children taste the cookies. Create a graph to show the favorite cookies.

You can find more book activities for Laura Numeroff books on these blogs:

Toddler ApprovedThe Educators’ Spin On ItRainy Day Mum3 Dinosaurs-Learn~Play~Imagine – Crafty Moms Share – Reading ConfettiInspiration Laboratories – Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas – Kids Yoga Stories – Ready-Set-Read - PlayDrMom – Fantastic Fun and Learning – Growing Book by BookRoyal Baloo – The Outlaw Mom® Blog – Kitchen Counter Chronicles – Teach Preschool – Mama Smiles – Coffee Cups and Crayons – Juggling With Kids– Here Come the Girls-

Here's How to Link Up:
  1. Link up only posts inspired by Laura Numeroff that share children's book inspired crafts, activities, recipes, etc. Any other posts will be deleted.
  2. Visit other blog posts on the linky and comment on or share the ones you love

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Word Work Activities for Winter

Welcome back to another word work Wednesday at Ready-Set-Read! Each Wednesday I work to bring you activities you can use with your early literacy learner to explore elements of phonemic awareness and phonics. Great reading programs include these components along with fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Word work time is a great opportunity to introduce these important phonics concepts. Children can learn about letters and sounds through hands on sorts and games. It's important to tie these skills and games to your child's actual reading. Today I am sharing a few fun games and activities as well as some wonderful books. Help your child play the games (all free printables) and then use the books to help your child transfer the knowledge they gain to the reading work they are doing! If you'd like more word work activities, check out the full round up of word work Wednesday posts.

Word Work Activities for Winter

Winter Word Work Hats and Mittens--FREE
word work

These winter word work activities will help students firm up vocabulary, letter knowledge, rhyming skills, and other phonics skills.  They are best for early readers. The activities include:
2 Beginning Letter Sorts (picture sorts)
1 Beginning Letter Sort Cut and Paste Worksheet
1 Word Family Sort (picture sort)
1 Word Family Cut and Paste
The activities feature hats and mittens and would connect well with Jan Brett's books, The Mitten and The Hat. 

Winter Themed Riddles for Kids-- Free
word work
Help your students gain skills in inferring and comprehension as they solve 6 winter riddles and then write a draw a riddle of their own. This pack includes six riddle cards with matching picture cards and one riddle writing stationary page

Word Work Activities on Teacher Pay Teachers

More Winter Themed Books and Activities

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats with Free Winter Prewriting Printable

word work

In the story, "The Snowy Day", Peter ventures into the snow and practices making a variety of marks in the snow. See if your child can practice making prewriting marks after reading this book. For extra fun, let your child practice writing skills in snow paint. Recipe is included in the post.

Winter is a fun theme for teaching and learning. There are so many wonderful books about Winter and snow. Which are your favorites? How do you use them in your teaching?