2.27.2012

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was one of my earliest heroes.  His catchy rhymes and colorful, creative illustrations are captivating for early readers (and experienced ones too).  His birthday was March 2nd, and in celebration, kids across the U.S. will celebrate Read Across America Day.  At my school, and those of many other Seuss-loving librarians, we will take a whole week to enjoy Dr. Seuss' contributions to children's literature.  Let your students in on the fun with these Seuss-sational resources.

The best way to get to know Dr. Seuss is to dive right into one of his well-loved books like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

Right away, students become engaged by and pleased with the funny, rhyming text.  This book lends itself well to many fun math connections.
Coffee Cups and Crayons
 Using a package of multicolored fish crackers, which resemble this title's namesake characters, students can practice estimating, sorting, pattern-making, graphing, and calculating fractions and percents.  That range of objectives makes this math connection easy to adapt for different ages.

Or, read Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, which little listeners can't get enough of.
 This fun story is jammed full of onomatopoeia that younger students can't resist emulating.  After reading, let students practice making the sounds themselves, then matching the sounds with the words or matching sounds with the animal or item that makes it.

In keeping with the birthday theme, share Happy Birthday to You!, which describes an elaborately imaginative birthday celebration.
After the story, students can act out a Seuss Birthday readers' theatre.  This script for three readers is free from School Library Media Activities.
 
Once your students are invested in Dr. Seuss' books, introduce them to the man behind the stories through Scholastic's short biographical video.

Then let students take a virtual trip to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial in Springfield, Massachusetts where they can see bronze sculptures of Geisel and many of his famous characters.

For even more fun, dress up like Dr. Seuss' characters.  We are dressing up all week long, with a book theme for every day.  Today our theme was The Cat in the Hat, in which the trouble-making cat is accompanied by blue-haired twin accomplices, Thing One and Thing Two.

The Lorax, which has a movie adaptation debuting later this week, is the perfect inspiration for an eye-catching display.
 In the story, the Lorax tries to protect the beloved truffula trees, which can easily be recreated using tissue-paper pom-poms.  This version is made with paper, but you can also make them with three-dimensional stems, like Mrs. Lodge's Library, using foam tubing from the hardware store.

The pom poms can also be used to make a Thing One and Thing Two display.  These guys greeted our students as they came into school this morning.


2.05.2012

Valentine Critter Crafts: Heart-Shaped Animals

My students' favorite days in the library are those in which they get to make something to take with them.  As students file in and take their seats for storytime, they quickly look around hoping to see an example of a craft they will get to create after our weekly read-aloud.  I have found that, given our limited class time, the crafts that work out best are easily assembled using a few pre-cut pieces and a glue stick.  This way we can knock out a cute craft in less than ten minutes with very little mess.

Some examples of these easy storytime crafts that have been popular with my students (and readers) are owls and penguins, which both include just a few simple shapes.

In February, we are making animals using heart shapes.  I had no idea how many animals could be constructed using hearts.  Turns out there are bunches.  Here are some ideas we will be using, plus a few extra cuties.

Next week we're going to read Happy Valentine's Day, Curious George by N. Di Angelo and Mary O'Keefe Young.  After the story, we'll be making these monkeys from the Fiskars Project Gallery that use a heart and hole-puncher to form the eyes.


Last week, for Groundhog Day, we made these heart-shaped groundhog faces.

Some other adorable animals that can be made from hearts:
1. Instructions for this heart-shaped kitty, as well as a heart-shaped puppy companion, can be found at Learn Create Love.
2. This Valentine owl from Naturally Educational come together with eight hearts and a tiny triangle.
3. I spotted these simple and super-cute ladybugs outside a smart kindergarten teacher's classroom at my school.  They have big red heart bodies with little black heart spots.
4. Learn Create Love has a free printable template and instructions for this adorable heart elephant.


2.02.2012

Groundhog Day

 Groundhog Day has always seemed a little strange to me.  If February 2nd is a sunshiny day, Winter is going to last another month and a half?  I guess this explains why poor Punxsutawney Phil has such a low accuracy rate.  Nevertheless, all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the furry little forecaster makes the day fun to celebrate and explore with kids.

 Start with a few good groundhog stories.   Go to Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox and Paul Meisel makes a great read-aloud.  Groundhog has trouble sleeping through the winter and ends up seeing exciting Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas celebrations that he usually misses during hibernation.  The fun fiction picture book is followed by a one-page non-fiction description of Groundhog Day and groundhogs.  This addendum makes the story perfect for comparing fiction and non-fiction.

Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller and Kathi Ember is another favorite.  In this book, groundhog gets sick right before his big day and has to interview other animals to find someone to take his place.  The book could easily lead into a discussion of character traits, since groundhog quickly realizes that there are many qualities an animal must have in order to fill his role.

Also check out author Pat Miller's site where you can get a free 23-page teacher's guide full of tons of activities to complement the book.  The packet includes reader's theater scripts and five different original songs along with lots of other great ideas.  My students especially enjoyed one song that goes to the tune of the Oscar Mayer wiener jingle.

To get students comfortable with all the unfamiliar vocabulary related to Groundhog Day, print a set of these adorable word wall cards from Terri's Teaching Treasures.  The printable also includes a alphabetization activity students can do using the cards.

After all that hard work, it's time for students to make their very own groundhog.  This heart-shaped groundhog craft from Lucky Me! was easy for little hands to assemble.  While the original had googly eyes and paper whiskers, we used crayons to add ours after attaching the groundhog's teeth, nose and ears.