Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Peter Brown...Children's Author Extraordinaire!

So, the Common Core is all about comparing and contrasting story elements between stories...especially stories written by the same author. What better way to study these standards than through a FUN and EXCITING author study?!

Please tell me you've heard of Peter Brown?! It wasn't until last year that I was introduced to his books after reading "You Will Be My Friend" (ADORABLE!)....and from that point forward I fell in LOVE! I knew right away that I wanted to include his stories in my teaching, because if I loved him THAT much than my students would surely fall for him too!

In reader's workshop we were focused on determining the theme of a story. Conversations in my 3rd grade class before our author study consisted of discussions like how to use evidence to support our thinking of a story's theme, and how a story's theme is DIFFERENT than a story's lesson. Yada-yada-yada! In short we added a lot of information about story theme to our schema and had many experiences with determining story theme before this lesson.

I decided to use the Peter Brown books listed above--all pieces of children's literature with clear themes. Chowder is the story of a unique and one-of-a-kind dog who struggles to make friends with other animals until realizing that being his quirky self is the one sure-fire way to make the most friends! The Flight of the Dodo is a tale of flightless birds that but their heads together to invent a device that allows them to finally fly. After building and making all of their dreams come true--including bird-doo missiles--the Waddlers second guess their inability to fly high in the sky and wonder if the ground is a better place for them to live. The Secret Garden is a sweet, green story that follows a little boy's determination to turn a dull and dark city into a colorful and bright place to live. I brainstormed some possible themes before sharing these stories with my class. Here are some of my ideas:


  • Friendship
  • Courage
  • Individuality (be yourself)
  • Acceptance
The Flight of the Dodo

  • Teamwork
  • Friendship
  • Bravery
The Secret Garden
  • Hard work
  • Perseverance  
  • Kindness
Then, I spent 1 day reading each story. After reading, we brainstormed themes that would match each story and provided evidence for our thinking. We filled in our graphic organizer, that we first glued into our reading response journal. After 3 days of reading and writing we compared and contrasted each theme from every Peter Brown story, looking for consistencies and patterns in his writing. My littles were beyond engaged with these books...and begged for more Peter Brown books after we finished studying his literature. 

Interested in completing this activity in your classroom? Click here to download my FREE making inferences graphic organizer. I have NO doubt that your students will beyond love all that Peter Brown has to offer...HAPPY READING! :)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Setting Goals for the New Year!

I LOVE the start of the New Year! Although coming back to school from break can be rough, it allows a fresh new start full of possibilities for both students and teachers! :)

After Winter Break I like to ease back into our classroom routines...so what better way than with a fun craft-ivity?! This craft encourages students to reflect on the past year and create new goals for the new year!

Here is my sample:

I like to encourage students to come up with all sorts of new goals--academic and social emotional included! Together, we discuss what makes an attainable, realistic goal and brainstorm ideas for student goals.

I added some cute additions to this craft by using some materials I had on hand and others I picked up at Dollar Tree. For this craft-ivity you will need:
  •  Colored construction paper
  • Blow Horns (found at Dollar Tree)
  • Sparkle pom poms (optional)
  • Hair color yarn

My kiddos had a blast putting together their faces and creating 4 new goals for the new year. I had my kiddos use runny glue to attach their hair to back of their party hats. Then, I used hot glue to add the blow horn and sparkle pom pom to the top of the hat!

Just a cautionary word: Your students WILL ask to blow their blow horns. So, for fun, I let everyone blow them for 5 seconds...no more, no less! :)

Here are samples of student work...they turned out A-dorable!!! Interested in this New Year craft-ivity? Check it out in my TPT store here! :)