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5 Little Ducks
Author: Denise Fleming
Published November 8, 2016 by Beach Lane Books

A Guest Review by Kathryn O’Connor

Summary: Papa Duck and his ducklings go on adventures through the woods and over the hills everyday. Each time Papa Duck yells out “Quack quack quack” to gather his ducklings, but not all of them come back. In fact, with each adventure, one fewer duck returns. Finally on Saturday, Papa Duck went out alone and yelled “Quack, quack, quack”. It was then that all of his ducks came back! When the family woke up together on Sunday, Mama Duck decided it would be best for the family to stay in and rest.

Review: Denise Fleming takes a modern spin on a classic nursery rhyme. It is fun to find out what new adventure the ducklings are taking on throughout the week. Because the ducks meet new people and explore new places each day, the reader is kept engaged. The repetition of the story makes it easy for young readers to follow along with and make predictions. In combination with this, the large text format and bolded numbers allow for easy comprehension.

The lively illustrations bring life to the text, and I love how perspective is used in all of them. Some of the pictures you’ll find to be zoomed out, while some are zoomed in. My favorite part of this picture book is at the end where Fleming has two non-fiction pages based on the animals of the story. This encourages the readers thinking and allows them to explore further.

Although this book is a helpful, entertaining tool for teaching days of the week and numbers 1-5, my only concern is that readers might become worried or anxious thinking about the well-being of the ducks. At some points while reading, I was concentrated on where the ducks were, if they were still alive, and when they were going to return to their family, rather than enjoying the text.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This story can be used at first as a whole class read aloud, and perhaps even in a singing voice. Students will quickly pick up on the pattern of the story due to the repetition. By keeping the book in a classroom library, readers will then be willing to pick up the text and read independently or to a friend for they have already familiarized themselves with it. For beginning readers, this will spark motivation and love of reading. This story is also a helpful aid in teaching and counting numbers 1-5, days of the week, and sequencing text.

Discussion Questions: How many ducks do you think will come back?; What day comes next?; Why does Papa Duck yell “quack, quack, quack” everyday?; Where do you think the ducks are going?; Why do you think the ducks want to explore?; Why is Papa Duck feeling sad?; How do you think Papa Duck felt when his ducks returned?; Why does Mama Duck want all of the ducks to rest on Sunday?

Flagged Page:

 

Read This If You Loved: 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, or The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

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Thank you, Kathryn!

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charlie-and-mouse-cover

Charlie & Mouse
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Expected Publication April 11th, 2017 by Chronicle Books
http://www.chroniclebooks.com/charlie-mouse.html

Yesterday we revealed the Barkus teaching guide, today we get to share another new guide I wrote for another must-get early chapter book from Chronicle Books for all of my early elementary friends!

About the Book: Meet Charlie and Mouse! Join these irresistible and irrepressible sibs in their quest to talk to some lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, beloved author and illustrator team Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood in four irresistible stories that readers will relish.

About the Author: Laurel Snyder is the author of many books for children. She lives and writes in a small yellow house in Atlanta, Georgia, which she shares with her husband and two sons. She would like to state for the record that while none of these stories are exactly true, none of them are exactly untrue either.

About the Illustrator: Emily Hughes is an illustrator (and sometimes writer) who lives in windy Brighton, England, while thinking fondly of her hometown in Hilo, Hawaii. When making books she uses pencils, her tablet, and a very, very generous stack of paper.

About the Guide: This guide consists of discussion opportunities and classroom extension activities designed for use by Pre-K through first grade students in classroom, small group, or individual assignments. Charlie & Mouse allows children to exercise a variety of reading comprehension strategies, from gaining information about a story from the illustrations and text to retelling, describing, building vocabulary, and comparing and contrasting. Additionally, Charlie & Mouse helps young readers develop foundational reading skills such as learning to recognize sight words and text features.

You can also access the teaching guide here.

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Also, I’d like to thank Sarah Brannen for making such a beautiful piece of artwork for our weekly nonfiction link up. It is perfect for illustrating why nonfiction is so important!

dining-with-dinosaurs

Dining with Dinosaurs: A Tasty Guide to Mesozoic Munching
Author: Hannah Bonner
Published September 20th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

Summary: Sure you know T-Rex was the meat-eating king and brontosaurus munched on leaves, but what else was on the dino dining menu during the Mesozoic era?

Meet the ‘vores: carnivores, piscivores, herbivores, insectivores, “trashivores,” “sunivores,” and omnivores like us.

Readers will be surprised and inspired to learn about dino diets and they’ll get to explore how scientists can tell which dinosaurs ate what just from looking at fossils!

Journey through artist and author Hannah Bonner’s whimsical world to learn how the dinosaurs and their contemporaries bit, chewed, and soaked up their food.

Review: Although the cover looks a bit silly, this text is to be taken seriously. Hannah Bonner does a wonderful job examining what different dinosaurs ate, the science behind what and why they ate what they did, how paleontologists know what dinos ate, and where all these dinosaurs fit in the grand scheme of things. Told in a unique structure that alternates between Hannah and a microraptor narrating and comic strip interviews with scientists, the text is not only informative but very entertaining.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is going to be the perfect text for a dinosaur unit in a classroom. It allows for so many different discussions including the different periods within the Mesozoic Era (and Cenozoic Era), connections between dinosaur diets and modern animals, types of scientists that study dinosaurs, different species of dinosaurs, and even text structure. Such a wide range of opportunities for classroom discussion (and even extension activities from the discussions). Additionally, the back matter of the text is filled to the brim with information and even an experiment.

Discussion Questions: What are some ways paleontologists can tell which dinosaurs ate what?; What modern animals fit into each of the ‘vore categories in the text?; Why did the author choose to include the comic strip interviews throughout the book?

Flagged Passages: 

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Read This If You Love: Dinosaurs 

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**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review!!**

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

on-the-construction-site

On the Construction Site: A Shine-A-Light Book
Author: Carron Brown
Illustrator: Bee Johnson
Published July 6th, 2016 by Ivy Press

Goodreads Summary: Watch a skyscraper spring up with this beautifully illustrated interactive book! By simply holding the book up to the light, or shining a light behind each page, young readers will be able to discover how large buildings are constructed, who builds them, and all about the amazing machines they use in the process. The innovative see-through feature fulfils a similar function to lift-the-flaps books, but has the added interactive dimension of the child being able to see both the surface and the hidden picture at the same time.

Kellee’s Review: Trent is enthralled with this book! Not only does it have a question and answer set up, you have to use a flashlight on the back of the pages to reveal the answer, and the answers all include construction vehicles–this is a win-win-win for Trent! After going through an obsessive time with this book, Trent was even sleeping with his flashlight. Trent also is fascinated and a bit fearful of shadows, so we used the book as a way to discuss how shadows work.

Ricki’s Review: What a clever, clever concept! My son had a blast reading this book. He clapped as I held each page up to the light to reveal the neat construction site images behind each page. Because he is young, I don’t think he quite understood how they worked, so I attributed it to magic. There is a lot of great information in this book, and we had fun learning all about how construction sites work. I will definitely be purchasing more books from the Shine-A-Light series in the future.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: On the Construction Site is a wonderful text to start conversations about shadows; construction of a skyscraper; and construction vehicles, planning, and careers. Also with its Q&A text structure, it will start conversations as you read the text and see the construction of the building. It’ll be a perfect read aloud and think aloud for early ed classrooms.

Discussion Questions: What steps must the workers take to build a skyscraper?; What safety items did you see on the construction site?; How does the Shine-a-Light books work?; What construction vehicles take part in the building of the skyscraper?; What different jobs are there on the construction site?

Flagged Passages: This is a little bit different. Instead of a flagged passage, we are sharing a You Tube video from the publisher that shows how Shine-A-Light books work and shows the other titles in the series.

Read This If You Love: Anything construction! 

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**Thank you to Lynn at Kane Miller for providing copies for review!**

 

busy builders

Busy Builders, Busy Week!
Author: Jean Reidy
Illustrator: Leo Timmers
Published June 14th, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Summary: In this bright, bold picture book, a cast of animal characters are building a brand-new playground in a local park for their community! Each day of the week contains a different construction plan as the steam-rolling, digging, and planting gets underway.

Tuesday! Mix day!
Pipe and boards and bricks day.
Stack, spin, pour it in.
Give the fence a fix day.

Wednesday! Load day!
Take it on the road day.
Hoist, haul, pull it all.
Something being towed day!

The construction project comes together for a joyful, rhyming walking tour of a neighborhood, where young readers can learn the days of the week while watching everyone work as a team!

Kellee’s Review: This book is more than you would guess from the synopsis and title. It is a story of hard work and team work told with fun rhyming text and silly animals which makes it a book that kids will want to read and adults will want to share with them. And the fun of this rhyming text is multiplied significantly because of the realistic-looking, yet super-silly illustrations. After reading each page, you have to spend extra time looking at everything that is going on in the illustrations. For example, on Tuesday (see the poem in the summary), the giraffe is carrying bricks to an elephant who is building something, but he is in mid-trip. What is going to happen?! You don’t completely know because the next page jumps to the next day, so it would be so much fun to predict with young readers. 

Ricki’s Review: As a mom, I get a bit tired of the repetition within concept picture books, so I was really excited that this book was different! I have dozens of ABC/Count to Ten books, and my son knows the basic animals on a farm, but he doesn’t know the days of the week very well! After we read this book, I was able to talk to my son about some of the regular things that we do on different days of the week, and he’s started to use their names more regularly. This book would be a great addition to classrooms as teachers introduce calendars. It is fun, engaging, and silly, and we have a lot of fun reading it. The illustrations add a lot of energy to the text, and I couldn’t help but smile as I read it. This book will keep us busy for quite a long time!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to a fun read aloud and a book that students will want to read over and over again, Busy Builders, Busy Week would make a fun writing mentor text for students to wrote their own rhyming text about what they do during their week. They can use the rhyme scheme of the text to emulate the rhythm of text.

Click here for a free classroom curriculum guide and storytime kit!

Discussion Questions: What is the rhyme scheme of the text?; What could you learn from the Busy Builder’s collaboration to help you with successful group work in class?; How did the Busy Builders work together to be successful?

Flagged Passages:

Busy Builders Busy Week! by Jean Reidy_Sunday_illus © 2016 by Leo Timmers

Read This If You Loved: Dump Truck Duck by Megan E. Bryant, How to Track a Truck by Jason Carter Eaton, With Any Luck I’ll Drive a Truck by David Friend

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Author Guest Post: “ENGAGING THE PICTURE BOOK CROWD” by Jean Reidy

Whether it’s through quiet cuddle time, conversation, or comic relief, engaging the picture book crowd is a delightful task. I like to tell young readers that when we read a picture book, we don’t just decipher the words. We talk about it. We explore it. We discover it. We relate to it. We might move to it. We might even make a little noise. Because picture books aren’t just about words on a page. They’re about sounds and rhythms and poetry and language and voice and life and … pictures!

I love to stress, with kids, the importance of reading the pictures. After all, the illustrations in a picture book tell over half of the story. It’s a skill that very young children can master and feel proud of. It’s also art appreciation 101. When you ask a group of young kids, “How many of you are artists?” almost every hand goes up. So when they see picture book illustration as art, they’re introduced to the stories—including their own—that art can tell. I explore with kids the details of an illustration that might tell us more about the central story or a side story or, perhaps, even a different story, than the text reveals.

I rarely read a picture book straight through. I ask a lot of questions. I ask kids to predict what comes after a page turn. I ask them to look for clues as to how the story might end. And, most importantly, I ask them questions that might help them connect a book, in a personal way, to what they know, what they’ve experienced and the world they live in.

Young readers can feel empowered when they contribute to the conversation about a book. By showing them that I value their  discoveries, they not only learn that reading a picture book is rewarding, but that they are valued as well.

Jean Reidy photo

About the Author: Jean Reidy is the author of All Through My Town, Too Purpley!, Too Pickley!, and Too Princessy!, among many other books for children. She writes from her home in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Visit her online at www.jeanreidy.com and @JeanReidy.

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**Thank you to Barbara from Blue Slip Media for providing copies for review!**

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journey quest return

Journey Trilogy
Author and Illustrator: Aaron Becker
Journey Published August 6th, 2013
Quest Published August 26th, 2014
Return Published August 2nd, 2016
By Candlewick Press

Journey Summary: Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship.

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

Journey Review: This book is very hard to explain the magic of it. Lorna (@notforlunch) described it the best, I think: “a wonderful mashup of a David Wiesner book and Harold and the Purple Crayon.” I think this is perfect. It has the illustration beauty and magic of a wordless David Wiesner picture book and it is about creativity (and a crayon) like Harold. The beauty of the castle she visited also reminded me of Cathedral by David Macaulay. This book is just full of amazing!

Originally published at: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=1765 (10/5/2013)

Quest Summary: A king emerges from a hidden door in a city park, startling two children sheltering from the rain. No sooner does he push a map and some strange objects into their hands than he is captured by hostile forces that whisk him back through the enchanted door. Just like that, the children are caught up in a quest to rescue the king and his kingdom from darkness, while illuminating the farthest reaches of their imagination. Colored markers in hand, they make their own way through the portal, under the sea, through a tropical paradise, over a perilous bridge, and high in the air with the help of a winged friend. Journey lovers will be thrilled to follow its characters on a new adventure threaded with familiar elements, while new fans will be swept into a visually captivating story that is even richer and more exhilarating than the first.

Quest Review: Quest is a beautiful continuation of Journey. Aaron Becker starts where the first book left off, but Quest is as unique as Journey was. The kids we met in the first book are swept into an adventure to save a king who has armed them with the tools to save the kingdom. I read this book over and over again because there are so many different little nuances in this adventure that promotes creativity, imagination, and teamwork. To be honest, I almost like Quest better than journey because the kids work together.

First published at: http://www.unleashingreaders.com/?p=4666 (11/12/2014)

Return Summary: Welcome the much-anticipated finale of Caldecott Honoree Aaron Becker’s wordless trilogy—a spectacular, emotionally satisfying story that brings its adventurer home.

Failing to get the attention of her busy father, a lonely girl turns back to a fantastic world for friendship and adventure. It’s her third journey into the enticing realm of kings and emperors, castles and canals, exotic creatures and enchanting landscapes. This time, it will take something truly powerful to persuade her to return home, as a gripping backstory is revealed that will hold readers in its thrall. Caldecott Honor winner Aaron Becker delivers a suspenseful and moving climax to his wordless trilogy, an epic that began with the award-winning Journey and continued with the celebrated follow-up Quest.

Return Review: You will adore the conclusion to the trilogy. Becker does an amazing job of tying the beginning of Journey to the end of Return. To think that all the books happened in a day! The girl had quite an amazing journey, quest, and return in only one day! It is amazing what can go on when magic is involved. I don’t want to give away much else about the finale, but I will say it is as much a must read as the first two. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In my classroom, the first thing I would do is project the book and just have the students read it with me. No talking; just looking. Then we’d go back and discuss what is going on in the book, talk about some of the smaller parts of the illustrations, relive the journey. If I wanted to include a writing activity, we could add words to the book (although, I think this book’s illustrations stand alone). We could also discuss what we’d do if we had a magic crayon. I think this book would be a great addition to Dot Day and discussing creativity. Finally, I think a discussion of observing your surroundings would be appropriate as what the girl wanted the most was right in front of her at the beginning of the book. (From 10/5/13 post)

Additionally, this trilogy would be a wonderful mentor text to discuss narrative elements because Becker has given us a perfect plot arc filled with conflict, suspense, and resolution. It would also be interesting to talk to students about characterization in a wordless picture book because the characters still have very evident traits though it is through illustration and actions that we have to determine them. Although, I would be careful in taking the magic away from these books. I don’t want to analyze and dig into them too much because they are beautiful pieces of art that should be enjoyed first and foremost.

Journey Trilogy Activity Kit: https://www.scribd.com/document/312916399/Aaron-Becker-s-The-Journey-Trilogy-Activity-Kit

 Q&A with Aaron Becker: https://www.scribd.com/document/132634414/Journey-by-Aaron-Becker-Q-A-with-the-Creator

Discussion Questions: What would you do with a magic crayon?; Why did the girl have to turn to a magical land instead of remaining at home?; Were you surprised about who finally saved the day?; What is happening on the final page of Return? How do you feel about this resolution to the story?; How did the story progress through each book?

Return Book Trailer:

Journey Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxUs41jB4Ts

Quest Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO774UmBjQc

Read This If You Loved: Shy by Deborah Freedman, The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas, The Typewriter by Bill Thomson The Whisper by Pamela ZagarenskiFloat by Daniel Miyares, Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac BarnettHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Blackout by John Rocco, David Weisner wordless picture books, Cathedral by David Macaulay, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Henri Mouse by George Mendoza, Chalk by Bill Thomson, Art & Max by David Weisner, Weslandia by Paul Fleishman, Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis

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**Thank you to Raquel at Candlewick for providing copies for review and giveaway!!**

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

dig in

Dig In!
Author: Cindy Jenson-Elliott
Illustrator: Mary Peterson
Published March 1st, 2016 by Beach Lane Books

Summary: Dig in to this vibrant picture book that celebrates all the surprises found down in the dirt!

I dig in the dirt…and find a seed.
Seed waits.
I dig in the dirt…and find a spider.
Spider runs.

Explore all of the creepy, crawly, dirty, muddy, green, and growing things that can be found outside in the garden. From pill bugs to worms to leafy green sprouts, young readers will love discovering the muddy garden habitat within the pages of this book—and outside in their own backyards!

This sweet and playful celebration of outdoor exploration is a perfect read aloud for story time.

About the Author: Cindy Jenson-Elliott is the author of the celebrated Weeds Find a Way illustrated by Carolyn Fisher. She is a freelance writer for a variety of newspapers, magazines, and educational publishers, as well as a teacher and natural history instructor. She has an MA in education, and she enjoys spending time outdoors in San Diego, California, where she lives with her family. Visit her at CindyJensonElliott.com.

Kellee’s Review: Both of Cindy Jenson-Elliott’s books have truly made me want to get down and dirty in the garden which, if you know me, is exactly the opposite of what you would guess I want to do. Jenson-Elliott has a way of making the ordinary, and dirty, seem extraordinary. It would be great to have students catalog all of the things they find in a dirt. This would make their trips outside quite exciting!

Ricki’s Review: Kellee is absolutely right. Reading this book made me want to get outside in my garden! Oh, I cannot wait for spring! When my son and I read this book, I kept pointing to the pictures and telling him about all of the digging we will do this spring, and I am excited to have this book (and Jenson-Elliott’s Weeds Find a Way) on hand for when the time comes! We live in Connecticut (which is much colder than where Kellee lives), so we can’t quite do any digging yet. This book emanates warmth, and it will make kids want to go outside and start exploring! Cindy Jenson-Elliott seems to find the beauty in things that others may perceive negatively, and I love teaching my son to find the beauty in these unappreciated things!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Cindy Jenson-Elliott has some amazing ideas on how to bring a garden into your curriculum (see below), but you can also use Dig In! to discuss sequencing and cause/effect. First, you can discuss sequencing by having students share each step of what needs to be done to plant and maintain a garden. You can also take the sequencing and extend it into cause/effect by discussing different things you can do to a garden to help or hurt it. It would also be interesting to ask students to research local dirt inhabitants. They might then research the garden plants and critters of another location to learn more about different habitats.

Some More Teachers’ Tools from Cindy Jenson-Elliott:  

“From Compost to Blossoms: Falling in Love with Literature in the School Garden”

An empty pile of dirt. A blank page. A great book. A tender idea. This is how most of my garden adventures with children begin.

Teaching in the garden is alive with possibility in more ways than one. Ideas spring up like weeds – a crazy tangle without discernable order. Bringing an idea to fruition –doing something I have never done before — feels like an enormous reach.  It is like trying to untangle a vine: where should the project begin? What are the steps? Who will help me figure it out? It’s terrifying — and thrilling! Teaching in the garden wakes you up to being a learner, even as you teach. You and the students are partners, learning together from nature. We all know teaching is risky business. Hands-on, project-based teaching – especially in the garden–  is downright dangerous.

Books take the edge off and give you a jumping off point for great projects that connect inside and outside learning. Here are some book ideas to get you started on some thrilling garden adventures of your own.

Sunflower House

On one particular day in November, I shared Sunflower House by Eve Bunting with my TK- grade 3 students. My crazy idea was to grow our own sunflower house in a bare patch of dirt in the corner of the school garden.

First, I read the book to the children, and I shared my idea.

“We’re going to need a nice pile of garden dirt to go over in that corner,” I told them. “Right now it’s just hard clay.”

We piled dirt and compost on top of cafeteria trays reserved for gardening and students worked in partners to carry them over to the corner. We made a round, flat pad 1 foot high and 10 feet across. After school, I tapped into our drip-line watering system and ran a flexible watering tube over to the circle, looping around and around. The next garden time, students added a small amount of organic fertilizer and planted dozens of sunflower seeds. We planted Russian Mammoths, but also other multicolored and multi-sized varieties. We created a pathway leading to the dirt pad, and put up stakes protecting the area. Then we sat back and and waited, working on other garden projects all the while.

Winter rains in drought-stricken Southern California were sparse, but with dripping irrigation a few times a week, soon the sunflowers were sprouting. We measured them week by week, watching them grow higher and higher. Soon they were as high as a first grader’s head. Finally they were higher than my own head and shooting out buds.

The Sunflower House gave us endless opportunities for learning. We measured and drew the growing plants with pastels and black paper to draw blossoms. Some teachers extended the activity by learning about Van Gough and looking at his paintings of sunflowers. We watched bees visit the blossoms and learned about pollination. When the stalks dried and the heads turned inside out, we learned about the birds that came to eat the seeds. And when the next generation of sunflowers sprouted up from fallen seeds, we could see the complete cycle of life in our circle of flowers. Best of all, students loved sitting in the Sunflower  House to write or draw, or just be. From one book, we developed an entire year’s worth of activities.

Weeds Find a Way

weeds find a way

After reading my 2014 picture book Weeds Find a Way we searched our garden for the weeds pictured in the book. We drew weeds and researched them, asking how the weeds adapted for survival. Some classes used Weeds Find a Way as a mentor text to write their own “Something Finds a Way” books about another topic. We wrote poetry, and students developed social-emotional understandings by looking at the tenacity, grit and adaptability of weeds and comparing it with their own. Finally, we tried our hands at botanical drawing and we made a giant art piece to hang on the fence of the garden.

Trellis-Bridge Project

A trellis we built last year to hold up a new passion fruit vine in the garden  collapsed and we needed a new trellis. This problem was the catalyst for learning about bridges. Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting and Bridges! By Carol Johmann and Elizabeth J. Rieth, were jumping off points for learning about bridges, and designing and building a trellis to hold up our passion fruit plants.

Dig In! #1000HandsDigIn Photography Project

Last week we read Dig In! for the first time. Then we went out to the garden to dig in and photograph our hands and whatever our Mixed Age Class (MAC) grade 1 – 3 students found in the school garden. Students learned to frame, take and edit photos from fabulous teacher Margit Boyeson. Students are sharing their photos to twitter at #1000HandDigIn.

Engagement with Common Core Reading and Writing in the School Garden

            Picture books are the perfect way to connect inside learning and outside doing in the garden. Read Roxaboxen or Westlandia and create your  own special civilization. Read Creepy Carrots and plant a less scary variety. Then write your own creepy stories. Dive into Muncha, Munch, Muncha and see what critters are eating up your garden. Then write your own stories about the critters in the garden. And before you even plant seeds, take a look at your soil. Read Dig In! and discover the wonders living in your dirt.

What will you find when you Dig In! to gardening and literature? A world of wonder!

To see more literature-based projects you can do with students in the school garden, visit my website and follow the links to my naturexplorer blog at www.cindyjensonelliott.com.

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Discussion Questions: How are worms, spider, and pillbugs beneficial to a garden?; What other bugs are beneficial to gardens?; What else does a garden need to succeed?

We Flagged: 

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Read This If You Loved: Weeds Find a Way by Cindy Jenson-ElliottThe Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo, In the Garden by Elizabeth Spurr

Recommended For: 

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Kellee Signature andRickiSig

**Thank you Shifa at Simon & Schuster and Cindy Jenson-Elliott for providing a copy for review and for having us as part of the blog tour!**

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