Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Word Collectors

Backyard students enjoyed the following story so much that lead teacher Renee and I had the children begin building their own word collections:

Max's Words by Kate Banks. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov
When Max's brothers won't share their stamp and coin collections with him, he decides to start his own collection -- of words! Max cuts out or copies words he knows, words that make him feel good, words that he hears, etc. Max and his brothers soon realize they can't do much of anything with the stamp and coin collections but they can create thoughts, sentences, and stories with all the words Max has collected.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Log Blog

Just in time for African American History Month--two recently published children’s books covering different aspects of the Civil Rights Movement.
Freedom Walkers; The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman.
Award winning Freedman’s compelling narrative ties the personal stories of famous and forgotten participants to the background and events of one of the most dramatic and powerful events of the civil rights movement. Packed with period black and white photos this is a well researched, highly readable book.
Freedom Riders; John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement by Ann Bausum.
Bausum’s award winning book brings the turbulent story of the freedom riders alive with clear text and powerful period photos. In alternating chapters, Bausum’s captivating narration captures the dramatic experiences of two young men: African American John Lewis, and Caucasian Jim Zwerg. Both books are recommended for grades 4 and up and work well as read alouds.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tree Day Celebration

Last week, the Field Studies specialist organized a school-wide environmental awareness day which included tree planting activities. The Music specialist and I collaborated on a "TreeLit" lesson with the lower classes. We browsed some fiction and nonfiction books, studied diagrams of trees, and learned a lovely song, "I Love Trees". While preparing for the classes, I stumbled across some wonderful fiction and nonfiction titles in our collection:

Picture Books
Bunting, Eve. Some Day a Tree.
Young Alice and her family and friends band together to save a dying oak tree. When all seems lost, Alice finds hope in a simple, life affirming act.

George, Jean Craighead. One Day in the Woods.A young girl discovers many things about plant and animal life while spending the day in the woods. The story is interwoven with factual information and highlited by Gary Allen's realistic sketches.

Hopkinson, Deborah. Apples to Oregon: being the(slightly) true narrative of how a brave pioneer father brought apples, peaches, pears, plum, grapes, and cherries (and children) across the plains..A hilarious story about a man who wasn't about to leave his "babies" (trees) behind despite the many obstacles he and his family faced while heading west. Narrated by his older daughter "Delicious" whose heroic efforts make her the "apple" of her father's eyes.

Kervan, Rosalind. The Tree in the Moon and Other Legends of Plants and Trees.
A readable collection of folktales from around the world.

Sanders, Scott. Meeting Trees.
A father and his son take a walk in the woods sharing what they know about tree and the wildlife trees attract. Lushly illustrated by Robert Hynes, this National Geographic Society publication deftly weaves factual information through the narrative.

YA fiction
Smith, Betty. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
A young girl comes of age in the slums of early 20th century Brooklyn, N. Y. A tree, which grows out of the cement by her home, represents joy and hope.

We have many nonfiction children's books on trees, plants, but I really enjoyed Rona Beames' Backyard Explorer: leaf and tree guide. In a lively style, Beames discusses the types and life cycle of trees and how their leaves function. She also includes instructions for lessons and activites.