I was going to describe all the ways that Ivy + Bean, the series by Annie Barrows, is useful in the classroom, but the video posted below explains it all for me. Real teachers describe the series and attest to the books' ability to captivate young readers:
This is a popular series I often see in girls' hands during independent reading time, and the teacher in the video shows that it is also good for read-alouds to the whole class.
Having perused the books myself, I would say they are good transitional chapter books for students who have graduated from Junie B. Jones, but who aren't quite ready yet for the tween/teen female protagonists in children's literature. I think Ivy & Bean is ideal for 2nd-4th graders. There are many illustrations in the book , which may encourage struggling readers. Some of the major themes of the series involve friendship, as the two main characters build a strong bond despite their many differences.
Ivy + Bean also has potential for several extension activities in the classroom. Here are a few highlights from the teacher's guides provided by Chronicle Books:
- What's the Big Idea? would be apropos of any units on nature, science, or the environment because the characters decide to take on global warming.
- The activity guide for this particular book has tons of suggestions for quick science lessons and projects. These will have students thinking about natural resources and ways to produce clean energy.
- Here are several discussion questions for the first three books in the series, including journal prompts. Students can practice finding meaning through context, problem and solution as well as other skills. Perfect for a small group activity!
- Teachers have made printable worksheets based on the series, including this one which asks students to design a bedroom based on one they read in the book, as well as this math worksheet that helps students learn to budget.
- There's even a reader's theater play based on the series.
There are lots of other ideas on the site, too. If you like the series, how do you use it in the classroom?
Whether you're searching for read-aloud material, a new addition to your classroom library, or something that offers extension activities, Ivy + Bean may be exactly what you need.