Wednesday, June 22, 2011

5 Pop-Up Books for Young Readers

I brought up ways to create pop-up books in the classroom, but nothing can compare to opening the real works of art in your hands to share them with students.  Pop-ups have impressed readers for generations, and the creators (known as "paper engineers") work hard to make fun books with intricate and clever mechanisms.  Here is a list of some cool pop-up books for young readers.  I've tried to include videos so you can see the marvelous visual elements for yourself:

ABC3D by Marion Bataille
ABC3D allows readers to see and interact with the alphabet.  It's a simple book with parts that flip, slide out, twist, reflect and, of course, pop-up.  See the book in action here:

Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-up
Cookie Count by Robert Sabuda
Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-up explores numbers through what is probably the most appealing way possible: cookies. Kids can practice counting as they flip through all the tasty treats found in this book. Check out the grand finale: a stunning gingerbread house!

Bugs Pop-up: Creepy Crawlers Face-to-Face
Bugs Pop Up:  Creepy Crawlers Face to Face by Sally Hewitt
Bugs Pop-up is an award-winner that offers a close-up investigation of insects, spiders and crawling critters. Kids will be impressed by the giant pinchers, stingers, legs and wings that pop out of these startling designs. Like real bugs, the pop-ups are fascinating, yet dangerous. Check out the cautious interest this kid has with the book:

Snowflakes: A Pop-up Book
Snowflakes:  A Pop-up Book by Jennifer Preston Chushcoff 
Snowflakes is perfect for wintertime. The captivating designs found in snowflakes are showcased here in all their glittery-white glory.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: A Pop-up Adaptation
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a tale that fits impeccably with Robert Sabuda's creativity. There is a reason his name has shown up several times on this list (he's done several books, including classic tales, and they're all great). My favorite parts: peeking inside a small box that reveals Alice's famous fall, and the deck of cards that hangs precariously in midair. See for yourself:

Any book on this list would breathe new life into kids' reading and artistic design interest. If you find any other great pop-up books for young readers, let me know!

Stay tuned for pop-up books for advanced readers!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Create Pop-Up Books for the Classroom

My latest obsession?  Pop-up books!  This week, I'll be sharing some ways I've found of using these dynamic books in your classroom.  Can anyone deny the sense of wonder pop-up books generate within children?  Some of the designs and artwork are also perfect for advanced readers, but I'll get to that later.

First, Scholastic has a printable instructions on how to make a pop-up book report
Students create a card and write a summary, describe setting, etc.  You can adapt this lesson for virtually any story, and add more pages and pop-ups to create an entire book.  Use it as an option for a literature unit's assessment.

Also, if you'd like some simple pop-up book designs, here is a list of resources.  This is to help you create pop-up books to share with your class, or to guide the students in making pop-up books themselves:

Keep in mind that you can use these basic templates for virtually any type of unit or craft project. If you're studying space, students can make pop-ups for planets and other objects. If they're studying animal habitats, they can make pop-up illustrations of places animals live. If they've read a story, they can create a pop-up to spotlight a particular scene. Have them add words to their pop-up cards and books to enhance the learning experience. The possibilities are endless!

Stay tuned for my lists of great pop-up books, including pop-ups for advanced readers!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reading & Language Activities Galore!

Access dozens of student center activities through one website, created by the Florida Center for Reading Research.  This is an invaluable resource for elementary teachers looking for center or workstation activities.  Everything is free, printable and contains instructions.

Students can practice phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension strategies with the things you'll find here.  All activities are labeled under grade level and skill.  These are great for independent activities or small group instruction.  They even have a helpful search feature so that you can find exactly what you need.

Thanks to the posters of ProTeacher for this resource!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Pencil Problem

Universal Products - Universal - Golf & Pew Pencil, HB, Yellow Barrel, 144/Box - Sold As 1 Box - Strong lead. - Mini, 3 1/2" size. - Presharpened.

Inevitably, teachers encounter a pencil problem during the school year.  Usually at the end of semesters, there is a pencil shortage in the classroom supply.  Students have gone through all the pencils and suddenly have an excuse as to why they're not working.  This has happened without fail each year I've been subbing.  The classroom supply, once abundantly stocked with hundreds of pencils at the beginning the year, is depleted by spring.  I ask students why they are sitting in their desk not working and they'll respond, "I don't have a pencil."  I'll ask if anyone else has a pencil, and no one does.  I'll look on the teacher's desk, in cabinets, on the floor, anywhere to find any extra pencils.  At times, I've resorted to having kids do their assignments in color pencil.  I'd rather have them do that than nothing at all.  I've also bought packs of pencils to take to work with me for cases like these, but I never remember to get them back for my next class (and, is it me, or are pencils cheaper in quality and harder to sharpen?).

So what to do?  Fortunately, I found a discussion of this pencil problem on A to Z forums.  Several teachers there recommended purchasing golf pencils.  When students run out of pencils and parents refuse to replenish the classroom supply, teachers tend to spend more money on buying new pencils that disappear within weeks.  Golf pencils, however, are cheaper than regular pencils.  For about $10 or less, you can get nearly 150 golf pencils.  

Sure, they're short.  But they can write and that's all students need, right?  They don't have erasers and they're not fancy, but they are practical in today's classrooms, especially with budget cuts and teachers (and subs) having to come out of pocket for supplies.  And because they're so cheap, it won't make us so sad when kids walk off with them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Making a Reflection Portfolio

Teachers often make portfolios of student work, but what about students creating their own?  Teaching Mahollitz is a great elementary classroom blog.  The teacher emphasized reflection in her classroom, a practice of any good teacher.  In their self-reflection, she asked students to compile their own work in a portfolio.  They got a choice as to what assignments displayed their best work, and described what they learned in each example.

Look at the example of what the teacher calls “fancy portfolios.”  I like that the student was asked to explain how they benefitted from each assignment.  It's a good way for students to have choice in the classroom and self-assess their learning.

image:  Microsoft

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Diverse Book Series for Young Readers

Growing up, I was an avid reader.  I loved book series because you got to see your favorite characters grow.  Today, when I’m observing the books students choose to read and what they check out from their school libraries, I’m struck by a major difference in some of their popular fiction versus what I grew up reading.

When I was growing up, it was quite a task to find a book series featuring a female protagonist who was not white.  Ramona Quimby, Nancy Drew, the Sweet Valley Twins, 95% of the Babysitter’s Club, etc. were all white.  They are wonderful books and children from any race can read and enjoy stories about these characters, but I wondered what young black, Hispanic, Asian, and other races lost when they got few chances to read books about characters that look like them.  If any race can read and love Ramona, shouldn’t they all be given the chance to read and relate to a black character, or an Asian one?  Why don’t publishers make more of these books?  Though we are aware of the reasons why it’s important for students to read books like this, there is still a paucity of books available that spotlight racially diverse characters.

Nevertheless, there are now a lot more options for young readers.  I love seeing girls with their noses in books, and I was struck when I saw girls of all races reading two series starring diverse female protagonists:  Katie Woo and Dyamonde Daniel.

Boss of the World (Katie Woo)Red, White, and Blue and Katie Woo!Look at You, Katie Woo!

Katie Woo is an award-winning series for young readers.  Katie’s series contains short sentences and nice illustrations for students just beginning chapter books.  Her covers are as vivid and inviting as her stories!  Katie is in first grade and she’s had to deal with the loss of a beloved pet, a bully and lying.  I love that likeable series features an Asian protagonist, though it is sadly one of the few I’ve ever seen that does so.

Make Way for Dyamonde DanielRich: A Dyamonde Daniel BookAlmost Zero: A Dyamonde Daniel Book

Then, there’s the Dyamonde Daniel series by acclaimed writer Nikki Grimes.  The Dyamonde Daniel series has also won awards, and it stars a young, black protagonist who deals with everything from bullies to homelessness.  (Here is a discussion guide for the series.)  Dyamonde’s readers will be more advanced than Katie’s, but both offer positive stories about strong female characters.  Though their races are different, they share many similarities with the memorable female characters from other popular series, like Junie B. Jones and Judy Moody.

These books were not on the shelves when I was growing up, and I would have been hard-pressed to find anything like them.  It’s nice to know that today’s young readers can grow up with a chance to meet, love and relate to protagonists of all different races.

Here are a few other series that may interest those of you who want to expose your students to diverse female characters:

Meet Addy: An American Girl (The American Girls Collection Book 1)Meet Josefina: An Amercian Girl (American Girl)
Meet Kaya: An American Girl (American Girls Collection)Meet Rebecca (American Girls Collection)

American Girl books have encouraged diversity for many years.  Addy, Josefina, Kaya, and Rebecca Rubin are all characters who have engaging stories and an important place in American history.  American Girl was ahead of the curve with their stories.  When I was young, they were among the few available who dedicated entire series to girls of various cultures and races.  I will always recommend American Girl books.

Sugar Plum Ballerinas #1: Plum FantasticToeshoe Trouble (Sugar Plum Ballerinas, Book 2)Sugar Plum Ballerinas #3: Perfectly Prima

The Sugar Plum Ballerinas series is Whoopi Goldberg's contribution to diverse literature.  I'll let Whoopi explain the books herself:

Brand New School, Brave New Ruby (Ruby And The Booker Boys)Trivia Queen, 3rd Grade Supreme (Ruby And The Booker Boys)Slumber Party Payback (Ruby And The Booker Boys)

Ruby and the Booker Boys is a series by Derrick Barnes.  

I wish this list could be longer, but I’m honestly having trouble adding to this list.  There are a few other series about black girls, but I am completely stumped when it comes to series about Latinas and Asians.  Not to mention Middle Eastern, Pacific Islanders, etc.  Besides American Girl books, I’m not entirely sure they’ve been published.  If they have, they probably aren’t popular.  This is honestly one area where comics, graphic novels, and manga exceed books.

Keep in mind, I’m not referring to stand-alone stories, which are truly becoming abundantly diverse.  I’m talking specifically about book series in the same vein as Junie B. Jones or Ramona Quimby.   Characters who stick around for more than just one book.  A few of these types are available for older kids, but what about young readers?

Hmm, do you know of any?  Hopefully, I can expand this list soon.  Writers and publishers, get on it!