Monday, January 26, 2009

hittin' the books

Hey! Guess what? I'm going back to school! Yikes! It's actually not quite as intense as it sounds... I just need to take a 3 credit university course, so I can keep my elementary ed. teaching certification. The class is online and it's called "Applications of Children's and Young Adult Literature." Just about everyone in the class is a public school librarian... hmmm... so I fit right in, right? Don't worry, I'm going to do my darndest to put a Montessori twist on the whole thing. As part of the class, I need to read 5 children's books a week, critique them, and come up with classroom extension activities. Oh, and it is supposed to be done in less than 200 words. I'm not really convinced that that's possible. 5 books? 200 words? Geez. I'm posting my first assignment for your reading pleasure. We're studying South America in the (Montessori) classroom right now, so that's what influenced my reading choices. Please, if you have any book recommendations for me for future assignments, do share! Also, I won't hold it against any of you if you skip this semi-studious post. :)
Title: Jabuti the Tortoise: A Trickster from the Amazon
Author: Gerald McDermont

This legend explains how the birds of the Amazon became so colorful. At first glance, I know that the children in my class will love the illustrations in this legend because they’re bold and colorful. The main character, Jabuti, is a tiny tortoise, and they are forever into small things, especially animals. I do think they will be fairly upset and worried when the vulture drops Jabuti from the sky, and his shell becomes shattered on the ground.

Classroom extensions:
I would create a vocabulary lesson with the words toucan, macaw, hummingbird, etc. Readers could practice matching labels to pictures. Non-readers could play matching games with pictures. Also, children could identify colors on the birds, and then look for those colors around the classroom.

Title: The Great Kapoke Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
Author: Lynee Cherry

Response: In this story, a man enters the rain forest to chop down a Kapoke tree. Before he cuts it down, he drifts asleep. All of the rain forest animals each visit him to beg him not to cut down the tree. I think the children will be on the edge of their seats. They love all the animals in the pictures, and they’ll root for the man not to cut down the tree.

Classroom extension:
This book would lead into a great discussion about paper coming from trees. If we are wasteful of paper towels, toilet paper, and writing paper , more trees like the wise Kapoke tree will live in danger of being chopped down.

Title: Adventures of Riley: Amazon River Rescue
Author: Amanda Lumry & Laura Hurwitx

In this story, two children take a trip to the Amazon. Many interesting facts about the rain forest and the animals it is home to are included in the text, as-well-as fun dialogue between the characters. Overall, it’s very engaging. Depending on the child, you could just read the dialogue, or you could read the fact boxes on the side, too.

Classroom extension:
I think it would be fun to make a rain forest environment on a tray with plants, animals, and water. This would provide the child with both a concrete and imaginative experience. Also, children could look for rain forest animals in old National Geographic’s to cut out and put in a collage. It would also be nice to make two sets of cards, some with pictures from the Amazon rain forest and some with pictures of North American forests, and the children could sort them.

Title: Love and Roast Chicken: A Trickster Tale from the Andes Mountains
Author: Barbara Knutson

This book tells the story of a guinea pig who like to play tricks and a fox who wants to eat him.
Of all the books, I think this one will be the most fun to read out loud because the dialogue between the characters is so natural and funny.

Classroom extension:
There are a lot of Spanish phrases in this book, so I would use some of them in Spanish vocabulary games at circle time.

Title: Deep in a Rainforest
Author: Gwen Pascoe

This book of colors in the rain forest has few words, but beautiful pictures.

Classroom extension:
I would have children sort images from the book by color. Children could also label the colors. I would write the words in color to guarantee even the non-readers’ success (for example, blue would be blue).


  1. Just 200 words for all 5 books?! That's madness, but I guess that was like at school for me, where there were things like write at least 50 words, and I would end up writing 5 pages, wondering how the kids managed to do it!

    Perhaps you should review the dictionary, because words are great, lol :0)

    Good luck with it! Wow! Are you enjoying it, is it a little scary?

    Hope hubby isn't expecting you to have pig tails ;0)

  2. 200 words does sound crazy. But I envy you in a way - I would love to be a perpetual student... And have an excuse to explore new books.

  3. I particularly like your review of Jabuti because the kids received this book from their aunt for Christmas. They really enjoy the book, so I'll have to try and develop some of these activities to go with it...great ideas. Thanks!

  4. I'm also taking a Children's Lit course up here in Ontario, Canada. We've covered a great book that is versatile for many ages...The Three Pigs by David Weisner.

    Btw, I'm going to try your paint-blowing lesson with my grade 3/4 class tomorrow. Wonderful ideas!


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