Posts tagged ‘fantasy’

151. The Ant Bully by John Nickle

Retell:  Lucas constantly gets picked on by the neighborhood bully. He takes out his frustration on the ants in front of his house. The ants decide to take revenge and teach Lucas a lesson.

Topics:  bullying, revenge, ants

Units of Study:  Fantasy

Tribes:  mutual respect

Reading Skills:  analyzing character motivation, interpretation

Writing Skills:  experimenting with sentence structure

Thoughts:  Apparently this story was made into an animated movie back in 2006.  I guess I’ve been out of the loop.

This is a great read aloud for teaching about karma, the Golden Rule and the basic concept of treating others (even non-humans) with respect.  It’s also a great mentor text for students writing fantasy stories.  The structure is short and simple enough to mirror the fantasy stories that upper grade students may be writing.  It’s also great for demonstrating how stories can be structured around teaching the reader a lesson.

Unfortunately, it looks like this book is out of print.  Definitely worth a trip to your local library.

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August 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

150. Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini

Retell:  Gritch the Witch wakes up one morning with an intense craving for ‘piggie pie’. When she discovers that she is missing the main ingredient she heads to Old MacDonald’s Farm where she meets some crafty pigs.

Topics: witches, pigs, nursery rhymes, cultural literacy, Old MacDonald, wolves, Wizard of Oz

Units of Study:  Fairy Tales, Fantasy

Habits of Mind:  Persisting, Thinking Flexibly

Reading Skills:  Understanding humor, catching cultural references

Writing Skills:  Writing commas in a list, Including alliteration, Using sentence variety

Thoughts:  I can see reading this book during a study of fairy tales and folk tales.  To thoroughly understand the story, students need to have a good understanding of the song “Old Macdonald”, the movie The Wizard of Oz as well as the role of the wolf in fairy tales.  Though this book may be geared to children under 8, this could be a good book to read for older children when teaching readers to analyze cultural references.  The “Spy vs. Spy” endings makes the story.

July 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

139. Andrew’s Angry Words by Dorothea Lachner

Retell: When Andrew’s sister bumps into him, scattering all of his toys, he screams angry words that travel around the world causing harm to everyone they meet.  The rampage of the angry words is halted by a woman who dumps them into the ocean and replaces them with nice words.

Topics: anger, regret, kindness, mistakes, communication, respect

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: appreciations/no put-downs, mutual respect

My Thoughts: When teaching the Tribes agreement of appreciations/no put-downs, I usually conduct some sort of funeral for put-downs.  Students write a put-down onto a sheet of paper, tear it up and put it in the trash.  Andrew’s Angry Words is the perfect text to support this lesson.  The illustrator does a good job of making Andrew’s put-downs into something that looks dangerous, even poisonous.  The story gives me a new idea to add to the lesson.  After the funeral for put-downs, students could write an appreciation to replace the angry words or even better have them turn the angry words into I-messages.

December 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

120. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

where the wild things areRetell: After Max is sent to bed without supper he imagines traveling to a world where he becomes king of the wild things.  Being a wild things is fun for awhile but he learns that it cannot compare to the comforts of home.

Topics: monsters, mischief, disobedience, imagination, travel, dreams, home

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About texts

Habits of Mind: creating-innovating-imagining

Reading Skills: envisionment, inference

Writing Skills: using repetition, crafting endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: I dressed up as a wild thing for our recent school Halloween parade.  I looked more like a hairy viking than a wild thing, but I get points for trying.  To introduce my costume I read this book aloud.  Many of them had heard it before.  I’m glad I was able to tuck in this classic read aloud before the majority of my students head to the cinema to see the movie.  Upon rereading it, I realized that one has to do a huge amount of envisionment as they read the text.  The illustrations are wonderful, but they don’t reveal all.  When reading this book aloud I recommend using the pages where there is no text to have your students (or your own children) role play and act like Max or the wild things.  You can encourage them to make noise like them, talk like them, move like them and think like them.

November 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm Leave a comment

116. “Could Be Worse!” by James Stevenson

could be worseRetell: Day in, day out Grandpa always says the same thing:  “Could be worse.”  One day Grandpa tells his grandchildren about a wacky adventure he had the night before.  At the end of the rambling story his grandchildren surprise him by delivering his favorite phrase.

Topics: imagination, grandparents, family

Units of Study: Fantasy, Realistic Fiction

Habits of Mind: Creating-imagining-innovating

Writing Skills: storytelling

My Thoughts: This month our TC staff developer (Colleen Cruz) will be working with the upper grades on planning interactive read alouds.  She reiterated that interactive read aloud is THE most important part of the school day and should never be cut out.  She also mentioned that teachers should try and tuck in different kinds of read alouds throughout the day whenever possible.  This has inspired me to find quick, fun texts that I can read during transitions or during times when kids are riled up. 

“Could Be Worse!” is a cute, short read aloud that can be used to connect to the storytelling work that students are doing during Writing.  I think I’m going to read this next week as students get in line.  The next day, I could work in fluency practice by having students say the grandkids’ line while I say Grandpa’s lines and on the next day vice versa.

October 20, 2009 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

97. A Family Guide to House Monsters by Stanislov Marijanovic

a family guide to house monstersRetell: This book explains many things including:  why we look in the mirror, why we spill things and why we are afraid of the dark.  It turns out we can blame everything on house monsters.

Topics: monsters, behavior, forgetfulness, laziness, vanity, clumsiness

Units of Study: Fantasy

Tribes: personal best

Habits of Mind: finding humor

Reading Skills: making connections, monitoring for sense

Writing Skills: using alliteration

My Thoughts: I thought I was feeling exhausted from the hectic day.  It turns out I’m being followed by Doze-A-Log, the house monster of fatigue.  One of the great things about doing this blog is that I’ve been receiving gifts of books.  (Thanks Jess!)  Just last week I had a reading celebration where students brought in artifacts that represent a positive reading moment.  I’m so thankful to the people in my life who are sharing their favorite reading moments with me.  Keep sending recommendations!

This book may be difficult to obtain, but I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy.  It has many teaching purposes.  It could be a great mentor text during the Fantasy unit for developing quirky characters.  Each monster’s name is either a play-on-words or contains a Greek or Latin root that is connected to the monster’s behavior.  What a wonderful addition to word work!  With my more advanced students I plan on having them read a monster’s name and make a prediction about its behavior based on information from the word itself.  We’ll then read the text together and discuss if there are other words that may be connected to the word.  For example, I may show students the name, “Instantania”.  I would expect that they could recognize “instant” and guess that the monster is impatient.  We may then brainstorm other words with that base, (instantly, instantaneous, etc.)

October 1, 2009 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

96. Jim and the Beanstalk by Raymond Briggs

jim and the beanstalkRetell: Jim discovers a mysterious vine outside of his window one day.  He follows it up and up and encounters a giant.  This giant however is not very ferocious.  He has lost his sight, his teeth and his hair.  With Jim’s help the giant acquires glasses, dentures and a wig.

Topics: curiosity, measurement, fairy tales, act of kindness

Units of Study: Fantasy, Talking and Writing About Texts

Tribes: mutual respect, appreciations/no put-downs

Habits of Mind: striving for accuracy and precision

Reading Skills: monitoring for sense, prediction, interpretation

Writing Skills: incorporating the rule of three

My Thoughts: This can be filed under “stories with a twist”.  (See The Paper Bag Princess post).  This is a spoof/sequel to the story, “Jack and the Beanstalk”.  In this story, the main character is nice to the giant, drastically changing the moral of the story.  It would be interesting to plan a mini read aloud where you read twisted fairy tales.  With older kids, it may be great to use twisted fairy tales to work on interpretation.  Students could examine questions such as:  How does the moral of the story change when the characters act differently?  Why do you think the author chose to rewrite the famous fairy tale?  What was he/she trying to teach?

September 30, 2009 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment

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