Friday, November 16, 2012

In November Pattern Poems

The leaves may have been falling, but poetry was in bloom among my first grade poets this week.  Each November, I kick off our new month with the book entitled In November by Cynthia Rylant.  It's a quick, yet powerful read that really paints a picture and appeals to all five of our senses.  The running text reads like a poem.  The illustrations by Jill Kastner paint a watercolor-like tour through the images, sounds and traditions that November brings.  Trees without arms spread their branches "like dancers."  Food in November is "better than any time of the year," and animals "sleep more."



Many of the pages begin with "In November..."  This was my inspiration to make pattern poems with my first graders that paint just as clear of a picture in our minds as does Cynthia Rylant.  Another inspiration for this product was this neat dollar store find of the stationary on which we published our poems.




Here's the directions for this writing workshop.
1.  I read aloud the book and had the children recall the images that the author and illustrator described as happening "In November."

2.  I asked children if they noticed any patterns about the way many of the pages began.  They were able to, right away, tell me that the words "In November" repeat.

3.  We discussed the meaning of the word "pattern" and applied it to the fact that a poem that starts the same way, repeatedly, is called a pattern poem.

4.  Students watched me model writing a few lines of my In November Poem.  I noted how I used the book for help and also was sure to come up with my own ideas, too.

5.  Students went to their desks to complete drafts of their poems.  The template was copied on white paper.  Grab your template here--free all November.  I had picture books about Thanksgiving, fall, etc. everywhere.




6.  We had writing conferences and edited accordingly.  Thank you to my editors for all your help.

7.  Students copied their final drafts onto the template printed on the fancy fall stationary.

8.  We had a celebration!  Students read aloud their poems sitting on the author throne.  Click here to read my post on making your own author throne.  It was a Mr. Giso's Room to Read Bright Idea (#3).



I'm really happy with the results!  I hope you will be too.  I'm please to announce that I have passed the "5 Star Blogger" challenge from the Organized Classroom Blog.  Check it out!  Best wishes to all my friends for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving week!  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

What's Mr. Giso Making "Room to Read?" Pick #4

Memoirs of a Goldfish
Written By: Devin Scillian
Illustrated By: Tim Bowers


I grabbed this book on Amazon.com when it came up in my book recommendations.  Admittedly, I judged a book by it's cover.  I did, however, buy this book in hopes that it would be handy to teach students about point of view.  I was right.

Written by Devin Scillian, this book tracks the thoughts of two weeks in the life of the main character--a goldfish.  On day one, he swims around his bowl.  On day two, he swims around his bowl, twice.  Fun, huh?  Soon, the mundane life of the goldfish changes when over the next week, he gains company.  Mr. Bubbles, a bunch of plants, Mervin the snail, Fred the crab, Rhoda and Clark the guppies, a pirate ship, Cha-Cha the angelfish and more soon intrude his once peaceful bowl.  The goldfish can't take his crowded surroundings and one day, loses it.  He exclaims, "I want my bowl back!"  His wish is granted as he finds himself in a tiny bowl all by himself with a whoosh and a splash.

Soon, the goldfish wonders.  As annoying as they may have been, he misses his friends.  He wonders if they even realize that he is gone.  On day fourteen, with another whoosh and another splash, the goldfish is reunited with his friends.  Why you may ask?  What had happened while he was gone?  Read the book to find out.

The illustrations by Tim Bowers are remarkable!  The look on the sea creatures is priceless.  The perspective of the illustrations is done in a way that clearly depicts the crowded nature of the bowl.  The looks on the goldfish and his friends as their home becomes more and more crowded is startling, annoying and shocking.  There eyes are hilarious.

Yes, this book is great for teaching children point of view in a concrete manner.  You can clearly place yourself in the "shoes" of the goldfish and understand what he's feeling throughout the course of the story's plot.  In addition, this book is appropriate for teaching sequencing in a fun manner.  I've added it to my book picks from Amazon.com at the bottom of my blog.  It's a book choice from the International Reading Association.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spooktacular Ghosts

Well, it's still not midnight!  This means I can get this post in as part of what went on in my classroom this Halloween Week.  I wanted to make sure I added this simple craft I have done every Halloween for years--Making Cheesecloth Ghosts.  Here are the directions so you can file them away for next year.  I have to give credit to my Mom's friend Ms. Maddy for originally sharing this project with me.


Cheesecloth Ghosts

Materials:
Cut up pieces of cheesecloth (1 per child)
2 cups white school glue
1/2-3/4 cup of water
16 OZ plastic cups (1 per child)
plastic (not paper) plates (1 per child)
google eyes
black foam (for mouths)
ribbon
Halloween decorations (optional)

1.  Dilute the white glue with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water.  I do this in a one of those dish washing tubs.  Mix well.

2.  Dip a piece of cheesecloth in the mixture. Get it saturated!



3.  Take out the cheesecloth and squeeze out the mixture until it stops dripping.

4.  Drape the cheesecloth over a cup (the cup should be turned over, on top of the plate.  Stretch out the cheese cloth so it is over the plate's edges.





5.  Let ghosts dry (on humid days, this make take up to three days).

6.  Remove the cup and plate.  Pop up the head of your ghosts gently with your fingers, so it's not flat from the cup.



7.  Decorate ghosts.  I usually add a ribbon to hang the ghost, google eyes, a black foam mouth, pom pom nose and other Halloween decorations. 





There you go!  I usually am lucky enough to have a parent come in to help with this project.  Once the materials are set up, the children can do their ghosts in small groups.  Have a good week everyone!

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