For this Friday Five we are covering the five children's book we have to have in our classroom! It is especially important as a 1st grade teacher to have a good collection of books that get children to fall in love with reading, while teaching valuable lessons at the same time. It's funny, because as I thought about the books I love reading the most, they all linked to a variety of skills and objectives, and it turns out that I actually only personally own TWO of them! So for me, this list really is a must-have list, since these are the books I am constantly borrowing from my teaching buddies year after year! For each book I am just going to list three things:
1. My personal connection to the book.
2. The skills the book teaches.
3. How I have used the book.
1. I was introduced to this book in one of my education classes at Texas State. I immediately went out and bought a copy and so it became the first book of my classroom library. From the start, I loved how the whole story was an analogy for your feelings and emotions and how your actions affect other people. I knew then that I wanted to teach young children, and I could just see this book being something I could constantly refer to in my classroom.
2. This story teaches kids that negative behaviors and experiences will "take a drop from their bucket" and as their bucket empties, they will feel worse and worse. However, every positive action or experience can "refill their bucket", and has the power to fill the buckets of others around them too. Every year my first graders really grasp this concept, and they notice even before the story reveals, that positive actions fill the bucket faster than negative actions empty it.
3. I read this book to my class during the first week of every school year. Some classes simply need it read once, and carry the lesson with them as the year goes on. Other classes may need more reminders, and when that is the case, I have a small bucket that I fill with "drops" (blue marbles) every time I see someone being helpful, or responsible, or respectful. When the class gets a compliment or has a really good day, they are showered with "drops in their bucket" and they begin to feel motivation to overflow that bucket!
1. I have been a teacher in training my whole life, and I tend to teach best when I am able to be creative and flexible. I am one of those teachers who could care less about the lesson plans (sorry principals and teammates!! But let me clarify, I DO still follow them!!) and I teach based on the situations of the classroom around me. During student teaching, my mentor teacher showed me this book, and told me to have fun with it, so I came up with a lesson on the fly and it has been one of my FAVORITE lessons to teach even now.
2. You could do so much with this story! It is a different point of view on the whole "monster under the bed" scenario that young children are so familiar with. The boy in the story checks under his bed one night to find his monster has "Gone Fishing". He then begins to hold interviews with a variety of monsters to fill the spot of his monster, since he knows he will not be able to sleep without him. This book goes into great detail about each monster, and paints a picture in the students minds and models descriptive writing at it's finest. You can also use this book to model making predictions and inferences, as you wonder what monster will be chosen based on the criteria the boy has outlined. An online version of this story is available at http://www.storylineonline.net/i-need-my-monster/ if you want to check it out!
3. I use this story to model using adjectives for descriptive writing, making inferences, and following multi-step directions. I given students a piece of paper and we fold it into 6 parts. I read the story as I walk around the classroom with my students at their desks. I do not show any of the pictures as I read, and as each monster is introduced I tell the students to draw the monster in one of the boxes based on the description of the monster. After the story, I show them the pictures and they are always over the moon excited about how close or far-off their pictures were from the actual monsters. Every year this lesson is a hit, and I have monster drawings cluttering my classroom for weeks afterward. Proof to myself that not every lesson needs a lesson plan ;).
P.S. I just found a short movie version of the story - maybe now I can show the movie after we read the story, and add some comparing and contrasting to my lesson!
1. Every year our curriculum has us read "The Three Little Pigs" during the month of October. Now everyone knows the story of the Three Little Pigs, and there are endless renditions of the tale from "The Three Ninja Pigs" by Corey Rosen Schwartz to "The Three Little Dassies" by Jan Brett (both of which are FABULOUS.) We spend this particular week in October reading version after version of this fairytale, and that is how I was introduced to this wonderful version.
2. This fun rewrite of the classic swaps the perspectives of the characters and makes the pig out to be the bad guy! The Three Little Wolves are building their houses and want to stay safe from the monster of a pig that will crush their homes with one stomp. Forget straw and sticks, the wolves go straight for the bricks, but when that doesn't work, they have to figure something else out! This story teaches comparing and contrasting, and also shows students how a story can change when it is looked at with a different perspective. This story is also great for teaching characterization, because the same animals from the original story are used, but their qualities and character traits are different. The hidden skill in this book is that of "thinking like an engineer" as the wolves engineer a solution to their problem of escaping the big pigs wrath!
3. Authentic learning is the BEST LEARNING (in my humble opinion) and it just so happens that at the time this story falls in our LA curriculum, our science curriculum has us introducing the Engineering Design Process. I LOVE when my lessons naturally integrate - if I could have it my way, I would just teach all day based on where the wind blew my class, so when it happens that I can integrate, I DO IT! I ended up using this version of the Three Little Pigs to model the Engineer Design process, as the "Three Little Wolves" just happened to use each step as they hid from the "Big Bad Pig". From planning their homes, to building and creating them, then to improving them after the pig's destruction, this story paints a HILARIOUS picture of rebuilding and improving until you have solved your problem (complete with plexiglass,barbed wire, and dynamite - soooo FUNNY!)
1. Standardized testing - bleh. It is sad when even those of us not affecting by the tests, are feeling the stress in the building. Every year during the STAAR test, when the building is in lock-down mode, my students are wondering why we are having to be confined to our room for a silly test. I always tell them that we just want to show respect for the other students in our building so that they can show Texas how much they have learned this year. We want to give them an environment that allows them to focus, so that they can remember all of the important lessons they have been taught all year. So during this period of quarantine, I read my students Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
2. In this story, there is a school that is full of creative teachers who teach their students a multitude of skills through a variety of opportunities and experiences. The students are happy and well rounded in their abilities, but are given a test that does not test those abilities. When the students do not do well, they feel as if they have failed, but the teachers assure them that through all of their experiences they have taught themselves how to problem solve and figure out a solution to any problem that comes their way.
3. Most of the students in my class don't put two and two together that the test talked about in the story represents the test that they will be expected to take in just a couple short years, but every student can relate to the feeling of being anxious or disappointed in themselves. I love the sentiment in this story that true learning comes from experiencing life, and this book teaches that learning is not black and white. Great discussions can be had after reading this story!
2. This is a story about a blue flower who does not want to grow in the same patch as a purple flower, because the purple flower is different than him and his friends. The blue flower's mother helps him to see that every flower enjoys sunlight and wind, and that the bees find each flower beautiful and so should he. The blue flower opens his mind and becomes friends with the purple flower, teaching a lesson in friendship and acceptance.
3. I kicked off Friendship Week by reading this book to my class. The metaphors offered in this story were not lost on my first graders. They completely grasped the concept of how every part of a garden works together, and that is much like being a class. The bees do not discriminate by choosing only the blue flowers, and friends don't discriminate either. All flowers need sunlight, and all people need love. Butterflies visit each flower much like each person should be visited with respect. The analogies were endless and led my class to create a Friendship Garden in our classroom, where we are continuously posting examples of friendship that we see throughout each day. The kids decided together what traits they wanted to represent in their garden, and have now taken ownership in making sure that they represent those traits with their friends.
I have a large metal cut out of this quote hanging in my house that I purchased from Magnolia Market. I love this quote because it describes my outlook on life. My fiance, Cory, and I always talk about how so many people these days seem to blame the world for their problems and do not take ownership of their dreams and goals. When I see these words on my wall, it reminds me that if I want something, I have the power to make it happen. I am the designer of my own life, and so far, I am loving my design!
I like this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson because it pretty much echoes the advice that my mother gave to the high-school aged me. At a time when Mom's advice is unwarranted and automatically wrong, because obviously a 16 year old has way more knowledge and world experience than Mom, I actually heard her advice and have remembered it through the years. She told me that if you are with someone because they fill a void that you have, then you will never be able to be truly happy. You need to be happy with yourself first, before someone else can make you happy. Her advice was to find someone that motivates you and makes you a better person in some way, and I think about that advice often when I look at my fiance. He has made me a more outgoing, confident, and motivated version of myself, and I am grateful that I feel strong enough to be myself when I am with him!
Speaking of my fiance, this quote was created by him at the ripe young age of 15, back when we were "just friends" and a little more quirky than we are now. My best friend Kasi and I would often be called "weird" or "goofy" because for one, Kasi dressed how Kasi wanted to dress, and did not care if others thought her patterns clashed or her hair was too crazy, and as for myself, I used sarcasm as a shield. I was full of dumb jokes and not-so-witty banter. Cory embraced this "weirdness" and would constantly tell us that we were are own version of normal. He would ask "what is normal anyway?" It was a comforting notion, and it made a lot of sense. I think about how true this notion still is as I wonder why so many of us feel judged for who we are and what we like. No one should feel unusual, because ..."You are your own normal" so be you!
Everyone has something that they just dread doing. Something that they know will make them better, but that does not sound particularly enjoyable. This quote hits me hard when I think about how I would feel if I lost the ability to do something that I take for granted. I would never want to look back on my life with regret. This quote is like another version of "you never know what you have until it is gone", but it is more personal because, no I do not want to get up and go run, yes I know it would make me a healthier person, but it sounds so boring and painful, but ....what if I couldn't run? What if I did not even HAVE the option....think about that.
I'm just an Elementary Nerd sharing my excitement for the classroom!
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