Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka


I first placed this book on my hold list at my local public library in September, this is a really popular book as I just picked it up at the library this weekend! I am extremely glad it finally arrived.

Fall Mixed Up would be a great read aloud on the first day of fall. I absolutely loved all of the holiday mishaps and the disordered familiarities from this time of year. My daughter and I giggled through the entire reading as we saw flying squirrels, bears gathering nuts, and geese hibernating for the winter. 

Image: Lerner Publishing Group
After reading, I would have my students go back to each page and sort out the various discrepancies they found and then start a discussion about what really happens when Fall begins.

I have a rating system I use for those books I have read and reviewed on my blog, you may check it out here. I have given this book four coffee cups, cool beans!


I read this book as a part of my #BookaDay Reading Challenge, inspired by Donalyn Miller. My goal is to read at least one children's literature book every weekday and share my thoughts here on my blog. Please feel free to subscribe or connect with me on social media to follow my journey through the books I read. Until next time ...

Thursday, November 15, 2018

September 11th: 5th Grade Discussion Board Lesson

Background Information: Seventeen years ago New York City experienced the unforgettable day of September 11th. Adults who lived through it will always remember the events that unfolded, but many young children don't know a lot about 9/11 or fully understand how the day changed this nation and so many lives.  Many educators struggle to discuss the events with children, and it can be daunting to find books that engage children, help them to understand such a pivotal point in history, and serve as a starting point for discussion. Fortunately, we have a fictional account about 9/11 specifically for children, ideal for the next generation. Nine Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin presents 9/11 in an accessible way for young readers without being too heavy.  Instead they are presented in a thoughtful and meaningful way, and is a welcome addition to children's literature. (9/11 for Educators)
Students have read the story in literature circles (groups of 4). They have had meaningful conversations about the four individual characters and about the events that took place on 9/11. Now as a connected group of 4 students they will go a little deeper and experience this pivotal moment in history through activity and discussion board.
Discussion Board Post:


Over the last few weeks, we have read Nora Raleigh Baskin's book Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story in our literature circles. Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story is the story of four kids in various cities who experience 9/11 on contrasting levels. These four middle school kids fifth graders in Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, and New York City start out on 9/10 wrapped up in their own individual challenges at home, from one dealing with an absentee father to another grieving for a lost one. They have no idea that they are all about to come together as a result of 9/11, as their families and communities are affected by the tragic events
The story began with four young characters from four different states at the Chicago O'Hare International Airport, each one with a unique story of conflict. But on September 11th, everything changes. The book concludes with the first Patriot Day at Ground Zero, exactly one year later, where the reader is re-introduced to each character. The concerns each character had in the days leading up to the events of 9/11 have diminished or disappeared altogether as each character’s thoughts are about what happened on 9/11.
YouTube Video: Alan Jackson - "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" 

  • First, I want you to interview a family member or someone else that you know that was at least 18 years of age on September 11th. I want to know where they were located, how old they were, and what they remember about that day. I also would like you to ask them about their life before this day and how things may have changed afterwards. Take good notes, record the interview to help you remember their story, and then write a review of the interview in 200-250 words in the discussion board below. { Note: Please let me know right away if you are having difficulties finding this person.}
  • Second, you will read each of your literature circle group interview reviews (4) in this forum. Take note of how this day changed the life of the individual similar to how the characters in the book did. 
  • Third, I would like you to respond to each of your group members post using the RISE feedback we have used on our classroom blog. In addition, please add a comment about what their story taught you about September 11th or relate it to what you have read in the book Nine, Ten.
  • Last, if a group member asks you a question or causes you to respond, please reply to him or her and continue the discussion.
I read Nine, Ten as a part of my #BookaDay Reading Challenge, inspired by Donalyn Miller. My goal is to read at least one children's literature book every weekday and share my thoughts here on my blog. Please feel free to subscribe or connect with me on social media to follow my journey through the books I read. Until next time ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton


It is a great college class, when your 400 level professor uses a picture book to teach a concept. I was absolutely thrilled! It would have been quite delightful had he read the book to the class, but he mentioned it nonetheless. So, I went to the library and picked up the copy of Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel to read it myself (I am 99.9% sure I am the only one that did that).

Goodreads says:

     A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike     
    Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty
    steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes
    for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial
    America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of        work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig
    in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap
    heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their
    friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.

I have actually never heard of this story; however, I am glad that I was made aware of it so I could. A response to the Industrial Revolution and the use of new tools vs old tools. I think, this is an incredible story of how these machines and people can be repurposed in such a way that made them a valuable member of the society without being anti-technology or anti-progressive.

This picture book plot resonates with how I believe society should choose to go along with the times rather than putting its foot down and trying to stop the advancement of technology. Engineers, scientists, managers, etc have been put in place to work to make things more efficient and more effective for the communities that would benefit from them. Yet, when given a chance to use them, people hesitate to the changes that need to take place in order for them to work.  What a great way to share new possibilities and growth with our students! 

I have a rating system I use for those books I have read and reviewed on my blog, you may check it out here. I have given this book four coffee cups, Cool Beans!


I read this book as a part of my #BookaDay Reading Challenge, inspired by Donalyn Miller. My goal is to read at least one children's literature book every weekday and share my thoughts here on my blog. Please feel free to subscribe or connect with me on social media to follow my journey through the books I read. Until next time ...

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Deduce the Politics of Dr. Seuss


I have been super busy these last few weeks, but I am still reading and using picture books everyday! The following is from a mini-lesson I completed in my Teaching History Methods class. Common Core State Standards: 

  • 5.SS.1.1.2 Discuss significant individuals who have been responsible for bringing about cultural and social changes in the United States.
  • RL.5.7 Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem). 
The idea of the lesson is to scaffold the ability of understanding political cartoons and how they inform or call others to action in response. First students will be introduced to political cartooning then use of Dr.Seuss books as examples. Book one & two will be given to students and books three & four will be discussed as a think/pair/share {time permitting}. In the end, students will create their own political cartoon based on the lesson, using their own thoughts of injustice in their world.


We have discussed using primary sources, pictures, art, statues, and sculptures are incredible ways to better understand history, making our textbooks come alive! In this lesson, we are going to see how cartoons and comics are used to help people share messages that are very important to them, through the art of political cartooning.


Modern American political cartoons have been around since the nineteenth century. The increase in newspaper and magazine circulation in the 1800’s provided a rich environment for the rise and use of political cartoons. People with minimal reading abilities can understand and relate to a format that communicates powerful ideas in a humorous,light-hearted manner. Through the use of analogy, irony, symbolism, and exaggeration the cartoonist expresses the themes and problems of their time. 



We know Dr. Seuss as a successful children's cartoonist and author, but he also was a successful political cartoonist, creating a parody of current events during World War II for a progressive newspaper. Theodor Geisel drew over 400 cartoons for this New York newspaper, while he was the chief editorial cartoonist (1941-1943). Many of these cartoons were directed towards the war, Adolf Hitler, and Japan.



What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book?



Horton Hears a Who! is said to have many political and social messages, focusing on the powerless. One of which, Dr. Seuss addresses the social issue of conformity. Conformity involves people changing their beliefs or behaviors in order to fit in with a group. Throughout the book, Horton stands out from the rest of the jungle animals. He is very different, and Horton refuses to conform. The key political struggle during Dr. Seuss's lifetime was the struggle against fascism, where strict conformity was a cultural and political requisite. Asking immigrants from other countries; as well as, Native Americans to be more American. Forming this melting pot and taking on the American Identity that we have spoken about in weeks before. 



The story of the Sneetches is about yellow bird-like creatures, some have green stars on their stomachs, and others without. The "in" crowd are those who have the stars and they look down on those who do not have it. One day, a man named McBean comes to town with a machine to give those without a star, a star, with a “star-on machine” for the cost of three dollars. The original Sneetches with the stars are angered because they no longer have a way to show that they are better than those without. McBean comes up with the solution in the form of a star-off machine that will take the stars off the stomach of the Sneetches for the cost of ten dollars. This way, they can differentiate themselves once again and regain their superiority. This gets out of hand with all the Sneetches changing back and forth from having a star and not having a star to the point that, "until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew / Whether this one was that one or that one was this one / Or which one was what one or what one was who." Both groups quickly run out of money and McBean leaves town. After he leaves, the Sneetches come to realize that neither the "plain-belly" or "star belly" is superior over the other. There are clear lessons of anti-discrimination (which is hostility or prejudice to those of the jewish faith) and anti -racism(hostility or prejudice of someone different than you) throughout the story, with even the star implying a political message. It was inspired by the yellow Star of David that the Jews were required to wear on the clothing to identify them to the Nazis.


The Cat in the Hat was written as a challenge in 1954 in response to an article in Life magazine that claimed that widespread illiteracy was caused by children being bored with books. Watch first 37 seconds of video.


Questions for open discussion for large group using Think/Pair/ Share strategy.




Dr. Seuss wrote The Lorax in 1971.

Do not be fooled by its pictures, it's a serious one.
The Lorax is all about what we can do
to keep our trees green, our lakes and skies blue.



Let's meet the players: the Once-ler does shine

an inventor, he is, who messed up big time.
And so he confesses to a special young boy
about the Truffula forest, the one he destroyed.

It turns out it was his own careless fault,

His own greedy deeds caused this assault.
But don't worry, readers, someone rebelled,
The Lorax (the star!)—he protested and yelled.



This fuzzy guy said, "don't be so commercial!"

(You know what that means—it's a bit controversial.)
So the Lorax is now iconically green,
reminding us how to keep our earth clean.


Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax appeared in the 1970s at the start of the environmental movement, just before the first Earth Day, April 22nd of that year. 
In addition, the message implies we need to be taught about the environment and how to live in a sustainable way in order to preserve what we have. The children need to learn about how to live without degrading the environment, so that future generations have a clean place to live. This is shown in The Lorax by the Once-ler educating the small boy about the dangers of pollution, the wearing down of the environment, and by giving him the last Truffula seed so that new ones can be grown.


I end, with one of my favorite quotes and one of Dr. Seuss’ Call to Action. This is often a hope for political cartoonist, not only that one would be become aware of an issue, but one would also want to act in regards to his or her message.

Activity: Using information from lesson and class discussion. Students will choose an issue they are passionate about (no math, longer recess, no peas in the cafeteria) and then create a story or cartoon which illustrates their standing (call to action or informing others). Students will share with class in an art walk.


Reflection: My colleagues were intrigued by the use of Dr. Seuss in the classroom, I think it could be used from K-12 for students to understand new concepts. If reading is not the main goal of the lesson then we should be using materials that all students can understand in order to teach the new material. This eliminates barriers for English Language Learners and students with lower reading levels.

I read these books as a part of my #BookaDay Reading Challenge, inspired by Donalyn Miller. My goal is to read at least one children's literature book every weekday and share my thoughts here on my blog. Please feel free to subscribe or connect with me on social media to follow my journey through the books I read. Until next time ...






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