Tuesday, 30 December 2014

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Monday, 29 December 2014

Picture books with animals as activists

Nothing like a little bit of anarchy to bring in the New Year :)

I just love text sets/companion texts and think they really help the students to make text-to-text connections using compare/contrast of textual features etc. to develop higher order thinking.  The picture books I am featuring today work together beautifully.

Let's start with Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and what a controversial little picture book this has become!  I love this story of literate cows who can type and leave notes for Farmer Brown regarding improvements they want to see made to their conditions on the farm.  The social critical literacy person is like = Yay for social action!

Here's a little overview of ideas I put together using the Four Resource Model.  Find out more about the Four Resource Model for a balanced approach to literacy planning here. Unfortunately the hyperlinks in the table below won't work, however I will post some of the links to the issues around this book below the table.

However, others have interpreted the intent behind this entertaining story quite differently as you can see in the text analyst section of the table above.  You can read some of the controversy here and here.  What do you think?

Teaching resources for "Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type" can be found here.

Dear Mrs LaRue: Letters From Obedience School by Mark Teague is a wonderful companion text in that Ike LaRue is unhappy with being "imprisoned" at the Canine Academy and tries everything he can to be sent home including writing weepy letters to Mrs LaRue and feigning illness.  Another creative text for studying point of view, letter writing and persuasive text.  A letter template is available from Scholastic here, comprehension and vocabulary work based on the story here,  and a lesson plan on persuasive writing based on the book here

The Sheep Go on Strike by Jean-Francois Dumont is a wonderful story to teach about collaboration, teamwork and compromise.  The sheep are sick of being sheared so they decide to go on strike and the rest of the animals start to take sides until they all sit down together and the sheep learn how important their wool is to the farm.  the animals work together to come up with a creative solution to everyone's problem, so it is also an excellent story for problem/solution top level structure.

Animal Strike at the Zoo by Karma Wilson
focuses on the chaos at the zoo when the lions and bears refuse to roar, prowl and growl and go on strike.

I haven't used this text, so if you have, please leave a comment below about whether you would recommend it or not.

Finally, The Great Reindeer Rebellion by Lisa Trumbauer is my most recent purchase. The paperback edition was only published in 2014.  The reindeer are sick of pulling Santa's heavy sleigh, so they go on strike. Santa writes up a wanted advertisement for substitute animals and the results are hilarious.  Written in rhyme as an innovation on The Night Before Christmas, this is bound to be a firm favourite. 

It's also a terrific mentor text for teaching verbs, rhyming words, cause/effect and problem/solution.  This would be a terrific text to compare and contrast to "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type" as Santa learns to compromise and meet the reindeers' demands to a sauna, real beds, a heater and cable television.

Do you know any other texts that would fit in with this text set about animals taking action against their current conditions?  If so, I would love you to leave a comment below so I may grow my collection.  Also if you know any other resources to match these texts, please leave the links below.  To leave a comment, just click on the link underneath my signature avatar.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve and all the very best for 2015.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

An interview with children's author Artie Knapp

It is my great pleasure and privilege to share with you an interview with one of my favourite children's authors - Artie Knapp.

KM: Hi Artie, I became interested in your work when I stumbled across your book, "Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand".  I just love it, not just because it deals with an embarrassing issue that many children and adults face, but also for how you deal with the issue of bullying and bystanders in this junior novel.  How did you get the inspiration for this title?

AK: Hello Kylie. Thank you. I am glad that you enjoyed the book. Much to the surprise of several Speech Pathologists over the years, the story didn’t derive from my own personal experience with stuttering. I was out taking a walk one autumn day, and saw a little squirrel bouncing around in some fallen leaves. Later that night I remember thinking to myself, I am going to have to write a story about that little squirrel.  Alliteration has been a part of my process throughout my career. So because of “s” for squirrel, I picked the name Stan/Stanley. From there, stuttering popped into my head because it starts with “s” too. And then I started to think of well-known characters that stuttered, but couldn’t think of one that tried to reflect how being teased might make kids feel. I grew up on Buggs Bunny and absolutely love those characters to this day. But when you think of Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig, for example, stuttering was part of their characterization, and was by no means sympathetic to the condition. Taking all of that into consideration inspired me to write the story.

KM:  Artie, I would love to learn more about your work.  You seem to have a real interest in the disabilities field.  Could you tell us more?

AK: The original publisher of “Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand” was Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which has the largest pediatric speech pathology program in the United States. I was asked by members of the hospital to write a story on Autism, which wasn’t a subject matter that I knew a lot about. Prior to my relationship with the hospital, my work had focused almost solely on humorous stories for kids, versus ones that tackled disabilities. So it was a nice change of pace for me as a writer to start writing different kinds of stories for kids. I enjoyed the research involved with learning about Autism, and from there trying to come up with a creative story in which to teach kids about the subject matter.

KM:  I came across this link https://www.youtube.com/user/ThurmanTurtley Can you tell us more about these titles?

AK: The site that you’re referring to showcases three of my illustrated prints books in video format on YouTube. These titles are: Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand,” “Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet,” and “View from a Zoo.” These videos are fun to share with kids when I visit schools. Additionally, my published Christmas story titled “Light on a Snowy Day” was recently added to this site as well. To date, I have had over 30 children’s literature works published. This includes print books, stories, videos, and poems. My work has been published in close to 300 publications, which includes traditional book publishers, print newspapers, magazines and kids’ sites across the word.

KM:  Can you tell me more about your story on Autism? I can't see it in the YouTube link above?

AK: My story “Getting to know Ronnie: A Story about Autism” is not presently available in video format, which is why it can’t be found at the site. To date, the story has only been published in print newspapers and online. Here is a link for your readers to read the story.

I am presently in talks with Reading Rainbow about them producing a video version of the story. In April of 2014, each scene of the story was professionally photographed by my friend and photographer Vinson Lewis here in the United States. Hopefully the video will be out by March/April of next year. Will keep you posted.

KM:  Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

AK: That is always a great question that I get asked when I visit schools. I find inspiration all around me, but it’s often not something in particular that I am looking for. For me, sitting down and searching for ideas seems stale and forced. I let things come to me instead, which is unexpected and invigorating when the ideas start flowing. An example of this is a visit one night at my local grocery store. As I reached for a jar of pickles, one of the dills looked like a crocodile looking up at the top of the lid. Right then and there my widely published children’s story “There’s a Crocodile in Our Pickle Jar” was born.  

KM:  Which has been your most popular children's book so far?

AK: As far as sales goes, “Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand” is my bestselling book. In fairness to some of my other titles, Stuttering Stan has been out the longest. I am fortunate that my print books are also published in flash-animation. That format has really enabled my work to be introduced to kids across the world.   

KM:  Do you have any upcoming projects in the pipeline?  

AK: In addition to my Autism project, I am also working on two new picture book scripts. One of which was inspired by a project my daughter did for her class at school. I am also underway on a children’s story that I plan on submitting this January to a children’s magazine for consideration.  

KM:  How can people find out more about your work?  Do you have a website?

AK: The best way to learn more about me and my work is by visiting my website www.artieknapp.com.

KM:  Is there anything else you can tell us about your work, what inspired you to be a children's author or what makes you tick?

AK: Before I started writing children’s literature I had a couple of science fiction stories published. I grew up watching reruns of the original Twilight Zone and Star Trek. Those two shows more than anything else, fueled my interest in storytelling. The random circumstance of my writing a story called “The Wasp and the Canary” is what led me to children’s literature. I never set out to be a children’s author, but now I cannot imagine not writing for kids. It has become such a big part of my life. Being able to do this and visit with kids at schools is a lot of fun.  

You can also find and follow Artie on FB here or google+ here.

I found these wonderful free resources for "There's a Crocodile in Our Pickle Jar" on the DLTK books website.  In fact, here's a list of Artie's stories from the DLTK Book Breaks website with links to heaps of ideas and activities :)

Finally, I am absolutely thrilled that Artie has allowed me to create a couple of resources for two of his titles (so far).  Find out more by clicking on the images.

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful work with us Artie :)

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Christmas Around the World: Australia

Hi my friends

As a thank you for following my blog, or following me on TPT, I have seriously reduced my three Christmas in Australia resources based on the reading comprehension of Aussie Christmas picture books.  Instead of paying $3.50 for each resource, I have reduced them as a bundle to only $6 for all three!  Click on the image below to find out more.

Thank you so much for a wonderful year.  This is my early Christmas present to you all...instead of paying $10.50, you can pick up all 3 resources for only $6.  

Aldi in Brisbane have these picture books on sale this week for only $5 each instead of the 20 something dollars I paid for each one of them!!!  

These are reading comprehension resources for literacy stations, not units of work...more like hands-on activities that embed my favourite 4H reading strategy, graphic organisers, Aussie idioms, rhyming words and more :)  

If you have already purchased my Christmas in Australia resources at full price, please leave me a comment below (using the pencil icon) and I will send you for free via email a single product of your choice from my store.  Just leave your email address, name and the product of your choice :)  I will be able to check on TPT if you did actually purchase them at full price and thank you by sending you another product of your choice for free (just single items, not bundles though).

I thank you very much for following me on my blog or via TPT.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

"The Turkey and the Pumpkin" free story and reading comprehension resource in time for Thanksgiving

Artie Knapp is fast becoming one of my favourite children's authors.  He has written a lovely story, "The Turkey and the Pumpkin" which can be used for both Halloween and Thanksgiving in the classroom.  You can download his story for free here or by clicking on the image below.
This is a delightful story of friendship, resilience and following your dreams.  It is really good for teaching problem/solution as well.

Artie gave me permission to create a reading comprehension resource based on his story. Because of his generosity, I have made my resource a freebie on TPT.  It includes my favourite 4H reading strategy posters, bookmarks and question sort, graphic organisers and QR code comprehension questions.  You can grab your copy here or by clicking on one of the images below.

If you do download this resource from my TPT store, I would really appreciate it if you could leave ratings/feedback on TPT.

Other free resources for Artie's "The Turkey and the Pumpkin" can be found here.  More information about Artie's children's stories can be found here or you can follow him on FaceBook here.

I am very excited that Artie Knapp has agreed to do an interview with me on my blog sometime soon, so please follow my blog for further updates.

Thanks so much for providing this free story for us Artie - it really is a treasure :)

I have also been pinning freebies and ideas for Thanksgiving here.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone :)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A new "Creepy Carrots" resource to supplement my best seller + pick up freebies :)

Hi everyone

I was so thrilled about Felicity's feedback about my "Monster Chef" resource, that I made a new resource to support my best-selling "Creepy Carrots" resource for a not-so-scary Halloween.

You can read more about Creepy Carrots and pick up a freebie here.

You can read more about Monster Chef here and save a heap on my new bundle of two other not-so-scary Halloween titles (newly published) here.

My new resource includes QR codes for vocabulary extension and reading comprehension. It includes complex vocabulary from the text (which the students infer the meanings of and then check using the QR codes) and reading comprehension questions with QR code answers that support close reading of the text.  You can find out more about it here.

Thank you to all those readers who already have purchased my "Creepy Carrots" vocabulary extension resource.  

Please leave a message below if you purchased my original resource and are interested in receiving my QR code supplementary resource as a freebie (leave your email address)...please remember, I can check on TPT if you did actually purchase the original :)

Happy Halloween everyone :)

Monday, 27 October 2014

Halloween treat

A big shout out to Felicity who made my day today by sending me the most awesome email feedback about one of my new resources for Halloween based on Nick Bland's new picture book, Monster Chef.  You can read about the resource at my blog post here.

Felicity's feedback was so lovely.  She used the resource yesterday with her class and has written:

My kids LOVED reading Monster Chef and today we tried the comprehension cards with the QR codes. 
We used our tablets to scan the answers. 
They were totally engaged! Thankyou so much! 

She even included a photo :)  Thank you so much Felicity - you have made my day!

And, guess what I just found out? There is another picture book with a similar title, "Monster Chefs" also published in 2014...I can feel resource making coming on :)  

Click on the image below to find out more about this title and follow my blog (using the links on the right) for notification when the resource to accompany it is ready:

Have a terrific week everyone!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Looking for something fresh for Halloween? Two newly published picture books with freebie and resource links

Are you sick of the "We've read that before" line every year when there is a celebration?  

Two newly published picture books will help you to put a new spin on Halloween in the classroom this year - both published just recently in 2014.  One is "Monster Chef" by Nick Bland and the other is "Little Boo" by Stephen Wunderli.
They are both terrific for a not-so-scary Halloween theme, or for teachers who have students who do not celebrate Halloween, as they are along the same theme, but "Little Boo" especially is great for this as it is about a little pumpkin seed that is not scary, until he grows into a pumpkin and becomes a jack-o'-lantern.  The name Jack-o'-lantern comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack and Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, with the carving of pumpkins being a regular part of Halloween festivities.

Both of these newly published picture books are fabulous and very cute, with two different characters who are anxious because they are not scary.

I have blogged about Monster Chef before and you can read those blog posts here and here and pick up resource links along the way.

Little Boo is my latest find and I just love it. You could integrate it with a study of the life cycle of pumpkin in science.  What's exciting is that McMillan has provided a free downloadable activity kit for Little Boo that includes a maze and pumpkin carving templates.  Download that freebie here or view a walk-through of the book and review here.  Another review is available here.  This book is so cute! Depending on what you intend to do with it, it could be used in grades 2 to 5.

I have made resources to support both Monster Chef and Little Boo that you will find in my TPT store, but my exciting news is that although I had already discounted them for Halloween (and only made both of them in the past week, so they will be a fresh approach for you), I have discounted them even further as I have put the two together as a bundle, for serious savings :)  You can find out more here.

Bundled, the two resources consist of 57 pages!  All resources involve higher order thinking and are not "busy work" - however they are just print and go, and include graphic organisers/organizers, QR code comprehension questions, a rhyming word matching game, vocabulary work, connections and character traits. 

They also support my very favourite 4H reading strategy that I have blogged about before many times (please check the archives if you are interested in learning more about this).  The 4H reading strategy is an innovation on Question-Answer-Relationships (QAR) but so much easier for the kids to understand.  

Read more about what is in each of the individual resources (i.e. Monster Chef and Little Boo) via my TPT store here or here.

Another resource that has been hugely popular this year for a not-so-scary Halloween focus is "Creepy Carrots". You can read my blog post about that here (with a freebie) or read about my resource to support this picture book here.  

So, to avoid the "same old, same old" or "we've done this before" dread of every teacher, check out these new picture books and check out my blog posts about them (links above) where I share heaps of links to save you time in your Halloween preparation for school this year :)

Thanks for your support everyone!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Happy birthday to me and a gift for you :)

To celebrate my birthday today, I am sharing a new picture book with you and giving my followers a copy of my latest resource as a thank you for reading my blog.

I previously blogged about Scaredy Squirrel - you can read that blog post here.  Since then, I have been collecting other squirrel titles and one of my favourites is "Those Darn Squirrels!" by Adam Rubin.

We don't have squirrels in Australia, so I find them fascinating.  This title reminds me a lot of "Creepy Carrots."  You can read my blog post about that title (and pick up a freebie) here.

Those Darn Squirrels is hilarious and great for problem/solution.  You can view a YouTube reading of it here and the book trailer here.

There are some wonderful clips about squirrels on the Help Readers Love Reading blog here - I laughed out loud at the squirrels dancing to Michael Jackson :)  A squirrel flash mob! The squirrel obstacle course is pretty awesome and amazing too!  Impressive!

There's also an information fact sheet with the same title that could be used to pair the narrative with non-fiction. Aileen from  Mrs Miracle's Music Room has also paired the picture book with a song about squirrels.  

Apparently there are three titles in this series (how exciting).  I have only read this first one. Have you read the others?  You can read about the other titles here.  I made up a resource to go with the picture book (click on the preview below or here to find out more).

To celebrate my birthday today, I will send a free copy of this resource to those readers who follow my blog who leave a comment below with their email address.  My birthday was on 18 October, so this freebie offer is only for people who are followers of my blog and only over the next couple of days.

Please follow my blog (using the links in the right hand comment) to accept this giveaway.

Let me know in the comments if you do know the titles in this series and how you have used them :)  I would also like to know more about squirrels - are they considered pests?  Do you have squirrels where you live?  I would love it if you could let me know more about them...

Many thanks

Have a terrific week :)

Saturday, 4 October 2014

"Monster Chef" by Nick Bland - terrific for a not-so-scary Halloween

I am so excited to share my new resource with you.  

Last week I blogged about Nick Bland's new picture book "Monster Chef".  You can read that blog post here and pick up a few freebies.  If you are looking for not-so-scary titles you can use around Halloween, you might also be interested in my blog post about "Creepy Carrots" (and another freebie).

I had so much fun putting this new resource together.  You can see a list of the contents beside the image below.

4H reading strategy bookmarks & posters
4H strategy question sort
Making connections
Character traits
Vocabulary work
Story Mountain
Procedural text (recipes)
Rhyming words match game
Compare/contrast venn diagram
QR codes – comprehension multiple choice questions

Here's a quick preview of the resource:

Click on the image above to find out more...

If you would like a copy of this resource, please leave a comment below with your email address and I will choose a couple of winners to receive it for free :)

Please follow my blog (using the links in the right hand comment) to accept this giveaway.

Have a terrific week!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Nick Bland's New Release: Monster Chef (terrific for Halloween and not so scary) with freebies

Well it's official!  I am in love with picture books and one of my favourite authors is fellow Aussie, Nick Bland.
You can hardly imagine my delight when I found his newly published picture book, Monster Chef and I began making connections straight away to Halloween and his other picture book, A Monster Wrote Me a Letter.

I love Nick Bland's writing style with his rollicking use of rhyme and imagery.  

Marcel is the Monster Chef and he has a terrible problem - he wasn't very scary!!!  But, what he did like to do was cook and he makes earthworm spaghetti, hot cactus pies, smelly-sock soup and a cockroach surprise!  Can you imagine the fun the children would have making up imaginary recipes for these gastronomical delights? 

As with all good narratives, this one has the problem of Marcel not being scary even though he is a monster and the solution is actually very clever and creative!  

This is a terrific picture book for Halloween as it isn't scary; it's actually very funny.  Now for some freebies for both books:

Free teaching notes for Monster Chef can be found here and here.  

Interestingly, in my search for goodies for both of these picture books, I stumbled across another book with the same title, "Monster Chef" (different author) so a compare and contrast could be used, however the second title is part of the Vampire School series by Peter Bentley (You can read about it here). I haven't read any titles from this series, but if you have please leave a comment below this post.

You can read about A Monster Wrote Me a Letter here, with excerpts from the book to give you a flavour of the author's engaging style and there are also free teaching notes online. These shared reading notes were freely available on the internet for A Monster Wrote Me a Letter.

Other ideas and activities for using Nick Bland's picture books have been pinned on my pinterest board here.
We don't really celebrate Halloween in schools over here in Australia, so that's why I am keen on books that aren't too scary and I love companion texts and text sets.  

Last year I reviewed Creepy Carrots and provided a freebie for that. You can read that blog post here.  It's another good picture book for Halloween which isn't too scary.  

In fact, all of these picture books could be used to discuss fears and how sometimes our fears can be imagined.  Scaredy Squirrel is also great for this, as is the Children's Book Council Award short-listed picture book Parachute.  You can read my blog post about those two picture books here and pick up another freebie here.

Teachers have told me that their students make text-to-self connections quite easily, but need extra support with making text-to-world or text-to-text connections.  That's why I love it when we can find texts to compare and contrast and explicitly model making connections and venn diagrams are an easy way to do this.

Click on the image below to pick up a venn diagram to compare Nick Bland's two titles: Monster Chef and A Monster Wrote Me a Letter:

Please follow my blog (using the links in the right hand comment) to accept this giveaway.

Please leave a comment below if you can think of any other titles that could be used in a similar way.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

More resources to support learning about students with disabilities...Scaredy Squirrel and more, plus a freebie :)

Hi friends

I just love "Scaredy Squirrel" by Melanie Watt and you can read about my ideas for that here.

I also love resources that support students to learn that difference is okay, difference is actually the norm etc.  I have a pinterest board where I pin ideas for picture books that include children with a disability and another one specifically for Scaredy Squirrel and one for teachers who teach children with special needs.

I have created several resources to help teachers and students become more aware of disabilities and the "ability" in the "disability".

You can find out more about them by clicking on the images below and there is a freebie too in a previous post here.


Here's the link to my freebie on my other blog post.  

Please follow my blog (using the links in the right hand comment) to accept this giveaway.

Have a great week everyone :)

Friday, 29 August 2014

What do Scaredy Squirrel and a parachute have in common? + a freebie :)

Hi all

I just love "Scaredy Squirrel" by Melanie Watt and I was reading "Parachute" by Danny Parker today, which is shortlisted in the Australian Children's Book Awards and I couldn't help making text-to-text connections between the two texts.
You can view a book trailer for "Parachute" here and there are free teacher notes here and here.

I have been a big fan of Scaredy Squirrel for some time and have all the titles (which I love). Did you know he has his own Facebook page?  It is so good :)

So what does a squirrel have in common with a parachute?  Both books have similar themes of fear, bravery, security and overcoming adversity.  There's a terrific free activity for "Parachute" here.
I have created a new 4H reading strategy resource for "Scaredy Squirrel" with bookmarks, posters and a question sort.  You can find out more about it here or by clicking on the image below: 

I have also created a freebie for you for comparing "Scaredy Squirrel" with "Parachute".  You can download it here or by clicking on the image below:

More ideas for "Scaredy Squirrel" can be found on my pinterest board here.

Thanks for following my blog.  I don't post too often due to other commitments.  I honestly can't keep up with blogs that post too frequently, so thanks for following.  I really only post when I make a connection that I want to share - usually around picture books, text sets and higher order thinking.

Please let me know by leaving a comment below if you have used either of these texts or if you know of other texts with a similar theme.  I love hearing your feedback and learning from you as well :)  

I will send a free copy of my new "Scaredy Squirrel" 4H reading strategy resource to a few random readers who are following my blog and leave a comment with their email addresses.

Have a terrific week!

Many thanks for the custom clip art from Iva at estsy  and the purchased clip art (parachute) from digi clip art.