Marvelous Books for May

Things have been very busy around the Sunshine Readers home! We are getting ready to fly to the Sunshine State tomorrow for an extended visit with my husband’s family and attend two weddings.¬†Since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post while we’re away, I thought I’d pass along some recommendations for books to read this month. ūüôā

Please share a book that you and your children/students are reading in the month of May!

At the Beach by Huy Voun Lee

A boy and his mother practice writing Chinese characters in the sand as they spend the day at the beach. The illustrations are wonderful and provide concrete connections between the forming of the character and the word it represents. This is a fascinating book that can be used for multicultural units or linguistic exposure!

Casey and Derek on the Ice by Marty Sederman

Do you have children or students who love sports? This rhyming text uses lots of sports jargon but the pictures make the plot understandable even for those who are less familiar with hockey. A fun read about teamwork that showcases the fact that we can work to change the outcome of a game (or anything in life) as long as there is time left on the clock!

The Perfect Dog by Kevin O’Malley

This is a book that is so fun to read aloud! If you have an expressive voice, your kids/students will be laughing along with you as a girl tries to determine what exactly makes the perfect dog. My daughters enjoy reading this one aloud to each other.

Police Officers on Patrol by Kersten Hamilton

Many young children aspire to be firefighters and police officers when they are grown-up. What a wonderful aspiration! Here is a sweet narrative story that shows a few of the things that police officers do to help our community. This could be used as part of a community social studies unit for lower grades and it would be great to read near your school’s scheduled¬†Career Day, too.

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan A. Shea

I love this book! (Did you notice it as the image for my post?) Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? is so fun to read and has creative flaps for older children that will help them to grasp the concept of animate vs. inanimate objects. My kids really like this book as well.

Little Kids First BIG Book of Animals by Catherine D. Hughes

National Geographic Kids always puts together excellent resources with stunning photographs. Little Kids First BIG Book of Animals is no exception. It highlights 5 regions of the world and gives information for approximately 6 animals in each region. This is an excellent non-fiction book to include in a learning center, use for a geography or animal habitat unit, or simply give to a child who like animals.

My First Book of Hindi Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Hindi Language and Indian Culture by Rina Singh

That lengthy title says it all! Want to introduce your child to other cultures or languages? This book is a perfect choice. My pronunciation may not have always been the best but the words are used in fun ways and include swing, lunch, journey and even phrases such as topsy-turvy!

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

Arbor Day and Tree Activities

Friday, April 28, is National Arbor Day in the US.¬†It’s a perfect time to read¬†A Tree is Nice¬†by Janice May Udry, and spend some time studying trees!

A Tree is Nice is a lovely book that won the Caldecott Medal in 1957, with illustrations alternate between color and black-and-white. The text describes the many ways that trees are a part of our lives. It even ends with planting a tree, which would be perfect if you plan to plant a tree with your class or at home!

You can easily use this book as a way to explore nature and scientific concepts of plant life, conservation and environmentalism.

Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • Take a walk with your child. Make observations about¬†the trees that are becoming more green and full in the spring season. Collect leaves from the ground.
  • At home, place a blank white paper over the leaves you collected on your walk and gently rub a crayon over the paper. You will create a raised image of the leaf. Talk about the difference in the shapes of the leaves and display your final artwork!

For Teachers:

  • Teach your students the parts of a tree. Use a free handout like this one if desired.
  • Explain the differences between coniferous and deciduous trees with this free slide show from Teachers Pay Teachers.
  • Discuss how trees are used to make products that we use. Here is a wonderful, free lesson plan from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Get Your Kids Interested in Science with Tractors

Sometimes a good book can get your child or students hooked onto a new concept. When I taught full-time, I enjoyed using literature to kick off different units and generate more interest in a particular study topic.

The book I’m posting on today has two attractive features.¬†First, it’s¬†a children’s book¬†written and illustrated by a man! ¬†(Have you noticed that women tend to dominate this arena?) Second, it is a book with unique illustrations. As a final bonus,¬†I couldn’t help but notice the sweet dedication to his college art professor – an inspiration to all of us educators out there! ūüôā

Big Tractor by Nathan Clement has computer graphic illustrations that further convey the enormity of the modern tractor machine. Simple text provides great information about the many types of work a large modern tractor completes in various seasons. This book would be a good read-aloud to introduce unit on agriculture, large machines or plant life. Check out some of my ideas below to explore with your child or students!

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

For Parents:

  • Make a tractor craft out of¬†painted popsicle sticks or this super cute keepsake that uses your child’s footprint as part of the tractor.
  • Purchase grass seeds and plant them in a plastic cup with potting soil. Water and place next to a window. Allow your child to make observations about how long it takes to grow. You can even try cutting the grass when it gets long enough!

For Teachers:

  • Play the “Farmer in the Dell” game with your students in the gymnasium or outside. If you’d like to teach your students the song or play it in the background, here is one of¬†many versions of the song on YouTube, featuring a farmer on a tractor.
  • Plan a field trip to a farm or a local children’s museum with a farming exhibit. (We have visited two¬†locations in the midwest that have¬†fun, hands-on exhibits relating to agriculture!)
  • To further explore how crops grow, take¬†a day of science to implement this free lesson from Scholastic titled “From Plant to Seed.”

Reading Fun that Makes Children Laugh!

Kids love to giggle, and they love to be silly! So why not harness that and get in some reading time, too?

Riddle Rhymes by D.J. Panec is a fun book that encourages interactive reading with parent and child. The parent reads the riddle, which shows a photograph clue, and the child answers with a word that rhymes. When you turn the page together, you can find out if your child solved the riddle correctly!

My kids were instantly hooked on this book and after reading it several times together, they were practicing it on their own. Very sweet!

This can also be used in a classroom setting for a cooperative read-aloud or practice for an emergent reader. Or if you have a reluctant reader in the home or the classroom, this might be a book to catch his/her interest!

Best Ages: pre-k – kindergarten (read aloud), 1st-2nd grade (independently read)

Quilting & Math, Literature and Social Studies

I can barely sew a button back on when it falls off my husband’s shirt, but many of the women in my family are experts with a needle and thread. My¬†grandmother quilts and has¬†gifted us beautiful quilts we will always treasure. We also have an heirloom quilt that was pieced together by the quilting bee at my aunt’s parish when a trunk of hand-stitched¬†quilting blocks was discovered in a relative’s attic. These blocks were determined to be sewn by my great-grandmother before the Great Depression.

eliyahquilt
The heirloom quilt that was pieced together decades after my great-grandmother first stitched the blocks.

The precious quilts made by my family made this particular book jump out at me when I saw it displayed at our public library a few weeks ago!

The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons tells the history and modern-day process of quilting in a fun, engaging way. The illustrations are bright and include many styles and types of quilting. Best of all, this book can easily fit into many content areas for the elementary classroom:

  1.  A literature unit on pioneers for books such as Sarah, Plain and Tall, Little House on the Prairie or Addie Across the Prairie.
  2. A social studies lesson on the Oregon Trail, as many of the quilting patterns and blocks were created and used by settlers who traveled west in the United States during the 19th century.
  3. A math lesson relating to topics of symmetry, geometry and shape recognition or tessellations.

And The Quilting Bee can also be incorporated in early childhood or preschool classes to touch on the topics of history, colors or teamwork.

Best Ages: pre-k – 3rd grade

For Parents:

  • If you have any family quilts, take them out and show them to your children. Or talk about their favorite blankets and how comforting it can be to have a special covering for going to sleep.
  • Visit a county fair or stop by a local craft/sewing store¬†with your child. Show them the materials people use to sew today, as seen in the book.

For Teachers:

  • For older students, use¬†this free lesson¬†to have¬†students will measure and fit together quilt pieces to make their own creations. Or check out this teacher’s idea for creating tissue paper quilt blocks.
  • For younger students, hand out this free printable of addition/subtraction practice that forms a quilting block. Students then color in the quilt block according to the key.

 

Dog Safety for Kids

My daughters, like many children, absolutely LOVE dogs. Although we don’t own a dog, we have many friends and family members who do,¬†and our girls¬†always look forward to playing with and petting the dogs when we visit those homes.¬†But my kids’ natural curiosity and enthusiasm about dogs doesn’t translate to an innate understanding of how to respect and interact with dogs safely. (Ever seen a kid yank on a dog’s tail, try to ride a dog, get in a dog’s face when they are sleeping or eating? Yep, my kids have tried to do all that and more!)

eliyah_molly
My oldest daughter and I pose for a photo with my cousin’s lovable Saint Bernard, Molly (March 2014).

So how do we encourage our kids to enjoy these wonderful pets while staying safe?

Teaching some basic precautions can go a long way.¬†And if you’re not sure where to start, or you think your children or students could use a refresher,¬†I highly recommend the book¬†May I Pet Your Dog? by Stephanie Calmenson. This book teaches dog safety in a way that is easy for children to understand without stirring¬†up an unhealthy fear of dogs.

What makes the book extra fun is that it’s told from the perspective of a dog talking to a little boy. My daughters¬†really enjoyed reading this book¬†and I appreciated¬†the clear presentation of dog safety guidelines. Some of those guidelines include:

  • Do not interact with an unknown dog if his/her owner is not there.
  • Always ask to pet someone’s dog before touching them or getting too close.
  • Be considerate of dogs who are sleeping, eating, caring for puppies or chewing on a bone, toy or stick.
  • Be gentle and be kind – remember that dogs have feelings, too!

(Taken from pages 30-31 in May I Pet Your Dog?)

Do you have suggestions for helping kids learn how to interact safely with dogs? Please leave a comment!

 

Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade

 

Gardening with Children

Well, spring has officially arrived! We’ve been enjoying some gardening books as we wait for the right time to plant our annual grape tomato plants. This is a great way for our family to practice a bit of a green thumb while living¬†in a large city.¬†My husband and daughters enjoy each part of the process: going to the gardening center to purchase supplies,¬†planting the seeds and tending to the tomato plants throughout the summer. This is a special daddy-daughter activity that I particularly appreciate because I love fresh tomatoes! ūüôā

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Planting tomato seeds in April 2015.

Do any of you plan to garden this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

As you prepare to garden Рor choose to pass! Рhere are 3 fun gardening books to enjoy with your children or students:

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

This beautiful book shows how plants grow using straightforward language for young children. A medley of colors are shown in the illustrations and some pages include labels of common flowers. The pages turn in a lovely way to create a rainbow. This would be a great book to incorporate to a thematic study on gardening or plant life.

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn

One of my favorite picture books for young children is Lola at the Library. Here is a companion book by the same author-illustrator team. Lola and her mom work together to plant a garden and decorate it, too. Then all of Lola’s friends come to enjoy the¬†delightful¬†garden!

Bumpety Bump! by Pat Hutchins

Follow along with a girl and her grandfather as they go through the garden with a wheelbarrow! My favorite part was seeing the roots of the various plants and bushes in the illustrations; my children and I were able to point to them and discuss how plants grow.

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade