Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Continent Ocean project October 19, 2008

Filed under: school — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:46 am
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This project just came home with my fourth grade daughter and it reminded me that it would be a good thing to share with teachers of that age group for back to school. This is actually the sixteenth year this project has been done by some or all of the fourth grade in my town. It was actually thought up by my friend Sara who used to teach fourth grade with me (and now teaches drama at the high school!). The thought process behind the project is pretty simple, but reveals so much about your students. Students are given a full size green construction paper and are asked to draw freehand (not trace) the continents’ outline on the paper. They then cut them out, glue them to a full-size blue paper and label them with the correct continent and ocean label. What’s the big deal you might be wondering, but I’m always amazed what I can find out about a child when they do this project. This project was traditionally done during the first six days of school during individual reading interviews. 

How is their eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills when it comes to drawing and cutting?

Can they copy labels from one source to another?

Are they careful in their work habits when they are working on the project?

Who is done in 30 minutes (the rusher) and who is not done in three days (the perfectionist)?

Anyway, you get the idea. Nothing very time consuming, expensive, or fancy, but very information rich in the getting to know you part of the year.


Mentor Texts: Author Loreen Leedy October 5, 2008

Crazy Like a Fox: A Simile Story by Loreen Leedy is the newest book by this very fun author. I first became familiar with Leedy while using her book Postcards from Pluto as a mentor text (way back before I even knew what they were) for writing our own postcards and books about the planets when that was part of my science curriculum.  Since then I have had the opportunity to meet her at the now defunct The Ohio State University Children’s Literature Conference (boy I miss that opportunity to see so many great authors) and she has now written around thirty books.

While I have been unable to continue using Postcards from Pluto in science, it is still a great mentor for that type of short, fictional/nonfictional writing.

 I also am a big fan of Leedy’s Penny books, Mapping Penny’s World and Measuring Penny.Both texts fit into the current fourth grade curriculum-measurement, map skills, and are also great read alouds. 

The newest Leedy book, Crazy Like a Fox, starts with a great, child friendly explanation of what a simile is. In Ohio this is always a tested topic, and also one that can be difficult for teachers to help students have a working understanding of, especially as they need to also know idiom, metaphor, etc.

The story progresses as the main characters Rufus and Babette chase after each other until they run into a surprise party for Babette. Each page includes not just the similes that described what Rufus and Babette are doing, but also has little asides as other minor characters comment on Rufus and Babette, all spoken in similes. The book also includes a nice section at the end about creating your own simile story that teachers will find helpful and students will have fun participating. 

If you are trying to teach similes, idioms and metaphors, check out Punished by David Lubar. This short little chapter book is a great read-aloud and chronicles a boy’s attempt to earn back his ability to speak without it all coming out as puns.