Author Study – Laura Numeroff

The Laura Numeroff author study is a hidden gem for kindergarten! These books are familiar to many students, but are often forgotten about. I have really enjoyed doing this author study with my students over the past two years! These “circle stories” can teach story elements, cause and effect, and sequencing. The students love to hear how the end “circles back” to the beginning.

If_you_Give_a_Mouse_a_CookieIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to School – These books are the most familiar to students. For this story, I focus on the story elements – characters, setting, problem, and solution. There are multiple problems throughout the story, so students can pick one. They have to clearly show what the mouse asked for, and what he used it with. For example, the mouse asked for some crayons, and he then created a picture. You could also use a cause and effect graphic organizer for this book as well.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin – This is another great book for story elements and cause and effect. I also use this author study to help assess reading comprehension and IMG_8789retelling. I have found multiple resources on TeachersPayTeachers that go along with this story.

If You Give a Dog a Donut – For this book, I focus on sequencing and retelling the events of this story. The students learn to apply what they have learned about sequencing and cause and effect. It also makes for a great classroom work display.

If You Give a Pig a Pancake and If You Give a Pig a Party – Both of these stories involve the same character, but in a different setting. For these books, I have the students compare and contrast the two books. We learn to use venn diagrams when comparing cat and cupcakebooks. I also have many of these books on CD, which are perfect for my listening center.

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake – This is one of Laura Numeroff’s img_8895.jpgnewer books. Throughout the unit, I also do many writing responses that coincide with the books. For this story, I ask the students “what would you want with your cupcake.” This helps them to start writing about cause and effect. They are engaged in the activity, and their answers are usually creative!

At the end of every author study, I have the students write about their favorite books and why they liked them. This is a great way to wrap up a unit.

circle story bookWriting Our Own Circle Stories – At the end of the unit, I create our own class book of “circle stories”. We have learned to look for patterns within an author study. The students use what they know about those patterns to create their own story. First, they have to choose their character. Since Laura Numeroff uses IMG_8778animals, they must pick an animal. Then, they must choose their food. I encourage them to create an alliteration, because that is common in Laura Numeroff’s books. Finally, they choose what their animal wants with it. This is where they apply what they have learned about cause and effect. Their story should be related and the items they want should be connected in some way. We put each story together into a class book that the students LOVE to read!

 

Author Study – James Dean – Pete the Cat

IMG_2061Pete the Cat is a favorite character of kindergartners, but also a favorite character of mine! Pete is a cool cat who goes on all sorts of adventures with many of his friends. Pete is always learning how to be a good friend, take turns, share, and get through tough days! These fun, creative books are not only funny, but they teach wonderful morales to young students! There are so many different ways to incorporate Pete the Cat into your curriculum. Below are a couple ways I have done this in my kindergarten room!

Many of the familiar Pete the Cat stories are easy readers. These are familiar stories to the students and help them to become more confident when reading independently. When students are ready, I allow them to read these Pete the Cat stories to our class.

List of Pete the Cat Books Here!

Pete the Cat: I Love my White ShoesIMG_8600

pete the cat cover.pngThis fun rhyming book has a pattern to it, making it easier for students to read along with the teacher. Throughout the story, Pete steps into different things (strawberries, mud, blueberries, etc.) and each time it changes his white shoes into a different color. For this activity, I have students create their own Pete the Cat story. They have to choose what Pete will step in, and what color his shoes will become. This is a great introduction to the concept of “cause and effect”.

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Pete the Cat: Four Groovy ButtonsIMG_8631

pete the cat cover 2This book is all about subtraction – a perfect connection between language arts and math! During this story, Pete loses his buttons one by one. Each time, he sings a song, and then tells you the subtraction number sentence. For this book, I have students create their own subtraction stories. First, they have to pick how many buttons Pete will start with. Then, they have to decide how many buttons will fall off. Finally, they answer the question – how many buttons does Pete have left?

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In my classroom, I select a Star of the Week who gets to take home a Pete the Cat stuffed animal each week. Then they write about their adventures with Pete in a class journal. At the end of the year, we look back on all of the different Star of the Week adventures with Pete! Here are a few pictures of Pete’s adventures!

Author Study – Dr. Seuss

March is Dr. Seuss month, so it is a perfect time for a Dr. Seuss author study. Dr. Seuss has at least fifty different books, so it is hard to choose. Below are the books I enjoy reading and some of the activities I do with my kindergarteners. Dr. Seuss is perfect for written response, crafts, and creative writing!

Cat in the Hat – This is a classic and a favorite at this age! Dr. Seuss wrote many of his books with easy to read words on purpose so that students who were learning to read could have confidence when reading. Cat in the Hat is the perfect example of this. At the end of the story, they ask “what would you do?” which is the perfect writing prompt. I ask students if they would let the cat in the hat into their house and if they would tell their parents. Their responses are not only entertaining, but truly honest! We also make rhyming Cat in the Hat hats which are fun to wear all day long!

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Thumbs up if you would play with the Cat in the Hat… thumbs down if you wouldn’t.

 

The Lorax – “We speak for the trees!” At this point, many of my students have seen The Lorax movie, but have never read the book, so this is exciting for them. While the story is a bit silly, and the truffula trees are make believe, the message is clear – we must protect our pIMG_8286.JPGlanet and our trees! It is never too early to start teaching children to care for their planet, and the Lorax does this perfect. This is another great book for a reading response – how would you protect the trees? It connects language arts and science as students learn why trees are important to people and animals, as well how they can protectt them. And I add some fun to it by creating our own truffula trees with colorful pom-poms!

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Green Eggs and Ham – Another classic and definitely a favorite of kindergarteners! For this book, I keep it simple with a journal entry – Would you try Green Eggs and Ham? Most of them would not, mainly because this age is known for picky eaters! But for a fun twist, I create my own “green eggs” for my students out of green chocolate and oreos. These “green eggs” are definitely worth trying!

 

Oh the Place’s You’ll Go – This book is a favorite of mine and I hope it inspires my students to dream big! Although some of the story elements in this book are a bit abstract, and some can be difficult for kindergarteners to understand, the message is important. I ask students a big question – what do you want to be when you grow up? I also ask them where they would want to travel to when they grow up. I add a fun craft, and this turns into another great bulletin board idea!

There’s a Wocket in my Pocket – This hilarious rhyming book is perfect for inspiring my IMG_8298students’ imaginations. While reading Dr. Seuss books, we focus on reading and creating rhyming words. After reading this book, students create their own rhyming stories inspired by Dr. Seuss. First, they must pick a place in the classroom. Then, they create a monster that rhymes with that location. For example, a Snair on my Chair or a Blug under the Rug. In their stories, they must describe their monster and what it likes to do. This teaches them to add details to their creative writing. In the end, these stories are not only creative, but very funny!

 

 

Author Study – Eric Carle

IMG_4992Eric Carle is another one of my favorite children’s book authors. His paintings and illustrations are bright and colorful. The stories are perfect for kindergarten and my students always love them!

The focus for the Eric Carle author study can be a number of things. When I teach this unit, I focus on predicting and sequencing. This aligns with the Benchmark Literacy curriculum that my school uses.

Another thing I like to do when teaching the Eric Carle unit is reading responses. I usually put the responses together with an art project. Eric Carle’s artwork is so beautiful, it is easy to be inspired by it. Below are a few of the activities I do with this author study.

The Mixed Up Chameleon

Students use their imaginations to turn their own chameleon into an animal. They add detail to their writing by describing what their animal does. I have done a cross-circular activity with this book as well by learning facts about chameleons and comparing them to Eric Carle’s fictional story.

Little Cloud

In this story, a little cloud changes shape throughout the story, before joining together with one large cloud and creating a rainstorm. For this reading response, students create their own clouds and write about what their cloud looks like. I have done this in two different ways. The first is with cotton balls. The second is with sponge painting. Both can be successful and fun for the students!

A House for Hermit Crab hermit crab 1

hermit crab 2.jpgIn this story, we follow a hermit crab through a whole year as it decorates it’s new shell. Before the end of the year, the hermit crab once again grows out of his shell and needs to find a new one. This is a perfect example of how Eric Carle uses non-fiction information to inspire his fictional stories. At the end, the hermit crab says he will need to decorate his shell again. I use this as inspiration for a water coloring activity! IMG_8519.JPG

First, students must draw the decorations their hermit crab would use. They must use ideas from the story to create their drawings. Then, the fill in their illustrations with water colors! Eric Carle uses water colors when he is creating his pictures, so it makes a beautiful connection!

The Very Busy Spider

In this story, the spider has a very busy day creating a web and catching a fly. Students use their imaginations to create their own web and write their own silly version of the story. Rather than catching a fly, students have their spiders catch all sorts of different foods! They learn to add detail to their writing by telling more about the food, the spider, or the web. These spiders sure are hungry! And to add a special twist, I add glitter to their webs too!

The Tiny Seed

tiny seed.jpgThis is another story that goes through a year in time, but this time it focuses on the seasons. It takes us on the journey of a seed as it lands in the fall, sleeps in the winter, begins to grow in the spring, and blossoms in the summer. It is another circle story, where the beginning is the same at the end.

For this book, I focus on the sequence of the story. Students learn to understand the sequence of the seasons, and how plants grow and change during each season. The students must first read the sentences and match them with the appropriate season. This I do as a whole group activity. Then, independently, students add pictures to match the story.

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Creating their own Eric Carle inspired stories

The culminating project for the Eric Carle author study is an art and writing project. Students learn how Eric Carle creates his illustrations. Eric Carle paints paper with different colors, than uses that paper to create collages. I allow students to do this same process, creating their own characters and illustrations. They trace their character on the back of the painted paper, cut it out, and glue it together to make a completed picture.

The final part of the project is creating their own title and story to go along with their illustration. It is the perfect culminating project that connects reading, writing, and art! It allows students to be creative and truly inspired by an amazing author!

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Earth Day – Michael Recycle

What better way to connect science and language arts than to read the wonderful tales of Michael Recycle!

michael recycle.jpgMichael Recycle is a friendly green-caped crusader who teaches everyone how to take care of the Earth with the three R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle! In the month of April, I always read the Michael Recycle series during language arts. Then, during science, I teach ways to take care of the Earth, how to recycle, and what kids can do to help.

After reading the series, students create their own Earth Day Posters inspired by what Michael Recycle taught them. In the original book, Michael teaches a dirty town how to recycle. In the second book, Michael faces against Litterbug Doug who has to learn how littering can hurt the Earth. And in the third book, Michael and the Tree Top Cops stop people from cutting down trees. The students learn ways they can personally help the environment and then share these ideas on their posters.

In science class, to connect with the language arts unit, we plant our own seeds and learn how to take care of them. We learn to make predictions and observations. Students love watching their plant grow over time. My favorite part is when they take it home and plant it in their own garden’s – they can turn into something truly beautiful!

 

Create a Class book with Student Treasures

One of my all time favorite activities that I do with my class is our PUBLISHED (that’s write – published) class book. I use the scholastic program called Student Treasures. They send you the kit for free, which includes the book pages and all necessary instructions. The students create the book and then you send it back to the publisher (also free). Within two months you will have a hardback book in your hands, created by your class! And the best part – parents can buy a copy for themselves! More information on the kit can be found on their website.

Student Treasures Website

bookIn kindergarten, this is a small group project. I usually call students to my small group table two at a time to complete their writing and their picture. This allows me to keep a close eye on their work and ensures that the book is their best. During this process, I am also able to teach my class about the roles of authors and illustrators.

Here are the three different books I have made. Another great aspect to this project is that YOU get to pick the topic. It can be about whatever you want! I have done a Thanksgiving themed book, a Holidays book, and a life in kindergarten book. Teachers get a free copy, but can also purchase additional copies. I aways purchase an extra copy of the book for our school librarian. My students love to see their very own class book in the library, but it also shows the other students that even kids can be authors too!

Author Study – Mo Willems

Mo Willems is by far one of my favorite children’s book authors. His books are engaging, easy to read, and just down right funny! My students love them and so do I!

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For the Mo Willems author study, there is a lot you can focus on. I focus on inferencing, as it aligns with my school’s reading curriculum. We use Benchmark Literacy. Inferencing in general can be a difficult concept to grasp. I tell the students we have to be “reading detectives”. They have to use the clues in the story to figure out what is happening, how the character is feeling, or what might happen next.

Mo Willems uses plenty of clues throughout all of his books. He adds details to the pictures to show how a character is feeling. For example, when the pigeon is moving, he adds small lines around him. Or when the Gerald the Elephant is sad, his eyes show it and even his trunk droops. Mo Willems also uses his text to show emotion. For example, when the text is large, you know to use a loud voice. Or when the text is small, you know the character is whispering.

My students love to not only read the Mo Willems stories, but to write their own. They start to learn about punctuation and how it can impact a story. And my favorite is when they start to use speech bubbles in their illustrations.

Here are some specific activities I do with my kindergarten students:

Don’t Let the Pigeon…IMG_2955

The pigeon is constantly asking for things he cannot have – a puppy, a walrus, to stay up late, and of course to drive the bus. I ask students to use their imaginations and create their own titles.

Creating the Pigeon:

pigeonsWho doesn’t love the pigeon? Talk about a character that shows his true emotions. After reading the pigeon series, students create their own pigeons and they can write their own speech bubble to go with it! This helps teach students the different types of punctuation, and how to use inflection when reading.

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Elephant and Piggie stories:

Gerald and Piggie are the best of friends, and for a group of kindergartners, they are extremely relatable! Mo Willems once again uses his illustrations and speech bubbles to clearly tell how the characters are feeling. Students not only love to read these stories, but also to act them out. I will pair up students and have them act out these stories – one student is Gerald and one is Piggie. This helps them practice reading fluency, but also how to use inflection.

IMG_2954Students also enjoy writing their own stories. It teaches students to not only pick characters, but also a setting and plot. It develops their story writing skills as well.

 

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This is also one of my favorite author studies to use as a bulletin board. We do a variety of activities, and it shows the various different reading and writing skills my students have developed over the course of the unit.

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