HAPPY SPRING BREAK!
I could not be any happier to be on break this week!There is a serious case of Spring fever bouncing in my brain. My plan is to enjoy the heck out it. Having free time is such a welcome novelty when you are a teacher. Sadly, we had a snowstorm yesterday. Who asked for snow on Spring Break? Whoever you are. . . STOP IT RIGHT NOW! It turned out to be more annoying snow than accumulating snow. But, what to do on a Spring Break Snow Day? Head to Barnes & Noble!
Spring fever! I headed over to the children's section to see what was new in picture books. I saw many familiar favorites, but there were two in particular that caught my eye. Both books seem perfect for writing lessons.
The first book is Exclamation Point by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. Before I tell you more, let me just say I find it ironic that two people who write a book about punctuation choose to have their proper noun names in all lowercase letters on the cover. Thankfully, all the writing in the book follows the rules.
Exclamation Point is a dual purpose book. It obviously teaches end marks, but it is also a great book about being yourself. This little exclamation point tries to be a period and a question, but in the end it must be itself - a loud, proud exclamation point! And, it is only once it decides to be itself that it is happy and admired by the other end marks. What a great lesson to pass on to our friends.
I like the book as a good way to introduce sentence types and end marks. For those friends who continually leave off those end marks in their writing, it would make a fun mini-lesson on how important it is to include them. Below is a snapshot from the book. Every time a certain end mark speaks, their sentence ends in their end mark. Another cute point about the book is that its pages are ruled like primary writing paper. Something our friends are very familiar with.
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The other book I found and loved is One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo. Since my pocketbook limited my purchase to just one book, I had to make a choice between the two. This is the book that won my heart and my cash. :-) I must have been living under a rock where this book is concerned because not only is it a 2013 Caldecott Honor book, it was on the New York Times best seller list of children's picture books back in February of 2012. Where was I when all this was going on?
Toni Buzzeo, is a former English teacher and school media specialist. I also love that David Small, is the illustrator of this book, but we also know him well from his many, many other illustrated books. The Gardener, The Library, and So, You Want to be President? are some of my favorites.
One Cool Friend is a fun and surprising story of a little boy, Elliot, and his father who visit the aquarium. While there Elliot asks his father, "May I please have a penguin?" Thinking he would like a stuffed souvenir the father hands him $20. Little does he know that Elliot means a real penguin. The story is wonderful. I promise it will engage your friends of all ages. There is even a surprise ending that tells us Elliot and his dad have a lot in common. :-)
So, where is the writing connection? It comes in how the David Small chose to illustrate the dialog. Take a look at a couple of pages.
A great way to show the use of internal dialog to your friends. Notice the tags in both pages are different. In one the father "announced" while Elliot "said." You could easily use this to teach how to use different tags for dialog, even having your friends change the ones in the book. This would be a good book to use with a document camera so your friends can get the full effect.
Right before I was going to publish this post, I thought to do a quick search and see what was out there on it. I found something wonderful! Toni Buzzeo has a six-trait writing guide available for free for ALL of her picture books. I guess once a teacher, always a teacher! You can go directly to the download via THIS LINK, or you can get there through Toni Buzzeo's web site. As I looked over her writing guide, I found that her idea for a convention lesson is exactly what I wrote about, the dialog bubbles! However, her guide gives you a bunch of other good lesson ideas to use with the book.
I would say One Cool Friend is a must buy. If your pocketbook allows two, don't forget Exclamation Mark. Both books would serve you well as teaching tools, but both are also just great books to read and enjoy.