Saturday, August 21, 2010

Making Connections to a Character's Emotions

A Bad Case of Stripes   [BAD CASE OF STRIPES] [Paperback]
 A Bad Case of Stripes is a story about Camilla Cream, a young girl who is getting ready for the first day of school. Camilla is so concerned about what others will think of her that she breaks out into a bad case of stripes. Things go from bad to worse when Camilla changes in reaction to her classmates laughing and teasing. Experts are brought in to cure her, but nothing seems to work until...

A Bad Case of Stripes is a wonderful book for having students reflect on and make connections to similar situations or emotions in their own lives. This story is a good way to introduce the concept of how important it is to be yourself, and how other people treat us does influence our behavior.

Multi-tab Connecting to Feelings Foldable® 

In this activity, students make connections to the main character's emotions during the story. This helps students to understand more deeply what is happening in the story and the underlying message.

Before Reading:

Ask the students to think of something that they like that everybody knows about, and something that they like that no one or only a few people know about. They can either jot it done or keep it in their heads. Pose the following question, “Why would you share the one like and not the other one?” and have students volunteer to share their responses.

During Reading:

  1. Begin the story by reading the first paragraph. “Camilla Cream loved lima beans. But she never ate them. All of her friends hated lima beans, and she wanted to fit in. Camilla was always worried about what other people thought of her.” 
  2. Stop and ask the students "Why do you think that Camilla never ate lima beans if she loved them? Who do you think knew about how much Camilla loved lima beans?"
  3. Finish reading the book. 

After Reading:

Pass out a copy of the Multi-Tab Connecting to Feelings Foldable®.

Foldable® Directions:

  1. Holding the paper landscape/horizontally, have students fold down the top of the page so that the upper edge of the paper falls right above the words, I felt the same way as…when…because…
  2. Holding the folded paper portrait/vertically, have students fold it into thirds. 
  3. Putting one hand under the folded section, have students cut up on the creases to the upper fold (mountain). This will create three tabs.
  4. Have students write Beginning, Middle, and End on the front of each tab.
  5. Ask students "How did Camilla feel at the beginning of the story as she was getting ready for the first day of school?"  Have them write her emotions under the Beginning tab. 
  6. Ask, "Why do you think Camilla felt that way?" Then, have them write down why they thought Camilla felt that way under the character's emotions. 
  7. Ask, "Look at Camilla's feelings. Can you understand why she would feel that way? When have you ever felt any of those feelings? Think of one time and write it down on the lines under the tab."
  8. Then ask students "How do you think Camilla felt in the middle of the story when Camilla is in her classroom and when experts are coming to her house and trying to cure her?"  Have them write down her emotions under the Middle tab. Ask "Why is she feeling this way?" Have students write down why under the emotions.
  9. Ask, "Look at Camilla's feelings. Can you understand why she would feel that way? When have you ever felt any of those feelings? Think of one time and write it down on the lines under the tab." 
  10. Discuss what is happening to Camilla in the middle of the story and why it is happening. Ask, "Is the problem getting better? Why can't the experts cure her problem?"
  11. Then ask students, "How do you think Camilla felt in the end after she admits that she loves lima beans and ate them?" Have students list the emotions under the End tab. Ask, "What made her feel that way?" Have them write why under the character's emotions.
  12. Ask, "Look at Camilla's feelings. Can you understand why she would feel that way? When have you ever felt any of those feelings? Think of one time and write it down on the lines under the tab." 
  13. Discuss the following questions: "What did the old women mean when she said, 'I knew the real you was in there somewhere?' What do you think the author is trying to teach us?"
  14. Student Reflection:  Think about and write on the back of your Foldable® the answer to "What did you learn from this story?" 
The Multi-Tab Connecting to Feelings Foldable® can be folded so that it has 2, 3, or 4 tabs. You can use it with any story where you'd like your students to connect to emotions. In this lesson, we used it to identify and connect to one character's emotions throughout the story. An alternative might be to identify different character's emotions during one event. Label each tab with a character's name. Then ask students to connect to one of the character's emotions on the lines.

This lesson used a Multi-Tab Connecting to Feelings Foldable® that is set up landscape style. We've also created one that is set up portrait style.

Check out Dinah-Might Adventures for other Foldable® ideas.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

You Can’t Say No!: A Fun Vocabulary Challenge

Hannah and the HomunculusHannah and the Homunculus 

Homunculus knows the power of words... After all, it was a word that gave him life.

In this delightfully witty tale by author Kurt Hassler, Homunculus steals Hannah's word "No" and interrupts how Hannah interacts with her family.

Definition of the word Homunculus - a very small human being: a diminutive human being


1. Read the book, Hannah and the Homunculus to the students.

2. When you are finished reading, ask if anyone has some thoughts as to what Hannah could have said in response to her father and her mother instead of using the word “no”. Create a list with the alternatives that the students brainstorm. Challenge the students to try not to use or say the word “no” for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, have a discussion about the challenge. How’d they do? Was it hard? Why? Did it make us use different words that we might not use otherwise?

3. Try this with a few other words that are commonly used, keeping a visible list of all of the synonyms the students generate. This activity will turn into “Word of the Week”, an ongoing vocabulary building activity where students become word detectives, both finding and using new words in their speaking and writing. Here are some Word of the Week Posters to print out. 

4. At this point, students should have the Six-Tab Side by Side Instead of... Foldable® so that they can keep their own book of synonyms and alternative words/phrases which can be used for writing. You can find directions for making Side by Side Foldables® in the first section (Introduction) of Foldables® and VKVs® for Phonics, Spelling, and Vocabulary PreK-3rd and Foldables®, Notebook Foldables®, and VKVs® for Spelling and Vocabulary 4th-12th.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Unsolved Mysteries from History

The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery from History
Mysteries are a great way to get reluctant students excited about reading, thinking, and writing. As students become involved in what they are reading, they use deductive reasoning and research skills to discover solutions to the mysteries. Students also work on improving their questioning and inferring skills as they toss about possible hypothesis. Learning to read critically and analyze information is fundamental.

Unlock the Mystery of Mary Celeste

The book we chose for this activity is The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery From History by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple. It is a true story of a clipper ship, named the Mary Celeste, which left New York harbor for London on November 15, 1872 and was found floating aimlessly near the Azores (islands near Portugal) a few weeks later. The crew was missing and was never found. Questions abound as to the fate of the people on board.

  1. Introduce the Mary Celeste mystery to the students. You might want to hook students by showing a YouTube video   or a video of the expedition that found the remains of the Mary Celeste or by reading an article that appeared in the New York Times in 1873.
  2. Read the introductory page in The Mary Celeste: An Unsolved Mystery From History. Explain to students that they will be collecting clues as you read about the mystery. They will be using those clues to unlock the mystery of the Mary Celeste.
  3. Create a 3-column chart with the following headings:  Clues, Inferences, Questions
  4. Read the story, stopping to record the clues found in the text, any inferences made by either the narrator of the book or the students, and any questions that students have.
  5. Shutterfold Foldable®:  Using 11" X 17" tag board, have students create a Shutterfold Foldable®. You can find directions for creating a Shutterfold Foldable® in any of Dinah Zike's Foldable® books. Have students fold the 3-tab theory Foldables® (Theories 1-3  Theories 4-6) hot dog style so that the theories are on the outside of the tabs. 
  6. Glue these 3-tab Foldables®  inside the left and right tabs of the Shutterfold Foldable®. Make sure you glue them so that the fold of the 3-tab Foldables® are aligned with the folds of the Shutterfold tabs.
  7. Inside the tabs of each theory, students are to answer the following questions. Is this theory plausible? Why or why not? Use clues and your own background knowledge to support your answer.
  8. Fold and cut the Mary Celeste Shutterfold cover in half and glue each half on the outside of the Shutterfold Foldable®.
  9. Layered Look Book Foldable®:  Have students make a Layered Look Book Foldable® out of 2 sheets of 8½ X 11 paper.  On the cover, have students write the question, What DID happen to the Mary Celeste? Label the three tabs with the following:  Theory, Clues, Final Theory.  You can find directions for creating a Layered Look Book Foldable® in any of Dinah Zike's Foldable® books.
  10. Ask students to choose the one theory that they believe to be the most reasonable. They need to write that theory on the first tab that says Theory and explain why they believe it to be the best theory. If they have a different theory, they can write that down and explain why. They must use factual clues to support any theory that they choose. Tell them that they are going to be researching additional resources to look for more clues to support that theory. 
  11. Either have students research on their own or provide them with another article to read. They need to be looking for and writing down clues that prove or disprove the theory they selected. They will record the clues on the second tab that says Clues.
  12. After students research their theory, discuss these questions. "Do you still feel the same way about your theory? If not, how has your thinking changed? Why? Do you have another theory now?"
  13. Students write down their final theory under the last tab and explain why they believe this to be the most plausible theory.
  14. Glue the Layered Look Book Foldable® on the inside of the Shutterfold Foldable®. Be sure to leave room for the Mini Photo Album.
  15. Mini Photo Album: Make a Bound Book Foldable® out of the 4¼" X 5½" sheets of paper. You can find directions for creating a Bound Book Foldable® in any of Dinah Zike's Foldable® books. Students can use the Mary Celeste graphics to make a Mary Celeste photo album. Glue the photo album to the inside of the Shutterfold Foldable®. 
  16. Mary Celeste Summary or News Article:  The About the Mary Celeste graphic can be used to write a summary about Mary Celeste or an article that might have appeared after the Mary Celeste was discovered. Glue it on the back of the Shutterfold Foldable®.
Mary Celeste Resources
Mary Celeste Wikipedia article
Mary Celeste, Fact not Fiction 

There are three more titles in the Unsolved Mysteries from History collection, The Salem Witch Trial, Roanoke: The Lost Colony,  and The Wolf Girls.

What ideas do you have for using these books?

The Salem Witch Trials: An Unsolved Mystery from HistoryRoanoke: The Lost Colony--An Unsolved Mystery from History     The Wolf Girls: An Unsolved Mystery from History

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shredderman: A Great Beginning of the Year Read Aloud

Shredderman: Secret Identity Shredderman: Secret Identity by Wendelin Van Draanen is one of our favorite read alouds for grades 2-4.

The Shredderman books are great for reluctant readers, especially boys, and they serve as a good springboard for classroom discussions on bullying and tolerance. There are four books in the series and they should be read in order because they build upon one another.

Point of View Two-Tab Foldable®

A simple Foldable® to use with Shredderman is the two-tab point of view Foldable®. It helps students understand perspective and how point of view can change the way a story is told.

(A more detailed copy of the Two-Tab Point of View Foldable® directions with images)
  1. Print out the point of view window graphics and make enough copies for each student to have both the window looking in and the window looking out. Cut colored paper in half.
  2. Have students fold a half sheet of paper like a hamburger and make a two-tab Foldable®. 
  3. Students draw a picture of the character who is telling the story looking in or out one window and another character from the story looking in or out the other window.
  4. Glue the windows on the outside of the tabs on the two-tab Foldable® and put the name of each character under the pictures.
  5. Under the tabs, answer the following questions. Window 1 - How does the point of view of this character influence the reader? Window 2 - If this character told the story, how might it be different?
This two-tab Foldable® explains how the point of view of the person telling the story influences the reader  and how the story would be different if it were told by another character in the story. .

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More Parts and Even More Parts

More Parts (Picture Puffins)Even More Parts

In More Parts and Even More Parts, Tedd Arnold creates a humorous and sometimes frightening story from a child's perspective. Students delight in the scary images that enter the main character's mind as he worries about sayings such as "I'll bet that broke your heart," "give me a hand," "Hold your tongue," and "screams her lungs out". These are "must have" books for teaching idioms.

Idiom Books

In this activity, students collect idioms and their definitions in a side by side 3/4 book  Foldable®.


  1. After reading the book, have students make a 3/4 book Foldable® . You can find directions in any of Dinah Zike's Foldable® books. 
  2. Assign or have students choose an idiom from the book and do the following: 
  • Open the 3/4 book, and on the outside of the folded tab, draw a literal illustration of the idiom.
  • On the tab to the left of the picture, write the idiom.
  • Under the tab with the illustration, write a sentence using the idiom that provides a clue to its meaning.

As students discover more idioms, they can create more 3/4 books which can be glued side by side. When complete, have the students bind the 3/4 books together and make a cover. We glued on a cover with Amelia Bedelia because we also read Amelia Bedelia books.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Helping Children Understand Positional Words and Opposites

Over, Under and Through
Over, Under and Through

Tana Hoben's wonderful book Over, Under and Through, is the perfect way to introduce positional words and opposites. Leap-frogging over a fire hydrant, ducking under "London Bridge," crawling through a pipe tunnel -- Tana Hoban's brilliant photographs of children transform these activities into a fascinating exploration of spatial concepts. There are twelve concepts in all -- and some surprising discoveries for the young child.

Larger Than Normal Foldable®

In this activity, the class creates a big tabbed book modeled after Tana Hoben's book. On the outside of the tabs are spatial concept words. Lift up the tabs and surprise! There are photos of a beloved class stuffed animal sitting under a table or high on a shelf.

  1. To prepare, create a large eight door shutter fold Foldable® out of poster board. You can find directions for creating a shutter door foldable in any of Dinah Zike's Foldable® books. Turn the eight door shutter fold vertical or landscape and write the words above, high, over, and top on the outside of the top tabs and the opposites of each word on the bottom tab (below, low, under, bottom).
  2. After exploring the spatial concepts through the delightful book Over, Under and Through, have students help you take pictures of a stuffed animal sitting around the room in various places to illustrate each word. For example, ask students "Where can it sit so that it is above? Where would it be low?"
  3. Print out and glue the pictures under the corresponding tabs. 
  4. Enjoy reading the class book together and place it in a reading center for students to read over and over. You can also have students find and glue other pictures that illustrate the concepts underneath the tabs.

Zoom In, Zoom Out

Zoom (Viking Kestrel picture books)

In the wordless picture book, Zoom, the author, Istvan Banyai, takes readers on a visual journey full of twists and turns, one step at a time, as they realize that nothing is what it seems. At journey’s end, they finally see the “big” picture. Great for making predictions, then revising predictions based on additional information. Students/children will be amazed when they “discover” what they have really been looking at all along!

Zoom In!

Create a Layered Look Book Foldable® to zoom in on a concept in Social Studies or Science. Zoom in from the solar system to student's houses, zoom from the outside to inside the human body or cell, zoom into the forest or the deep ocean, zoom into a cave, or zoom from the outside traits to the inside traits of a historical figure.

Zoom Out with the Zoom-Focus Project

Just like the book Zoom, things may not be what they seem as you get more information. Use the Zoom-Focus Project to zoom out of photos of people, places, and things. Challenge your students to predict what they think the photo is and to confirm or revise their predictions as more of the picture is revealed.

The directions, a template and other ideas for the Zoom-Focus Project can be found in Dinah Zike's Big Book of Projects on page 67.

Character Map Foldable®

 Drita, My Homegirl

Drita, My Homegirl

A sensitively written story of two worlds coming together, Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard touchingly explores the effects of war on a family and how friendship sometimes appears in the unlikeliest places.

This character map Foldable® helps students analyze the changes in the main characters, fourth graders Maxie and Drita, as well as their changing relationship.

  1. Print out the Character Map Foldable® (Word document) Character Map Foldable® (PDF) double-sided.
  2. Have students fold and cut it to create a six-door Shutter Fold Foldable®. You can find directions for how to make a Shutter Fold in any of Dinah Zike's Foldable® books.
  3. Ask students "Have you ever had a friendship that changed? A time when you are totally not friends with someone and then you become good friends? Or a time when you are really good friends and then you are not friends anymore? Write about a time that one of your friendships changed" Give students a few minutes to quick write. Then ask, "Why did it change? Did you change or did your friend change? Or, did something else change? Take a minute to write down your answer."
  4. Explain to students that in this story, Drita, My Homegirl, the relationship between the two main characters, Drita and Maxi changes over time. Tell students that as they read, they are going to pay very close attention to how each character changes or not, and how their friendship changes from the beginning of the story to the end. Explain that they will be using this Character Map Foldable® to hold their thinking as they read.
  5. Show students how to fill in the Foldable®. Under the tabs that say Beginning of the Story Drita and Beginning of the Story Maxie they need to write down each character's traits as they read the first third of the book. Tell students to write down evidence from the story that proves that Drita and Maxie have these traits. For example, in the story Maxie was rude because she made fun of Drita for being different. Drita is considerate because she helps her grandmother and responsible because she watches over her brother.
  6. Before reading further, ask students to lift up the middle top tab that says Relationship Between the Characters. This is where they will show how the two characters relate to one another. Above the top arrow, students write words or phrases about how Drita feels about Maxi (i.e. wants to be friends) and they write words or phrases under the bottom arrow that tells how Maxi feels about Drita (resents having to be her partner).
  7. After students finish the book, they need to repeat the steps with the bottom three tabs. 
  8. Students then answer the questions in the center of the Foldable®.