Dog vs. Cat

Dog vs. CatMr. Button buys a dog; Mrs. Button buys a cat. The two have conflicting habits and fight constantly until their owners bring home – a baby. The problem is solved when the cat and dog reconcile and build a home for themselves in the backyard.

Chris Gall, Little Brown, ©2014, 978-0-316-23801-4

If Your Friends Acted Like Your Dog and Cat

There is a terrific YouTube video using two human actors who are acting like the disdainful cat or the needy dog. Lots of fun. Talk about what characteristics of these animals the video is making fun of—and incidentally also making fun of us for loving them anyway.

Drawing the Dog or the Cat

Using quick cartoon drawings of a cat and a dog—maybe only the head—students illustrate a dog vs. cat story of their own. Students can see that just by squinting the eyes, and making the “smile” mouth fold down (and perhaps making the ears a little more pointed), the cat, for example, can look angry.

For 9 creative writing ideas, click Dog vs. Cat to download.

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The Princess and the Pizza

ThePrincessandthePizzaThe king has given up his kingdom and his daughter decides to try to marry Prince Drupert so she enters the competition for his hand. During the food portion of the competition she accidentally invents pizza and discovers that she would rather sell pizza than marry the prince.

Mary Jane and Herm Auch, Holiday House, © 2002, ISBN 0-8234-1683-6

Stories about Inventing

This story is about the invention of pizza and how it got its name. Students could be asked to write inventive stories of how ice-cream, sandwiches, Coca-Cola, and other common foods were invented got their names. These “how things came to be” stories have their roots in ancient Greek tales by Aesop, and extend to the 20th century tales of Paul Bunyan.

Genre Writing

There are several writing topics that rise naturally from this picture book. The topics could be done as Five Square Genre as well.

  • Write the essay: Why I Want to Have the Gracious and Exquisitely Beautiful Queen Zelda for my mother-in-law.
  • Write a letter from Queen Zelda to the princess asking Paulina to forgive all and getting permission to marry her dad.
  • Write a story of what happened to one of the other princesses on her way home.
  • Write a personal memory about a time when you were treated unfairly. (It doesn’t have to turn out well.)
  • Write a diary entry from Paulina about her new boyfriend who is the opposite in every way from Prince Drupert.

For 6 creative writing ideas, click The Princess and the Pizza to download.

Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize

Alfred NobelAlfred Nobel invented dynamite and became very wealthy.  Saddened by its us in war he left his entire fortune to a yearly prize for those “who have rendered the greatest services to mankind.”

Kathy-Jo Wargin, Sleeping Bear Press, ©2009, ISBN 978-1-58536-281-3

Famous Winners of the Nobel Prize

Divide the class into 4 giving you approximately 8 groups. Further divide them until there are 8 groups of 4. Give each group 4 names from the Prize Winners Page to search at NobelPrize.org. As they click each name, they will find a picture of the winner and the biography will give them a description of what the person did that made them a worthy winner of the prize.

prize winners pageEach chooses one of their 4 names and writes from 50-100 words describing their winner. These can be turned into oral presentations if you wish. Have students with the same winner work together.

Nobel Prize Games

NobelPrize.org has more than 10 great games you can play to learn more about the Nobel Prize winners, about science and medicine, as well as a nice “doves game” which would fit in well with the theme of this book. Games include:  Laser Challenge, blood typing, Pavlov’s dog, double helix, electrocardiogram, peace doves, split brain, and the immune system.  They are really fun to play, and demanding. Click here to visit the Nobel Prize Games.

Origami:  The Crane

Because the crane is a symbol of peace in Japan, this can also be a time to introduce the book Sadako and the Thousand Cranes by Eleanor Coerr.  This is the story of the little survivor of Hiroshima who succumbs to leukemia—“the atom bomb disease”—and makes a thousand origami cranes in order to wish for peace.

There are several YouTube sites with more information on Sadako—as well as this being a good time to teach students how to make the origami crane.

For 8 creative writing ideas, click Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize to download.

From the Good Mountain

FromtheGoodMountainHow Gutenberg Changed the World. Illustrated like a medieval manuscript, the book shows how all the parts of the process came together to create the first printing press.

James Rumford, Roaring Book Press, ©2012, ISBN 978-59643-542-1

Writing From the Parts

The structure of this book is to describe something without saying what it is, and then to ask a question.

  • What was it?

Then it describes how to make the thing, and asks another question:

  • What was this thing made of rags and bones?

Then it answers it, and says it was ready.

  • It was paper, and it was ready.

Slowly, the story builds as the next thing needed is leather, then gold, then ink, then printing types, then the printing presses, then the person (Johannes Gutenberg) until finally the book is made.

It’s a gorgeous, rhythmical pattern that students could imitate with something easier, such as making fudge. To make fudge you need:

  • sugar
  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • icing sugar
  • a stove
  • a glass tray
  • a knife
  • a refrigerator

The recipe online for Cora’s fudge is the easiest one I know, because it doesn’t require any temperature gauge. Students don’t make the fudge—you do so that you can give out a sample.

“In the year 2012, in the city of New Westminster, there appeared a mysterious thing. It was made of sugar cane, cows milk, brown sugar, icing sugar, a stove, a fridge, a glass tray, and a knife. What was it?”…and so on.

It would be fun…and they could see that any time they needed to explain something where many other things had to come together first in order for the item to be successful…this pattern would be very impressive.

The recipe for Cora’s fudge is at here. (One tip: when it is partially chilled, make cut lines in the fudge, so that it comes out more easily in the end. If you forget, this will still work.)

Paper chase Vocabulary Game

Here’s a chance to develop the vocabulary of paper. Find samples of all of these kinds of paper and create 8 different packages with labels. Allow students to feel and look at, and study the names of the papers. Then remove these study material.

Next given them an envelope with sample papers and separate labels and ask them to match the word to the sample. Add a timing factor to make it more fun.

  1. bond paper
  2. cellophane
  3. parchment paper
  4. cardboard
  5. blotting paper
  6. carbon paper
  7. cardstock
  8. butcher paper
  9. newsprint
  10. crêpe paper
  11. glassine paper
  12. origami paper
  13. wax paper
  14. tissue paper
  15. wrapping paper
  16. manila tag
  17. toilet paper

 

For 10 creative writing ideas, click From the Good Mountain to download.

Titanicat

Titanicat CoverJim is a cabin boy on the Titanic assigned to watch over a cat and her kittens. He sees the cat taking her kittens off the ship before it sails. As the “All ashore” is called there is one last kitten, so Jim takes it off and misses the ship. Based on a true story.

Marty Crisp, Scholastic, ©2008, ISBN 978-0-545-2880-2

Superstitions

Our cabin boy is saved from the Titanic because of the superstition that a cat leaving a ship is a sign of disaster. Show students the pictures on the Titanicat Superstitions PDF and have them describe what the luck is that the image is conveying (good or bad).

Cat Breeds

The ship’s cat is a tortoiseshell cat. This might be a good time to introduce students to the names and vocabulary of cat breeds, some of which are:

  • Ragdoll
  • Maine or coon cat
  • Bengal
  • Siamese
  • Manx
  • Persian
  • Abyssinian
  • Angora
  • Russian blue

For 10 creative writing ideas, click Titanicat to download.

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth

librarian-who-measured-cover jpgThe biography of the ancient Greek mathematician and librarian who measured the circumference of the earth, with an error of only 200 miles, at a time when people didn’t even know for sure the earth was round, using math alone.

Kathy Lasky, Little Brown and co., ©2004, ISBN 0-316-51526-4

Ancient Libraries

The Library at Alexandria was the greatest library on earth for over 1000 years. There were over 700,000 rolls of papyrus in their collection of “books.” You couldn’t take a book out, so a librarian would help you find the scroll you had in mind.

For Rapid Research (click for PDF) it would be great for students to find out everything they can about the following libraries or book collections and write their own “book” of 200-400 words:

  1. The Library at Alexandria
  2. The House of Wisdom
  3. The Library at Ephesus
  4. The Library at Constantinople
  5. The Burning of the Mayan Books
  6. Hitler’s Book Burning
  7. The Cordoba Library – Library of Al-Hakam III

 

Look Like a Math Genius – The 11 X Table

Teach students how to multiply a two-digit number, in their head, faster than a calculator.

43 x 11 = ???

Answer:

  • The first number is 4
  • The last number is 3
  • The middle is their sum = 7
  • The answer is 473

Tell them to say it slowly, to impress their friends.

For 8 creative writing ideas, click The Librarian who Measured the Earth to download.

The Boy Who Drew Birds

boywhodrewbirdsJames Audubon was French, and was sent to America to learn business, and also to avoid French military service in Napoleon’s army. While there, he became passionate about the observation and detailed paintings of birds. This is his story with particular emphasis on his “test” of migration.

Jacqueline Davies, Houghton Mifflin, ©2004, ISBN 0-618-24343-7

Audubon Art

First, students need to watch a YouTube on drawing birds. The one I liked best, is a little “cartoon-like” but it is fast, and clear and could be adapted to more “realistic drawings.

Next, provide a set of Audubon style drawings for students to “observe”. Ask them to draw just one of the birds. They should sketch in pencil, and then go over it when adding details, using ink. Finally they would erase the original pencil, and finish with coloured crayons or felts.

Tell them not to worry because when the original inspiration is taken away, their drawing will look really good. (A lot of students think that “real drawing” needs to be done from your head. No. All great artists had models, observed from nature; or now they start with a photo.)

If students draw on a piece of paper around 3 X 5 inches, it can be turned into a very nice card for Mother or Father’s Day.

Famous Naturalists Vimeo

Click The Great Naturalists to watch a video for the University of Idaho about some of the most famous naturalists.

Famous Naturalists – Rapid Research

List of Famous NaturalistsNaturalists study nature the way it is rather than the way theories say it is. As a result, going back to Aristotle, there has been steady progress in science because of the work of naturalists. The attached pages describe 17 naturalists and their contributions to the study of the real world. This can be a great Rapid Research project to build general knowledge about history (useful as well in building vocabulary), speaking and writing skills, and, of course, research skills.

Working in pairs, students must find 20 facts about their naturalists and present a list of 20 complete sentences describing what they have found. There are then several options:

  • Students each write their own essay describing what they have found out, which is marked, then mounted on cardstock and illustrated from the Internet for a very effective classroom display of student work.
  • Finished essays can be submitted with a literal question and an answer from the book. Once the finished essay is mounted, the question is added and the answer form part of a key on your desk. The cardstock items are numbered in 72 point numbers, and then students circulate to find 5 answers from the pages. They may go in pairs, but only one pair may be at a station at a time in this Scavenger Hunt.
  • The illustrations for the naturalists can be quickly placed by you into a Keynote or PowerPoint presentation and students, again in pairs, have each 1 minute (2 minutes in total) to present their information. This is the one most likely to increase general knowledge in students.

For 7 creative writing ideas, click The Boy Who Drew Birds to download.

Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat

61VXWEWPH0LThe Queen is coming to Littleton and Miss Hunnicutt wants to wear her hat with a chicken on top. After she stands up for her right to wear what she wants, we discover that the Queen loves her hat with the turkey on top.

Jeff Brumbeau, Orchard Books/ Scholastic, ©2003, ISBN 0-439-31895-5

The Art of Hats

Many famous pieces of art involve women wearing hats. Attached are a couple of pages of samples of such pieces of art, with their name, and the artist.

hatsinartAsk students to choose one to research (in pairs). The team needs to produce 12 facts about the artist, and 6 facts about the painting (where it is located, size, and, the model, the hat, etc.)

Depending on the time you have students may:

  • Report on an 8.5 X 11 poster with the picture and their information
  • Report orally (2 minutes. 1 minute each) as you show the images on a screen.
  • Create a scavenger hunt to expose them to at least 5 of the poster reports.

Follow the Pattern

Students can incorporate their own pattern into a story that they create. Each time Miss Hunnicutt is asked to take off her hat she replies:

  1. I will not.
  2. I have a right to wear what I like.
  3. I won’t wear a (flounder) and I won’t wear (an orangutan).
  4. But I will wear (a chicken) and I will wear it on my head.

 

Student patterns can be either about wearing something, or can be about something they commonly do, such as ride a bicycle.

  1. I will not.
  2. I have a right to ride a bicycle.
  3. I won’t ride in the ditch, and I won’t ride in the store.
  4. But I will ride in the bike lane, and I’ll do it in the morning.

 

For 10 creative writing ideas, click Miss Hunnicut’s Hat to download.

Jerry Seinfeld Halloween

Jerry Seinfeld Halloween, coverThis is a picture book version of Jerry Seinfeld’s wonderful routine on what Halloween was like to him as a child.

Jerry Seinfeld, Little Brown, ©2002, ISBN 0-316-70625-6

The Candy Forced Choice

Create four signs – Strongly Agree, Strongly Disagree, Agree, Disagree. Tape on the four walls of the class. Ask a series of candy related questions and have students pre-decide before going and standing under the sign for their opinion. Students under that sign should first discuss their opinion with a partner. Then you conduct a class discussion.

Ask the students in the AGREE or DISAGREE categories first – students tend to gravitate there thinking they may avoid talking – and since this is oral language, we want everyone “in” the game.

Possible questions:

  1. Candy is better than peanuts.
  2. O’Henry is better than Smarties.
  3. Children should not be given any candy under the age of 4.
  4. Parents whose children have cavities are abusive and should be fined.
  5. If there is no real chocolate in the bar, any words that sound “chocolatey” should not be allowed.
  6. Deciding what to eat is a decision for parents.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 11.51.24 AMThe Candy Vote

Around Halloween is a good time to conduct a survey. Obtain 5 different miniature candies – maybe asking students for suggestions first. Create a large chart with 5 columns, pasting a candy on each one. Explain to students the various factors that can affect a survey. (See the attached pages for an explanation of potential biases, and a possible survey). If conducting the survey, ask students to work in pairs to survey 10 students from other classes. If you have a class of 30 this would mean 150 student surveys. Here is an opportunity to ensure they understand how to calculate a percent from raw numbers. To make it easier, for younger students, ensure that only 100 surveys are conducted…results are then automatically in percentages.

For 7 creative writing ideas, click Seinfeld’s Halloween to download.

Great Art Thefts

Great Art Thefts coverThis little 48 page book, part of the Treasure Hunters series describes several major art thefts since the beginning of the 20th C. The Mona Lisa, many paintings in the Isabella Gardner Museum, Munch’s The Scream, and a painting by Cezanne are all included.

Charlotte Guillain, Raintree, ©2013, 978-1-4109-4958-5

Personal Writing

A springboard from a picture book to personal writing should provide at least three topics if possible. Here are some ideas:

  1. Things you have lost, or have mysteriously disappeared.
  2. Security. Write about security measures you have noticed in your life, or know about. For example, screening Internet use, airport security, video camera surveillance, passports, fingerprints, etc. Opinions?
  3. Stories about your favourite and least favourite art experiences.

 

Rapid Research – Missing Art

There are hundreds of missing pieces of art that students could study. Attached are 3 pages with many of them. Ask students, working in pairs, to find 10 interesting facts about the artist, 5 interesting facts about the painting, and 5 facts about how the painting came to vanish. Give them a very limited time -this is Rapid Research. They then make a “report” listing their facts and prepare a very short talk – 1 minute each – about their discovery. I have a Pinterest site with pictures of stolen art titled: Great Art Thefts – A Rapid Research Topic.

For 5 creative writing ideas, click Great Art Thefts to download.