Wednesday, December 15, 2010


By Margery Cuyler
Publisher: Walker and Company, Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-0-8027-9795-7

FROM THE FLAP: Mr. Gilbert tells our class that soon we’ll have a pet. A garter snake? A hermit crab? We wonder what we’ll get.
What starts as an innocent search for the perfect classroom pet turns into a furry fiasco when one guinea pig turns into two, then five, then twenty! The students love their newfound friends, but how can Mr. Gilbert stop the guinea pigs from taking over the classroom.

KATE’S TAKE: A humorous way to spice up a math lesson.

CLASSROOM PET BOOKS: Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial
Give each student an 8x11 sheet of paper with this sentence starter: If I could have any pet, I’d get _________________. Have them complete the sentence and illustrate the pet. Bound the pages together into a classroom book, and send it home with each child to read.

MATH MADNESS: Logical/Mathematical
This story lends itself to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Show the students how to do each type of number story. Then, ask each student to write a pet number story.

PET STORE: Visual/Spatial, Logical/Mathematical, and Interpersonal
Give each student a dollar in paper coins. Mark each coin with a q for quarter, d for dime, n for nickel and p for penny. Ask them to draw a picture of their ideal pet, or use color copies from the classroom book activity. Have each student label their pet with a price under a dollar. Display all the pictures on the chalkboard and ask students to come to the store and purchase a pet. One of the students can be the shopkeeper and be responsible for making the correct change. Special thanks to Mr. Hacket for this activity.

PET CHARADES: Kinesthetic and Interpersonal
Ask students to sit in a circle on the rug. Give each student a chance to come to the middle of the rug and imitate an animal without speaking or making noises. The rest of the students can guess which animal the student is impersonating.

WRITER’S WORKSHOP: Verbal/Linguistic
At the end of the book, the author hints at another pet problem. Ask students to write a sequel to this book and make sure their characters solve the new problem.

-Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell
-I Love Guinea-Pigs by Dick King-Smith
-Oh, Theodore! Guinea Pig Poems by Susan Katz
-Princess Justina Albertina: A Cautionary Tale by Ellen Dee Davidson
-Sammy: The Classroom Guinea Pig by Alex Berenzy

Sunday, December 5, 2010


By Lauren Child
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3536-7

FROM THE FLAP: Always remember: It’s the worry you haven’t even thought to worry about that should worry you the most.

That’s what Clarice Bean’s copy of the Ruby Redfort Survival Handbook says, anyway—it’s crammed with useful information about getting out of tricky situations, like “How to Deal with Alien Life Forms” (give them the slip and run like crazy).

Clarice Bean has quite a few worries of her own, such as Worry No. 19: Robert Granger—will he ever leave her alone? Or Worry No. 9: largish spiders. But lately, she’s been more concerned with things like Worry No. 3: change, and how it sometimes comes along when you least expect it.

KATE’S TAKE: Lauren Child’s outstanding voice and her tongue-in-cheek humor make for an engaging, fun read.

DON’T LOSE SLEEP OVER IT, KID CLASSROOM BOOKS: Verbal/Linguistic, Intrapersonal, and Visual/Spatial
Give each student an 8x11 sheet of paper that has a lined bottom half, and a space for a picture at the top. Have each student write about their worst worry and end his or her entry with Ruby Redfort’s advice, Don’t lose sleep over it, kid. Send the book home with each student to share with her family and/or guardians.

LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS OH MY! (Kinesthetic and Interpersonal)
Ruby Redfort’s Survival Guide has lots of tongue in cheek “useful” advice about how to avoid large predators such as lions and bears. Play charades and ask the students to act out various predators and have the rest of the class guess which animal each student is impersonating.

PEN PALS: Interpersonal and Verbal/Linguistic
Clarice Bean and her classmates visit elderly people in a nursing home. Ask a local nursing home for the names of residents who might like to participate in a pen pal program. Have students pick a name from the list and write a letter to that individual.

On page 21 in the book, there’s an illustration of different facial expressions and what they actually mean. Compare and contrast two photos of people’s facial expressions and have students talk about the emotions each person is feeling. Then, ask them to share about a situation where they felt one way about an event that was happening and a friend or a sibling felt a different way about the same feeling. Here’s a link if you’re interested in finding out more about the Second Step program

SCENE SNIPPETS: Interpersonal and Verbal/Linguistic
Clarice Bean and her friend participate in acting class. In small groups of four or five students, have kids act out various scenes from the book. Afterward, have the whole class sequence the scenes from the beginning to the end of the book.

-Clarice Bean Spells Trouble by Lauren Child
-Lilly and the Pirates by Phyllis Root
-School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari
-The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
-Utterly Me, Clarice Bean by Lauren Child

I apologize for last week's missed post. An illness knocked my family and I off of our feet. Thanks for your understanding.