Monday, October 10, 2011


By David A. Kelly
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 978-0-375-86704-0

FROM THE FLAP: What’s the most famous ballpark in America? Yankee Stadium! And Mike and Kate are going there for three whole days. But even before the first pitch, the cousins hear a strange rumor—Babe Ruth’s ghost is haunting the new stadium. Chilly air comes blasting down a service hallway before every home game. The gusts are followed by a series of thumps and bumps. Is it the Babe searching for his missing locker?

Catch all the Ballpark Mysteries!

KATE’S TAKE: The Yankees and ghosts! This autumn dynamic duo is a must have for the primary classroom.

GHOST STORIES Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial

During writer’s workshop, ask students to craft their own ghost story. When they’re finished ask them to make an illustration for their story.

HOMER HITTERS Logical/Mathematical and Visual Spatial

Ask students to make a graph of how many home runs five of the Yankee’s starters hit in 2010. Then find the maximum, minimum, range, mean, median, and mode.

Robinson Cano 29
Curtis Granderson 24
Alex Rodriguez 30
Nick Swisher 29
Mark Teixeira 33


At one of your reading stations, give students the letters that make the word, “pinstripe.” Challenge them to make as many words as possible by mixing up the letters. Then ask them to sort the words into two groups, those with the short i sound, and those with the long i sound.

Visual/Spatial and Logical/Mathematical

Ask each student to draw a picture of him or herself wearing a pinstripe shirt. Challenge them to use complex patterns such as ABBA, ABBB, or ABBC.

VENDOR MATH Logical/Mathematical and Interpersonal

For one of your reading stations, have students pretend to be running a hot dog stand. They’ll need to decide what items are for sale and how much they cost. In order to keep the activity accessible for all students, set a price limit such as $5. Then, give each student money and have them buy items from the stand. Give them challenges such as buy as many items as possible, spend exactly $4.50, save a dollar and so on.


-The Astro Outlaw by David A. Kelly
-Babe & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure by Dan Gutman
-Babe Ruth and the Baseball Curse by David A. Kelly
-The L.A. Dodger by David A. Kelly
-The Fenway Foul-Up by David A. Kelly

Monday, September 12, 2011


KN: How did this story come to you?

NBF: I lived on Saipan for about ten years, teaching and working with students, especially guiding their own writing about their island. I also worked with the man, Filipe Ruak, who survived hiding in the caves with this family during the war and then "saved the dances." His dance group was make of young men who danced the traditional dances, an important part of their culture. Dancing is part prayer, part being physically fit, part community connections.

Filipe Ruak shared many stories about his childhood. When I said I was interested in writing a novel about the story of his people and how they survived the war, he asked me to do that. Filipe Ruak and his courage to tell his people's story is the reason I wrote Warriors in the Crossfire.

KN: Is Suicide Cliff a national monument?

NBF: Yes, Suicide Cliff is a national monument. You can stand at that cliff's edge, look straight down nearly a thousand feet, see the ocean crash against volcanic boulders and imagine. Slender white birds, fairy terns, swoop and circle the face of the cliff. Islanders believe they are the spirits of the people who died there.

KN: How did you decide which Japanese characters to include in you chapter headings?

NBF: The Japanese characters, the kanji, that begin each chapter were carefully selected. I wanted each character to reflect the heart, the theme, of each chapter. Sometimes I think of the nesting dolls in which one fits into another. The kanji character fits into the "little beginning poem" which fits within the chapter.

KN: How did you develop the father/son theme?

NBF: The father-son relationship seemed essential to Joseph's learning about the deeper meaning of being a warrior. Joseph needed to understand the wisdom of his father and his Japanese teacher, Sensei, to let grow from being a boy and becoming a man.

KN: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

NBF: I did indeed swim with the turtles and sharks. I wanted to have the courage to hold onto a turtle by its shell and RIDE. I didn't have the courage to do that but I did paddle my kayak over the reef and wait for the sharks to come near (out of curiosity not hunger!). I put on my mask and snorkel and felt the terror of being in the deep dark water with a shark swimming beneath me.

Monday, September 5, 2011


By Nancy Bo Flood

Publisher: Front Street

ISBN: 978-1-59078-661-1

FROM THE FLAP: Where could they hide? The Japanese would shoot anyone in the caves. The Americans would eat the children. Who could they trust? Joseph didn’t know. There was no one left to ask. The explosions kept coming closer.

In the final months of WWII, the tiny South Pacific island of Saipan provided a vital buffer between Japan and the advancing American forces. Japan vowed to defend these islands to the last man. One of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific war ensued—more than 30,000 Japanese and Americans lost their lives. These numbers do not include the natives who were killed—the Chamorro, Rafalawash, and Rapaganor—all caught in the crossfire.

Based on historical events, this story unfolds through the eyes of Joseph and his half-Japanese cousin, Kento. These clear-voiced characters move convincingly through war and mounting pressure to take unimaginable horrors of Suicide Cliff, they discover, within themselves, what it means to become warriors. One boy’s journey through this little-known chapter of history illuminates the rich texture and culture of the island.

KATE’S TAKE: A harrowing WWII journey that celebrates family, friendship, and honor.

BOATS THAT FLOAT Visual/Spatial Logical/Mathematical

Divide students into pairs. Give each pair a 12 by 12 inch piece of aluminum foil, ten tongue depressors, and a glue stick. Ask each pair to design a boat. Place each boat in a tub of water and see how many pennies each boat holds. If you want, have students graph the results and calculate the mean, medium, mode, maximum, minimum and range of pennies held by each pair’s boat.

IMPRESSIONISTIC POEMS Verbal/Linguistic Interpersonal Intrapersonal

Write a brief poem modeled after the poems that lead into each chapter. Have students read their poems to the class. Although Ms. Flood’s poems are free-form, haiku and diamante poems work well with this activity, too.


Give students a paper, brush, and black ink. Ask them to choose a Kanji character that speaks to them. They may choose one from the book, or pick one on line at . Then, ask them to paint the symbol.

TURTLE AND SHARK ORIGAMI Visual/Spatial Verbal/Linguistic

Rewrite chapter two, Turtle and Shark, from the turtle or shark’s point of view. Then, fold an origami shark or turtle to accompany your story.

WIND IN THE WILLOWS Musical Interpersonal Intrapersonal

Gather the class in a circle and ask one member to step forward and name a song, musician, or type of music that the individual likes. Anyone else who likes the named song, person, or music steps into the circle. Repeat until everyone has had a turn. No one may step into the middle and repeat something that has been said before.

BOOK BUDDIES (These are all listed in the back of Ms. Flood’s book)
A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Harry Mazer
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury
House of the Red Fish by Graham Salisbury
Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury

Sunday, May 22, 2011


By Melissa Stewart
Publisher: Peachtree
ISBN: 978-1-56145-562-1

FROM THE FLAP: Fish make our world a better place. But sometimes people do things that make it hard for them to live and grow.

In simple yet informative language, A Place For Fish introduces young readers to ways human action or inaction can affect fish populations and open kids’ minds to a wide range of environmental issues. Describing various examples—from Florida’s spotted trunkfish to the Atlantic salmon—the text provides an intriguing look at fish, at the ecosystems that support their survival, and at the efforts of some of the people to save them.

In the back of the book, the author offers readers a list of things they can do to help protect these special creatures in their own communities.

Artist Higgins Bond’s glorious full-color illustrations vividly and accurately depict their fish and their surroundings.

KATE’S TAKE: Splash into summer with Melissa Stewart’s, A Place for Fish. Stewart’s dual-level text is perfect for book buddy programs or classrooms with a large spread in ability levels.

CATCH BASIN LABELING PROGRAMS Naturalist and Interpersonal
Are you looking for a low cost field trip for the end of the year? Participate in your town’s catch basin label program or have your class start one in your community. Storm drains do not flow into a city’s water treatment plant, they flow directly into the surrounding bodies of water. So help your city spray paint, “No dumping. Drains to lake/creek/river,” signs on your town’s catch basins. Check out Santa Rosa’s city site for more details:

FISH LIFE CYCLE DIAGRAMS Naturalist, Visual/Spatial, and Linguistic
Have students diagram a fish’s life cycle. The University of Michigan has an excellent link for intermediate teachers that includes worksheets:

MAP IT OUT Visual/Spatial and Interpersonal
Divide your class into partners. Give each group a photocopied map of North America. Assign each pair of partners a fish that is in Ms. Stewart’s book. Next, have each group shade in the area on their map where their assigned fish lives. If a group finishes early, have them research some basic facts about their fish.

ORIGAMI FISH Visual/Spatial
Check out this step-by-step engaging video to show your students how to fold origami fish:
Be sure and use origami paper. Regular paper is too thick.

SHARK BAR GRAPHS Logical/Mathematical and Visual/Spatial
Give students a sheet of graph paper. Have them title their graph Shark Population Decline in the Atlantic Ocean since the 1990’s. Then have them label the side with numbers from 0 to 100%. I find that using 5% increments works well. On the bottom of the graph, ask them to make a column for each of the following sharks: blues, great whites, hammerheads, threshers, and tigers. Ask them to record the following information:

Blue Sharks: 60% population decline
Great White Sharks: 79% population decline
Hammerhead Sharks: 89% population decline
Thresher Sharks: 80% population decline
Tiger Sharks: 65% population decline

-A Place for Birds by Melissa Stewart
-A Place for Frogs by Melissa Stewart
-Project Seahorse by Pamela S. Turner
-Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Griffin Burns
-Trout, Trout, Trout: A Fish Chant by April Pulley Sayre

Saturday, April 23, 2011


By Wendy Mass
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 978-0-316-00258-5

FROM THE FLAP: In the town of Spring Haven, four children have been selected to compete in the national candymaking contest of a lifetime. Who will make a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Yellow Lightning Chew?

Logan, the candymaker’s son, who can detect the color of chocolate by feel alone?

Miles, the boy allergic to rowboats and the color pink?

Daisy, the cheerful girl who can lift a fifty-pound lump of taffy as if it were a feather?

Philip, the suit-and-tie-wearing boy who’s always scribbling in a secret notebook?
The contestants face off in a battle of wits and sugar, but soon they realize that things are not what they seem, and they find themselves in a candy-filled world of surprises, suspense, and mouthwatering creations.

In this charming and cleverly crafted story, award-winning author Wendy mass cooks up a delectable concoction of mystery, friendship, and juicy revelations.

KATE’S TAKE: A sweet treat(couldn’t help myself)for middle grade novel enthusiasts just in time for Easter!

CANDY OF THE CENTURY: Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial
Ask students to write an essay describing their candy of the century—be sure to include a creative and original name. Then, give them white model magic so they can build and decorate their masterpieces.

CRACK THE CODE: Verbal/Linguistic
Miles often speaks backwards. Spice up some comprehension questions by writing them out backwards. Students have to decipher them before answering them in complete sentences. I’ve made an example you’re free to use. I’ve posted it after the Book Buddies section.

GRATITUDE NOTEBOOKS: Intrapersonal and Verbal/Linguistic
Give each student a small notebook and sometime during the day, have them write down five things they’re grateful for just like Logan lists five things he’s grateful for every night before bed. This is a good activity to do right before or right after a transition.

MUSICAL MOMENTS: Musical and Interpersonal
Philip constantly writes melodies down in his notebook. Working in pairs, have students write four measures of music. Then, they can play their compositions on a glockenspiel or a xylophone.

OBSTACLE COURSE: Interpersonal and Bodily Kinesthetic
Since Daisy is a spy, she has to do lots of physical training, but she’s not used to working with teammates. But in order to win the contest, she ends up having to work together with the other contestants. In the gymnasium, divide the class into two groups. Have props spread out from one end of the of the gym to the other, a few hula hoops, jump ropes, exercise rings, a scooter per team, and put a large exercise mat in the center of the gym. Students have to work with their teammates to get the whole team from one end of the gym to the other. They may not step on the floor unless they are inside a hula hoop, and the hula hoops can’t move. If someone steps on the floor, the whole team goes back to the start.

-Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
-My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald
-The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler
-The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

1. Ohw si rouy etirovaf retcarahc dna yhw?
2. Dlouw uoy tnaw ot eb a yps ekli ysiaD, yhw ro yhw ton?
3. Fi uoy dlouc yalp yna tnemurtsni sa llew sa pilihP hcihw eno dlouw uoy yalp dna yhw?
4. Yhw seod seliM kniht tuoba eht efilvetfa?
5. Od uoy kniht nagoL lliw esoohc ot evah niks shparg enod to ega 41, yhw ro yhw ton?

Sunday, March 13, 2011


By Blue Balliet
Publisher: Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0-439-85209-8

FROM THE FLAP: A boy in a small town who has a different way of seeing. A curious girl who doesn’t belong. A mysterious notebook. A missing father. A fire. A stranger. A death. These are some of the things you’ll find within the danger box, the new mystery from Blue Balliet. Open with care.

KATE’S TAKE: This mystery pulls readers in and doesn’t let go until the last page.

CODE CRACKERS Visual/Spatial, Verbal/Linguistic, and Interpersonal

Ask each student to write a question about a story element in the book. Then, have each pupil rewrite the question using the code on page thirty-eight of the book. After the questions are rewritten in code, ask students to exchange questions and have them crack the code and answer the questions.


Ask students to create a diorama of Darwin’s trip to the Galapagos Islands based on information found in the book.

GAS GAZETTES Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Verbal/Linguistic

Ask each student to write a “Gas Gazette” about him or herself at the beginning of the school year. When you send home your newsletter, include one of the “Gas Gazettes” with each newsletter. This is a great way to introduce the “star of the week” if you implement Responsive Classroom techniques.

HOMETOWN HOTSPOTS Verbal/Linguistic, Visual/Spatial, and Interpersonal

Ask pairs of children to build a scale cardboard model of a famous town or state landmark. When all the models are built, students can take a walking tour of the town or state. Special thanks to Derek O’Riorden for this great end of the year activity.

LIKELY LISTS Verbal/Linguistic and Interpersonal

Next time you study biographies, ask each student to make up a list of words that describes their famous person. After students have presented their biography book reports, number the lists and post them around the room. Ask students to write down the name of the famous person that each list describes.

-Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
-Masterpiece by Elise Broach
-The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
-The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin
-The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Monday, February 21, 2011


1. I love the alliterative action that occurs when each animal escapes the sled. Would you please talk about why you chose to use alliterative phrases when each animal exits the sled?

I confess, I'm a sucker for alliteration. If I'd been a 1950s movie star, I'd definitely have been one of the alliteration queens like Marilyn Monroe or Diana Dors. Also, I knew this would be a way to strengthen the educational opportunities within the text, which already has several lesson-friendly elements such as numbers (counting-down) and science (arctic animals.)

I never make education the main focus of any of my books; it's always about simply creating a fun book, at the start. But once I've gotten down the bones, I do try to think in terms of educational possibilities. Choosing alliterative verbs serves several functions. First, it adds to the quality of language. To me, sounds are as important in language as meaning, especially because I mostly write picture books, which are meant to be read aloud.

Secondly, I think of verbs as the engine of any sentence. The stronger the engine, the farther the "car" (the sentence) will take me. I always tell older elementary students during author school visits that I'd rather use a single strong verb than a weak verb propped up by an adverb. And, of course, choosing a different verb for each animal also stretches the vocabulary in the book. Even if it's a verb with which the young reader is unfamiliar, LIza Woodruff's marvelous (and hilarious!) illustrations make it clear to the reader exactly what's happening in each scene.

2. In addition to alliteration, each spread uses different action words that rhyme. Would you please talk about one rhyming action pair that was particularly challenging or one rhyming action pair that you thought of immediately?

That wasn't too hard, although it might have become a bigger challenge if I'd had to write more than ten stanzas. Some couplets were easy because certain words about a sled race, (snowing/going, riding/gliding) were easy to rhyme. Two couplets that were hardest to come up with were,

"Great thunder! Duck under!" (where Liza shows the sledders ducking under fir trees)

and "We're lighter! Hold tighter!" (immediately after the heavy walrus has "whirled out.")

Reading the words now, paired with Liza's illustrations, those couplets seem very organic to the story. But the words came long before the illustrations were drawn, so it wasn't as obvious back then. I had to think in terms of visual scenes, asking myself, "What else could happen during this race?" In picture book writing, the author always has to come up with visual variety in the actions so that the illustrator isn't just drawing the same scene over and over again.

3. How did you come up with the idea of having the snowball race the sled?

I wish I could take the credit, but it's all thanks to my lovely critique group, which includes clever Joe Kulka ( an illustrator in my group. The first draft I submitted to the group was much more stagnant and true to its inspiration, "Ten in the Bed." I had everyone falling off the sled, but not much else happening. Joe read the manuscript and said, "This is fine, but let's remember this is a sled, a much more dynamic setting than a bed." Then he described how he would illustrate the story; that he'd show the ejected animals collecting into a big snowball which begins to race with the sled. I quickly rewrote, based on Joe's brilliant suggestion. I think it was at that point that I came up with the alliterative "falling-off" verbs, but I can't remember exactly. Perhaps I had already employed that device in the first draft.

4. I know you live in Virginia, but have you ever been sledding?

Not often, I confess. I like to brag that we have the best sledding hill in town, right behind our house. That's true, but since we live in a town on a relatively flat, tidal plain, it's pretty anemic in comparison to magnificent Alaskan mountains. Coincidentally, as I write this, there are sledders behind my house, since we had a little snowfall last night. That's another reason I don't often get to enjoy sledding, since snow is not as common here in southeastern Virginia as in Maine, where many of my relatives live.

5. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Just that I'm pleased to be featured on your blog, Kate, and really grateful for the clever lessons you created to go with my book! Thank you so much!

It's my pleasure. Thank you, Kim, for the fantastic book!

Monday, February 7, 2011


By Rob Buyea
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ISBN: 978-0-385-73882-8

FROM THE FLAP: It’s the start of fifth grade for seven kids at Snow Hill School. There’s Jessica, the new girl, smart, perceptive, who’s having a hard time trying to fit in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school.

Only Mr. Terupt, their new and energetic teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn’t let them get away with much… until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything—and everyone.

Rob Buyea’s engaging first novel features seven narrators, each with a unique story, and each with a different perspective on what makes their teacher special.

KATE’S TAKE: This book is a must read because it’s heartbreaking, heartwarming, and inspirational in every way.

Mr. Terupt’s students read The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars, and then they regularly visit their school’s collaborative classroom in small groups. This is a great way to develop community, enhance self-esteem, increase communication, and eradicate stereotypes.

DOLLAR WORDS Logical/Mathematical and Verbal/Linguistic
Mr. Terupt assigns each letter a value, and challenges his students to make as many dollar words as possible. Here’s a sheet you can copy and paste, to have a ready-made activity for your class:

Name: ________________________________ Date: ___________
Each letter of the alphabet is worth a certain amount of cents. A is worth one cent, B is worth 2 cents, C is worth three cents and so on. First, fill in the value of each letter. Then, create as many dollar words as you can. Who will be the first person to find a dollar word? Who will create the most dollar words? All words need to be spelled correctly and be school appropriate.
A=1 B=2 C=3 D=__ E=__ F=__ G=__ H=__ I=__ J=__ K=__ L=__ M=__
N=__ O=__ P=__ Q=__ R=__ S=__ T=__ U=__ V=__ W=__ X=__ Y=__ Z=__
This activity comes from Rob Buyea’s novel, Because of Mr. Terupt.

PLANT POWER Naturalist
Mr. Terupt’s students learn about phototropism, the direction of plant growth is determined by light source, geotropism, roots grow downward and plants grow upward even if a plant is turned sideways or upside down, and then concocted their own mixtures to see which ones would make their plants grow best. Pair up your kids in partners, and make sure you have a class control plant, one that gets to sit on the windowsill, right side up, and receives water every day. Each pair can plant a seed. Then, to study phototropism, put the plant in a box and punch a hole in the box. How does the plant grow? For geotropism, have students place their plants on their sides and watch what happens. As for students creating their own concoctions, ask them to bring in a list of ingredients they plan to use, a few days ahead of time. That way you won’t end up with a visit from the fire department. Poor Mr. Terupt!

SHAPE POEMS Visual/Spatial and Verbal/Linguistic
Because of Mr. Terupt celebrates each child’s individuality, and so does this activity. Have students sketch a full-body, self-portrait of themselves, on an 8x11 sheet of white paper. Next, ask each student to brainstorm twenty descriptive words that describe themselves and write them around their silhouette. After you’ve checked the spelling in pencil, have them trace their work with a Sharpie.

WORRY DOLLS Visual/Spatial
Some of the students make worry dolls in Mr. Buyea’s book, and your students can too, with these easy directions:

-Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
-Rules by Cynthia Lord
-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
-The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
-Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Sunday, January 30, 2011


By Emily Gravett
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4424-1255-2

FROM THE FLAP: This book is based on a problem that was solved in the 13th century by the Mathematician Fibonacci, but it is NOT (I repeat NOT) a book about math. It’s a book about rabbits… Lots of rabbits!

KATE'S TAKE: Creative, challenging and fun. How long will it take your students to crack the code?

CLASS COOKBOOK Verbal/Linguistic, Interpersonal, and Visual/Spatial
Ask students to bring in a copy of their favorite recipe. Have them type up their recipe and decorate their page with a border.

CLASS NEWSLETTER Verbal/Linguistic and Interpersonal
During the month of July the rabbits in Fibonacci’s Field publish a newspaper. Have each student write a short blurb for a class newsletter.

CRACKING THE CODE Logical/Mathematical
Students love cracking Fibonacci’s code. Give them the book and the following worksheet and let them go at it!


Fibonacci, an Italian man who lived in 1202, discovered a mathematical code and presented it to western scholars. Indian scholars studied this code as early as 200 B.C. With the help of Emily Gravett’s book, The Rabbit Problem, you can crack Fibonacci’s Code.

Look at the book. At the top of each calendar page, she lists the rabbit population. Copy each month’s population below:
January ____
February ____
March ____
April ____
May ____
June ____
July ____
August ____
September ____
October ____
November ____
December ____ (Put the first number here, not zero.)
Now, if all the rabbits stayed, what would the next month’s population be?
January ____
How did you crack Fibonacci’s Code?

FAMILY TREE Intrapersonal and Verbal/Linguistic
When the rabbits have their first babies in March, they create a family tree. Ask each student to bring in the names of their relatives and ancestors to create their own personal family tree.

PLANT GRAPHS Naturalist and Logical/Mathematical
During the month of June, the rabbits plant lettuce and carrot seeds. Have some students plant three pots of lettuce seeds while other students plant three pots of carrot seeds. Give one pot light and water, and another pot water but not light, and the last pot light but not water. Ask students to chart the growth of each pot. Compare and contrast the growth of the three pots and the growth of the lettuce to the carrots.

-Multiplying Menace: The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin by Pam Calvert
-Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry by Cindy Neuschwander
-The Lion’s Share by Matt McElligot
-The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
-The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

By: Kim Norman
Publisher: Sterling Books
ISBN: 978-1-4027-7076

FROM THE FLAP: Join ten adventurous friends as they speed down a snowy slope on their giant toboggan. How many of them will end up together at the bottom of the hill? With plenty of slipping and sliding, gliding and riding, this raucous race promises to have a very bumpy ending.

KATE’S TAKE: Kim Norman takes readers on a whimsical, rollicking, winter ride.

ALLITERATION PARTNERS Interpersonal and Verbal/Linguistic
Write the name of each animal on ten separate index cards. Then write each animal’s action on ten other index cards. Give ten children animal cards and ask them to find their action partner whose card will start with the same first letter as their animal does.

Seal and spilled, hare and hopped, sheep and shot, walrus and whirled, fox and flipped, squirrel and squeezed, wolf and wiped, moose and muddled, bear and bailed, reindeer and running

Each child will need six Popsicle sticks and a 3x5 index card. Before you give the children the Popsicle sticks, you should make these adjustments: cut the ends off at forty-five degree angles from two of the sticks and cut one stick in half. Three of the sticks will remain unaltered. Ask the students to paint all of their sticks red. Then have them place one of the short sticks on the bottom of their index card, and one short stick at the top of the index card. Next ask them to glue the three unaltered long sticks on top of the two short sticks. After the top of the sled has dried, students can glue the runners(the sticks cut at 45% angles to the bottom of the sled.

TEN ON THE SLED BOOKS Visual/Spatial and Verbal/Linguistic
Give each child a ten-page mini book with the simple sentence: There were ____________ on the sled. Have the children write in the missing number words 10-1 and illustrate each page. On the last page the sentence should look like this: There _________ _____________ on the sled. Students can write in the word was on the last page.

TEN ON THE SLED MATH Logical/Mathematical
Now that the kids each have their own sled, you can use teddy bear math manipulatives to have the students tell addition and subtraction stories. For example, there were ten bears on the sled and four fell off. How many are left? Kids reenact the stories with their bears and write the algorithms on their white boards.

TEN ON THE SLED SING-A-LONG Musical and Kinesthetic
Have ten kids sit one behind the other on the rug. Ask the whole class to sing the words to the book and ask kids to roll off the sled.

-Christopher Counting by Valeri Gorbachev
-Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh
-Ten in the Bed by Jane Cabrera
-The Baker’s Dozen: A Counting Book by Dan Andreasen
-Who Invited You by Candace Fleming


Sunday, January 2, 2011


By Bob Graham
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN: 0-7636-1138-7

KATE’S TAKE: A fun take on what it truly means to be a superhero.

FROM THE FLAP: As the son of legendary heroes Captain Lightning and Madam Thunderbolt, Max is destined to be a superhero one day too—that is, once he learns to fly. But despite his parents’ valiant coaching and encouragement, Max can’t seem to get off the ground. Will Max ever learn to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Or will he be doomed forever to life on land?
Bob Graham has created a book for anyone who knows the highs—and lows—of learning to do something for the first time.

BEAUTIFUL BIRDS Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial
Ask students to draw a picture of something that they want to learn how to do on the white side of a piece of origami paper. Then, fold this piece of a paper into a bird shape. Make a mobile with the class birds.

BIRDS IN A BUSH MATH Logical/Mathematical
Give each student a mat with a green circle on it. The circle represents the bush. Then, give each student ten manipulatives. Ask students to place the manipulatives on the bush. Next, ask students to remove a certain number of birds from the bush. Write the subtraction algorithm on the board and ask students to copy the problem down on their white boards.

CARTOON SEQUENCING Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial
Fold a piece of 8 x 11 paper into six rectangles. Leave one square blank. Write one of these five sentences in each of the blank squares: 1) Max is born, 2) Max walks and talks, 3) Max can’t fly, 4) Max goes to school, 5) Max flies and saves the bird. Give each student a copy of the paper and ask them to cut out the five rectangles and sequence them. Then ask students to illustrate each scene.

HEROIC DEEDS CLASS BOOK Verbal/Linguistic and Visual/Spatial
Give each student an 8x11 piece of paper with this sentence starter, “I did something heroic when ________________________________________________________________________________.”
Have them write a kind, small, deed they did that helped someone. Ask them to illustrate their sentence and bind the papers into a class book.

MAGIC CARPET COOPERATIVE RACE Interpersonal and Kinesthetic
Divide the class into teams of four kids. Give each team three large squares of cardboard. Set up a start and a finish line. Each team has to use their magic carpets to “fly” from the start to the finish. Everyone must always be on a magic carpet square, or their team will return to the starting line.

-Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
-Mighty Max by Harriet Ziefert
-The Featherless Chicken by Chih-Yuan Chen
-The Lion and the Mouse by Gail Herman
-Tiger on a Tree by Anushka Ravishankar