Thanks Miss Julie!

I had been looking for a library story time for Max.  The problem was that most nearby programs began at 11 a.m. and I had to pick up Max’s sister Nora from preschool at 11:30.  Finally I found a time that worked great at the West Acres Branch of the West Bloomfield (MI) library, and they allowed residents from nearby communities to join in!   I loved having this special opportunity for Max, and I was very grateful and impressed by Miss Julie – the story hour teacher.

This story time was special because Miss Julie has really mastered the art of presenting to preschoolers.  She understands early childhood development, she is always well prepared, and her enthusiasm and attitude make it so much fun for the children.

Each week there are between 25-30 children who attend this free program, along with their respective adults!  The little ones range in age from small babies to 4 year old preschoolers, with an occasional older sibling visiting too!   One of the challenges Miss Julie takes in stride is that this room also contains dramatic play equipment, built in along three sides of the room.  There are some children actively playing throughout story time, going back and forth between the program and playing.  There are many other disruptions, such as parents calling their child’s name across the room, phone conversations taking place within a few feet of Julie reading a story, upset toddlers and babies… but Miss Julie just smiles and goes on with her program.

Because Julie understands that young children need consistency and feel secure when they know what to expect, she has a basic format that she uses each week.  She begins the program by encouraging the children to move around and stretch different parts of their body – that also helps them develop self and body awareness.  Then she sings/chants a simple tune:

Come on everybody clap your hands, come on everybody clap your hands

Come on everybody cause we’re gonna read a story, come on everybody clap your hands.

Then she changes it to stomp your feet, pat your knees, wiggle your body, etc. and the final verse is:

Come on everybody take a seat, come on everybody take a seat,

Come on everybody cause we’re gonna read a story, come on everybody take a seat.

Julie uses a wonderful combination of noticing individual children, acknowledging those who blurt out or come up very close to her, and ignoring disruptive behaviors.   Some parents sit on the floor with their kids, others sit in small chairs or stand next to tiny babies in strollers.  Some children are very attentive and follow every move and direction, some come and go, others seem oblivious of the fact that a program is going on in the room.  With so many children and adults in the room, what could be chaotic and unmanageable just seems to work out okay.

Each week Julie has a theme and choses an appropriate story, movement songs and a simple craft that all tie together.  She usually has at least two books that go along with the theme, but often only reads one with the group.  Sometimes she is able to sit down and read to the group, but occasionally she has to stand up to read, carefully holding the book so the children can enjoy the pictures.  Her voice is strong and loud enough for the children to hear without sounding like she is yelling over the crowd.  Her enthusiasm and inflection make listening to the story fun for the children.

What impressed me the most from the first time I brought Max to this story time is how well Julie manages transitions.  After releasing their wiggles, the introductory song ends with the children sitting down ready to hear the story.  She often follows the story by passing out finger puppets that encourage the children to interact in a thematic song.

Sometimes she uses recorded songs for the children to sing along and dance, other times she just plays and sings with them without music.  Her use of technology is seamless – she prepares a playlist on her phone or iPod and simply presses the button to play the next song on a reliable, small speaker.  I never saw her take any time away from the children to find the song or materials she needs – her preparation and organization are remarkable.

I also appreciated the wonderful materials the library made available for these preschool story hours.  I especially loved the amazing variety of finger puppets they shared; and they always had enough for every child.   She always has all the materials she plans to use organized and close at hand.  The first time I took Max I thought he would cry when it was time to give the finger puppet back, but she had the children trade in the puppets for scarves (or rhythm sticks, or another play prop).

Julie gives the children opportunities to follow directions with the materials she shares.  She uses concepts like fast and slow, quiet and loud, up high and down low, as she plays along with the children.  Sometimes she encourages them to make letters by holding the two rhythm sticks in the shape of a V or a T.  The music and songs she uses go along with the weekly theme.  Sometimes she adapts a familiar song to go along with her theme – like instead of 5 Little Monkeys swinging in a tree – 5 Little Fish swimming in the ocean, along came a shark… hungry as can be!

The last thing she passes out to the group every week is small bottles of spill proof bubbles that must need to be refilled often!

After a few minutes of enjoying the bubbles and songs she encourages the children to return the bubbles by singing their good bye song.

“We had some fun and now we’re done!  Good bye!  Good bye!”   Of course you could use any good bye song you like, but it is a clear, friendly signal that story time is over.   Following that the children go out into the main part of the library where materials are organized and available on tables to make a simple thematic craft.

Julie circulates around the room and stops to notice the colors or techniques children are using, and appreciating their effort.

Attending story time each week has been a highlight for Max!  He calls it Story School and always gets excited when Friday comes along.  I just wanted to tell Miss Julie thank you… Max loved it!

 

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Fairy Tales

One of Nora’s favorite things to do is act out Fairy Tales.  I love to see how she has taken ownership of these simple stories after “playing them” over and over.  Lately we have been playing “The Princess and the Pea” a LOT.   Max plays the Prince, Nora – of course, is the Princess, and I get to narrate and be the Queen, although Nora often chimes in to help tell the details.  Oh – and Nora also has to be the one to hide the ‘pea.’

She is quite dramatic when she explains what a terrible sleep she had because of that lumpy pea.   Nora loves to play this story, and she certainly knows it and understands it; but she has not wanted to retell the story by herself yet.

 

Many years ago I bought this Frank Schaffer book that contains simple versions of Fairy Tales along with 6 pictures for each story.  I used them in lots of ways to retell stories.  I have shared a few of them on this blog, and I have received many, many requests for a copy of the entire book.  I have tried for the past couple of years to obtain permission from the publisher, but have not been able to contact the right people.  I wrote to the address in the book and got no reply.  Then I found out that Carson Dellosa had bought out Frank Schaffer products but when I contacted them they had no record of this book.

I make no profit from my blog – I don’t charge for anything that I share.  I am happy to help teachers develop materials that they can use to help children.  I am sharing the stories from this book but I am giving full credit to the author Sue Ryono.  Please do not use these images for personal gain – or on TPT or any other site that charges a fee.  If I find out that I am infringing rights I will remove them from my blog.

So today I gave Nora the pictures from the story “The Princess and the Pea” and asked her to put them in order.  It was fun hearing her talk about what was going on in each picture.

After she got them all in the right order she did a great job telling me the entire story without any prompting.  Then she wanted to take the pictures home to tell the story to Mommy and Daddy too!

Acting out stories is a wonderful way to help children with comprehension and developing new vocabulary.   I also see children making connections between stories and other things that they hear or experience.   Last week I baked cookies with my Grandchildren Owen, Anna and Lily.  They went home with a container of our cookies, but when their Dad asked to sample one, Anna asked, “Do you remember the Little Red Hen?”  Since he had not helped she wasn’t sure she wanted to share!

I think these pictures can also be a great resource to encourage children to retell stories.  I hope they are helpful for you!

In the original book these short stories are all in the back of the book, 4 stories on each page.  I enlarged and separated them so I could put each story under the matching sequencing pictures.  I never worried about telling a story exactly as this is written, but they are helpful if you are trying to remember details of some of the stories.

 

 

I hope you love using these as much as I have.  And if you can – take some time to act out stories too!  So much fun!

Holidays Around the World – and a Give Away!!

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D. J. Inkers has done it again!!    Take a look at this wonderful set of clipart –  http://www.djinkers.com/clipart/christmas/holidays-around-world-clipart-collection.html.  I used this clipart to create the activities throughout this post.
They are also giving away one of these wonderful clipart sets to one of my readers for FREE!!!
All you have to do is at least 2 of out of 3 of these options:
1) Join one of DJ Inker’s email newsletter lists.
2) Follow one of DJ Inker’s boards on pinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/djinkers/
3) Like DJ Inkers on facebook
To enter this contest please leave a comment on this post
by  Monday, December 12
telling me which  of the above options you completed!
Holidays Around the World is a very popular theme in lower elementary grades.  There are lots of wonderful ideas online, and on Pinterest.   I love the idea of creating a Passport to be stamped as you learn about different countries.  Many people shared how they made a suitcase to collect projects that represent different celebrations.  There are countless great suggestions, and using this clipart would enhance any of those ideas.
I am sharing a book I created that highlights five countries, and includes a couple of pages about each one.  I would use it, not only to teach about the holiday customs, but also to reinforce features of informational texts.  I used to read lots of expository books about different countries and their holiday celebrations, so I thought it would be a good time to reinforce the parts of information books.
I wrote a previous post about how I taught the parts of an information book:  https://dbsenk.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/informational-text/, check it out if you have a chance.
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I would use this book along with lots of fun activities that help children get a glimpse of the different customs and celebrations.  I would probably spend a day or two on each country, and have the children do the pages that go along with it.  I would like the children to label things in this booklet that are usually found in informational books.  On this page I would have them label the title and the author – which of course would be their own name.
text-features
I might run off these words on a different color of paper.  Then the children could cut apart the words and glue them next to the text features.  Or I might just have the children label the parts of informational texts by writing on each page.
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I included pictures to help the children make associations with each country, and to help the emergent readers recognize the different countries.  Another great thing about DJ Inkers clipart ‘Holidays Around the World’ is that it includes fun facts about each country that lend themselves to great discussions and simple activities.  I highlighted some of those facts on a page about each country.
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This page features bold text, so I would have the children add that label.  I would also have them color or highlight January 6 on the calendar and talk about how the children have to wait that long to get their gifts!  It goes along with how the Three Kings brought gifts to the Christ Child.
On the day we were learning about Mexico I would bring in a simple pinata, and an artificial poinsettia plant.
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The children could use phonetic spelling to label the stick, pinata and candy.   Then they could also add the word ‘labels’ to show they recognize that text feature.
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It would be so much fun to have the children leave their shoes outside the classroom door and ask a friend to put a small toy or candy into each child’s shoe.  You might include a simple T graph about whether the children’s families have put up a Christmas tree.  You might even have some fun with a good luck pickle.  I might laminate a copy of the pickle and put it on a table of quiet or helpful workers.  Throughout the day you could move the pickle to reinforce good habits.  This page would also be labeled ‘bold print.’
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It would be fun to do lots of gingerbread activities while talking about how it is an important German tradition.  The children could color this page and label the caption.
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I would get out a globe to discuss how Australia is in the middle of summer at Christmas time.  I think the children would love to hear about how Santa might give his reindeer a rest and use kangaroos to pull him around instead.  Again the children would label the bold print.
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The children would label Santa, the surfboard and the waves on this page.
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Here is more bold print, meant to emphasize the important words on the page.  I think the children would love to hear how Scandinavian children hear stories of little gnomes who are supposed to be taking care of farm animals, but get into mischief instead.  They might each create a gnome to take home and add to their own Christmas tree.  It would be fun to bake some buns and have a cup of “glogg,” too.
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The children would label the caption on this page.  I also would make a chart comparing what Scandinavian children put on their Christmas trees and what we usually put on our trees.
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Of course we always need to be sensitive to the customs and traditions of the children in our class.  In this book I was highlighting Christmas traditions, but I always spent time discussing other celebrations like Hanukkah and Kwanza.  ‘Holidays Around the World’ includes great clipart for those holidays too.
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Here is a pdf version of this book.
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As I introduce the customs of each country I would post a picture to help remind the children of our discussion, and also so they could see how to spell the name of each country.
mexico
germany
australia
scandinavia
usa
At the end of our unit I would ask the children to draw and write about which country they would like to visit at Christmas, and I would give them space to explain why.
where-visit
I had so much fun using Holidays Around the World.  Please take the time to check out their website and enter the contest for your own copy!  D.J. Inkers is also having a special sale for the holidays (Dec. 1-12, 2016)!  It’s called 12 Holly Daze Sales, you don’t want to miss it!  Here is a link to their website;  http://www.djinkers.com/ and sign up for their email newsletter at http://goo.gl/8OS0D4  .
Happy Holidays!

Back to School – with a special GIVE AWAY!

Welcome copy

I LOVE DJ Inkers clipart and fonts!  When I was teaching I was often known as the Queen of clipart!  I loved to use different fonts and add fun clipart to everything I printed.  All of the clipart in this post – in fact most of the clipart I have used in my whole blog has been from DJ Inkers.  I also have an embarrassing amount of fun fonts, and my favorites are from DJ Inkers!

DJ Inkers has a brand new website with LOTS of fun smiles for Back to School!  Here is a link so you can check it out!   http://www.djinkers.com

I have been having fun with one of their most popular clipart sets – Kidllywinks – and I have made a few things for the beginning of the school year.  The BEST part is that DJ Inkers is going to let me GIVE AWAY this amazing clipart set to one of my readers!  So exciting!

In order to be part of this raffle to win a Kidillywinks clipart set, you have to do a few things:

1) Follow one of DJ Inker’s boards on pinterest  https://www.pinterest.com/djinkers/

2) Like DJ Inkers on facebook   https://www.facebook.com/cuteclipart/

3) Join one of DJ Inker’s email newsletter lists.  http://goo.gl/8OS0D4

 You can enter the raffle by clicking here!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please leave a comment about how you would use this clipart too!

The winner will be chosen on August 2, 2016!

I am so excited to be able to share this chance with you, I hope you all take the time to check out DJ Inkers and subscribe to their newsletter.  They have FREEBIES every month!

Here are a few examples of things I’ve made using Kidillywinks clipart!
Daily schedule Kdg

This is a sample Kindergarten schedule.  Parents often ask for a general idea of how the day will go, and it’s a lot cuter with the clipart!

I used to ask the children to draw a self portrait on the first day of school.

First day

 

You are probably familiar with this beehive rhyme.  I made this easy, fun project using Kidillywinks clipart too!  I like this simple project because although it is very easy, it gives you a chance to observe the children’s cutting skills and they can practice counting forward and backward.  In my classes the kids always had a wide range of previous experience and expertise in academic stuff.  I also liked doing some fun, simple projects to help the children relax and gain confidence in those first long days of school.

hive poem

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I just printed out the beehive and bees, then I taped a fold and tuck baggie onto the back of the beehive.

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Just for fun I cut the door so it would open and you can see the bees inside the beehive.

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Here is the master

revised hive

I used to make a lot of simple board games for the children to play at centers.  Playing games is such a good way to encourage taking turns and cooperating.  Moving a game piece requires one to one correspondence, using dice or spinners gives practice recognizing numerals or standard configuration of dots.  It always made me smile that I could give the kids the exact same game with different clipart on it and it seemed like a new game!  Here is a sample of a simple board I liked to use.

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Here is it with some Kidillywinks back to school clipart added.

Blank school gameboard

This game reinforces naming shapes.

Shape gameboard

Adding Kidillywinks fall clipart makes it fun to name letters!

Letter gameboard

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your summer!

Good luck on the raffle!

 

 

 

 

Nana Camp – Bear Week!


brown bear pics

Brown Bear, Brown Bear was a fun way to start our bear week.  I found these wonderful pictures on pinterest – check out the site to download them if you’d like!  I put magnets on the back and had Nora and Max put them up on the board as we read the story.  We reread it all week!

Brown Bear Strip copy

I reduced the pictures and printed them off in a strip.  The kids cut them apart and helped put a small magnet on the back of each of their pictures.

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Another fun idea from Pinterest – on the site they glued a strip of velcro along the length of a paint stir stick, I only had sew-on velcro so I used magnets instead.

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I think I will be able to reuse this stick to retell other stories too!  They loved having their own small version.

Memory bear

I copied these images onto cardstock and we played Memory.  I colored mine but if you want the children to concentrate more on the shapes than just colors you could use them in black and white.  Or it might be fun to ask the children to remember what color each animal was in the story.

Goldilocks and the 3 Bears!

3 Bears song magnets1

3 Bears song magnets2

I read a couple of versions of the 3 Bears story, and used these pictures to retell it on the magnet board.  I taught the children a simple song that told the highlights of the story too.

Song – 3 Bears – tune of 3 Blind Mice

3 Brown Bears

3 Brown Bears

See all the beds

See all the chairs

The mama cooked in a big round pot

The papa’s porridge was much too hot

The baby bear always cried a lot,

3 Brown Bears

After singing it all week I made a book for the children using this song and the pictures from the magnet board.

Bear song book1

Bear song book2

Bear song book3

Bear song book4

Because they had been singing it with the pictures they could turn the pages and “read” it too.  Nora was even pointing to some of the words.

Goldilocks copy

I made a Goldilocks pointer for each of them by gluing her onto a popsicle stick.

Bears Bed copy

We had fun playing 5 Bears in the Bed too.

smaller bears

I enlarged these a little for my magnet board, and copied these for the children to color.  Nora cut her own.

Bears in bed

You probably know this song (chant)

5 bears in the bed and the little one said

I’m crowded, roll over

So they all rolled over and one fell out

4 bears in the bed …

1 bear in the bed and the little one said

I’m lonely!

We sang it with hand motions and took the bears off the bed as we sang it every day too.

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Of course we had to do it with Teddy Grahams too!

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We used our new table for pudding paint.  The kids helped me mix up some instant chocolate pudding.  I put a few spoonfuls on the tray and let them play – and then lick their fingers!

pudding bear

When they had had enough fun we made a print of the pudding by laying this bear shape onto the pudding and gently pressing it down.

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I wanted to cut out the bear shape but decided I liked the words at the top too!

It was a Bear-y fun week!  (sorry)

Vacation Activities!

My Grandchildren were going on vacation, and traveling by car, so I decided to collect a few things to help keep them busy on the trip.  My first stop was a Dollar Tree store where I found these wonderful magnetic word, letter and picture cards.

Dollar Tree

I loved how there was a picture for each alphabet letter in the first set.  Color words, shape words, and images of shapes in the second set.  The third set contains many of the sight words the girls have been learning and the last set had compound words and pictures that matched.   I also bought a small metal rectangular cookie sheet for each of them.  They could use these cookie sheets for the magnets or as a small hard surface to draw and write on.

Along with these I also gave the children these logos and action pictures, as well as pictures of people in the family.  All of these were printed on cardstock and cut apart, then I put a small magnet on the back so they could create sentences on their cookie sheets.Logo:verbs

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Dollar Tree also had these very sturdy plastic pockets.  I made a few games for the children to play with wipe off markers, and I also gave them a blank page so they could just draw or write on the plastic and wipe it off with a small piece of felt or half a magic eraser sponge.

Build a man

This was one of the pages that would slip into the plastic pocket.  The game is really Hang Man but when I started playing with Owen he seemed so young I hated to have him drawing a hangman – so instead we just added body parts and built a man.  Guess it sounds a bit silly, but I liked this version better!  The kids could play this with each other as long as they stuck with the sight words or family names that they all know how to spell.

tic tac toe

I made tic tac toe boards that would go into the plastic sleeves.  I also printed off some pages that had a simple clipart picture that the children could practice stretching out the sounds to write the word.

ABC journal covers copy

These were the covers of alphabet journals I made for each child.  They had a half page for each letter of the alphabet.  I asked the girls to draw and label something that began with each letter.  I asked Owen to draw things and write a sentence about things he saw for each letter.

license-plate-map-game-kcedventures

I printed off this USA map for the children to color in as they saw license plates from different states.

Can you see hunt

I found a simple scavenger hunt for the children to check off as they saw things on their travels.  There are many choices on Pinterest.

My grandchildren love Mo Willems books and I found these step by step drawings of Pigeon, Piggy and Elephant.  They could use the wipe off sleeves or paper.

pigeon

elephant-piggie-drawing 2

elephant-piggie-drawing 3

 

They like these step by step drawing so I included a few more.

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My favorite thing that I included was a stamped envelope that I labeled with my own address, so the children could write me a note or send me pictures.  Later I heard that they wrote the notes and sealed the envelopes without even mentioning it to their parents – they just asked them to mail the letters!

They had a wonderful vacation!

The Main Idea

I have been having so much fun volunteering in my grandson’s First Grade classroom this year.  I get to work with small groups of children during Reader’s Workshop, and I love it.  Over the last few weeks I noticed that several groups of children have trouble identifying the main idea of a text.  This week I spent some time researching on Pinterest and other wonderful sites for helpful ideas.  I found that many of the lessons available to teach Main Idea deal with informational text.  There are wonderful posts if you are working on this, but I was trying to help these students find the main idea in stories.

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I found lots of examples of this fun idea!

Collect a few objects that all relate to one idea and put them into a bag.  Take them out one at a time and ask the children to figure out the main idea of the bag.

The main idea might be a farm:

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Or the main idea might be school tools

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Or it could be baking cookies:

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I would take out the least obvious thing first, building up to the thing that will give the children the biggest clue.  For example,  with the farm idea I would start with the fence, and save the farmer for the last item I showed the children.  For the school bag I would pull out a crayon or pencil first, and save the school bus for the very last thing.

I think this activity would be helpful by giving the children practice in thinking about what all the items have in common.  The items in the bag are the details that all go together to tell the main idea.

When the students get the idea of this activity I might add a writing component.

Writing

I printed these 2 on a sheet to save paper!  It is pretty straight forward and simple.  The children would list a few of the items and the main idea of the bag.  For the final sentence I would expect the children to write something like “all these things belong on a farm,” or “you use all these things to bake cookies.”   Part of the reason I like this activity is because it does make it seem very simple to figure out the main idea – it kind of takes the mystery out of it, although of course it gets a bit more tricky when they are looking for the main idea of a story.

Here are a few more ideas for Main Idea Bags:

Suggestions

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Suggestions  3

A similar idea that could be used to introduce Main Idea is to show the children an illustration and asking “What is the most important thing going on in this picture?”

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For this illustration the children might say “the animals are at a circus,”  or “the animals are in the circus.”  Then you could ask what they see that gives them that idea.  This gives them practice determining the main idea and identifying supporting details.

You could begin with a very simple picture that clearly shows the main idea.
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And also show them some pictures that they will need to think a bit – I love this illustration from Lorinda Bryan Cauley’s book Clap Your Hands, where the characters are all whispering secrets!

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Of course you would need to be clear that you are only talking about the main idea of that picture, and for the main idea of a book you have to look at the whole book.

It might be helpful to use photographs – even photos taken in your classroom.

Here is a writing activity that could be used with looking at illustrations to find the main idea.

illustration writing

 

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I intentionally did not crop this photo.  I would expect the children to see that the main idea is the children driving vehicles down the ramp.  They might talk about things they see like the Christmas stockings, the Dad sitting on the floor and the edge of the Frozen Castle.  This would be great practice in talking about how to figure out what is the most important part.  There are often details that are not important and the children need to be able to figure that out.   I would discuss which details support the main idea.  If I used the writing activity with this photograph I would explain that the details they list should be things that help them know the most important part of the picture.

Two Words

I came across another idea that I thought might help children think about the main idea.  The basic idea of this strategy is to challenge the children to tell a story using 2 words.  For example, they might say “fell-playground,” and the story they are telling would be about an accident at recess.   “Bike-park” might be about riding their bike at a park.  “Grandma-cookies” might be about baking with their grandmother.  I would discuss how the 2 words they chose tell the main idea of their story.

One teacher asked her children to write a 2 word story about what they did over the weekend.  You could have them write on small pieces of paper, then collect them and draw one out at a time and ask the children to tell the details of their story.

You could also have the children share their 2 word story with a partner, first reading their 2 words, then adding the details.

Tomorrow is my day to volunteer in Owen’s room!  Maybe I’ll get a chance to try out a few of these ideas!

 

 

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