Holidays Around the World – and a Give Away!!

D. J. Inkers has done it again!!    Take a look at this wonderful set of clipart –  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
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:, check it out if you have a chance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
The children would label Santa, the surfboard and the waves on this page.
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.
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.
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.
Here is a pdf version of this book.
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.
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.
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; and sign up for their email newsletter at  .
Happy Holidays!

Turkey Facts

I think it is really important to give Kindergartners lots of experience with information books.  Whether this is part of your Reader’s Workshop – or however you fit it into your schedule, it needs to be engaging and fun for the children.  I love using puppets as teaching tools, and I have one that I used specifically with information books.  Her name is Roxie Heart.

There are lots of things about Roxie that make her very fun to use.  It is very easy to put your hand into this puppet, and her mouth works really well.  I found little tennis shoes at Michael’s that just fit her.  My favorite part of Roxie is that it is really easy to sew little dresses for her, so I use fabric that goes with the information book and make a little dress that helps her introduce the subject of the book.  She also has a little purse and always carries something that helps her teach.

Please don’t think that you cannot use a puppet if you can’t or don’t want to make new outfits for different subjects.  It does make it fun, but it is optional.  However I would strongly encourage you to try using puppets if you don’t already – the children really love them.  I saw a presenter use a nondescript monster type puppet and made very simple clothing for it by coloring on paper lunch bags that fit over his head – it was every bit as effective!

In the photo Roxie is wearing her ocean dress, but she has a turkey dress too.  Roxie comes to visit the class BEFORE they see the information book.  Each of my teaching puppets has a definite personality.  Roxie thinks that she is the smartest kindergartner in the world and that she knows more than anyone about the subject.  She comes out of the castle and talks to me, and the children.  She asks if they like her new dress and then tells the children that she is an expert about turkeys (or whatever the subject.)

I use the book All About Turkeys by Jim Arnosky.

My primary objective was to teach how to read and learn from informational books, you can use any subject.  Please take a look at how I begin teaching about information books under the section Text Features.

I read the book and chose about 6 facts from the book that I thought would be interesting and new to the children.  I typed out each fact on a card and drew a very simple illustration.  I have given away so many of my materials that I don’t have those cards, but the facts I remember were – A turkey has no feathers on his head.  Some turkeys sleep in trees.  A turkey has a caruncle on his beak that hangs down when he gets excited.  A turkey’s head changes color when he gets mad.  Mother turkeys lay between 8-18 eggs at a time (not positive I remember the right number!).   A turkey can fly up to 50 mph.  You would choose any facts that you were interested in or the facts you need to teach.

Roxie would have something in her pocket that she would use to talk about one of the facts.  For example she might have a comb that a turkey gave her because his head is bald and he doesn’t need it – he doesn’t even have any feathers on his head.   Or a crayon to color the turkey’s head a different color so he won’t look mad, etc.  I just loved having fun with her.  She would tell all the facts to the kids just conversationally.  Then I would show them the picture cards and Roxie would be amazed when they remembered the facts she told them.  She would always tell them they were the smartest kindergartners, next to her.

Then I would ask Roxie how she learned so much about turkeys, and she would tell us she read about them in a book.  I put Roxie back into the castle before I read to the kids.  By the time I read the information book the children had heard the facts 2-3 times –  first Roxie talked about the facts, then they would match the facts to the picture cards, then often I would turn the cards over to see if they still remembered them.  That means that before they hear the book they are already familiar with the important points – it focuses their listening.  I think of it a little like the skill older children use when they read the questions at the end of the chapter before reading a text book.

I ask the children to wave to me if they hear one of Roxie’s facts when I am reading the book.   As they point out the facts I put the picture card of that fact up in a pocket chart.  The kids often pointed out that the fact was in bold print, or as a caption under a picture, etc. because they knew about how information books work.

After reading we would go over the facts one more time.  Then I would send the children to their tables to draw and write 3 of the facts that they remember.  I made a point of saying that they couldn’t just draw and write any fact, it had to be one we read about in the book.

Please click on the link below to see the paper we used – it was the same type we used for Writer’s Workshop.

Turkey facts

I would run these pages back to back and fold it so the title was on the front.  At Thanksgiving when I did Turkey Facts, not all children were ready for phonetic spelling.  I might use fewer lines and larger boxes for drawing.  This is the same format I used for retelling information books through the year.  I love tying reading and writing into the subjects we are learning!

Informational Text

I also created a book to reinforce expository text features.

I thought it was important for children to realize that all books have an author – story books as well as information books.

When we were studying these text features I passed out informational books to the children and we looked for all of these elements.  This showed the children that not all information books have all these features.

I did not include a page about Indexes, but that would be a good addition.

Here is a link if you would like to print the pages of this book.  I didn’t include the photocopied pictures from books that the children glued on because of copyrights.  I just xeroxed and reduced the cover of a book, and examples of the different text features.

Info Text Book

After learning about these text features each year we would make a class book using them.  Here is a book about animals that shows the informational text features.

Of course I wasn’t able to complete this page until the book was done so I could add the page numbers.

This page showed bold print.

This was an example of captions.  There were multiple pages to give more children a chance to add an illustration.

This was an example of labels.

We looked at examples of glossaries and learned that sometimes there was a description of a word, sometimes a picture illustrating what a word meant.

Other years I created a book about Earth Elements – Air, Land and Water; because our science curriculum changed.  The best part of this study was that for the rest of the year when I would read an information book to the class the children would be so excited when they saw bold print, captions and labels!

Narrative Text

I thought this book was a good review of story elements and important parts of storybooks, but most of all I liked sending it home to inform parents about what we were learning.  I always encouraged parents to read to their children, after seeing this book they understood more clearly when I asked them to question their children about the characters, setting, problem and solution – or beginning, middle and end.  Comprehension is such an important part of reading, and encouraging parents to ask their children to retell stories they have heard is an important step.

I would be happy to share the masters for this book if someone can tell me how to post them.  In some cases I have the document on my computer, other pages have been cut and pasted but I could scan or photograph them, but I am not sure how you could print them.  Any help?

The words on this page say Every book has a title, it is the name of the book.  The title is usually the biggest word on the cover.

I gave each child an assembled book, then I photocopied and reduced the cover of a book to show the title.  One of the assessments I was required to do was Concepts about print – it included asking the children to point out the title of a book.  I realized I needed to make a point of interchangeably using “the name of the book,” and the title.  I also made a point of looking at the title on the cover of books with the children and talking about how those were usually the largest words.

One year our school had a guest author who taught my children a simple song to the tune of the Farmer in the Dell – I sang it often to differentiate author and illustrator, and included it in this book.

The author writes the words

The author writes the words

Hi Ho Library-O

The author writes the words.


The illustrator draws

The illustrator draws

Hi Hi Library-O

The illustrator draws.

The words say “Characters are the people or animals who talk and do things in the story.”

I used this little symbol labeled characters (at the top of the page) whenever I wanted the children to think about the characters.  Sometimes as a retelling activity I would have the children draw pictures of the characters, setting, problem and solution – and having these little “icons” helped the children remember what the story elements are as well as where I wanted them to draw.

The icon I used for this was also this broken bat.

A small version of this bandaid was the icon for solution – we discussed how solution and resolution meant the same thing.

I found that helping the children see that you usually find out the characters and setting at the beginning of a story, then in the middle something usually goes wrong, and at the end the problem gets fixed; really helped them in retelling stories.

Please click on the link below to get a copy of the page headings and clipart I used for this book!

Text feature pgs.