Monday, October 15, 2012

Having Fun with Common Core: More Reading Buddies Follow-up Activities

Today, we’ll look at a group of books that I’ve written: A Place for Butterflies, A Place for Bats, A Place for Birds, A Place for Frogs, and A Place for Fish. In these books, published by Peachtree Publishers, two sections of text appear on each double-page spread. The larger, simpler text that runs across the tops of the pages provides general information and can stand on its own.

On each left-hand page, the text describes something people are doing (often accidentally or without forethought) to harm birds or butterflies, etc. The large text on each right-hand page explains a simple way that people can stop or reduce the effect of their negative behavior. The repetitive endings add lyricism to the text and help reinforce the idea that we can work together to save our world’s wild life and wild places.

The smaller text presented in sidebars provides additional details about the history of the problem and solutions that are occurring right now. By reading an entire spread, the students gain a clear understanding of the effect their actions can have on the natural world.

Overall, the books are honest and also optimistic. Their structure invites younger buddies to read the larger, simpler type, while older children can focus on the more detailed sidebars. The buddies can then look for the animals in the stunning artwork created by Higgins Bond  and discuss what they’ve just learned before moving on to the next double-page spread.

Here are two great activities the buddies can do together after reading these books. They will deepen student understanding of the goals described in CCSS for ELA: Reading Informational Text #1 and #2. The first one also addresses standard #5 and both support Writing standards #2 and #8, but I’ll discuss that more later.

Create a See-Saw Book
Have each book-buddy team create a see-saw book that compares two of the butterflies discussed in A Place for Butterflies If the students decide to focus on monarchs and Karner blues:

  • On the first left-hand page, they might write: “Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed leaves.”
  • On the facing right-hand page, they could write: “Karner blue caterpillars eat wild lupine.”
  • The next page would read: “Both kinds of caterpillars eat plants.”
Subsequent pages should continue to compare the two species—size, habitat, range, etc. The students can use webs to help them organize their thoughts.

If You Were a Bird
After the buddies read A Place for Birds, ask them to pretend they are a bird.

  • Have younger buddies write a paragraph describing what it feels like to learn how to fly.
  • Have older buddies describe how it feels to soar through the sky and include details of what they see as they fly over their town or city.
When the buddies are done, they can share what they’ve written.

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