Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Click here to take you to the 21 teaching tips for this book.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo




I love this book! It is so fun! When Renee and her father visit the Audubon Zoo Renee starts to realize that something is just not right. She cannot understand why all the animals are not doing animals things. So, Renee's father tells her about all the things the animals do at night after the zoo closes. Your students, like Renee, will really get a kick out of all the games and dancing and playing the animals do when the rest of us are fast asleep. But will Renee, and your students really believe it?

Listed below are possible ideas and questions for the reading skills and strategies I think work the best for this book. Use these to help create an awesome lesson for your students, or simply use the questioning FREEBIE I made.


Reading level: 3.3
Theme/subject: animals
Genre: humorous fiction

Suggested vocabulary/phrases: galloping, frolic about, bling, flamenco, tango, synchronize swim, limbo, cater, hokey pokey, Sir Elton John, content,

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions – these are just possible questions or wonderings from either the student or teacher
    • Before – I wonder what the story is going to be about. I wonder why all the animals are sleeping. I wonder what sleepy animals do at the Audubon Zoo.
    • During – I wonder why the animals are so sleepy. 
    • After - I wonder if her dad’s story is true.
  **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – Third – he, they, Renee
  • Author's purpose – entertain
    • Evidence
      1. The author wrote in rhyme.
      2. The illustrations are very silly.
      3. Animals don’t really do all the things the story says.
  • Beginning, middle, end – the most important event from each
    • Beginning – Renee wondered why the animals in the zoo were so tired.
    • Middle – Renee’s father told her about all the silly antics the animals do at night when no one is around.
    • End – Renee didn’t believe her father until they were leaving and she saw a monkey tuning his guitar.
  • Cause and effect  
      1. Why did Renee think something was missing from the zoo? Because all of the animals were not doing animal things.
      2. According to her dad, why were all the animals so sleepy during the day? Because they have parties instead of going to bed.
      3. Why did Renee start to believe her dad’s story? Because as she was leaving the zoo a monkey winked at her and started tuning his guitar.
  • Character analysis - describe Renee. Describe her dad. {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character, how others think/see the character}
  • Classify & categorize
    • Classify
      1. Zoo animals
    • Categorize
      1.  By kinds (mammals, amphibians, etc.)
      2. By what they eat (omnivore, carnivore, etc.)
      3. By when they sleep (daytime, nighttime)
      4. By habitat
  • Compare & contrast
    • Different animals
  • Connections
    • Text-to-self  - going to the zoo. Having someone tell you a story you didn’t really believe. Wondering of something is true but you are just not really sure.
    • Text-to-text
      1. Going to the Zoo by Tom Paxton
      2. A View at the Zoo by Kathleen Long Bostrom and Guy Francis
  • Drawing conclusions – Does Renee believe her dad’s story?
    • Text clues – Renee tells her dad that his story was too silly and therefore can’t be true. As Renee and her dad are leaving the zoo she sees a chimp wink at her and tune his guitar.
    • My conclusion – I think Renee thinks her dad’s story was true because she saw the chimp with a guitar, just like her dad said in his story.
  • Main idea & details
    • Main idea – the story is mostly about what the zoo animals do when everyone else is asleep.
    • Details
      1. Renee wonders why the animals are not doing animal things.
      2. Dad tells Renee a story of how the animals have a party at night when everyone else is in bed.
      3. The animals play pin-the-tail-on-the-zookeeper.
  • Predict
      1. What do you think the story is going to be about?
      2. Why do you think the animals are not doing animal things?
      3. What do you think Renee’s dad is going to tell her about the animals being sleepy?
      4. Do you think Renee is going to believe her dad’s story?
  • Problem & solution
    • Problem – the problem in the story is that none of the animals are doing animal kinds of things as Renee and her dad walk around the zoo.
    • Solution – Renee’s dad tells her a story about how all the animals have a party at night when everyone else is asleep, that is why they are so sleepy during the day.
  • Sequencing
      1. Renee and her dad go to the zoo.
      2. Renee gets treats and plays on the equipment at the zoo.
      3. Renee wonders why the animals are not doing animal things.
      4. Renee and her dad get something to eat.
      5. Renee’s dad tells her a story of how the animals have a party at night while everyone else is asleep.
      6. Renee tells her dad that his story is too silly and that it can’t be true.
      7. Renee and her dad get ready to go home.
      8. As they walk out of the zoo Renee sees a chimp wink at her and tune his guitar.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – someplace in the story that the reader has a strong reaction for example an “I knew it”, or “Don’t do it” type of moment while reading.
    • Renee doesn’t believe her dad’s story until they are leaving the zoo and she sees the monkey wink at her and start to tune his guitar. What would you say to Renee about the story being true or not true?
  • Visualize – what do YOU picture…Renee’s dad comes up with a really good story of why the animals are so tired during the day. Why do you YOU think the animals are tired during the day.
Click HERE to get this freebie.
Happy reading!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Click here to take you to the 10 teaching tips for this book.

Happy teaching!


Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Biggest Snowball Ever! by John Rogan





It is Christmas Eve, and Claire and Paul are excited to go out and play in the snow. They join their friends at the park where they all build snowmen. While working on her snowman, Claire decides to throw a snowball at her brother. She hits him right in the back of the head. As Paul tries to get back at Claire, she ducks and the snowball that Paul throws hits someone else in the ear. That was all that was needed to start the snowball fight, unfortunately for Paul, he is everyone's target. Paul decides to get back at everyone by rolling a big snowball down the hill at them. To Paul's dismay he slips as the snowball starts to roll and away he and the snowball goes, collecting speed, snow and kids on its way down the hill. Thankfully Claire stays clear of the snowball and is able to go run for help. Will the neighbors be able to rescue the children so they don't miss Christmas? Find the book and read it to find out!! :)

Below is a list of questions and ideas for many of the reading skills and strategies. You can use these to come up with a fun activity for your students to do after reading this super cute winter book. If you don't have time, don't worry, I came up with one for you.


Reading level: 2.6
Theme/subject: Christmas, winter, snow
Genre: fiction, holiday

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: winter gear, even up the score, summit of the hill, massive size, one and all, aid, delayed, glum, all their might, plight, hesitate,

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions – these are just possible questions or wonderings from either the student or teacher
    • Before – I wonder what the story is going to be about. I wonder how the boy got stuck in the snowball. I wonder if the other kids will get stuck. I wonder if the boy is going to get hurt.
    • During – I wonder what the kids are going to do in the park. I wonder if Paul really will get mad at Claire. I wonder who is going to win the snowball fight. I wonder what Paul is going to do to even up the score. I wonder if you really could get stuck in a snowball. I wonder if the kids will be able to get out of the snowball. I wonder what Claire and Paul will get for Christmas.
    • After – I wonder what Paul and Claire got for Christmas. I wonder if Paul will try to make a big snowball again.
  **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – third – they, he, she
  • Author's purpose – entertain
    • Evidence
      1. The author wrote the story in rhyme.
      2. Kids can’t really get stuck in a snowball.
      3. It was pretty silly to see all the children sticking out of the snowball.
  • Beginning, middle, end – the most important event from each
    • Beginning – Paul and Claire went outside to play with their friends in the snow.
    • Middle – Paul decided he was going to get even with all the kids by making really big snowball.
    • End – Claire got the parents to come help dig the children out of the big snowball
  • Cause and effect
      1. Why did Paul and Claire decide to go outside and play? Because there was snow outside.
      2. Why were Paul and Claire looking for clothes that no one wears? Because they were going to use them for their snowman.
      3. Why did Claire think Paul was going to be mad at her? Because she threw a snowball at him.
      4. How come the snowball fight started? Because Paul’s snowball missed his sister and hit someone else in the ear.
      5. How come Paul wanted to even up the score? Because he got hit by ten or more snowballs.
      6. Why did Paul end up a part of his snowball? Because he slipped.
      7. How come the children were running? Because the snowball was headed straight for them.
      8. How come the snowball stopped? Because it hit a tree.
      9. How come Paul and Claire are dreaming of toys they’d love to keep? Because they know that Santa is on his way.
  • Character analysis - describe Claire and Paul {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Classify & categorize
    • Classify – the snowmen in the story
    • Categorize
      1. Their size
      2. Their clothes
      3. Their noses
  • Compare & contrast 
    • Claire and Paul
    • Claire and Paul’s snowmen
    • Your snowman and a snowman from the book (have students draw their own snowman first.
  • Connections 
    • Text-to-self    
      1. Having snow to play in.
      2. Having a snowball fight with your friends.
      3. Making a snowman.
    • Text-to-text
      1. Snowball Fight by Jimmy Fallon
      2. The Big Snowball (An All Aboard Picture Reader) by Wendy Cheyette Lewison and Maryann Cocca-Leffler
      3. The Snowball (A Step-Into-Reading, Step 1) by Jennifer Armstrong and Jean Pidgeon
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – What does the word plight mean?
    • Text clues – the text says that the neighbors dug with all their might to save the children. I can see the children stuck in a big snowball.
    • What I know – I know that if you are trying to save someone it is because they are probably in trouble or stuck.
    • My conclusion – I think the word plight means stuck because the kids were stuck in the snowball and needed help to get out.
  • Main idea & details
    • Main idea – the story is mostly about kids getting stuck in a huge snowball.
    • Details – the kids were having a snowball fight. Paul was making a big snowball to get back at all the kids that hit him with a snowball. Paul lost control of the snowball and it rolled down the hill collecting snow and kids.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Paul slipped and lost control of his snowball.
  • Predict
      1. What do you think the story is going to be about?
      2. What do you think happened to cause the snowball to get so big?
      3. What are some of the things you think the children will do in the snow?
      4. Do you think Paul will get mad at Claire?
      5. Why do you think Paul is walking up the hill?
      6. What do you think Paul is going to do with his snowball?
      7. How do you think the snowball is going to stop?
      8. How are the children going to get out of the snowball?
  • Problem & solution
    • Problem – the problem in the story is that the kids get stuck in a giant snowball.
    • Solution – Claire runs to town and gets the neighbors to come help the kids.
  • Sequencing
      1. Claire and Paul want to go out and play in the snow.
      2. Claire and Paul walk to the park with their friends.
      3. All the kids build snowmen.
      4. Claire decides to throw a snowball at Paul.
      5. Paul throws a snowball and it hits someone in the ear.
      6. Paul gets hit by 10 or more snowballs.
      7. Paul goes up a hill to make a snowball.
      8. Paul’s snowball starts to roll down the hill and collect snow and kids.
      9. The neighbors come and help the kids get out of the snowball.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Summarize 
    • Someone - Paul
    • Wanted – wanted to get back at all the kids that hit him with a snowball
    • But – but he couldn’t do it with a small snowball
    • So ­– so he walked up the hill to make a big snowball that he was going to roll down on them.
    • Then – Then all of a sudden he slipped and got stuck in the snowball, which rolled down the hill and gathered up snow and kids!
    • Finally – Finally Claire got the neighbors to help get all the kids out of the giant snowball.
  • Visualize – what do YOU picture… Paul was going to roll a big snowball down the hill to get back at all the kids for hitting him with snowballs. What would YOU do to get back at someone that hit you with a snowball?
Click HERE to get this from my store.
Happy reading!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday


Click here to take you to the 21 teaching tips for this book.

Happy reading!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner





Skippyjon Jones has the best imagination ever, but unfortunately it always seems to get him into trouble.  In this book he takes an imagination adventure to the streets of Mexico where he meets a band of Chihuahuas. These Chihuahuas call themselves Los Chimichangos and they are being terrorized by a a bad guy they call El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandidto and they want Skippito (Skippyjon's name for this adventure) and his trusty sword to save them. A little later El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito comes and Skippito is shaking in his boots, but he stands his ground and thrusts his sword and saves the day...but not really!

Your students will love discovering what El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito really is!

Listed below are 16 of the reading skills and strategies that I felt worked best with this book. Use this as a starting off point to create a fun and meaningful lesson to go with this super cute book!

In addition, I created a setting and character freebie that you can pick up in my TpT store.


Reading level: 2.4
Theme/subject: clever, imagination, bravery, creativity & imagination
Genre: adventure, humorous

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: self-respecting, flock of birds, lecture, rifled through, incognito, decreed, fiesta, siesta, frijoles, somber voice, declared, shimmied and shook, castanets, hovered, thrust, ruckus

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions – either questions you ask the kids, or ones they ask
    • Before – I wonder what the story is going to be about. I wonder if Skippyjon Jones is his name. I wonder what he is doing in that plant. I wonder if the bee has anything to do with the story.
    • During – I wonder why he likes sleeping with the birds. I wonder why he has to stay out of his closet. I wonder if he will stay out of his closet. I wonder if he will really think about being a Siamese cat. I wonder what he is going to do in his room all by himself. I wonder if he will really stand up to El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito.
    • After – I wonder if he will get a new piñata. I wonder what his next adventure is going to be.  
       **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – third. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (he, they, she).
  • Author's purpose – entertain {evidence} cats don’t talk. Cats don’t usually sleep in bird nests. The author used a lot of rhyming and made a fun song to go in the story. All of these things make a very entertaining story.
  • Beginning, middle, end – what are the most important events from each part, basically if these didn’t happen the story wouldn’t move on.
    • Beginning – Skippyjon Jones got put in his room to think about what it means to be a Siamese cat, not a bird, mouse, bat, moose or goose.
    • Middle – Skippyjon Jones did not think about being a cat, instead he took and adventure and defeated El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito.
    • End – El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito wasn’t really a bad guy it was a piñata hidden in his closet that was now broke open because Skippyjon Jones did do what his mother told him to do.
  • Cause and effect
      1. Why was Skippyjon’s mom not pleased?  Because no self-respecting cat ever slept with birds.
      2. Why did Skippyjon have to sit in his room? So he could think about what it was like to be a Siamese cat.
      3. Why did his mom tell him to stay out of the closet? Because there was a bee piñata hiding in it.
      4. Why wouldn’t his mom let him come out of his room? Because he was still thinking.
      5. Why did all of the Chimichangos go crazy loco? Because they thought Skippyjon Jones was going to take care of the bad Bumblebeeto.
      6. How come Skippito had no time to plan? Because Alfredo Buzzito flew straight for Skippito.
      7. How come all the doggies burst into song? Because Skippito had “Popped” El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito.
      8. Why did mom and all the girls come running in Skippyjon’s room? Because they heard such a loud ruckus.
      9. How come there was candy and beanbag doggies all over Skippyjon’s room? Because he broke the piñata that was hiding in his closet.
  • Character analysis - describe Skippyjon Jones {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Compare & contrast – a time you got into trouble and what you did or didn’t do while in trouble to Skippyjon’s “time-out”.
  • Connections
    • Text-to-self – getting into trouble. Having a time-out in your room. Not doing what you were supposed to while in trouble. Playing while you were supposed to be thinking.
    • Text-to-text connection – Connect to “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” by Mark Teague. Both books are about an imagination adventure.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – What special day do you think is coming up for Skippyjon Jones?
    • text clues – the book says that he had his birthday piñata on his head.
    • what I know – I know that people usually buy piñatas for birthday parties.
    • my conclusion -  I think it that Skippyjon Jones is going to have a birthday party soon because the book says that his birthday piñata was on his head.
  • Main idea & details
    • main idea – The story is mostly about a cat named Skippyjon Jones and his imaginary adventure to Mexico where he defeated the El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito.
    • Details – Skippyjon Jones plays in his room instead of “thinking about what it means to be a Siamese cat". Skippyjon meets a mysterious band of Chihuahuas and tells him he is “El Skippito, the great sword fighter”.  All the dogs cheer after Skippyjon defeats El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story is when El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito pops right above Skippyjon.
  • Predict – What do you think the story is going to be about? What do you think Skippyjon is going to do in his room? Do you think Skippyjon is going to get into trouble again? How do you think Skippyjon is going to defeat El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito? Why do you think El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito popped?
  • Sequencing
      1. Skippyjon Jones was put in his room to think about what it meant to be a Siamese cat.
      2. Skippyjon Jones put on his mask and sword and climbed onto his mouse.
      3. He walked into his closet where his imagination took him to Mexico.
      4. He met up with a band of Chihuahuas called Los Chimichangos.
      5. Skippyjon Jones gave them the right password.
      6. Skippyjon Jones fought El Blimp Bumblebeeto Bandito with his sword.
      7. The Los Chimichangos cheered!
      8. Skippyjon’s mother and is his sisters heard a loud ruckus.
      9. Skippyjon and the broken piñata fell out of his closet.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Summarize
    • Someone – Mother
    • Wanted – wanted Skippyjon to think about what it meant to be a Siamese cat
    • But – but he didn’t want to.
    • So – So he put on his mask and sword and got onto his mouse
    • Then – then he entered his closet which in his mind was Mexico. He met a band of Chihuahuas, defeated a bandito and
    • Finally – finally ended up back in his room in a pile of candy and stuffed doggies because the bandito was a piñata hiding in his closet.
  • Visualize – Skippyjon Jones visualized himself in Mexico, meeting a band of Chihuahuas and defeating a bandito when he was supposed to be thinking about what it meant to be a Siamese cat. Visualize what adventure you would go on if you had to sit and think about why you were in trouble.
Click HERE to get you copy.

 Happy reading!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Click here to take you to the 11 teaching tips for this book.
Happy reading!

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