Your students will love guessing who the biography is about as the author describes each entry’s early life, parents’ views, and the individual’s contributions. The person’s name is revealed at the very end. Each entry is a worthy and diverse person that people of all ages should know about and be able to mention and recognize in an intelligent conversation. Many of the entries are appropriate for African American History Month as well. The author has offered to provide you with a PDF file that has a each entry on a single page for easy printing of each biography if that would work better for the way you are using the biographies. I am estimating that the reading level is approximately sixth grade. For listening, I would recommend the book for grades 4-adult. Steve Reifman’s ideas and books are very in touch with the ways kids learn. I highly recommend his YouTube videos, books, and website.
Schema: weather, field trips
Science: weather terms and events
The author shares a very entertaining story for students about a field trip to a mountain where Miss Mingo and the class encounter weather changes, meet animals that predict weather events, and discover many interesting little known facts about animals and weather.
Fact and Opinion: This book would be a fun one to distinguish the differences between fiction in the actual story and the facts that are included in smaller print below each story page of the book.
Schema: animal friendships, pets that get along with each other
Text-to-Text Connections: Owen and Mzee: The Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff. In both stories the animals feel a close connection with one another.
Summarizing: Students can sequence and summarize the events in the story.
Compare and Contrast: Compare the two stories animal events
Text-to-Self Connections: making new friends
Schema: Westward Expansion, old west stories
Text-to-Self Connections: being cared for by an elderly relative
Figurative Language: Holt has filled the book with lots of similes such as “the land was as flat as Ma Clearwater’s burnt corncakes;” “Little Critter shot out of the wagon like cannonballs;” “and their tongues went to hanging like a half-starved hound dog’s.”
At the end of the book the author includes information mentioned in the book about true events that occurred during the 1800′s such as westward migration, the gold rush, stagecoach robberies, and the Pony Express.
Holt’s has written a humorous story in tall tale fashion about Granny and little Critter who get separated from the rest of the family as they travel out west from the Appalachian Mountains. Granny uses her wits and all that her relatives have taught her about survival skills in the desert and the mountains. This book would make a great addition to a fifth grade western expansion unit.
Schema: being cruel and unkind
Text-to-Self: Feeling mistreated by other kids, not being accepted
Bullies: Chloe decides to be cruel and bully another student.
Mental Images: Imagine the ripple of the water and think how this is like an action of kindness or cruelty.
Metaphor: The ripple and the act are alike in one way; they both spread far from you.
Synthesis: What small things have you done to make the world, your home, your school, your family better?
Can you think of ways Chloe could make amends for the way she treated Maya if she never sees her again?
Schema: wanting to win or be the best at something, plants
Text-to-Self: wanting to be good at something
Predicting: What do you predict that Rosie is going to do with Violet’s sprout?
Synthesis: As Rosie felt guilty for covering Violet’s sprout with dirt, what do you think she was feeling? Do you have a text to self connection with feeling bad over something you did without thinking it through?
Inference: What do you infer that Rosie and her teacher are thinking at the end of the book as they look at each other?
Science: The things plants need to grow are discussed in the book such as soil, air, water, and sunlight.
Author’s Perspective: The story is an excellent example of a first person narrative story.
Personification: the fish takes on human qualities of reasoning with the boy in this tall tale.
Mental Images: The author’s use of descriptive words helps the reader to make mental images.
Hyperbole: Write five events from the story that could never happen in real life. Tall Tales use exaggeration or hyperbole to create a character that is similar to what a superhero could do. Can you think of a tall tale that uses exaggeration or hyperbole to make the character seem like a superhero?
Inferences: Reread the part about the man being thrown out of the water. Do you agree that the dynamite caused him to fly out? What other inference can you make about how he was pushed up and out of the water? Write a story about what the man would tell his friends when he got back to shore.
Drawing Conclusions: What text evidence from the story led to the boy’s conclusion to let Jangles go?
Synthesis: What would change about the town and the fishing outings if he caught and kept Jangles?
Schema: original Goldilocks and the Three Bears story
Text-to-Text Connections: Both stories have a similar plot
Compare and Contrast: What are the differences about and similarities of the Goldilocks characters?
What are the differences and similarities with the houses?
Synthesis: Can you think of another place Goldilocks could visit that would teach readers about manners or books?
Goldie Socks is a great book for librarians to use with library orientation in elementary school. I love the part where the books were returned to the shelf upside down and backwards. If anything could help students learn to put the books back where they go, oh the joy!
Schema: bossy friends or siblings
Text-to-Text Connections: In both books the main character has to deal with being bossy and the consequences
Compare and Contrast: Compare the bossy action in each story. In Ladybug girl, Lulu apologizes and KiKi accepts. In Tony Baloney, when given the opportunity to be in charge, Tony begins to boss his younger siblings as he was treated.
Synthesis: I wonder if the readers of these two stories would follow KiKi’s model or Tony’s model after being bossed. Do you think kids that are bossy, have been bossed around by big sisters or brothers? What could you say to your friends who act bossy toward you?
Schema: bears, fall
Setting: This book takes place in the woods.
Compare and Contrast: This is a great book to use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast real bears and imaginary bears.
Real: would not befriend a person, would not stand and hide behind a tree day after day, would not treat books kindly, hibernates during the winter
Imaginary: comes when called, listens to the woman reading, gently carries books back to cave
Inference: Readers will infer in this story that a bear wants to know what letters are and what it has to do with books.
Text-to-Text Connections: In both books, the bears want to communicate. Both stories use a third person narrative. The bears in both stories are caring creatures.
Creative Writing: What would each bear’s story be if you could write it for them?