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Books Teachers Love: December's Before Morning

You guys. I found a GEM! I was strolling around B & N (let's be honest, I was in there for nearly an hour enjoying books) when I came upon this book. I knew it was perfect for my December Books Teachers Love post!

I'm featuring Before Morning by Joyce Sidman. After you check out this AMAZING book, make sure you look at the 11 other awesome books teachers are showcasing this month.

Since buying it, I've read it myself over 10 times, noticing something different each time. It has so many awesome elements that it packs a total winter (and academic) punch!

I may be a tad biased that the author is a Minnesota author and that I often make this wish every winter for a snow day or two. This book is unlike any I've read in a while, though. It is written as an invocation- or a wish poem as Ms. Sidman explains at the end. The words are few, but they are so rich in meaning when they are added to Ms. Krommes AMAZING images. I love this style. If you go over to the amazon link, you can see images of part of the process in making this book.  That alone would be so fun to show students. But, I'll be sharing the many different things you could cover in this book ranging from reading, to writing, to art.

Reading: Text and Picture Connection to Promote Comprehension

The pictures and limited text go hand in hand for all sorts of reading skills- inferring, predicting, word solving- you name it. Each time I read it, I thought of a different question I could pose to my students. I started to run out space of writing them all done, so I decided to make some post-it prompts to place on the pages so I remember what I wanted to pull out from my students.

Have you ever printed on post-its? It's one of my favorite things to do when I have the time to prepare for it. I ended up making one for every.single.page because it is THAT loaded with good talking points. Obviously I probably will not use them all, but I wanted options. 

I have a general template I print off. Then I stick my post-its on it. Then I print the ones I want and stick 'em right in! Some of the pages have no words at all, but a ton of details to pay attention to. I want to remember what is significant in each picture when I'm reading it aloud to my students. 

Writing: Write Your Own Invocation Poem

As soon as I read this, I thought about how I could scaffold this to have my own students write their own invocation poems. I started creating some planning pages and I can't wait to give them a try with my students when the first big snowfall happens here! I typed out the poem and then noticed some patterns, so I made a pretty blank template and then one with prompts to help us craft our own. Then I also made a brainstorming page for those that may struggle with writing a wishing poem about. 

Vocabulary and Phrases

Even though this book has very few words, they words it does have are not simple by any means. They are loaded and a bit obscure and students will need to use the pictures and background knowledge to help them figure it out. I made some vocabulary cards and thought about the different strategies we could use to figure them out. I also made some figurative phrases cards to talk about what the author really meant by those phrases.

Art: Scratch Paper Designs

I loved the design of the art in this book and thought that when we write our poems, we could try to mimic the style to also get some art integration to accompany our poems. I found a tutorial here that didn't require a whole lot of materials, yet they are exciting. I'll be honest and say that it didn't turn out as well as the example as I was playing around with it, but it was still so fun and had a similar impact. I think we'll still give it a go and try! All you need is some cardstock (I used water color paper) black acrylic paint and oil pastels. I used a toothpick as our scratcher, but will search for some other options. Some parts came off super clean so I'm going to continue to investigate why that might have been. 

Whew! Told you this was loaded with options! If you are so lucky to go get this book, feel free to download these resources here. Or better yet, enter to win this book and 3 others by entering the giveaway below!

Check out the other books below!

Books Teachers Love: November's Something Beautiful

Another month is approaching so you know what that means...

Brought to you by:

We're a group of elementary teachers that LOVE children's book and LOVE to share a book for the upcoming month along with some ideas on how you might use it!

This month's books have a November theme. My book this month is one that can be used anytime of the year, but has a special meaning around this time of the year.

So there isn't anything in this book tying it to fall or Thanksgiving, however, the way the author explains what beautiful means connects so much with the idea of gratitude.

It starts with a girl seeing a lot of things in her neighborhood that don't seem beautiful.  However, through her mother and teacher, they explain that "Beautiful means when you have something, it makes your heart happy." The book then goes through then a series of different characters that our main character runs into and asks them, "What is your something beautiful?" Most of the things they say are not actual objects, such as a tasty meal, a baby's giggle, a song. Some of the people do share actual objects, but they are everyday items generally.

During the season of Thanksgiving, we have a lot of discussions of things we should be grateful for. I love the idea of looking for things that are beautiful to us and being grateful for them.

So one way to use this book is to make a beautiful, grateful wreath.

I simply cut out a ring on my silhouette as well as little leaves. I decided that each color represents a different category. Yellow leaves were people (and pets) I found beautiful that I'm grateful for, orange were things in nature that were beautiful, and red were either tangible or non-tangible things I found beautiful (such as my wedding ring, handwritten notes, and birthdays). I folded the leaves in half to add some dimension before gluing them all around the ring. Looking at gratitude through the lens of things we find beautiful offers a unique twist to the old question: "What are you grateful for?"

Also, since our conferences are late this year, I'll be using this book to create a class book to have out at conferences for families to look at while they are waiting for their conference.

I'll either have a mixture, let students pick one, or just have one of these templates (haven't decided yet) to have students share what things are beautiful to them. Once they all complete a page, I'll print one of the cover pages, add a class picture to the cover and get it bound to share with each other and our families! Simple!

(Click either image above to download your copy!)
Want a copy of this book? It could be yours! If you win, you get to pick any of the 4 featured books from any of the bloggers below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit the other blogs to see what other books you could win this month and snag some awesome resources for November!

One Word: Integrity

Do you have that one word that you find yourself constantly referring to? For the last few years, my own word that I find myself using over and over is integrity. It applies to so many things that my students and I encounter throughout the day. So every year, I explicit teach about it so that we can be consciously working on it all year.

After our first sub day, I found it was a great time to introduce this. Our sub day wasn't awful, but it's a great time to discuss the word integrity. I define it to my students as doing what is right, even if no one is watching. I then give them the example of me doing my job in the classroom everyday because it's what I need to do (and want to do). I could just let them play games all day and goof around, but our principal and their parents are counting on me to teach them and do my best. They aren't watching me all the time- I have to practice integrity.

After I define it, we discuss how integrity is mainly shown through our choices. I show and discuss the the poster above that poses 3 questions. If they can say yes to all the questions, then that choice shows integrity. If not, then their choice won't show integrity.

Next, we do a little activity that allows them to brainstorm choices for given scenarios, which also demonstrates to me that they know the difference between right and wrong. They travel around to the cards that are spread out, read them, and write down a choice. Where they write it depends on if the choice shows integrity or not. I typically just grab my extra large math boards and draw a line down the middle.

My kiddos this year were so focused while they traveled around. If they got to a board and someone else had written their idea, I let them put a check mark next to it, but a lot of them thought of other choices. It was really neat to see!

Do you teach into integrity? Grab this resource in my store!

What word is one of your go-to words? How do you teach it?

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