Creator of quality, affordable, project-specific, supplemental materials connecting people with literature. As an educator and fellow author, I am skilled in navigating the needs of both worlds.

ReaderKidZ contributor - A website dedicated to provide teachers, librarians, and parents with the resources and inspiration to foster a love of reading in kids, K-5.

 

 

Simple Saturday is a proud member of Kidlitosphere, active bloggers writing in the area of children’s and young adult literature, and/or writers and illustrators of such literature.

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    Friday
    Apr042014

    The Readers' Theatre - Lights! Camera! Action! FUN!

    While teaching the elementary-aged sector, some of my fondest memories were those of producing our Readers’ Theatre performances. When working with the wee little ones, I would interpret the text for them, coaching the young actors – line by line. My older students created scripts of their own based on sections of the novels we were studying. In either case, producing Readers’ Theatre scripts proved to be the most memorable, enjoyable, and interactive ways of engaging with the language arts.

    In the article What is Readers Theatre, Literacy Specialist Linda Cornwell explains that the “…Readers Theater is an integrated approach for involving students in reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities.  It involves children in sharing literature, reading aloud, writing scripts, performing with a purpose, and working collaboratively.”  Well, I guess my students and I would have made Ms. Linda mighty proud! We did all of those things and more!

    No props are necessary to produce a Readers’ Theatre. All you need is band of willing readers and a script inspired by an interesting and compelling story, one that, as Ms. Cornwell states, has, “…interesting characters, conflict, plot action, and humor.” Folks, Liz Garton Scanlon’s latest picture book The Good-Pie Party is a shining example of such a story.

    In The Good-Pie Party, heart-broken Posy is going to have to move, leaving her dearest friends behind. Instead of focusing on the tragedy of being torn apart, the kids decide to throw a huge neighborhood pie potluck party! Their efforts result in a smashing success! The plot is as simple and sweet as an apple turnover, perfectly suited for a Readers’ Theatre adaptation, which is exactly what we did.

    To get a sense of what a Readers’ Theatre script looks like access the Curriculum Guide created for The Good-Pie Party. Also, note that a number of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and Core Curriculum State Standards are met by performing pieces such as this.

    Goodness me! All of this delicious academic goodness and they’re down-right fun to perform!

     Reference: "Scholastic.com for Librarians | What Is Readers Theater." Scholastic.com for Librarians | What Is Readers Theater. Web. 4 Apr. 2014. <http://www.scholastic.com/librarians/programs/whatisrt.htm>.

    Thursday
    Feb202014

    The Activity Guide: The perfect piece of promotional panache

    A paper plate puppet unearthed from the Simple Saturday archives of old.Back in 2009, the sheer delight of creating simple, entertaining activities for the young and old alike birthed this website. Be it a science experiment or a messy arts and craft something or other, the original Simple Saturday premise was to encourage folks to stop by and enjoy a little crafting fun together. In a way, each original blog post could be considered as an activity guide – a quick explanation about a fun little project to do in a short amount of time. 

    Activity guides serve as the perfect piece of promotional panache. Short. Inexpensive.  To the point.  Fun. And, many offer games and follow-up lessons that can be aligned with those all empowering academic standards.  A one-stop shop, if you ask me.

    Author Cynthia Lui knows all about the power of the Activity Guide. When she contacted me to make a Comprehensive Guide and a Readers’ Theatre script for her darling Wooby and Peep: A Story of an Unlikely Friendship, I did a little poking around on her website to discover she already had some spiffy Activity Guides posted there. It seems that she and illustrator Mary Peterson had partnered up to create marionette-like cut-outs to print and play with. These lend themselves perfectly to be used as puppets in the Readers’ Theatre! Nice work, Cynthia and Mary!

    I still hear the Saturday call of the glue gun and have a few plans to create something simple and new. In fact, I got a stash of paper towel rolls piling up in the basement ready and waiting to be crafted with. All I need are some magnets, a couple of thin wooden dowels, poster board, some tempera paint, and YOU! Intrigued? Well then, come back soon and let’s have some Simple Saturday fun together, like old times.

    Want to?

    Friday
    Feb142014

    Try, Try Again - The Scientific Method

    Click on image to access Science at PPPST.com - PowerPoint presentations for all ages!Famed author Clarence Day once said, “Information’s pretty thin stuff unless it’s mixed with experience.” I think Clarence would have been pleased with the experiential hoopla happening in my prior classroom.

    My classroom’s science shelf was lined with informative botany, zoology, anatomy, chemistry, taxonomy, biology, and simple machine packets, thick with the promise of splendor for all of us to consider! I have to say that not all, but plenty of our experiments were busts. And, like real scientists do, when that happened, we pulled back, asked questions, considered our data, and try, tried again until we got it right. Together, we experienced the scientific method on a shoestring!

    The key word in Clarence’s quote is “experience.” He didn’t say “testing” or “quizzing.” Instead, he was referring involvement, participation, and understanding. Mr. Day is talking about the need for active learning, the focus that helps to create the best kind of supplemental guide for a math or science related book.

    Click on image and buy the book!!!!!The guide created for Patricia Newman’s latest, Plastic Ahoy!: Investigating The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, serves as an effective example of experiencing information. Newman crafted this compelling book as if it were a scientific quest to discover the phenomenon known as gyres - large systems of rotating ocean currents consisting of a heavy concentration of trashed plastic threatening to destroy ocean life. Plastic Ahoy!: Investigating The Great Pacific Garbage Patch allows the reader to join with a team of graduate students and become trash detectives by hypothesizing what the effects of plastic garbage might have on the future of the earth’s oceans.

    In the guide, the lesson entitled The Summary of the Scientific Method ( pg. 13) serves as an effective example of leading the reader to discover answers to their own burning questions. Kids can use this step-by-step method to formulate a hypothesis and then generate a plan to prove it. Perhaps, much like my days in the classroom, though some of their experiments might turn out to be busts; they’ll have a grand time scientifically trying them over and over again until they get it right.

    I only wish I could be here to join in the fun!

    Friday
    Feb072014

    A Discussion Guide Discussion

    Suitable for all genres, Discussion Guides serve to guide understanding of not only the text, but its emotional connection with the reader. They contain interesting, probing, and enlightening questions that get the reader thinking and talking. These guides and be quite short, perhaps ten or so questions long, or can be several pages in length, depending on the needs and intent of the publication.  Quite often the questions posed serve as effective writing prompts, leading to a deeper study of a variety of topics.

    When a reader connects with the story, they are more likely to be led through analysis of all sorts of literary elements.  Character motivation can be closely considered. Plot twists can be pointed out. Structure can be scrutinized. Voice and point-of-view can be made visible.  In short, Discussion Guides keep kids and teachers talk-talk-talking about a book—an author’s and librarian’s dream.

    The Discussion Guide created for The Secret Side of Empty is an example of an in-depth guide, which works perfectly for this fascinating YA. In it, the protagonist struggles with the limitations her illegal status brings. She cannot go to college. She cannot work. The forecast for her life after high school is ‘empty.’  And so, she emotionally drops out. She drinks, experiments with drugs, and contemplates suicide. Much fodder for deep discussion, don't you think?

    In-depth writing prompts have been added to this Discussion Guide, as well. Students are asked to express themselves through short narratives, informative essays, and opinion pieces. While not all Discussion Guides include specific prompts such as these, the well-developed questions in most can be utilized in this way.

    And, yes, the questions and writing prompts for this Discussion Guide created for The Secret Side of Empty have been aligned with the Common Core State Standards. This not only validates the acts of questioning, discussion, and written expression, the alignment will hopefully help Maria  Andreu's great work find a lasting place on the curriculum shelf. That's the goal, right?

    Friday
    Jan102014

    A New Year, Logo, and Focus

    A few months ago, I asked some dear friends to help me define the skill set that I bring to the kid-lit table. After several insightful email exchanges, the concept you see on the left was conceived...and I love it!

    I'm a kinesthetic learner. My mind works in a concrete way. I see patterns and structures in story. I can visualize braiding, layering, echoing, and the like in vivid color and line - ways that can be creatively communicated to others in my discussion and activity guides. In interpreting my vision, I connect readers with story. Holding closely with the slogan, Keeping your books in the hands of the educator and the heart of the child, striving to guide  a kid's learning process in a  non-didactic, entertaining manner.

    It is by intentional design that 'education' is at the apex of the logo's equilateral pencil triangle. I believe, now more than ever, we authors and illustrators have the greatest impact on education. Our innate passion for story and love of young readers is what can be transferred as enthusiasm for learning process. Literary elements we hold dear - plot, theme, premise, tension, climax, a satisfying resolution, to name a few - is the stuff that kids need to hear about from folks that they admire - writers and illustrators. US!

    I don't pretend to have all the answers to eliminate test anxiety, stress in the classroom, or teacher burnout. I wish I did, but I don't. But what I do know how to do is connect a kid to a story in a way that they will learn something. And, that's pretty cool...don't you think?