The Graphic Organizer - A God-Send!

As previously posted in

Graphic organizers are some of the most beneficial tools around to teach complicated literary concepts such as theme, text structure, chronology, and sequencing - to name just a few. Also known as knowledge maps, cognitive organizers, or concept diagrams – graphic organizers provide a visual opportunity to grasp complex learning and instruction. And, they’re fun to use!

Here's a graphic organizer made to compliment a lesson in P. J. Hoover's school visit programming document. Click on the image and see how a graphic organizer can be used!Maureen McLaughlin and Brenda J. Overturf have joined forces to create an excellent e-book collection of graphic organizers that address both the narrative and informational text CCSS standards. The collection is entitled The Common Core: Graphic Organizers for Teaching K-12 Students to Meet the Reading Standards.  All of the organizers are developed to support students’ thinking process, and each is sensational.

The authors offer the following tips for the most effective use of graphic organizers. They say that educators should:

·        Clearly explain how the organizer works.

·        Demonstrate how to use it.

·        Engage students in guided practice.

·        Allow students to practice using the graphic organizer on their own.

·        Finally, engage students in reflection regarding how to use the organizer and in the topics and/or skills that they learned.

If you are an educator looking for ways to help your students grasp the expectations of Common Core Reading Standards 1 to 10, consider downloading this insightful e-book. It is loaded with plenty of strand-specific, power-packed graphic organizers, each complete with clear definitions stating the purpose and intent.

I particularly like the ones created to guide the understanding of informational text structures. Then again, I’m kinda geeky that way!

Remembering Maurice Sendak

 Years ago, I directed a large summer arts camp for kids ages 3 to 10, the theme of which was “Let the Rumpus Begin!” For the program finale we performed a play based on Where the Wild things Are. As costumes, each child–75 of them–had construction paper triangle claws taped to their finger and toe nails. We also taped larger construction paper triangles to the tips of their ears and made Styrofoam fangs. Oh, boy! When it came time for those wild things to roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth the sound was deafening! Their roars were so wonderful, we had to repeat them a time or two.  

This fond memory has been buried in the folds of my heart for well over 30 years now. I can still see those kids tilting back their heads and letting their inner wild thing rip! What a grand time we had together; those kooky kids, the art program staff, and I. All centered around a timeless piece of children's literature created by a master. Thank you, Maurice Sendak. You've left a legacy of joy that will last forever.


Paper Dolls As Pretty As You Please

 Today we're going to focus on a craft that I found while researching supportive material for one of our ReaderKidZ Beyond Boundaries selections - Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios. This book is way, way, w-a-y too cute, y'all.  Here's what Nancy Bo Flood says about the story:

Marisol McDonald is teased about being different – sometimes it is because of her fire-red hair and freckles.  Sometimes she is teased because she prefers playing pirates to soccer. Mostly she is teased about “nothing matches.”  This book in pictures and words is as high-spirited as Marisol and a wonderful inspiration for celebrating being different and being proud of it.  Every kid gets teased. Readers will enjoy Marisol’s creative approach to being herself.

So, now that you know about the darling story, let's get busy Simple Saturday-ing, want to? To do so, you'll need to download the Teacher Activity Guide Monica has loaded on her website. In addition to finding a ton of great lessons, activities, and even recipes in the guide, pages of paper dolls are there just waiting for you to print out and create. Print the Monica Marisol paper doll on card stock and you're ready for some good old-fashioned paper doll dressing fun.

 There are two basic styles of clothes to chose from....the pre-colored selection or the color-it-yourself-creative selection. Either of which is marvelously original, spunky, and fun - just like Marisol! (And you and me, I might add.)

Now go get yourself some scissors, print off these sheets, and have some Simple Saturday fun, you hear? See you next week!