Discussion & Activity Guide

Featured Guide of the Week - Picture Day Perfection

Deb Diesen is the queen of the plot twist! In her Picture Day Perfection, we’re riding along with our sullen protagonist on his way to the photographer’s stool, even feeling a little bit sorry for the messy mix-ups this kid is enduring, to discover that he had it all planned out – perfectly! That little twit. He had me right where he wanted me the whole time. 

Not only did Deb craft a clever tale, Dan Santat’s illustrations kept me smiling with each page turn. Y’all, this book is straight up funny! If you’ve got a kooky kid in your life, this one’s for them. Get it. They’ll love it. And, if you’re hoping to lead said kooky kid into a deeper study of foundational skills in literature, download the guide. Strike while enthusiasm is hot, right?

Along with series of pre and post reading discussion questions, the guide presents writing and illustrating prompts, a study of adjectives (which Deb highlights masterfully in the text), a calendar/sequential numeric activity, and a super fun construction paper photography craft that I just have to tell you about.

I have a passion for making quirky, inexpensive kiddie crafts. Give me some tape, construction paper, and a sunny afternoon and watch me go! And, that’s just what I did with an activity for this Picture Day Perfection guide. The catch is, though, I don’t live in Texas anymore, where the sun shines brightly almost every day of the year. No. I live in Michigan now, where gun-metal grey skies dominate the calendar. This change in locale made the processing portion of this project a little bit more challenging.

When you download the guide, you’ll see that sunshine is a key procedure element and, when I was making a sample for the guide, I couldn’t find any! I chased whatever rays I could find by taping and retaping the ‘photo’ to just about every window all around the house.  My husband cracked up when he pulled up after work to find this fellow taped on the picture window facing our front lawn, for the entire world to see!

What will the neighbors think, right? We decided that they’d better get used to it.

Download the guide here and see what I mean. I hope you have as much fun with the projects as I did making them.

Wooby & Peep: The Story of an Unlikely Friendship

Author: Cynthea Liu

Illustrator: Mary Peterson

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Sterling Publishing

ISBN: 9781402796449

Click here to download the Common Core State Standards aligned Discussion & Project Guide and Reader's Theatre created for ages 4 to 8.

Overview: Opposites attract and become fast friends in this quirky, funny picture book.

Wooby lives in a nice, quiet neighborhood where everyone minds his own business. And he likes it that way. Then noisy, energetic Peep moves next door with her banging and smashing and crashing. She even gives a “wild” PARTY! At first, shy Wooby is beside himself—until he realizes that he and Peep have more in common than he ever imagined. Hilarious comic-book panels throughout add fun and joy to this unique story.

A Kiss Means I Love You (Concept Picture Book)

Click on image for publisher's information.Author: Kathryn Madeline Allen

Photographer: Eric Futran

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4186-9

Awards: 2013 Baker's Dozen: The Best Children's Books for Family Literacy, Pennsylvania Center for the Book; 2013 Gradiva Award for Best Children's Books Finalist; 2013 Texas 2 x 2 Reading List; A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book 2013 - Picture Books; Best Books for Babies 2013

Click to download the Common Core State Standards Discussion and Activity Guide created for Ages 2-6/Grades PreK-1

Overview: A Kiss Means I Love You is charming a book that helps you teach children the meanings of facial expressions and gestures. Children will wave, clap, and cheer along with you as you read the light, rhyming verse paired with delightful photos of young children.

 

Ghostly Pops - Simple Saturday Throw-back Fun

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Three years ago I crafted a post describing how to make Simple Saturday Ghostly Pops. The time is right to pull those scary suckers out of the archive dungeon and have some Halloween fun with them once again.

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All you need to make these spooky little critters is an everyday sucker, a square of toilet paper, a marker, and a piece of string. Just all you need to do is drape that square of TP over the sucker. Gather it under the candy and tie it off with a small piece of yarn. Then, simply make two marks for your candy phantom's eyes and there you have it, you very own Simple Saturday Ghostly Pop!

For this and other activities perfectly suited to delight little ghoulies and goblins on All Hallows Eve access the guides I made for Kelly Bennett’s Vampire Babyand Stephanie Greene’s Princess Posey and the Monster Stew. Watch out, though. As you can see from John’s terrified reaction above, Ghost Pops and some of the things you’ll see in those guides can be down-right frightening!

Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett

Click on image to purchase Vampire BabyThis picture book was written by one my most favorite authors, Kelly Bennett, and it is the perfect pairing for the upcoming season of blood-sucking fun! In Vampire Baby, the once sweet and cuddly Tootie has transformed overnight into a diaper-wearing vampire! Tootie bites all the time, and her favorite person to gnaw on is her older brother. He tires of being her perpetual victim and encourages a real vampire family to take her away. In the end, his protective nature takes over and he realizes that he loves Tootie, fangs and all.

Needless to say, creating a guide for this delightful story was great fun for me to do. I encourage you to check out the book and then review the guide. In it, you’ll see plenty of fun and games as well as an academically sound manipulative activity focused on teaching story structure. Folks, this concept is a tough one to teach. However, with some paper, scissors and Vampire Baby in hand, the heady literary elements of setting, character, rising action, climax, and resolution become less threatening and easier to comprehend.

Hope you have a safe and happy Halloween. I plan on it. Wish me luck keeping my hands out of the candy bowl. I'm a blood-sucker for candy corn.

One of My Favorites - Monster Stew

Click on image to purchase through IndieboundJust like teachers can't help but to have favorites, I feel the same way about the guide I created for this charming book written by  Stephanie Greene and illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson. The story tenderly depicts a young child's ambivalent fear of Halloween spookiness in a subtle and sweet way. I enjoyed creating this guide almost as much as I enjoyed reading the book.

There are plenty of discussion questions and fun lessons to choose from in the book guide. One the most enjoyable activities is the Black Cat Domino Game, and it's super easy to make, too. Just print the domino game pieces off on card stock. Trim around the edges of the domino cards and you're game-ready! The game can be played with one or more kiddos. Simply shuffle, stack cards face down, and begin matching the quantities of black cats printed on the cards.

 I do hope that you'll take some time to check out Princess Posey and the Monster Stew and then access the guide. Hopefully you'll find something in it that will compliment your Halloween festivities in a booo-tiful way!

Call Me Oklahoma! - Simple Saturday Style

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One of my all-time favorite cheesy musicals is Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! You see, when John and I were first dating, he took me to see it at the Dallas Summer Musicals. I'll never forget how I felt when the cast joined together and sang Oooooooo-klahoma. My heart raced. Tears puddled in my eyes. I wanted to be down there with them clapping and stomping and yee-hawing all around the stage. 

And, when I read the following quote, Miriam Glassman's  delightful story roped me in immediately. 

The show was called Oklahoma! and it was full of cowboys and spunky women twirling around. The musical had Paige bouncing in her seat, and at the end of the show, when all the people onstage waved their hats and yelled, “Yeehaw!” Paige felt so full of joy, tears sprang to her eyes. She longed to be the kind of person who yelled “Yeehaw! (4)"

Paige Turner, the protagonist in Call Me Oklahoma! , and I are soul mates. She and I share the same emotional connection to the musical. I've been in that moment, Paige. I was hypnotized by the surrey with the fringe on top, too. I know how you feel, Little Sister. I do.

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As with all of the guides I make, along with being academically sound, I wanted to do something extra - O.K. - special with this one. I strive to add components that keep the child engaged in the story long after they've finished reading the book. In this one, I made a game cube that corresponds to key plot points in the story. It's super fun. Check it out. A Simple Saturday project at it's best! Yee haw!!!!

One Day I Went Rambling Giveaway!

A shared post with ReaderKidZ.com:

Parents, teachers, and librarians! Take a moment to consider the absolutely charming premise of One Day I Went Rambling, written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by Terri Murphy, won’t you? If so, you will be ever so glad that you did.

In the story, Zane, the protagonist sees magic in the mundane surrounding him. Pop tops are jeweled rings. Wooden crates hold the daring intrigue of a pirate ship. Nothing is normal. To Zane, everything is fantastical!  And, as life would have it, Zane is surrounded by nay-sayers, peers that poke fun and tease a child who dares to think as a creative individual. Yet, Zane stays true to his individualistic nature, and in turn, influences others to begin to celebrate the wonderful freedom of thinking outside of the boring, common, everyday box.

Kelly and Terri are over-the-top enthusiastic about this important tale. So much so, that they are offering a number of incentives to entice you to climb aboard the Rambling train. One is a discussion/craft guide in which directions for a variety of homemade band instruments are included – instruments that serve as props for a Reader’s Theatre interpretation of this unforgettable story. And, finally, the opportunity to participate in a giveaway! Yes! How wonderful is that? Link away today!

In closing, enjoy an excerpt from Bennett’s and Murphy’s One Day I Went Rambling:

Ahoy, mates, time’s a wasting.

Climb aboard! Let’s sail away!

We’ll explore the world together.

Finding adventure all the way.

Things to Love About One Day I Went A Rambling

When author Kelly Bennett asked me to create a guide for her latest picture book, One Day I Went a Rambling, I took a cheerful jiggity-jaunt down memory lane. For, you see, years ago I directed a summer arts and creativity camp for kids and this marvelous book is one that I would have centered the program's entire theme around, had it been in print at that time.

If I would have had this book in hand way back then, I'd have done exactly what Kelly asked me to to, which is to compliment the story's theme by creating a homemade band props out of everyday, commonplace objects like paper plates, plastic bottles, a shoe boxes. Then, as a program finale, I would have cast and performed a Reader's Theatre rendition based upon this wonderful tale. I believe in this story's the timeless inspirational message - when we have the eyes to see, anything is possible! 

One Day I Went Rambling is sensational. There is so much to love about this book. Below are three reasons why you should buy it, read it, and enjoy it. Order away. You'll be glad that you did!  

  • I love protagonist Zane's, unassuming, individualistic demeanor. In the story, Zane sees the fantastical creative potential in everyday items such as feathers, shells, a wooden crate. He's lost in a visionary quest for adventure. Way to go, Zane, my man. I love that. Way to go.
  • I love illustrator Terri Murphy's pictorial expression of the story's theme. Reader, once you have the book in hand, I encourage you to take a several slow, sweet moments to absorb her artistic interpretation of all of the characters involved in the story. Note the deep, emotionally subtle yet whimsical techniques of her masterful work. Absolutely amazing. And trust me, she is, too.  
  • I love that the story is founded upon the premise that magic that can be found in the mundane - a hubcap as a a flying saucer, or a pop top as a magic ring, or even Grannie's slip as a covered wagon top. This book illuminates the notion that all things are marvelous in the eyes of the beholder, if they're willing to see life in this way.

One Day I Went A Rambling speaks to the inherently creative nature that lives within us all. When we dare to let loose and dance to the beat of the unique drummer that resides in our hearts, others will sit up, take notice, and - maybe, just maybe - dance along beside us.

 

Up Next? Monster Stew by Stephanie Greene

My next guide project is going to be a fun one - Monster Stew by Stephanie Greene. It takes a great book to make a great guide and this one is sensational!

I love Princess Posey, in fact I met her double the other day while buying dog food at Petco. From time to time I take Tripod in the store with me. (He loves to sniff the cat nip!)

Anyhow, while there I met a chatty little girl about Posey's age. Her headband caused her hair to puff in the most ridiculous way. She asked about Tripod's missing leg, as they all do, and she stopped talking. Her entire body was wrapped in concern for him. After a bit, when she began to tell me about her terrier - oh my - she shuddered with delight. Chatting resumed.

When our all-too-short conversation ended, she put her arm around Tripod and gave him a hug. (He's a great hugger.) As I watched this silly, sweet, charming little thing bury her pale arms into Tri's chocolate fur a shudder came over me. I realized that she is who I write for. She is who I must work to meet at the page.

Kick Up Yer Heels

To make a vibrant guide I first need a lively, multi-sensory, energetic story filled with heart and soul. And my buddy Bethany Hegedus pulled it off without a hitch. She dun good, I tell ya. Real good.

Her Truth with a Capital T is rich, rich, RICH with, as IndieBound says, "...grace and humor and a heaping helping of little-known facts, Bethany Hegedus incorporates the passions of the North and the South and bridges the past and the present in this story about one summer in the life of a sassy Southern girl and her trumpet-playing adopted Northern cousin." How 'bout that?

In regards to making the guide, Bethany gave me a ton of scrumptious literary stuff to work with. In addition to in-depth discussion questions and those ever-important TEKS annotations I created quilt codes, metaphor madness, a Reader's Theatre, and even a recipe for deeee-licious blackberry cobbler. Yum. Yum. Click HERE to get a look at the the guide, if you'd like.

But, for me, the best part are the YouTube video clip selections - in particular The Best Bluegrass Clogging Video Ever Made. Boyeeee! I love this video!! I challenge you to watch it without letting a smile stretch across your face. Can't be done.

Check out the jaunty tilt of the banjo picker's hat, will you? How the the old guy's elbow pumps? Pap Paw snoozing on the settee? And the darling dimpled girl with the dashing smile? Got to love it! In my mind, this video captures the multi-generational heel-kicking love of cultural diversity Bethany so aptly celebrates in her books and in her life.

Think I'll watch it again.

Simple Saturday: Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade

Okay, my dear Simple Saturday friends. The guide I'm sharing today has been created for the most delightfully darling early chapter book I have ever read...and compadres, I've read a bushel of them. For real.

Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade, written by my partner in crime, Stephanie Greene, and illustrated by cutie-patootie Stephanie Roth Sisson, is the first book in series starring a charmingly complex first grader named Posey, whose persona is altered when she dons her pink tutu. The moment that circle of pink netting wraps around her tiny waist Posey is transformed into --- drum roll, please --- super-confident-ever-invincible Princess Posey!Well, in her six-year-old mind anyway.

The guide I made to compliment this treasure contains not only discussion questions, a compare and contrast activity, a word bank game, and a magic letter 'e' activity, there is a folder game that I'd like for you to take a look at. Access the guide HERE  to get a gander. 

To make the game you'll need a letter-sized manila file folder, glue, a paper clip, a pencil, some game movers, and download the game board. The directions to create the game are all spelled out in the guide. It's fun. Trust me.

I have to say though, that playing the game with the book by your side would be even more meaningful. And, if you have a new first grader who is in any way anxious about going back to school, Posey will help qualm any fears.

She's sweet that way.

Simple Saturday Prep: Lucky Ladybug Bingo

Tomorrow's Simple Saturday activity is designed with the early reader in mind.

It's actually a game I designed as part of a Teacher's Guide for a charming chapter book written by my good friend, Stephanie Greene . The book's title is Princess Posey and the Perfect Present. Even though this darling book won't be released until March, I thought that we'd go ahead and play one of the games found in the guide now.

It's summer. What the hey, right? 

Tomorrow all you have to do is download a .pdf I'll attach to the post. If you'd like to print on cardstock instead of copier paper, that'd be great.

So, get yourself some scissors, your reading specs and we're in lucky ladybug business!