Monday, June 1, 2009

Hot Off the Shelves #2

Hot off the shelves of LaGrange Memorial Library... Big Chickens!
I've blogged about Big Chickens by Leslie Helaskoski before,(Go here to check it out if you missed it.) but because it's chock full of teaching points, it's worth another mention.

Big Chickens is the story of four cautious chickens who discover that they are not "chicken" chickens after all. Throughout the predictable book, they encounter several obstacles, to which they have the same reply. "I'm afraid to....", "What if......" They overcome each obstacle, somewhat by accident. In the end, they encounter the most dangerous obstacle of all, a wolf!

First of all, this book would be a great book to use at the beginning of the year. It could lead to a discussion about your students' fears for the new school year. They could then write about them. You could read them and discuss some of the more common fears with the group as a whole. (Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt would be another great book to use in this way.)

As far as minilessons go, I would recommend Big Chickens to teach sentence fluency, the auditory trait. There is a nice mix of simple and compound sentences, and each page has rhyming words on it. (The chickens pwoked, flocked, and rocked. They knocked into themselves and each other until one by one they tumbled out of the coop.) There is also a variety of interrogative and declarative sentences.

Other minilesson ideas:
Each page begins and ends with ellipses, so it seems natural to use it to teach the use of ellipses to add suspense...
There are repeated functional fragments-- "Me too." "Me three." "Me four."
Fabulous adjectives--"What if it's a big, hairy, chicken-chomping animal?"
Active Verbs-- The chickens picked, peeked, and pocked. They ruffled, puffled, and shuffled. They shrieked, squeaked, and freaked...
Antonyms--On four different pages, there is a sprinkling of well-placed antonyms. Feet flew out from under, and bottoms flipped over. Bodies plucked up, and mud sucked down. Legs sank in. Necks stretched out.

Don't be a chicken-- go grab this book off the shelf at LaGrange Memorial Library and decide how you can incorporate it in your lesson plans for next year! Remember, you can place a hold on it from home or school, using your PINES card!