One of my all-time favorite read alouds is “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen because it can be used to teach several skills. It’s about a little girl who goes “owling” on a winter’s night with her father, and it’s filled with such rich, disruptive language. It’s perfect for teaching visualizing and it serves as a great mentor text for creating sensory images during a word choice unit. I usually put a graphic organizer with all five senses up on the SMARTboard, and we pause every couple of pages to write down mental images we created under the corresponding sense. Several similes and metaphors are found throughout the book, so it is also wonderful for teaching figurative language.
“Brave Irene” by William Steig is about a dressmaker’s daughter who goes on a dangerous journey in a blizzard. It’s another one of my favorites because of its descriptive language and “muscle verbs.” As I read it aloud, we pause every so often to record any verbs that are particularly strong in helping us create mental images. I keep the anchor chart up so that students can select some of the verbs to use in their own writing throughout the year.
I mentioned before that I’m pretty much OBSESSED with anything Chris Van Allsburg and this is one of my favorites of his. “The Z Was Zapped” is an alphabet play “in 26 acts,” but this is not your typical alphabet book. Each letter is shown on stage undergoing some sort of mishap, and the reader has to turn the page in order to find out what has occurred. After reading it aloud, I challenge my students to create their own class book using even better word choice than the author. Each student gets one letter of the alphabet and creates their own original idea with a sketch of the letter’s mishap and corresponding sentence. This activity is great for teaching alliteration as well because each letter’s mishap has to include that particular letter. Here are a couple examples of what my students came up with.
Since I’m on the subject of words and writing, I want to share a bulletin board I had my fifth graders create for finding synonyms for overused words. I’ve seen this idea in several places and don’t know where the original idea came from. My students LOVED this activity and actually used it frequently in their writing. It worked well that we made it in October so it helped with the Halloween room decor. ;)
For my Fabulous Find, I'm sharing a circle cutter I just purchased from Michaels yesterday. I LOVE it so far and it made yesterday's project 9 million times easier. You'll have to wait until Monday to see my craft though. ;)