Second graders have just finished up a project based on the book Woodpecker Wham by April Pulley Sayre. We started this project by examining two nonfiction books about woodpeckers. Woodpeckers by Kari Schultz is a very informative book about several different kinds of woodpeckers. This book uses photographs and text to tell us about the lives of woodpeckers. Then we read Woodpecker Wham and compared the writing in the two books. "Woodpeckers are birds. They peck at trees with their sharp, pointed beaks," reads the first book. We compared that to April Pulley Sayre's first lines, "Swoop and land. Hitch and hop. Shred a tree stump. CHOP, CHIP, Chop!" We found that April Pulley Sayre's writing had rhythm and rhyme. Her verses were alive with movement and sounds. I was surprised to find that many of the second graders were familiar with the word "onomatopoeia" which refers to using words that sound like the sound they make. "Pop", "whiz," and "bang" are examples. Sayre also uses alliteration, which is a literary tool where words in a phrase repeat the same sound, as in "Flick and flake to find them all." We loved April Pulley Sayre's lively language and decided to try writing about birds in a similar manner.
Students used PebbleGo (www.pebblego.com) to research a bird of their choice. They answered questions about where the bird lives, what it eats, and discovered other interesting facts about the bird. PebbleGo also provides short videos and clips of sounds so students could watch how the bird moves and hear how it sounds. Once their research was done, students wrote about their bird. They used descriptive words, alliteration and sound words. Midway through this project we had a Skype Visit with April Pulley Sayre. This gave our students a special connection to this author and her books. They loved her presentation . She told them many interesting stories about how she writes her books and how she and her husband travel to do research for her books.
The book, Woodpecker Wham, was illustrated by Steve Jenkins who does amazing collage pictures to illustrate his books. When the students had finished their writing, we watched a short video that showed how Steve Jenkins makes his collage pictures. Then it was our second graders' turn to try. The library was alive with cutting and gluing. Students looked at colored photographs of birds and drew a template before cutting their colored paper just as Steve Jenkins does. They did a terrific job!
The kids had so much fun working on this project. One student said, "We should do reptiles next!" You have to love that kind of enthusiasm!
Here is Gage's writing about a hummingbird:
humming bird flap, flap,
flap, flap, sssssllllleeeeerrrrrrppppp, tweet, calling to its mate buzz fling
backwards stomik filled with joos f
and land, kuplop
sparkly green on a feeder
big as a walnut, tweet that's me.
And Nadia writing about cardinals:
The males are red striekes with thieve's masks. Females are gray
and brown detectives. North and Central America warm or cold?
They don't mind. Peck! Peck! Dig them out! Juicy insects, crunchy seeds
yummy fruit, buds and bees.
On May 11th, first grade students met in the library for a Skype visit with the Buffalo Bill Center Museum in Wyoming. The presenter took us on a tour of exhibits showcasing the animals that live in the Yellowstone area. We saw a stuffed grizzly bear, a moose and big horned sheep. We were surprised to learn that the huge curly horns of the sheep are made of keratin, the same material that makes up our hair and fingernails. The first graders were astonished to see the difference in size between a coyote skull and a the much larger wolf skull. They were invited to guess which animal was the fastest in that region. Coyote? Wolves? Were some of the guesses. The correct answer was the prong horned antelope. Our presenter was knowledgeable and upbeat. It was a very interesting glimpse into another region, the animals that live there, and the adaptations that help them survive in that habitat.
In preparation for the Skype visit, students had each been asked to research an animal from our local woodland habitat and to draw a picture of their animal. Students learned about coyotes, beavers, deer, black bears and many others. Several first graders shared their drawings. Students researched their animals by taking notes from a book about their animal. They wrote notes about the animal's habitat, life cycle, diet and fun facts. Then students looked up the animal they were studying on PebbleGo. This is an online subscription database with information on many subjects. First graders combined their notes to write a paragraph about their animal. They did a great job on this project.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate was the winner of the Intermediate Nutmeg contest in the state-wide contest. HCS had a different idea. The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson was voted the number one favorite by students in our school. This is a historical fiction novel set in London in 1836 during an outbreak of cholera. At the time, people time believed that bad air caused sickness, but Dr. John Snow had a theory that infected water was causing the disease The author presents the story as a medical mystery that the main characters, Dr. Snow and a young boy named Eel, must solve.
Our fourth graders know this book well. Their teachers read this book to them as part of their historical fiction unit. We also had a Skype visit with the author in the library. Students were able to speak with Deborah Hopkinson and ask her some questions about the book and her life as a writer. Their questions were impressive and they were treated to some insights into the book.
In the Elementary Nutmeg Contest, Star Wars Jedi Academy was the winner both at HCS and in the state-wide election. This is the first title in a graphic novel series. We have recently added more books from this Jedi series to the library collection because they are so popular. Readers can be on the look out for them.