Monday, March 31, 2008

Cinderella Study

I read Little Gold Star a Spanish American tale and Vasilisa the Beautiful a Russian tale.

I learned about Baba Yaga from the Russian culture. She was the iconic witch of the Slavic folk tales. In Vasilisa the Beautiful Baba makes Vasilisa her slave and threatens to eat her if she does not complete all the tasks she is assigned. With the help of Vasilisa's blessed doll she is able to survive being Baba's slave and then is sent away because Baba doesn't want blessed things in her house.

I noticed the symbols of the Spanish culture used in Little Gold Star. The religious aspect of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, the names of the characters, and the use of donkey ears (something I relate to the Spanish culture).

I thought the use of the I poems was a good idea for this assignment. It made you have to research and understand some of the concepts the story talked about and it also made you make connections and pull differences from the two stories. You had to compare and contrast the stories using a poem instead of a regular vinn diagram. It was a neat way to make me think about the two Cinderella stories.

I knew there were other versions of many fairy tales, but I had no idea there were that many verations of Cinderella. There is so much an author can do with the simple story of a girl and her step-family. I was amazed at the two varations I read and I would like to read other varations later on when I can take time to compare and contrast all the versions I have read.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Letters From Rifka

Title: Letters From Rifka

Author: Karen Hesse

Publisher & Publication Date: Henry Holt & Company, 1992

Genre: Historical fiction, Multicultural, novel

Grade Level: 4-6

Summary: Rifka is a young, Jewish girl that does not look like other Jews. She has blond hair and blue eyes. This allows her to help her family escape the harsh Russian treatment of the Jews. Her father, mother, two brothers and her hide on a train. She is used as the deploy so they can escape successfully. She already has two brothers in America, which is where they are trying to go. They go through many horrific and humiliating situations. She is even separated from her family on the way. She has to stay with a "foster" family until she is treated for ringworm. Once she is better she is sent to America and is told that she is not going to be allowed to join her family because of her condition. Her condition that they speak of is the fact that she doesn't have any hair. They think she will not be able to marry and have a life because no man will find her attractive enough. She pleads her case and stays at the hospital to try to grow hair. Finally, she has her interview with the doctor. Her family comes in support and hopes that she will be able to join them. She is given the stamp of approval to live in America and is able to join her family. The whole story she is telling of her journey to her cousin, Tovah.

Response: This book made me laugh, cry, hate America for the way they treat people, then love America because of how good it is to people. I love reading books that are in letter or journal form because I think they are much easier to read and comprehend. Karen Hesse does a wonderful job with this style of writing. The linking of cultures was something that really stood out for me from the book. I knew about the difficult life the Jewish people had while in the country they were trying to flee, but I never knew it was so bad in other countries or at the access point to come to America. I read the author's note before I started the book so I knew Rifka made it to America, but it still made me mad the way she was treated before they let her join her family. This was such a touching book. I loved every word and would definitely read it again!

Teaching Ideas: This would be a wonderful book to use for mapping different countries. This would show location and distance between several countries. Start off using the countries named in the book and then after the students have read the book have them label the countries around the ones from the story. Labeling will allow them to become familiar with the places that Rifka is talking about throughout the story. This is a good way to incorporate social studies and the lesson on locating different countries around the world in relation to the United States.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dragon of the Red Dawn

Title: Dragon of the Red Dawn (Magic Tree House #37 A Merlin Mission)

Author: Mary Pope Osborne

Illustrator: Sal Murdocca

Publisher & Publication Date: Random House Inc., 2007

Genre: Fantasy, Multicultural, Historical fiction

Grade Level: 3-5

Summary: In this magical story Jack and Annie are sent on a mission to help save the life of Merlin, the magician who has given the a magic wand to help them if they need it. They are sent to Japan to find one of the secrets of happiness. They being their journey by landing in the Imperial Garden. They are then faced with Samurai asking for passports and then meet Basho. Basho is a famous poet in Japan and is known by everyone. He provides safety for Jack and Annie because they do not have passports to travel alone. He lets the children stay with him. They wake in the middle of the night with the sounding of bells in the distance. They learn that the town is on fire and they use their magic to save the city. They go back to their home and realize they didn't find the secret of happiness they were looking for, but then think about the things that made them happy while they were in Japan. They realize that just taking time and listening and noticing nature is a secret to true happiness. They learned that from Basho.

Response: I loved this story. I had really enjoyed the other Magic Tree House book that I read in class, but I really liked this one. It was about finding happiness and I love to be happy so it was great! It made me happy while I was reading it. I was a little scared at times because I didn't know the dragon was a good thing. I thought something bad was going to happen and the story wasn't going to have a happy ending. It was an easy read and once again I escaped into my own fantasy world. I also learned things from the story. I did not know that much of the Japanese culture, but now I know a little bit more. There were a few illustrations in the book and they were eye-catching. They looked like they were produced with a pencil. They were basic looking, but had a great amount of detail. They were mainly single-page spread illustrations, but there was one amazing double-page spread. Overall, this was a wonderful story. I would like to read more of the Magic Tree House series.

Teaching Ideas: The Magic Tree House series is an excellent series to use for connections to history. The passport idea from the books is a great idea to use in the classroom. This book would be a good one to use with a unit on Japan. It is an adventure so the students will love finding out new things about the culture and seeing what is going to happen next in the story. You could read the book over a couple of days or a week then let the students access the passport website to update their passports. This would also be a good book to use for the term of happiness. You could ask what happiness means to the students, and then have them journal about the things that make them happy. Then they could make drawings of the one thing that makes them happier than any other and share with the class. Another idea would be to use the Haiku form of poetry. The book tells what a haiku is so you could tell your students and have them make their own haiku. A great way to integrate poetry, Japanese culture and happiness all with one book!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Venn Diagram

My Venn diagram is of two versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I read Dusty Locks and the Three Bears and Goldilocks and the Three Hares. They were both wonderful versions of the original that I read when I was younger. I used a cut-out of a rabbit and a bear and then colored them and placed them on colored paper. I think this would be a neat activity to use in the classroom.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Lon Po Po

Title: Lon Po Po (Caldecott Award Winner)

Author: Ed Young

Illustrator: Ed Young

Publisher & Publication Date: Philomel Books, 1989

Genre: Multicultural, Picture book, Traditional Literature

Grade Level: 2-4

Summary: This story is about a wolf that comes to the house that three young children are staying at while their mother went to visit their grandmother. He comes to the door and acts like he is their grandmother, and gets the children to let him in the house. One of the children figures out that he is wolf and gets the other two to help her get rid of him. They climb up a tree and get the wolf to climb up it too, but every time they start to pull him up they drop the basket he is sitting in. They end up killing to wolf and their mother comes home and they tell her all about their adventure with the wolf.

Response: I thought this was a great version of Little Red Riding Hood. It was different, but still good. The illustrations were a little scary, so this might not be the best book to red before bedtime to a small child. The illustrations were boxed-in and I think pastels were used to produce the images. Many of the image were dark, but some were a bit brighter. I felt many emotions while reading this story; scared, worried, concerned, and happy. Overall this was a wonderful little story. It relates to the Little Red Riding Hood I read when I was little, because it is a Red Riding Hood story.

Teaching Ideas: I would use the book to talk about different versions of well-known children's stories. You could talk about the other Red Riding Hood, then read it and talk about it some more. After that you could read this story and talk about it and how it is related to the other story. Then to finish up the activity have your students create their own Red Riding Hood story, as a whole class. Write the story they come up with on the board or on a big piece of paper. Then discuss how all three stories are different from each other.

Swamp Angel

Title: Swamp Angel (Caldecott Honor Book)

Author: Anne Isaacs

Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky

Publisher & Publication Date: Dutton Children's Books, 1994

Genre: Folk tale, Picture book

Grade Level: 1-3

Summary: Swamp Angel is a folk tale of how the Great Smokey Mountains, Montana's Shortgrass Prairie and a constellation in the sky were all formed. Swamp Angel was a rather large lady who defeated a bear that was tormenting the people of Tennessee. While she was trying to capture the bear (Thundering Tarnation), many things happened and those are the explanations of why the landscape looks the way it does today.

Response: This was a beautiful story. The illustrations were gorgeous. Most of them were double-page spreads, but there were some single-page spreads. They were produced using oils on cherry, maple, and birch veneers. I am not used to reading folk tales, so this was a nice touch to the many traditional stories I have been reading. I like folk tales, I just haven't read very many of them that I can remember. It was very entertaining and made me laugh. It was a little sad when the bear died, but it was for the best and made the story fit into other folk tales of how things were formed.

Teaching Ideas: This is a good book to introduce folk tales. Ask your students if they have ever heard any folk tales and let them share if they have. Then read the book to them and talk about the places and things that are formed from the fight with the bear in the story. Ask if they have ever heard of these places, and if they have how they heard the place was formed. Then use this story and its places it introduces to do some research. Take the class to the library or computer lab and have the media assistant show them different informational items about the places. This would be a great learning experience as well as a way to show how to research.

Dusty Locks and the Three Bears

Title: Dusty Locks and the Three Bears

Author: Susan Lowell

Illustrator: Randy Cecil

Publisher & Publication Date: Scholastic Inc., 2001

Genre: Traditional literature, Picture book

Grade Level: K-1

Summary: In this story a dirty little girl named Dusty Locks sneaks into the house of three bears. The bears left to go on a walk to let their beans cool. Dusty Locks goes into the house and tries the beans, sits in their chairs and then lays in their beds. She falls asleep in the baby bears' bed. The three bears come back and find her asleep in the bed, so they wake her and she goes running out the door. She goes back home and her mom cleans her up. The bears see her in public but don't recognize her because she is so much cleaner than before.

Response: This is a funny picture book. It is very similar to the original three bears story I heard when I was younger. I thought it was cute the way the girl was called a dirty little girl and her name was Dusty. I really enjoyed reading the story it made me feel like a little girl sitting with my mom reading again. It brought back good childhood memories. The illustrations were mainly single-page spreads, but there were a couple double-page spreads. The images were produced with acrylic gouache. I thought they were really basic illustrations, nothing too fancy.

Teaching Ideas: This would be a good book to use in discussion groups. Put the students in groups of four and give each group a copy of the book. Have them read it together and then talk about the setting, characters, plot, illustrations, and text in the book. This is a good way to start children thinking about the different elements of a story or book. Make sure you give them a sheet with the different elements on it so they know what to look for and talk about. This would tie in with the lesson on "What is in a book?" Young students need to learn the different parts of a story and should be able to talk about them before the first writing test. This would be a fun activity to use in order to teach the elements.

Goldilocks and the Three Hares

Title: Goldilocks and the Three Hares

Author: Heidi Petach

Illustrator: Heidi Petach

Publisher & Publication Date: Scholastic Inc., 1995

Genre: Traditional Literature, Picture book

Grade Level: K-2

Summary: In this story a pretty little girl with bouncy hair loses her ball in a hole in the ground. She goes down into the hole and discovers that a family lives there and has left some food out on the table. So she tries some of the food and then she tries to relax in their chairs, and ends up breaking the smallest one. Then she goes to the bedroom and tries to sleep in the beds, but ends up falling asleep in the smallest one. The family of three hares comes back to find everything out of place and then finds her in the bed. She wakes up and becomes friends with the hares. She fixes the seat she broke and says she will fix breakfast in the morning. There is also a little commentary from eight mice at the bottom of every page.

Response: This was a packed full of excitement picture book. There was the main story going on and then there was the story with the mice happening as well. I thought this was an interesting way to combine two stories. This book made me happy and I laughed a lot while reading it. I thought the mice were very amusing. It was similar to the original three bears story and Dusty Locks and the Three Bears. I was glad I selected to read this interesting story. The illustrations were mainly single-page spreads, but had a few double-page spreads. The images were probably produced using acrylic like many other simple picture books. The illustrations were pretty basic, but with a good amount of detail.

Teaching Ideas: This would be a wonderful book to perform. There are several characters for the students to select from (3 hares, Goldilocks, 8 mice, and many others!) and the book would be used as the guide for the script. You could work with the art and theater teachers to make this an awesome production. The students could design their own set and costumes and maybe even perform for a PTA meeting so their parents would see all their hard work in action!