Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Egypt Game

Is it just a game, or magic?

When April moves to live with her grandma she thinks it will be a horrible change from the Hollywood lifestyle she was used to with her mother. When April meets Melanie they discover that what the two of them have in common is a fantastic imagination. They begin a game in the back yard of an antique store. Their enthrallment with Egypt leads to costumes, goddesses, altars, and even oracles. Soon their Egyptian crew grows to six and the fun and magic continues to grow. But with there having been a murder in the neighborhood and the owner of the antique shop, the professor, being accused of this murder, and when the game starts to take on a mind of its own it is questionable if the game can continue. Can the crew clear the professors name? Will their game be over forever? Find out in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Newbery Honor book The Egypt Game.

Teachers... Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this novel.

Web Resources:

Vocabulary: Lots of the vocab for this novel are connected to ancient Egypt, so if the students enjoy this book, they may want to learn more about ancient Egyptian culture. Here are some vocab words: vague, pert, lotus, archaeologist, tenants, caper, pharaohs, monoliths, mummies, hieroglyphics, leer, papyrus, altar, omen, fink, oath, rendezvous, oracle, temple, consternation, grotto, incense, cinch, incredulous, alibi

Before Reading:
  • Create a KWL chart about what students know, want to know (and after reading), have learned about ancient Egypt.
    • You may want to explain to your students that this is a fictional story despite there being many true facts about Egyptians within the novel.
During Reading:
  • Write journal entries pretending to be April. Discuss how she feels living in a new home and talk about how she feels about her mom, expanding on what Snyder tells the reader.
  • Make a map of the Egypt game's play area using what you know from reading. Be sure to include placement of A-Z, each altar, statues, etc.
After Reading/Research:
  • Finish the KWL chart about ancient Egypt.
  • Create your own hieroglyphics alphabet.
  • For students who really enjoyed learning about ancient Egypt through this novel, a great expansion activity would be for students to do research on ancient Egypt and find different aspects the Egyptian crew could have added to their Egyptian game.
Across the Curriculum:
Social Studies/History: Use this novel to teach students about Egypt if Egypt or ancient civilizations are in your curriculum.

    Snyder, Z. K. (1967). The Egypt Game . New York: Atheneum. 

    Happy Reading (&Running) =)

    Holly Joliday

    All Stink wants for Christmas is..... snow!

    When the new mailman calls himself Jack Frost and tells Stink he feels snow in the air, Stink is convinced it will snow for Christmas. Judy isn't so sure and won't let Stink forget that it hasn't snowed in Virginia in.... like 100 years! Judy is more content making a toilet paper list of everything she wants for Christmas while Stink writes one word on his Christmas list... snow. In the midst of a Hawaiian Christmas themed performance by Judy's class and the not so cold weather, could Stink's wish possibly come true? Megan McDonald takes us on yet another journey with Judy Moody and Stink in this Holly Joliday adventure.

    Teachers... Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this book...

    Web Resources:
    • Judy Moody Activities: If your students like this book, here are some activities to go along with other Judy Moody books.
    • Judy Moody Day: Once again, if your students love Judy Moody, have a Judy Moody Day! Here are ideas for all kinds of activities to celebrate Judy, Stink and all the other characters from Megan McDonald's series.

    Vocabulary: The reading level for this children's novel is lower than many of the books I've reviewed. For that reason, the amount of vocabulary that may need to be pretaught is much less than usual. Vocabulary words are as follows: glee, low pressure system, yule, puny, encore, diversity, lei, stellar dendrite

    Before Reading: What are some holiday memories or traditions you and your family have? If you've ever read and Judy Moody or Judy Moody & Stink books, what do you think their holiday will be like?

    During Reading: Do you think Stink's Christmas wish will come true? Why or why not? Discuss in partners, think/pair/share.

    After Reading/Writing: What do you think happened to Jack Frost, the mailman, after Christmas? Do you think he sent the mittens to Judy and Stink? Do you think he did something magical to make it snow on Christmas? Will he continue to be Judy and Stink's mailman?

    McDonald, M. (2007). Judy Moody & Stink: The Holly Joliday. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press.

    Happy Reading (&Running) =)

    Sunday, December 19, 2010


    Find yourself, find your song.
    Russel feels out of place in his life and is not sure what is wrong. He goes to Oogruk, an elder in the village to seek the answers to his problems. Through much discussion with Oogruk, he finds he belongs to the old ways of the village and not the new ways of snow machines. He takes a journey with a dog team to find his own song and to find himself. Throughout his journey north he dreams of his future which becomes his present. Throughout the journey he becomes connected to the land, to the old way of his people and his team of dogs. Gary Paulsen teaches the reader in Dogsong about the way of the Eskimos and the way of a musher.

    Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this novel...

    Web Resources:
    • Extension Activities: Extension activities from Scholastic.
    • Activities: This site offers various activities such as letter writing, essay writing and e-pals all connected to reading Dogsong. This site also connects across the content areas.

    Vocabulary: Here are some words that may need to be pretaught: Eskimo, arctic, breechclout, cache, carcass, creek, doze, forlorn, game, gee, harness, haw, horizon, indicator, musher, parka, quiver, ridge, sweep, team, tundra, umiak, wick


    Before Reading: Make a KWL about Eskimos, the North, dog teams, etc.

    During Reading: There are many words used in this novel that are specific to Eskimos, living in the arctic, etc. Make a list of vocabulary words you have come across and did not know the meaning of. Include the definition of these words that you looked up while reading to help you understand what the word meant. Write a new sentence using this vocabulary word.

    After Reading/Writing: Write an extended ending to Paulsen's novel. What happens to Russel after he discovers his song? Will his future pan out like some of his dreams showed him?

    Across the Curriculum:
    Social Studies: Use this novel to teach about Alaska or Eskimos if it is in your curriculum.

    Paulsen, G. (1985). Dogsong . New York, N.Y.: Bradbury Press.
    Newbery Honor Book

    Happy Reading (& Running) =) 

    The Library Card

    A card with a mind of its own.
    Library Card by Jerry Spinelli takes the reader through the stories of 4 different characters who find a blank blue library card that ends up changing their lives. Mongoose finds the card and even after Weasel tries to throw it away, it comes back to teach Mongoose the amount of interesting information he can find in the library. Brenda finds the card and it helps her through her TV addiction, helping her realize how empty her life had been. Sonseray wanders into the library, discovering the card in his pocket and finds much more than air conditioning. Finally, April Mendez takes a ride in a bookmobile and finds a friend that will last a lifetime. What else can this library card do?

    Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this novel...

    Web Resources:

    Vocabulary: Here are some words that may need to be pretaught by section: Mongoose: careen, vandalism, cicada, seething, cahoots, constellation. Brenda: cold turkey, sitcom, hostage, boutique. Sonseray: odometer, chassis, impertinence, spite, panorama, mayhem. April Mendez: manure, hallucination, fiance.

    Before Reading: Ask students what they know about library cards and whether they have one or not. Also discuss as a class resources offered by libraries and from books. Give students the opportunity to apply for a library card if they do not have one by getting applications from your local library.
    During Reading: After each section, explain how you think the character's life was changed from the library card. Did they continue to live with this change or do you think they went back to how they were before the library card found them?
    After Reading/Writing: If you found this library card what do you think it would teach you? Write a short fictional story about the day when you found the blue library card.

    Spinelli, J. (1997). The library card . New York: Scholastic Press.

    Happy Reading (& Running) =)


    The truth will set you free.
    Paul Fisher and his family moves to Tangerine, Florida and Paul begins to question much of which he took for granted in his life before including a mysterious eye injury that leaves him wearing thick glasses for the rest of his life. Tangerine is not the place his family expected it to be but his brother Erik's football dream is just as strong as before the move. Paul's game is soccer and after finding himself kicked off the soccer team at his new school, a freak accident lands him in a new school with a new soccer opportunity and new friends to make. In Tangerine, underground fires burn constantly, lightning strikes on a daily basis and buildings are built on sink holes. Edward Bloor takes us on a journey through Paul's seventh grade year in journal fashion filled with accidents, tragedy and a lesson that telling the truth will set you free. 

    Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this novel...

    Web Resources:  
    • Discussion Questions: This link takes you to a list of discussion questions related to Tangerine.
    • Tangerine Jeopardy: This link offers a jeopardy style game for students to play after reading Tangerine.
    • Discussion Guide: Discussion guide and discussion questions from Scholastic.

    Vocabulary:  Here are some vocabulary words that may need to be pretaught: predator, zombie, smolder, lignite, sod, serfs, vandals, eclipse, campaign, eligible, wake, affidavits, condemned,  fumigate, osprey, encephalitis, plagues, reverence, horticulture, aneurysm, restitution

    Before Reading: In this novel, Paul Fisher and his family moves to a new town. In groups, talk about a time that you moved or a time when there was a big change in your life. Talk about how this made you feel and what you did to help you get used to the move/change.
    During Reading/Writing
    • After reading about either Mike or Luis' death write about a time when you lost a friend, family member, pet, etc. Explain how it made you feel and what you did to help you overcome this loss.
    • After reading about the sink hole and the decision students need to make either to attend split session or go to Tangerine Middle, write an essay explaining what you would have decided in the same situation and why.
    After Reading: Imagine you are the prosecutor who will decide what will happen to Erik and Arthur for their actions involving Luis' death. What would their charges be? How would they be punished?

     Bloor, E. (1997). Tangerine . San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace.

    Happy Reading (& Running) =) 

    The Wednesday Wars

    Student versus Teacher, is it war?

    Holling Hoodhood is the only Presbyterian in the whole seventh grade class and that means he is the only student left in class when all the Catholic students go to Catechism and the Jewish students go to Hebrew school on Wednesday afternoon, creating The Wednesday Wars. He is convinced his teacher, Mrs. Baker, hates him and is even more certain of this when she makes him start reading Shakespeare outside of class. In 1967, everyone is worried about Vietnam, and at his house, his dad is also concerned with the family architect business which Holling will take over when he is older. Holling has to be sure he is always on his best behavior lest he sacrifice an opportunity for Hoodhood and Associates. Will Holling enjoy Shakespeare, will he and Mrs. Baker ever get along and, will the escaped rats ever be found? Gary D. Schmidt keeps us guessing and hoping Holling doesn't disappoint Mrs. Baker, his father and everyone else.

    Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas to help you teach this novel...

     Web Resources
    • Activities: This website offers various activities to use in conjunction with The Wednesday Wars including many extension activities. 
    • Graphic Organizer: This site provides a calendar graphic organizer for the purpose of finding all the most important events of the story to get the "big picture." Directions are included on how to use/introduce this calendar.
    Vocabulary: Here are some words that may need to be pretaught: parishioners, intransitive, architect, Vietnam, emporium, ally, nefarious, asbestos, paranoid, hippie, plague, coagulated, cheapskate, reconnaissance, ample, dictator, vengeance, savee, begrudge, telegram, unalloyed, unseathed, ominous, yarmulka.

    Before Reading: Make a prediction of what The Wednesday Wars will be about, such as what type of "war" this will be for the main characters.

    During Reading/Writing: Have students keep a journal writing responses to chapters. In this journal students will write a brief 1-2 paragraph in which they will either make a prediction of what they think will happen next or pretend they are Holling and say how they (as Holling) feel about whatever happened in the previous chapter.

    After Reading/Writing: Write a new ending to this novel or write an epilogue to this novel. Students may choose to write about what happens when Mrs. Baker and Mr. Baker are reunited or what is in store for Holling next year in eighth grade, etc.

    Across the Curriculum:
    Social Studies: Use this book as an extension when teaching about the Vietnam War.

    Schmidt, G. D. (2007). The Wednesday wars . New York: Clarion Books.
    Newbery Honor Book

    Happy Reading (& Running) =) 

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

    Will Rodrick spill the beans and ruin Greg's reputation at school?

    A new school year brings new opportunities for Greg in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. But, with his brother Rodrick knowing about a very embarrassing moment that happened over the summer, it is questionable whether or not Greg will be able to get past those summer months. Once again Jeff Kinney brings us a graphic novel with one of our favorite characters Greg Heffley. Filled with cartoon drawings and laugh out loud funny incidents we go for a journey through Greg's second year of middle school. Between a new vow of truth, learning how to play Magick and Monsters and many other events that unravel, we see the same unsure Greg we saw in Kinney's first of this series. A must read series!

    Teachers: Here are some resources and ideas that will help you teach this graphic novel.

    Web Resources:
    • Autobiographical Comics: This website discusses a classroom activity where students learn that comics are not just about superheroes. Comics can be about an every day person like a student. This discussion about comics would be great to have as a pre-reading activity. Making ones' own autobiographical comic would be a great post-reading activity.
    • Journal Prompts: This site has 30 different journal prompts students could use if they want to create a journal just like Greg.
    Vocabulary: Overall, there are very few vocabulary words that students would have difficulty with but here are some words that may need to be pretaught: umpire, blanks (fired from a starting gun), fad, civil, safari, decoy, totem pole, liberating, allegory, mead, habitat, extinct, circulation, accomplice.

    Before Reading: I would suggest having students read the first in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series before reading Rodrick Rules. Have students in small groups make predictions about what they think will happen to Greg this year in school. Ask students to relate these predictions to what they remember from the first book in the series.

    During Reading: Sometimes Greg makes decisions that hurt other people (and sometimes doesn't even realize it). As students read, ask them to pick 3-4 decisions Greg made that they would have made differently. Have students write 1-2 paragraphs about what they would have done differently.

    After Reading:
    • Writing: Have students incorporate comics/drawings into their journals. Or, if students do not have journals that they write in regularly, incorporate journaling into class time.
    • Make a class venn diagram comparing and contrasting the first two books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

    Kinney, J. (2008). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. New York: Amulet Books.

    Happy Reading (&Running) =)
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