Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Greg is back... and he wants the perfect summer!

Greg Heffley is back in Jeff Kinney's Dairy of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, the 4th book in the Wimpy Kid series. I have decided what I like most about Greg Heffley's stories is how easy they are to relate to. I know students as young as 3rd grade and as old as 8th grade who have greatly enjoyed reading the series. I also know quite a few adults who got a kick out of reading them and remembering some of their childhood in the process. In this book, Greg is on summer vacation and finding himself quite miserable. All he wants to do is shut himself up in his dark room playing video games, but his mother will not have it! Between his family not having enough money for vacation, terrors at the town pool and a falling out with Rowley all Greg wants is the perfect summer. Too bad his mother's idea of a perfect summer might just ruin Greg's summer all together. Will anyone end up with a perfect summer? Read to find out, I bet you'll find yourself laughing a whole lot while you do!

Reading Level: Fountas and Pinnell: T
                        Lexile: 1010L

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

Web Resources:
  • Event Kit: This site was created to help kids have a party for the release of Dog Days. However, there are lots of fun Wimpy Kid games that could be easily used in a classroom.
  • Through the Year:This site offers a variety of Wimpy Kid activities that relate to the first 4 Wimpy Kid books. The activities are meant to be used throughout the year. Click on "Click to read" to enlarge (you do not have to subscribe to read).
  • Teacher's Guide: This is a really great teacher's guide with activities, writing prompts, quizzes, etc. for teaching Dog Days.

Vocabulary: If you need to preteach these will depend on the age level of your students... traumatic, sermon, paranoid, drastic, confiscated, confession, scam, nauseous

Before Reading: In this story Greg and his mom both want to have the perfect summer. What is your idea of a perfect summer?

During Reading: Create a 2 column entry in your journal. As you read, compare Greg's idea of a perfect summer with his mom's idea of a perfect summer.

After Reading: At the end of the book, Greg says: "I guess the person who takes the pictures is the one who gets to tell the story." What do you think Greg means? In partnerships or groups pick a common event, memory, etc. and have each person write a description about that event, day, etc. See how different your descriptions are.

Kinney, J. (2009). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. New York: Amulet Books.

Happy Reading (&Running) =)

Monday, May 14, 2012


Beautiful voice, but not a beautiful face...

The author of Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine brings us a new story that takes place in the same world where we met Ella... When I think of a fairy tale I think of queens and kings and ball gowns mixed with a little magic, some evil doing and of course a heroine with a love story. Take all those pieces of a love story, add the beautiful voice Aza and you have Gail Carson Levine's Fairest which is an adaptation of the classic, Snow White. Aza has the most beautiful voice in all the land. She can even "throw" her voice to sound like it is coming from just about anywhere. It does not matter that Aza has a wonderful voice however because she is far from what those in the Kingdom of Ayortha consider beautiful. She is used to hiding her face as often as possible but when she becomes lady in waiting to the new queen, she finds herself in the mix of everything and even in danger. In the midst of all the danger, she is finding herself falling in love with a charming prince. Will she be able to avoid the danger... Could a prince ever fall for someone as "ugly" as Aza? Read to find out...

Reading Level: 6.1
                     Fountas and Pinnell: X
                     Lexile 590L

Teachers: Here are some ideas and resources to help you use Fairest in your classroom.

Web Resources:
  • Teacher's Guide: This guide includes 8 discussion questions.
  •  Gail Carson Levine's Website: Here you will find links to each of her novels where she talks a bit about them. There is also a link to her blog and much more to explore.

Vocabulary: This novel uses a lot of words that are not used often in conversational English...
aria, wench, amiss, boisterous, conspicuous, inauspicious, impervious, discordant, querulously, surreptitiously, brevity, chicanery

Before Reading: What makes a fairy tale a fairy tale? Make a list (as a class or in partners)... as you read, give examples of when Fairest shows these characteristics you came up with.

During Reading:
  • Give examples of how Fairest is like the fairy tale you described in the before reading activity.
  • Choose a character other than Aza and write a scene from the story in their perspective. For example, what might the king be thinking when he is injured. If he can hear those at his bedside, what would he say in response if he could.

After Reading:
  • In the epilogue you find out that Aza and Ijori are wed and live a very happy life together. Create an alternate ending/epilogue to this story.
  • Choose a scene from this book and in a group create a "modern" script for it and act it out/take a video of your performance for your class.

Levine, G. C. (2006). Fairest. New York, NY: HarperCollins. 
Happy Reading (&Running) =)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Lemonade Crime

 Who committed the Lemonade Crime?

 The Lemonade War series written by Jacqueline Davies brings back the lovable siblings Evan and Jessie Treski in The Lemonade Crime. Remember when Evan stole Jessie's lemonade stand money only for it to then go missing? Well, Evan and Jessie as well as Evan's friends all think Scott Spencer stole the money. They are even more sure he stole the money when he comes to school saying he just bought an Xbox 20/20 with his own money. Evan and Jessie can't stand Scott and of course Jessie has to find a way to prove Scott is guilty. She becomes so obsessed with the trial that her own rules of fairness seem to be slipping away. She arranged a trial before a judge, witnesses, and a jury of his peers all from Class 4-O. The stakes are high, will Jessie be able to prove that Scott is guilty? Read to find out in The Lemonade Crime.

Reading Level: 630L
Interest Level: Ages 9 and up

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

Web Resources:
  • Teacher Guide: This teacher guide to The Lemonade Crime provides activities to use in the classroom along with the book such as Reader's Theater, character chart and more.
  • The Lemonade War: This website is the home page of the Lemonade War Series. It provides fun activities for students and resources for teachers.

Vocabulary: Many of these words' definitions can be found right at the start of each chapter: fraud, revenge, eyewitness, hearsay, accused, impartial, due diligence, sarcasm, defense, bona fide, jury, perjury, prosecution, plaintiff, defendant, contempt, forfeit, verdict, amends

Before Reading: Preteach the word accused and have a class or small group discussions about a time when you accused someone of something. Connect this idea to Social Studies, have you watched the news lately? Did you hear about anyone being accused of a crime?

During Reading: Write in your journal then discuss as a class, do you think Scott Spencer is guilty? Do you think Jessie is being fair? If she is not being fair, why does this go against her character?

After Reading: At the end of the story, Scott gives Evan his money back. Choose 1: Write a letter in the perspective of Scott where you explain to Evan why you stole the money; Write a letter in Evan's perspective telling Scott how you feel now that you know he took your money; Write a letter in Jessie's perspective to Scott explaining why she lied in court.

Across the Curriculum:
Social Studies: Choose a problem within the classroom (or make one up) and create a court in the way that Jessie did being sure to have people for each role in the court. Have the issue be resolved by the jury.

Davies, J. (2011). The Lemonade Crime. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 
Happy Reading (& Running) =)

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Hunger Games

May the Odds be in Your Favor

Katniss Everdeen has made the ultimate sacrifice. She will fight to the death in The Hunger Games in the place of her sister. The Capitol holds the Hunger Games live on TV each year. It is their cruel and harsh way to keep each of the 12 Districts from rebelling; forcing not only each district to sacrifice one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18, but forcing the district members to watch the slaughters and even treat it as a holiday. In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins takes the reader on the ride of their life. The fast paced, heart stopping novel raises questions of love, life and humanity. Katniss must battle with these questions each day of the hunger games as she fights to find a way to survive and return to her family. Will her innate ability to fight to survive bring her to victory or will the tributes from the other districts force her to give up the ultimate sacrifice, her life.

Reading Level: DRA 70
                          Fountus and Pinnell: Z

Teachers... here are some resources to help you to use this book in your classroom.

Web Resources:
  • Hunger Games Unit: This unit includes many ideas, pre-made worksheets and more. There are also further links with information and more ideas to teach The Hunger Games.
  • The Hunger Games: Games, Videos, messages from the author all make this site fun and useful.
  • Scholastic: Ideas from Scholastic for Hunger Games activities in the classroom.

Vocabulary: tribute, rebellion, barbarism, barter, adversaries, betrayal, unjust, humble, rendezvous, scrupulous, respite, deluge

Before Reading: The Hunger Games takes place in a futuristic North America that is run by the Capitol and surrounded by 12 Districts that supply the materials, food, resources, etc. for the Capitol. What do you think might have happened that made North America turn into such a state?

During Reading: As you read, write a journal in which you take the voice of Katniss or Peeta. What are they feeling that Suzanne Collins doesn't tell us? What would they tell their families if they could?

After Reading: Predict what you think will happen with Katniss and Peeta as they move back to District 12. What will their relationship with their family be like? with each other? How will those around Katniss and Peeta treat them?

Across the Curriculum: Make an economics connection by talking about the responsibilities of each District to the Capitol.

Collins, S. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press.

Happy Reading (& Running) =)
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