Rosemary Wells Author Study
Start your author study by reading a short biography of Rosemary Wells and reading her books. Then use the activities and lessons below to introduce students to her heart warming stories. Extend the unit by visiting these Web sites for more information about Wells:
The World of Rosemary Wells
Scholastic Professional Books offers these suggestions for teaching with any book by Rosemary Wells:
Teaching With the Pictures
Strengthen a range of skills with a look at a book’s illustrations, beginning with the cover.
- Predicting: Examine the book’s cover. Before reading the book, invite students to name titles of other books they’ve read by Rosemary Wells. Ask: “What do you notice about the cover of this book? What does this picture suggest this book might be about? What does Rosemary Wells want us to know before we begin reading?”
- Observing: Take a picture walk. Before reading the book, encourage students to shareobservations about what is happening in the pictures. Ask: “What information is theauthor sharing with us in this illustration?”
- Problem Solving: Use illustrations as support for reading text. Illustrations frequentlyprovide students with insights into the meaning of words they read. After reading the bookaloud, discuss ways in which the words are supported by the illustrations. Students may find this strategy helpful, especially when they encounter unfamiliar words.
Exploring the Story
From predicting and sequencing to summarizing and synthesizing, here are some ways to use the books to build strong reading skills.
- Predicting: What might happen next? Encourage students to think about what has happened in the story so far. Ask: “Where in the text or illustrations can we find clues about what might happen?” Then ask: “Why
does your prediction make sense?” Use the What’s Ahead? reproducible
(page 10) to help children develop thoughtful predictions.
- Sequencing: Invite students to fill in the What Happened When? graphic organizer (page 10) to recall a story’s sequence of events—from what happened in the beginning to what happened at the end. Or explore plot sequence with Pocket Chart Retellings (page 9).
- Organizing Data: Have students create a story map to record what they know about story elements, including characters, plot, setting, and theme. For an extra challenge, invite children to provide specific details from the story.
- Retelling: Retelling a story’s plot not only deepens a reader’s comprehension but
also offers an opportunity for you to assess a child’s understanding. Take the
retelling process a step further by having students put their retellings into writing.
- Conflict and Resolution: Will Ruby have what she needs to make Grandma a birthday cake? Will Timothy make a friend at school? Having characters encounter problems is a familiar plot device—and with each turn of the book’s pages suspense grows. Have students identify the most important problem in a story and offer alternate solutions.
- Synthesizing: Use A Rosemary Wells Review (page 11) to encourage children to reflect on and respond to the stories they read.
Mind’s Eye Scenes (Language Arts, Art)
Use visual representation to assess children’s comprehension.
- Provide students with paper, pencils, and crayons or markers. Explain that while you read a story aloud, children will be drawing.
- To help children prepare their papers for the drawing activity, demonstrate how to draw two lines (through the center) to divide their paper into four squares. Have children write the title of the book at the top of the page and then number each square 1 through 4.
- Explain that as you read the book aloud, you’ll stop reading four times. Each time you’ll ask students to draw a picture that depicts the events from the story in one of the numbered boxes. (Rather than showcasing Rosemary Wells’s illustrations, encourage children to draw their own visualizations.)
- Read a few pages of the story and stop. Ask students to create a picture to show what happened. To check comprehension, you may want to ask volunteers to describe their drawings. Or observe what individual children draw and invite them to point out details and explain the illustration. For example, after reading the first few pages of Timothy Goes to School, a student may draw Timothy sitting alone. A thought bubble above Timothy’s head may depict a sad Claude, sitting alone at an enormous lunch table.
- When all four drawings are complete, have children write (or dictate) a sentence to describe what is happening in the scene. As you assess student work, consider whether each child demonstrates understanding of the story’s characters, setting,and events.
Pocket Chart Retellings (Language Arts)
Strengthen understanding of story structure and summarizing skills with this activity.
- As a group, summarize the story’s beginning, middle, and end. Record each sentence on a sentence strip.
- Let students retell the story by placing the sentence strips in order in a pocket chart. Use this activity to reinforce time order words—what happened first, second, next, and so on. For early readers, you may want to invite students to illustrate key words from the story. For example, if you’re working on retelling Yoko, have a child draw a picture of a lunchbox beside each occurrence of the word lunch.
- As you reread the book aloud, encourage children to keep an eye on the pocket chart. Invite volunteers to point out important events in the story. Record those events on sentence strips, and invite volunteers to make adjustments to the sentence order.
- Further strengthen sequencing and oral language skills by inviting children to revisit the pocket chart with partners to arrange the sentence strips in order. (Mix them up first.)
Character Queries (Language Arts)
Play an engaging guessing game that invites children to think about book characters and ask (and answer) questions.
- In advance, prepare five 3- by 18-inch strips of oak tag to use as headbands. Explain to the group that you will be playing a guessing game in which students reflect on information about characters in a Rosemary Wells book they just read. Have children identify the characters in the story. Record the name of each character on a separate headband.
- To start, choose one student to put on a headband (without peeking at the name of the character that’s printed on it). The child wearing the headband asks yes or no questions about the character, such as “Do I go to Hilltop School?” or “Am I the best at everything I do?” The other children respond to the student’s questions.
- When the child who is guessing has identified the character listed on his or her headband, it’s time for another student to take a turn. Continue playing as time allows or until all the characters in the story have been guessed. For a greater challenge, write the names of characters on the headbands in advance, without student input. Or use this activity with characters from several books.
Finally, visit Weston Woods for animated videos and Study Guides (PDF) of several books by Rosemary Wells.
Extension activity for The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Rosemary Wells.