January Book Picks!
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
We've seen quite a bit of snow here in New York City since winter officially began last month. As the temperatures continue to drop and the cold winds blow, we all secretly hope for a snow day. No snow in your area? No problem!
We've seen quite a bit of snow here in New York City since winter officially began last month. As the temperatures continue to drop and the cold winds blow, we all secretly hope for a snow day. No snow in your area? No problem! You'll find plenty of snow-themed books right here. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and read about some fantastic read-alouds and lesson ideas with my January booklist. Click on the links to find out more about the authors and illustrators featured this month, and keep your fingers crossed for lots and lots of snow.
Miss Mahoney's January Book Picks!
Have your students create snow characters whose faces reflect the snow people's personalities and character traits. As you read this book, you'll find out lots of snow facts. The back cover of the book has newspaper clippings that will pique the interest of your students. Track the weather and use words to describe the temperature and the January sky. If you live in a really snowy place, have children measure snowfall totals as well.
After reading Snowballs to Ms. Ruiz's kindergarten class, we decided to have our very own snow day. We had a great time creating a unique art gallery of snow people within the warmth of the classroom. Want a snow day of your own? It's easy — just draw . . . cut . . . paste . . . and create!
Cutting through the thick, patterned scrapbooking material wasn't easy for these kindergartners. However, you can tell that the students had a great time creating their works of art by looking at the smiling faces of Caroline, Reagan, Selina, and Omar.
Add to the excitement of your make-believe snow day by turning the lights down low and snuggling up to Ezra Jack Keats' classic, The Snowy Day. Our school's subscription to One More Story allowed me to pull up the book on a Promethean board. The children were captivated! Check out my post "Online Read Aloud Library!" to find out how to get your own subscription to this amazing collection of online read-alouds.
Written in 1962, this book is a Caldecott Medal winner and a true classic. I remember reading it (and loving it) when I was just a kid. Follow Peter’s adventures as he crunches his way through the snow. The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is a great site to explore. You'll find animated stories and games for your students by clicking on Kid's Corner.
Thanks to One More Story, you can send an online copy of The Snowy Day to a friend!
I picked up a lot of the art supplies used for this project for FREE from Materials for the Arts. MFTA is part of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and allows organizations in the five boroughs of New York City to come and "shop" for art supplies absolutely free. In order to visit their warehouse of goodies, you'll need to register with them, make an appointment, and promise to write "thank you" notes to the organizations that made the donations. That's a pretty good deal!
Finished with your works of art? Mount your students' writing and artwork on colored construction paper before displaying it. It just makes it look so much nicer!
Finally, display all of the snowmen on a bulletin board in your classroom or on a wall in the hallway to create your own little art gallery.
Now, back to the booklist!
This rhythmical fantasy can be used as a mentor text for lots of writing mini-lessons. Teach your students how to use details to describe setting, in addition to using parentheses, colons, and font size for emphasis. They'll be writing sentences that flow across the pages like poetry in no time.
The illustrations are really beautiful and very cute! I couldn't help but smile as I turned the pages to find the snowmen sipping cups of ice-cold cocoa and gathering up a few snowballs to play baseball. This book will inspire creative writing in your classroom. The illustrator has added hidden shapes in the winter scenery to make it even more fun to read. If you like Snowmen at Night, you'll love Ms. Buehner's newest book, Snowmen All Year.
The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler
When Little Nell has had just about enough from her grumpy BIG sisters, she goes into the woods to get away from it all. See how her animal friends help her to make a BIG snowman and show her sisters that perhaps she’s not so little after all. Compare and contrast the bullying sisters with the friendly animals who encourage Nell to try her best and support her along the way. Inference work as well as drawing conclusions about character traits will flow easily off the pages as the story unfolds.
The Snow Friends by Ian Whybrow
You are sure to admire Tiphanie Beeke’s illustrations as you meet Little Pig, a character who loves to read. When he reads three new words, “wish,” “change,” and “friend,” his world starts to change. Read on to find out how a change in the weather brings about an unlikely friendship between Little Pig and a lonely bird. You may want to dig out the art supplies from the back of your closet to allow your students to paint a beautiful winter scene with a friend.
All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle
As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think of the kindergarten and 1st grade students in my school who are working hard to learn English as a second language. The simple text in this story names lots of common nouns that can help build vocabulary. I could also see how you might pull out all of the fun verbs in this story in order to play a game of charades. If a good amount of snow has fallen around your school and you’re feeling adventurous, ask your students to find some of these commonly used items at home and bring them into class. Then, get together to create your own snowman on a snowy day.
I fell in love with this story on the first read many, many years ago. I mean, who doesn't love the work of William Steig? He's written so many great books, such as Shrek!, Amos & Boris, Dr. De Soto, Abel's Island and C D B! Brave Irene is a great resource for vocabulary work in your classroom. If your school includes a values curriculum in your grade, this is the perfect book for teaching children about responsibility, perseverance, and of course, bravery.
This book is filled with dialogue and can be used as a resource for practicing reading with fluency and expression. Stella’s little brother Sam is VERY curious and asks a lot of questions. Have students use character traits to describe Stella and Sam and find evidence for their thinking. Beautifully illustrated, you can’t help but smile when you look at the characters' sweet faces.
Take a journey into the Arctic night where a polar bear cub ventures out of his den and into the stillness around him. Young readers will learn how to sequence details in a story as bear cub encounters other arctic animals. Stephen Savage's unique illustrations pull the reader into the beauty and calmness of this special night.
What child wouldn’t jump at the chance to make friends with a snowman? Enjoy this brilliantly illustrated, wordless picture book as the snowman discovers the wonders of the "inside" world.
I love the wordless version of this book, but have found it difficult to use with a large group of students as some of the illustrations are small. However, thanks to the use of technology, we can project the images up on our whiteboards. Try taking pictures of the pages and uploading them onto your computer. Then, you can make a simple slide show and ask students to craft a story around the amazing illustrations. Watch the 1982 movie version of The Snowman for a special treat.
You’ll find great facts about winter, snowflakes, frozen lakes, and much, much more in this fictional story. Try referring to it during a “how-to” nonfiction writing unit to show how the author speaks right to the reader, offering advice and tips along the way.
Get layered up in your warmest clothing and ready for a day in the snow. Follow these characters through a snowy day that ends up with a lot of falling down. Work on "wonderings" in younger grades as you teach your students to draw conclusions about why the kids had enough of the snow by the end of the story. You'll certainly figure out why they all say, “Goodbye, snow!"
Snow Dance by Lezlie Evans
If only a snow dance could really work as well as it does in this book. The characters get together to create a snow dance and school is canceled for the day. Your students can take notice of the action words in the story as boots are stomping, tongues are tasting, mouths are munching, and snow is crunching. Use this text as a resource in a shared reading lesson for lower leveled readers who need to practice letter sounds, digraphs, and blends.
Looking for some help with writing poetry this month? Do you need a few new poems for shared reading work? Take a look at these great titles:
Check out Scholastic.com's Wintry Tales booklist for other great titles. I hope that all of these resources inspire your students to read, write, and create some snowy works of art of their own.
Here is a photo I took of Astoria Park during the start of the Blizzard of 2010 that kicked off a snowy winter for New Yorkers.
Once the storm passed, I dug myself out of the snow and returned to the park to find it looking like this. =)
A teacher friend of mine, Mrs. Laura Rosner at John M. Marshall Elementary School, once told me that in order to make a snow day happen, you have to sleep with your pajamas inside out the night before. (I’ve tried it. Let’s just say that snow days are not all that common in New York City!) But tonight, I will sleep with my pj's turned inside out and keep my fingers crossed for a snow day. Let it snow!