It’s hard to believe that another school year is coming to a close. It’s the season of 6th grade graduations, rushing to fit in an extra math unit, and Field Day games under a hot and humid sun. This week I've selected some titles that will bring summer to mind, whether it be through travel to the beach, overseas, or to the middle of a sun-drenched wheat field. I think you'll also appreciate the frame-making activity as a fun way to wrap up the year. Enjoy!
Written and Illustrated by Belle Yang
Published by Candlewick Press
Summertime Rainbow is written with such poetic word choice, it almost reads like a haiku. The facing pages contain Chinese characters, with a page at the end containing the pinyin pronunciations. Whether your students are learning Chinese or you simply want to share with them a foreign language, this board book will do the trick.
Vacation: We're Going to the Ocean
Written by David Harrison
Illustrated by Rob Shepperson
Published by Boyds Mills Press
This fun title is filled with quick poems that positively glow from warm summer rays. Some class favorites included "Packing," "Putting Up the Tent," and "Shark!" Most of the poems rhyme and are filled with humor that young children will enjoy. This is a great title to inspire children to write their own summertime poems.
Into the Outdoors
Written and Illustrated by Susan Gal
Published by Knopf
The retro illustrations in Into the Outdoors are so engaging that my students wanted to hear the story again. They were also pretty enchanted by Susan Gal’s use of position words throughout the text. “The trail winds around the lake . . . ” and “ . . . we pass behind a tumbling waterfall . . . ” are just two examples of text children could try to illustrate on their own. Also, be sure to try my position word activity sheet as an extension activity.
Written by Jennie Maizels
Paper Engineering by Richard Ferguson
Published by Candlewick Press
With summer vacation comes the chance to travel. While I’m leery of leaving pop-up books on the shelf, they can be wonderful for supervised reading or read-alouds. Pop-Up London makes a wonderful addition to units on travel and cities. Children will learn about local architecture (Buckingham Palace), geographical features (the Thames), and entertainment (the Globe). My students thought the working drawbridge with boat was the best.
Written by Inez Snyder
Published by Scholastic
When looking at Wheat, the cover alone brings to mind the hot, hazy days of summer, with crickets chirping in the background. Part of the Welcome Books series, along with Apples, Cranberries, and Oranges, Wheat sports colorful photographs, a glossary, and a resource page. It highlights the process of wheat production in a format that's easy and interesting for small children. Try the illustration sheet as an extension activity.
This summer-themed activity is simple to set up and create. To start off, you’ll need mat-board frames, glue, Q-tips, and tiny shells. (These precut frames really help artwork to stand out when you’re putting together a bulletin board display. You can send a request home to parents for the supplies or visit your local craft store.) Model how to glue the shells to the frames using Q-tips to dab on the glue. I find it’s best to let the glue dry overnight, to be certain the shells stick.
For this next step you’ll need drawing paper, markers or colored pencils, tape, and scissors. Trace the inner rectangle of the frame onto pieces of paper cut slightly smaller than the edges of the frames. Distribute the paper and have the students use the drawing materials to create pictures. (You might choose to have your children create a "first draft" illustration before handing out the framable paper.) Self-portraits, beach-themed scenes, and animals are all popular. Use the tape to attach the drawing to the back of the frame, and you’re good to go.