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February 25, 2015

Geronimo Stilton, Class Newspapers, and Series Teaching

By Meghan Everette
Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Geronimo Stilton is a news-reporting mouse and editor of The Rodent’s Gazette in New Mouse City on Mouse Island. He becomes a successful adventure writer detailing his adventures with his sister Thea, nephew Benjamin, and cousin Trap. The series is a hit with young readers because it has full-color illustrations and playfully-drawn text within an autobiographical-style adventure story. The series is a great way to start readers in chapter series because of the very short chapters and fun look of the book. Better readers enjoy the mousey-take on common real items, like “enormouse” for “enormous.”

    Student newspaper readingOur class decided to read the first in the original Geronimo Stilton series, Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye, after several students spotted the longer Kingdom of Fantasy series in the class library. Having one book for each child was an important part of our read-aloud since the words illustrated in the novel add to the reading. Students had an easier time keeping up with their place on the page because they could focus in on certain words as we read along.

    Something unexpected came to light during our read-aloud. I noticed that students went back again and again to an image at the beginning of the book showing the newsroom at The Rodent’s Gazette. Several students had recently visited the local news station in our area, but almost all the students seemed drawn by that newsroom image. I myself wanted students to have more writing time built into our day, and that was how we were led to create a newspaper for our class with inspiration from the Geronimo series.

    Kids reading newspapers Child reading newspaper

    I handed out newspapers to students and let them have time to explore. Most students knew that the comics were in the paper, but few knew there were different sections. We read a few short articles, discussing how newspaper writing is different from the first-person narratives students generally write. Students were asked to write a news report about any school event they found interesting, just to begin writing without saying “I” and “we.” For fun, we put a few stories into the Scholastic Newspaper Reporter to see our writing in print.

    Newspaper topic brainstormUsing task cards, I broke the class into groups and we discussed the different responsibilities of each person in the “newsroom.” Then I assigned each group to a section of the paper including world news, local news, sports, entertainment, and advertising. Students were asked to create a list of topics their section could write about. (Full disclosure: this proved difficult and we came back together and developed idea lists together.)

     

    Printable task cards for cooperative groups Stilton task cards for cooperative groups

    Students had time to write drafts of their articles in each group. I typed the articles for them and found images that could be related to each story. I also digitally re-created the advertisements the ad group made. Then we visited the Newseum online and looked at the front page of different newspapers from around the county. We came up with three different mastheads for our class newspaper. Students were given 8 ½ x 14" pieces of paper and a copy of all the stories, mastheads, and images. They were challenged to design a layout for their newspaper that included all the main stories and any ads or images they decided to use.

    Kids writing in groups Newspaper writing group

    Each group presented their paper and justified their decisions to the class. I copied the papers so that each student could have a copy of their creation.

    Newspaper girlsNewspaper groupNewspaper group

    My students loved the Geronimo Stilton book and are already checking out more from the series. Throughout our work we enjoyed Geronimo games, activities, and resources found online. We even watched a short Geronimo cartoon. Newspaper creation is an easy way to tie realism into the fantasy world of the Stilton’s, but it isn’t the only way to use the series. Consider some of these options for teaching with Geronimo:

    Geronimo teaching ideas

    More resources:

    Common Core State Standards Teaching Guide

    Character Comparison Sheet

    Teach with Geronimo Stilton

    Geronimo Stilton Lesson Plans

    Reading Response Activities

    Make Your Own Geronimo Comic and Other Activities

    Official Geronimo Stilton Website

     

    If students enjoy the original, there are six other series to enjoy, including Cavemice, Spacemice, and special editions.

    How do you bring Geronimo, or any series, to life in your classroom?

    Geronimo Stilton is a news-reporting mouse and editor of The Rodent’s Gazette in New Mouse City on Mouse Island. He becomes a successful adventure writer detailing his adventures with his sister Thea, nephew Benjamin, and cousin Trap. The series is a hit with young readers because it has full-color illustrations and playfully-drawn text within an autobiographical-style adventure story. The series is a great way to start readers in chapter series because of the very short chapters and fun look of the book. Better readers enjoy the mousey-take on common real items, like “enormouse” for “enormous.”

    Student newspaper readingOur class decided to read the first in the original Geronimo Stilton series, Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye, after several students spotted the longer Kingdom of Fantasy series in the class library. Having one book for each child was an important part of our read-aloud since the words illustrated in the novel add to the reading. Students had an easier time keeping up with their place on the page because they could focus in on certain words as we read along.

    Something unexpected came to light during our read-aloud. I noticed that students went back again and again to an image at the beginning of the book showing the newsroom at The Rodent’s Gazette. Several students had recently visited the local news station in our area, but almost all the students seemed drawn by that newsroom image. I myself wanted students to have more writing time built into our day, and that was how we were led to create a newspaper for our class with inspiration from the Geronimo series.

    Kids reading newspapers Child reading newspaper

    I handed out newspapers to students and let them have time to explore. Most students knew that the comics were in the paper, but few knew there were different sections. We read a few short articles, discussing how newspaper writing is different from the first-person narratives students generally write. Students were asked to write a news report about any school event they found interesting, just to begin writing without saying “I” and “we.” For fun, we put a few stories into the Scholastic Newspaper Reporter to see our writing in print.

    Newspaper topic brainstormUsing task cards, I broke the class into groups and we discussed the different responsibilities of each person in the “newsroom.” Then I assigned each group to a section of the paper including world news, local news, sports, entertainment, and advertising. Students were asked to create a list of topics their section could write about. (Full disclosure: this proved difficult and we came back together and developed idea lists together.)

     

    Printable task cards for cooperative groups Stilton task cards for cooperative groups

    Students had time to write drafts of their articles in each group. I typed the articles for them and found images that could be related to each story. I also digitally re-created the advertisements the ad group made. Then we visited the Newseum online and looked at the front page of different newspapers from around the county. We came up with three different mastheads for our class newspaper. Students were given 8 ½ x 14" pieces of paper and a copy of all the stories, mastheads, and images. They were challenged to design a layout for their newspaper that included all the main stories and any ads or images they decided to use.

    Kids writing in groups Newspaper writing group

    Each group presented their paper and justified their decisions to the class. I copied the papers so that each student could have a copy of their creation.

    Newspaper girlsNewspaper groupNewspaper group

    My students loved the Geronimo Stilton book and are already checking out more from the series. Throughout our work we enjoyed Geronimo games, activities, and resources found online. We even watched a short Geronimo cartoon. Newspaper creation is an easy way to tie realism into the fantasy world of the Stilton’s, but it isn’t the only way to use the series. Consider some of these options for teaching with Geronimo:

    Geronimo teaching ideas

    More resources:

    Common Core State Standards Teaching Guide

    Character Comparison Sheet

    Teach with Geronimo Stilton

    Geronimo Stilton Lesson Plans

    Reading Response Activities

    Make Your Own Geronimo Comic and Other Activities

    Official Geronimo Stilton Website

     

    If students enjoy the original, there are six other series to enjoy, including Cavemice, Spacemice, and special editions.

    How do you bring Geronimo, or any series, to life in your classroom?

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