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AUTHOR STUDIES

Verna Aardema

John Burningham

Eric Hill

Simon James

Patricia Polacco

Faith Ringgold

Simon James writes and illustrates picture books that are simple without being simplistic, sensitive without being sentimental. His books please adult readers and children listeners. He says, "I try not to force the idea for a book, but let it develop on its own."
 
 Simon James has had many interesting jobs. Policeman, farmer, and art teacher are some. Mr. James likes to write about a child's interaction with nature and animals.
 
 Simon James lives in Devon, England.
 
 I. Author Elements:
 
The children should see a picture of Mr. James and a map of England in relationship to the USA. Mark Devon on the map. Put out some pictures of a farmer, policeman, and an art teacher. Since Mr. James uses watercolor show the difference between watercolor and other mediums.
 
 II. Stories:
 
 A. The Wild Woods
 
 Literature
 
Ask who has ever walked in the woods. Illicit feeling words to describe how they felt while they walked in the woods. Ask them what animals they saw. Show the cover.  Talk about the setting. What animal is in the foreground? Talk about squirrels and their habits. Make a graphic organizer. Draw a squirrel in the middle. Write in each corner of the paper. Looks like: Lives: Eats: Acts: Brainstorm these categories and jot down the children's responses near the words. This can be used for a writing prompt later. Show them the page with the Granddad wringing out his clothes and the page opposite (No other pages right now). Let them look at it for a while. Ask them what they see. Ask them to tell you what has happened to Granddad. Ask them how they know that. Ask them what part they think the  squirrel plays in this story. Write their responses down. If a child asks a question, jot this question down. Tell them right before you start to read that you hope by reading that their questions get answered. As you read and the question IS answered, refer to it.
 
 Read the story. Tell them about one time when you wanted to keep a wild animal (say a butterfly). Tell the students that this story reminds you of that time when you wanted to keep the butterfly, but in the end you knew that the butterfly was better off in the wild, but you still liked chasing it and dreaming about making a little butterfly house for it. Ask them if the  story reminds them of anything they have ever thought or done.
 
 Grammar (contractions)
 
Write this sentence on the board:
 You can not keep a squirrel, they are too wild.
 Tell them that this sentence is in the story, but you have changed it a bit. Read the sentence again, but say:
 "You can't keep a squirrel, they're too wild."
 Ask if they recognized something different. Discuss.
 
 Other contractions in the story are:
 I'd, I'll, where's
 
 Make another graphic organizer. Scattered randomly about the page, write these prepositions:
 over, on, across, up, around, beside, above Discuss where they walked to describe these words. Draw a picture to illustrate. So above the word beside, you would draw a stream. Have the children walk their fingers around the graphic organizer to retell the story and  describe where Jess and Granddad went on their walk thru the woods.
 
 Point out to the students how very seldom you cannot see the tops of the trees in this story. Demonstrate how to draw tree trunks. Tell the  children that their assignment is to draw a time that they walked in the woods (or wish they had walked in the woods) and one animal that they may have seen. Tell them that they are to imitate Mr. James art style  and only draw the trunks of the trees and the ground, and not the tops of the trees. Have them write a descriptive sentence and encourage them to use a preposition in the sentence.
 
 B. Leon and Bob
 
 
Show the front cover. Ask if they think the boy on the cover is Leon or Bob or neither. Ask why they think that. Ask what they think this person likes to do just by looking at the picture. Show the page where  Leon is going up the steps and the facing page where he is looking back. Ask what they think he feels here. Looking at his face, describe his feelings. Ask where they think he is going. Ask if they have ever felt lonely. Tell them to show you a lonely face. Share with them a time when you were lonely.
 
 Read the story. Ask: Where does Leon live? Who do you think ate the 2nd bowl of cereal he made? Does Leon have any pets? How do you know? What kind of house does Leon live in? On the page where Leon is looking out the window and sees the other boy, describe how you think Leon feels now. How did Leon feel when Bob told him his  name? On chart paper, draw several simple faces that look lonely, scared, glad/happy, surprised, thoughtful. Have the children tell you when Leon felt each of those feelings. Write their responses below each face.  Have them draw themselves showing feeling on their face and write a sentence about why they felt the way they did.
 
 Math
 
Ask the kids if they think they are taller or shorter than the door knob. Ask  about how much taller/shorter. Have them tell you in inches. Look at Leon in relationship to the door knob. Determine about how much taller he is above the door knob. (I say Leon's about ½ a head above the door  knob, measure someone to determine this amount. Now have them estimate their own and mark it. Actually measure the children in relationship to the door knob and measure the distance above the knob. Determine who is taller than Leon and who is shorter than Leon.
 
 C. Sally and the Limpet
 
 
Without showing any pictures nor the cover, discuss what a limpet could be. List their responses. Show them the front cover and after discussion, cross off some of the things that it could not be (Take into consideration the setting). After reading the first page, have someone define a limpet. (A salt water shell that holds on to rocks.)  Continue reading the story. Make a cause and effect graphic organizer. Make 2 columns. Above the first column write: Sally tried to get the limpet off her finger by...... Above the second column write: but.... Have them remember all the ways Sally tried to get the limpet off her finger and the result. Put a chunk of tape on everyone's forefinger. The tape is a limpet. Tell them they cannot use any fingers nor mouths but they have to get the tape off their finger. Have a few children tell orally how they got the tape (limpet) off their finger. Review key words for writing a "How-To" story. Have each child write a story titled:  "How to get a limpet off your finger." Illustrate the story. Draw a large limpet to start a graphic organizer. Extract facts about the limpet from the story and write it on the graphic organizer. Obtain  other information about limpets to add to what you got from the book.
 
 
 Page submitted by Libby at
Txtchr@aol.com

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