The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett

front cover

A brilliant children’s book is Jan Brett’s ’The Three Snow Bears’: one of her most beautiful picture books, a wintry spinoff of Goldilocks, set in the Arctic. A polar bear family leaves its igloo for a walk to let baby bear’s soup cool just as Aloo-ki, an Eskimo girl, runs past, searching for her team of huskies, which have drifted away on an ice floe. Being a curious girl, she goes inside the polar bear family igloo to eat some soup, wear their boots and take a nap into the ‘littlest’ bed!

Not only the story is gripping, but also the wonderful, intricate illustrations, so typical in all of Jan Brett’s books: the distinctive borders and graphic side panels are hallmarks of her illustrations, and they help beginning readers by foreshadowing events.

Make sure then that kids look at the borders of her drawings: sharpen, thus their observation skills and encourage them to retell the story that takes place in the main frame, but also in the borders!

This is the way I used it with my kindergarten students:

You can see a video of how I used all this material (not at the Kindergarten, though, for reasons of children’s safety)

For the story patterns I used pics from the book. Here are the pdfs:

Bowls

Boots

Beds

 

Here’s a worksheet (with a matching activity) I created and used:

The Three Snow Bears worksheet

 

For the little figures around and in the igloo I used the material for the bears I found in Jan Brett’s site and I drew Aloo-ki myself (not as well as Jan, I must admit!)

Aloo-ki and the polar bear family

For the igloo I used white self-hardening clay which I rolled into a flat sheet with a rolling pin and put it on top of a bowl covered in cling film. When the clay hardened I carefully removed the bowl and painted the igloo. Follow the steps here to make your own set:

You can also use a white plastic bowl or a plastic cup and a white plastic plate to make your Arctic scene (use blue permanent marker – and a steady hand!!!- to draw the ice blocks of the igloo).

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As a follow-up activity I made some igloos for the students, a little eskimo and a little penguin (the kids had to colour the eskimo clothes in specific colours; blue for the pullover, red for the pants and also the penguin’s flippers and beak). Before attaching them with Blu Tack we practiced placing them in or on the igloo.

 

 

Enjoy this brilliant book!!!

Hibernation!

mary bear hybernating 1

It’s winter time! Let’s talk about animals hibernating!

But what is hibernation?

Watch these enlightening videos (I learnt a lot myself!!!)

Getting Ready for Hibernation!  and Hibernation of Animals

Here are some nice puppets: Hibernating animals puppets 

BEAR

I wanted to find a simple way to show kids what the animals do when they hibernate: I built a cave using a large storage box which I covered with brown paper bags and brought my bear family (kept from the time my daughters were little …). Then, showing a picture of autumn and winter we pretended to fall asleep, while in the pictures of spring and summer we stretched out our hands to say ‘Wake up!’  The bear family entered the cave one by one, after yawning and saying ‘I want to sleep’ and at the end we covered them with a warm blanket!

We also sang the song (to the tune of ‘Frère Jacques’)

Bears are sleeping (2)

In the cave (2)

Soon it will be springtime (2)

Wake up bear! (2)

 

You can watch the song here in this small video I made (with the help of our music teacher, Mr John Aivazis!) 

Bears are sleeping

 

We also made a very simple construction with a sleeping bear (which we cut and put cotton on top of the cave) that I found here:

Hibernating bear craft

 

HEDGEHOG

Another animal that hibernates is the cute hedgehog!

There are so many easy crafts to make with the kids (have a look at Krokotak ) but I have a soft spot for paper rolls! (find the hedgehog along with other animals in my post: Make your own zoo with paper rolls from the loo! )

This time we made a whole hedgehog family from brown clay (or plasticine) and various other materials: wholegrain or spinach spaghetti or sunflower seeds or wooden fork tines (avoid toothpics !!!)

Have a look here:

Cute, aren’t they?

This is a little song I made up which we sang (to the tune of ‘I’m a little teapot’) accompanying it with some movements:

I’m a little hedgehog 

Brown and small

Here are my spines (or spikes)

I roll into a ball

When the weather ‘s cold 

I build my nest

Away I crawl

and have a rest

 

Here is a small video I made (with the help of our music teacher, Mr John Aivazoglou!)

I’m a little hedgehog

Here is another sweet song about hedgehogs: The Hedgehog song

And here is a sweet video about friendship among a prickly hedgehog and other animals: Erste Christmas Ad 2018: What would Christmas be without love? 

 

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We also read the wonderful Jan Brett book ‘The Hat‘.

You can find the story patterns here: Kizclub story patterns

A nice activity (I found here by Jennifer Phillips is to print out the animals from the book, hand them to children and ask them to bring them when you get to the animal in the book. Easy and fun!!!

Or colour this page from the book!

You can even print the animal masks and put up a little show!!!

For more Jan Brett stuff visit the author’s website: Welcome to the world of Jan Brett

 

FOX

Next animal (that doesn’t actually hibernate but also keeps warm in her den) is Foxy (a little fox that I bought second hand for just £1 (!!!) at the Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Show some time ago). If you do not have a puppet or a stuffed fox you can easily make one from a paper roll (I have a photo on how to make one easily together with templates for other animals in a previous post in my blog: Make your own zoo with paper rolls from the loo!

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With a smaller storage box covered with brown paper bags (again!) and a song (to the tune of London bridge is falling down), Foxy will go to sleep, too:

Foxy’s sleeping
In her den (2)
In her warm fur!

 

We also made a very simple construction with a sleeping fox that I found here:

Sleeping fox craft

 

What do you say? Shall we dance our hearts out before we hibernate 😛 ?

Hibernation song

and

What Does The Fox Say?

 

PS: I found some very nice material for flashcards and a picture with sleeping animals here:

Hibernation

Pete the cat!

He’s super cool, a blue furball remaining calm in the face of adversity: when his pristine, white shoes, his pride and joy, become red, blue, brown and, finally, wet, does he lose his calm? Does he cry? No, no, no! He just changes the words to his song!

That’s what makes Pete the cat so popular with kids and educators alike. Kids want to relate to such a cool type and teachers want to instil the abilities of self regulation and resilience to their students. This imperturbable blue cat is such an appealing role model for kids to relate to! (Come to think of it, why not for teachers, as well?)

Its main character’s upbeat, happy attitude, coupled with vivid colours and a memorable, repetitive ditty make the book a must-read, suited for primary students of all grades. I used it with first graders, and plan to use it not only with kindergarten pupils but older students as well!

There are a host of activities and resources that relate to the book, this delightful book, written by Eric Litwin (who brings bookwriting and music together!) and wonderfully illustrated by James Dean (not the actor, of course!)  and video.

I made this funny story prop to help pupils repeat the story (after we have read the book and watched the video). The rotating disc enables the impressive change in Pete’s shoes when he inadvertently steps in all kinds of colour-changing substances: the disc is separated in 4 quadrants (white, red, blue and brown.) The disc is covered by a green circle on top of which the cat is glued. The shoes are cut on the green surface (best cut with an exacto knife pen for more precision). All the layers are connected in the middle with the help of a split spin.

Here are some pics:

And here’s the end product, with velcro straps to hold the laminated images of strawberries, blueberries, mud and the bucket of water (found at kizclub Story Props)

Here’s how I used it with my 1st graders:

 

I will use some easy artwork as well from Pete the Cat Activities: Pete the Cat Rocking In My School Shoes: Coloring

Hope you will find this article useful (and not  CATastrophic!!! 😆 )

Name tags

Name tags are so useful for teachers: apart from their obvious function ( to make teachers’ life easier and help them remember their students!) they can be used in other instances.

 I will use mine in order to establish the following routine: I call out a name, ‘George, where are you?’, George comes forth, says ‘Here I am!’, I give him his name tag saying ‘Here you are’, he says ‘Thank you’ and I say ‘You’re welcome’.

Name tags can also be used to form groups for collaborative activities (could be Simon-says-type). When, for instance, animals have been taught all students with a certain animal will have to do something (e.g. bark), or when colours have been taught students can be grouped according to the colour of their name tag (yellow birdies clap their hands) etc, etc.

They needn’t be fancy: 3 or 4 free clipart animals that allow some space to write the name of the pupil drawn on cardboard (of 2 or 3 different colours), laminated and suspended by a colourful piece of yarn.

Just don’t forget to make one for the Kindergarten teacher or else s/he will be very jealous!!!

Here some pics:

Incy Wincy spider

It’s probably one of the most beloved English nursery rhymes (for teachers and pupils alike!)

Whether you sing Incy Wincy  or Itsy Bitsy (or even Itsie Bitsie!) Spider, its simple and cheerful melody will get stuck in your head like an … earworm (earspider???  😛  )

You can have endless fun with your kindergarten kids by accompanying it with some movements and varying the speed of your singing:

  • Alternately touch the thumb of one hand to the index finger of the other (like a climbing spider).
  • Hold both hands up, wiggle the fingers and lower the hands (to indicate rain).
  • Sweep the hands from side to side (as the spider is washed away).
  • Raise both hands and sweep to the sides to form a semicircle (as the sun comes out).
  • Wiggle fingers upwards (as the intrepid spider heads up that spout again).

 

You can make it even more visual by using The Itsy Bitsy Spider Worksheet found at: Homemade Preschool

Here’s a video of how I use the song in class! 

Incy Wincy spider (with Mrs Mary)

 

Here’s a little follow-up Worksheet I made to boost the pupils’ prewriting skills.

 

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Silly Walk Clock

Who doesn’t remember the wacky Monty Python’s «The Ministry of Silly Walks» sketch? Let me refresh your memory if you don’t:

Mr Teabag – John Cleese- (one of the surreal comedy troupe Monty Python) is a bowler-hatted civil servant in a fictitious United Kingdom government agency entrusted with bestowing grants to those who develop Silly Walks. Throughout the sketch John Cleese is seen to walk in the most absurd, hysterically funny walks: these walks were the reason the sketch earned such popularity as to be rated 15th in the ‘Britain’s Top 50 Comedy Sketches’ list (for a full synopsis of the sketch see here).

And here is the sketch:

 

What great fun to practice reading these Silly Walks with your students ! 

What about practicing some of these walks and say which was sillier, the silliest of all etc. (great opportunity to use comparative and superlative forms…)

 

Now, I’ve made this clock (I love summer because I have more time in my hands to do all the things I cannot do during the school year…)

I used these things (template and instructions here)

 

And more instructions from these videos

Ministry of Silly Walks Clock DIYMinistry of Silly Walks Clock – Build

This is my version of the clock in action ( and my first attempt to make a video using time lapse recording ! )

And this is something I made to use with my students at school when we learn to tell the time!

Watch the Official Lyric Video of The Silly Walk Song:

Maybe it will inspire you too! 😉 

For more fabulous cartoons visit Pete Emslie’s blog, The Cartoon Cave

The Famous Talking Portaits Museum (feat. The Mona Lisa and other famous talking portraits)

Our talking portraits museum is ready to open its door to our esteemed guests! 

It was created some time ago (see details here) and my 6th grade students readily responded and created their talking masterpieces!

It all started when a student asked for more information about the famous Mona Lisa . This triggered the creation of a text intended to arouse students’ interest: in it a talking Mona Lisa would speak for herself, giving details of how she came to life! Then, with the use of technology (Chatterpix application) Mona Lisa would actually speak!

The short video of Mona Lisa’s life was embedded in an art museum (templates provided by emaze , an online, web-based presentation creator that can be used to easily build and edit visually compelling and engaging presentations).

The presentation made quite an impact on students; that was the springboard for our art (and, of course, language!) project: the students themselves (with the guidance of the art teacher) would choose a famous portrait and describe it. The worksheet used provided the scaffolding for their effort (Worksheet). It was a creative procedure and, at the same time, a good revision of things we learnt in 6th grade (describing people’s appearance, character, clothes) and guided search through the Internet for the necessary information.

The end product was a text containing information about the painting and its whereabouts, the artist who painted it, the technique it was painted in. A more challenging step was for students to produce a juicy summary: all this body of information had to be condensed (as Chatterpix allows you to record for only 30′) and personalised (each student had to ‘become’ the portrait!) The students had to act out their script, improving, thus, their reading skills, their intonation , their speed of reading. Their short videos were then added to the museum created by the teacher: Famous Talking Portraits Museum!

At the same time, in collaboration with the ICT teacher, the children created their own version of the Famous Talking Portraits Museum using Google Slides. In a neat Museum they included the Mona Lisa section (created by their teacher) and their own talking portraits, their text and even some of their paintings inspired by the portraits they had chosen.

All these actions had to be orchestrated through a very difficult year, with all the devastating impacts Corona Virus Pandemic had on learning: frequent quarantines, demoralizing alienation when schools were closed and disorientation when schools were open. Children struggling to keep up with the newly imposed technology and children struggling with no technological means whatsoever. The students, though, coped with the new challenges and helped each other with the aim of creating their own museum.

The Museum opened its doors to our school (and the whole world!) at the end of the 2020-21 school year, bringing this difficult year and this challenging project to its closure (but leaving the Museum’s doors open for other students to add their creations!)

class photo

The project made a very positive impact on students and helped the teaching and learning procedure through the hard times faced by the school communities during successive lockdowns and short periods of face-to-face learning. It provided the teacher with a powerful tool to inspire students and students with a strong motivation to keep working on the learning process and a touch of amusement. Their effort created positive feelings of accomplishment to students upon completion and presentation of their work to the school community.

Here is the version of the museum created by the students Famous Talking Portraits Museum (with Google Slides)

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Our project was among the 5 finalists in the Local Innovation category for the ELtons awards 2022!

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This is our video:

FAMOUS TALKING MUSEUM PROJECT

The Museum curator, 

Mrs Mary

Little Red Riding Hood

Once upon a time there was a dear little girl who wore a little hood of red velvet given to her by her grandmother … The much beloved fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood is ideal to teach to 1st graders (why not 2nd or 3rd or…?) Well known fairy tales provide both children and teachers with a familiar starting point from which to explore stories in a second language. A wide range of activities (from oral storytelling, dramatic play, book making, creating story props, designing masks and making story boxes to name but a few) can be used (have a look here for some ideas).  

Keeping early literacy fun and playful is essential. The foundations of good literacy skills dwell in comprehension and language skills, which are fostered best through listening to stories and retelling them in a fun way. Oral storytelling (with emphasis on opening and closing lines, along with formulaic phrases and repetitive structures) could be enhanced by the use of puppets. All the best-loved bits – particularly the lines children love to listen to could be practiced in a fun and engaging way.

One way to do easy puppets is to print the figures, have the students paint it, then cut them out and stick them to popsicle sticks.

Here is the template:

https://blogs.sch.gr/mdoulgke/files/2021/05/ddc53de97a3f72b1ff75344d86d000db.pdf

Another (more fascinating because of the game of shadows and light) is to try narrating the fairy tale with shadow puppets (see how to make a shadow puppet theatre here).

I have created a set of eleven silhouettes below: a girl, a wolf, a woodcutter, a mother, a grandmother, a house, a tree, and a bush with flowers, a bed, a mushroom and a hare.

Here they are:

https://blogs.sch.gr/mdoulgke/files/2021/05/house-woodcutter-tree.pdf

https://blogs.sch.gr/mdoulgke/files/2021/05/wolf-bed-1.pdf

https://blogs.sch.gr/mdoulgke/files/2021/05/mother-LRRH-granny-mushroom-flowers-hare-1.pdf

Watch this video for some help:

 

Use these templates to create your own shadow production of Little Red Riding Hood with your class! Make the room dark and have fun while practicing students’ narrative skills!

This is the little act I pulled together using the text from the PEAP material  :

 

Good Luck!