Reading about Animals in Winter


The current Media Center focus for our kindergarteners, first graders, and third graders is how animals behave in winter.

Kindergarteners quickly notice that rhyming words are causing much confusion for Bear in Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep!  He is very tired and drowsy, but he repeatedly misunderstands what Old Man Winter is asking him to do.

Sleep Big Bear 2

After exploring the book It’s Winter, first graders complete a chart comparing animals who are asleep in winter with those who are active in winter.  The cut-paper illustrations are striking, and they emphasize that an informational book does not always have photographs.

Its Winter

Third graders learn a new term, the subnivean zone.  This is the area just below the snow yet still above ground.  The book Over and Under the Snow contrasts the activities of a skier above the snow with the hidden animal kingdom just below.  Students have enjoyed visiting author Kate Messner’s web site and watching the video clip of a fox listening intently above the snow and then diving headfirst to catch his dinner.

Over and under the snow


Pack Horse Librarians and Poetry

In fifth grade students study  the WPA and its influence on Americans at the time.  Classes viewed a Prezi that illustrated the pack horse librarian project and showed how few resources those libraries had in comparison to our own media center.

As we read That Book Woman, students identified the true historical elements as they related to the pack horse librarian project.

That Book Woman

To wrap up the lesson and to create an even greater emotional connection to the topic, students studied photographs from the book Down Cut Shin Creek and wrote cinquain poems in response to their selected image.

Down Cut Shin Creek


Analyze the main features of the New Deal; include the significance of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Progress Administration, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.


The Black Rabbit Shadows Second Graders

Second graders heard the book The Black Rabbit as they were studying how shadows change throughout the day.  In this story a somewhat timid rabbit is (literally) shadowed by a black rabbit.  He is able to escape the black rabbit only when he runs into the Deep, Dark Woods.  But other dangers lurk there . . .

Black Rabbit

After hearing the story, we set up our own “black rabbit” experiment to predict and then demonstrate how the earth’s movement makes shadows change throughout the day.

Element: SCI.2.S2E2.a
Investigate the position of the sun in relation to a fixed object on earth at various times of the day.
Element: SCI.2.S2E2.b
Determine how the shadows change through the day by making a shadow stick or using a sundial.


Trees for All Seasons

Our kindergarteners and first graders exercised their prediction skills when we shared Night Tree by Eve Bunting.  After some guesses about what a “night tree” might be, we examined the title page for clues about the setting of the story.  It was agreed that the illustration told us it was the Christmas season since there were lights on the house and a tree in the window.  But when the story opens, the young boy narrator says that his family is going to find their tree.  What could that mean?  With rich illustrations by Ted Rand, Night Tree tells of a family tradition of decorating a forest tree with popcorn chains, birdseed balls, and other edible treats for wildlife.

Night Tree

Third graders learned that what we think of as “Christmas trees” play an important role year-round for many wild creatures who call the tree farm their home.  Before hearing Who Would Like a Christmas Tree:  A Tree for All Seasons each student was given a secret card and was told they would be responsible for giving clues about their creature. The partner tried to guess the  animal or plant based on hints about their role in this habitat.   Did you know that wild turkeys feast on the ants who build hills between the tree rows and actually sting the trees?  Tree farmers are glad to see the turkeys and their role in pest control.   Students gained insight on the trees’ life during the “off season”.

Who Would Like Tree

Students Compare and Contrast, Examine Challenges

On the heels of their weather studies first graders learned about a very special school in the country of Chad on the continent of Africa.  The book Rain School tells the story of students who are so eager to learn that they build their own school from mud bricks . . . and rebuild it every year after the rains.  Our first graders compared and contrasted Vaughan and the “rain school” in terms of their buildings, supplies, and students.  They decided that while our buildings and supplies are quite different, our students’ desire to learn is a common bond.

 Rain School

ELACC1RL9 Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.SOC.1.SS1G3.a Locate all of the continents: North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Antarctica, and Australia.SCI.1.S1E1.a Identify different types of weather and the characteristics of each type.


Second graders were amused by the challenge facing Sophie in Sophie’s Squash.  Students discussed the who, what, when, where, and why of Sophie’s challenge and her response to it.  (Hint:  Sophie’s “friend” starts to become spotted and mushy!)

Sophie's Squash

ELACC2RL3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

Kindergarteners Predict and Retell Stories

On a recent visit to the Media Center we shared the book Beautiful Bananas by Elizabeth Laird.  After hearing the story, our kindergarteners took turns retelling the story by looking at the illustrations.  They also discovered that this story ends the same way it begins . . . with beautiful bananas.

Beautiful Bananas 2

Kindergarteners also examined the cover illustrations and made predictions about Hungry Hen and That is NOT a Good Idea.  The fox always eats the hen, right?  Right?!? Just ask any kindergartener about the surprise both these stories held.

Hungry Hen That is not a Good Idea


ELACCKRL7 With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).