“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.”
Words on a Limb is proud to announce the launch of its first picture-book:
Written and Illustrated by Lora Rozler
In this emotional and
highly visual picture book,
a lonely letter sets off on a journey to find meaning.
As it encounters various letter combinations, it is confronted by two distinct paths and must make an important choice.
Readers of all ages will be captivated by this simple, yet high concept, story that explores universal themes of discovery, relationships and the need to belong, with an underlying message about bullying. Both timeless and original, Words is an evocative tale about how letters become words and words create meaning – meaning which could ultimately build or destroy.
“A compelling story-line, simple yet poignant illustrations, engaging language, a great read-aloud that offers many opportunities for reflection and discussion with children.”
“A heart-warming story with a clever, powerful message about anti-bullying. An absolute must-have
for every parent and educator.”
Available at all major online retailers including:
For a FREE Parent and Teacher Companion Kit, based on the book, Words,
click on the image below
Attention all Mini-Artists: Join our Words-Through-Art Sketch Competition
Get out your sketch pads, sharpen those pencils, it’s time for an Art Competition. Words on a Limb would like to invite readers (ages 6-10) to send in their best illustrations, capturing the essence of the picture-book, Words. The winner will receive a hardcover edition of Words and have their work featured on our site, as well as Lora Rozler’s author website.
All entries must be submitted to email@example.com by August 15, 2015. Please indicate Art Competition in the subject line and specify the artist’s age in the email. The winner will be announced on August 22, 2015. Let the sketching begin!
Hello everyone. I hope you had a restful March break and are excited about the week ahead. I’d like to share a poem I wrote a little while back titled, Three Witty Goats Gruff. It is based on a variation of the original story, Three Billy Goats Gruff. I plan to revisit it with my students this week as we continue our exploration around the concept of Measurement and Size.
After reading several versions of the original story to my students, I plan to introduce my version of it via a poem. When I first introduced it (last year), students really enjoyed the chant and patterns, while I loved the teachable moments that stemmed from it.
MATH – counting backwards, detecting patterns, reinforcing concepts of measurement and size, subtraction, etc.
LITERACY – introducing new vocabulary, making predictions, using context clues to make inferences, singular/plural pronouns, synonyms, etc.
Three Witty Goats Gruff by Words On A Limb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
One of my students favourite follow-up activities was to re-enact the poem using stick puppets. It is a wonderful way for them to practise retelling the story and have fun while doing so. Some benefits of using stick puppets to teach literacy include strengthening oral vocabulary, acting in role, building comprehension, retelling a story in sequence, and recalling details.
Here are some cross-curricular extension activities, including: 1. Three Billy Goats Gruff Maze – students help the Billy Goats navigate through a maze to get to a field of fresh grass (good for refining fine motor, spatial and problem-solving skills); 2. Writing Template – students reflect on their favourite part of the story (while practising important writing skills); 3. Fill In The Blanks – students use a word bank to fill in the missing words from the poem (great for memory skills and practising high-frequency words); 4. Making Patterns Math Worksheet – students complete and create their own pattern using characters from the story (aids with visual discrimination and patterning concepts).
To download a copy of my poem, Three Witty Goats Gruff, including the Stick Puppet Templates, for your personal use in the classroom, along with the cross-curricular activities hown above, click on Billy Goat.
I hope you and your students enjoy the poem and have fun with these activities in the classroom. As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.
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Have a great week everyone.
My six-year-old daughter is an ABC, not an FOB and therefore can be considered a Banana. Thank goodness she is not showing signs of being a Twinkie but on the road to growing up Fobulously!
Immigration and exponential population growth has given rise to a global ethnic diversity of epic proportions. I don’t need to delve into statistics for everyone to know that the colour of our skin is beginning to cross international boundaries and one can no longer automatically assume it is associated with their country of birth. This has inevitably given rise to multiracial unions and first generation immigrants being born in their country of residence. We are literally becoming more colourful! Society as we know is changing at a rapid rate and it is forcing everyday people to either accept the diversity or continue to struggle to co-exist in the general rat race.
I personally love what immigration and multiracial families are compelling us to do. I relish the changing landscape of language, heightened awareness of other cultures and the beautiful ability of everyone to inhabit the same space.
As a result of emigrating from Asia to Australia, my daughter is now a first generation Aussie, hence an Australian born Chinese. She was born in a first-rate hospital for women and is most certainly not fresh off the boat. Although I try to instil some Chinese traditions in her, she is a true Banana, Asian on the outside and but practically white on the inside. I am confident she won’t grow up being Twinkie, embarrassed by our loud Asian gatherings and only being able to converse in English. Instead, she’ll be Fobulous, having the ability to assimilate in both cultures and proud to have a varied heritage.
Derogatory or not, these slang acronyms and very specific cultural terminologies, do exist. Whether we approve of it or not, the Urban Dictionary is here to stay. It is now a highly useful resource to decipher these new words! Let’s not get too caught up and start debating about the correct use of the English language. The fact is multiculturalism has actively contributed to a whole new phrasebook!
Another reason I love multi-race marriages is that they are creating new ‘breeds’ of children. We are now able to loosely and humourously identify them as Filatinos, Blacknese, Chicanese, Chindian, Korgentinian or even Blaxican! From blue-eyed kids with afros to freckled brown skin with natural blonde hair, these children no longer fit in distinctive racial silos. I look at these families and I see nothing but beauty and a whole new world ahead of us.
Food culture has also naturally progressed away from the basic meat and two vegetables. I remember watching a movie once and this man was buying a gyros from a food vendor and he proclaimed “thank goodness for immigration!” I live in a metropolitan city that has embraced multiculturalism. I am constantly surprised by how educated we have all become about the different types of cuisines. We are now even able to tell if a traditional dish was up to par and where to get the best laksa or pho in town. I enjoy having the first world gastronomical problem of not being able to decide what to have for dinner, simply because we are spoilt for choice.
Children don’t see colour. Children see people. I recall a couple of conversations that made me wish we could live in this perpetual bubble of innocence where labels didn’t create racial boundaries.
5-year-old child: Mummy, we had a new boy in our class today
Mum: Oh that’s lovely, what’s his name?
5-year-old child: His name is Dinesh and he brought these yummy spicy things for lunch called samosas.
Mum: Dinesh must be Indian?
5-year-old child: No mum, he’s vegetarian.
5-year-old child: Mummy, Mattea and I played on the monkey bars at school today!
Mum: That’s nice sweetheart. What nationality is Mattea (I was not familiar with the origin of the name)?
5-year-old child: What do you mean?
Mum: Is Mattea maybe white or Asian?
5-year-old child: Neither Mummy, he’s a boy.
Looking back at these conversations, I made a whole bunch of assumptions and generalizations. It’s interesting the thought process I was going through and I, as an adult, brought race into the mix. She simply didn’t see her friends that way. To her, they were merely her classmates she went to school with and interacted with on a daily basis. Adults feel the need to classify cultures. We need to start realizing that this will become even more difficult as the lines continue to blur. Bottom line is, don’t do it. Don’t feel the need to compartmentalize people.
Multiracial families unknowingly teach us about other cultures. My daughter’s friendships have taught her that Teita is Grandma in Lebanese, Greek salad is a culinary delight because it always has crumbly feta and its good manners to take her shoes off when entering into an Asian home. She will continue to grow up in an environment that will educate her in the cultural traditions and customs.
It is imperative children are encouraged to assimilate and embrace multiracialism. This is the most effective education system which in turn fosters tolerance and understanding. Much conflict as we know it is borne out of ignorance and no desire to understand the diverse human race. We need multiculturalism to become an innate part of society. To the point where we can no longer imagine what life would be like without it.
Multi-race children inherit multiple ethnic backgrounds and by understanding the heritage of both their parents, they usually have a broader sense of the world. It allows them to be more empathetic in different scenarios instead of just having the one view-point. They become naturally open to understanding that different people make different decision based on diverse motivations. Possessing more than one language also contributes to children being more open-minded and worldly. The subtle etymology of their language brings about insights into their ethnicity.
The scientific and genetic advantage of “cross breeding” has become a prevalent topic for research. Does heterosis exist for humans? One would think it would! Imagine a population of children that have superior qualities or increased vigor in their genes purely from combining different races! A farfetched notion? Perhaps, but it is definitely worth exploring.
We will come to a point in the human race where a single race child will become a minority. When bi-racial adults themselves have children, the traceability of race origins will become imprecise. Multiculturalism and multi-race families have changed our way of life in more aspects than one can fathom. I for one am grateful to live in a city where this is so ingrained into everyday life. I am thankful that my daughter will be intrinsically educated outside of a classroom. My only hope is that we are all able to live and love harmoniously in this ever-changing kaleidoscope.
By A.S. Chung
Amy is an author, publisher, blogger, social media maven, crusader for women and children, but most of all, our good friend. She makes some great observations above and we ask that you give it some thought. Then, let us know what you think!
Enjoy your week,
There is no doubt that we all lead busy lives and the daily hustle and bustle make it difficult to stay connected with the ones we love. Special times like Family Day are opportunities to re-connect and re-evaluate those important relationships in our lives. As such, I will continue to focus on friendship and family with my students throughout the month of February.
Considering that many children no longer grow up in traditional nuclear families, the need for literature that is inclusive of varying experiences is of paramount importance in the classroom. I’d like to share a poem I wrote that can be used to springboard a discussion on what constitutes a family, moving away from a pre-defined understanding of what a family should look like and embracing what makes families unique.
She brings the sky within my reach
And bakes the best of brownies.
She tells me stories of long ago
And forgets about my bedtime.
Grandma Nia is the greatest – she is my family!
He piggy-backs me to my room
And makes monsters disappear.
He plays with me even when he’s tired
And let’s me win at checkers.
My stepdad is my superhero – he is my family!
They take me places all the time
And buy me books and toys.
They care for me and teach me things
And help me with my homework.
My parents love me endlessly – they are my family!
My Family by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Below is a Family Day Resource package you can download for your personal use in the classroom. It contains the poem above and other fun activities for your students. The download link is found below the samples. Enjoy!
‘My family’ Poem, ‘my family is my treasure’ interactive poem,
‘love is…’ writing template
My Family is My Treasure by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Here is a fun activity I can’t wait to share with my class. Invite students to draw and colour a portrait of their family. Then have students cut the page along the faint lines to create puzzle pieces. Send the puzzle home in a zippy bag to share with families. It’s one I’m sure they’ll cherish.
‘we stick together’ Family puzzle
Students use the blank template rectangles to draw, colour and label their family members. They then cut and paste the images around their own on the family tree.
my family tree
To download this family activity pack for your personal use in the classroom,
click on the family icon below.
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Happy Family Day Everyone!
If you are an author or avid reader, you are definitely familiar with Goodreads. If you are not, you are in for a treat, you should go ahead and visit goodreads.com. If you have visited our website often, you’ll know that we have often pointed you in that direction for further information. One of the joys of Goodreads is that we often meet terrific authors with special stories to tell.
One of those terrific authors is A.S. Chung. She reached out to us from her home in Melbourne Australia, to discuss doing a feature with her. After doing a little research, we realized that Amy (A.S.) was not only an author but she also conceived Pigeonhole Books as an avenue to create books that both empower and enrich families – especially non-traditional homes with blended, divorced, multiracial and same-sex families.
In general, mass market literature tends to shy away from books that do not depict mainstream family circumstances, understandably so if the goal of selling books is to bring as many people under the tent as possible. However, as Bob Dylan wrote, the times they are a changin’. Now, we see established authors delve into the non-traditional with titles such as Patricia Polacco’s In our Mother’s House and Leslea Newman’s Mommy, Mama and Me and of course I Wished For You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond.
This coming February 16th is Family Day in Canada. We are so encouraged that Amy does a great job gently introducing young readers to families that don’t necessarily look like everyone else’s, but are still overflowing with love. The stories are told with great energy and from a child’s perspective.
Author Teresa Villegas did a piece for us a while back, sharing with us neat ideas on how to talk to kids about being born into an egg or sperm donor family. Today, similarly, we feel inspired to share Amy’s story with you. Enjoy!
About writing …
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
Writing has always played a significant role in my life but it was always just something I did, be it for education, work or fun. I enjoy blogging and I have always loved putting pen to paper.
However, I first realized I wanted to become a bona fide writer when it became an outlet to express how I felt while going through my divorce. It was an excellent way to release all my feelings and thoughts and I was amazed how I felt afterwards. I haven’t been able to stop since then and I now write children’s picture books for kids from diverse family backgrounds.
What book(s) has most influenced your writing?
I read widely as a child. I read all the classics every child should and in most cases, the resounding style I enjoyed the most was anything which stretched the imagination. The likes of Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis resonate with me, even until today. While my stories are less fictional and far from fantasy, these authors provided me with the courage to push past the boundaries and write what I wanted to, simply because I could.
When and where do you prefer to write?
Anytime is a good time! Ideas always seem to pop into my head at the most inopportune times. I’m often in situations where the concept and words flow faster than I can write because sometimes they come to me while I’m standing in a middle of an aisle in the supermarket! Most times, however, I do love to write in the comfort of my own home, in front of the computer with a cup of tea, as I lounge in my pyjamas.
What was your biggest challenge in writing your book?
Reducing the length of the manuscript. I could have gone on forever!
While going through my divorce, with a 4-year-old in tow, I was constantly worried about my daughter’s state of mind. There were plenty of resources at my disposal to deal with this life challenge, however, I felt that I needed to find an alternative way to communicate with her, to tell her that life is beautiful and that everything will be ok. I felt that telling and reassuring her was simply not adequate. So, I decided I would further highlight the good in what we currently have through loving words and beautiful illustrations. The message of the book is to hone in on the positives because at the end of the day, she has no choice. So let’s not wallow on the challenges and difficulties.
I also wanted a gentle resource for close family and friends. Divorce also affects the people around us and changes social dynamics. It makes for a difficult conversation to have with children when they’re not in this position themselves.
Based on this premise, my first attempt was a jumble of feelings on paper. There was no structure or body to the story. I simply wanted to write. When I finally finished everything I wanted to say, I had to peel it back and segment my thoughts. The result was an additional three manuscripts in the series that are currently being worked on.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Write all the time! Write about anything and have a great time doing it.
Believe in your words and your message. Don’t sway too far away from your initial goal as you may not like the finished product. Stay true to yourself.
About you …
What do you like to do when you are not writing (other than reading, of course)?
My most favorite thing in the world to do is spending time with my daughter and partner and we’re extremely active and social. Travel and photography take on a natural second and third place.
Travel continues to educate my heart and soul. I love discovering things about places I had visited before that I had never noticed in the first instance. Age, wisdom and maturity changes one’s perspective. I also love travelling with my new partner. He sees things I otherwise wouldn’t have and travelling with a child is even more exhilarating. Looking at the world through their eyes is always filled with wonder.
The camera (next to the laptop!) is my one prized materialistic possession. I love creating stories through pictures. My subjects are always people and I love being able to capture precious moments, when it was least expected.
Do you have any unique talents besides writing?
For a writer, I lead an extremely normal, left brain life. I’m afraid I don’t have any other special talents that would be deemed extraordinary.
What can we expect from you in the future?
A Brand New Day is but the first of many books in the divorce series to be published. However, I am currently working on the first book of the Pocketful of Pride series, entitled A Wishful Wedding, which delves into stories about same-sex families.
Quick Hits …
Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
I would love to have met David Eddings, an American fantasy writer. He was my “first love” and I was so engrossed and enthralled in his five book series The Belgariad as it introduced me into a wonderful world of fantasy. Much like J.R.R. Tolkien, he created an entire world, generations of characters and a language of its own. I have read all his subsequent books and feel like I have grown up with this fictional royal family! I wished I could have thanked him for immersing me into the kind of reading where I locked myself away for days and only left the room because I was hungry.
What book are you currently reading (eBook or paper)?
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx and Adultery by Paulo Coehlo. Adultery was released while I was reading Annie Proulx and I am an avid fan of Paulo Coehlo. I turned to Paulo Coelho’s spiritual words to get me through the difficult phase of divorce and in many ways allowed the slow minutes become beautiful days.
Who designed your latest book cover?
The most amazing illustrator I know, Paula Bossio. She is so incredibly talented and she has a remarkable knack of translating my words into art.
What is your favourite quote?
“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” Jesse Jackson
Visit with Amy:
Mondays and Tuesdays are fun, going on cooking adventures with Dad. We look forward to Wednesdays and Thursday too when we get to be a green thumb with Mum. Don’t forget the holidays! Spring breaks with Mum and hot summer camping with Dad. Each day is a truly special day!
A Banana Split Story is a series within the Pigeonhole Books collection that features stories about children from separated and divorced families.
Amy on Facebook:
Amy on Twitter:
When you take a moment to get to know Amy through her books, publishing, blog, interviews and social media, you’ll discover a woman who has found a way to make a difference in people’s lives, one shared story at a time. She encompasses the true spirit of Family Day – a chance to celebrate everyone who feels their family around them, no matter what it might look like.
We congratulate Amy on her success and wish her continued good fortune in her bright future. Great to meet you Amy!
Words on a Limb would like to wish everyone a happy, warm, love-filled Family Day.
I made you a card,
With a poem in it too.
As my way of saying
Our friendship is true!
I picked out a flower
I got it for you.
It is my way of showing
How much I love you!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Happy Valentine’s Day by Words On A Limb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner – and what better time to show our family and friends just how dear they are to us (not that we should forget to do so during the rest of the year). So let’s take out the scissors and glue and get crafting!
Here is a free template for a valentine card craft. Simply photocopy (on plain, coloured or construction paper), fold in half (bear side up), and have students select from various greetings to decorate and glue inside the card. You may want to give students the option of drawing and writing their own greeting as well. I like to have several options available to accommodate many needs and levels.
Here are six greeting options:
A sample of the finished product
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud is one of my favourite picture books to build a great discussion on what it means to be a good friend. The book helps students understand the concept of happiness and the role we play in creating it for ourselves and those around us. The language of bucket-filling has become associated with kindness and thoughtful acts.
In a previous post that focused on peace-making, I referenced this book and included free writing templates that encouraged students to fill each other’s buckets by writing Smile-O-Grams. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to revisit this activity and remind students of the importance of positive messages. Click on the templates below to visit my previous post and download free Smile-O-Gram templates for your personal use in the classroom.
Here is a really cute friendship-building poem I came across online. I especially love that it includes students’ names and gives it a personal feel. It is also a great way to teach students about action words. I plan on sharing it with my students this week and having fun with verbs while we are at it. Thank you Cliparts for the image contribution.
What’s Valentine’s Day without some friendship-building games. Here are some activities I have planned for next week. I’d like to thank my wonderful ECE, Deepa Talwar, and friend and colleague, Lucas Hannahson for their contributions.
My Other Half | Preparation: Cut out enough hearts so that each student has half of a heart (i.e., for 30 students you will need 15 hearts). Make sure to cut each heart down the middle in a different way (i.e., big zig-zags, small zig-zags, waves, jagged lines, etc.). How to Play: Distribute the halves randomly among the students. Instruct players to walk around the room asking “Are you my other half?” while trying to connect the pieces together. When students find their match they sit down and hold their heart together. Partners then ask each other questions and prepare to share one thing they learned with the rest of the class. It might be a good idea to brainstorm a list of good questions prior to starting – keep the questions posted somewhere around the room for quick reference (i.e., What is your favourite movie? What do you like most about school?).
Heart Race | Preparation: Stack 6 plastic or Styrofoam cups together for each team (for a class of 30 students you will have 5 teams). Decorate the top cup in each set with some hearts so it will be different from the others in the stack. How to Play: Divide students into equal teams (if not possible, some players will simply have an extra turn). Line up the teams and have the first player hold their stack of cups.
Upon signaling, the first player will begin stacking the cups, from top to bottom. The object of the game is to keep moving the cups from top to bottom until the ‘heart’ cup appears on top again, at which point they pass the stack to the next player and proceed to sit down at the back of the line. The first team to have all their players complete the task, wins the heart race!
Match My Heart | Preparation: Cut and attach a set of 15 pairs of different colour hearts to popsicle sticks (one per child, so if you have 30 kids you’ll need 15 pairs, 15 different colours). How to Play: Distribute the hearts, one per child. Turn the music on and have students dance around the room . When the music stops, players need to stay in their spot and find a nearby match for their heart. They can stretch or bend to reach their matching heart but cannot move from their spot. Play the music again and continue. As a variation, or to add more of a challenge to the game, you can also write sight words (or Valentine theme words) and add images to the hearts. This way, not only can colours make a match, but words and pictures as well (either both or else one or the other).
Mystery Valentine | Preparation: Invite students to share one thing about themselves and write it on a mystery card (some students will be more independent than others). How to Play: While gathered on the carpet, read the mystery cards one at a time and invite students to guess who each mystery valentine is. This is a fun way to learn about each other!
Friendship Circle | Gather in a circle on the carpet and invite students to take turns sharing something or someone they appreciate (i.e., I appreciate the books we have, I appreciated it when Lily helped me find my glove). Give students the option to say pass if they do not wish to share anything at this point. This is a wonderful community-building exercise that fosters appreciation and encourages the show of gratitude. I like to pass around an object for the children to hold as they speak (in honor of Valentines day, perhaps a flower or teddy bear).
Love Letter | Preparation: You will need enough alphabet bean bags so that each child has one (for bigger classes you will need more bags – hacky sacks work well as fillers). How to Play: Students sing a variation of the song, Hot Potato while passing around the bean bags in the circle. “Love letter, pass it on, pass it on, pass it on, love letter, pass it on, the letter is – “. The teacher then announces a letter and students look down to see if they have the one that was just called. The student that has the letter goes up to write the letter on the board. Continue on, calling out a different letter each time, possibly spelling a Valentine word (i.e., LOVE, HEART, etc.). Once all the letters in the secret word have been called, students read the mystery word. For more of a challenge, select the letters out of order and have students unscramble them to make up a mystery word.
The Colour of My Heart | Preparation: Cut out different coloured hearts so that there are enough for every student to have one. Place the hearts in a sac or box. On chart paper, write up corresponding questions to each coloured heart (i.e., red heart – what is your favourite food; blue heart – What are you most afraid of? etc.). How to Play: While gathered in a circle on the carpet, pass around the heart bag and have every student pull one out. When everyone has a heart in their hand, go around and have students answer the corresponding question to their coloured heart. You may want all the red questions answered first or in the order of the circle.
Stuck on You | Preparation: You will need matching pairs of stickers (i.e., for 30 students you will need 15 different pairs of stickers). How to Play: Gather students in a circle and instruct them not peek or talk as you walk around placing stickers on their back. Upon your signal, students walk around and try to find their partner – the person who has a matching sticker to theirs. This is obviously tricky because they will not know what sticker they have. They will be dependent on each other for help, which is a great way to get them talking, listening and problem-solving. When students believe they’ve found their match (again, they will need to rely on others to confirm that this is so), they sit down and peel the sticker off their friend’s back and stick it on their hand.
AND NOW, FOR SOME SINGING…
If You’re Friendly and You Know It
(Tune: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”)
If you’re friendly and you know it, wave hello.
If you’re friendly and you know it, wave hello.
If you’re friendly and you know it,
And you really want to show it.
If you’re friendly and you know it, wave hello.
Substitute with other motions such as give a smile, shake a hand,give a high five.
Do You Know Our Friend?
(Tune: “The Muffin Man”)
Do you know our friend (name)?
Our friend (name), our friend (child’s name).
Do you know our friend (child’s name)?
He/She is really ____ .
Brainstorm words to describe students (kind, bright, creative, sweet, fun, caring).
One look out the window on most winter days and your first instinct is to crawl right back into bed and curl up like a ball. But as cozy as that sounds, its not always an option.
We are left to embrace the chilly winter days by adapting to them; poofy jackets, warm boots, wooly hats, furry mittens, snow pants, scarves, ear-muffs – you name it, before you know it, you’re barely recognizable.
But what do animals do during the long and cold winter months? How do they survive? And where are they?
Peek-a-Boo, Why Don’t I See You – Animals in Winter, is a poem I wrote to help children understand how various animals cope during the winter. It introduces the concepts of hibernation, migration and adaptation.
A fun and memorable way to acquaint students with the vocabulary is to form associations with them. (If you enjoy acting every now and then, this is a good time to show off those skills). I began by telling my students that I have a team of ‘scientists’ that will be working with us. I told them that my name was Bernate and asked them to wave and say hi to me, (hence hi-Bernate). Then I pretended to fall asleep (hibernating teacher). They seemed perplexed at first, but smiled when they understood what I was doing. Next, I introduced my pretend assistant named Grate (an invisible bird sitting on my hand) and gestured that he is only mine, (hence my-Grate). Then I pretended to catch him as he attempted to fly away (migrating assistant). Finally, I added our last participant to the mix – a very furry fox named Apt, (add-apt). There I had it, the terminology (and basic meaning) that students would need for the unit was now easily accessible with simple gestures as cues. (I can’t help but smile when I see my students mimicking the gestures I associated with the terms).
Peek-a-Boo, Why Don’t I See You? Animals in Winter by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Here are some fun related activities I created and plan to share with my students throughout our exploration of Animals in Winter. I hope you enjoy incorporating them into your classroom adventures as well.
While we’ve enjoyed reading many fiction and non-fiction books about Winter Animals, we have equally enjoyed filling a class chart on animals that hibernate, migrate and adapt. Though our list continues to grow each day, I selected various animals to be used in a follow-up sorting activity (sample here).
Students colour, cut, and paste various animals into the appropriate place in the winter wonderland scene.
Sleepy Bear Students use
various craft items (i.e., tissue paper, cotton balls, construction paper, paper bags, twigs, popsicle sticks, and whatever else you can find around your room) to create a home for a sleepy bear. You may or may not want to tell students in advance how these items can be used. I personally enjoy watching what students come up with when they are given free choice, but I do give them a starting point.
A little while ago, I was pleased to connect with Stella when I was in contact with Scholastic Canada. She was very gracious and supportive to me as a burgeoning writer. Her insight and advice gave me great direction and confidence.
Stella has been the Publishing Coordinator at Scholastic Canada for several years. During that time she has also successfully published three exceptional children’s books. I caught up with her recently this fall, as she was launching her new title: There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Puck.
Stella has a compelling career as a publisher and author, and I’m happy to share her story with you.
* For our teacher friends – do not miss the classroom resources available for download in the book review section below!
Where did you grow up? What were you like as a child? What part of those personality traits have stayed with you?
I was born in Nicosia, Cyprus and came to Canada very young. I grew up in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I was a shy kid and I’m still pretty shy. I’ve learned to work around it, though. I always loved reading and sharing stories. I spent a lot of time at the public library and I always took part in the summer reading programs. I helped with the reading buddy program at my elementary school and later I tutored high school kids who needed help with English and Math. My parents would tell me stories of our village in Cyprus that I share with my own kids now.
What was your first piece of creative art that you remember (craft, book, painting) creating? Where is it now?
I always loved arts and crafts. As a kid I learned to crochet, knit, dance (ballet, jazz and Greek dancing), play the violin and piano. I even taught myself how to make pysanki (Ukrainian Easter eggs) and I’m not even Ukrainian. I decorated some eggs especially for my mom and she still displays them every Easter as part of the centrepiece.
In grade four I wrote a play called “Prince Pickleworth Stops Littering.” I worked on it for weeks and when I showed it to my homeroom teacher, he was so impressed that he asked me to perform it for the class. So a bunch of my friends and I stayed in for recess over a couple of days and then put on a show. I kept worrying that the play was going to be a disaster but when it came time to perform for the class everyone did a great job. It turned out really well. I was so proud of them. The play is lost but the memory is always with me.
Tell us about your first “YES” in your career. Where were you? How did it feel?
The first “yes” in my writing career was the one I told myself. It was a “yes” to doing what I love regardless of the outcome. I never thought I’d get published but there was no harm in sharing what I had written and seeing what happened.
My first published book started with a silly punchline that popped into my head as I was walking down the street: Sasquatchewan. I don’t know where it came from but once it was there I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I knew I had to write a joke to match that punchline. I finally figured it out, “Where does Big Foot live?” Before I knew it I had written over 150 spooky jokes and some silly poems too. I sent them to an editor at Scholastic Canada. She liked them and the next thing I knew we were working to make it into an actual book. We left out the poems and pared the list of jokes down to 101 creepy Canadian jokes, which we published under the title, um, 101 Creepy Canadian Jokes.
Getting published was actually a big surprise. I didn’t know if my jokes were any good (and, quite frankly, some are better than others).
Tell us about your writing process from idea to page. Do you envision your book completely or does it unfold for you as you write?
Most of the time I know how I want the story to start and I know how I want the story to end. I then figure out how to get from start to finish. Sometimes a story will start taking on a direction of its own and in those cases, I just let the story write itself without worrying too much about getting to the ending that I had in mind at the beginning. After I’ve worked out a first draft, I’ll figure out how that story would fit into a 32-page picture book and revise it to fit.
Thank-You Lucky Star
I thank my lucky star
For the light that guides my way.
For the beauty that surrounds me
New beginnings every day.
I thank my lucky star
For the ocean’s calming lull.
For the stars that shine above me
The gentle sparrows call.
But most of all I’m thankful
For my family, near and far.
For their love surrounds me daily
Thank-you lucky star.
– Lora Rozler
Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone!
To download a copy of the poem for your personal use in the classroom, click on the star image below (follow-up writing templates also included).
Thank-You Lucky Star by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.