*Author, Author Field Trip

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Author! Author!: A Module on Writing for Children
By Cara Bafile

Cross-curriculum Ideas  

Lesson Plans and Activities

Language Arts Math
Additional Language Arts Activities Art
History/Social Studies Music

Lesson Plans and Activities

Language Arts Mini-Lessons http://yn.la.ca.us/cec/ceclang/ceclang-interm.html

Writing: Instructional Philosophy and Teaching Suggestions http://www.sasked.gov.sk.ca/docs/mla/write.html

SCORE: The Mitten http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/score/mit/mittg.html

Writing Plans from The Teacher's Desk

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Language Arts

Use this tour to introduce students to process writing and teach them about how authors bring books into being. Through the set of activities, the students will: choose a topic, create a dummy book, use a story map, examine the characters, revise, assign a title, make illustrations, write a statement for the beginning of the book, edit, answer questions about the writing experience and the book, and publish by sharing.

Begin by exposing students to the steps of process writing in an entertaining way with Process Writing Rap http://www.davison.k12.mi.us/elementary/rap.htm. They will use this pattern to create their books.

After visiting the site Buddie's Bearded Collie Literacy Notebook http://www.skylinc.net/~scarfone/corner.html, have students brainstorm topics for their books by having them list any idea that comes to mind on a sheet of paper. Try this for a few minutes; then instruct them to read over what they have written to see if they particularly like one of their ideas.

Give your students time to examine Jan Brett's Mitten Newsnotes http://www.janbrett.com/newsnotes/mitten_newsnotes2.htm and ask them, "Can you find an idea for your story like Jan Brett?" Have them gather more ideas for their subjects.

When Eric Carle starts a story, he makes a dummy book. A dummy book is made of eight plain pieces of paper and a cover. Have students read about Carle's use of dummy books at Caterpillar Express http://www.eric-carle.com/catindex.html and make these books for their stories.

The class will discover some background on the creators of the Berenstain Bears at Information about Stan & Jan Berenstain http://www.berenstainbears.com/. These authors say that their favorite story is always the one on which they are currently working. Students should reread their own stories and see what improvements they can make to turn these tales into their favorite books.

In Judy Blume Talks About Writing http://www.judyblume.com/writing-jb.html, students discover that revision is Blume's favorite part of the writing process. After reading about Blume, students should revise their stories and try to have fun with them. Remind the students that just like Judy Blume, they have all of the pieces to the puzzle, and now they should make them fit just right. Students should also give their stories exciting titles.

Have students write a paragraph about their careers as authors on the inside cover of their books that is patterned after Katherine Paterson Biography http://www.terabithia.com/. They may also edit their books by sharing them with other students or you and focus on their spelling and grammar.

As a culminating activity, permit your students to share their books with each other and invite them to share their responses to the following questions: What author are you most like? Which one was the most interesting to you? Encourage them to listen to the suggestions and comments of others so that they may improve their stories.

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Additional Language Arts Activities

If you choose to make books with your class, consider putting them together into a larger book of stories and copying it for the entire group. Then hold a "book-signing" so that the students may put their signatures on their stories, and when the anthologies are taken home, they can be read by the students to parents and siblings.

Help your students create well-rounded characters with the Fiction Writer's Character Chart http://www.eclectics.com/articles/character.html. Mature students will find this chart particularly beneficial. It serves as a good record to keep students on course and technically correct in their writing.

Your students may put the advice from children's book author and illustrator Joan Holub's Web page called Just for Kids http://www.joanholub.com/kids.html into practice in their writing. Children may easily follow her exceptional explanation of how to create a book.

Compare the sibling or friend relationships in a book by Beverly Cleary (ex. Ramona the Pest) or Judy Blume (ex. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing) with the experiences of students in your class. You may choose to have the students create Venn-diagrams of how their lives parallel those of the characters in these books.

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History/Social Studies

Read Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express and have your students not only locate the North Pole on a world map but also chart a course that runs through major cities from your location to the Santa's home.

One author who does on-location research for her books is Jan Brett. Her Owl Newsnotes http://www.janbrett.com/newsnotes/mitten_newsnotes2.htm explains how she gathered ideas for her book The Owl and the Pussycat while on a trip to the island of Martinique. Your students may mimic her experience by researching the location of a book they are reading or by investigating an exotic locale and writing a story that is set in it.

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Read The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. Have your students select an animal, do research to learn about its behaviors, and then write stories in which the main character is one of these animals. They should incorporate some of the regular behaviors of the creatures into their tales.

R.L. Stein likes to give kids goose bumps. What are they? Your students can learn more about this interesting bodily reflex at You Can & Goose Bumps http://www.beakman.com/gbump/gbump.html.

The Berenstain Bears are quite unusual when compared to the average bear, but one of their books would make a terrific complement to a study of real bears in the wild.

Buddie is a bearded collie, just one of the many breeds of dogs. The Net Vet offers a page of links to Web sites about all breeds of Dogs http://netvet.wustl.edu/dogs.htm. Your students will enjoy investigating the breeds to learn about their different characteristics.

Discuss how plants grow, what they need, and the germination of seeds through a reading of The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.

Conservation is the theme of Dr. Seuss's adorable Lorax http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=0394823370#links.

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Read Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle and/or Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola. Have your students gather pancake recipes to create a class recipe book. Make a chart of favorite types of pancakes--with maple syrup, with blueberries, etc. Also have students measure ingredients and mix pancake batter for a special treat.

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Read a portion of Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg without displaying the pictures, and have your students illustrate it. As a variation, assign specific text to individuals or groups of students and have them illustrate the text to make an entire book. Then show them Van Allsburg's work and have them compare the interpretations and cite the rationale they followed in creating their work.

Dr. Seuss is famous for colorful, fanciful creatures with unusual names! Have your students create characters of their own and give them unique, rhyming names.

Introduce your class to the style of art called "collage" through the books of Eric Carle. At How Do You Make Your Pictures? http://www.eric-carle.com/makepic.html, Carle explains his technique.

Talk about famous rabbits such as Peter Rabbit (from Beatrix Potter's books), Bugs Bunny, the Energizer Bunny, the Velveteen Rabbit, and more. Have your class vote for the best rabbit, and instruct them to create a cartoon that features one of these super bunnies!

Many authors are known not just for their writing ability but for their artistic skill as well. Jan Brett, Eric Carle, Beatrix Potter, and Chris Van Allsburg are a few. Have your students compare the style and composition of their illustrations.

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Have your students use Process Writing Rap http://www.davison.k12.mi.us/elementary/rap.htm as an example for a rap of their own design that focuses on a subject or topic you are studying.

Discuss the type of music that is played during moments of high drama on television or in movies. Invite your students to share music that they would choose for a point in a Goosebumps book by R.L. Stine and justify their selections.

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