Friday, March 4, 2016

Read Across America (For Upper Elementary)

It's that time of year again... time to wish Dr. Seuss a "Happy birthday!"  

My school, like many others, celebrates the whole week. When I was in Pre-K, celebrating Read Across America was a no-brainer. We'd read some classics like Hop on Pop or Fox in Socks, and each day would have a different theme, like Crazy Hat Day or Pajama Day. But, when it came to my fifth graders, I was out of ideas. Everything that worked for me in the past would be way too babyish for them.

Luckily, I came across this blog post from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6 (have I mentioned how much I LOVE her??). She always has the best ideas and this one was no different. She found a way to take Dr. Seuss' stories and use them in such a way that really got the kids thinking, discussing and analyzing.

We started off by reading two different passages about Thedor Seuss Geisel. You can get the passages here and here. The children made some annotations in the margins as they read. Next, I assigned a specific paragraph to each group. I asked them to focus on their paragraphs and they each took turns presenting them to the class; telling us why that paragraph was important and whether or not they had any questions about what they had read. The children did this for both of the passages. Lastly, we compared and contrasted the two texts and discussed their similarities and differences.

The next day, we read The Cat In The Hat and used Stephanie's discussion guide to try and find the underlying theme of the story. The kids really took off with this! I was listening to their conversations and they were saying things like "Don't let strangers in your house", "Be careful who you trust" and "The Cat wasn't making good decisions".

Now that we had one story under our belts and we understood the concept, we did it all over again the next day. I gave each group a different Dr. Suess book and they got to work. They took turns reading aloud to each other, discussing the message of the story, making inferences and lastly, coming up with a new title for their story, based on what they thought the underlying message of the story was.

It was amazing just how much they enjoyed this activity.  I was so proud of how well they did.  It's such an awesome feeling when you see your kids "get it".

Some other fun activities we did for Read Across America were:

  • We used this awesome Cat In The Hat camera app and took some fun selfies with it.  I used their pictures and displayed them along with this great "Quoting Seuss" activity (also from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6).
  • We created a class banner using this adorable activity from Elementary Lesson Plans.
  • After reading Oh, The Places You'll Go! we created some Bucket Lists.  The children were asked to think about their top 5 life goals (people they'd like to meet, or places they'd like to visit and give reasons why).

It was a jam-packed week, but the kids had a blast!  How do you celebrate Read Across America in your classroom?  I'd love to hear all about it in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by!

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