Here’s a lesson idea, contrasting two different retellings of a fairy tale, that worked really well with my fourth graders. I love the book The Girl Who Spun Gold, by Virginia Hamilton and wanted to pair it with the traditional telling of Rumplestiltskin. I used a very old copy of Rumplestiltskin that we had in our library. I wasn’t thrilled with this older book and ordered Paul Zelinsky’s version of the book after this lesson (winner of the 1987 Caldecott Honor). The illlustrations are full of vibrant color that are sure to attract students and compare nicely with Leo and Diane’s illustrations in The Girl Who Spun Gold.
I took two class times to read Virginia Hamilton’s book, about 20 minutes, in all. I then read the traditional telling of the story. My students were jumping up to offer me similarities and differences between the two retellings of the story. It was a lot of fun to see them so excited.
Next week, I’ll do a book talk and read the first couple of chapters of Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin, a new book by Liesl Shurtliff, a fractured fairytale.
This year, I’m trying to tie my picture books into our non-fiction texts as often as possible. Sometimes, it’s just tying to a book about the place where the story takes place, or facts about the animal involved, or maybe the climate or the season.
For those of you looking for ideas for your own library class times, I hope this new part of my blog on Lesson ideas is helpful to you.
Here’s my first lesson idea based on a favorite wordless book, Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse. (click the link to see my previous blog article on this wonderful book.)
Lots of my students don’t have the ability to travel outside Oakland, and I’m a geography buff. So I take every opportunity to introduce geography into my time with my students. The Lion and the Mouse is a great gateway book to talk about Africa, the African savanna and the animals that live there.
I started with asking my students to name the seven continents. Then I focused them on Africa on our map. It’s also great to incorporate a globe to show students how far away places are from their home. Today, I used a wonderful book we just added to our library from the First Facts series on continents by Capstone Press. The book I used is called Spotlight on Africa. I took a few moments to show my students some pictures from the books and then turned to the page on Africa’s climates. This page shows a picture of desert, rain forest and the savanna. I then pulled out book on the African savanna called Here is the African Savanna. This book has a lot of repetition and is really meant for younger children, but it nicely goes through many of the animals that live on the African savanna and even talks about the acacia trees. I didn’t read everything on the page, because I wanted to focus the students on the different animals they might see on the savanna. Altogether, we only spent about five or 10 minutes looking at a map, the book on Africa and the pages of the Savanna book.
We then went on to, The Lion and the Mouse. I ask my students to “read” this book in silence. It is so beautifully illustrated. The lion’s and the mouse’s facial expressions are wonderful. I see my students telling themselves the story with their mouths moving. After they’ve finished “reading” this wordless book, I ask them to tell me the story.