Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: Charlotte's Web

Student teaching is officially over and I didn't even cry until I got home and read the card all my students signed! I finished my portfolio presentation on Tuesday and everything for my Master's is done now!! Now it's so crazy to have absolutely nothing to do until Graduation! Andy's in Maine for his mom's graduation on Saturday, so it's just me and Loki until he comes back for mine on Sunday!!! Yay!

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Illustrated by Garth Williams

The #1 Children's Book of all time does not disappoint. In this book, a little girl named Fern saves the life of the runt of pig litter, Wilbur. She raises the pig for a month by feeding it with a bottle and playing with him everyday. When her father wants her to sell it, Fern is devastated but realizes she can sell Wilbur to her uncle down the street and visit him whenever she wants! Which she does, everyday. However, her uncle won't let her play with Wilbur, she has to sit next to his pen and watch him.

Wilbur starts to feel lonely in his pen but soon begins to make friends with all the other animals in the barn. There is one friend in particular that Wilbur is drawn to, and that is Charlotte, a little gray spider with a web spun above Wilbur's pen. She is beautiful and very smart and they quickly become friends. Other animals in the barn scare Wilbur by telling him that the humans are going to kill him and eat him when winter comes. Charlotte devises a plan that will help save Wilbur's life. She begins to spin words in her web, beginning with "Some Pig." These magical words in Charlotte's web begin to make Wilbur famous. It is because of Charlotte that Wilbur's life is saved. Charlotte gave everything she had to help Wilbur and even in her last days, she was with Wilbur, spinning the last word she'd ever write for him.

At the very end, Charlotte spins her egg sac, saying "It's something for me, for a change" (p. 143). When Wilbur realizes that Charlotte is dying and won't be able to come home with him, he knows he has to at least take her eggs with him. As winter ends and spring comes around, the eggs begin to hatch and hundreds of spiders pour out. However, when the warm winds start blowing, one by one, they all fly away to start their own lives. All except for three, Joy, Aranea, and Nellie. Every year as Charlotte's offspring continue to lay their own eggs, Wilbur continues to have friends in the barn!

I had never read this book until today. My reading professor praised it all the time in class and Andy told me I had to read it, but I never wanted to. I'm glad I finally did though. To be honest, I didn't like it as much as everyone else seems to, but I wasn't disappointed in reading it. I know the story is about the friendship and love between Wilbur and Charlotte, but I just felt like there was a lot missing. It seemed like Fern kind of dropped out of the story and then all of a sudden she was back. I was also confused as to whether or not she could always hear Wilbur talk or if it was just in the barn? These are just trivial things, but while I was reading, they were things I was thinking about.

I thought this was a great story though about love and friendship and the dedication for friends. Charlotte gave Wilbur everything she had, up until she didn't have anything left to give. She saved Wilbur's life and was always there for support, even when she should've been in the barn preparing for her babies. I feel like Wilbur didn't know how much she really gave him until she was gone. If there is one thing that I take from this book, I think it would be about how much Wilbur loved life and wanted to be happy and also not to take the great things, friends, and family that you have for granted. Ok, so maybe that was actually two things.

When Andy and I went back to Maine last summer to visit him family, he gave me a bunch of his books as a child to bring back for my classroom book collection. Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, and Stuart Little were among them. I know these books were special and important to him and now I'm glad I read them. I really thought that this book was going to make me really sad because I am one of those people who cries when an animal gets hurt or dies in a movie, but not so much about the humans and I knew this was an animal book. I'm glad this book was not that way! It was sad though how scared Wilbur got that he might be killed.

In August, I read E.B. White: Beyond Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little and I learned a lot about the author of these amazing children's books.

Also, I had no idea that a movie was made in 2006 titled Charlotte's Web! You can watch the trailer for the movie below.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

Thursday was my last day of actual teaching during my student teaching time and the last day of our kindergarten author study of Laura Numeroff! Graduation is on Mother's Day! This year has gone by so fast!

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond

In this circular story of cause and effect, a mouse is given a cookie, which leads to him wanting milk and a straw and then a napkin. Each thing he gets or does causes something else to happen until he wants to hang a drawing on the refrigerator and that reminds him of the milk and then the cookie all over again!

This book is the first in the If You Give A... series by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond. Other books in this series include If You Give A Pig A Pancake, If You Give A Cat A Cupcake, and If You Give A Moose A Muffin. These four books together comprised the author study that I did with my students this week. We were able to work on a variety of skills relating to these books. We worked on cause and effect, of course, as well as compound words. We also looked at how our selected Laura Numeroff books were the same and different. The students came up with some great ideas too! One little girl said the books were similar because all the main characters were mammals! We had just learned about mammals a few weeks before so that was so exciting to hear.

The illustrator, Felicia Bond, is the illustrator for the entire "If You Give A..." series. She's also the illustrator of many other children's books. The illustrations in this book at not full page spreads, but they are not boxed either. I think this makes the book flow more because they're not boxed onto one page. Many of the sentences stretch onto more than one page as well, so this works well.

I thought this series was a great series to use for my first kindergarten author study. We incorporated a lot of great writing and creativity into our activities. Please check out the FREE activities I created to use in this unit at my TpT store. Included in the pack I made are writing activities, sequencing pictures, compound word work, and math activities that incorporate tallying and graphing.

Many activities we did came from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten including the graphic organizer below that we created as a class!

We also made adorable cats inspired by Mrs. Saylor's Log to go with If You Give A Cat A Cupcake. The kids loved putting all the cat parts together and each one was unique!

I really enjoyed teaching this unit with my students and I hope you can find some of the activities I created useful! Three more days of student teaching! :)