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Monday, July 29, 2013

Literature Pockets

When I was writing about our kindergarten plans, I mentioned that we will be using literature pockets. I had some feedback about those, so I thought I would share a little more about them.

We used two different types last year.

Little Bear used history pockets, Ancient Civilizations. We had been using Story of the World, volume 1, but as much as Curly loved it, Little Bear was not interested. I still wanted him to learn some of the material, so when my friend, Mrs. Nerdy, showed me her history pockets book, I was excited.

Each week we read the included history segment. We learned the new words, defined them, and illustrated them. We read relevant books from the library. Our library is really great at getting books from throughout the county, so as long as we planned ahead, we had a huge pile to refer to. Some of the books were over his level, so we would just use the pictures to give him a better glimpse into the time period. Some of the books were fiction, and he loved reading tales from the times. Some of the books were great for his reading level, and he really enjoying digging deeper. Little Bear has always liked history, so that was a lot of fun for him.

After we spent two days learning about the time period, we worked on some of the crafts. In Ancient Egypt we had a crocodile who gave us a tour of the wildlife along the Nile River. In Ancient Greece we created comedy and tragedy masks. In Ancient Rome, we designed triumphal arches and laurel wreaths. Ancient China was not nearly as interesting to him, but we still managed to make lanterns with Mandarin numbers and a dragon.

The last day of the study, Little Bear had to write a postcard about his travels. The space was really tiny for a first grader, so I usually wrote what he dictated. He wrote to his grandparents, Gibby and Grandad, each time. He loved telling them about what he learned and "saw," and it was a great summary for him.

 Tiny Dancer was not about to be left out, so we also borrowed Mrs. Nerdy's fairy tale pockets.

She loved them! It was enough to make her feel like she was "doing school" with her brothers, but was not tons of work for me. She's notorious for coming up with outrageous craft projects that would take me a week to put together, and she got the wrong mama for that! 

We didn't finish the whole book last year, so we will start with the remaining stories this year before moving on to the new one I purchased.

Each week we read a different fairy tale/folktale. Each story has a little book included that I would copy for her. We also checked different versions of each story out of the library. This was definitely our favorite part. There are so many different tellings of these old stories, and there are also parodies of the stories. Our favorite was the Three Little Pigs. We found The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale at the library, and it became one of our favorites. It has famous works of art and landmarks throughout the book, so we were able to enjoy the story on different levels. It was like a high brow version of Where's Waldo. :)

We read a different version each day, and then we did the corresponding projects and crafts. The stories came with word books to help her learn some new words as an emergent reader. Sometimes there were sequencing projects; sometimes we created the title character. There were lots of different ways to apply the story in meaningful ways. When we had our open house this spring, she was very proud to display her pocket book, even in its incomplete form.
Those are wheat stalks she painted.

We are planning to use more pockets this year. Little Bear has one on Newberry award winning books. Tiny Dancer has one on more folktales and one on Nursery Ryhmes. And we have a book on the Plymouth Colony that we will probably save for the following year, when we hit that time period in history.

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