When I was a teacher in the public school system, my last year teaching was CRAZY! I was transferred mid-year from a 4th grade SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) classroom to a 1st grade one because they needed another licensed ESL teacher at that level. It was a challenge, to say the least. I was a little overwhelmed coming back from winter break to a whole new classroom, set of kids, and grade level! I knew the kids would be overwhelmed, too. I wanted to start our time together with something fun, light, yet meaningful. So I wrote an author study on Eric Carle because his books are just that: fun and light! His pictures are bright and colorful and happy and I knew his books would inspire some fun lessons and art projects. His works are what began our new relationship; the first graders and me. We loved it. So began a small series of author studies in our classroom. And I found that I loved teaching 1st grade.
Now that my oldest daughter is in first grade with me teaching her at home, I have revamped my author studies, added more detail, and composed them in a neat package so that more people than just myself can understand the lessons. (You don’t want to look at my old lesson plan books, trust me!) I am so excited for this year with her–I’ve planned a different author for each month, more than what I was able to do in school, and it’s going to be great!
The thing I love about doing an author study in the 1st grade is that this is the year children typically start being able to read more independently. It’s a pivotal year in the young reader’s journey. What better way to nurture a love of reading than to introduce a child to a multitude of books and authors and really talk about things like writing style, voice, illustrations, and more? I want to give my child something else to talk about when she reads a book other than just whether she liked “it” or not. As she learns to read, I want her to have the confidence to pick books that will interest her, to be able to talk about the meaning in stories, and even the desire to pick out a book simply because the illustration appeal to her. So along with our other core curriculum, we’re going to spend this year studying different authors, their lives, their writing styles, and their illustrations. We are going to practice writing our own stories in the style of different authors and we’re going to dabble in art the way these authors and illustrators do. We are going to talk about books until we’re blue in the face! And we’re going to grow our love of reading to a whole new level.
We started in the month of October with Eric Carle. I just had our fourth baby so I actually pushed our core curriculum aside for the month so I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed. We focused solely on our author study and added in a little math and reading practice here and there. We read many, many more Eric Carle books than what is listed in the study. I borrowed books from our local library and even purchased a few new ones for our collection. I have a feeling that by the time I come back around to this study with any of my other children, I’ll be adding more books and lessons to it!
I’m including the author study, the journal pages, and the “extras” needed to complete this study as downloadable pdfs to this post. If you’d like to do it yourself, feel free! Since this was our first study of the year, I took a gentle approach and allowed it to just be what it was. When I was writing the study, I imagined such deep and insightful answers from Abby to the questions I was posing. I didn’t quite get those, haha! But that’s okay. It’s only the beginning of the year and this is our first one. I am hopeful that by the end of the year and after we’ve done several of these, she will be able to think about stories and books on a deeper level than she does now. I will say that we had a lot of fun! My kids LOVE his books and the pictures I’m sharing of them sitting on the floor “reading” his books are not at all fake or staged. They frequently just emptied our book basket unprovoked and dove into his world–The Wonderful World of Eric Carle. My heart is full when I look at the photos. If you decide to do something similar in your homeschool journey (or your classroom journey) I hope it does the same for you! Enjoy!
*Parental warning: I picked up the book “Draw me a Star” from the Eric Carle museum when we went to culminate our study. I didn’t look at the pictures before bringing it home and reading it to the kids that night. There is a picture of a naked man and woman (in Eric Carle style) a few pages in. I was so surprised! Because his artwork isn’t very detailed by nature, it wasn’t TOO bad, but I wish I had known. Serves me right for not flipping through, first. I had seem some excerpts from the book on display in the museum which is why I purchased it. Caught my kids opening it up just to laugh at the picture a few times since reading it to them. Oops! 🙂