We just completed our second author study of the school year; Laura Numeroff! It was so fun! In October, we studied Eric Carle and you can read about that unit and download the materials from it on the linked post above. I love that it started a “routine” in Abby’s head so now she’s always asking, “What author are we studying next?” (Spoiler alert: it’s Jan Brett in January.) She saw me check out about a dozen of her books from the library to finish writing the unit and already can’t wait to get started!
Abby also recently got her own library card. I thought children had to wait until they were 6, but apparently it’s only 5 at our library. A whole year wasted! 😉 They also have self check-out now, so she’s loving this! I feel like her newfound independence at the library goes hand-in-hand with the confidence she’s building in speaking about books and authors. She always talks about what we’re learning in school with such authority so it’s really fun to listen to her talk about familiar books and authors with other people.
We started the study with probably one of L.N.’s most famous books, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. GREAT excuse to make cookies, by the way! We then took a small poll of favorite cookies from our friends and family. Abby gave them only two choices: chocolate chip or sugar. Then she graphed her results. Chocolate chip won! We’re making a lot of Christmas cookies this year because that’s pretty much all I want to do–hang around the house in my yoga pants, watch Christmas movies, and bake. (Having a newborn kind of does that to you!) So we plan to take an even BIGGER poll soon and make a huge graph with those results! It isn’t exactly a part of the unit, but we’re adding it on because it seems like an appropriate time of year for it.
With each of our author studies, Abby has an accompanying journal where she writes and draws about each book we read. For this study, I created a separate section specifically for the circle stories where Abby would record the first full sentence of each book and draw a picture of her favorite scene. Then she had to do a story graph for each one. Every circle story has an animal character, a setting (like any story), a “thing” that starts and ends the story, and a big mess (or more than one) somewhere in the book. Abby determined and recorded all those elements for every circle story we read. I want her to be learning how stories are formed and the concept of outlining a work before writing it–this applies to more than just writing, but is an excellent tool for her to have in her “writer’s toolbox” as she moves forward in school. For some circle stories, I created an additional activity. If You Give a Moose a Muffin had a reality vs. fantasy chart, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake included a math game of sprinkles on cupcakes. Then there’s a game called “Spin a Word” which is fun to play and I added to the end of the circle story portion of the unit.
Then we moved on because L.N. has more than just circle stories. We read What Mommies Do Best and What Daddies Do Best and then talked about our family and she drew a picture of her family on large paper. We read Chimps Don’t Wear Glasses and Dogs Don’t Wear Sneakers and then she fantasized her own silly sentence of what an animal doesn’t do and wrote it down with a picture to go with it. (Hers was, “Hippos don’t dance.” and she drew a hippo in a tutu.)
Each author study also includes an author review page where the student can write what they learn about the author. Laura Numeroff made this easy for us with her book, If You Give an Author a Pencil. It was fun to read, had lots of photographs, and we learned a lot!
For the culminating project, Abby wrote her own circle story, which we outlined first with a story graph and then I recorded her ideas in an actual circle. As with her Eric Carle book that she wrote, I wrote the words of the story which she dictated to me, and then she copied my writing onto her book. I want her illustrations to be in the style of the illustrators, too, so for her Eric Carle book she used tissue paper. Felicia Bond illustrates Laura Numeroff’s circle stories and we researched to find that she uses watercolor for her illustrations, so that’s what Abby did as well. By the way, Staples binds these books spirally for super cheap, so it’s not hard to give your child a “professional” looking book of their very own! I have a laminating machine so I did that at home before bringing the pages into Staples. These are going to be great for us to look back on when Abby is older!
I’m including the lessons here for you to download, along with the student sheets we used. There is only one copy of each sheet needed here, so if you want to use a story graph or any other journal page more than once, keep in mind you’ll have to print the number of pages you desire. If you want to print the “Spin a Word” game, you should also laminate it and then insert a brad in each wheel and hook a paper clip to them as the spinners. I also laminated my word list so I can use it repeatedly as a “center” and she can use a dry erase marker to write down her words. I hope you find this author study as fun (and delicious!) as we did!