Finally! Guys. let me tell you, it took a LONG time to get through this last author study! It was meant for the month of January but dragged well into February. This was not because the unit itself is super long, or because we didn’t enjoy it; it was simply the challenge of homeschooling with a baby in the house. There were LOTS of stops and starts while I tended to the fussing and crying and milk demands, and we didn’t even get to all the activities I had planned (because sometimes you just have to move on). But we did it! And we enjoyed it!
One of the challenges I’m facing as I write these author studies is how to choose which books to focus on–there are just so many! Jan Brett has written countless books and you could do so much with each one of them. There are plenty of science, history, and art lessons in addition to language ones that can be learned through her books. (I almost had us doing a unit within the unit on the rainforest!) I’m telling you, dialing back had to happen though it wasn’t easy. My main focus has been to come at these through a literary perspective, and if other subjects get touched on, then that’s bonus. Jan Brett is known for her amazing watercolor illustrations that beautifully capture many different settings from around the world. She’s also famous for her illustration “borders” which tell a story within a story. These are things I chose to focus on for this study.
We started with one of her most popular books, The Mitten. We also read The Hat, and The Umbrella, which follow a similar theme. Our focus was sequencing and making predictions (using the borders to help us). I can’t take credit for the fun materials we used on day 1 when we read The Mitten. Oh, the internet is a wonderful place! I purchased a unit on teacherspayteachers.com and used those materials to make animal puppets for The Mitten. Jan Brett’s own website, janbrett.com, also offers several printouts and activities to accompany her books which I found helpful.
Then we moved on to fairytales! Jan Brett has rewritten a few fairytales and so I thought it would be a good opportunity to do a mini-unit on these familiar stories. We discussed the elements of a fairytale (Fairytale Worksheet) and used a check-list for each one we read to see if it met the “requirements” to be a true fairytale. Then we compared and contrasted Jan Brett’s version with the original. (Compare and Contrast) This was fun and the kids really got into looking at the different versions of the same story.
My last focus was on the setting of her different tales. Jan Brett has stories that take place in Africa, China, Ukraine, the rainforest… all over! Though we didn’t get to the written part of this unit, we had fun discussing the different places and where we’d like to go if we could. Even though we didn’t get a chance to do these activities fully (Dr. Seuss was calling our names!), the materials for this part of the unit are still included. Take a trip with Jan Brett and study a setting!
This is the perfect unit to do in the winter, since that’s the setting for a lot of these books. I hope you enjoy these activities! You can download the lesson plans, journal, and activity pages all free!