Live in Phillis Wheatley’s Shoes

A VOICE OF HER OWN: the story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet by Kathryn Lasky is a picture book biography of

Phyllis Wheatley that would be good for grades 3-5.

It has more information than the shorter picture book biographies which is important for school projects.

Take this sample which brings the reader into the mindset of a slave.

“At first there was just blackness….. Then the blackness dissolved into darkness, and the world in the creaking hold of the slave ship slid with shadows.”

Teachers, here are possible school assignments for Black History Month.

Have your students write a play about how a slave would feel on one of these ships .What smells would they encounter? What sounds? What would it feel like to be chained up?

Have your students write poems with Phillis Wheatley as a subject. Examples: What was life like for a slave at that time? What was travel like?

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WHY BIRDS NEED FEATHERS

Melissa Stewart is at it again in FEATHERS: NOT JUST FOR FLYING.  I can see many uses for this title in the classroom. Teachers can use it to show what the feathers of various bird species look like. Melissa thinks it can be used for grades K-5. (See her teacher’s guide.) The break-down of text and illustration is very effective.

Let’s examine one spread. On the left: “Feathers can warm like a blanket…” Under the illustration on that page is this text box “On cold, damp days a blue jay stays warm by fluffing up its feathers and trapping a laying of warm air next to its skin.”

A full page illustration of a blue jay appears on the next page.

Each spread illustrates the various ways birds use feathers.

Melissa explains her process in her author’s note.

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Voyage to the Moon

A different kind of travel is depicted in MOONSHOT : the Flight of Apollo 11, a nonfiction picture book by Brian Floca.

What did the astronauts experience?

SAMPLE: “Onboard Columbia and Eagle, Armstrong, Collins, Aldrin  unclick gloves, unclick helmets, unclick the straps that hold them down, and float inside their small ships, their home for a week.”

This repetition is very effective. Everybody is familiar with the unclicking of seatbelts in cars. The reader can relate to this.

For a summer activity Brian Floca has provided coloring pages from MOONSHOT  (http://www.brianfloca.com/ColoringPages.html.)

 

 

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TAKE A TRIP TO ANCIENT CHINA

At Home in Her Tomb book cover image

AT HOME IN HER TOMB: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui by Christine Liu-Perkins. Great adventures awaited the workers who uncovered the tomb of an ancient Chinese noblewoman named Lady Dai. In addition to finding treasures they uncovered a huge black coffin. Inside that coffin there was another one. They didn’t find the occupant until they reached the fourth coffin.

To their surprise, a stench greeted them when they cut a hole in the silk cloth that surrounded the body.

SAMPLE: “The experts were baffled. If the body had decomposed more than two thousand years ago, how could it still smell so disgusting?”

Join the scientists on their journey to uncover the contents of  Lady Dai’s tomb. What was her last meal? What artifacts accompanied her on her final journey?

Readers can visit the web site of the Hunan Provincial Museum, the home of these archaeological treasures.(http://www.hnmuseum.com/hnmuseum/eng/whatson/exhibition/mwd.jsp?columnid=011178695b56402884831159777c0526&preid=010f36b1fa9a402881b70f369d460013)

Teachers can find a guide to use with their students.(http://www.christineliuperkins.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CLP-10-Learning-Activities-for-AT-HOME-IN-HER-TOMB.pdf)

This is a useful book for classroom projects on China.

 

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Why Black Girls Should Become Ballerinas

Ballet is a form of dance that attracts few African Americans. Two African American ballerinas would like to change that and both of them wrote books.

FIREBIRD by Misty Copeland is really an essay in picture book form. The subtitle is Ballerina Misty Copeland shows a young girl how to dance like the firebird, character in a famous ballet.

Misty tells a potential ballerina of color what ballet means to her.

Sample: “you will soar become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure.”

One illustration in this book demonstrates the five positions of ballet.

Today Misty is a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre.

Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer (Step Into Reading, Step 4)

BALLERINA DREAMS by Michaela and Elaine DePrince is a biography reader in the STEP INTO READING series.

Michaela DePrince is an orphan from Sierra Leone who was adopted by an American couple.

She told her new mother that she wanted to study ballet. Her mother bought her a video of the ballet The Nutcracker.

Michaela began her dance lessons. When she was eight years old she was able to audition for The Nutcracker. She won two roles in the ballet. Eventually she danced the role of The Sugar Plum Fairy, an important roll. She is now a professional ballerina.

Sample: “The music begins, and my heart beats fast with excitement. I fly on to the stage.”

This book gives definitions of ballet terms such as combinations: putting ballet steps together.

Activity

Write definitions for these ballet terms:

Firebird

The Nutcracker

Sugar Plum Fairy

Ballet barre

Port de bras

Tendu

Five positions

Plie

Combination

Grand jete

Pas de cat

En pointe

 

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Ode to Imagination

Featured image

MY PEN by Christopher Myers shows how his pen takes him on journeys. Christopher illustrates books and uses his imagination.

Sample: “My pen rides dinosaurs and hides an elephant in a teacup.”

Christopher wants you to use your pen and see what worlds will come out.

Activity:  Using crayons picture an imaginary world. It could be anywhere. On another planet. A country you just made up. Draw what people or animals might look like. Does it have lakes or oceans?

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Trombone Shorty

9781419714658 (1)

TROMBONE SHORTY by Troy Andrews is a picture book biography of his growing up in New Orleans and the importance of music in his life. One day he found a broken trombone.
Sample: “The next time the parade went by my house, I grabbed that trombone and headed out into the street. My brother James noticed me playing along and smiled proudly. ’Trombone Shorty!’ he called out, because the instrument was twice my size.”
Activity:
Make your own musical instrument like Trombone Shorty did.
He made a drum from a 12 pack soda box and used pencils for drumsticks. He used empty soda bottles as wind instruments.

 

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