Those first days of school can be filled with lots of teacher talking and procedure learning. Why not make it a little more fun by adding engaging read-alouds each day?! Students LOVE listening to a good book, and I LOVE reading a good book! Here are some of the stories I have or plan to share with my students:
1. “Don’t Hug Doug”
I use this story to introduce greetings, keeping our hands/feet to ourselves, and boundaries/consent. Each day, when they enter the classroom, students have the opportunity to choose from eight different greetings. Some of these greetings include a high-five, a bow, a micro finger wave, and a hug. The students let me know which greeting they prefer, and we start the day by honoring their choice.
2. If Everybody Did
In this funny book, we see the hysterical consequences of everybody doing their own thing. This read-aloud provides a great opportunity for us to begin exploring classroom expectations. What if everybody shouted my name because they needed help? What if everybody ran in the classroom? To keep students engaged during this read-aloud, I sometimes have them all try it out….”Everybody tell me your favorite color. One, two, three…..” It becomes clear that if everybody talks at the same time, I have no way of hearing anybody!
3. “Boo Who”
This is the sweetest story that encourages inclusion. “Boo is new. And even if the other kids are welcoming, it can be scary being new, especially for a shy ghost who can’t play any of their games. (“You tagged me? Oh, sorry. I couldn’t feel it.”) Can Boo find a way to fit in and make friends with the rest of the group? From the creator of Rex Wrecks It! comes a funny story about feeling invisible — and finding a way to be seen and appreciated for who you are.” As we were reading, students brainstormed activities we could do that would include Boo.
4. “The Name Jar”
Names are so special and so important to who we are. In this story, a new student is struggling because her peers can’t pronounce her name. Having grown up with a challenging-to-pronounce first name, I am extra proactive in honoring pronunciations of students’ names. After reading this story aloud, students engage in many name activities.
Students make a name crown.
They graph the number of letters in their name.
They use a giant pokey pin to poke the letters in their name. This is great fine motor practice too!
This is another great book that celebrates unique names.
“Elmer” is a must-read. I have read it the first week of school each year for the last 15 years!
“Elmer the elephant is bright-colored patchwork all over. No wonder the other elephants laugh at him!
If he were ordinary elephant color, the others might stop laughing. That would make Elmer feel better, wouldn’t it? David McKee’s comical fable about everyone’s favorite patchwork elephant teaches readers to be themselves and celebrates the power of laughter.”
After listening to this story, I walk students through creating a guided self-portrait using only a pencil. We then outline the image using a Sharpie. While I cut out students’ drawings, they glue colored pieces of tissue paper on white cardstock to make a patchwork background. Once dry, I take the self-portraits and glue them onto the patchwork creations, making a beautiful work of art!
Next week, I look forward to using literature to teach academic concepts….I will share more about this particular lesson soon!