Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bunnicula: A Contextualized Grammar Review

My Contextualized Grammar Review for James and Deborah Howe's comical tale of a cat and dog's adventures with the newest addition to their household is up on TpT for $6.00. The My TpT Store link to your right will take you to TeachersPayTeachers where you can download a sample of the item and view its complete Table of Contents before purchasing.

Below is a portion of the adverbial section highlighting becauseAlthough so that has a similar meaning, I thought it best to present the adverbial because alone in a sentence scramble because so that requires a change in verb structure. 

This type of exercise requires that students really understand parts of speech to figure out the sentence order and having read the book, they use the context of the story to make sense of the scramble. Again, these are original sentences, and I typically present them so that they follow the order of the story. If the teacher wants to assign half the worksheet, s/he can. This type of challenging exercise can be started in class as pair work with the remainder assigned for homework.

Chester stays awake at night because Bunnicula suspicious is of he.
Harold likes to hang out in Toby’s room because cupcakes shares he chocolate his. 
Pete thinks that the vegetables are turning white because with being they sprayed are chemicals.

Mrs. Monroe thought Chester was acting strange because love needs attention and he.

Mrs. Monroe washed Chester in the sink with soap because garlic he of smelled.

Chester threw the water dish at Bunnicula because and shrivel he that water vampires disappear read makes.
Harold ran over to Toby and barked because to wanted warn he that sick Bunnicula was him.

Another part of this packet includes a fairly comprehensive list of the book's vocabulary categorized by parts of speech and including page numbers. This chart could be printed on cardstock and used as bookmarks as students read along. Included in this Contextualized Grammar Review is an 18-item worksheet with original sentences asking students to identify adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verbs. Some of the vocabulary is found in this Parts of Speech worksheet as well as in other exercises throughout this packet.

As always, comments and feedback are welcome!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Bald Bandit: Possessive Noun Forms

Up for free on TpT. Click the link to the right to take you there. Feedback is always welcome. I'm curious to know whether removing the apostrophe in Part C would be too challenging.

When did Betty Azar's book get onto the Internet? Google Betty Azar and possessive noun forms for a review of this grammar point.

I must have been busy birthing and breastfeeding!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A-Z Mysteries: The Bald Bandit

Reread it again last night and took some notes for my possessive noun worksheet. I see many of my readers downloading the freebie I have up on The Absent Author, so I'm guessing some of you are waiting for the next "installment." Here are some of my ideas; it will be about a 20 item worksheet, and then I'll move on to The Canary Caper and see what grammar comes out of that story.

The mom of Dink called him Donald David Duncan, not just Dink, when she was upset.
Dink's mom

Dink rang the doorbell of Mrs. Davis on Halloween.
Mrs. Davis' doorbell OR Mrs. Davis's doorbell 

The front lawn of the O'Learys was scattered with bikes and toys and sneakers.
The O'Learys' front lawn OR The O'Learys's front lawn

This is how I typically present possessive noun forms along with a Part A section with examples taken directly from the book with page numbers. Students simply have to underline and therefore, recognize, the form. I thought last night to add an "unscramble" where students would be required to pick out the noun that the form is modifying.

house friends the Detective Dink's from three called Reddy.

The three friends called Detective Reddy from Dink's house.

That could be challenging for second graders and might be best done in groups.

Off to Sacramento with Gregory today. He's excited to see Iron Man 3 and to swim in the hotel pool. I'm excited to learn more about the Gold Rush and see the capitol. My Gold Rush obsession continues!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What my other boys are reading....

For those of you who don't know me in real life, you may wonder why Gregory's name comes up but not my other two boys. David is in second grade and is working his way through Flat Stanley. I'm sure I can develop some simple worksheets, but he's more into reading on his own and less into being read to at the moment. And honestly, I'm not interested in rereading Flat Stanley! Matthew, my youngest, is in kindergarten. I highly doubt teachers would be interested in learning about the Chima characters he's so obsessed with :) I have to say, though, that I brought the Lego Chima book to family reading today and never have I had a bigger circle of interested kindergarteners around me. I decided to make the most of it and had them call out when they heard one of their sight words! It was loads of fun, and Matthew was thrilled it was his mommy reading to his friends. I hope I always remember these days.

I wrote the above a few weeks ago. Chima is still pretty popular around here, but thank goodness we are done with Flat Stanley. Matthew can now read Catch Me, Catch Me all by himself. He is so proud! I've been reading to him from Cynthia Rylant's Mr. Putter and Tabby series. Last night we read Mr. Putter and Tabby Fly the Plane. I love his description of the little boy in the park who is a little shy and clumsy and who reminds Mr. Putter of himself. We also read from the Elephant and Piggie series. He loves the characters and their expressions, and I love the messages the book teaches....sharing, including others, looking on the bright side. Although Knuffle Bunny isn't one of my favorites, I do love this series from Mo Willems. David, who will be in third grade in the fall, has moved on to A-Z Mysteries. Yesterday he claimed to have finished The Empty Envelope while I was busy downstairs making dinner. I asked him what was supposed to be in the envelope and he answered, "I must have missed that part." He's so eager to earn a dollar for the books he's read, that sometimes he doesn't really read them! So last night when I could see his interest in his new Lego toys was making it hard for him to concentrate, I started reading the Henry Huggins series to him. It'll help me finish up my worksheets on possessive nouns and conjunctions.

Monday, June 17, 2013

By The Great Horn Spoon (Advanced Grammar)

I've devised a 28-page packet full of adverbial clauses and a thorough punctuation review. It gives students ample practice within the context of this great story. Students are first asked to identify adverbial clauses. They can come before or after the independent clause; they illustrate a variety of relationships including condition (even if, provided that, as long as) cause and result (because, since so that), contrast (although, even though, whereas, while), and time and sequence (by the time, after, before, whenever, while). Part B asks students to combine sentences given the adverbial. They need to decide which clause should include the adverbial and how it should be ordered. They also need to remember punctuation rule #9. Part C has students unscramble the adverbial clause within the sentence. See the example below.

(If) hung Doc miners the Higgins, Praiseworthy feared they would never find Dr. Buckbee’s map.
The second half of the packet provides less of a worksheet and more of an activity for the class. Students are given a card with a bubble and a sentence. Each sentence illustrates one of the 12 punctuation rules (sometimes two). Students must identify the rule, illustrate the sentence in the bubble, and display their work on a pocket chart. These are original sentences.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gooseberry Park

My boys registered with the South Pasadena Library's reading program on Friday, and I picked up Gooseberry Park when I recognized the author, Cynthia Rylant. I've been a huge fan of hers since I read through her Mr. Putter and Tabby early chapter books with all three boys. We started with Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog and then discovered favorites (Fly the Plane, Paint the Porch, Pick the Pears), many of which we added to our home library. It's been one of my favorite series to "gift," and I usually buy copies for the libraries from the book fairs at the kids' schools. I feel like kids at this age should all read these stories about a sweet friendship between two elderly neighbors.

Gooseberry Park is reminiscent of Mr. Putter and Tabby. The main character reminds me of Mr. Putter. In this story, Professor Albert is an elderly man who lives alone with his pets. The story starts off in Gooseberry Park with a red squirrel about to give birth and describes her friendship with Kona, Professor Albert's dog and Murray, a friendly bat who shares the tree where she builds her nest for her newborn babies. A hermit crab, another pet of Professor Albert's, is a wise and helpful friend and when the "wild" animals are in danger during an ice storm, the domestic animals come to their rescue.

As I was reading through David's ELA book from this year, it occurred to me that I used to do a lot of "writing the question" practice with my ESL students (so that they could learn about do/does) and that regular first-language learners could benefit from it as well. I saw that they practice question words, and I know they struggle with writing complete sentences. So here is where my mind went while I was reading Gooseberry Park.

1. Stumpy builds her nest in a pin oak tree.

Where does stumpy build her nest?

2. Murray's cousin, Ralph, stole the glow-in-the-dark watch.

Who stole the glow-in-the-dark watch?

3. Stumpy collects straws, gum wrappers, rubber bands, and empty yogurt cups for her nest.

What does Stumpy collect for her nest?

Gregory didn't feel like reading Monday night, so I read from Gooseberry Park. When I finished up Chapter 5, he asked if he could stay up to read more. Of course! He finished (and very much enjoyed) this adorable story.

Feedback is always welcome! Teachers---please comment below. Would you like to see a worksheet or activity for Gooseberry Park? Which grammar point would you like reviewed?

Thursday, June 13, 2013


65 free downloads and counting.....I've written a homophone review worksheet using the context of Deborah and James Howe's Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery. What a great read aloud for Halloween for 2nd graders. Once they have begun this entertaining series, they can continue with Howliday Inn, The Celery Stalks at Midnight, Return to Howliday Inn, Nighty-Nightmare, Bunnicula Strikes Again, and Bunnicula Meet Edgar Allan Crow.

How could I not choose Bunnicula for homophones? One of the funniest parts of the book involves Chester misunderstanding the directions for how to destroy this little vampire bunny. He takes Mrs. Monroe's steak from the kitchen counter where it is thawing for dinner that night and jumps on top of Bunnicula, pounding the "steak" into his heart. He misunderstood the directions in his "how to kill a vampire" book and confused the homophones "steak" and "stake." It was hilarious! I think this is a perfect Halloween read, and it will be up on my list for gifts and to read to David in September.

On my wish list for Halloween! Vampire trivia? Love it!

I'm working on a review of possessive noun forms, conjunctions, and adverbials for this delightful story. Additionally, as I take apart this story for all its possibilities to review different grammar structures, I'm putting together a list of vocabulary categorized by parts of speech. Printed on cardstock, these can be made into bookmarks. With a tassel and pony beads, this is a relevant and useful homework reward for students once they've read the next book in the series and a great way for students to make connections as vocabulary is often recycled by authors.

Monday, July 15, 2013 (update)

This item is no longer free. The homophone worksheet has now been incorporated into the Contextualized Grammar Review for sale on TeachersPayTeachers.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Adverbials (Manner)

These are all over By the Great Horn Spoon!

as if
as though
in that
just as

A hilltop telegraph had signaled the arrival of a side-wheeler and now it seemed as if all of San Francisco had turned out. pg. 83

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bullwhip Griffin vs. By the Great Horn Spoon

I discovered a trailer online for the movie Bullwhip Griffin, which is Disney's version of Sid Fleischman's By the Great Horn Spoon. The movie is quite entertaining and stars Roddy McDowal. Students might recognize his voice from animated Batman films. Richard Haydn, who I immediately recognized from watching The Sound of Music one too many times (oh, no, not just at Christmas, but all year around), plays Quentin Bartlett. This is Disney's version of Dr. Buckbee.

Since I've been working on materials that help students develop better sentence structure through the use of adverbials and transitions, I took a look at the video to see if it had enough comparison and contrast to be worth an activity.

Examples of contextualized sentences using adverbials and transitions follow.

Some important similarities exist between the novel and the movie, for example, the qualities of the main characters, the setting, and the sequence of events.

Though Sid Fleischman details the race between the Lady Wilma and the Sea Raven in his story, Disney chose to leave the race out completely.

In the movie version of Sid Fleischman's story, Arabella is Master Jack's aunt. However, in the book Arabella is Jack's aunt. (transition)

Whereas Jack learned how to pan gold from Pitch-pine Billy in the book, in the movie he reads a pamphlet and practices with his washbasin at home in Massachusetts. (adverbial)

The character of Arabella's butler appears in both the film and book and comes from a generation of butlers. In the movie he is called Eric Griffin, but in the book he is called Praiseworthy. (conjunction)

In Bullwhip Griffin, Jack and his butler sail on the Lady Wilma; similarly, Master Jack and Praiseworthy depart Boston on a ship of the same name in Sid Fleischman's novel.

What a fabulous movie! I'm usually disappointed with the movie version of a book, but this time I wasn't. Of course, the movie was less about the Gold Rush and more about the characters and their stories. There were elements of Gold Rush history appropriately woven in, though.

I devised a 4-page movie guide; By the Great Horn Spoon vs. Bullwhip Griffin is available on TpT and below are the answers to the grammar section. Not only does this worksheet help students decipher the relationship between ideas, but it also challenges them to understand the rules of punctuation.

Part D: Conjunctions, Adverbials and Transitions that show CONTRAST

1. Whereas/While
2. but
3. however,
4. While
5. but
6. Whereas/While
7. Whereas
8. However,

Monday, June 3, 2013

Adverbials (Condition)

as/so long as
even if
given that
granted (that)
granting (that)
in case that
in the event that
on (the) condition that
only if
provided that
unless (negative)
whether (or not)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Adverbials (Contrast)

even though

While is also an adverbial of time and sequence.