Friday, September 27, 2013

Number The Stars by Lois Lowry

This award-winning book provides great context to study grammar and is a wonderful read for fourth-graders. From here, students can move on to books by David Kherdian about the Armenian Genocide. This is especially relevant to students living in Southern California where many Armenians have made their home.

Lois Lowry was inspired by the true stories her childhood friend, Annelise, told her about her life in Denmark during WWII. She read through historical accounts of Resistance fighters and learned about one in particular whose letters inspired the character Peter. The stories takes place in 1943, in the middle of the German occupation of Denmark. In October of that year, the Nazis began to address "the Jewish question," and the Danes protected their neighbors and friends, smuggling out on fishing boats to Sweden which was neutral during WWII. Lowry intricately weaves true details from those years into a fictional tale about two Danish families, neighbors who protect and care for one another. 

I have had Grammar Worksheets up for some time now reviewing homophones, possessive noun forms and more recently, coordinating conjunctions. A fourth-grade teacher whom I work with is going to be field-testing a DLR, Daily Language Review. I created a chapter-by-chapter list of sentences which pertain to the story and contain an error. The types of errors range from punctuation to spelling to capitalization and really hone in on fourth-grade Common Core skills. I've included recognizing the correct order of adjective, using a semi-colon to separate two closely related independent clauses, correct forms for both verbs and nouns. After reading each chapter, these worksheets can be assigned as classwork, in pairs or small groups. As students progress and gain confidence in identifying and correcting the errors, the worksheets should be assigned for homework.

While pouring over the details of the text, I was led to the library to reread some of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales. Lowry makes mention of him as one of the most famous Danish storytellers, and I had vague memories from my own school years of reading his stories. So far, I've read The Little Match Girl and The Fir Tree, both of which made me think that fourth-grade teachers should begin reading this book in the fall, just as the Jewish New Year comes around. As the Christmas and New Year holidays approach, the fairy tales can be read and explored with their book buddies or during library time. Visiting the Museum of Tolerance would be the perfect field trip to accompany this work of historical fiction. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grammar Worksheets (Current Freebies)

Here is a list of my current freebies on TpT! This will give you an idea of how I present most grammar in the packets I have up for sale. Freebies are eventually reworked and combined into larger packets which cover either a particular grammar point or a novel. If you follow me, you'll be notified when I put something new in my store and in this way, can get some of my work before it goes up for sale. 

Henry Huggins: Using Conjunctions to Avoid Run-Ons, Proper Nouns, Combined Skills (A Review of Chapter 2)

Howliday Inn: Chapter 1: Vocabulary and Expressions, Parts of Speech, Homophones, Common and Proper Nouns, Identifying Subjects and Verbs. Possessive Noun Forms, Compound and Complex Sentences, Punctuation, Adverbial Clauses, Transitions

Island of the Blue Dolphins: Verb Forms (Simple Past Tense)

Lunch Money: Chapters 1-4: homophones, vocabulary, parts of speech, proper nouns, subjects and verbs, possessive noun forms, conjunctions and dependent clauses

Number the Stars: Homophones

Superfudge: Homophones

The Whipping Boy: Error Analysis

Tuck Everlasting: Writing Complex Sentences

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Now I don't remember reading this particular sequel to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing when I was in school. My best-remembered Judy Blume book was Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret

My eldest read through all the Fudge stories in third grade. About six months ago I began reading Superfudge to my middle child. However, warned by my eldest that this book is a spoiler for any child who still believes in Santa, I stopped. I'm hoping for one more year of magic for David.

I just finished reading about Fudge's new adventures in this hilarious sequel that continues the story of the Hatchers and tells of the new addition to their family and their move to Princeton, NJ. Mr. Hatcher has decided to take a leave from the advertising agency and write a book, but he is more interested in hockey and Chinese cooking. Peter has to adjust to life in Princeton and make new friends. And Fudge gets a new pet and starts kindergarten. If you thought he was a funny toddler, he is an even funnier kindergartener.

I read Superfudge to include in my possessive noun bundle, but I also wrote a homophone worksheet. There were just too many good ones that popped into my head as I was reading and laughing!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuck Everlasting

Years ago I read Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt along with my ESL students. I can't recall which class, but I do have a file somewhere. I just finished rereading it to add to my bundle of possessive noun worksheets. So far, I've included this fairy tale-like story of a magical spring whose water has special powers and a little girl who yearns to do something important and break free from her neat and orderly life. I've also included and expanded the freebie I've had up for awhile on Because of Winn-Dixie and more recent read, Everything on a Waffle

Here is a preview of what great material Tuck Everlasting yields for the practice of this somewhat difficult grammatical concept.

The reflection of Mae never surprised her because it had not changed in eighty-seven years.

Mae's reflection

According to the recollection of her grandmother, Winnie had never heard the music of the elves for herself.

her grandmother's recollection
the elves' music 

Winnie noticed that the feet of Jesse were bare, and he had a twig stuck between his toes. 

Jesse's feet