Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lois Ehlert Book Study and Art Activity

Ha ha ha!  I'm breaking away from my incessant toils to write a post that is exactly 9 days overdue!  The fact that I'm not grading or planning or prepping somehow makes me feel almost naughty, like I'm a student skipping out on Senior Skip Day.

As mentioned in a previous post, I was knocked out of my blog funk by an event hosted by The Educator's Spin on It called the Virtual Book Club for Kids:

I figured if I could blog even just once a month it would be an improvement.  
So, even though I am 9 days late, here I am!  

This month's featured author was Lois Ehlert.  My children at home and the students in my classroom have thoroughly enjoyed this study.  I checked oodles of her books out of the library and spent many nights reading them to my kids.  After we finished, I put them in my classroom library for my students to love on.  I really think my students could now identify an Ehlert book by its illustrations from a mile away!  We used the book Feathers for Lunch to practice identifying key details in stories.  The greatest thing we did with an Ehlert book, and the focus of this post, was the language arts and math integrated art project using Ehlert's Oodles of Animals

We spent several days enjoying the quirky, fun poems and exploring the rhymes in the book.  Then we turned our focus to the illustrations.  In the back of the book, in very small print, the author discloses that she used nine shapes to complete the animal illustrations on each page.  We had so much fun finding the nine shapes on each spread!  I just knew we had to extend it further, and an art project was born!

The students cut shapes out of colored paper to create illustrations of animals just like Lois Ehlert!  I created this checklist for the kids to use to make sure that they used all nine pieces in their pictures:

You can download it free at my TpT store here.  It really helped some children.  I also learned who needs help using checklists!  

Then I prepared the supplies.  I laid out a rainbow of construction paper and some scrap paper that the students could use.  

To help create the shapes, each student had a pattern block template (from our old Everyday Math curriculum) that had some small shapes on it that the students could trace.  For shapes that weren't on the template, and to give more size options for the ones that were, I laid out a variety of things the students could use to trace.  I had to get creative for some options and used cookie cutters for hearts, circles and ovals.  I also taught them how to make an oval out of two circles.  Our awesome math coach made a template for tear drops.  Then, my students started finding objects around the room that they could use (hence the Clorox wipe bottle--love it!).

I also included dot stickers and those donut-looking stickers you use to reinforce holes (what are they called?) because many of the eyes of the animals in Ehlert's book looked as if they had been created with these.  Finally, I included hole punches and crinkle-cut scissors.

The punches and scissors were a huge hit!  The rule was to use one tool at a time, and return it when finished.  Once the directions were given, students were set free to create!  The activity took way more time to complete than I anticipated, but I didn't care.  The students were so engaged and involved in their pictures that they DIDN'T TALK.  They cooperated with each other.  They thought outside the box.  It was one of those moments as a teacher you just SOAK UP.  And take pictures:

Getting started



Referring to the book for help

This girl decided to use the pattern blocks to plan out her work.  Wow!

This boy was obsessed with the hole punch

See his porcupine? It's a pile of holes glued together!

Ahhh...the sight of kids engaged is a beautiful thing.

Getting some work done!

One of the things we noticed about Lois Ehlert is that her illustrations usually have labels on them.  On the following school day, I gave each student a Post-it and asked him or her to spell the name of their animal.  I then conferenced with each one, showing them how well they had heard the sounds in the words.  Finally, I gave them a sentence strip and had them copy the correct spelling on it and glue it on their picture to label it.  We are going to bind the pictures into a book.  The students decided to call it Millions of Animals.  Here are some work samples:

I like how she added a sound word...

Betcha can't guess who did this fabulous owl!

Overall, this project was a ton of fun!  I can't wait until next month's book study!


Amanda Frauman said...

Sooooooo AWESOME!!!!!! Thanks for sharing! :-)

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