"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, October 21, 2013

On making connections with Rocket Learns To Read

The first graders are starting the Tad Hillsauthor/illustrator study.  This is a collaborative project with the classroom teachers. You can read about last year's project here and here.

Today we read, How Rocket Learned to Read.
We are using Tad Hill's Rocket books to model storytelling.  The books have messages and ideas that tie right into the reading and writing strands and align nicely to the common core.  I cringe a little bit saying this, but this is the reality: if I want teacher to collaborate and it is going to take time from their instructional day, then there needs to be real value, not always just a curriculum connection.  The Rocket books have real value. 

More importantly, the children love them.  I need only to turn to the title page and they are already in love with this special dog.

The Rocket books are fun and engaging and provide opportunities to explore language and practice visual literacy. The students used the illustrations to help determine the time of year that the story takes place and then supported that knowledge with text from the story - autumnal colors and leaves on the ground and then the teacher bird who will leave "when the weather turns." There were students who thought it was spring, so this was a good opportunity to reinforce a common understanding and model using the picture clues and text together.

The students then came up with words to describe how Rocket feels when the bird begins reading while he is trying to nap. It is interesting to watch them identify angry, frustrated, annoyed, mad, disturbed. I think it is freeing to talk about those emotions.

I tried not to stop the story often, but we had fun working through the word captivating.  

From here on, the students get caught up in the story and have fun working through the words that Rocket is learning how to spell.

What I really love about this book?  The fact that Rocket gets hooked on the story about a dog Buster and his bone that originally disturbed him.  He can't wait to find out how it ends.  Music to a reader's ears! I love sharing this message with the students.  Their eyes light up at the end of the book when they too finally find out what happened with Buster and his bone!

We'll be moving onto Rocket Writes a Story and then collecting words and writing our own stories.
The students will brainstorm ideas - just as the Little Yellow Bird helps Rocket to do:
~think about things you have seen
~think about things you have done
~think about things you are interested in
~think about places you have been

The students will collect words with this Word Tree:
Stay tuned!


  1. I love this book! Both of them actually. It's just too bad that my kids are too old for them.

  2. I love what you have done! I'll be sharing with my 1st Grade Teachers. I went back and looked at your project with the Voice Thread final project. Did you have an account for each student?

    1. Hi Stacey,

      Thank you! Yes, we do have a Voicethread account for each student, but for this project last year, I uploaded the jpegs that the students had exported into one Voicethread and cycled the students through. This year, I think we may have them each do their own.