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

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A first read aloud for first graders

We're blasting off into a new school year!
Just as choosing the last read aloud or lesson of the school year brings plenty of pressure, so, too, does the first read aloud or lesson of the year.  Leaving students with a lasting impression begins with creating a strong bondThis book was a perfect choice to establish our bond.

Today, on the first day with first graders, I chose carefully and I chose well.

Today we read, Planet Kindergarten, written by Sue Ganz-Schmittillustrated by Shane Prigmoreand published by Chronicle Books.

Planet Kindergarten is about a young boy preparing for and experiencing his first day of kindergarten. This book demonstrates the power of good imagination.  This child is not just preparing for kindergarten, he's preparing to explore the unknown like all intrepid space explorers. It's a celebration of creative thinking. 

I asked the first graders to think back to the previous year and their first day of kindergarten and to decide if this would be a good choice to read with this year's kindergarten students. Their vote? A resounding, "Yes!"

Shane Prigmore's illustrations engage the reader right at the end papers. When asked to describe how this child was feeling when his alarm clock went off, the students quickly shared adjectives such as: nervous, anxious, scared, and unsure. 
The space travel theme is carried out through text and illustrations. The writing perfectly captures the mixed emotions of new experiences. The dynamic and whimsical illustrations create a setting that engages the students and enhances the text. 
The students loved applying space language to their school experiences, especially orbiting the base station as above.  I enjoyed working with the students to determine the analogous school/space relationships. (I also happen to know that many of these students had special objects in their pockets last year.)
This book was a fun read aloud experience for both the students and me. We enjoyed being "in" on this child's imagination. Moments like when he ends up in isolation and when he is drawing pictures for his family ensure that students understand and connect with this story.

When I asked the first graders what they thought the kindergarten students would like about the book, here is what they shared:

"I think they will like the boy's imagination."

"I think boys and girls that like space will like the book."

"They will like it because it's funny."

"I like space and I like it."

"I was scared in kindergarten, too."

I see my kindergarten students on Monday and I cannot wait to blast off  to Planet Kindergarten with them.

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