Monday, April 6, 2015

Celebrating Kevin Henkes

In the midst of Lucy Calkin's new writing units, first grade found a little space to celebrate one of its favorite authors - Kevin Henkes. After a four week study, the grade level came together for a little celebration of all they had learned.

Our first grade is large with thirteen teachers so any project that we do "together" is a big deal.  It's not easy when you're trying to get so many teachers to agree, but I work with one of those rare group of teachers that are remarkably collegial.  They share.  They support each other.  They work together.  With four teachers meeting as a small committee in just an afternoon after school, centers were designed and a celebration day was ready as a culminating event.   The students rotated through three centers.

The first center was watching movies of the books we had studied while the students ate "cheesy snacks" in celebration of all of Henkes' mice characters.

Then it was to the "Lightbulb Lab" to make Lilly's purple purses and movie star glasses and Mr. Slinger's ties and glasses.  This was probably the students' favorite center as the girls asked to wear the purses all the day and boys kept on the ties.

Finally the students moved to another room to play Kevin Henkes Bingo which was the perfect review of Henkes' characters and mice books.

Earlier in the week students had been divided into groups for Readers' Theater of some of the stories.  They practiced fluency and intonation all week.  In the afternoon students made their final presentations.  We will be giving "Academy Awards" for the best Readers' Theatre group and individual awards for individual performances at our next Awards Day.  Students really love these stories so they have loved doing all these culminating activities.

The thing is that first grade teachers don't HAVE to do this author study.  It's really a lot of extra work, but they choose to do it because they know the students really develop a love of reading and a love of narrative from these books that they so naturally relate.  It makes your heart leap when the students beg to get a Kevin Henkes book during independent reading and work so hard to say every single word -with expression! - even when the book is above their reading level or when they search the vocabulary board to find a Kevin Henkes word they can use in their writing.

It makes MY heart leap when I see a group of teachers work together so tirelessly to make something happen for their students, just so they will love reading!