I gather my students around me and I have a small teddy bear. I snuggle the Teddy and tell them about the teddy bear I had when I was little.
"Good morning! I am so glad you all came to school today. I brought a teddy bear to class with me. How many of you have teddy bears at home that you just love to cuddle with? When I was little, I had a huge teddy bear that I slept with. My mom even tucked me and my teddy into bed every night. During the day my teddy sat on my bed waiting for me to come home from school. I am sure you all have a story about your teddy bear. I will use my name sticks so everyone can have a turn to tell about their teddy."
I call their names and we hear wonderful stories about their teddies.
"You all love you teddies. How would you feel if you went to bed and could not find your teddy? I would be so sad if I lost my teddy. The story I am going to read to you is about a lost teddy."
The discussion I engage my students in is to hook their interest in the story topic and to find out what back ground knowledge they have about teddy bears and the emotions that can be involved with them. Knowing they all have a teddy or other stuffed animal they are emotionally attached to makes me confident they will understand the story.
I love Elmer books and am eager to read another one. My students are familiar with the characters in the book and can relate to their silly personalities. I will review the vocabulary words in the books with Elmer and Wilbur; patchwork, checkered and ventriloquist.
"The book I am going to read today is another Elmer and Wilbur book. Everyone tell me what kind of elephant Elmer is. (A patchwork elephant) What kind of elephant is his cousin Wilbur? (A checkered elephant) That is right. Before we begin I want to remind you of the big word we use to describe Wilbur. See if you can remember the word. The word means to make your voice sound like it is coming from somewhere or something else. Who remembers?"
I am certain that no one will remember. My ELL students need multiple exposure to new vocabulary in order to understand it's meaning and to remember the word. It has taken me reading 4 of the Elmer books for them to remember what patchwork and checkered means. The word ventriloquist will be a difficult word for them to remember because it is only used in the Elmer books that have Wilbur in them.
"The word is ventriloquist means to make your voice sound like it is coming from someplace else. Say ven-tri-lo-quist. Let's clap the word together. ven-tri-lo-quist. Say the word to your neighbor. Say the word to the floor. Say the word to your elbow. What is the word? Ventriloquist. What does it mean? That's right, to make your voice sound like it is coming from someplace else. Who is the ventriloquist in our story? Wilbur, that's right. Show me that you are ready, criss cross apple sauce, hands in your lap. I will now begin."
I read the story and stop at the part where the baby elephant is crying.
"Oh he is so sad. Why is he sad? Ohhhh, he lost his teddy. Poor baby elephant."
I stop again and we repeat the word ventriloquist and what it means.
"Here is says the Wilbur is a ventriloquist. We know that word, it means . . Who can tell me what it means. Yes, you are right."
We laugh at all the voices I try to make up for Wilbur. I point out all the animals with their teddy bears.
"I love how Elmer and Wilbur looked all day to find baby elephants teddy bear. That was really nice of them. I like how Elmer says at the end that EVERYONE'S Teddy is special. My teddy bear was special. Raise your hand if your stuffed animal friend is special."
Of course, everyone raises their hand!
Still gathered on the carpet I engage my students in a discussion about the story.
" Let's talk about the story and I will write a bubble map of all the things we remember from the story. "
I use the name sticks again to call on students to tell me an event from the story. I write them down on the bubble map. I love using Thinking Maps to help my students visualize their thoughts and ideas. Sometimes I draw pictures with the words so they understand what I am writing. I leave the bubble map up for them to refer back to when writing their sentences. When everyone has had a chance to tell me an event from the story I explain the writing activity. We are writing a narrative sentence today. In the past we have written opinion papers. It may be difficult for my students to switch gears and only write about an event from the story. In kindergarten I am laying the ELA skills foundation for future grades. In upper grades my students will have to go back into the text to find the information to answer questions and write a narrative paper on difficult text. Today we will use a fun text and practice a simple narrative sentence. Hurray for kindergarten!
"Look at all the fun things that happened in the story. I want you to choose one event to write about. I want you to write a sentence and draw a picture about the event. There are so many funny things that happened in the story. You can write about any of them. Let's think of some sentences that we could write."
We brainstorm sentences using the bubbles. I write these sentences on the board. " Let's read these sentences together. Great job. This will be to write about Elmer and Wilbur. I will come around and help you sound out your words. Please remember capitals, spaces and periods."
Having class jobs is helpful not only to me but to the students themselves. I encourage the students to be part of the classroom community and learn responsibility. My classroom paper passers pass out the writing paper to each seat while I call my students to their tables one row at a time. I walk around the room helping with writing ideas, phonetic spelling and details in their pictures. I collect the papers as they finish. My students go to the carpet to read library books until everyone is finished.
When all the students are finished, we clean up the books and sit on the carpet. I call a row up at a time and have each student read their sentence and show off their picture. I found out by accident one day that my students didn't like standing up in front of the class all by themselves. By standing all together, they don't feel isolated and scared. They even help each other with reading the words. We cheer and applaud each student's efforts.
I love to show a video of the book or a reading to help reenforce the vocabulary, story comprehension and the love of Elmer. I show videos at the end of the day when chairs are stacked, backpacks are on we are waiting for dismissal.