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Begin With Nature ... Small Wonders

What's that floating? Apples?

Surprises...

Nature is full of surprises. If we look very closely, amazing action is always taking place. While out on a bike ride I saw an unusual sight, apples floating down the stream. I wondered what the ducks, frogs, fish and heron would think of apples parading down their stream. "Aha," I said. "What fun this could be." And, not long after that bike ride, I was writing A FISHING SURPRISE.

 

Of course, that was not the title I first gave my story, but it was a perfect fit when I had finished. Often, I first title my story something very simple just to make connections and open the door to going back to work on it. Give your titles some thought when you are finished. You will want your title to invite the reader inside your story.


What goes on down by the stream? You, too, can get acquainted with the plants, animals, and insects that make the water their home. Take an adult with you to enjoy the watching and waiting by the waterside.

 

Did you know that half of all the insects in the world live in or near fresh water? Head to the library and check out an insect handbook and identify the ones near your waterside.

 

Start a researcher's kit made from an old satchel or backpack. Fill it with a notebook, sketch paper, pencils, and leave a little room to add that library book to help answer questions that are sure to spring out your wondering.

 

 

Water Safety Reminders for All

 

While we are on the subject of getting wet, do you know your water safety rules?

 

Let a responsible adult know when your are playing near the water.

 

Always swim with a buddy.

 

Never dive into the water if you do not know what is beneath the surface.

 

Life jackets save lifes. Wear one. 

 

Swimming lessons are a terrific way to get started swimming safely. 

 

 

A Fishing Surprise – Discussion Guide and Learning Connections

© Rae McDonald 2020

 

Based on the book: A Fishing Surprise written by Rae McDonald and illustrated by Kathleen Kemly. NorthWord Publishing. ©2007 ISBN: 978-1559719773

 

 

Description:

We're hungry we're hungry, for fish tonight! But no fish are biting for these two little fishers. The sun beats down, and the kids begin to lose hope, when suddenly an apple, then two, then dozens come floating down the stream! A generous tree upstream has dropped its apples just in time to save the day. Brother and sister fill their nets and come home with a request for apple pie instead of a fish fry! Told in down-home, toe-tapping rhyme, this fishin' tale captures the magic of a hot summer day and inspires a sunny-side-up look at life.

 

Teachers: Also refer to the Common Core Connections for A Fishing Surprise on the Raemcdonald.com website.  Also find additional discussion ideas and connnections.

See also: Youtube – Rae McDonald channel - author visit about the making of A Fishing Surprise.

  

Science: Water on the Move

 

 Water is always on the move as it flows into tears, trickles with sweat, swirls into fog, and puddles into mud. Water is a traveler on a never-ending journey dropping from rain clouds, filling up ponds, and flowing into rivers that empty into oceans. On its journey, some water evaporates into the air and rains, mists, or snows back to earth. Water that is here today has been recycled just like this for millions of years.

What makes water move and how does it stay so still on a glass-like lake? If you are thinking of the earth's force called gravity you are hot on the trail. Do a bit of investigating to find out about gravity. And, how about checking up on how wind and temperature work with the rain to make our weather and move our water? See also discussion question #13 below to investigate floating and sinking.

 

Science: What goes on down by the stream?    Water – Is it our most precious resource?

 

•Get acquainted with the plants, animals, and insects that make the water their home. Encourage children to take an adult with along to enjoy the watching and waiting by the waterside.

•Did you know that half of all the insects in the world live in or near fresh water? The library is the place to check out an insect handbook to identify those near your streams. Also ID local wildlife.

•Start a researcher's kit made from an old satchel or backpack. Fill it with a notebook, sketch paper, pencils, and leave a little room to add that library book to help answer questions that are sure to spring out of your wondering.

 

 

Water Safety:

 

While we are on the subject of getting wet, do kids know their water safety rules?  Do some research on how to stay safe near the water.  Have students design a poster or brochure. 

Did the poster include?

Let a responsible adult know when you are playing near water.

Always swim with a buddy.

Never dive into water if you do not know what is beneath the surface.

Life jackets help to save you in a water emergency. WEAR ONE!

Swimming lessons are a terrific way to get started swimming safely.

 

Science and Language - Vocabulary:

 

While you are thinking of all that water, ponder for a moment just how many water words or actions you can think of. Can kids come up with 10, 25, 50 or even 100 water words? Water seeps into so many corners of our world and language. What is the sound of water? How does water move? What happens when something gets wet?

 

Here is a dribble of words to get your brain flowing:

drips, drops, patters, trickles, swirls, mists, drenches, downpours, floods, washes, ripples, drains, soaks, floats, waves, tumbles, drowns, oozes, showers, jets, cascades, springs, pool, brims, spatters ...

Now, it is your turn.   Have a "Waterlogged Word Wall".   Ask students or classrooms to come up with as many water words as they can without duplicating what is on the wall.   Use this word reservoir for a watery writing workshop.

 

Word Choice –Play With Words:

 

A FISHING SURPRISE is full of short rhyming text.  Some of the words are made up, like "appily, quackily".  Have a rhyming festival with children with some of their favorite verbs.  Have children come up with fun rhyming descriptors for nouns or double verbs.   (hurry-scurry, fun-run, slip and trip, sitting fishing, high-pie, etc.)   Mix the fun up with made up rhyming words. (bidily bop, frogs hop)

 

Story Sequence:

 

Sequential actions are important in A FISHING SURPRISE.   Retrace the route of the apples down the stream. Select another subject that "moves along" to have children work on story writing sequence.   (rolling a ball, bird on a flight, cloud across the sky, baking a cake, a trip, etc.)

 

Further Discussion Questions:

 

Refer also to the Common Core Connections PDF link for Gran, Gran, Granny 

1.    Ask and answer: who, what, why, where, when in the story.

2.    Recount all the animals that live in or near the stream.

3.    What is the main goal of the story characters at the beginning of the story?

4.    Did the characters achieve their goal?

5.    Did the characters change goals?

6.    If the goal changed, what caused the characters to change their minds?

7.    Using key details retell the sequence of the story action.

8.    Who is the author? Who is the illustrator? What did each contribute to the story?

9.    What was added to the illustrations that was not stated in the text of the story?

10. Why do you think the illustrator added these specific items?

11.  Give examples of rhyme and rhythm in the story.  What is the purpose of using this type of language?

12.  Which words did the author use to give the reader information about the five senses?

13.  Research the habitat and habits of a raccoon in the wild. Why do you think the mother raccoon stayed in the tree while the young raccoons went down to the stream?

14.  Do apples really float? Test a variety of apples of other fruits and vegetables to see if they float.  Why do you think               some float and some sink?

 

See Sidebar Link:  Salt Spring Island Apple festival for a colorful look at the apple world.

 

See also:  Locate apple books in the nonfiction section of your library.

GRAN, GRAN, GRANNY 

Illustrated by Eric Groff.

 

 

 A story for all time, and for anyone who has ever loved a tree.

 

Lizzie tells this "moment in time" story in first person as she, two brothers, and her parents hike up the well-worn trail to visit Granny. The forest is aflame with fall color and the path is carpeted with forest confetti on the day following a fierce and worrisome storm. A celebration cake swings along in mom's traveling basket, and Nick packs trail mix to share with the wild forest inhabitants. Little brother, Sam, finds a great deal to sing about as he echoes "the chat" on the way to Granny's.

(Party today, far away. Confetti, spaghetti, party all ready …)

The inspiration for this story comes from years of family hikes up the trails in a hilly and forested watershed near our home in northwest Washington. I am hoping that you will have a chance to read GRAN, GRAN, GRANNY real soon. Order now from Clear Fork Publishing.

Gran, Gran, Granny – Discussion Guide

© Rae McDonald 2020

 Based on the book: Gran, Gran, Granny written by Rae McDonald and illustrated by Eric Groff. Clear Fork Publishing. ©2017 ISBN: 978-1946101259

  

Description:

 

Party today, far away … Sam finds a great deal to sing about as he echoes "the chat" on the way to visit a majestic forest friend in GRAN, GRAN, GRANNY. Lizzie tells this moment-in-time story as she, two brothers, and her parents hike up the well-worn trail to visit one grand old Douglas fir tree known as Granny. The forest is aflame with fall color and the path is carpeted with fall leaf confetti on the day following a fierce and worrisome storm. A celebration cake swings along in mom's traveling basket as Lizzie, Nick and Sam lead the way. Lace up your hiking boots, get set to catch a swirling leaf, and head up the path to celebrate a very grand old tree.

 

Learning Connections For Young Students

 

Teachers: Also refer to the Common Core Connections for Gran, Gran, Granny on the Raemcdonald.com website. 

 

See also tree measurement method, and leaf wish printout.

Book trailer also available.  See also: Youtube – Rae McDonald channel - author visit.

 

Discussion Guide:

 

1.    Ask and answer: who, what, why, where, when in the story.

2.    Who is telling the story? How would it be different if the adults told the story?

3.    What did you notice about Little Sam's conversation in the story?

4.    Give examples of rhyme and rhythm in the story.  What is the purpose of using this type of language?

5.     Why do you think the author composed a song for this story? How does it add to the action?

6.     What details do you learn about Granny from the song?

7.    What is the main goal of the story characters at the beginning of the story?

8.    Did the characters achieve their goal?

9.    Did you figure out who Granny was before you met her in the story? If so, how did you infer this or figure it out?

10.  Naming a tree as if it is human is not unusual for humans.  Why do you think humans name inanimate objects? Share  your thoughts and give details.

11.  Can you identify an element of cause and effect in the story?

12.  What is the main idea or theme of this story?

13.  Describe each child character and how their behaviors and speech match their age. Give specific examples.

14.  Several worries are expressed in this story. What are they and were any resolved?

15.  Recount the temperate forest animals that are encountered in the story.

16.  Using key details retell the sequence of the story action.

17.  What senses are referred to in the author's word choice? Give specific examples.

18.  Who is the author? Who is the illustrator? What did each contribute to the story?

19.  What was added to the art or illustrations that was not stated in the text of the story?

20.  Why do you think the illustrator added these specific items?

21.  How are the various leaf wishes of each character different and yet the same? Do they have a similar main idea?

22.   Explore the back matter in the book to discover facts about fir trees. Which two facts do you find most interesting and why?

23.  Research two similar tree species and compare and contrast them.

24.  Research the animals might make their home in or near these trees and why.

25.  What actions are necessary for humans to take to maintain a healthy forest habitat?

26. Forest fires can be exceedingly destructive. Are there any benefits to a forest from a fire?

27.  Draw or paint many different kinds of trees and make a forest or tree mural.

28.  Draw an evergreen tree in several different art styles or shapes to explore illustration of trees.

29.  Write about a place in nature that you enjoy returning to time and time again. Give specific descriptive and sensory details.

 

Introducing the real GRANNY of my inspirations.
A visit to the real Granny. Time for a hug!

Adopt Your Tree And Measure With Love

Celebrating trees ... thank you students from our school visit.
How many kinds of trees can you draw?
Make a wish for nature. Here is a leaf form that I made.
Find the biggest leaf you can. Trace around it on a sheet of paper.
Write your own wish for trees, the earth, the littlest bug. You decide who to shower your good wishes on.
Trace a big leaf or draw one of your own. 
Catch a leaf in autumn and make a wish to keep or share.
GRAN, GRAN, GRANNY makes a first school visit.  
Thank you for sharing story, art, and ideas with Rae.