Monday, January 4, 2010

Word Wall Literature - My Elephant

My students and I are building a word wall together which is a literacy practice that has been around since I started teaching. A lot of progress has been made and as I returned to the early literacy community I've seen a lot of "fabricated" materials for word wall use. I've wanted to keep our learning authentic and rich with children's literature so I've begun to search and use what I would call, authentic children's literature. Literature written with the purpose of enjoyment and not contrived by sight word language.

My Elephant by Petr Horacek is a new book just published in 2009 is perfect for the word my. The story begins with a little boy looking for someone to play with. Grandpa and Grandma are both too busy to play, "So I asked my ELEPHANT if he wanted to play with me." Now, before we go any further I have to describe the illustration for the elephant. The pages are against a crisp clean white background with the elephant appearing to be done in a strong black pencil outline, cut out of gray paper and then the skin is sketched with a multitude of lines to show the wrinkly skin elephants have. This is my best observation, I was disappointed with the description found in the front of the book, "The illustrations are done in mixed media." This is something children could easily do as they capture what they would do with their own elephant.

As you can imagine, the boy and elephant do many things together and sometimes a mess is made which as grandma and grandpa inquiring about the origin of the mess. Each time the boy replies, "It was my ELEPHANT." This phrase was just enough repetition needed to have my students participate as a choral read. The boy apologizes to his elephant for telling on him and then the ELEPHANT is the originator of their events together. The ending is charming, the boy wakes up in his bed wondering how he got there and grandpa replies, You were tired, So you ELEPHANT carried you to bed!" Children are very creative and their imagination carried their own connections throughout this story.

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