This section includes descriptions and links to recommended picture books that make excellent feature books in different themes or are special favorites that can extend and enrich the study of a particular subject.
Featured Book Activity
Five Live Bongos
written by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers
Most children love to experiment with sounds and rhythmic repetitions. Choosing materials and developing one's own "instrument" can add fun to the usual rhythm band time or other musical opportunities. I send a "Scavenger's List" home with my students at the beginning of the year to encourage families to contribute to our store of "found" items. Some items useful for musical instruments include wooden, plastic, or metal spoons, graduated measuring cups, muffin tins, pots and pans of various sizes, lids, cookie sheets, hand sifters (I love the raspy sound), colanders, bottles (for blowing across the top), glasses, cups, and bowls made of metal, wood, pottery, or plastic, and oatmeal boxes and plastic tubs (for drums). I also pick up useful pieces and utensils at garage sales and discount stores.
The first few times we use homemade instruments I introduce one or two items we haven't worked with before and, as a group, we try them out and discuss the sounds we can make with them. We also think about any safety tips such as "Don't hit the glass with a heavy hammer." These items can then be selected for rhythm band activities. Some students have also made and shared their own instruments, with materials and supervision from home.
Make a connection
written by Amy Hest, illustrated by P. J. Lynch
written by Elisa Bartone, illustrated by Ted Lewin
The Immigrant Experience
Two different glimpses of the lives of immigrants in New York City in the early 1900s. When Jessie Came Across the Sea looks at the long view of immigration and assimilation into the new life in America while Peppe the Lamplighter provides a poignant slice-of-life telling of hardships of tenement living. Both are wonderfully illustrated but utilize different colors and styles to create the unique mood of each story.