Picture Book Place

Picture Book Place is an area of the classroom set aside to feature and focus on a specific book or author for a period of time. It may include materials and directions for learning activities or a listening center as well as books and displays.

How do I set-up a Picture Book Place?

There should be bulletin board areas or wall space to display pictures and posters as well as student artwork and writings.  Adequate storage space should be available for writing and drawing materials and necessary supplies for activities.

It should be a comfortable area for reading and might include pillows, a cone chair, a beanbag chair or even a bathtub. A shelf or display rack for books is also important.

A small desk for individual use or a table for group work may be needed depending on the current activity. An electrical outlet should be available nearby in order to use a CD/tapeplayer, listening station, or other recording or projecting equipment.

Before students can begin using the Picture Book Place the group should discuss rules and procedures to follow while there. These rules are posted prominently in the area and any problems or disagreements are first referred to this list to attempt resolution.

Each time a new activity was introduced I would explain expectations and any special directions as well as remind the group of our general rules. This was often part of our Morning Meeting.

Certain periods during the day were reserved for group use or assigned activities while it was available to anyone for use during free choice times. Each student was expected tp record their completed activities on a wall chart to show progress through the theme or study.

How do you decide what to feature in Picture Book Place?

Books and activities chosen for Picture Book Place can be structured to allow students to meet with success at various instructional and independent reading levels. They can provide an entertaining and creative way to work toward mastery of academic standards and benchmarks in Reading, Language Arts, Writing, Listening, Speaking, and Viewing. Building background information, enriching content learning, and reinforcing work in a theme or unit can be facilitated through careful additions to the offerings made available in this special reading center.

I start with a favorite of mine that is a good model for various uses of the Place. As we move through the first study the group discusses other books, authors, or themes to feature in the Picture Book Place and makes a list of possible choices. We keep this list and add to it throughout the year. We consider books shared in the classroom or at the library or reports from independent reading by students.

Teachers’ guides and resource materials often have lists of recommended books to help make content area connections. Theme-related books help build background and can often smoothly transition from one theme to another. Our calendar work is also a great source of inspiration—books and stories suggested by “This Day in History”, holidays, author/illustrator birthdays, and special events.

Picture Book Place: Pat Hutchins

My Picture Book Place usually starts with an author study of Pat Hutchins.

Rosie's Walk

written and illustrated
by Pat Hutchins

Rosie’s Walk is a great book for the beginning of the year. It is available in Big Book format, inexpensive sets for small groups or classrooms, book and tape for listening centers, and even on video accompanied by a perky version of “Turkey in the Straw”.

Our first reading is done with the large group and takes quite a bit of time. We stop and make predictions about what the fox will do next and whether or not he will be successful. We read on to check for accuracy and reflect on clues in the illustrations that help us make more successful predictions in the future. Children who are already familiar with the story are asked not to spoil the surprises for others.

On subsequent readings we start recognizing and listing the adverbials of place. An activity in Picture Book Place is to color and cut out a picture of a hen to make a puppet of Rosie.  The puppets can then be moved to demonstrate words like over your head, under the chair, between your legs, beside the desk.

Large poster cards of Rosie and the fox can be used to demonstrate adverbials of place around the room.

Each group uses a large circle cut from white bulletin board paper to make a map mural of the barnyard. They talk through the book and determine the important places that need to be included on their map of Rosie's walk. This is often a real test of their problem solving abilities and skills in working in groups.

On display in the Picture Book Place would be a picture of the author and a brief biography. Book jackets from featured books and pictures of some of the characters would be replaced by student work throughout the study.

Most Pat Hutchins illustrations are distinctive and the stylized animals are easily recognized by the students. A Fine Arts activity has the student looking at several books by Ms Hutchins and then trying to duplicate the style of illustration by drawing and coloring an animal from one of the stories.

The following additional books by Ms Hutchins work well in the fall.

  • Ten Red Apples
    I use this book as a bridge book from the Pat Hutchins author study into an apple unit.
  • Good-night, Owl!
    This book can bridge into a unit on nocturnal animals.
  • Don't Get Lost!
    This book transitions well into a farm theme unit.

Assessment and Transitions

Informal assessment opportunities are imbedded in the activities. Anecdotal records for each student with notes about participation, progress in academic work, and attitude are also helpful in determining the value of the activities for the individual. Students may keep their own records of participation and be expected to write periodic reflections regarding work in the Picture Book Place.

Some of the Picture Book Place features may sustain interest only a week while others seem to take on a life of their own. I try to move into another focus before enthusiasm starts to wane, usually after 2-3 weeks. Keeping a file of information and activities from the feature make it easy to revisit the book or author as needed.