Books by Peter Brown

On my last visit to the library I picked up two new titles by Peter Brown. His books have big time kid appeal and I must admit, reading them out loud is pretty delightful.

Children Make Terrible Pets is a lovely twist on the “Look what I found Mom and can I keep it?” story. In this story the “it” is a boy who Lucy the Bear names Squeaker because of the strange sounds he utters. Those children quick to infer realized that probably the boy was actually speaking but Lucy couldn’t understand his human language. Squeaker is lovely to play with, eat with and nap with but “potty training” him doesn’t go so well. When Squeaker goes missing, Lucy follows his scent and discovers that he has his own family and his own home. This leads her to do a lot of thinking and to finally conclude that yes, children DO make terrible pets!

Can I keep him PLEASE?

Brown’s Flight of the DoDo is an extremely amusing tale about a group of flightless birds (The Waddlers) who dream of being Flappers (birds that can fly). Why is it so delightful? Well, watching a penguin, an ostrich, a cassowary and a kiwi bird try to invent a flying machine is quite funny. Cassowary attempting to eat the fluffy white clouds brings a lot of smiles. But it is penguin’s determined (and then necessary) target pooping that steals the show. The DoDo is certainly one amazing flying machine. But it is really fantastic with a bunch of birds poised on its edge with bottoms aiming carefully at the ground below!

Poop. Everything you ever wanted to know. And then some

Our current read aloud is a non-fiction title. On a kind of gross but okay, let’s admit it, kind of a lot of fun to talk about topic: Poop – A Natural History of the Unmentionable written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Neal Layton.

How can you not love this book? The cover shows a huge elephant behind with a pile of dung and a little scientist carefully examining the specimen. Open up the cover and notice that it is all brown and smeary coloured. “Eww! Is that real poo on there?” someone asked. (No, it’s artistic suggestion 🙂 )And then on the first page you get to learn that feces is the proper name of poop and that if we were speaking scientifically, we would know that all animals defecate (meaning to poo). So it seems that reading this book will make us into scientific experts on poop. Excellent!

Today we decided to use Adrienne Gear‘s Questions and Inferences sheet from Nonfiction Reading Power to record some of our questions and what we were inferring as we listened to the text.

The level of engagement was pretty high. Poop is an interesting topic! Near the end of the lesson, Jena commented, “Who knew poo could be so interesting?” Indeed.

We practiced asking some questions/inferring together when we looked at the first few pages titled – A Tour of Poop

We noticed that tapir poop seemed to have hair in it. Nobody knew what a tapir was so it seemed to be the perfect question to do some inferring.

Question:  Why does some poop have hair in it?

Our inferences:

Jenny: It must mean they are predators. The hair is from their prey.

Eddy: Maybe they have furry bums. When the poo comes out, it gets covered in their own fur.

Miami: I’m thinking that – perhaps, they licked their babies’ fur to clean them and stuff. So that’s how hair got into the poop.

Manny: Maybe it’s not hair. Maybe it is grass and they eat grass. Maybe it just looks like poop. If it is hair, why doesn’t the stomach acid eat the hair?

As we read on, we found out that meat eating animals (carnivores) have poop that contains hair, fur, feathers and bones. But I love all of the thinking we were doing to come up with different possibilities!

Most conversation and discussion was related to the text but as I read and we shared our thinking some students just couldn’t help sharing. A few hilarious statements I overheard: “I feel better when I poop.” “Do you think everyone pees a bit when they poop?” “Do you think we would explode if we never pooped?” “My Dad got diarrhea when he ate spicy pork.” Poop is a great topic of conversation! Maybe not to use at your next dinner party but when hanging out with primary students, it rates pretty high!

During our sharing someone asked this question: “Why do we fart?”

Kevin happily shared his thinking. “Maybe when your body has no more poop in it, there are still poo smells that need to get out so you need to fart.”

This was a very popular suggestion. One student responded. “Oh! Oh! Kevin may I write that down on my sheet?” “Yeah me too,” someone else said. We love to share our thinking! 🙂

Some other questions/inferences from our sheets:

Hajhare: Does poo have food in it? I think it does because the food all combines together to make it brown.

Edwin: Why is animal poo smaller? Maybe the animals don’t have big tummies like people.

Kevin: What happens if you poop a lot? I think you live longer.

The students can’t wait to learn more about poop! Stay tuned!

Crocodile Safari

We have begun to explore the fact – question – inference continuum using non-fiction books and information storybooks. This process is inspired by Adrienne Gear’s Non-Fiction Reading Power book. When we learn a new fact, what question does it prompt and using our background knowledge (schema), what can we infer? We practiced this today using Jim Arnosky’s Crocodile Safari. This is a detailed account of American crocodiles. Crocodiles were photographed and sketched while Jim Arnosky and his wife Deanna were on their crocodile safari through the Florida Everglades. This book is illustrated with the detailed paintings inspired by the images collected on safari. Stunning!

Today we read about a third of the book learning about the crocodile population in the U.S.A., the differences between crocodiles and alligators (finally, a book that makes this totally clear through text and drawings!), crocodile habits and hunting strategies (a page called Ambushed from Below was quite thrilling!).

Fact/Question/Infer: (some examples)

1. We read that in the late twentieth century there were just 300 crocodiles left in the U.S.A. Now there are approximately 2,000. This led us to question: How were they counted? As we tried to answer this question, more questions arose. What if the same crocodile was counted more than once? Maybe they tagged them. But if they tagged them, how would they get close enough to tag them? We were all fairly worried about those sharp teeth! Perhaps they shot tranquilizer darts at them to put them out long enough to attach a tag. Obviously, some of our background knowledge was helping us think this through. We read on and found out that they were counted when someone flew over their habitat in a helicopter.

2. One page in the book is titled One Famous Croc and it talks about a crocodile famous for migrating hundreds of miles from the Everglades to Sanibel Island. When it was captured and returned to the Everglades, it migrated for a second time to Sanibel Island, where it now lives. Our question was an obvious one: What made it return to Sanibel Island? As we talked this question through, students shared different ideas based on their thinking and background knowledge. Someone knew that birds migrate to warmer places. Why else do birds migrate? Someone shared it was so they could find food more easily. Did this crocodile migrate because of food? Someone pointed out that there was a picture of this crocodile hunting a bird so this seemed logical. Our consensus was that the crocodile migrated to Sanibel Island because it was a great source of water birds (great hunting grounds). A very sensible inference we thought and since we can’t ask this particular crocodile, it’s the answer we are going with! 🙂

Students shared new learning, unanswered questions and some of their own inferences in their writing.

Jenny: I learned today that the difference of a crocodile and an alligator is that the crocodile has teeth sticking out of its mouth when it’s closed and an alligator doesn’t. A crocodile’s mouth is longer and an alligator’s mouth is wider.

Eddy: At night crocodiles hunt. In the day, they like to suntan. They mostly eat fish but they also eat birds and snakes.

Lisa: I have a question about how they communicate with other crocodiles. Maybe they move their tail back and forth in the water.

Jena: Crocodiles eat anything they find. They ambush their prey. They go underwater at night (mostly) to hunt. They rise up to the prey and pull it down and eat it. For example, if you saw a duck and then it just disappears. That’s what just happened to it!

Gary: There are questions I still have. How heavy are crocodiles? How big are alligators? Are alligators stronger than crocodiles?