Tuning Forks and Bells

We experimented with tuning forks today, and our class had a lot of great insights. Because I’m not allowed to post student first names on our site, I have identified students by the first letter of their first names.

  • It sounds like it’s humming… It sounds like it’s someone screaming, like “oooooh” (X)
  • It sounds like a fan, when you’re close to it. (A)
  • It sounds like a well when you call into it. (R)
  • I can feel it vibrating (R)
  • It’s like when you’re at the hospital and you can see the graph on the screen going up and down (E)
  • It sounds like a bell when you hit it on your shoe (L)
  • The big one makes a different sound from the little on (K)
  • The small one sounds louder and the big one sounds deeper (E)
  • When you look at it it looks blurry (L)
  • The big one is different because it’s taller (P)
  • It sounds like a vibrating coin going down a well (R)
  • It sounds like when you hit the bell at a hotel (X)

Here’s a video of handbells, which are kind of like tuning forks with megaphones to make them louder. 🙂

You can see a tuning fork in super-slow motion here:

And here’s “Ode to Joy” in tuning forks.



Using Reference Material: Poppy

One of the CAFE strategies we learned this week was the comprehension strategy of using reference material. As we were reading Avi’s Poppy, we came across a section where Poppy puts lady slipper petals on her feet and pretends like she’s Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astaire.

First we tried the strategy of Back Up and Reread. We reread the section. But no matter how many time we reread the word “lady slippers” or “Ginger Rogers,” we weren’t going to somehow spontaneously understand what those phrases meant by using the clues in the text.

We could have turned to the dictionary or a thesaurus, but in this case, photos and videos from the Internet seemed to fit the bill.

Poppy wears petals from lady slippers to pretend she's a dancer.

Poppy talks about dancing as though she were floating on air. After watching a few videos of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, I think you know what she means.

For more information on our literacy program, visit The Daily Cafe.


A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Because we have so many amazing books filling up our classroom, I rarely purchase new picture books. Because we usually read different books each year, the library is often a better (and much cheaper!) option. But when I saw this book being consistently short listed for the Caldecott award, I knew I had to check it out.

Elizabeth Bird is a NYC children’s librarian, and I agree with her suggestions almost always. Here’s her review.

I stopped by the excellent Ravenna Third Place Books last weekend, and fresh on the heels of my own sick day, the fact that A Sick Day for Amos McGee was prominently featured on the picture book table, made it seem a rather serendipitous purchase.

Vintage is hot right now, and you’ve probably figured out by now that I love it. 365 Penguins is one of the best picture books written in the past ten years, for example. (And the author has a sweet new book out too, by the way, that looks fantastic!)

But as many reviewers before me have mentioned, Amos McGee isn’t so much vintage as it is timeless. I wonder if it’s because woodcuts are such a big commitment to create that when you make them, you want the designs to be relevant for a long time as well.

Speaking of woodcuts, I’m also excited to talk about this woodcut book after we’ve read a woodcut book of a pretty different style. I’m speaking of the excellent Drummer Hoff, which we’ve revisited several times already this year. Here’s a read-along version of the book.

And a group of kids singing the book.

I’m getting off topic. Bottom line:

1. Woodcuts are amazing.
2. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is lovely.
3. I can’t get Drummer Hoff off my mind.

((By the way, in case you’re wondering “If you think 365 Penguins was such a great book, why didn’t it get a Caldecott, Ms. Houghton?” I see two explanations. First, it would have gone up against the incredible The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Second, Caldecotts are given to US illustrators.))