In The Classroom with THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK (plus a Giveaway!)

It may not be normal but THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK is a hilarious read-aloud that can also be used in fun lessons about language arts, science, and social-emotional discussions about collaboration and compromise.

THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK begins as a stroll through the common, every day, normal animals – mammal, bird, amphibian, insect, reptile, and fish. The story quickly evolves, however, into a meta-fiction disagreement between the author and illustrator over how to draw the animals. The author wants simple, normal animal drawings. The illustrator, however, is confused and makes a bit of a mess. The conflict reaches its peak when the illustrator refuses to draw the author’s choice of fish. Granted, the blobfish is an unusual choice of fish.

With the below activities, kids will laugh while learning! Here are a few fun ways to use the book in your classrooms:

The Magic of Voice

THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK is a book in two voices – the author and the illustrator. Before reading the book aloud, ask the kids to create the book characters so they can act out the story. They can draw pictures of an author and an illustrator and glue them onto craft sticks, or make puppets out of socks or paper lunch bags, or bring in stuffed animals to represent the two different characters. Anything works! Have fun as the kids join in on the storytelling with their “characters!” For older readers, you can take the dramatic read-aloud to the next level by discussing the personality traits of each character as reflected in their dialog.

What Kind of Animal is That?

Different animal classes have different characteristics. Use the back matter in THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK to brainstorm animals in each category and then play animal charades! The kids can play individually or in teams and act out different animals while others guess the animal and its classification!

Collaboration and Compromise

In THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK, the author and illustrator don’t agree on how the animals should be presented. In the classroom, you can reenact this author-illustrator dynamic by having the kids write a short story with the plan that it will be illustrated. Then, ask them to illustrate someone else’s story! Discuss the challenges and benefits of relinquishing control over the art. Reflect on any conflicts or compromises that were encountered along the way, and how they were resolved. Some qualities that make for good collaboration include: Listen to the other person; when you disagree with someone’s opinion, disagree with the idea, not the person (respect one another); and, allow for compromise if there is a disagreement.

For complete standards-aligned lesson plans for grades PreK-6, visit http://juliesegalwalters.com/index.php/2017/10/31/teachers-guides-are-available/!

 Julie Segal-Walters is the author of THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, son, and pesky cat. Before becoming a writer, Julie was the president and founder of Civic Action Strategies, a grassroots organizing and democracy development consulting firm. She worked in Kosovo, where she directed citizen engagement programs for U.S. and European organizations.

You can find more information about Julie on her website or on Twitter.

GIVEAWAY TIME! Click HERE to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway of a FREE classroom Skype visit (+book swag for the students)!

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BATS IN THE CLASSROOM: BEYOND OCTOBER!

batcountOctober has come and gone and, with it, Halloween. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon be returning your bat books to their shelves, where they’ll sit again until next year. BUT WAIT — NOT SO FAST! Bats are too cool to be relegated to just one month!!

In Anna Forrester’s BAT COUNT (which does NOT take place in October!), Jojo worries about the bats disappearing from her family’s barn, and helps out on a citizen science project that’s researching white nose syndrome, the disease that is killing so many bats. BAT COUNT (Arbordale, 2017) introduces bats plus all sorts of other life science concepts: habitat, animal adaptation, species differentiation, hibernation and more.

Four pages of back matter in BAT COUNT cover bat facts and bat anatomy. BAT COUNT’s publisher, Arbordale, also provides a rich, interdisciplinary Teaching Activity Guide, and other aligned math and language activities. Curriculum materials for more extensive bat studies are available on line, too, at Bat Conservation International and the Organization for Bat Conservation.

Studying white nose syndrome offers older students a great, real-world entry point to broader topics too: interdependence, population dynamics, and human impacts. Check out Arbordale’s materials as well as whitenosesyndrome.org’s teacher resources.

And finally, Jojo’s bat count works as a great introduction to the field of citizen science. Through citizen science  projects, kids uses crowd sourcing and digital technologies to help professional scientists do real-world STEM work. Check out The Crowd & The Cloud video series to learn more about citizen science, and at the Cornell Ornithology Lab, Zooniverse and SciStarter you’ll find scads of other great citizen science initiatives.

And: you can find more resources on Anna Forrester’s website!

Click here for the Rafflecopter giveaway of one signed copy of Bat Count and a set of classroom bookmarks.

forresterannaframeAnna Forrester loves nothing better than to stumble onto a funny idea or a great question, and hold on tight as it leads her through books, her imagination, and unexpected nooks and crannies of the real world. She loves words and stories, and many of her adventures find their way into the books she writes. Anna lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two daughters and two dogs. Visit her on line at www.annaforrester.com, or on Twitter @annaforr.