Preschool Author Study

Eric Carle author study

So you’ve got a kid who likes a book.  Awesome!  Now go to the library and check out three (or five or ten) more books by the same author.  BAM!  You are doing an author study.  That was easy.

Author studies are great because if you are choosing books by an author your child already likes, so he will probably discover MORE favorite books.  You are encouraging a deeper connection attachment to reading. By discussing and comparing the books, you build critical thinking skills.  At the very least you are reading and learning an author’s name.  🙂

We chose Eric Carle because we were going to a Very Hungry Caterpillar puppet show.  Eric Carle is a familiar author, but I still found lots of books that I had never read before.  I think it is a good idea to chose an author/illustrator for preschoolers since it is so easy to see how the pictures are all in the same style.  Some other favorite preschool author/illustrators are Lois Ehlert, Donald Crews, David Shannon, and Sandra Boynton.

Obviously an author study for the under 5 set is going to look a little different than with school age kids.  You won’t be discussing the author’s use of imagery in his writing style.  Well, maybe you can.  Here are some preschool-appropriate ideas to try with your author study:

  • Talk about the jobs of author and illustrator.  Point out the author and illustrator’s names on the cover and title page.
  • Go to the author’s website to see a picture or video of the author.
  • Talk, talk, talk about books.  Which one is your favorite and why?  How are the books alike?  Are there any characters that appear in multiple books?
  • Write a letter or draw a picture to send to the author. (Your preschooler can dictate the letter and you do the writing)
  • Act out your favorite book with puppets.
  • Write your own book in the author’s style.  Use the same characters or setting, or continue the story of a favorite book.  (Again, you’ll have to do the actual writing)
  • Draw or paint or picture inspired by the illustrations.
  • Make a chart to compare the books.  We did an easy checklist that asked- Were there people in the story?  Animals?  Was there a problem in the story?  Did you like the book?
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Rooster’s Off to See the World- Activities

Rooster's off to see the world activitiesRooster’s Off to See the World by Eric Carle is a second-grade reading level book.  It is a wonderful read aloud to younger kids, especially when read with other Eric Carle favorites.  It tells the story of a rooster who wants to travel and asks several animals to come along with him.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  • Practice math- Do verbal or written story problems following along with the story.  1 rooster + 2 cats+ 2 frogs+ 4 turtles+ 5 fish = how many animals in all?  When the animals leave, write the subtraction problems.  (first grade- Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20)
  • Read with voice- This book makes a great read aloud.  Try out different voices for each of the animals.  Pay attention to words the author uses such as purred, snapped, or complained.  (second grade-Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.)
  • Alternatives to said– This activity goes along with reading with voice.  Make a list of all the words used instead of “said.”  Talk about why the author used these different words.  See if your child can use some of the new words in her writing.
  • Act it out- Use puppets or yourself to act out the story.  Maybe you could be the rooster and your child play the part of the other animals.
  • Write the sequel– The story ends with rooster dreaming about a trip around the world.  Where would he go?  What would he do?  Have your child make up the rest of the story and you can write it down.
  • Text to self connection- Ask your child to explain when he has felt like the characters in the story- excited for a trip, lonely, or homesick.  (first grade- Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly)

Great Day for Up- Activities

Great Day for Up activities

Great Day for Up by Dr. Seuss has a kindergarten reading level.  It has short sentences with lots of repeated words and picture cues.  Reading it to babies and toddlers will introduce lots of new vocabulary.  Preschoolers, kindergartners, and first-graders will appreciate the humor at the end of the book.  Here are some activities that go along with Great Day for Up

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  • Go on a sight word hunt–  Of course this book is a great way to introduce and practice the word “up,” but there are other sight words repeated in the book.  Find the words and, for, on, great, and day.  (kindergarten- Read common high-frequency words by sight)
  • Count the “up”s– Every time you read “up”, make a tally mark.  Then count them up by practicing skip counting by 5’s.
  • Make flashcards- Pick out the more difficult words in the story and make quick flashcards.  Go over these words before you read and hopefully, they will be able to read them in the story.  I wrote a word and a picture to illustrate it on a small piece of typing paper.  If I did this for my classroom, I would use cardstock and clipart.
  • Sort the words- Using the word flashcards, ask your kiddo to put them into groups.  What things go together?  Maybe there is a group of animals, sports, or people.  You’ll be surprised at kids’ creativity.
  • Explain exclamation points-  This book would be a good introduction to exclamation points since there is at least one on each page.  Point them out and talk about why the author would use them in this book.  Practice writing them.  (kindergarten- Recognize and name end punctuation)
  • Make plurals-  Show how adding -s  or -es to the end of a word means more than one.  Make a list of plurals in the book.  Make plurals out of singular words in the story like “wire” or “pup.”(kindergarten- Form regular plural nouns orally by adding /s/ or /es/)
  • Find the rhymes-  Can they identify the rhyming words on each page?  Take a close look at words that rhyme, but have different spellings like  “wire” and “higher” or “waiters” and “alligators.”  (kindergarten- Recognize and produce rhyming words)
  • Make your own “up” book–  Brainstorm things that go up.  Make a book together by writing a word on each page and illustrating it.  Depending on the age of your child, she can color the pictures, come up with the “up” words, or even write it all herself!

Sheep in a Jeep Activities

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Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw is an easy read (beginning of first grade reading level).  It is also a great read aloud for younger kids with lots of rhyming and funny pictures.

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Here are some ideas try when you read it:

  • Practice sight words– Pick out one word that is repeated throughout the book (sheep, jeep, in) and see if your kiddo can point it out on the page.  Then practice putting the word together with letter blocks or writing it.
  • Rhyming–  There are lots of rhymes in this book!  After you read, go back and a list of all the rhyming words.  See if you can add more rhyming words to add to the list.  (kindergarten- Recognize and produce rhyming words)
  • Making words–  Use magnetic letters of blocks to spell out a rhyming word in the story such as sheep.  Then take away the “sh” and see if your child can make the word jeep.  Ask them to replace the “j” and make the word beep.  Making words is a wonderful activity for beginning readers to work on letter sounds and spelling.  (kindergarten- Distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ)
  • Long vowel /e/– Talk about /ee/ and /ea/ make the same long e sound.  Go on a “word hunt” for /ee/ and /ea/ words in the story and make a chart listing them. (kindergarten- Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings for the five major vowels)
  • Retell the story–  After reading the book, ask your kiddo to retell the story.  This is always a good comprehension strategy to teach even with books with few words.  (first grade- Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson)
  • Ask questions–  This is another comprehension strategy that works with any book.  Ask your child questions about the story.  If they can’t remember, ask them to look back in the book to find the answer.  Who helped the sheep get their jeep out of the mud?  Why did the jeep break?  What do the sheep do when the jeep breaks?  (second grade- Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text)
  • Extend the story–  What do you think happened next?  Who will buy the jeep?  What will the sheep drive now?  Make up a new story together…maybe even write it down and have your child draw the illustrations!
  • Act it out–  Kids learn best by doing, so acting out the story is another comprehension strategy.  If you have a small toy sheep, jeep, and pigs, use those.  If not, your kiddo can pretend to drive a jeep (box) and act while you read the book.

Five Minute Snowflake Craft

I am all about simple crafts.  It only takes five minutes and you can use stuff that you already have around the house?  Count me in.  Bonus if you can do some teaching with the crafting.  Oh, it also has to be easy enough for a two-year-old.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?

This craft was inspired by the book Snow by Cynthia Rylant, but it would work well with any snow book.  It doesn’t discriminate.  It’s an all-inclusive craft. 🙂

Step 1: Assemble materials: Q-tips, glue, scissors, and aluminum foil (or wax paper)

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Step 2: Teaching time!  Look at pictures of snowflakes in the book and count the points.  Talk about symmetry and notice how the “arms” are directly across from each other.  If you want to google “how do snowflakes form” and do a mini-science lesson, go for it!  This is a good place to start.

Step 3: Cut 3 Q-tips in half.  More teaching!  Use the word half and explain that it is two equal parts.  Practice counting by twos.

Step 4: Fun part!  Squeeze a puddle of glue about the size of a penny on aluminum foil (or wax paper…whichever you have).

Step 5: Arrange 6 Q-tip halves in glue puddle so they are symmetrical.

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Step 6:  Let it dry!  I just left mine overnight.

Step 7:  When the glue is dry, carefully peel it off the foil.  I hung my daughter’s snowflake in the window with some white thread.

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Materials:

  • 3 Q-tips
  • scissors
  • Elmer’s glue
  • aluminium foil

Time investment: 5 minutes

Difficulty:  Super duper easy.

Berenstain Bears: Old Hat New Hat Activities

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One of the best things about being a parent is rereading all the books you loved as a kid.  Some of your childhood favorites are completely forgotten until you randomly come across them again while looking for books for you own kid.  I was so happy when I stumbled on Old Hat New Hat.  I LOVED this book.  I remember looking at all the different hats and picking out my favorites.  I was a big Berenstain Bear fan, but Old Hat New Hat does not feature the Bear family.  Instead it is about a bear going to hat store to replace his worn out hat.  However, he finds something wrong with all of the new hats.  The story is told through very few words so it is a great book for the toddler/preschooler attention span or beginning readers (it’s a first grade reading level).

(Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

Here are some ideas try when you read it:

  • Practice sight words– Pick out one word that is repeated throughout the book (hat, new, too) and see if your kiddo can point them out on the page.  Then practice putting the word together with letter blocks.
  • Opposites– Make a list of all the opposites listed in the book.  (kindergarten- Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites)
  • Too, to, two–  Talk about the different meanings and spellings of “too” and how it is used in the story.
  • Retell the story–  After reading the book, ask your kiddo to retell the story.  It is different from some books because most of the action happens in the pictures, not the words.  (first grade- Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson)
  • Adjectives– Tell them words that describe something are called adjectives.  Identify adjectives in the story.  Look at one of the hats.  What other adjectives could be used to describe it?
  • Touch scavenger hunt– Stop after reading a page and touch things around the room that match the adjectives in the book (bumpy, scratchy, wrinkly, etc.)  This gives kids real-life experience with the words and gets a few wiggles out, too!
  • Ask questions– After you read, ask your kiddo some questions that relate to the story.  Which one was her favorite hat and why?  Why do you think the bear chose the old hat?  Why do you think the salesman looked mad?
  • Make a hat– Decorate an old hat with left-over craft supplies like ribbon, felt, or pom poms.
  • Draw a hat– Draw and color lots of different hats to fit a certain adjective.

Leaf Man Activity

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Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert is a wonderful autumn book.  The unique illustrations show people and animal shapes made out of leaves.  What a perfect fall activity!  We headed to the park to gather our materials.  The girls loved picking out leaves, acorns, sticks, grass, pine needles and cones to take home.  I made sure I got doubles of ones they liked so we could make symmetrical arms and legs.  (TIP:  The inside cover of the book provides a cheat sheet of the names of trees, in case you are nature-challenged like me.)

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Start off by recreating designs in the book.  It seems easy, but finding similar shapes and colors and copying a picture can be tricky for little ones.  Elementary kids should be able to do it without help.  Then see if they can make up their own shapes!  Play a game and see if you can guess what animal they are trying to make.

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Talk about symmetry and see if you can make designs with one or two lines of symmetry.

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Play with the leaves and then put them back in nature when you are finished.  I love easy clean-up!  Or you can press the leaf design by putting books on top of it.  Leave it (ha!) for a few days, then iron it between two sheets of wax paper, and you’ll have a longer-lasting shape.

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Ask preschoolers questions about their Leaf Man.  What is his name?  Where would he go on his adventure?  Who would he meet?  What will happen to him in the wind?  Elementary kids might be inspired to write their own Leaf Man story.  They can use their own pressed leaves as illustrations or you can take pictures and print them off.