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Specific Novel & Picture Book Activities - "M"


Maebelle's Suitcase

by Tricia Tusa

readability 2, read aloud kindergarten

One-hundred-and-eight-year-old Maebelle makes a lot of hats, and every year she looks forward to entering her town's hat contest. This year, though, with the help of her friend Binkle and his suitcase, a very original entry is created. A charming story that emphasizes the rewards of cooperation and friendship.

Make a your own hat.

What you need:

  1. Make a base for the hat with a strip of tagboard. Wrap it around your head and pull on both ends until it is comfortable. Staple the ends together.
  2. Get another strip of tagboard and staple one end to the front of the base (where your forehead will be if you put it on)and staple the other end to the back of the base.
  3. Start gluing on the material provided on the tagboard strips and try different ways that they can be placed on (overlapped, folded, curled, etc..). It would be nice if there was a 3 dimensional effect to the hat.
  4. Let dry.


The Mare's Egg

retold by Carole Spray

read aloud kindergarten, readability grade 3

A new settler has arrived to the new world with no knowledge of how to run a farm or raise animals. Like many settlers that sailed over the ocean to seek their fortune, this one trusted other well-seasoned folk with all of their hearts. The settler has settled down enough to by him a horse and asks everyone around him for some advice. As luck would have it, he runs into a man who grows and sells Mare's eggs (which remarkably look like pumpkins, but the settler doesn't know any better). This is a hilarious story that any age would love. The highly detailed illustrations of Kim La Fave also provide a great resource for units on early settlers. You can see thick forest with little settlements carved out, service centers where settlers congregate, and the inside of a little shack built for one.

To attract settlers to leave their homes and sail to the new world, many posters were designed to fool people on what they could expect when they arrived.

Have a class discussion on what things may have attracted people to come over.

What colours and would be the most attractive.

Write these out on chart paper, or on the chalk board.

Design a poster that would have this same effect.

Make sure that you mention at least two of the criteria that the class came up with.

When finished designing the posters, display them and have another class discussion on the techniques that each student used.


The Matzah That Papa Brought Home

by Fran Manushkin

reading leve grade 2, read aloud grade 1

In this book, following the pattern of the story of "This is House That Jack Built", the exciting traditions of Passover are revealed; beginning from the matzah being brought from the store to going to bed thinking about the children of Israel. Ned Bittinger's illustrations are energetic and evocative and Fran Manushkin has provided us with an excellent book to use when introducing Passover to children.

The food served during Passover is, as in many cultures, very symbolic. Prepare a Passover breakfast with your class.

MATZO BREI (Serves 1-2). what you need:

What to do:


For more information on passover, check out http://www.passover.org


The Maestro

by Tim Wynne-Jones

read aloud grade 6, readability grade 7

After many years of abuse 14 year old Burl has finally escaped his brutal father. With nothing but his inner compass to direct him, Burl stumbles upon a famous musician in his hidden cabin who is trying to escape the limelight that has been suffocating him. This "Maestro" (whose character is based on the legendary, eccentric pianist Glenn Gould) gives Burl shelter at his retreat by the lake, but remains an enigma to him.

This is only the beginning of a psychologically adventurous story of growth and experience. Set in the wilderness of northern Ontario, this tale examines the universal themes of inner struggle, isolation, perseverance, and physical endurance. The Maestro is powerful and excellently written- winning Tim Wynne-Jones the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature.

During the short time that Burl knew The Maestro, he was introduced to many aspects of music, especially the powerful stories that inspire some musicians.

Listen to some classical music performed and composed by Glenn Gould. While listening draw a picture of what you think the story behind the music is and/or write the story out after you listen to the music.

A good recording is Bach's Goldberg Variations, recorded in 1955. This piece is lively and presents a wide resource for Glenn Gould's musical style. A good recording of something that Gould composed is String Quartet, Op. 1, performed by Bruno Monsaingeon, Gilles Apap, Gerard Causse, and Alain Meunier.

Visit the impressive Glenn Gould Archive at the National Library of Canada website: http://www.gould.nlc-bnc.ca/ra/real.htm

Here you can listen to several of Gould's performances (some that were broadcasted through radio), view his archival papers (compositions, letters, concert posters...), and examine biographical chronologies. Additionally there are lists of writings about Gould, works of art and poetry inspired by him, and links to other related internet sites.

Research more about the "story " behind Glenn Gloud. An excellent photobiography is, Glenn Gould: Some Portraits of the Artist as a Young Man by Jock Carroll, which presents Gould in a personal light.

Besides being an incredibly gifted musician, Glenn Gould was quite an eccentric. His personality would appeal to any age group.


My Many Coloured Days

by Dr. Seuss

readability grade1, read aloud grade2

In true Dr. Seuss style this book will become a classic in every class. Every time you turn a page in this book your are presented with a new colour and a relative emotion. Colours are so important in our lives and reflect perfectly on the way we feel. Dr. Seuss, once again, speaks to all ages with this book.

Make your own My Many Coloured Days book:

You can also visit the My Many Coloured Days website at http://www.randomhouse.com/seussville/days/


My Visit to the Aquarium

by Aliki

readability grade 2, read aloud kindergarten

In this wonderfully illustrated book, Aliki describes a young boy's visit to an aquarium with his sister and brother. Although the aquarium described doesn't exist, the contents are based on a number of aquariums throughout the U.S.. Reading this book aloud, or on your own, gives you a feeling that you are actually visiting an aquarium yourself, it is so realistic. This is an essential book to any classroom library, since it describes many environments; the deep sea, tropical coral reefs, the ocean bed, rocky reefs, kelp forests, tidal pools, tropical rain forests, fresh waters, semisalted coastal streams, and the beach. Many of the animals that live in these environments are also named and make appearances in the illustrations. The possibilities for this book in the classroom are endless!


Visit an on-line aqaurium: http://www.seaworld.org/ Visit marine animals in their natural habitats: http://nationalgeographic.com