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Specific Novel & Picture Book Activities - "O"


The Old Brown Suitcase

by Lillian Boraks-Nemetz

readability- grade 6 and up, readaloud -grade three and up

Fourteen year old Slava's story represents the experiences of many Polish child survivors of the Jewish Holocaust. Slava's nightmarish life begins when Poland is invaded in 1939; Slava is only six years old. During the time of the Second World War, Slava suffers through starvation, illness, abandonment, and destruction all around, as her family struggles to survive and stay together. When the war ends, Slava's parents decide to immigrate to the safety of Canada. Slava now has to suffer through the new pains of forgetting her past, making new friends, doing well in school, and growing up in a very different country. Boraks-Nemetz has successfully written an heart wrenching story that no one will ever forget.


  1. Throughout the novel, Slava has lived in many homes. For each move, Slava has been asked to pack her suitcase with her most valued possessions. If you had to leave your home and were asked to pack your suitcase, what would you put in it and why? (can discuss or write as a journal entry...)
  2. If there was a new student who had just arrived from another country, what could you do to make them feel comfortable and safe. (brainstorm in groups pre/post read)


Once: A Lullaby

by bpNichol

readability kindergarten, read aloud kindergarten

A charming little pattern book comforting to read to small children as they are tucked in for bed. As well it is an excellent book for children beginning learning how to read. The pattern "Once there was a little... a baby... a little... Once there was a little... ...It fell asleep." is filled in with 18 different animals as well as a little boy and a little girl at the end of course.

Make a "Once: A Lullaby" class book

  1. Ask children to decide what animal they would like to be included in the book and what sound it would make before it falls asleep.
  2. Write out the pattern sentence of the book and fill in the animal and the sound in the appropriate spots for the child.
  3. Ask children to draw a picture of the animal above the sentence.
  4. Draw a title page and staple all of the pages together to make a class book.


1 is One

by Tasha Tudor

read aloud kindergarten and up, readability kindergarten

This simple book pairs up the numbers from 1 to 20 with the relative number of objects, from 1 is one duckling swimming in a dish to 20 is twenty geese flying toward the dawn. The delicate drawings on every page resemble those in early 1900's children's' books, and the text beneficially includes both the numerical and the text version of the numbers. This is a beautiful book that will make learning numbers a memorable and special experience.

Make a picture number line for the classroom:

Have each child pick a number from a hat (1 out of 20) and think about an equivalent number of objects they would like to draw.

Then draw the objects on a large piece of paper and write copy the same phrase structure as in the book. ie: (numeral) is (number written out)(objects)(action)(place).

Laminate and display all of the number pictures on the wall and refer to throughout the year.


Owl Babies

by Martin Waddel

Sarah, Percy, and Bill woke up one night to find that their "Owl Mother was GONE." As they worry about what she would be doing, when she'll be back, and the frightening things that are awake around them they move closer and closer to each other to feel better. Suddenly Mother does appear, she swoops to her children and reminds them that she'll always come back. Martin Waddel has written a sweet and comforting story that assures us all that family will always be there when things get a little scary.

Make Owl Puppets - What you need:

What to do:

Place the paper bag on a table with the fold over facing you. Make owl feathers by ripping strips out of construction paper. Glue the strips, overlapping each other, on the owl's head (flap) and body. Cut out, and add eyes, a beak, wings and feet from construction paper.