In this time of budget cuts, we are all tightening our belts. So, having books that do double-duty might be good. I have two favorite titles that perform double-duty: Dog’s Colorful Day, A Messy Story about Colors and Counting by Emma Dodd, and If the World Were a Village, A Book about the World’s People by David J. Smith.
When I use Dog’s Colorful Day with the kindergarten and first grade classes, we practice numbers and colors. First, I go over numbers and colors with the students before reading the book—get their minds going. Then I read the book, emphasizing numbers (1 through 10) and colors. We then talk about the book for a few minutes. Next, I have a poster of the dog featured in the book (thanks to the art teacher for drawing the poster!). The poster has Velcro pieces on it. I also have “spots” with Velcro on them; the spots are the same colors as in the book that the dog accumulated throughout the day. We go over the colors again with the spots. Then I ask the students questions related to the book, like: “What color spot did the jam make?” The child who answers correctly gets to Velcro the spot on the dog. By the time we go through all the colors, the dog is cover with the same spots in the book. Since our students take Spanish, we also go over the numbers and colors in Spanish as well.
With second and third graders, I do the same activities as with the younger students, but with an extra layer. This time when they put the spots on the dog, they must do it in the correct sequence. Also, I don’t ask them what made the spot. Instead, they have to tell the class what made the spot. For example, a student would say: “The first spot is red from a drip of jam.” The next student would say: “The second spot is blue from some paint.” So it would continue until all spots were on the dog, in the correct order. This way, we practice sequencing and cause and effect.
All grade levels seem to enjoy this activity—a cute dog is the main character, the book holds their interest, and the activities gets them up and about, active and moving.
The other book, If the World Were a Village, I use with fourth and fifth grade since it’s a little more complex and sophisticated. This book can be used in Social Studies, in Math, and for learning Media Skills and Reference Materials. Or you can do my personal favorite: have one big lesson that includes all activities. Take the first village: Nationalities. The book reads, on page 8: “Of the 100 people in the global village, 61 are from Asia, 14 are from Africa, 11 are from Europe…” The students have to tell me what reference source they would need to find out where these places are located. Then, they would actually have to find the places in the reference source, and label them on their own map. Next, the students would have to calculate the percent of people in the village who are from Asia, who are from Africa, who are from Europe, etc. The students can work individually, in pairs, or in groups—whatever is best for your situation. Other topics in the book include: languages, ages, religions, food, air and water, schooling and literacy, money and possessions, electricity, the village in the past, and the village in the future.
If the World Were a Village is indeed a source that can be used as a springboard to *many* different activities throughout the school year.
Can you suggest books that do double-duty? If so, I would love to hear from you! Please share! J
Anja Tigges, Ed.S.
Scott Elementary School: Atlanta Public Schools