It’s the night before Eid, and Amira is busy preparing for the holiday celebration. She fills goody bags with candy and decorates her hands with henna. Her Eid shalwar kameez is hanging on the closet door, ready to wear to the masjid. Amira loves celebrating with family and friends.
Tomorrow is also picture day at school. This upsets Amira. She’s afraid that if she’s not in the class photo, nobody will remember her.
When Amira arrives at the masjid the next day, she’s happy to see her friends. The decorations are beautiful and the food smells delicious. Amira has a great time.
Amira packs up the extra goodie bags when the festivities end. She realizes that school is still in session, and asks if she can bring the treats to her class.
Amira feels a little funny and nervous about walking into her classroom. She’s still wearing her shalwar kameez, and no one will know why she missed school that morning. Amira’s mother explains the absence to the teacher, and the class is happy to see Amira. They love her clothes and her decorated hands.
The story ends with the class getting their picture taken. Amira is in the photo. She made it back to class in time for the class picture.
The illustrations in this story capture the joyful celebration of Eid. The pages are full of candy, streamers, and clothes in brilliant colors. The story will compel readers to learn more about unfamiliar words and practices.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Grow: I.D.1 Learners participate in an ongoing inquiry-based process by continually seeking knowledge.
Engage learners by asking them to name a favorite holiday. Explain that you are going to read a story about a holiday called Eid. Show the cover of Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi and Fahmida Azim. Explain that Eid is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims. Ask learners to share what they already know about Eid.
Explain that Eid could fall on a school day. When that happens, Muslims go to a place of worship instead of school. Sometimes, this means that they miss out on special school activities.
Ask the following questions as you read Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi and Fahmida Azim:
Ask readers to consider the author’s purpose for writing the story. Invite learners to learn more about Eid or another holiday they are unfamiliar with.
Introduce a favorite database or nonfiction book series to help answer questions. Tell learners to record lingering questions as they research their topic.
After they gather information, ask learners to consider how they can share what they learned.
After reading this story, I wanted to learn about mehndi. Skillshare offers classes on this craft. I watched Puja Modi’s course and learned how to make a mehndi cone, mix a batch of henna, and paint designs.
Decorating with henna and a mehndi cone is a lot like decorating a cake. It takes practice to get the mixture at the right consistency. My first batch was probably too thick. Sometimes, the mixture got stuck and I had to apply more pressure to the cone. This left clumpy lines.
I look forward to trying it again. I’ll stick with practicing on paper for a while. I want to get a good handle on it before trying to design on skin.
If you’d like to check out Skillshare free for 14 days, you can use my teacher referral link. I will get a small fee if you decide to subscribe. Click here for the referral link.
If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.
Would you like to learn how to create a lesson plan based on the AASL Standards Framework for learners? Please join me for a 4-week course starting February 1, 2021! During our time together, you will learn how to:
1) find a compelling picture book
2) name an AASL Standard and classroom standards to work with
3) write an objective and a lesson
4) create a rubric to assess learning
By the end of this course, you will have a lesson plan that you can use with your learning community. Every week, you will watch a video, participate in a Zoom meeting, and complete an assignment. The Zoom meetings will take place on Thursday evenings at 7:00 PM Central Standard Time. Here, we can share resources, ideas, and offer support as we build our lesson plans.
The class size is limited to 30 participants, so please sign up today!
Think of a time when you really wanted something. Did anything get in the way of you reaching your goal? In Snail Crossing, by Corey R. Tabor, Snail spies a cabbage patch on the other side of a countryside road. Snail loves cabbage, and is determined to crawl across the street to the garden. The journey will be difficult, but nothing will stop Snail from reaching the goal.
Readers will enjoy making predictions with Snail Crossing. Fun surprises mixed in with expected scenarios make this a fun read aloud. The audience will never guess the ending of this entertaining story.
Delightful illustrations describe a challenging journey from different viewpoints. Scenes from the sky and the street give readers an idea of how big the challenge is for Snail. Wavy lines that trail behind Snail add more information about a difficult trek.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Grow V.D.1 Learners develop through experience and reflection by iteratively responding to challenges.
Snail was determined to get to the cabbage patch. Nothing would stand in Snail’s way. Cars, crows and even the rain could not stop Snail.
After reading about Snail’s determination, invite learners to think about something they really want. This could be something they hope to achieve, learn or create.
Ask learners to consider obstacles that might get in the way of reaching their goal. How can they work around obstacles they may face? Direct learners to create a plan to respond to possible challenges.
This lesson activity supports the Explore Shared Foundation. Click here for more lessons that compel learners to explore.
If You Come to Earth, by Sophie Blackall, is an incredible treasure. The wondrous illustrations and storyline will fill your heart and mind with awe. Evocative artwork fills every page, inviting readers to notice our amazing world. You’ll appreciate the incredible amount of work that went into every detail in this brilliant book.
In the story, Quinn writes a letter to a martian. He tells the extra-terrestrial all there is to know about Earth. Quinn captures the beauty, joys and splendors of our world. He describes the people and animals that inhabit the planet.
Fans of Hello Lighthouse will smile when they recognize Blackall’s technique for containing illustrations in circular shapes. The images inside each circle add information to the story. Some circles show what characters are thinking, while others illustrate feelings.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners Inquire/Create l.B.3 Learners engage with new knowledge by following a process that includes generating products that illustrate learning.
If You Come to Earth invites us to recognize how amazing our world is. This concept might be hard to realize today when the world is in turmoil. Encourage learners to think about something or someone that gives them peace and makes them smile. Share ideas with the group.
Encourage learners to illustrate and write about their ideas. Invite them to add things they wonder about. They can save their work for a time when they need respite from troublesome world events.
Click here for more lesson activities that support the Inquire Shared Foundation. This lesson activity supports the AASL Standard Framework for Learners.
If you were an ostrich, how would you disguise yourself? It can’t be easy. But the narrator of Undercover Ostrich believes that these large birds are experts at camouflage. The illustrations, however, tell a different story. When the narrator challenges readers to find the ostrich, it’s not hard to do. The world’s largest bird stands out on every page.
Readers will laugh when they see the ostrich “hiding” on a telephone wire and on the subway train. They’ll enjoy the befuddled looks the ostrich gives while “undercover.” More giggles will ensue when the narrator makes an appearance at the end of the story.
Author/illustrator Joe Kulka delivers a humorous story by juxtaposing the narrator’s words with the illustrations. This interesting method of storytelling will engage readers to appreciate the outrageous scenarios of an ostrich hiding in plain sight. The cartoon illustrations add to the fun.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners Inquire/Create I.B.3 Learners engage with new knowledge by following a process that includes generating products that illustrate learning.
The ostrich in this story clearly needs help hiding. Invite learners to consider why the ostrich stood out in each setting. Then, watch “Can You Find the Camouflaged Animals” by Earth Rangers to see what it takes to hide in plain sight.
Next, show learners pictures of ostriches in nature. Ask what they notice about the features and colors of the ostriches. Encourage learners to consider what kind of natural scenery an ostrich would need in order to hide. Explain that they will illustrate a picture of an ostrich that blends in with the background.
If you are wondering how to draw an ostrich, this video from the Art for Kids Hub YouTube channel will show you how.
If you enjoyed this lesson activity that inspires inquiry, check out our other blog posts that spark curiosity.
How do we build a sense of community in our classrooms? Start by reading Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali and Rahele Jomepour Bell. This important story features a diverse classroom where cultural traditions are celebrated.
The story begins with a teacher explaining why she loves the first day of school. It’s on this day that she gets to meet new people. She explains that they will all become close friends. They’ll learn about each other by celebrating everyone’s favorite day. This is exciting news to four boys who are the main focus of the story.
Through the boys presentations, we see how they celebrate Eid Al-Fitr, Rosh Hashanah, Las Posadas and Pi Day with their families. The boys are delighted to learn about the different celebrations. They get to know more about each other and become friends.
The illustrations in this book are heartwarming. Readers can feel the excitement from the children as they learn about each other’s families and traditions. The textured illustrations add interest to the story. My favorite picture shows a mother wearing a colorful hijab, a patterned dress and striped leggings. The natural flow in the material make the clothes seem three-dimensional.
The endpapers are a real treat. A quilt made of twenty-eight squares represent different cultures and holidays. Readers will be curious about the meaning behind some of the illustrated squares. They’ll also make connections with familiar symbols.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners Include/Create II.B.3 Learners adjust their awareness of the global learning community by representing diverse perspectives during learning activities.
Ask learners if they ever heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” In Our Favorite Day of the Year, Musa judged the boys at his table just by looking at them. He doubted that they could be friends because they “didn’t look like his friends.” Ask learners how the show-and-tell presentations changed Musa’s thinking. Invite them to consider how things would be different if they didn’t share their favorite days of the year.
Explain that today they will imagine how people might judge them the first time they meet. They’ll also consider what they want people to know about them. Learners will need a paper bag, scissors, paper and colored pencils, crayons or markers for this lesson.
On the outside of the bag, learners will draw a picture of themselves. They’ll also write how people might see them the first time they meet.
The inside of the bag is for what they wish people knew about them. They will write things people would miss if they judged them solely on their looks. They can write about their hopes, dreams and accomplishments on scraps of paper and put them in the bag. Here are some sentence starters to consider:
After the writing exercise, learners will share their bags with classmates. They will ask each other questions and have discussions to learn more about one another.
This lesson idea was inspired by Liz Kleinrock, an anti-bias, antiracist educator/writer. She uses the paper bag lesson to inspire meaningful discussions on identity. Learn more about her work on these websites: Teach and Transform and Empowering Educators. Click here to see Kleinrock’s TED Talk.
Try pairing this lesson activity with the book Milo Imagines the World.
Imagine telling a story using only illustrations. How would you engage readers to look closely at the images to gather meaning? Author-illustrator Pete Oswald is a master at visual storytelling. In his book Hike, Oswald uses vignettes, sequenced panels and double-page spreads to guide readers in a visual journey.
The magic of reading Hike starts on the book’s cover. The title, in block letters, reads from the bottom up. A father and son climb the letters with hiking gear. Each letter in the title illustrates the pair hiking in the mountains. The artwork conveys a sense of adventure that readers will enjoy.
The most fascinating feature of Hike is the revelation on the copyright page. Here, we learn that the story is not really about a hike. Instead, it’s about family tradition. We begin to notice something is up when a family album appears on the pages at the end of the story. We first see the album in the boys hand. Then it appears on the kitchen counter. Finally, the opened album is on the boy’s lap. The copyright page reveals what’s inside the album; generations of family members planting a tree in the mountains. Close readers will remember seeing the album at the beginning of the book on the boy’s bedside table.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.3 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by engaging in inquiry-based processes for personal growth.
Ask learners to write about a family tradition for three minutes. Challenge learners to keep their pencils writing. They don’t have to write complete sentences. Lists and key words will work. If learners can’t think of something to write, they can just write something like “what else can I write about my family tradition”.
After the writing exercise, invite learners to choose a word that represents their family tradition. Explain that they will create block letters out of that word and illustrate the inside of each letter. The illustrations will tell a story about their tradition. They will use the cover of the book Hike as a model for their illustration.
Want to learn how to create big, bold letters? Watch this demonstration of how to create block letters by Dave McDonald. A segment about drawing bubble letters is also included.
Learners may also want to explore illustrative maps after looking at the title page. Invite them to think about what the map is telling them. Welcome them to learn more about maps by reading Camilla, Cartographer by Julie Dillemuth and Laura Wood.