There is something just so wonderful about seeing middle schoolers and high schoolers (and my 3rd grader) get engrossed and enthralled by a picture book. To see their faces taking it in, their eyes attentive, and then their hands writing vigorously afterward is truly awesome.
During one of the mini-lessons for Writing Workshop this week I read aloud Saving Strawberry Farm by Deborah Hopkinson. [Have I rambled yet about how much I love her books?? If not, I must do so soon!] I gave each child a penny to hold while I read the book as a jackdaw - and yes, they got to keep the penny :).
It has some good examples of personification such as the opening sentence - "The sun was so mean that summer, it seemed to chase all the clouds away." It is set in the Great Depression and the town comes together to save Elsie's Strawberry Farm.
It is also good at sparking childhood memories. The students did a quick-write after the story and shared. I wrote about stopping at the ice house as we drove to our week-long beach trips with my grandparents as a child. By the time we reached that town (Usulutan) we were hot and sweaty from riding in the back of the Land Rover pick-up (with no seat belts, of course! At least it had overhead bars to hang on to for the bumpy part of the trip when our feet would literally bump off the floor). We could feel the cool blast from the huge door of the ice house and they would bring out a giant ice cube about 4x2x2 feet in a burlap sack. We all wanted to sit on it to cool off a bit. Once we arrived at the beach they would bury it straight down in the sand and get some each day for the coolers and ice box, then cover it back up to stay cool. It would last the week that way.
You're never too old for a good picture book!
We also talked about theme. (sigh) Theme is the hardest thing for me. Closure to the above book led straight into the theme talk. I used the theme section of Using Picture Storybooks to Teach Literary Devices. I had already selected some and read the summary/theme. After a few they were getting it. Then we brainstormed themes for the mystery stories we're writing. Some nailed theirs right away; others (like me!) don't have one yet. We brainstormed quite a list. My favorite moment was when one student asked, "How would you say to make something right?" Another student jumped in before I could answer with, "Redemption." Cool.
We also read a few quick chapters from a Three Cousins Detective Club book. They put the theme on the back cover so that also tied in with the theme lesson. These books are probably gr1-3 reading level but perfect for something quick to read aloud for mystery story structure in a writing class.
Potato Chips: I have an issue with potato chips. Really. I use them as energy and it's NOT a good thing! However, these chips (a once in a blue moon splurge) are awesome and are even in the WAPF shopping guide: Good Health Natural Foods Potato Chips. I find them at a local health food store. The reason that I like them is that there are only 3 brands on the market that I can eat; and none are organic, by the way. Of the 3 these taste the best. The ingredients are potatoes, avocado oil, sea salt. It says that all ingredients are non-gmo. They have other flavors as well but I always get the Sea Salt: Search Amazon.com for avocado oil potato chips
[Update: Kettle now has organic sea salt potato chips at our local markets for $3/bag]
Baked German Pancake:
Here is the original recipe and what I did to make it soaked. I doubled the original and baked it in a greased 9x12 glass dish at 450F for 20 minutes. [Thanks, M.J. for the recipe!!]
1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk (I used kefir)
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Whisk eggs; slowly whisk in flour; mix in milk and butter. Pour into buttered baking dish or skillet. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. We put fresh fruit, or cooked fruit, or maple syrup on our pieces.
What I did: The night before I soaked the whole wheat flour with the kefir, melted butter, and salt. The next morning I added the eggs and baked accordingly.
Results: The dc really like it even though I thought it was a bit gritty with the whole wheat.
What I'll do differently: Next time I'll start the soak in the morning; add the egg and put in a casserole dish that night; then just pop it in the oven the next morning so I have to think less :). I'll also use white whole wheat and another time I'll try it with oats.
When I e-mailed M.J. for permission to post this she thoughtfully responded with the following toppings. I look forward to trying these! We just had it plain with some Amish butter this morning. After Lent we'll try it with some sweetness. Here are her toppings:
1/4-1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
When pancake has baked 15 minutes, quickly sprinkle with almonds, drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle generously with sugar. Return to oven and bake remaining 5 minutes.
Pan-glazed Cinnamon Apple Slices
2 Tbsp. butter
2 apples, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Melt butter in frying pan. Add apples. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Slowly cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until slices are glazed and tender. Spoon into center of baked pancake. (We just served the apples on the side so everyone could take what they like.)
Swiss Honey Butter
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter with honey. Slowly add whipping cream. Beat constantly until mixture is fluffy. Add vanilla. (This is pretty rich, but really good. We just serve it on the side)
She also mentioned fresh blueberries or strawberries :).
This recipe is part of Kelly's Real Food Wednesday
It's also part of What's on the Menu Wednesday (where I just found a great Lara Bar substitute From Piney in Texas):