Friday, December 5, 2014

Math and Literacy Connect in a Jan Brett Author Study!

Hello, Teaching Friends!

December is here ... bring on the beautiful winter books by Jan Brett! Although she has written wonderful books on other themes, the number and pure beauty of her winter books makes Ms. Brett the perfect subject for an author study in the winter!

But ... I'm not here to talk to you about how to do your author study. Between Pinterest and Jan Brett's own amazing website (over 5000 pages of activities, coloring, and videos!), that's been pretty well covered!

What I would like to share is an idea for a math activity that will dovetail nicely into your reading of Jan's books. I almost feel disrespectful calling her "Jan", but it's a funny thing... after cozying up with a few of her books, my students always referred to her as Jan. In fact, sometimes I almost expected somebody to call her "Aunt Jan".  I love when an author becomes that real to my students! And I dearly, dearly love when students take an author and her books into their hearts! And I dearly, dearly, dearly love when they feel such an attachment to an author that they beg the school librarian for more books by that author!

This little activity will address numerous standards. Your students will be seeking out the copyright in books (non-fiction text features!). They'll also be reading, writing, and sequencing four-digit numbers. And all this while reading and discussing some truly delicious books!

Here's your prep for completing this number line as a whole class activity: Create a number line on a long strip of paper, with the dots spaced about three inches apart.  Sentence strips work well for this. Hint: start at 1985, when Fritz and The Beautiful Horses was published.  If you plug in 2000 and the current year for support, lots of your first graders should be able to write the years on the appropriate dots.

After each book you read, have one of your students write the title and the copyright date on a sticky note, and then put it on the appropriate date on your number line. After you've read five or six books - voila! There's your number line!

There are so many other interesting discussions that come out of completing this number line together! What book was Jan Brett writing the year you were born?  How long does it take to write a book? {It can take a long time to produce a good piece of writing - a writers' workshop mini-lesson!} 

Another way to accomplish the same objectives is to use these two printable sets of book cards, one with the publication dates and one without, left blank for your students to complete. They're in color, in case you just want to print on cardstock and put in a math center, but they also print nicely in black and white, to use as an independent activity. Just click on the picture to download them both from Google Drive.
If you're looking for a January math-literacy connection, consider making Jan Brett calendars for next year. She has the printables ready-to-go on her website. I like to add in the students' names on their birthdates before I make the copies - and enjoy the surprised and happy little faces when they discover them! 

Making the calendars on the first day back after Christmas vacation is a fun way to kick math back into gear ... especially if you let your students work on the floor and glue the calendars onto a looong scroll, making a wall calendar that's taller than they are! Anything huge is a hit with them, right? ;)
Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful December, and a Merry Christmas!

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