"It's always something." (Gilda Radner as Roseanne Rosannadanna) Every day that we show up at school, ready to learn, is a cause for celebration. "...and everywhere was a song and a celebration." (Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Woodstock, baby.) Seriously, teachers, we can find something to celebrate in class every single day. The biggest celebration, of course, is when the imaginary light bulbs flash with new learning, with a newly converted reader for life, budding author, artist, mathematician, researcher, or maker. As teachers, we are part of those amazing moments all year long. And yet, if we seek other celebrations to bring a learning theme to our students, the calendar is filled with them. Here's a year-long resource for an author birthday focus every month.
Read Across America Day was originally conceived to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss. You might have been wearing out your "Cat in the Hat" striped chapeau for all the Marches for as long as you've been teaching. Maybe your school focuses on Dr. Seuss, or maybe you just enjoy that celebration in your classroom. Maybe your own teacher tied a red bow around her neck every March, and the memories are filled with warm fuzzies. Or...maybe...you are ready for a new idea?
Did you know that Leo Dillon's birthday is March 2 also? With his wife, Diane, Leo Dillon was the author/illustrator of forty beloved children's books. Many of the books will bring the concepts of diversity and world peace into your classroom. What a beautiful segue from February is Black History Month! Why not kick off March is Reading Month this year with a fresh focus?
A favorite Dillon book of mine is If Kids Ran the World. My students were so fortunate to have the chance to meet this gentle and lovely couple before Leo's death in 2012, when they visited our school. The mentoring for our future authors and illustrators was off the charts! If Kids Ran the World was the book they were working on at the time of Leo's passing.
In addition to the beautiful illustrations and words showing how the world would be a better place if we all cared for others in the way these children do, this book effortlessly becomes a mentor text. Click below to learn more:
Some other authors whose work will make for great sharing and inspiration any time of the year: Patricia Polacco, Eve Bunting, and Jacqueline Woodson. These are a few of my favorites, and my students have enjoyed many lessons for reading and writing led off by the works of these writers.
Try The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco to see how the author's own mother was encouraged to love reading!
Share a read-aloud of The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Alsburg to prompt a discussion of all the things we might enjoy if we give up a little screen time.
Of course, no month-long celebration is complete without a few official school-wide or grade-wide or even class-wide activities. Some of my favorites:
Hold a Read-In
In no way should this be confused with a clean your desk, grade papers, and enter data day. Wipe that thought from your mind. It's tempting for sure, but a read-in day where you participate right along with the kids is a golden opportunity to encourage a lifelong love of reading (like yours!). Only you can be the role model for that in your classroom. Sleeping bags, blankies, jammies, and pillows optional! My kids always liked making little fort areas under the desks for uninterrupted reading bliss!
Who doesn't love a Parade?
Ask your students to bring in their Radio Flyer or Little Tykes wagons to use as float carriers for a Parade of Books! (Think Macy's Thanksgiving or Disney any day, or The Rose Bowl Parade, but with books!) Kids work in teams to create a float display (think giant diorama!) of a book. The team members dress as some of the characters as they accompany their float in a parade for school and community!
Spotlight on Books
Create a display with a fun place to leave comments/reviews about a book that the class shared as a class novel, book club choice, or read-aloud. Place a book cover in the center of the display, and kids write comments all around. Examples of fun places to leave comments: black construction paper with colored chalks, small white boards with wipe-off markers, plexiglass with window markers, fabric with glitter pens. I know your kids can help you think of more!
Recommended in Rainbow City
That's what we called ours, anyway! Start a weekly or monthly newsletter or blog section where kids can review books they have read and loved. It's a great resource for your students to clip and keep on hand for when they are browsing for new books to read.
Use your technology (iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, or your favorite movie creator) to have your students create exciting trailers to "advertise" their favorite books. So many resources, directions, and examples of book trailers for kids in this post. (Just click on the director below!)
I loved sharing ideas for March is Reading Month with my podcasting friends, Tracy, Deann, and Kathie. Tune in to "We Teach So Hard" Episode 28 to hear what we came up with!
Happy, happy March! Hope you get to read something you love this month, too!
If I can do anything else to help make your job easier this year, please let me know in the comments below! If I use your idea for a new blog post, you will win a TpT $10 gift card. If I create a new resource for Rainbow City Learning based on your idea, you will win a free copy of that resource to use in your classroom! (Note: all comments are reviewed before appearing on my blog. It may take a few hours for your comment to appear! Thanks for your patience!)
For more thoughts on teaching in March, don't miss these posts by our awesome members of Teacher Talk!
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