Monday, October 28, 2013

Who Were the Accused Witches of Salem?

A year ago I was just finishing up a wonderful trip visiting Boston, Plymouth, Salem, and Cape Cod.  It was such a beautiful time to visit that part of the country, and we couldn't resist a night in Salem right before Halloween.  The town was quaint and friendly, and we toured Nathanial Hawthorne's home during the day and went on a ghost tour at night.  It was entertaining to say the least!  So I've been daydreaming back to the trip a lot over the last week, and now here I am with Who Were the Accused Witches of Salem? by Laura Hamilton Waxman (Lerner, 2012).  The book is intended for students between 6th and 8th grade, which I agree with.  The book may touch on subjects that would be scary for younger readers, but for tweens looking for some interesting tidbits of spooky history, this book could be just the ticket!  Waxman breaks the book up into six chapters detailing how the witch troubles began, including information about the background of Puritans, to the trials and the aftermath.  There are photographs, maps, and sketches, drawings, and writings from the time of the trials scattered throughout the pages, almost like a scrapbook.  My favorite part of the book is the last few pages, because there are some nice 'extras' that could be very useful for students doing a report or wanting to seek out more information.  The first example is an explanation of what a primary source is, followed by Ann Putnam's Declaration against Mary Easty.  I thought this was a nice way to explain a primary source.  Next, readers are invited to pretend to be reporters during the trials, and different questions are provided that they may want to have answered before they write their story.  After that, a detailed timeline is included.  Finally, there is a bibliography and suggestions for further reading and research.  One other thing I noticed about this book that I found interesting was a note to readers that many parts of the English language have changed since the time of the trials, so some spellings have been changed from the original way.  I like that this was pointed out, and could lead to a conversation or research about how language was different during the time of the trials than it is today, especially when using Twitter and texting! 

The Salem Witch Museum website has a section for kids with information about the trials, which is set up as a set up common questions.  When you click on a question, you're taken to a video of a child asking the question, then someone from the museum answering that question.  This could be a great tool to use in a classroom setting.

Discovery Education also provides good information about life in Salem, the trials, and the people behind the trials.  There is a teacher connection part of this page that has connections to standards, as well as ideas for teaching about the trials. 

I hope everyone has a spooktakular Halloween week!  We haven't carved pumpkins yet, so that's up on the agenda tomorrow night.  Here is a photo of one of the graveyards in Salem:

Monday, October 21, 2013

To Market, To Market

Well, the fall weather has settled in and I'm realizing that another summer has flown by with fewer farmer's market visits under my belt than I would have liked.  I supposed I need to find a winter market to try!  On the subject of markets, I came across To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure (Harry N. Abrams, 2011) while doing some shelving one day and was intrigued.  I wasn't familiar with Nikki McClure's paper cut art until reading this book, and she has a new fan in me.  The book details a family trip to a farmer's market, and on the first page you see the list of items they're shopping for.  Then each subsequent two page spread goes into detail about that item, including how it is grown, harvested, made, etc.  For example, here is the page on honey:

McClure's beautiful paper cut art paired with a few paragraphs about how Benjamin (the honey-seller!) keeps the bees who make the honey.  Each page-long description ends with a thank you message for the person at the market responsible for selling each individual item.  Other market items included in this book were: apples, kale, smoked salmon, blueberry turnover, napkins, cheese.  At the very end of the book, readers see a whole family gathered around a table, enjoying a meal prepared with the items purchased at the market, while acknowledging the people and creatures who contributed to the meal. 

To Market, To Market is recommended for children between 4 and 8 years old, but I tend to try and think creatively to extend that upper age limit.  For a unit on studying community, this would be a great tool for students to use to learn more about the culture of farmer's markets, as well as to learn about where the foods they eat come from.  On a deeper level than, 'the store,' that is!  While I enjoyed the book, I also like most of the foods that were written about, which makes it easier for me to make a personal connection.  If this book were used in a classroom or school setting, it might be a good idea to find out if students would be able to relate before trying to have a discussion about salmon and kale with a bunch of kids who don't even know what kale is.  :)  If a group trip to a farmer's market was possible, this book would be a nice supplement to either prepare or debrief.  But all in all, for the right group or child, this book could provide wonderful insight into the world of beautifully fresh food. 

Here are some other ideas for books (fiction and nonfiction) about farmer's markets:

Farmers' Market Day by Shanda Trent, Tiger Tales, 2013, 4 to 8 year olds 
Farmers Market Measurements by Dawson J. Hunt, Capstone Press, 2011, 6 year olds and up
Farmer's Market: Families Working Together by Marcy R. Rendon, Carolrhoda Photo Books, 2001,
     4 year olds and up

And finally, the Portland Farmers Market website has scavenger hunts available to print out for kids to use while visiting a farmers market.  There are two scavenger hunts available, one for 6-11 year olds, and one for 12 year olds and up.  Now I'm totally inspired to find a winter farmer's market!  Happy hunting!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Nursery Rhyme Comics

I stumbled upon this book completely on accident while shelving another book...and boy, I'm glad I did!  I always enjoyed comics when I read them as a child, but never made much of an effort to seek them out.  Nursery Rhyme Comics (First Second, 2011), edited by Chris Duffy, features 50 nursery rhymes written as comics by 50 different cartoonists.  Each cartoonist incorporates their own individual style and twist on the comic, and while some are traditional, others give a cheeky look at what might otherwise be an old-fashioned nursery rhyme.  I had this book in my car while driving the 6 and 7 year old kids I babysit for after school, and they got quite a kick out of "Jack Be Nimble."  Jack questions why anyone would suggest that a kid jumps over a candle, and they laughed and laughed about the last picture...I'll let it speak for itself! :)

After the laughing subsided, Katie, the 8 year old, read "Three Little Kittens" with such sweet expression and enthusiasm.  She agreed to another reading when we got home so that I could record it as a voice memo. Here is Katie reading "Three Little Kittens."

This book is recommended for children aged 3 to 8, but I would extend that range because this book would be a great tool for comparing and contrasting different versions of the same story or nursery rhyme.  Older children could definitely enjoy the variety of cartoon styles telling such familiar stories.  There were some nursery rhymes included that I hadn't ever heard of before.  

Does anyone else have a great, non-traditional nursery rhyme book you'd like to recommend?