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Author Study - Chris Van Allsburg

Compiled By: kristen_teach

Ideas for an author study on children's author Chris Van Allsburg, writer of The Polar Express and Jumanji.

Van Allsburg
Posted by: Debbie

Hi all,
Why not do a features matrix? Groups rotate thru reading their choice of books, then choose one favorite. Small groups (a different title per group) create a story map (grid form) using the following headings across the top of a large sheet of colored butcher paper: Book Title, Characters (major and possibly minor depending upon GL), Setting(s), Beginning, Goal(s), Middle, Resolution, Author's Message/ can add/delete other ideas. Each book title has its own row across for writing the info using markers. The kids complete this by adding pictures to illustrate parts that really struck them. Then take a day for each group to present their information.
Another possibility is to gather the art media Chris Van Allsburg used to create the different illustrations. Each child chooses his/her own favorite/memorable scene from a favorite book and reproduce it...or create her/his own illustration using these materials. I like to add museum tags to their art. Best of luck...he's one of my favorite authors! ;-D

Van Allsburg
Posted by: kate

If you use "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick" you will find it contains great story starters for students. I photocopy the pictures and captions, then let them choose which story they want to finish. You would be amazed at the stories they dream up. Don't forget to read the introduction by the author to the students, as it really hooks them in to the mystery of it all. Also, they will really enjoy "Two Bad Ants" (I think that is the title). You could have them do art projects from different perspectives with this book. The perspective is amazing in the illustrations. Good luck!

Van Allsburg
Posted by: jjj

The 3rd grade in my school did an author study after Xmas. Their culminating event was a parade where every child had created a hat based on one of Van Allsburg's books.
One child had one a safari hat with plastic animals glued to it-- Jumani
One had on a garden hat full of big plastic ants.
One child had a black beret with the Eiffel tower on it.

The teachers had a few extra decorated in the drawer in case someone came without a hat.

strategies that work
Posted by: Michelle L

Hi! Yes, we start off with a list of what good readers do. The first skill I teach is Questioning. i think the kids have an easy time with it. I use The Stanger by Chris Van Allsburg. It is such a great book for it. I go through and tag my questions, transfer them onto a poster and kind of "think aloud" as I read the book. We then go back and reread the story and find which questions were draw a conclusion to the story. The kids love the book.

Persuasive Writing
Posted by: Stacey

I read "The Stranger" by Chris Van Allsburg to my fourth graders. In groups of two they decide just who/what the stranger might be. Using index cards the children write a sentence telling what they think the stranger might be (white index card). They give three reasons for their answer (yellow index cards) Each reason is written on a seperate index card. They then must find a detail from the story to support their reason. Then they write a concluding sentence (blue index card). Next, they take the idex cards and use them as a graphic organizer to write their persuasive essay.

Earth Day
Posted by: KT

Reading books related to any topic is usually how I introduce a topic. Look into Wump World by Bill Peet or Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg for Earth Day, or Arbor Day....let's take care of our environment any day. Also, one time I challenged the kids to pack a lunch that involved little or no trash! We had a fun picnic together. You could have a regular lunch picnic first and sort/measure the trash and then compare with the no trash day. Have fun!

Polar Express
Posted by: Carrie

There is a literature themed book for Polar Express by Teacher Created Materials. It has really good ideas on how to incorporate the book.

Other ideas:
Last year, I copied a train engine pattern and had students write the title and author on it. We divided a piece of brown construction paper into four pieces to be train cars and glued on black wheels. Connect to become the train. We labeled the cars Characters, Setting, What was the problem, and How was it solved. It worked really well for comprehension skills.

We have also created an alternate ending to the book---starting where he realizes he has lost the bell. Illustrate a new book cover for it. Creative writing---if you were chosen by Santa, what would you ask for as the first gift of Christmas and why. Students can make this into a minibook. Another teacher had the idea to secretly place a silver bell in each child's backpack with a note attached saying "Believe" from Santa. We dressed in pajamas and drank hot chocolate to make it a Polar Express Day.

Polar Express
Posted by: Jan

Find someone with the book and the tape or CD. It is about 16 minutes long to listen to. Kids are still kids get some bells and some yarn or string and have them make a bell to wear around their neck. My kids love it. Then have them write about the polar express, it could be persuasive( persuade someone to go on the polar express, or that it is a real story or what they would do on the polor express. It's fun for older kids who still want to have fun and be cool at the same time.

Polar Express
Posted by: lona

Students arrive to school in their pjs (or w/a bathrobe) I give my class red Imagination tickets to ride the polar express. I have my assistant then walk them around the building and then they return to our class where you could have chairs set up for their "trip" (I have them sit on the floor) We listen to the story being read aloud (I have it on tape) while I hold up the book with the pictures. At the end of the story I have all of the children close their eyes and then they recieve a bell around thier neck. (have these done ahead of time, and place each in a syrafoam cup so that they do not get tangled) Students then get to drink hot chocolate and then create a candy train.
For each child you will need a roll of lifesavers, 2 Hershey kisses, 4 starlight mints, one (5 stick) pack of gum. Give all of these materials to the children and have them create a train that you will hot glue gun together. It makes a cute gift!
Please contact me if this post doesn't make sense!

Polar Express
Posted by: Tracy

I use The Polar Express to teach similes and interesting word choice. The kids also like to brainstorm other "first gifts" that the boy could have asked for. I always jingle some hidden bells when I finish reading the story. Have you read Santa's Book of Names by David McPhail? It is about a little boy who is struggling with learning to read and how he helps Santa out of a jam. Other great Christmas themed books are Silver Packages and Welcome Comfort

The Stranger
Posted by: nic1

The author provides clues to the identity of the stranger, Jack Frost. This is an anchor lesson based on the book Strategies That Work. It is a good jumping off point as it is a little like a mystery which seemed to help my class begin to get the abstract concept of inferring.

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