Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are

Title:  Where the Wild Things Are
Author:  Maurice Sendak
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Pages: 48 
Genre:  Fantasy
Age Group:  K-3rd Grade

Plot Summary:
Max is a very naughty boy who makes mischief in his wolf costume.  When his mother calls him a wild thing, he says he is going to eat her up, and gets sent to bed without supper.  In his room, he imagines an incredible journey to the land where the wild things are.

I realize that this book is probably not new to anyone reading children's book blogs, but with the movie that came out last year and the season, I thought it was time to pull it out and use it in the classroom.

This book is just charming, from beginning to end.  It is old enough now that some of the langauge is starting to sound quaint rather that realistic, but Sendak did such a good job creating the atmosphere of the book that even the words that are not  familiar to students (mischief, gnashing, rumpus) don't take away from the sense of fun and adventure.  My students love Max, and they are inspired to use their own imagination from seeing him use his.

Teacher Resources:
 Because I teach in a school where we are not allowed to celebrate Halloween with the students, I have to be creative when it comes to honoring the spirit of the season for my non-fundamentalist kids, and respecting the wishes of the non-celebrating families.  I'm doing a monsters theme right now, but none of the books are specifically Halloween stories, nor do they contain spells or witchcraft of any kind.  Where the Wild Things Are is my whole-group text for this unit.  Below I'll list some of the activities that I am doing with it. 

  • Vocabulary-I've been modeling reciprocal teaching a lot this fall, and my students are almost ready to go it alone.  For this book, I read the book aloud, and they concentrated on Clarifying, one of the steps in reciprocal teaching.  They were to write down words or phrases that were confusing to them.  As we read, if we got to a word that I knew was unfamiliar to most of the class, I would do a think aloud to model thinking about the word, and how to complete their Clarify box on their reciprocal teaching sheet.  That is where the words mentioned above-mischief, gnashed, and rumpus-came from.  We discussed the words and their meaning as part of our after-reading activity.
  • Sequencing-I created a list of ten events from the story that are discreet enough for a sequencing activity and put them on notecards.  I then copied the pages of the book that show those events, minus any text.  The students will get into cooperative groups, decide what order the events belong in, and glue the picture and events in order on a long piece of bulletin board paper.
  • Guided Drawing-My students often have fine motor and concept development deficits, so I like to do guided drawing activities with them so they can see how more complex pictures are made using simpler shapes.  I do a step-by-step drawing demonstration, with the students copying each step as I complete it, and in the end we will all have a picture of one of the wild things!

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