Monday, September 18, 2017

Setting the Tone - Better Off Together

It’s a new school year and establishing the kind of learning environment you want to have from the get-go is important. Classrooms imbued with qualities like a safe space for taking risks and  trying new things, being respectful, curious, and determined are but a few of the many that will help with classroom management issues, as well as, learning.

And that brings me to today’s words: cooperation and collaboration.

Here are a few picture books that could be used at the elementary level to illustrate and initiate conversations about students working together, the importance of team work, communication, and being responsible.

The Whale by Ethan Murrow 
I love the black and white illustrations in this one. They work well to convey the wordless story about an adventure to confirm the existence of a mythical whale when two children come together (as in literally crash into each other) and work with each other to make the experience that much more rewarding.

The Red Apple by Feridun Oral 
A group of hungry animals figure out how to work together to get the only food to be found in winter, a red apple hanging high in a tree.

That Neighbor Kid by Daniel Miyares 
True collaboration happens between two children when each brings their abilities into play while trying to construct a tree house together. The illustrations have a strong retro feel with a fairly simple colour palette with mostly black and white drawings and touches of colour appearing as they begin working together.

Ewe and Aye by Candace Ryan
I love this one for the word play and that these two animal friends, Ewe (sheep) and Aye (lemur) with very different skill sets (one likes wings and one likes wheels) eventually building the best-ever flying machine. The illustrations are very cartoony and fit the story perfectly.

Up the Creek by Nicholas Oldland 
With a definite Canadiana vibe, a bear, a moose and a beaver must work together to paddle their canoe through fast running white water rapids safely. The humorous elements are a treat.

Give a Goat by Jan Rock Schrock 
A group of fifth graders are inspired to raise funds to support a charity that looks to give livestock to impoverished families in third world countries. This is a good title for raising issues of being a global citizen, community service and fund raising. The book will be best used in upper elementary.

A Warm Winter by Feridun Oral 
Another selection by the same author of The Red Apple. He’s obviously big into having animals come together, helping one another overcome some challenge especially in winter. In this case, it’s a small mouse trying to keep warm and discovering his load of wood is too heavy for him to carry home. His friends come to his assistance to the benefit of all.

Going Places by Peter Reynolds 
A contest to build a go-cart brings together two unlikely classmates who dare to dream big and go beyond the norm. They build the ultimate go-cart that totally blows the competition away with a very innovative flying-cart.
Three Monks and No Water by Ting-Xing Ye  
An oldie but a goodie.  This lesson-bound story again reinforces the benefits of group responsibility and cooperation. A mountain-top temple is at risk when three monks try to shirk their responsibility of bring up pails of water from the base of the mountain. Only by working together do they advert disaster. This title is best suited for upper elementary.

These are only a handful of titles that embody the qualities of working together.


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