Happy Birthday Jack Prelutsky! Born September 8, 1940.
Jon Scieszka's birthday. His books would definitely fit the description of "wacky". I was amazed to find that Jack Prelutsky, another of my favorite "wacky" authors, shares a birthday with Jon Scieszka on September 8.
The students I taught, before becoming a stay at home dad, loved to recite Jack Prelutsky's poems. My wife even remembers having to memorize Jack Prelutsky poems for holidays when she was in school. Jack Prelutsky has small poetry books for many holidays including It's Halloween, and It's Thanksgiving.
To begin the week long celebration of Jack Prelutsky's birthday, I always passed out poems of Jack Prelutsky on Monday to allow the students to practice every day at home and at school. I grabbed various poems from The New Kid on the Block and A Pizza the Size of the Sun. I did not require memorization, but I always mentioned that it was an option. One thing I did require was that on Friday at the end of the week the students would be videotaped reading or reciting their poem. This motivated, excited, and even struck fear in the student's eyes. I told the students we would watch the video of all the poems on the following Monday for a little additional incentive. I was able to edit the recited poems using the video editing software iMovie on my Apple iMac. Therefore, if there was any mistakes, I was able to remove them for the Monday showing. It is amazing how students would react to seeing themselves on tape - emotions ranged from embarrassment to pride.
I felt it was important to expose my students to literary terms during the weekly author celebration. I focused on 4 words during the week of Jack Prelutsky's birthday - poet, poetry, rhythm, and rhyme. It was a perfect time to present the term poet after discussing the terms author and illustrator two weeks ago during Brian Pinkney's Birthday Celebration. I chose to discuss the words rhythm and rhyme because they are important aspects of Jack Prelutsky's poems. I used these vocabulary words often when I practiced one-on-one with the students and their assigned poem.
An activity I really enjoyed using with students is called Copy Change. The beauty of Copy Change is that it can be used with many varieties of books. The concept of Copy Change is to copy portions of the authors text and then change other parts to make it your own. Ultimately the students use the author's work as a framework for a piece of their own writing. I had the students complete a Copy Change activity for the Jack Prelutsky poem, The New Kid on the Block. I copy changed the poem to be titled, The New Kid in the Fourth Grade. Click here to download the worksheet. This was a great activity for the beginning of the school year since all the students were "new" to the classroom.
I ran across an older software title for older macs and windows PCs made by Broderbund under the Living Books brand. It is Jack Prelutsky's The New Kid on the Block. It follows the model of other Living Books software, but it is narrated by Jack Prelutsky! I was able to locate copies on eBay! This is must have for Jack Prelustsky Birthday Week!
The Wizard, which is beautifully illustrated by Brandon Dorman. This book was just recently released and was not available while I was in the classroom. However, this would have been a great poem for young boy to recite for his video.
Click here to view the latest Jack Prelutsky Birthday post from Happy Birthday Author in 2010.
1. Jack Prelutsky's Website - There are many activities, follow the "GrownUps" link.
2. Reading Rockets Video Interview of Jack Prelutsky