Thursday, September 6, 2007

Happy Birthday Vicki Cobb - August 19!

Happy Birthday Vicki Cobb! Born August 19, 1938.

The goal of this blog is to celebrate the birthday of children's authors. I provide activities that I actually taught in my 4th grade classroom before I became a stay at home dad. I absolutely loved teaching language arts and one of the reasons was the "Happy Birthday Author" program. As I researched authors and prepared lessons each week it was clear to me that it was an effective and exciting way to address language arts concepts throughout the school year. As I write this blog I notice that celebrating an author's birthday may have a more important quality, exposing children to a variety of genres of literature. Children and adults often read only what they like and rarely expose themselves to different types of literature. (Recently, I am stuck in a rut reading only Personal Finance books.) I have often had students get only animal books at the school library throughout the school year. In the past 3 weeks this blog has covered children's fiction, poetry, fairy tales, folktales and legends. This week, with the celebration of Vicki Cobb's birthday, another genre of children's literature will be covered. I hope that readers of this blog enjoy the short and simple activities. However, even if you and your children do not have time to complete the activities, maybe this blog will give your children ideas for new books they can look for at the library.

Vicki Cobb, a science author, has written more than 80 books for children. Since, I started writing this Happy Birthday Author blog most of the children's literature discussed has been fiction. Vicki Cobb's non-fiction, informational text is a great change of pace this week. I still remember celebrating Vicki Cobb's birthday for the first time, six year ago. The students were so excited to read her books and try the different activities and experiments.

At the beginning of the week I reviewed the terms non-fiction and fiction. This was a perfect time to discuss these terms, because they have had some great examples of fiction and covered a lot of great examples non-fiction through this week. I also began the week by giving each student a different quick science experiment from You Gotta Try This: Absolutely Irresistible Science by Vicki Cobb and Kathy Darling. Accompanying the copy of the experiment was letter to the parents describing that the students would need to read through the experiment, gather materials, and practice at home. Then on Friday they presented them to the class. There were some great experiments including but not limited to Erupting Soap, Monster Marshmallow, Slick Trick, and A Really Big Sucker. I loved this lesson because the students were reading for a purpose. They needed to gather all materials and understand all the steps of the experiment to be able to demonstrate it to the class. Also, in the letter home I provided a 7 step plan for presenting the experiment to the class. To help the students stay focused, I posted the 7 Steps on a wall in the classroom so they were visible during their presentation.

I also remember reading, Your Tongue Can Tell: Discover Your Sense of Taste with my class. I set on each students desk a plate complete with a bunch of foods like lemon slices, baker's chocolate, sugar, crackers, pretzels, hot salsa. I presented the students with a KWL chart (great for non-fiction, informational text) before we even started eating and reading. I wanted the students to think about what they "k"new about their sense of taste, and what they "w"anted to know about their sense of taste. Throughout this book all the different types of tastes are discussed. The students were then able to experience the taste with the food provided on the plate as we were read about it. The best was when they all tried the baker's chocolate. They were completely taken by surprise when it was bitter! One student even popped the whole piece in his mouth. We laughed for 2 days about that one! After reading the book we finished our KWL Chart by writing down statements about what we "l"earned about our sense of taste. To find a copy of a KWL chart just complete a simple Google Search.

Vicki Cobb has written many other books about senses including Follow Your Nose: Discover Your Sense of Smell, Feeling Your Way: Discover Your Sense of Touch, Perk Up Your Ears: Discover Your Sense of Hearing, and Open Your Eyes: Discover Your Sense of Sight.

Another great book that involves food is Science Experiments You Can Eat. I think reading and eating go great together for children. Even struggling or reluctant readers can be motivated when they can eat what they are reading about!

Check Out Vicki Cobb's Latest Books from 2010:

1.  Vicki Cobb's Website
2.  Text Interview with Vicki Cobb - Suite101
3.  Birthday source - USM de Grummond Collection

Originally Posted September 6, 2007
Post Updated: September 19, 2010

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