Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Twelve Days of Kindergarten

The Twelve Days of Kindergarten
written by Deborah Lee Rose; illustrated by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis
2003 (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

On the sixth day of kindergarten, my teacher gave to me
SIX fish for feeding.

I visited a group of kindergarten students this afternoon who were singing at the top of their lungs. It made my day. If you haven't spent a few days in kindergarten, you won't know that it is the most unpredictable grade in the K-12 world. It's part of what makes it so memorable. These students are new to the school environment so they are liable to try almost anything. The Twelve Days of Kindergarten does a good job of capturing this spirit. Told using the holiday song as a template, the text serves as the straight man to the artwork's funny man in this farce. For example, on the third day, the teacher gives three pencils. Pretty straightforward. But in the artwork, things are dropping which is appropriate since a lot of things drop in kindergarten including your jaw. Paper is pulled off the shelf. A jar of green paint drops out of a student's hands as he trips over another student's feet while she is creating her pencil version of American Gothic. Various facial expressions of shock abound. Each day brings a new gift for the teacher, but also a different surprise. By the end of the book, you are appropriately feeling pretty sympathetic for the kindergarten teacher. This really is a book that you want to study because you'll miss humorous details if you don't. A game within the book is to spot the Yeti-like stuffed doll that appears in each scene. The final page is a sweet tribute to kindergarten teachers everywhere.

Want to introduce character traits to your k-2 students? Use these illustrations to get insight into this class of characters without having to use text. There's a great shared reading opportunity here with singing to boot. It's almost always fun to sing with kindergarten students. Also included smartly by the author are cardinal and ordinal numbers. The Twelve Days of Kindergarten is a fun way to start the year, but I think it would be great to end the year as well. Students could write their own book as to review the year.

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