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Seussitastical Celebration! Read Across America

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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

Birthdays are always special. When it's time to party for Dr. Seuss, it's a big hurray for the day!

Mark your calendar-March 2, '17. Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! And get set for the party of parties, Read Across America! 

Two of my grandkids have Valentine birthdays. One, a teenager amazes me with her accomplishments- band, AP classes, Scouts, you name it. The years just flew by and birthday parties for her are not about pin the tail anymore.

Morgan, our Eugene adorable is turning six. Our Kindergartener is debating between various character themes, but it's going to be an old fashioned, at home party this year and we're pretty excited about that. This is our year of simple is best. Trips to the dollar store already, need a head start on a big girl party, complete with party dress and maybe a little lip gloss. Bet she invites Carter, planning to marry him.

Our kinder party prep is small potatoes compared to the across America planning going on right now for the gala annual Dr. Seuss event. No matter how big or small, it's a perfect time to look at the collections of a many hued and nuanced Dr. Seuss. I'll bet you find a couple new to you. Always happens to me. 

There is a really big Seussitastical celebration coming up, time to get ready for the party of parties! Read Across America, a signature project of the National Education Association, is a great uniter. This year, I think we all need a grand adventurous, light hearted party hat of party hats. Don't you agree?

March 2 each year, the NEA honors Dr. Seuss big time on his birthday. And what a fun literacy fiesta it is! You're all set with ready-to-go lesson plans, event organization, city visit schedule, press releases, etc. One click on NEA Read Across America and a multitude of resources awaits you. 

First celebrated in 1998, this is the annual frosting on the literacy cake, perfect party for school and home, all ages and stages. I can't think of anything better. 

Last year there was an unexpected addition to Dr. Seuss' prolific collection, "What Pet Should I Get"?  Found in a box, the missed manuscript offers a glorious story. Perhaps there will be more to come, who knows?

I love classic Dr. Seuss books. Each one is filled with colorful, creative, magical, really cool characters and settings. The fabulous illustrations are exciting for children and stimulate interesting conversation, art, music and writing. Actually, thinking about Oobleck, I'm sure we can combine and connect with many thematic, blended learning activities.

Did you realize Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) wrote forty six books? I know about half of them really well and keep discovering new favorites. Independent book stores offer a great source of offbeat titles we may have missed, so take a peek. Thank you Dr. Seuss for making us smile, fingers snapping and toes tapping to your magical, lyrical beat!

Here are some reasons we love your work so much- AND remind ourselves play is learning. Your stories are heartwarming, instructional and help build fluency.

Think about:

1. Use sing- song voices.

2. Experiment with language patterns.

3. Learn through concrete play.

4. Teach basic phonemic awareness and phonics.

5. Read out loud, together, varying rate and expression.

6. Practice counting and basic math.

7. The descriptive language is strong.

8. Rhyme, rhythm and predictable patterns make sense to new readers.

9. Perfect for all ages. 

10. Great for struggling readers, new language learners, special needs.

Playful language patterns, tongue twisters and innovative language inventions make reading a grand advenure. Simple poetry, a lyrical beat makes reading a treat! Get out those rhythm instruments, start moving and grooving!

I've never met anyone who didn't like these adventurous stories and unique worlds. What's more fun than using puppets, props or wearing silly hats and costumes? Better yet, each Dr. Seuss book offers teaching opportunities connecting themes and units, and various basic skills. This includes weather, counting, alphabet, phonemic awareness, phonics such as word families, rhyme, rhythm and predictable patterns. Amazing!

When I am with my family, there is always a lot of Dr. Seuss being read. In December Morgan and I read "How The Grinch Stole Christmas", Jan. featured "The Tooth Book", (oh that first lost tooth!) Feb. all set with "Happy Brthday To You!" Our ready to read pile also includes "The Sneetches", "The Cat's Quizzer", "The Lorax", "There's A Wocket in my Pocket" and "Oh Say, Can You Say, What's The Weather Today?" Varied reading levels.

Morgan and I read "Butter Battle" which I blogged about, because getting along is for everyone.

I love these books. Wear your Seuss party hat and fill your pary bag with this sampler:

1. Bartholomew and the Oobleck: Seasons, weather, sequence, scientific method, science experiment. Vocab.

2. I Can Read With My Eyes Shut: Colors, syllables, spelling (Mississippi), contractions, rhyming.

3. The Cat in the Hat: Word families: ay; at; out; ake; an; ot. Rhyme and repetition.

4. Dr. Seuss' ABC: Alphabet (Upper and lower case letters), rhyming, colors, predictable patterns.

5. Hop On Pop: Simple Dr. Seuss. Few words on each page. Rhyming. Word families: ed, all, op, ing, op, own, ee, ad, at. Also concepts of mother, father, sister and brother.

6. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: Opposites, direction, counting, word famiies.

7. Green Eggs and Ham: Rhythm, rhyme, word families, predictable patterns.

8. Ten Apples On Top: Great counting book, Seuss-style. Abacus handy? Apples!

9. Oh, The Places You'll Go! Directions, rhyming, motivational for everybody!

I know we all savor the words and colorful tip-of-the tongue language in these wonderful stories. Sharing Dr. Seuss is a special class and family time tradition all year long, not just on his birthday. Of course.

One last title to highlight, the newest, "What Pet Should I Get?" This manuspcript was literally found in a box. Written more than fifty years ago, Dr. Seuss' love of animals shines brightly in the story and is still timely.

Mini Lesson: What Pet?

1. Read straight through as a Read-Aloud.

2. Do a Book Walk: Check out the front, back covers and illustrations.

3. Background knowledge (Schema): "Do you have a pet at home? If so what? Who takes care of the pet? Who picked the pet, etc.

4. Looking at front and back book covers, make predictions what the book is going to be about.

5. Count how many pets are on the front cover and name them.

6. What is the strange looking pet on the back cover?

7. Listen for repeating rhymes. "We want a pet. We want a pet. What kind of pet should we get?"

8. Look for word famiies: ing, ish, all, etc, etc.

Ending:

And now for the ending. SHHHH I'll whisper it to you. Did you hear it? Ask your kiddos to write, draw, retell parts of the story, favorite characters, pets and the best one yet. Who DID Dr. Seuss pick? Did you like the ending? Were you surprised? I was!

I'd love to hear about your favorite Dr. Seuss' titles and your very special Read Across America.

 No, I didn't foget Horton! You can reach me here or on Twitter @RitaWirtz.

Let's make every day a Seussitastical celebration!

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita

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Modeling the art and craft of teaching reading for 46 years, Mrs. Wirtz taught language arts, speech and reading at all levels preschool-adult, including penal. She served as Pre-school and K-6 Principal. Rita was also a Curriculum Consultant, ESEA, Title I Program Evaluator and literacy trainer. At the university level she taught school administration in the Bilingual Cohort at CSUS and National University, Sacto. Mrs. Wirtz also taught all reading courses for Chapman University for many years in Sacramento and Placerville, Ca., and mentored student teachers. On the national level she was a well known motivational Keynote Speaker and Seminar Leader. Most importantly, Rita walked the talk, teaching with teachers in more than 500 K-12 and special needs classrooms. Rita authored books, publications and Pre- YouTube, videos were filmed by San Diego County Office of Education. Calif. ASCD authored companion book guides, and Calif. school districts correlated her basic skills instruction with State Standards. Mrs. Wirtz' newest book is Reading Champs! Teaching Reading Made Easy, a review of the basic building blocks of English and Reading. Rita is currently teaching in a multi-age, fully incuded preschool, ages 2-8. Find Mrs. Wirtz on Twitter @RitaWirtz, Facebook and website- www.ritawirtz.com.

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Guest Tuesday, 28 March 2017