Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Literacy Work Station 1 - Dragon is Coming!

A little over a month ago, I received a box of children's ARC's, of which contained Valeri Gorbachev's latest, Dragon is Coming!. It was released earlier this month and is a must have for the early elementary classroom and/or the home library! I enjoyed it so much, I was inspired to start a weekly post of Literacy Work Stations. This book is one of two that will be highlighted in the Literacy Work Station later on in this post!

Gorbachev, Valeri.
Dragon is Coming.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Children are going to love this one! I loved this one! If your children have big imaginations or if they need to start developing big imaginations, this book is perfect for fostering that!

Dog is laying on his back enjoying the bright blue ski that is filled with fluffy white clouds until a dark cloud rolled in and a small field mouse wakes him up by screaming,
Dragon is coming!
As mouse attempts to outrun the "dragon," he passes by geese, sheep, a cow and pig, providing them with believable reasons to prove that Dragon is coming -
Did you see that flame?
Run, Geese, run!

Dragon is coming!
He'll swallow the sun - and
we're next! Did you hear
his stomach rumble?

Dragon is coming!
Did you feel that drop?
He's licking his lips!
As all of the animals hide from Dragon in the barn, Dog shows up,
Why are you all here in the dark?
The thundercloud is gone, and
the storm is over!
Mouse is relieved! Oh, how I love it!...

Shaw, Charles G.
It Looked Like Spilt Milk.
HarperCollins Publishers.
Guided Reading Level: E

White images set against a blue background, allow the imaginations to flow as readers are gently shown how sometimes an object can appear as one thing and turn out to be something entirely different! For example,Sometimes it looked like a sheep. But it wasn't a sheep.At the end of the story we learn that it was really just a cloud in the sky!

This was one of my favorite books as a child. In my five years spent between student teaching and substitute teaching, I have used this book a handful of times and children of all ages love it every bit as much as I did! It's definitely worthy of a place on the bookshelves, especially coupled with Valeri Gorbachev's Dragon is Coming!

Literacy Work Station #1
Theme: Imagination

Monday (Day 1) - Read Aloud both stories and as a whole group, create a Venn Diagram depicting the similarities and differences between the two stories. I would be sure to make mention that one central theme of both of these stories is imagination - a person/mouse is imagining what the clouds look like!
  • Dragon is Coming by Valeri Gorbachev
  • It Looked Like Spilt Milk, Charles G. Shaw.
Tuesday (Day 2) - Listening Station (as part of classroom centers)
  • *AHEAD OF TIME* Using a program similar to "Sound Recorder" (I found it on my computer under the "Start" menu, "All Programs," "Accessories"), record your voice reading both stories. The files can then be saved. Burn the files to 2 audio CD's - one of each book.
  • Split students into groups of 4. Those groups will then be split into groups of 2. One group will listen to the audio recording of Dragon is Coming!. The other group will begin with It Looked Like Spilt Milk. When they have finished listening to one book, have the groups switch and listen to the other story. *Allow enough time for children to listen to both recordings.*
Wednesday (Day 3) - Comprehension/Assessment Activity

Whole Group
  • Either purchase a pre-made It Looked Like Spilt Milk Felt Board story set or create your own using white felt. To make your own, enlarge or shrink the story illustrations to either 8 1/2" x 11" or 4 1/4" x 5 1/2", depending on the size you wish to use with students (If space is aplenty, I would suggest the larger size for ease of visibility). Cut out the white "clouds" and trace onto the white felt, then simply cut out the felt and you'll have your own story set!
  • Explain that you want students to "retell" the story and put the events in order according to how they happened in the story.
  • Pass out the white felt "clouds" to each student. If there are more students than clouds, pair students up and have them work together to decide where their piece belongs in the order.
  • Read the first page of the story and then ask students to stand and add their felt clouds to the felt board when they feel it is their time. Ask students to reiterate the idea, "It looked like... But it wasn't... "
  • Once all pieces have been placed, have students return to their seats and on a piece of scrap paper, write what it "really" was. Collect the papers to see if students have understood and are able to recall the ending to the story.
Independent Seat Work/Center Activity
  • To assess comprehension of Gorbachev's Dragon is Coming, have students independently complete the sequencing activity found here (it is a download). This could be completed either as morning seatwork or as part of an independent work center activity.
  • Supplies needed: Scissors, glue, crayons
Thursday (Day 4) - Whole Group (May Require Aide or Parent Volunteer) - White Clouds and Thunder Cloud Paintings
  • Supplies Needed: 9"x12" Construction Paper (Blue, Gray) - One sheet of each for each student, White Tempera Paint, Black Tempera Paint, Pencils
  • Have students write their name on 1 side of both sheets of construction paper.
  • Ask students to fold their construction papers in half (either way works) and then open it back up.
  • Start with blue construction paper and white tempera paint. Grey construction paper should be on floor underneath student seats. Teacher, aide, and/or parent volunteer should squeeze dime/nickel sized portion of white paint along the where the fold on the construction paper is. Student then re-folds the paper and presses gently on the paper, allowing the paint to "spread." Open up the construction paper. Place on drying racks or wherever paintings dry in your classroom/home. (It's up to you how you wish to control movement of students/papers to drying spot!)
  • Repeat this procedure with the grey construction paper and black paint.
  • Be sure to create a teacher example for Day 5 instruction at the time students are creating their cloud paintings.
Friday (Day 5) - Whole Group, Independent Writing, and Circle Time

Whole Group
  • Supplies: Teacher Example from Day 4, Student Organizers (2 per student), Teacher copy of Student Organizer for class use, Sentence Strips (1 per student, cut in half so they have 2 pieces)
  • Gather students on a carpet/meeting spot. Using one of the teacher paintings, brainstorm with students what the painting looks. Draw on the board an example of the student organizer to fill in. Allow each student to give one of their thoughts about what they "imagine" the painting to look like. Add their ideas to the organizer.
  • Explain that at their seats, working independently, they will be filling in their own organizers, one for each painting, about what they imagine the painting to look like. Each student should come up with 4 possible ideas for each of their paintings.
  • The organizer can be found here. Again, it is a download!
Independent Writing
  • Pass out 2 organizers to each child.
  • Monitor progress as students work on these, giving them a check or whatever you prefer once they have completed and have had the organizers approved.
  • Using their organizers, students will then choose their favorite "It Looked Like..." from each one and circle it.
  • They will then write the sentence on the sentence strips - one sentence on each strip! It looked like... (and then whichever choice they made from their organizer).
Circle Time
  • Once everyone has had ample time to complete their writing, gather students for circle (sharing) time.
  • Each child should pick 1 of their 2 paintings and the sentence that matches to share with the class.
  • Allow questions to be asked... I'd go with 1 question per child depending on the class size and the amount of time sharing takes.
Culmination (the following week) - Displaying Student Work
  • Create 2 displays of student work: One bulletin board and one class book.
  • Bulletin Board - Choose one of the two cloud painting sets (white on blue, black on grey). If choosing white on blue for It Looked Like Spilt Milk, title your display, "But it was a cloud in the sky..." (Perhaps you could you draw a cloud and write the words on the cloud with blue marker). If choosing black on grey for Dragon is Coming!, draw a small mouse standing next to the pig, who is holding a sign that read, "Mouse, a thundercloud is big and scary, but it's not a dragon!" Leave the work on display for a week or so and then allow children to take their work home!
  • Class Book: Staple students' work together into a book and add the final page for whichever book is put together... "But it was a cloud in the sky" for It Looked Like Spilt Milk or "Mouse, a thundercloud is big and scary, but it's not a dragon!" for Dragon is Coming! The class book can then be added to the class library for students' reading pleasures!
Okay guys and gals, that's it for Literacy Work Station 1!!! I hope you enjoy it! Please feel free to leave me any feedback that you may have, I'd love to hear from you!

P.S. I've contacted Valeri Gorbachev's publisher to try and receive permission to use his illustrations on the Dragon is Coming! sequencing activity. If that permission is granted, I'll change up the worksheet and then leave an update so you can all download the new worksheet!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to


style='clear: both;' MJ said...

Looks like I need Dragon is Coming for my kindergarten class!! I already have It Looked Like Spilt Milk!