Showing posts with label activities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label activities. Show all posts

School and Library Author Visits

When planning a library or school author visit it is essential to have activities that are fun, memorable and involve child participation. I like to include a movement activity and a craft project they can take with them.
Here’s one version of a one hour visit I use.

1.      Simplified prediction activity to introduce Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep by looking at the cover to predict the story
2.      Read Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep

3.      Consonant Blend Jumping (see below)
4.      Shelby Puppet introduces Trouble on Earth Day by bringing out fascinating facts about squirrels (ex: they can jump 12 feet) and predicting the story by looking at the cover and other objects I made from the story (see below) TIP: Puppets are expensive. You can transform a thrift store stuffed animal into a puppet by opening the bottom, removing some stuffing and sewing a sock inside.

5.      Read Trouble on Earth Day
6.      They color a picture of a bird on a nest and glue sticks and pink yarn to the picture.
Consonant Blend Jumping

In my book, Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby sleep I feature the consonant blends sh, ch, br, th, and br. I laminated four of each of these blends and taped them to the floor in a line. At the end of each line I placed a basket with a word that uses the blend attached to the front. The children jump on each blend and shout out its sound and throw a beanbag into the basket as they read the word. I change the movement for different age groups. (jump backwards, hop)

Prediction Fun

By adding just a few simple questions and activities to your story time, you can help children begin to learn about important reading skills.  Here’s how to introduce  Fur and Feathers by Janet Halfman.
  • Put a heart in a paper bag for each student and tape it closed.
  • In a teacher’s bag put a piece of fur, a feather, a pin cushion, a jar of slime, sequins, pinecone scales, plastic wing with black dots.
Tell the children they are going to be detectives and solve a mystery.  They have to look for clues and guess what’s in their bag.  On the chalkboard write the word "prediction." Pointing to the teacher bag say, "First, let’s guess what’s in my bag." Guide students as they make a prediction about what might be in the paper bag. Ask what clues they are using to make their prediction. For instance, suggest that size, lack of movement, smell, or weight might limit their guess.  Once you have gathered student responses, write them on the board.  Open the bag, and take out the fur. Let them revise their predictions as needed, emphasizing that you have more information to use now. Ask how fur is used, and do they have any fur at home?  Take each item out of the bag and ask what it might represent.  State that this process is the same when you read a book. Your predictions change based on the information you gather as you read.  Show the cover, title, and some illustrations of Janet Halfman’s picture book.  Ask students what the items might have to do with the story you are going to read.  Make final revisions to the predictions emphasizing that the prediction changed based on the information you gathered. 

Read, Fur and Feathers.  Watch their eyes light up as they discover each item is used in the book to cover the animals that lost their coats in a windstorm.  When you finish the book, ask the children to guess what’s in their own bag.  Let them open the bag to find the candy heart, which coincides with the surprise ending of the story. 

Some Other Activities for Library and School Author Visits:

Recycle cardboard and gift wrap to make a bookmark

1.      Cut a cardboard rectangle 2 ½” by 7”.
2.      Wrap it up like a gift.
3.      Cut a 1” by 4” piece of construction paper.
4.      Put each child’s name on the paper.
5.      Glue it to the center of the bookmark.

Sight Word Tree

1.      Draw a large tree on a poster board.
2.      Make several nests large enough to write on.
3.      Write a sight word on the back of each nest and hang them on the tree.
4.      Children take turns picking a nest off the tree and read the sight word.

Sound Effects

Assign each child a sound effect during a reading. (wind, rain, bells, barking, crashing noises, crying, doors closing, etc) Have a practice session by pointing to each child to say their sound. Just mix it up and have fun. The children love this game. When reading your picture book, point to the appropriate child to sync sound effects to the story.

Sight Word Musical Chairs

Arrange chairs in a circle facing out. Put a dolch sight word on each chair. Children walk around the chairs until the music stops. They pick up the sight word and sit. The take turns reading their sight word around the circle.

Stay tuned for my ebook on this subject which will be overflowing with creative ideas for author visits. It will also include advertising techniques such as a poster to place in the school and sending out press releases to local newspapers prior to the visit. I learned the hard way thinking the library staff would advertise the event properly. Don’t forget photo release forms which allow you to use photos of the children in future advertising projects.

Author Bio: Kathy Stemke

Award winning author, Kathy Stemke, has a passion for writing, the arts and all things creative. She has Bachelor degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and Covenant Life Seminary, as well as graduate coursework from New York Institute of Technology and Columbia University. Hanging her hat in the North Georgia Mountains, she has been a teacher, tutor, and writer for many years. 
As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy has published hundreds of articles in directories, websites and magazines. She is a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing and a former editor for The National Writing for Children Center. As a retired teacher, Kathy has several activities published with Gryphon House Publishing. Kathy is also part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U, a writing services company that includes ghostwriting, copywriting, editing, proofreading, critiquing, and resumes.
Kathy’s first children’s picture book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was published on Lulu. Her next two picture books, Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep, and Trouble on Earth Day were released in 2011. Both of these books have been awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.  Visit her book blog at
Mrs.Stemke offers great teaching tips and children’s book reviews as well as a monthly newsletter titled, MOVEMENT AND RHYTHM, on her blog.


Title: The Wild Soccer Bunch, Kevin the Star Striker
Ages: Middle Grade
Author: Joachim Masannek
Illustrator: Jan Brick
Hardback: 145 pgs
Publisher: Sole Books
Publication Date: 2010, Wild Soccer USA, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-9844257-0-9
Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

Kevin, the star striker, grabs your attention immediately with his action packed description of each member of the Wild Bunch. The action continues with down to earth dialogue as we experience their passionate love and devotion to the game of soccer. With the birth of spring, each unique personality must overcome many obstacles just to get to the soccer field.

When they finally manage to get to the field, they find themselves surrounded by Mickey the bulldozer and his gang, the Unbeatables. This older, bigger, and meaner gang has taken over the field.

Kevin explains, “He (Mickey the bulldozer) stomped across the wet field; his every step turned the muddy water into steam. The ground shook. So did his flabby paunch. But underneath all that fat were iron muscles and a black heart.”
Instead of running, the Wild Bunch stands their ground and challenges the Unbeatables to the most important game of their lives. The winner takes back the field.

When they turn to Larry, the alcoholic lemonade guy and ask for help, they are in for a few surprises. The Wild Bunch learns many life lessons about teamwork and perseverance from their new coach. Their struggles and hard work also improve their soccer skills. With some unexpected twists and turns in the story, you’ll wonder until the end if this bunch has the stuff to win.

As a retired teacher, who has taught many reluctant readers, I highly recommend this inspiring book. The fast paced action and gritty dialogue that flows through every chapter will captivate boys everywhere. Readers will find themselves rooting for these average boys who become super heroes by their sheer determination to win.


Create the words for your poem below! Write whatever words come into your mind for each of the three words below. I'll give some examples.

Soccer (nouns): speed, game, friends, skill, Wild Bunch, ball,

Descriptive words (Adjectives): fun, fast, rugged, zoom,

Rhyming words: breed, fame, trends, kill, tall, call, sun, last, blast, boom,


Use some of the words above to create a shape poem in the soccer ball. Remember your words can flow anywhere in the shape, but make sure readers can follow your poem. You don't need to use all the words. Have fun!

Kathy's websites:

Moving Through all Seven Days link:

Kids Learn the Days of the Week with Moving Through All Seven Days

Many preschool children find it difficult to sit and learn, so give them opportunities for movement! It's commonly believed that when you hear something, 10% of the information is retained. If you see it, hear it and say it, 40% is retained. But, if you also DO it, you retain 70%-100% of the information. Using a multi-sensory approach to teach children enhances their retention and capitalizes on their natural tendency to move. In other words, incorporate movement into learning, and your child will have more fun and learn faster.

Kathy Stemke’s book, Moving Through All Seven Days, uses movement activities to teach the days of the week. The lyrical rhymes also teach them how to spell each day! The 14 pages of activities at the end of the book are designed to reinforce the concepts as well as give impetus to movement exploration.

Find it on lulu by clicking on this link:

Here are some other fun activities that you can do with your children.

String seven bells on a string with the each day of the week spelled out. Add a picture of the foods mentioned in the rhyme below. Great for jump rope chants:

Monday, meatball, start the week,
Tuesday, tunafish, what a treat.
Wednesday, watermelon, red and cool,
Thursday, turkey, that’s the rule,
Friday, French fries, eat them hot,
Saturday, slurpees, thanks a lot,
Sunday, spaghetti, sun or rain,
Then start the week all over again!

Make a poster of seven empty boxes.
Using tacky the kids put the days of the week in order from Sunday to Saturday.
For fun you can blindfold each child, spin them three times, and see how close to the right spot they can place their day on the boxes.

In each suitcase there is a piece of clothing for each day of the week.
On Monday we wear mittens.
On Tuesday we wear a tee shirt.
On Wednesday we wear a wig.
On Thursday we wear a tank top.
On Friday we wear a feather boa.
On Saturday we wear socks.
On Sunday we wear sneakers.

On command, one child runs to the suitcase says, “Monday” as they put on the mittens. He runs back and sits down. They next child says, “Tuesday” as he puts on the T-shirt. Etc. The first team to be finished and seated wins!

Make a poster with all seven days of the week printed out.
Cut each day into their syllables.


Give the cards to the children. Call three children at a time to make words until all the days are spelled out and in order.

Helping Your Child Find the Main Idea

By Kathy Stemke

It is important that children learn how to discern the main idea of a paragraph or a story as early as possible. State-mandated tests often include reading comprehension sections where the child is expected to be able to pick out the main idea. More importantly, when they master this skill their reading comprehension will improve markedly, and they will enjoy reading much more.

Many children think that the first line of a story or essay is always the main idea. To help them understand that the main idea is what the whole story is about tell them to “think of a story as a meal.” It starts with an appetizer whose job it is to entice the reader to continue. We often call this first paragraph the introduction. It’s followed by the side dishes which add a variety of flavors to the story, or additional information to make it fuller. The main dish is the meat of the meal or the main focus, the main idea. Dessert is the final part of the meal where the story winds down to a conclusion.

What we are looking for in the main idea of a story is simply the main course of the dinner, the “meat.” A good way for children to start this process is by putting things in categories such as things you wear, fruits, or vegetables. When they come up with a list of clothing items, discuss that the broad term or main idea is that they are all things you wear.

Next, go into finding the actual main idea of stories. Start with non-fiction books, because they are much easier for a young child to understand. Then, go into fiction stories. Here are a couple of games that will help children practice finding the topic sentence or main idea.

Guess the Topic!

Write a paragraph that doesn't have a topic sentence and have the child guess the topic. Just write supporting sentences.

For example, you could say, "You color with them. They come in many different colors. You can make beautiful pictures with them." When they guess crayons, ask them if it would have been easier to start the paragraph with, "I love crayons?"

Topic Sentence Match Up!

Understanding the main idea of a paragraph can be tough for beginning readers. Here's an exercise you can do to help them see the difference between the main idea and the supporting facts.

Write each topic sentence on a separate index card.

Topic: Dogs are friendly animals.
Topic: I love the winter.
Topic: Candy isn't good for you.

Write each detail on a separate index card.

Detail: They are always waiting for their owners to come home.
Detail: They want to sit with you.
Detail: There are a lot of fun things to do, like sledding and snowball fights.
Detail: We go skiing.
Detail: Every time I eat it, I get a stomachache.
Detail: It's not good for my teeth.

Mix them all up, turn them face up, and match up a topic with two details.

Main Idea Flower Diagram

Another great teaching tool is to diagram the main idea of a paragraph by using a picture of a flower with a thick stem, a large round center and four long petals. The main idea goes on the stem. The topic sentence is written in the center. The four details are written on the petals.

Soon your child will be picking the main idea out of every paragraph or story. This skill will help them understand what they are reading. Better reading comprehension skills will build a firm foundation for your child's education. This is necessary for understanding textbooks in science and social studies. When they understand what they are reading, they will retain more information, and enjoy learning.

Check out Kathy's websites:
Moving Through all Seven Days link:

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